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The Blue Letter Bible

Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Notes for 2 Peter

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WRITER: Simon Peter (2 Peter 1:1)
The Petrine authorship of 2 Peter has been challenged more than the authorship of any other book in the New Testament. Dr. William Moorehead said, “The Second Epistle of Peter comes to us with less historical support of its genuineness than any other book of the New Testament.” However, this has caused conservative scholars to give adequate attention to this epistle so that today it is well established that Peter wrote this letter. The autobiographical sections afford internal evidence of the Petrine authorship (see 2 Peter 1:13, 14, 16-18; 3:1).

DATE: About A.D. 66. This second epistle was written shortly after his first epistle (2 Peter 3:1) and a short while before his martyrdom (2 Peter 1:13, 14). (See 1 Peter.)

THEME: This is the swan song of Peter, as 2 Timothy is the swan song of Paul. There is a striking similarity. Both epistles put up a warning sign, along the pilgrim pathway the church is traveling, to identify the awful apostasy that was on the way at that time and now in our time has arrived. What was then like a cloud the size of a man’s hand today envelops the sky and produces a storm of hurricane proportions. Peter warns of heresy among teachers as Paul warns of heresy among the laity. Both Peter and Paul speak in a joyful manner of their approaching death (2 Peter 1:13, 14; 2 Timothy 4:6-8). Both apostles anchor the church on the Scriptures as the only defense against the coming storm.
The similarity of 2 Peter to Paul’s last epistle of 2 Timothy explains the sharp contrast between Peter’s first and second letters. The subject has changed, and the difference is as great as that which exists between Paul’s letters to the Romans and to Timothy.
Nevertheless, the theme is explained on the basis of the words which Peter uses here as contrasted to his first epistle. The words are different, with the exception of the word precious, which occurs in this epistle twice in the first chapter. Likewise, the word faith occurs twice in the first chapter.
The characteristic word is knowledge (occurring sixteen times with cognate words). The epitome of the epistle is expressed in the injunction contained in the final verse:

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

True gnosticism is not some esoteric information concerning a formula, a rite, or ritual; nor is it some secret order or password. It is to know Jesus Christ as He is revealed to man in the Word of God. This is the secret of life and of Christian living (see John 17:3).

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