2 Peter Archeology 

    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. 

    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. 

    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. 

  • New Testament authors adapted literary forms from their culture as they communicated the gospel (1:5-7). 
  • The Greek term for "seduce" depicts a fisherman who attempts to lure and catch fish with bait (2:14). 
  • In the first century A.D. the term "elements" referred to such entities as earth, air, fire and water (3:10). 

    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). 

I. Introduction (1:1-2) 
II. Knowing God (1:3-21) 
    A. Know Your Calling (1:3-11) 
    B. Know the Scriptures (1:12-21) 
III. Warning Against False Teachers (2) 
    A. Their Coming Predicted (2:1-3a) 
    B. God Will Judge Them (2:3b-9) 
    C. Some Characteristics (2:10-22) 
IV. The Fact of Christ's Return (3:1-16) 
    A. Peter's Purpose in Writing Restated (3:1-2) 
    B. The Coming of Scoffers (3:3-7) 
    C. The Certainty of Christ's Return (3:8-10) 
    D. Exhortations Based on the Fact of Christ's Return (3:11-16) 
V. Concluding Remarks (3:17-18) 

The New Testament Canon

    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: 
  • Writings in the canon had to reflect orthodox teaching.Texts that were determined to contain teaching incongruent with that of the earliest Christians were not to he included. 
  • The canon sought to include the earliest, most accurate accounts about Jesus and about the early church by selecting texts that had been written either by the apostles themselves or by those who were closely associated with them.Texts claiming apostolic authorship were critically inspected, and if the authorship claim was suspect, the were rejected. The Gospels of Mark and Luke received canonical status because they were written by a companion of Peter and a coworker of Paul, respectively. The book of Acts, also written by Luke, was also accepted as canonical.The other two Gospels, the Epistles and the book of Revelation all have clear apostolic connections. 
  • Texts that were popular in only one region were viewed as doubtful, while those that had found widespread acceptance, both in the east and in Rome, were included in the canon.The writings chosen for the canon were understood to have universal application. For instance, although Paul addressed his letters to specific communities, others quickly acknowledged that his teaching was relevant to them as well. 
  • Other Christian writings circulated alongside the canonical texts. Among these, the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle to Barnabas were held in high esteem by some Christians but were eventually rejected from the canon because of their distance from the apostles and the apostolic age.Although these texts were not canonized for reading in the public assembly of the church, they were not condemned as heretical.Texts of this sort continued to be used by Christians for personal devotions and reflections, but without the same authority as the canonical writings.