By Andrew E. Courtis
It is the will of God that the people of God grow in the grace of God. This growth takes place over the duration of the Christian life. This is the theme that Peter addresses in his second letter. Peter begins his letter by introducing himself, “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1a).After stating his name, it is interesting to note the two-fold description he gives himself – “a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ”. To be called “a servant” (literally “a slave”) reveals humble submission to Christ his Lord and the term “apostle” reveals the authoritative office granted to him by Christ. After introducing himself, Peter goes on to address those whom he is writing to, “To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours”. Even though Peter has a Divinely granted authority in his function as an apostle, this does not take away from the reality that all of God’s people share an equal standing in terms of value before God. This significant and special standing was accomplished “by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”. It is important to note that this is one of the clearest statements in the NT concerning the deity of Jesus Christ.
By way of an introductory blessing, Peter now introduces us to the theme of this letter. He writes, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (1:2). Peter writes this second letter so that his readers may be reminded of the necessary realities needed in order for them to grow in grace. If this growth is going to occur, it is essential that God’s people be aware of three important realities. Peter calls for them to Remember the Scriptures (1:3-21), Recognise the Swindlers (2:1-22), and Respond to the Second Coming (3:1-18). All of these are to be built on the foundation of having an equal standing with the saints “by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” that He accomplished for us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
1. REMEMBER THE SCRIPTURES (1:3-21)
If we are going to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is essential that we remember the Scriptures. The Scriptures, unlike any other document, are the Word of God. It is from them that we gain knowledge concerning who Christ is and what He has done for us. This opening section (1:3-21) reminds us of two important realities. First, Peter reminds his readers that they are to remember Christ and His promises. This is done by rightly understanding the source, the supplements and the satisfaction of spiritual growth (1:3-11). Secondly, Peter reminds them that the Scriptures are the trustworthy source of these promises because they are the Apostolic Witness (1:16-18) and the Prophetic Word (1:19-21).
2. RECOGNISE THE SWINDLERS (2:1-22)
If we are going to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is essential that we also learn to recognise the swindlers. God’s people need to be aware that there is such a thing as false teaching. Satan promotes error through false teachers. So Peter reminds his readers “false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you” (2:1a). He goes on to say that “will secretly bring in destructive heresies” (2:1b). These heresies are distorted teachings that are contrary to what the Word of God says and teaches. These heresies are dangerous because they do not promote genuine spiritual growth. Instead, they bring ruin. Sadly “many will follow their sensuality” (2:2a). This is so serious, that Peter issues a warning that God will not tolerate this. He will bring judgment upon them and Peter lists four examples of God doing this in the past (2:4-6). Peter then goes on to provide a wanted poster of these swindlers by describing their characteristics (2:10b-16) and their conduct (2:17-22).
3. RESPOND TO THE SECOND COMING (3:1-13)
If we are going to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is essential that we also respond to the Second Coming. The exciting news of chapter three is that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back. When He comes He will usher in a new heaven and new earth in which righteousness will eternally dwell (3:13). After making mention of the reality of scoffers (3:1-3), Peter provides his readers with two facts that confirm the certainty of the return of the King. The two facts are the power of God’s Word (3:5-7) and the patience of God’s Word (3:8-10). He then reminds his readers that the Lord is going to return and that the believer has a present responsibility while they wait (3:10-13).
Peter brings the letter to a close by providing some final exhortations to his readers (3:14-18). These exhortations bring together all the major themes Peter has covered in this letter. While they wait for their King’s return, they are to be diligent (3:14) and not be “carried away with the error of lawless people” (3:17). Peter now issues his final call, which is the goal of his whole letter, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (3:18).