2 Peter 2:1-19
Keep on Resisting False Teachers
- After establishing the basics of the Christian faith, the credibility of himself, and the prophecies of Scripture,
- Peter proceeds to refute the teachings of the false prophets with truth and directness.
- 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."
- The various religious sects of our day are representative of Clever Heresies.
- The word HAÍRESIS can actually be translated as "sect."
- These Heresies Bring disunity to the body of Christ.
(2) They will even Deny The Lord (2Pe_2:1).
- No one knew any more about denying the Lord than Peter.
- How deeply concerned he was no one should follow in his footsteps!
- To Deny Is ARNÉOMAI, Which Means "to contradict, reject, or disavow."
- 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?"
- If he is honest in his answer, his heresy will be clearly exposed.
(3) "They will exploit you with Deceptive Words" (2Pe_2:3).
- In the Authorized Version of the Bible, "EXPLOIT" is translated as "make merchandise of you."
- The Greek word is EMPOREÚOMAI, which denotes the business of buying and selling.
- 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).
- In his first letter, Peter begs us to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul (1Pe_2:11).
- 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).
- The lust of the flesh and the things of the Spirit are contrary to one another (Gal_5:16-18).
- 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).
- A basic problem of sin is the resistance to submit to God or anyone else.
- God addresses this sin in the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exo_20:3, NIV).
- These false teachers despise the authority of God and refuse to live under the lordship of Jesus Christ.
- Instead, they prefer to establish themselves as the final authority.
(6) "They Are Presumptuous" (2Pe_2:10).
- Presumptuous (TOLMĒTḖS) means audacious, arrogant, rash or daring in a negative sense.
- Sin often leads to presumption.
- 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!
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
- Greetings (2Pe_1:1-2)
- God's Divine Power Can Be Ours (2Pe_1:3-9)
- You Need Never to Stumble (2Pe_1:10-15)
- 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).
- 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?
- Priorities for Christian Leadership (1Pe_5:1-4)
- Clothing Yourselves with Humility (1Pe_5:5-7)
- Standing Firm in the Faith (1Pe_5:8-11)
- Final Greetings (1Pe_5:12-14)
1 Peter 5:12-14
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
To the Church At Colossae (Col_4:10).
It was also John Mark who wrote the second Gospel—the 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
SUFFERING AND DISPERSED and UNSETTLED
Can Enjoy God's Peace,
which is far more wonderful than
our minds can comprehend and
NO ONE CAN TAKE FROM US! "
Peace To You All Who Are In Christ Jesus"