Before you read the letters from Peter, take a few minutes to recall who he was: What was his position in the Church? What particular experiences did he have with the Savior? What might he have learned from those experiences? How does that background inform these letters?
Outlines of 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude
1 Peter (adapted from Bo Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude)
Like Ephesians, 1 Peter appears to be a baptismal sermon, perhaps written to be read at baptismal services one year and, it seems, addressed primarily to non-Jewish converts.
- Greeting (1:1-2)
- The responsibilities that baptized persons have because of the gift they have received (1:3-4:6)
- Thanks for the gift of a living hope (1:3-12
- Admonition to live righteously (1:13-25)
- Avoiding malice (2:1-12)
- Loyalty to authority (2:13-17)
- Maxims for daily living (2:18-3:12)
- Laborers must be patient (2:18-25)
- Wives should honor their husbands; husbands should be considerate of their wives (3:1-7)
- The necessity of humility inside and outside the congregation (3:8-12)
- Doing good bravely and speaking up for the gospel (3:12-22)
- Being prepared to suffer (4:1-6)
- The love and steadfastness of the whole congregation (4:7-5:14)
- Love, hospitality, and cooperation (4:7-11)
- Joy and perseverance in persecution (4:12-19)
- The devotion of the elders toward the flock (5:1-5)
- Trust in God and steadfastness (5:6-11)
- Conclusion and wish for peace (5:12-14)
Many believe that Second Peter was composed by one of the early Saints, perhaps Peter’s secretary, shortly after Peter’s death, using his sermons and letters (sort of an early Teachings of the Prophet).
- Greeting (1:1-2)
- Being devoted to the call of the gospel and to the hope of the second coming (1:3-21)
- Making our calling and election certain (1:3-11)
- Remember these things after the death of Peter (1:12-15)
- Jesus’ transfiguration is a guarantee of his return (1:16-18)
- Prophecy is a further guarantee (1:19-21)
- A warning against deceivers/seducers (2:1-22)
- The seducers exploit members of the Church (2:1-3)
- The flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah (2:4-9)
- The seducers defame those in authority (2:10-14)
- The seducers receive money from non-Christians, as did Balaam (2:15-17)
- The seducers promise freedom from masters (though they themselves are slaves to sin) (2:18-22)
- The Second Coming and the Final Judgment require blamelessness and steadfastness on our part (3:1-18)
- Adhering to instruction (3:1-2)
- The skepticism of those who mock (3:3-7)
- Two mistakes about the delay of the final days (3:8-9)
- We must remember that God’s time is not our time (3:8)
- The Lord is not delaying his promise, but is giving all a chance to repent (3:9)
- The day of the Lord (the Second Coming) (3:10)
- Preparing for the day of the Lord (3:11-18)
If Jude is the brother of James, who the tradition assumes to be the author of the book of James, and James is, as tradition also says, the brother of the Lord, then Jude is also the brother of the Lord. Why doesn’t he say so when he introduces himself?
Jude is parallel to 2 Peter 2 and most scholars, though certainly not all, believe that Jude was the inspiration for 2 Peter 2. Here are the parallels between them:
- Greeting and explanation for why the epistle was written (1-3)
- Warning against deceivers/seducers (4-16)
- Seducers pervert God’s grace, turning it into lasciviousness (i.e., unbridled lust, debauchery) (4)
- Reminders of what has happened to others who did so: Egypt, and Sodom and Gomorrah (5-7)
- The seducers speak evil of the authorities and of things they do not understand (8-10)
- The examples of others who rebel against God: Cain, Balaam, and Korah (11-13)
- Enoch’s prophecy of the Second Coming (14-16)
- Remaining steadfast (17-25)
- Remain steadfast against mockers (presumably those who mock Christians because the Second Coming has not occurred (17-19)
- Remain steadfast by relying on the Holy Ghost in prayer, by remaining in God’s love, and by hoping for eternal life (20-21)
- Show mercy toward doubters (22-23)—The Greek text here is unreliable; this is the meaning that seems most likely.
- Concluding praise of God (24-25)
These study notes will concentrate on 2 Peter 1:2-11
Verse 2: Peter asks a blessing on those to whom he is writing, namely that through their knowledge of the Savior they might have grace and peace multiplied. What does that mean?
What is grace? What kind of peace might he mean? How are they multiplied?
Verse 3: Verse 2 asked that grace and peace be multiplied; this verse continues, saying “just as his divine power has granted us all things for life and godliness, through a knowledge of the one who has called us to glory and to excellence. The word translated “godliness” refers to the practical aspects of religion—doing good works—more than it does to specifically devotional acts or acts of worship.
“Excellence” is another accurate translation of the word translated “virtue.” It includes not only chastity, but all other moral excellence as well.
How does a knowledge of Christ provide us with all things for life and godliness? How does he provide us with that knowledge through his divine power? What does it mean to say that he has called us to glory? To excellence?
Verse 4: The word “whereby” refers back to something which came before. What? In other words, this verse says that priceless and magnificent promises have come to us by means of something mentioned in the previous verse. What is that?
Through these promises we can become “partakers of the divine nature.” What does that mean? In other words, what is the divine nature, and what does it mean to partake of (to take part in) it? Don’t we already partake in that nature by virtue of being the spirit children of our Heavenly Father?
What does this verse say is the cause of corruption in this world? (As used here, “lust” does not refer only to corrupt sexual desires; it refers to misdirected desire in general.) Why does Peter speak of “escaping” the corruption of the world rather than just “leaving” it behind?
Verse 5: Instead of “and beside,” I think the beginning of this verse should be translated, “for this purpose.” What is going to be brought about by the things which follow?
“Add to” is a reasonable translation, but it doesn’t catch the connotations of the Greek word it translates. That word carries with it the notion of providing for something lavishly. (In one Greek manuscript, for example, a man uses this verb to complain that his wife has left him even though he provided more than he could afford.) The idea is that abundance is required. What does that suggest about the meaning of this verse?
What is the first thing one must have to become godly?
The word translated “knowledge,” can also be translated “understanding,” “having insight,” “circumspection,” “discretion,” “discernment.” Why would we need to add understanding, insight or discernment in addition to virtue and faith? Here’s an alternate translation of the beginning of the verse:
For this purpose, exert all diligence so that by your faith you may make possible virtue (provide for virtue), and by your virtue, knowledge.
On this reading, we cannot be virtuous without faith. Is that right? By the same token, we cannot have knowledge without virtue. Is that right? If those are both right, how can they be? Read this way, each of the things mentioned in the list is something that makes possible what follows it in the list. Go through the list asking yourself how the first in each pair makes the second possible.
Verse 6: Notice the explanations of “temperance” and “godliness” in the LDS edition. (The word used for “godliness” here is the same as that used in verse 3.) How do those add to the meaning of the verse?
Another translation of “patience” would be “perseverance.” How does understanding or discernment make self-control possible? How does self-control make perseverance or enduring to the end possible? How does perseverance make good works (godliness) possible?
Verse 7: How are these three, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity, related to one another?
Verse 8: What does it mean for these things to abound in us? Notice that if we wish to have a knowledge of Christ, we must have these things: “If these things are present and abound among you, they will make you neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Why does Peter use barrenness and unfruitfulness to portray not having a knowledge of Christ? What does it mean not to be barren and to be fruitful in knowing Christ?
The word translated “knowledge” connotes an intimate knowledge. What does it mean to have an intimate knowledge of Christ?
Verse 9: If we have these things, we know Christ intimately, but if we lack these things, we are so nearsighted that we are blind. Why does Peter use nearsightedness to portray those who have forgotten their baptismal covenants and blessings?
Verse 10: What is a calling? Who has been called? How? Do the scriptures use the word “calling” in different senses? If so, what are they and which is being used here? How is the word “calling” related to its ordinary meaning, “to call out”? Does that help us understand better what it means to have a calling?
What does “election” mean? Who are the elect?
The verb translated “to make sure” can also be translated “to confirm”: “Instead, therefore, brethren, be diligent to confirm your calling and election.” The implication is that we have already been called and elected, but that we must confirm that calling and election, we must make it sure for it to be valid. When were we called and elected? How do we confirm that calling and election? How does the last part of the verse make more clear what it means to have one’s calling and election made sure?
Verse 11: The word order here is quite close to the Greek word order (as it often is in the King James Version), but that makes it more difficult to read. Put in a more natural English word order, this says, “For so [i.e. “in this way”] an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be ministered unto you [i.e. “provided for you”] abundantly.” What point is Peter making with that sentence? To see some of the implications of these verses about making our callings and elections sure, compare verse 5 through 7 with verse 6 of D&C 4:
Doctrine and Covenants
|And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.||Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence|
What has D&C 4 to do with having one’s calling and election made sure?
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