Prediction of Apostasy
The Epistle specifically claims to be the work of Simon Peter (1:1) The writer represent himself as having been present at the Transfiguration of Christ (1:16-18); and of having been warned by Christ of his impending death (1:14). This means that the Epistle is a genuine writing of Peter, or that it was the work of some one who professed himself to be Peter.
Though it was slow in being received into the New Testament Canon, it was recognized by the early Church as a genuine writing of Peter, and has, through the centuries been revered as a part of Holy Scripture.
Some modern critics regard it as a pseudonymous work of the late second century, written by some unknown person who assumed Peter's name, a hundred years after Peter's death. To the average mind this would be just plain common forgery, an offence against civil and moral law and ordinary decency. The critics, however, over and over ever that there is nothing at all unethical in thus counterfeiting another's name.
To Whom Addressed
Unlike most of the Epistles, no locality is mentioned, however, Peter's "second epistle" to the same persons (3:1). While Peter may have written many epistles which have not been preserved to us, yet the assumption is that this language refers to that which is commonly known as his "First Epistle," which was addressed to churches in Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1) , churches to whom Paul also had written (2 Peter 3:15).
If 1 Peter was written during Nero's Persecution, and if Peter was martyred in that Persecution, then this Epistle must have been written shortly before Peter's death, probably about A.D. 67, or within a year or two, one way of the other.
2 Peter and Jude
In some passages are so similar that some scholars think one must have copied from the other. It is not necessary to think that. The Apostles, constantly hearing one another talk, certain expressions and Scripture illustrations became part of the common Christian vocabulary.
Chapter 1:1 -11. Making Sure of Salvation
Knowledge of Christ, the foundation of our Precious Faith (1:1), is here emphasized as the medium of Grace and Peace (2), and of all things that pertain to Life and Godliness (3), and one of the means by which we may make our Calling and Election Sure (5), and by which the Defilements of the World are Overcome (2:20). It is the closing exhortation of the Epistle (3:18). Original, Authentic Knowledge about Christ is contained in God's Word. So Peter's farewell warning was, Don't Neglect God's Word.
The Precious Promises (4), include not only the External Glories of the Eternal Kingdom (11), but a Changed, Divine Nature within ourselves, which God will, of His own Grace, bestow upon us, which we, on our part, must do our best to attain (5-11).
Seven Divine Qualities (5-11). Virtue. Knowledge. Self-Control. Patience. Godliness. Brotherly Kindness. Love. These are the Fruits (8), of the Precious Faith (1), which we are to Add (5), to the Blessings which God has Multiplied (2), to us. They are Steps from Earth to Heaven, starting in Faith, and culminating in Love in the Eternal Home of God.
Chapter 1:12-15. Peter's Martyrdom Near
This seems like a reference to what Jesus had told him some 37 years before (John 21:18, 19). Or, it may be that Jesus had recently appeared to him (14); possibly the Quo Vadis appearance. At any rate, he had a premonition that Martyrdom was at
hand (14). Reminds us of Paul's dying shout of Triumph (2 Timothy 4:6-8). "The Putting Off of my Tabernacle" (14), is a Beautiful Scripture name for Death.
Chapter 1:16-21. Gospel Testimony Sure
It seems that, in Peter's day, there were precursors of our modem critics, who were calling the Story of Jesus and His Mighty Works a set of Cunningly Devised Fables (16). But Peter had Seen With His Own Eyes, and he KNEW that what he told about Jesus was TRUE. Over a period of three years he had seen Jesus, with a word, Heal Multitudes of Sick People.'He had seen Him Watk on Water, and with a word Still the Storm. He had seen Him Transfigured. Three times he saw Him Raise the Dead. He Saw Jesus Alive after Crucifixion. And, after Pentecost, Peter, himself, In Jesus's Name, did multitudes of Mighty Miracles (Acts 5:15), and even Raised Dorcas from the Dead (Acts 9:40).
All this, confirmed in marvelous detail in Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah (1:19-21), gave Peter Full Assurance, and Made him Ready for approaching Martyrdom. He knew that, for him, the Door of Glory was about to open into the immediate presence of his Beloved Lord, nevermore to leave.
Chapter 2. Church Apostasy
The coming of False Teachers is spoken of again and again in the New Testament. Jesus warned of Ravening Wolves who would come to the Church in Sheep's Clothing (Mathew 7:15), and Lead Many Astray (Matthew 24:11). Paul warned to Grievous Wolves who would arise in the Church, Speaking Perverse Things (Acts 20:29, 30). Again Paul Predicted that, before the Second Coming of the Lord, there would be, in the Church, a Falling Away of Appalling Magnitude and Satanic Nature (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). Again Paul Foretold the rise to Church Leadership of Ungodly Men, Traitors and Hypocrites, who, whit a Form of Godliness, would fill the Church with Doctrines of Devils (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-9). Jude seems to have been written mainly to Warn of an Ominous and Deadly Trend toward Apostasy which, in his own day, he saw rising in the Church (Jude 4-19). And, in Revelation 17, John gives a detailed description of the Full-Grown Harlot Church.
Peter, in his First Epistle, wrote to encourage the Church to bear up under Persecution from Without. Here, in this Second Epistle, it is to Caution the Church to Guard against Corruption from Within.
He warns of Coming Apostasy, when Leaders in the Church, for money considerations, would permit Licentiousness and general Wrong-Doing. He speaks of it as being in the future (2:1). Yet some of the language implies that False Teachers were already at work within the Church.
He speaks of their Destructive Heresies (1), their Pernicious Ways (2), their Covetousness (3), their Walking in Lust (10), Brute Beasts (12), Eyes full of Adultery (14), Servants of Corruption (19). Note: these expressions are used as referring, not to the World, but to Leaders Within the Church.
It is sorry picture. Even within the Apostolic generation the World and the Devil had succeeded in making heavy onslaughts on the Purity of the Church. Then followed the long centuries of Papal Corruption. And, even now, in our own enlightened age, the Gospel of Christ, in its original beauty and simplicity and Purity, in many sections of the Church, still is buried and hid from view by the rubbish and doctrines heaped upon the Church, through the ages, by the World and the Devil.
It is a terrible Sin to Corrupt the Church. All the Ungodly shall be Destroyed. This is an unceasing note of Scripture. But One of the worst of Sins is, in the Name of Christ, to Foist Lies upon the Church in substitution for Christian Truth. Let those who do it take
warning from what happened to the Fallen Angels (4), and to the world of Noah's time (5), and to Sodom and Gomorrah (6).
Chapter 3. Delay of the Lord's Coming
Jesus had said things which might have been construed to imply His Return in that generation (Matthew 16:28; 24:34). The Apostles used expressions which indicated His Near Appearance (Romans 13:12; Hebrews 10:25; James 5:8; Revelation 1:3).
Yet Jesus hinted that His Return might be After a Long Time (Matthew 25:19), and suggested that it would be Wise to prepare for a Delay (Matthew 25:4). Paul expressly stated that it would not be till After the Apostasy (II Thessalonians 2:2-3). Peter, in the present chapter, hints that it might, in human expectation, be in the proportion
of thousand years to a day (8). God does not count time as man does. With God a thousand years are as yesterday (Psalm 90:4). He will keep His promise according to His Own chronology. These passages put together seem to indicate that God designed that each successive generation should live in constant expectation of the Lord's
What bearing should all this, after 2000 years of Delay, have on our thought about the Lord's Coming? Should we abandon hope? NEVER. At least, His Coming is 2000 years nearer than it was. The night is far spent. Day may be nearer than we think. Who knows but what the Lord's Train, at long last, may, even now, be whistling for the Grand Central Station, with Angels ready to shout, All Aboard? Or Air-Planes? maybe.
One of the subjects ridiculed by False Teachers mentioned in chapter 2 is the Lord's Second Coming (3:3, 4). But the Lord Will Come (3:10). And it will be a day of Destruction for the Ungodly (1:7), like the Flood in the days of Noah. Next time it will be by Fire. This is very plainly stated (3:10). Whether by Explosion, or by Collision with some other heavenly body, we do not know. Both of these things, astronomers tell us, do happen. There are such things as "Novae," new stars, which appear suddenly, grow rapidly brighter, then slowly wane, then disappear. The Earth is now one of these, or rather a fragment of one, once thrown off from the sun a burning mass. When God's plans are ready, it may, by explosion from within, or by collision with some other heavenly body, again flare into a seething mass of flame.
But, from it all, God's People will be delivered, and for them there will be a New Heavens and New Earth (3:13, 14).
In closing, Peter mentions Epistles of Paul (15), and classes them as Scripture (16). And, as in his First Epistle Peter spoke of the Word of God as being the Source of Birth (1 Peter 1:23), and the Means of Growth (1 Peter 2:2), for the Christian, so, in this Epistle foretelling Apostasy in the Church, Peter insists that Knowledge of Christ trough His Word will help us make our calling and election Sure (1:2, 4, 10); and that the way for the Church to combat Apostasy, and Keep itself Pure and Free from Worldly Corruption, is to Hold Fast to the Word of God as given by the Prophets and Apostles (1:19; 3:2)