Eternal





Historical Context

Authorship - Date of Authorship

Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples who rose to preeminence both among the disciples during Jesus’ ministry and among the apostles afterwards. There are actually four forms of his name in the NT: the Hebrew/Greek; Simeon/Simon and the Aramaic/Greek; Cephas/Petros. His given name was Simon bar-Jonah (Mathew 16:17; John 1:42), “Simon the son of John,” which was common Semitic nomenclature. It is most likely that “Simon” was not merely the Greek equivalent of “Simeon” but that, having his home in bilingual Galilee, “Simon” was the alternate form which he used in dealings with Gentiles. In fact, it was quite common for a cosmopolitan Jew to employ 3 forms of his name depending on the occasion: Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. The double name “Simon Peter” (or “Simon called Peter”) demonstrates that the second name was a later addition, similar to “Jesus, the Christ.”


Peter was raised in Galilee. John 1:44 says that the home of Andrew (his brother) and Peter was Bethsaida, the whereabouts of which is difficult to place archaeologically. Yet John 12:21 determines that Bethsaida was in Galilee.


Peter and Andrew had a fishing business centered in Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29), and perhaps were partners with James and John (Luke 5:10). It is also likely that they intermittently continued in their business while disciples, as indicated by the fishing scene in John 21:1–8. Some scholars doubt the authenticity of this account, calling it a doublet of Luke 5:1–11, the “fishers of men” account. However, on both linguistic and critical grounds, the differences are sufficient to argue for two separate episodes. Whether or not Peter continued in his business during the apostolic age is nearly impossible to say with certainty, but it may be surmised on the basis of the common practice in the 1st century that it is likely (e.g., Paul’s tent making).


Authenticity and Date of Authorship

If one were inclined to doubt the authenticity of any letter in the New Testament, it would be 2 Peter. Many New Testament scholars defend the authenticity of every epistle in the New Testament, except for 2 Peter. Nevertheless, there exists far more good reasons that cannot be ignored to support the authenticity of 2 Peter. One is not sacrificing one’s intellect in believing that 2 Peter is authentically the apostle Peter's. Indeed, Peter's authorship is still the most credible position for the following reasons.


I begin with the most important evidence for the authenticity of 2 Peter—the internal evidence. The book opens with the claim that it was written by Peter himself. Indeed, Peter used a Hebraic form of his name “Simeon Peter” (NRSV, Symeōn Petros, 1:1), which is a touch of authenticity, for this form only occurs elsewhere in Acts 15:14. If the letter were pseudepigraphic, we would expect him either to copy the form of address in 1 Peter or to employ one of the common expressions used to denote Peter in the New Testament. The fact that he chose an original form is a mark of genuineness—unless one adopts the view that the writer was consciously and cleverly trying to deceive his readers, but even this seems improbable since this form of Peter’s name is never used in the Apostolic Fathers literature. Not only did Peter claim to be the author, he also said that he would die soon (1:14). This is most naturally interpreted to say that Peter was older and realized his death was imminent. Such a statement is quite awkward on the lips of a pseudonymous or ghost writer.


Even more powerful, perhaps, is the claim to be an eyewitness of the transfiguration (1:16–18). The truth of the second coming is anticipated in the event of the transfiguration. Peter emphasized that he was present on the holy mountain, that he was not inventing what happened, that he was an eyewitness of what occurred, and that he also heard the words transmitted from heaven. It is difficult to see how a pseudepigraphal author could write such words with any credibility. A footnote would seem to be required by any other author to say: “Well, actually, I did not see or hear what happened on the mountain. I am speaking of what happened to Peter.” Those who support the pseudonymity theory are hard pressed to explain how such statements are not fundamentally deceptive. In addition, why would a ghost writer appeal to the transfiguration? Most educated observations support that the account is not used to verify further revelation, nor does it match precisely any of the Synoptic accounts. So, what we have here is an independent account of the event. Moreover, a pseudepigrapher would likely have embellished the account, and yet such embellishment is lacking in 2 Peter.


The above facts are best accounted for if Peter himself was the author. The reference to Paul as a “beloved brother” (3:15) is fitting for Peter. It would seem writers in successive generations would not put themselves on the same plane as the apostle Paul. Peter recognized that God had granted Paul wisdom (3:15–16), and such a statement accords with Galatians 2:9. The manner in which he referred to Paul is just the right touch if Peter himself was the author—respectful, and yet no sense of inferiority is communicated. The logical evidence shows that Peter either wrote or dictated the epistle - let's move on.



Original Audience and Cultural Circumstance

More than likely, Peter wrote from Rome shortly before his martyrdom. The recipients of the letter were apparently a mixed congregation of Christian Jews and Gentiles in the provinces of Asia Minor. It has been suggested that Peter more than likely heard of their congregational experiences from visitors to Rome from the area or even possibly had himself evangelized in the area. I would also refer those interested to an excellent discussion of Peter’s life, ministry and relationship to the other apostles by F. F. Bruce in his book Peter, Stephen, James and John, especially his commentary on the broader scope and influence of “Peter’s ministry.”


Literary Genre

The opening of 2 Peter, is a formal Greek letter introduction, but it also serves as a proper opening to a speech or oration. Peter immediately sets a tone of genuine humility—forged in his early failure, renewal and long pilgrimage with his Savior—and reflected in several ways in his greeting.


His linking of his personal name, Simon, with his nickname, Rock (Petros), may have been his way of reminding his readers of his two lives, that is, his own history of spiritual instability and fall, and then of his restoration by the Lord. This would set the stage for his appeals to them to be stable in their faith (1:10–12; 2:14; 3:16, 17), a theme he did not so directly pursue in his first letter, where he calls himself only “Peter” (1 Peter 1:1).


Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: 2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.



Biblical Context


The call to godliness in 2 Peter chapter one is rooted in and secured by God’s grace; His gracious power supplies what he demands.

It is important to understand the author's flow of thought as follows.


  • Those of us who know God have everything we need for life and godliness.

  • That is, we have everything we need for obtaining desirable and preferable life after death with our Creator.

  • We have been given the eschatological gift of life that begins when we acknowledge Him and move to consciously and intentionally love and follow Him with our entire life.

  • We do this as our mission under the empowerment of the death and resurrection of Christ.


The reason we have everything we need for eternal life is explained in the last part of verse 3, namely, Christ has called believers by means of his moral excellence and glory. Christ’s call, as Peter understood it, is an effective one, so that believers understand the glory of Christ when they are called to salvation. When God calls or speaks, it is like, when He said at creation, “Let there be light." The call of Christ, then, is evidential (who He is), effective (who we become because of Him), and performative (what we do with what we have been given).



James Hogg, a nineteenth-century Scottish writer, wrote an extraordinary novel called Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. The central character is so absolutely convinced of the certainty of his salvation, and sure that he is a member of ‘the elect’, that he commits a series of increasingly gross and self-indulgent acts. He is so secure in the belief that his behavior will not affect his eternal destiny that he feels completely freed from any restraint, even to the point of murder. The book was written as a sharp parody of an extreme position, and we should be grateful that very few Christians have had the foolishness and wickedness to go so far.


Even so, we frequently come across a false understanding of Christian freedom which says that if we are justified by God’s irrevocable grace, we enjoy a new kind of relationship with God where ideas of law and obedience are inappropriate. Those from a conservative position suddenly feel free to do things that earlier generations of Christians judged wrong. Social media loves to expose those Christian leaders whose sense of spiritual security is so strong that they feel free to enjoy various forbidden fruits. More radically minded people wonder what to do with those parts of the New Testament which prohibited some behavior in an apparently legalistic way. Should they be seen as residual thinking from Old Testament? Should Paul’s requirement for sex to be contained within heterosexual marriage be deleted as firmly as he deleted the requirement for circumcision? Anxious Christians think they lack the key to Christian growth and certainty, and move from guru to guru seeking the touch of God to change them. Some even claim to have had an experience that makes it impossible for them to sin, and therefore the battles Peter writes about are not ones that need concern them.


When such thinking occurs, the connection between private, internalized ‘faith’ and public, observable ‘obedience’ has been severed. People say that provided they believe as the early Christians believed, they need not behave as the early Christians behaved. A convenient contrast is drawn between the supposedly simple, liberating message and ethics of Jesus and the supposedly complicated, restricting theology of the later New Testament, which is usually blamed on Paul. Permission is thus given to reinterpret the requirements of the New Testament by saying that whether or not they were correct expressions of Christian obedience then, they are hardly so today. On a less sophisticated level, the gospel might be reduced to a few simplistic phrases and slogans, and the more demanding parts of the New Testament neatly avoided.


Such positions are fundamentally wrong. They set up a wholly false division between Jesus, who most certainly did teach a very complex theology, and the first Christians. They open the way for a destructive liberalism, for if the first Christians had not sufficiently thought through their ethics, it is inevitable that they had not thought through their doctrine either. If the one is not binding on us, neither is the other. Most importantly for 2 Peter, such positions do not see that the first Christians could not divide belief from behavior precisely because they could not teach theology apart from ethics.2 Peter would say that if we believe what he believes, then we must behave as he behaves. If we do not see that need, and if we do not follow his prescription, we demonstrate that we actually believe something different, a false gospel.


One of the major concerns of Peter’s letter is that Christian faith which is firmly rooted must make a radical difference to the way we behave. We will want to please Jesus Christ more, rather than presume upon his love. In this section, he shows that our faith, if it is genuine, sets up a chain of deep, internal, and experiential changes that will meet our hunger for God’s reality.



Key Word Spotlight


[Life and Godliness] Grk; zoe kai eusebia: to be alive, to live life with appropriate purpose, values, and beliefs, in devout and honorable practice of obligations and adoration relating to God the Creator.


[Divine Nature] Grk; theos physis: ‘to share in what God is like’ or ‘to be like God in certain ways.


[Supplement your Faith] Grk; epichoregeo sy en ho pistis: to add goodness to your faith.


Historical Context

Authorship - Date of Authorship

Simon Peter was one of Jesus’ 12 disciples who rose to preeminence both among the disciples during Jesus’ ministry and among the apostles afterwards. There are actually four forms of his name in the NT: the Hebrew/Greek; Simeon/Simon and the Aramaic/Greek; Cephas/Petros. His given name was Simon bar-Jonah (Mathew 16:17; John 1:42), “Simon the son of John,” which was common Semitic nomenclature. It is most likely that “Simon” was not merely the Greek equivalent of “Simeon” but that, having his home in bilingual Galilee, “Simon” was the alternate form which he used in dealings with Gentiles. In fact, it was quite common for a cosmopolitan Jew to employ 3 forms of his name depending on the occasion: Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. The double name “Simon Peter” (or “Simon called Peter”) demonstrates that the second name was a later addition, similar to “Jesus, the Christ.”

Peter was raised in Galilee. John 1:44 says that the home of Andrew (his brother) and Peter was Bethsaida, the whereabouts of which is difficult to place archaeologically. Yet John 12:21 determines that Bethsaida was in Galilee.

Peter and Andrew had a fishing business centered in Capernaum (Mark 1:21, 29), and perhaps were partners with James and John (Luke 5:10). It is also likely that they intermittently continued in their business while disciples, as indicated by the fishing scene in John 21:1–8. Some scholars doubt the authenticity of this account, calling it a doublet of Luke 5:1–11, the “fishers of men” account. However, on both linguistic and critical grounds, the differences are sufficient to argue for two separate episodes. Whether or not Peter continued in his business during the apostolic age is nearly impossible to say with certainty, but it may be surmised on the basis of the common practice in the 1st century that it is likely (e.g., Paul’s tent making).


Authenticity and Date of Authorship

If one were inclined to doubt the authenticity of any letter in the New Testament, it would be 2 Peter. Many New Testament scholars defend the authenticity of every epistle in the New Testament, except for 2 Peter. Nevertheless, there exists far more good reasons that cannot be ignored to support the authenticity of 2 Peter. One is not sacrificing one’s intellect in believing that 2 Peter is authentically the apostle Peter's. Indeed, Peter's authorship is still the most credible position for the following reasons.


I begin with the most important evidence for the authenticity of 2 Peter—the internal evidence. The book opens with the claim that it was written by Peter himself. Indeed, Peter used a Hebraic form of his name “Simeon Peter” (NRSV, Symeōn Petros, 1:1), which is a touch of authenticity, for this form only occurs elsewhere in Acts 15:14. If the letter were pseudepigraphic, we would expect him either to copy the form of address in 1 Peter or to employ one of the common expressions used to denote Peter in the New Testament. The fact that he chose an original form is a mark of genuineness—unless one adopts the view that the writer was consciously and cleverly trying to deceive his readers, but even this seems improbable since this form of Peter’s name is never used in the Apostolic Fathers literature. Not only did Peter claim to be the author, he also said that he would die soon (1:14). This is most naturally interpreted to say that Peter was older and realized his death was imminent. Such a statement is quite awkward on the lips of a pseudonymous or ghost writer.

Even more powerful, perhaps, is the claim to be an eyewitness of the transfiguration (1:16–18). The truth of the second coming is anticipated in the event of the transfiguration. Peter emphasized that he was present on the holy mountain, that he was not inventing what happened, that he was an eyewitness of what occurred, and that he also heard the words transmitted from heaven. It is difficult to see how a pseudepigraphal author could write such words with any credibility. A footnote would seem to be required by any other author to say: “Well, actually, I did not see or hear what happened on the mountain. I am speaking of what happened to Peter.” Those who support the pseudonymity theory are hard pressed to explain how such statements are not fundamentally deceptive. In addition, why would a ghost writer appeal to the transfiguration? Most educated observations support that the account is not used to verify further revelation, nor does it match precisely any of the Synoptic accounts. So, what we have here is an independent account of the event. Moreover, a pseudepigrapher would likely have embellished the account, and yet such embellishment is lacking in 2 Peter.

The above facts are best accounted for if Peter himself was the author. The reference to Paul as a “beloved brother” (3:15) is fitting for Peter. It would seem writers in successive generations would not put themselves on the same plane as the apostle Paul. Peter recognized that God had granted Paul wisdom (3:15–16), and such a statement accords with Galatians 2:9. The manner in which he referred to Paul is just the right touch if Peter himself was the author—respectful, and yet no sense of inferiority is communicated. The logical evidence shows that Peter either wrote or dictated the epistle - let's move on.


Original Audience and Cultural Circumstance

More than likely, Peter wrote from Rome shortly before his martyrdom. The recipients of the letter were apparently a mixed congregation of Christian Jews and Gentiles in the provinces of Asia Minor. It has been suggested that Peter more than likely heard of their congregational experiences from visitors to Rome from the area or even possibly had himself evangelized in the area. I would also refer those interested to an excellent discussion of Peter’s life, ministry and relationship to the other apostles by F. F. Bruce in his book Peter, Stephen, James and John, especially his commentary on the broader scope and influence of “Peter’s ministry.”


Literary Genre

The opening of 2 Peter, is a formal Greek letter introduction, but it also serves as a proper opening to a speech or oration. Peter immediately sets a tone of genuine humility—forged in his early failure, renewal and long pilgrimage with his Savior—and reflected in several ways in his greeting.


His linking of his personal name, Simon, with his nickname, Rock (Petros), may have been his way of reminding his readers of his two lives, that is, his own history of spiritual instability and fall, and then of his restoration by the Lord. This would set the stage for his appeals to them to be stable in their faith (1:10–12; 2:14; 3:16, 17), a theme he did not so directly pursue in his first letter, where he calls himself only “Peter” (1 Peter 1:1).

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: 2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.


Biblical Context


The call to godliness in 2 Peter chapter one is rooted in and secured by God’s grace; His gracious power supplies what he demands.

It is important to understand the author's flow of thought as follows.

  • Those of us who know God have everything we need for life and godliness.

  • That is, we have everything we need for obtaining desirable and preferable life after death with our Creator.

  • We have been given the eschatological gift of life that begins when we acknowledge Him and move to consciously and intentionally love and follow Him with our entire life.

  • We do this as our mission under the empowerment of the death and resurrection of Christ.


The reason we have everything we need for eternal life is explained in the last part of verse 3, namely, Christ has called believers by means of his moral excellence and glory. Christ’s call, as Peter understood it, is an effective one, so that believers understand the glory of Christ when they are called to salvation. When God calls or speaks, it is like, when He said at creation, “Let there be light." The call of Christ, then, is evidential (who He is), effective (who we become because of Him), and performative (what we do with what we have been given).

James Hogg, a nineteenth-century Scottish writer, wrote an extraordinary novel called Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner. The central character is so absolutely convinced of the certainty of his salvation, and sure that he is a member of ‘the elect’, that he commits a series of increasingly gross and self-indulgent acts. He is so secure in the belief that his behavior will not affect his eternal destiny that he feels completely freed from any restraint, even to the point of murder. The book was written as a sharp parody of an extreme position, and we should be grateful that very few Christians have had the foolishness and wickedness to go so far.


Even so, we frequently come across a false understanding of Christian freedom which says that if we are justified by God’s irrevocable grace, we enjoy a new kind of relationship with God where ideas of law and obedience are inappropriate. Those from a conservative position suddenly feel free to do things that earlier generations of Christians judged wrong. Social media loves to expose those Christian leaders whose sense of spiritual security is so strong that they feel free to enjoy various forbidden fruits. More radically minded people wonder what to do with those parts of the New Testament which prohibited some behavior in an apparently legalistic way. Should they be seen as residual thinking from Old Testament? Should Paul’s requirement for sex to be contained within heterosexual marriage be deleted as firmly as he deleted the requirement for circumcision? Anxious Christians think they lack the key to Christian growth and certainty, and move from guru to guru seeking the touch of God to change them. Some even claim to have had an experience that makes it impossible for them to sin, and therefore the battles Peter writes about are not ones that need concern them.


When such thinking occurs, the connection between private, internalized ‘faith’ and public, observable ‘obedience’ has been severed. People say that provided they believe as the early Christians believed, they need not behave as the early Christians behaved. A convenient contrast is drawn between the supposedly simple, liberating message and ethics of Jesus and the supposedly complicated, restricting theology of the later New Testament, which is usually blamed on Paul. Permission is thus given to reinterpret the requirements of the New Testament by saying that whether or not they were correct expressions of Christian obedience then, they are hardly so today. On a less sophisticated level, the gospel might be reduced to a few simplistic phrases and slogans, and the more demanding parts of the New Testament neatly avoided.


Such positions are fundamentally wrong. They set up a wholly false division between Jesus, who most certainly did teach a very complex theology, and the first Christians. They open the way for a destructive liberalism, for if the first Christians had not sufficiently thought through their ethics, it is inevitable that they had not thought through their doctrine either. If the one is not binding on us, neither is the other. Most importantly for 2 Peter, such positions do not see that the first Christians could not divide belief from behavior precisely because they could not teach theology apart from ethics.2 Peter would say that if we believe what he believes, then we must behave as he behaves. If we do not see that need, and if we do not follow his prescription, we demonstrate that we actually believe something different, a false gospel.

One of the major concerns of Peter’s letter is that Christian faith which is firmly rooted must make a radical difference to the way we behave. We will want to please Jesus Christ more, rather than presume upon his love. In this section, he shows that our faith, if it is genuine, sets up a chain of deep, internal, and experiential changes that will meet our hunger for God’s reality.


Key Word Spotlight

[Life and Godliness] Grk; zoe kai eusebia: to be alive, to live life with appropriate purpose, values, and beliefs, in devout and honorable practice of obligations and adoration relating to God the Creator.


[Divine Nature] Grk; theos physis: ‘to share in what God is like’ or ‘to be like God in certain ways.


[Supplement your Faith] Grk; epichoregeo sy en ho pistis: to add goodness to your faith.


Core Text - Interpretation and Meaning (Exegetic Process and Inductive Conclusions)


[1:3] His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,


For the first time the question is becoming clear, and it is one that is not confined to Peter’s time. Is the power of Jesus Christ sufficient on its own to strengthen the resolve of anxious and tempted Christians in a tough and attractively pagan world? Peter’s answer is that Jesus’ power is more than adequate, for Jesus not only sets the highest standards for Christians to live up to, He also gives the resources to meet those standards, and in the end he will defeat the forces who oppose him. Everything hangs on that last point: If Jesus does not have the ultimate power to enforce his rightful rule, then it is really no power at all. People look back to Jesus’ remarkable teaching and miracles, and rightly think that they see there the great power of God. But Peter sees a greater working of Jesus’ divine power in the seemingly unimpressive reality of men and women able to live lives that honor Jesus. People look back to the Jewish carpenter friend of Peter, whose dreams led to the cross in weakness; but Peter looked forward as well, to Jesus’ mighty return as King and Judge. ‘The dunamis, power and authority of Christ, is the sword which Peter holds over the head of the false teachers.’


[1:4] by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.