033 - The Resumption of 2 Peter – Review and Overview [A]
The Resumption of 2 Peter – Review and Overview
2 Peter Lesson #033
October 22, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to come together to focus upon You, to be reminded that we live in a dangerous world because it is Satan’s world. He is the prince of the power of the air and the god of this age. Father, we know that he seeks to have his way with this nation, he seeks to have his way in destroying the testimony of the Church, the true, biblically grounded church in America.
“There are so many pastors and so many seminaries and theologians that are so confused and so distracted. They have no idea what they’re talking about and they call it Christianity. Father, we pray that You would just expose that and Father, we pray that You would protect us as a congregation from the evil that is around us and that we might continually recognize we are not to be conformed or pressed into the mold of the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
“We know we need to have wisdom and discernment that comes from a study of Your Word, only comes from being able to analyze the culture around us in light of Your Word so that we can see the dangers and the errors through God the Holy Spirit. We pray that we can avoid these errors and we can be faithful to You. And Father, we pray that You would guide and direct us in our study this evening. In Christ’s name. Amen.”
Let’s open our Bibles to 2 Peter 1. Tonight, what we’re going to do is resume our study of 2 Peter so we need to have a review and an overview because the last lesson which was Lesson #32 was taught on Thursday, March 19, 2020.
My, has our world changed in those seven months or so. It’s been 31 weeks. That was the first Thursday night the week after the Chafer Conference and just before we started the lock down. I started a series related to the COVID crisis and how to handle crises in our lives and things of that nature.
That covered about a month. Then we took time looking at how we should vote, going through a biblical framework for voting. That took us up until two or three weeks ago so I need to take time to go back and review everything that I had taught in the time I had been teaching 2 Peter, those 32 lessons, so that was not quite a year so we are resuming this but we need to have a review.
I’ll just say this much as sort of a summary intro into this is that as we look at 2 Peter, the guts of this book, the core of this book, which really comes in 2 Peter 2, is a warning against false teachers and the impact false teaching has on a congregation. 2 Peter 2 is extremely important and the issues that lead up to it, the prep that leads up to it is what we’re going to see and what was seen in the first chapter has to do with being spiritually prepared to handle the test of exposure to false teaching and to false teachers.
This was not a conscientious approach on my part. It was the Holy Spirit. It has nothing to do with me. I was amazed at how many times we went through things that related to and emphasized the inerrancy of Scripture, the divine origin of Scripture, and the sufficiency of Scripture which, of course, is central to 2 Peter 1:3–5.
It emphasizes the importance to us of Scripture as the foundation of the spiritual life and that is what this text is really talking about. That’s what undergirds it. However, you read it, you have to read it in that light because that’s what the chapter ends with in 2 Peter 1:20–21, focusing on the fact that no prophecy is given by human interpretation because no prophecy ever came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
That’s what it’s driving towards, the importance of Scripture, so that when you get to 2 Peter 2 there’s no break. Remember there’s no pause. There’s no chapter break. There’s no changing of the page or anything between the last verse of chapter 1 which is verse 21 and the first verse of chapter 2.
If we read it in context, it reads that “Prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit …” There were also false prophets among the people. The Old Testament even says there will be [future tense] false teachers. Notice that it’s prophets in the Old Testament and teachers in the New Testament.
It’s implied there that there’s not going to be a permanent gift of prophecy in the New Testament, but there will be false teachers among them who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bringing on themselves destruction. It all drives in that direction so that’s the focal point here.
Now let’s just go back to the basic outline structure of the Epistle. The first chapter is easy. It’s a three-chapter Epistle. It’s not long and it can easily be broken down chapter by chapter. The first chapter is God’s will for us to grow to spiritual maturity. Only when we grow to spiritual maturity will we understand the Word and apply the Word. That’s when we can handle the challenges of life. One of the challenges of life is false teaching. Not just false teaching but false thinking.
If we look around us today false thinking has captured so many people in this country. They’re not just in love with false teaching but they’re in serious hate with biblical Christianity. They despise it and those of us who teach it. There is such an evil hatred and antagonism to biblical truth now that it’s palpable.
It’s God’s will for us to grow spiritually so we must be prepared for that caste of the false teachings, of false views, and false ideas. We’re warned about those in 2 Peter 2. We’re warned about those and told how God will judge these false teachers.
One of the things we’ll see more and more as we get into 2 Peter 2 is how it’s parallel to what we find in the Book of Jude. There is only one chapter in Jude. Jude was written somewhat later than 2 Peter. Peter is warning this church that these evil teachers are future. There is a lot of debate over that. I’ll get into it once I get into chapter 2. Generally, he’s talking in the future tense and then he shifts to present tense before long. So, there’s debate over whether these false teachers are already on the scene. Some people say no, they’re yet future.
Jude writes about them in the present tense. I think what’s happening, my solution to that conundrum, is they’re not present with the group Peter is writing about but they’re already on the scene generally. Peter is warning them that they’re coming, and they haven’t faced it yet but they will.
After the introduction, Peter says they [false teachers] will come and he talks about what they’re going to be teaching in the present tense. We’ll have some fun going back into the Old Testament because he’s going to illustrate his points with different events from the Old Testament. Some of these events are not too well understood.
He talks about Balaam and not too many people know a lot about him, so we’ll go back to that. That will be covered in the second chapter, and in the third chapter God, through Peter, refutes specific false teaching, such as there being no future return of Christ.
There’s a significance to that because if there’s no future return of Christ, then there’s no future evaluation either of the believer or the unbeliever. If there’s no future return of Christ, there’s no real endgame. If there’s no real endgame there’s no motivation for obedience and that just leads to a collapse of morality.
That is exactly what is the major part of the heresy here. It’s saying that ideas have consequences, and all ideas have ethical consequences. Even if you don’t see the connections between somebody’s ethical ideas when you go to university and listen to some philosophy professor who is talking about abstract theories you may not see the connections to ethics, but they’re all there. Ideas have consequences.
Good ideas have good consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences. These heretical teachers are going to come with bad ideas that produce bad consequences. Ethical chaos is in the church and so there is a warning in 2 Peter 3 of the future coming of the Day of the Lord and the need to be steadfast in 2 Peter 3:14, “Therefore beloved, looking forward to these things …” In other words, in light of these things that will come in the future.
"Therefore, beloved looking forward to these things [in light of these things that will come in the future] be diligent to be found in Him in peace, without spot or blemish …” That pretty much gives us an overview that we are to grow spiritually as the Epistle ends in 2 Peter 3:18, “In the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If there is one thing, two things that are being attacked in terms of false teaching within the church today, it’s grace and knowledge. Very few people really understand God’s grace and there is such anti-intellectualism in the church. What I mean by anti-intellectualism is that they are against using the intellect for its proper purpose which is for us to think. If you don’t know how to think and you don’t want to think, and you won’t learn how to think, then you’re going to be deceived by anybody who comes along.
You’re going to end up making horrible decisions in your life because you have never learned how to objectively evaluate the issues that you face in life. That’s why it’s so important to develop that intellect. But everybody today wants to be entertained in church. You have forty minutes of entertainment first. Everyone’s emotionally exhausted when that’s over so all they can stand is a twenty-minute sermonette. Then everybody goes home and thinks that they had something, but it was just spiritual fast food. It’s analogous to eating food.
Remember the guy a few years ago in the news who decided to do a little testing. He went in and had a physical which included a lot of various blood tests. He had his blood sugar tested and all the enzymes and his blood pressure and a lot of other things. Then, of course, he got weighed. Then he spent the next month going to all the fast-food places, like Burger King and McDonald’s and all of them. This happened in New York.
Every time they asked if wanted to supersize things, he said sure. In a month he put on 30 pounds and became prediabetic and had high blood pressure. He had just about anything that you can imagine going wrong with him or beginning to go wrong with his health.
That’s a perfect illustration of what happens to us in some churches if spiritual fast food is all you get. Just like in life, if all you eat is junk food it’s just fluff. It’s like eating cotton candy and whipped cream and sugar and everything nice. But at the end of the day, it’s not giving you any spiritual nutrition and so the result is that when all of a sudden you have to run a marathon, you can’t even run a 20-yard dash.
That’s what’s happening in many so churches. Spiritual fast food is all you get. We need to grow to spiritual maturity and that involves the study of the Word of God. I pointed out the first two verses in chapter one which is the salutation. These verses read, “Simon Peter, the bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ …” This tells us who is writing this Epistle.
Second, we see who he is writing it to in 2 Peter 1:2, “To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” We broke down these and looked at Peter. Who is he and why is he important?
We looked at five things about Peter before he met Christ and we looked at Peter’s search for the Messiah. That’s described mostly in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. We looked at Peter’s life as one of the twelve disciples and I outlined nine key events in Peter’s life as a disciple. Then we looked at Peter’s life as an apostle in the early Church and I discussed ten different events that take place in Peter’s life in the book of Acts. Fifth, we looked at some traditions about the Apostle Peter.
We’ll just review some of these. The first event was Peter walking on the water recorded in Matthew 14:28–31. He’s out on a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee with the other disciples when this storm comes up. Jesus isn’t with them. A storm comes up and then they see Jesus coming out.
How did they see Him coming out walking in the middle of the night? You have two options. One, you have a full moon, or two, it’s some kind of miraculous manifestation of light. I’m going to vote for a full moon because they saw Him but thought it was a ghost. Then He speaks and calls Peter to come out to Him. Peter is always front and center. He is always the first one mentioned in all the lists. He is the one the Lord asked key questions of.
At first Peter walks on the water. Then, of course, he looks down at the waves and he falls beneath the waves because he gets his eyes on the details and the struggle rather than focusing on the Lord. It’s just a great episode.
Second, in John 6:66–69 you have this situation where the Lord is talking to them. Right before that, He’s fed the great multitude and after everyone eats, they leave. Only the twelve disciples are left. Jesus asks, “Why don’t you guys leave too?” It’s real interesting because it says all of his disciples left.
Peter, of course answers Him saying that we don’t leave because You have the words of eternal life. We don’t get that from anyone else. A lot of lessons from this incident. The more you teach the truth, the fewer people are going to follow you.
Third, Peter and the Rock. We’ve gone through this many times. Peter and Jesus up at Caesarea Philippi up in north Israel with that huge rock escarpment. There Jesus asks who people say He is. They go through a list naming Elijah, John the Baptist, and a prophet. Then Jesus asks Peter who he thinks He is, and Peter says He is the Messiah, the son of the Living God.
Then the Lord says that flesh and blood didn’t reveal that to Peter but the Father revealed this to him. He says upon this Rock I will build my Church. This passage has been grossly misunderstood because Peter’s name means rock but it’s a slightly different form of the word than what Jesus used. The idea isn’t that Peter’s the rock.
Some people say it’s Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. It’s not his confession. I believe Jesus is pointing to Himself saying that He is the Rock the Church will be built on. All through the Old Testament the name Rock is a name given to God. He is the Rock of Israel. Moses says God is their rock over and over again. We’ve gone through that study many times of the importance of understanding God is our Rock so Jesus is identifying Himself with God as the Rock.
At the Mount of Transfiguration Peter, James, and John are invited by Jesus to go up an unnamed and an uncertain mountain. As they get to the top there is a manifestation of Elijah and Moses. Peter, as he usually does, puts his foot in his mouth and says to let him build a tabernacle here so we can worship You.
As usual, he confuses the whole issue. They had just celebrated Sukkoth, the Jewish holiday, a week ago and it has to do with the provision for Israel in the Millennial Kingdom. So the issue isn’t building a temporary shelter. The issue is Jesus’ mission on Earth and the things that He will suffer as He dies for our sins.
Peter gets that wrong and God the Father says from Heaven that Jesus is His beloved Son. He’s not quite so blunt as telling Peter to shut up and listen. He tells Peter that Jesus is His beloved Son with whom He (God the Father) is well pleased. Listen to Him. That’s Peter on the Mount of Transfiguration.
The next episode has to do with Peter struggling with forgiveness. When Jesus says they have to forgive one another, Peter asks how many times after somebody does the same thing over and over again do you have to forgive them. Is seven times enough? Jesus says you have to forgive seventy times seven, which in other words is without end. You always forgive them.
That doesn’t mean you allow them to take advantage of you over and over again, but it means that there is always forgiveness so that you don’t get caught up in mental attitude sins and resentment and hatred and vindictiveness and all these other things. So, Peter struggles with forgiveness.
Next the Lord tells Peter he’s going to deny Him. Of course, Peter tells Him He’s got the wrong guy, that He’s not going to be the one to deny Him. Of course, we know the story that Peter’s the one who after they arrested the Lord and took Him to the fortress, actually Herod’s palace where Pontius Pilate would have been staying, Peter is outside and three different times he’s asked if he isn’t one of those Galileans with Jesus. Each time he says no, getting increasingly adamant and virulent in his denial of Jesus.
Then the seventh thing is that Peter and John run to the tomb when Mary Magdalene tells them Jesus has been raised from the dead. She tells them the tomb is empty so John stops and just looks in, but Peter just runs right in so that he’s the first to go into the tomb and one of the first witnesses for the resurrection.
The eighth event is one we’re not told exactly when this happened, but it’s after the resurrection and Peter learns from the Lord about forgiveness. There is a meeting between the Lord and Peter before He sees him with the other disciples and it’s at that time that the Lord forgiveness him for his denial and so he learns about forgiveness.
In the last one, which I think is Peter’s commissioning, described in John 21:15–19, Peter is told by the Lord to feed His sheep. I always make this comment that in the church today, at large, pastors get the idea that their job is to build the church. It is the lay people without training to teach the sheep and pastors think they’re just the Chief Executive Officer of the church. What Jesus said was that He would build His Church. That’s what HHe told Peter, that on this Rock I will build My Church. He told Peter you are to feed the sheep. Today we have pastors who aren’t feeding the sheep. They’re trying to do what Jesus did, so the church is in a mess because nobody is truly feeding the sheep.
Then we see Peter in the Book of Acts. In Acts 1 Peter is in the Upper Room where they are choosing a disciple that will replace Judas. They cast lots and choose Matthias. We see Peter’s sermon ten days later on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and his sermon there where he’s quoting from the Old Testament.
We see Peter and John in Acts 3. They heal the lame man, and this really gets them crossways with the Sanhedrin because they don’t want them going around preaching in the name of Jesus that He rose from the dead, and performing miracles to validate their message. They’re arrested and beaten by the Sanhedrin and then a second time they’re arrested and put in jail and an angel releases them.
This is when they’re brought back to the Sanhedrin and told that they weren’t to preach in the name of Jesus. Peter and John answer that they have to obey God rather than the Sanhedrin and that’s the standard for every believer whenever they are told by a government or legitimate authority to do something or not to do something that the Scripture says you should do otherwise.
In Acts 5, you see Peter’s authority over Ananias and Sapphira when they lie about selling their land. They lied and said they gave all the proceeds to the church and Peter tells them they didn’t. First Ananias dies and then Sapphira. Then Peter and John opened the doors to the Kingdom to the Samaritan believers showing that what happens in some areas is the same thing that happened in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.
The authority figure in both places is the one who has the key, the gospel as Jesus said, the keys to the Kingdom because that’s what that means. It doesn’t mean what the Roman Catholic Church says. The “key” is the gospel. When anyone believes in the gospel, then the doors have been opened to the Kingdom.
Then Peter heals the paralyzed and the dead in Acts 9:32 and following. Then God sends him to Cornelius. So first, the Jews on the Day of Pentecost receive the Holy Spirit, then the Samaritans in Acts 8, and then the Gentiles in Acts 10. Each of these groups comes to the same gospel message showing that the Church is going to be composed of Jew and Gentile together, as we have been studying in Ephesians on Sunday morning.
Then Peter is put into prison in Acts 12. You know the story there where the Church is meeting and praying for Peter when he is released from prison by an angel and comes to the house where they are praying, knocks on the door and the young girl looks out and sees Peter and instead of letting him in, she runs back, and the people tell her they don’t believe her. I love it. They’ve been praying for it all night and now Peter’s finally here and they let him in.
It’s Peter all the way through Acts until you get to Acts 9 when Saul is saved in the first part of the chapter. It’s Peter, Peter, Peter until you’re introduced to Saul in Acts 8. In Acts 9 Paul is saved. Then it goes back to Peter, then back to Saul until after Acts 13 it’s all about Saul of Tarsus except for Peter speaking at the Jerusalem Council. Those are the ten events that run you through the Book of Acts and we did that in about eight minutes. It should leave your head spinning, but it’s a good review to see how these things all fit together and how God organized all of these things.
Next come Peter’s travels. He goes to Antioch, which is in Syria. Second, he goes to Corinth. Paul talks about him being in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 9:5. Paul is talking to the Corinthians because they’ve gotten the idea he’s taking advantage of them. He says he didn’t take a penny from them when he was there.
He says he wasn’t like the other apostles. It’s all fine. They have the right to do it. They brought their wives, their families. You supported them and that’s great, but he says he didn’t do that. He chose not to do that. He shows that it’s not an issue or right or wrong.
I’ve applied this in the past to pastors who don’t have the resources or organizations to publish books so they sell their books. Let me tell you, I have had one book published and over the course of the thirty years I think I may have taken in about two or three thousand dollars.
I don’t know what that works out to if you get three thousand dollars over the course of thirty years. That’s a thousand dollars every ten years so that’s a hundred dollars a year so you’re not going to make a whole lot. This idea that pastors are taking advantage of people and getting rich may apply to a very small number.
My book was considered successful. I was once told that a best seller in the Christian book world was ten thousand books. We sold maybe five or six thousand so that’s not bad. What that shows is that there are different ways of doing things and God says that’s okay. You can either be supported by the church or work on your own as Paul did.
In 1 Peter 5:13 it described that Peter was at Babylon which, outside of Jerusalem, was the largest Jewish community in the ancient world. In the end Peter finally goes to Rome where he dies. He never went to Rome earlier, so the Roman Church was established much earlier. Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans and Peter is over in Babylon. Some people say that Babylon is just a code name for Rome, but Babylon always means Babylon every other place in the Bible, so why would it be a secret code for Rome? That only works if you’re into allegorical interpretation.
That’s Peter. And he writes to the congregation saying, “To those who have obtained like precious faith with us …” Who’s the “us”? The us would be the apostles. They have the same faith. That’s not just saving faith. That’s not just an accurate understanding of the gospel of grace, trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. It is the body of doctrine. They understood the truth in the body of doctrine.
They understood the truth in the apostolic teaching. Now one of the things you get mixed up with Peter is this doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church called apostolic succession. You also get that in the Anglican or Episcopal churches. In the early church, they had apostolic succession. I always like to say it that way because it gets some people’s attention, but it wasn’t a succession of people. It was a succession of content. It was a succession of teaching. It was a succession based on what was in the body of literature left by the apostles. They had the same faith, the same body of doctrine, the same body of beliefs as the apostles.
It says it was by means of the righteousness of our God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. This group is the same group that Peter wrote to in the first Epistle, 1 Peter. In 2 Peter he says, “Now, brethren, I write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder).”
One of the times when I read through 2 Peter I underlined all of the different ways in which he talked about stirring up their minds, reminding them to think about it again, repeating what he is teaching over and over again. That’s the only way you learn. It is popular in teaching how to preach to teach men to teach in a way that is memorable. The problem with it is that they’re just happy if people can remember one of his three or four points on Monday afternoon. They’re happy if they can remember two by Sunday night. The issue isn’t teaching them, so it’s somehow memorable and they just catch a few phrases.
You’ve got to teach it over and over and over again. It’s like any sort of drill you’ve gone through, whether it’s athletic drill or in dancing or ballet, whether it’s drills that you do in music, playing an instrument, or any physical skill where you have to learn a skill. You need to repeat, repeat, and repeat until you can do it in your sleep.
That’s how you’re to teach the Bible, so that people can’t forget it, not so they might remember it in a day or two. You want to teach it so they can’t forget it. It’s drilled into them. That is what Peter emphasizes as he’s teaching.
The other thing he’s teaching we see at the end of verse one. It’s the phrase, “our God and Savior Jesus Christ” which emphasizes the deity of Christ. In Greek you have this phraseology where you don’t need an article to make it specific. In English the definite article is important. If you want to say it’s not just a horse, you say it’s the horse. “The” is your definite article in English. We also have an indefinite article, “a”. A horse is just any horse.
In Greek you don’t have an indefinite article, so if you have an article and then a noun and a second noun and they’re connected by the conjunction, and which in Greek is KAI, there is a rule. There are several exceptions to this rule. There are things that have to be qualified. The two nouns have to be what we call in English common nouns as opposed to proper nouns. A proper noun is somebody’s name in English. God, uppercase, is a proper noun. God in Greek is not a proper noun. Savior, when you capitalize it in English, is a proper noun, but it is not in Greek. In Greek, the rule is that if a noun can be made a plural, it is not a proper noun. You have the word THEOS and THEOI. THEOS is God. THEOI is gods. So that’s not a proper noun.
For Savior you have SOTER and SOTERIA and that is a plural so you can make both words, God and Savior, plurals. That means they are common nouns and when they’re linked by the conjunction “and” with one article applying to both, then those two nouns are synonymous and describe the same person equally. So that means Jesus is not only God, He is the Savior. The Savior is God. That’s a very strong verse for the deity of Christ.
As we go through and we look at this verse, we also talked about Peter saying he is an apostle at the beginning. We went through the doctrine or what the Bible teaches about apostles. And we studied that this word apostle is applied to two different types of people.
We saw that there are 11 now, not 12. Judas is gone. You have the Eleven Apostles in Acts 1 before they voted on Matthias. Those are Apostles with a capital “A”. These Eleven were commissioned by Jesus Christ. It’s important to determine who commissioned whom to a task.
The original Eleven are the Apostles. Then you have the lower-case apostles who are commissioned by a local church and sent out on a mission. That’s a lower-case apostle. You have Barnabas and Junius and several others who are identified as apostles, but they are not the same as the Eleven.
One of the reasons we know that is in Revelations 21:14 says, “Now the wall of the city …”. This is talking about the New Jerusalem and the new heavens and the new earth. “The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.”
That’s pretty clear. God says there are twelve but who are the Twelve? Aye, there’s the rub. That’s difficult. There’s this ambiguous numbers game in the Bible. How many tribes are there in Israel? Yeah, 12. Go through all the places in the Old Testament where they list all the tribes of Israel. Two or three of them might be the same but then the next one you look at is different.
Sometimes it’ll have Joseph and include Levi. The next time it’ll have Ephraim and Manasseh and leave out Levi. Ephraim and Manasseh were Joseph’s two sons. What’s going on here? I have no clue. Okay. This is one of my first questions for Jesus when I hit Heaven.
So you have 12 but there’s 13. It’s the same kind of thing here. Was Matthias an Apostle? Everyone gets wrapped around the axel. Was Matthias an Apostle? He was numbered among them in Acts 1, but you never hear from him again, so people say since you never hear from him again, he wasn’t an Apostle. The only ones you ever hear from again are James and John and Peter and Matthew. You never hear about Andrew or Nathaniel or Bartholomew or any of the others. They’re never mentioned again, so that doesn’t hold water.
I don’t know who these 12 are. I know one is going to be Paul. I’m pretty sure who the other eleven are. I think that’s how God numbered them but that’s just my opinion.
When you look at apostleship, there were certain qualifications as outlined in Acts 1 and some other places. One was that they had to have heard Jesus teaching. People say, “Wait a minute. Paul didn’t hear Him.” Do a little chronological work. If Paul came to Jerusalem as he would have when he was bar mitzvahed to begin his pharisaical training, he would have been in Jerusalem around AD 14 or 15, which was in my calculation fifteen years before Jesus started His public ministry.
I’m convinced that Paul was in the crowds hearing Jesus. Nobody ever questioned that. Another qualification, a witness to the resurrected Christ. The resurrected Christ appeared to Paul and directly commissioned him and so that’s when Paul became an Apostle.
You don’t have Apostles today. There are all these people who run around claiming to be Apostles. If you go to Africa you have thousands of Apostles. You go to some denominations in America, and you have thousands of Apostles, but they’re just charlatans. They’re false teachers who don’t understand the Bible. They’re not Apostles.
As we get into this, we see that all of this is driving towards a knowledge of Scripture. In 2 Peter 1:20–21 points out, as I’ve already mentioned the importance of Scripture. It says that prophecy comes from God. Again and again God is the foundation. That’s what we see here in these first two verses. It all goes to a foundation of God and that’s picked up in 1 Peter 1:3 and it’s emphasized again. It is through the Word of God that we are prepared to handle false teachers.
This slide tells us what the foundations of Christianity are. When we look at this verse, we see it’s addressed to those who shared like precious faith with us. What’s contained in the basics of the Christian life? This is just the starting point of it.
We went through five lessons on what are the essential beliefs of the Christian faith. It is grounded on God as the Creator, the infinite triune personal God who speaks and He has spoken through His Scripture. Sole scriptura, which is Latin for only the Scripture. That is our authority, going to the Scripture.
God the Father sent the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is both fully God and fully human. He is undiminished deity and true humanity joined together in one Person forever. That qualified Him for His work, which is to be our substitute on the Cross. Because man is spiritually dead, he has to be made alive again, and that comes only by faith alone in Christ alone.
From there we went on to talk about all of the other different aspects of Christianity related to not just to soteriology and salvation, but the Holy Spirit. We talked about future things. We talked about dispensations and all the things that were just basically fundamental to Christianity.
These things were all taught to some degree by the Apostles. That’s why Paul writes 1 Thessalonians. They’ve got questions about how to apply what he taught them about the future coming of Christ. People are dying and they thought they were going to live until Jesus came back, so they’re confused. It tells us that in those three short weeks that Paul was with them, he taught a lot. He taught them through dispensations and through eschatology.
Then we come to the main part. All of that was just to cover the first two verses. The rest of it goes pretty quick. 2 Peter 1:3–21 comes under one category. This is that it’s God’s will for us to grow spiritually. People get all caught up and wrapped around the axel asking what God wants them to do with their life. It starts with growing to maturity in the spiritual life. It starts with getting your focus on the Word.
If you are walking with the Lord, growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, Proverbs 3:5–6 tells us He’s going to make your paths straight. You’re not going to have to worry about these things. If you get your soul straight, then you’re not going to know ahead of time what’s coming. God’s not going to turn on directional signals, like if you want to turn left, He’ll put up a red stop sign or a green light or a yellow light.
He is going to work it out and you will look behind you as you’ve gone through your life and realize you didn’t know what the Lord was doing, but as you look back on it, it was just phenomenal how He led and guided and directed you.
There are three basic sections in the first section. 2 Peter 1:3–11 focuses on the fact that God wants us to grow and to be spiritually productive or spiritually fruitful. That’s the term that is used. This is so we will be able to discern false teaching when it comes.
Then 2 Peter 1:12–15 talks about how spiritual growth produces spiritual stability. If you want to have emotional stability in your life, if you want to have stability in your family when everything around you seems to be falling apart and going crazy like it has in 2020, and if you want to have stability and not be scared or worried or anxious, then it starts with what’s in your soul. And understanding that you have to look at life from God’s perspective. So spiritual growth produces spiritual stability.
That’s in 2 Peter 1:12–15 and then in verses 16–21, Peter is going to talk about the fact there will be future rewards for those who have been dependent upon God’s Word. Rewards in the coming Kingdom are at stake. Sufficiency means it’s enough. It means that you will never face a situation, a set of circumstances, a problem, or a difficulty in life that God hasn’t given you the answer for in His Word. You may not see how you’re going to get through it, but God will give you the grace to get through it when the time comes.
I don’t know if you ever take the time to read one of those magazines that are out in the fellowship hall. They’re called The Voice of the Martyrs. The stories are true stories of how Christians are persecuted and tortured for their faith. You wonder how they survive. It’s remarkable how God’s grace gives people the strength to endure such horrific pain.
One of my favorite stories is a story of a man who at the time was a former Archbishop of Canterbury. This was in the time of Bloody Mary. His name was Thomas Cranmer. He was arrested under the reign of Bloody Mary, Mary Tudor, who was the Queen of England. She was a Roman Catholic and so her father, Henry VIII, had separated from the Roman Catholic Church. The budding Protestant Church exploded. If you go to university, they will tell you Henry VIII started the reformation in England and that it was secular. But that’s just garbage. It’s because they hate Christianity and they have never been taught correctly.
Henry wanted a divorce so he could have a male heir. That’s why he left the Roman Church. When he left it, it gave these Roman Catholic priests and theologians who had been reading Martin Luther and John Calvin and John Knox the opportunity to say they were free of Rome and free to do their own thing. That’s when the Reformation started in England. Henry’s wanting a divorce was the occasion for the Protestant Churches to take off and to grow.
What happens is that Cranmer, who was the Archbishop under Henry, is now accused of heresy because he became a protestant. Mary has him tortured and makes him recant his faith. They promise him that they will let him live, they won’t arrest his family, and they won’t take away his lands and money if he would just sign his recantation. He finally signs in. Then guess what they did. They’re still going to burn him at the stake and they’re going to take all the money and lands away from his family. While he is being burned at the stake and the flames are coming up and licking his legs and burning him, he holds out his right hand saying, “This hand betrayed my Lord and Savior.” He held his hand in the flames until his arm burned off.
How do you have the courage and the strength to do that? I don’t know. God provides.
That’s God’s power. That’s what we’re introduced to here, the sufficiency of God’s power to handle any and every single situation. 2 Peter 1:3, “Since His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to our [physical] life and spiritual life, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” The word that’s used for knowledge [EPIGNOSIS] has to do with a more intimate knowledge of God.
In verse 4, “By which have been given unto us exceedingly great and precious promises,—that we should all be memorizing—that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” That’s the problem today. We can never have a perfect world, a perfect government, a perfect president, and perfect rulers because of the sin nature.
We studied the sin nature. The corruption is in the world by lust. It started with the lust of the eyes with Eve in the Garden of Eden when the serpent says, “It looks good to eat, doesn’t it?”
She looked at it and said, “It looks good to eat.” It starts with the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh and the next thing you know we’re all in the corruption of sin, driven by that lust pattern.
As you go through this section 1 Peter actually ties back to that where Paul says that we are to abstain from fleshly lust that war against the soul. The sin nature wars against and destroys our soul. You read these articles in the paper and you read about these perversions that are taking place on Jeffrey Epstein’s Island and all this other horrible things that we read that come out in the paper about these elites in our culture who are just as perverted and corrupt and evil as they could possibly be. It’s all a result of the fact that they have no restraint on their sin nature in their life. They just went with it, pure antinomianism. It has warred against their soul and destroyed their soul.
One of the problems we run into when we talk about the sufficiency of God’s Word is there’s a little saying that goes around today that is extremely deceptive. It’s a warning. It’s one of the many things that happen today when we talk about the arrival of the false teachers.
We’re going to talk about the way they attack the authority of Scripture. One of the ways they attack the authority of Scripture is attacking the sufficiency of Scripture. It’s very subtle. Remember, Satan is the most subtle creature in the Garden. It’s very subtle and it traps so very, very many.
It’s that little phrase they use that says, “all truth is God’s truth.” Doesn’t that sound good? The problem is when you investigate it and think about it, is that it’s a logical fallacy. It’s called the fallacy of equivocation. That means the first term truth means something different from the second term truth. In other words, it’s confusing apples with oranges.
This is our definition of a logical fallacy. It’s based on an error in deductive reasoning, logical errors of reasoning, or explanation, or argumentation.
The equivocation occurs when a word if used more than one time in a statement and there’s a semantic ambiguity there, so you sort of frontload it the first time with one meaning but that’s not the same meaning you have the second time. You’re not really using it the same both times.
In this statement, “All truth” at the beginning refers to truth claims that are based on finite human interpretations and observations of the world around him. This is all truth that comes from my deductive reasoning about the world around me. These interpretations are sometimes facts. They’re often true, but they are not true and they can be distorted. We don’t really have a way to determine if all of our observations are 100% accurate.
When that statement says, “God’s truth”, it is referring to the absolute, inerrant, irrevocable truth of God’s Word. So, they’re not the same. All truth is not God’s truth because there’s a lot of truth you’re taught in sociology classes, in psychology classes, and in motivational seminars that aren’t biblical. They distort and warp the thinking and put the priorities in the wrong direction.
What we have to recognize is that the Bible claims God is TRUTH. Jesus is the TRUTH. The Bible is TRUTH. There’s no equivocation there whatsoever. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Then in John 17 He says to “Sanctify them by truth. Your Word is truth.”
That’s as bold and strong and as powerful as it can possibly be. It is absolute truth and the only way to grow to spiritual maturity and to be sanctified is on the basis of God’s Word.
The human race has set itself against truth. Romans 1:18 says we are truth suppressors. We suppress the truth in unrighteousness and we exchange the truth of God for the lie.
That describes the human race from the beginning. We see the first example in Cain and Abel and Cain’s denial of the truth regarding what kind of sacrifice God wants.
We have to be able to discern false teaching by understanding the sufficiency of God’s Word. That’s the starting point.
Now in 2 Peter 1:5–9 there’s kind of a stair step here of different aspects of spiritual growth. This was a certain phrase called sorites. This was a typical rhetorical device where a writer was organizing his material in a way that would capture people’s attention and explain the relationship of various things.
Peter says, “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control, perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love.” So you have these attributes that relate to the spiritual life and spiritual virtues that are described in 2 Peter 1:5–7.
And then in 1 Peter 1:8 we have the positive, “If you do these things—if these things are yours, if you grow and mature and have these qualities in your life—then you will not be spiritually barren or unfruitful in the knowledge ...”
Again and again, we have this emphasis on knowledge in 2 Peter. But if you don’t do it, if you do the opposite, “For the one who lacks these things, will be shortsighted to blindness.” In other words, you’re not going to be able to see the light to make good decisions and you’ll make a mess of your life.
You’ve forgotten that you were cleansed from your sins. That relates to a believer who has been cleansed from his old sins and now he’s negative.
I went through a comparison here as we studied the spiritual life. In John 15 Jesus says to abide in Him and you’ll bear much fruit. In Ephesians 5:8 we’re to walk in the light and we’ll bear much fruit and in Galatians 5:16 we’re to walk by the Spirit and we’ll bear much fruit. So these terms, abide in Me, walk in the Light, and walk by means of the Holy Spirit, those are all roughly comparable talking about the spiritual life. “If you do these things then you will bear much fruit.”
That’s what Peter is talking about in this verse. He’s saying if you are maturing in these attributes and qualities and character qualities are developing in your life, then you are going to be fruitful in your spiritual life.
Slides 32 and 33
Then in 2 Peter 1:12–15 we read, “Therefore I will not neglect you but will remind you constantly.” That means over and over and over again.
“I will not neglect to remind you constantly about these things even though you have known them and have been made stable”, you need constant reminding. The correct way to translate the Greek is you have been made stable by means of TRUTH. Notice Peter keeps coming back to the absolutes of God’s Word. You are made stable by means of the TRUTH. It’s a prepositional phrase in the Greek and it should be translated that way, but it is not.
Usually all that you have translated there is that you are established in the present truth, which just loses the whole content.
This is comparable to what Jude talks about in Jude 5. Remember I said there’s this parallel between these two Epistles. “Though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” Why were they destroyed? They rejected the Word and they were unstable.
When we go through this we recognize the Bible presupposes the existence of absolute truth. Today, people say what is truth? There is no truth. You have your truth; I have my truth. You go to your truth. I’ll do my truth and everything’s going to be fine.
But what if there is one simple absolute truth like the law of gravity? There are spiritual truths just as absolute as physical laws of the universe and that if you violate them, you may not reap the negative consequences immediately. It may take ten or twenty years and then all of a sudden it’s too late to go back.
The Bible recognizes absolute truth. If there’s no truth, then there can’t be any communication. You lose language if there’s no truth because those words have to have stability and always refer to the same thing.
Scripture says, “God is the God of truth.”
In Deuteronomy 32:4 when I was talking about Jesus being the Rock earlier, here Moses says, “God is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice.” One of the articles I read made a good point saying that if you read anything about social justice or social anything, take the word “social” out and replace it with the word “not”. That’s exactly what you will get. It’s not justice. It’s not social welfare; it’s not welfare. It’s not taking care of people. These things are just distractions.
God is the God of truth. In Psalm 31:5 He’s the Lord of truth.
Psalm 40:11, “Your truth continually preserves me.” Psalm 100:5, “His truth endures to all generations.”
Psalm 119:142, “Your law is truth.” Psalm 11:151, “All your commandments are truth.”
Psalm 119:160, “The entirety of Your Word is truth.” Psalm 146:6, “Who keeps truth forever.”
In 2 Peter 1:13–15 what happens here is that Peter emphasizes what is going on. He says, “Yes, I think it’s right, as long as I’m in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you.” He’s saying as long as he’s alive he needs to go over this and over this and over this, so you don’t forget it. “Knowing that shortly I must put off this body, just as the Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.”
Then we come to the last section which was the last part that we covered last January and February. It was about how rewards in the coming Kingdom are at stake.
This is based on the following truth. 2 Peter 1:16, “We did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory.” Why did He receive honor and glory? Why is He rewarded? Because He was the Truth. He followed the Truth. He obeyed the Truth.
It’s the same thing for us. We’ll receive honor and glory and the Father will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” when we walk according to the Truth.
Peter recognizes this when he refers back to what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration when God the Father said that Jesus was “His beloved Son in Whom He is well pleased”. Peter says, “And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;” That relates to the coming of Christ and establishment of the Kingdom.
“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation …” In other words, it doesn’t originate with mankind. Some guy didn’t wonder what he could come up with today. No one privately invented it. It came as it says in verse 21, “… Not by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
It’s all in this battle between truth versus relativism. Whose truth? God’s truth or man’s truth?
John 8:32, Jesus said, “You shall know THE TRUTH, and THE TRUTH shall make you free.” You have this emblazoned on so many university buildings. It’s not their truth that will set you free. It is God’s truth that will set you free. That’s what Jesus said.
Jesus said the Holy Spirit is going to come and He’s the Spirit of truth, “whom the world cannot receive.” He’s the Author of the Scriptures, the One who enables the writers of Scripture to write the truth. In John 15:26, again the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth.
In John 16:13, He is the Spirit of Truth. “When He is come, He will guide you—Jesus is talking just to the disciples here—into all truth.” That means they’ll be able to remember everything they need to teach and write about Jesus.
Then what we saw earlier, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth.” This is the focal point here. There is truth. The contrast to that absolute truth is what’s going to come out when we get into verse 1 of 2 Peter 2. It will be the next lesson. “There were false prophets.”
To have false anything you have to have an absolute measuring rod. There has to be absolute truth, an absolute standard, whereby you can evaluate what is true, and what is wrong, and what is false. So this is the warning here. Then we’re going to see the illustration of what happened to false teachers historically. All of that relates to the fact that each one will be judged. That’s why the last point is tied to eventual rewards and judgment.
If we are obedient there are rewards. When we get into chapter two we’ll see there’s judgment if you’re not obedient—negatives. We’ll get into 2 Peter 2 and start working our way there next time.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things, to be reminded of these great truths, these great principles that are in this first chapter of 2 Peter. Father, we’re thankful that the emphasis there is so firm on knowing the Truth, knowing Your Word, being prepared mentally and physically on this bastion of Truth so that whatever comes we’re ready.
“This time last year we never would have anticipated the kind of year we’ve had during the last twelve months. We have no idea what may be around the corner, what may come in the next twelve months. Father, we pray that we may fortify ourselves. Strengthen our souls against the wiles of the devil.
“Strengthen our souls against the lusts of the flesh, so that we may stand firm in the day of adversity. Father, we pray that we might have a hunger and a thirst for Your Word that will never be quenched. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”