Second Peter – Beware of False Teachers

second peter

Second Peter is a letter of warning – from an authority none other than the courageous, experienced, and faithful apostle. And it is the last communication from this great warrior of Christ. Soon thereafter he would die, martyred for the faith.

While Peter wrote his first letter to teach about handling persecution (trials from without), he wrote this letter to teach about handling heresy (trials from within).  False teachers are often subtly deceitful.  Believers today must still be vigilant against falling into false doctrine, heresy, and cult activity.  This letter gives us clues to help detect false teaching.

Addressed to those who “have received a faith as precious as ours,” Second Peter could have been written to us. Our world is filled with false prophets and teachers who claim to have the truth and who clamor for attention and allegiance. Listen carefully to Peter’s message and heed his warning. Determine to grow in your knowledge of Christ and to reject all those who preach anything inconsistent with God’s Word.

Writer of Second Peter

Certain references in Second Peter indicate Petrine authorship: The author identifies himself as Simon Peter, an apostle (1:1); he claims to have been with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration (1:16-18); he had written a previous letter to the people to whom Second Peter is addressed (3:1); and he uses many words and phrases similar to those found in First Peter. These factors point to Second Peter as a genuine work of the apostle Peter.

Date Written

About A. D. 65. Written from an unspecified location. The book does not indicate whether or not Peter was still in Babylon. Peter’s letter gives instruction and exhortation from the apostle as he nears the end of his life. According to early church tradition, Peter was martyred in Rome during the reign of Nero. If tradition is reliable, then his death occurred before A.D. 68, when Nero died. 

To Whom Written

To “them who have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1).

Purpose of Second Peter

The purpose of the book of Second Peter was to remind the believers who were scattered among the nations of the truths they had learned when they had first believed, to warn them against false teachers and false brothers, and to encourage them that God’s long delay in fulfilling His promises does not prove that they will not be fulfilled or that He will never come.

The answer to encroaching error is steadfastness through growing in the knowledge of the Lord. The letter opens and closes with the theme of cultivating Christian maturity. “Knowledge” in Second Peter is more than intellectual perception. It is an experience of God and Christ that results in moral transformation. This is the true gnosis (knowledge), which combats heretical Gnostic influence. The basis for that knowledge is the Scriptures, called the “prophetic word” and the apostolic teaching.

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