2 Peter 1-3: a devotional guide

2 Peter 1-3: a devotional guide March 31, 2023

Monday: Read 2 Peter 1:1-15

We are not certain as to when this letter was written. It seems likely that 2 Peter was written somewhat later, perhaps near the end of Peter’s life (65 AD)[2] since there must have been enough time for people to begin scoffing at the delay in Christ’s return (2 Pet 3:3-9). The letter was certainly written to Gentile Christians.

If 1st Peter focused on the reward for the righteous, then 2nd Peter centers on the coming judgment. As a whole, 2 Peter was written to caution his readers about those who were teaching against the standard that all Christians have followed. In particular, some were arguing that the delay in the return of Christ was a sign that there will be no final judgment. These false teachers may even have been contending that God does not intervene in human affairs at all and that He does not reward or punish good or bad deeds. For the false teachers, the goal was to seek pleasure, which they defined as the absence of trouble and pain (this is a form of ancient Epicureanism).

Peter begins by exhorting his readers to live in accord with their faith, which ends with “love” (5-7). For it is in doing so that our faith produces the fruit to which we have been called (8). The end result is that they “make certain” our choosing and calling, and they ensure the fact that we will not stumble (10).

For Peter, living out our faith is the means of assurance that “the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you” (11).

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • We have stumbled upon another passage that exhorts us to live out our faith. Too often we read such passages and question how they fit into our theological convictions. Namely, how does this square with the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith?
  • Perhaps we are better served by inquiring how this text addresses our current walk with Christ. Of the seven characteristics of living out our faith in 1:5-7, which do you need to grow the most?
  • Of the seven characteristics, ask others what they think you do best. Then seek for opportunities that will allow you to excel in this area(s).

Tuesday: Read 2 Peter 1:16-21

Peter begins to defend his convictions against the false teaching that were influencing his community. The false teachers apparently had visions or some sort of mythical stories to justify their teachings.

Peter responds by appealing to eyewitness testimony: “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (16). By “we,” Peter appeals to the apostles who were with Jesus and experienced His “coming”—which likely refers to His life and ministry and not a specific event.

He then claims that “we ourselves heard” (18) the voice of the Father “on the mountain” (18) proclaiming that Jesus is His “beloved Son” (17), which certainly refers to the Transfiguration of Jesus (see Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35).

Peter’s second defense appeals to the prophetic witness and the role of the Church in understanding that witness (18-21). Peter’s appeal is that the Holy Spirit is the One who drives prophecy (21). And that such prophecy is not subject to individual understanding (20). That is, Peter appeals to the established faith and teaching of the apostles as his defense against the speculations of the false teachers. Schreiner notes, “Peter’s argument, then, is that the readers must pay attention to the prophetic word as it is interpreted by the apostles, for the Old Testament prophecies are not a matter of personal interpretation but have been authoritatively interpreted by the apostles.”[3]

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • This passage presents us with a measure of difficulty in the modern church. The Church today is highly fragmented. And each group often claims some form of legitimacy for its beliefs and practices. What are some principles that we might use to help steer us in the correct direction as to what accords with the proper interpretation of the Scriptures?

Wednesday: Read 2 Peter 2:1-10a

Peter continues his defense against the false teachers by assuring his readers of the certain judgment that awaits the false teachers (1, 3, 9-10a). For Peter, the fact that God has judged false teachers in the past (4-6) is sufficient to show that God will punish those in the present also. Peter also reminds them that God has also rescued the righteous in the past (7-8) and so they can be confident that He will rescue them as well (9).

Peter appeals to three examples of God’s judgment in the past. First, God judged the angels when they fell (4; see Gen 6:1-4). Second, God judged the world during the time of the flood (5). Third, God judged Sodom and Gomorrah (6).[4]

For Peter, God not only judged those in the past, but He also rescued the righteous. Peter gives as examples God’s rescuing of both Noah (5) and Lot (7).

All of this means that God will rescue them, “then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation” (9), and that He will punish the disobedient (9-10a).

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • It is the nature of false teaching to speak against the truth (2). For many Christians, the test of false teachings is based solely on truth. But Scripture indicates that false teachings also affect our conduct. Thus, Peter describes their false teaching as derived from “sensuality” (2) and motivated by “greed” (3). What else do you think motivates false teaching?

Thursday: Read 2 Peter 2:10b-22

For Peter, there are two reasons for the judgment of false teachers in the past: sexual immorality and rebelliousness against authorities. These two principles are expounded on by Peter. In 10-13a, Peter describes the pretentiousness of the false teachers. Then in 13b-16, Peter expounds on their adulterous practices. Schreiner adds a third reason: “their greed for money.”[5]

Peter’s specifics regarding the sins of the past serve to justify God’s judgment. In case his readers had any doubt that those in the past deserved the judgment that came their way, Peter explicitly describes their sins in 10b-16.

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • Though the Scriptures appeal to the love of God and His mercy, they are not immune to the fact that God does judge sin.
  • I suspect that Peter is more concerned with reminding his readers that God will reward them for their righteousness and that they should not fall into the temptations and influence of the false teachers than he is in detailing the punishment that awaits the false teachers. In other words, Peter’s words of impending judgment on the false teachers are meant to dissuade his readers from following them more than he is concerned with condemning the false teachers.
  • This should serve as a healthy reminder that we are to take care that we do not fall into the traps and temptations that confront us. What are some temptations that hinder you the most from faithfully following Christ in fullness? (note: it may not be wise to share your answers with a group. Instead, it might be better to simply pray for one another. Pray that we will learn to rely on the Spirit and not the flesh).

Friday: Read 2 Peter 3:1-18

Peter’s use of “beloved” (1) indicates a new section. This section serves as a summary and conclusion to the letter.

Peter’s goal is the remind his readers of God’s work in the past and that they should strive for proper conduct (1-2). His reason for concern is that false teachers will arise and try to deceive them (3-4). This is indeed with the prophets foretold.

The false teachers will attempt to appeal to the belief that life has gone on since the beginning without God’s intervention (5). Peter replies to this by noting that the creation of the world was itself an intervention of God (5). Peter then adds that the flood was another occasion in which God intervened (6). Peter uses these examples to contend that God will intervene again in the final judgment (7).

For Peter, it is God’s patience that causes His delay in the final judgment. After all, He wants “all to come to repentance” (9).

Many have misunderstood Peter’s words in 3:7, 10, and 12 to conclude that the world will be destroyed by fire and therefore we have no need to worry about creation care. Some even advocate for the abuse of the creation for this reason. Peter, however, is not describing how God will destroy the world but that God will judge the world. When Peter says that it is “reserved for fire” (7, 10, 12), he is indicating that it will be purified and not that it will be obliterated. In fact, the “works” that “will be burned up” (10) are best understood in terms of God’s judgment of human deeds.

Peter then inquires that since the day of the Lord is coming (10-11), “what sort of people ought you to be?” (11). He then provides his own answer to this question by asserting that we should “in holy conduct and godliness “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (11-12). As Schreiner notes, “Eschatology and ethics are firmly wed in 2 Peter.”[6] As a result, we should “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (14) and “be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (17-18)

Questions to ponder/discuss:

  • Peter seems to indicate that we can speed up (“hasten”; 11) the day of God by living holy lives! This suggests that the Second Coming of Jesus is not awaiting for things to deteriorate as much as it is awaiting the people of God to live out our calling. Recognizing this, how does this change your focus on living out your faith each day?[7]
  • It is important to recognize that the Scriptures emphasize that the New Creation is one of resurrection. God will resurrect us and the creation (see Rom 8:19-22) In light of this what are some biblical principles that you might consider to contend in favor of our responsibility to care for creation?


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[1] This guide is meant to be done either as a group study over the course of 2 or 4 meetings (Day 1-5; 6-10; 11-15; 16-20), or as a private devotion over the course of 4 weeks (or a calendar month—5 lessons per week).

[2] We cannot be certain that this letter was written by the Apostle Peter. But this has been the tradition.

[3] Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 323). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Note, the parallels with Jude 5-7 are very evident here. Most scholars believe that Peter was written after Jude and that 2nd Peter uses Jude as a source.

[5] Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 346). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, p. 388). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[7] See my Understanding the NT and the End Times, 119-135.

About Rob Dalrymple
Rob Dalrymple is married to his wife Toni and is the father of four fabulous children, and two grandchildren. He has been teaching and pastoring for over 33 years at colleges, seminaries, and the local church. He has a PhD in biblical interpretation. He is the author of four books (including Follow the Lamb: A Guide to Reading, Understanding, and Applying the Book of Revelation & Understanding the New Testament and the End Times: Why it Matters) as well as numerous articles and other publications. He is currently completing a commentary on the book of Revelation titled, “Revelation: a Love story” (Cascade Books, pending 2024). You can read more about the author here.

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