1. Title. In the earliest Greek manuscripts this epistle is entitled simply Petrou B (“Of Peter II”). Compare the title of 1 Peter (see p. 547).
Since early times there has been considerable discussion with respect to the authorship of 2 Peter. Origen (c. a.d. 185–c. 254), the earliest writer who names the epistle, expresses doubt as to its authenticity (Eusebius Ecclesiastical History vi. 25). Jerome (c. a.d. 340–420) says that questions had been raised about the style of the epistle. Other Church Fathers either felt grave doubts about it or rejected it outright. Eusebius (ibid. iii. 3; Loeb ed., vol. I, pp. 191, 193) says: “Of Peter, one epistle, that which is called his first, is admitted, and the ancient presbyters used this in their own writings as unquestioned, but the so-called second epistle we have not received as canonical, but nevertheless it has appeared useful to many, and has been studied with other Scriptures.” There are apparently no direct quotations from 2 Peter in the Christian writings of the first two centuries, but only scattered allusions that suggest an acquaintance with it. Doubt with respect to this epistle was most forcefully expressed in the church at Antioch, chiefly because of the absence of 2 Peter, together with 2 John, John, Jude, and the Revelation, from the Peshitta (see Vol. V, p. 135). This commentary holds that though these objections are impressive, they are more than offset by the evidence in behalf of the claim that the apostle Peter was the author of 2 Peter. For a summary of the evidence on which this commentary bases its conclusion in this matter see Vol. V, pp. 185, 186; Vol. VII, p. 547.
3. Historical Setting. 2 Peter is addressed to “them that have obtained like precious faith with us” (ch. 1:1), presumably referring to the readers of the first epistle (see p. 547). This appears to be confirmed by ch. 3:1. Peter must have been martyred no later than a.d. 67 (see Vol. VI, pp. 34, 102). His second epistle is thought to have been written shortly before this date. There is no evidence to determine where the epistle was written; most probably it was Rome.
As with 1 Peter, the theme is pastoral. The writer exhorts his readers to continue growth in grace and in spiritual knowledge, that God’s design in their calling and election might be fulfilled. In ch. 1 he encourages them by reference to his own experience and to the prophetic word. In ch. 2 he warns against false teachers. In ch. 3 a discussion of the scoffers’ rejection of the promise of Christ’s return leads to an affirmation of the certainty of the second coming and an exhortation to be ready for that great event.
I. Salutation and Introduction, 1:1–11.
A. Salutation, 1:1, 2.
B. Exhortation, 1:3–11.
II. Purpose of the Epistle, 1:12–21.
A. To establish believers in present truth, 1:12–15.
B. Confirmation of the gospel through personal experience, 1:16–18.
C. Confirmation of the gospel in prophecy, 1:19–21.
III. Warnings Against False Teachers, 2:1–22.
A. False teachers and their deceptive heresies, 2:1–3.
B. Punishment of the ungodly; deliverance of the righteous, 2:4–10a.
C. True nature of the false teachers, 2:10b–22.
IV. Christ’s Second Coming and Preparation for His Appearing, 3:1–18.
A. Reference to the testimony of prophets and apostles, 3:1, 2.
B. Scoffers refuted by the facts of the Flood, 3:3–7.
C. Certainty of Christ’s return, 3:8–10.
D. Exhortation to holy living in anticipation of the advent, 3:11–18.