Although it is often overlooked, 2 Peter is an important book and makes several significant contributions to the New Testament. It was written by the apostle Peter to a group of Christians who were facing increasing hardships for their faith. Interestingly, it was written as more of a farewell address (2 Peter 1:12-15) than a letter. It was as if Peter knew his time was ending and he wanted to take what time remained to reinforce the church. This letter follows a simple rhetorical style that itself is a great outline.
After a short introduction, Peter reminds the church of our divine nature in Christ and challenges us to remember this when times get hard (1:3-15). Starting in chapter 2, he issues a firm warning against the false teachers who are trying to hurt the faithful and highlights the dangers they pose. In chapter 3, Peter moves on to warn those who are doubting Jesus’ return (3:1-13) and coming judgment. This is followed by a final reminder to live pure lives, resist the false teachers, and to wait for Jesus’ return (3:14-18).
Peter wrote this letter to assure the church of God’s judgment against the false teacher and declare the certainty that the Lord can preserve everyone who strives to grow in His grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). Jesus will appear in glory and judgment and those who have fallen away, due to the influence of the false teachers, will be judged along with the lost.
The end time or eschatology is a prominent theme in 2 Peter. He focuses on the second coming of Jesus and subsequent judgment. He reminds us that God has judged this world harshly in the past. That judgment is not just a thing of the past but continues today and will find its ultimate expression when Jesus returns and the world as we know it ends.
Salvation in 2 Peter is God’s ability to protect the righteous and deliver them from this evil world, just as Noah and Lot were delivered from their circumstances. Because of this we are encouraged to stand strong no matter what happens.
This is what it means to participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). It is how we increase in grace and knowledge and strive to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10-11), looking forward to the promised New Heavens and New Earth (2 Peter 3:13).
For Peter, much like the book of James, faith and assurance are practical matters that are dependent on standing strong on God’s promises and living righteous holy lives. Faith, true saving faith is far more than simply believing. It is expressing our faith through daily life and behavior.
I hope you will consider reading 2 Peter again and taking you faith to new heights.