A Summary of 1 & 2 Peter

Harry Adams, writing in The AMG Concise Bible Survey states “An old chorus says, ‘This world is not my home; I’m just a-passin’ through.’ Our passage is made difficult by opposition from the world and deception in the church. Peter’s two brief letters encourage us to remain steadfast to the end.” The theme of 1 Peter is persecution, and it was written to encourage suffering believers. 2 Peter sounds a warning against false teachers. 1 Peter addresses salvation, sanctification, submission and suffering. Adams gives a clear, alliterated outline of 2 Peter as 1) Developing as Christians, 2) Denouncing False Teachers, and 3) Difficulties of the Last Days.

1 Peter shows salvation in rich theological terms. The believer is “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:2). In verse 4, Peter describes our inheritance as “… incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven …” Peter reminds us that though we will face “heaviness through manifold temptations,” they are but “for a season” (v. 6). He lends the encouragement that “… the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (v. 7). There is a clear call to holiness (vv. 15-16), with the admonition following that because God is no respecter of persons, believers should “… pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (v. 17). 1 Pet. 1 also points out that we are “… not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold … but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (vv. 18-19).

1 Pet. 2 encourages us to grow through the Word (v. 2), to “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (v. 11), and to obey the Lord by obeying those in authority over us (vv. 13, 18). Verse 21 was the inspiration for Charles Sheldon’s classic book “In His Steps,” which has as its subtitle “What Would Jesus Do?” Years ago, during a resurgence in the popularity of the WWJD marketing frenzy, and evangelist, who also owned a Christian bookstore told of several young adults who came into his store. They asked if he had any WWJD bracelets. When he apologized for being sold out, they turned to leave, cursing and swearing because their shopping experience was unsuccessful. Doubtless, this is not what Charles Sheldon, or Peter, had in mind!

1 Pet. 3 encourages righteous behavior in the home, calling on women to witness to their unsaved husband with a godly behavior rather than a golden tongue, stating that God values a “meek and quiet spirit” (vv. 1-4). Husbands are told to honor their wives as joint heirs of salvation (v. 7). Verse 21 has fueled many a Campbellite fire as “evidence” for baptismal regeneration.” Properly understood, this verse is is not speaking of salvation, but of our obedience in believer’s baptism asproviding “the answer of a good conscience.” Chapter 4 again calls us to holy living, exhorting us to not “live … in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (v. 2), before challenging us not to be surprised by the “fiery trial” (v. 12) we are certain to face.

1 Peter concludes with chapter 5 and Peter’s instruction for church leaders to “feed the flock” humbly (vv. 2-3), church followers to “submit” humbly (v. 5), and all of us warned to resist the devil and “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (vv. 8-9).

2 Peter begins with the glorious truth of God’s equipping promise, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (vv. 3-4). Typically, when a person gets saved, we begin discipleship. We start teaching the new convert basic Bible lessons on doctrine and theology. We cover salvation, assurance, baptism, sin, the church, security of the believer, etc. We fill our new converts with knowledge. Knowledge is necessary. Peter tells us we are to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). However, in 2 Pet. 1:5-11 we are told to “add to … (our) faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge” (v. 5).

In chapter 2 Peter gets to the “meat” of his admonition on false teachers, warning that they will “privily … bring in damnable heresies” (v. 1). Peter assures of God’s judgment on these false teachers (vv. 3-22). In the process he invokes Lot as an example of God’s faithfulness to His people and His ability to deliver them. An interesting note is that Lot is referred to as a righteous man (hardly a description most of us would have given him). To briefly “chase a rabbit,” it makes a profitable study to compare and contrast Abraham with his nephew. They came from the same area, were from the same family, and so forth. And yet the similarities end and the contrasts begin. Lot chose the “good land” and Abraham accepted the “poor land.” Lot prospered materially while his soul became impoverished. He lost everything (his wife, his testimony, etc.) – everything except his soul!

Peter concludes with a reminder that the Lord is coming, and the believer should live in “holy expectation” (1 Pet. 3:11-12).