1, 2 Peter, Jude
1 Peter 1: Living Hope
Peter writes to “exiles,” those Jews who were dispersed throughout areas well away from Jerusalem. His overall message is geared toward helping these Christians understand their need to be ready and willing to suffer for Christ. Yet in this first chapter, Peter begins with the “living hope” that comes through the resurrection of Jesus. That hope points to an inheritance reserved in heaven, one that cannot be defiled. This hope is cause to rejoice, even though their faith would be tested as through the fire. Salvation will be the final result. Knowing what is coming both presently and eternally, Christians need to have minds prepared for action, obedience, and holiness. Christians are purchased by the blood of Christ, who has purified souls for obedience to the truth and sincere love. All of this is based upon the enduring word of God.
1 Peter 2: A Holy Nation
Peter continues the theme of being holy. Here he uses temple imagery. God’s people come to Jesus who was a living stone rejected by men, but became the cornerstone of His house. Christians are living stones in this house offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God. Those many stumble over Christ, God’s people are “a chosen race, A royal priesthood, A holy nation, A people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (v. 9). Because of this, God’s people abstain from evils that wage war against the soul. Further, they are submissive to authorities, not wishing to use freedom to do evil. The example to follow is always Jesus, who committed no sin and yet gave Himself for our sins.
1 Peter 3: Make a Defense
Peter shows concern for various relationships that are affected by being Christians. Wives are to be in subjection to husbands with the goal of winning them to Lord. They are to see the value of the “hidden person of the heart” as opposed to outward adorning. Husbands are live with wives in an understanding way, showing them honor. All are to have a unity of mind and show love, tenderness, and humility. The idea here is to live in a way that shows the attitude of Jesus. This must begin by setting apart Jesus in the heart, being ready to make a defense for those who ask. This is done both verbally and in the way we live our lives. Christ suffered “that he might bring us to God” (v. 18). Our response in baptism was to appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus.
1 Peter 4: Arm Yourselves
Because Christ suffered, Christians are to be armed with the same mindset. They have spent enough time in the past engaged in ungodly behaviors. Since the end is coming, God’s people are to be self-controlled and sober-minded, showing love and willing to serve. All that they do is intended to bring glory to God. This includes suffering, so they should not be surprised when persecution arises. They are to take the insults and share in the suffering of Christ, glorifying God in wearing Christ’s name. They are not to suffer for being evil. “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (v. 19).
1 Peter 5: Humble Yourselves
One of the means through which God helps His children is through godly elders. Such men are to shepherd the flocks over which they serve, not as Lords, but as examples. They know that when Jesus, the Chief Shepherd, appears, they will receive the “unfading crown of glory” (v. 4). All are to be humble servants of God, knowing that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (v. 5). In humbling ourselves, we are casting our anxieties upon Him, also knowing that He cares for us. Christians are to be sober and watchful because the adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion is seeking to devour. We are to resist him, firm in faith, knowing that others are also suffering. If we remain faithful, God will “restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
2 Peter 1: Divine Power
Peter is concerned with proper growth in Christians. He begins by affirming that God’s divine power has granted to us all things pertaining to life and godliness, and that this comes through the knowledge of Him. He has called His people to His glory and excellence, and He has given great promises so that we can become partakers in His divine nature. In doing so, we escape the corruption of the world and add to our faith the various characteristics described: virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. By adding and practicing these qualities, we may avoid stumbling. We need reminders and we need the confidence that comes through the message of the apostles as they were inspired by the Spirit to give us the will of God.
2 Peter 2: False Prophets
Peter distinguishes between was produced by the Holy Spirit’s guidance from the errors of false teachers who secretly bring in destructive heresies. They will exploit others to further their own cause. Yet God will not allow them to escape judgment. God will judge the wicked and save His own people. Nevertheless, the faithful need to be aware of the methods of such teachers, for “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.” Christians must always be aware and watch so that they can avoid being tricked by men like these.
2 Peter 3: The Day of the Lord
Peter has already indicated that judgment would be coming, particularly for the false teachers. There were those who were mocking the concept, arguing that everything just continues as always. Yet they forget that God has, in fact, brought judgment before in the flood, and Peter shows that God will judge the world again. This time, however, it will not be by water, but fire. The present heavens and earth are kept in reserve for this judgment, and the Lord will come as a thief in the night. That destruction will make way for a new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells. God does not want any to perish, but for all to repent. Once we do so, we may then look ahead to the coming of Christ, being diligent to found blameless in Him.
Jude is much like 2 Peter. He wanted to write about the common salvation shared by Christians, but found it necessary to urge believers to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. This is because there were certain, ungodly men coming in among God’s people and turning the grace of God in a license to sin. As in Peter, these false prophets were empty, but they were causing hurt among the people of God. However, God still calls upon the faithful to persevere by “building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,” and keeping “yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” We also strive to pull others out of the fire through which they will lose their souls. We must always entrust ourselves to God to remain faithful and true.