Peter’s Second Letter
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Introduction to Peter’s Second Letter
This Epistle, like First Peter, deals with the persecutions, and the main theme is somewhat similar to that of First Peter. A deeper description of this problem is in Introduction to First Peter. However, there are many marked differences between the two Epistles, and the following special features connected with the Second Epistle of Peter should be carefully noted.
Date and Authorship: This Second Epistle seems to have been written somewhere between A.D. 120 and A.D. 150. But since Peter was martyred about A.D. 67, it is apparent that Peter could not have been the writer of this Epistle. The suggestion has been made that, around the date mentioned above, someone who was well versed in the teachings and traditions of Peter wrote what may be termed a revised edition of First Peter. In this, which we now term the Second Epistle, the writer emphasized Peter’s earlier teachings regarding faith, and then he added his own views concerning the Second Coming of the Lord, hoping thereby to strengthen the faith of the hardpressed Christians. Just what those views were will be explained below.
The Main Problem: When Second Peter was written, the main problem still had to do with the persecutions but in this instance the problem was intensified. In the earlier days, Christians had been encouraged to hold steady by the promise of the Lord’s speedy return. However, many years had now passed by, and still there was no sign of the Lord’s coming. Many Christians were becoming wearied by this long period of waiting, and some of them were abandoning all hope of relief from the persecutions. “Where is the promise of his coming?” they cried; “For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation” (II Pet. 3:4). Thus the Christians were suffering, not only from the persecutions—which continued with unabated fury—but also from the weariness of waiting, together with the tragic suspicion that somehow they had been forsaken by their beloved Lord.
The Suggested Solution: In the period covered by First Peter, the important question was: How can Christians be persuaded to hold steady in face of persecution? In the later period, when Second Peter was written, the problem had shifted somewhat, and it was then a matter of getting Christians to hold on to their belief in the Second Coming of the Lord, despite the long delay. The writer of Second Peter attempted to explain this delay by reminding his readers of a teaching which would be familiar to many Jewish Christians. The Jewish rabbis frequently proclaimed that “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (See Psalms 90:4 and II Peter 3:8.) In other words, God takes no account of what men call “time.” Thus the writer of Second Peter indicated that there was no real delay in the Lord’s coming. The Lord would surely appear at the divinely appointed moment, but in the meantime Christians must show their faith by waiting patiently for His return. The writer of this Second Epistle then advanced a further idea—which may appear somewhat in the nature of an anticlimax. There was a possibility, he suggested, that the Lord’s return was purposely delayed in order to give unconverted persons an opportunity to repent and become Christians. However, the writer continued to aver that the Lord would surely come, at His own appointed time—and then woe betide all those who had opposed the work of the Lord’s kingdom!
A Further Problem: At the time when Second Peter was written, a considerable amount of erroneous teaching had made its way into the various Christian groups of Asia Minor, and elsewhere. This was not an entirely new development, for references to this are to be found in several of the earlier writings. The writer of Second Peter sought to eradicate this false teaching by a twofold effort. First, he recalled and emphasized the earlier teachings of Peter, reminding his readers how the Apostle said, “We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 1:16). Second, he incorporated a lengthy section from a letter written much earlier by Jude (one of the “Brethren of the Lord”), in which all forms of false teaching were denounced in no uncertain terms. The writer of Second Peter thus used the authority and teaching of Peter and Jude to strengthen his condemnation of these false teachers and their teaching. For purposes of study it will be well at this time to compare Jude 4-16 with II Peter 2:1-18, and Jude 17-23 with II Peter 3:2-7.
Metaphysical Notes: See Introduction to First Peter.
Introduction to Peter’s Second Letter by Herbert J. Hunt, former Dean of Bible Studies for the Unity School of Christianity.
When our faith (Peter) is so awakened, it has capacity to perceive for us and so serve as a “faithful” inner warning system. In this Letter, our awakened faith is writing to alert us of the dangers of new teachings that may infiltrate our souls (the Church) and how we may be able to identify and deal with spiritual counterfeits, or how to avoid them altogether. In 2nd Peter, our faith (Peter) writes to remind us of three key themes:
- True Christian faith: Our faith manifests as a manner of life or “our lifestyle.” By adhering to the Word of Truth and the guidance of Spirit we not only make progress along our journey of spiritual transmutation, but we are also enlightened so that we can more quickly identify error and false teachings. Holding fast to the Truth and putting it into practice holds us fast on the path of transformation.
- Warnings against false teachers: Jesus appointed but one teacher in His school: the Spirit of truth, the Comforter in every man. “But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to you remembrance all that I said unto you” (John 14:25). Therefore, whether external (teachings, appearances, circumstances, pressures), or internal (emotions, feelings, thoughts, images, memories, expectations), we are to beware of “false teachers” by always bringing our minds back to the One Teacher, for He “will keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on Him” (cf. Isaiah 26:3). (RW/teacher).
- The promise of the Lord’s return: A promise is like a seed, it is a potentiality, contains power and possibility. The Word and Spirit of God stand the test of time as reliable promise-seed keepers for us along our journey of spiritual transmutation, for the return of our Inner Lord; the awakening of our Inner Christ. Let us trust in this promise and no matter what we may have to endure, let us make of our lives and minds a manger, always ready for the birth of our next Higher Consciousness.
Introduction to Peter’s Second Letter by Mary Salama.
Salutations of Grace, Peace, and True Knowledge
1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 1:2 Grace to you and peace be multiplied1 in the knowledge of God2 and of Jesus our Lord,
- Grace to you and peace be multiplied. Grace and peace grow in our hearts through our increase of God or Christ consciousness.
- in the knowledge of God. It is only when we sit at the feet of our own Lord in the silence that we come forth radiant with the true knowledge, that of Spirit (RW/knowledge).
Elect the Truth, Consistently!
1:3 seeing that his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and virtue; 1:4 by which he has granted to us his precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature,1 having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust. 1:5 Yes, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence; and in moral excellence, knowledge; 1:6 and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control patience; and in patience godliness; 1:7 and in godliness brotherly affection; and in brotherly affection, love. 1:8 For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1:9 For he who lacks these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be more diligent to make your calling and election sure.2 For if you do these things, you will never stumble. 1:11 For thus you will be richly supplied with the entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
1:12 Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. 1:13 I think it right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you; 1:14 knowing that the putting off of my tent comes swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 1:15 Yes, I will make every effort that you may always be able to remember these things even after my departure.
- partakers of the divine nature. By “availing ourselves of the promises” and through exercising the spiritual qualities of diligence, faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love we learn to express the divine nature and in this way we “partake” of it or make it our own.
- make your calling and election sure. The Christ calls us by arousing in us desire after the glory and virtue of the perfect life. Our election is our voluntary choice of the Christ way and the dedicating of all our energies to following it. We “make our calling and election sure” by consistently and diligently expressing the qualities that we, on our part, have added to our knowledge of the Christ; by our making use of perseverance and a high degree of devotion and intelligence.
Your Inner Experiences are Real!
1:16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.1 1:17 For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." 1:18 We heard this voice come out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.
1:19 We have the more sure word of prophecy; and you do well that you heed it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the morning star arises in your hearts:2 1:20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. 1:21 For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit.
- we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. In these three verses Peter was explaining that the experiences of the followers of Jesus were not fairy stories or fables, but were realities. [This means that] we need not accept the account of the Transfiguration only in a metaphysical sense. We have the testimony of eye-witnesses to the event, though we are free to accept it as either an objective occurrence or a subjective experience or both. We may interpret it in the way that it is most helpful to us.
- the morning star arises in your hearts. The morning star heralds the coming of light and the glory of the sun. The mind also has its star of promise, which is the arising inner conviction of our Divine sonship and of our ability to accomplish whatever we undertake (RW/star).
Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mary Salama.
World English Bible Footnotes:
Deceptive Thoughts and Emotions Carry Their Own Punishment
2:1 But false prophets also arose1 among the people, as false teachers will also be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. 2:2 Many will follow their immoral ways, and as a result, the way of the truth will be maligned. 2:3 In covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words: whose sentence now from of old doesn't linger, and their destruction will not slumber.
2:4 For if God didn't spare angels when they sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 2:5 and didn’t spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood on the world of the ungodly; 2:6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly; 2:7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was very distressed by the lustful life of the wicked 2:8 (for that righteous man dwelling among them, was tormented in his righteous soul from day to day with seeing and hearing lawless deeds): 2:9 the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation2 and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment; 2:10 but chiefly those who walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and despise authority.
Daring, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries; 2:11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, don’t bring a railing judgment against them before the Lord. 2:12 But these, as unreasoning creatures, born natural animals to be taken and destroyed, speaking evil in matters about which they are ignorant, will in their destroying surely be destroyed, 2:13 receiving the wages of unrighteousness; people who count it pleasure to revel in the daytime, spots and blemishes, reveling in their deceit while they feast with you; 2:14 having eyes full of adultery, and who can’t cease from sin; enticing unsettled souls; having a heart trained in greed; children of cursing; 2:15 forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of wrong-doing; 2:16 but he was rebuked for his own disobedience. A mute donkey spoke with a man’s voice and stopped the madness of the prophet.
2:17 These are wells without water, clouds driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever. 2:18 For, uttering great swelling words of emptiness, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by licentiousness, those who are indeed escaping from those who live in error; 2:19 promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for a man is brought into bondage by whoever overcomes him.
2:20 For if, after they have escaped the defilement of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 2:21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 2:22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb, "The dog turns to his own vomit again," and "the sow that has washed to wallowing in the mire."3
- But false prophets also arose. Our inner false prophets are those deceptive thoughts that have been built up by error and selfish desires. Outwardly they present the appearance of being truthful and open; inwardly they are ravenous for personal sensation and worldly gain. Whether a thought is false or true, the Law is: "By their fruits ye shall know them." Constructive, spiritual thoughts always yield a bountiful harvest of good, therefore the motive back of every thought should be watched prayerfully. Under the analysis of Truth all deception is brought into the light and the fact that the fruit is error reveals the motive to be error. The tree (motive) should be cut down and cast into the fire (denied) (MBD/false prophets).
- the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation. [Our inner Christ knows how to bring forth the good through tailor-made “temptations,” that come to serve along our journey of spiritual transmutation.]
- The sow that has washed to wallowing in the mire. See Matthew 7:6 (neither cast your pearls before the swine). Metaphysically, swine (the sow) are “swinish” thoughts that belong to the sense, animal plane. Like swine, these thoughts have a tendency to be narrowly focused, return to the same mental feeding pits, and go about repeatedly (MBD/Hezir).
Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mary Salama.
World English Bible Footnotes:
The Promise of the Lord’s Coming
3:1 This is now, beloved, the second letter that I have written to you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by reminding you; 3:2 that you should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior: 3:3 knowing this first, that in the last days mockers will come,1 walking after their own lusts, 3:4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." 3:5 For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth formed out of water and amid water, by the word of God; 3:6 by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. 3:7 But the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
3:8 But don’t forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,2 and a thousand years as one day. 3:9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
3:11 Therefore since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness, 3:12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 3:13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth,3 in which righteousness dwells.
- mockers will come. See The Letter of Jude and the commentary on verse 16. Peter’s Second Letter incorporates much of the Letter of Jude and what is translated here as mockers is translated murmurers and complainers in Jude.
- one day is with the Lord as a thousand years. Often quoted by metaphysicians, such as (1) Charles Fillmore in Mysteries of Genesis, Chapter 1: Spiritual Man: A "day," as the term is used in Genesis 1. There is no reason to believe that these days were twenty-four hours in length. They simply represent periods of development or degrees of mind unfoldment. (2) Unity Correspondence Course, Lesson 11 Judgement and Justice: Spiritual enlightenment reveals that "days" are symbols of the state and the action of universal Mind. These Biblical texts about judgment have nothing to do with "time," The "day of judgment" is no specific date, because every day is a "judgment day," for every thought, feeling, and action brings its own reaction or judgment, its own experience in the manifest realm. (3) Russell Kemp in Live Youthfully Now, God Gives Us Life, Not Age: Is there any power in the mere passage of time to make human beings lose their youth? God gives you your life, and the calendar on the wall has no power over God’s life.
- new heavens and a new earth. See Revelation 21:1. Metaphysically, heaven is a state of consciousness in which the soul and body are in harmony with Divine Mind. (MBD/heaven) Similarly, earth is also a condition of mind, representing the consciousness of the physical body. (RW/earth)
The Ultimate Encouragement
3:14 Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent to be found in peace,1 without blemish and blameless in his sight. 3:15 Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation;2 even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote to you; 3:16 as also in all of his letters, speaking in them of these things. In those, there are some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unsettled twist, as they also do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware, lest being carried away with the error of the wicked, you fall from your own steadfastness. 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.3 To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
- be diligent to be found in peace. A person who has active faith in God and forms constructive thought habits will find that peace is becoming their natural state of mind.
- Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. Self-discipline or faithful expression of the Spirit of truth under all conditions, no matter how negative, is the price of overcoming the world.
- grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Through study, meditation, prayer, practice, and devotion to the Christ ideal we feed on Truth and we grow in all that is comprised in Truth. This includes grace and knowledge.
Fillmore Study Bible annotations compiled by Mary Salama.
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