2 Peter Preview
This letter, a follow up to 1 Peter, was intended for the same audience as Peter’s first letter to a network of churches. Scholars believe that this letter came soon after Peter’s first one was written, but why was it needed? In addition to needing a message of hope in the midst of suffering (the theme of 1 Peter), these early Christians also needed another reminder: to grow in spiritual maturity.
Not only were the churches in Asia Minor being persecuted, there had also been a rise of heretical and false teachers. These churches and the believers in them were being deceived and led away from the message of the Gospel. When you have a deficit of knowledge, it is easy to be deceived and taken advantage of. That’s what was happening to these immature believers. They needed to grow in their knowledge and understanding of who God is and what His Word says. Pastor and scholar Chuck Swindoll said this about 2 Peter:
“In an effort to stem the tide of heresy and false teaching among the Christians, Peter emphasized the importance of learning and clinging to the proper knowledge of God. In fact, this concept was so important to him that the word knowledge appears—in one form or another—some fifteen times in the span of this short, three-chapter letter.”
Reading, understanding, and applying God’s Word to our lives is a vital part of growing in spiritual maturity. As we read 2 Peter, take note of the other words and themes you see repeated throughout. What conviction do you feel reading? Where is there a deficit of spiritual maturity in your life? How can you grow in maturity to the point where you’re not easily deceived? These are the questions to ask ourselves as we read this brief letter.
Read 2 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.
Confirming One’s Calling and Election
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Prophecy of Scripture
12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever baked a cake and forgotten one ingredient? Forgetting even one small ingredient can totally change the final result. Every ingredient is important when baking because it ensures the end result is well rounded in flavor and texture. The life of a believer is very similar. There are many different facets and qualities that all go into a well rounded Christian life. We see Peter outline seven of these characteristics in verses 5-7: goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love.
As we read this list it can feel a little bit overwhelming if we do not first understand the importance of the verses prior. On our own, there is no way for us to embody any of the characteristics listed, but we see in verse 3 that it is by God’s power that we have been given everything we need for a godly life. It is only by the strength that God gives us that we are even able to live the life He has called us to live. God is the one who equips us! When we spend our time focusing on a list of things we want to do, we will never become all God intends us to be. On our own we will always fall short. This sounds sad, but we should be encouraged that the life to which we have been called is not one we can manufacture on our own.
Have you ever wondered how to tell if you are growing in your faith? At times, it can feel like months go by and we look back unable to tell if we have grown in our walk with Christ. The virtues listed here are a great metric to identify if your life is being transformed by God. It is important to note however, that the list is not what creates change. It is not an instruction manual but a picture of the desired end result. The manual or the key to embodying these characteristics is to spend time with Jesus. He is the only who perfectly lived as this list instructs.
Every ingredient is not specifically tasted in a cake but they are all important to create the final result. The same is true for us as believers. The outside world might not be able to describe the seven characteristics Peter mentions, but the way they see our lives carried out should point back to each of these ingredients.
- When you think back on your faith five or ten years ago, what growth have you seen? How has your walk with Jesus changed?
- Which of those seven elements listed in v. 5-7 is the most present in your life currently? Which is least present?
- What would a non-believer point to in your life that looks different from the rest of the world?
Thank you Lord for the work that Jesus did on the cross and that because of it, I am fully equipped to live the life you have called me to live. Please reveal to me where I can grow in my relationship with you. Show me where I am living according to the corruption of the world and where I am bending towards my sinful desire.
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