As I SOAPed the last chapter in 2nd Peter, I couldn’t help but notice a few things from both this chapter and 1st and 2nd Peter as a whole. Aside from reading a verse or passage here and there along with a devotional or something, I had never read through either book in its entirety. My Bible is a student bible, so there are tidbits and expansions giving extra insight into each book, certain passages and highlighting specific people.
Naturally, there was an excerpt on Peter, which produced some extra digging and I also went back to see what was happening culturally during the time that these books were written. Turns out, the converted Jews were under persecution from both the outside (unbelievers) and from the inside (other believers). That actually sounds pretty familiar to the scene in today’s world, but it was so bad that the Christians were scattered and in severe danger. The tone of 1 Peter suggests that the people were becoming discouraged in their faith.
I noticed a kind and endearing tone of both books, but specifically in the last chapter of 2nd Peter. We find him writing with words like “I want you to recall”, “do not forget this one thing”, “dear friends” and “bear in mind”. This chapter portrays a kind caring man with a more matured personality offering wisdom and encouragement.
After looking into the life of Peter, I found a probable reason for this. Peter was once a brash, outspoken and unrefined man, rough around the edges and seemingly ruled by emotions. In anger he cut off the centurion’s ear and in fear for his life he denied Jesus in his darkest hour to name just two crazy instances. Once he became an apostle after Jesus’ death, he went through some severe physical persecution himself. And yet, here we have him writing to people going through what he has already come through with grace and kindness, encouraging them to carry on, where to put their hope and how then to live.
We read in 2 Peter 3: 1 his reason for writing both books:
Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them to stimulate you to wholesome thinking.
In both books, a common theme of how to live as Christians is developed and he neatly wraps up a summary of the entire Bible. He uses both the Old and New Testaments, his personal experiences as well as the other apostles as examples to really give thorough instructions. His words were for sure a comfort to my soul and served to encourage me in this past week. I am still blown away by just how relevant the Word of God is today as it was back in Peter’s day. It truly is alive. God is the same today as he was yesterday and we can be sure he will be the same in our tomorrows!
Just a few verses stood out to me as look back over my journaling of both books.
1 Peter 2: 19
For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.”
God’s sovereignty shines through in this verse. He has been teaching me about contentment and true Christian patience and this is in support of what I have been learning. Praiseworthy could be a synonym of commendable and that is a really interesting term to couple with unjust suffering. But the key here is that it is not just suffering for suffering’s sake but the praiseworthiness comes when the trial is viewed in light of God’s sovereignty over the situation.
We can accept what happens to us in life and endure because we know that God’s sovereign hand is guiding our life.
1 Peter 4: 10-11
10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
So often we see material things as blessings from God, but reading this verse struck me that it includes our gifts and talents also. But they are more than blessings, they are gifts of Gods grace. I don’t know about you, but I usually associate God’s grace with salvation and spiritual matters, but in reality God’s grace is actually a part of every aspect of our lives.
So in turn, it is important that we are using our gifts of God’s grace in such a way that His strength is evident and so that all praise goes to him.
1 Peter 5: 6-7 and 10
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
When you are in the midst of the trial, sometimes it feels like all hope is lost and that there is no end ever coming to the trial. With all that I have been through with Big Bro, I will admit that there were times I just assumed that it was going to be this way until he left our home as an adult. Those were in my darkest days. But you know what? I can claim this scripture, specifically verse 10. The strength and personal growth that has come out of the past 5 years is tremendous and I am feeling firm and steadfast in my person. I have walked through a refiner’s fire. By God’s grace (not on my own!), he brought me to a place of Christian patience where I humbled myself under God’s mighty hand to accept the trial brought into my life. I can say those years were lived in God’s strength and I can say now that the suffering seems be coming to an end, as Big Bro is doing amazingly well.
2 Peter 1: 3-11
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This passage blew me away. It is a call to stay in and study the scriptures for that is where we have everything we need to live a godly life. We have access to the divine nature through his promises. But although its there for over taking, something else caught my attention. Two times Peter says to “make every effort.” So although its there for our taking, we need to make an effort to access the divine nature and escape the world’s evil. And I love the promise at the end- “If you do these things, you will never stumble and you will receive a rich welcome in to the eternal kingdom”.
2 Peter 2: 9b
…the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.
What a good versus evil contrast here stated plainly! He will rescue the godly and hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgement. This is actually comforting, as it looks to the past for example, applied to the present and references the future.
2 Peter 3: 1-2
1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
Peter gives his reasons for writing both books here, and it not to rebuke or to teach but rather it is to stimulate the reader to wholesome thinking. How kind, encouraging and nonthreatening his motives are! As I read through, I could sense that and I was amazed at how open I was to understanding his wisdom and utilizing it.
Reading and journaling through these two books has blessed me so much in the past couple weeks. It was amazing to see the Old and New Testaments pulled together and presented through the lens of holy living. And it was neat to view it through the promises rather than through consequences. Of course, God’s timing is perfect and I was able to learn more about contentment, which is what I am trying to get a handle on right now.
Did you read through them as well? I’d love to hear your insights!