Second Peter was the Apostle Peter’s second and final letter to a group of persecuted churches in Asia Minor. The letter is a follow-up to his first letter and also a farewell to these churches. Shortly after this letter was written, Peter was martyred in Rome.
Second Peter is Peter’s final challenge to believers to continue to grow in their relationship with Jesus and to watch out for false teachers in the church.
Peter opens his letter with an invitation to share in the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4) through faith in Him. As believers make the lifelong commitment to follow Jesus and allow His Holy Spirit to transform them from the inside out, they live out the characteristics of God (goodness, knowledge of God, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love).
In verse 12, Peter begins to explain the reason for his letter: His life is coming to an end, and he wants to make sure that God’s people remember his teachings and “are firmly established in the truth” (2 Peter 1:12).
Peter reminds the reader that he was an eyewitness to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and the message he shares, as well as the message shared by the Old Testament prophets, is trustworthy and true, because it has come from God Himself.
In Chapter 2, Peter begins his warning to watch out for and avoid false teachers.
Peter reminds the reader of the stories of Noah and Lot in Genesis, to show them that God will judge those who rebel against Him, but is merciful to save those who are faithful to Him.
Like the corrupt people in Genesis, the false teachers in Peter’s time are also full of corruption, and lead others to think that God doesn’t care if people make immoral decisions. They preach a message of Christian freedom and use it as a license to do whatever they want. Peter writes that these people are not really free, but rather slaves to their sinful desires.
In Chapter 3, Peter looks at the distorted theology behind the sinful actions of these false teachers. The false teachers have grown impatient in waiting for Jesus’ return, so they have begun to doubt His promises.
Peter reminds them that God exists outside of space and time, and He is in control of the whole universe. Jesus will return, but it’s not our responsibility to try to determine the hour. Rather, it is our responsibility to, in our very brief lives, surrender to Christ. Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Peter closes with a challenge to remain faithful to God, to live holy lives, to watch out for dangerous false teachers and to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Growing in knowledge and faith: Throughout Peter’s final letter, he makes it clear that being a Christian is a lifelong commitment and a growing process. And in order to remain faithful in that commitment, to live it out day-to-day and to avoid being led astray by false teaching, we must be faithful to remember the live-transforming Truth of God’s Word, the Bible.
God’s mercy and grace: Over and over, Peter points to the power of God’s mercy and grace. For believers, it has rescued us from judgment, brought us to humble repentance, saved us from our sins and given us eternal life.
2 Peter 1:1-18
2 Peter 2:17-22
2 Peter 3:8-18
HOW DOES THIS FIT INTO GOD’S STORY?
Second Peter is a message of hope and perseverance to all believers. Jesus will return one day, and until He does, believers should make it their mission to grow in their knowledge of God through Scripture and align every part of their lives according to it.
Peter reminds Christians that following Jesus is a life-long marathon, not a sprint, but in Scripture, God has laid out the path that leads to life.
Peter’s second letter also shows the difference between true and false teachers of God’s Word and how to stand firm in the face of confusing teaching: by understanding and remembering the Truth of God’s Word.