Sunday 27th November 2022

We’ve said ‘goodbye’ to Paul, and now we say ‘goodbye’ to Peter.  Even if we count the Gospel of Mark as essentially Peter’s words, he did not write nearly as much as Paul, and only authored two letters in his own name.  Peter was a man of the spoken word and of action, rather more than a writer.  God uses everyone’s characteristics for his glory.  Today we read 2 Peter, the final farewell of this great apostle.

Peter begins by establishing not only his own credentials but those of Jesus Christ: “Our God and Saviour” (2 Peter 1:1).  This is yet another verse that states that Christ is totally God.  The recipients of this letter are all believers everywhere, including us!  Peter reminds us that we have received the precious power to believe in Jesus, only as a result of the righteousness of Jesus (v1b).  Also, that we inherit grace and peace abundantly through knowing God and his Son, Jesus (v2).  This is not merely knowing about the story of Jesus’ life, but an intimate closeness to Him, the result of time spent and serious ‘seeking’ on our part.  That relationship is, at root, everything we require for a godly lifestyle (v3).

Peter was in no way an ‘intellectual’, but he understood the importance and power of thought and the battle for the Christian’s mind. He wrote this letter “…to stimulate you to wholesome thinking”.  (2 Peter 3:1).  In order to do this, he provided some reminders from the Old Testament scriptures, and some commands of Jesus that would later appear in the New Testament.  “…He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature…” (1:4).  Wow!  This is a two-fold meaning: His promise – his covenant – guarantees that my life will be renewed and saved; also, as we meditate upon his promises, we are filled with faith and inwardly renewed to be like him.

If we truly belong to God, our lives will be being transformed daily: increasing in faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love.  These qualities are evidence and fruit of a saving faith and of our being called by Almighty God.  But they are only evidence if “…you possess these qualities in increasing measure” (1:8).  Any child that fails to grow at all has clear health problems; similarly, any so-called Christian who does not grow in these qualities raises major questions about the life that dwells in them.  As we push forward intentionally into spiritual maturity, it reassures us that we belong, that we have already been called and chosen by God from before the world’s creation.  Maturity also looks forward to the …”eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ”.

Peter then reminds them that his own time on this earth is short – soon he will “…put aside the tent of this body… as the Lord Jesus has made clear to me”.  His main concern, then, is to leave a legacy of knowledge for his disciples and the wider church – in very much the same way as Paul did.  Peter was, of course, an eyewitness to the Transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17) and the voice of God.  No-one could have seen Christ’s glory at such close quarters as Peter (and James and John).

Yet…Peter’s message rests on an even firmer foundation than this: “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it… you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things… but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit”.  (1:19-21).  Peter, later on, also recognized that Paul’s writings, although “hard to understand” are also ‘scripture’ and contain the wisdom of God.  (3:16)

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