2 PETER 1:1: Who Wrote Second Peter and When Was It Written?

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EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 140 books. Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).

Michael J. Kruger, the President and the Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. This author believed Reformed Theological Seminary to be a conservative Seminary.

I have read a few of Kruger’s papers, some other articles on what seems to be a website or a blog. I had appreciated many things he wrote, which gave me the impression that he was/is a conservative apologetic Christian. Thus, I was moved to buy his book: Christianity at the Crossroads (July 2017)

BIBLE DIFFICULTIES

In The Early Text of the New Testament, Michael J. Kruger wrote …

On the basis of this text [2 Peter 3:16], David Meade concludes that 2 Peter ‘clearly articulates a doctrine of “other,” that is, Christian, scripture, which represents a significant milestone in Christian thought’.13 Meade even argues that the author of 2 Peter includes Petrine texts within this category of Christian scripture by referring to Paul as ‘our (ἡμν) beloved brother’ (3: 15), a likely reference to the ‘college’ of apostles in which Peter certainly participates (cf. 2 Pet. 1: 16).14 The epistle of 2 Peter is generally dated to the early second century (c.100–25),15 and some scholars have suggested an earlier time of 80–90 CE.16 The fact that such a collection of Pauline letters (and maybe other letters and books) would be considered scripture by the turn of the century should not be too surprising given the way Paul expected his letters to be received. (The Early Text of the New Testament)

The Reading Culture of Early Christianity From Spoken Words to Sacred Texts 400,000 Textual Variants 02

Notice how …

  • He quotes a liberal to moderate Bible scholar, David Meade
  • He refers to 2 Peter as though Peter was not the author.
  • He references how liberal scholars date 2 Peter (c.100–25) [J. N. D. Kelly, E. B. Cranfield, C. E. B. Cranfield, J. B. Mayor, and v] and 80–90 CE. [R. Bauckham, B. Reicke]
  • Then, he continues on with no kind of statement about these dates being too late.

This author’s position is that the apostle Peter was the author of 2 Peter and it was written c. 64 C.E. [Norman L. Geisler dates it to 66 A.D.] Both of the above dates (c.100–25; 80–90 CE) from Kruger’s book would remove Peter as being the author. 2 Peter itself erases any doubts as to whether Peter is the author. The writer says he is “Simon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:1) He then refers to this as “the second letter I am writing to you.” (3:1) Peter speaks of himself as being an eyewitness to the transfiguration of Jesus Christ. (1:16-21) He states that Jesus had foretold his death. (2 Pet. 1:14; John 21:18-19)

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Some liberal-moderate Bible scholars and Bible critics have argued that there is a difference in the style of the two letters, which they say would preclude Peter from being the author. However, the subject and purpose can impact a style of writing.  Also, Peter wrote his first letter through the scribe “Silvanus, our faithful brother.” Having a scribe can account for the two different writing styles. Peter did not use Silvanus in writing the second letter. (1 Pet. 5:12) Yes, it was slow to be accepted into the canon early on. Yet, a number of authorities prior to the Third Council of Carthage regarded 2 Peter as Scripture.

Was the Apostle Peter In Rome?

When was 2 Peter written? It was written about 64 C.E. from Babylon or thereabouts, soon 1 Peter. Peter was never in Rome. See the article above. We do know when Peter penned this second letter, almost all of the apostle Paul’s letters were being circulated among the churches and were known to Peter, who considered them as the inspired Word of God and classed them with “the rest of the Scriptures.” (2 Pet. 3:15-16) Peter’s second letter is addressed “to those who have acquired a faith as precious as ours.” This would include those to those mention in 1 Peter (c. 62–64 C.E.) and to others that Peter had preached. First Peter had been disseminated in many areas, so Second Peter was also of a general character. (2 Pet. 3:15-16; 1:1; 3:1; 1 Pet. 1:1.) Below you will find two of the most world-renowned Bible scholars of the 20th century and commentary that will deal with the authorship and date of 2 Peter.

9781949586121 BIBLE DIFFICULTIES THE NEW TESTAMENT DOCUMENTS

Dr. Norman L. Geisler,

Who Wrote It?

“Simon Peter, … apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1) is the author.

Internal Evidence

The internal evidence for Peter’s authorship is strong. (1) The repeated claim of the book supports Peter the apostle as the author (1:1; 3:1–2). (2) This claim is confirmed by the fact that it is sent to the same group as 1 Peter (2 Peter 3:1). (3) The character of the book is similar to that of 1 Peter in vocabulary, diction, and thought. Second Peter and Peter’s speeches in Acts 2, 4, and 10 use similar words and phrases that either appear nowhere else in the New Testament or very rarely. These include obtained (1:1; Acts 1:17), godliness (1:3, 6–7; 3:11; see Acts 1:17), lawless (2:8; see Acts 2:23), wages of unrighteousness or iniquity (2:13, 15; Acts 1:18), the day of the Lord (3:10; see Acts 2:20).(4) Peter mentions a colleague, the apostle Paul, and his “letters” (3:15). (5) The contents confirm it is from Peter by telling the manner of his death and saying that he was an eyewitness of the transfiguration of Christ (1:14–18). (6) The date of the book is about AD 66 (see below), which supports Peter as author, since the “letters” of Paul were in circulation by then (3:15–16). (7) The citation by Jude (Jude 6–7 of 2 Peter 2:5–7) verifies that 2 Peter was from a late first-century writer. (8) Pseudonymity (writing under another’s name) denies authenticity. It would have been considered a deliberate forgery.

External Evidence

Despite critics, ancient and modern, the evidence that Peter wrote this epistle is good. (1) The citation of 2 Peter from Jude 6–7 verifies it was from the first century (see also Jude 8 and 2 Peter 2:10). (2) The earliest manuscripts accepted it with Peter’s name on it. This is something they would not have done if they had believed Peter did not write it. (3) There are allusions to 2 Peter in some of the earliest writers, such as the Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache. (4) Many early Fathers cited it, including Origen, Rufinus, Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Jerome, and Augustine. (5) There is more evidence for 2 Peter’s genuineness than for the Greek classics, such as Herodotus and Thucydides. (6) While some have doubted it, it was never rejected by the Christian church. In fact the church has recognized it as authentic and accepted it into the canon of Scripture. (7) As B. B. Warfield pointed out, there is more evidence for 2 Peter’s genuineness than for other books from antiquity; it only seems weak when compared to the overwhelmingly strong evidence for some other New Testament books.

Answering the Critics

1.   The difference in vocabulary from 1 Peter (230 words are not used in 1 Peter) is due to a difference in topic and secretary. Further, the difference in vocabulary is similar to the difference between 1 Timothy and Titus, which has only 161 words in common with the 537 words of 1 Timothy. Yet both are from the same author.

2.  Some have doubted Peter’s authorship because the grammar is better in 1 Peter, but this can be explained by several factors. His use of Silvanus as a secretary for 1 Peter could account for that (5:12). The differences are not great. There are strong similarities in content with Peter’s known speeches in Acts. The different topic, time, and conditions of the recipients can account for variations in style by the same author.

3.  Others have argued that the Old Testament is quoted more in 1 Peter (31×) than 2 Peter (only 5×), but this can be explained by the fact that 2 Peter is shorter, the conditions in 1 Peter called for more quotations, other known authors do the same thing, and it overlooks the fact that both books tend to use the same Old Testament books (Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah).

4.  Some critics sense a greater warmth and intensity in 1 Peter, but this does not prove there were two authors. The same is true between 1 and 2 Thessalonians, which come from the same author. In 2 Corinthians there is even a different intensity in the two parts of the same book (compare chaps. 1–9 with 10–13).

5.  Others insist that second-century Gnostic thought is reflected in 2 Peter. However, similar language does not need to mean similar thought. There are no distinctly second-century Gnostic beliefs here, such as a demiurgic creator, angelic emanations from God, evil nature of matter, or salvation by mystical knowledge. An incipient kind of first-century Gnosticism (which combines legalism, mysticism, and asceticism) found and criticized in the writings of Paul (Colossians and 1 Timothy) comes from the first century but is not reflected in this book.

6.  Still others claim that Peter would not commend Paul, as he did here (in 3:15–16) after Paul rebuked him (Gal. 2:11–21). But this fails to disprove Peter’s authorship because there is no evidence Peter held a grudge, Paul made a favorable reference to Peter in 1 Corinthians 9:5, and second-century references to apostles are more venerational than personal, as they are in the New Testament.

7.  Other critics claim that 2 Peter is citing Jude who wrote in AD 68–69, and this places 2 Peter after Peter’s death (around AD 66–67). However, it is more likely that Jude is citing Peter, since Peter predicts the apostasy (chap. 3) and it is present in Jude; Jude is in a habit of using sources, more than the apostles did; and Jude refers to apostles as if many were gone (Jude 17).

8.  Critics stress the differences between the Epistles but ignore the likenesses. Both place emphasis on Christ, 1 Peter on his suffering and 2 Peter on his glory. And in both Epistles Peter refers to Noah and the flood (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; 3:5–6).

In summation, there is strong internal and good external evidence that the apostle Peter wrote this epistle, and all of the arguments to the contrary are answerable.

When Was It Written?

Peter wrote the letter about AD 66, just before his martyrdom. The evidence points to a date in the mid-60s because: (1) It was written before the destruction of Jerusalem (AD 70), since this momentous event is not mentioned as being in the recent past. (2) Paul’s “letters,” which extend into the AD 60s, are cited as in existence when Peter wrote (3:15–16). (3) Yet Peter wrote before Jude (who wrote in AD 68–69), since Jude 6–7 cites 2 Peter 2:5–7. (4) And it must have been written before Peter’s martyrdom (AD 67–68). Thus AD 66 is the most likely date.[1]

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Dr. Gleason L. Archer,

Is 2 Peter an authentic work of Peter?

Among nonconservative New Testament critics, it is common to brand 2 Peter as spurious and nothing more than a pious fraud. Yet there is hardly any epistle in the New Testament canon that contains more definite testimonies as to the identity and personal experience of the author than this epistle. Note the following references: (1) The author gives His name (1:1) specifically as Symeon, just as he was referred to by James in the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:14). (2) He identifies himself as an “apostle of Jesus Christ” (1:1), a term that generally refers to one of the Twelve. (3) He recalls the overpowering scene of the Transfiguration in the tone of an awed spectator (1:16–18), classifying himself among the eyewitnesses (epoptai) and quoting verbatim the divine proclamation “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” which he affirms he heard with his own ears while he was on “the holy mount.” (4) He plainly alludes to Jesus’ prediction made to him in John 21:18 as he says, “Just as our Lord Jesus Christ revealed to me” (1:14).

Other significant internal evidences are (1) his description of this letter as his “second epistle” to them (3:1), which plainly implies that he had already written them an earlier epistle (suggesting 1 Peter); (2) his personal familiarity with and warm regard for the apostle Paul as an inspired author of New Testament Scripture (3:15–16 speaks of “our beloved brother Paul” as likewise writing of “the longsuffering of our Lord” as intended for the “salvation” of many more sinners than a speedier Second Advent would allow for [v.15; cf. Rom. 2:4; 9:22]). Peter classes these letters of Paul as part of the authoritative Word of God, even though there may be some things in them “hard to understand [dysnoēta]” (v.16). Rather than an evidence of much later authorship and of composition after the canonicity of Paul’s Letters had been finally accepted by the church at large (as some have urged), these cordial and appreciative references to Paul and his writings are altogether what we should expect if Peter made his way to Rome a few years later than Paul did. His Roman readers certainly would expect him to comment on the work and achievement of his predecessor—in just such a way as he does here.

In view of all this explicit evidence from the text itself as to Petrine authorship, we are forced to conclude that the author of this epistle made such a definite claim to being the apostle Peter himself that it would have been grossly fraudulent and deceptive on his part if the epistle were not authentically Petrine. If it was not really by him, it should not be used or respected by the church at all; and it is unwarranted hypocrisy to use it for preaching purposes, for it should be removed from the New Testament altogether as a sheer imposture. It would be hard to conceive of any valid revelation of divine truth as emanating from such a dishonest pen.

There has been much discussion about the resemblances between 2 Peter 2 and the Epistle of Jude. Jude 6 and 2 Peter 2:4 both refer to fallen angels (though in entirely different wording). Jude 9 and 2 Peter 2:11 both speak of the angels as unwilling to bring a railing accusation even against Satan. Jude 17–18 mentions scoffers who carry on in a carnal and ungodly fashion; this bears some resemblance to 2 Peter 3:3–4, which refers to those who will speak scornfully in the last days concerning the Lord’s return in judgment (here again without any verbal resemblance between the two). The tone of denunciation is quite similar, but a careful comparison between the two authors offers little support to the theory that one borrowed directly from the other—or even that one influenced the other. In point of fact it is quite possible that both Jude and 2 Peter were composed between A.D. 65 and 67, and both dealt forcibly with the problems raised by ungodly antinomian heretics infiltrating the Christian community and subverting the faith of some.

Much has been made of the contrasts between 1 Peter and 2 Peter in regard to mood and attitude, as if the difference in tone establishes a difference in authorship. But this is a very uncertain criterion to use for demonstrating diverse authorship, for the simple reason that the same author tends to use an entirely different vocabulary and tone when he discusses different subject matter. This is readily demonstrable for all the great authors of world literature who have written on different themes and in different genres. For example, Milton’s prose essays bear little resemblance to his pastoral poems (L’Allegro and Il Penseroso); and those in turn present notable contrasts to his epic poetry, like Paradise Lost. Yet these contrasts, which could be supported by long lists of words found in the one composition but not in the other, would hardly suffice to prove a difference in authorship. Everyone knows that Milton wrote them all. So the methodology of these New Testament critics, if applied to Miltonic literature, would lead to completely false results.

So far as 1 Peter is concerned, its purpose was comfort and encouragement to believers suffering from persecution. This requires a quite different style and manner from the theme of 2 Peter, which consists of stern and urgent warnings against false teachers and their pernicious doctrines. Considering their diverse themes, it would have been altogether strange if both letters had exhibited striking similarities in vocabulary and tone. In fact, this would be good evidence of deliberate faking, or of a set purpose on the part of a counterfeiter to palm off a specious imitation on the public.

In the matter of idiom and style, however, there are some fairly obvious contrasts. The Greek of 1 Peter runs more idiomatically and smoothly than the rugged, intense diction of 2 Peter, even though J.B. Mayor (The Epistle of St. Jude and the Second Epistle of St. Peter, 1907 reprint, [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965], p. civ), as an advocate of the non-Petrine authorship of 2 Peter, observes: “There is not the chasm between them [i.e., 1 Peter and 2 Peter] which some would try to make out.… The difference of style is less marked in the difference in vocabulary, and that again is less marked than the difference in matter.”

Such differences as there are might possibly have derived from the agency of Silvanus, who is referred to in 1 Peter 5:12 as the scribe Peter used in composing his first epistle. NIV renders this verse as follows: “With the help of Silas [‘Silvanus,’ mg.], whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God.” In all probability this is the same Silas who labored with Paul at Philippi, and he may have been responsible for the simplicity and ease of expression in which 1 Peter was composed. But in the case of 2 Peter, which was probably written by Peter in a Roman jail, without the help of an amanuensis like Silvanus, there is a more intense and rugged style, suitable for matters of such urgent concern as are featured in this epistle.

Nor should the similarities between 1 Peter and 2 Peter be totally ignored in our preoccupation with the contrasts. Both epistles stress (1) the centrality of Christ and the certainty of His second coming; (2) the importance of Noah’s ark and the Flood (1 Peter 3:20, with emphasis on God’s mercy; and 2 Peter 2:5; 3:6, with emphasis on God’s judgment); (3) the pivotal significance of the prophetic word of the Old Testament in a manner reminiscent of Peter’s Pentecost sermon (Acts 2:14–36); (4) their common concern with the importance of Christian growth (1 Peter 2:2–3 and 2 Peter 1:5–8; 3:18). Despite the contrast in purpose existing between the two epistles, these common motifs emerge as such significant indicators of a common authorship as to give strong support to the genuineness of the Petrine origin of them both.

We conclude that there is no good ground for denying the authenticity of 2 Peter of for questioning its right to be included in the New Testament canon. The leading critics who have espoused a contrary view have pretty largely operated on the basis of a stereotyped concept of how the Christian religion must have developed as a purely human religious philosophy, along the lines of a Hegelian dialectic. Evangelicals should not be misled into acceptance of critical result s stemming from this kind of biased and subjective methodology.[2]

Mosaic Authorship HOW RELIABLE ARE THE GOSPELS

The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: New Testament

The Writer. At the outset this epistle, using a slightly different wording from that in I Peter, claims to be the writing of Symeon (Symeon appears in some of the better manuscripts; the AV has Simon Peter; cf. Acts 15:14), “a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (II Pet 1:1). Simply and without affectation, the writer again identifies himself with the apostles (3:2). He is acquainted with the Pauline writings and expresses full accord with his “beloved brother Paul” (3:15, 16). He refers to Christ’s transfiguration with the quiet assurance of an eyewitness. He calls this letter a “second epistle” (3:1). He declares that the violent death predicted for him by his Lord (Jn 21:18) is in early prospect (II Pet 1:13, 14). Here then, apparently, is a claim to authorship identical with that of I Peter, and certainly a claim to identify with St. Peter the Lord’s apostle.

Are there internal difficulties that compel the honest reader to regard this as a spurious claim? From earliest times critics have called attention to a divergence in style between this epistle and I Peter. There is in II Peter a lack of the simplicity and ease of expression that characterize I Peter. The writer of I Peter was apparently not a Greek (e.g., he makes no use of the particle an), but he had an undoubted feeling for the correct use of the language. The style of II Peter does not evince the same familiarity with the language medium. It employs fewer participles than are seen in I Peter and does not use the men particle.

This difference in style caused some of the ancients and some of the reformers to question the authenticity of II Peter. Jerome (A.D. 346-420), the translator of the Vulgate version of the Bible, while accepting II Peter along with the other six ‘catholic,’ or general, epistles (Epistle to Paulinius), at the same time recognized that some scholars have doubted its genuineness because of this variation in style (Catalogus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum). Elsewhere (Epistle to Hedibia, 120) he explains this difference as resulting naturally from Peter’s use of different interpreters for the two epistles.

In the same context he mentions Paul’s use of Titus as an interpreter and Peter’s dictation to Mark of material for the Gospel which was to bear Mark’s name. To some with a very literalistic concept of inspiration, the idea of such an editorial function by Silas (I Pet 5:12), impairs the letter’s inspiration and authority, despite the clear knowledge that ready scribes have often assisted the inspired writers (Jer 36:2, 4; Rom 16:22; and the traditional notes following I and II Cor, Eph, Phil, Col, and Phm). Others have felt that here is no difficulty; the Holy Spirit helped Silas to write as He helped Peter to dictate. The great majority of the historic church have taken the latter attitude.

Another internal matter which has been urged against the Petrine authorship of this epistle is the asserted familiarity of its writer with the Pauline epistles, which, together with his reference to the authority of Paul’s writings (II Pet 3:15, 16), is taken as an indication that the NT canon had been pretty well established by the time II Peter was written, thus seeming to the holders of this view to make this epistle too late to have been the work of the apostle.

Such a line of reasoning seems gratuitous indeed, for if Peter reached Rome just two or three years subsequent to Paul’s arrival as a prisoner, he certainly would have had a natural opportunity to learn of Paul’s epistles and might conceivably have had fellowship with Paul himself. Anyway, there seems to be reasonable evidence that Paul’s letters were copied and circulated from church to church immediately on their receipt (see Col 4:16).

One further matter of internal study should be considered, namely, the similarity of certain statements in II Peter to statements in Jude. Three of the most important parallelisms follow: (1) II Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 refer to the punishment of the fallen angels, an allusion to a statement in the apocryphal book of Enoch. (2) II Peter 2:11 and Jude 9 speak of the unwillingness of angels to bring a railing accusation against Satan, the Jude statement apparently adding an allusion to the apocryphal Assumption of Moses, where Satan is represented as claiming the body of Moses. (3) II Peter 3:3, 4 and Jude 17, 18 tell of the coming of scoffers in the last days. II Peter refers to this as in the future. Jude refers to it as a present reality, having been prophesied by the apostles, of whom Peter, of course, was one.

Dr. Charles Bigg (St. Peter and St. Jude, pp. 216, 217), who accepts the Petrine authorship of this epistle, argues convincingly for the priority of II Peter. It is well to keep in mind, too, that there are plausible considerations for the early dating of the epistle of Jude itself. It is assigned a date as early as A.D. 65, and those who set its date as late as A.D. 80 or 90 must reckon with an account of Hegesippus (reported by Eusebius) that two grandsons of Jude were brought before Domitian, who reigned A.D. 81-96, these being described as grown men, horny-handed farmers, at that time. Recall that Jude was a brother of our Lord. The similarities between II Peter and Jude do not seem to require a post-Petrine date for the former.

What, then, of external testimony? This epistle is not quoted directly in the Church Fathers prior to the beginning of the third century, although there are possible allusions in some of the earlier writings. Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History 6.14.1), writing about A.D. 324, says that Clement of Alexandria (who died c. A.D. 213) in his Hypotyposes had compiled summaries of all the inspired Scriptures, including those whose authenticity was contested, among these the ‘catholic’ or general epistles.

Origen, who died in A.D. 253, although recognizing the question about II Peter, accepted the book as genuine. Origen’s friend and pupil Firmilian, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia A.D. 256, strongly corroborates the Petrine authorship of II Peter when in a letter to Cyprian he speaks of one Stephanus as “gainsaying the blessed apostles Peter and Paul . . . who in their epistles pronounced a curse upon heretics and warned that we shun them” (Cyprian, Letters, No. 75). It is in II Peter, not I Peter, that heretics are mentioned.

Eusebius himself, commissioned by the emperor Constantine to prepare fifty copies of the sacred Scriptures, refers to James, Jude, and II Peter as contested but well known to the majority of Christians.

Jerome (c. A.D. 346-420), commenting upon the question of the epistle’s authenticity, says that the question arises because of the difference between its style and that of I Peter, and he offers the explanation already noted. He himself accepted II Peter and included it in his Vulgate version of the Bible. It was recognized by the Council of Laodicea (c. 372) and was formally acknowledged as belonging to the canon by the Council of Carthage (397).

This epistle is not found in the Muratorian fragment, a list of the NT Scriptures which dates about the end of the second century. This list is in a somewhat mutilated condition. As we now have it, there is no reference to Hebrews, I or II Peter, James, or III John. It is conceivable that some or all of these may have been included in parts which are missing; but, lacking these, it is certainly clear from the history of the development of the canon that the Muratorian list was not accepted as definitive and final by the church.

Neither was II Peter included in the Syriac Bible called the Peshito. The Old Testament of the Peshito was translated very early. The New Testament is probably the work of Rabbula, bishop of Edessa in Syria from 411-435. This version omits II Peter, II and III John, Jude, and Revelation. It is quite possible that the earliest New Testament of the Syrian church omitted all seven of the ‘catholic’ epistles.

Some speculate that because of the practical and disciplinary emphasis of these general epistles, they may have been regarded as “un-Pauline” in a region where Paul’s name was held in high esteem because of his personal membership in the Antiochean church, and his championing the freedom of Gentile believers from Jewish laws at the Jerusalem council. Others surmise that the inclusion of references to apocryphal writings by some of the general epistles may have caused their rejection by the Christians of the Syrian church, who were particularly allergic to the extremes of Jewish angelology reflected in some of the apocryphal books.

Perhaps some mention should be made of the arguments of the British scholar Joseph B. Mayor (The Epistle of St. Jude and the Second Epistle of St. Peter), who regards I Peter as the work of the apostle whose name it bears but holds II Peter to be spurious.

He bases his opinion upon internal rather than external evidence. After reviewing the external evidence, with its references bearing for and against the acceptance of the epistle as genuine, Mayor summarizes by saying, “If we had nothing else to go upon in deciding the question of the authenticity of II Peter except external evidence,” we should be inclined to think that we had in these quotations ground for considering that Eusebius was justified in his statement that our epistle “having appeared useful to many, was respected along with the other scriptures” (op. cit., p. cxxiv; translation ours).

Mayor sets forth a minute study of vocabulary differences and lists 369 words used in I Peter but not in II Peter, and 230 words used in II Peter but not in I Peter. He finds 100 rather solid words (practically all nouns and verbs) used in both epistles. He then, amazingly, seems to set it down as an argument against their common authorship that “the number of agreements is 100 as opposed to 599 disagreements, i.e., the latter are just six times as many as the former” (op. cit., p. lxxiv).

How could one possibly expect any greater vocabularly coincidence in two short epistles, written several years apart with different themes, occasions, and settings? This is argument from silence to a most precarious degree. Certainly two short epistles like these would not begin to tax an intelligent man’s vocabularly. The very fact that one-sixth of the words are used in both epistles will certainly appeal to most persons as an argument for, rather than against, a common authorship.

He proceeds to a very scholarly examination of the grammer and style of the two epistles, an area in which their divergence has been a matter of note from earliest times, and on which we have already commented. Mayor’s conclusion is moderate: “There is not the chasm between them which some would try to make out” (op. cit., p. civ). Again, “The difference of style is less marked than the difference in vocabulary, and that again less marked than the difference in matter, while above all stands the great difference in thought, feeling, and character, in one word of personality.” It should be interjected that differences in subject matter, thought, and feeling do not necessarily reflect a different personality. The same personality, for differing purposes, can write with vastly differing mood and matter.

Mayor, then, seems to place crucial weight upon his judgment as to the difference in feeling between the two epistles—a very precarious sort of thing, since a man’s feeling may vary greatly from one occasion to another for any number of reasons. Beginning at page lxxvi of this Introduction, he deals with the matter of reminiscences from the life of Christ which are to be observed in I and II Peter. He observes that II Peter shows fewer of these and that they are “of a far less intimate nature than those in (1) Peter” (op. cit., p. lxxvii). He then proceeds to a discussion in general of the tender spirit of I Peter, contrasting II Peter, which he says “lacks that intense sympathy, that flame of love, which marks I Peter.”

     Mayor carries this same type of criticism into the references of the two epistles to the Second Coming and to Noah’s flood. But is not all this to be expected fully in view of the different purposes of the two epistles? I Peter comforts those who are in suffering; II Peter warns the believers of spiritual perils and exhorts them to holiness. Naturally the tone of the former is tender; of the latter, driving. The amazing thing is that with such differing objectives the appeal is made to the same basic facts—the centrality of Christ and the certainty of his second coming. In this great coming event the suffering believer receives hope, and the potential backslider, warning.

     As to the mention of Noah’s flood in I Peter (3:20) with emphasis on God’s mercy and in II Peter (2:5; 3:6) with emphasis on God’s judgment (although II Peter 2:5 also says that God “saved Noah”), this too fits admirably the different purposes just mentioned. And the fact that the same illustration is appealed to in its different facets tends to confirm the identity of authorship of the two epistles rather than the contrary.

     Mayor is very fair in setting forth the whole picture. He proceeds to note, without any discounting observations, the agreement of I and II Peter regarding the spoken and written prophetic word, observing that in this they agree closely with the words of Peter in Acts 3:18-21 and of Paul in Acts 26:22, 23. He also pays attention to the close correspondence of I and II Peter in their idea of Christian growth (I Peter 2:2; II Peter 3:18). One leaves Mayor’s discussion of the authorship of I and II Peter with the feeling that this scholar has corroborated rather than weakened the claim of II Peter to its apostolic authorship.

     Why, then, does Mayor reject this claim? One cannot escape the feeling that his position is dictated in large measure by the critical consensus of New Testament scholars and especially by the conclusion of Dr. F. H. Chase, whom he knew personally and quotes frequently, and whose articles on Peter and Jude in HDB he terms “by far the best introduction known to me on the two epistles here dealt with” (op. cit., p. vii).

Suffice it to say that in these considerations there seem to be no compelling reasons for refusing to accept the claims of II Peter to the authorship of the apostle whose name it bears.

The Time and Place of the Writing. The epistle was very possibly written to the Christians in Asia Minor (3:1) when the memory of I Peter was still rather fresh in their minds. If we judge that I Peter was written from Rome about A.D. 64, it seems reasonable to regard II Peter as written from Rome toward the end of Nero’s reign, say A.D. 67.

The Message of the Epistle. The specific burden of Peter’s heart at this time appears to have been the growth of a spirit of lawlessness and antinomianism in the churches, and also an attitude of skepticism toward Christ’s second coming. Some feel that the false teachers described in the epistle were representatives of the Gnostic heresy in its early stages.

But while greatly concerned with the menace of these false teachers, and speaking with some emphasis to this point, the apostle realized that the basic need of his readers was for spiritual upbuilding and strength which would make them superior to such dangers. He, therefore, both opens and closes his letter with encouragement to spiritual conquest, inserting his warnings against the false teachers in the middle chapter of the three.[3]

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[1] Norman L. Geisler, A Popular Survey of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014), 260–262.

[2] Gleason L. Archer, New International Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Zondervan’s Understand the Bible Reference Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982), 425–427.

[3] Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett Falconer Harrison, eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: New Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962).

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