Peter is the lead apostle of the twelve apostles who followed Jesus, mentioned throughout the Gospels and the first 12 chapters of the book of Acts. It is Peter who preaches on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 12.
It seems likely that 2 Peter is written soon after 1 Peter, and that this is around the mid 60s AD.
Peter mentions that he believes he will soon die. Peter also mentions that this is his second letter which means the readers would include those addressed in the first letter: Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (modern day Turkey). We read in 2 Peter 3:15 that ‘Paul also wrote to you’ which would only be true of Galatia and Asia (which could have included Colossians and Ephesians: two of Paul’s Letters.) Maybe Paul had written letters to the other areas, but these are lost to us?
But the style is not just a letter, but also like a farewell speech. The passage 1:12-15 is full of language normal in a farewell speech and makes sense if this is indeed written with Peter knowing he will soon die and wanted his teaching to be valued after his death.
If this is written by Peter just before his death, then Rome is the only place it can be written from since Peter was there before his execution.
We have noted that Peter is keen to share teaching before his own departure. But from the tone, in chapters 2 and 3, it is clear that he believes that the church may suffer from false teaching. This is especially likely if it’s written before his own death and after that of the Apostle Paul. Losing two major apostles within a few years of one another would make the church especially vulnerable.
Paul himself had predicted false teaching in Asia Minor (Acts 20:29-30), and many of the Letters he wrote aimed to combat this. He asserts his own authority and that of Paul. It was important that the church worldwide knew that the two major apostles within the Roman world, Peter and Paul, preached the same message.
Hence the summary message of 3:17- 18 sums up the purpose well: ‘Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.’
Why read it?
Peter reminds us to make growing as a Christian our top priority. Just as we would be concerned if a child did not make progress year on year, we must look to see our own life in Christ develop in maturity as we read and pray and put the truth into practise.
Take truth seriously
We can be tempted to take truth lightly. We must take care to give truth the weight that it deserves. God will act against those who lead people astray.
As Peter faces his own death, he knows that the Christian church that he had worked tirelessly to establish will struggle if they don’t hold true to the truth that the apostles had established. This Letter will remind you of the importance of reading the Bible for yourself so you are not led astray.
|1||Encouragement to be spiritually mature|
|2||Reminder of the dangers of false teachers|
|3||Anticipation of Christ’s Return|