From:  Teaching Guide to 2 Peter                                                     Return to Home      

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.                               © 2017

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

Teaching Guide to Second Peter



UNDERSTANDING 2 PETER

 

THROUGH TEXT, ALTERNATE TRANSLATIONS,

 

CROSS-REFERENCES,

 

PERSONAL QUESTIONS AND POINTS TO

 

MEDITATE UPON 

 

 

 

 

by:

 

Roland H. Worth, Jr.

Richmond, Virginia 23223

 

 

Copyright © 2017 by author

Reproduction of this book for non-profit circulation

by any electronic or print media means is hereby freely granted

 at no cost—provided the text is not altered in any manner

and author credit is given.

 

If accompanied by additional, supplemental material

--in agreement or disagreement—

it must be clearly and visibly distinguishable

from the original text.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translations Utilized

 

 

The following public domain translations have been utilized in this volume:

American Standard Version (ASV) (1901)

Darby (1890)

            Weymouth (1912)

Young’s Literal Translation (1898)

 

 

Two primary translations are provided of the entire text (copyright holders reserve all rights to their text):

God’s Word:  Copyight 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations Bible Society.

New King James Version:  © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

 

 

Individual words and phrases are quoted as alternative translations from the following versions (all copyright holders reserve all rights thereto):

            * Contemporary English Version:   Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society.

            * Holman Christian Standard Bible:   Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 by Holman Bible Publishers. 

            *International Standard Version:  Copyright Davidson Press, 1998.

            * New American Bible:   Copyright © 1970, 1986, 1991, Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC.

            * New American Standard Bible:  Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.

            * New Century Version, copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Word Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee.

            * New International Version:  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society.

            * New Living Translation:  Copyright © 1996 by Tyndale Charitable Trust.

            * New Revised Standard Version: copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

* Revised Standard Version:  copyright © 1952, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A.

            * Today’s English Version:  Copyright © American Bible Society, 1966.

 

 

 

 

 

Characteristics of

This “Teaching” Volume

 

 

            This volume brings together in one place a variety of useful tools to save the Bible student invaluable time and research—time being one of the most precious commodities in our modern world.  It makes no claim to provide all that would be useful to know but to provide a quality introduction to the study of the book--one that will lay the ground work for future study if one wishes to pursue its subject matter in more detail.

            This is accomplished through the use of several tools:

            1.  A concise commentary that emphasizes the central thought flow of the argument within each verse and how the various verses are interconnected in the development of various themes.  To get maximum benefit from this tool it is recommended that you read the text in your own preferred translation and then compare it with the commentary.  Although virtually any verse can be examined in far greater detail, it was thought best to zero in on a single central concept so that the reader can most quickly find something of personal value or interest in the text.

            2.  This is followed by the passage in two important contemporary translations. For the two full text citations, we blend the powerful strengths of the God’s Word translation (with its excellent ability to portray the intent and point of the text) and that of the New King James Version (and its effective preservation of the “word for word” approach to translation in the more traditional style).   

            3.  Within the NKJV text, there are abundant alternative renderings from a number of other translations as well.  The usefulness of the alternate translations as a commentary can not be overlooked.  We become so used to a given word or phrase being rendered in a certain manner, the very fact that it has been altered (even though the substance, content, and intent are clearly identical) that the change forces our minds to work out the implications of the term that we have easily overlooked through long acquaintance with the passage.

These alternative renditions run the gauntlet from very “literalistic” to border-line (or crossing the line into) outright paraphrase.  They share in common, however, the ability to goad our thinking.  Very often prior acquaintance with the text causes us to “slide over” implications that a different wording brings front and center.  The alternatives, in some cases, also imply interpretive possibilities as to the point being made though it is not explicit in the more traditional wording.

When multiple alternatives are given for one word or phrase they are normally given in alphabetical order based upon the first word of the alternatives:  one that begins with “in,” for example, will normally occur before one that begins with “on.”  In certain cases, the “flow” of the alternatives from one to the other leads to this practice being modified for the reader’s convenience.  With rare exceptions, each verse contains at least two alternative translations. 

When the tense in the translation does not match that which fits well with the current context it is modified with parentheses:  for example, “ransom” becomes “ransom(ed).”  Sometimes the alternatives are so close that they constitute virtually the same wording.  In most such cases, the ultra-close alternatives are simply omitted in order to conserve space and only one representative example provided.  Only when the cited part is exactly the same—with the possible exception of tense--are multiple translations referred to as the source of a specific reading.

            Only a few decades ago, terms like “man” and “brethren” did double duty as both male-specific and inclusive language, depending upon the given context.  In regard to “man,” where the Greek text uses explicitly inclusive language, it is now customary to find virtually all translations taking care to utilize such wording themselves.  Past generations had no problem understanding the previous usage and it really ought not to cause a problem today.  But ideologues of a certain type rule the day and the greater specification certainly does no harm—except when it harms the readability of the text.   

A real problem arises with “brethren,” however, which is “male” language in the Greek but also clearly intended to cover both genders as well.  Some translations retain the traditional usage on grounds of strict loyalty to the original text.  Others feel that the broader significance of the expression can be easily missed—though earlier generations seemed to have no difficulty with the matter--and therefore substitute terms like “brothers and sisters.” 

These cases, with rare exceptions, have not been noted in the comparative translations because they are so common and the true meaning immediately obvious to the user of various versions of the Bible.  (Now that Communism has generally fallen into the annals of past history, perhaps translators should adopt “comrade”—which also does double gender description duty—in its place?)

            4.  Next comes interpreted cross references on most verses.  This is based on the old adage that “the Bible is its own best interpreter.”  In order to provide helpfulness to the less advanced individual and to encourage the thought of those already well versed in the scriptures, an introductory remark ties-in the cross-reference(s) with some point involved in the current text.  These texts always come from the NKJV.

            5.  The last section on each verse or set of verses consists of observations, “thinking points,” and questions.  No matter the specific form they take, they are all designed as tools to assist in the gaining of an insight into the practical meaning or application of the text.  For those who are studying on their own, this provides a jumping-off point for further personal consideration of the matter. 

For those who are utilizing this material in connection with their own teaching, it provides a query or remark to begin class discussion.  Many teachers find that once they start talking, the rest comes far easier.  This section is designed to do just that:  to get the discussion going and overcome that difficult initial barrier.  In many cases, one or more of the possible answers are printed in bracketed italics afterwards.

            By the use of these various tools an individual is able to “self-study” at one sitting as much (or little) of this particular New Testament volume            as one wishes.  Bible knowledge, in the final analysis, is gained not by how much one studies at a time, but that one persists in doing so in a methodical and beneficial manner.  These “self-study” volumes are intended to give the reader exactly that opportunity.     

 

 

2017 Introductory Note:  My best guess is that the following manuscript was completed somewhere in the first decade of the current century.  Originally intended for submission to a commercial publisher, it is clear that I never did so.  Rather than let it “go to waste,” I decided it would be the easiest and most practical thing to share this in non-print form, with the hope that a number of others would find it useful for either personal study or as a “jumping off point” for their own teaching of the book.  I have simply made cosmetic changes and rechecked for any missed errors.  

Roland H. Worth, Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

Abbreviations for Translations Utilized in This Volume

 

            GW                  =          God’s Word

            NKJV              =          New King James Version

 

            ASV                =          American Standard Version

            CEV                =          Contemporary English Version

            Darby               =          Darby New Testament

            Holman            =          Holman New Testament

            ISV                  =          International Standard Version

            NAB                =          New American Bible (Revised New Testament),

                                                Roman Catholic

            NASB              =          New American Standard Bible

NCV                =          New Century Version

            NIV                 =          New International Version

            NLT                 =          New Living Translation

            NRSV              =          New Revised Standard Version

            Rotherham        =          Rotherham’s New Testament

            RSV                 =          Revised Standard Version

            TEV                 =          Today’s English Version

            Weymouth        =          Weymouth’s New Testament

            Young              =          Young’s Literal Translation

           

 

            The selected translations come from varied spectrums of the religious landscape.  From very conservative translations theologically (such as the NKJV and the NASB) to those self-described as mainstream by their advocates (such as the RSV and NRSV)--though considered liberal by their critics.  (One of the oddities of modern scholarship is that the term “conservative” is gladly accepted but no one seems to want to be known as a “liberal.”)  Because of the increasing interest in the study of the Biblical text among contemporary Roman Catholics and because of the great strides made in Catholic Biblical scholarship, we have also included one of the best representations of this tradition, the New American Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction to Second Peter

 

            Liberal scholars are distinctly unfriendly to the genuineness of this book, but their predisposition tends to work in that direction however weighty or modest the evidence.  The difference in style with the first book is usually attributed to a different scribe being in charge with committing the document to writing on behalf of Peter.  A number of similarities in phrases are invoked in both epistles and it is reasonably argued that this is good evidence for the same source being behind them.

            2 Peter 3:1 refers to the first epistle, which argues that the recipients were the same as for that one.  The subject matter, however, has clearly shifted.  In the first letter the emphasis is on Christian living and persecution; in the second on the danger of various false and misleading doctrines being taught (chapter two) including a denial of the resurrection on the ground that it had not occurred yet (chapter three).

An autobiographical touch is found in his short discussion of the Mount of Transfiguration (1:16-18; cf. the account in Matthew 17:1-8).  

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction (1:1) --

Greetings from the Author:

 

 

Commentary and Thought Flow

 

 

1:1       Peter conveys the idea that an apostle was not one with arrogant power over others by describing himself as being “a bondservant” (= slave) as well.  Hence he not only was a man with power over others, he himself was subject to the power of others--in this case Jesus Christ.  Peter provides no indication of what geographic area he was writing to and he address the epistle in terms that would make it relevant anywhere and everywhere.        

 

 

 

(1:1)

 

GW:  From Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. To those who have obtained a faith that is as valuable as ours, a faith based on the approval that comes from our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 

NKJV:  Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

           

            Alternative Readings:  Simon Peter, a bondservant [slave, Homan, NAB] and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained [received, Darby, NASB] like precious faith [a faith of the same kind, NASB; a faith of equal privilege, Holman; a faith of equal standing, RSV; a faith . . . as valuable as ours, ISV, NCV] with us by [through, Darby, Holman, NAB, NIV, NRSV, Weymouth; in, ASV, BBE, Rotherham, RSV, Young] the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

            Cross-references:   Although they all shared “like precious faith,” there is always room for faith to grow,And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith’ (Luke 17:5).   

 

            Thinking points and questions:  Rank can go to a person’s head.  As a leading apostle, Peter could easily have let it swell his ego.  What other term does Peter use to show that he recognized that even being an apostle should not go to his head?  [He calls himself “a bondservant (i.e., a slave) and apostle of Jesus Christ.”  He recognized the paradox that he could be at the “top of the heap” by being an apostle but simultaneously “at the bottom” by being a mere “bondservant”—the lowest of the low in the society that existed.]   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Divine Blessings of Grace and Peace

Worked in Them through the Knowledge of

God’s Will and the Embracing of His Promises (1:2-4):

 

 

Commentary and Thought Flow

 

 

1:2       Neither Divine “grace” nor “peace” are static things.  They can either decrease (by our willful ignoring of God’s will) or they can grow (“be multiplied”) . . .

 

1:3       by our increased knowledge of the will of God and His Son.  The reason that we can grow in these divine blessings through exposure to God’s revelation lies in the fact that God has given us a total revelation of all things pertaining to Christian living.  This was not granted due to some peculiar insight we might have but because Jesus was the divine intermediary to provide us with those insights. 

 

1:4       To partake of the divine blessings God has for us required that we be freed from the evil and degradation in the world that comes through self-centeredness (“lust”)—and, by implication, to continue to pursue what is right and God-orientated rather than to live by the standard of what makes us feel better and satisfies just our personal self-interest. 

 

 

 

(1:2)

 

            GW:  May good will and peace fill your lives through your knowledge about Jesus, our God and Lord!  -- 

NKJV:  Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

 

            Alternative Readings:   Grace [special favor, NLT] and peace be multiplied to you [be yours in full measure, TEV; be yours in abundance, ISV, NAB; NIV; be increasing in you, BBE] in [through, Holman, ISV, TEV] the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord

 

            Cross-references:   The purpose of Scripture is to give us knowledge of right and wrong . . . of good and bad.  If you wish to know with a certainty these things, then you go to the Scriptures, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

 

            Thinking points and questions:  It is through our “knowledge of God” that both “peace” and Divine favor (= “grace”) from God can grow—by ever learning more of His will we are able to conform ourselves better to His standards.  That produces these results.

            Life is never at a stand still:  Either you are getting better or you are getting worse or . . . you are “treading water” and simply wasting your time.   

 

 

 

                                                                    (1:3)

 

            GW:  God's divine power has given us everything we need for life and for godliness. This power was given to us through knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and integrity.  -- 

NKJV:  As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.

 

            Alternative Readings:  As His divine power has given [granted, NASB, RSV; bestowed, NAB] to us all things [everything, Holman] that pertain to [necessary for, BBE; relate to, Darby] life and godliness [piety, Young; righteousness, BBE; to serve God, NCV], through the knowledge of Him who called us [appealed to us, Weymouth] by [added:  His own, ASV, Holman, ISV, NAB, NASB, NRSV, RSV, TEV] glory and virtue [goodness, Holman, NCV, NIV, NLT; excellence, ISV].    

 

            Cross-references:  Jesus had promised the apostles that they would be given a complete revelation of the Divine will—about “life and godliness” and everything else--to share with fellow believers,  However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine.  Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:13-15).    

 

            Thinking points and questions:  We have two key words here to consider.  The first is “life.”  What does that refer to?  [Assuming these not to be synonyms for the same thing . . . Eternal life refers to obtaining it and gaining happy entry into the next world--since the word that comes next describes the proper lifestyle to follow in this current world.]    

            What does “godliness” refer to?  [A moral, ethical, God pleasing lifestyle.]

 

 

 

(1:4)

 

            GW:  Through his glory and integrity he has given us his promises that are of the highest value. Through these promises you will share in the divine nature because you have escaped the corruption that sinful desires cause in the world. 

NKJV:  By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption [that is] in the world through lust.

 

            Alternative Readings:  By which have been given to us exceedingly great [magnificient, NASB; marvelous, CEV; wonderful, ISV, NLT] and precious promises, that through these [by them, BBE, NASB; by means of, TEV] you may be partakers of [participate in, ISV, NIV] the divine nature, having escaped [after escaping, NAB] the corruption [decadence, NLT; destruction, BBE; ruin, NCV] that is in the world through [by, NASB] lust [desires of the flesh, BBE; earthly cravings, Weymouth; evil desires, Holman, ISV, NAB, NIV, NCV, NLT; passion, RSV].

 

            Cross-references:  This verse speaks of how we have been transformed by escaping the evils that are in the world.  This goes hand-in-hand with a new inner “us” being created by our embracing a new set of priorities.  An Old Testament prophet worded it this way, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them (Ezekiel 36:25-27).       

 

            Thinking points and questions:  What are some of the “precious promises” that God has given us?  [Eternal life if we are faithful--Revelation 2:10:  Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.  Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.  Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

            [A way of escape out of temptation . . . but it is up to us to actually choose to use it--Revelation 10:13:  “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of What God Has Done for Us,

We Should Cultivate the Right Lifestyle

(1:5-11):

 

 

Commentary and Thought Flow

 

 

 

1:5       Because of the great blessings God has promised us, we need to grow in our Christian character, adding to ones we already possess additional ones and growing in strength and depth those we already have.  The beginning point is “faith:  even the believer who has just begun the journey of discipleship has at least that much.  But to what we believe must be added positive attributes that collectively can be called “virtue.”  Even having both faith and character leaves us incomplete without adding “knowledge” as well, for it is through knowledge that we can determine what we need to be and how we ought to behave.  Without knowledge our faith may be delusional and our character only half-formed.   

 

1:6       Peter’s world and ours often considers “knowledge” the end all and be all, but knowledge is actually only a tool to be used.  In this context, it is a tool to encourage us to further development of our character, beginning with “self-control:  the “do your own thing” concept of the modern world was anathema to the apostle and rightly so.  Doing the right thing is what “self-control” is about.

“Perseverance” needs to be cultivated because there is a natural human tendency to give up in frustration and hopelessness if we can’t accomplish our dreams “now”—or sooner!  “Godliness” has to be added because a person can be a good virtuous human being (at least in the eyes of most) without ever quite reaching the standards of behavior and attitude demanded of a believer. 

 

1:6       In psychoanalytical thinking there is the assumption that if you can come to grips with the root of your problem and understand it—if you can gain knowledge—of what has bent your life--that the solution to your difficulties will inevitably occur.  Peter recognized that however useful “knowledge” is in any field, that unless you do something with it, it is empty and futile.  In the area of moral behavior this meant that to one’s knowledge had to be added “self-control” over our behavior.  We are not predestined by genetics or behavior to continue a self-destructive course and the beginning of the change for the better is to recognize that control is possible and to start exercising it.

            Yet “perseverance” must be added to self-control because “failure is inevitable:”  somewhere, sometime, we are going to let down our guard and on one point or other fall short of what we know is our ideal.  This totally devastates some people.  Hence Peter wisely enjoins the need for “perseverance” so that we won’t let those lapses bounce us back into our self-destructive lifestyle of the past.

            What we have seen so far would produce “a good moral person”—but not necessarily a person who has met God’s standards of behavior, which go significantly beyond those minimums.  Hence “godliness,” the imitation of God’s character and behavior demands that may go significantly beyond those of a society at any particular point in time.

 

1:7       Of all the characteristics involved in the “godliness” of the previous verse, Peter selects two to emphasize.  First is “kindness”--gentleness, a treatment of the other person with both respect and concern for their well-being.  Out of that can grow “love” in the full significance of the term (such as Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 13), for we have “plowed the field” of our heart and prepared it for the wide range of constructive behaviors that grow out of our relationship as brothers and sisters in the Lord.    

 

1:8       Many of us are “minimalists” and think in terms of what is the least we can get away with.  Peter is not going to permit his readers to think that is anything less than a delusion when it comes to Christian character:  not only is it necessary for the virtues of the preceding verses to be present in a person’s life they must also “abound” in amount and quality.  The reward for this is that one can be assured that one’s knowledge of and about Christ will abound rather than being stagnant in a “barren” and “unfruitful” quagmire.  

 

1:9       The believer who thinks these truths can be ignored does not only have spiritual eyesight problems, he may even have reached the point of moral blindness.  This condition arises when one forgets that we are a forgiven people and therefore stand in need of a lifestyle fitting for those who have learned the lessons from their past sins and changed for the better.

 

1:10     He implies that he may have exaggerated their weakness a tad to get his point over for he urges them to be “even more diligent,” which would make no sense if they had totally stopped being concerned at all.  The way to avoid the danger of stumbling into sin was to embrace and practice these virtues--persistently.

 

1:11     In turn, these virtues produce a result not only in the current life—our moral transformation—they also prepare us for the next one in which we enter Christ’s “everlasting kingdom.”  

 

 

 

(1:5)

 

            GW:  Because of this, make every effort to add integrity to your faith; and to integrity add knowledge.     

NKJV:  But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge.

 

            Alternative Readings:  But also for this very reason, giving [applying, NASB] all diligence [make every effort, RSV], add to [supplement, Holman, NAB] your faith virtue [goodness, CEV, NCV, NIV, NRSV, TEV; moral character, ISV; moral excellence, NASB, NLT; noble character, Weymouth; worthiness, Young], to virtue knowledge [understanding, CEV].

 

            Cross-references:  In a very real sense, verses 5-9 elaborate at greater length what Peter sums up in a few words in the closing verse of the book:  but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. . .” (3:19).       

 

            Thinking points and questions:  Developing these virtues, Peter tells us, requires “diligence.”  What does that mean?  [You have to work at it.  You can’t take it for granted.  You can’t work at it today and put it aside till next year at the same time.  It’s like growing in knowledge of a secular subject:  You work at it persistently . . . not out of a grudging bitterness (“I have to!” mindframe) . . . but because you know the result will be something to be proud of.] 

 

 

 

(1:6)

                                                                       

            GW:  To knowledge add self-control; to self-control add endurance; to endurance add godliness.  -- 

NKJV:  To knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness.

 

            Alternative Readings:  To knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance [steadfastness, RSV; patience, CEV, NCV; endurance, Darby, Holman, ISV, NAB, NRSV, Rotherham, TEV, Young], to perseverance godliness [devotion, NAB; devotion to God, CEV; service for God, NCV; piety, Young].

 

            Cross-references:  Paul describes self-control as like an athlete who becomes full master of his body and its actions:  Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty.  Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).    

 

            Thinking points and questions:  Knowledge gives us the facts about how we should act and control ourselves.  How does “self-control” affect all the rest that is mentioned—perseverance, godliness, kindness, love?  [To be able to do these, we have to be in control of our thoughts and our actions.  If we aren’t, these positive virtues are going to be sporadic and plagued by our going out and acting in the opposite manner.]       

 

 

 

(1:7)

 

            GW:  To godliness add Christian affection; and to Christian affection add love.  -- 

NKJV:   To godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

 

            Alternative Readings:  To godliness brotherly kindness [affection, Holman, NAB, NRSV, Rotherham, RSV, TEV, Weymouth; concern for others, CEV], and to brotherly kindness love.

 

            Cross-references:  There is a very thin line between brotherly kindness and love.  Specifically in regard to the latter, Jesus spoke of how our practice of this virtue proves that we are genuinely His disciples:  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).    

 

            Thinking points and questions:  How is “brotherly kindness” different from simple “kindness?”  [The “brother” language shows that we are thinking in terms of the one receiving our assistance as our kin.  It is hard to imagine any culture that does not think of our kin as being due special help above and beyond anyone else.  After all—“we are family.”] 

 

 

 

(1:8)

 

            GW:  If you have these qualities and they are increasing, it demonstrates that your knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive.  -- 

NKJV:  For if these things are yours and abound, [you will be] neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            Alternative Readings:  For if these things [qualities, TEV] are yours and abound [are increasing, NASB], you will be neither barren [ineffective, ISV, NIV, NRSV, RSV; inert, Young; useless, Holman, NASB; idle, ASV, Darby, NAB, Weymouth] nor unfruitful [unproductive, ISV, NIV] in the knowledge of [what you know about, CEV] our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            Cross-references:  Jesus spoke on the importance of our bearing fruit/fruitful behavior:  By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:8) 

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.   You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.  Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:1-4).  

 

            Thinking points and questions:  If we manifest the values that go with being a Christian—the attitudes and actions he’s discussed in verses 5-7—then that will show that we are “neither barren nor unfruitful” in our knowledge of Christ.  That’s wording it with a negative.  Take the negative out and word the idea in a positive sense. . . .  [We are bearing fruit—the fruits of the gospel embodying Christ’s teaching.  Cf. the cross-reference section above.]  

 

 

 

(1:9)

 

            GW:  If these qualities aren't present in your life, you're shortsighted and have forgotten that you were cleansed from your past sins.  -- 

NKJV:  For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

 

            Alternative Readings:  For he who lacks these things [qualities, NASB] is shortsighted [nearsighted, CEV, NIV; dim-sighted, Young], even to blindness, and has forgotten [having no memory, BBE] that he was cleansed [forgiven, CEV; purified/purification, CEV, Rotherham, TEV; purging, Darby] from his old [past, Holman, ISV, NAB, NCV, NRSV] sins.

 

            Cross-references:    If we blind ourselves to our actual moral weaknesses we rate ourselves as far superior to what we really are and avoid making the changes that are essential:  I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).  

 

            Thinking points and questions:   These previous verses have been emphasizing that the mere fact that we are a Christian is never enough.  We need to be a spiritually and morally growing Christian who does not confuse “not being bad” with “being what we ought to be.”  Because we can’t be accused of being a mass murderer doesn’t prove that we are honest men and women!  Mediocrity is not success!  

 

 

 

(1:10)

 

            GW:  Therefore, brothers and sisters, use more effort to make God's calling and choosing of you secure. If you keep doing this, you will never fall away.  -- 

NKJV:  Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.

 

            Alternative Readings:  Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent [eager, NIV; zealous, RSV] to make your call [selection, BBE] and election [approval, BBE; His choice of you, TEV; chosen you, Weymouth] sure [certain, ISV, NASB; a permanent experience, TEV; firm, NAB], for if you do [practice, NASB] these things you will never stumble [fall, BBE, Darby, NCV, NIV, RSV].

 

            Cross-references:   If one has the mind frame of cultivating these Christian virtues, not only will he not stumble himself he will also minimize doing things that will cause someone else to stumble:  He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10). 

            “Woe to the world because of offenses!  For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matthew 18:7).    

 

            Thinking points and questions:  If our home had a big yard and had a number of big rocks sticking out of the ground that it would be easy to stumble over, especially at night, what would be one of our top priorities?  [Getting rid of those rocks!  We’d work at it and work at it even if it took a lot of time and effort.  Similarly, the “rocks”—the weaknesses—we have as Christians can’t all be gotten rid of easily.  Some will only take modest effort.  But some we will really have to work at . . . and maybe even have to come back and do it again.  We are human and we can backslide.  But we don’t have to continue to backslide.]    

 

 

 

(1:11)

 

            GW:  Then you will also be given the wealth of entering into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  -- 

NKJV:  for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

            Alternative Readings:  For so an entrance [glorious welcome, CEV; triumphant admission, Weymouth] will be supplied to you abundantly [generously, ISV; richly, NAB, NRSV] into the everlasting [eternal, Holman, NAB, NASB, NCV, NIV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TEV] kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

            Cross-references:  Christ’s kingdom will never end.  Even when the this-world / current-world aspect of it does, it will continue on in eternity as the Son returns it to the Father in ultimate triumph over everything temporal:  Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.  For ‘He has put all things under His feet.’  But when He says ‘all things are put under Him,’ it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.  Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).    

 

            Thinking points and questions:   What reward does this verse tell us is ours for undertaking the job of self-improvement?  [An entrance into the eternal kingdom of heaven.]  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of This Lifestyle

Explains Why the Author Is Determind

to Emphasize It Repeatedly

Until the Day He Dies (1:12-14):

 

Commentary and Thought Flow

 

 

1:12     Because of the importance of what he had said (“for this reason”) he was determined never to be negligent by failing to repeatedly remind them of these matters.  This wasn’t to deny that they already knew these things—after all they were already “established in the present truth”—but they needed to be reminded of them for their own protection and well-being.

 

1:13     Hence as long as he was alive, he was determined “to stir” up their thinking and emotions so that they would live in this manner.

 

1:14     Implied but not explicitly stated is the reason for this:  Since death must inevitably come to him, he had to do it now or not at all.  Some things might be postponed, but he knew that he had but a limited time left in life to urge this type of life.

 

 

 

(1:12)

 

            GW:  Therefore, I will always remind you about these qualities, although you already know about them and are well-grounded in the truth that you now have.  --  

NKJV:  For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.

 

            Alternative Readings:  For this reason I will not be negligent to [always persist in, Weymouth] remind you [keep on reminding you, ISV; help you remember, NCV] always of these things, though you know and are established [firmly grounded, TEV; steadfast, Weymouth; well based, BBE] in [holding firmly to, CEV] the present truth [the truth that you have, Holman, NAB, NIV, RSV, TEV].

 

            Cross-references:  This element of reminding them is something so important to Peter that he mentions it no less than four times in this one epistle.  Here’s the other three:  (1)  In the very next verse:  Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you.”  (2)  2 Peter 1:15:  Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.”  (3)  2 Peter 3:1:  “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder).”          

 

            Thinking points and questions:  As human beings, we are forgetful—and sometimes we can get really angry about “How in the world did I forget . . . [fill in your own blank]?”  We’ve all done it.  And sometimes it’s more subtle . . . like we’ve put it on the “back burner”—we haven’t exactly forgotten it, but we are really paying as much attention to it as we might.  And that is the kind of situation Peter is depicting.   

 

 

 

(1:13)

 

            GW:  As long as I'm still alive, I think it's right to refresh your memory.  -- 

            NKJV:  Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you.

 

            Alternative Readings:  Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent [body, CEV, NCV, NIV, RSV, Weymouth; earthly dwelling, NASB], to stir you up [arouse you, RSV; keep your minds awake, BBE; refresh your memory, ISV, NIV, NRSV] by reminding you.

 

            Cross-references:  In the previous verse he had just mentioned his intention to remind them of these things.  The double repetition—one immediately after the other—just makes it that much more emphatic.  It is as if he were shaking them and saying, “Pay attention!”    

 

            Thinking points and questions:  There are some things it is right to make a habit of—of continuing to do throughout our life.  Can you think of some in regard to our spiritual life?  [(1)  Study of the Bible:  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). 

(2)  Self-examination of our spirituality:  “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).  In connection with the Lord’s Supper:  “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Corinthians 11:28).]   

 

 

 

(1:14)

 

            GW:  I know that I will die soon. Our Lord Jesus Christ has made that clear to me.  -- 

NKJV:  Knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.

 

            Alternative Readings:  Knowing that shortly [soon, CEV, Holman, ISV, RSV, TEV; is imminent, NASB] I must put off [leave behind, CEV] my tent [earthly dwelling, NASB; body, NCV, Weymouth; mortal body, TEV], just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me [made clear to me, BBE, NASB, NIV, NRSV, Rotherham; told me, CEV, TEV].

 

            Cross-references:  Peter wasn’t the only apostle who knew when his death was coming soon.  So did Paul:  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6).    

 

            Thinking points and questions:   What was on Peter’s mind as he faced death—judging from what we are reading in these verses?  [Their welfare; their spiritual well being.  It’s hardly likely that he was particularly looking forward to dying.  What he was concerned with was those who would remain behind and how they would act and live.  They were his “living heritage” and he did not want to see it go to waste.]   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter’s Message Can Be Trusted

Because He Was an Eyewitness

of the Things He Discusses (1:15-18):

 

 

Commentary and Thought Flow

 

 

1:15     Peter is determined to leave behind him a “reminder” of this teaching.  That would be done both through the preservation of the current epistle and through the lifestyle changes he had successfully encouraged in many.

 

1:16     The world of his day had many “fables”—fabulous tales of long ago or of something in his contemporary world that was far off and removed from the experience of himself and his readers.  But the Transfiguration was something far different:  He had been there.  He had seen it.  He had heard the words spoken.  And he remembered. . . ..

 

1:17     for Jesus’ supernaturalness had been confirmed even by the Father Himself on the Mount of Transfiguration.  The choice of this incident rather than the resurrection appearances is an odd one yet it clearly made a major impression upon the apostle’s thinking.  Probably this is because, though the resurrection proved Christ’s power over death and how God respected and honored Him, in the Transfiguration that endorsement and commendation was expressed in explicit words as well. 

 

1:18     Having described the incident, he now tells us where it occurred.  Because of his emphasis upon the event, is clear that it played a major role in Peter’s teaching about Jesus for it was one the most vivid examples of the entire ministry in which God’s endorsement of Jesus was made in crystal clear terms.

 

 

 

(1:15)

 

            GW:  So I will make every effort to see that you remember these things after I die.  -- 

NKJV:   Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.

 

            Alternative Readings:   Moreover I will be careful [be diligent, NASB; do my best, Weymouth; make every effort, ISV, NAB, NRSV] to ensure that you [to enable you, NAB] always have a reminder of these things [remember these matters, TEV; remember these things, NIV, NCV; be able . . . to recall these things, Holman, NRSV, RSV] after my decease [departure, Holman, NASB, NIV, NRSV].

 

            Cross-references:   Like the Psalmist of old, he wanted to emphasize these things and by that repetition do his part in assuring that they take it seriously and with respect: But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more.  My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness and Your salvation all the day, for I do not know their limits.  I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.  O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works.  Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come” (Psalms 71:14-18).

       

            Thinking points and questions:  What causes us to remember things?  [Because we consider them important.  Yet time passes on and the human tendency is for things to imperceptibly start to “slide” from the front of our memory.  Hence the need to“self-remind” ourselves of gospel truths through our study of the Scriptures.  We can repeatedly hear Peter and Paul and James teach us its  truths and since it may have been awhile since we have thought about the particular point they are raising, it reinforces in our mind what had slipped to the “backburner.”]    

 

 

 

 

(1:16)

 

            GW:  When we apostles told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we didn't base our message on clever myths that we made up.  Rather, we witnessed his majesty with our own eyes.  -- 

NKJV:  For 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.

 

            Alternative Readings:  For we did not follow cunningly [cleverly, Darby, Holman, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV,  Rotherham, RSV; Weymouth] devised [contrived, Holman; imagined, Darby; invented, NCV, NIV] fables [myths, Holman, ISV, NAB, NRSV; legends, Weymouth; tales, NASB; stories someone had made up, CEV] when we made known to you the power and coming [presence, Young; return, CEV] of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses [spectators, Rotherham] of His majesty [majestic splendor, NLT; glory, BBE; greatness, CEV, NCV, TEV].

 

            Cross-references:  This is a reference to Jesus’ transformation because the spectacularness of it was so great and because Peter was one of only three people present to observe it:  Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.  Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.  But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’  When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only” (Matthew 17:1-8).      

 

            Thinking points and questions:  Peter describes himself as an eyewitness of Jesus’ life.  Why do we think eyewitness testimony—of any event—is so important?  [The person was there.  They saw it firsthand.  So we are far more likely to be getting the information accurately than if it is only something handed along to us through a dozen intermediaries.] 

 

 

 

(1:17)

 

            GW:  For example, we were eyewitnesses when he received honor and glory from God the Father and when the voice of our majestic God spoke these words to him: "This is my Son, whom I love and in whom I delight.”  -- 

NKJV:  For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

 

            Alternative Readings:   For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent [Magnificent, Rotherham; Majestic, Holman, ISV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, RSV; great, BBE; Supreme, TEV] Glory: "This is My beloved [dear, CEV, TEV; dearly-loved, Weymouth] Son, in whom I am well pleased [take delight, Holman]." 

 

            Cross-references:  The Old Testament prophesied that the Messiah would have this kind of stature in the Father’s sight:  Behold!  My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!  I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.  He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.  A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.  He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law” (Isaiah 42:1-4).                      

 

            Thinking points and questions:  The fact that the Father was quite happy with the Son tells us what important fact about the Son?  [That He took great care to do what His Father wanted done.  In earthly father-son relations the situation is the same.]     

 

 

 

(1:18)

 

            GW:  We heard that voice speak to him from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.  -- 

NKJV:  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

 

            Alternative Readings:   And we heard this voice [utterance, NASB] which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy [sacred, NIV] mountain.

 

            Cross-references:  That the last thing the apostles expected was to hear God speak is obvious from their reaction to it: While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.  But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’  When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only” (Matthew 17:5-8).       

 

            Thinking points and questions:  Why was the mountain the transfiguration took place on called “holy”?  [“Holy” conveys the idea of sacredness, of specialness, of being “set apart for a Divine purpose.”  In this case that Divine purpose was the transfiguration of Jesus.  It was also a “holy” mountain because God chose to speak there and, by definition, He is the ultimate expression of holiness.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the Christ Peter Preaches,

the Ancient Prophecies Have Borne

Earthly Fruit (1:19-21):

 

 

Commentary and Thought Flow

 

 

1:19     They needed to remember the ancient prophecies for they had been verified as to their accuracy in the events of the life of Jesus.  If they centered on the ancient writings of the Old Testament, their growing influence over their life would be like a dawning light that finally overwhelms them with the sunlight of divine approval, encouragement, and understanding.  In other words, although it was no longer religious authority over Christians, its moral and spiritual truths could still prove of immense value.   

 

1:20     But they needed to treat scripture fairly.  They were never of “private interpretation,” with some special and unique message for you and something different for someone else.  Instead they had the same intended message for all believers.  If it doesn’t, one or both interpreters must be misunderstanding something.

 

1:21     The reason for this was that the ancient writings never originated through the intention of the writers, but were written in response to how the Holy Spirit guided their minds and prose.

 

 

 

(1:19)

 

            GW:  So we regard the words of the prophets as confirmed beyond all doubt. You're doing well by paying attention to their words. Continue to pay attention as you would to a light that shines in a dark place as you wait for day to come and the morning star to rise in your hearts.  -- 

NKJV:  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.

 

            Alternative Readings:   And so we have the prophetic word confirmed [made more sure, NASB, RSV; made more certain, BBE, NIV], which you do well to heed [pay attention, Holman, ISV, NASB, NIV, TEV, Weymouth; pay close attention, CEV; follow closely, NCV] as a light [lamp, CEV, NASB, RSV, TEV] that shines in a dark [dismal, Holman; gloomy, ISV; dimly-lighted, Weymouth] place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises [is seen, BBE] in your hearts.

 

            Cross-references:   Jesus Himself had spoken of how the Old Testament spoke about Him:  You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).

            Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 245:25-27).  

 

            Thinking points and questions:  Peter has been talking about Jesus Christ in the preceding verses—the Mount of Transfiguration in particular.  And here he stresses that it is through Christ that the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled.  In past generations, they spoke of the future.  Now they spoke of what was happening among them.  The longed for time of fulfillment had arrived.  

 

 

 

(1:20)

           

            GW:  First, you must understand this: No prophecy in Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation.  -- 

NKJV:  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.

 

            Alternative Readings:   Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private [one’s own, NASB, RSV; special sense, BBE; the prophet’s own, NCV, NIV, Weymouth] interpretation.

 

            Cross-references:   We need to handle scripture with the idea of getting the truth out of it rather than reading into it the meaning we’d prefer to get out of it.  Most translations render 2 Timothy 2:15 something along this line:  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15; in contrast with the more traditional “rightly dividing the word of truth” [KJV and NKJV]).    

 

            Thinking points and questions:   This verse can be interpreted in two different ways.  It could refer to the fact that since prophecy was inspired no prophet was speaking his own opinion; he was simply relaying what God had given him.  If referring to us, it shows that scripture can not be interpreted in contradictory directions—be of my own “private,” individual interpretation.  Truth doesn’t contradict.  So if we come up with contradictory interpretations, at least one of us has to be wrong. 

 

 

 

(1:21)

 

            GW:  No prophecy ever originated from humans. Instead, it was given by the Holy Spirit as humans spoke under God's direction.  -- 

NKJV:  For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

 

            Alternative Readings:  For prophecy never came by [was ever made by, NASB; originated through, ISV] the will [impulse, BBE, RSV] of man [human decision, ISV], but holy men of God spoke [were guided, CEV] as they were moved [carried along, ISV, NIV; impelled, Weymouth; led, NCV; under the influence, NAB] by the Holy Spirit.

 

            Cross-references:   Since it originated with the Godhead, prophecy was inevitably going to be fulfilled.  On the day of Pentecost the writer of this very epistle had this to say about prophecy:  But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18). 

            The apostle Paul spoke of how whatever the Father spoke through the Spirit was right and reliable:  And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved.  So when they did not agree among themselves, they departed after Paul had said one word: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers” (Acts 28:24-25) and then proceeds to quote what the prophet had warned.   

 

            Thinking points and questions:   Any human being can err.  I bet you can think of more than one time when you have, can’t you?  [Slight pause.]  In contrast, God is infallible--what He chooses to reveal is unerringly accurate and right.