THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER
An early Christian teacher turns his attention to what he views as
alarming trends in the church: skepticism over the return of Christ,
moral laxity, divisiveness, claims of unique spiritual insight, and
denial of the final judgment. The tenor of the letter is at the same
time tenacious in its colorful use of rhetoric and relentlessly pastoral
in its single-minded concern for the well-being and authenticity of the
church and its witness.
Our reading of history reminds us of the strains and stress points that
invariably appear when changes are afoot in the life of the church,
changes that may show themselves in doctrinal controversies, political
upheavals, realignments in ecclesiastical authority, and so on. This
letter can be meaningfully read as a testament to one of the earliest of
these shifts. Even if we accept that 2 Peter is not from the hand of
the Apostle Peter, it consciously aligns itself with the spirit of that
apostle and the things that he cared most about. In vivid and at times
even alarming ways, it takes us inside an environment where the
foundations are being challenged, even shaken, and where the pastor's
challenge is to remain uncompromising on truth and doctrine while
striving for grace and compassion in ethics and lifestyle.
The Second Letter of Peter is the twenty-second book in the New
Testament. It is situated among the books typically referred to as the
"Catholic Letters" (James through Jude).
Arguments based on genre, language and style, and doctrinal concerns
prompt a majority of scholars to conclude that an unknown author wrote
this book sometime after the Apostle Peter's death. Others argue that
Peter wrote it or that someone else wrote it during Peter's lifetime.
The belief that the letter's teachings reflect a setting after the
destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. and a context in which the original
apostles had all died leads many scholars to suggest a date between 80
C.E. and 90 C.E. Some suggest a much later date, in the first half of
the second century.
As the early church seeks to regroup in the aftermath of the death of
the last of the apostles, a teacher in the lineage of Peter brings words
of warning: stay close to the apostolic teaching, do not be shaken from
hope in Christ's return, and live in compassion and integrity.
Scholars are not in complete agreement concerning what combination of
"epistle" and "testament" this book represents. Perhaps it does not fit
neatly into either category. As a letter, the book conveys something of
the personal and heartfelt nature of pastoral correspondence. As a
testament, it captures the author's resolve to keep the life and health
of the church aligned closely to the teaching of its founder, the
AUTHOR: David Stewart, Director of Library Services
Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have
obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God
and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto
life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to
glory and virtue:
are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these
ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the
corruption that is in the world through lust.
5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8 For if
these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither
be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election
sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these
things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.
13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;
14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.
15 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
16 For we
have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you
the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of
17 For he
received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a
voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I
am well pleased.
18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye
take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day
dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be
false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies,
even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift
2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of
you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their
damnation slumbereth not.
4 For if
God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and
delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher
of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with
an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live
7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his
righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and
despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not
afraid to speak evil of dignities.
11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak
evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in
their own corruption;
shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it
pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting
themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling
unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices;
have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of
Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the
lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean
escaped from them who live in error.
they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of
corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in
20 For if
after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the
knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled
therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the
21 For it
had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,
than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment
delivered unto them.
22 But it
is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned
to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in
1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
2 That ye
may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy
prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell
asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the
this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens
were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
7 But the
heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in
store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of
beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the
Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness;
but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but
that all should come to repentance.
the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the
heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt
with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall
be burned up.
then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons
ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens
being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with
13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may
be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our
beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath
written unto you;
also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are
some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and
unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own
therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye
also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.