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Bible Commentary


(2 Peter 1:1) Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

Even Gentiles received this faith; it was not limited to Jews only.

(2 Peter 1:2) Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

(2 Peter 1:3) According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Note the emphasis on knowledge; this was a Greek idea. Later the Gnostics made knowledge the key ingredient. To be a Christian requires that we know of Christ, his work, and the history of the Apostolic Church. It should also require knowledge of the early church but unfortunately this area of study is neglected.

Note that we are called, that is to say, we don't merely discover the gospel on our own: God preordained from the beginning that he would send his Son Jesus Christ into the world to take on human form to redeemed the human race.

God calls each of us individually to receive this gift of salvation, but we can reject his call.

(2 Peter 1:4) Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

The Eastern Orthodox Churches have the concept of the "deification"of man. This verse supports this view.

(2 Peter 1:5) And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

(2 Peter 1:6) And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;

(2 Peter 1:7) And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Notice the progression:

  1. faith — first we accept the gospel (after hearing about it)
  2. virtue — we become virtuous by choosing to do so, through repeated acts of the will. This is part of repentance.
  3. knowledge — knowledge of God, the gospel, and his expectations of us.
  4. temperance [self-control] — we must learn to control our passion and our tongue.
  5. patience/perseverance — it takes time to develop patience.
  6. godliness — we must become like God in various ways.
  7. brotherly kindness — we must be kind to our brothers and sisters in the Lord; to fellow Christians. The anti-Catholic rhetoric among fundamentalist, evangelical Protestants certainly doesn't seem like brotherly kindness.
  8. charity/love — the final goal is charity; sacrificial love for others, even for enemies.

(2 Peter 1:8) For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

An emphasis on knowledge.

(2 Peter 1:9) But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

(2 Peter 1:10) Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

We are called and elected to receive redemption through faith in Christ's redeeming work, but we can reject this call of God.

Note that we must do work to be saved: we must "do" and we must make this calling and election "sure" (it is not automatically guaranteed that we will be saved just because God has called and elected us).

(2 Peter 1:11) For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Note that the kingdom has a future aspect. In fact, as we look back a billion billion billion years from now it will seem like this yet-future aspect of the kingdom will be the main thing: our earthly life will seem minutely short in comparison with eternity in the kingdom.

(2 Peter 1:12) Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

They are firmly established but need reminding.

(2 Peter 1:13) Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

(2 Peter 1:14) Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me.

Jesus told Peter that Peter would die soon. He was martyred in Rome by Nero.

(2 Peter 1:15) Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

(2 Peter 1:16) For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

The phrase "power and coming of Jesus" refers to Jesus' first coming. Three of the disciples witnessed the majesty of Jesus at the transfiguration.

(2 Peter 1:17) For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

(2 Peter 1:18) And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

(2 Peter 1:19) We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Peter is referring to Old Testament prophecies. The early church scoured the Old Testament looking for prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus and the church.

(Luke 24:13) And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.

(Luke 24:27) And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

The phrases "day dawns" and "day star" seem to refer to knowledge of God.

(2 Peter 1:20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

(2 Peter 1:21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Note that prophecy is from God and the Holy Spirit. Peter is objecting to the false prophets at the time who were declaring false things about Christ, Christianity, and the gospel. From the very earliest days of the church there were deceivers who misrepresented the gospel.

People were interpreting the Old Testament prophecies incorrectly. The only way to correctly interpret scripture is through the influence of the Holy Spirit. Note that the Holy Spirit provided correct interpretation via the teachings of the Apostles. We should base our view of Christianity on what the early church was taught, what they believed, and what they practiced. Certainly the Bible is God's inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word, but today it is interpretated in ways that would have been completely foreign to the early Christians.

We need to study the early church and the writings of the early church fathers to properly interpret the Bible; the Bible does not contain enough clear and ambiguous information within its pages to provide the proper view of Christianity. If a person who had never encountered Christianity were stranded on a deserted island with nothing except a Bible, it is unlikely that they would derive the teachings of Apostolic Christianity from it.

(2 Peter 2:1) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

There were false prophets in both Old Testament and New Testament times.

Peter refers to a heresy which was appearing in his day: the denial of Jesus as the sovereign Lord, as deity. Note that following heresy results in swift destruction. This doesn't mean that the destruction will occur soon but, rather, that the destruction is certain to occur at the time of judgment.

(2 Peter 2:2) And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

(2 Peter 2:3) And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

Some heretics are motivated by financial and other kinds of gain.

(2 Peter 2:4) For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

There are many ideas about exactly what occurred with these angels. I discuss this here.

(2 Peter 2:5) And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

God judged the wicked world at the time of Noah. Notice that he warned them for 100 years.

(2 Peter 2:6) And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

Three examples of "swift" destruction (verse 1):

Note that the destruction was swift once it began but that the judgment did not occur immediately after the sin began.

One reason for God's judgment is as an example for others, so they will not fall into sin themselves.

(2 Peter 2:7) And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

(2 Peter 2:8) (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

Lot was distressed by the sin of those living around him. It's hard to be too sympathetic to Lot's situation, after all, he choose to live there out of covetousness. He chose what he thought was the best land and left the scraps for Abraham.

(Genesis 13:10) And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

There are many times in our lives in which we end up in situations not of our own choosing in which we are plagued by the sin and evil of others. It is hard living in America with its constant bombardment of immorality and anti-Christian images, sounds, and messages. I choose to avoid as much of it as I can by not watching TV or movies, avoiding company with people (sometimes even Christians) who are worldly or immoral, and avoiding other activities which often lead to encountering the unwholesome lifestyles of others.

(2 Peter 2:9) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

God can rescue the godly from trials. He did this for Noah, Lot, and Rahab (and their immediate families).

This verse contradicts the claims of Preterism which claims that we receive our final resurrection body at our death. But notice that the wicked of Noah's day, and of Sodom and Gomorrah did not receive their resurrected bodies at their death nor at the time that Jesus descended into Abraham's bosom before his resurrection. At the time Peter wrote 2 Peter these people were still awaiting judgment and there is no evidence that these were judged and given resurrected bodies in 70 A.D. Thus, there is a yet-future day of judgment.

(2 Peter 2:10) But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

One of the characteristics of the ungodly is that they despise government. Presumably this includes rejecting apostolic authority.

I have a hard time accepting the idea that it is wrong to oppose unjust government. Whether the American revolutionaries were just in the violent acts they committed in the name of freedom is another question — I'm not so sure this revolution was justified. After all, their taxes we small compared with today's tax burden and they even killed British sympathizers.

(2 Peter 2:11) Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.

(2 Peter 2:12) But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;

(2 Peter 2:13) And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;

This verse addresses public sins. It is very bad when society at large indulges in public sin. I consider the entertainment industry as a whole to be guilty of this.

Notice that in Peter's day there were Christians who were doing this, even during church (getting drunk during the love feast). Sadly, these people were not immediately excommunicated and forbidden to associate with the other Christians. Church authority was a lax then as it is now.

(2 Peter 2:14) Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

These people were even practicing adultery. This is a very serious sin, yet it was tolerated by the church.

(2 Peter 2:15) Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

(2 Peter 2:16) But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

Balaam's transgression involved corrupting the people of Israel into following false gods:

(Numbers 25:1) And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.

(Numbers 25:2) And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.

(Numbers 31:16) Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor.

(2 Peter 2:17) These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

The evil and unrighteous people will spend eternity in darkness. Peter has spent a long time in his letter discussing these people. Apparently, this was a real problem at the time.

(2 Peter 2:18) For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

(2 Peter 2:19) While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

These wicked people are slaves to their depravity. This is a good description of sin-oholics, they are addicted to sin and their habitual sinful lifestyle controls them.

(2 Peter 2:20) For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

(2 Peter 2:21) For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

(2 Peter 2:22) But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

This verse speaks about Christians who were truly saved but who wandered from the faith and lost their salvation. It is worse for those than for those who were never saved to begin with.

This verse clearly refutes the teaching of "once saved, always saved".

(2 Peter 3:1) This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:

(2 Peter 3:2) That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

Christianity is inherently Apostolic; it is the teachings of the Apostles that we must believe and obey. The Apostles bring to us the message and the history of Jesus.

(2 Peter 3:3) Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

Apparently, the early church considered that they were in the last days. We are still today in the last days. The phrase "last days" refers to the age of the church.

Throughout the entire history of the church there have been those who rejected the claims of Christianity and this will continue into the future.

(2 Peter 3:4) And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Some were questioning the claims of the gospel because Jesus had not returned yet; because the second coming had not returned yet.

It is common for science to reject the claims of Christianity by claiming that the universe operates in the same way according to the same natural laws at all time. They reject the idea that there will be a future day in which this universe will be dissolved in great heat and reconstituted as the New Heavens and New Earth.

From our perspective God is slow in enacting his plan.

This verse refuted Preterism, the teaching that the Parousia occurred in 70 A.D. These people would not have been satisfied in being told that the destruction of the temple was the Parousia; no, they were waiting for the visible presence of Jesus in this world.

(2 Peter 3:5) For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

(2 Peter 3:6) Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

Referring to Noah's flood.

(2 Peter 3:7) But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

This end of this world will be by fire which dissolves the entire universe. This will occur at the time of final judgment.

(2 Peter 3:8) But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

This verse has nothing to do with the 1,000 yearsof Revelation 20. Peter could just as correctly said that one day with the Lord is as a million years . . .

(2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

God is not slow but is, rather, patient. His plan is set up to allow that the maximum number of people will end up redeemed. We might think we have a better way to do this but only God knows the best way.

(2 Peter 3:10) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

This image of the day of the Lord being like a thief is odd because the activities of a thief are bad whereas the events of the second coming of Christ are supremely good. We need to overlook this incongruity. The point is that they will both come when you least expect it.

This verse has probably the best description of the end of the universe as we know it.

Notice that this event also has a spiritual component. Sinful works are burned up.

This verse contradicts Preterism which claims that the Parousia occurred in 70 A.D. It renders the Bible unintelligible to interpret verses such as these figuratively. Once we begin using this kind of allegorical interpretation,where does it end? Why choose a literal interpretation for one verse but a figurative interpretation for another? Where does the Bible inform us how to choose which type of interpretation to use for each passage? It is better to stick with literal interpretation, even with difficult passages.

(2 Peter 3:11) Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

Since there will one day be a day of judgment, we should be motivated to live holy lives.

This verse refutes Preterism which teaches that this event occurred in 70 A.D. Notice that everything is burned up, not just Jerusalem and the temple, and not just the old covenant. Peter never mentions the topic of the old covenant and its fate.

(2 Peter 3:12) Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

Referring back to verse 10. Believers look forward to final judgment (they wish it to occur soon) because it will be such a blessing for them.

(2 Peter 3:13) Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

The new heavens and new earth will occur after the destruction of this current universe. Notice that this new heavens and new earth (not heaven) is the final state of all the redeemed. Also, notice that this new heavens and new earth is not heaven.

(2 Peter 3:14) Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

The redeemed should be hoping and desiring this future time in which they will live in the new heavens and new earth.

This verse refutes Preterism because believers before 70 A.D. were not hoping for Jerusalem and the temple to be destroyed; these events did not figure into their salvation in any way whatsoever. Perhaps they were saddened by these events; perhaps it had some benefit to them in that the Judaizers were no longer a factor.

(2 Peter 3:15) And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

(2 Peter 3:16) As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Paul has the same message as Peter. His teaching is hard to understand because he was such an intellectual and his arguments are so complex.

Even into modern times critics of Christianity distort Paul's message to invalidate the claims of Christianity or to support their various unchristian views.

Peter seems to be referring to Paul's letters as scripture, on par with the Old Testament. Does he also mean to refer to letters and books by the other apostles as scripture also or is he referring to the Old Testament?

(2 Peter 3:17) Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

We are to always be on guard to not fall into sin and error. Notice that these things occur under the influence of others who teach error.

(2 Peter 3:18) But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Peter again emphasizes the importance of knowledge