2 Peter

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Invitation to 2 Peter

Author and Recipients

The author of 2 Peter is Simeon Peter (1:1), who is well-known from the Gospels.1 He worked as a fisherman before he met Jesus (Mark 1:16); from that point forward he traveled with Jesus, watching him perform miracles and hearing him teach. Peter was a central leader in the early church (Matt 16:18), despite denying Jesus three times (Mark 14:66–72). After Jesus restored him (John 21:15–19), Peter would go on to preach at Pentecost (Acts 2), escape from prison (Acts 12:1–17), and carry the gospel throughout the Roman Empire. By the time he writes this letter (early to mid-60s), he is an older man furthering the gospel in Rome, where, according to church tradition, he dies as a martyr for the gospel (ca. 64-67 AD).

As he neared his death, Peter wanted to leave behind a letter that would remind his readers of the truth of the gospel (1:12–15) that would enable them to resist false teachers (2:1–3:18). He states that he had written to them before (3:1), though it is unclear whether or not he is referring to 1 Peter.2 Regardless, this letter demonstrates clearly Peter’s love and concern for them.


Throughout the letter, Peter focuses on the centrality of Jesus. Many titles are given to Jesus throughout 2 Peter, including “Lord and Savior” (1:11, 2:20, 3:2, 18), “Lord” (1:2, 8, 14, 16), and “Master” (2:1). These titles point to the ongoing authority Jesus has, even after his death, burial, and resurrection.

The word of God also plays an important role in 2 Peter. Peter extends “Scriptures” beyond the OT writings to include the writings of the apostles, thereby placing them on the same level as OT scriptures (3:2–3, 15–16). Peter draws on a number of OT figures and examples to situate the present-day false teachers within redemptive history.

Finally, the day of the Lord is a prominent theme. It will come suddenly and result in the current heavens and earth being destroyed to make way for a new heavens and new earth (3:10–13). God will save the faithful on that day, but the wicked he will judge (2:9–10, 3:7).


In light of his soon-approaching death, Peter writes to remind his readers of the truth of the gospel in an effort to inoculate them against false teaching.

Key Verse

“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.”

— 2 Peter 1:12 ESV


I. Letter Opening (1:1–15)

A. Salutation (1:1–2)

B. The Power of the Gospel for Life Transformation (1:3–11)

C. The Necessity of Being Reminded of the Gospel (1:12–15)

II. Letter Body (1:16–3:13)

A. The Foundation of the Gospel (1:16–21)

1. Witnesses of the Transfiguration (1:16–18)

2. The Confirmation of OT Prophecy (1:19–21)

B. The Danger of False Teachers (2:1–22)

1. The Certainty of False Teachers Coming (2:1–3a)

2. The Certain Condemnation of the False Teachers (2:3b–10a)

3. Description of the False Teachers (2:10b–22)

C. The Promise of Christ’s Return (3:1–13)

1. False Teachers Deny the Return of Christ (3:1–7)

2. The Certainty of Christ’s Return (3:8–10)

3. Response: Pursue Holiness in Anticipation of Christ’s Return (3:11–13)

III. Letter Closing (3:14–18)

Letter Opening (1:1–15)

Salutation (1:1–2)

1:1 As the author, Simeon Peter further identifies himself as both a servant and an apostle.3 “Servant” indicates that Peter is under the authority of Jesus Christ. As an apostle, Peter was a commissioned witness of Jesus’s ministry, particularly his death and resurrection (Mark 3:13–19; Acts 1:21–22).

Next Peter describes the recipients in terms that apply to all believers. Through the work of Christ, all believers are on the same spiritual level. It is not the quality or intensity of faith but the object of their faith that matters. Such faith is a gift that comes from the righteousness of God, which most likely refers to God’s work of saving his people that originates from his righteous character embodied in the person of Jesus Christ and leads to a right standing before him.

1:2 By pronouncing a blessing of grace and peace on his readers, Peter (like Paul) combines the standard Jewish greeting of “peace” and the Greek greeting of “grace.” Peter prays for grace and peace to come to them through the knowledge of God. This opening blessing and the later reference to knowledge (3:18) together form a bracket that frames the content of the entire letter.4 Peter wants his readers to grow in their relational knowledge of the Father and the Son so they can reflect God’s character more consistently and clearly in their lives.

The Power of the Gospel for Life Transformation (1:3–11)

1:3–4 In the Greek, verses 3–7 form a single sentence that tells believers what gifts God has given to them and how they should respond. The source of these gifts is divine power, seen most clearly in Jesus Christ (1:16). “Life” here refers to eternal life, which believers experience now in anticipation of its fullness in the new creation (3:13). Godliness is an orientation of one’s entire life towards God (encompassing our feelings, thoughts, attitudes, actions, etc.) that fulfills the greatest commandment to love God with our whole being (Matt 22:37). Our knowledge of God results from him calling us by his glory and excellence.5 Understood this way, God’s beauty (glory) and his perfection (excellence) are employed to bring people to a saving knowledge of the truth, as God’s glory is most preeminently displayed when he shows mercy to sinners (Exod 34:6–7).

God’s has also granted promises by his glory and excellence. It is difficult to say what promises Peter is referring to here; perhaps he has in mind new covenant texts that promised a new relationship with God based on complete forgiveness of sins and empowered by his Spirit (Jer 31:31–34; Ezek 36:26–27). Regardless, these promises are precious and very great. Only the promises of God are able to make believers participants in the divine nature. Through the Spirit applying the gospel to our lives, God begins to restore his original intention for humanity (Gen 1:26–31); the next phrase confirms this interpretation (1:4c). At conversion believers are no longer slaves to the corruption of this world and sinful desire. By partaking in the divine nature through Christ, they are experiencing the restoration of God’s image in them.

1:5–9 Based on the truths of verses 3–4, Peter then implores them to supplement their faith with a series of character qualities and calls them to pursue intentionally their own spiritual growth. Such growth does not happen passively; it requires sacrifice, effort, and investment on our part. As Christians, our role in the growth process is to trust in the promises of God, rely on the power of the Spirit, live in biblical community, and cultivate spiritual disciplines that facilitate the growth of these qualities in us.

With faith as the foundation, the qualities that follow are building blocks, each quality building on the previous one. The first block added to faith is virtue. Virtue in Greco-Roman philosophy is excellence in the moral, intellectual, and physical realms.6 Such qualities are rooted in God himself (1Pet 2:9; 2Pet 1:3) and are the basis for how believers should aspire to live (Phil 4:8).

The building block atop virtue is knowledge. This knowledge is not an intellectual matter but a relational knowledge of Jesus Christ (1:2; 3:18). To knowledge, we must add self-control, defined as the “restraint of one’s emotions, impulses, or desires.”7 Self-control was important in Greek, Jewish, and Christian thought, but the Christian version is distinct in that it is not a mastering of the self but, rather, submission to the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:23). Next is steadfastness, which Romans 5:3–4 helpfully presents as the ability to persevere in the midst of opposition or suffering. To steadfastness, godliness is added (see notes at 1:3), which is followed by brotherly affection. Christians are all part of the same spiritual family that has been adopted in Christ (Gal 4:5), and, as such, we are called to love and care for one another (1Pet 1:22; 2:17; 3:8). The climactic building block is love. “Biblical love is not a feeling provoked by the beauty of its object but rather is a commitment of the heart, mind, and soul to pursue what is best for the one being loved.”8 Christ is the exemplar of love (John 15:13), which is regularly presented as a defining mark of the Christian (John 13:34–35; 1Pet 4:8; 1Cor 13:1–13; Col 3:14).

Continual growth in these qualities prevents believers from being ineffective and unfruitful in knowing Christ. According to verse 9, possessing these qualities keeps believers from being so nearsighted that they become blind and forget that God has cleansed them from their sins. Such blindness leads to missed opportunities for spiritual growth and a lack of self-awareness to recognize their lack of growth, and they become spiritually stagnant because they have forgotten the cleansing from sin that comes through the gospel.

1:10–11 In verses 10–11 Peter states a conclusion that flows from his list of Christian character qualities and the dangers of not pursuing spiritual growth. In contrast to the spiritually blind person described in verses 8–9, those who are diligent in pursuing their calling and practicing these virtues will never fall away from Christ, thus demonstrating that God has chosen them. As a result, they will enter the eternal kingdom of God. In one sense believers enter the kingdom the moment they believe (Col 1:13–14); however, we still await its full arrival in a new creation (2Pet 3:13). This is what God will richly provide to those who persevere in the faith. So, in summary, believers who diligently practice these qualities will confirm their election, experience an effective and fruitful knowledge of Christ, and be given entrance into Christ’s eternal kingdom. What a rich promise!

The Necessity of Being Reminded of the Gospel (1:12–15)

Peter concludes this section by explaining his motivation—to ground his readers in the truth of the gospel. Because we quickly forget the gospel and its benefits, we must constantly be reminded of who God is and what he has done for us in Christ. Peter’s death is impending, and he intends to stir up his readers to pursue spiritual growth as long as he lives. The word translated “body” in 1:13 is “tent” in the Greek. Peter pictures his earthly body as a tent, something that has served its purpose and reached the end of its usefulness. Peter knows his death is near because Jesus has made it clear to him (Peter does not explain how). His death is a departure (Greek, “exodus”) from this fallen world into the presence of God. Together the metaphors of tent and exodus stress that our earthly lives are temporary; yet they are significant because they prepare us for our eternal home. These are the truths Peter wants his readers to remember long after his death.

Letter Body (1:16–3:13)

The Foundation of the Gospel (1:16–21)

Peter begins the main body of the letter by establishing the truthfulness of the gospel, which was confirmed by the testimony of two witnesses (cf. Deut 19:15): (1) his own experience as an apostle (vv. 16–18), and (2) the OT (vv. 19–21).

1:16–18 In contrast to cleverly devised myths, Peter asserts that when he and his fellow apostles preach and teach about Jesus Christ, they do so as eyewitnesses; therefore, their testimony about Jesus is reliable, compelling, and truthful. Among the many events he could have recounted, Peter chooses Jesus’s transfiguration, where Jesus received honor and glory from God the Father (cf. Ps 8:5), whom Peter refers to as “the Majestic Glory.” When the Father says of Jesus, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (1:17; cf. Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22), he is identifying Jesus as the promised Davidic king (Ps 2:7), the sacrifice greater than Isaac (Gen 22:1–16), and the servant of the Lord (Isa 42:1). Peter’s eyewitness testimony is a sure foundation for the truthfulness of the gospel.

1:19–21 The gospel message rests not only on the apostles’ testimony but also on the OT. What Peter experienced on the mountain with Jesus fulfilled OT promises. Because God’s Word is reliable, believers should heed it as the only source of light in the midst of a dark world (cf. Ps 19:8; 119:105, 130). This attentive posture towards God’s Word must continue until the true and fuller light arrives at Christ’s return. Borrowing language from several OT texts (Isa 9:2; Mal 4:2), Peter directs believers to hope in the return of Christ, the morning star, who will rule over creation (Num 24:14–19). This hope is grounded in the truth that no prophecy comes from human imagination but from God by the power of the Spirit, who carried men along like a wind filling the sails of a boat. Scripture originates in the mind of God, but it is delivered through the agency of human beings whom God inspired to write exactly what they wrote without overriding their distinctive personalities and experiences.

The Danger of False Teachers (2:1–22)

The Certainty of False Teachers Coming (2:1–3a)

Having laid the foundation of his experience with Jesus and the authority of the OT, Peter now addresses the problem at hand: the presence of false teachers. Like Israel before her (e.g., Jer 14:13–14), the church also must deal with false teachers, perhaps even more so than Israel did. These false teachers bring in heresies that harm the church. Their departure from the truth of the gospel (whether through addition or subtraction) will often be subtle, introduced with the stealth of a deadly enemy bent on our destruction.9 Such heresies are often not overt or obvious, but subtle and indiscernible to the person not intimately familiar with the gospel. By departing from the true gospel, these false teachers deny the very Master they claim to follow. As a result, they are on the path to eternal destruction. Sadly, many will be ensnared by their “sensuality,” a term that refers to a “lack of self-constraint which involves one in conduct that violates all bounds of what is socially acceptable.”10 Through their false doctrine and sensual conduct, they bring dishonor to God’s name. Motivated by greed, their goal is to exploit others. False teachers teach false gospels using false words that give people a false hope.

The Certain Condemnation of False Teachers (2:3b–10a)

2:3b Despite their apparent success, false teachers will not get away with their deception, because God’s judgment will come upon them. God will bring final judgment on these false teachers for what they have taught and for leading people astray. God’s judgment is rarely immediate; he often holds off judgment so that people may repent before it is too late (3:9). But we should not mistake his patience for approval of or indifference toward sin.

2:4–8 In Greek, verses 4–10a are a single sentence in which Peter uses a series of four “if” statements followed by two “then” statements that reveal the natural conclusions. Each “if” statement is based on an example drawn from the OT of God rescuing the godly while judging the wicked. The first example is the rebellious angels that God cast into hell to await judgment. This is an expanded summary of Genesis 6:1–4, where the sons of God married the daughters of man, thereby provoking God’s judgment. That passage does not record God condemning these angels to hell, but later Jewish writings do (e.g., 1 Enoch 6–21).11 Peter’s second example is God saving Noah and his family from the flood through the ark but judging the wicked people of the earth (Gen 6–9). Like preachers of the gospel, Noah, a herald of righteousness, proclaimed a message of rescue from God’s coming wrath. The third example (vv. 6–8) is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:1–19:29), two cities God destroyed because of their immorality. Yet in the midst of this judgment, God saved righteous Lot, who was continually tormented by the wickedness surrounding him. Repulsion and grief over the wickedness of our culture are marks of genuine righteousness. Despite his obvious flaws, here God declares him righteous.

2:9–10a Based on these examples of God judging the wicked and sparing the righteous, Peter draws two conclusions. First, God has the ability to rescue his people from trials. Believers can withstand the threat of false teachers (2:1) because God has a proven track record of preserving his faithful people through their trials. Second, God will condemn the ungodly on the day of judgment. Those who deny the true gospel are by definition unrighteous, as they reject the only path to righteousness; therefore, what awaits them is condemnation on the last day. The ungodly are further described in two ways. First, they go after “defiling passions.” While the phrasing implies sexual sin, it is intentionally vague so as to include any sinful passions that run contrary to God’s will. Second, the ungodly “despise authority,” which is a natural state of those “denying the Master who bought them” (2:1).

Description of False Teachers (2:10b–22)

2:10b–11 Peter begins a new section in which he further describes the false teachers. Because they are “bold and willful,” they arrogantly assert themselves rather than submitting to God’s authority. They are so arrogant that they do not fear speaking against “the glorious ones,” which probably refers to evil spiritual beings. Their failure to tremble in the presence of such powerful beings suggests the false teachers see little difference between God and themselves. This is in stark contrast to the angels in verse 11 who are great in power but do not speak a judgment against them. The arrogance of the false teachers is such that they gladly do what powerful angels will not—usurp the role of God by pronouncing judgment.

2:12–13 Verses 12–13 give four additional descriptions of the false teachers who are destined for destruction: they are like animals, they are slaves to instinct, they speak against God when they do not know anything about him, and they will be their own undoing. Their arrogant departure from the true gospel has led them to act in subhuman ways, lacking self-control and enslaved to their sinful desires. They present themselves as experts when they are, in fact, ignorant. Their fate is utter destruction; “suffering wrong” is what they have earned12 because they openly and shamelessly engage “in a fast, self-indulgent lifestyle”13 contrary to the gospel. Although Christ died to present the church without blemish (Eph 5:27), the false teachers are “blots and blemishes,” language that described people unfit to offer sacrifices (Lev 21:17–23) or animals unfit to be offered as sacrifices (Lev 22:20–25) under the old covenant. Not even the Lord’s Supper was safe from the false teachers, because they used it as an opportunity to promote their false teaching and immoral behavior.

2:14–16 The pace of Peter’s portrayal of the false teachers quickens in verse 14 with five further descriptions: (1) “They have eyes full of adultery,” highlighting their sexual immorality (cf. Matt 5:27–30); (2) they are “insatiable for sin,” displaying an unrelenting craving for sin that is never ultimately satisfied;14 (3) they “entice unsteady souls,” luring the spiritually vulnerable into following their false teaching and immoral lifestyles; (4) “They have hearts trained in greed,” so, rather than training themselves for godliness (1Tim 4:7), the false teachers actively exercise their love of money (1Tim 6:10); and (5) they are “accursed children” who, instead of receiving wise instruction (Prov 1:8) and experiencing God’s blessing, have pursued folly and are under God’s condemnation.

These false teachers are following in some notorious footsteps. They resemble the OT false prophet Balaam. While Israel wandered in the wilderness, Balak King of Moab paid Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam pronounced a series of blessings instead (Num 22–24), but he later enticed Israel to commit idolatry and sexual immorality (Num 31:16). Similar to Balaam, the false teachers use their heretical teaching and sexual immorality for financial profit (2Pet 2:3, 14). God confronted Balaam for his greed and presumption by rebuking him through a donkey, showing that an “irrational animal” (cf. 2:12) had more understanding of the Lord than Balaam (Num 22:22–35).

2:17–19 Peter continues his onslaught by describing the false teachers with a series of vivid metaphors. They are “waterless springs and mists driven by a storm.” In the OT, springs were an image of salvation (Isa 41:18; Jer 2:13), but what the false teachers promote instead is the path to destruction, and their eternal condemnation is certain (cf. 2:4). Peter returns to fishing imagery (cf. 2:14) and highlights two forms of bait these false teachers use. First, rather than being ashamed of their foolishness, they loudly boast of it, language that may echo the description of the antichrist in Daniel 11:36. Second, they appeal to people’s sinful desires, in particular their sexual impulses (cf. 2:2, 7). They target those who are most vulnerable, perhaps recent converts.

These false teachers promise freedom, but, in reality, they are slaves to their own corruption. In contrast to true biblical freedom, which enables a person to love God and others (Gal 5:13­–14), they promote freedom from moral restraints and final judgment. Ironically, the false teachers are enslaved to the very corruption from which the gospel delivers. Indeed, false teachers regularly promise what they cannot deliver (wealth, hope, love, acceptance, power, pleasure, freedom, etc.) and only deepen people’s slavery to sin. Peter grounds this conclusion in a proverbial statement: “for whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (1:19). Sin and corruption are portrayed as evil powers that seek to conquer and oppress.

2:20–22 In light of what he has said, Peter must address how to think about those who once claimed to be followers of Jesus but are decisively led away from the true gospel by the false teachers. Despite their initial profession of faith, such people have given themselves back over to the destructive sinful ways of life that characterized them before they claimed to know Jesus. Because they have been so closely familiar with the only way to escape the defilements of the world (i.e., the gospel) and have ultimately rejected it, they find themselves in an even worse situation than before—hopeless, helpless, and without God (cf. Matt 12:43–45; Heb 6:4–8). Indeed, Peter concludes they would have been better off never knowing about the true gospel than knowing about it and turning from it. The true gospel and the moral imperatives that flow from it are the only path to righteousness, and those who, after learning about them, still reject them are even more culpable before God because their sin is not born of ignorance.

Peter drives home his point with two proverbs that reinforce how the false teachers are like irrational animals (2:12). The first is drawn from Proverbs 26:11: “The dog returns to its own vomit.” In the Bible, comparing someone to a dog is never positive (cf. 1Sam 17:43; 2Sam 16:9; Phil 3:2). The second proverb comes from Greco-Roman culture: “the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” Jewish aversion to pigs was well-known (cf. Lev 11:7; Deut 14:8), but even pagans tended to regard pigs as filthy animals, knowing they were quick to return to mud soon after being washed. Peter himself had heard Jesus compare those who stubbornly rejected the message of the gospel with both dogs and pigs (Matt 7:6). The false teachers and those who follow them have returned to their pre-conversion lifestyle and are thus like dogs returning to vomit and pigs returning to the mud. Instead of escaping the defilements of the world, they have embraced them.

The Promise of Christ's Return (3:1–13)

False Teachers Deny the Return of Christ (3:1–7)

3:1–2 As he did in his previous letter (3:1; possibly a reference to 1 Peter), the apostle writes to stir up fresh affections for Christ by further grounding them in the foundational truths of the gospel (cf. 1:13–20). In contrast to the false teachers (2:1–22), Peter’s readers have a sincere mind. Through this letter God will remind these believers with sincere minds of the true gospel and empower them to persevere in the faith by rejecting the lies of the false teachers. Believers must remember the “predictions of the holy prophets” and “the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles” (3:2). Together these two expressions refer in nascent form to what would eventually become the OT and NT Scriptures. The word “predictions” is literally “the words spoken beforehand” and suggests that Peter has in mind the entirety of the OT, not merely the prophetic books. Though it may not immediately be apparent, the commandment of the Lord that Peter has in view is the gospel message itself, which commands sinners to repent and believe in Jesus (John 6:29; Acts 2:38). As the risen Lord, Jesus has all authority and deserves our obedience (Matt 28:18–20). Just as he did in 1:16–21, Peter calls believers to ground their hope in the OT promises and their fulfillment in Jesus as taught by the apostles.

3:3–7 This foundation is necessary because “scoffers” are inevitable. A scoffer is someone who arrogantly mocks and dismisses a person or idea they believe is beneath them. Because the last days have begun with the arrival of Jesus, scoffing will only intensify. Such scoffing is regularly accompanied by a self-directed and self-indulgent morality cloaked in a smug sense of superiority. These scoffers direct their scorn towards Christ’s second coming. They claim that the world has not really changed since the days of the OT patriarchs, implying that God has taken a “hands-off” approach to the world since then. Not only does such a claim contradict the OT; it also implicitly denies the incarnation.

This false teaching is rooted not in ignorance, but in a dismissal of the facts. Perhaps echoing Psalm 102:25, Peter notes that the heavens have existed for a very long time. God not only spoke creation into existence but brought order to it out of the primordial waters as well (Gen 1). The word of God is not merely God’s speech, but the eternal Son who brought all things into existence (John 1:1–3). God used this same combination of water and his word to bring judgment on the world through the flood (Gen 6–9; cf. 2Pet 2:5).

Based on God’s actions in creation and the flood, Peter looks to the future and the final judgment. As it does here, fire in the Bible regularly portrays eschatological judgment (Isa 66:15; Ezek 38:22; Rev 20:9–15). God has promised future judgment through the same word that created and brought past judgment through the flood. In the meantime, the present creation is “kept” until that day. Such language in connection with judgment (cf. 2:4, 9, 17) highlights God’s sovereignty. God’s track record in the past (recorded in Scripture) and the promise of future judgment provides stability in the present for God’s people and a ready response to the claims of scoffers.

The Certainty of Christ’s Return (3:8–10)

3:8–9 Unlike the scoffers, who intentionally overlook certain facts about God, believers must acknowledge that God is not bound by time the way human beings are. Peter borrows language from Psalm 90:4 to remind us that God transcends time itself, since he has always existed (cf. Job 36:26). The seeming delay in Christ’s return can trouble believers, but we must remember that he will fulfill his promises at the right time. Echoing Habakkuk 2:3, Peter assures us that God will judge the ungodly and save the righteous (cf. 2Pet 2:9–10). God is waiting because he desires that all would repent. He “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked” (Ezek 33:11) and pleads with sinners to receive his mercy (Isa 55:1–11; 65:1–5). Peter portrays repentance as a destination that God’s patience allows sinners to reach (cf. Rom 2:4).

3:10 The patience of the Lord will not last forever, though, since the final judgment will come. The OT anticipated the day when God would judge his enemies and save his people (Joel 2:28–32). Numerous individual events, such as the destruction of Jerusalem (Isa 22:2–25), the crucifixion (Matt 27:45–54), and Pentecost (Acts 2:1–41), are each days of the Lord that anticipate the climactic day of the Lord at the end of human history. Peter heard Jesus teach the sudden nature of his return using the imagery of a thief in the night (Matt 24:43).

Three things will happen on this day. First, “the heavens will pass away with a roar.” This roar will be like “the crackling sound of fire, destroying the heavens.”15 Second, “the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved.” The word rendered “heavenly bodies” may instead refer to the elements of the cosmos (earth, air, fire, and water), which will burn with an intense heat.16 Third, “the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” Although the exact wording of the Greek text is debated, what Peter appears to say is that all humanity’s acts will be revealed before God for judgment.17 It is also debated whether Peter envisions the complete destruction of the present creation (thus making way for the creation of a new heavens and earth) or the purification of the present creation such that it is transformed into a new creation.18 On the whole, destruction, rather than purification, seems slightly more likely.

Response: Pursue Holiness in Anticipation of Christ’s Return (3:11–13)

3:11–12 Peter now transitions to application, explaining what kind of lives we should lead in light of Christ’s return, the final judgment, and the consummation of the new creation. Peter begins by exhorting believers to live “lives of holiness and godliness.” God has set apart believers as both a holy priesthood and a holy nation (1Pet 2:5, 9), and he calls us to be holy because he himself is holy (Lev 11:44; 1Pet 1:15–16; on “godliness,” see 1:3). Believers are to pursue holiness and godliness while they wait for the day of the Lord. Believers do not wait passively, but with eager anticipation for the consummation (Rom 8:19–23). Through our godly lives, prayer, and evangelistic efforts, we can hasten the last day, knowing that God sovereignly ordains the events through which he will consummate his purposes. Returning to language from 3:10, Peter reiterates that on that day, the judgment of all things will take place, and the “heavenly bodies will melt.” The verb “melt” is used in the LXX to describe judgment on God’s enemies (e.g., Exod 15:15; Isa 24:23; 34:4; 64:1).

3:13 Rather than ending on a note of judgment, Peter asserts that a new heaven and a new earth will come where righteousness dwells. Isaiah 65:17–25 envisions a new creation free from every stain of sin and the curse, and this is our hope as believers (cf. Rev 21–22). In contrast to the wickedness promoted by the false teachers and endured by the righteous in this world (2:7–10, 15), the new creation will be permeated with righteousness (cf. Isa 32:16; 60:21).

Letter Closing (3:14–18)

3:14–16 Hope in the new creation produces a specific kind of life in the present. Peter exhorts believers to pursue a life that is “without spot or blemish” (a direct contrast to the immoral lives of the false teachers; cf. 2:13) and at peace with others. He reiterates his call to diligence in pursuing godliness (1:10, 15) so we will be reflections of the spotless lamb of God, Jesus Christ, on the last day (1Pet 1:19). Peace is both a present reality (1:2) and a future hope. Peter reiterates that God’s patience leads to salvation (3:9), noting that Paul makes a similar claim in his writings (cf. Rom 2:4). Despite not always seeing eye to eye (see Gal 2:11–14), Peter recognizes that God gave Paul wisdom to proclaim and explain the gospel among the Gentiles (Gal 2:9–10).

Not everything Paul wrote, however, is so straightforward. Because some things he wrote are difficult to understand, those who are ignorant and unstable distort his words. These are people who are not grounded in the apostolic teachings and the OT; as a result, they twist the truth of the gospel, like someone dislocating a limb from its socket. In doing so, they not only rush towards their own eternal destruction but lead others to that end as well. Even at this early date, Peter regards Paul’s letters as Scripture, a divinely inspired, authoritative word on the same level as the OT. Speaking as authoritative representatives of the risen Jesus, the apostles recognized their writings as the very word of God.

3:17–18 Believers must not be persuaded by false teaching and wild living but remain secure and stable in the true gospel. Staying grounded in the gospel requires vigilance and diligence, lest one be like a ship that is blown off course and run aground on the rocks of eternal destruction. False teaching is like a swift flood that can rob believers of their stability if they do not remain safe on the rock of the true gospel (Matt 7:24–27). In his final exhortation, Peter urges believers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ produces stability and enables human beings to flourish as God intends. All that remains is an eruption of worship: “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” From creation to new creation, all that God does is for the purpose of magnifying his glory.


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Moo, Douglas J. 2 Peter, Jude. NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

Schreiner, Thomas R. 1–2 Peter and Jude. Christian Standard Commentary. Nashville: B&H Publishing
Group, 2020.

Endnotes & Permissions

1. Critical scholars reject Petrine authorship. For a robust defense of Peter as the author, see Thomas R. Schreiner, 1-2 Peter and Jude, Christian Standard Commentary (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2020), 298–323.

2. The contents of the letter may suggest a different group of recipients altogether; see discussion in Gene L. Green, Jude and 2 Peter, BECNT (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 150–59.

3. He is also known by several names throughout the New Testament: (1) Simon, which is simply a different spelling of Simeon (Acts 15:14); (2) Peter (“rock”), the name given to him by Jesus; and (3) Cephas (“rock”), which is the Aramaic equivalent of Peter (John 1:42; Gal 1:18; 2:9).

4. Peter uses a word here that may stress the completeness of the knowledge and includes, but is not limited to, conversion; see the discussion in Schreiner, 340.

5. While many translations say “to” his own glory and excellence, the Greek could also be rendered “by” his own glory and excellence.

6. TDNT 1:458–60; NIDNTT 3:925–26.

7. BDAG s.v. ἐγκράτεια.

8. Matthew S. Harmon, “2 Peter,” in Hebrews–Revelation, eds. Iain M. Duguid, James M. Hamilton Jr., and Jay Sklar, vol. XII, ESV Expository Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2018), 374.

9. Both Polybius (Hist., 6.56.12) and Diodorus Siculus (Bib. Hist., 1.96.5) use the same verb (translated “secretly bring in”) to describe the introduction of new doctrines into an existing set of beliefs.

10. BDAG s.v. ἀσέλγεια. The context suggests a sexual connotation to this term (see 2:7).

11. The Greek word Peter uses for “cast to hell” (tartaroō) literally means “to hold captive in Tartarus” (BDAG s.v. ταρταρόω). According to Greek mythology, “Tartarus was the subterranean abyss to which the disobedient gods and rebellious human beings were consigned” (Douglas J. Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, NIVAC [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996], 103).

12. The word for “suffering wrong” (adikeō) is from the same word family as several other descriptions in the section that contrast the righteous (2:5, 7, 8, 21) with the false teachers and their unrighteousness (2:9, 13,15)

13. BDAG s.v. τρυφή 1.

14. Together these first two descriptions may suggest the false teachers sought to transform the Christian love feast into a Greco-Roman banquet, which commonly featured idolatry and sexual immorality; see Green, Jude and 2 Peter, 280–82.

15. Schreiner, 459.

16. NIDNTTE 4:379. Isaiah 34:4 contains similar language using different vocabulary.

17. See the helpful discussion in Schreiner, 461–64.

18. See the helpful discussion in Moo, 200–02.

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2 Peter 1



1:1 Simeon1 Peter, a servant2 and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirm Your Calling and Election

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to3 his own glory and excellence,4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,5 and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities6 are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers,7 be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body,8 to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

Christ’s Glory and the Prophetic Word

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,9 with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.


[1] 1:1 Some manuscripts Simon

[2] 1:1 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface

[3] 1:3 Or by

[4] 1:3 Or virtue

[5] 1:5 Or excellence; twice in this verse

[6] 1:8 Greek these things; also verses 9, 10, 12

[7] 1:10 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

[8] 1:13 Greek tent; also verse 14

[9] 1:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved