Letters of 2 Peter and Jude – Part one

FALL BIBLE STUDY RESOURCES:

Cockerill, Gareth Lee.  The Epistle to the Hebrews.  Part of the New International Commentary on the New Testament edited by Ned B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, and Gordon D. Fee.  (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2012).

Harrington, Daniel J., S.J.  Jude and 2 Peter.  Part of the Sacra Pagina commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S. J..  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2003).

Elliott, John H..  1 Peter: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary.  Part of the Anchor Bible Commentary series edited by William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 2000).

Harten, Patrick J.  James. Part of the Sacra Pagina commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S. J..  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2003).

Koester, Craig R.  Hebrews: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary.  Part of the Anchor Bible commentary series edited by William Foxwell Albright and David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 2001).

Long, Thomas G.  Hebrews.  Part of the Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching series edited by James Luther Mays.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1997).

Mitchell, Alan C.  Hebrews.  Part of the Sacra Pagina commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S. J..  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2007).

Perkins, Pheme.   First and Second Peter, James, and Jude.  Part of the Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching series edited by James Luther Mays.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 1995).

Senior, Donald P., C.P.   1 Peter.  Part of the Sacra Pagina commentary series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S. J..  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville, 2003).

Wright, N. T.  Hebrews for Everyone.  Part of the New Testament for Everyone series edited by N. T. Wright.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2003).

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Overview of 2 Peter

Perkins p. 159: “Unlike the Johannine epistles or 1 and 2 Timothy, 2 Peter is not related to 1 Peter in either language and style or in its setting and theological development, a fact recognized by Jerome.  Second Peter 3:1 refers to itself as the “second letter I have written to you.”  That suggests knowledge of the existence of 1 Peter.  However, there are no explicit verbal links between the two.”

Written at end of 1st century or beginning of the 2nd.  No locale for the addressees can be identified, nor can the locale of the author.   Based on Jewish themes and Greek hints Perkins concludes p. 161: “Therefore, the author probably comes from an educated, Greek-speaking Jewish background.”

Occasion?  Christian false teachers, using letters of Paul, are denying core teachings related to the second coming of Jesus.

Perkins p. 163: Major themes: God, judgment, and the end of time

Greeting 2 Peter 1:1-2

Perkins p. 167: “Simeon” used instead of Simon unusual, perhaps the author of the letter thought it more “Jewish” or more “authentic-sounding”.

You (plural) have a faith equal to that of the apostles.  This is a significant claim!

Thanksgiving   2 Peter 1:3-4

Perkins p. 169: “The ideal of a soul divinized by detachment from the world and the knowledge that leads it to seek only God forms a staple element in later Christian mystical traditions.  The formulation of the Christian hope given in 2 Peter could be embraced both by those familiar with philosophical traditions and by Jews familiar with the type of understanding one finds in Philo.”

Confirm your faith in God’s Goodness   2 Peter 1:5-11

Christian faith is presented as a complete lifestyle, a set of virtues and practices that mesh together and protect believers, leading them to eternal life.  Be wary of those who lack these virtues!

 

The Apostle’s Farewell   2 Peter 1:12-15

I am about to die – listen to me and obey what I am about to say to you, it’s important.

This is offered then in the “testament” style well known in OT and Greek literature.

True Prophecy – The Lord will come    2 Peter 1:16-21

Unlike the Greek myths and those of other cultures – our faith – Jewish and Christian – is firmly rooted in history.  In flesh and blood human beings encountering God through the Holy Spirit.  (Which is not to say that there aren’t any myths in the Bible – Jews understood that Genesis contained myth, as did books like Jonah.)

Perkins p. 173: “This section introduces two charges: (a) the second coming is a clever myth (vv. 16-18) and (b) prophecy is not secure (vv. 19-21).”

From the inception of prophecy in OT there were “true” and “false” prophets.  It has always been part of the struggle for those who encounter prophets to discern between them.

Perkins p. 177: “Although 2 Peter has begun to speak of the charges against Christian teaching made by others, the focus of the entire first chapter remains the faith of those who believe.   The small lamp that shines in murky darkness will eventually bring them to their own vision of the majesty and glory of the Lord.  Second Peter has distinguished the divine revelation found in scripture, both the prophets and the gospel, from competing forms of religious and philosophical propaganda.  As long as believers hold fast to the apostolic tradition, the gospel, and the prophets, they can anticipate a vision of divine glory that carries with it participation in God.”

False Teachers will Arise   2 Peter 2:1-3

The charge and counter-charge of politics today has some roots in these past philosophical and religious conflicts.  The opposite side is weaving a tapestry of beliefs that are irreconcilable with each other, they do so out of greed or sexual passions.   But rest assured – they are doomed!

God’s Judgment in the Past   2 Peter 2:4-10

Here are several examples from the Bible which demonstrate that God will act to protect His truth and will punish the evil ones  – bad angels, Noah and Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah …

Perkins p. 183: “By incorporating the deliverance of the righteous into the judgment material from Jude, 2 Peter reminds readers that judgment is an aspect of salvation.  God did not establish commandments, send the prophets, and ransom humanity through the death of Jesus in order to maximize the population in hell.  Quite the contrary.”

False Teachers are Irrational Beasts    2 Peter 2:10-16

Perkins p. 184: “The debate over divine providence that underlies the polemic in 2 Peter suggests an allusion to the angels as astral powers.  Like the Epicureans who denied the influence of the stars on human affairs, the opponents deny the angels any role in ordering God’s creation.  Second Peter has dropped the legend of Michael and Satan because it is not relevant to the argument of the letter.”

Jewish tradition (like Catholic tradition) developed an extensive set of stories and interpretation outside of the scriptural texts.  Some on Balaam, Noah etc.   as we have of Mary, and the apostles.  Knowledge of some of this seems to be presumed in the letter.

 

JUDE

Overview

Perkins p. 142: Jude uses Jewish traditions not found in bible texts, indicates that “authority does not appear to reside in the canonical text as much as it does in the testimony of ancient traditions about wickedness and divine punishment.”

Well written Greek, with some unusual words.  Likely a Jewish Christian.

False teachers have made inroads into the Christian community.

Jude does not intend to debate these false teachers but only to win back those believers who have been led astray.

2 Peter used Jude, revising it and strengthening its arguments

Perkins p. 145: “However, the false teachers he opposes are not the quasi-philosophical sophisticates of 2 Peter.  As we read Jude, we have the opportunity to watch a small part of the postapostolic church take charge of preserving the faith it has inherited.”

Repetition of negative images is notable

Greeting vv. 1-2

Obviously for Christians the tie with Jesus is central, but the connection claimed to James of Jerusalem gives a cachet to Christians who came from the Jewish tradition.

 

Resist False Teaching vv. 3-4

Perkins p. 147: “The faith was given to the saints “once for all.”  The false teachers cannot produce some “new version.”  If they reject the faith held by the author and his audience, then these teachers have no faith at all.”

Traveling teachers who are mooching?  Some who have come and settled in?

Harrington p. 181 suggests that Paul confronted similar folks in Corinth – so caught up in the charismatic spirit of things that they felt fully liberated from all tradition and moral law, they were already living in the Kingdom and were even superior to the angels.  P. 182: “These people may have thought that they were following Paul’s gospel of freedom or at least taking it to its logical consequences.  Paul wrote much of 1 Corinthians to correct what he regarded as their misinterpretations of his gospel.  The author of the Epistle of Jude may well have confronted this same (or a similar) group of radical Paulinists who in his judgment were perverting the authentic gospel by their actions and teachings.  But it remains difficult to prove this definitively.”

God Destroys the Unfaithful   vv.5-7

This is not new teaching – you  have learned this before, this is what was passed down to you.

Baptism – which gave salvation, will not automatically protect the unfaithful

Jude’s examples are calculated to stir up anger, concern, and disgust toward the situation and these people

After leaving Egypt and drawing near to the Promised Land Moses sent out spies to gather information about it.  They came back and their report caused the people to be afraid and not trust in God.  Instead of going forward with God they drew back – angering God.  Therefore they were punished – none of them got to enter the Promised Land.  Even though God had saved them from Egypt He punished them for their disobedience.  An important lesson!

 

God condemns the Rebelious   vv. 8-13

The story of the fallen angels and Michael is in 1 Enoch – intertestamental apocrypha.  Also the Testament of Moses.

 

1 Enoch  can be found online at: http://wesley.nnu.edu/sermons-essays-books/noncanonical-literature/noncanonical-literature-ot-pseudepigrapha/book-of-enoch/

(It is rather esoteric.  Even more so the one below.)

 

The Testament of Moses (also known as the Assumption of Moses) can be found online at: http://wesley.nnu.edu/index.php?id=2124

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