Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Stirring Reminders: 2 Peter 1

In Summary:

This second of Peter’s letters opens slightly differently than his first. The first calls him simply “Peter, an apostle…” while this one names him as “Simon Peter, bondservant and apostle.” The difference is more than just window dressing or epistolary frippery. Peter’s use of his full name may only be about clarifying his identity to the audience, but it may also indicate his embrace of the swings back and forth in his past.

Identifying himself as a bondservant as well as an apostle reminds the reader that even Peter’s importance did not elevate him beyond serving the Lord Jesus Christ. From that point, his first chapter establishes that this letter addresses practical matters from the spectrum of life that all believers can benefit from.

For example, Peter speaks to his readers about applying diligence, moral excellence, and kindness—all because of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Further, he goes on to talk about the eyewitness nature of the faith of Christians. They were not believing in made-up stories or even ancient tales, but believing individuals telling the story of Jesus.

In Focus:

Let’s put the focus on 2 Peter 1:12-15. First, Peter states that he will “always be ready to remind…even though you already know them.” He is not concerned that his message is a repetition of what they already know. Reminding one another of the truth is more critical than innovating new ideas.

Second, Peter wants his reminder to be more than just (v.13) history. His goal is that they will be “stirred up” to action. This is his goal while he remains on this earth. The follow up idea is that they would not lose their grip when he is no longer around. Peter writes, partially, to prepare for his own death.

In Practice:

Practically, then, what do we need to do?

1. Know the truth for ourselves. This shouldn’t be hard to reason, but if you do not know the truth, you cannot remind others of it.

2. Develop a list of critical items to remind yourself and your fellow learners about. For example, grab Scott Duvall’s Experiencing God’s Story of Life and Hope and see how those dozen ideas are worth repeating on a regular basis. Or Robert Morgan’s 100 Bible Verses Every Christian Should Know by Heart. Either one is a good start.

On this note, even though I select sermons based on preaching through blocks of text, I do maintain a list of concepts that I want to remind the church of on a regular basis. These are ideas like the grace of God or the sufficiency of Scripture.

3. Connect those ideas to definite actions. The definite action of learning, followed by practical steps to take because of that learning. Learning that God’s grace should be declared to all people, for example, should shift your budget priorities.

4. Keep your own end in mind. At some point, you will no longer be able to teach and remind the people you have now. It may be a move. It may be changes of life. It may be death. Whatever that change, realize that you cannot stir people up constantly. You must expect that shift to come.

In Nerdiness: 


1. Peter as author? There are some who think Peter is the author of 2 Peter but wasn’t of 1 Peter. They take the rougher language of 2 Peter (rough as in not smooth, not rough as in UPS) as evidence of this. I find it more likely that Silas helped him with the first letter but not with the second.

2. Note how the chapter wraps up talking about the “holy mountain” and the “utterance.” The best view on this would be the Mount of Transfiguration in Matthew 17.

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