Oak Grove Baptist Church

Striving to become the church of choice for this generation.

1 John 1:1-4

The Way of Life

Scripture Outline

  1. From the Beginning (1Jn_1:1-4)
  2. God is Light (1Jn_1:5)
  3. The Walk in the Light (1Jn_1:6-10)

From the Beginning

The first four verses in our English text are really one long song-like sentence from John. The atmosphere of the sentence is exciting, immediate, and intensely personal as we, the readers, are invited into a relationship of joy with the writer John and those brothers and sisters with him and the Lord. At the same time the sentence is vast and historically far-reaching.

As the words begin we are reminded of the prologue to the Gospel of John and also of the opening words of Genesis 1. "In the beginning God created … and God said …" What is it that John intends us to think and feel as we hear these opening words? Is he referring to "the beginning" as seen in the more close-at-hand sense of the beginning of the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ which John himself knew of personally and directly and now invites those of us who read his opening words of this chapter to experience with him? Or does John intend the more mysterious and extensive connection of these words "from the beginning" to the opening song of Genesis? In this case John connects the Jesus Christ of his personal relationship to the very source and origin of everything. John is then telling us that this Jesus Christ of our experience is the One who stands with the Father in the beginning before creation itself.

It seems the most reasonable interpretation to me that John intends both of these meanings in these opening words. The evidence that supports this interpretation is found in the obvious connection of these four verses to the great prologue at the opening of the Gospel of John. In the Gospel's prologue, the Logos is firmly identified with the Father in the beginning before creation. In fact John tells us "all things were made through him" (Joh_1:3). What we have in 1Jn_1:1-4 is a practical commentary upon the mighty prologue of the Gospel of John. The great theme about life in the original prologue, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men" (Joh_1:4), is now made understandable and practical, totally accessible to mere human beings. John tells us in concrete terms about this wondrous "Word of life." His main point is that we have seen, looked at, touched this Word of life. Whatever the Word of life is, one thing is clear to us from John: the Word of life can be known and experienced by people. This is the contention of John, and he makes his point several different ways within these four verses so that there can be no misunderstanding.

Let us examine his vocabulary just to see how John develops his exciting affirmation. Notice the visual vocabulary that John makes use of: two vision or seeing words are used by John within these few verses. The one word theōmai means "to gaze" or "behold," and it contains within it a dramatic and powerful sense. It is the idea of a spectacle now seen in full power and wonder. From this Greek word we have the root for the English word "the-ater." The word horaō in Greek is the more common and ordinary word and means plainly and directly "to see, to catch sight of." With this word John emphasizes how real and actual was his own experience of Jesus Christ. The word offers an earthy companionship to the more dramatic sense of seeing in theōmai. John's experience was both a mysterious perception of the living Lord and yet it was also very basic and down to earth. Jesus was no phantom of the spiritual realm but He was Jesus of Nazareth.

The most vitally important phrase in this paragraph is made up of the three words, "Word of life." What does John mean by the use of the word Logos? "Word" within the Greek world of thought carries in it the sense of meaning, reason, purpose of it all. It is a vast word that integrates other lesser words within itself. Within the Old Testament world of thought, "word" carries the sense of authority, disclosure, decision, and action. "God said, 'Let there be light.'" Word is powerful, and because of it not only do things happen but disclosure of the will and character of God takes place. When God speaks we meet Him. By His Word He creates, by His Word He is known, by His Word He judges, forgives, and fulfills.

John has already proved to his readers that he is totally fluent in the Greek language. C. K. Barrett has observed that though John's Greek vocabulary is very simple, as a writer he is never at a loss for the right Greek word to express himself. John's Greek in this letter of 1 John is the simplest Greek in the New Testament. For this reason it is a very good book for the beginner in Greek studies to try out his or her language skills. This book is written in "Dick and Jane" Greek, but do not let that fact lead you, the interpreter, to a false conclusion. John is the same kind of writer Winston Churchill was a speaker. Both favor short, crisp sentences and plain, clear words. But both are fully aware of the words they are using, and that idiomatic fluency and correctness intensify the power of what is written. John is fully aware of the rich philosophical content hidden within the Greek word Logos. He now deliberately makes use of this loaded, awesome word, brilliantly seizing hold of it and giving it the flavor and decisive power of the Old Testament sense of "word." The more subtle Greek nuances of meaning and reason in Logos are not lost, but they are drawn into the larger, more primitive power of the Old Testament sense of the God who speaks and who makes Himself known, the God who creates by that very speech.

Notice in this brief prologue of 1 John the two major affirmations that John announces to his readers: first, that life has its origin in God's character and nature; second, that this life from God has come among us. God is the source of life. Whatever life is, we learn from John that it derives from God; life is not seen by John as an abstract philosophical entity. This is why John is able to add to the word "life" the mysterious word "eternal." We know from the Old and New Testament doctrine of history that the created order of both heaven and earth are not in themselves eternal (Luk_21:33). Only God is eternal and His speech is eternal—His Word. The Word of life is eternal. John tells his readers that that Word of life has been made manifest. The Greek word John uses to describe this manifestation of the Word is phaneroō, which means to reveal, to become visible, plain, clear. The English word "phenomenon" comes from this Greek root. It is this sense of clarity that John wants to emphasize by the use of these words. He wants his readers to know that the decision God made which is described as the "Word of life" has become vivid and clear, personal and knowable. John himself and other witnesses as well had experienced a concrete personal relationship with God's speech, and now those who read his letter are assured that they too are invited to enter into fellowship with other disciples and with the Living Word.

One unusual feature in John's way of writing is that in both the Gospel of John and in his first letter, John withholds the name of Jesus Christ until the close of the prologue. It is not until verse 1Pe_1:17 of chapter 1 in the Gospel that the name of Jesus Christ is presented to the reader. By then it has become clear that the Logos of which John had written is in fact Jesus Christ "The Only Son" of God. Now in this letter, as John employs the same writing method, it is at the close of the prologue that we meet the holy name of the Logos of life. Jesus is the Word of life. He is the eternal life that John knows so well from personal experience, and now we who read John's letter are warmly invited to have fellowship with other disciples of Christ as well as with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

The word koinōnia is used in classical Greek as a term to express the most intimate kinds of human relationship as, for example, in marriage. Its basic root koinos means literally "common," hence "communion." It is this interpersonal and encouraging word that John now uses. Its meanings are warm and affirming. Koinōnia is the word for "generosity" as in Php_2:1. It can be translated with the word "participation" as in Phm_1:6. It may be translated in its noun form by the word "partner" or "sharer," as in Luk_5:10. We are not therefore surprised that John should conclude his prologue with a final one-sentence sigh: "And we are writing this that our joy may be complete." Manuscript evidence favors the pronoun "our" rather than "your" in his final sentence. The word "joy" is a light and whimsical word in Greek—chara. To this day the Greek-speaking world still makes use of this good word as a greeting. From this root the word charis ("grace") is developed particularly by Paul as an important word in his love vocabulary. There is the sense of surprise and acceleration within the word chara ("joy") and its companion charis ("grace")—the sense of a gift being given when no one expected it.

What has John said to us in these opening sentences of his book? And what is the significance of his prologue for our lives today? John has announced that from the beginning, before the creation itself, God who is the source of life had made His own decision to speak that eternal life into the time frame in which we human beings live out our historical existence. His breakthrough into our time has happened, and the mystery of this breakthrough is that we mere human beings have been able to understand and know the core of the mystery because at the very center of that mystery is the person Jesus Christ—not life or word as secrets to be decoded, but the Person to be known. The result of our discovery of Jesus Christ is a partnership, a sharing of our life with other human lives and with God the Father and the Son. Finally, this fellowship is so good it is fun. "Joy … is the gigantic secret of the Christian … ." (G. K. Chesterton,

Orthodoxy, p. 160). "When the pagan looks at the very core of the cosmos he is struck cold. Behind the gods, who are merely despotic, sit the fates, who are deadly. Nay, the fates are worse than deadly; they are dead" (Chesterton, Orthodoxy, p. 159). But when we look at the core of the cosmos we are met by the Living God who creates, who speaks for Himself, who has surprised us by knowing our names. When this surprise sinks in, then the joyous fellowship begins.

John has thrown a great stone into the water and the rings that encircle the stone are moving out in all directions. Here is life. The Life has broken in!

2 Peter 3:1-7

Keep on Trusting God

Scripture Outline

  1. Remember the Basics (2Pe_3:1-7)
  2. Remember, God is Always on Time (2Pe_3:8-9)
  3. The Kind of People We Should Be (2Pe_3:10-13)
  4. How to Be Found by Him (2Pe_3:14-16)
  5. A Final Word Concerning Growing (2Pe_3:17-18)

Peter's denunciation of false teachers and their false teaching has been vividly strong—they face certain doom. His vocabulary was confrontive and strong. In contrast, he now returns to speaking to the believers in gentle and endearing language. His message is one of love and encouragement.

He points them to God. Unlike the false teachers, God is the One who is always to be trusted. The day of the Lord is coming. God always keeps His promises. He is always on time!

Remember the Basics

"Beloved" is a wonderful word of love and endearment. Peter has a sincere love for the Christians who have suffered so much for their faith in Jesus Christ. He wishes for them to walk with God and not to be led astray. And so he writes to "stir up" their pure minds as a way of reminder of what they already know and believe. In fact, he states this has been the clear purpose of both of his letters (2Pe_3:1).

The word translated "stir up" (diegeírÉ) means to arouse or awaken fully. That was the need of the first-century Christians, and it is a primary need of Christians today. We need to be fully awakened to the truth of God's Word and to the basics of the faith. Peter suggests three specific areas of which we need to be reminded and stirred up.

First, we need to remember the words of the holy prophets (2Pe_3:2). The holy prophets are far different from the false prophets about whom Peter has been warning. These are the holy men to whom Peter has referred in chapter one, verses 2Pe_1:20 and 2Pe_1:21. These holy prophets spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. They wrote Scripture which did not come by personal interpretation, nor by the will of man, but by the Holy Spirit.

Peter encourages us to escape from the destructive heresies of the false prophets (2Pe_2:1) and to remember the words of the holy prophets. In short, our trust should be in God and in His Word which He has given us through Spirit-led prophets.

Second, we should remember the commandments of the apostles (2Pe_3:2). When Peter was writing these words of instruction, the New Testament canon had not been established. The words of the prophets were among the canon of the Jewish Scriptures. They were certainly to be heeded.

But from the beginning of the birth of the church, the "apostles' doctrines," or the commandments of the apostles of the Lord and Savior (2Pe_3:2), were followed by the believers. Luke recorded this fact when he wrote concerning the early Christians, "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Act_2:42).

Last, Peter reminds us that God is in control (2Pe_3:3-7). Remembering the words of the holy prophets and the commandments of the apostles of the Lord and Savior is essential and important because they take us back to God who is the source of the Word and commandments. Our trust should be in Him. He is in control of all things.

In this regard, the first thing to remember is that scoffers will come in the last days walking after their own lusts (2Pe_3:3, 2Pe_3:4). They are like the false teachers who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness (2Pe_2:10).

These scoffers do not listen to the prophets, to the apostles, nor do they look to God. Instead, they merely look at outward circumstances and ask, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (2Pe_3:4). The inference of Peter's teaching is clear. Don't listen to these scoffers. Don't follow in their ways. Look to God and trust Him. He has everything under control. God is the One who created the world, and He is still in charge!

Peter builds his argument upon God's creation (2Pe_3:5). He "stirs up" the minds of his readers to remember who God is. He is the Creator of all things. By His word the heavens and the earth were created. The scoffers willfully forget this marvelous fact (2Pe_3:5).

In verse 2Pe_3:6, Peter reminds his readers God did not merely create the world and then leave it. When the people of His creation disobeyed Him and chose to live in blatant sin, God brought the great Flood upon the earth. He did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah and seven others who were righteous while bringing the Flood on the world of the ungodly (2Pe_2:1; Gen. 6-8).

God is not only the Creator, but He has the power to bring judgment and even destroy that which He has created. It is a foolish thing to willingly forget or ignore who God is and who we are. By His word, He can create or destroy.

God has already declared through His holy prophets and apostles what lies ahead. Jesus prophesied of the end of the world when He said, "Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age" (Mat_13:40). The writer of Hebrews quoted from Psalm 102 in stating, "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain" (Heb_1:10-11).

John writes vividly about the destruction of the present heavens and earth in Revelation 20. He continues by writing, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea" (Rev_21:1).

Peter confirms that teaching by stating that the heavens and earth which now exist are being reserved for fire until the day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men (2Pe_3:7). Those sobering words should remind us of the importance of trusting in the living God. We need to remember He is in control.

2 Peter 3:8-9

Remember, God is Always on Time

God is not only in control; He is always on time. Scoffers would attempt to make us believe God has fallen asleep or He is inept or He does not keep His promises. Speaking once again with endearment to his readers as he calls them "beloved" (2Pe_3:8), Peter asks them not to forget that "with the Lord one day is as a thousand years" (2Pe_3:8). Peter practices what he has been preaching. He has encouraged his readers to heed the Word of God which has come from the prophets and the apostles. In verse 2Pe_3:8 he does just that by referring to the teaching of Psa_90:4, "For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night."

Scoffers assert that since Jesus promised His Second Coming and has not yet come, He was either lying or is incapable of keeping His promise. Peter contends that Jesus is not limited by time as are humans. One day in the sight of God is like one thousand years, and one thousand years is as a day. The psalmist has declared it and Peter believed it.

Insisting that "the Lord is not slack concerning His promise" (2Pe_3:9), Peter gives a better reason for the fact Jesus has not returned. He remembers well the teaching of his Master on this subject, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority" (Act_1:7). Jesus had also said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Mat_24:36).

Thus, Peter concludes, the Lord is not "slack" concerning His promise. He never stated the exact time in which He would return. It is in the Father's hands. Not even the angels know the time of His return.

The verb translated as "not slack" is bradúnō, which means to delay or tarry. God is never late. He is always on time. He is never delayed by outward circumstances or by others. He is always in control. His motive is always love. He so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son. And it's because of His love for the world that Jesus has not yet returned.

God's love is manifested in His longsuffering (makrothuméō) which denotes patience and forbearance. In his first letter, Peter referred to the longsuffering of God in the days of Noah before bringing judgment upon unrepentant people (1Pe_3:20).

"[He is] longsuffering toward us" because He is not willing for any to "perish but that all should come to repentance" (2Pe_3:9). Again, Peter bases his teaching upon the Word of God from the prophets and apostles. Ezekiel recorded the Word of the Lord, " 'Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?' says the Lord God,' and not that he should turn from his ways and live?'" (Eze_18:23).

Paul contends God does not desire for any to perish, but wishes for all to be saved (1Ti_2:4). And Paul wrote to the church at Rome, "For God has committed them all to disobedience, that he might have mercy on all" (Rom_11:32).

Thus, Peter concludes, the Lord has not returned for one simple reason—it is not yet the Father's time. And the reason it is not yet the Father's time is because of His longsuffering. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:10-13

The Kind of People We Should Be

As Peter has written directly regarding the false teachers, he now expresses himself very graphically and with great conviction concerning the coming of Christ's kingdom. Indeed the Lord is going to keep His promise. It is not a matter of "if" He is coming, it is merely a matter of "when" He will return.

"The day of the Lord will come" (2Pe_3:10). The scoffers may doubt, and the world may totally ignore Him, but Jesus is coming again! Jesus said, "Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him" (Mat_24:44). Peter describes what will happen in that time.

Remember that Peter was present when the Lord shared His teaching regarding His Second Coming. Jesus had told Peter and the other disciples, "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into" (Mat_24:43). Thus, Peter reminds us the Lord will come like a thief in the night (2Pe_3:10).

"The heavens will pass away" (2Pe_3:10). The heavens (ouranós) are mentioned by Peter five times in this chapter. In verse 2Pe_3:5, he refers to the creation of the heavens by God; in verse 2Pe_3:7, he contends the heavens are kept in existence by the word of God; in verse 2Pe_3:12, he speaks about the heavens being dissolved by fire when Christ returns; in verse 2Pe_3:13, he speaks about the new heavens which will come after the destruction of the old; and in verse 2Pe_3:10, we read that the heavens will pass away with a great noise.

The word translated as "a great noise" is rhoizēdón, which means "whizzingly" or "with a great crash." One is reminded of the prophetic warning given to the city of Ariel by the prophet Isaiah, "You will be punished by the LORD of hosts with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with storm and tempest and the flame of devouring fire" (Isa_29:6).

Even though we live in the day of atomic power, space travel, and many scientific achievements, and even though we have witnessed the power and awesome destruction of nuclear weapons, it is difficult for us to comprehend just what it will be like for the heavens to be destroyed and to pass away. What a noise!

The earth "will be burned up" (2Pe_3:10). Not only will the earth be burned up, but everything upon the earth: "the works that are in it will be burned up." What an incredible and incomprehensible event. To burn with fire is katakaı́ō which means to consume utterly or to burn up utterly.

In short, there will be nothing remaining. The earth will be consumed and everything on it. And the heavens will be destroyed. What an awesome event. Until the development of the atom and hydrogen bombs it was difficult for mankind to imagine that such destruction could be possible.

Our generation has come to know that it is not only possible, but it is probable. Peter says it is not only probable, but it is absolutely certain. And it is part of God's master plan. Therefore, we should be prepared. In verses 2Pe_3:11 and 2Pe_3:12 Peter suggests four specific areas of our lifestyles to which we should pay heed if we believe the Word of God is to be believed and that all things are to be dissolved. He tells us what manner of persons we should be.

First, we are to live lives of holy conduct (2Pe_3:11). Peter speaks a great deal about holiness in both of his letters. His most specific teaching is found in 1Pe_1:15, 1Pe_1:16, "But as He who has called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.'"

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus shares the parable about the faithful and unfaithful servants. When the master returned from a trip, he found the good servant serving faithfully, who was rewarded. But the unfaithful servant was beating his fellow servants. He was to be cut in two and cast out with the hypocrites (Mat_24:45-51). Like those servants, we should be ready for our Master to return.

Second, Peter tells us to live lives of godliness (2Pe_3:11). In order to live godly lives, we must live like Him! Of course, we cannot do that if we live in the flesh. Peter has already warned us against that kind of lifestyle (2Pe_2:20 and 2Pe_3:3).

We must be like the good servants in another parable of Jesus who did not bury the talents the Master had given them, but invested them wisely. Jesus concluded that parable by saying, "for to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away" (Mat_25:29).

Verse 2Pe_3:12 then tells us to look for His coming. Faithfulness is one of the great attributes of God, and He asks His children to follow Him with faithfulness. Peter's exhortation is clear: we should faithfully be looking for His coming with expectation.

Jesus illustrated this important truth by sharing the parable of the wise and foolish virgins. The foolish virgins were not faithful, and thus, not adequately prepared. But the wise virgins were looking for His coming and were adequately prepared. When the bridegroom came, they went in with him to the wedding, but the other virgins came after the door was shut.

The conclusion of Jesus is clear, "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (Mat_25:13). He gave the same warning after speaking about Noah, the two women grinding at the mill, and the two men working in the field. "Watch, therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming" (Mat_24:42).

And last, we should be hastening His coming (2Pe_3:12). Although Peter does not give us clear instructions regarding how we should hasten the coming of the Lord, the inference seems clear. If the reason the Lord has not yet come is that He is longsuffering and not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2Pe_3:9), then we should be involved in the spiritual harvest.

Jesus said, "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work" (Joh_9:4). That is also His instruction. He has given us His commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations" (Mat_28:19).

We are not called to bask in the sunshine of God's kingdom or to sleep as did the foolish virgins. We are called to labor in the Lord's vineyard. If we are to hasten the coming of the Lord, we should be those who live holy and godly lives, who are looking for His coming, and who are working faithfully to share His love and salvation with others.

The prophetic statements made by Peter concerning the passing away of the heavens and the destruction of the earth are not meant to be fatalistic. To the contrary, Peter is constantly calling us to the life of hope in Jesus Christ.

The old must pass away when the new comes (1Co_13:10). And so Peter proceeds to a note of hope and triumph. There will be new heavens and a new earth when the kingdom of our Lord comes, and we should be looking for them (2Pe_3:13). This, says Peter, is according to the promise of God. An example of that promise is found in Isa_65:17, "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind."

As we have seen, the ultimate promise is given in Rev_21:1, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away." The promise is clear. The old is passing away by God's design, and the new is coming by God's plan.

The marvelous thing which Peter specifies about the new is the fact that righteousness dwells there. John writes that there will be no more curse and no more night (Rev_22:3, Rev_22:5); "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev_21:4).

No wonder we should look forward to His coming! His testimony to us is "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work" (Rev_22:12).

2 Peter 3:14-16

How to Be Found by Him

Because the day of the Lord is imminent, and because we are those who are looking for the coming of Christ and His kingdom, Peter states we should be diligent in being ready to be found by Him. The word "diligent," spoudÇ is the same word that Peter uses in chapter one when he urges his readers to be diligent to make their calling and election sure (2Pe_1:10).

As he comes to the close of his epistle, he makes the same appeal with a slightly different emphasis. It is certain we should make our calling and election sure, but it is within the context of being prepared for the coming of Christ. We should be diligent to be found in Him with the following attributes:

"In peace" (2Pe_3:14). Once again, Peter uses one of the key words which he addressed in his opening remarks. The word "peace" (eirḗnē) means more than mere quietness. It has some of the sense of the Hebrew word shalom in that it implies prosperity or well-being.

That is Peter's concern for his readers—that we be at peace with the Lord, with others, and with ourselves. It is good to be resting in the Lord and in His faithful provision. Jesus shared that in the world we will have tribulation, but in Him we have peace (Joh_16:33).

"Without spot" (2Pe_3:14). In contrast to the false teachers who are spots and blemishes (2Pe_2:13), Peter encourages us to be "without spot" (áspilos). This is the same word used by James when he instructs us to keep ourselves unspotted from the world (Jas_1:27). And it is the word which Peter uses in describing Jesus as the lamb without blemish and without spot (1Pe_1:19).

The teaching of Peter and of all the Scripture is clear: The Lord desires we would allow Him to make us pure and clean; that we would flee from the very appearance of evil; and that when Christ returns, He would find us without spot, cleansed by the very blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world (1Jn_1:7).

"Blameless "(2Pe_3:14). Blameless, what a startling word! To be blameless means we must be forgiven. There is only One in all of the universe who is capable of making us blameless. He is the One who is faithful and just to cleanse us from all sin (1Jn_1:9). Indeed, it is Jesus Christ the Lord.

The human approach is to either ignore sin or to justify ourselves by rationalizing that we are as good or even better than others. However, God does not ignore or rationalize concerning sin. He takes sin so seriously that He sent His only begotten Son to rescue us from the eternal death which results from sin.

God deals truthfully with our sin. We can receive His righteous judgment or we can enjoy His forgiveness by repenting of our sin and turning to Christ for His forgiveness. God both forgives and forgets our sin. It is as though we had never sinned—we are blameless. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa_1:18).

Christ has given us the way to live in peace, to be without spot and blameless. If we are not found by Him to be enjoying such a marvelous lifestyle, we can only blame our own selfish wills.

My life is an illustration of the wonderful truth found in verses 2Pe_3:15 and 2Pe_3:16. How gracious, patient, and longsuffering our Lord has been with me. His love has been steadfast. His forgiveness has been generous and ever available. Without Him, I would be lost. Through Him has come my salvation.

Peter, Paul, and the other apostles experienced this great salvation. They not only taught it and believed in it—they enjoyed the benefits of the salvation of the Lord, and so can we. Peter states that this is the same salvation about which the apostle Paul had written (2Pe_3:15, 2Pe_3:16).

To those who understand what Paul has written and have experienced the salvation of the Lord, it is wonderful news. But to those who continue to walk after the flesh and are untaught and unstable, they twist his teaching just as they do all of Scripture. The terrible result will be their own destruction.

What a contrast! To live in peace, without spot, blameless, and to enjoy the salvation which comes from the longsuffering of the Lord is the choice which Peter offers us as contrasted with the destruction which will come to those who twist the truth.

2 Peter 3:17-18

A Final Word Concerning Growing

Peter is building to a climax. His aim is clear. His message has not been hidden. He has warned against the false teachers and their teaching which would lead others astray. Their end is also clear—it will be certain destruction! But not only will they be destroyed, so will the heavens and earth. The day of God's judgment is coming.

But so is the day of the Lord's salvation when Christ shall come to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords! There will be a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell. The old will pass away and the new will come.

Therefore, states Peter, you should be ready for the coming of the Lord (2Pe_3:14-16). And now he concludes, you should take the initiative in at least three measurable ways:

1. Remember what you know (2Pe_3:17). From the beginning of his letter Peter has said he is writing to remind his readers of what they already know (2Pe_1:12). He has written both of his letters to "stir up" the pure minds of his readers by way of reminder (2Pe_3:1).

Now he translates those reminders into action. He asks us to live as though we remember and believe those vitally important things of which he has reminded us. Most of us do not need to know any more until we begin to apply what we already know. Our knowledge needs to be translated into lifestyle.

2. Beware lest you fall from your steadfastness (2Pe_3:17). Peter is writing primarily to those who are steadfast (stērigmós) or stable in their Christian faith. Many of them had suffered greatly because of their faith in Christ. They had withstood the attacks of Satan which had come to them through persecution by Nero and others outside the body of Christ.

Now Peter is warning them and us against the attacks of Satan which would come within the guise of those within the church. We need to be built solidly upon the rock, Jesus Christ (Mat_7:24) and to live constantly by the basics of the faith. We should remind one another to "stir up" our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Then, we must be careful lest we be led away with the error of the wicked and fall from our own steadfastness. There are those in the church who say we need not worry about falling. If that were true, then Peter wrote his epistle in vain as did Paul when he said, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1Co_10:12).

The warnings of Scripture are numerous: Watch out! Be on guard! Beware! Resist the devil! Flee from evil! Consent not to sin! The list goes on and on.

But God tells us not only to beware of going astray, He has promised us a way to be secure in Him. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Heb_13:5). He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Pro_18:24). And, as we have seen, the best defense is an active offense.

3. "But grow in the grace and knowledge ofJesus Christ" (2Pe_3:18). When we are growing in Christ, we are resisting error. When we are following Him, we are going the opposite direction from error. When we pay heed to the Word of God and live the life of obedience to His Word, we need not worry about falling.

"Grow" (2Pe_3:18). In his first letter, Peter gave the answer to what we should do to grow when he wrote, "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1Pe_2:2). Peter is stirring up our memories concerning that basic and vital teaching.

The Bible has a great deal to say about growing up in Christ. For example, Paul writes about us growing up into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph_2:21), and then teaches us how we should minister within the body of Christ so we "may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ" (Eph_4:15).

"Grace" (2Pe_3:18). Peter encourages us to grow in grace. The word for grace is cháris, which means "unmerited" or "receiving without deserving." Grace flows from God. And the more we grow, the more we should become like Him and the more of His grace we should enjoy, and that grace should flow from our lives to others. Show me a person who is walking closely with God and growing spiritually as they draw spiritual nourishment from Him, and I'll show you a person who is not only experiencing the grace of God but who is sharing it with others.

We should be growing in the grace which comes from Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. This grace is at the center of Christian lifestyle and Christian community. Therefore, there is little wonder this grace was and is commonly used in the greetings and benedictions which Christians share with one another.

For example, Paul wrote to the Galatian believers, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Gal_6:18) and to the church at Ephesus, "Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity" (Eph_6:24). May we be those who are growing in the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"Knowledge" (2Pe_3:18). We should not only be growing in grace, but also in knowledge. Not the kind of knowledge (gnōsis) which would make us puff up and be separated from others by the feeling of superiority (1Co_8:1). But, instead, the kind of knowledge of Jesus Christ which brings unity to the body and mutual growth to become more and more like Jesus Christ Himself (Eph_4:12, Eph_4:13).

This is not mere knowledge about Jesus; it is knowledge of Him. This is in stark contrast to those who are untaught, unstable, and who twist the truth to their own destruction (1Pe_3:16). To know Jesus is to know the truth (Joh_14:6). To know Jesus is life everlasting (Joh_3:16).

"Jesus Christ" (1Pe_3:18). Without a doubt, Jesus Christ is the focus of Peter's epistles and his very life. Peter had grown wonderfully in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and he invites us to do the same.

Peter referred to Jesus the Savior; he had experienced the salvation of Jesus Christ in his own life. Also, Peter referred to Jesus as Lord; he had followed Jesus as Lord of his life. Then, Peter closed his letter by referring to Christ in the ultimate, "To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen."

2 Peter 2:1-19

Keep on Resisting False Teachers

Scripture Outline

The Destructiveness of False Teaching 

Entangled Again in the World (2Pe_2:20-22)
  1. After establishing the basics of the Christian faith, the credibility of himself, and the prophecies of Scripture,
  2. Peter proceeds to refute the teachings of the false prophets with truth and directness.
  3. He begins by assailing the false teachings and then denounces the false teachers themselves. He assures them of their impending doom.

The Destructiveness of False Teaching

An exposition of this passage is difficult because of its length.

Peter does not divide his teaching into neat little packages or short paragraphs.

Instead, his teaching flows freely as he presents an extensive exposé of the false teachers and their false teachings. In order to understand clearly the truth which Peter is presenting, let us divide the material into Two Major Categories. Although Peter blends the material together, it is apparent he is presenting Two Major Teachings:

  • The First Deals with How To Identify Or To Recognize These False Teachers; and,
  • Second, He Speaks very directly about The Doom Which Is Faced By The False Teachers. Let's explore these two areas.

The First Could Be Titled, "How To Recognize False Teachers And Their False Teaching" (2Pe_2:1-19).

False Teaching can come in

  • Many different expressions and by
  • Numerous approaches, and False Teachers
  • Can be gifted and
  • Attractive people.

How Can We Recognize Them?

Peter gives us 22 clues to help us in this

vital venture of identification:

(1) They "will secretly bring in Destructive Heresies" (2Pe_2:1).

Those who lead us astray usually sneak up on us. They approach us in the guise of light, in order to share HERESIES (Gk., haı́resis) which are usually

  • "doctrines containing some truth but which are cleverly blended with error."
  1. The various religious sects of our day are representative of Clever Heresies.
  2. The word HAÍRESIS can actually be translated as "sect."
  3. These Heresies Bring disunity to the body of Christ.

(2) They will even Deny The Lord (2Pe_2:1).

  1. No one knew any more about denying the Lord than Peter.
  2. How deeply concerned he was no one should follow in his footsteps!
  3. To Deny Is ARNÉOMAI, Which Means "to contradict, reject, or disavow."
  4. The next time a member of a religious sect calls on your home, ask him or her the direct question, "What do you think of Jesus?"
  5. If he is honest in his answer, his heresy will be clearly exposed.

(3) "They will exploit you with Deceptive Words" (2Pe_2:3).

  1. In the Authorized Version of the Bible, "EXPLOIT" is translated as "make merchandise of you."
  2. The Greek word is EMPOREÚOMAI, which denotes the business of buying and selling.
  3. In fact, James uses the word within that context of buying and selling (Jas_4:13). False teachers exploit people. They use them as merchandise or objects.

(4) They "Walk According To The Flesh In The Lust Of Uncleanness" (2Pe_2:10).

  1. In his first letter, Peter begs us to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul (1Pe_2:11).
  2. And then he encourages us to live no longer in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God (1Pe_4:2).
  3. The lust of the flesh and the things of the Spirit are contrary to one another (Gal_5:16-18).
  4. False teachers do not walk in the Spirit; they live in the lusts of the flesh.

(5) They "Despise Authority" (2Pe_2:10).

Jude writes of the same characteristic as he describes false teachers. He states they reject authority (Jud_1:8).

  1. A basic problem of sin is the resistance to submit to God or anyone else.
  2. God addresses this sin in the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exo_20:3, NIV).
  3. These false teachers despise the authority of God and refuse to live under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
  4. Instead, they prefer to establish themselves as the final authority.

(6) "They Are Presumptuous" (2Pe_2:10).

  1. Presumptuous (TOLMĒTḖS) means audacious, arrogant, rash or daring in a negative sense.
  2. Sin often leads to presumption.
  3. At best, sin is stupid!

(7) They are "self-willed" (2Pe_2:10).

Self-willed (authádÄs) means to be self-pleasing or strong in one's will. In other words, they always want their own way. They are concerned about doing their own thing as opposed to doing God's will. Their theme song is "I Did It My Way!"

(8) They "speak evil of dignitaries" (2Pe_2:10).

They are so arrogant that they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, angels, or those of high esteem. They feel that they are better than others. How much they need the counsel of Paul who challenges those with false feelings of superiority, "To everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Rom_12:3).

(9) They "speak evil of the things they do not understand" (2Pe_2:12).

False teachers are like brute beasts or irrational animals who abuse, sneer, and scoff at things they don't understand. Peter is obviously referring to the fact that since they are living in the flesh, they cannot understand the things of the spirit. Yet they mock and speak evil against those things.

(10) "They are spots and blemishes" (2Pe_2:13).

They are "spots" (spı́loi), unwanted ugly stains. And they are blemishes (mōmos), which can figuratively mean disgraceful persons. When we buy an object such as a piece of furniture or an article of clothing, we do not desire to purchase that which contains spots or blemishes. What a contrast this is to Paul's description of the church, "That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph_5:27).

(11) They carouse "in their own deceptions" (2Pe_2:13).

Peter states these people count it pleasure to "riot" or "carouse" (truphḗ) in the daytime, and they carouse (entrupháō) in their own deceptions while they feast with you. Sin is deceptive and those who live in sin become entangled in their own "deceptions" (apátē). It is this kind of deception against which Jesus warned in His parable of the sower (Mar_4:19). The writer of Hebrews instructs us to "exhort one another daily… lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb_3:13).

(12) Their eyes are "full of adultery" (2Pe_2:14).

The seventh commandment is "You shall not commit adultery" (Exo_20:14, NIV). Jesus said, "Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mat_5:28). The false teacher who is living in the flesh has his eyes full of adultery. He uses people for his own gratification.

(13) Their eyes never cease from sinning (2Pe_2:14).

John warns us about the sin of loving the world. "For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world" (1Jn_2:16). The eyes can be used for lusting, and so Jesus warned, "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell" (Mat_5:29).

(14) They entice "unstable souls" (2Pe_2:14).

The Greek word for "entice" is deleázō, which also means to "allure, entrap, or delude." Sin does entice us. It promises us life, but it can deliver only momentary pleasure. Ultimately, it always leads to death. The wages or results of sin is always death (Rom_6:23).

(15) "They have a heart trained in covetous practices" (2Pe_2:14). 

This literally means they have trained their hearts through continuous use to be greedy or to covet that which belongs to someone else. Again, this is the breaking of one of the Ten Commandments, "You shall not covet" (Exo_20:17, NIV).

(16) They "are accursed children" (2Pe_2:14).

These false teachers, who would lead others astray, are living under a curse from God. Because of the deception of sin, they are living under a curse and don't even know it. Literally, they are "children of curse."

(17) "They have forsaken the right way and gone astray" (2Pe_2:15).

Isaiah declared, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way" (Isa_53:6). That is the problem of sin. We leave the narrow way of righteousness for the broad way which leads to destruction (Mat_7:13). To illustrate the sin of going astray, Peter recites the story of Balaam, who strayed away from God into sin and was verbally rebuked by a donkey which God had enabled to communicate (Num. 22). So are the stupid consequences of sin.

(18) They "are wells without water" (2Pe_2:17).

A well without water or a spring that has gone dry can cause great frustration. They are of no purpose or use. They have lost their intended purpose or function. So it is of false teachers. They do not quench the spiritual thirst of their hearers.

(19) They are "clouds carried by a tempest" (2Pe_2:17).

False teachers are like empty clouds which are being driven by a storm. They have nothing to offer, and they have no control of where they are going. Those who engage in false teaching have nothing to offer of any eternal worth, and they are driven by Satan himself. They are not under their own control, but his.

(20) "They speak great swelling words of emptiness" (2Pe_2:18).

False teachers cannot bring us to truth. They can impress us only with their earthly wisdom and their knowledge, beautiful vocabulary, and their fluency. To use a contemporary expression, they are but bags of wind.

(21) They allure those who have already escaped from the life of sin through the lusts of the flesh (2Pe_2:18).

Now we come to Peter's greatest concern. He has warned us loudly and clearly about being barren and unfruitful (2Pe_1:8). He has encouraged us to remain faithful to Christ and to the basics of the faith (2Pe_1:5-11). False teachers would attempt to allure (deleázō) with the lusts of the flesh rather than teaching us the truth of the Spirit.

(22) They promise liberty but are themselves slaves of corrup-tion (2Pe_2:19).

Sin always promises what it cannot deliver. It promises us liberty or freedom, but it gives us slavery. How pitiful it is to realize that the false teachers who promise liberty are slaves to sin and corruption themselves. Peter goes on to contend that a person is a slave of whomever or whatever overcomes or controls him. Spiritually, we are either dominated by sin or by the Holy Spirit. We are either slaves to sin, or we are willing slaves of Jesus Christ. Authentic freedom can only be ours when we are possessed by the Holy Spirit through faith in Christ.

The second truth on which Peter focuses in verses 2Pe_2:1-17 is the certain doom of false prophets. 

As Peter teaches us how to recognize false teachers and their false teachings, he punctuates these verses with specific statements concerning the certain doom of these false teachers.

Without a doubt, they are on their way to destruction!

(1) They Will "Bring On Themselves Swift Destruction" (2Pe_2:1).

The wages of sin is always death. Those who walk after the lust of the flesh are destined for destruction. We who are attempting to walk in the Spirit do not acknowledge that fact with happiness or satisfaction.

To the contrary, Paul shared with the Philippian believers, "I … tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction" (Php_3:18, Php_3:19). It is only by God's grace we are not going to that end. By His grace, we deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, and follow Jesus (Luk_9:23).

This "destruction" (apṓlia) which they bring upon themselves is "swift" (takinós). It will not tarry, but will come rapidly.

(2) "For A Long Time Their Judgment Has Not Been Idle, And Their Destruction Does Not Slumber" (2Pe_2:3).

Again Peter shares a direct statement about their impending judgment and imminent destruction. His language is vivid and precise. God is not idle, sleeping, nor oblivious to their exploitation and deceptiveness (2Pe_2:3). He knows many will follow their destructive ways (2Pe_2:2). Judgment and destruction are on the way.

(3) The False Teachers Are Doomed (2Pe_2:4-11).

Now Peter approaches the matter of the doom of the false teachers with specific biblical evidence. He asks penetrating questions as he presents four specific examples:

The Angels (2Pe_2:4). If God didn't spare the angels who sinned, but threw them into hell and placed them in chains of darkness, in order to be reserved for judgment, don't you think He will bring the same kind of judgment upon false teachers who are leading others astray?

The Ancient World (2Pe_2:5). If God didn't spare the ancient world but allowed it to be destroyed by a flood (although He saved Noah and seven other righteous people), don't you think He will bring false teachers to destruction?

Sodom and Gomorrah (2Pe_2:6-8). And if God condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction and reduced them to ashes (delivering righteous Lot), don't you think He will bring that same kind of destruction to the false teachers who have led others astray with their false teaching?

Day of Judgment (2Pe_2:9). Peter answers those three questions as he comes to his summation statement: "The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment."

(4) They "Will Utterly Perish In Their Own Corruption" (2Pe_2:12).

To utterly perish (kataphtheı́rō) means to spoil entirely or to completely destroy. The word corruption (phthorá) also means perish or destroy. Peter could not use stronger language. He is talking about reaping what they have been sowing. They have been sowing destruction, and they are going to reap it utterly!

(5) They "Will Receive The Wages Of Unrighteousness" (2Pe_2:13).

Peter is emphasizing the same statement of destruction by using different vocabulary. But he means exactly the same thing. The wages of unrighteousness is eternal death (Rom_6:23).

(6) They Will Receive The Gloom Of Darkness Forever (2Pe_2:17).

This gloom of darkness is reserved for them. Within the Scripture, darkness is equated with the life of sin. Paul instructs us to "cast off the works of darkness" (Rom_13:12), and asks the question, "What communion has light with darkness?" (2Co_6:14).

In His parable on the talents, Jesus concluded by stating that the master "cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mat_25:30). The implication is clear.

The false teachers are facing a gloom or mist of darkness which is being reserved for them. Swift destruction, doom, judgment, utter perishing, death, and a gloom of darkness await those who would be false teachers and lead others astray from the truth.

2 Peter 1:1-2

Keep on Following Jesus

Scripture Outline

  1. Greetings (2Pe_1:1-2)
  2. God's Divine Power Can Be Ours (2Pe_1:3-9)
  3. You Need Never to Stumble (2Pe_1:10-15)
  4. God's Word is to Be Trusted (2Pe_1:16-21)

Peter writes to the Christians of the early church who experienced so much suffering and persecution and who overcame so many trials. This is a letter of encouragement and affirmation. He encourages them and us to keep on keeping on! We must resist the evil one and his false teachers and keep on following Jesus.

Faithfulness is a high priority in Christian discipleship. In fact, faithfulness is one of the fruits of the Spirit shared in Gal_5:22. In His message to the faithful church in Philadelphia, Jesus promises the one who is faithful and overcomes will be a pillar in the temple of God (Rev_3:12).

  1. Greetings (2Pe_1:1-2)

In his greeting, Peter exposes his humble spirit by referring to himself as a servant of Jesus Christ before he identifies himself as an apostle. This is more than literary style; it is the conviction of his life. In his first letter he taught the basic principles of servant leadership (1Pe_5:1-4) which he learned from Jesus, his Master (Mat_20:25-28). As Peter's life was coming to a close, he had a clear understanding of who he was and who his Master was. He walked humbly with Jesus Christ as his Lord.

He addresses "those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Pe_1:1). Again, his spirit is like that which he communicated in his first letter as he identified himself as a fellow elder (1Pe_5:1). His spirit is not that of a dictator who is lording over his subjects.

To the contrary, he speaks with authentic humility as one who has followed Christ for many years. He left everything to follow Christ, was one of the inner circle of three disciples, failed Christ miserably by denying Him at a time of great need, was a witness to the resurrected Christ, experienced his own spiritual resurrection at Pentecost as he was baptized by the Holy Spirit, served as a leader in the early church as it spread throughout the world, and was now ministering to a suffering church as he himself was preparing for a martyr's death. Indeed, he walked humbly with God.

Within his greeting, Peter refers to the precious faith he "shares" (isótimos) with his readers. This is the common denominator that brings true believers together. As Peter shared in his first letter, this precious faith had been bought by the very blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God (1Pe_1:19). This precious faith comes not through human righteousness but "by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Pe_1:1).

This is a marvelous truth. Most of us have enjoyed the experience of visiting a group of Christian believers in another community, state, or even in another country. If they are true believers in Jesus Christ, and we both are walking in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, we enjoy immediate fellowship—even when we do not understand the language of one another. This is the unity of the Spirit which is unique to the Christian family. We are all members of the body of Christ with Jesus Christ being our Head.

2 Peter 1:3-9

God's Divine Power Can Be Ours

As we have seen in Peter's first letter, he believes excellent defense to be the best offense. Now as he begins his second letter, Peter contends an excellent offense can be the best defense. He is concerned these young Christians will be led astray by false teachers.

Rather than beginning his instruction by warning them against the false teachers, he begins on the offensive by reminding them and us of the basics of authentic Christianity. If we continue to live by the divine power which God has given to us, and if we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, we will be victors. We will not fall into false teachings. And Peter gives us the specific steps to follow if we are to be victorious through Jesus Christ.

1. Be aware that "His divine power has given to us all things" (2Pe_1:3). The statement made by Peter is not in the future tense. Peter contends God has already given us His divine power and through that power He has made everything we need available to us which pertains to life and godliness.

Peter's teaching sounds like that of Paul when he declared "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Php_4:13). Again, he shared with the Colossian Christians, "For in Him [Jesus] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power" (Col_2:9, Col_2:10). In other words, when you have Jesus Christ, you have everything you need!

The Lord has not given us a spirit of fear or weakness, but of "power and of love and of a sound mind" (2Ti_1:7). That is how we should live according to Peter. We must remember God has given us His divine power in order for us to follow, obey, and grow up into Him! Peter is calling upon us to live by that power which comes to us through the knowledge of Jesus who has "called us by glory and virtue" (2Pe_1:3).

In other words, when we are born anew of the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the gift and power of the Holy Spirit just as Christ promised (Act_1:8). We need to use that power to the glory of God. This is but one of the wonderful promises our Lord has given us.

2. Appropriate the "great and precious promises" God has given to us (2Pe_1:4). The promises of God are great and precious. The word "precious," tı́mios, meaning valuable or costly, is a favorite word of Peter. He uses it extensively in both of his letters. For example, he uses it to describe our precious faith (1Pe_1:7) and the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1Pe_1:19). The promises of God are precious for at least two reasons:

First, they allow us to "be partakers of the divine nature" (2Pe_1:4). What a precious promise that is. Jesus first gave it to His disciples shortly before His Crucifixion when He said, "It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you" (Joh_16:7).

That is exactly what happened to the disciples who gathered together on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon them, and His divine nature replaced their own. And that marvelous promise is for us and our children (Act_2:39).

And so, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2Co_5:17). The implications of this promise are incredible for us. We have the potential to live by the very power of God. God's divine nature can replace ours as we follow Jesus as Lord and as we allow the Holy Spirit to possess us.

Second, the promises of God allow us to escape "the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2Pe_1:4). That is a major concern of Peter for the Christians to whom he is writing—including us. When we walk and live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are walking in the opposite direction of our natural life. Paul stated that truth in Gal_5:16, Gal_5:17 : "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another."

3. Give all diligence to our faith (2Pe_1:5). As Peter continues his practical advice concerning the basics of the Christian faith, he acknowledges the need for us to take the initiative to build our faith. He gives us seven steps we should follow in building our spiritual lives.

(1) Add virtue to faith (2Pe_1:5). As we have seen, the Christian life begins with faith and is carried on with "faith" (pı́stis). Without faith we cannot please God (Heb_11:6). To our faith we should add "virtue" (aretÇ) which is sometimes translated as "goodness" or "moral excellence." Faith which is honoring to God is to have the character of goodness and moral excellence.

(2) Add knowledge to virtue (2Pe_1:5). Faith is not blind. It does not exist in a vacuum. If faith is to be active obedience to God, then we must have "knowledge" (epı́gnōsis) of God and of His will for us. This knowledge is in stark contrast to our former ignorance which led us to live former lusts (1Pe_1:14).

(3) Add self-control to knowledge (2Pe_1:6). To know is vitally important, but it is not enough. We are to do what we know we should do. In many of our lives, there is a great gulf between our knowledge and our conduct. It was to this problem James spoke when he wrote, "to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (Jas_4:17). The Greek word for "self-control" is egkráteia, which is sometimes translated as temperance. It is one element of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Gal_5:23. In the real sense of the term, it means more than self being in control. A more descriptive and accurate term would be "God-control." Only when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit can we be self-controlled.

(4) Add perseverance to self-control (2Pe_1:6). Both James and Peter write a great deal about the virtue of "perseverance" (hupomonḗ). This word means "enduring, continuance or patience" and comes from the root word hupoménō which can mean "to bear trials, to have fortitude, to abide or to endure." In our vernacular, we would say perseverance means "hanging in there." There are only seconds which separate those who fail from those who succeed in running most races. Too many people drop out of the race just before it is to be won. Those who persevere by "hanging in there" are those who win the prize.

(5) Add godliness to perseverance (2Pe_1:6). The Greek word for godliness, eusébeia, means "godly, pious, or devout." Godliness cannot be fabricated. We cannot merely pretend to be godly. The quality of godliness comes from God Himself. He must give that quality of life to us. We receive it as we are dead to self and alive to God and as we allow the Spirit to live within us. The fruits of the Spirit are attributes of the character of God. The more we are possessed by God, the more we will act like Him and the more His character will be revealed in our lives.

(6) Add brotherly kindness to godliness (2Pe_1:7). "Brotherly kindness" or "brotherly love" is a special kind of love. The Greek word is familiar to us from our study of 1 Peter. It is philadelphia. Peter uses this word in instructing us regarding the importance of having unfeigned love of the brethren (1Pe_1:22); Paul teaches us to be kindly, affectionate to one another in brotherly love (Rom_12:10). This is one of the amazing qualities of the church of Jesus Christ. We are to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ—and are members one to another (1Co_12:27). We must live out our faith by having love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

(7) Add love to brotherly kindness (2Pe_1:7). There is a wonderful quality of love between brothers and sisters. That is philadelphia. There is an even deeper quality of love which knows no limits and has no conditions. It is agápē—the very quality of the love of God. In fact, the most simple and profound definition of agápē in all of literature is simply this: "God is agápē" (1Jn_4:8). Agápē is the highest expression of love and the ultimate mark of Christian lifestyle. By it we shall be recognized as the disciples or followers of Christ (Joh_13:35). Agápē is also a part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal_5:22). Peter believes in the priority of love. In his first letter he wrote, "And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins'" (Pro_10:12; 1Pe_4:8).

In the foregoing steps, then, we have the progression of growing in our faith. Begin with a vital faith in Jesus Christ and then add virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. If we make these things ours and they abound, says Peter, two specific benefits will follow: (1) They will keep us from being barren (2Pe_1:8). None of us want to be "barren" (argós) in our Christian lives. To be barren is "to be useless or idle." The best defense against such a useless life is an active offense. If we are actively following Jesus Christ as Lord and are diligent in adding to our faith, we will never be barren in our Christian life.

(2) They will keep us from being "unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Pe_1:8). Jesus gave instruction to Peter and to all of us concerning the life of bearing fruit when He said, "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me" (Joh_15:4).

The secret of fruit-bearing is to abide in Christ and to allow Him to abide in us. Peter encourages us to follow Jesus aggressively by adding to our faith with all diligence; then we will never be unfruitful.

If these things are not ours, Peter says we will reap two negative results (2Pe_1:9). Again we follow the biblical principle of reaping what we sow. The person who lacks these things faces two dilemmas:

(1) He will be blind: shortsided, even to blindness (2Pe_1:9). In other words, this is the kind of blindness which prevents us from seeing ahead. Such blindness is one of the expressions of the deceitfulness of sin. It blinds us and prevents us from seeing things as they really are. Sin leads us astray.

(2) He "has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins" (2Pe_1:9). How tragic it is to have our sins forgiven by our Lord and then to forget that forgiveness and live once again in our trespasses and sins.

2 Peter 1:10-15

You Need Never to Stumble

After making a strong presentation of the basics of the Christian faith, Peter now goes on to personal application. In fact, he presents more than application; he is deeply concerned about accountability. He places himself in the position of reminding his readers of these truths, and of stirring them up to remain faithful. He is even concerned with providing them with a reminder after his death. As he shares these concerns, Peter makes three specific statements about application and accountability:

1. "Make your call and election sure" (2Pe_1:10, 2Pe_1:11). Peter now appeals to us to be even more diligent to make our calling and election sure. The word "diligent" is spoudḗ, from the root word speúdō, meaning "to speed" or "to urge on." By diligence, Peter means we should move ahead with eagerness and earnestness.

The phrase "make your call and election sure" is rather difficult for some Christians to understand since it doesn't seem to fit neatly into their theological system. We must understand the context in which Peter is sharing this teaching. He is deeply concerned for these believers as they face the onslaught of false teachers.

He wants them to be deeply anchored in the truth of God and in a personal relationship to Jesus Christ as Lord. He knows if they are grounded in the basics of the faith, and if they remain active in those basics, he will never need to fear their being led astray.

As we have seen, the basics to which he called them and calls us are all dependent upon a vital, present-tense relationship to Jesus Christ as Lord. The Christian life is not a list of propositions or a tight theological system; it is a vital relationship to a resurrected Lord. The commandments He gave us and the theological systems we devise as an understanding of those propositional truths exist only to help us live in a vital relationship with Christ day by day as we follow Him as Lord.

As these verses demonstrate, Peter is concerned that we be sure of that relationship in the present tense. We cannot merely clip coupons on the past, but we must follow Christ in the present! If we do this, and if we are faithful to those basics of the faith, we will enjoy two measurable results:

(1) We "will never stumble" (2Pe_1:10). That promise meets the basic concern Peter expresses about the false teachers, and his statement is consistent with our human experience. We do not stumble when we are giving attention to where we are stepping. We stumble when we become preoccupied with other things and do not pay attention to where we are going.

And so it is with our Christian walk. When we keep our eyes upon Jesus, following Him and practicing the basics of the faith diligently, we need not fear going astray or stumbling. We will not fall.

(2) We will enter Christ's kingdom (2Pe_1:11). Not only are we assured of not stumbling in the present tense, but we are assured an entrance will be supplied abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the future. As we follow Jesus and remain faithful to the basic principles of the faith, we are secure for the present and for eternity.

When I was in high school, I was involved in a number of sports, including track. I will never forget the first race I ran in competition—the 220-yard dash. I was so excited about the race I could not contain myself.

When the gun sounded, I was off like a shot. As I neared the finish line, I was several yards in front of my competitors. Then, a tragic thing happened: just a few yards from the finish line, I stumbled and fell. As a result, I did not win the race.

That is Peter's concern for us. We must not only begin the race, or complete most of it; we must finish the race in order to capture the prize! Peter assures us as we remain faithful to Christ and the basics of the faith, we will not stumble; we will finish the race and receive the prize of entering the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Victory is ours through Jesus Christ!

2. I will "remind you always of these things" (2Pe_1:12-14). Now Peter comes to the accountability factor. He speaks as a pastor with a father's heart. He loves his spiritual children, and he wants what is best for them. He desires deeply that they finish the race and receive the prize of life eternal.

And so he does not apologize for being committed to reminding them always of these things, even though he acknowledges that they already know these things and that they are established in the present truth (2Pe_1:12). In fact, he believes it is absolutely right for him to keep reminding them of these things just as long as he lives (2Pe_1:13). He sounds like a father or mother who deeply loves his or her child, and so without apology, keeps reminding the child of things that are important for his or her well-being.

I remember those kinds of statements coming from my parents:

"Don't forget your coat!" "Watch out for cars when you cross the street!" "Never get into a car with a stranger!" And when I became a teenager, "Drive carefully!"

As a father, I find myself sharing the same kind of statements of concern with my children. I do it simply because I love them, and I want what is best for them. It is with this love and concern that Peter shares his reminders.

Within this context, he pauses for a moment to acknowledge that he does not expect to live much longer. He shares that he must "put off [his] tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed [him]" (2Pe_1:14). He refers to the prophetic statement made by Christ concerning the death of Peter: " 'But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.' This He spoke, signifying by what death he [Peter] would glorify God" (Joh_21:18-19).

3. "I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder" (2Pe_1:15). Peter's love and concern for these spiritual children goes beyond his earthly life. As he acknowledges the imminence of his death, he states he will endeavor that they always may be able to have a reminder of these things after his decease.

What love Peter demonstrates! His concern for these spiritual children never ends. Although he does not reveal just how he would attempt to carry on that kind of accountability after his death, one probable vehicle is the letter he is now writing. His words of concern and calling to accountability have come down to us. And through Peter we hear our Lord calling us to be faithful, accountable, and to complete the race which we have begun..

2 Peter 1:16-21

God's Word is to Be Trusted

Peter now establishes his credentials and the trustworthiness of the prophecies of the Word of God in contrast to the "cunningly devised fables" being propagated by the false teachers whom he exposes and refutes in the second chapter of this letter. He makes three specific contentions in establishing his credibility and the reliability of the Word of God.

1. Peter begins by establishing his own relationship to Jesus Christ as "an eyewitness to Christ's majesty" (2Pe_1:16-18). He did not have to contrive fables; he followed Jesus for the three years of His earthly ministry. He has made known to his readers "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Pe_1:16).

This could have taken place in several ways. First, he may have had the opportunity to preach the gospel directly to those to whom he is writing, or he may have shared this Good News with them when he was sharing personal fellowship with them. Since he shares with such deep pastoral concern, he may have been their pastor. Or, he may be referring to his first letter in which he taught concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. In any event, he has had the opportunity to share with his readers the Good News of Jesus Christ.

He reminds them he was an eyewitness to the majesty of Jesus Christ (2Pe_1:16). He then uses the personal experience of being a witness to the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ (2Pe_1:17, 2Pe_1:18). The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke confirm that Peter was at the Transfiguration of Christ along with James and John (Mat_9:2; Mar_9:2; Luk_9:28).

Of all the stories and personal accounts Peter could have shared from the life and ministry of Jesus, it is interesting that Peter should share the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. He was deeply impressed with that spiritual experience.

The confirmation to Peter concerning who Christ really is came when God spoke at the Transfiguration, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (2Pe_1:17). With conviction, Peter shares that account with his readers to assure them of the credibility of Jesus Christ as the Son of God when he was on the holy mountain (2Pe_1:18). And he now proclaims that message, "Jesus is the true Son of God!"

2. You will do well to heed the word of the prophets (2Pe_1:19). The prophets also spoke about this Jesus, and we would do well to listen to their prophecies and to believe them.

Peter uses this occasion to teach us about spiritual revelation. The prophets need to be heard not only with our intellect, but with spiritual perception. We need God to reveal truth to us through the prophets in the same way in which He revealed truth to them originally when He inspired and motivated them to write the words of prophecy (Peter speaks specifically about that process in the next two verses).

He uses the analogy of a light which shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises. God's Word comes to shine in our hearts when we are in darkness. But we cannot understand it until it breaks through into our hearts like the dawning of the day when the morning star arises just before the sun makes its appearance. That morning star must arise in our hearts and illuminate God's truth to us.

What a marvelous experience to have the light of God's truth shine into our hearts as the Holy Spirit reveals truth to us! Paul speaks about this experience when he writes that "the god of this age has blinded… [the minds of those] who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,… should shine on them" (2Co_4:4). Then he proceeds to speak about the miracle of spiritual revelation. "For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Co_4:6).

That is exactly what Peter is writing about. We can enjoy the marvelous experience of allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us through God's Word. In fact, the Bible will never become spiritually alive to us until that happens.

If you are ever bored with Bible study, or if you are unable to understand what God is saying through a passage, practice what Peter is encouraging us to do. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you. Allow the light to shine into the darkness and expect the truth to emerge as the day dawns and the morning star arises.

3. Finally, we can rely on the Word of God because the prophecies of Scripture have come from God (2Pe_1:20, 2Pe_1:21). In the same way the Holy Spirit reveals truth to us from God's Word, so did the Holy Spirit reveal the prophecies of Scripture to the prophets. To use the vocabulary of communications theory, the Holy Spirit was the "sender," and the Holy Spirit must reveal truth to the "receiver." Without a doubt, this is a spiritual dynamic!

Peter is explicit in his teaching: "for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2Pe_1:21). True prophecy comes not from men, but from God. The Holy Spirit was the source and sender of the communication; the holy men were merely the human vehicles through whom God chose to communicate truth.

In the same way, it is important that no prophecy or Scripture be of merely personal interpretation (2Pe_1:20). In other words, prophecies do not come from us, nor can they be adequately interpreted by us. Prophecies come from God and in order to properly interpret and understand them, we need the revelation of the same Holy Spirit who revealed the prophecies originally.

In matters of the Spirit, we must go back to the source—the Holy Spirit. False teaching flows from the minds of men and women; truth flows from the heart and mind of the living God.

When I was a seminary student, I knew of several classmates who came to believe the Bible was not any more inspired than the daily newspaper. These students denied the revelation of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. To prove their point, one of the students preached a sermon using a story from a Chicago newspaper as his text.

His sermon fell flat. His source was merely human as opposed to the source of the Word of God and the prophecies proclaimed in the Word of God—God Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit!

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What Christian Leadership Is All About?

Scripture Outline

  1. Priorities for Christian Leadership (1Pe_5:1-4)
  2. Clothing Yourselves with Humility (1Pe_5:5-7)
  3. Standing Firm in the Faith (1Pe_5:8-11)
  4. Final Greetings (1Pe_5:12-14)


1 Peter 5:12-14

Final Greetings

Peter's Words of Closing

Are Consistent With His Spirit Of Pastoral Concern And Love Which Has Been Expressed

Throughout The Letter.

He Refers To Silvanus (1Pe_5:12)

who was either The Secretary


Courier for the letter, or both.

Peter Then Summarizes The Contents of The Letter:

"I have written to you briefly, Exhorting


Testifying that this is The True Grace Of God

in which YOU STAND" (1Pe_5:12).

He Then Brings Greeting from

The Church In Babylon,

which is probably Rome,

as well as greeting from

"Mark my son" (1Pe_5:13).

This Mark Is Thought To Be

The John Mark Of Act_12:12, Act_15:37,

The Same Person To Whom

Paul Refers In Several Of His Letters Including

His Letter

To the Church At Colossae (Col_4:10).

It was also John Mark who wrote the second Gospelthe Gospel of Mark.

His final words reflect

two of the major themes of the Christian faith

which are key words in

the vocabulary of the Christian family

—"love" and "peace."

He Encourages Us To

greet one another with a kiss of love (agapē).

This was one of the beautiful customs of

the early Christians

who related to one another as

members of the family of Christ.

Paul shared this same instruction in

several of his letters, including

Rom_16:16 and 1Co_16:20.

"Peace" Is A Fitting Word For The Climax.

The people of God who are


Can Enjoy God's Peace,

which is far more wonderful than

our minds can comprehend and



Peace To You All Who Are In Christ Jesus"

(1Pe_5:14). Amen!