What is the difference between 1 Peter and 2 Peter?
The Book of 1 Peter was likely written between A.D. 60 and 65.
1 Peter is a letter from Peter to the believers who had been dispersed throughout the ancient world and were under intense persecution. If anyone understood persecution, it was Peter. He was beaten, threatened, punished, and jailed for preaching the Word of God. He knew what it took to endure without bitterness, without losing hope and in great faith living an obedient life. This knowledge of living hope in Jesus was his message, and Christ’s example was the one to follow.
Though this time of persecution was desperate, Peter reveals that it was actually a time to rejoice. He says to count it a privilege to suffer for the sake of Christ, as their Savior suffered for them. This letter makes reference to Peter’s personal experiences with Jesus and his sermons from the book of Acts. Peter confirms Satan as the great enemy of every Christian but the assurance of Christ’s future return gives the incentive of hope.
Peter’s familiarity with the Old Testament law and prophets enabled him to explain various OT passages in light of the life and work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 1:16, he quotes Leviticus 11:44: “Be holy, for I am holy.” But he prefaces it by explaining that holiness is not achieved by keeping the law, but by the grace bestowed upon all who believe in Christ (v. 13). Further, Peter explains the reference to the “cornerstone” in Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22 as Christ, who was rejected by the Jews through their disobedience and unbelief. Additional Old Testament references include the sinless Christ (1 Peter 2:22 / Isaiah 53:9) and admonitions to holy living through the power of God which yields blessings (1 Peter 3:10:12; Psalm 34:12–16; 1 Peter 5:5; Proverbs 3:34).
The assurance of eternal life is given to all Christians. One way to identify with Christ is to share in His suffering. To us that would be to endure insults and slurs from those who call us “goodie two shoes” or “holier than thou.” This is so minor compared to what Christ suffered for us on the Cross. Stand up for what you know and believe is right and rejoice when the world and Satan aim to hurt you.
2 Peter 1:1 specifically states that the apostle Peter was the author of 2 Peter. Peter’s authorship of 2 Peter has been challenged more than that of any other book in the New Testament. However, the early church fathers found no good reason to reject it. 2 Peter focuses principally on false teaching.
The Book of 2 Peter was written toward the end of Peter’s life. Since Peter was martyred in Rome during the reign of Nero, his death must have occurred prior to A.D. 68. He very likely wrote 2 Peter between A.D. 65 and 68.
Peter was alarmed that false teachers were beginning to infiltrate the churches. He called on Christians to grow and become strong in their faith so that they could detect and combat the spreading apostasy. He strongly stressed the authenticity of the Word of God and the sure return of the Lord Jesus.
In 2 Peter, the key word is “knowledge,” with its related words, which occurrs at least 13 times in the Book of 2 Peter.
Knowing that his time was short (2 Peter 1:13–15) and these churches faced immediate danger (2 Peter 2:1–3), Peter called upon the readers to refresh their memories (2 Peter 1:13) and stimulate their thinking (2 Peter 3:1–2) so that they would remember his teaching (2 Peter 1:15). He challenged the believers to become more mature in their faith by adding to it specific Christians virtues, thereby becoming effective and productive in their knowledge of Jesus the Christ (2 Peter 1:5–9). The Old and New Testament writers were set forth as their authority for their faith (2 Peter 1:12–21, 3:2, 3:15–16). Peter desired they become strong in their faith to withstand the false teachers that had crept in and adversely affected the churches. In his denunciation of them, he described their conduct, their condemnation, and their characteristics (2 Peter chapter 2), and also that they ridiculed the Lord’s Second Coming (2 Peter 3:3–7). For the Christians, Peter taught that the Second Coming is the incentive for holy living (2 Peter 3:14). After a final warning, Peter again encouraged them to grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. He concluded with a word of praise to his Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:18).
In his denunciation of false prophets, Peter repeats a prevalent Old Testament theme that must have been very familiar to his readers. Many of the early Christians were convertedJews who had been well taught in the law and the prophets. When Peter referred to the “word of the prophets” of the Old Testament in 2 Peter 1:19–21, he at one time denounced false prophets and affirmed that true prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit who spoke through them (2 Samuel 23:2). Jeremiah was equally forceful in his criticism of false prophets, asking, “How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds?” (Jeremiah 23:26). Clearly, the same deluded false teachers who plagued God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments are still with us, making Peter’s second epistle as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.
Christians in the 21st century, are nearer to the Lord’s return than the first-century Christians to whom this epistle was written. Through television and other means of mass communications, mature Christians are aware that many charlatans are parading as true Christian leaders, and that immature Christians have been “taken in” by their quackery and false interpretation of Scriptures. It behooves all Christians to be grounded in the understanding of scripture in order to discern truth from error.
The same prescription for growth in faith that Peter gave (2 Peter 1:5–11), when applied to our lives, will assure us also a rich reward “into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10–11). The foundation for our faith is and always will be the same Word of God that Peter preached.