Thursday, May 13, 2010

LIAR - An Introduction

This Sunday we will begin a brand new series verse by verse through the book of 2 Peter. We are calling this series “LIAR.” But before we begin this fascinating book study let’s take some time to learn some introductory information about this book of the Bible. Let’s start with some trivia related to the numbers 21, 55, 3, 61, 1559, and 6. Here is what these numbers stand for:

21 - 2 Peter is the 21st longest book of the New Testament
55 - 2 Peter is the 55th longest book in the entire Bible
3 – There are 3 chapters in 2 Peter
61 – There are 61 verses in 2 Peter
1,559 – There are approximately 1,559 English words are in 2 Peter?
6 – Peter quotes from 6 Old Testament books

This is Peter’s second and final Epistle. He is one of only 3 of the original Apostles who wrote an inspired book of the New Testament, the other two being Matthew and John. Peter is a very significant character with his name appearing about 210 times in the New Testament. Yet, 2 Peter has created more controversy over the issue of including it as part of Scripture than any other New Testament book due to supposed differences in style between 1 Peter and 2 Peter as well as the difference in vocabulary between the two Epistles. A careful study, however, shows that 2 Peter was indeed written by Simon Peter. How can we be so sure? First, Peter claimed to have written it (1:1). Second, the writer had been an eyewitness of the transfiguration (1:16-18) and Peter was at this event (Matthew 17:1-13). And finally, the writer of 2 Peter had written an earlier letter (3:1) and 1 Peter was definitely written by Peter (1 Peter 1:1).

Peter does not identify where he is writing this letter from. His first Epistle was probably written toward the end of his life, around AD 64, on the eve of the outbreak of the persecution by Nero. Many believe that after writing his first Epistle, Peter was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Perhaps Peter wrote this second Epistle in between his trial and execution.

We are calling this series “LIAR” because of the theme of the book. 1 Peter deals with persecution from without with the key word “suffering” used 16 times (10 of these occurrences referring to believers and 6 referring to the suffering of Christ). 2 Peter deals with false teaching from within and uses the phrase “full knowledge” (or the like) some 16 times. The key verse in 2 Peter is 3:18 which tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Peter has some very distinct features. For one, it contains the only what we would call “interconnective” reference from one apostolic Epistle to another as Peter refers to Paul’s writings (3:15-16). It is also very connected to the book of Jude. In fact, 19 of the 25 verses making up the book of Jude are reiterated in some fashion in 2 Peter. 2 Peter can also be favorably compared to 2 Timothy. Both are the last books written by their authors. Both contain a key passage on the inspiration of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Both warn against false teachers (2 Timothy 3; 2 Peter 2). And both men knew as they were writing that they would soon die a martyr’s death for their faith (2 Timothy 4:6; 2 Peter 1:13-15).

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