Second Peter

Chuck preaching

Listen to Chuck Swindoll’s overview of Second Peter in his audio message from the Classic series God’s Masterwork.

Who wrote the book?

Peter introduced himself at the beginning of the letter as “a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,” and he addressed the letter “to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours” (2 Peter 1:1). Only later does it become apparent that Peter was writing to the same group of believers who had received his first letter. In 2 Peter 3:1, the author reflected that this is “the second letter I am writing to you.”

View Chuck Swindoll's chart of Second Peter, which divides the book into major sections and highlights themes and key verses.

Where are we?

Peter wrote this letter from Rome soon after he wrote 1 Peter in AD 64–66. So what would have prompted another letter to the same group so soon after the first? From the contents of the letter, it appears that Peter had received reports of false teachers in and among the churches in Asia Minor. The apostle warned them about the insidious presence of those who spread heresies among the people (2 Peter 2:1), marking such difficulties as a sign of the last days (3:3). Peter wanted to encourage his people to stand firm and to instruct them on how best to do that.

Why is Second Peter so important?

The churches of Asia Minor were not just struggling with the persecution and suffering addressed in Peter’s first letter; they also had strife and dissension within their ranks. In an effort to stem the tide of heresy and false teaching among the Christians, Peter emphasized the importance of learning and clinging to the proper knowledge of God. In fact, this concept was so important to him that the word knowledge appears—in one form or another—some fifteen times in the span of this short, three-chapter letter.

What's the big idea?

Peter’s theme in his second letter is a simple one: pursue spiritual maturity through the Word of God as a remedy for false teaching and a right response to heretics in light of Christ’s promised second coming (2 Peter 1:3, 16). When false teachers begin to whisper their sweet words into the ears of immature Christians, the body of Christ begins to break apart, to lose what makes it distinctive in the first place—faith in the unique person and work of Jesus Christ. Peter repeatedly points to the Word of God as the primary means of growth for the Christian (1:4, 19–21; 3:1–2, 14–16).

Peter encouraged his readers to apply themselves to acquiring the true knowledge of God and living out the life of faith with “all diligence,” so that they may “be found by [Jesus] in peace, spotless and blameless” (1:5; 3:14). And if believers did not follow his advice, they would be giving their Christian community over to the heretics, people who look to “exploit . . . with false words” (2:3).

How do I apply this?

As with the recipients of Peter’s letter, we all go through difficult times. Those trials seem to hit us even harder when the source of the struggles comes from somewhere or someone close to us. We know intuitively this is true in our personal lives: a rift in a marriage, an unwed daughter’s unexpected pregnancy, or an abusive relationship with a relative. But it holds true within the church as well.

Believers can create dissension in multiple ways, particularly in the areas of relationships and theology. To guard against that kind of discord—both in our families and our churches—God’s people need to know who He is. Our knowledge of God through His Word is the first line of defense against the conflicts that threaten to tear us apart. As Peter wrote: “Be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men . . . but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17–18).

With that in mind, what means are you taking to grow in your faith? Let’s take the time to guard our minds with the proper knowledge of God so that we may not drift off from the path that God has laid out for us.

Related Articles

A Gift Too Wonderful for Words

Long ago in a quiet, crude place where animals sleep, Mary gave birth and felt the soft, human skin of her firstborn. The humanity of this scene appropriately pulls us in for a closer look. We can identify with Joseph’s confusion, with Mary’s wonder, and with the shepherds’ amazement about the Son of God’s quiet […]

Read More

A Hope Transfusion

Easter and hope are synonymous. The special day never arrives without its refreshing reminder that there is life beyond this one. True life. Eternal life. Glorious life. Those who live on what we might call the “outskirts of hope” need a transfusion. Easter gives it. For some strange reason, I’ve experienced times in my life when several people […]

Read More

Advent. Coming.

I’m not an Anglican, although there is much that I appreciate from my Anglican roots. Some examples are…the heritage, the rich tradition of orthodox, apostolic faith, the liturgical prayers, which taught me evangelical theology from a young age, and the church calendar. Yes, you read correctly, the church calendar. It’s a wonderful pattern of organising […]

Read More

Are There “Lost” Scriptures?

Some conspiracy theorists, fiction-writers, filmmakers, and revisionist historians would like us to believe that the books we have in our New Testament were selected by prejudiced or ignorant church leaders from among hundreds of competing gospels, letters, and other Christian writings that were just as good — if not better —representations of Christianity. These people […]

Read More

Christ’s Return

The other evening my wife and I were enjoying a quiet conversation together. We were sipping some fresh-perked coffee, the house was unusually still, and there were no plans to go anywhere that evening. It was one of those cherished moments you wish you could wrap up and reserve for later use when it’s really […]

Read More

Cool Scepticism

Nine-year-old Danny came bursting out of Sunday school like a wild stallion. His eyes were darting in every direction as he tried to locate either his mum or dad. Finally, after a quick search, he grabbed his daddy by the leg and yelled, “Man, that story of Moses and all those people crossing the Red […]

Read More

How Do We Know That Jesus Is God?

Question: I recently read the book, The Da Vinci Code. I know that it is fiction, but it has caused me to question everything that I’ve always believed about Jesus. How do we know that Jesus is God in the flesh and not simply a good teacher? Answer: For two thousand years, critics have chipped […]

Read More

My Advice This Christmas

If I may borrow from Charles Dickens’s famous opening line, Christmas can be “the best of times, and the worst of times.” We have them both, don’t we? Who hasn’t cringed in early-October as stores drag out the artificial Christmas trees and put them on display? Who doesn’t dread the extra traffic and the gaggle […]

Read More

Reading Revelation

Q. Why should I study the book of Revelation? Is it really relevant to my life? A. First, God’s inerrant Word is a reliable map. No matter how difficult it is to comprehend the mind-blowing visions presented in Revelation, we must not forget that it is part of God’s Word. As such, it includes an […]

Read More