Read 2 Peter 1: 1-4
General idea: Peter sends his greetings and blessings with solemn humbleness and intimacy to the people in the faith. He writes his second letter to challenge them to truthful and decent thinking and sends his sincere compliments to those whose faith is real, impacting, and growing. That faith is precious and genuine because it is given to us. We are to take what we are given and then add more to it. We obtain faith then add more faith to it. As a Christian, we have faith to begin with; we are then called to multiply it. Just like the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25:14-30), we are expected to invest and develop further what is given to us, not for personal gain, but rather to glorify Christ and bring honor and growth to His Church. The key to faith's multiplication is answered here¾our knowledge of Christ. The more we know and then subsequently apply to our lives, the more we grow; this is reciprocal. Peter also sends his blessings so that we can take what is given and make of it ever so much more. Cultivated faith in Him produces immeasurable divine blessings!
Christ has made us right with God. So, how do we live that faith? We can only begin to fathom all the precious privileges and wondrous blessings given to us by Christ. We have the responsibility to act upon them, and for the growth of our faith, character, and maturity.
Look over these key words and ask how do they relate to you?
- Simon Peter, the dedicated true servant. This is Simon (Acts 15:14), whom Jesus changed to Cephas, which means, "Rock" (Matt. 16:18; 1 Cor. 1:12). (See background material for more information.) He was one of Jesus' first disciples and was a principal leader in the early church (Matt. 15:15; 18:21; Mark 1:26-37; 8:29; 9:5-6; Luke 12:41; John 6:68; Acts 10:18; 15:14; 1 Peter 1:1). Peter was given the special call to be the foundation of the church and to feed the sheep (Mark 1:16-18; 5:37; 9:2; 14:33; John 21:15-19).
- Servant means a slave. Here, it refers to the fact that as a committed follower of Christ, I attest that I belong entirely to Christ. He purchased, restored, and renewed me and He empowers me (1 Cor. 6:19-20; 1 Pet. 1:18-19)! Thus, I will trust and obey Him and follow His precepts!
- Apostle, the word (Apostolos), means emissary, or sent one, as in Jesus' personally commissioned representatives (Matt. 10:40; 15:24; Mark 6:7-13; 30; 9:37; Luke 9:1-6; 48; John 4:34; 5:24, 30, 36-38; 6:38; 1 Cor. 1:1; 9. 1-2; 2 Cor. 8:23; Gal. 1:1; Col. 1:1; Heb. 3:1). An Apostle had to have been an eyewitness of the resurrection (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor. 15:8); in addition, they governed the early church (1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Thess. 2:13; 4:8, 15; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14; 2 Pet. 3:15-16). In 2 Corinthians, the words, representatives/messengers, are also used for apostle in a broader sense (2 Cor. 1:1; 8:23; Phil. 2:25). This title does not apply today; it is reserved only for the original twelve plus Paul. Today, all Christians are emissaries (2 Cor. 5:20). This role is filled in our day by Elders (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 28; Eph. 4:11)! Thus, the original Apostles started the church and the Elders today continue to run the church. If someone claims to be an apostle today, they either do not understand the term or are exceptionally full of pride and thus are not of God.
- Righteousness here refers to God being Righteous, thus He is ethical and fair in His dealings with us. Also, in Peter, the word is used to refer to people who are righteous meaning virtuous and of good character (1 Pet. 2:24; 4:18; 2 Pet. 2:5, 21; 3:13). Faith is impartial in its acceptance; it sees no race, creed, culture, time, place, or person, for we are purely justified by His will and purpose, vicariously placed upon us (Rom. 3:22-23; 4:6).
- God and Savior Jesus Christ. This is a strong testament for the divinity of Jesus as fully God and our Savior. This would have been a great offence to both legalistic Jews and pluralistic Greeks as His Name is today (Matt. 1:23; 28:19; Luke 1:35; 5:20-21; John 1:1, 3, 10, 14, 18; 5:18; Rom. 9:5; 1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 13:4,14; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:15-20; 2:9; Tit. 2:13; Heb. 1:3, 8; 2 Pet. 1:1; Rev. 1:13-18; 22:13).
- A faith as precious, Received a faith, a faith of equal standing all refer to real faith as subjective to each person's experience, and is to be true and valuable. Each person grows at a different rate and depth. It also refers to the body of believers (as in Church) who share in a common belief and practice; there are no different castes or classes for those in Christ! Peter will later combat various false doctrines. He is setting up the theme that there is one faith through Christ, and all are on an equal playing field before Christ. There may be varying levels of growth and maturity, but all are equally accepted (John 20:29; Jude 3; 1 John 3:1-3).
- Grace and peace is a greeting and a blessing, pronouncing God's special favor (Rom 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:2).
- Abundance/multiplied. We are called to stretch and grow beyond what we think we can do! Peter offers his encouragement for all those who are in Christ to grow in Christ!
- Knowledge means the fundamental saving knowledge we need in order to know whom Christ is before He can be our Savior (Matt. 11:27). This refers to what is true and real and that God can only be known through Christ. It denounces what is esoteric, manipulating, or counterfeit. Peter uses this word as a baseline of truth to attack false doctrine (John 1:18; 2 Pet. 1:2-3, 8; 2:20).
Being a servant of Christ means we surrender all of what we are so He becomes more and we become less (John 3:30; Gal. 2:20-21). We do this because what we gain is so much more; it is peace, serenity, confidence, hope, and, especially, His Fruit that impact us as well as those around us. Peter, through a slow and arduous process, found this to be true. He went from being the arrogant, headstrong, and reckless fisherman to calling himself a slave¾a remarkable picture of Christ's imputing and impacting work that we can also have.
The Essential Inductive Questions (for more Inductive questions see Inductive Bible Study):
1. What does this passage say?
2. What does this passage mean?
3. What is God telling me?
4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
9. What can I model and teach?
10. What does God want me to share with someone?
- How do you feel when someone talks or writes to you with humbleness and intimacy? How do you suppose Peter's people felt?
- What difference would it make in your spiritual growth if you were to realize that your faith and what God has given you in gifts and opportunities are precious and to be genuine?
- How can you be encouraged by the fact that Christ has given to you all you need to grow, as well as the assurance and confidence to pursue Him more?
- How do you feel that you have the responsibility to make your spiritual growth to happen?
- Take an opportunity to recount the wonders that God has given and done for you over time. How can what He has done in the past help empower you to become more vigorous and faithful now?
- Faith is impartial, so how can you be better in your treatment of others who are different from you?
- How is your faith is in His hands and in yours?
- We are called to stretch and grow beyond what we think we can do! What would this mean to you?
- How can you apply His power?
- The more knowledge of Christ increases faith and power, how have you seen this so?
- If you really conceded what God has given you in gifts and opportunities as precious, how can you make them more genuine?
- What are you going to do about your gifts and opportunities?