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Alternate Lecture on: NT 600 New Testament Survey - The Second Letter of Peter

Alternate Lecture on: NT 600 New Testament Survey

The Second Letter of Peter

by Timothy Kenney, PhD

The second letter of St Peter is sometimes considered to be a sermon addressed to those who were newly baptized into the Christian faith. The author wishes before his death to "arouse... by way of reminder" (1:13, 3:1) what God has done for those who are called, that they might "escape from the corruption that is in the world through passion, and become partakers of the divine nature" (1:3-4). He warns against the appearance of "false prophets" and "scoffers" who would lead the elect astray by their "destructive heresies" and denials of "the Master who bought them" thus causing them to fall back to a life of sin and ignorance as "the dog turns back to his own vomit and the sow is washed only to wallow once more in the mire" (2:1-22, 3:1-7). The author makes special warning against the perversion of the holy scriptures, both those of the Old Testament and those of St Paul, "which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction" (3:16, 1:20).

The third chapter of the second letter of St Peter is sometimes wrongly interpreted as teaching the total destruction of creation by God at the end of the world. The Orthodox interpretation is that it is only sin and evil that will be "dissolved with fire" on the "day of God," and that the "new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" wilt be the same "very good" world of God's original creation, but purified, renewed and purged of all that is contrary to His divine goodness and holiness (3:8-13).

The reminiscence in the second letter of St Peter about the transfiguration of Christ is the epistle reading at the Church's feast of this sacred event (1:16-18). Readings from both letters are found in the Church's lectionary, with selections from the first letter being read at the vigil of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul.

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An outline is provided below:

1:1-1:2 ------------ Salutation
1:3-1:15 ------------ The Christian's Call and Election
1:16-1:21 ----------- Eyewitnesses of Christ's Glory

2:1-2:22 ------------- False Prophets and Their Punishment

3:1-3:13 ------------- The Promise of the Lord's Coming
3:14-3:18 ------------ Final Exhortation and Doxology

We now proceed to the Letters of St. John.

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