Introduction to 2 Peter




Second Peter emphasizes practical Christian living. To this end, Peter wrote to warn against false teachers and the negative influence they can have on moral living. The letter emphasizes true knowledge of God while facing false teaching and encourages readers to maintain Christian virtue in the midst of the world’s vice.

“We also have the prophetic word strongly confirmed, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”.

“We also have the prophetic word strongly confirmed, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (1:19).


AUTHOR: The author of 2 Peter plainly identified himself as the apostle Peter (1:1). He called himself “Simeon Peter” (1:1), a name not generally used of the apostle (elsewhere only in Ac 15:14). The spelling is Semitic and lends a sense of authenticity to Peter’s letter. Moreover, it was natural for Peter, as a Semite, to use the original form of his name. Peter designated himself as “a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.” He viewed himself as a servant submitted to Christ’s lordship and as a divinely ordained, directly commissioned, authoritative representative of the Lord Jesus himself.

The letter contains several personal allusions to Peter’s life. He mentioned that his death was close (1:14), described himself as an eyewitness of the transfiguration of Jesus (1:16-18), quoted the words of the voice from heaven at this event (1:17), indicated that he had previously written to the letter’s recipients (whom he called “dear friends” in 3:1), and also called Paul “our dear brother” (3:15). This suggests that the author was close to Paul. Such references point to Peter as the author.

Many contemporary scholars, however, reject Peter as the author of this letter. They argue the following. (1) The personal references to Peter’s life are a literary device used by someone who wrote under the apostle’s name in order to create the appearance of authenticity. (2) The style of Greek in 2 Peter is different from that of 1 Peter. (3) The reference to Paul’s letters as a collection (3:15-16) points to a date later than Peter’s lifetime. (4) Second Peter was dependent upon Jude. If this is true, Peter’s authorship is problematic.

In response to these objections, one should consider the following. (1) The early church soundly rejected the practice of writing under an apostolic pseudonym, regarding it as outright forgery. (2) Peter may have had help in writing 1 Peter (1Pt 5:12) and not in writing 2 Peter, a situation that would lead to different styles in his Greek. (3) Rather than the whole collection, Peter may have referred only to those Pauline letters that were known at the time of writing. (4) Peter may have borrowed some from Jude, or both may have used a common source. All of these evidences suggest that 2 Peter should be accepted as authentic.

BACKGROUND: Unlike 1 Peter, 2 Peter does not mention specific recipients or refer to an exact destination. The apostle referred to his epistle as the “second letter” he had written to his readers (3:1). If the letter written prior to 2 Peter is 1 Peter, then he wrote to the same recipients (“exiles dispersed abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,” 1Pt 1:1). But if the previous letter is a reference to some other epistle that is now unknown, we cannot determine with certainty to whom or to where 2 Peter was written.

Peter likely wrote 2 Peter from Rome, where church tradition placed the apostle in his latter days. Because he mentioned that his death was near (1:14), it seems the letter was written just before his death. Tradition places the date of Peter’s martyrdom at about AD 67 during Nero’s reign (ruled AD 54-68).

Second Peter’s literary relationship with Jude is debated. What one decides about this issue inevitably affects the authorship and date of each letter. Both epistles are strikingly similar in content. Thus, if 2 Peter borrowed from Jude and the latter book was written somewhere between AD 65 and 80, the apostle Peter could not have been the author of 2 Peter. The use of 2 Peter by Jude, however, poses no problem for authorship or dating. Jude may have borrowed from 2 Peter, or both authors may have used a common source.

Peter wrote this letter shortly before he died (1:14), and though not mentioned, possibly while in prison. He wrote to Christian friends confronted with the threat of false teachers who were denying Christ’s saving work and second coming. As an eyewitness of Jesus’s life (1:16-18), Peter sought to affirm for his readers the reality of Christ’s return and to remind them of truths they might otherwise forget (3:1).


Peter cautioned believers to beware of false teachers with their bogus doctrines and licentious lifestyles. The temptation to a sinful lifestyle so concerned Peter that shortly after his first letter, he followed up with this one. Peter also warned against denials of Christ’s return with its accompanying judgment. He urged his readers to make every effort to grow in the knowledge and practice of the Christian faith.


Peter made strong connections with the Old Testament and challenged his audience to live authentic Christian lives. Peter had been with Jesus when Jesus first spoke of his return (Mt 24-25), and he gave emphasis to the surety of the second coming.

It is the word of God that holds the forefront of this short letter. Peter does this in chap. 1 by emphasizing knowledge (1:3,5-6,8,12,20-21) and its divine origin; in chap. 2 by showing its historicity (2:4-8); and in chap. 3 by indicating Paul’s letters are equal with “the rest of the Scriptures” (3:15-16). Peter insisted on the importance of Scripture for guiding and preserving our faith.


Second Peter is a general letter with the typical features of a salutation, main body, and farewell. What is missing is an expression of thanksgiving. Its style is that of a pastoral letter, driven by the needs of the recipients, rather than some type of formal treatise.


I.Greeting (1:1-2)

II.Building on Faith with Godly Qualities (1:3-11)

III.The Apostle Peter’s Testimony (1:12-21)

IV.Warning against False Teachers (2:1-22)

V.Certainty of Christ’s Return (3:1-10)

VI.Christ’s Return Impels Us to Holy Living (3:11-18)


Noah, his family, and the animal kingdom are spared in the great flood.

God rescues Lot from the complete destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 2085 BC?

Israel kills every male, including Balaam, in their war against Midian. 1407 BC

Jesus calls Simon Peter “the Rock.” AD 29

Jesus calls Peter to be one of his twelve disciples. AD 29

AD 30-33

Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law. 30

Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi that Jesus is the Messiah. 32

Peter, James, and John witness Jesus’s transfiguration. 32

Peter vows to die with Jesus. 33

Peter denies Jesus in the courtyard of Annas. 33

AD 33-40

Following his resurrection, Jesus appears to Peter and recommissions him. 33

Three thousand persons respond to Peter’s sermon at the feast of Pentecost. 33

Saul’s conversion on the Damascus Road October, 34

Paul meets with Peter and James on his first visit to Jerusalem following his conversion. 37?

Peter bears witness to and baptizes Cornelius and his family at Caesarea Maritima. 40


Peter, James, John, Paul, Barnabas, and Titus meet in Jerusalem to deal with the question of whether Gentiles had to be circumcised to become Christians. 49

At Antioch, Paul confronts Peter’s refusal to share meals with Gentile believers. 49

Peter’s martyrdom in Rome during Nero’s persecution of Christians 66

Destruction of Jerusalem 70

Allusions to 2 Peter may exist in a number of second-century documents, including 1, 2 Clement, Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermas, the letters of Ignatius of Antioch, and the Martyrdom of Polycarp.