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Keys to Teaching Christ in 2 Peter

Written by Branton Burleson


Fewer commentaries have been written on 2 Peter than on any other book in the New Testament except for Jude (which is often included in works on 2 Peter!). 2 Peter and Jude have been called “the dark corner” of the New Testament. The result of their avoidance has led to these little books being treated like “the ugly stepchildren” of the Bible!


One reason 2 Peter (and Jude) have never enjoyed wide popularity is the tone of their content. They paint a bleak picture at times. They say many hard things resulting in few willing to call 2 Peter (or Jude) their favorite book of the Bible.


But to ignore the message of these books is to miss some of the strongest contrasts in the Bible between false teachers and the true Teacher, Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6)! In many ways, Christ is the glorious opposite of many of the vivid images and dark portrayal of the false teacher in 2 Peter (3:18). In contrast to those who will be judged severely for misleading the church, Jesus is the true and better Teacher, but more than a teacher. Christ is the wrath-quenching sacrifice who has already been judged severely for the sins of His people!


Key Texts:

  • 2 Peter 1:4 – God has provided everything necessary for the believer to grow up into Christlikeness.

  • 2 Peter 1:10 – The believer is called to confirm his calling and election according to sovereign grace.

  • 2 Peter 1:20-21 – The Scriptures play an essential role in progressive sanctification for the believer.

  • 2 Peter 2:1 – The threat of false teachers rising from within the church is a clear and present danger.

  • 2 Peter 2:20-22 – The severity of judgment awaiting apostates should serve to deter anyone turning away from the truth.

  • 2 Peter 3:8-9 – God’s patience withholds immediate judgment in order to provide opportunity for repentance prior to Christ’s return.

  • 2 Peter 3:18 – The best defense against victimization by a false teacher is the strong offense of a vibrant and growing faith.

Key Themes:

  • Sanctification: God has provided everything necessary for the believer’s sanctification (1:3-21). Every Christian needs the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the People of God to grow in grace. The disciple who has a Bible, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and is a member of a healthy local church has everything necessary to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ (3:18).

  • False Teachers: The presence of false prophets and heretics has always been a threat to God’s people (2:1-19). This danger from within the Christian community will remain a problem until the true Teacher returns in judgment (3:10). Heretics and heresy are not something in the rearview mirror in church history but an ever-present danger.

  • Apostasy: While the true believer can never lose his or her salvation, the possibility of a false convert falling away is a reality (2:20-22). While “once saved, always saved” is a true phrase, a better phrase would be “if saved, always saved.” Peter is clear that it would be better for the apostate never to have professed faith in Christ than to do so and then return to a life of unrepentant sin.

  • Judgment: Peter confronts the mockery of the scoffers who ridicule Christians for warning of the coming danger of God’s judgment when Christ returns (3:1-9). The seeming delay in the Second Coming is a demonstration of God’s patience and a great mercy providing a window of opportunity for sinners to repent.

Key Resources:

  • The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude by Peter Davids in the “Pillar NT Commentary” series.

  • 1, 2 Peter, Jude by Tom Schreiner in the “New American Commentary” series.

  • 2 Peter and Jude by Doug Moo in the “NIV Application Commentary” series.

  • 1 & 2 Peter and Jude by David Helm in the “Preaching the Word” series.

  • Peter and Jude by Simon Kistemaker in the “New Testament Commentary” series.

  • Jude & 2 Peter by Gene Green in the “Baker Exegetical Commentary on the NT” series.

  • Let’s Study 2 Peter and Jude by Mark G. Johnston from The Banner of Truth.

  • Living for Christ in a Pagan World by Michael Bentley in Welwyn Commentary Series.

  • 2 Peter & Jude by John MacArthur in “The MacArthur NT Commentary” series.

  • 1-2 Peter by RC Sproul in the “St. Andrews Expositional Commentary” series.


Conclusion:


One of the marks of a false teacher is the nature of his lifestyle. In contrast, what was our Lord’s lifestyle? He had nowhere to lay His head (Lk 9:58). His was a life of sacrifice for the sake of others, not a life of debauchery at the expense of others.


From the very beginning, Satan’s goal has been to deceive mankind into rejecting God’s authority. The presence of false teachers is a major strategy by Satan to continue his work of stealing, killing, and destroying (Jn 10:10). The letter of 2 Peter finds its place in God’s story by instructing God’s people in how to wisely navigate the treacherous waters of the many voices in our world seeking to lure the church away from the true knowledge of God found only in the Scriptures. In that sense, probably no other book of the Bible emphasizes this theme as thoroughly as 2 Peter.


2 Peter emphasizes that the judgment of God is real; it is certain, and it is serious. It was so serious to God that He judged His own Son to deal with it. May God help His bride to live in view of final judgment.

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