The Book of Second Peter
A brief span of time had elapsed and the "fiery trials" of Peter's first epistle seem to have abated. Now, rather than arising from outside the church, the threat and cause for concern arose from within. Warning against the subtle and malicious work of false teachers constitutes much of Peter's burden. He knew that the believers had not grown sufficiently in grace and true knowledge. So, to the experienced eye of the apostle the threat of false teachers was just as real and present as was the "suffering" of his first epistle.
These false teachers professed much knowledge and yet manifested so little godliness in their lives. It was only to those initiated into their society, the intelligentsia, for whom creation would unfold its secrets which were veiled to the masses. The favored few exalted intellectualisms above the revealed truth of God and so despised and cast off the restraints of scriptural commands. This led to a moral breakdown—the inevitable consequence of departure from an authoritative Word of God. In place of faith and love they spoke much of knowledge. The most sacred things of the Christian faith were used as barter to obtain sensual satisfaction as they lusted after personal gain.
The Christians whom Peter addressed had received much instruction in the truths of God. Both through apostolic preaching and by letters the Christian faith had been fully expressed. These believers had no need of further revelation, but there was need to stir up their minds to reflect and act upon what they already knew.
Peter prepared them to receive the teachings of his letter as authorized exhortation (1:12, 15). At least this seems to be his implication in 1:16, "We did not follow cunningly devised fables," and in 1:20-21, "No prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation, for no prophecy ever came by the will of man, but men spoke from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit" (ASV). The focal point of their reflection should be the trustworthiness of the Old Testament prophecies.
A second area of concern is not with the trustworthiness of the Scriptures, but with the "things foretold by the holy prophets, and the command of the Lord and Savior through your apostles" (3:2, C. B. Williams Translation) as concerning the coming of the Lord. Peter believed that this expectation, although delayed in fulfillment, was most needful to the Christian and he set about to underscore these teachings by means of the epistle.
* [George H. Cramer, First and Second Peter, Everyman's Bible Commentary, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, 1967]
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