The 2nd Letter of Peter to the Jewish believers
This letter was written by Peter, imprisoned in Rome and under threat of death (see 2 Peter 1:13-15), to the Jewish Christians seeking refuge from persecution in Asia Minor. It was written shortly after his First Letter in 66 or 67AD, to which he refers (see 2 Peter 3:1).
The style of the second letter is, however, very different from the first. While the previous letter was written in fluent idiomatic Greek with assistance from Silas (see 1 Peter 5:12), this second letter is written from a prison cell in Peter’s own ‘rough and ready’ Greek. Peter had picked up a working knowledge of Greek over the years on his travels through numerous Greek-speaking Roman cities in the eastern Mediterranean – cities such as Sebaste in Samaria (see Acts 8:14-24), Caesarea in Palestine (see Acts 10:24-48) and Antioch in Syria (see Galatians 2:11-14). It’s also possible that parts of the letter were added after Peter’s death.
It isn’t known who carried the letter from Rome to the believers in Asia Minor, but it could well have been John Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (and the author of Mark’s Gospel – see Acts 12:12, 25, 13:5,13). Mark sent his greetings from Rome in Peter’s first letter, but, significantly, he isn’t mentioned in the second letter.
Mark had lodged with Paul, under house arrest in Rome, in 60-62AD (see Colossians 4:10 & Philemon 1:24) and probably wrote the Gospel of Mark at that time. He probably travelled with Paul to Ephesus in 63 or 64AD (see 1 Timothy 1:3 and Map 28) before returning to Rome from Colossae in 66 or 67AD (see 2 Timothy 4:11 & Colossians 4:10). He might well have travelled back to Ephesus with this letter en route to Colossae, Laodicea and the other churches of Asia Minor.
The church in Laodicea was probably one of the recipients of this letter
The letter was written to encourage the believers in their faith and to combat false teachings that were leading to immorality. The letter looks forward to the second coming of Christ which some false teachers had claimed would not happen.
2 Peter 1:1-2 Peter sends his greetings to the believers “who have received a faith as valuable as ours” (2 Peter 1:1).
2 Peter 1:3-9 He rejoices that they share in God’s nature, so “the world will not ruin you with its evil desires” (2 Peter 1:4). He urges them to live godly lives, full of goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance and ‘brotherly love’ (the Greek word ‘philadelphia’).
2 Peter 1:10-12 He encourages the believers not to abandon their new faith, so they don’t give up the promise of eternal life in the “eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:11).
2 Peter 1:13-15 Peter reminds them of these things while he is still alive, as he is under threat of death, and “I know I must soon leave this body” (2 Peter 1:14).
Peter recalls seeing the glory of Jesus
2 Peter 1:16-18 Peter tells the believers that he isn’t inventing made-up stories. As an apostle, he himself witnessed, first-hand, the greatness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Peter reminds them he was actually there when Jesus was transfigured in glory and God said, “This is my Son, whom I love, and I am very pleased with him” (2 Peter 1:17) (see Matthew 17:1-5).
2 Peter 1:19-21 He urges the believers to take the message proclaimed by the prophets seriously because they spoke under the control of the Holy Spirit. Their message will be “a light shining in a dark place” until the ‘Day of the Lord’ arrives and “the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19) (see Revelation 22:16).
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