The Apostle Peter is the author of second Peter (see 2 Peter 1:1 and 3:1-2). It is just as difficult to place a date on 2 Peter as it is to date his first epistle. Persecution upon members of the body of Christ and the death of Peter are the only dates we have to go by in dating 1 and 2 Peter (i.e., between 33 and 68 AD). This second epistle was written sometime after the first so it has a later date (see 2 Peter 3:1). The audience is general; i.e., "them that have obtained a like precious faith" (2 Peter 1:1).
Peter states the objective of this epistle at 2 Peter 3:1 saying, "1 this is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind my putting you in remembrance." Peter's audience is admonished to remember (2 Peter 1:12, 13, 15) all the inspired apostolic writings that are designed to bring one to salvation (2 Peter 3:15). There were; however, false teachers during Peter's day whose objective was directly opposed to truth. A colossal message that reaches out at us, as we study this book, is that religious opinions will be the demise of many (see meaning of the word heresy as it is used at 2 Peter 2:1). One need not venture beyond the doors of the church building to find preconceived and opinionated minded baptized members of the body of Christ. Those who do not possess the ability to distinguish between their opinions and God's truths will forever be lost. Peter knew that many had issues in the area of opinions and so he pours his heart out to Christians. The apostle's objective is to help us all see the eternal dangers that our opinions and preconceived ideas may create before it happens. Peter said, "You therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, you fall from your own steadfastness" (2 Peter 3:17).
The Apostle Peter reveals one particular damning doctrine of opinionated false teachers in this epistle. Some false teachers were claiming that Jesus would not come again (i.e., a second coming) (2 Peter 3:3-5). To substantiate their claims they challenged their audience to look at the supposed claims of Jesus' coming and the current date. Many years had elapsed since Jesus Christ had promised another coming to save the world. From the consequences of sin (see Matthew 24:36ff). Seeing that Jesus had not yet come they formulated an opinion that he was not going to come (see 2n Peter 3:4).
These false teachers made "merchandise" (2 Peter 2:3) of "many" (2 Peter 2:2) who were "un-steadfast" in their faith (2 Peter 2:14) and newly converted (2 Peter 2:18). The tactics of the false teachers was opinionated preaching (2 Peter 2:1) and railing at people who hold positions of authority to stir up others against them (2 Peter 2:10-12). The more error that was put on the spiritual plate of the un-steadfast and new convert the more truth would be evil spoken of (2 Peter 2:2). Peter compares these erroneous teachers to Balaam in that they loved glory, riches, and honor more than truth (2 Peter 2:15-16). False teachers not only destroy their own souls but the souls of others (2 Peter 2:12). God views the false teacher as an unwanted animal that is to be put down in death (2 Peter 2:12). Peter makes it clear, God will not "spare" men or women who teach and oppose his divine truths (see 2 Peter 2:4-5). Peter's second epistle is a warning to the faithful child of God. Peter writes, "You therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, you fall from your own steadfastness" (2 Peter 3:17).
Remaining steadfast (i.e., firm and confident) in one's faith is the key to "escaping the corruption that is in the world by lust" (2 Peter 1:4) and the error of "false teachers" (2 Peter 2:1). The Apostle Peter speaks of "diligence" (2 Peter 1:10 and 3:14), "spiritual growth" (2 Peter 3:18), and obtaining "knowledge" (2 Peter 1:2, 3, 5, 8) as keys to spiritual survival. When one grows in truth and sets aside preconceived religious opinions they will be able to differentiate "cunningly devised fables" from the truths of the gospel (2 Peter 1:16). Furthermore, diligence, spiritual growth, and knowledge will help one make a distinction between truth and error in general (i.e., divine revelation from pseudo religious words) (see 2 Peter 1:19-21). When the Christian meekly distinguishes truth from opinion and puts on the "Christian Graces" of 2 nd Peter 1:5-7 he will not be "idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:8) and obtain the "divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). Let all Christians be watchers on the mountain tops of life so that error from the lips of men who disrespect the authoritative divinely revealed word of God may be vigorously opposed. Let us put on the conviction of Moses against false teachers in that we will not "consent, hearken, neither shall your eye pity him, neither shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him:" (Deuteronomy 13:8).
John C Robertson