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the unfamiliar setting of the second letter of Peter

10-08-2015 - Posted by Andre Piet

images7 the sixties of the first century The second letter Peter is dated around the mid-sixties of the first century. It was Peter’s second letter in which he writes as “apostle of the circumcision” (Gal.2:7) as in his first letter (1Pet.1:1) . Peter knows that his end is near.

being aware that my tabernacle is to be put off swiftly according as our Lord, Jesus Christ, also makes evident to me. 2Peter 1:14

And in that sense he has a number of very urgent matters to make known. Not only Peter’s life but also the end of the Jewish state was imminent. Within a few years, the temple and the city of Jerusalem would be destroyed. And with this “swift destruction” in mind, Peter foretells the dramatic cause of all of this. It is known that in the year 66 AD, the Jewish Revolt in the land of Israel erupted. A spirit of revolution had bestirred the Jewish people, led by false prophets who deceived the people in this respect. Frustrated because of the delay in the coming of the Messiah, the people felt they had to take matters in hand, themselves, in order to force the coming of the Messianic age. The Roman yoke had to be thrown off! Because of this Jewish Revolt, Roman occupiers felt compelled to act harshly, which resulted in the dramatic destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The period 66 to 70 AD is known as one of the very darkest days of Israel’s history. expectations dashed Also with respect to the “history of salvation”, were the 60’s of the first century extremely tragic. Around 62 AD the final scene takes place in Acts 28. Paul announces to the Jewish leaders in Rome that the promised Messianic time will be postponed until further notice.

saying, ‘Go to this people and say, “In hearing, you will be hearing, and may by no means be understanding, And observing, you will be observing, and may by no means be perceiving,” For stoutened is the heart of this people, And with their ears heavily they hear, And with their eyes they squint, Lest at some time they may be perceiving with their eyes, And with their ears should be hearing, And with their heart may be understanding, And should be turning about, AND I SHALL BE HEALING THEM.’ Acts 28:26,27

The expectation, that so strongly echoed at the beginning of the book of Acts in the question, “will You at this time restore the Kingdom for Israel?” at the end of the book of Acts is completely dashed. It may be called a sign that in the same year or maybe a year later, “James the Just” (as Flavius Josephus refers to Jesus’ brother) is killed during the Passover in Jerusalem. A murder, so suggests Flavius Josephus, that was the introduction to the final catastrophe in the year 70 AD… Peter refers to Paul Peter’s explanation in chapter 3 about the delay of “the promise of his coming”

and saying, Where is the promise of His presence? For since the fathers were put to repose, all is continuing thus from the beginning of creation. 2Peter 3:4

also fits perfectly into this multifarious context. Peter, at the end of his life, quite explicitly refers to “our beloved brother Paul”

And be deeming the patience of our Lord salvation, according as our beloved brother Paul also writes to you, according to the wisdom given to him 2Peter 3:15

with whom he, once, had so much trouble:

Now when Cephas came to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, for he was self-censured. Gal.2:11

In all of Paul’s epistles (says Peter): the longsuffering of the Lord is for salvation, since the whole service to the nations is based on the rejection of Israel (Rom.11:12,13) and thus the delay of the manifestation of the Kingdom. Also, it is remarkable that Peter refers to a letter of Paul to the same recipients as to which he turns (i.e. the circumcision people). There is only one letter that is to be considered: the Hebrew letter. So, via this route we get an answer to the question of who the anonymous writer of the Hebrew letter is. Incidentally, the Hebrew letter in the great manuscripts is always placed between the Thessalonians letters and Paul’s pastoral letters. Which brings his writings up to 14 (= 2×7). Peter foretells the Jewish Rebellion and catastrophe It is in this specific juncture that Peter wrote his spiritual testament. At the end of his letter he writes:

beloved, knowing this before, be on your guard lest, being led away with the deception of the dissolute, you should be falling from your own steadfastness. 2Peter3:17

What had Peter foretold? Why apostasy? The answer is that Peter writes in view of: (1) the upcoming apostasy within ‘Messianic Judaism’; (2) the Jewish revolt and (3) the destruction of city and country. Only against this background, can the dramatic content of the second chapter be understood. Peter foretells the coming of “false prophets”:

Yet there came to be false prophets also among the people, as among you also there will be false teachers who will be smuggling in destructive sects, even disowning the Owner Who buys them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. 2Peter 2:1

among the people who will beguile many:

And many will be following out their wantonness, because of whom the glory of the truth will be calumniated 2Peter 2:2

These prophets would “preach freedom”:

promising them freedom, they are inherently slaves of corruption; for by whom anyone is discomfited, to this one he has been enslaved also.” and disrespect rulership “yet specially those going after the flesh in defiling lust and DESPISING LORDSHIP” “Audacious, given to self-gratification, they are not trembling when calumniating glories” 2Peter 2:10

These last words are clearly aimed at the freedom struggle and revolt against Roman rule. Flavius Josephus describes that the people, during the uprising, abandoned common sense and fell into great immorality.

And many will be following out their wantonness, because of whom the glory of the truth will be calumniated. 2Peter 2:2

We must remember that Peter writes especially in view of the many of the people who had hitherto believed in Jesus the Messiah. From Acts 21, we know that there are “many tens of thousands of Jews had believed”

You are beholding, brother, how many ten thousands there are among the Jews who have believed, and all are inherently zealous for the law? Acts 21:20

But Peter announces here that many, whom the Ruler had bought, would disown Him.

Yet there came to be false prophets also among the people, as among you also there will be false teachers who will be smuggling in destructive sects, even disowning the Owner Who buys them, bringing on themselves swift destruction” 2Peter2:1

The great Messianic movement among the people would largely  perish in the Jewish Revolt. Not in the least through frustration at the failure of the expected Kingdom. “Where is the presence of His coming”, the scoffers would ask:

Where is the promise of His presence? For since the fathers were put to repose, all is continuing thus from the beginning of creation 2Peter 3:4

But, warns Peter, the false prophets will perish in a “swift destruction”:

Yet there came to be false prophets also among the people, as among you also there will be false teachers who will be smuggling in destructive sects, even disowning the Owner Who buys them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. 2Peter 2:1

It is remarkable that Peter, in this context, refers to similar judgments in the past, like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah which “burnt to ashes” and “doomed to reversal” were “an example to those who afterward would live ungodly”

and condemns the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to cinders by an overthrow, having placed them as an example for those about to be irreverent 2Peter 2:6

Very swollen words … unless one realizes that Peter has recorded these things in view of what “the people” would experience around the year 70 AD.

Yet there came to be false prophets also among the people, as among you also there will be false teachers who will be smuggling in destructive sects, even disowning the Owner Who buys them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. 2Peter 2:1

Delen: