Just a reminder before we begin 2nd Peter. This is a letter and so there are often short snippets. This commentary (as with everything else on this site) is best read in conjunction with your own personal study of the epistle.
Let’s begin 2nd Peter! A little background on it before we begin. It was written when Peter thought he was near death. Therefore, he writes concerning guarding against apostasy. Chapter 1 holds some of Peter’s most forceful language. Chapter 2 talks about how worldly learning often accompanies lack of faith. Chapter 3 reaffirms that Christ will come and judge the Earth. That’s from the Bible Dictionary. Ok, let’s jump in.
Add to Your Faith
Peter starts off by saying to add to your faith, starting out small and getting more complex. First, add virtue to your faith, to virtue knowledge. To knowledge, temperance, to temperance, patience. To patience godliness. To godliness, brotherly kindness. To brotherly kindness, charity. I think there is a method to his madness (although I don’t believe he was mad. Merely an idiom). I do not think these were just put in any random order. I’m not sure how each is specifically connected together but I will take a gander at a few.
To knowledge, temperance. Say I was going around learning. But it’s really hard for me to understand a complex topic. I get angry and frustrated because I have spend many long hours studying. This would be an example or where temperance, or being in control of your temper, would come in handy.
To temperance, patience. I feel like there is some overlap between these concepts. Temperance naturally takes patience. Maybe this list is saying, “add to” as in “focus on”. Acquiring knowledge requires you to control your emotions. Controlling your emotions takes patience. Maybe that’s the common thread. Each is an aspect of the next. The one wrinkle in my logic is how to leap from patience to godliness. I know patience is a part of godliness but how are you supposed to be godly and still be imperfect? Maybe being godly doesn’t demand perfection? Just acting as God would have you act? If that’s the case, then it seems a more logical leap and more attainable.
If you can do these things, you will not be barren or unfruitful in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. How do these things increase your knowledge of Jesus Christ? These are all attributes of Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t imitating those attributes lead to a knowledge of how he did things and how he treated people? I think it would. It’s like you are walking in his shoes and seeing his perspective. It’s the way you know how he felt.
Be True to the Faith
Peter is using some intense language in the next part. He is bidding them to be true to the faith. He tells them that he is soon going to die and he wants them to remember to continue in the things they know after he dies. He says in verse 16:
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
Pretty much what this is saying is when we received this knowledge and power of and about Christ, did you follow after something like Fables? No! You saw Jesus! Perhaps people were struggling with their testimony. This isn’t something that only ancients struggled with, but nowadays as well. I guess you forget and only see what you want to see. Cross reference David A. Bednar’s talk, “The Character of Christ“. When Christ could have turned inward, become selfish, he had every reason to, but he turned outwards and served and worried about others. That’s why missions are so good. You are teaching the very basics of the gospel and watching people apply those principles in real time. You get to see the effects it has on their lives.
Prophecies are From God
Peter is just knocking the ball out of the park! He is saying that Jesus received glory and honor from his Heavenly Father and because of that and Christ, we have a more sure knowledge of prophecy and you would do well to take heed and obey. No prophecy is open to any man. But only those who are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. Meaning that only inspired men can speak prophecy. You know where the prophecies comes from, don’t follow those you know you shouldn’t just becaue it is convenient and easy. I’ll add to what Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Salvation is not a cheap experience.” It never was nor will it ever be. Don’t give up. Come back. This church isn’t for the perfect but a hospital for the sick and afflicted.
First verse in chapter 2 and Peter is rocking it! False prophets and teachers shall bring in damnable heresies and shall bring swift destruction upon themselves. What is the difference between false prophets and false teachers? It seems to me that false prophets would profess to speak the word of God but they don’t. False teachers would just go around teaching false things? Could a false prophet also be a false teacher? I think so.
He says a lot of people will follow those false teachers and prophets. Their reason being that the way of truth is spoken evil of. They are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. People are being so overloaded with disinformation that good is evil and evil is good, it’s only natural that people would be bad and hate the truth. How often can we see this today? Sins that were once abhorred by society are readily accepted. The most obvious one being swearing. Back in the day, swear words weren’t that common in movies. Now, they saturate them.
Loving the language here. He is the Shakespeare of the Bible, “With feigned words, make merchandise of you.” Feigned words. Fake words. Fluffy words. Flattery. Through flattery, they will make merchandise of you. Merchandise is a thing that can be bought or sold. I don’t think as slaves into slavery in this case. Take a look at the beginning of the verse. “Through covetousness”. Covetousness is wanting something that someone else has. “Make merchandise of YOU”. This must mean that these people covet you. Your body or something you have. They are going to do whatever they can to sell you and make money off of you.
Think today of the all the times people “make merchandise” of others. Selling their body/looks for money. Like it says, their judgment has long been waiting to come. And destruction slumbereth not. God knows what they are up to and he isn’t going to le them get away with for long. Know ye not that your body is a temple? Sacred things ought not to be sold for money. They are more precious than something as temporal and finite as money.
God is Willing to Protect Us If We Are Righteous
Verses 4-9 he is talking about people God didn’t spare. The angels that sinned, the wicked people that died when the Earth was cleansed with a flood, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly from temptation and reserve the ungodly for their day of punishment. These verses tell me just how much God can protect you if you are righteous. You can be protected against being cast out of Heaven, dying in an Earth-consuming flood, and having your city burned to the ground. If God can deliver you from these types of big afflictions, how much more able is he able to deliver you from the small ones? As it says, God knows (and is experienced at) how to deliver the righteous from temptation. And will do it and protect. Inasmuch as ye keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land, but if ye keep not my commandments ye shall be cut off from the Lord.
Whoa, look at the last part of verse 10 and all of 11. In 10, the last part about speaking evil of dignities and in 11. Angels not bringing railing accusations against the Lord. that is nearly the same language used in Jude! Except in Jude it talks about Michael and Satan arguing about Moses. And Michael doesn’t want to bring railing accusations agains him. What do you think this connection is? Did they just happen to use the same phrases? Maybe it was a common thing to say? Oh, maybe they wrote it through the spirit and so really the spirit is the author, having worked through both Peter and Jude.
Why is it specifically mentioned that these people despise government? I know this epistle has reference to our days. Why would these wicked people hate the government? It provides law and order. It is how we maintain civilization. Because they are wicked and lustful, do they desire no government so that chaos can reign? Does that mean anyone who protests or talks bad of the government is wicked? Maybe they are righteous? I believe the kind of people this veres is talking about are those who despise government because they want no government. Whereas the other people aren’t protesting government, but rather the people IN government. Which is strange because those are the people we voted into office.
Verse 12 too! Same thing as Jude said. They are like beasts and will perish in their own corruption! Interesting. Perish in their own corruption. How often do you think people are spared because of the corrupt fighting among the corrupt? God will always take care of you as long as you are on his side. He isn’t going to allow someone to kill you in the night. God doesn’t betray people. Satan does though. The people he works with are loosely bound in “friendship” (if you can call it that) but as soon as it becomes detrimental to Satan to own you, he betrays you and lets you be killed. Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you are chums with Satan that he wouldn’t drop you without a second thought because he will. Cross reference one of my favorite book series, The Great and Terrible.
The Error of Balaam
Peter is using a lot of of the same metaphors that Jude was using. The one I want to point out is the error of Balaam. He is saying they (the people he’s writing to) have gone after the way of Balaam, who loved wages of unrighteousness but was rebuked by his donkey for madness.
A little explanation on who Balaam was. The reason I didn’t catch this the first time is because I confused Balaam with Baal, a false god that was worshipped. Balaam was a prophet. Not an Israelite prophet though. One day, the Israelites show up. And the Moabite king (I think that’s who it was) sends a bunch of princes to go talk to Balaam about what has just happened. The princes are like, “Hey, this giant host of Israelites who have come out of Egypt is now in our land, can you come with us so that can curse them because I think they are going to kill us.” Balaam says to stay the night and he’ll talk with the Lord. The Lord says to Balaam after he (Balaam) explains the situation, “No, don’t go with them.”
The next morning, Balaam tells the princes, “Sorry, I can’t go with you, the Lord said not to.” The princes go back and tell the king and he tells the princes to go back and ask again. But this time he sends more honorable and prestigious princes. The princes ask the same thing but this time, offer lots of silver. Balaam says if he gets all the gold and silver he’ll do it, if the Lord says to. Balaam asks God again if this is what he should do. The Lord says go, but only speak the words I tell you to. Balaam agrees and sets off the next morning. He is riding his donkey out of the city but his donkey sees an angel with a sword drawn, blocking the exit. The donkey turns away. Balaam gets angry and hits the donkey. The donkey starts walking towards the field but the angel moves and blocks the way. The donkey smashes Balaam’s foot against the wall to avoid getting him killed. Balaam hits her again. The angel moves again and the donkey sits down to keep Balaam alive. Balaam loses it and smacks the donkey with his staff. The Lord then opens the mouth of the donkey ans she tells him to stop hitting her. Can’t you see there is an angel in front of you waiting to strike you down! The Lord opens Balaam’s eyes and he quickly becomes apologetic towards the donkey and angel. He says that he has sinned and will go back home. The angel tells him to go with the men but only speak the words the Lord tells him. He says ok and goes. He meets the king of Moab and to make a long story short, he does only speak the words of the Lord and ends up blessing the Israelites instead of cursing them as the king desired.
Moral of the story: don’t be bribed into doing unrighteous things or things the Lord tells you not to do. If so, it probably won’t turn out the way you expect. You may end up blessing your enemies rather than cursing them.
The Mists of Darkness Surround the Wicked
Another metaphor/comparison I want to point out is when Peter says they (the wicked) are to whom the mists of darkness is reserved forever. Mists of darkness? Does that sound familiar? Yes! Book of Mormon, Lehi’s dream. Maybe Peter saw a similar dream. It even cross references it to 1st Nephi and the chapter of Lehi’s dream! Do you think all the prophets see the same stuff?
He then talks about saints who have escaped from these terrible, sinful people who promised liberty but they themselves are in bondage. It was through knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, but, they were again entangled and overcome. And it was worse with them than in the beginning. Cross reference Proverbs 26:11 (quoted in verse 22)
The Last Days
Chapter 3 heading reads as follows, “Latter-Day scoffers deny the Second Coming-elements to melt at the coming of the Lord.” That’s a pretty boss heading. This is going to be a great chapter. There is a JST for verses 3-13. Knowing in the last days, there will come scoffers, walking after their own lusts. These scoffers will deny the Lord Jesus Christ. saying where is the promise of his coming? This is exactly the same thing that happened among the Nephites right before the sign was given that Christ was born. People were wondering if this was going to happen or not. They had been waiting so long. Members were going to be put to death if they didn’t deny his coming.
I don’t think it will get that bad before the Second coming (fingers crossed). But I can definitely see people beginning to wonder at why it has taken so long. Prophets have kept saying it’s getting near, be prepared. Less strong members and non-members who know about it alike will probably begin to deny that Christ is coming. He says that they think the fathers have fallen asleep and as such, things must continue as they are and as they were from the creation of the world. I take that to mean that these scoffers believe the heavens are closed. That God does not meddle nor care of the affairs of men any longer. He may have back in Bible times but no longer does and that things will be as they were in the beginning.