2 Peter 1:1-4
Before looking in any detail at the opening verses of the letter, it would be well worth familiarising yourself with the letter as a whole, so do take time to read it through a few times. It represents Peter’s final words to these Christians, death is imminent (1:13,14), which gives the letter a sense of real urgency and importance. It is not trivial matters he is addressing. Nor, strikingly, does he have anything new to say, rather his concern is that they should recall and hold on to the Word they have already heard.
The last few verses sum up much of the burden of the letter –
“Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever! Amen”2 Peter 3:17-18
Peter’s readers are “secure” and well established in the truth (1:12), and yet he fears for them because of the presence of false teachers with their “destructive heresies” (2:1). Such false teachers are an inevitable feature of the last days (3:3), so we should expect them, and not suppose we will not be immune from their allure – or why would Peter be so concerned to warn us.
Crucial to resisting their influence is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”. So Dick Lucas calls the letter “a homily on Christian growth, set in the context of threats to Christian stability”. The importance of growth is stressed not least in 1:5-9, and it will no doubt be a timely word to us: firmly established and secure we might consider ourselves to be, but as in the old illustration of riding a bicycle, if we are not moving forward we will fall.
This letter, I am sure, will stimulate us to much “wholesome thinking” (3:1).
Because the passage set for this first study is so brief, I would recommend spending some of the time introducing the letter (not through a mini lecture from you, but with some questions, as suggested below).
“servant and apostle” – wonderful humility and authority
“righteousness” – here probably has the sense of fairness or justice
“a faith as precious as ours” – there are no second class Christians, an idea which false teaching often preys on, for our faith is a gift not given on the basis of our relative worth but on the basis of Christ’s work and God’s sovereign choice.
To introduce the letter you might ask the following –