When you finish this session you should be able to:
- Understand the general background of 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy, 1 Peter, 2 Peter
- Comprehend the flow of the content of 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy, 1 Peter, 2 Peter
- Interact with the theology of 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy, 1 Peter, 2 Peter
- Review the theological considerations of 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy, 1 Peter, 2 Peter
The book of First Timothy looks at false teaching and ecclesiae leadership. Titus speaks to the issues of a young ecclesiae. Second Timothy deals with false teaching and the close of Paul’s life. First Peter also talks about how followers of Jesus are aliens in this world. Second Peter talks about misconceptions about the Second Coming. In each of these books, we will follow this pattern: First, we will review the book’s background. Then, we will overview its content. Finally, we will consider its theology.
Where We Are Going
About 1 Timothy
A Quick Look at 1 Timothy
A Theological Glance at 1 Timothy
A Quick Look at Titus
A Theological Glance at Titus
About 2 Timothy
A Quick Look at 2 Timothy
A Theological Glance at 2 Timothy
About 1 Peter
A Quick Look at 1 Peter
A Theological Glance at 1 Peter
About 2 Peter
A Quick Look at 2 Peter
A Theological Glance at 2 Peter
- Ladd. New Testament Theology, 641-656.
About 1 Timothy
In his writing life, Paul wrote letters to three individuals (Timothy, Titus, and Philemon). When Paul departed from Ephesus, he left Timothy as an example to follow. During his stay at Ephesus, there were many Greeks who entered the ecclesiae. Their tendency was to bring their mindset and teaching to the ecclesiae. Paul wrote Timothy to give him advice on some of the pressing practical matters within the Ephesian ecclesiae that included the need to teach healthy doctrine to offset the faulty teaching which came to the ecclesiae through the arrival of the new converts. He wrote about public worship, the qualification for leadership, how to treat widows, slaves, and false teachers. It is important to note that this was a second-generation church and there was a need for a different set of qualifications for leadership than there was for the churches under Titus’ care which were younger. It has often been our need for harmony that has led us to combine the leadership list from First Timothy and Titus. When this occurs, we overlook the uniqueness of each book for its first readers and hearers. Gordon Fee suggests, and I think he is correct that “It is a mistaken notion to view Timothy or Titus as model pastors for a local church. The letters simply have no such intent. Although it is true that Timothy and Titus carry full apostolic authority, in both cases, they are itinerants on special assignment who are there as Paul’s apostolic delegates, not as permanent resident pastors.”[ref]Fee, Gordon D. Listening to the Spirit in the Text. 156. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Kindle Edition. [/ref]
A Quick Look At 1 Timothy
Introduction: (1 Timothy 1.1-2)
Teach Healthy Doctrine: (1 Timothy 1.3-20)
Paul exhorts Timothy to communicate to certain people that they should not become involved with false teaching because of the controversies to which those teachings would lead. He reminded Timothy of Hymenaeus and Alexander, who shipwrecked their faith and were handed over to Satan so they would understand not to blaspheme.
Edict for Public Worship: (1 Timothy 2.1-15)
Paul taught about the importance of the ecclesiae at worship, body language, dress, and submission. More heat than light usually comes from this section on women and teaching (See below for fuller explanation).
Administration – Elders – Deacons: (1 Timothy 3.1-16)
Leadership characteristics for elders, deacons, and deaconesses are defined.
Combat False Teachers: (1 Timothy 4.1-16)
Timothy is reminded that in the last days, of which they were apart, that people would abandon their faith and follow demonic spirits which would deceive them. To avoid this, Timothy should devote his time to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching, and to teaching, so that the ecclesiae could remain secure in their faith.
Hints on Widows, Elders, and Slaves: (1 Timothy 5.1-6.2a)
The ecclesiae has responsibility for widows, payment to elders for their work in the ecclesiae, various other thoughts about ordination, quieting stomach problems, and slavery are offered by Paul.
Conclusion: (1 Timothy 6.2b-20)
Timothy is reminded that the love of money will radically affect followers of Jesus.
A Theological Glance At 1 Timothy
The message of 1 and 2 Timothy can be summed up by words like remember (2 Tim. 2:8), guard (1 Tim. 6:20), be strong (2 Tim. 2:1), and commit (1 Tim. 1:18; 2:2). For Paul, the best medicine for false teaching and apostasy is healthy teaching (1 Tim. 1:10; 4:3). The gospel is a spiritual inheritance to be received from faithful witnesses and passed on to others (2 Tim. 2:2). It brings about wholeness or health (which is the meaning of sound (healthy in Greek), not only in belief but also in good deeds. So vital is a healthy doctrine to the fitness and well-being of the ecclesiae that it is something to be pursued (1 Tim. 6:11), fought for (1 Tim. 6:12), and even suffered for (2 Tim. 1:8; 2:3,11-13).
The letters to Timothy (and Titus) have traditionally be considered our earliest manual of ecclesiae organization. The Western world has developed a penchant over the 2,000 years since these letters were written by Paul to see them as the biblical standards for the organization of local churches (i.e., Institutional Churches [IC]). So, Timothy and Titus are read to discover biblical guidelines for:
- The selection of church leaders (read pastors as applied to the present Institutional Church. (1 Tim. 3:1-13).
- To reveal an awareness of the need for standard forms of expressing faith. For example, the words, “This is a faithful saying,” appear four times in the epistles (1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11). Two creeds, or perhaps hymns, also appear (1 Tim. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:11-13).
- Second Timothy presents the first (and only) pronouncement in the Second Testament on the Bible as Scripture (referring to the First Testament, 2 Tim. 3:14-17), often interpreted as the way to teach/preach the Bible in church services. To discern ideas about Church Leadership see the following: Gordon Fee. Listening to the Spirit in the Text and for a quick overall look at leadership in the ecclesiae. See Also: Winn Griffin. Chrchworld.org. Scroll down the opening page to “Leadership” to find links to a series of six (6) articles on leadership.
Women in the Ecclesiae
Is there any reason why women, created in God’s image, should not be allowed to enjoy the same freedoms provided by Jesus as are available to men?
Obviously, the answer is No! This is also the biblical answer. This whole subject is often confused and filled with heat because of the absolutizing of some First Testament passages which were intended for specific situations.
Restricting the rights of ministry to men may be one of Satan’s slickest tricks to undermine the ecclesiae proclamation of freedom. The position accorded to women in the ecclesiae has often been a sign of the worldliness of the ecclesiae rather than faithfulness to the Scripture.
The treatment of women by Jesus is the interest of Luke in his Gospel. He mentions thirteen women who are not mentioned elsewhere in the Gospels. From his birth to his ascension, women are there. Jesus revolutionized the status of women by his actions toward them.
There are some truths that serve as a plumb line for answering the question concerning women in ministry and leadership in the church.
First, men and women were created in the image of God (Gen. 1.26-27). Several things should be noted:
- God has characteristics that correspond to male and female.
- Ruling stewardship is given to them jointly and equally: “Let them rule” (Gen. 1.26.
- It takes a partnership of male and female, and their community together to fully express God’s glory.
Second, God intends a relationship between man and woman of complementarity (not to be confused with complementarianism) means equality and mutual submission.
We should always be suspicious of any teaching with a slight biblical basis when it is strongly held within the church. This is usually a sure sign that the belief in question is functional, i.e., it fulfills an important need or purpose for those who hold it, whether or not it is true. The doctrine of women’s submission, which is really male dominance, may fulfill such a function.
Remember, God created Eve as a suitable helper, one corresponding to Adam. The relationship implied is best expressed by the word: complementarity.
Complementarity was undercut by the fall where a man was given the rule of a woman in a fallen state, but it has been restored by the creation of a “New Creation” in Jesus.
Third, in the ecclesiae, the distinction between male and female should have no functional significance in matters of leadership (Gal. 3.28). God’s victory at the cross with the power of the Spirit has overcome the results of the fall. It takes constant sensitivity to the Holy Spirit in the ecclesiae to keep that “newness” of the New Creation (2 Cor. 5.17) from slipping back into the oldness of the fall.
Fourth, the principle for all relationships in the body of Christ is mutual submission and service.
Fifth, the clearest proclamation of the position of women is given by Paul in Galatians 3.28. While this is clear and plain, there are other passages in Paul which appear to put Paul in a paradoxical position with himself.
In First Corinthians 11.3-16, Paul speaks of three headships, i.e.: Christ to man; man to woman; and God to Christ; – There appears this contrasting statement of complementarity in v. 11. Both male and female owe their existence to each other and cannot do without each other. Here there is equality of life while there is a differentiation of function.
Ephesians 5.21-33: Paul, in speaking to husbands and wives, states that their whole relationship is based on mutual submission. The wife is to treat the husband as she would treat Jesus, while the husband is to treat his wife as Jesus would treat her. One should note that here the primary focus is on the husband-wife relationship, not on a general man-woman relationship. Thus, if it were teaching husband domination, which it is not doing, it would not necessarily follow that it applies to all male-female relationships.
First Corinthians 11.5; 14.33b-36: Within several pages of each other, Paul appears to contradict himself. First, he declares it is allowable for women to pray and prophesy in the ecclesiae (11.5). Second, he tells them to be silent (14.34). Again, we have to know that the text in the first place is speaking to women, while the second is speaking to wives. Whatever the second may mean, it does not appear to be a universal concept to be applied for all times to all women.
First Timothy 2.12: It is clear that this passage hinges on the understanding of the words “to have authority.” The debate over women teachers is argued from this passage. The background of the Greek word, which is here only in the First Testament, is one of “sex and murder.” Frankly, it is an erotic word. It is translated as such in Wisdom of Solomon 12.6 (an Apocryphal book). The context of the city also lends itself to this interpretation. Paul is here disallowing women in orgiastic Ephesus to slaughter men by leading them into cultic fornication by their teaching. Remember, this was a problem at the sister church of Thyatira (Rev. 2.20-25). Murder and eros are combined in Proverbs 2.18, 5.5 and 7.27, where we see prostitution and slaughter connected. This interpretation certainly fits the context. Women are told to dress modestly and not be like prostitutes (1 Tim 2.9-10). In verses 13 and 14, Paul tells us that Eve was seduced by the devil. The word “deceived” has strong sexual overtones. The good news of all of this is that women are safe because of “the birth of the child”, i.e. Jesus. It is unwarranted to use this passage as a global ban on women teaching men and women in the church. Rather, it is a global ban on women or men using sexual favors as a way of seducing the opposite sex to worship God.
Listen to my presentation: “The Story of God and the Equality of the Sexes” on AskDrWinn for a fuller understanding of the problem of women’s equality in the ecclesiae and elsewhere.
Sixth, The following is a list of women, who are ministering, as seen in the First Testament.
- Prayer – 1 Corinthians 11.5
- Prophecy – 1 Corinthians 11.5; 12.28; Acts 21.9
- Teaching – Titus 2.3-5; 2 Tim. 1:15; 3.14 Note: Titus 2.3-5 does not specify who these women teach
- Personal Counseling – Acts 18.26
- Hospitality – Acts 12.12
- Acts of Charity – Acts 9.36-41
- Evangelism – Philippians 4.3
- Deacon – Romans 16.1: Notice the four things Paul says about Phoebe: I commend her to you. She is a servant in the church. You should receive her. Help her in what she may require from you, or have needed from you. (The words require or have need may imply that she is in leadership and the church at Rome is to comply with her direction.)
It seems apparent to me that one should consider the risk of liberating the women in a local ecclesia to minister and lead as God directs and ordains. It is like swimming upstream oozing blook while all the sharks are swimming downstream!
- Teaching healthy doctrine is a priority for the ecclesiae.
- Leadership in the ecclesiae has high standards as targets.
- The ecclesiae moves from a charismatic governmental focus to a formal governmental focus.
Questions 1 Timothy Answers
- Why should the ecclesiae receive healthy doctrine?
- In a second-generation ecclesiae, what characteristics should leaders have?
Community Discussion Questions
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- How does the teaching of healthy doctrine cause you to grow in your faith?
- How do the Holy Spirit’s guidance and ecclesia leadership, as outlined in 1 Timothy, work together?
After reading this section on Women in the church, talk through the implications of working this out in your own ecclesia within a small group setting regardless of the groupthink of so-called pastors in the institutional church!
- The gospel must be kept from corruption at all costs.
- Functional leadership in the ecclesia should be the best that the gospel can produce.
- My life should reflect the discipline of the gospel.
Thought to Contemplate
- What has been deposited with you should be guarded carefully.
Paul had left Titus to be the functioning leader of the much younger church in Crete. He was to help the ecclesia come to maturity. Titus was warned about the influence of false teachers and their teaching. He is exhorted to encourage the followers of Jesus to live their lives in a very practical way. There is a list of character traits that Titus should target when selecting elders for this young ecclesia. Remember, elders are only elders when they are elding.
In my book Gracelets, I write the following to give a sense that pastoring, eldering, etc. is not a permanent gift that someone finds by taking a Spiritual Gifts test.
One is a pastor-teacher when one is actually pastoring/teaching. When these activities are not in operation, the person is none of these. To make the point clear: when Jane or Jim, who has the title of pastor is home at night sleeping, s/he is not a pastor, s/he is a sleeper. A person is what they are when they are functioning as conduits of a gracelet of the Spirit. [ref]Winn Griffin. Gracelets…v 1.5. Harmon Press.[/ref]
A Quick Look At Titus
Introduction: Titus 1.1-4
Appointment of Elders: Titus 1.5-9
Titus is provided with a list of character traits to aim at when choosing leaders for the young ecclesiae at Crete.
Against False Teachers: Titus 1.10-16
False teachers had invaded the early church. Titus is given instructions about how to fight against them and their teaching.
Advice on Practical Living: Titus 2.1-3.11
Jesus followers are to live practical lives of obedience. They should not slander, but show humility and remember what God had done for them through Jesus.
Conclusion: Titus 3.12-15
A Theological Glance At Titus
Teaching Healthy Doctrine
Paul provides a description of teaching in chapter 2. Teaching is not so much a process of transmitting healthy doctrine as it is a process of developing a lifestyle that is in harmony with healthy doctrine. Thus, teaching is more than just talking. It is training (Titus 2.4), encouraging (Titus 2.6), setting an example (Titus 2.7), and rebuking (Titus 2.15). Teaching healthy doctrine will produce a godly life.
Leadership in Titus
The ecclesiae Titus was left to give oversight to was a young ecclesia where leaders had not yet been appointed. Leaders were “not to be overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain” and of course, they were not leaders as a position, they were leaders when they were functioning as a leader (Titus 1.7).
Paul quotes one of the philosophers of the day, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1.12), a testimony with which Paul agrees. This environment suggests that the ecclesiae is not intended to function only in cozy, respectable, middle-class environments. The gospel is for all people, even those who look and smell unpromising.
The Blessed Hope
One must recognize that this is the next to the last book which Paul penned. He still waits for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ (Titus 2.13).
- Leadership activities for a young ecclesiae has different characteristics than leadership for a second-generation ecclesia.
- Teaching should be a primary concern for the ecclesiae.
- Jesus is the lord of the ecclesiae
Community Discussion Questions
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- How does a young ecclesiae deal with its problems?
- How should the ecclesiae live in the midst of a hostile environment?
Questions Titus Answers
- How does your personal lifestyle or the lifestyle of your local ecclesia confirm what you have been taught?
- How many lazy Cretans are in your ecclesia? What can you do about it?
- There is hope for a better life at the coming of Jesus.
- Learning to be an informed follower of Jesus is a high goal of the ecclesiae.
- God’s ecclesiae must give herself to doing good.
Thought To Contemplate
- Devoting ourselves to what is good should be a high priority in the life of the ecclesiae and in our personal life.
About 2 Timothy
Paul’s last letter was to his friend and companion Timothy. Back in prison, Paul was facing death but had time to encourage Timothy. This letter is a moving good-bye from Paul. He reviewed his history from Damascus to his present time. While struggles and victories had been in his path, he had fought the battles and run the course set before him well. Just ahead, after his death, was his reward. With the final good-bye to Timothy, his pen fell silenced for eternity.
A Quick Look At 2 Timothy
Introduction. 2 Timothy 1.1-2
Petition for Courage. 2 Timothy 1.3-2.13
Paul reminded Timothy about who he was: an emotional, faithful, and gifted person. Because of these gifts, he would be able to suffer the hardship that the ministry would throw his way.
Pastoral Responsibilities. 2 Timothy 2.14-4.5
Timothy is advised once again about the evils of false teaching and that he should stand firm against all of it by being faithful to fulfill the ministry God had given him.
Paul’s Final Words. 2 Timothy 4.6-18
The final words of Paul scream with emotion. Ready to die for his faith, he stands as a model for keeping true to his faith through thick and thin. His final reward awaits him. He longs for a personal word of comfort from his friend during his final lonely days.
Conclusion. 2 Timothy 4.19-22
A Theological Glance At 2 Timothy
See 1 Timothy above
- Faithfulness to the message of Jesus should be strong in the midst of doctrinal error and dangerous times.
- Scripture comes from God and mends those who believe it.
- Faithfulness to God and his mission for your life will reap a gracious reward.
Questions 2 Timothy Answers
- How does the ecclesia deal with enemies from outside its own ranks?
- How does the ecclesia deal with enemies from within its own ranks?
Community Discussion Questions
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- Healthy teaching and Godly living are requirements for the life of a follower of Jesus and to the ecclesia with which s/he participates.
- Learning Scripture will keep you from falling into every false doctrine that comes along.
- A crown of righteousness awaits those who love the appearing of the Lord.
Thought To Contemplate
- There is always someone around us who needs encouragement. It is never too late to respond. We must serve until we die; retirement is not an option.
About 1 Peter
Peter did not know the group to which he writes his first book. He discovered that as believers they were suffering persecution, not from Rome or a local government. History records no specific persecutions outside of Rome during this period of time. Peter wrote to believers who were suffering the normal balderdash that comes with being a believer in the hostile world of this present evil age. Four Second Testament authors were in Rome at the same time: Paul, Luke, Mark, and Peter. They were writing their books at approximately the same time. It is reasonable to believe that each was aware of the other’s work while being written and that they may have had a discussion about the contents of each other’s work.
A Quick Look At 1 Peter
Introduction. 1 Peter 1.1-2
Praise to God. 1 Peter 1.3-12
A model is provided by Peter of what believers should do when suffering. Believers should grasp their hope, joy, confidence, and freedom.
Exhortation to Holy Living. 1 Peter 1.13-21
Believers should live a holy life, set apart for God and his work and avoid sin which has a consequence of obliterating Christian fellowship.
Toward Mutual Love. 1 Peter 1.22-25
A believer moves toward mutual love when being purified by obeying the truth.
Elevation to God’s People. 1 Peter 2.1-25
Peter told believers what to get rid of in their lives: malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. In place of the present evil age life responses, they should crave pure spiritual milk which will help them grow toward maturity. Believers should be responsible to submit to their rulers and masters.
Responsibilities of Believers. 1 Peter 3.1-5.11
Believers’ responsibilities are addressed: husband and wife daily problems; wives were exhorted to lead their non-believing husbands to a relationship with God by a Godly model, not by preaching to them about their need. Husbands should be cautious about how they treat their wives during their lovemaking. Suffering can occur even when doing good. Jesus is portrayed as the model for believers to follow. Believers will suffer. Some closing words are given to elders and the young men of the church.
Conclusion. 1 Peter 5.12-14
A Theological Glance At 1 Peter
As believers live in this hostile present evil age, they will suffer. Believers should not be surprised by suffering because it is a part of the normal Christian life (1 Peter 4.12). Instead of falling apart during a time of suffering, Peter told his audience that they should rejoice for having the privilege of sharing in the suffering of Jesus (1 Peter 4.13a). When suffering is over, blessing follows. This may not be crystal clear until the return of Jesus (1 Peter 4.13b). When insulted you should break into praise (1 Peter 4.14, 16). You should not suffer because of wrong actions 1 Peter 4.15). The just and the unjust will receive the judgments of God (1 Peter 4.18). The unjust will be destroyed while the goodwill receives good (1 Peter 4.18). Continual commitment to God and suffering for doing good is Peter’s final command (1 Peter 4.19).
Ascent or Descent?
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. It was only a few people, eight in all who were saved through water, and this water symbolized baptism that now saves you also — not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand — with angels, authorities, and powers in submission to him (1 Pet. 3.18-22).
This passage is one of the most direct statements of the vicarious significance of the death of Jesus to be found in the Second Testament. The text says that he was put to death in the body but made alive by the spirit. By the spirit refers to the resurrection of Jesus and would be understood by Peter’s first readers as such. The spirits are fallen angels, not dead men (in light of verse 22 and contemporary literature). The having gone of verse 19 is best understood by the has gone of verse 22 and should be understood as the ascension. The proclamation was one of victory, not the proclamation of the gospel for conversion. The Ascent of the Victorious Risen Christ exposing that victory to the spirits in prison fits the overall argument of 3.13-22 by suggesting to the readers that this event proves that in their suffering no one can cause them to harm in the larger context of eternity. What is often viewed on a natural plane as harm, is in fact, on the spiritual plane victory. Therefore, these verses say nothing about a descent of Christ into hell or a second chance for unbelievers or a first chance for those who had died prior to the first advent of Jesus. This is an encouragement for his readers to know that there is a victorious model to steer them through their suffering.
Speeches of Peter in Acts
The sermons that Peter preached as recorded by Luke in the book of Acts and the theology of 1 Peter have strong similarities. Here are some examples:
- God does not show favoritism (Acts 10.34; 1 Pet. 1.17)
- Jesus is the stone the builders rejected (Acts 4.10-11; 1 Pet. 2.7-8)
- The Christ-Event is a fulfillment of prophetic testimony (Acts 3.18, 24; 1 Pet. 1.10-12)
- The age of fulfillment has occurred (Acts 2.14-16; 3.12-26; 48-12; 10.34-43; 1 Pet. 1.3 -10-12; 4.7)
- The new age has come through Jesus and fulfills the First Testament (Acts 2.20-31; 3.13-14; 10.43; 1 Pet. 1.20-21)
- Jesus is at the right hand of God and is the head of the New Israel (Acts 2.22-26; 3.13; 4.11; 5.30-31; 10.39.42; 1 Pet. 1.21; 2.7, 24; 3.22)
- The new birth is an expression of God’s own life in us.
- The resurrection of Jesus guarantees us an inheritance.
- The power of God guards us until the coming of Jesus.
Questions 1 Peter Answers
- How does the church live as aliens in a foreign land?
- How does the church endure suffering?
Community Discussion Questions
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- Why is it important to understand why believers suffer in this world?
- Where can you use this information effectively?
- Why is it important to know that the material in one book supports the material in another book of Scripture?
- Our lifestyle should demonstrate our relationship with God.
- We should think of ourselves as aliens in this world.
- Suffering is a part of the Christian package.
Thought To Contemplate
Part of the package deal of being a believer is suffering. You do not necessarily suffer because you do something wrong. You often suffer because you live in a fallen world of this present evil age.
About 2 Peter
Second Peter is apocalyptic. Peter teaches against the evils of teachers who teach error. It looks a lot like Jude. The greatest desire of Peter is that believers would grow in the true knowledge of Christianity. He wanted all believers to become aware of those who were teaching false doctrine. Specific attention should be given to the teaching and attitude about the denial of the Second Coming. Above all he wanted his audience to become mature.
A Quick Look At 2 Peter
True Knowledge 1.3-21
Believers must know the truth about God in order to receive power to live an effective life. Knowing this truth about God will help believers to abandon their sin.
Warning Against False Teachers 2.1-22
Political correctness was not Peter’s forte. He called a spade a spade. He talked about false teachers in specific and plain language. Their end was sure.
Obsolete Doctrine No! 3.1-18
Believers should not believe that the teaching about the second coming of Jesus was obsolete and discard it from their belief system. The real reason for the delay is that God wants all men to have an opportunity to repent.
A Theological Glance At 2 Peter
The false teaching to which Peter was responding was teaching the church that the message which they had received was not based on divine revelation but on human invention. Peter’s response was to tell these believers two things:
- That he was an eyewitness of the supernatural event of the transfiguration in the life of Jesus (1.16-18)
- That the church had the prophetic word (1.19) which is partial illumination, i.e., a light used during the night.
In addition, the church was being taught that Scripture was not inspired by God and came by the hand of man (1.20-21). Peter responded by telling the church that no person is entitled to interpret prophecy (Scripture) according to his own personal whim. Prophecy is the light of the future shining upon the dark present to enable God’s people to make their way in the world. It is in no way a full blueprint of the future.
Because Jesus had not appeared yet, the false teachers seized the moment to teach that he was not coming because nothing had changed and everything remained the same (2 Peter 3.4). Peter told the church that everything had not remained the same (2 Peter 3.5-7). He provided two additional arguments for the health of the church on this subject. God, who determines the Second Coming’s time, does so with a different perspective on time than the one we have. Long periods from our perspective are short by God’s standard. Those who complain of a delay (or in this present generation predict an any-minute arrival) of the coming, who are impatient to see it in their lifetime, are trying to limit God’s divine strategy in history to short-term expectations to which mankind is accustomed. Those who have such an evaluation—short-term expectations—have limited understanding, not God’s unlimited understanding (2 Peter 3.8). Finally, he said that God has a purpose in what appears from a human standpoint to be a delay. God is not willing that any of his people should perish, i.e., believers. The delay should not be a matter of complaint but should be taken as an opportunity to repent. (2 Peter 3.9). We cannot presume upon God’s patience for those who do not take advantage of the delay to repent. God will not defer his judgment indefinitely. It will come unexpectedly (3.10a) and with finality (2 Peter 3.10b, the use of apocalyptic language).
- Jesus will return.
- Scripture is inspired.
Questions 2 Peter Answers
- In what way does the church respond to false teaching?
- When will Jesus come?
Community Discussion Questions
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- Where has false teaching affected your life?
- Why is it important to be able to communicate intelligently about the Second Coming?
- God has provided everything you need.
- Scripture is reliable.
Thought To Contemplate
- No one knows when Jesus will return. Anyone who tells you he or she knows is lying.