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The seductive influence of new and forceful teachers, recently at work in the congregations, was already destabilizing, the faithful. These 'lawless men', unrestrained by apostolic authority, were attracting a numerous following through their high-sounding promises to bring the believers into a hitherto unknown 'freedom' of experience (2:9). The purpose of 2 Peter is both to expose such false guides for what they were (cf. chapter 2) and to set before the churches the conditions of survival when doctrinal and moral perversions infiltrate their fellowships. So, in 3:17, the appeal to Peter's 'dear friends' is that they should be on their guard. The letter is a homily on Christian growth, set in the context of threats to Christian stability from a type of destructive and heretical teaching (2:1-3).
1 1Simon [Symeōn]
Peter writes with an urgency caused by the nearness of his own death (1:13-15) which will sever one more link in the chain that bound the early church to the authentic message that Jesus taught. Peter therefore wants to set forth the gospel message unequivocally. From his faltering start as a rough-hewn individualistic fisherman, Peter became significant in the history and authority of the early Church. Peter took the initiative to include Samaritans and Gentiles as Christians. He was known as a man of enormous courage and tenacity and evangelized in Corinth, Pontus-Bythinia and Antioch (1 Cor 1:12; 1 Pet 1:1; Gal 2:11-14). By the end of 1 Peter he is in 'Babylon', Rome. Of his further work and death, Irenaeus and Eusebius both mention the collaboration between Paul and Peter. They may well have been martyred together by Nero. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote, 'Derision accompanied (the Christians') end: they were covered with wild beasts' skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed, were burned to serve as lamps by night (Annuls 15.44). Peter, like Jesus, and any Jew of his day, would have been bilingual, speaking Aramaic at home and Greek when doing business in 'Galilee of the Gentiles'. Quite possibly, he would have known Hebrew from the synagogue too. His work was written to be listened to in public rather than read privately, and therefore the writers gave aural clues to the progress of an argument. The original MMS lacked punctuation, paragraphs and different typefaces and so their writers resorted to other methods of laying out the text to make the meaning clear.
In the OT is was seen as a position of honour to be owned by God as his slave, and Israel took enormous pride in being called the servant of God (Is 41:8; 49:3). One Israelite could not sell another into slavery since both were God's slaves (Lv 25:42). Israel's leaders, judges, kings and prophets were all called God's servants because they did his will and must be obeyed. Even a pagan king could be called God's servant (e.g., Je 25:9). Over the decades Israel's leaders fell short and prophets began to speak of the perfect Servant whom God would send (e.g., Is 49:1-7).
Means a messenger commissioned to a task. There are five great commissioning scenes in the OT in which apostellō or exapostellō is used in LXX: Ex 3:10; Jdg 6:14; Is 6:8; Jer 1:7; Ezk 2:3. Peter is claiming to be the NT equivalent of an OT prophet.
A word that comes from politics, and was used of the appointment of government officials and of persons who have a post assigned by lot.
NT writers frequently started their letters by taking over the standard secular way of opening a letter. Charis normally meant no more than 'hello', but coupled with the Hebrew greeting for peace it became suffused with meaning and recognized that the church would be made up of converted Jews and converted Gentiles.
There is no inequality here between one Christian and another, or between the apostle and those of subsequent generations: this knowledge is given and has the sense of 'personal knowledge', knowledge shared between a husband and wife or between friends of the other person and not simply about them.
The standard translation in LXX for the Hebrew name of God, Yahweh. Calling Jesus 'Lord' was to say that Jesus was present all the way through the history of Israel as their covenant Lord, compare Ps 23:1 and Jn 10:11. The titles 'Saviour', 'Lord' and 'God' were used in contemporary religious groups and political circles as titles for the Emperor. To use them of Jesus was to make a decisive stand against all other claimants for Jesus' crown.
Can mean a generous imperial gift, or royal or divine bounty. Can even mean volunteering for service.
Ordinary Christians would use this word to describe what they would hope to be the results of their religious practices in observable holiness. It spoke of decency, honesty, trust and integrity, and could mean something that a religious person has earned or deserved. Cf. Ac 3:12.
Full, personal, conversion-knowledge.
This word is found in Greek religion, but together with doxa belong to OT descriptions of God.
Unlike some Greek philosophers the Bible teaches that we are humans, not gods, created nor creators, fallen, not from godliness in heaven but from full humanity on earth, not destined to be absorbed into the Godhead as we evolve upwardly.
Originally a theatrical term used for a dramatic 'angel', a chorēgos, who provided some of the money for staging a production. The word came to be used of any generous city benefactor, and by the time Peter was writing it simply meant an extremely generous giver.
Such lists of virtues were common at the time and there are several in the NT (e.g., Ro 5:3-5; 2 Cor 6:4-10; Gal 5:22-23; Col 3:12-14; 1 Tim 4:12; 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22; 3:10). This one uses secular ideals but is Christianised by the words faith and love. Goodness was a matter of great concern to thinking non-Christians of the time. What made a person good at being a human was a preoccupation for some philosophers.
Information knowledge, or knowledge that is built up by application and endeavour over a long period. This is knowledge that is gained (cf. v2). The two uses of spichoregeo form a bracket around vv 5-11.
A common term for relationships within a family unit; the NT is the only place where the word has been found outside the context of a home; cf. 1 Pe 1:22; 3:8; Ro 12:10; 1 Thes 4:9; Heb 13:1. A first century reader would come across it with a sense of shock. For us, the metaphor has been dimmed through familiarity.
This kind of love is marked by its indiscriminate and deliberate habit of loving not just brothers but those outside the family circle too. Nothing could be further from the false teachers' attitude of self-centredness and exploitation.
Lit. 'for these things in you being and abounding'. An estate agent's word, the related noun meaning property which is fully possessed and completely at one's disposal.
'Blind and nearsighted'. 'Blind' has been translated as the squint caused by looking for too long at the sun.
This word has a legal flavour, suggesting 'ratified'.
This is the passive form of the verb epichorēgeō, 'provide', see v5. Here it means 'you will be provided with'. The marathon runner has been pictured being welcomed to the finishing tape by a delighted home crowd.
Corporate memory within Israel plays an important teaching role. The weekly Sabbath, the Passover meal were memory reinforcing events (cf. Dt 5:15; 16:3; cf. 1 Cor 15:1; 2 Tim 2:8,14.
Swiftly, cf. 2:1. Clement, the first bishop of Rome and a colleague of both Peter and Paul (cf. Phil 4:3), wrote a letter towards the end of the first century from the church in Rome to the church in Corinth. He mentions the vicious persecution under Nero: 'Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or tow, but numerous labours; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him (1 Clement 5). So Peter died at the hand of Nero before 9 June AD 68, when Nero took his own life. The earliest records say that Peter was crucified, and Origen says he was crucified upside down. He received a simple and secret burial on the Vatican Hill in Rome.
A solemn pledge. Cf. 1:5, 10. Peter here is making explicit his intention to leave written instructions which some have identified with the later apocryphal letters and Acts of Peter. Alternatively the record may have been this letter or the gospel or Mark.
A Greek word for the splendid arrival of a dignitary or king. It acquired a technical status for Christians. Cf. Justin Martyr, First Apology 48.
A remarkable word of very high honour, speaking of divine rather than human majesty. Cf. LXX Dt 33:26; Pss 21:5; 145:5; Lk 9:43. The same word appears in Ac 19:27 where it is used by the Ephesian silversmiths of the Greek goddess Diana.
When God gave the law at Sinai, Moses had called the place 'holy'; in Psalm 2 God spoke again on a mountain, the holy hill called Zion, the foundation rock for Jerusalem.
'The word of the prophets' was a standard way of referring to the OT. In the current Jewish understanding all inspired Scripture was prophecy.
The same Greek word is used by Jesus of the last great prophet, John; Jn 5:35.
The Bible as a light, and the darkness of the world, are common biblical themes, but this word is an unusual and strong one, meaning 'thirsty, sunburnt and so squalid'. It calls to mind the squalor and gloom of a dungeon.
The Day refers to the great OT expectation of judgment (e.g., Mal 4:5).
i.e., Venus, which catches the sun's rays just before dawn and is a promise of daytime, cf. Nu 24: 17. That was regarded by Jewish teachers of Peter's time as a promise of the coming Messiah which the Christians gladly took up and applied to Jesus and his second coming.
'Of most importance', 'Above all', 'Especially'. Cf. 3:3.
Can be used of an exposition of the OT. The verb form is found in Mk 4:34; Ac 18:19. The false teachers exercised their own interpretation of Scripture (3:5,16).
2 1But false prophets [pseudoprophētai] also arose among the people, as false teachers [pseudodidaskaloi] will also be among you, who will secretly bring in [pareisagō] destructive heresies [haireseis apōleias]
The Greek word hairēsis meant 'opinion' or 'variant'. Originally, the Sadducees, Pharisees, and even the Christians could be referred to by the word, without any underlying criticism (Ac 5:17; 15:5; 24:5; 26:5.
Peter knew the shame of this (Mk 14:30-31) but also the humble wonder of being restored. This false teachers stubbornly denied Jesus' ability to save, or Christ's return, or his rightful authority over them.
An usual word for slave ownership, e.g., 1 Tim 6:1; Tit 2:9; 1 Pet 2:18, stressing an absolute right to possess. It is used in the NT of God in his capacity as creator and ruler of his world.
A word from the public slave auction. Used twenty-five times in the NT for a simple commercial transaction, but also for the effect of the death of Christ. For the first readers the word rang with echoes from the OT reminding them that they were rightly owned by God who had brought their forefathers out of Egypt and owed him their gratitude at the very least.
Unexpected and suddenly rather than imminent, 1:14.
This meaning is sensual, shading off into sexual, and here means different forms or habit-forming lasciviousness behaviour (repeated in 2:7 and 2:18).
This word has overtones of extortion.
A normal commercial word translated 'carry on business' in Jas 4:13 which Paul used in a similar warning (1 Tim 6:5).
'Sent them to Tartarus', a standard term in non-biblical Greek mythology for a part of hell to which rebellious gods were sent, and this is its only biblical appearance. Probably a synonym for hell which had lost its pagan overtones.
From which our word 'silo' is derived.
A word Peter has probably chosen because of its similarity to his word eusebeia, godliness.
One writer would use this word to describe the horrific devastation caused by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.
This is a pun on the word for godliness; eusebeia. Such word-plays, often used by Peter, would have had impact as a public reading. It was an attention-grabbing device that enabled the audience to grasp his main points at a first hearing.
Occurs in Ac 7:24 for the way an Egyptian 'ill-treated' an Israelite in Moses' presence.
Mark uses this word for 'torture' and 'straining at the oars', Mk 5:7; 6:48.
The prime role of angels in the OT were God's law-bringers (Dt 33:2; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2; Heb 2:2). In the background to this verse there lies a legend of the archangel Michael who refused to support Satan in bringing a legal judgment against Moses, but instead trusted God to uphold his gracious law (cf. Jude 9-10).
This is a legal term meaning 'pass a judgment on the question of slander or blasphemy'.
The false teachers may claim some insightful gnōsis but are actually ignorant.
Note the acid pun between 'destroyed' and 'perish' which has been rendered 'they will be done out of the profits of their wrong-doing'. The downfall of the false teachers will be inevitable: if they behave like animals they are treated like animals, and if they cheat they will find they have been out-witted.
The word hedonism is derived from this, which originally had overtones of self-indulgence and vice.
Drunkenness in the daytime was a sign of dissipation that brought down the condemnation of all decent people in the ancient world - Jewish, Christian or pagan (Is 5:11; 1 Thes 5:7). Pagan disapproval of drunkenness ran into lists.
Cf. Jude 12, where the word is agapais in the equivalent passage, perhaps a grim pun since attendees at the Lord's table were gluttonous and drunk.
A fishing word (also in 2:18 and Jas 1:14) which describes their careful luring away of unwary Christians.
Translated 'seduce the unstable'; possibly a subtle pun on estērigmenous, the Christians who are 'firmly established', 1:12 and 'secure position', stērigmou, 3:17.
'Curse children', a Hebrew-style phrase, cf. 1 Pet 1:14; Eph 2:2,3; 5:6,8.
Wells without water are a tragic disappointment to the eastern traveller.
An unusual word that refers to the haze which is left after condensation has turned from clouds to rain.
Peter knew the feeling of powerlessness on a small boat on the Galilean Sea (Mk 4:27; Lk 8:23).
Like pack hunters which prey on the weakest members of a herd, so the false teachers home in on the weakest converts.
Perhaps Peter is painting a word-picture of a gladiator caught in the thrown net of his opponent, or of a hunted animal caught in the trap of the hunter.
The 'command' was standard Christian shorthand for the entire message, OT, NT, or both. Cf. Ro 7:12; 1 Tim 6:14; Heb 7:18; 1 Jn 2:7.
Has a technical force; see Lk 1:2; 1 Cor 11:2, 23; 15:1-3; 2 Thes 3:6; Jd 3.
A repulsive scavenger in the Ancient Near East (cf. 1 Ki 21:19).
A ritually unclean animal in the OT (cf. Lv 11:7).
The word used for the filth at the bottom of Jeremiah's cistern-cell in Je 38:6, LXX.
3 1This is now, beloved [agapētoi], the second letter [epistolēn] that I have written to you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere [eilikrinē]
Refers to that which will bear the full test of being examined by sunlight, and so carries the sense of transparent sincerity.
The same phrase is used in 1:20: 'Of most importance', 'Above all', 'Especially'.
There is a Hebraic construction here using repetition for reinforcement.
A standard NT way of referring to OT believers, cf. He 1:1-2; Ac 3:13; Jn 6:31; Ro 9:5.
LXX uses the related noun kataklysmos throughout the flood narrative.
Only occurrence in the NT but common elsewhere. It is a noisy word, used for arrows whizzing, birds' wings rustling, the rushing of a stream in spate, or the cracking of a fire.
Not the chemical elements of the periodic table, nor the four elements of fire, earth, air and water which, according to ancient thought, constituted the universe; that would make one element, fire, the destroyer of the other three. Stoicheia was used of numbers in a series, letters in alphabetical order, or anything in a row. The word came to mean the stars, planets and galaxies, anything, in fact, which constituted part of the universe (Cf. Is 34:4 and Joel 2:10.
Lit. 'in holy forms of behaviour and godly deeds.' Holy and godly are both plural.
Emphasizes both radical change and continuation. 'Neos' means new in time or origin but kainos means new in nature or quality.
This was a requirement of both sacrificial animals and the sacrificing priesthood. The Greek is the standard word in LXX for this perfection (Ex 29:1; Lv 1:3,10). Cf. 1 Pe 1:19; Phil 2:15; Jas 1:27.
Brother was an accepted term for a fellow Christian worker. Later descriptions of Paul for example were more honorific: 'the blessed and glorious' (Polycarp), 'the blessed Paul' (Clement), 'the sanctified Paul … right blessed' (Ignatius).
Not knowing anything but refusing instruction.
This is a word from twisting rope or torturing on a rack.
As in 'prognosis'.
With or alongside others.
The dramatic word-picture has been used by Luke (Ac 27:26,29) to describe a ship running aground and being dashed against the rocks.
Here a song is begun taking up words which have traditionally only been allowed in doxology to God. Peter breathtakingly applies it to his carpenter friend. Cf. other NT songs devoted to Jesus: 2 Tim 4:18; Rev 1:3-6; Rev 5:8-10,13-14; 7:9-12; Eph 5:19. No Jew would calmly listen to a man being described as divine, and it must have taken a transformational shift for Jesus' Jewish followers to use such language.