Date: c. A.D. 64
Peter wrote his second letter to the church at large rather than to the specific churches in upper Asia Minor. Some theologians dispute that Peter actually wrote this letter, but there are no compelling reasons to doubt that he was actually the author.
Theological Themes in the Epistle of II Peter
This short epistle has three basic themes. First, Peter wanted to encourage the believers in their Christian life. God’s divine power has provided us with all that we need to live for him, but it remains up to us to make use of that power. Peter said that we actually “partakers of the divine nature” (1:4). This probably means roughly what Paul meant when he spoke about Christians being the body of Christ and united to him. The concrete way that we make use of God’s power is by exercise of spiritual virtues: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. When these are found in our lives we may have assurance that our calling and election are real.
A second theme in this epistle is a description of those who reject the gospel. They are depicted in a long series of statements that are none too flattering (2:1-22). Peter is probably using a bit of polemical material that was more or less traditional at that time, because it reappears in the Book of Jude in much the same form.
A third theme concerns the second coming of Christ. Some were beginning to grow weary in waiting and were being taunted by those who disbelieved. Peter wanted to reassure his friends that Jesus is indeed coming back, at which time this world order will be renovated. The old order will dissolve and be replaced by a new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Outline for the Epistle of II Peter
- Living the Christian life II Peter 1:1-21
- The nature of ungodliness II Peter 2:1-22
- The sure return of Jesus Christ II Peter 3:1-18