Saturday 17 May 2014

Bible Book:
2 Peter

2 Peter 3:14-18 Saturday 17 May 2014


This would seem to a particularlychallenging passage for, say, someone writing a series of Biblestudy notes. Peter, in the final paragraphs of what he quitepossibly knew would be his final letter to the churches, is issuinga grave warning against false prophets, false teachers and"scoffers" who will try to lead the people astray in his absence.In this verse 16, he warns explicitly against thosewho would twist the words in Paul's letters to suit their owndiabolical ends - twisting Paul's invitation to freedom in Christto entice people into sin.

Peter probably wrote this brief letter fromRome, sometime around AD 64-67, whilst he was in prison. Hebelieved that his death would come soon (2Peter 1:14) and that his time left on earth would be short. Inthis situation, most people would be thinking about their legacyand those they will leave behind.

But Peter, from his prison cell, isdetermined to use his remaining time and energy to remind hisfollowers of what he has taught them, and particularly the truthand importance of God's prophetic word. The warning against thosewho twist the words of Christian teaching "to their owndestruction" is particularly challenging to those of us who, 2,000years later, seek to interpret the Bible as a way of getting toknow God. Many people still find Paul's letters "hard tounderstand" - especially those sections that seem completely out ofkeeping with today's cultural context. There is a fine anddifficult line to walk between having an intelligent, interrogativerelationship with the Scriptures, and falling into the trap ofignoring some passages and twisting others because they do not suitour own beliefs. This, Peter warns, will lead to "destruction".

The Greek word 'graphē'- translated here as"scriptures" - occurs 51 times in the New Testament, and only twice(once in the verse above) does it refer to works that weren'talready included in the Old Testament canon - the 'Bible' thatalready existed in Jesus' time on earth. This implies that even inthe early Church, people already viewed the letters of Peter andPaul as containing the Word of God.

Peter signs off by urging his followers to"grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (v. 18).We shouldn't, then, be afraid of knowledge - of investigating andinterpreting the Scriptures, rather than taking them on face value.But it's important to ask God for wisdom in doing so, to praywithout ceasing and to do so alongside other people, to ensure thatwe are not "carried away with the error of the lawless" (v.17).

To Ponder

  • To what extent is it ever possible (or wise) to dismiss partsof the Bible as 'a product of its time'?
  • What would you write in what you thought to be your finalletter to your church?
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