(last edited 4/2/16)
I PETERI PETER
Peter was the apostle to the Jews (Gal. 2:8), as Paul was to the Gentiles. He is writing in around 63-67 A.D. to believers who have scattered from Jerusalem as they are facing the possibility of persecution, and is himself martyred only a few years later. His writing is concise and hard-hitting, explaining doctrinal truths and telling how believers should live. We do not see Christianity presented as the comfortable lifestyle American Christians have come to expect. We are told to prepare for persecution, trials, suffering. Today many Christians look quite a bit like the world, but Peter speaks of holy living.
1-2 Does Peter identify himself as the chief apostle, or the first pope? Nowhere in the Bible is he described as such. Why does he call his readers "strangers/aliens" (KJV/NASB) and "scattered"? We may not live in the places mentioned, but do we fall into this category also? He may be writing particularly to Jews, who made up the original church in Jerusalem. But Gentiles, and we too, are included in this greeting, because believers are scattered throughout the world, living as strangers in a godless world system.
What else does he call these believers (and all believers)? "Elect/chosen" (KJV/NASB); Paul writes much about the doctrine of election, particularly in Eph. 1. Calvinists believe that election means that God arbitrarily chose some for salvation and all others are damned, unable to be saved even if they repented and believed. But the Bible says God desires all to be saved, I Tim. 2:4, and that whoever believes may be saved, John 3:16, 7:37, 11:26, Acts 10:43, Rom. 10:13, I John 4:15, Rev. 22:17. Peter gives us insight into the doctrine of election; believers are chosen according to what? Because God knows the future, does that mean that our future is pre-programmed? We can't imagine what it is like to be in the past, present and future as God is, so we can't comprehend how He could elect us through His foreknowledge without taking away our free will, but this is what the Bible teaches. Since we are told to believe, do we have a choice? Has God revealed truths to us that we cannot fully comprehend? Do we have to fully comprehend them to believe them?
Do you see the Trinity in 2? What do we learn about how the Trinity functions? Who is responsible for salvation? We are chosen to do what? We might think it would say "believe" instead; what does "obey" imply about saving faith? Peter has much to say about obedience.
The "sprinkling of blood" is a Jewish concept, referred to many times as the basis of sacrifice in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers; in the New Testament, this phrase is only found in Hebrews 9, 10, 11 and here, all written to Christians very familiar with the Law of Moses. Who applies Jesus' shed blood to our lives? Yet all members of the Trinity are equal; for example, sanctification is also attributed to the Father and the Son. It also means "purification" or "holiness." Does this happen automatically and equally in every believer's life? Why not? And those who possess these things have what and what? Peter will go on to explain more about what salvation is.
3 We think of blessing coming from God to us, but we are also to bless God. How do we bless Him, Psalm 34:1, 103:2? Psalms speak much of blessing the Lord. He blesses us how? Ps. 67:6, Hag. 2:19. So we bless whom, because of what He did through whom? Because of God's kindness, we who believe have been what? Being a Christian is not just thinking differently; it is new life. So salvation is a result of whose elect choice? whose blood sacrifice and resurrection? and the indwelling power of whom?
4-5 When we were born again, we became sons and heirs. What is the believer's expectation? When we receive our inheritance, will our bodies or anything else be subject to the same corrupting, decaying influence we experience in our present earthly state? Will there be sin or any effects of sin? Where is our spot being reserved? Why might these scattered believers, if Jewish, have been concerned about their inheritance? What was Israel promised? So it was always important for them to be in their land; what did Joseph request about his bones, Gen. 50:25? He was looking forward to the resurrection!
Since we are being kept/protected (KJV/NASB) by God's power, does this mean nothing bad will ever befall us? In what sense are we being protected? For salvation. So can we lose our salvation? Can we walk away from it--is our power greater than God's? Do we keep it by our own good works, or how? So this is a great passage on eternal security. What, or who, will be revealed in the last time? Is salvation present or future? What will happen at the last time that will reveal salvation? Jesus will appear--to the church when? and to the world when? The rapture, then the second coming.
6-7 In what do these believers rejoice--what has he just been talking about? Even though what? Some of our trials go on for years, with no end in sight; why does he say "for a little while"? Compared to what? How do we feel about them? Why does he say "if needed"? Is everyone afflicted equally? God's plan is different for each of us. What is done to gold to remove impurities and prove it is genuine? So what is the purpose of trials? What future hope should sustain us in our trials? Again, Peter points us to the rapture. So if we have come through our trials faithfully, is honor and glory awaiting us? We may be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ, but what will we do with our crowns? Rev. 4:10. HE will be glorified through us. If we are to suffer for Him, these truths should sustain us. Peter will have much to say about suffering in the life of the believer--we are to expect suffering.
8-9 So according to 8 we what and what the Lord? How can you love someone you have never seen? Why do we love the Lord Jesus Christ? What does it mean to love Him? What is the outcome for those who do not love or believe in Him? Knowing we will not receive that outcome, even though we deserve it, is a reason for us to what, 8?
10-12 Is salvation just a New Testament teaching? The Old Testament is the story of salvation. The Old Testament, the Gospels and Acts are mostly stories--what happened from the beginning up through the life, death, and resurrection of the promised Christ, and the beginning of the church. The rest of the New Testament explains and applies it.
How is Christ referred to in 10? How is the Holy Spirit referred to in 11? He did not indwell believers before the church age, but was in the Jewish prophets, priests and kings--those who were anointed for God's special purposes. His presence could leave them; He did not seal them as He does the church. Those who do not recognize the distinction between the dispensation of the Law and the dispensation of grace, who see Israel and the church as one, might wrongly believe we can lose the Holy Spirit, because of this happening in the Old Testament.
Before the birth of Jesus, how do we see Him in the Old Testament? At creation, in prophesies of the Messiah, as the angel of the Lord who occasionally appeared to men in human form. His sufferings were predicted, as in Psalm 22, Isa. 53. The prophets said not only that the Messiah would suffer, but what else about Him? This would include the resurrection and ruling over the promised earthly kingdom, as in Psalm 45, Isa. 11. The Bible claims that the prophets spoke the words of whom? This is the doctrine of verbal inspiration.
When God spoke through the prophets, did He let them know everything, or only a partial picture? Is prophecy for the purpose of letting us know in advance exactly what will happen and how? We can anticipate future prophesied events to a certain extent but won't understand completely. When it happens, those at that time will be able to see how it exactly fulfilled what God said. Are some of the things that happen to us possibly for the benefit of others rather than just for ourselves?
In 12, who are those who preached the gospel? The apostles. So the Bible tells us clearly that God, through the Holy Spirit, spoke His message through men--through who in the Old Testament? and who in the New Testament? Through the prophets and then the apostles. Again, the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture. Don't many believe the Bible is just written by men, and therefore fallible? Do angels know everything? They are apparently also learning, from watching the church.
13-16 "Therefore/wherefore" (NASB/KJV) implies what? Based on what he has just reminded them about salvation. What three things do believers need to do, in 13? The NASB "prepare your minds for action" paraphrases the KJV, "gird up the loins of your mind." In the vernacular of that day, what would it mean to "gird up your loins"? To fasten their long Eastern garments up around their hips so as not to interfere with action.
So what is Peter saying about our minds? Get ready for serious business! Does "sober" mean never smiling, having fun, or enjoying God's blessings? We are to pay attention, be watchful. "Hope" is not wishful thinking, but trusting expectation--expecting what? The appearing of Christ: the blessed hope, the rapture, the catching up of the church.
Is the Christian life just about love and joy and blessings, or how does obedience figure in? Acts and the Epistles speak much about obeying the gospel, obeying the truth; Acts 5:32 makes it clear that obeying the Lord equates to following Him in faith, since we know that all believers receive the Holy Spirit. Saving faith, believing, gets all the way down to your feet, so to speak. And "don't" what in 14? Is that a temptation for believers? Does "lust" just mean sex? No--desires. What was our excuse back then? Can we use that excuse anymore? In contrast, "do" what in 15?
Why, 16? If God is our Father, should His children show some resemblance? What does it mean to be holy? Blameless, pure, set apart from the world, set apart to God for His purposes. God's holiness is the theme of the book of Leviticus. We are not to take Him lightly, but to be as obedient children. Where do we find God's will for our lives? "It is written": in His written Word.
17-19 What are children like who have no fear of or respect for their parent? How does he expect believers to respond to what God has done for us? Why, 19? He doesn't use the word "obedience" but does he talk about it here also? Again Peter stresses that salvation is a sobering truth. Which of God's characteristics does he remind us of in 17? Unlike men, what kind of judge is God? What is the "work" that God will judge, John 6:29? How does he remind us that we are foreigners and only here temporarily? Why is that important to remember? What is "redeemed"? Bought and freed, like slaves. He speaks of our pre-Christ lifestyle as vain/futile (KJV/NASB). Does that describe our unsaved friends? Why is that true, even if they feel their lives and values are meaningful? How does their view of silver and gold differ from ours?
20-21 Peter reminds his readers of a number of truths--doctrine. Is doctrine bad, does it divide, should it be downplayed in the church, as many teach today? Why or why not? "These last times" would be the church age. How does 20 point out the difference between God's time frame and ours? He is eternal, outside of time, and we are temporal. In our experience, things happen over time, but with God, it's all as good as done already. Again we see that Jesus is not the end in Himself but through Him we can what? What key truth is the basis of our faith and hope?
22-25 What "o" word does Peter use again? He uses this term a total of six times, second only to the letter to the Romans. Can we purify our own souls? But Peter seems to use "obedience" synonymously with what concept? Believing = faith. Truth = what? God's Word. So believing the truth = obeying the truth, which results in what + what? Purified souls + a sincere (without hypocrisy) and fervent love of fellow believers. Is that love a feeling or a choice? (I think the KJV is clearer here than the NASB.)
And we are able to do this because Jesus taught that we must be what, 23? How does the rest of 23 define that? So will all who have only been born once, perish? Will those who have been born twice? How is the Bible described? It is ALIVE! John 1:1. Peter quotes this Old Testament truth from Isa. 40:6-8, then applies it to his audience. Like any good preacher, Peter moves back and forth from doctrine--the truths of God's Word--to application.
1-3 "Therefore/wherefore" (NASB/KJV) ties this sentence to the previous thought. What was the subject of the previous verse? These three verses are one long sentence; what is the verb, the action? And what is the object of that verb? All the rest of the sentence elaborates on this idea.
What accompanies this action, 1? So these are sins that Christians struggle with? Those who do this are likened to what, 2? And we all start as baby Christians after we have been what, through what, 1:23? Why do this, last half of 2? So if you don't long for the Word, does that mean you probably won't grow, and you might look more like 1? (More like the "old man" than the "new man"?) And you might continue looking like the beginning of 2? All believers have tasted what? Should that whet our appetite? Should a healthy believer have a good appetite?
Don't many Christians have a casual relationship with the Bible, being quite content to hear a sermon about it once a week? Is this why churches don't grow? How can we create hunger for God's Word? These people didn't have personal copies of the entire Bible, like we do; how did they take it in, 1:25? So preaching needs to present God's Word, doctrinal truth, in a way suitable to feed babies--the milk--as well as meatier doctrine to feed and whet the appetite of growing, maturing believers. So 1-3 continues the idea Peter began in 1:22-25: salvation followed by spiritual growth.
4-5 Now Peter uses what similar analogy, 5? And what is the foundation, 6? And He is a what, 4? And likewise we are what, 5? What paradox do we find in 4? Peter seems to be speaking of the universal church here; individual believers are each stones in the building that is the church, just as Paul speaks of each of us being members of the body of Christ. Each of these pictures helps us understand what it means to be the church. Jesus is what kind of priest, Heb. 3:1? But we are each priests; what did priests do? They could approach God, after they did what? Can we approach God directly? Because of what sacrifice?
Before the cross, Jews could not approach God directly, but needed to have a priest offer their sacrifice. Where were sacrifices offered? Where is the temple now? So every believer is both priest and temple; what sacrifices do we offer, Rom. 12:1, Heb. 13:15? What must be done to priests before they could serve, Exo. 40:13-15? What is true of believers, I John 2:20,27? Charismatics speak of "the anointing" as a powerful feeling that comes down on special people, ministries, music or services, but the Bible does not use it in this way; all believers have the anointing of the Holy Spirit--He indwells each of us.
6-8 Peter's name means "rock" (little stone), and he says we are also stones, but he clarifies who the true Rock is. How does the Old Testament describe this Rock? What important "b" word is the main point here? We see "believe" and "obey" again used here interchangeably, especially in the KJV. He is not speaking of disobedient Christians, but of unbelievers. Everyone falls into one of those two categories; how does the same Rock affect those two groups of people differently? Is this saying God appoints various individuals to never be able to believe, or does He appoint all who disbelieve the Word to stumble over Jesus?
9-10 "But": In contrast to unbelievers, who is he talking about? The terms "chosen race/generation" (NASB/KJV), "royal priesthood," "holy nation," "people for God's own possession" are Old Testament quotes; Peter is writing, 1:1, to believers who had scattered from the Jerusalem church--Jewish believers. He uses terminology they are familiar with. Who was God dealing with in the Old Testament? Israel. But who is He dealing with now? The church. Israel was a physical race/nation/people; the church is a spiritual one. Again we see that the physical pictures and points to the spiritual. Are only certain people called? Mat. 22:14.
Does this mean that the church has now replaced Israel in God's plan? Some teach this, but if it were true, it must line up with everything else the Bible says; what does Paul say in Rom. 11:1-2,25? While Israel is temporarily set aside, God is dealing with the church, but when the church is caught up at the rapture, God will return to His dealing with Israel, first in the tribulation, then fulfilling all His promises to them in the earthly millenial kingdom reign of their Messiah.
11 Now that Peter has spoken about our salvation--what it means to be a believer, to be the church--he is going to talk about what that should look like. Are we citizens of this world where we temporarily live? So should we desire the things of the world? What is another word for "lust"? Desire. Does "fleshly lusts" refer to bodily lust--sexual desire? If "flesh" means our physical body, then Rom. 7:5 is saying we are no longer in our physical bodies, and Rom. 8:8 is saying that no one while still in their physical body can please God. But what does Paul say in Rom. 8:4-5? So we are talking about our old nature. Here in 11, as in Rom. 7 and 8, we see both natures at work in us, doing what? Does that explain much of the frustration in our Christian lives? Does our culture emphasize the virtue of controlling our desires?
12 Who does he mean by "Gentiles"? What is one important reason to show good, consistent Christian behavior? What are two possible results of our example? Evil reports will be found to be false, and unbelievers may be saved. What might happen if Christians are found to have engaged in evil deeds?
13-14 Why did God institute human government? When did He do this? Gen. 9:1-7 (note the basis here for capital punishment--something which many Christians struggle with). What are some examples of human institutions we are to submit to? Some Christians claim we are not subject to laws and taxes; where else does the Bible speak to this issue? Rom. 13:1-7, Mat. 22:21.
15-17 In a nutshell--in two words--what is God's will for us? Here we have the will of God defined. Where do we find God's will? Why might Peter have written 12-17? Apparently some believers, because of poor behavior, were giving Christianity a bad name--is that still a problem? It could also be that false accusations were being made, so because of that, Christians needed to be extra careful not to give them "ammunition." Why is it hard for some, even Christians, to submit to authority? If we find it hard to submit to human authority, will it be easier to submit to God? The problem is PRIDE.
18 Now Peter goes on to speak to servants (different than slaves). What is the main issue he address to servants, 18? Why might this be an issue for them? Were believing servants still required to be in submission to unbelieving masters, or harsh masters? How should Christian employees act toward employers/supervisors that are unfair?
19-20 When suffering unjustly, what are our options? Why might a person choose to submit rather than resist or rebel? Is some suffering brought on by our own sinful or selfish or unwise choices? Does that suffering please God, or is that suffering the punishment God allows via sowing and reaping? So again we find the theme of patient endurance, as we just saw in James and Hebrews.
21 Is this speaking of suffering through the trials of life? Why do we experience that type of suffering? Because sin entered the world. What purpose does 21 speak of? Why does THIS kind of suffering please God? We are not to be surprised when suffering comes our way. If we are not experiencing suffering, we ought to be grateful for God's present mercies, because the situation could change at any time.
That last phrase is the title of a Christian book, In His Steps, which is about trying to live your life exactly as you think Jesus would. There is also a similar popular movement--"What Would Jesus Do"-- where you wear a bracelet that says WWJD, as a challenge to live that way. Is it possible to do that? To a certain extent, but where does this break down? Did Jesus come to show us how to live the ideal human life? Why did He come to earth? His purpose was completely different from our purpose in life: to die for our sin, to show that He was/is God in the flesh, the promised Messiah. Speculating about what Jesus what do in this situation or that is unbiblical, even extra-biblical; instead, we should focus on what the Bible does clearly teach about God's will for our lives. In what specific way does 21 say we are to follow in His steps? A willingness to bear up under suffering for Him.
22-23 We see what Christ looked like, and we see what we are to look like. What great doctrinal statement do we find in 22? Who alone is sinless? Therefore Christ is who? Why did the Lamb of God have to be sinless, disqualifying any MAN? Lev. 22:21. That is obviously not true of us, but how does it apply to us in this instance? (hint: 20) If we obey we will do what is right, rather than sin. When He was being reviled, why did He not revile or threaten in return? What was His purpose in coming to earth? How is God described in 23? We don't have all the answers, but we can always rest on this fact. I like the phrase "keep entrusting"--why do we have to keep on doing it? Why is that so hard to truly do?
24 Does this verse, a quote from Isa. 53:4, teach that all Christians can expect physical healing? The answer can be found be answering some questions. 1) Did Jesus heal everyone, and teach that all could be healed, or did He heal and do miracles to prove He was indeed God in the flesh, the prophesied Messiah, as He claimed? Compare Isa. 35:5-6 and Mat. 11:4-5. The apostles also healed people; does the Bible teach that Christians could now expect healing, or did they heal and do miracles to prove that they were indeed apostles, with God-given authority to teach His message? II Cor. 12:12, Heb. 2:3-4. We have no record of anyone besides apostles exercising the gift of healing. God does continue to provide miraculous healing when it suits His purposes, but we have no evidence that God gave anyone, then or now, the gift of healing all who desire healing.
2) Is the context of both passages about physical illness and healing, or about sin and spiritual death due to sin? Death is the consequence of sin; Christ provides spiritual healing and spiritual life. 24 is the end of a long sentence that began in 21; how does it complete that thought? A submissive attitude even to the point of accepting suffering. Peter contrasts Christ and us; this is made even clearer in Isa. 53:4-5 by reading aloud and emphasizing every pronoun.
25 confirms the context as being of sin, not physical healing; Peter is speaking to those who were lost sinners who have been converted--who have turned to Christ. Where did he get this truth, illustrated by sheep and Shepherd? This comes from the next verse in the same Old Testament passage, Isa. 53:6. Jesus is described as our Shepherd--which can also be translated "pastor"--and Guardian (NASB)/Bishop (KJV)--which can also be translated "overseer" or "superintendent." Peter has been talking about submission, as it applies to servants and masters, and coming up, to wives and husbands. No matter our status in life, all believers are to be in submission to who? Jesus (not our pastor or elders, as some teach).
1-2 Back in 2:13, Peter began talking about submission to human institutions, beginning with government, then addressing servants beginning in 2:18, and now addressing who? God has placed us in many relationships that call for an attitude of submissiveness. Was Jesus submissive to His parents? Why? We are all to be in submission to the Lord. What attitude is the opposite of submission? Rebellion, pride, elevation of Self. In Bible days, wives were expected to take their husbands religion. How were wives who believed to be in submission to husbands who didn't believe?
Does he say all women are to be in submission to men in general? Does he say women are inferior to men? Say a married woman becomes a believer but the husband does not--should she leave him, or is she now his superior spiritually? Are Christian wives to only be submissive to husbands who are believers, or who are godly men? Why? Is the wife to be submissive because the husband deserves it or out of obedience to the Lord? How is this a positive witness to the husband? Does submission imply inferiority? Ought a Christian wife to constantly witness or preach to an unsaved husband or a believer who is not walking as he ought? What if she preaches at him incessantly but her behavior is less than godly and respectful? Do actions speak louder than words? KJV/conversation = behavior. KJV fear = respect. Chaste = pure, innocent, modest, discreet. Peter expands on this concept in the next verses.
3-6 Some Christians think that 3 forbids the wearing of jewelry, but if so, then what else is included? Does this say is it better--more spiritual--to dress plainly and have straight hair? How do motives play into 3? Is he speaking of a woman playing up her sexuality, drawing attention to it? What is contrasted in 3-4? If you happen to be a loud and outgoing woman, can you still have a gentle, quiet spirit? What does that mean? Humble, peaceable. Even if your husband does not value that, who does? We look in the mirror when we "adorn" ourselves; what mirror should we look in for this inner adornment? 5, what phrase is used to describe "the holy women"--who were they? Sarah is our example of a wife who "adorned herself" in this same way. She obeyed him, but was he always right? She honored him by calling him "lord" (as in "sir"), as was the custom in that culture and that day. Are husbands always "worthy" of such honor and submission? If not, can we trust God with this, or do we fear? On the last phrase, one commentary generalized that men are more subject to anger, while women seem more subject to fear/anxiety/alarm/panic; why might submitting to an unsaved husband cause alarm? Can we choose not to be controlled by our fears? So, do what is right, and don't give fear power over you. In other words, do your best and trust God with the rest.
7 Wives in that day had no rights; marriage was not a matter of equality, as today. But Christian husbands were called to a different, higher standard, in what ways? How or why might their prayers be hindered? Is this speaking of "answered prayer"--getting things you ask for--or prayer as fellowship with God? Is a Christian spouse today called to a different, higher standard than what we see happening in our culture? In what way?
8-9 "Finally" (KJV) or "To sum up" (NASB), what are Christians--the church--to look like? Why don't all Christians look like this? Are we to TRY to act like this, or should this be the natural outcome in the life of a believer as he allows the Holy Spirit to work in his life? What blessing were we called to inherit? What should that motivate us to do that goes against our nature?
10-12 Back in 2:21-22, we were admonished to try to live our lives as sinlessly as possible, like Christ--to do good. Now he uses an example from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the righteous must do this and that, must obey God's laws. Those who did were referred to not as Christians but as the what, 12? The rest were called what, 12? All humanity fell into one of those two categories. The righteous were promised what, 10? God required, and rewarded, righteous deeds, and punished evildoers. Salvation is always by faith, but in the Old Testament dispensation of Law, faith was to be demonstrated how? by keeping the Law. Now, in the church age, are we still under the Law? We are under what? Grace--we are in the dispensation of grace. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and are called to be yielded to Him, to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh--to walk in the new nature and not the old nature. Does God still desire obedience from us--the church? Is our salvation dependent on our level of obedience, or our faith in Christ? If we have received Christ, our sins were all forgiven at the cross.
What does 12 teach about prayer? Does God hear the prayer of the unrighteous--the unsaved? Might He answer a prayer for help? But does He promise to answer their prayers? What prayer of the unsaved will He always hear and answer? Might this also apply to prayers of Christians living in unconfessed, unrepentant sin? Eyes/ears/face: Jesus said that God (the Father) is what, John 4:24? If He has no physical body, why does the Bible speak of His eyes, ears, face, arms, hands, fingers, etc? Anthropomorphism is a figure of speech that attributes human qualities to something not human. How can a mortal being with a fallen, sinful nature and mind comprehend an immortal, infinite, holy God? The Bible uses terms that relate our human qualities to God so we can somewhat comprehend what He is like, but what does Isa. 55:8-9 say?
13-14 Harm seems more likely to come to one who is doing wrong than right, but is that always the case? What might even happen, 14? Should we fear this possibility? What does God say about that happening? How should we deal with the fear we have as we contemplate this possibility? Do we have to give in to our fears, about anything? Troubled = agitated (Strong's).
15-17 What does it mean to sanctify the Lord in our hearts? What does it mean when we pray the Lord's Prayer, "Hallowed be Thy name"? Perhaps a clue is in Psalm 16:8, something we do intentionally. In this context, following 14, then "but"--it seems like it is contrasting focusing your attention on your fear vs. focusing on who God is--Lord of your life. What is every Christian to be ready to do? Can even a new believer do this? Do we have to know the Bible backward and forward to do this? It can help to plan ahead and think of how we might give a simple but effective testimony if asked. Are we to argue someone into being a Christian? What happens when we are confrontational?
Are people who have not done wrong sometimes slandered anyway? Why? How should we try to protect ourselves from this possibility? Peter spoke about this back in 2:12,15--apparently this was happening to these believers. Might it be God's will that "bad" or difficult things happen in our lives? Why? Does God pre-plan our lives so we are His robots? He has given all men free will--does He stop people from making wrong choices? But when people choose evil, are God's purposes thwarted? Can He use evil, pain, and suffering in His plan, His big picture? What verse assures us of this? Rom. 8:28. And what does this accomplish? Rom. 8:29.
18-22 As we've been going straight through the Bible, where did we just find "once for all" emphatically taught? Heb. 9-10. What theological term speaks of the just dying in our place--the unjust--and taking our punishment? The substitutionary atonement. The second half of the verse, through 22, are difficult to interpret--many commentators vary here. Wording varies a bit among KJV and others. When did Jesus go to these spirits? Who are they? What did He say to them? How does this relate to baptism and to the context of suffering?
My view is that "spirits," 19, refer to demons/fallen angels, as confirmed in 22. The word "spirits" is not used to refer to humans. 20 relates these spirits to those disobedient in the days of Noah. Following the physical death of His human body, Jesus went down and proclaimed His victory over Satan to these spirits, and proclaimed their subjection to Him, 22. Peter uses this information to explain baptism, 21; like Noah and his family, we are saved--by the water, or by our faith in God? In our case, through faith in the resurrection of Jesus. The water is the outward, public identification with Christ, identifying the saved from the unsaved. Baptism by immersion pictures what? Resurrection life--from death to life.
So we learn that some fallen angels are "in prison." Are all the demons there? Most are roaming the earth serving Satan. They are also referred to in Jude 6. This appears to confirm the fallen angel interpretation of Gen. 6:1-12, as opposed to "sons of God" referring to the supposed "godly line" of Seth. Does the Bible identify this line as "godly"? No; the line of Seth is the chosen line, which will lead to the Messiah's birth, and which will be traced through the Old Testament, but nowhere do we find that ANY line in the Bible is godly. Also, those Christians who do not believe the literal Genesis account the world-wide flood must take the position that Peter is either lying or mistaken here, as is Jesus in Mat. 24:38-39 and Luke 17:27.
What is Peter's point in this passage? He has been talking to these believers about suffering, and continues on with that topic in the next verse. The key must be context, as always. Christ suffered unjustly, for our benefit. He proclaimed the message of truth to those destined for judgment, as did Noah. Is this what we are to also be doing? Even if it results in persecution and suffering unjustly? Are we to publicly identify ourselves as believers, through baptism? Even if it results in persecution and suffering unjustly? What hope keeps us going, even if this happens to us? Even if we keep a good conscience, 21, we may suffer for the name of Christ.
1-2 Because of the previous comments about Christ having suffered in His human state, what frame of mind should equip us for the Christian life? Is sin to be a way of life for the Christian? What is to be our way of life instead? Paul called it walking in the Spirit, in the new man. Why do you think God's will for us includes suffering? When life has been easy, how do we react when that suddenly changes? Might this be saying that those who suffer for Christ is more likely to have put sin behind them and chosen the way of obedience?
3-6 The Gentile Christians used to live how? How do their old friends feel about them? Being vilified by others for our faith and lifestyle is one aspect of persecution. Whether they believe it or not, what awaits them? Does judgment only come after death? Or might this be speaking of the day of judgment including both those who have already died as well as those still alive at that time? Some think 6 is saying that, just as Christ proclaimed His victory to the fallen angels in Hades, 3:19-22, He also preached the salvation gospel to those in Abraham's Bosom, whose spirits He then took to heaven, Psalm 68:18/Eph. 4:8, Isa. 61:1/Luke 4:18). Others think it is speaking of those who heard the message, believed, have already died, and whose spirits are already with God. Still others think it is speaking of preaching to those who were spiritually dead.
7-11 Should the Christian life be about "our best life now" (as Joel Osteen teaches)--me, my life, my concerns, getting God to fulfill my desires? Like Paul, Peter believed what about Christ's return? How should this shape our perspective on the Christian life? What should a Christian look like who is serious about the Lord? Does Christian love blab and expose the sins of others, the sins committed against us? Why might Peter add "without complaining"? 10, what is the purpose of spiritual gifts? Does Peter counsel us to try to discover what our gift is? What does this tell us? What should characterize speaking gifts? What should characterize serving gifts? What should be our attitude in everything?
12-14 Peter returns to his theme of suffering for Christ; what does he call it now? "Fiery trial(KJV)/ordeal(NASB)" can be translated "smelting." Is he talking about suffering from literal fire, or what smelting fire does? What does the fire do, I Cor. 3:12-15? Do we ever think, "I don't deserve this"? Or do we ever look at the trials of others and wonder, "Why didn't that happen to ME instead?" How could greater suffering for Christ equal greater rejoicing and exultation? Compare Acts 5:40-41. Who is with us and indwelling us? So He not only empowers us to live for Him--He also provides blessing in suffering (earlier Peter refers to it as rejoicing). We can't imagine holding up under persecution, but does it come from our own strength? 13, what hope motivates us? Other than persecution, what are some other types of trials that mature us as they burn away our dross? Isn't family life and relationships one of the big ones? Does the Bible promise Christians an ideal, peaceful, loving family? Isn't this one of the big areas that God uses to bring about growth and purification? Do we worry about how our family looks to others? Can God use our imperfect family to help us help others?
15-16 Why would Peter need to remind Christians of the things in 15? What surprising sin does he list along with murder? Do Christians ever suffer for these sins? Did Peter ever suffer for his own sinful behavior? He knows quite a bit about this! Do we ever fail to take the blame for our own sinful behavior? What does it mean to glorify God? Honor, make glorious, magnify. What does "magnify" mean? Cause to appear larger. How would our suffering for Him do this?
17-19 Does judgment here speak of condemnation? Does 17 say some of our sins not have been completely paid for on the cross, and require punishment? NO. Again, what does the fiery trial, 12, do for us? We have seen that God deals with us by maturing us through what process? Will He also deal with the unrighteous? How and when? Is the process of growing through suffering easy or difficult? Compared to what believers go through, what about what sinners will face from God? 19, "therefore," we can do this, based on what previous information? Do we struggle with doing this? Why? So again, what might be part of God's will for us? This is another way of restating Rom. 8:28. No matter how things look or feel, God is doing the right thing in our lives. Is this true even if our trials are the result of our own sin?
1 Who is Peter exhorting now? He bases his authority on what three things? Does he set himself above the others? We have seen numerous other places that apostles were what? On that basis, can there be apostles today? Nor does the Bible speak of future apostles; they can only be of the generation of Jesus Christ. What incident does that last one refer to? Mat. 17:1-8.
2-4 What does he exhort them to do? What did Jesus tell Peter in John 21:15-17? Pastor means shepherd; what is a shepherd--what does he do for his sheep? Feed. Peter spoke of elders in 1, now pastor and overseer, in a way that appears they are pretty much synonymous. They are to do their job NOT in what three ways? But in what three ways? Does 2 say a pastor should not be paid? Who is the Chief Shepherd? It sounds like Peter is assuming He will appear to them--in the rapture--expected in their lifetime. What is this crown called? Who will receive it?
5 Some think these younger (KJV) or younger men (NASB) refer to younger leaders, as opposed to older/elder leaders. Others think it refers to those in the church who are to be subject to the elders of the church; yet not all of these would necessarily be younger. Apparently in the early church, the leaders were older men; why would that be? Today it is popular to have a young pastor; what are the advantages and disadvantages of that? Whoever it is speaking to, what is the important point in this verse? What does "clothe yourself" imply? And since it starts with "likewise," doesn't this appear to be the message of 2-4, even though that word isn't used? This is confirmed by the second part of 5--"all of you." Does that include everyone in the church--all believers? It sounds like these three terms all mean pretty much the same thing: submit, be subject to, be humble. Why is that important? How do pride and humility feel about Self?
6-7 Would "humble yourself" be the same as "clothe yourself"? Does pride want to be "under" the hand of God? When is "due time"? What is "exalt"? To glorify, to make important, to put us at the top? No: to lift up. If God will lift us up when the time is right, what does that imply about now--what is the opposite of "lifted up"? Remember, these believers were struggling with suffering through trials. The Mormons use "exaltation" to mean something completely different--the false doctrine that salvation includes becoming a god.
What is anxiety? Are some people more prone to anxiety than others? Might it include physical symptoms? Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia: "Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior...the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events...Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat...Anxiety is a feeling of fear, uneasiness, and worry, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction..."
Why is it hard to give our anxieties over to God, and leave them with Him? What doubts play into this? How does 7 relate to and complete the thought in 6? If you are not humble, your are what? Which means focused on who (with a magnifying glass)? And if you are hung up on your anxieties, you are focused on who (with a microscope)? So aren't both pride and anxiety symptoms of the same problem? If you have humbled yourSELF before God, and recognize that He indeed has a mighty hand (is sovereign over all), and you are under it, how will that affect your pride or anxiety? Why doesn't it say, "hand your cares to God"--what does "cast" imply? They are heavy, it takes effort!
8-9 So if you have not done 6 and 7, and are focused on SELF, can you do 8? Aren't 6, 7, and 8 another aspect of "God's psychology" that we looked at at the end of James? Are we firm in our faith, or spineless? Are we paralyzed with fear by his prowling and roaring? Not all Christians recognize that Satan is laying snares for them, seeking to deceive them; not all even believe there actually is a devil. Some believe or are taught that we should not think about him; we shouldn't focus on him, but the Bible does warn us about our enemy. What do we learn about his character and strategies? We are also given strategies to deal with him. Does the Bible say we can defeat him? No, but I John 4:4. Also James 4:7-8, Eph. 6:11-16. Do some people resist the Lord and submit to the devil? So are some of our afflictions from Satan? Where do we find evidence of this? Job 1-2. Did God allow Satan to harass Job because he was messing up, or why?
10-11 Pete closes with a prayer for believers. God is the source of grace, which comes to us through who? What does II Cor. 12:9 tell about God's grace? What will God use suffering to do in our lives? Have we seen any of this happening in our lives, through our trials? Could we call this, sanctification? Eternal glory awaits us; how will remembering this help us in our suffering? What are the two most important words in 11? Does this speak to the humility he just emphasized? How does it help us to remember and focus on the characteristics of God?
12 Silvanus is Silas, who we read about in Acts. Apparently he was wrote this letter as Peter's secretary, or he delivered the letter. Could we too be described as faithful? These are believers--why might Peter remind them of the truth of God's grace? What might be causing them to have concerns about God's grace towards them? Truth is a concept today that is not politically correct; religion and faith are permitted, as long as you don't insist that yours is the only right one. If all religions are true, then does truth have any meaning? What distinguishes biblical Christianity from all other religions? Salvation is not by good works.
13-14 Who would "she" be? Hint: not a woman--chosen/elected together with you. The church. Babylon may or may not refer to the city of Babylon; some commentators think Peter is referring symbolically to Rome. Why might he do that? Babylon is associated from Genesis to Revelation with godlessness. Mark is John Mark; what do we know about him? Acts 15:37-39, II Tim. 4:11. Mark not only spent time with both Paul and Peter; what did he write? There are many clues in his gospel that he got his information from Peter as an eyewitness of the life of Jesus. We have read before of the holy kiss, or here, the kiss of love--what kind of love? Christian, not erotic. The kiss was a common greeting of family and friends, on the cheek, forehead, or hand. Christians ought to greet one another with sincere love. What else is for all Christians, 14?--balancing the theme of trials and suffering.
Peter wrote his second letter shortly after his first letter, and shortly before his death. As his theme in the first letter was suffering and persecution, his theme here is warning of false teachers that would arise, similar to Paul's last letter, II Timothy. It is quite similar to Jude; it's not clear which was written first. The key word seems to be "knowledge"--notice forms of the word "know."
1 Why do you suppose Peter might have included his original name "Simon"? (Remember that Jesus changed his name from "Simon" to "Peter.") Why might he have mentioned he was a servant of Christ before he mentioned being an apostle? It was important to establish his authority as an apostle to establish doctrine, because this letter is about false teachers. Writing to those who had received the same kind of faith as them--the apostles--may refer to Jews and Gentiles having the same status in the faith, or it may refer to the Gnostic teachers of that time who claimed that only THEY had the special inside knowledge. Have we today received that same faith as them in that day? What does Peter teach here about Jesus?
2-3 Here again is one of Peter's doctrinally chewy opening sentences. Grace and peace were the typical greeting of Gentiles and Jews, but as we have seen in every epistle, also summarize what we have in Christ. Both are related to what, 2? All believers have God's grace (salvation through Christ) and peace with God; do we experience His peace in everyday life? If not, what is the solution? How might knowing these things affect our prayers, our attitude toward life?
We might see an equation here, kind of like a math equation: what plus what, times what, equals (results in) what? Grace + peace X knowledge = everything we need to live the Christian life! He repeats this important fact: everything we need comes through what? He will stress this over and over in this, his closing comments and his warning against false teachers. What can we conclude from this?
4 God has granted us His promises by His what and what, 3? So is there any chance His promises won't happen? Are the giving of the promises in 3-4 in the past, present or future tense? How should that fact affect our thinking? Peter uses "precious" more than any other New Testament writer, speaking of something of great value. Do we become divine when we become believers? How do we partake of this? When we receive the indwelling Holy Spirit? What does "partake" imply? We are sharers, associates, partners (Strong's). New Agers and other religions also stress the divine nature and promise that we can become gods, or even that all have the divine nature within us and just need to develop it. New Agers call it the "christ consciousness"--they always use "christ" with a small "c."
Are we still affected by the world's corruption? So how have we "escaped" it? What is the end result of it, that we have escaped from? What is the cause of that corruption? Is all corruption due to sexual lust? What else might lust mean? Desire. Isn't the world's corruption actually due to the first sin? How did that first sin relate to lust/desire? Gen. 3:6.
5-7 For WHAT reason (NASB)? Or, besides WHAT (KJV)? What is he referring back to? Everything we need to live the Christian life, including the promises and the partaking of the divine nature? We are to diligently add the next few things to our faith; does God do this in spite of us, or will these develop automatically over time? So do we participate in what God is doing in our lives? What if we don't do this, or do it diligently? So all Christians have faith--at least, enough faith to what? Believe the gospel and be saved. Do all Christians move on to spiritual growth?
What does diligence imply? Do you think this list saying that we need to have each quality down pat before we can go on and work on the next one? Or do these qualities develop in us in this order as we mature? Or does each quality contribute to the next one? Or might it just be a style of writing a list? So if we wonder why we aren't growing, or growing more or faster, how might these verses help us? Temperance (KJV)/self-control (NASB); so according to the Bible, is it possible to control Self? Patience (KJV)/endurance (NASB); not just a matter of keeping your cool, but enduring difficulties, with what kind of attitude? Brotherly kindness would be love of whom? The brethren--other believers. Then love/charity would be to whom? Everyone?
Psychology stresses the important of knowledge too: knowing Self, fulfilling Self, elevating Self--examining Self through a magnifying glass. What does the Bible say about self, 6? Who instead does the Bible say we need to know and elevate and magnify?
8-9 What if you feel useless or unfruitful as a Christian--how do we become useful and fruitful? Peter mentions fruit: this list is quite similar to what Paul calls the fruits of the Spirit. He follows up his list by saying in Gal. 5:25, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." How does that apply to this list? So who brings about these qualities in our lives--us or God? Do we see the term "God's will" in this chapter so far? But is this God's will for us? Can any Christian claim they don't know God's will for their lives? It's all over the Bible! Do all Christians have 20/20 vision, 9? If their long-range vision is bad, what is it out there that they are not looking at? What are they looking at instead, that is up close? If they have forgotten about their cleansing and forgiveness of sin, might they be continuing to live like an unbeliever--to walk in the flesh rather than in the Spirit?
10 Is Peter saying that we might not be certain that we are truly saved? There are several Greek words for "sure" used in the New Testament; some do refer to certainty. But this word has the connotation of stability; how does the rest of this sentence support that thought? Have any of us ever stumbled in our Christian lives? That is no fun; so how can we keep from doing that? By diligently doing the things he has just said. So is stumbling something you do more as a baby or as a grown-up? And how do we mature?
11 Is Peter suggesting that if we do certain things, we can be more sure that we are going to heaven? Obviously not. Is he even talking about going to heaven? Does "kingdom" mean heaven? Scripture does not focus on heaven as a place or a destination. It doesn't actually speak of "going to heaven" when we die or of that being our hope, but we do see some people in heaven. In Revelation we see people in heaven and people being caught up to heaven: in 4-5 we see the church, caught up before the tribulation and represented symbolically by the 24 elders; in 11, the two witnesses being caught up to heaven; and in 19, at the end of the tribulation, just prior to the second coming, we have voices of people in heaven, and we have the bride--the church.
We have the spirits of the Old Testament righteous being taken from Abraham's Bosom, Luke 16:22 to heaven, following the resurrection (Eph. 4:8-10, Heb. 12:23, Rev. 18:20). Following the rapture, the church is in heaven with Christ until the end of what? the tribulation--then we return with Him to this earth, where life will go on in the kingdom for 1,000 more years. Heaven seems to be a temporary home; the eternal home of the bride--the church--is the New Jerusalem, Rev. 21:2, so apparently we travel back and forth between there and earth. Rev. 22 tells of a new heaven and a new earth following the thousand years and the final judgment, and the Bible tells us that the kingdom is an everlasting kingdom--eternal.
Many Bible scholars believe Jesus speaks of both a coming earthly kingdom as well as a present spiritual form of the kingdom; others believe the kingdom Jesus speaks of in the Gospels is the earthly kingdom. John the Baptist preached that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, Mat. 3:2. The Messiah had come and was offering Himself to Israel as their king; if they accepted Him, the kingdom apparently would have been instituted at that time. We are not told to anticipate being in heaven, but rather to anticipate the kingdom of heaven. In that phrase we tend to emphasize the word "heaven" when perhaps we should emphasize the word "kingdom." It is heavenly because it is of God--the Messiah who will rule this kingdom is God in the flesh.
Jesus came to present Himself as the Messiah--the King--meaning the promised kingdom was imminent. But because Israel rejected Him as Messiah/King, the kingdom was postponed and the door to salvation was now opened to the Gentiles. Mat. 13 speaks of the "mysteries" of the kingdom; "mystery" refers to something not previously revealed that is now revealed. Because the kingdom has been postponed, Jesus now reveals what will happen on earth in the meanwhile--what will take place during the church age now that Israel has rejected the Messiah and His offer of the kingdom. Many teach that now, in the church age, the kingdom is present in a spiritual form--within us--but in Mat. 13, Jesus does not tell His disciples that. In Acts 1:6 the disciples (all Jewish) were still thinking that NOW the kingdom would be established. In John 18:36, Jesus said His kingdom is not of which world? this world--it's of the next world, the next age, which will be the kingdom age. In Acts the apostles preached about the kingdom, and in the Epistles, the church is continually pointed to our future hope: the rapture, then the kingdom.
Here in II Pet. 1 we have the term "everlasting/eternal kingdom," promised to David, II Sam. 7:16,29, and to Solomon, I Kings 9:2-5; also found in Psalm 145:13, Isa. 9:7, Dan. 4:3, 6:26, Luke 1:33, etc. Our hope is Christ, not any particular location. We will indeed go to heaven at either our death or the rapture. If it's easier just to think about going to heaven, that's OK; God has a perfect plan and He will take care of everything.
12-13 Do these Christians already know these things he is discussing? Are these ideas merely his suggestions? So what is his concern?
14-15 So why has Peter written this letter--why did he put these teachings into writing? "Shortly" refers more to speed than to "soon." We see the same term in Rom. 16:20 and Rev. 1:1 and 22:6. Does God tell us when or how we will die? Should we expect Him to also tell us such things? No; God spoke to the apostles uniquely, in a way He did not speak to others. What is the implication of his earthly dwelling/tent (NASB/KJV)? How should that affect our thinking and feeling? What were they to be diligent to do, 10? And what is he diligent to do? (KJV, endeavor, same Greek word.) This is why God gave us a written record of the men He spoke through. Neither Peter or Paul write as though more apostles will follow them to continue that role. Both are concerned in their final letters for the future of the church regarding following their teachings. We may not actually forget them, but we need to continually do what? How many times have you seen the "k" word so far? We don't just hope or wonder or think so; we first believe, but then we what? Truth is something we can know; are all beliefs true, as many believe today?
16-18 Who might he have been contrasting himself (and the apostles) with, regarding clever fables? The false teachers of his day, and the Gnostics. Do many today think the Bible is a book of fables and myths? Do many think it is a good book, but not the Word of God without error? The Bible claims to be God's words, without error; if that claim is false, then is it a "good" book? The apostles were what, end of 16? How does eyewitness testimony hold up in a court of law? What incident is the "majesty" he speaks of? How did that incident illustrate both Jesus' power and coming? Compare Mat. 16:28 to 17:1-8. How does Peter refer to God the Father in 17?
19 Here Peter speaks of prophecy, the prophetic word. Where was prophecy found? So is he speaking of how they should look at the Old Testament? How should we look at biblical prophecies? The apostles witnessed the miraculous transfiguration of Christ, 16-18, but what is more sure than miracles or personal experience? He likens God's Word to what? What verse in Psalms does this remind you of? 119:105. It will be dark until when? What day is that? Who is the morning star, Rev. 22:16? So until Christ returns and enlightens us completely, what are we to pay attention to?
20-21 There are certainly many interpretations of Scripture; here is a guideline for correct interpretation. How likely is it that one individual might come up with a new and unique interpretation that the Holy Spirit has never revealed to the church before? God will never reveal something to only one person; beware of "lone rangers" or those with "new" teachings. We are to compare Scripture to Scripture and consider the teachings of solid, trusted Bible teachers. Biblical truth can be confirmed by others. Is this saying that we cannot understand the Bible without a church, or some spiritual leader, to tell us what it means, as some teach?
Who is the author of prophecy? Prophecy here refers to not just predictions, but that which God revealed through the prophets: the Old Testament. Can the Holy Spirit contradict Himself? Can one verse be pulled out of Scripture and say something that the rest of Scripture does not teach? Peter says this fact is primary: first of all. And what is the "k" word here? Here we have the teaching that all Scripture is inspired by God, God-breathed. Yes, men wrote the Bible, but they spoke from God, not write from their own wills. Did they fully understand everything they said and wrote? Did they write as robots, emptying their minds with pen in hand, having no control over what they said? Some claim to use this method to hear from God; occultists also use this method to hear from spirits. What does Zech. 7:12 say about the prophets?
1 Remember that in the original manuscripts, there were no chapter breaks; those were added by editors. So to get the context, read 1:20-21 and then go on to 1. Peter is contrasting true prophecy and false prophecy; he is also likening false prophets in the Old Testament Scripture to what in the church? We did see those given the supernatural spiritual gift of prophecy in Rom. 12:6, I Cor. 12-14; in Eph. 2:20 we see that the apostles and prophets served what purpose in the early church? They laid the foundation; they don't have an ongoing role. Rather than false prophets, the church was warned about who? If God had been planning to continuing to speak through those with the gift of prophecy, wouldn't the New Testament have been continually added to over the centuries?
But the canon of Scripture is complete; God is not continuing to speak. In I John 4:1, the church is warned that there will indeed be false prophets, but he doesn't counter this by saying that there are true prophets. We don't have scriptural evidence that prophesying will continue in the church past that early foundational period. In Revelation, after the church has been removed and God is once again dealing with Israel, we see Him speaking through prophets again, in contrast with the false prophet who accompanies the beast.
Are the teachers mentioned here true believers that are off in some doctrines? How do we know they are not true believers? But in order to be seen as teachers, won't they appear to be? Will their false teaching be obvious to all? We all hope that if we experience persecution, we will not deny our Lord; is that what is meant here by denying the Lord? Does "the Lord/Master who bought them" mean they are believers? Did Christ's blood buy everyone's salvation, or only those who accept Him? No; however, Calvinists say He only died for the elect. Jesus is the Savior of the world; He takes away the sin of the world. Just as the Lord's return will be swift, so the destruction of the wicked will be swift. Does God send them to hell, to destruction? How do they get there?
2-3 What are some of their characteristics? Are they inadvertently leading us astray, or do they know exactly what they are doing? Do we see much of this in the church (the "visible" church). Is truth being compromised? Do some people ridicule or marginalize those who are concerned about truth and error? They value unity over truth; what does that do to the church? The last two phrases echo the end of 2:1--speed, taking place quickly.
4-10 This long sentence stretches from 4 to mid-10, so to get the full sense, you have to read the whole thing first, before you can break it down into smaller chunks. "For if...and...then...and..." ("If" is used in the sense of "since.") What is the main point, in 9 (two parts--regarding the godly and the unrighteous)? Doesn't 10a seem to speak of the unrighteous he mentioned up in 2-3? And what is our evidence that the Lord knows how to do these things? He gives five examples--three of judgment and two of rescue.
Who was judged in 4? What angels would those be? All wicked angels? Obviously not--the Bible records much demon activity following that time period. Is this the same thing Peter talked about in I Peter 3:19-20? If so, hell/pits of darkness would be the prison spoken of in 3:19. "Hell" here is the word "tartarus," only used in the Bible here: the deepest part of hell, the abyss. 4-5 seem to be speaking of one topic, beginning with "for if"--the next "and if" begins in 6. Some think this passage is speaking of spirits/angels that sinned in the time before the flood, Gen. 6. Who else was judged at that time, and how, 5? Who was rescued from that? What was he doing while he was preparing the ark?
Who was judged in 6-8? How? Why? Who was rescued in that situation? How is he described three times in 7-8? Do we ever get this impression about him by reading Genesis? So Peter's account rounds out our understanding of Lot and his situation. Does being righteous in God's eyes mean he always lived godly? Did Abraham? So we need to keep this in mind when we read the Old Testament accounts. Are some of us like Abraham, or even Lot? Do we read of ANY incidents in Lot's life that are examples of his righteousness? Does he look a lot like the world? Is he what the Bible calls a carnal/fleshly believer, someone who remains a spiritual baby, I Cor. 3:1-3, 15? Some teach that if you are truly saved, it will be obvious to others, that your life will clearly show forth your salvation, that a true Christian will make Christ Lord of all his life; what does this passage say about that? What can we learn from Lot, and even be encouraged by his story?
Because of these five examples, what two things can we know about God, 9? Does this teach that in any difficult situation, God will pull us out before it gets very bad? Is God ABLE to do that? Does this promise that He will? Might believers suffer along with the wicked? Does this say God might keep believers from being tempted to sin? "Temptation" here is more like adversity--situations that will "try" us. This is the same word and thought in the Lord's Prayer: "lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
Or is Peter pointing to the endtimes? Is he speaking of the final judgment of mankind, or of the judgment God will pour out on the earth in the last days? 10, how does this long sentence (4-10) relate to what was said just before it (1-3)--who was he just talking about? So all unbelievers will be judged, but 10 sounds like punishment will be especially severe for what kind of sin?
Mid-10-11 (the new sentence, beginning with "Daring/Presumptuous") Who is the subject here--who was just spoken about, 9-10? Do these follow God's will, or whose will? How do they display their lack of humility? Apparently "dignities" in the KJV is translated "angelic majesties" in the NASB because of the clarifying and contrasting statement that follows. If these teachers are reviling angels, would that be the good angels or the fallen angels? Interestingly, "angels" in the next phrase uses a different word for angels, that of "messenger"; do these appear to be good angels or fallen angels? These angels, though great than men, do not speak of them this way to the Lord.
What does this tell us about speaking about Satan and the demons? Are we to ridicule and belittle them? Even though they are evil, they are not cartoon characters to revile, slander, or make light of; they are a higher order than us, and we are to respect their what and what? Those who engage in "spiritual warfare" claim we can confront them, order them around, rebuke them, even cast Satan out; is this so? These are guilty of arrogance and presumptuousness, just as those in Peter's day. Compare James 4:7, Eph. 6:13-18. Peter also spoke about angels back in 4; we are getting a little insight into the world of angels, both good and bad.
12 Who is Peter speaking of, "But these"? How does he contrast them to the angels, 11, great in might and power? He says animals were created as creatures of instinct, not of reason. Men may use them for various purposes, which may involve killing them; how are false teachers like animals? Do they act out of reason and knowledge, or on their baser, animalistic instincts? And what is their end? Death--physical and spiritual. Besides being unreasoning, what else are they like? Peter used this same word about them in 10: reviling/speaking evil of. This seems to be one of their characteristics. The KJV seems clearer than the NASB on the next phrase. KJV: "and shall utterly perish in their own corruption." NASB: "will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed."
Today many are into animal rights; what does the Bible have to say about this? Animals were created to be under man's dominion, Gen. 1:24-28, 9:3, Prov. 12:10. What happens if we under-protect them? What happens if we over-protect them? Do animals think like humans? Many people humanize animals; they can indeed think, but not reason like humans. Why might some people want to believe that animals can indeed think like us? What do evolutionists believe about man's origins? It seems logical that they must either believe animals are more like us than we think, or else that we are more like animals than we think--acting on animal instinct rather than on higher planes of reasoning. How does that support the humanistic, anti-God religious views of evolutionists? Many today say that pets are actually members of the family in the same way that children are, that buying and selling pets, even horses, is unethical. But the Bible is clear that humans and animals are completely distinct; only man is created in God's image.
13 What wages, or reward, will the unrighteous receive? Where else does the Bible speak of the wages of sin? Rom. 6:23. Are wages a gift, or do you earn them? Who is trying to earn their way to heaven--those who reject what? The next sentence (NASB) or phrase (KJV) tells a little more about these false teachers. Looking at the Greek for "riot"(KJV)/"revel"(NASB is interesting in the light of America's moral decline: to enfeeble the body or mind by indulgence effeminacy, luxury, debauchery, riot, delicately. Do they hide their sin in the darkness of night? What might "daytime" imply? They flaunt it openly. Wrong is now called right, black is white and white is black.
So is Peter speaking of false teachers in the sense that these are believers who are off in some of their theology? These are unbelievers, but in what way do they differ from most unbelievers? They pretend to be what? Why would that be--what is their purpose? Could Christians really be fooled by such people? Are many churches full of people who think they are Christians but are not (according to the Bible's definition)? We might think that Peter is warning especially of those who will be on the scene as the endtimes approach, but throughout the history of the church, there has always only been a remnant that stayed true to God's Word--that did not distort it with humanism or by mingling it with other religious or pagan practices.
The second half of 13 begins a long sentence that goes through 16. First read the entire sentence. 13, first, they are described here as what? Are stains easy to remove? "Blemish" has the idea of a disgraceful person. Again Peter speaks of their reveling, this time with the idea of sporting; what does that tell us about their deceptions? It's a game, it's fun. Do they make people feel bad about this deception game? They do it by entertaining. Does any of this sound like anything going in the church today?
14 Do you ever hear of any of these preachers indulging themselves, even in sin, even sexual sin? They cannot cease from sin--why? Can we? Sometimes we may think we can't, but the Bible says we can choose. With what two parts of the body do they sin? How do those two relate? What do we learn about their hearts--are they simply untrained in the ways of righteousness? "Covetousness" here includes fraudulence, extortion; what does that tell us about them? They don't just happen to do evil now and then; there is intent to do evil, and they exercise/train/practice it. They know what they are doing. What kind of people do they catch in their trap? Those who vacillate, who are not "fixed"--on what? They are not children of God but children of what? Does this mean God put a special curse on them, or what curse? The curse of sin.
15 Did they just happen to miss the turn onto the right road, or do they just miss the right way now and then? Forsake: abandon, leave behind. They not only intentionally forsake the right way; what else? They intentionally "follow" the wrong way: imitate, obey, yield to. The rest of the sentence tells about that wrong way; what is it? Wages speak of what? Are the false teachers today unknowns with little groups of followers? Why--what are they generally after? Was Balaam able to curse Israel? But why did he keep trying? Instead, what was his devious counsel--how did he help bring God's wrath on them "through the back door" so to speak? Intermarry with them, which would bring in idolatry. How does this speak to the church today?
16 Did Balaam disobey God ignorantly or willfully? Did God stop him from sinning, from disobeying? Will He stop us? Why not? Read the account of Balaam, Num. 22-24. He is from Mesopotamia, on the Euphrates. Perhaps the father's name is given because he was a well-known diviner, thus Balaam shared this fame; perhaps this city was known for the occult. What does the Bible say about that occult practice? He had a reputation for being a good one; who was he in contact with? Was he an Israelite? Was he a prophet of God, gone bad? So was he a pagan? Now he contacts the God of this people; does he believe in the God of the Israelites? Might he already know something about Him? Did he speak God's message? Did he do it for financial gain? Did he have knowledge of the true and living God, His words and His ways? What miracle did God do to rebuke him and convince him he was dealing with the true and living God? Did he become a believer? Did he "kind of" obey God? Did he give God's message out of a sincere heart for God? Could God have stopped his madness, his foolhardiness? Why didn't He? He permits sinful man to do what is in our hearts and wills. Can God use people's sin, and unbelievers, in His sovereign plan, or does sin thwart His plans? This story is ambiguous and disconcerting; do you see how Balaam pictures the false teachers Peter warns of?
17-19 What do these false teachers promise but not deliver, 17? How does 17 clarify that they are not true believers who are just mistaken or confused in some areas? In 18, what do these terms speak of: arrogant, vanity, fleshly desires, sensuousness/wantonness? We saw the first two in Balaam; how do we see the last two in Num. 31:15-16? Following the story of Balaam, read of the next incident in 25:1-9. So how is Balaam an example of what Peter is warning about? And who else fits this picture, back in Gen. 3? How does he bait us? Do you think the rest of 18 and 19 is speaking of fleshly believers (baby or carnal Christians), or of unbelievers who think they are Christians but aren't truly saved, who are looking for an alternative to the evil world but who instead fall for religious deception? Do we see both these around us? Can we always tell which they are?
20-22 These verses speak of unbelievers, so apparently "they" in 20 is the false teachers, not their deceived followers. Does 20 say they are saved? We know they are not, but what do they have, 20 and 21? Does that save you? What does? Faith. Why is it better for an unbeliever never to have known the truth, than to know it and turn away? The terms "better" and "worse" speak of degrees of punishment, although we don't know what that means; other verses also speak of this. Can a pig wash up and look good temporarily? But what will always happen? Sometimes it's hard to tell if someone is a false teacher unless you watch them over a long period of time; might they say lots of things that ARE good and true and biblical? Why would they do that? Which is more effective, a "Trojan horse" or someone who is obviously false or evil?
1-4 In contrast to the false teachers Peter has been talking about, how does he refer to the people he is writing to, 1? Why do they (and we) need a reminder? So we know the early church had previously been taught about these matters. He continues his warning about false teachers, calling them what, 3? And specifically those in what time period, 3? What are these mockers like, 3, as we learned in the previous chapter? In this last chapter of his final letter, he addresses that specific time period: events concerning the final days before Christ's return. Peter has packed a lot into these verses; let's look at some details.
2 The words: do the actual words of the Bible have meaning? Hence, the Bible teaches that we are to interpret its words in a normal, grammatical, historical meaning. The words of the prophets refer to what part of the Bible? The Old Testament. The words of the apostles: what we now have in written form as part of the New Testament. At the writing of this letter, were their teachings already considered as equal in authority to the Old Testament? Do we need to know both? Was God's plan for the endtime taught in the Old Testament? These were not new or novel concepts.
3 Know: this issue is something Christians need to be knowledgeable about, and CAN know for sure. First: this is of primary importance! Beware of those (teachers/preachers, churches, "Christians") who approach to the written Word is disdain, skepticism, mocking, scoffing, particularly regarding prophecy and the rapture.
4 Where is the promise of His coming: ridiculing the blessed hope, the promise of the rapture. What is the doctrine of imminence? That Christ come return at any moment--nothing needs to happen first on the prophetic timeline. Do we see Christians, teachers and preachers mocking this today? Were they looking for Christ's return in their day? So they needed this warning, as do we. Who were "the fathers"? The patriarchs.
All continues as from the beginning: it is interesting that Peter uses this language. The theory of evolution is based on this concept, called "uniformitarianism." Evolutionists believe "the present is key to the past," meaning that since we see very slow, gradual geologic change, and very slow (actually, non-existent) evolution of species, that change always happened at this rate; therefore, at this rate, billions of years were necessary to bring about today's world. It's interesting that Peter links this topic to the endtimes; a literal understanding of biblical creation was not seriously questioned until quite recently when Darwin came on the scene, in the mid-1800s.
Evolution is not based solely on scientific evidence, but rather is an interpretation based on "naturalism"--the denial of anything supernatural; i.e., there is no God, so God cannot be the source or cause of anything in our world or universe. Naturalism is not based on scientific evidence; it is a religious belief system--the religion of humanism. Within the church, is biblical (six-day) creation questioned, minimized, even ridiculed? Are some willing to compromise their view of the Bible in order to accept evolution and long ages, to try to harmonize the Bible with so-called "science"? Why are so many Christians willing to accept the veracity of scientists over the veracity of Scripture?
Does Peter teach the flood was universal, or was it merely a little local flood, as Christians teach that have compromised on evolution? If the flood was not universal, then not only is Genesis falsified, but Peter was either lying or mistaken, and so was Isaiah, Isa. 54:9, and so was Jesus, Mat. 24:37-39. The fossil record points to rapid burial in a universal flood, not death over millions of years. The only reason to accept long ages over six-day creation and the universal flood is to accommodate some form of evolution, yet if any form of evolution is true, death came before sin, and the Bible is false, which says death is the result of sin. If death is not the result of sin, then why would Jesus have to die to deliver us from eternal death?
5-6 The heavens and the earth exist by what means? Creation ex nihilo = created out of nothing. The NASB says "it escapes their notice"; did they just happened to overlook something? KJV, "they are willingly ignorant"; have they made a choice? NASB, "formed out of water and by water," what does the first "water" refer to? Gen. 1:2,6-10. What is the second reference to water? The waters of the flood destroyed and reformed the earth's features through great hydraulic processes; the evidence is all around us today. Amazingly, God showed Peter that this issue would be a central controversy in the church in the last days.
7 But: Peter refutes these mockers with reminders of clear endtimes teaching from the Old Testament, Isa. 66:15, Zeph. 1:18, 3:8. Again, what power is responsible? The ancient world was destroyed by what? The present world will one day fall under God's what? And be destroyed by what? So this will happen at the time of the final judgment. What two Old Testament events foreshadow the righteous being removed before judgment falls on evil men? The flood; Sodom and Gomorrah.
8 The scoffers of 4 had caused some doubt in these believers. Do many people, even us, wonder about that same thing? What is Peter's answer? How does our concept of time differ from God's? Does he say 1 day = 1000 years, and 1000 years = 1 day? Is he giving a mathematical formula for interpreting Bible prophecy, or even the days of creation? Some teach this. What word tells us this is not so? "Like" indicates a simile, a figure of speech comparing two things, showing similarities. So what IS Peter explaining, in the light of what the scoffers say? We cannot grasp what it is like to be outside time; God is not like us. What does His name, "I AM," say about past/present/future?
9 We look forward eagerly to being caught up with the Lord, and wonder what is slowing Him down, even though evil grows in the world; what is Peter's explanation? God has made promises; will they all happen? What is God's primary motive--to remove us from this wicked world as soon as possible, or to save as many as possible from eternal death? Some think the Bible indicates that God is waiting for a certain number to come to salvation; others think He knows who will be saved, and is waiting for all those individuals.
How does this verse refute Calvinism's teaching that God has chosen/elected certain people to be saved, and they will be saved regardless of their own desires and choices, that nothing we can do will bring about salvation, that free will does not enter in at all? According to this verse, what is God waiting for? People must come; the Bible says we must believe, receive, exercise faith, repent--all these require the exercise of our free will, our choices. Otherwise, God could just save these people without waiting for them to come. So does everything God wills, happen? Why not? His ideal will does not always happen, because He has given us permission to sin--free will--hence we also speak of His permissive will--what He permits us to do.
10 Because of the skepticism spoken of in the previous verses, it seems like Peter might be emphasizing "will." Then he elaborates on that thought--how it will come. The day of the Lord, which we have discussed every time it has come up in Scripture, encompasses what events? The tribulation and the millenium. A thief is not a welcome person; will this happen to the church like a thief in the night? Why not? We will be gone before the tribulation starts! So are the scoffers right, or WILL the Lord return? And WILL everything continue as it has always been? So this verse takes us from the rapture to the final judgment, Rev. 20:11-15, and then to what, Rev. 21:1? Why would even the elements be destroyed? The new heavens and earth must be made of something eternal, incorruptible, just as our new bodies will.
11-13 Some Christians think it is a waste of time to study and teach about endtimes events, but rather to focus on the here-and-now; what does the Bible say about this? Was the early church taught about and focused on the return of Christ? Did they expect Him in their lifetimes? How should this affect our conduct? Is God's plan that we focus on getting God to fulfill our daily desires, such as for wealth, health and success, as many teach? What does He desire for us, 11? Can we do this regardless of our level of health, wealth or success? Can Christians in poverty or persecution do this? Hastening: urging on diligently and earnestly, to speed or study, awaiting eagerly. How is this like praying the Lord's Prayer, Mat. 6:10? When does His kingdom come? In the light of 9, how might we possibly be able the influence the speedier coming of the day of the Lord?
The world (those without Christ) has always been looking for an earthly utopia. New Age beliefs and practices are geared toward bringing in that new age. This is behind today's push for globalism, the one-world government, the new world order. This is the agenda of the liberal elite, who use various crises to try to bring this about. The current issue is climate change; fear of global climate disaster is played up, with the only solution being global economic restrictions, which can best be implemented, administered and enforced by global leadership. The ground is being laid for what prophesied person to step into this position?
14 How does 14 compare to 11? What does this repetition tell us? 11 says holy conduct and godliness; how does 14 explain what that means? What does "diligent" mean? What does "found by Him" imply? Does Peter expect his readers will see the return of the Lord? When we look ahead at these things that are about to happen, are we in peace, are we at rest? Or do we experience fear, worry, dread? If so, how can we change that response to peace and rest?
15-16 How does the first phrase of 15 compare to 9? Again, what does this repetition tell us? And hasn't the church always desired to see the Lord's return NOW? We need the balance of God's perspective. How does this help us answer those who criticize or doubt God because He allows evil, pain, death, and suffering, even to children? How does praying the Lord's Prayer balance these two ideas, Mat. 6:10? What do 15-16 tell us about Paul's letters? They were already considered as what, end of 16? (compare 3:2) Were some of Paul's teachings hard to understand because Paul is deep and over our heads? Rather, who is--where did Paul get his teachings? Are some of Peter's teachings likewise hard to understand, for the same reason? After reading Gal. 2:11-21, we might wonder about the relationship of these two men; how does Peter feel about Paul?
Is Peter speaking of unlearned Christians having trouble understanding the Bible? Who is he speaking of? Those scoffers and false teachers he has been warning about. He says they are ignorant, unstable, vacillating (wavering back and forth between different opinions). What do they do to God's Word? Wrest, distort, pervert, wrench, torture (as by the rack). Can even Christians twist God's Word?
Does Peter teach that in the future, following the time of the apostles, there must be a human leader of the church who will continue to receive new doctrinal revelation from God? Have we read anything from Peter, or about Peter, that would lead us to believe he was the first pope, or even the head apostle, or any exalted position, or that others would follow in his exalted position? Peter did not teach salvation by works, praying to anyone besides God, receiving Christ by ingesting His actual body and blood, that priests have the power to turn physical elements into the actual body of Christ, or that there is any need for priests. Rather, Peter warned against false teachers, against those who would twist the Word of God.
17-18 Is the Christian life about do's or don'ts? Peter closes his final letter with a negative and a positive. The Bible warns us about how things will go downhill before the Lord's return, and we see it happening around us. Why not just close our eyes to all that negativity in the Bible and the world? God has foreknowledge of everything that happens, before it happens; do we have some too? Why does God tell us these things? Does Peter say we might lose our salvation? But might we be led away, carried away, by error? Do we sometimes feel shaky, less than stable, in our faith, our trust, our walk with the Lord?
What is the solution to that danger? Does Peter make it sound like spiritual growth is a suggestion, an option, for those believers who want something more than just the insurance policy? What does it mean to grow in grace? How might we do that? What does it mean to grow in knowledge of the Lord? How might we do that? Head knowledge is not enough; salvation is to know Him personally, in a personal relationship. Does spiritual growth happen naturally over time if we just wait long enough? Does God force us to grow? Does it have anything to do with choices? Might Christians be at many different levels of growth and maturity? Growing in grace and knowledge of Him results in what? Peter's final phrase reminds us not to focus on just this life but to have God's Big Picture.
Copyright 2015 Jan Young
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