2 Peter


1. Introductory comments, 1:1-15

i] Words of greeting


The opening salutation is somewhat different to 1 Peter. The Aramaic name "Simon" is added, and he is ascribed as "servant" as well as "apostle". The letter is not addressed to any particular church, but rather to "those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours", ESV, ie., believers in general. The benediction is typical of Pauline letters, although the grace and peace is in abundance; "multiplied to you", ESV. These blessings are bestowed en, "by means of", a knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. This Jesus is both "our God and Savior", v1. So, in the very first verses we are confronted by two major themes in this letter, the crucial importance of a knowledge / acknowledgment of the divine, and the divine nature of the person of Christ.


i] Context: Peter opens with a greeting / salutation, 1:1-2, and then moves straight into a short sermon touching on the themes covered in the letter, 1:3-11, along with a short statement which outlines the purpose of his letter, 1:14-15. Then follows the argument proper, 1:16-3:13. The argument proper opens with a statement in v16 which many regard as the thesis of the letter, namely that the apostolic eschatological testimony concerning the righteous judgment of God does not consist of "cleverly devised stories .... about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power." Both Neyrey and Davids have identified five arguments in support of the thesis / proposition. The letter concludes with an exhortation to righteous living, 3:14-18.


1. Introductory comments, 1:1-15

i] Words of greeting, 1:1-2

ii] Address: Participating in the divine nature rather than the world, 1:3-11

The letter's threefold purpose, 1:12-15

2. Remedies for doubt, 1:16-3:13

There will be a day of judgment at the return of Christ

i] The implications of the transfiguration, 1:16-21

ii] A defense of Divine judgment, 2:1-10a

iii] Charges against the false teachers, 2:10b-22

iv] The divine word of judgment, 3:1-7

v] The coming Day is sure, 3:8-13

3. Closing exhortation, 3:14-18

An exhortation to righteous living


ii] Background: Peter, in this letter / sermon, addresses a problem that is affecting the Christian church within his area of influence. "False teachers" are infecting the church with "destructive heresies", 2:1, while at the same time, living "depraved" lives, 2:2. There have been many attempts to identify these false teachers, with some commentators suggesting that they represent an early form of Gnosticism, a heresy which was a particular problem for the Christian church in the third century. It's more likely that their "licentious ways" indicate that they are antinomian - they even claim that they are free from future judgment.

It is likely that Peter is confronting a problem of secularization. This is when believers unwittingly adapt themselves to the mores of the wider secular society. The dominant philosophical world-view at this time was Platonic and so it would be easy for believers to take on a flesh / spirit dichotomy, the spirit being pure and eternal, and the flesh being base; one for salvation and the other for annihilation. The ethical response to this view is either unrestrained freedom, or asceticism - Peter's false teachers have chosen freedom.

As for the eschatology of the false teachers, it is unclear whether they deny the parousia of Christ, but they certainly claim that they are free from future judgment. A person with a Platonic world-view holds that the spirit and the flesh are separate entities such that at the parousia of Christ the spiritual-self will be eternally united to Christ, and the fleshly-self will be left as mere dust. The idea that the spiritual-self will have to stand before Christ the righteous judge and give account, is foreign to someone imbibed in Platonic philosophy. So, Peter not only denounces the licentious living of the false teachers, but sets out to reaffirm eschatological apostolic teaching in defense of the righteous judgment of God in the last day.


iii] Structure: The greeting:

Recipients, v1;

Salutation, v2.


iv] Interpretation:

The address and salutation is very similar to that of Jude 1-2. Although the letter presents as a catholic letter to all believers, it can be argued that it is addressed to the same churches as 1 Peter, given the particular false teaching that the letter addresses. The greeting is fairly standard, although Peter avoids the more familiar "from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" so emphasizing Jesus deity, while at the same time underlining "knowledge".

Text - 1:1

Address and salutation, v1-2.

Sumewn PetroV "Simon Peter" - Nominative absolute.

douloV (oV) "a servant" - a servant, slave [and apostle]. Nominative standing in apposition to "Simon Peter."

Ihsou (oV) gen. "of Jesus" - of jesus [christ]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, "Jesus Christ's servant", Barclay, verbal, objective, "a servant to Jesus Christ", but subjective / idiomatic is possible, "an apostle appointed by / under the instructions of / ...... Jesus Christ."

toiV ... lacousin (lagcanw) dat. aor. part. "to those who ....... have received" - to the ones having received, obtained [a faith equally precious with us]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of recipient, although where grafw, "I write", is assumed, the dative would be classified as a dative of indirect object; "I write this letter to those ...."

en + dat. "through" - by. Instrumental, expressing means, as NIV; "by means of ..."

dikaiosunh/ (h) "the righteousness" - the righteousness. This is a key word, but its intended meaning is not overly clear. The saving righteousness of God / his righteous reign = his saving activity, his setting all things right in Christ, may be the intended sense. Most commentators opt for God's "justice", Neyrey, his "impartiality", Sidebottom, "ethical righteousness", Davids*, "the fairness and lack of favoritism which gives equal privilege to all Christians", Bauckham; "our God and savior, Jesus Christ, will do what is just and fair", CEV.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of [our] God" - of the god. The genitive here is usually taken as adjectival, verbal, subjective; the righteousness enacted by our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The presence of the article tou seems to govern both nouns qeou, "God", and swthroV, "Savior", with "Jesus Christ" closely linked in apposition to both, so "our God and Savior, namely Jesus Christ." Given that "God" and "Jesus" are distinguished in v2, it may be somewhat of a stretch to argue that Peter, at this point, is calling Jesus God, even though he is indeed God.

hJmwn gen. pro. "our" - of us. The genitive may be taken as adjectival, possessive, or subordination, "God over us."

Ihsou Cristou gen. "Jesus Christ" - [and savior,] jesus christ. Genitive in apposition to the genitive swthroV, "Savior".

pistin (iV ewV) "a faith" - It is not clear what the received "faith" by the righteousness of God actually is. Bauckham argues it is the ability to believe the gospel, given that lagcanw means to receive by lot or divine will, here to receive that ability - "a common faith in God and Jesus", Neyrey. Yet, it is also by God's will that the gospel is made known to broken humanity and it seems more likely here that Peter is referring to "the faith", ie., the truth of the gospel, so Davids*. The gospel message his readers received, is isotimon, "of equal value", to the gospel received by Peter and his associates. So, Peter is using the word "faith" in a similar sense sometimes used in the Pastoral epistles, "the faith", God's divine truth, the gospel, a message which of course requires a response of faith; "belief in Jesus Christ and what it entails", Sidebottom.

hJmin dat. pro. "[as precious as] ours" - [equally precious with] us. Dative complement of isotimon, "equal in value with"; "a faith of the same kind as ours", BAGD.


The salutation is typically Christian: cariV, "grace", divine favor, linked to the Jewish greeting, eirhnh, "peace" ("the peace of God be upon you"), and packaged in an optative, here plhqunqein "may be multiplied"; "may grace and peace be multiplied to you", ESV.

uJmin dat. pro. "be yours" - [may grace] to you [and peace be multiplied]. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage.

en + dat. "through" - by. Probably instrumental, expressing means, "by means of / through the knowledge ....", so Davids, Reicke, Neyrey ("by your acknowledgement ...."), Kelly, ....., but possibly local, "in", RSV, NRSV.

epignwsei (iV ewV) dat. "the knowledge" - "Knowledge" takes central place in this epistle, more so than faith, although the knowledge that Peter speaks about is not so much a knowing about something but an "acknowledgment" of God and Jesus, so Neyrey. It is this acknowledgment of the divine that enables endurance under persecution, possibly best encapsulated in that favored Greek virtue, fortitude. Although unstated here, this acknowledgment is "the full honor of God as Sovereign, namely, God's power to judge and so to reward the good and punish the wicked", Neyrey. Commentators inclined to the view that Peter is addressing the heresy of Gnosticism, tend toward the idea of knowledge about / in the Christian faith, as compared to knowledge about / in the gnostic system; see "Background" above - a "continuously deepening knowledge of God's words in the plan of salvation, the life of Christ and the eschatological hope", Reicke. Weight is sometimes given to the epi prefix, giving a particular inceptive sense of "coming to know", so Davids* - "the knowledge gained in conversion", Bauckham, Bultmann. See Picirelli, The Meaning of Epignosis, EvQ 47, 1975.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - The genitive is adjectival, verbal, objective; "acknowledgment of God and of Jesus our Lord."

kai "and" - and [of jesus the lord of us]. Presumably here in a coordinate sense such that this knowledge / acknowledgment is both of God and of Jesus, theistic and Christian. Given that this two-pronged knowing is awkward, a variant exists which makes Christ the object of the knowing, as elsewhere in the NT, namely "through the knowledge of our Lord" - a nice fix, but obviously not original. An ascensive "even" is possible, giving Jesus' divine status, "God, even of Jesus our Lord", but this is unlikely. Note the variant "Jesus Christ", probably also not original.


2 Peter Introduction

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