The Second Letter
“This is now, beloved, the second letter I write to you in which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder …”
Peter stated one specific reason for writing. It was to remind his Jewish brethren of things they had already been taught. We would assume, therefore, that the content of this chapter had already been taught to Christians before it was written in this inspired letter. This leads us to believe that the early apostles and prophets did teach the subject of Matthew 24 when they went throughout the Roman Empire with the gospel messiahship of Jesus. The subject of Jesus’ prophecy had direct relevance to the lives of Jewish Christians. Therefore, we would correctly conclude that what Jesus had said was the subject of many midnight discussions among Jewish Christians.
In the first letter Peter had already mentioned the impending end of all things (1 Pt 4:7). He now goes into graphic detail. We conclude, therefore, that this subject was not new to the readers. They had already been taught the content of Jesus’ prophecy of Matthew 24. The earliest gospel record, Mark, had already been circulated among Christians with the record of Jesus’ prophecy (See Mk 13). It is even probable that Luke’s record had also been circulated among the churches (See Lk 21). Therefore, we can assume that the early Christians had already been taught the material of Matthew 24 concerning the end of national Israel. It was now time for Peter to say some final words on the matter at a time when the rumors of war were circulating throughout the Roman Empire. Since the time of the end was near, Peter wanted to reassure his Jewish brethren that it was always in the plan of God to bring Israel to a close after He had sent His Son into the world.
Remember The Warnings
“… so that you may be mindful of the words that were spoken before by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through us your apostles.”
The church was built upon the inspired foundation of the message of the gospel that was preached by the apostles and prophets (Ep 2:20). It was so founded upon the apostles and New Testament prophets because God, through them, “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” the mystery of the gospel (Ep 3:5). The church was not built on the messengers who delivered the message of the gospel, but upon the gospel itself. “For no other foundation can man lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Co 3:11).
It could be argued that Peter here refers to the Old Testament prophets. However, in the chapter he gives credit to the Old Testament prophets for writing concerning the mystery of the gospel, but the gospel was revealed through Jesus, His apostles and prophets.
“… of this salvation they [Old Testament prophets] have inquired and searched diligently … searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating … to them it [the gospel] was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us” (1 Pt 1:10-13).
The full revelation of the mystery came only through the New Testament apostles and prophets. It came to the Old Testament prophets through inspired prophecy, which prophecy they did not completely understand. For this reason, it is best to affirm that Peter in the context of 2 Peter 3:2 was referring to the inspired New Testament speakers and writers, not the Old Testament prophets who only prophesied of the mystery (See Ep 3:3-5).
One point is clear concerning the prophecies concerning the end of national Israel. Both the Old and New Testament prophets proclaimed the end. Both Isaiah (Is 10:20-23) and Daniel (Dn 9:24-27) spoke of the end of Israel after God had accomplished His purpose for calling the people unto a covenant relationship. In those end of the days of Israel, the New Testament prophets (evangelists) went forth calling Israel by faith to come out of national Israel, for the end was near.
[Next in series: Aug. 22]