Commentary on 2 Peter 1:12-15

Notes (NET Translation)

1:12 Therefore, I intend to remind you constantly of these things even though you know them and are well established in the truth that you now have.

This verse points back to the entirety of 1:3-11: Christ has given believers everything necessary to lead the godly life (1:3-4); this grace serves as an incentive to live the godly life (1:5-7); and a godly life is necessary for entrance into the kingdom (1:8-11). Peter is reminding the readers of these teachings and thereby implying that the innovations of the false teachers are superfluous and dangerous (G. Green 209-210).

The future tense of the verbs in verses 12 and 15 strike many scholars as unusual, but the use makes sense:

In fact, the use of the future tense with reference to the whole of the present letter, though unusual, is quite intelligible here. The apostle is represented as thinking not of the activity of writing the letter, but of the function which the letter will perform when he has written it. He intends the letter to be a permanent reminder of his teaching, not only to be read on one specific occasion, but to be available at all times (1:15). Thus even from the standpoint of his readers the letter’s function of reminding continues into the future. So neither the epistolary aorist, which would imply that from the readers’ standpoint the action of reminding is complete, nor the present tense, which would not convey the apostle’s intention of writing for the future, would have been appropriate. (Bauckham 196)

1:13 Indeed, as long as I am in this tabernacle, I consider it right to stir you up by way of a reminder, 1:14 since I know that my tabernacle will soon be removed, because our Lord Jesus Christ revealed this to me.

The “tabernacle” is Peter’s mortal body (2 Cor 5:1, 4; Diognetus 6.8). It is debated whether Peter is saying he will die suddenly (i.e., unexpectedly) or soon, although soon seems to be more widely accepted. Verse 14 should be translated as “I know that I am going to die soon — and this corresponds to Christ’s prophecy” not “I know that I am going to die soon because Christ has told me.” “The passage must mean that, even apart from Christ’s revelation to him, Peter knows he must die soon” (Bauckham 199). The revelation that Peter alludes to is not clear, but John 13:36 or 21:18-19 is a possibility.

That neither of the sayings has a specific time reference in it and that Peter did not die “quickly” after the time of Jesus are not the problem some scholars believe they are. If our letter places Peter in Rome, and especially if it places him there after the writing of 1 Peter, then it assumes that he is an old man (in an age when the average life span was forty years or less, a man who was at least in his 60s was old indeed). Even if one thinks of our author as writing in the name of Peter, it would be clear to him that such a man as Peter would likely die relatively soon. If it was written after A.D. 64, everyone knew of the anti-Christian feelings unleashed by Nero after the great fire. Neither a pseudepigrapher nor the author himself would need revelation to think that death might be near. That would be the first evidence that his death was “soon.” But there was something else that our author knows about (the “as also”). Jesus in at least one saying had indicated that Peter would die (and thus not experience the Parousia), and would not die a natural death (at least so both sayings were interpreted), so clearly his death must be close. (Davids 196)

1:15 Indeed, I will also make every effort that, after my departure, you have a testimony of these things.

This verse indicates that one purpose of the letter was to act as a continual reminder of Peter’s teachings.

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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