2 Peter 1 - A Precious Faith

INTRODUCTION: Since this is a second letter from the apostle Peter, we can refer to the opening of the first letter to know the intended audience as it is not stated herein. 1 Peter 1 "1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the chosen ones who are living as foreigners in the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." We have no evidence from scripture that Peter traveled to these areas in Asia Minor, but the tone of his letters indicates there had been sufficient contact to prompt Peter to write to them two times to encourage them to continue in their faith. There had been Jews and proselytes present from various areas when Peter and the other apostles were filled by the Holy Spirit and publicly proclaimed the Lord in Jerusalem at Pentecost. Acts 2 "5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under the sky. 6 When this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because everyone heard them speaking in his own language. 7 They were all amazed and marvelled, saying to one another, "Behold, aren't all these who speak Galileans? 8 How do we hear, everyone in our own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the parts of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabians: we hear them speaking in our languages the mighty works of God!"" Peter may have had renewed contacts with believers from dispersed areas who traveled to Jerusalem for various reasons or for any of the important annual observances of Pentecost. Paul made a comment in Acts about his desire regarding Pentecost. Acts 20 "16 For Paul had determined to sail past Ephesus, that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hastening, if it were possible for him, to be in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost."

Even in that historical time of only basic modes of travel and communications, the apostles apparently shared their ministry of the word with some common audiences. Silas was sent by the apostles at Jerusalem to return to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, and then went with Paul on the second missionary journey. Acts 16 "4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered the decrees to them to keep which had been ordained by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. 5 So the assemblies were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily." Peter was apparently familiar with some of Paul's letters, and those to whom Peter wrote must have been also familiar based on what Peter said in chapter 3 of this letter. 2 Peter 3 "15 Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote to you."

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the World English Bible [WEB].


A - A PRECIOUS FAITH RECEIVED THROUGH THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF JESUS CHRIST

"1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,"

COMMENTS: The apostle Peter wrote that he was a servant of Christ, and we may relate to him because we are also servants of Christ, no matter what our standing had been in the world, before we were called in the Lord to freely serve him. 1 Corinthians 7 "22 For he who was called in the Lord being a bondservant is the Lord's free man. Likewise he who was called being free is Christ's bondservant." Paul also referred to Christians as servants when he wrote to the Romans. Romans 6 "22 But now, being made free from sin, and having become servants of God, you have your fruit of sanctification, and the result of eternal life."

As readers now of his letter centuries later, Peter includes us, in the fellowship embodied in his phrase "have obtained a like precious faith with us." The Greek word translated here as "obtained" carries the sense of receiving something without having earned it, or without having control of the circumstances to obtain it. It appears only four times in all of the New Testament. The single Greek term translated in two words as "like precious" appears only here in Peter's second letter. It combines the sense of things that are equal, and also have the quality of extreme honor or value. The New International Version of the Bible translates this portion of scripture in the following manner, emphasizing that we receive even our faith through the Lord's righteousness. "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours."

What a thought to ponder that the faith in Christ received by each Christian is a faith equally precious to that of Peter who was chosen by the Lord as an apostle, and who was together with Jesus in his earthly ministry for over three years. Paul wrote that faith is not a product of the wisdom of men but of the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2 "4 My speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith wouldn't stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." Knowing that our faith will stand in the power of God, will help us to rely solely on the Lord any time we might begin to have doubts about our faith. Peter's greeting expresses his desire for the readers of his letter to experience grace and peace, and we can find these in our God and our Savior Jesus Christ.


B - THE PROMISE TO PARTAKE OF THE DIVINE NATURE

"3 seeing that his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and virtue; 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust."

COMMENTS: By his own glory and power God and our Savior Jesus Christ has called believers, and granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of our Savior. Therefore we have very precious promises that are exceedingly great, through which we may become partakers of the divine nature. Peter is making distinction between the divine nature, and that which we receive at our natural birth. Jesus set forth the doctrine of the necessity of that new birth when he spoke to Nicodemus. John 3 "3 Jesus answered him, "Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can't see the Kingdom of God." Peter had written about the new birth in his first letter. 1 Peter 1 "22 Seeing you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth through the Spirit in sincere brotherly affection, love one another from the heart fervently: 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and remains forever." Paul wrote of the new life we receive that triumphed over our old nature. Ephesians 2 "1 You were made alive when you were dead in transgressions and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the children of disobedience; 3 among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."


C - MAKE YOUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE

"5 Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge; 6 and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control patience; and in patience godliness; 7 and in godliness brotherly affection; and in brotherly affection, love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be more diligent to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never stumble. 11 For thus you will be richly supplied with the entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ."

COMMENTS: Peter directs the Christian to be diligent rather than casual, in developing a demonstration of faith in the Lord, by having a pattern of living characterized by moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. These qualities comprise a list involving various degrees of personal growth, and the sharing of our lives by interaction with others. The increase of these things will keep the Christian from being idle or unfruitful to what should be the life changing knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we allow that knowledge to shape our character to the praise of God. Paul gave similar advice for actions that would be to the praise of God. Philippians 1 "9 This I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offense to the day of Christ; 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." Jesus warned us to be aware that what we treasure captures our heart, so we must not go after things of this present world as our treasure. Matthew 6 "19 "Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don't break through and steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Paul reminded Christians to keep focus on the eternal future. Colossians 3 "2 Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory."

Peter's warning is firmly stated as he tells Christians that he who lacks the qualities that he has written about is spiritually blind, seeing only the things valued by the world system. Those who fail to set their affections on the lasting things, have forgotten the cleansing from their old sin. Therefore, Christians must continue to strive for these qualities that are signs that their calling and election is sure. By them the Christian will not stumble, but will be richly supplied with the entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. We will be delivered out of this present world and into God's kingdom because of his sacrifice to take away our sin. Galatians 1 "3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen." James agreed with Peter that Christians need to actively demonstrate that they have not forgotten that Jesus has cleansed them from their old sin, as they confidently wait for the eternal kingdom of God. James 2 "26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead."


D - REMEMBER THESE THINGS AFTER MY DEPARTURE

"12 Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you; 14 knowing that the putting off of my tent comes swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 Yes, I will make every effort that you may always be able to remember these things even after my departure."

COMMENTS: Peter knows that his time to inhabit his physical body will pass, but those who remain will benefit from his letter that contains the teaching he shared as a chosen apostle of Christ while he lived with them. Peter had the encouraging word in his first letter that after the flesh fails; the promise in the word of the incorruptible second birth lasts forever. 1 Peter 1 "23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and remains forever. 24 For, "All flesh is like grass, and all of man's glory like the flower in the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls; 25 but the Lord's word endures forever." This is the word of Good News which was preached to you." The apostle Paul had confidence of receiving a crown of righteousness from the Lord when the departure from his body would take place, and he encouraged other believers with their hope for the same. 2 Timothy 4 "6 For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. 8 From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing." Paul earlier had encouraged the believers at Corinth with a statement of confident hope in the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5 "4 For indeed we who are in this tent do groan, being burdened; not that we desire to be unclothed, but that we desire to be clothed, that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now he who made us for this very thing is God, who also gave to us the down payment of the Spirit. 6 Therefore, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are courageous, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore also we make it our aim, whether at home or absent, to be well pleasing to him."


E - EYEWITNESSES OF CHRIST'S MAJESTY

"16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 18 We heard this voice come out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain."

COMMENTS: The words Peter and the other apostles of Christ have written about Jesus in their letters represent actual events that they witnessed, and/or teaching directly from the Lord. They are not fables developed out of human cunning, though the truth can be imitated in false teaching by the imaginations of man, the apostles wrote through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Peter, James, and John saw the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain and they heard the voice of God telling them that Jesus is the Son of God. That event is recorded in the gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke, and in Mark as follows. Mark 9 "2 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and brought them up onto a high mountain privately by themselves, and he was changed into another form in front of them. 3 His clothing became glistening, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 Elijah and Moses appeared to them, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Peter answered Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let's make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 6 For he didn't know what to say, for they were very afraid. 7 A cloud came, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." 8 Suddenly looking around, they saw no one with them any more, except Jesus only. 9 As they were coming down from the mountain, he commanded them that they should tell no one what things they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead."

The apostle John used very basic language to describe his direct contact with Jesus Christ, the eternal God. 1 John 1 "1 That which was from the beginning, that which we have heard, that which we have seen with our eyes, that which we saw, and our hands touched, concerning the Word of life 2 (and the life was revealed, and we have seen, and testify, and declare to you the life, the eternal life, which was with the Father, and was revealed to us); 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us. Yes, and our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son, Jesus Christ." The gospel writer Luke had confidence in the apostles of the Lord, as those "who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word" and delivered it to us. Luke 1 "1 Since many have undertaken to set in order a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us, 2 even as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word delivered them to us, 3 it seemed good to me also, having traced the course of all things accurately from the first, to write to you in order, most excellent Theophilus; 4 that you might know the certainty concerning the things in which you were instructed." Paul directed Timothy and warned him about those who would come behind the apostles with teachings that would not represent the true word of God. 2 Timothy 4 "2 preach the word; be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside to fables.” Paul also warned Titus to be on guard against misguided and devious people in the church, especially Jews. Titus 1 "10 For there are also many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped; men who overthrow whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for dishonest gain’s sake. 12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and idle gluttons." 13 This testimony is true. For this cause, reprove them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny him, being abominable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work."


F - NO PROPHECY EVER CAME BY THE WILL OF MAN

"19 We have the more sure word of prophecy; and you do well that you heed it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the morning star arises in your hearts: 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. 21 For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit."

COMMENTS: The apostles continued the record of the sure and reliable word of prophecy, because it is not of their own interpretation. The Holy Spirit has directed all the writers of scripture to speak and write, because no prophecy is by the will of man. Therefore the scriptures are reliable to light the pathway for our course through life all the way to the point when the day star, Christ our Lord, fully arises to shines in our heart. Before Israel came out of the wilderness, the LORD promised that true prophets would receive the word of the Lord from him. Numbers 12 "6 He said, "Hear now my words. If there is a prophet among you, I Yahweh will make myself known to him in a vision. I will speak with him in a dream." The LORD revealed himself to Samuel. 1 Samuel 3 "21 Yahweh appeared again in Shiloh; for Yahweh revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of Yahweh." In the latter days of the southern kingdom, the LORD enabled Jeremiah to speak the words of the LORD. Jeremiah 1 "9 Then Yahweh put forth his hand, and touched my mouth; and Yahweh said to me, "Behold, I have put my words in your mouth."

Peter addressed a crowd of people at the temple, after a lame man was healed through the power of God; and he spoke of the written prophecies fulfilled in Christ. Acts 3 "18 But the things which God announced by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 "Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that he may send Christ Jesus, who was ordained for you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets. 22 For Moses indeed said to the fathers, ‘The Lord God will raise up a prophet for you from among your brothers, like me. You shall listen to him in all things whatever he says to you. 23 It will be, that every soul that will not listen to that prophet will be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those who followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days." Paul states that the message the apostles shared is the word of God, and as he shared, his actions were consistent with the message. 1 Thessalonians 2 "10 You are witnesses with God, how holy, righteously, and blamelessly we behaved ourselves toward you who believe. 11 As you know, we exhorted, comforted, and implored every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 to the end that you should walk worthily of God, who calls you into his own Kingdom and glory. 13 For this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received from us the word of the message of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you who believe." We have a similar message from Hebrews, and the word of God is contrasted with false teaching for individual gain. Hebrews 13 "7 Remember your leaders, men who spoke to you the word of God, and considering the results of their conduct, imitate their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 9 Don't be carried away by various and strange teachings, for it is good that the heart be established by grace, not by food, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited." Peter will go on to develop his discussion of false teachers in the next chapter of this letter.


** REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER **

Lord, I thank you that I can read Peter's letter and realize my kinship with all past and present believers who share in that precious faith received in your righteousness. With the assurance from scripture, I have the confidence that grace and peace for my soul are mine through Jesus Christ my Lord who has called me through his own glory and virtue. Your divine power Lord has given me everything that pertains to life and godliness, and has granted to me that precious promise to become a partaker of the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world. I do want to be diligent to have moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly affection, and love so as not to be idle or unfruitful to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not want to forget that you Lord Jesus have cleansed me from sin, and have richly supplied me with the entrance into your eternal Kingdom. Thank you Lord for preserving Peter's letter over these many centuries to contain his reminders. What a blessing to be able to read additional detail in other passages of scripture about the special transfiguration witnessed in person by Peter, James, and John. I believe that these are not cunningly devised fables of man, because so many passages of scripture give verification to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to guide those men who wrote in the Old and in the New Testaments. Scripture is also not understood through man's understanding, but it must be spiritually discerned. All power, glory, and honor goes to my Lord and Savior Christ Jesus! Amen.

1 Peter Chapter 1 - to begin review of Peter's first letter to the dispersed church.
2 Peter Chapter 2 - False Teachers and Deliverance of the Saints.
2 Peter Chapter 3 - Remember the Words of the Prophets and Apostles.

Published 23 June 2012