Tonight we are concluding our study of 2 Peter. Please read 2 Peter 3. In vv. 14-18, our writer makes his final appeal to his audience. We are not meeting on August 8 or 15. On August 22, we will begin reading through Tim Soren’s book, Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are.
Appeal to Holiness:
Notice the transition between vv. 13 and 14. In v. 13, the writer says that we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. In v.14, the writer implores us to live into this new reality of being zealous for righteousness. This is the same teaching that we discussed in 1 Peter 1:13-21. We may not have Peter’s exact words in this epistle, but it appears that we do have a good representation of his teachings.
At the end of this letter, the writer appeals to Paul’s teachings. At the time 2 Peter was written, our writer knew of multiple letters of Paul and held these letters in the same esteem as the Hebrew Scriptures. v.15. Our writer accuses the scoffers of v.3 of having only a superficial and ignorant understanding of Paul’s teachings, and of deliberately twisting those teachings to suit themselves. v.16. In other words, the scoffers read Paul and the prophets incorrectly based on ignorance and malice.
The “correct” reading of the Scriptures has always been an issue in the church. Writing in about 435, a monk by the name of Vicent of Lerins wrote his Commonitory where he addresses how we are to read the Scriptures. He writes, that we should understand the prophets and the apostles through the lens of that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. This trifold teaching has become known as the Vincentian Canon. A brief excerpt of his teachings is here.
This is the reason why the writer of 2 Peter (maybe quoting Peter) wants to “remind” his audience of Peter’s teachings. 1:12-15. Paul, likewise, wants his audience to remember his actual teachings. 2 Thess. 2:15. As anyone on social media or who uses texting knows, the written word can often be misinterpreted or mal-interpreted. Therefore, the test on how to read Paul’s letters or the prophets is to understand the actual teachings from the apostles themselves that underpin these writings.
The Concluding Remark:
This letter ends by bringing together the two arguments of the letter: Christian Virtue and False Teachers. First, the writer intends this letter to be a warning against these false teachers who, by ignorance and/or malice and who are motivated by licentiousness and greed, seek to lead the writer’s audience (and us) astray. The reason these teachers must be avoided, however, is because they will prevent us from growing in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ. This is our goal, and anything that interferes with this goal must be avoided.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is take-out pizza. Discussion about 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here.
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.2 Peter 1:2