Jesus will return
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Peter’s second letter
Hilda Bright and Helen Pocock
This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.
Words in boxes are from the Bible.
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
Peter wrote this letter. His name used to be Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter (John 1:42). Simon had his own business. He caught fish. But Jesus called Simon to be a *disciple. Jesus gave him the name Peter, which means a ‘rock’. Jesus chose him as one of the 12 *apostles. Later he became one of the leaders of the Christian *church.
Peter was in the city called Rome when he wrote this letter. He expected to die soon. Peter died on a cross about 35 years after Jesus returned to heaven. At that time Nero, who was the evil ruler in Rome, was killing Christians.
Peter wrote this letter in the *Greek language. In *New Testament times, many people could speak and read the *Greek language. This meant that the good news about Jesus could spread easily.
Peter did not say where he was sending the letter. In 3:1, he referred to this letter as his ‘second letter’. We believe that 1 Peter was his first letter to these readers. So, the readers of both letters were probably the same people. They were Christians who lived in the country that we now call Turkey. Peter probably wrote this letter to both *Jews and Gentiles who had become Christians. (Gentiles are people who are not *Jews.)
Peter wrote this letter for three reasons:
1. He wanted the people to be stronger Christians.
2. He wanted to warn them about false teachers. He also wanted to remind them about the true Christian beliefs.
3. He emphasised that Jesus Christ will return. Then God will *judge wicked people. So, Christians must be ready for that day.
Peter had the authority to say these things. He had been with Jesus while he was alive in this world.
In those days, the author put his name at the beginning of a letter. Also, people started letters with a greeting. Here, the author called himself ‘Simon’ Peter. He described himself as ‘a servant and an *apostle of Jesus Christ’. ‘Servant’ means a slave who served a master. Peter was being humble. He served and obeyed his master Jesus. But Peter was also emphasising his authority. He was the servant of Jesus who is the King and the Judge.
‘*Apostle’ means ‘someone whom God sends’. Jesus chose his *apostles to be special leaders. They taught people about all that Jesus did and said. False teachers were trying to change this good news. But Peter knew the truth. Jesus had sent Peter in the same way that God sent the *prophets in the *Old Testament (Jeremiah 1:7; Ezekiel 2:3). Therefore, Peter was writing his letter with God’s authority.
Peter sent his letter to people whose *faith in Jesus ‘is as valuable as our *faith in Jesus’. In this verse, ‘*faith’ means that people believe God and trust Jesus as their *Saviour. *Faith is a gift from God. God makes people able to believe and trust him. God always acts in a fair way. This means that he does not have favourite people. God’s gifts are for everybody. Many Christians had never seen Jesus. But those people were just as valuable to God as the people who had seen Jesus. All Christians receive the same gift of *faith as the *apostles had received. It is a free gift from God. Nobody can earn it. Our ‘God and *Saviour Jesus Christ’ made this possible. In verse 2, Peter referred to Jesus as God as well as *Saviour. The false teachers were denying that Jesus is God. Matthew 1:23 says that Jesus is ‘Emmanuel, God with us’. Therefore, Peter reminded his readers that Jesus is God as well as *Saviour.
Peter knew Jesus as a man for three years. The *Greek word for ‘Christ’ means the ‘*Anointed Person’. In the *Old Testament, they *anointed men who had special tasks. They *anointed the priests and kings whom God had chosen. (See Exodus 28:41; 1 Samuel 10:1.) The *Hebrew word for ‘Christ’ is ‘*Messiah’. ‘*Messiah’ was a title of the special king that the *Jews were expecting. They believed that he would rescue them from their enemies. God sent Jesus as the ‘*Messiah’. Jesus is both the Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and the King that the *Jews were expecting.
Peter wanted his readers to have more *grace and peace from God. ‘*Grace’ and ‘peace’ were the usual Christian greetings in a letter. Peter prayed for the same things in 1 Peter 1:2. Paul always prayed for these gifts for the Christians to whom he wrote. (See, for example, Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:2.)
‘*Grace’ means God’s kindness to people who do not deserve it. It means that God loves and forgives people. It also means that God helps and protects his people. *Grace is a gift from God. Nobody can earn it. God gives *grace because he is generous. The *grace of God comes by Jesus.
‘Peace’. In the *Hebrew language, this word is ‘shalom’. It is a traditional way to bless people in the *Old Testament (Numbers 6:24-26). *Jewish people still use ‘shalom’ as a greeting today. Peace is the opposite of war or noise. But also, it is God’s gift of a quiet spirit. This involves every part of a person’s life and relationships. God forgives and loves people. Therefore, people have peace with God (Acts 10:36). They can also have peace with each other (Ephesians 2:14). The peace that Jesus gives is ‘his’ peace. Circumstances cannot change it (John 14:27). This peace is too wonderful for anyone to understand (Philippians 4:7). Nobody can have true peace without *grace.
Christians have already received *grace and peace. But Peter prayed that they may know God’s *grace and peace more and more. God loved and forgave them. But Peter wanted them to understand this more deeply.
These gifts of *grace and peace come as people ‘know God and Jesus our *Lord’. ‘Know’ means to know in a personal way. This is like the special way that a husband and wife know each other. The title ‘*Lord’ means that people should love and obey Jesus. The *apostle Thomas called Jesus ‘My *Lord and my God’ (John 20:28). Jesus is both master and close friend to Christians.
Jesus calls people to trust him. His *glory and goodness attract people. ‘*Glory’ refers to his excellent moral character. He is a holy and wonderful person. ‘Goodness’ refers to all that he does. Everything that Jesus does is perfect. He never does anything that is wrong. Jesus has shown us what God requires. When we trust Jesus, we start to know him in a personal way. Jesus is generous. He gives us everything that we need. We receive his power. He makes us able to obey all his commands. We can live a holy life. We can please God (1 Peter 1:15-16). ‘God’s great power’ refers to the work of the Holy Spirit in a Christian. The false teachers taught that people needed to know special secrets. But Peter said that Jesus’ power is sufficient for people who trust Jesus.
When Christians know Jesus personally, they receive the nature and character (*glory and goodness) of Jesus. Their old nature goes. They are like new people (2 Corinthians 5:17). Paul said, ‘Now it is not I who live. But Christ lives in me’ (Galatians 2:20). We do not become God, but God lives in us by his Holy Spirit (John 14:16-17). We also know that Jesus will return. When that happens, we ‘shall be like him’ (1 John 3:2).
‘World’ here means human society that opposes God. The false teachers said that it was right for people to satisfy the evil desires of their human nature. Peter taught that Christians have escaped from their evil desires. They must not return to them. Instead, Christians must aim to become more like Jesus.
Jesus has given Christians everything that they need. But they are responsible to use what he has given them. Because of the promises in verse 4, Christians must work hard to behave in the right way. This will take a lot of effort and a long time. Peter names seven qualities of character. Christians do not work on one quality at a time. Instead, Christians should develop all the qualities and keep increasing them. All the qualities link together. However, the greatest quality is love (1 Corinthians 13:13). Jesus said that the two most important commands are ‘love the *Lord your God’ and ‘love other people’ (Mark 12:29-31).
A Christian’s character begins when he trusts God. The Bible calls this ‘*faith’. ‘Add’ means to add very generously. Goodness is one of Jesus’ qualities (see verse 3). So a Christian should become more like Jesus.
The false teachers claimed to know special secrets. However, they did not know the difference between what is right and wrong. So, Peter wanted Christians to know more and more about Jesus. Then they would learn what pleases him. And they would understand what the *Lord desires (Ephesians 5:17).
When Christians really know Jesus, they behave differently. They learn to control their own feelings and desires. They know that Jesus’ power helps them (verse 3). The false teachers said that their special secrets freed them. But they allowed their feelings and desires to control them. So, they often behaved very badly.
The true Christian knows that God has authority over everything. So Christians should continue even when troubles come. Life is like a race. Christians must patiently run and not give up (Hebrews 12:1-3). They should also remember what God has promised for the future (1 Peter 1:3-7). This will help them to continue to the end.
A Christian should behave in the right way. This means to have the right attitude towards God and towards other people. Every part of a Christian’s life should give honour to God. The selfish way that the false teachers behaved did not give honour to God. The wicked people in the time of Noah also behaved in a selfish way (2: 5).
In chapter 1 verse 10, Peter referred to Christians as ‘my brothers and sisters’. Jesus said, ‘Whoever does what God desires is my brother and sister and mother’ (Mark 3:35). This does not refer to a physical family. Christians are part of God’s family. God is our father. John said that whoever loves God should also love his brother (1 John 4:21). Christians are all different ages. They come from different nations with different customs. They *worship God in different ways. But that should not affect the way that Christians behave towards each other. They must be loyal and kind to the other members of God’s family.
‘Love’. This translates a special *Greek word. This word describes the pure way that God loves us. God always gives people more than they deserve. God’s gifts are for all people whether they are good or bad. He sends the sun and the rain on both the good and the bad people (Matthew 5:43-48). God loves Christians. But he also loves people who are not Christians. God loves his enemies as much as he loves his friends. Therefore, God loves everyone. He always does what is best for each person. Paul says that we ‘build up’ people when we love them (1 Corinthians 8:1). This makes them strong. This is the purpose of all the qualities in verses 5-7.
Christians must develop these qualities. Then they will know Jesus better. They will also become mature Christians. They will be active, not lazy. They will be useful. ‘Useful’ actually means ‘full of fruit’. (See John 15:1-7.) It reminds us of the story that Jesus told about the seed in Matthew 13:22-23. Sadly, many Christians do not become mature. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 and Hebrews 5:11-13 describe such people.
Peter referred to our ‘*Lord Jesus Christ’. This is his full title. ‘*Lord’ means that he has complete authority. He is head over everything. ‘Jesus’ is his human name. The name Jesus means ‘God is the one who saves’. Jesus saves people from their *sins (Matthew 1:21). ‘Christ’ means ‘the one whom God has *anointed’ (see verse 1).
Any Christian who does not have these qualities is like a blind person. He is not physically blind. His mind cannot ‘see’ (that is, understand) what God requires. Such a person has forgotten that God has forgiven his *sins. Otherwise, he would become a stronger Christian.
‘Be very eager’ means the same as ‘work hard’ in verse 5 and ‘try hard’ in verse 15. Peter urged his Christian family to show true qualities of character. God had invited and chosen them. Their good character was the evidence. ‘Chosen’ describes God’s action. ‘Invited’ means that they had to reply to God. They had to believe and trust Jesus his Son. A Christian with the qualities in verses 5-7 will not easily follow false teachers. ‘Fail’ means to turn away from God.
Important note: A person does not become a Christian because he works hard. A person does not become a Christian just because he behaves in the right way. This is not what Peter taught. First a person has to confess that he has *sinned. Then he believes and trusts God’s Son Jesus as his *Saviour. Once a person becomes a Christian he wants to please God. His good qualities are the evidence that he is a Christian.
Jesus will give Christians a great welcome into his *eternal *kingdom. Again, Peter used Jesus’ full title (see verse 8). People enter this *kingdom as soon as they accept Jesus as their king. But God’s *kingdom will only be complete in the future. This will happen when Jesus returns to this world in *glory. There will be nothing evil in this *kingdom. This is good news for people who have troubles in their lives. John used picture language to describe it in Revelation 20:10-22:6.
Peter did not think that his readers were weak Christians. They already knew the true *gospel message. They may have heard this message from Peter himself in his first letter. They may have heard it from Paul or from other Christians. Peter did not want them to forget it. There were false teachers who taught them the wrong things. So Peter wanted to remind the people about the true *gospel message. In John 21:15-17, Jesus said to Peter, ‘feed my young sheep’, and ‘look after my sheep’. Jesus meant that Peter should teach and care about Christians. Peter was doing this by his letter.
Peter knew that he would die soon. Jesus had told him how this would happen. Jesus said that Peter would ‘stretch out his hands’ (John 21:18-19). This meant that Peter would die on a cross. Nero, the wicked ruler in Rome, was already killing Christians on crosses. Peter knew that he would soon leave this world. Then he would receive his great welcome from Jesus (verse 11). But while Peter was still alive, he wanted to help the Christians. He wanted them to remember what he had taught them. Peter may have been referring to the *New Testament book of Mark. Some Christian writers at that time said that Peter had taught Mark. Then Mark wrote what Peter had told him. After Peter had died, Mark’s account would help the Christians.
Peter and the other *apostles had told people that Jesus would return. The *Greek word for ‘return’ means ‘the splendid arrival of a king’. It describes the way that Jesus will return. He will have great *glory and power. The false teachers said that this was not true. They said that Peter and the *apostles made up these clever stories. But Peter denied this. He told them what had happened to Jesus. You can read about it in Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-9 and Luke 9:28-36. Jesus’ face shone like the sun. His clothes became as bright as light. Peter and two other *apostles, James and John, were witnesses to this. They saw for themselves the ‘splendid greatness’ of Jesus. They had seen what Jesus will be like when he returns.
Peter, James and John saw God the Father give ‘honour and *glory’ to Jesus. They did not see God. But they saw a great cloud which was full of bright light. They heard the voice of God, which came from the cloud. It showed how much God loves Jesus. God’s words ‘This is my Son whom I love’ are like the words in Genesis 22:2. Abraham loved his only son Isaac. But Abraham was going to offer his only son to God. Like Abraham’s son Isaac, Jesus is God’s ‘only son’. ‘I am very pleased with him’. God says similar words about his servant in Isaiah 42:1. Jesus is that servant.
Peter, James and John were with Jesus on the ‘holy mountain’. This mountain was either Mount Tabor or Mount Hermon. It was ‘holy’ because God spoke there. God spoke to Moses when he gave his law to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:23). God spoke to the *prophet Elijah there as well (1 Kings 19:8-18). However, Peter did not mention in this letter that Moses and Elijah were with Jesus. Peter emphasised what the *apostles saw and heard. This showed that they had authority. They had not made up the stories. In Jerusalem, Peter had spoken to the *Jewish leaders. He said, ‘We have seen and heard many things. We cannot stop speaking about them’ (Acts 4:20).
The *Old Testament *prophets said that the *Messiah would come. They spoke about his power and his *glory. Peter’s experience on the holy mountain showed that the *prophets were right. So the readers could completely trust the *Scriptures. People also call the *Scriptures ‘God’s word’. Peter described them as ‘a lamp’. Psalm 119:105 says, ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.’ People often describe the world as a dark place. It means that there is much *sin in the world. In the dark, people cannot see where to go. But the *Scriptures are like a light. They show people how to live in the right way.
’The day’ is what the *Old Testament calls ‘the day of the *Lord’. It refers to the time when God will *judge the world. Malachi 4:5 calls it ‘the great and terrible day of the *Lord’. This is the day when Jesus will return. For Christians, it is a day of *salvation. They eagerly expect it.
’The morning star’ is what we call Venus. It appears just before dawn. It shows that a new day is going to start. Jesus said ‘I am… the bright morning star’ (Revelation 22:16). Numbers 24:17 says, ‘A star will come out of Jacob’. *Jews believed that this was a promise about the *Messiah.
When Jesus returns, he will fill Christians with his *glory and his light. They will know him and they will be like him (1 John 3:2). But people must use the ‘lamp’ of the *Scriptures until the day that Jesus returns.
Peter explained why people could trust the *prophets’ message. Jeremiah 23:16 says that the false *prophets of the *Old Testament spoke ‘from their own minds’. They did not speak words that came from God. But the true *prophets did not make up their message. They did not decide what to say. True *prophecy is a message from God. The way that God gave his message means ‘to carry along’. In Acts 27:15-17, the same word describes the way that the wind blew the ship on the sea. In a similar way, the Holy Spirit ‘carried’ the *prophets along. God told the *prophets what to say. The Holy Spirit gave them the power that they needed. Then they declared God’s message.
Much of this chapter is similar to the letter of Jude. Some of the words are almost the same. Peter may have copied what Jude wrote. Or Jude may have copied what Peter wrote. Or both Peter and Jude may have copied from another record. But this does not affect the truth of what each writer says.
Peter was a good leader. He wanted to look after Christians. He wanted them to learn the truth about Jesus. He wanted them to become strong and mature. Peter was very angry with the false teachers. He wrote very severe words against them. Several times, he said that God would punish them severely. Peter wanted to warn the Christians about them.
These verses are a link with chapter 1 verses 20-21. ‘The people’ refers to the *Jews. There were false *prophets in the time of the *Old Testament. These false *prophets were *Jews too. They were not foreigners. Peter warned that there will be false teachers in the *church. Even some Christians will become false teachers. Jesus warned about this in Mark 13:22-23. So Christians should check carefully everything that people teach (Acts 17:11). The *Scriptures are true because they come from God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). True teachers will help people to become mature Christians. But a false teacher does not do that.
False teachers had accused Peter and the other *apostles. They said that Peter told stories ‘that a clever person made up’ (1:16). Peter had told the truth. It was the false teachers who had made up stories (verse 3). The false teachers cleverly mixed their stories with the truth. They said that they were Christians. But they did not believe the truth about Jesus. Jesus died on a cross to rescue people from their *sins. And he rescued them from their wicked lives. 1 Peter 1:18-19 describes how Jesus ‘bought’ people when he died for them. In those days, a master owned the slaves that he bought. He expected them to obey him. Jesus has authority over Christians. He expects them to behave in the right way. The false teachers did not accept Jesus as their master. One day, Jesus will punish the people who do not obey him. Therefore, the false teachers will ruin themselves. Their punishment will be their own fault.
There were false teachers in the *church when Peter wrote this letter. There are still false teachers in the *church today. So, every Christian should pay attention to Peter’s warning.
Some *prophets in the *Old Testament were false. They told people what the people wanted to hear. The false *prophets did not tell people the truth. They told people to enjoy themselves in wicked ways. Therefore, these *prophets gained many *disciples. The false teachers were doing this too. Peter used the word for ‘evil ways’ again in 2:7 and 2:18. It means that the people just did whatever they wanted to do. They satisfied their wicked sex desires. First, people accepted what the false teachers said. Then it was easy for people to copy the false teachers’ actions. But Jesus said ‘I am the way’ (John 14:6). ‘The Way’ was the name for the people who followed Jesus (Acts 9:2; 24:22). Therefore, Christians should copy Jesus. They should behave in the same way that he behaved. If Christians behave in evil ways, their actions will lie about the character of God himself. Then people will be insulting God.
Christian leaders must be honest about money (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7). Paul was honest about the money that he collected for the Christians in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:20-21). He was very careful. But the greedy false teachers told lies. Then they tried to get money from the Christians.
In Deuteronomy 13:1-5, God told the *Jews to kill false *prophets. This was God’s judgement. The false teachers denied that God would *judge them. But God had already declared that they were guilty. And he has not forgotten. In 1 Kings 18:27, Elijah, the true *prophet, laughed at the false *prophets. He suggested that Baal, their false god, was asleep. The false teachers thought that God would not *judge them because he is asleep. They forgot that ‘God who watches over *Israel stays awake. He never sleeps’ (Psalm 121:4). One day God will destroy them.
Peter showed that God punished wicked people in the past. Therefore, God would punish the wicked false teachers. Peter gave three examples from the beginning of the *Old Testament in Genesis. He refers to them in the same order as in Genesis: - 1) wicked *angels, 2) the flood, 3) the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Peter did not say how these *angels were wicked. Jude says that they ‘left their proper place’ (Jude verse 6). Revelation 12:7-9 says that they were proud. They opposed God. Genesis 6:1-3 shows that they also desired human women. God threw these wicked *angels into *hell. The *Greek word for ‘*hell’ is ‘Tartarus’. This word comes from old *Greek stories. It was a terrible place of punishment. *Greek gods who were wicked had to go there. God has sent the wicked *angels to a dark place of punishment. They cannot escape. They used to live with God in his *glory and light. Now they are far away from God. The final judgement will happen after Jesus has returned to this world. This may refer to Revelation 20:10.
God punished wicked people too. He flooded the ancient world (Genesis, chapters 6-8). God rescued Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives. But everyone else died. God had warned Noah that he would send a flood. Noah built the ark (a big boat) because he believed God’s warning. The wicked people had probably laughed at Noah while he built such a large boat. But Noah believed that God would *judge the world. Noah was a good man. He lived in the right way (Genesis 6:9). The people at that time could see the good way that he lived. Josephus was a man who wrote about *Jewish history. He called Noah a ‘*prophet’. This meant that Noah warned people about their wicked ways. He probably also warned people that God would *judge them. Peter referred to Noah and the flood in his first letter (1 Peter 3:20).
God completely destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Therefore, they showed what will happen to wicked people. You can read about these cities in Genesis 18:16-19:29.
Peter said that Lot was a ‘good man’. Lot was not perfect. He chose to live in a wicked city. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah lived without any principles. They did what they wanted. They satisfied their wicked sex desires. However, Lot did not behave like the wicked people. Christians often live among wicked people. Sometimes the Christians do not notice the evil deeds any more. They just accept them. They do not feel sad about them. But Lot saw and heard the evil deeds. He was very unhappy about them. That is why God rescued him.
God knows how to rescue good people. The stories about Noah and Lot show this. God does not prevent difficulties in the Christian life. But he makes Christians strong so that they can overcome the difficulties (1 Corinthians 10:13). God will punish all the evil people. They will not escape from God when he finally *judges them.
God will especially *judge the false teachers. They satisfied all the wicked desires of their bodies. This refers to wrong acts of sex. They would not obey anyone’s authority. They certainly did not care about God’s authority. They did only what they wanted to do. The ‘magnificent ones’ probably refers to types of *angels. But the false teachers did not respect them.
*Angels are greater than people are (Psalm 8:5). *Angels have more power and they are stronger than the false teachers. But the *angels would not *judge the false teachers. Also, the *angels would not accuse other *angels who did not obey God. *Angels understand more about God’s authority than the false teachers did. God alone has the right to *judge.
Jude verses 8-11 give some extra details to Peter’s verses.
The false teachers pretended that they knew a lot about God. But really, they knew very little about him. They were not humble like the *angels. Instead, the false teachers were like animals. Animals have natural desires. But they do not have moral standards. They do what they feel like doing. In the end, animals just die. God will destroy the false teachers. They will not live for ever with him.
Peter showed that bad moral behaviour is not worthwhile. Galatians 6:7-8 also says the same thing. People may enjoy *sin at the time, but the results are bad. Many people do evil things when it is dark (1 Thessalonians 5:7). But it is worse when people do evil things in the daytime. The false teachers did not even try to hide their *sin. This shows that they had no conscience.
In his first letter, Peter said that Jesus was like ‘a lamb (young sheep) without any fault or mark’ (1 Peter 1:19). In the *Old Testament, the *Jews could give only a perfect lamb to God. Christians must copy Jesus. In 3:14, Peter said that they should live pure lives. Nobody should be able to blame them for *sin.
The false teachers ate the special meals with the Christians. Jude 12 calls these meals ‘love feasts’. The false teachers did not behave as true members of the *church should behave. They enjoyed their wicked pleasures. Therefore, they did not give honour Christ. They ate and drank with Christians at these meals. But the false teachers were greedy. Paul also said that some Christians were selfish. Some of them even drank too much wine at these meetings (1 Corinthians 11:20-21).
The false teachers looked at every woman. They wanted to have wrong sex with the women. These men could never stop doing wrong things. The more that they *sinned, the more they wanted to *sin. Some Christians did not firmly trust the true *gospel message. So, they easily believed what the false teachers said. The *Greek word for ‘tempt’ describes how men caught fish. The false teachers taught attractive things to the weak Christians. These Christians were like interested fish. They were careless too. They ‘swallowed’ (believed) the false teaching that attracted them. In contrast, Peter said in 1:12 that his readers firmly trusted the true *gospel message.
Some men train their bodies so that they become strong. But the false teachers had ‘trained’ their desires. They wanted more and more money, goods or women. God was not pleased with them.
The account of Balaam is in the *Old Testament (Numbers, chapters 22-24). Balak, the king of Moab, wanted Balaam to speak bad things against the *Jews. Balak even offered to pay Balaam. At first Balaam refused. Later he agreed to do it. But when he opened his mouth God forced him to bless the *Jews instead. So Balaam led them to *worship the false god at Baal-Peor. They did wicked acts there. Like Balaam, the false teachers were greedy to get money. They led many Christians away from God. They copied the bad way that the false teachers behaved (2:2).
Balaam rode on a *donkey. He went to speak against the *Jews. But an *angel stood on the path in front of him. Balaam’s *donkey stopped but Balaam could not see the *angel. So Balaam hit his *donkey. He tried to force his donkey to move. *Donkeys are dumb animals. But this donkey spoke to Balaam with a human voice. Afterwards, Balaam saw the *angel. The *angel spoke to Balaam. The *donkey stopped the *prophet Balaam from what he had intended to do. And God will stop the wicked behaviour of the false teachers.
Peter used picture language to describe the false teachers. People go to a well to get water. The water keeps them alive. Some wells contain no water. They may look good but a dry well is not useful. The false teachers did not give anything valuable to Christians. But Jesus promised that he would make people alive for ever. Jesus also described how the Holy Spirit would live inside people. The Holy Spirit would be like the water that always flows (John 4:13-14; 7:37-38).
A mist is not wet enough to make the land wet. And a strong wind can quickly blow the mist away. This is picture language. It shows that the false teachers are not useful. They have no power to help other people. The place of ‘black darkness’ probably refers to the darkest place in *hell. The false teachers will have the same punishment as the wicked *angels (2:4).
The false teachers sounded very confident. They wanted to impress other people. They tried to attract the people who had just become Christians. These people had not learned very much about God. They did not yet completely understand how to live in the right way. They may have found that the Christian life is difficult. The false teachers told them lies. They said that Christians do not need to change their behaviour. They could still enjoy their former evil desires.
Jesus promised to make people free (John 8:32). But the false teachers were teaching this in a wrong way. They said that people could live just as they wanted to. They were free from the fear of judgement. In his first letter Peter said, ‘Live as free people. But do not use your freedom as an excuse for wicked behaviour’ (1 Peter 2:16). Jesus said, ‘Everyone who *sins is a slave to that *sin’ (John 8:34). A person is a slave to whatever has become his master. The false teachers were slaves to their own wicked desires. However, Christians are slaves of Jesus Christ. So they must behave in the right way because they are his slaves (Romans 6:15-18).
‘The wicked ways of the world’ refers to all the people, societies and governments in the world who oppose God. The false teachers had once escaped from these wicked ways. They had learned about the *Lord Jesus Christ. They had learned about God’s laws. The false teachers claimed to have special ‘knowledge’. But this only affected their minds. Their actions showed that they did not really know Jesus. When people become true Christians, it affects their spirits. And it affects their desires too. The false teachers had returned to the wrong way of life. They allowed their evil desires to control them again. The word ‘catch’ describes how a trap catches an animal. Then it cannot escape.
Many wicked people had not known about God. They did not know how to live in the right way. The false teachers had once known the right way to live (see verse 2). But they left it. God frees people from their *sins by Jesus. A wicked person could learn about God. He could ask God to forgive his *sins. But the false teachers had known about God. However, they refused to obey God’s holy laws. This was far worse because God could not free them. Peter may have been thinking about a story that Jesus told. A man removed one evil spirit that was in him. But he left the place empty. Then seven more evil spirits came into him (Matthew 12:43-45).
Peter described the false teachers in two ways. The statement about the dog comes from Proverbs 26:11. The statement about the pig does not come from the Bible. But it must have been a familiar statement at that time. The *Jews considered that both these animals were not ‘clean’ (morally good). In Matthew 7:6, some people would not accept the news about Jesus. He referred to them as ‘dogs’ and ‘pigs’. Peter had already described the false teachers as ‘animals’ (2:12). Now he shows that they were like dogs and pigs. These two animals may look clean on the outside but their desires are not good. They return to what is dirty. In a similar way, the false teachers had not really changed. They said that they were Christians. But they returned to their own desires and ‘dirty ‘ (morally bad) ways. They did not believe that God would *judge them.
Peter tells his ‘dear friends’ that this is his second letter. Peter probably did not know all the people who would read his letter. But he considered that they were his Christian friends. The first letter is probably 1 Peter. The false teachers had minds that were not morally pure. In contrast, Peter believed that the Christians had pure minds. Peter continued from what he had written in chapter 1.
Peter wanted the Christians to remember God’s true words (1:15). God’s words would keep their minds pure. Then the Christians would not believe the false teachers. The *prophets in the *Old Testament spoke God’s words (1:20-21). The *apostles had been with Jesus, so they knew his commands. In the first 4 books of the *New Testament, we can read what Jesus taught them.
Jesus came to this world for the first time about 2000 years ago. One day he will return to this world. The ‘last days’ is the time between these two events. Many people do not believe that Jesus will return. They think that Christians are silly.
‘Fathers’ probably refers to the holy leaders in *Old Testament times. The false teachers claimed that nothing had changed since God created the world. Therefore, nothing would change in the future. They did not believe that Jesus had spoken the truth. But Peter answered them in 4 ways:
· God’s word (verses 5-7)
· God’s time (verse 8)
· God’s patience (verse 9)
· Peter warned them (verse 10)
The false teachers refused to remember that God *judged the world. God’s word created the sky. He commanded the earth to appear out of the water (Genesis 1:9-10). Every plant and animal needs water to keep it alive (Genesis 2:5-6).
However, people in the world were wicked. So God *judged the world. He caused the water to flood the earth. Noah, his family and the animals were safe in the big boat (Genesis 6-8). But everyone else who lived in the world died.
The world does not seem to change. And God will *judge wicked people again as he *judged them in the time of Noah. In those days, he sent a flood of water. In the future God will send fire. Peter was probably remembering some of the *Old Testament *prophecies. They describe God’s judgement as a fire. One of these *prophecies described ‘signs in the heavens and on the earth. There will be blood and fire and clouds of smoke’ Joel (2:30-31). God is keeping the sky and the earth safe until the day of his judgement. Then he will destroy wicked people. Peter therefore emphasised that things can change. God is in control of history. He will do what he has decided to do. He punished the wicked people in the past. He will punish wicked people in the future.
In verse 5, the false teachers did not remember what God had done in the past. But in verse 8, Peter did not want his ‘dear friends’ to forget what God had done. The *Lord’s time is not the same as time in this world. To the *Lord, 1000 years in this world may be like a day (Psalm 90:4). This is often hard for people to understand. But God is the ruler of time. A person may think that a period is a very long time. But it may be a very short time to God. People like things to happen quickly. But sometimes nothing seems to happen. This does not mean that God has forgotten.
God will always keep his promises. Many people thought that Jesus should have returned already. But Peter explained that God is willing to wait. He is not slow, as people may think. But he is patient. God loves everyone. He sent Jesus to free people from their *sins (John 3:16). God is waiting because he does not want anyone to die. He ‘desires that all people… will come to know the truth about Jesus’ (1 Timothy 2:4). God wants all people to turn back from their wrong ways. He wants to give people more time to obey him.
Jesus will not continue to wait for ever. Jesus said that people would not know when would return (Luke 12:39-40). People do not expect a thief to come suddenly to their house in the middle of the night. In a similar way, Jesus will suddenly return to this world. God will not give people any more time to obey him. Instead, Jesus will come to *judge them. When Jesus comes, the sky will disappear with a fierce roar. Fire will burn up the earth and everything on it.
Since the present world will end like this, Christians must live holy lives. People who do not know God say, ‘Eat and drink. Be happy’ (Luke 12:19). They just want to enjoy themselves now. But God will punish people who do not obey him (chapter 2). So, Peter encouraged the Christians to be holy (see also 1 Peter 1:15-16). ‘Holy’ means to be separate from evil things and to belong to God. When Jesus returns he will reward Christians (2 Peter 1:10-11 and 1 Peter 1:3-5).
Peter did not want to frighten Christians. He repeated here what he spoke about in verse 10. Christians should eagerly expect the day when Jesus returns to this world. Then they will encourage that day to arrive. It will come as people pray ‘We want your *kingdom to come’. And it will come as Christians tell the good news about Jesus to other people (Matthew 24:14). It will come as Christians obey God.
Christians can expect with joy what God has promised after his judgement. Peter uses words from Isaiah 65:17 when he wrote about ‘a new heaven and a new earth’. Everyone will obey God. No wicked people will live there. The false teachers will have no place there. *Sin will never spoil anything again. It will be a wonderful place to live.
Peter urged his ‘dear friends’ to live pure lives without *sin. This was in contrast to the false teachers. Their lives were not pure. And they were like ‘stains’ and ‘dirty marks’ (2:13). When Christians live a pure life, it pleases God. They do not have a guilty conscience. Therefore, Christians can have a good relationship with God. And they can eagerly wait for Jesus to return.
In verse 9, Peter had already said that the *Lord is patient. God wants more people to trust Jesus. Peter said that Paul had also written to them about this. ‘Brother’ means that Paul was a Christian. In Romans 2:4, Paul wrote that God’s kindness leads people to change their behaviour.
Paul taught that Jesus will return. And Paul emphasised in his letters that Christians needed to live good lives before this event. The Christians to whom Peter was writing probably knew Paul’s letters. Peter says that God gave wisdom to Paul as he wrote the letters. Some things in Paul’s letters were hard to understand. Today, many people still think that Paul’s letters are difficult. We should pray that God will help us to understand the Bible. We must never change what it means. And we must not explain it in a false way. Instead, we should learn from good Bible teachers and mature Christians.
Many Christians considered that Paul’s letters were as valuable as the *Old Testament *Scriptures. But some people were not very mature Christians. They changed what Paul taught about God’s *grace. They made it into an excuse for wrong actions (Romans 6:1). They changed what Paul taught about Christian freedom. They said therefore that they could let their physical desires control them (Galatians 5:13). Paul said that Jesus would return soon (Romans 13:11-12). It had not happened yet. Some Christians said that it would never happen. They also explained other *Scriptures in the wrong way. They were false teachers. They chose to live in a wicked way. As a result, God would punish them.
The Christians knew that false teachers would come. Therefore, the Christians had to be careful. Otherwise, those wicked people would tempt them away from the truth about Jesus. If the Christians did not guard themselves, they would make their *faith weaker. There are still false teachers today. They try to lead people away from the truth about Jesus.
False teachers are a problem. The only answer to this problem is that Christians should become stronger Christians. They must understand how much God loves them. Also, they must grow in their relationship with their *Lord and *Saviour Jesus Christ. John 1:14 refers to the ‘*glory’ of the only Son of the Father. *Glory belongs to Jesus in this present time and for ever. The false teachers did not show the *glory of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). Instead, their lives were very wicked. And they refused to believe that Jesus would return.
At the end of this letter, Peter described Jesus as ‘*Lord’. *Lord means that Jesus rules everything. Jesus is also the ‘*Saviour’. He forgives people’s *sins. He frees them from God’s judgement. ‘Amen’ turns this into a prayer of praise. ‘Amen’ means ‘it is true’ and ‘we agree’.
Amen ~ usually at the end of a prayer to show that one agrees. It also means it is true, or let it be so.
angels ~ God’s servants in heaven; they bring messages from God to people; holy or pure spirits who are greater than men and women; there are bad angels that *sinned against God.
anoint ~ to put oil on someone’s head. This shows that God has chosen the person for a special task.
apostle ~ a person that Jesus sends out to teach about him; a person whom God chooses to lead his *church.
baptism ~ when they put a person under water or put water on a person to show that they belong to Jesus Christ.
church ~ all Christians.
disciple ~ someone who follows a master and learns from him.
donkey ~ an animal like a small horse with long ears; it carries people and goods on its back.
eternal ~ something without beginning or end; something that does not change.
faith ~ when we believe and trust God and his son Jesus Christ.
glory ~ everything that makes God beautiful and great; a bright light that comes from God because he is completely holy. To ‘give *glory to God’ means to give him honour and to praise him.
gospel ~ the good news for everybody that God forgives people’s *sin by Christ.
grace ~ what God gives because he is kind and generous; it is God’s free gift that people do not deserve and cannot earn.
Greek ~ the language in which the authors wrote the *New Testament; someone who comes from the country called Greece.
Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke; the authors wrote most of the *Old Testament in the Hebrew language.
hell ~ a terrible place of punishment for wicked people.
Israel ~ the name of the land that God gave to Abraham and his family; another name for the *Jews.
Jew ~ a person who comes from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; sometimes Jews are called ‘the people of *Israel’.
Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.
judge ~ to make a decision or make a judgement; often to decide between what is right and what is wrong.
kingdom ~ the place or land where a king rules; the people whom a king rules; where God rules as king.
Lord ~ one who rules or who is a master; a title for God or Jesus to show that he rules over everything.
Messiah ~ a name for Jesus; God sent the Messiah to forgive people’s *sins; the ‘Christ’.
New Testament ~ the second part of the Bible; it is about the things that Jesus taught and did; and it is about the *church.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible which writers wrote before Jesus was born.
prophecy ~ a message from God.
prophet ~ a person who receives God’s message and tells it to other people.
salvation ~ when God frees people from the result and punishment of their *sin; God forgives people and they have new life in Jesus Christ.
Saviour ~ another name for Jesus; he is the one who rescues people and brings them back to God.
Scripture ~ another name for the Bible.
sin ~ when people do not obey what God commands; something bad that a person does against God or other people.
vomit ~ to empty what was in the stomach out through the mouth.
worship ~ to give honour to God or to a false god; to tell someone that they are very great and that you love them; to praise and to serve God.
William Barclay ~ The Letters of James and Peter ~ Revised edition 1976 St Andrews Press
Donald Coggan ~ The Prayers of the New Testament ~ 1974 Hodder & Stoughton
Michael Green ~ 2 Peter and Jude ~ Tyndale NT commentaries ~ 1987 IVP
Dick Lucas & Christopher Green ~ The Message of 2 Peter & Jude ~ 1995 IVP
Norman Hillyer ~ 1 and 2 Peter, Jude ~ New International Biblical Commentary ~ 1995 Paternoster Press
Various translations of the Bible
Concise Oxford Dictionary
Chambers 21st Century Dictionary
Expositor’s Bible Commentary on CD ROM ~ Zondervan
Logos Bible Software
New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology ~ edited by Colin Brown ~ Zondervan
© 1997-2004, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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