Peter’s two epistles are written to scattered and suffering Saints. In his first epistle he sought to encourage them amidst suffering and slander from the pagans. In this second epistle, Peter writes to warn them about false teachers who seek to deceive and destroy them. In this final chapter of his last recorded written word, Peter gives his last will and testament, a few final exhortations given false teachers’ growing danger. First, in 1 Peter 3:1-7, Peter exhorts believers to be mindful of the Scriptures and the scoffers. Second, in 1 Peter 3:8-13, Peter exhorts believers to be not ignorant about the doctrines of God and the End Times. In 1 Peter 3:14-16, Peter exhorts believers to be diligent to grow in holiness and godliness and be diligent in handling the Scriptures.
As Peter draws his second epistle to a close, he focuses on the Second Coming of Christ. The doctrine of Christ’s return was under attack by the Antinomians Gnostics. These scoffers’ denial of His return was critical to their immorality and impurity. If Christ does not return, then there is no coming judgment, and they are free to live as they please.
Peter urged his readers to not only be mindful of these scoffers but to be mindful of the Scriptures. The Scriptures are critical in guarding believers against false teaching. So to his exhortation to be mindful, Peter now exhorts his reads to be not ignorant of two great truths -- the doctrines of God and the End Times. These two great doctrines were under attack by the false teachers.
The question regarding the promise of the Second Coming is an attack on the End Times doctrine. This doctrine is known as Eschatology. The question is also an attack on the doctrine of God, known as Theology Proper. The prophecies of Christ’s Second Coming are promises made by God, Who guarantees their fulfillment. By questioning the completion of these promises, the false teachers made God out to be a liar. As well, they claimed that God was uninvolved in His creation. Such a view is known as deism. So in 2 Peter 3:8-13, Peter exhorts believers to be not ignorant of two great truths!
In chapter three, Peter converges on a specific example of false teachers — a denial of Christ’s return to judge the world. Because they reveled in lawlessness and pursued lustful desires, they denied any doctrine which would hold them accountable for their actions. In their mind, if Christ does not return, there will be no judgment upon them. Therefore, as a shepherd, Peter urges his sheep to be mindful — mindful of the Scripture and mindful of the scoffers.
In the context of Isaiah 9, the prophet has declared that God intends to punish Israel utilizing the Assyrians. The invasion of the Assyrians would be terrible and ultimately result in Israel’s anguish and captivity. Amid such gloom and darkness, Isaiah foretells of the light of the Messiah who will rescue and redeem Israel and reign and rule over Israel and the world. Shockingly, Isaiah reveals that the Messiah will come as a Child and a Son (Isaiah 9:6-7). Isaiah provides five prophetic names for the Child. In Semitic culture, a name expresses the nature of an individual. Thus, Isaiah’s use of these five prophetic names describes Who the Child is and what He will do.
There are many messages communicated during the Christmas season -- funny messages, romantic messages, and religious messages. The Scripture presents another message of Christmas. It is a message of humility, joy, love, worship, and proclamation.
Luke 1:28-35 presents some of the most wonderful words of assurance and divine certainty in connection with the Lord Jesus Christ from His conception and birth as King of the Jews, to His ultimate triumph as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Specifically, in verses thirty-one to thirty-three, Luke presents seven wills in this Christmas narrative. Contextually, each of the verbs translated as will is in the future tense — will conceive, will name, will be great, will be called, will give, will reign, and will have no end. The use of the future tense here is known as a predictive future. That is, the tense indicates the expectation that something will take place. These wills speak of Christ’s Advents — His First and Second. From the present readers perspective, four of these wills are past, occurring at Christ’s advent. The last three wills are future and will be fulfilled at Christ’s second advent.
Peter laid out five critical warnings about false teachers (cf. 2 Peter 2:1-3). False teachers are a continuous threat, promote destructive heresies and alluring immorality, have impure motives, and are doomed to judgment. Regarding their judgment, Peter used the judgment of the fallen angels who cohabited with women, the ungodly generation of Noah’s era, and the ungodly of Sodom and Gomorrah to demonstrate that the judgment of false teachers is certain (cf. 2 Peter 2:4-10a). In the first part of verse ten, Peter gave two reasons for the certainty of judgment upon false teachers, namely they indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
These two reasons for judgment against false teachers function as the transition to Peter’s damnable description of false teachers in 2 Peter 2:10b-22. It should be underscored that Peter’s description in verses ten through twenty-two parallels his warning in verses one through three. The purpose of the parallel is to focus the reader on the false teachers’ wickedness. In doing so, Peter uses more expressive and detailed terms to emphasize their wickedness. Peter presents a sevenfold damnable description of false teachers.
Peter states in 2 Peter 2:3 that the false teachers are doomed to judgment — “their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” While verse three served as the final warning of the previous section, it also is the springboard for what comes next. Consider the following logic. Because the false teacher deliberately misleads others, God will, without doubt, judge them. God’s judgment of false teachers is absolute because God routinely judged the wicked throughout history. Thus, in 2 Peter 2:4-9, Peter presents three examples of God’s judgment in the past.
Peter provides a warning, a judgment, and a profile of false teachers. Peter begins with a five-part warning about false teachers in 2 Peter 2:1-3, exposing their objectives, activities, and destruction.
In 2 Peter 1:12-21, Peter provides two tools for growth in godliness — the New Testament and the Old Testament. These tools will not only enable believers to grow in godliness, but they serve as an antidote against false teachers and false teaching. Believers who avail themselves of both sides of the Holy Writ will neither be stunted in their spiritual growth nor fall victim to damnable heresies.
When first saved, believers want to grow in godliness, but sadly that eagerness wanes over time. All too soon, they settle into the doldrums of complacency and even apathy. Little do believers realize that at that moment, they are easy prey for false teachers. Again, growth in godliness will stem the onslaught of complacency and apathy and guard against false teachers. However, growth does not happen without determination and discipline.
With the persecution intensifying and many believers being deceived by false teachings about God’s Law and in danger of becoming apostate, Peter begins his letter reminding his readers of the divine provisions for a life of godliness. This opening serves as a natural progression from the end of his last letter, where Peter reminded believers that God’s mighty hand will perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish them (cf. 1 Peter 5:10). As such, God accomplishes these actions by granting believers faith, grace and peace, everything pertaining to life and godliness, and precious and magnificent promises.
The Epistle of 1 Peter was written from a pastor’s heart for believers who are scattered, suffering, and slandered. Peter’s goal was to exhort believers to remain faithful while scattered and experiencing suffering amid a hostile world. Though living in a hostile world, they have a living hope which originates in the Father’s foreknowledge, the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying, and the Son’s sprinkled blood. Furthermore, they are blessed and rejoicing amid their trials because they have a living hope, and inexpressible, glorious joy.
Peter also exhorted believers to exhibit a lifestyle different from this hostile, pagan world. Such a lifestyle requires saturating one’s mind in God’s Word, following the Law of God, imitating the holiness of God, loving one-another, and submitting to authorities. Additionally, Peter encouraged believers to endure suffering by following the example of Christ, who did not return evil for evil. Now in 1 Peter 5:10-14, Peter brings his epistle to a close by reminding his readers of God’s grace and glory before saying goodbye.
Living in the last days, believers know that God’s judgment is near. Lest believers think that His judgment will only be upon the unregenerate, Peter said, “It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). In other words, God’s judgment begins with the Church. In 1 Peter 5:1-5, Peter addressed the elders of the church in light of this coming judgment. Now in 1 Peter 5:5-9, he addresses the people in the church, with five exhortations, so that they too can be prepared for God’s judgment.
For the first time in his epistle, Peter directly addresses the local church’s elders or leaders. While it appears odd to shift from trials and judgment to church leadership, the segue is quite natural. In 1 Peter 4:17, Peter said that “it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God.” Peter was alluding to Malachi 3 and Ezekiel 9, where God’s judgment began at the Temple. Presently, the Church is the Temple of God. Thus, God’s judgment begins with the Church. More specifically, in light of Ezekiel 9:6, God’s judgment upon His Temple starts with the elders. Hence, Peter addresses the elders of the church with a challenge so that they can avoid the judgment that the unregenerate will face. Peter will address the people of the church in light of this judgment in 1 Peter 5:5-9.