Father, thank You for giving me, in Christ Jesus, everything I need for life and godliness. Add to my faith the goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love that make me useful and fruitful in Your kingdom. Protect me from false teachings, even as others are deceived. Come quickly, Lord, that all things will be made right for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read 2 Peter
Peter begins this letter with a beautiful and almost poetic reminder of our utter dependence on Christ. His intention is to remind God’s people that, in Christ, God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (1:3). This is a particularly foundational place for Paul to begin as he equips early Christians to identify false teachings and counter them with a right understanding of the gospel.
As part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, Peter was an eyewitness to Christ’s teachings, miracles, and resurrection (1:16). His personal experience gave him the right to speak authoritatively on matters of doctrine. So when false prophets infiltrated churches and began to lead people astray, Peter had to confront these lies.
First, Peter wants to be clear—God punishes those who teach a gospel other than Christ’s (2:1). Peter’s audience would surely remember the tales of those in times past who had abandoned God’s truth in favor of pursuing fleshly pleasures (2:10). These evildoers may have started out professing Christ, but each one believed something other than God’s truth and even went so far as to lead others to believe those same lies (2:14).
Peter goes on to encourage believers in the face of “scoffers” (3:3-4). It seems at least some in the early church expected Christ to return within their lifetime. So, when church members died, their hope in Christ’s promise to return was challenged. Cynics began to sow seeds of doubt among them by asking, “Why is it taking Jesus so long to return?”
Peter explains that God is not subject to time as we know it. He lives outside of time. It bends to His will. The Lord isn’t slow; He always acts exactly when He means to (3:9). The challenge for us, then, is to wait faithfully for Christ’s second coming (3:12).
Watch Shai Linne’s music video on false teachers. (4:00)
Video posted under Standard YouTube License.
The key to recognizing and defeating false teaching is understanding God’s Word (3:18). We gain this right understanding by reading Scripture. Though 2 Peter was written before the completion of the New Testament, Peter encourages his readers to learn even the most difficult of Christ’s teachings by reading Paul’s letters (3:15–16). Thankfully today, we have the whole counsel of God in the Holy Scriptures. In fact, it’s our duty to know God’s Word so well that impostors become immediately recognizable. This way, we won’t be seduced away from Christ our Lord.
2 Peter 1:3
3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.
- Is there someone you can identify who might be trying to exploit Christians with “deceptive words”?
- What passages from Scripture address false teachers?
- Have people in your own church been deceived? What false teachings have you encountered?
- Peter says that God’s people have everything we need for life and godliness in Christ. How does this truth counter the lies false teachers spread?
- How has God’s timing differed from your expectations? How does the gospel help you wait on God’s provision in His time?
- Write today’s memory verse (2 Peter 1:3) at the top of a page in your journal. Then, under that, make a list of all Christ provides that makes life and godliness possible for those who are in Him. Here’s a start:
- This week, listen with discernment to all the messages you are bombarded with every day. Ask yourself, “What lies are these messages trying to get me to believe?” Then reinforce your will against the lies by meditating on 2 Peter 1:3–11.