2 Peter Abstract – Part 2: Remember the Gospel!
Theme: REMEMBER THE GOSPEL!
2nd Peter represents the Apostle Peter’s 2nd epistle. Written shortly after the first, the distinguishing mark of this letter is not only its focus on the gospel, but its efficient and effective presentation. In this respect, Peter does two things. First, he reminds us of what the (true) gospel teaches (1:1-5), then he provides us with those reasons we should not only remember what this gospel teaches, but also why it is important that we are growing strong in our commitment to its truths (1:16-3:18).
1. What Peter reminds us is the true/saving gospel message (1:1-15):
1.1. Through faith in the righteousness of Christ we GAIN a justified state (or “standing”) with God (i.e. forgiveness from the eternal penalty of sin) (1-2).
1.2. Through faith in Christ we also GAIN a glorified/exalted state (or “standing”) before God (i.e. empowerment for godly living, the promise of eternal life and freedom from the bondage to sin) (3-4: TRANSLATION = YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!).
1.3. Though we have GAINED a justified and glorified state through faith in Christ, we MUST MAINTAIN this state/standing through faithfulness (5a – “make every effort to supplement [giving all diligence add to – KJV] your faith”).
1.4. Such maintaining should not surprise us given the reason God justified/glorified us, as well as the commitment we made in order to gain that justification.
(5a) “For this very reason” = The basis of our maintaining is established in God’s purpose for setting us free from the penalty and power of sin (3-4 = It was so that (again) “we might become partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” -i.e. that we could (and would) live faithfully unto His Law (the opposite of sinful desire – 1Jo 3:4) and be worthy of inheriting the heavenly (or divine) nature of the world to come (1Jo 3:1-10; 1Co 15:40-49; Luk 20:35; 2Th 1:5-11). IOW: We were justified/glorified for the purpose of maintaining what we (so graciously) gained! This (too) according to Peter’s 1st epistle, is the commitment we made in order to receive God’s saving gift (1Pe 1:14-25 = We were “ransomed with the precious blood of Christ” [18-19] for the purpose of being “holy” [14-17 – i.e. faithful, careful obedience to God’s Law – Deu 32:51], and escaping the “futile ways inherited by our forefathers” [18 – i.e. the sinful lifestyle of our pagan ancestors] “since” this was the pre-requisite to being “purified” or justified – i.e. we must commit in “obedience to the truth”, to obey the “living and abiding Word of God” [22-23a, see also verse 1]; also to being “born again” or baptized [23b, 3:21 w/Joh 3:1-5]. Abiding in faithfulness to God’s Word/Law is the only thing that will [like itself] cause us to “remain forever” [25a]. IOW: what we gained in our baptism/new birth needs to be maintained if we want to go to heaven. This then will always be a part of the “good news” message “preached” if it is the true and saving gospel we have received [25b]). As such, it sb no shocker (then) to hear that maintaining (in faithfulness) what we gained is what God expects from us. It certainly wasn’t for those Peter was writing to in either epistle.
1.5. Faithful maintaining looks like growing in those areas/attributes of obedience God commands in His Word (5b-8: “virtue” = faithfulness to God’s Law. All the remaining areas/attributes function as the means to accomplishing this first area/attribute).
1.6. Failing to maintain means losing what we gained.
(9) “blind” = Spiritual blindness in relation to salvation (Isa 59:10-11); “forgotten” = Left behind (vs. unable to remember; Eze 23:35; also Eze 18:24). Nearsighted blindness and forgotten cleansing are both metaphors meant to refer to loss of a person’s justified state/right standing with God; that they have been blotted out of His book of life as the consequence of their refusal to obey (Deu 29:20 w/Rev 3:5; Psa 69:23, 28; Jer 18:13-23 – the blotting here is in re: to sin but carries the same idea since these are covenant individuals Jeremiah is speaking about. Hence, to not blot out their sin, will most assuredly result in them being blotted out of the book of life – consider again Deu 29:20 = no blotting of sin means blotting out of the book of life). IOW: Our continued freedom from sin’s enslaving power and eternal penalty is dependent on our continued commitment to be faithful to God’s Law (i.e. we can go back under both sin’s power and penalty – 2:20).
1.7. Faithfulness in maintaining what we have gained will mean salvation (i.e. Faith + Faithfulness = Salvation NOT Faith + Nothing = Salvation).
(10-11) “Therefore brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure [firm, valid or reliable – 2Pe 1:19; Heb 3:14, 9:17]” = Determining whether or not we are (or were ever a part of) the elect is not in Peter’s mind -nor good theology since one’s calling/election does not (in itself) guarantee final salvation – see 1Th 1:4 w/3:5). To speak in such a way (i.e. those who do not persevere never were the elect/called) is like saying that a man whose marriage ends in divorce was never married. What Peter is instead communicating (here) is that we are the ones who will determine whether the “calling and election” we gained through faith in Christ remains valid on judgment day by our deeds. Hence why the Scripture only ever speaks of being judged according to our deeds (1Pe 1:17; Rom 2:6-8; Rev 20:11-15; 2Co 5:10). (Again) notice the burden/responsibility for living the Christian life is placed upon us (not God/HS – Rom 8:16 = the way the HS testifies is through our fulfillment of God’s Law as we walk in obedience to His desire in this respect – see the prior verses and context, 1-15). “for if you practice these qualities” [i.e. if you maintain…then] “you will never fail” = Peter affirms in very clear language that salvation wb conditioned upon our faithfulness. Notice also he affirms this to be the true way to heaven—i.e. final salvation, “For in this way there wb richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom”. As a means to better understanding what Peter is saying here consider the antithesis: “If you do not practice these qualities you WILL FAIL and the entrance into the eternal kingdom will not be richly supplied.” The Apostle James preached the same message (Jam 2:14-26). How controversial Peter and James’ words are to the Evangelical Christian view. CONTRA E.G.: 1) “Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” – Article V, Southern Baptist Church Faith and Message). 2) “What I’m most deeply grateful for is that God’s love for us, approval of us, and commitment to us does not ride on our resolve but on Jesus’s resolve for us. The gospel is the good news announcing Jesus’s infallible devotion to us despite our inconsistent devotion to Him. The gospel is not a command to hang on to Jesus; it’s a promise that no matter how weak and unsuccessful our faith and efforts may be, God is always holding on to us.” – Tullian Tchividjian (It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News)
1.8. Peter thought it was incredibly important to remind believers of these specific “qualities” (G&M) of the true/saving gospel message.
(12-15) “I intend always to remind you of these qualities…I think it right as long as I am in this body” = Though Peter did write about other things (e.g. his 1st epistle), the G&M gospel took center stage when it came to priority of teaching. “I will make every effort so after my departure you may be able to recall these things” = IOW: this particular gospel message could not die with him. Peter would “therefore” do whatever it took to see that Christians (both in his day and the future) grew strong in their recollection and commitment to the G&M gospel. The message presented in the previous verses was just that important.
2. Why Peter thought it was so important to not only remind believers of this gospel (of G&M) but see that they were growing strong in their commitment to its truths (1:16-3:18):
2.1. B/C the gospel (of G&M) is not the false teaching of men, but the message of both Christ (whom God Himself affirmed) and the OT Scriptures.
(16-21) “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths” = A gospel message which sounds right or seems to make sense but lacks Divine and Scriptural support/authority. “when we (“rather/instead” – avlla) made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty…when He received glory (or affirmation) from God the Father…we ourselves heard this” = This is where Peter got his gospel. It was the message of God’s powerful Son at His coming. It was also a message supported by/congruent w/the OT Scriptures; “And we have something more sure [i.e. reliable], the prophetic word…the “prophecy of Scripture” not “from someone’s interpretation…nor produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” = Those portions of the OT Scriptures which prophesied about the coming NC, confirmed that it (like its predecessors) wb a gospel of G&M (see Jer 31:33 [“law written on their hearts” = inward justification gained by faith], 34 [“know Me” = relationship w/God maintained thru outward obedience/faithfulness] w/Heb 10:15-18; Rom 2:6-29 w/3:28-30; 1Jo 2:1-7; G&M was mechanics of the preceding gospels – e.g. Abrahamic = Gen 17:1-7, 18:17-19; Mosaic/Old = Exo 24:7-8; Deu 7:9, 29:9-20). “to which you do well to pay attention…until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” = The day of Christ’s return. As such, this represents not only another affirmation of maintaining of what we have gained (i.e. maintain until the end/Christ’s return), but also a serious warning in light of the authority by which the message comes (Christ and the Scriptures). We dare not neglect or forget it!