Introduction: 2 Peter claims to be a letter by Peter, the apostle of Paul, but this is almost certainly not true. The Gospel of Mark calls Peter a fisherman from Galilee (Mark 1:16), and Acts 4:13 specifically says Peter is uneducated (4:13). 2 Peter was likely written in Rome around the end of the first century, making it the latest book of the Bible. The letter is based on the letter of Jude, and portrays an apocalyptic vision of a corrupt world. Believers are warned about false teachers, exhorted to live a moral life, and urged to escape this world through knowledge of Christ.
2 Peter: God’s power has given us everything needed for godliness. Through this knowledge and promises, we can escape the corruption of the world due to lust, and become participants of the divine nature. Make every effort to be good, knowledgeable, self-controlled, godly, and loving–doing so will remind you of the cleansing of past sins and ease your entry into the eternal kingdom of Jesus. Before I die–for my death is imminent–remember that what we taught you was not made up, but from God himself, because we were with Jesus on the holy mountain when God said to him “this is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
There will be false teachers among you, who deny Jesus and bring destruction on themselves. God will condemn and destroy them. He did not spare the angels when they sinned, but instead cast them into Tartarus (hell); he didn’t spare the world before Noah, or the cities Sodom and Gomorrah. The false teachers engage in depraved lust, despise authority, and slander angels. Don’t believe these people; instead, remember the commandments of the Lord and Savior and of the prophets. In the last days scoffers will come, asking why the end of the world hasn’t come yet. But to Jesus one day is like a thousand years. He is not slow, but patient, so that you have a chance to repent and be found blameless. While you are waiting for the world to pass away and the heavens to be set ablaze, strive to be found by Jesus at peace.
- Tartarus, in ancient Greek mythology, is the dungeon of torment for the wicked and the prison of the Titans. The author is probably using the term to mean “hell”, not affirming belief in Greek religion.
- The author of this letter considers Paul’s letters as scripture: “There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.” (3:16). This is one piece of evidence supporting a late dating of the letter.
- The angels who sinned and were cast into hell are probably the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:2, whose story is elaborated in Enoch (a book that is no longer in the Old Testament).
- The author is aware of traditions about Jesus, such as the transfiguration, but never quotes directly from any of the gospels.