Peter’s second & last letter to Christian friends was written at the end of his life, from Rome (336). In this short letter, Peter gave Christians practical advice for our daily walk with Jesus, another warning against false teachers, and a reminder of the promises we have in Jesus.
Peter wrote this letter because his love for God inspired him to love us. His prayer is that our love for God will inspire us to love other people.
God wants us to share in his divine nature, Peter said. Jesus has made this possible, by his sacrificial death & by his resurrection. The Holy Spirit is the divine nature of God, the living heart of the body of Christ. But in order to grow in the divine nature of God, individual members of the body of Christ must be diligent in several things. In other words, we have to cooperate with the leading of the Holy Spirit as we grow.
- Faith is first. We receive God’s grace by faith, not because of anything we are or do. Faith is how our life in God begins. Then, God expects us to grow in a variety of ways.
- We are expected to pursue goodness (or virtue or purity), which is best done in daily fellowship with other members of the body.
- We are expected to pursue knowledge of God’s nature & of his ways, which requires daily study of the inspired scriptures.
- We are expected to pursue self-control (letting our spirit rule our flesh), which requires spending daily private time with God in prayer.
- We are expected to pursue perseverance (or patience or longsuffering or endurance or steadfastness), by daily depending on God to work all things for our good at just the right time.
- We are expected to pursue godliness, by daily letting God have his way in our lives. He’s the master; we’re his servants.
- We are also expected to pursue kindness toward other believers every day — especially toward newer believers.
- The culmination of all this is love – both for other believers & for those who remain separated from God.
As we put on these Christ-like characteristics, we bear fruit for God’s kingdom; otherwise, we remain barren.
False teachers were not only barren but also dangerous. They tended in various ways to keep the people’s focus on themselves, instead of on Jesus. They were more interested in their own material welfare, than in the spiritual welfare of the believers in their care. Peter warns the members of the body of Christ to be aware of the ever-present danger posed by false teachers.
By contrast, Jesus died for our spiritual welfare — in this life & the next. He has promised that our earthly lives will ultimately give way to life in heaven, our ultimate welfare. Until that day, our part is to live holy lives, dedicated to God, here on earth.
(336) 2 Peter 1-3