Study 1 HOW PETER BEGINS HIS LETTER
THE SECOND LETTER OF PETER
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portions: 2 Peter 1: 1-2; Romans 10: 1-13
In his first Letter, Peter writes to give encouragement to believers who were being severely tested because of their faith in the Lord Jesus. Here in his second Letter he writes to warn them about dangers that have come into the church which would increasingly affect the work and testimony of the Lord. It is because we are in constant need of this two-fold ministry of encouragement and warning that these letters are helpful today. This second Letter was addressed to Jewish Christians in about AD 68, but the message is for every Christian in every age. In the two opening verses the writer introduces himself and lays before us some very important truths of the Christian faith:-
1. The First Truth: The Miracle of Conversion
Notice that Peter introduces himself as ‘Simon Peter’. ‘Simon’ was the name given to him at birth and at his circumcision; ‘Peter’ was given to him at his rebirth and after his great declaration (Matthew 16:18). ‘Simon’ speaks of the old, unregenerate man before he knew the Lord, but ‘Peter’ speaks of the new, converted man. Only the miracle of conversion produces this transformation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and as Christians we should be able to speak of an ‘old’ and a ‘new’ in our spiritual experience. Romans 1:16 is still true and this power transforms the sinner into a saint; it changes ‘Simon’ into ‘Peter’.
2. The Second Truth: The Glorious Service
In verse 1 Peter calls himself “a servant…of Jesus Christ”. The word for ‘servant’ is ‘doulos‘, which means ‘a slave’. Peter describes himself as a slave of Christ, and every Christian should be just that! – look up and compare Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5; Psalm 105:26 and Malachi 4:4); Joshua (Joshua 24:19); David (2 Samuel 3:18 and Psalm 78:70); Paul (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1 and Titus 1:1); James (James 1:1); and Jude (Jude 1). To be a slave of the Lord means three things:
- (1) Being possessed by the Lord. It means being His property, just as the slave in the ancient world belonged to his master.
- (2) Being at the disposal of the Lord. Masters could do anything they chose with their slaves. This should be our attitude to our Master (2 Samuel 15:15).
- (3) It involves absolute obedience to the Lord, best illustrated in the question of Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9:6.
The slave of Jesus Christ gladly acknowledges that he is possessed by the Lord; he wants to be at His disposal, his one desire is to obey Him, and in all this he is motivated by love for the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:14).
3. The Third Truth: The Divine Calling
Peter describes himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ”. If an apostle is a special messenger, how did Peter become one? Was it by self-appointment? No, it was by the special calling of the Lord (Mark 1:17; John 21:15-17); compare John 15:16 with Acts 13:1-4. God’s special messengers are God-appointed, so what a privilege it was for Peter!
4. The Fourth Truth: The Way of Salvation
In verse 1 we have a clear indication of God’s method of saving men and women. What is God’s method? Is it that we should try our best and then hope God will accept us? No – this is man’s way of salvation and it is a false way which can only lead to disappointment and disaster. God’s way is that we should come as unworthy sinners and receive the salvation that is offered to us in the Lord Jesus Christ. So Peter is careful to speak here of “those who through the righteousness of our God have received a faith as precious as ours…” This is the difference between the Christian gospel and every other religious system – the difference between salvation by works and salvation by faith; man says ‘attain’ but God says ‘obtain’ (2 Timothy 2:10). Compare Ephesians 2:8-10 with Titus 3:5. Upon what are you depending for salvation?
5. The Fifth Truth: The Unity of all true Believers
Notice in verse 1 that Peter refers to “those who…have received a faith as precious as ours” and “our God and Saviour Jesus Christ”. These tell us that all believers are one because of the one amazing thing that they have in common; it is that they all have faith in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. They can all look up into His face and say, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Their race, background, forms of worship, may be different, but they are all one in that they are related to the Lord Jesus Christ. They enjoy unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3); they are “all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). We do not have to strive for this unity – we have it already in Him, so let’s rejoice in it!
6. The Sixth Truth: The Importance of Growth in Grace
Notice the words “in abundance” in verse 2. It suggests constant growth of Christ’s blessings in the believer (Ephesians 3:15-21), and notice how Peter concludes this letter (2 Peter 3:18). Verse 2 tells us we are to grow in “the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”. This does not mean simply knowing about God, but knowing Him (2 Timothy 1:12; Philippians 3:10; John 14:7-9).
7. The Seventh Truth: The Greatest Blessing this side of Heaven
What do you think this is (verse 2)? In the Amplified New Testament we read, “May grace (God’s favour) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in (the full, personal, precise and correct) knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” The more we come to know Him the more will be multiplied in us the sense of God’s smile upon us and God’s peace within us.