Summary: To face & overcome the problems within & without the Christian needs to grow spiritually. Peter would have believers learn the lesson of faithful living in difficult times through his insightful letter.
2 PETER 1: 1-2 [Our Precious Faith Series]
OUR PRECIOUS FAITH
The apostle opens and closes 2 Peter with the theme of victory. It opens with how to gain the victory of grace and peace and then closes with the victory of the ages for those who have grown in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (3:18). But within the epistle we find Christianity being besieged by problems from without and eroded by problems from within. So 2 Peter focuses primarily on how to grow when surrounded by problems and perplexities. That emphasis fits well with the situation and need of the Church in America today [proving the essential character of the world and the church has not changed].
Three main thoughts dominate this letter. First, the writer has not long to live in this world, and has a pastoral concern that believers should keep on growing in their discipleship. Second, false teaching that could prevent spiritual grow was spreading like a weed, and third, people must be ready for the certain return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To face and overcome the problems within and without the Christian needs to grow spiritually. Peter would have believers learn the lesson of faithful living in difficult times through his insightful letter. [Walvoord, John & Zuck, Roy; The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983, 858]
I. Some BACKGROUND.
II. THE AUTHOR (1:1a).
III. THE AUDIENCE (1:1b).
IV. THE BLESSING (1:2).
Before we dig into the text let’s look at some background that influenced the writing of 2 Peter.
Two references in 2 Peter give some indication of THE DATE of the epistle. In 2 Peter 1:13-15, Peter indicated that the time of his death was near. The traditional date for Peter’s death is late a.d. 67 or early a.d. 68. [The reference to Paul’s epistles in 3:16 would seem to indicate a date some time after a.d. 60.] Since 1 Peter is normally dated around a.d. 64, 2 Peter should be placed some time after the writing of 1 Peter and before Peter’s death, between a.d. 64 and 68. This places the book during the latter part of the reign of the infamous Nero as the persecution of Christians was beginning to intensify.
The text of 2 Peter suggests no specific PLACE for its composition. However, since 1 Peter was written in Rome [symbolized by Babylon in 1 Peter 5:13] and Rome is traditionally held to be the place of Peter’s crucifixion, it is reasonable to assume that 2 Peter was written in Rome as well. [Walvoord & Zuck, p. 862]
The PURPOSE of 2 Peter is to call Christians to spiritual growth. Christians needed to mature so that they can combat apostasy [falling away] from the church and immoral practices within the Church. Such persistence in faithfulness to the Word will be rewarded at the Lord’s return.
II. THE AUTHOR (1:1a).
The opening of 2 Peter is along the conventional line of a New Testament letter, giving author, recepients and greeting. THE AUTHOR identifies himself as Simon Peter. Simon (Gk. Symeon) is a straight transliteration of the Hebrew name [as used in Acts 15:14]. “Peter,” the Greek translation of “Cephas” and the name given to Simon by Jesus. The use of Simon and Peter together (as in e.g. Mt. 16:16) reminds us of the change grace had brought about in the apostle’s life. [Peter’s combining these distinctly Hebrew and Greek names may also be an indication of the mixed audience (Hebrew and Greek Christians) he addressed.]
As we read the Gospel accounts, we see Peter talking when he should have been listening, sleeping when he should have been praying (Mark 14:37), stepping out when he should have held back (John 18:10), and holding back when he should have stepped out (John 13:8).
That’s why I can identify closely with Peter. I see in his characteristics and tendencies my own walk and history. Maybe you see them in yours as well. But here’s the great news, the amazing truth, the glorious fact: Even with all of his failures and denials, even with all of his setbacks and stumbles, Simon made it through.
Why? Because he was such a great guy? No. Simon made it through because Jesus prayed for him (Luke 22:32). And guess what. The same thing is true of you and me. We’re all people who want to do right, but who invariably mess up. We’re all people whose spirits are willing, but whose flesh is unbelievably weak. Yet even right now, Jesus knows the temptation we’re facing, the fears we’re feeling, the questions that are churning. He knows them all, and He’s praying for us (Hebrews 7:25)—not because we’re worthy, but because Jesus’ is faithful.
Do you recall when Jesus renamed Simon as Peter? He said, “You are Simon, but you shall be Petros, Peter, or Rock,” as if to say, “You’re shifting sand now, but I know what I’m going to do with you, and I know what will be accomplished in you.”