Partner with as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

2 Peter

- 2 Peter

by Gary Hampton


The author of this letter is Peter, the apostle (1:1). He alludes to Christ's prophecy concerning his death (1:14; Joh_21:18-19 ). He defends the Lordship of Christ by referring to himself as an eyewitness of the transfiguration (1:16-17; Mat_17:1-9 ). He mentions the first epistle (3:1). Kelcy says, "As to style, both have a considerable number of words which are not found elsewhere in the New Testament. Both have a tendency to use uncommon words." Kelcy goes on to show specific words used in both epistles which are rare in other New Testament books. They are: precious ( 1Pe_1:7 ; 1Pe_1:19 ; 2Pe_1:1 ); virtue ( 1Pe_2:9 ; 2Pe_1:3 ; supply ( 1Pe_4:11 ; 2Pe_1:5 ) ; love of the brethren ( 1Pe_1:19 ; 2Pe_1:7 ); without blemish and without spot ( 1Pe_1:19 ; 2Pe_3:14 ); and ungodly ( 1Pe_4:18 ; 2Pe_2:5-6 ; 2Pe_3:7 ). Kelcy also demonstrates similarity in teaching between the two epistles. Both refer to the end of time ( 1Pe_1:5 ; 1Pe_4:7 ; 2Pe_3:10-11 ); prophecy ( 1Pe_1:10-12 ; 2Pe_1:19-21 ; 2Pe_3:2 ); the flood ( 1Pe_3:20 ; 2Pe_2:5 ; 2Pe_3:6 ) and refer to the saved as chosen and called ( 1Pe_1:2 ; 1Pe_2:21 ; 2Pe_1:10 ). Kelcy further found words used almost exclusively by Peter in Acts that are used in 2 Peter. Those words are: obtained (1:1; Act_1:17 ); godliness (1:7; Act_3:12 ); unlawful (2:8; Act_2:23 ); day of the Lord (3:10; Act_2:20 ); and wages of unrighteousness (2:13, 15; Act_1:18 ).

The external evidence has been called weak by some because the book is not referred to by name in the first and second centuries. However, Clement of Rome (A.D. 95) uses words and phrases which are only found in 2 Peter in the New Testament. Kelcy says Aristides (A.D. 130) uses an expression which seems to come from this epistle. He notes that Hippolytus (A. D. 215) "contains echoes of the epistle." Further, there is a book called The Apocalypse of Peter , which has been dated around the middle of the second century, that made extensive use of this epistle. Kelcy explains why it may not have been quoted as much as some other New Testament books, when he says, "It is likely that the early church did not widely quote the epistle due to the fact that it was not addressed to a specific church or person and to the fact that it is brief and contains little that is new."

It is written to the same people who received the first epistle ( 1Pe_3:1 ). Peter's purpose in this writing was to refresh their memories as to what were the prophets' and Jesus' commandments (1:12-13, 15; 3:1-2). There is no reference within the epistle to date or place of writing. We assume it was written shortly after the first epistle (A.D. 64 or 65) and possibly from Babylon (see 1Pe_5:13 ).

As we study the letter, it will become plain that Peter was dealing with a threat posed by certain false teachers (2:1-2). They were self-willed and spoke in an irreverent way about things they did not even understand (2:10-12). They engaged in immorality and tried to seduce others to join them (2:13-14, 17-18). They made empty promises about freedom, while they themselves were again enslaved in sin (2:19-22). Also, they ridiculed the promise of the Lord's return (3:3-4).

Peter and His Readers

Some have said that the use of both names, Simon, which was his own original name ( Mat_4:18 ; Mat_16:17 ), and Peter, which was the name Christ gave him ( Mar_3:16 ; Joh_1:42 ), shows this author is a copycat and is trying doubly hard to convince his readers that he is Peter. This just shows how far liberal scholars will go to discredit inspired writers. A true copycat would have been very careful to use exactly the same introduction as Peter made in his first letter and not draw attention to himself with such a change.

Thayer says a servant is "one who gives himself up wholly to another's will." Peter describes himself as such a servant and an apostle because that was Jesus' will ( Luk_6:13-16 ). Peter is writing to those who, because of God's love and not their own working, have come to have a faith equally as rewarding as the faith of the apostles. Those in Christ obtained their faith through God's righteous, or just, dealing with all men and continue to have it as long as they remain in the right path, which is in Jesus. Observe that Jesus is called God our Savior ( 2Pe_1:1 ).