Background Study of 2 Peter

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Jessica Amtower
BEGE 1720 – Section 1
Fall 2010

Background Study of 2 Peter

Biography of the Author

The author of this book is identified as Peter. There are four different forms of Peter’s name in the New Testament: the Hebrew translated into Greek, “Simeon” to “Simon,” and the Aramaic translated into Greek, “Cephas” to “Petros” (meaning “rock”). His given name was Simeon bar-Jonah (Mt 16:17; cf. Jn 1:42), “Simon the son of John.” The home of Peter and Simon is said to be in Bethsaida (John 1:44). Bethsaida is placed in Galilee, making this the place where Peter was raised (John 12:21). Peter, along with his brother Andrew, worked in the fishing business (Matthew 4:19). It is suggested that they may have been partnered with James and John (Luke 5:10). It is also likely that they intermittently continued in their business while disciples, as indicated in the fishing scene in John 21:1–8. It is said that they left their “homes”, but not in the literal sense (Luke 18:28). The disciples did leave their business of fishing to follow Christ, but they kept the tools of the trade, and returned to their business when necessary.

The New Testament tells us that Peter was married. Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law, who could have possibly been living with her (Mark 1:29-31). It is possible that Jesus may have dwelt in this home along with Peter and his family (Matthew 8:14). It is indicated in First Corinthians 9:5 that Peter took his wife with him on some missionary journeys. Peter was very prominent among the disciples in the Gospels and Acts. In the lists of the Twelve just mentioned, Simon’s name always appears first, and in Matthew 10:2 it introduces his name as “the first.” The disciples are often referred to as “Peter and those with him” (Mark 1:36; Luke 9:32; 8:45). He is also very important in the fact that both Luke and Paul state that the risen Lord appeared to Simon Peter first. The four Gospel accounts all picture Peter as very impulsive and a lot of the time he is very rash. He is the first to act and speak his mind and was typified by his enthusiasm for everything in which he had a part. When Jesus was walking on water, Peter was the one to ask the Lord to command him to do the same. Peter was the first one to get out of the boat and began walking on water with Jesus. When at the transfiguration, Peter was the one to speak when the others were standing in silence and awe at the appearance of Elijah and Moses. Peter’s unguarded and unthinking tendency to protest Jesus’ statements is seen at the foot-washing scene in John 13:4–11 when he said first, “You shall never ever wash my feet”; and then after Jesus’ strong retort, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me,” he reversed himself completely, stating, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and head” (13:8–9). This just shows that Peter is very outspoken and not afraid to be the first one to speak up.

Readers/Audience of 2 Peter

Second Peter 3:1 states that “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you.” This is saying that Peter is writing to the same group of people he wrote to in First Peter. However, there are other signs that could point to other readers, like in the first chapter of Second Peter. 1:1 suggests it was written for a wider readership, which would have included those who received the first letter and to whom 3:1 would then refer. In his first book, Peter was writing to Christians, both Jewish and Gentile, scattered by persecution throughout several provinces of Asia Minor.

Historical Setting and Date of 2 Peter

Second Peter was written shortly before Peter’s death, and after he wrote first Peter. When looking back into the date of First Peter, Peter’s teaching that the government could be expected to administer justice (1 Pet. 2:13–14) and that a man who did what was right would be unharmed (3:13) indicate that this may have been written before the severe persecutions of Nero began in a.d....
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