INTRODUCTION TO 2 PETER
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Before analyzing the test of any book of the Bible, it is well to learn the historical background.
Also, it is best to make a "skyscraper" view of its general contents. Accordingly, this introduction is divided into two parts: background and survey
- Author. The letter starts out stating that Peter wrote the letter. (1:1, 12-15) His parents called him Simon. Jesus renamed him Peter (though at times he still called him Simon after that). The style and grimmer of the letter matches Peter's style and grammar in his speeches as recorded in the gospels and Acts. The fact that Paul and Peter were well acquainted is evident in this letter. Peter calls Paul his dear friend. (3:15) The Greek grammar in this, Peter's second letter is not as accurate as his first letter probably because Peter dictated the first letter to Silas who used proper Greek.
Peter was from Bethsaida, a village on the north-eastern tip of the Sea of Galilee (John 1:44) and moved to Capernaum a few miles from Bethsaida. (Matthew 8:5, 8:14) He was married and a fisherman when he first met Jesus. Andrew, Peter's brother introduced him to Jesus when they were by the Jordan River where John the Baptist was conducting his ministry. (John 1:41-42) Shortly after this, Simon returned to his fishing job at the Sea of Galilee. While fishing one day Jesus joined him, performed a miracle, and invited Simon to be a "fisher of men". (Matthew 4:18-20) Peter followed Jesus from that point on for just over three years.
Jesus chose Peter as one of his twelve apostles and at times was given special treatment along with James and John. Peter's name is always given first in lists. (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13)
Peter was an eye witness of Jesus transfiguration (1:16-18; Matthew 17:1-5), death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. When the Holy Spirit came with power during Pentecost, Peter preached to Jews from all over the Roman world including the cities mentioned in this letter. (Acts 2:5-11) From Pentecost Peter became one of the main speakers and church elders in Jerusalem. Due to persecution he left Jerusalem and traveled throughout Judea, Samaria, and Galilee. During this time the Lord revealed to Peter that the Gentiles were to be equals with Jews in Jesus' church and kingdom. Eventually Peter traveled to Syria, Minor Asia, and Rome. Peter was killed in Rome at the end of Nero's reign.
- Date Written. Peter wrote this letter shortly before his death (between 65 and 68 A.D.). Christians had been enduring persecutions under Nero (reign from 54-68 A.D.) who hated Christians and Jews. Nero burned Rome in 64 A.D. blaming Christians for it which spurred on a great persecuted and martyrdom of many Christians. Paul spend his second imprisonment in Rome during this time. Peter was martyred during Nero's reign of terror in Rome.
- Addressee. Peter wrote this letter to the same congregations as his first letter (3:1), Christians living in several cities in Asia Minor. The congregations there consisted of Jews (some converted during Pentecost) and Gentiles.
- Place of Writing. Not stated in this letter, but believed to be the same place as the first letter was written from.
- Historical Background. Ever since Jesus ascended Christians have been persecuted by people of the world; both from Jews and Gentiles. Sometimes individuals were persecuted. Sometimes several in one congregation. Up until the time of this writing the greatest persecution against Christians started in Jerusalem when Stephen was stoned by zealot Jews. (Acts 6:8, 7:57) Saul, who became Paul lead the persecutions (Acts 8:1-3) until he meet the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:31) Like that one, the persecutions were often of short term. When this letter was written the persecution against Christians increased greatly with Nero, the Roman Emperor. He burned Rome and blamed Christians for starting it. In various places all over the Roman empire selfish and corrupt politicians used the opportunity started by Nero to further their selfish plans and wills. The Christians Peter was writing to were in one of these areas. Letters between Nero and the governor of Bithynia still exist where they discussed the subject. The governor asked Nero if it was ok to arrest, jail, and kill Christians. Nero replied saying the governor could do whatever he wanted to do with the Christians in his territory. The persecution spread to the surrounding Roman provinces. When Peter heard about this he wrote this letter to encourage the Christians in the area. During Nero's persecution Paul was imprisoned and Peter was martyred.
- SURVEY AND PURPOSE
- Survey Peter wrote about Christian life, suffering, persecution, and false teaching from within the church. The first letter was how to deal with persecution from outside the church.
- Purpose Peter wrote:
- to stimulate Christian growth (chapter 1)
- to combat false teaching (chapter 2)
- to encourage watchfulness in view of the Lord's certain return (Chapter 3).
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