1 & 2 Peter
Lesson: Introduction to 2 Peter
Begin your study this week by reading through 2 Peter again in one sitting. This is a heartfelt letter that Peter penned to the same recipients of 1 Peter (2 Peter 1:1). Most likely by the time of this second letter, the Neronian persecution was in full force.
Tradition states that Peter was in prison awaiting his execution when he wrote this letter. Whether that is the case or not, he knows that his death is imminent. Because of this, the tone of his second letter seems much more urgent. He knows that this is most likely the last opportunity he will have to communicate with his Christian brothers and sisters.
It is likely that this encounter is playing over and over again in Peter’s mind. He was a first-hand witness to the excruciating death Jesus experienced. The closer his death became, the more meaning Christ’s command to “Follow Me” held.
Peter’s message in his first letter centered around threats and temptations that would come from the outside. He constantly reminds them to grow close to one another so that they can withstand those external forces. Peter’s second letter, however, focuses on a very different but equally as real threat. He wants them to be sure to watch out for problems that will arise from within their congregations.
- 2 Peter 2:1
- 2 Peter 3:3
- 2 Peter 3:17
Peter has identified this cancer that is threatening the Church from within, but he also gives the antidote: true knowledge. Think back to our previous lesson; one of the major false teachings of the day was Gnosticism, its main tenant being the acquisition of knowledge. Peter uses many different words for “knowledge” throughout this letter, the first of which is EPIGNOSIS. This was a direct rebuttal to the Gnostic ideas. The prefix “EPI” in Greek means unto, toward or in the direction of something. This was not gaining general knowledge; Peter has a very specific definition of what true knowledge was.
True knowledge wasn’t this ultimate self-awareness that the Gnostics touted; it was knowledge of Jesus Christ. We live in a society that holds knowledge at a high premium. Many people place their self-worth in the number of letters they can acquire behind their name. Higher education is not inherently sinful, but it can be just as much of a false god to us as money. As people of Christ we need to be sure that the knowledge of our blessed Redeemer comes first. Without this knowledge we will be unable to distinguish false teachers and won’t know when we are being led astray.
There are several keywords Peter uses throughout this letter. Take some time to read through and mark each time these words (or their synonyms) are used. Try to read through the letter one time with each individual word in mind. This will help you see the various themes and how they fit into the book.
Each time you read through this letter, be sure to keep the theme in mind. Remember, these were real people facing real problems, just like you and I. Also, as you continue to study the book of first Peter, draw as many parallels as you can between yourself and Peter’s audience. The more you understand your similarities, the more this book will come alive with practical teachings you can apply to your everyday life.
*Note: The author uses the New American Standard Update for all quotations and references.
By Kristy Huntsman
Kristy is CFYC’s Finer Grounds Editor and all-around right-hand-gal. She and her husband, Lance serve with the Southwest church of Christ in Ada, OK where Lance is the family minister. Kristy is a stay-at-home-mom to their two daughters Taylor and Makayla.