Outline of 2 Peter

A Suggested Outline of 2 Peter
I. Explanation: The Knowledge of Christ (1)  
A. The gift of this knowledge (1:1–4)  
B. The growth in knowledge (1:5–11)  
C. The grounds for knowledge (1:12–21)

II. Examination: The False Teachers (2)    
A. Their condemnation (2:1–9)    
B. Their character (2:10–17)    
C. Their claims (2:18–22)

III. Exhortation: The True Christian (3)    
A. Beloved … be mindful (3:1–7)    
B. Beloved … be not ignorant (3:8–10)    
C. Beloved … be diligent (3:11–14)    
D. Beloved … beware (3:15–18)

Introductory Notes to 1 and 2 Peter
I. Author
The Apostle Peter is the author of the two letters that bear his name. In writing these letters, Peter was continuing to fulfill the commandment Christ gave him to “feed” the sheep and the lambs (John 21:15–17). The “Babylon” of 1 Peter 5:13 is probably Rome (see Rev. 17:5, 18), where Peter had gone shortly before his death to minister to the suffering churches (2 Peter 1:12–15). There is no scriptural or historical evidence that Peter founded the church at Rome and served as its “bishop” for twenty-five years, as tradition claims. There were several congregations in Rome when Paul wrote Romans (see especially Rom. 16, in which several “household groups” are mentioned). Paul himself would never have gone to Rome to minister had Peter been there first. Paul’s policy was to go places where no other apostles had gone (Rom. 15:20).

II. Situation
Nero began a terrible persecution of Christians in October, a.d. 64. It was most severe in Rome itself, where Nero even burned Christians alive to illuminate his gardens at night. Some students believe that Paul was released in the spring of 64 and traveled to Spain (Rom. 15:28), leaving Peter to minister to the believers in the city. Silas and Mark are mentioned with Peter (1 Peter 5:12–13), so Paul must have left them and journeyed to Spain with other companions. Nero burned Rome in July and started his persecution of the church in October.

Peter knew that the “fiery trial” (4:12ff) would spread from Rome to the Roman provinces, and he wanted to encourage the saints there. Paul was not on hand to do it, so Peter wrote these two letters, inspired by the Spirit, to the churches Paul had founded in Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1 and 2 Peter 3:1). These believers had already been faced with local, personal persecutions (1 Peter 1:6–7; 3:13–17), but Peter wanted them to be ready for the severe trials now on the way (4:12ff; 5:9–10). A careful reading of 1 Peter and Ephesians (which was also written to saints in Asia Minor) shows more than one hundred parallels in teaching and wording! It is as though the Spirit is telling us that Peter and Paul agree on spiritual truths; in fact, Peter himself points to the writings of Paul (2 Peter 3:15–16, which may refer to Hebrews). Compare the two doxologies (Eph. 1:3 and 1 Peter 1:3), for example. Here are some other parallels: 1 Peter 1:12 / Eph. 3:5, 10; 1 Peter 2:2 / Eph. 4:13, 15; 1 Peter 4:10 / Eph. 4:7, 11; 1 Peter 4:11 / Eph. 3:6, 21. III. Theme The major theme of 1 Peter is grace (5:12); in fact, the word “grace” is used in every chapter: 1:2, 10, 13; 2:19–20 (where “thankworthy” and “acceptable” can also be translated “grace” in the original Gk.); 3:7; 4:10; 5:5, 10, 12. Peter’s aim is to testify of the sufficiency of God’s grace. After writing the first letter, Peter was arrested and tried; and he wrote his second letter as he awaited execution (2 Peter 1:13–21). The theme of the second letter is assurance that comes from knowledge. Peter saw the danger of false doctrine in the church and warned the believers to beware (3:17). In other words, the two letters together emphasize the perils facing the church: Satan can come as a lion to devour with persecution (1 Peter) or as a serpent to deceive with false doctrine (2 Peter). Satan is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44–45). The Christian can depend on God’s grace to see him through the fiery trials; and his knowledge of the truth will conquer the false teachers that will arise in the church (2 Peter 2). These two words summarize the two letters: 1 Peter—grace; 2 Peter—knowledge. Peter urges us to grow both in grace and in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18).

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