November 21 - Greetings - 2 Peter

Friday, November 21, 2008

November 21 - Greetings - 2 Peter 1:1-2

There are many differences between these two letters which have caused scholars over the ages to ask difficult questions as to authorship. But, I tend to figure that God put this canon of Scripture together and I'm going to accept things as they are. Because, at the same time, there is plenty of scholarship which believes that the two letters, though quite different in form and in many other aspects, are written by the same man.

Peter took Matthew 23:11 quite seriously since he was obviously the leader of Jesus' followers after the Resurrection. As we read the early chapters of Acts, we see that Peter steps forward in the head position of the group of followers that seems to be growing exponentially. So, in 2 Peter 1:1, he not only identifies himself as an apostle, but as a servant of Christ. The lesson was learned.

The use of the word 'servant' here is rather awesome. The term describes a person who is totally owned by and devoted to Jesus Christ. His status is not his own but is derived from his master. (Peter H. Davids Commentary) Peter's authority is not his own, it comes because he belongs to Jesus Christ.

If you compare this to 1 Peter, you will find several 'letter' components missing. There are no personal greetings and no thanksgiving (which occurs in 1 Peter 1:3) and there is no blessing of the recipients. This letter is much more a sermon or a speech which is transmitted as a letter.

However, 2 Peter and the letter from Jude contain portions that are nearly identical. I will make every attempt to point out to you the parallel passages between the two letters as we work through this. Today, as you read 2 Peter 1:1-2, read Jude 1-2 as well. The opening portions are very similar.

Then, read Jude 3 and notice that he speaks of the faith of the saints, while Peter writes of the precious faith that we have. This faith is granted through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Notice here that this is one person. Peter does not distinguish here between two separate persons. In many translations it comes forth as 'God our Savior Jesus Christ.' Profound theology.

In 2 Peter 1:2, we find one of the main themes of this letter. Knowledge. Peter insists that this is very important. This is the knowledge that we gain upon conversion to Christianity. It isn't just an intellectual knowledge or simply knowing someone upon meeting them, but knowledge that results in a difference in our living.

While 1 Peter focused on holiness, we will find that we have a lot to learn about living a life in the fullness of glory. This second letter has plenty to say to us about knowing God and understanding the things of faith.