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The Epistles of Peter

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The New Testament books of Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Jude are known as the Hebrew Epistles because they were, in large measure, written to the Jews, and yet they have important lessons for all of us.

The first epistle of Peter was written to the Jews of the dispersion. In it, Peter presented the status of the believer, and then discussed the practical aspects of our pilgrim life. He offered many instructions about our citizenship, marriage, and how we should treat our servants or employees. Then he warns of the fiery trial to come. He encourages us to rejoice, commit and be vigilant.

First Peter was actually penned and carried by Silas, a professional secretary. The Greek in this letter is much more polished than Peter’s second epistle, which he may have penned himself.

By the time he wrote the second epistle, Peter was old. In John 21, Jesus had signified that Peter would die a martyr’s death, so Peter wrote this letter trying to encourage his Jewish friends.

Second Peter speaks of the need to grow in virtue and knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, kindness and love. He emphasized his personal witness to the Transfiguration. But then he made a strange remark. He said,

We have also a more sure word of prophecy.

2 Peter 1:19

The Messianic prophecies were there for all to see. He then warned that false teaches would infect the church with slander and immorality. He did that by highlighting how God delivered to and from judgment. The first example was how God con-fined the fallen angels of Genesis 6 to judgment, and God delivered Noah and his family. This is an important confirmation of our understanding of the strange events of Genesis 6. Second Peter 2 is one of the key places that corroborate our view which is no different from the traditional Jewish teachings and the view of the early church. Fallen angels engaged in some very bizarre mischief. Second Peter confirms this (as Jude does, too).

The second example was from Genesis 19: God judged Sodom and Gomorrah on the one hand, yet delivered Lot and his family. Another important point is that Sodom and Gomorrah would not be destroyed until Lot was delivered. In the same way, I don’t believe the wrath of God can be poured out on the earth until the Body of Christ is removed.

The last chapter of 2 Peter characterized the end times. Peter pointed out:

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

2 Peter 3:3,4

Here Peter contrasted the concept of the Second Coming with uniformitarianism—that all things continue the same without interruption. The premise that God created the uni-verse also implies that He is willing to intervene. Uniformitarianism attacks the idea that God intervenes in the history of the earth.

Written by one of the most colorful personalities who participated in the greatest adventures of human history, a careful study of these letters is a certain treat to the diligent student.

Our study on the Books of Peter has been recently updated and is now available on DVD, audioCD, MP3 CD-ROM, audio cassette, and download.


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