2 Peter & Judeby Eileen Poh
Peter begins his letter by identifying himself and his readers (2 Peter 1:1), and he also includes his key theme, on which he will elaborate later.
Simon Peter was one of the Twelve, and was one of the leaders of the early church. Together with James and John, he was eyewitness to the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-8), which he describes in 2 Peter 1:16-18. He identifies himself as ″a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ″ (2 Peter 1:1). Peter uses the term doulos, which is better translated as ″slave″ rather than ″servant″ in the NIV.
In the ancient world, a slave had no rights and was totally under his master's control. A slave had to submit to his master, or he would be punished. Peter owed total allegiance to his master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and lived according to his master's bidding. He was also an apostle of Jesus Christ: he was with Christ throughout His ministry and was eyewitness to His resurrection. These two designations affirm Peter's credentials as Christ's messenger.
Peter writes to ″those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours″ (v. 1). While these words describe the readers, we must not miss the wonderful insights that Peter is sharing.
Firstly, the faith of Christians (that of Peter's readers in the first century and ours today) is a gift that we have received from God. Secondly, Peter assures his readers that their faith is ″as precious as ours″ (v. 1). This could imply that his readers are Gentile Christians, and that their faith is of equal value to those of Jewish background like Peter. It could also imply that the faith of his readers is not inferior to that of apostles like Peter. Peter probably has both in mind. Thirdly, this faith has come through ″the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ″ (v. 1). This righteousness refers to Jesus' justice and impartiality, which ensures that our faith is as precious as that of the apostle Peter.
Peter ends his greetings with a blessing typical of other New Testament letters: ″Grace and peace be yours″ (v. 2). But what is untypical is the phrase ″the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord″ (v. 2), which is found only in this letter. Knowledge of God and Christ is a key theme of this letter (1:3, 5, 8, 16; 2:20-21; 3:17-18). By this, he means knowledge at conversion as well as knowledge which Christians acquire during their lives as disciples of Christ.
Think of the fact that your faith is of equal standing as that of the apostle Peter. How does that make you feel? How can this help you in times of difficulty?
Why is knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ so important in our Christian life? How can you know God and Jesus better?