Protecting the Flock — the gospel in 2 Peter

I love short books of the Bible. Now don’t get me wrong: i love long books too. Isaiah is probably one of my favorite in the whole Bible, and it is likely the longest (other than Psalms, maybe Jeremiah, and 1 Samuel through 2 Kings if we call them one continuous work).

The thing about short books is you can spend a lot of time in its verses without spending a lot of time in its pages. For instance, 2 Peter is less than five columns long in my Bible. I could probably read it in less than ten minutes, so i could read it repeatedly many times but not spend a lot of time reading it.

And the more you read a book, the more connections you make. This is why it pains me to ever part with the books i read. “What if I want to reread it sometime?”

2 Peter is full of connections. And it is short, so the connections jump out upon several readings. Also, biblical interpretation fact: the more connections and proof texts you can pull from the book you’re primarily teaching from, the better. It was a couple years ago, but i read 2 Peter multiple times and journaled some thoughts from it.

Before getting to specifics, a general chapter outline is helpful:

  1. The church needs to always grow in faith and godliness to mark it off from false teachers.
  2. False teachers need to be avoided because they prevent growth in godliness.
  3. The church needs to remember that Christ is returning, regardless of what false teachers might say.

Now with this outline in mind, another biblical interpretation fact must be stated: when interpreting a book of the Bible, the parts must be interpreted in light of the whole. For instance, 2 Peter 1:1 says he is writing, “to those who have obtained a faith,” in other words, “to Christians.” This address heads the book, so the whole book is written to Christians. As such, when we come to chapter 2, we must continue preaching it to Christians. It can’t turn into a heretic burn fest (roast).

I could write a lot on this book, but my goal for the year is to write one post like this on every book of the Bible. The simple fact of the matter is this:

The church needs the Gospel!

Jesus told the disciples on the road to Emmaus that all of the Scriptures point to Him (Luke 24:25-27). This is huge, and it must impact our biblical teaching. We are wasting our time if we ever come to a text and don’t tie it back into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. You can preach a biblical sermon apart from speaking about Christ, but it will never be a Christian sermon if the gospel of Christ is absent.

As such, what does 2 Peter have to say, specifically, about the gospel? Or in other words, what would be missing from our knowledge of the gospel if 2 Peter was absent?

I personally believe Peter’s thesis statement in this book is found in 3:17-18a. “Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stability.  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Or, in my own words:

Stand firm and grow, despite false teachers.

Peter has already stated in 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan is targeting the church. By the time he writes 2 Peter, Peter wants his readers to know the way Satan is infiltrating the church is through false teachers. He calls their teachings “destructive” and leading to “destruction,” and he states that they are kept for “punishment” just like “the angels who sinned,” and warns that following them will lead to “fall[ing] from your own stability” (2 Peter 2:1, 3, 4, 9; 3:17). The only hope for standing is stated in the very next verse: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (3:18). We must get the gospel ingrained in our minds. It’s our only hope against Satan’s deceitful messengers.

Satan, however, is not like God. He is not omniscient (all-knowing). Satan doesn’t know who true believers are, and he also doubts God when God says nothing can steal us from God (Romans 8:38-39, amongst others). If he did know, and if he did believe God, he wouldn’t waste his time on true believers.

As it stands though, Satan sees a church, he sees someone taking his or her faith seriously, and he says, “how can I steal this person away from God?” His mission on this earth is a doomed mission; his purpose is to destroy the church of God.

The fact of the matter is we will never know for sure–this side of eternity–who is truly saved and who is not. This is also why Satan attacks those who look genuine. They might be only playing the part, but not actually yet redeemed by God. Satan has full power over these types of people, just like he ultimately has authority over the false teachers (who also aren’t true believers). He has no control over those bought by the blood of Christ, but he has full power over those who are not purchased by Christ (and those bought by Christ, but yet to be sealed by the Holy Spirit).

This is why preaching the gospel is so important, especially in church services. We don’t know who is a false convert and who God has genuinely converted. I’ve heard too many stories about church deacons–already served for decades–who got saved on a Sunday morning when the pastor assumed they’d already been a believer. The gospel protects the sheep, and it turns wolves into sheep. Even if the wolf is 100% tame, it needs to be a sheep, or it will end up in hell with the non-sheep.

So when it comes to teaching portions of 2 Peter, this must be in our minds. The gospel relates to protecting people from false teachers. Jesus’ blood covers and changes. The false teachers live like they never knew Jesus (2 Peter 2:20-22). Believers must continue in the gospel. The easiest way to continue in the gospel is to hear it preached and to reflect on its fruits as laid out in 2 Peter 1 and 3 (especially note 1:5-7).

In conclusion, short books of the Bible are great. 2 Peter specifically, is marvelous. God cares about protecting His people from lies. Just like you don’t study counterfeit money to recognize fake money, we must examine the gospel daily–and especially in our church services–so we can spot false versions when they are present.

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus
Sola Scriptura

Thanks for reading.

Enjoy this photo (useful as a phone background or a computer background) that lays out one of the specific callings of 2 Peter.

2 peter

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