Welcome to the SECOND installment of Isaac Hunter’s Online Bible Study, a systematic analysis of the 66 books of the protestant bible.
This is an online class, organized informally and asynchronously. There are no sign-ups needed, no grades to be got, just a clear analysis of the bible and it’s peculiar and fantastically supernatural message for us from outside the bounds of creation itself. So, check back in often as new episodes will arrive each week.
You can also subscribe to this bible study by clicking HERE, using your favorite RSS feed reader, so you’ll never miss a single episode.
Reading the Text
Since we are starting a new book for this episode, please take some time to read through the entire book of 2 Peter 1-3 before we get started. This is so you can get familiar with the subject matter in question.
Now that you’ve finished reading the entire book, let’s do another supplemental reading of the portion of text we will be dealing with. Just to note, as we get into larger books (such as Genesis), we will be tackling 5 chapters at a time. But, for a small book like 2 Peter, we will take the entire book on in one setting.
Please re-read the text.
A Mystical Transformation
This book holds a unique meaning for me, despite its minuscule size relative to other books of the bible. It was actually the book of 2 Peter I opened a Gideon bible to, by happenstance, late one night in a hospital room, at the bedside of a girlfriend who had been in a terrible auto accident.
I actually tried to opened it to Genesis at that moment, but the pages in the front just happened to be crinkled together and made a terrible noise on my first attempt. So, instead, I flipped to the back and landed on 2 Peter 2:20-22.
Keep in mind, at this time, I was just 17 years old, an aspiring Zen Buddhist, Martial Artist, and had recently signed papers for military service.
But, here I sat, mired in the darkness of that room, in the darkness of my own life, with this blue bible now opened to a passage I’d never read before. As I read it, my sight was restored. For the first time, I could see the truth of the Word in front of me. I could see beyond the lie I had been living.
This single passage utterly and supernaturally transformed my life.
“….For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them….”
“But, it has happened to them according to the true proverb, “The dog returns to his own vomit,” and “the sow that has washed to wallowing in the mire.” ”
Still, to this day, I have no idea what happened when I read that passage. But, I know something occurred. It was like flipping a switch inside of me, but that switch was somehow tethered to a place – a core – residing deep within. For the first time in my life, I simply knew the truth.
It had been made clear to me – intrinsically and resoundingly.
I walked away from that dark and desolate room early the next morning, encompassed all around by a new and profound light. I had, for the first time in my life, an unquenchable thirst for this confounding, mysterious, and always challenging, yet altogether supernatural collection of books.
I disavowed my previous beliefs in eastern philosophy and Zen Buddhism specifically, losing friendships and disciples in the process. I ceased training as a Martial Artist, to the uncivil consternation of my Sensei. And, no matter how hard I tried in the subsequent months and years to follow, I could never return again to my old life or my old ways.
God had simply said, “Enough.”
So, needless to say, it is always a treat for me when I return to this little letter from Peter, work through its pages. It is a vein of gold – of truth – waiting to be mined. A ripe and splendid field awaiting an overdue harvest.
Let’s dig in.
2 Peter was written , but was contested as far back as Origen circa 240 AD, but was formally recognized as cannon in 372 AD at the Laodicean Council.
From the Text Itself
At the onset, we find the apostle Peter jumping into the theological deep end. I often find, the smaller in both size and stature of a book in the bible, the greater and deeper and more complex it’s message tends to be.
And, there is a lot jammed packed into these three chapters. We start with Peter’s declaration.
He is a δούλος (G1401) “servant, slave” of Christ (an identifier used also by Jude, James, John, and, of course, Paul). This word actually has a rich and elaborate context. It would be beneficial to watch this short video on the Bondslave.
We again see what Jude referred to as our “common faith,” Peter here describes it as our “like precious faith.” That faith is wholly invested in the righteousness of God and of Christ.
Always keep in mind, the apostles were very adamant that we must gain επιγνώσει (G1922) “full knowledge” of both God and Jesus Christ – that it be multiplied, and likewise grow.
It was actually through his divine power that he’s given us everything – and, through knowing the one who called us (God), we have been granted the promise to become partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world (which is sin, the consequence from the fall of Adam).
It is only through the knowledge of Him that we can come to the saving grace of Christ and be transformed from mortal to immortal (Ephesians 2:8-9; 4:11-16).
Peter then gives us a list of items we should strive diligently to attain: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, brotherly kindness, love.
Not only are we to believe, but we are to seek excellence in all that we do, and to acquire “full knowledge,” and temper that with (since knowledge can puff up the ego) self-control, and φιλαδελφίαν (G5360) “brotherly affection” and then lastly, αγάπην (G26) “self-sacrificial love” (which was the love of Christ on the cross – to do what is best for another without regard for the self).
Peter tells us, if we possess these things (traits listed above), and they grow, then we will be neither unfruitful nor idle concerning – again – the eεπίγνωσιν (G1922) “the full knowledge, recognition, acknowledgment” of Christ.
It’s crucial to realize where our salvation comes from. And, what do I mean when I say, “salvation?”
Romans 10:9-10 says it all:
“…if you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…”
Confession – ομολογήσης (G3670) “admit, acknowledge, affirm” is an act of obedience to the πιστεύσης (G4100) “trust, being convinced, give credit, faith” that you have at your core. One may come before the other, or vice versa, but salvation requires both confession and belief, and the only way to achieve both is acquiring the “full knowledge” of God.
Peter makes it clear, those who do not have the list of traits above are blind, shortsighted, only see that which is immediate – seeking to appease the base appetites alone, rather than immersing the self in God’s will.
A favorite verse of mine, 2 Peter 1:10, “Therefore, brothers, be ever more diligent to make your calling and election sure” (in that, we should focus our attention on the attainment of those traits listed), for, in doing so, we will secure our fate in the promise, “you will never stumble.”
It was Peter’s hope that he would continually remind his readers of these things (listed above), up until his death, even though they were already established in the truth (we, too, are in need of a “stirring up,” a continual reminder).
Peter knew he was about to die, just as the Lord had predicted (John 21:18-22), so he wanted to make a point to write to his audience and remind them to seek after these things, knowing those that did would not stumble. He also alludes to establishing a reminder even for after he left, which would be his letters we have today.
This testimony Peter gives (about these things) he considered the “more sure word of prophecy,” in that he was an eye witness to the transfiguration. His words are a “lamp shining in a dark place” and this light would remain until the “day dawns” (Judgment Day) and the “day star” rises in your heart (Revelation 22:16, Jesus declares himself the Bright and Morning Star. To the overcomer in Revelation 2:28, he gives them the morning star). So it is, the word of God, the light shining in the darkness, will remain until Judgment Day, when Christ returns to earth to bring judgment and salvation to the whole world.
Peter is assured of this prophecy because he knows that the prophets did not give their testimony by way of their own opinions or own sentient will. Rather, they were moved to speak by the Holy Spirit (in this, we can have trust in the Scriptures, that they are God breathed – 2 Timothy 3:16).
Just as in Jude, Peter points out that false prophets and false teachers will infiltrate the assembly, bringing with them destructive heresies – specifically, denying Christ (who bought them). Many will follow after them (as we see in most denominations and cultic groups today). But, Peter assures us, their destruction is not late, does not linger, but is coming.
Issues, Misunderstandings, Questions
So, we now get to the controversial part of this little book, dealing with the same subject that was alluded to in Jude.
Angels that sinned.
It is possible, and often pointed out, that a third of the heavenly hosts sided with Satan during the revolt in heaven. When they lost, they were cast to earth. Now, it could stand to reason, this verse in 2:4 refers to those angels who sided with Lucifer in the Revelation 12 war in heaven.
The only problem with this: it does not explain the other verses elsewhere that speak of sinning angels who, apparently, left heaven, and came to earth to take wives of the daughters of men. It is possible Jude and Genesis are referring to the angels who wanted to get hitched, and 2 Peter is referring to the angels of Revelation 12.
If you remove the Genesis 6 account, and the apocryphal accounts, it is plausible that these sinning angels were from Revelation 12.
So, it is worth consideration.
Peter goes on in chapter 2, verse 5, providing more examples: not sparing the ancient world in the Noahic flood. He also cites Sodom and Gomorrah (often examples of God’s wrath), and, subsequently, Lot, who was taken out from the wickedness of those cities.
What was Peter’s overall point?
God knows how to deliver godly people out of temptation. He likewise knows how to keep the unrighteous under guard, until judgment day.
Granted, there does seem to be quite a bit of suffering on behalf of the innocent in this world. Likewise, quite a few ungodly, morally corrupt, down right evil people seem to be getting away with murder.
The only answer I have to this is Isaiah 55:6-11, Matthew 5:43-48, God’s dealings with humanity is a mystery to us, for what we think is right, what we consider fair and just, is not the same as God’s (Proverbs 21:2). In fact, God’s reckoning and sense of justice and moral compass far surpasses our capabilities.
An acquaintance once commented to me that God was not fair. That the things he allowed to happen were often so tragic, so hurtful, that he struggled at times to not resent God.
My response to that is a simple but profound one. The reality is, it doesn’t matter what we think of God’s choices. He will do as he chooses. Whatever his reason. Whatever the motivation. None of it matters.
It would not matter if one day we discover God is a schizophrenic child in mental crisis. It would not matter if we uncover that God is only one of many supreme entities, engrossed in a cosmic, interstellar war and we’re simply collateral damage. It also wouldn’t matter if we all the pain and suffering we experience were simply the bi-product of a bet between him and the devil (Job 2).
It would not reduce God’s sovereignty. It would not lessen his discretion or his power and ability to render onto us his will – whatever that will may be.
We so often forget, we are not the potter, but the clay (Romans 9:13-33). God has a great and terrible and everlasting plan, and it is being unveiled within us each and every day as we are becoming “sons of God” (Romans 8:19).
Peter goes on to describe all those who are not becoming sons of God, likely, those who seek the flesh, lust for defilement, despise authority, the audacious and unrestrained (risk takers), self-willed and the rebellious.
These are in stark contrast against the obedient angels, who would not dare to bring even an accusation of another before the Lord, despite even their great capabilities and power.
Peter concludes, these people are unreasoned creatures, based, natural beasts – simply to be caught and destroyed. They are ignorant, and will be caught in their own snares and likewise destroyed. They are revelers, a pox, adulterous, enticers, greedy, cursers, forsakers of the right path, having followed after Balaam (same example as in Jude). They are wells without water, clouds driven by a storm.
Blackness of darkness has been reserved for them in eternity.
But, here is the major lesson I’ve always taken away from this next passage, and from this book as a whole.
“For if, after they have escaped the defilement of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state has become worse with them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.”
And this very thing I tried to do countless times. As a Buddhist, I was a freedman. I was happy. I was content. I sought enlightenment, a final escape from suffering and this fallen world.
But, once I was exposed to this passage, and it’s truth was made known to me in my heart, in my soul, there was no longer an excuse for me not to obey. There was no longer an argument to be made on my behalf that out of ignorance I commit sin and all kinds of horrific evils against the Lord.
I had received the επιγνώσει (G1922) “full knowledge” of the Lord and Savior Christ Jesus (Romans 10:8-9).
Even still, I tried as hard as I could to return to my old life. Return to meditation (which I received a great deal of satisfaction from), return to a life of hedonistic debauchery. And, of course, this was all viewed by myself and others as a lofty endeavor. To escape the harsh and critical judgment of an absentee Father. Break free of obsolete and dogmatic thinking – become again my own freedman, rather than Christ’s slave.
Yet, no matter how hard I tried, I could no longer shake the truth that now dwelt in the deepest parts of myself. God, he is real. He does exist. He did give his only son to die on the cross, to pay the purchase price for my sin, that God might be able to look upon me and see only Christ rather than my own feeble thinking and actions, which only brings about sin, which leads me straightway to death.
In these things, Peter again wishes to, in the Greek it states, “awaken our honest recollection and consideration.”
He wants us to remember what the prophets and the apostles told us about our Lord and Savior (Ephesians 2:20).
More specifically, that they predicted that false teachers would infiltrate the ranks of true believers (as Jude likewise discussed in his letter). They would ask a question that we, ironically, here a lot in our day and age:
Why hasn’t Christ returned yet? What’s taking him so long?
The second question is provocative in my mind, establishing their disbelief upon the foundation of universalism:
“From the day our fathers died, all things have continued as they have from the beginning of creation.”
This is the major foundational argument for evolution (or, against special creation, as evolution derived out of a desire to thwart a divine worldview). And, here it is, prophesied as recorded by Peter (though, I cannot find a direct quote in the Old Testament for this prediction of “mockers” in the future to come).
From whatever source Peter derived this quote, it was nonetheless accurate, if not during Peter’s time, then certainly during our own. For we have an endless stream of naysayers that will cast doubt and outright deny the coming return of Christ – for the very reason stated, “from the day the fathers died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
Peter goes on to state these doubters and deniers are willful in their disbelief, having “willfully forgotten.” For, the creation itself is enough evidence in and of itself to convict the sinner (Romans 1:18-23). Because these deniers “willfully forget” the creation recorded in Genesis and elsewhere, and likewise deny the prophetic word of the second coming and subsequent judgment – their destruction will come upon them with great surprise and panic.
But, Peter wants to assure his readers, God is not slack in his return. What we perceive as a thousand years is but a day to the Lord. And vice versa. Meaning, time is not binding from God’s perspective. He holds captive over the property of time, can manipulate it, can slow it down, speed it up, he can erase it.
So, why does it seem as if judgment and his return is taking forever? Simply put: he is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
This is the plan of God. Salvation for all.
But, it does not mean all will be saved. In fact, God’s de facto pattern has always been to use a remnant. Even today, his plan for Israel is to save only a remnant (Romans 9:27; 11:5).
Despite the long-suffering he must endure, there will be a point in time when Christ will return. He will do so, “as a thief in the night.” We do not know the time of his return and must remain watchful in both deed and belief – for, at that time, the earth and the heavens will be destroyed by fire, a fire so intense it will consume both the physical world and all the wicked deeds of men found upon it.
Peter brings about his lesson, since this is how the second coming will take place, how should we behave now? We should be earnestly desiring Christ’s return. For in the destruction of the old, we have the promise of the new. A new heavens and a new earth – neither marked and defiled by sin and unrighteousness or the mortality of the curse.
Because we anticipate the second coming, we should be diligent to present ourselves to God (at that time) in peace, αμώμητοι (G298) “unblamable,” and άσπιλοι (G784) “spotless.”
But, knowing that God’s patience is our salvation, just as Paul spoke of in his own letters. Peter makes a point to express that some things Paul writes about are difficult to understand. Because of that difficulty, Paul’s letters are often used by αμαθείς (G261) “ignorant” and αστήρικτοι (G793) “unstable” people who twist all the Scriptures to their ultimate destruction.
But, Peter encourages us, because we know these things beforehand, we should be wise to know better or φυλάσσεσθε (G5442) “be on guard, watchful” so that we are not likewise (as those he previously spoke of) be swept away with their πλάνη (G4106) “delusion, wandering away.”
Instead, Peter encourages us to grow in the grace and, again, “full knowledge” of Christ.
What, then, can be said of all this? How does one wrap their arms around all that we’ve found in this tiny, three chapter book?
We are slaves of God, not freedman.
It is in a common faith that we are joined.
It is to our benefit (and essential for salvation) that we not only attain the “full knowledge” of Christ, but that we continue to grow in that knowledge until his return.
We should aspire to incorporating certain character traits into ourselves as we, through sanctification, become christ like.
This and his first letter are his seal as a reminder for his readers then and for us now in the future.
False teachers then, there will be false teachers now. Their key hallmark (denial of Christ as the son of God, as the messiah, as the propitiation for our sin).
From the vantage point of Peter, he could have referred to the angels of Genesis 6 or Revelation 12. The former is more consistent.
Overall point of the book, God knows what he’s doing.
Despite our skepticism, he has a plan, and it will be fulfilled. One day, on his own timetable, he will decide when enough is enough, and that will be the end. It will be too late. As one of my characters in Ashen Monk Mountain quoted, “What had his baptist friend told him in the desert? He comes breathing fire and murder and vengeance and judgment and carries a big-ass stick?”
For, the prophets predicted it. Christ fulfilled those predictions. The apostles confirmed the fulfillment. Even nature and the physical world stand witness to god’s authorship over everything (and stand in judgment of man’s disbelief).
If you haven’t figured it out by those things, there is probably nothing god can do to convince you (Luke 16).
In the end, though, Peter’s point is, it doesn’t matter what we might think of God or his choices. He is sovereign. He is the definition of righteousness. His will will be done.
So, we can be the chaff or the wheat (Matthew 3:12). We can grow, and prepare for the coming harvest, or we can whither and die on the vine. We can build on the sure foundation of the apostles and prophets, or, we can build on the ever shifting sand of human wisdom and pride. It is our choice to make.
But, as Indiana was, too, given a choice, we need to make our calling and election sure. We should always remember to “choose wisely.”
Until the next study.
Answer the following questions below, then submit them using the Assignment Submission form at the bottom of this page.
- What are some examples from nature illustrating God’s fingerprints of Creation?
Why were we given the choice between accepting and believing in Christ’s payment for us, or denying that work?
How do we ensure that we will not stumble from our solid foundation? What is that foundation (if it is, indeed, solid)? If our foundation is not solid, what are we building on?
To who or what is Peter referring to in 2 Peter 2:4? Angels from Genesis 2 or from Revelation 12? Why do you conclude this?
Do you think God is a hypocrite or unrighteous because he allows sinful people to prosper and for innocent people to suffer?
Do you question or doubt the return of Christ because things have been the same for as long as humans can remember?
What is your choice? Have you made one yet about Jesus Christ? Consider for a moment the question before you right now. Do you believe what the apostles claimed about Jesus? Do you profess Jesus is Lord and died to pay the price for your sins? Do you accept his sacrifice on your behalf? (2 Thessalonians 1: 7b-10; Ephesians 2:4-10; Romans 10:8-11). If you have not already made your choice, the time to do so is now. There are no longer any excuses for you. The decision is yours to make. Choose wisely.
Benefits of Using The Word Bible Software
I have mentioned before how incredibly useful the Word Bible Software is. Now, before I get started with this review, I want you to know that this is not an advertisement. The software creators are not paying me to write this, nor am I affiliated in any way with their organization – save being a user of the software itself. I have also never paid for any modules. Everything I use is available free of charge, either at the site itself or elsewhere on the internet.
So, the Word Bible Software is, by far, using any measure, the most effective bible research tool I’ve ever come across in the last 17 years. I’ve tried them all with varying success. Mostly, each program had good points, but mostly bad.
The Word Bible Software is different.
The program is available for both Windows and Mac, though I have had no experience with the Mac version. It is as free as toast and cable (oh, wait, neither of those are free). The program is free as in air. I would say 90% of the modules available are free forever. There is a large and productive community behind the software, producing modules at an alarming rate. It is actively maintained with frequent updates that continue to innovate and iterate.
It is amazingly fast, stable, simple, responsive, extensive, and well designed. It does it’s job so well, it really just get’s out of your way so you can be face to face with the bible itself and most reference and topical tools available to us today.
All modules feature a 100% searchable database, where the user can look up individual words, phrases, or perform complex boolean inquiries.
The layout is phenomenal. Customize the look how you like it, what bible versions you want visible, what commentary and book windows you would like open, where everything fits together, then save the layout, and the software remembers where you are with every launch. You can also create multiple layouts for different tasks (I have one for my personal studies, one for reading texts, one for devotional reading, etc).
The sheer volume of titles available is staggering. Standouts for my own study are the Apostolic Bible Polyglot, the NKJV, the WEB, the TSK, the ISBE. Many commentaries, including, Cambridge, Lange, Poole, Jamieson, and so many more. Of the generic book resources I utilize most would be the complete Church Fathers collection. I also have various deuterocanonical books, apocryphal texts and pseudepigraphical works. I also have an assortment of systematic theology books, books on prayer, and a litany of others.
Just to give you a rough idea, my installation folder is approximately 1 GB of data. It is literally an entire research library at my fingertips, yet, completely portable.
The ancient language fonts are impeccable, easy to read, and can be copied to other tools with ease. The font size system is zoom based, so it can be customized to suit your needs. In my younger years I preferred small text so I could fit more into a given screen (using laptops exclusively), but now that I’m approaching mid-life, I’ve dialed up the fonts to larger than life and love it. So easy on the eyes, allowing me the ability to study for much longer periods without eye strain (try that with print tools).
Tool tip functionality is simply unbelievable. All tool tips are tied to either the Strong’s numbering system or verse references. The tool tip on mouse hover will open, displaying the given lookup. You can even do in-line commentary, so all the commentaries are at the end of each bible verse. You simply hover over it to access that specific commentary.
You can add your own modules by hand or by compiling with external tools (mileage varies). All scripture references automatically generate tool tips, making cross-references incredibly helpful in your own notes. I’ve also discovered coping strong’s numbers in from their respective bibles will retain their hyperlink properties, allowing tool-tip functionality for those numbers as well.
There is a functional devotional reading system that is highly customizable (if you’re into that).
The only drawback I’ve found so far is in the lack of an export system. If you create your own notes or commentary, there is no easy way to export those notes out of the system. You’re basically tied to the software at that point, which is rather disappointing.
I have found some work-arounds, but they are far from perfect. My ultimate solution has been to create my notes and commentary entries in Scrivener first, then copy and pasting to the Word Bible Software. This allows me the flexibility to maintain a separate copy, while also adding the option to export as an ebook in the future. The fonts and typesetting work relatively seamlessly through the process, so if you are a publisher and want to publish as epub or mobi, the final results are great – allowing you to also publish as a free or paid module for the Word Bible Software, too.
You can also setup external tools to function with your own bible, commentary, and book modules. I’ve been able to add links for each chapter in the bible to my audio bible, so I now simply click on the first word in each bible chapter to launch that corresponding audio file.
I also have an extensive collection of PDFs from a prominent bible teacher, these I link to an index module, and they are now accessible as a book by book commentary. There is, unfortunately, no native PDF reading option.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, and are the major features I utilize with this important bible research tool. Check it out for yourself. You will not be disappointed.
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Assignment Submission Form
Submit your answers to the Assignment Questions using this handy submission form below. Please include the questions with your answers. All submissions will be personally responded to. Some will be shared in future studies.