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Arno Clement Gaebelein

In the Public Domain

                        THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER


     The authenticity of this Second Epistle of Peter has occasioned a
great deal of controversy and many are questioning it, as it has been done
in the past. It is true the most ancient sources of post-apostolic writings
do not mention this Epistle. What we have pointed out in the introductions
of most of the other New Testament books, that their authenticity is
confirmed by references in the fragments of the writings of the church
fathers, such as Polycarp, Papias, Clement of Rome and others, cannot be
done with this Epistle. Some scholars in their research claim that traces
of this Epistle are discernable in the testimonies of Polycarp, Ignatius,
in the letter of Barnabas and in the testimony of Clement of Rome, but they
are so very faint and fanciful, that they are not reliable. But not finding
a direct allusion in these sources does not mean anything at all. The
greater portion of the writings of the men who were in touch with the
Apostles and the direct disciples of the men who knew Peter and Paul, have
been lost. If we had all they have written we would probably find in them
references to this Epistle.

     The Epistle is not found in the Peshito version. According to Bishop
Westcott in his Canon of the New Testament there are in existence two
classes of manuscripts of this version. Both omit the Second and Third
Epistles of John, the Second Epistle of Peter, the Epistle of Jude and the
Book of Revelation, but include all the other books. This Canon seems to
have been generally maintained in the Syrian churches. It is reproduced in
the Arabic version of Erpenius, which was taken from the Peshito. Cosmas,
an Egyptian traveller of the sixth century, states that only three of the
so-called "Catholic" Epistles were received by the Syrians. Later sources
charge the Syrian churches with mutilating the New Testament by not having
these books in their Bibles.

     The Epistle is also omitted in the Latin version, that is, in the
oldest editions. That the Vulgate is unreliable is well known. Westcott
makes the following argument about the missing Second Epistle of Peter in
the Latin version: "If we suppose that it was once received into the canon
like the First Epistle, it would in all probability have been translated by
the same person, as seems to have been the case with the Gospel of Luke and
the Acts (both written by Luke), though their connection is less Obvious;
and while every allowance is made for the difference in style in the
original Epistles, we must look for the same rendering of the same phrases.
But when on the contrary, it appears that the Latin text of the Epistle not
only exhibits constant and remarkable difference from the text of other
parts of the Vulgate, but also differs from the First Epistle in the
rendering of words common to both, when it further appears that it differs
not less clearly from the Epistle of Jude in those parts which are almost
identical in the Greek; then the supposition that it was admitted into the
Canon at the same time with them becomes at once unnatural. It is indeed
possible that the two Epistles may have been received at the same time and
yet have found different translators." But this argument does not mean at
all that this Epistle is spurious and should be excluded from the New

     But while the Epistle is not mentioned in the Muratorian fragment, in
the writings of Polycarp, Papias, Irenaeus and others, and while it is
missing in the Peshito and the earlier editions of the Vulgate, Hippolytus
(living in the first half of the third century) was evidently acquainted
with the Epistle, for in writing on the Antichrist he makes use of 2 Peter
1:21. Eusebius, the church historian, gives incontrovertible testimony that
the Epistle was positively known at the close of the second century as the
second Epistle of Peter. He shows that Clement of Alexandria (about 190
A.D.) knew the Epistle as the work of Peter and used it. The successor of
Clement, Origen, according to Eusebius wrote: "Peter has left one
acknowledged Epistle, and possibly also a second, for it is disputed." It
was through Jerome's (Eusebius Hieronymus, born 390 A.D.) efforts that the
Epistle was added to the Vulgate. He wrote: "Peter wrote two Epistles,
which are termed Catholic, the second of which is denied by most to be his,
because of the disagreement of its style with that of the former Epistle."
On account of these historical facts opinions among scholars have been very
much divided. Many reject the Petrine authorship of this Epistle, but other
scholars accept it without any question. Among those who defend the Epistle
against those who deny it are scholars of the highest reputation like
Alford, Olshausen, Keil and others.

                   The Sufficiency of Internal Evidence

     The fact is that external evidences to confirm the authenticity of
Second Peter are not needed, for the internal evidences are beyond
controversy of such a nature as to establish the Petrine authorship. The
Epistle starts with the name of Peter. In the Greek the name Simon is
spelled "Symeon" or "Simeon." If we turn to Acts 15:14 we read that James
called Peter "Symeon," the Aramaic form for Simon. Then the writer refers
to the fact that he would have soon to put off this tabernacle "even as our
Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me." He was now an old man, and the Lord had
spoken to him at the lakeside. "When thou art old thou shalt stretch forth
thy hands" (John 21). Still stronger is the reference of the writer to the
transfiguration, where Peter was present, and he speaks of it as being an
eyewitness of His coming and of His majesty And, finally, the writer says:
"This second Epistle, beloved, I now write unto you" (3:1).

                       Critical Claims and Evasions

     This internal evidence destructive critics try to evade and offset.
They claim that the writer was not Simon Peter, but that some unknown
author, using Peter's name, wrote this document. It is the same foolish
invention advanced by Old Testament critics as to the authorship of the
book of Daniel.

     To establish this theory they point to the fact that there was a
tendency in the early church to use Peter's name in different pseudo
documents, such spurious writings as "The Gospel of Peter; The Revelation
of Peter; the Acts of Peter, and the travels of Peter." But the fact of
these forgeries, some of which cover some of the text of the Second Epistle
of Peter, is an evidence that a genuine writing exists. According to the
opinions of the men who reject the authorship of Peter, the writer of this
Epistle to give standing to his production thought best to impersonate the
Apostle Peter and so he started right in the beginning by saying he is
Peter. And he is careful to select the Aramaic form of Peter's name, the
name Symeon. Would a forger not rather have avoided that uncommon use of
Peter's name? But, furthermore, he also tells us that the Lord had told him
about His death; and yet this man was not Peter, nor had the Lord ever told
him what He had spoken to Peter about the time and manner of His death.
Then the writer of the Epistle claims to have been on the Mount of
Transfiguration, that he beheld His glory there and heard the voice of the
Father speaking. He is positive that he was present and was an eyewitness,
the strongest possible claim.

     Yet if it was not Peter who wrote this Epistle, then it must have been
either John or James, because there were only three eyewitnesses of the
transfiguration. But would John or James write thus, hiding his identity
under the name of Peter? Then the writer, assuming the name of Peter,
declares that he had written the first Epistle, which Peter beyond doubt
wrote, yet he had not written that Epistle. Here are three (in plain
English) lies. A man writes an Epistle claiming to be Peter, but he is not
Peter at all; hence he is a fraud. The same man claims that he was at the
lake of Tiberias, that the Lord told him about His death; yet he was not
there, for he was not Peter; therefore this impersonator is a fraud. This
is an especially strong point. The fact that the Lord had announced Peter's
death was known to but a few at that time, when the Epistle was written,
which we take was about the year 65 A.D.

     The Gospel of John, where the Lord's prophecy as to Peter's future is
recorded, had not yet been written. Furthermore, he says that he saw the
transfiguration, which he did not see; hence he lied. The fourth lie is his
claim that he wrote the first Epistle, which he did not write. It is
astonishing what inventions the enemies of the Bible can bring forth simply
to discredit the Word of God and to deny its authenticity. If Peter is not
the writer of this Epistle the whole Epistle is a miserable fraud, a
dishonest piece of work, a forgery of the worst kind, which every honest
man must despise. The foolish babblings of critics: "it is a useful
document and should be read by all Christians, though Peter did not write
it himself," is ridiculous. Either Peter wrote it and then it must be
accepted; or Peter did not write it and in such a case the whole business
is a forgery and a fraud. But would a fraud ever have written such a
wonderful message as the one with which this second Epistle begins? Would a
conscious fraud have warned against apostasy as found in the second
chapter? Would he, could he, have exhorted fellow-believers in the way as
it is done in this Epistle? It is a moral impossibility.

                    The Character of the Second Epistle

     One of the critics makes the following statement in denying the
Petrine authorship: "The fact that the only allusions to the incidents in
the Lord's life found in the Epistle are such as would support the
character as one writing as Peter does become, in view of the silence of
the Epistle as to the passion, the resurrection, the ascension, and of the
absence from it of allusions to the Lord's teaching as recorded in the
gospel, are a serious ground for questioning the Petrine authorship of the
Epistle" (Chase). Like most critics this one lacks in spiritual
discernment. In fact, if critics had some spiritual insight in the majestic
scope of God's holy Word, they would not be critics, but worshipers. All
second Epistles, except Second Corinthians, have a peculiar character.
Second Thessalonians, Second Timothy, Second and Third John, and the little
Epistle of Jude are in reality prophetic. They all speak of the future, the
coming evils in professing Christendom, the apostasy, and all warn against
these things. The Second Epistle of Peter shares the same character with
the other second Epistles and Jude's Epistle. There was no need for Peter
to refer again to the passion being outside of the scope of this second
letter, he had given his witness and testimony as to these facts so
abundantly in his first Epistle. The two Epistles harmonize in many ways.

                        Another Supposed Difficulty

     Another supposed difficulty is the similarity that exists between the
second chapter of this Epistle and the Epistle of Jude. This difficulty
will be taken up more fully in connection with the annotations of the
chapter and in the introduction to Jude's Epistle. The learned scholars
have spent much time on the question whether Jude copied from Peter or
Peter copied from Jude. Some claim that Peter had Jude's Epistle and used
it; others claim that Jude imitated Peter. Even so good a scholar as the
late Dean Alford says: "It is well known that, besides various scattered
resemblances, a long passage occurs, included in the limits Jude 3-19; 2
Peter 2:1-19, describing in both cases the heretical enemies of the gospel,
couched in terms so similar as to preclude all idea of entire independence.
If considerations of human probability are here as everywhere else to be
introduced into our estimate of sacred writings, then either one saw and
used the text of the other, or both drew from a common document or a common
source of oral apostolic teaching." This in reality affects the truth of
inspiration, and leans towards criticism. If Peter sat down and copied
Jude, what Peter wrote was not inspired, but copied. And if Jude sat down
and wrote after the pattern of Peter, copied him, and worked over his
testimony, then Jude is not inspired. But both, Peter and Jude were
inspired, and therefore they wrote independent of each other, the Holy
Spirit guiding their respective pens, in giving the same testimony of

                       The Division of Second Peter

     This Second Epistle of Peter may be looked upon as an appendix or
complement of the First Epistle. It introduces a testimony as to the
future, connected with the coming of the Lord, which the First Epistle so
frequently mentions. While the First Epistle is silent as to the coming
evils preceding the coming of the Lord, this Second Epistle sounds the
warning and gives, as already stated in the preceding introduction, a
prophetic picture of the conditions of Christendom when the age closes.
Here, too, we find the exhortations of Peter, similar to those in the first
letter. Peter himself states the purpose when he wrote: "This second
Epistle, beloved, I now write unto you, in both of which I stir up your
pure minds by way of remembrance." While the language may differ in some
respects from the language of the First Epistle, the style and development
of the Epistle is just like the first, which is even noticeable in our
English version. He writes first of the gracious provisions, which are made
for those of like precious faith through the righteousness of God and our
Saviour Jesus Christ, which includes present provisions in precious
promises, and the gift of all things that pertain unto life and godliness,
as well as the gift of the Word of Prophecy.

     The second chapter unfolds the coming dangers of the last days of this
age. The false teachers and their pernicious doctrines are revealed with
the corresponding warnings to beware of them. The concluding chapter is
prophetic; it reveals the future, including the coming great transformation
when the physical earth will pass through a judgment by fire, to come forth
in an eternal resurrection glory as a new earth, surrounded by new heavens.
We follow, therefore, in our annotations the division of the Epistle in
three chapters as we have it in our Bibles.


                         Analysis and Annotations

                     I. THE GRACIOUS PROVISIONS OF GOD

                                 CHAPTER 1

     1. God's gracious provisions in Christ (1:1-4)
     2. The development of the divine nature (1:5-11)
     3. The promises of prophecy (1:12-21)

     Verses 1-4. We are not left in doubt who the writer is, not a pseudo
Peter, but Simon Peter, the fisherman of Galilee. With this second Epistle
he finishes the task given him by the Lord "to strengthen his brethren."
The opening verse of the third chapter shows that the Epistle is addressed
to the same persons to whom he wrote the first Epistle. He gives his old
name, Simon (or as in the Greek, Symeon), followed by the new name given
him by the Lord, Peter. He calls himself a servant first before he mentions
his apostleship. The word servant is the same as the word by which Paul
designated himself, that is, a slave. Evidently Peter estimated his
servantship higher than his apostle ship.

     He addresses his brethren no longer as he did in his first Epistle as
strangers and elect by the foreknowledge of God. His purpose is a different
one. No longer does he mention their trials, sufferings and persecutions;
this was done abundantly in the preceding document. He addresses them
instead as those "that have obtained like precious faith," that is, the
faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Saviour and Lord. This
faith is obtained "through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus
Christ." In Romans the righteousness of God is the great theme as the
ground of the believer's justification. (See annotations on Romans 3.) Here
it has a somewhat different meaning. It is not the question of
justification, but the question of God having been righteous, that is,
faithful to His promises by Him who is Jehovah, their own promised Messiah.
It was the faithfulness of the God of Israel which had bestowed upon them
as a believing remnant this faith, which was now so precious to them, the
faith in Jehovah-Jesus as Saviour.

     Then follows the greeting: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you
through the knowledge of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ." This form of
greeting using the word "multiplied" is confined to the two Epistles of
Peter and the Epistle of Jude. It is not without significance. When
believers suffer, as seen in the First Epistle of Peter, they can count on
God, to multiply grace and peace. But Second Peter and the Epistle of Jude
look forward to the last days, the end of the age, with its predicted
apostasy, and for those days God promises to multiply to His own grace,
peace and mercy. But it must be noticed that this multiplication is
"through the knowledge of God, and of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is not
independent of a real heart knowledge of God and His Son, our Lord. There
may be a head knowledge of God and of Christ, a barren knowledge which
brings no fruit unto God. Of this we read in chapter 2:20-22 of our

     The knowledge of God is in Jesus Christ; through Him we know God in
all His gracious fullness. (See 1 John 5:20.) The real heart knowledge of
Him produces fruit because it carries with it divine power, which has given
to the believer "all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the
knowledge of Him that hath called us by glory and virtue." Life and glory
are the gifts of grace; life is bestowed in the new birth which fits for
glory, but godliness and virtue are the practical results of that grace in
the life of the believer. The divine power for godliness and virtue which
are to be manifested in the believer's life, that power which is able to
act in us and give us the victory, must be laid hold on by faith. "How
precious it is to know that faith can use this divine power, realized in
the life of the soul, directing it toward glory in the end! What a
safeguard from the efforts of the enemy, if we are really established in
the consciousness of this divine power acting on our behalf in grace! The
heart is led to make glory its object; and virtue, the strength of
spiritual life, is developed on the way to it. Divine power has given all
that is needed" (Synopsis of the Bible.)

     Having called us by glory and virtue, He has in connection with it
given us exceeding great and precious promises. These promises relate to
both, glory and virtue. Through these promises we are made partakers of the
divine nature, by the divine power acting in us, with the glory as the
blessed goal. But by the same power promised unto us, we escape and are
delivered from the corruption that is in the world through lust. Here is
the real victorious life of a believer. It is not in some kind of a fixed
"holiness experience" by which the old nature is eradicated, a teaching
which is altogether against Scripture. The heart must be occupied with
Christ and the glory by which we are called, as a result the divine power,
the Holy Spirit in us, acts and victory over sin results.

     Verses 5-11. While God promises to His people to add, that is, to
multiply, daily grace and peace, they themselves in the faith which
realizes the divine power and the glory to come, must add to that faith
virtue, and that is to be done "by giving all diligence." The divine nature
which the believer has received loves the will of God; it is a holy nature,
and therefore abhors the corruption which is in the world by lust. But that
divine nature is subject to growth and development in the life of the child
of God, and that requires all care and diligence. If Christians say that
they possess a new nature, are born again, saved by grace, and continue to
live according to the old nature, enjoying the world and its sinful
pleasures, without manifesting godliness and virtue, they are not only in a
very unscriptural attitude, but on dangerous ground. It would prove that
they belong to the class of professors described in chapter 2:20-22.

     Seven things are to be added to faith. "Add to your faith virtue."
This word means something different from its general meaning in English. It
means moral courage, a courage which refuses the gratification of the old
nature. It is the soldier's courage, who stands manfully against all
opposition. It is an energy by which the heart is master of itself, and is
able to choose the good, and to cast aside the evil, as a thing conquered
and unworthy of one's self. Such courage to stand and withstand, this
energy to deny one's self, makes full communion with God possible. If such
virtue is added to faith it leads to knowledge, the next thing. The truth
of God and the things of God are known and learned by obedience, by walking
in them. Knowledge gained, without virtue practised, only puffs up and
leads to hypocrisy.

     A true knowledge of God is heart acquaintance with Him. This knowledge
leads to temperance, which means self-restraint. And self-restraint, the
government of the will, must be followed by patience, which means
endurance. How easy it is to endure reproach, wrongs inflicted by others,
sufferings--to endure it all in patience when faith looks to Him Who
endured more than we are ever called upon to do. If such is the case,
godliness will not be lacking. It is a walk with God, communion with Him,
child-like trust and obedience and reverence. Out of such a heart of faith,
which has moral courage, practises self restraint, knowing God, endures and
is godly--affections towards fellow-believers flow forth and brotherly love
is added. This is what the knowledge of God teaches, "Ye yourselves are
taught of God to love one another" (1 Thess. 4:9).

     But there is something still higher than brotherly kindness and
affection, and that is "love." It means divine love, which is the very
nature of God Himself. "If divine love governs me, I love all my brethren;
I love them because they belong to Christ; there is no partiality. I shall
have greater enjoyment in a spiritual brother; but I shall occupy myself
about my weaker brother with a love that rises above his weakness and has a
tender consideration for it. I shall concern myself with my brother's sins,
from love of God, in order to restore my brother, rebuking him, if needful;
nor, if divine love be in exercise, can brotherly love be associated with
disobedience. In a word, God will have His place in all my relationships"
(John N. Darby).

     Here, then, is food for self-examination and self-judgment. Does my
faith in Christ, in whom all things are freely supplied pertaining to life
and godliness, produce moral courage--does it produce heart knowledge of
God, self-restraint, endurance in meekness, godliness and brotherly love
and is all governed in me according to love, the very essence of God
Himself. These things should be not only in us, but abound. It will not
leave us barren or unfruitful. "But he that lacketh these things is blind,
and cannot see afar off (short-sighted) and hath forgotten that he was
cleansed from his former sins." There is not only the blindness of the
natural man, but there may be a blindness and short- sightedness of a
believer. It means that a believer whose new nature does not develop and
manifest itself in these things, is short-sighted in respect to the
heavenly things, the seen things which surround him are the objects which
absorb his mind. Such a one forgets that he was cleansed from his former
sins. The joy and peace in the Holy Spirit are no longer a present
possession; his own heart condemns him and he lacks the reality of His
salvation; the joy of it is gone, he has forgotten his cleansing from his
former sins. When a believer remembers what God has done for Him in
redemption, he will also long for a practical manifestation of that
salvation in a godly life and walk.

     He speaks next of making our calling and election sure. But is this
not sure already? As far as God, who has called and elected us, is
concerned, it is sure. To have a consciousness of our calling and election,
the sureness of it, requires diligence to walk in the path which the Holy
Spirit through the pen of Peter has so beautifully described. Those who
walk thus will not stumble, and, finally, "an entrance shall be ministered
unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ."

     Verses 12-21. Having mentioned the coming kingdom of Christ, the Holy
Spirit now enlarges upon this. We pointed out in the first Epistle that
salvation to be revealed, as repeatedly stated, means the visible and
glorious appearing of our Lord to establish His kingdom on earth. Peter
does not teach the coming of the Lord for His saints at all. He knew it, of
course, for the Lord had revealed it through Paul. Inasmuch as Peter writes
to this remnant of believing Jews, and that remnant is also representative
of another remnant, which will, during the great tribulation, suffer and
wait for the coming of the King, the second half of this chapter is
therefore taken up with the kingdom in manifestation, as revealed in
prophecy and foreshadowed by the transfiguration.

     He speaks first of His coming departure; the Lord had told him about
that long ago. But there was no doubt a special intimation from the Lord
that this event would now soon be and he would have "to put off this
tabernacle. So before his departure he was anxious to give them
instructions by the Spirit of God, so that they might have these things
always in remembrance. This makes it clear once more that Peter did not
look for a chain of successors to become guardians and instructors of the

     He and the other apostles had not followed cunningly devised fables
when they made known the power and coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. They
had been eye witnesses of His majesty. But where and how? He speaks of the
scene on the holy mount, when the Lord Jesus Christ was transfigured before
them, when they heard the voice of the Father from the excellent glory. He
stood upon that mount clothed with the glory of the Father; with Him Moses
and Elijah, the one who had died, the other who went to heaven without
dying. It was a foregleam of His coming glory and a fulfillment of the
promise given in the last verse of Matthew 16. As He stood upon that
mountain, so He will appear in His glory on earth again, bringing His
saints with Him. It is His visible and glorious appearing to which Peter
refers, and which was foreshadowed in the transfiguration, and not that
coming promised to His own in John 14:1-3, to take them into the Father's
     "We have also a more sure word of prophecy" should be rendered, "We
have the word of prophecy made more sure." The Word of prophecy is, of
course, in the Old Testament. But is not this sure enough? Why should it be
made more sure? It must be understood in the sense of attesting, or
confirming the word of prophecy. The transfiguration confirmed the
prophecies in the Old Testament. The prophets describe such a scene like
the transfiguration, when the Son of Man comes from heaven in power and
glory; hence the word of prophecy has been confirmed, made more sure, by
the scene on the holy mount. Let it be stated again that the Old Testament
prophetic Word does not reveal that coming for His saints, which is for the
Church "that blessed Hope." When Paul speaks of it in 1 Corinthians 15 he
speaks of it as a mystery; it was hidden in former ages (1 Cor. 15:51). Yet
in the verse before us Peter alludes to it when he speaks of the morning

     There is a difficulty connected with this verse, and some have read it
as if it meant that the morning star must arise in the heart of the
individual, as it has been stated in the following comment: "The day star
arising in our hearts will be the inner premonitions which announce the
coming, as the day star heralds the dawn; such premonitions might be
occasioned by observing the various signs of the coming." But it does not
mean this at all, nor does it mean that prophecy is only to be used for
encouragement till we possess the proper Christian hope. The suggested
rendering in the Numerical Bible removes the difficulty. "We have also the
prophetic Word confirmed, to which ye do well in taking heed (as to a lamp
that shineth in an obscure place, until the day dawn and the morning star
ariseth) in your hearts." It does not mean that the morning star is to
arise in the heart of the believer; it means that we should take heed to
prophecy in our hearts. And how the entire prophetic Word, that blessed
lamp, is needed in these darkening days!

     The day dawn is preceded by the rising of the morning star, or day
star, and the morning star is the blessed emblem of the coming of the Lord
for His saints. He is both the morning star and the sun of righteousness.
He appears as the morning star for His saints and afterward in full glory
as the sun of righteousness.

     The closing statements of this chapter are also of much importance.
"Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private
interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man; but men spake
from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit." Prophecy never could be produced
by the will of man; only God knows the future and He has spoken concerning
the future.

     The fact of prophecy is one of the great evidences of the
supernaturalness of the Bible. The men who were used to communicate
prophecy spoke from God; they were moved by the Holy Spirit. For this
reason the pernicious school of destructive criticism has always aimed at
the prophetic Word, for if they concede that there is prophecy, they
acknowledge their defeat. What denials and theories they have used in order
to get rid of prophecy we cannot follow here. The next chapter shows what
results have been brought about through the rejection of the truth stated
by Peter, that God hath spoken. Of equal importance is the divine
statement, "that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation."

     Rome has used the word "private" to uphold its awful lie, that
Scripture should never be interpreted by a private individual. As a result
Rome discourages in every way the reading of the Word of God. In the past
that system burned the Bibles, often chaining the Bible to the martyr at
the stake, burning the hated Book with the hated witness. Give Rome her old
time power and she will do it again. The prophetic Word only is here in
view. Prophecy shows a divine unity that is wonderful. Some have said that
history must interpret prophecy, but that is not so. History is predicted
in advance by prophecy. In interpreting prophecy, prophetic Scripture must
be compared with prophetic Scripture. Prophecy must be taken as a whole. We
have no business to say, as it is often done, "I think it means this or
that." Prophecy starts in Genesis 3:15. The consummation of all prophecy is
the kingdom of Christ, the victory of God in His Son, the complete defeat
of Satan. Every prophecy is a part of prophecy, having one and the same
object and can, therefore, not be interpreted by itself, independent of the
rest of prophecy. All the confusion which is in the professing church today
as to the prophetic forecasts of the Word of God is the result of having
ignored this important injunction.


                                 CHAPTER 2

     1. The source of the evil (2:1-3)
     2. The lessons from the past. (2:4-10)
     3. The description of the apostates (2:11-22)

     Verses 1-3. The Apostle Peter is now being used by the Spirit of God
to prophesy. He predicts the coming evil for the professing church, that
apostate teachers would do their vicious work. As pointed out in the
introduction every other writer of the Epistles bears the same witness and
that witness is mostly found in the second Epistles and in the Epistle of
Jude. (See 1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:1-5; 4:1-4; 2 Thess. 2; 1 John 2:18-23;
4:1-6; 2 John, verses 7-11; Jude.) He reminds them that among their own
nation Israel there were false prophets. The false prophets appeared
mostly, if not Altogether, when judgment was impending for the nation, as
we learn from the prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. These false prophets
opposed the true prophets of God, who preached the God-given message, while
the false prophets rejected the Word of the Lord and belittled it. They
spoke out of their own hearts and spoke vanities and lies (Ezek. 13:2, 8).
Their message was "peace" when there was no peace. As a result the people
of Israel did not believe the Lord and His Word; they rejected Him.

     The same, it is predicted, would be repeated in this Christian age,
only with this difference, that not false prophets should appear, but
"false teachers." And as this dispensation draws to its close apostasy
would set in. (Consult annotations on 2 Thess. 2.) These false teachers,
like the false prophets, reject first of all the Word of God; they, too,
speak out of their own hearts, that is, vanities and lies. As a result they
bring in "privily destructive heresies." All heresies have but one goal,
and that is the denial of Christ and the gospel. Therefore Peter predicts
"denying even the Master, who bought them."

     This is the way of destructive criticism. One looks in vain among the
many preachers and teachers who deny the virgin birth and with it the deity
of Christ, for one who believes that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.
All those who deny the Master who bought them began with criticism of the
Bible, rejecting first the writings of Moses, casting doubt upon other
books, and finally abandoning any kind of faith in the Bible as the Word of
God. Well is it called "the destructive criticism," for it is in the end
destructive of everything. It is this which is poisoning everything in
Christendom today and there is no denomination in which this leaven is not
at work. Thus Peter's prediction is increasingly fulfilled in our days and
will be much more as this age draws rapidly to its close.

     We must also notice that it does not say that they deny "the Lord who
redeemed them"; but "the Master who bought" or purchased "them." The
difference between "purchase" and "redemption" is, that purchase is
general, while redemption is limited to those who believe on Him and are
thus redeemed by His precious blood. These false teachers never believed on
Him as Lord, and, therefore, they are not redeemed by Him, though He paid
the purchase price in their behalf. By denying Him they disowned the
purchase. And for such there is in store swift destruction. This pronounces
the sentence of eternal doom upon all false teachers, upon destructive
criticism as well as upon the cults which teach damnable heresies and, by
doing it, deny the Master who bought them.

     Here is also a prediction of the wide-spread success of these false
teachers. "Many shall follow their pernicious (dissolute or lascivious)
ways, through whom the way of truth shall be blasphemed." They speak of
making the world better, they pose as teachers of morality and
righteousness, but their ways are branded as pernicious. How can they be
righteous when they deny that which alone can give righteousness to man?
How often it has been brought to light that those who deny the truth and
yet claim to be teachers of morality, were miserable hypocrites. Unbelief
produces worldliness and immorality. Then the way of truth is being
blasphemed and "that worthy Name" is being dishonored.

     "And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make
merchandise of you; whose judgment now from of old lingereth not, and their
destruction slumbereth not." The people of God are their prey. They are
covetous, seeking their own gratification in money, social standing, fame
and everything else that the natural heart loves and desires. All is
abundantly verified in the conditions about us. But retribution will surely
come upon them.

     Verses 4-10. Here we reach the section of second Peter, which is so
much like the greater part of Jude's Epistle, that critics have claimed
that one must have copied from the other. We have shown in the introduction
that Peter and Jude wrote independently of each other as the direct
instruments of the Holy Spirit. The correspondence of Peter's testimony
with Jude's Epistle is more fully examined in the introduction to Jude.

     The Spirit of God calls attention through Peter to that which happened
in past history, showing that God deals with apostates who defy Him and are
disobedient, while the godly He delivers. In Jude we shall find out, that
while there is much similarity, the purpose of the testimony is quite
different from that of Peter. First, mention is made of the angels who
sinned and who are cast down to hell, the word being Tartarus (the very
lowest pit), where they are kept in chains of darkness for the coming
judgment. It is evident that this passage does not mean Satan and the
angels who joined in his rebellion before ever man was created. Satan and
the fallen angels are not now in the lowest pit awaiting there in a
helpless condition the judgment; they are not in chains, but loose, and
Satan, as the prince of this world, uses his angels in the pursuit of his
work. Who, then, are these angels? They are the beings described in Genesis
6:1-4 as the "sons of God" (a term which in the Old Testament means angels)
who came down and mingled with the daughters of men. These angels, as Jude
tells us, did not keep their first estate, left their assigned place, and
by their disobedience became the means of corrupting the race in such a
manner that the judgment of God had to act in the deluge.

     God has not been pleased to give a complete revelation of this
sinister event. That it means this episode is learned that Peter at once
speaks of the old world, which was not spared by God, "but saved Noah, the
eighth person (with seven others), a preacher of righteousness, having
brought in the flood upon the world of the ungodly." This testimony is
closely linked with what Peter had written in the first Epistle (1 Peter
3:19-20). And here we are told that Noah was a preacher of righteousness.
He and his house had found grace in the sight of the Lord, while the mass
of the ungodly world who rejected His truth and His Spirit, who strove with
them, were not spared but dealt with in judgment. It is so now. Another day
is coming in which the Lord will judge the ungodly and unbelieving, while
His people will be saved.

     Sodom and Gomorrah are cited also as examples of God's holy judgment.
These cities were turned into ashes, as an example of all those who live
ungodly. The awful fruit of sin in the most terrible, unutterable
corruption was manifested in these cities; the same corruption is found
still in the world, and that mostly in the great centers of Christendom.
(Romans 1:27 mentions the same corruption so often referred to by classic
writers of Rome and Greece.) Lot, who was in Sodom, though not of Sodom, is
called, nevertheless, righteous, was vexed from day to day with their
lawless deeds. The Lord delivered him. It is another warning to the false
teachers with their denials and heresies, for the rejection of God's Word
brings in the flood of immorality, licentiousness, and lawlessness.

     The God who turned Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, by raining upon them
fire and brimstone, will also deal with the apostasy at the close of this
age, and with the teachers who deny the Master who bought them, in spite of
their self flattery that they are moral. That judgment comes "when the Lord
Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire
taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of
our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction
from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (2 Thess.
1:7-9). These false teachers sneer at these words of Paul and call them
quotations taken from the apocalyptic literature of the Jews, or something
else; but the day will surely come when the Lord will vindicate His truth.
In the meantime He knows the righteous, watches over them and knows how to
deliver them.

     Verses 11-22. This is one of the most solemn portions of the Word of
God. It is prophetic, for here we have a description of the false teachers
of the last days. Here is a startling picture of the baptized infidels of
Christendom. It corresponds in a measure with 2 Timothy 3:1-5. They are
bold (daring), self-willed, and tremble not to rail at dignities. They are
unbridled in their talk and in their conduct. They are daring enough to
assail every part of the truth of God, they call His revelation a myth, the
virgin birth a legend, and despise the atoning work of the Son of God; they
do what angels would never do, railing at dignities.
     (Jude has more to say about this; it is a well-known fact that some of
the liberal theology leaders have joined hands with socialism in its worst
form, that is, the anarchistic side of it. They speak of helping the masses
and they rail against existing law and order, and advocate their overthrow.
The ringleader of an attempt in Western Canada against the government was
an apostate preacher of an honored denomination. The so-called
"parlor-bolshevists" belong to this class.)

     As we read on let us remember that not Peter, but the Holy Spirit
speaks. They are compared to beasts, just born to be caught and to be
destroyed; they speak evil of the things of which they know nothing
whatever. The meaning is that they were never born again, and therefore
follow the flesh, though it may be under the guise of culture and learning.
They shall perish in their own corruption. They count it pleasure to revel
in the day-time, they delight in luxurious and sinful pleasures. More than
that, they claim a Christian profession and fellowship, by attending the
love feasts of believers, which they dishonor by their presence as spots
and blemishes, while at the same time they glory in their deceivings, their
false teachings and denials of the Master. The right (or straight) way
which they professed to have taken, when they took the name of Christ upon
themselves, they have now left, having gone astray. Therefore they have
eyes full of adultery and cannot cease from sin; they entice unstable
souls, leading them astray as they have gone astray themselves.

     They are also following in the way of Balaam, who was rebuked for his
iniquity by the speaking of the dumb ass. The love of money controls them,
as it controlled the heathen prophet. Verses 17 and 18 give additional
descriptions of the character of these false teachers. They are springs
without water, men look to them for the refreshing water of life, because
they profess to be teachers; "the hungry sheep look up and are not fed."
They know nothing of the water of life. They are nothing but obscuring
mists driven by the tempest of their natural hearts. The great swelling
words are the divine estimate of empty, human rhetoric by which thousands
are swayed, but they are words of vanity, instead of bringing souls to
Christ and the knowledge of redemption, they allure them through the lusts
of the flesh, while they promise liberty to others, they are themselves
slaves of corruption. Such is the character of the false teachers, who deny
the Master that bought them.

     "For if, after having escaped the pollutions of the world through the
knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ they are again entangled
therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the first. For
it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,
than, having known it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered
unto them." Does this mean that these persons were at one time really
begotten again, having received life and the Holy Spirit by trusting on
Christ? These false teachers certainly were never born again; the
description which we have of them is the proof of it. The last verse of
this chapter gives the conclusive evidence. Believers, true Christians, are
never compared to dogs or swine; they are the sheep of His flock. A sheep
cannot be transformed into a dog or a swine, nor will a sheep do what a dog
or a swine does. They were therefore never the true children of God. They
had escaped the outward pollutions of the world, which is a different thing
from the escape of the corruption which is in the world by lust; the latter
stands for the inward deliverance by the new birth, the former for an
outward reformation which had taken place when they professed the knowledge
of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, when for a time forsaking their evil
ways so that they escaped the pollutions. But not having a new nature they
became entangled therein and overcome, so that it was worse with them than
in the beginning, before they had made a profession. They had known the way
of righteousness as made known in the gospel of Christ, but the life which
is offered in that way of righteousness, with the fruits of righteousness
which follow, they had never accepted by a living faith. And this seems to
be the case with the vast majority of the false teachers of today, the
destructive critics, and those who deny the deity of our Lord. They were
never born again; they never had a true experience of real salvation, hence
they are but natural men, not having the Spirit.


                                 CHAPTER 3

     1. Mocking at the Lord's coming (3:1-7)
     2. The future of the earth (3:8-10)
     3. Exhortation and conclusion (3:11-18)

     Verses 1-7. The opening statement shows conclusively that Peter is the
author and that this second Epistle was sent to the same believers to whom
the first Epistle was addressed. The critics claim that this chapter marks
a separate Epistle in itself and that it was combined by mistake with the
preceding two chapters. Like so much else the critics put forth this is a
foolish speculation wholly unwarranted. Peter states the reason for this
second Epistle "to stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance." He had
already used a similar statement in the first chapter (1:12), but now
exhorts them to be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the
holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through the
apostles. The evil had been prophetically pictured by Peter and now he
charges them to use the Word of God in the coming days of peril and
apostasy, and remember especially its prophetic forecast. The apostle Paul
did the same after he had given the warning of the coming of grievous
wolves and false teachers (Acts 20:30).

     Such is the resource of the true Church today, and in the degree, as
we remember the words spoken by the prophets and by the apostles, give heed
to them, we shall be kept in the perilous times. Both the prophets and the
apostles warned of the evil to come as each age closes with apostasy and
judgment; so did the Lord Himself when He predicted the future of the age
and the conditions which precede His physical and glorious return. All have
given the warning. Enoch was a prophet, as we learn from Jude; he
prophesied about the coming of the Lord to execute judgment. There were
apostates in his day who ridiculed his testimony and who spoke against him
(Jude, verse 15).

     Noah was a preacher of righteousness; he built the ark and sounded the
warning, but no one paid any attention to him, and "as it was in the days
of Noah so shall it be when the Son of Man cometh," said our Lord. The
prophets warned of the judgment in store for Jerusalem; the warning was not
heeded, and such a great one as Jeremiah was not believed, and cast into
the dungeon. The prophet Amos speaks of those who "put far off the evil
day." There were mockers and unbelievers each time an age ended. As already
shown, the combined testimony of the apostles is on the same lines. Peter
then writes: "Knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come
with mockery, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the
promise of His coming? for, from the day the fathers fell asleep, all
things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."

     While before Peter had shown the quality of the false teachers, he now
points out by the revelation given unto him, that there would be unbelief
and outright mockery touching the visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In both Epistles this great coming event, the coming of the Lord in the
clouds of heaven, has a prominent place. The false teachers, whose doom
will be sealed when Christ comes again, also ridicule and scoff at the idea
that He will ever show Himself again. And why do they mock and sneer? It
has its source in unbelief These men are infidels. Every destructive critic
is an infidel. The records of the past embodied in the Holy Scriptures are
denied to be authentic and reliable. The prophets of God were Jewish
patriots who dreamt of a great Jewish future. The magnificent prophecies as
to the coming kingdom and the rule of the King of Kings are classed with
the apocalyptic ramblings of the "Sibyline writings." The Lord Jesus Christ
is even impeached as to His knowledge and is regarded as being under the
ignorant prejudice of the times in which He lived. It all emanates from the
rejection of the Bible as the inerrant revelation of God.

     Never before has this prophecy been so literally fulfilled as now. The
Holy Spirit has revived the study of prophecy. The midnight cry has gone
forth. The blessed hope has been restored to the Church, and the forgotten
prayer, "Even so, Come, Lord Jesus," is being prayed by the members of the
body of Christ as never before. There is more preaching and teaching going
on today on prophecy than ever before in the history of the church. It is
one of the signs that the end of the age is very near. But the revival of
prophecy has resulted in the activity of Satan. He both perverts and
ridicules the coming of the Lord, and as that blessed event draws near,
there will be increasing ridicule and mockery from the side of the
apostates. (Of late certain presses of "evangelical denominations" have
turned out tons of literature warning against the premillennial teachings.
The Methodist church of Canada circulated a series of 5 pamphlets which
attacked the blessed hope. They were the production of an infidel. The
Chicago University and similar institutions also fight prophecy. Sneers and
ridicule about His coming, the end of the age, the increase of evil and the
coming are constantly multiplying. It is all a fulfillment of what Peter
has written.)

     The apostates dream of human progress, for they are "evolutionists."
Their pet law, "the survival of the fittest," must work on till the last
vestige of the beastly in man has worked itself out by a natural process,
for they deny the need as well as the power of redemption. They call a
belief in the coming of the Lord "pessimism," and have even attempted to
brand those who believe in a catastrophic ending of this present evil age
"enemies of civilization and human progress." What God hath spoken, what
the mouth of all His holy prophets have declared, that the hope of the
world is the coming and the enthronement of the Lord Jesus Christ, is
extremely distasteful to them, for it conflicts with the program they have
invented, a program which has no scriptural support whatever. They take the
ground of an assumed unchangeableness of the world, that a sort of cycle
governs nature, and thus they deny the positive statements of the Word of
God and exclude God from His own creation. Science, meant to be a helpmeet
to faith, is used by them to uphold their infidelity. They constantly speak
of science contradicting revelation, which is not true.

     The deluge which Peter mentions as an evidence of a past catastrophe,
when the world was overflowed with water, they wilfully forget or, as it is
now generally done, class it with myths of other nations, though science
has abundantly proven that there happened such a judgment. But they do not
want to believe that there can be a supernatural interference with the
world. They believe in things continuing as they are and steadily
improving. Up to the very time when the predicted sudden destruction shall
come upon them, they say "Peace and safety" (1 Thess. 5). It was so, no
doubt, when the deluge swept the unbelieving and secure generation of that
time to eternal doom.

     (Some apply the words relating to a past judgment to the judgment
which passed over the original earth on account of Satan's fall. That there
was such a judgment the second verse of the Bible teaches and geological
facts confirm that the earth passed through a prehistoric destruction. But
the reference is to the deluge. Almost every nation on earth has traditions
of the deluge, though often in a perverted form. While the apostates and
sneerers make everything of historical evidence and tradition, they ignore
the universality of traditions concerning the flood.)

     Verses 8-10. A great revelation follows. The heavens that are now, and
the earth by the same word have been stored up, reserved for fire against a
day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. Then in verse 10, "But the
day of the Lord will come as a thief; in which the heavens shall pass away
with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat,
and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up." As the
earth was once judged by water so shall it be judged by fire in the future,
and not the earth only but also the heavens, that is the heavens
surrounding the earth. Years ago infidels used to ridicule the statement of
Peter that the earth and the surrounding heavens would be consumed by fire.
They spoke of it as an impossibility that the earth with its rivers, lakes
and oceans could ever pass through such a conflagration, so that all is
consumed. Well informed infidels no longer ridicule this statement, for
astronomy with the help of the spectroscope has revealed the fact that
other bodies in the heavens have passed through great conflagrations, that
other globes have been burned up, and not a few astronomers have advanced
the theory that this will be the fate of the earth on which we live. Peter
had no telescope, nor did he know anything about astronomy. How did he find
out that the earth would be destroyed by fire? It was the Spirit of God who
revealed it to him.

     The question arises what event is it of which Peter speaks here? He
speaks of "the day of the Lord." What phase of that coming day is it? It
certainly is not the coming of the Lord for His saints as revealed in 1
Thess. 4. Nor is it the day of the Lord in its beginning, when the Lord
appears in power and great glory. Now it is still "man's day," and when He
appears the Day of the Lord begins. One day, Peter tells us, with the Lord
is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. From Revelation we
learn that Christ will reign over the earth with His saints for a thousand
years and that is "the Day of the Lord." The beginning of it will be as a
thief, and it will bring fiery judgments, for He will be revealed "in
flaming fire." But what Peter speaks of is not so much the beginning of
that day of the Lord as it is the end, when the thousand years have

     When the thousand-year reign of Christ as King is over there follows a
little season during which Satan is loosed from his prison; the revolt of
which Revelation 20:8 speaks is followed by fire falling down from God out
of heaven, and after that we see the great white throne, the judgment of
the wicked dead. "And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it,
from whose face the earth and the heavens fled away, and there was found no
place for them" (Rev. 20:11). It is this of which Peter writes, when the
day of the Lord is ended, the earth and the surrounding heaven will pass
away; it will be through a mighty conflagration from beneath and from
above.* When Peter writes in verse 13 of new heavens and a new earth, he
states what John beheld in his vision of chapter 21:1. "And I saw a new
heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were
passed away and there was no more sea."

     *"It will be observed, that the Spirit does not speak here of the
coming of Christ, except to say that it will be scoffed at in the last
days. He speaks of the day of God, in contrast with the trust of
unbelievers in the stability of the material things of creation, which
depends, as the apostle shows, on the word of God. And in that day
everything on which unbelievers rested and will rest shall be dissolved and
pass away. This will not be at the commencement of the day, but at its
close; and here we are free to reckon this day, according to the apostle's
word as a thousand years, or whatever length of period the Lord shall see
fit." (Synopsis of the Bible).

     Some of these Jewish believers were evidently thinking that the Lord
was slack about the fulfillment of the promise concerning that day. The
apostle tells them that the Lord's slackness is His long-suffering, "He is
not willing that any should perish but all should come unto repentance."

     Verses 11-18. In view of such a future the apostle exhorts once more
to holy living and godliness, "waiting for and earnestly desiring the
coming of the day of God." The thought which is often expressed in the
words "hastening the coming of the day of God," that we might act and
serve, sending the gospel to the heathen, and do other things, thus
hastening the coming of the Lord, is not warranted by the text, nor is it
true. God cannot be hastened by the creature, nor can He be delayed in the
execution of His eternal purposes.

     As stated in the preceding annotations, the fiery ending of the Day of
the Lord, and with it the Day of God, the eternal Age, when God is all in
all, is what Peter teaches. "But we, according to His promise, wait for new
heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." The promise is
found in Isaiah 65:17, "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
and the former shall not be remembered, nor come to mind." This is not the
millennium, which in this chapter of Isaiah is described in verses 18-25,
but that which comes into existence after the earth and the surrounding
heavens have passed through the great conflagration. Once more Isaiah
speaks of the earth and heavens which will remain forever. (See Isaiah
66:22.) This new earth and the new heavens will be the glorious and eternal
dwelling-place of the redeemed, for the new Jerusalem comes finally out of
the highest heaven to find its eternal resting place there (Rev. 21).
"Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye wait for these things, be diligent to
be found in Him in peace without spot and blameless."

     in conclusion, Peter refers to Paul as "our beloved brother Paul." The
Epistle to the Galatians was then in circulation and everybody could read
there of Peter's failure in Antioch (Gal. 2:12-16). The loving remark by
Peter shows that he had readily seen his mistake and that there was no
clash between the two servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Epistle which
Paul had written to the same Jewish Christians to whom Peter wrote is
without question the Epistle to the Hebrews. (See Introduction to Hebrews.)

     The Second Epistle of Peter ends with another warning, so well suited
for our times, "Beware, lest, being carried away with the error of the
wicked (destructive critics and deniers of Christ), ye fall from your own
steadfastness." And the safeguard is "Grow in grace and in the knowledge of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

     "To Him be Glory both now and forever, Amen."

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