Archeology 2 Peter
AUTHOR, PLACE AND DATE OF WRITING
Second Peter explicitly claims to have been written by the apostle Peter, yet today this claim is widely rejected in scholarship. Those Who reject Petrine authorship do so for the following reasons: (1) There is a lack of early support for 2 Peter by the church fathers. (2) The let. ter draws heavily on the epistle of Jude. (3) Its content deals with second-century A.D. problems and issues, such as Gnosticism and the delay in Christ's return. (4) Second Peter 3:15-16 mentions that a collection of Paul's letters was already known in the churches, (5) Some argue that 2 Peter is so transparently not by Peter that the early readers would have seen this claim as no more than a literary device.
There are other reasons, however, for maintaining Peter's authorship: (1) While 2 Peter 2 and Jude have a great deal in Common, the fact that their texts are similar has no bearing on the inspiration or authorship of either. (2) Second Peter contains no direct reference to any second-century church issue or institution, and concern over the delay of Christ's return appears already in 1 Thessalonians (written c. A.D. 50-51). (3) The passing reference to Paul's letters may only indicate that the practice of circulating his letters had begun. (4) Early Christians were quick to repudiate pseudo-apostolic texts and in particular renounced books falsely claiming to have been from Peter (e.g., the Apocalypse of Peter, the Gospel of Peter, the Acts of Peter, and the Letter of Peter to Philip). Peter, according to strong tradition, died about A.D. 64-68 under Nero. Thus, his authorship requires a date earlier than this. It has been suggested that Peter wrote this letter from Rome.
This epistle was addressed to Christians to warn them against false teaching (2:1). If 3:1 is a reference to 1 Peter, then Christians in Asia Minor were the recipients of both letters. Otherwise, the identity of 2 Peter's addresses is uncertain.
CULTURAL FACTS AND HIGHLIGHTS
Second Peter is an appeal to faith and godliness from the apostle to the churches. Its message does refer to enemies of the faith, but in such broad terms that it is hard to imagine that Peter had a specific heresy in view. The letter is probably a general exhortation to the churches from the apostle as he approached his death.
AS YOU READ
Note Peter's instruction to grow in godly virtues and Christian character. Watch for his repeated emphasis on truth, which includes not only his warning against false teachers but also his certainty of Christ's return.
DID YOU KNOW?
Second Peter includes the following themes:
1. Spiritual Growth. As Peter faced the end of his life (1:13-15), he predicted impending calamities and expressed concern about his readers remaining faithful and continuing to grow in discipleship.
2. False teaching. Peter sounded the alarm about false teachers, who posed a major threat to the faithfulness of believers.
3. The certainty of Christ's return. Peter warned against scoffers who abandon the hope of Christ's coming in judgment (3:3-4). The delay of divine judgment is a revelation of God's patience, in that he is allowing time for repentance (3:9). Since the return of the Lord Jesus is certain, believers are to prepare themselves through faithful, ethical living (3:11-16).
2 PETER 3 The process of determining which texts would comprise the Biblical canon' (the standard of authoritative and normative teaching for the church) took place over several centuries. Beginning in the first century A.D., Christian communities recognized the authority of texts that they gathered into collections for circulation and use in public worship., Second Peter already suggests a familiarity with multiple letters of Paul and goes so far as to place them on par with the Hebrew Scriptures (3:16). Evidence reveals that during public worship Christians in the earliest centuries read from the texts that would become the New Testament, just as they did from the Hebrew Scriptures.
Scholars often attribute the creation of the New Testament canon to the heretic Marcion, who accepted only the authority of Paul's letters and of Luke. In reality, the churches already accepted these texts as authoritative, and Marcion was attempting to exclude the acceptance of any others. The Muratorian Canon (date uncertain), an early attempt to establish a list of canonical books, did not include most of the general epistles. By the fourth century the churches were seeking to compile a definitive list of New Testament books. Eusebius, Athanasius and the Councils of Laodicea (363), Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) created such lists (both of the latter two accepted the 27 books of the New Testament the church now acknowledges). In some sense these lists merely ratified the church's practice by identifying the texts that were already functioning in an authoritative manner. Twenty-seven writ-ings, including the Gospels, Acts and the New Testament letters, formed the New Testament canon and ultimately defined the church's identity.
The selection process considered three key criteria for the acceptance of a particular text as canonical: