Commentary on 2 Peter 1:1-2

Notes (NET Translation)

1:1 From Simeon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, have been granted a faith just as precious as ours.

The author identifies himself as Jesus’ famous disciple Simon Peter (Symeon Petros). He is both a slave (doulos) and apostle (apostolos) of Jesus Christ. The term “slave” was used by Jews and Christians to refer to leaders who were under God’s authority (Josh 24:29; Judg 2:8; 2 Kgs 18:12; Neh 10:29; Rom 1:1; Phil 1:1; Titus 1:1). A slave was also an agent of his master. Therefore, the title “slave” highlights Peter’s authority as God’s agent. The title “apostle” refers to a messenger who bears the authority of the one who sent him. Thus, again, the title highlights Peter’s authority. Also recall that the name Peter (Petros) was given to Simon by Jesus (Mt 16:17-18; Mk 3:16; Lk 6:14), implying once more that he was sent by Christ. Peter stresses his divine commission and authority as he begins to tell the readers how to respond to the heretics among them.

The readers are merely identified as people of faith. If this letter was sent to the recipients of 1 Peter (2 Pet 3:1) then the recipients lived in Asia Minor (1 Pet 1:1). That the readers were “granted” a faith implies that the faith was apportioned to them by God (G. Green 174). The faith of the readers is as precious as the faith of an eyewitness to the life of Christ (1:16-18). There are “no second class citizens in God’s kingdom” (M. Green 68). This faith comes through Jesus Christ. One definite article governs both “God” and “Savior” which means Peter is calling Jesus Christ both God and Savior (G. Green 175). This verse is a clear declaration of the early church’s belief in the deity of Christ.

If Peter wanted to distinguish Jesus Christ from the Father, he would have inserted an article before the noun “Savior.” The pronoun “our” also indicates that only one person is referred to here. Moreover, in four parallel texts “Lord and Savior” refers in every case to the same person, Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, 18). The primary reason some scholars doubt this interpretation is that the New Testament writers rarely use “God” explicitly in reference to Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, in a number of texts Jesus Christ is surely called God (John 1:1, 18; 20:28; Rom 9:5; Titus 2:13; Heb 1:8), though the intention is never to teach a form of modalism. To deny such a reading here would be to violate the clear sense of the grammar. (Schreiner 287)

1:2 May grace and peace be lavished on you as you grow in the rich knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord!

What is clear is that this knowledge implies an ethical lifestyle. Therefore the knowledge is not simply intellectual (knowing things about God and Jesus), or even personal in the sense of having met someone, but knowledge that results in committed living. That will become clearer in the next verse. In our present verse the conversion aspect is more the focus, for if these Christians were Gentiles, it was in conversion that they came to know both God and Jesus. The names of the two persons are quite conventional (e.g., 1 Cor 1:3; 2 Cor 1:2; 1 Pet 1:3). Here Jesus is designated “our Lord,” a common Christian title (Rom 10:9-10 indicates that it was a basic Christian confession as well), and is paired with “God,” who is clearly a distinct person. Thus it is in the context of their having come to know these two for who they really are that they are in a position to receive multiplied favor and well-being. It would not be too much to assert that everything else in the letter assumes this foundation. (Davids 165-166)

Bibliography

Bauckham, Richard J. Jude, 2 Peter. Word Books, 1983.

Davids, Peter H. The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006.

Green, Gene. Jude & 2 Peter. Baker Academic, 2008.

Green, Michael. 2 Peter & Jude. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

Schreiner, Thomas R. 1, 2 Peter, Jude. Holman Reference, 2003.

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