The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Second Epistle of Peter

The Second Epistle of Peter is a book of the New Testament of the Bible. The opening verse identifies itself as having been written by Simeon Peter, who has been identified with Saint Peter, although nowhere else in the New Testament is he referred to as both Simeon (the Aramaic form of Simon) and Peter.

This epistle presciently declares that it is written shortly before the apostle's death (1:14). This epistle contains eleven references to the Old Testament. It also contains at 3:15, 16 a remarkable reference to one of Paul's epistles, which some have identified as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11.

The book also shares a number of shared passages with the Epistle of Jude, e.g. 1:5 with Jude 3; 1:12 with Jude 5; 3:2f with Jude 17f; 3:14 with Jude 24; and 3:18 with Jude 25. Scholars agree that it depends on the Epistle of Jude and should be dated later than that epistle, perhaps as late as 140.

This is the last of the books accepted into the canon of the New testament. Neither Irenaeus nor Polycarp of Smyrna supply quotations from this text, and it was only accepted unreservedly as canonical at the Council of Laodicea in 372 due to the influence of Athanasius of Alexandria, and Augustine. Jerome, who is sometimes said to have argued in favor of the authenticity of the Epistle, stated in De viris illustribus (chapter i) "He wrote two epistles which are called Catholic, the second of which, on account of its difference from the first in style, is considered by many not to be by him."

Most scholars doubt that the Apostle Peter was the author; even in antiquity there were already widespread doubts. There are striking differences in the linguistic style from the First Epistle of Peter. The editors of Barclay's New Testament characterize the epistle's style as "florid, rhetorical and flamboyant." Some scholars explain this difference by explaining that Peter had assistance in writing his first epistle from Barnabas, and therefore the second epistle is actually Peter's own unaided writing.

Part of the case for a date no earlier than the second century is the internal evidence of 3:15, 16, where the writer assumes that the letters of Paul are well known to his readers. This implies that the letters of Paul had been collected and published and had become part of the literature of the church at the time 2 Peter was written. A critic who accepts Peter as the Simeon Peter assumes that Paul's letters to the various churches were collected and edited and published for all to read by the early 60s, when Peter died.

Some scholars posit that 2 Peter was written to counteract some of the teachings in 1 Peter. 1 Peter taught that the Second Coming would soon occur. But by the time of the authoring of 2 Peter, a new explanation was required to explain why no Second Coming had yet occurred. 2 Peter chapter 3 seems written to provide this explanation.

There are several points of contact with the Apocalypse of Peter.

External links

Online translations of the Second Epistle of Peter:

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Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04