Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Reading Through 2nd Peter

51wtZdiia5L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I am continuing to read through the New Testament accompanied by the commentary series The Bible Speaks Today, edited by John R. W. Stott. This post quotes from the book The Message of 2 Peter: The Promise of His Coming, written by R. C. Lucas and Christopher Green. My analysis of the letter by 1st Peter is in black below. Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I post quotes from these commentaries on my Facebook page and periodic summaries of the commentary here on my blog. I welcome discussion on these post on my Facebook page. As always, quotes from the author are in blue font.

The 2nd Epistle of Peter identifies Peter as the author in 1.1. That there is no external evidence of Petrine authorship until the 3rd century and the letter has a different vocabulary than 1 Peter has led many modern scholars to doubt that Peter wrote the letter. However, there are vocabulary similarities to Peter's sermons and the reference to a former letter (3.1) and events in Peter's life would indicate Petrine authorship. The letter was written to Gentile and Jewish Believers in Northern Asia Minor. Peter mentions his imminent death in 1.13-15 and, according to the church fathers, Peter died in 67-68 in Rome where traditionally, Peter spent the last 10 years of his life.

2nd Peter was written to remind believers to apply God's gracious resources and promises so that they will grow into relationship and likeness to Christ and to warn against false teachers. His theme is "Be Diligent to Grow." The message of 2nd Peter is "God is the gracious supplier of everything we need to live so we must diligently apply God's resources and trust his promises so that we will grow in godly character and purity, resist false teachers 2 Peter chart2and be ready for the day of the LORD."

God has supplied believers with every resource they need to live the Christian life. Each believer is responsible to apply these resources diligently. Since Jesus has given us all the resources we need in the Gospel to be what he wants us to be and to do what he wants us to do, to be an effective, productive Christian, we must work hard to apply the resources Christ has provided. When We work hard (with σπυδὴ - “diligence”) to cooperate with God's grace, God will produce the character of Christ in us. He will make us grow, helps us avoid sin and give eternal reward. 1.1-11

Jesus is not setting out a new and more demanding code of ethics that only a few disciplined ascetics can achieve. Rather, he is redefining the people of God. They are the people who recognize him as their lawgiver, who come to him not on the basis of their perfection or strength but in their imperfection and weakness. They are men and women who ask for forgiveness, not approval, and their perfection is not interior and invisible, but worked out in everyday life. 2 Peter 1.3, 46–47

Believers must work hard to teach, study and obey God's Word because it is the only sure source for knowing and serving Jesus Christ. Our task is to work hard to study and teach the Word and hold each other accountable with the truth of the Word because the command of Christ to pass the Word on is urgent, because the Bible is the sure, eyewitness record of the person and actions of Jesus and reveals God's direction for life. The proper response then, is to pay close attention to the Word, submit to it and let it change you.  1.12-21

The temptation is for each generation to model itself on the previous one, reacting to the mistakes they can see and compounding the errors they cannot. That is the inevitable way to guarantee a wobbling church leadership, always controlled by the weakness of its parents. Peter calls us to go back to the original model, time and again. 2 Peter 1.15, 71.

The authority of the apostles is being defended precisely on the issue of whether they spoke about God accurately and authoritatively; hence Peter’s emphasis that they both saw and heard. He said the same to the Jewish council; the apostles ‘cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard'. Today we have to accept that same double authority. It is not simply their testimony to a series of encounters with Jesus that is important and decisive. They claim to have the right to give the only true interpretation, the unique meaning, of those events, because they heard that interpretation from the mouth of God himself. 2 Peter 1.17-18, 79

Believers must be aware of and on guard against false teachers and a false Gospel. We must be prepared to identify false teachers so we can avoid the danger they present and warn others. God is certain to properly judge the wicked and deliver the righteous. Believers must make sure they are on the right side. We must be able to recognize false teachers and expose their false teachings so that we can avoid their judgment. 2.1-22

If Peter is right, the people he is describing will be present in churches all the time, often in positions of leadership. We must not be afraid to confront them, even if at times we feel a bit foolish because they are unable to see what clearly lies ahead of them—the very word of God, carried by one of the ‘celestial beings’ they affect to despise. 2 Peter 2.15-16, 114

We must beware of people whose promises differ from God’s...A non-judgmental ethic and an open-ended theology will be on offer to immature Christians, who do not know enough to refuse it and cannot see the selfishness masquerading as spirituality. It is sharply contemporary. 2 Peter 2.19, 118-119

Believers must keep in mind that the prophesied coming of the LORD to judge will happen, despite those who question it and its long delay so they will be ready for it by living righteously now. Because judgment is coming, we must live for God now, focused on His Word and on the eternal; not on the temporary things of life. It is important because those who willfully ignore or oppose this will be judged. Scriptural thinking and living give one a proper perspective and prepares one for judgment. So we must be ready for Jesus' coming in judgment by responding now to the grace of the Gospel with faith and by working hard to grow. 3.1-18

How much wiser we would be if we admitted ignorance over the precise timing of Jesus’ return! Even the Lord Jesus himself did not know when it would be. We should therefore keep a level head at times of international conflict and upheaval, and build on the firm information he has given us—that he will return, and that he has tasks for us to work at until he comes. The challenge, then, is to be neither inward-looking obscurantists nor downward-looking secularists, but Christians who are motivated by looking both outward to fulfil the Great Commandment and upward to fulfil the Great Commission. 2 Peter 3.9, 140

Peter’s solution is to grow in the grace and knowledge of … Jesus Christ. We need to know more about him, to be sure; but we also grow in that knowledge by obeying him, by treating his promises as genuine promises of the Saviour, and his commands as genuine commands of the Lord. 2 Peter 3.18, 157

No comments: