2 Peter Lesson Three

2 Peter 2:1-22 Lesson Three – A Warning on False Teachers

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them.  They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep. 

For if God didn’t spare the angels who sinned but threw them down into Tartarus and delivered them to be kept in chains of darkness until judgment; and if He didn’t spare the ancient world, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others, when He brought a flood on the world of the ungodly; and if He reduced the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes and condemned them to ruin, making them an example to those who were going to be ungodly; and if He rescued righteous Lot, distressed by the unrestrained behavior of the immoral (for as he lived among them, that righteous man tormented himself day by day with the lawless deeds he saw and heard )— then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 especially those who follow the polluting desires of the flesh and despise authority. 

Bold, arrogant people! They do not tremble when they blaspheme the glorious ones; 11 however, angels, who are greater in might and power, do not bring a slanderous charge against them before the Lord. 12 But these people, like irrational animals—creatures of instinct born to be caught and destroyed—speak blasphemies about things they don’t understand, and in their destruction they too will be destroyed, 13 suffering harm as the payment for unrighteousness. They consider it a pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, delighting in their deceptions  as they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery and are always looking for sin. They seduce unstable people and have hearts trained in greed. Children under a curse! 15 They have gone astray by abandoning the straight path and have followed the path of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness 16 but received a rebuke for his transgression: A donkey that could not talk spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s irrationality. 

17 These people are springs without water, mists driven by a whirlwind. The gloom of darkness has been reserved for them. 18 For by uttering boastful, empty words, they seduce, with fleshly desires and debauchery, people who have barely escaped  from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.  20 For if, having escaped the world’s impurity through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in these things and defeated, the last state is worse for them than the first.  21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy command  delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb: A dog returns to its own vomit, and, “a sow, after washing itself, wallows in the mud.” (HCSB)

Although this is a long passage, it’s important to tackle it in its entirety. Peter now addresses one of the main themes, if not the main theme, of the letter…false teachers. These false teachers had emerged within the church teaching that there was no second coming of Christ and, therefore, there wasn’t a need to live godly lives. This message was timely for Peter’s audience, as well as for us today, with many false teachers arising and with teachings contrary to what is contained within Scripture.

Verse 1

There are three characteristics of false teachers (prophets):

  • They lack divine authority.
  • They promise peace with God talks about judgment for disobedience.
  • They will be judged harshly by God.

The phrase “even denying the Master who bought them” indicates that these are not pagans from outside the church. These were individuals within the church who claimed faith in Jesus. They may very well have been faithful Christians at one point, but they had now turned away from the truth. There are two theological issues in interpreting this verse:

  • Can genuine believers commit apostasy and lose their salvation?
  • Was Peter teaching unlimited atonement, Christ died for all but only those who believe receive the benefit of atonement?

Let’s tackle the first question through the use of Scripture.

  • 1 Peter 1:5 – You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
  • Romans 8:28-39 – We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified. 31 What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He did not even spare His own Son but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? 33 Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. 34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. 35 Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. 37 No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, 39 height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God  that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
  • 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 – He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • Philippians 1:6 – I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to the completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 – Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.

Scripture confirms that those who genuinely belong to Jesus are secure in their salvation. Peter is describing those within the church who professed faith but never really submitted to the lordship of Jesus. They may have appeared to be Christians, but there was never a heart change. As challenges occur, they will be revealed as wolves within the flock, those whom Jesus never knew.

  • Acts 20:29-30 – 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 And men will rise up from your own number with deviant doctrines to lure the disciples into following them.
  • Matthew 7:21-23 – 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will  of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’
  • Matthew 13:20-22 – 20 And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 21 Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

The second question will be addressed later in this study.

Verse 2

Despite the false teachers speaking heresy, many will be attracted to the message that they speak. The phrase “unrestrained ways” refers to reckless sexual behavior that was being taught by the false teachers. In Greek culture, sexual activity outside of covenant marriage was acceptable, which is in direct conflict with Scripture. However, the false teachers had brought what was acceptable in their surrounding culture into the culture of the church. We need to ask ourselves if we see the same thing happening in our churches today. The church should help to shape our surrounding culture and not culture shape the church.

Verse 3

Peter now identifies the main focus of the false teachers, personal gain at the expense of the flock they were supposed to shepherd. These false teachers were only concerned about using religion as a means to make money. They commercialized Christianity for their own gain. We need to be careful about the churches and ministries that we support with our time, skills, and finances. Are they genuine, or is it a way for the leaders to fill their own pockets? The prosperity gospel is an especially dangerous false teaching, which, unfortunately, many have fallen into their trap. The promise of good health and financial gain does not align with what Jesus taught in Scripture. It doesn’t mean that God won’t bless some of us, so that we can bless others, but that we shouldn’t expect it. Many of the prosperity gospel “preachers” are living lavish lifestyles, well beyond expectations. What would Jesus, Paul, or any of the Apostles say about how they live?

Verses 4-6

In these verses, there are three illustrations that prove God’s judgment in the past. They get progressively smaller in scale.

  • Cosmic – against the angels for their pride and rebellion.
  • Worldwide – the flood for their apathy and disobedience.
  • Local – against Sodom and Gomorrah for the uncontrolled lust of the men of the cities.

The third illustration appears in various places in Scripture, and each time they represent sin and rebellion at its highest level. The illustrations describe a pattern of events; sin that is not confessed will lead eventually to judgment and destruction. The God of the Bible is the God of justice, His character is just, and He will not allow the scales of justice to remain out of balance as that would compromise His integrity, and that is something he will not and cannot do.

Verses 7-8

Peter points out that grace is always available to us. God’s judgment on sin is inevitable, but it is not inescapable. Let’s dig a little deeper into the reference to Lot. On a surface level, we may not consider Lot as a righteous individual. When it came to which land to settle and Abraham gave him a choice, it is easy to conclude that Lot was selfish in choosing what appeared as “prime real estate.” 

But God knows our heart, including Lot’s, while we live in a sinful environment. Peter’s letter stated that Lot “tormented himself day by day” by what he observed around him. The Greek word can also be translated as “tortured.” It is not hard to imagine that Lot was worn out by the depravity that he observed on a daily basis. 

Verse 9

Yet despite all Lot went through, God rescued a godly man from the trials he was experiencing. Although God can and does rescue believers from trials, it is not the norm, nor is it a biblical promise.

  • James 1:2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials. 

Verse 10a

The first part of verse 10 concludes this section of the passage. It makes it clear that the unrighteous, including the false teachers, will be included in God’s judgment. They are so self-centered that they exalt in their sinful behavior, and they “despise authority.” This is a telling statement as “despise” means to look down upon someone. In the case of the false teachers, they are looking down upon the rule of Jesus and denying His power and majesty.

Verse 10b

Peter is describing the attitude of the false teachers in two very strong words. 

  • Bold – someone who tramples on the rights, opinions, and interests of others…both human and divine.
  • Arrogant – someone who can’t be reasoned with, no amount of conversation with them will change their behavior, they will go on doing or teaching what they want, they believe they are correct, and everyone else is wrong.

Verse 11

God’s angels, superior to human beings, don’t criticize the fallen angels, even though it would be deserved, as God has already passed judgment on them. However, the false teachers knew no bounds, slandering both angels and God demonstrating their utter lack of reverence.

Verse 12

Although the false teachers have a disproportionally inflated image of their intellect, their understanding of spiritual matters is no different than irrational animals. Just like animals repeat their actions, these false teachers will do the same, and at some point, they will be caught and punished.

Peter also implies two deaths (destruction/destroyed). The first is their physical death, and the second is their eternal spiritual death being separated from God.

Verses 13-14

Peter reinforces the concept that they will face judgment and eternal torment for their actions. Although the pagan world had many sinful practices, they were normally conducted after sunset. However, these false teachers were even worse than the pagans. Not only did they start their activities before sunset, but it also appears that they turned the church’s fellowship meals and communion celebrations into a drunken celebration.

The phrase “eyes full of adultery” should be interpreted as lusting after every woman they saw and being unable to look upon a woman without some sexual fantasy being visualized. It seems that they had some measure of success as Peter says, “they seduce unstable people” as well as being skilled in the ways of greed, never satisfied with what they had.

Verse 15-16

 Peter now used an illustration from the Old Testament, the story of Balaam. Balaam was supposed to be a prophet of God, yet he loved money more than he loved God. This drove him to pursue fame and fortune and not obedience to God. He also taught immoral behavior. Because of this, he was rebuked by a donkey. Although we may chuckle at the idea of a donkey rebuking Balaam, the deeper meaning here is that a simple animal rebuked someone who had been intended to be a prophet for God and instead turned away from God.

Verse 17

These false teachers are unable to provide anything of lasting substance because their teaching has no foundation and is based upon falsehood. Their fate awaits them, the “gloom of darkness” for all eternity, a thick, fierce, and comfortless isolation without end.

Verses 18-19

We now see that the false teachers were at least partially successful with their empty words as they caused some to fall back into old habits that should have been left behind. The pagan world was ripe with sexual immorality. The false teachers, understanding how attractive these behaviors were, twisted the concept of Christian freedom to be understood as the freedom to pursue whatever activity they desired without consequences. They were able to seduce the weak by teaching that religious freedom was the freedom from all authority and moral demands of the Christian faith. However, Christian freedom is the ability to do what is right, based upon God’s Word.

Verses 20-22

As we consider these verses, we need to remember that two categories of people who are in the church; true followers of Jesus and those who are false Christians. The false teachers Peter is warning about in this passage clearly fall into the second category. The knowledge referenced in verse 20 is head knowledge and not heart knowledge. They could speak the language, but they really didn’t understand its meaning or embrace it. Being able to “speak the language” allowed them to lead some astray with their false teaching. 

The last two verses in the passage indicate that they had become so consumed in their pursuit of greed and sexual immorality that they had lost the ability even to enjoy the sin that they had been pursuing. They were worse off because they had deliberately rejected the truth they had learned, rejecting the way of Jesus, the forgiveness of sins, and the path to heaven. They chose hell over heaven, confirming the judgment Peter pronounced in verse 17.


  • Have you examined the teaching at the church you attend? Does it align with Scripture, or are there things that raise questions or don’t make sense? I’ve said it before in lessons, and I’ll say it again, we should always check what we are being taught. Peter is very clear, as is Paul in his writings that there were and still are false teachers that will lead believers away from the faith. That is why it is critical that we feed continuously on Scripture. The more we know what Scripture says, the easier it is to spot false teachers.
  • If we are one of those false teachers or false Christians, we need to repent and submit to the Lordship of Jesus. Forgiveness is always available if we humble ourselves and are repentant.
  • When we see or hear false teaching, or if another believer passes along teaching that is false, do we challenge it? We should never tolerate false teaching or teachers, and we need to warn others when this occurs.
  • If you currently are part of a congregation that contains false teaching and your challenges meet with resistance, or you are ignored, it is time to find a new church and warn others in the congregation of the danger they are in.
  • One cautionary note. None of the previous application points gives us a license to act in an unChristlike manner. We also need to make sure that it is clearly false teaching. If you are a Calvinist and the church follows Arminianism, if they teach pre-tribulation rapture and you believe in pre-wrath or any similar doctrinal disagreement points, these are not false teachings. We must agree on the basics of the Christian faith and salvation but extend grace on those points where theologians have different positions. 

2 Peter Lesson Two

2 Peter 1:16-21 Lesson Two – The Trustworthy Prophetic Word

16 For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, a voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory: 

This is My beloved Son. 

I take delight in Him!

18 And we heard this voice when it came from heaven while we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word strongly confirmed. You will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dismal place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all, you should know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (HCSB)

In this passage, Peter addresses the false teachers who didn’t believe in Jesus’ return and believed that life would continue as it always had. This false teaching had to be met head on as Peter’s instructions to the readers of living a godly life and receiving an eternal reward are pointless if heaven doesn’t exist. Peter defends the position of Jesus’ return by reminding the readers of the transfiguration and its anticipation of a future event, the second coming of Christ.

Verse 16

Peter is talking about the apostles in general by the use of “we” and the establishment of the New Testament church. He reasons that the churches were founded on their apostolic tradition and teaching the “power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek words dynamis (power) and parousia (coming) need to be understood together, indicating the “powerful coming” of Jesus. When Jesus returns, it will be with power.

  • Matthew 24:30b and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:7b This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels.

The word parousia is often understood in the New Testament to indicate the future return of Jesus.

  • James 5:7a Therefore, brothers, be patient until the Lord’s coming. 
  • 1 John 2:28 So now, little children, remain in Him, so that when He appears  we may have boldness and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

The use of the word parousia in Hellenistic writing or understanding was often used to denote the arrival of a ruler or god.

The apostles preaching was the future coming of Jesus and the day of judgment where it will be decided who will enter into His eternal kingdom, with entrance reserved for those who lived godly lives (a previous lesson covered this). Again note, this is not works-based salvation but proof of salvation through a life of kingdom work. 

Peter defines two principles of apostolic teaching.

  • It was not based on cleverly invented stories or myths. The false teachers used the term “myth” in a derogatory manner; they saw no truth in their preaching and considered it a fable.
  • It was based on their eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. They saw first-hand the majesty of Jesus.

Verse 17

The main thrust of this verse is God’s declaration of approval placed upon Jesus, His Son. This approval came through the voice of God the Father, bestowing honor and glory on Jesus. In both the Old and New Testaments, God’s voice came from heaven.

  • Dan 4:31a While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven.
  • Revelation 11:12a Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them.
  • Revelation 16:1a Then I heard a loud voice from the sanctuary saying to the seven angels.

Honor is a description of the exalted status of Jesus.

Glory is a description of the brilliance of the light that shone from Jesus at the moment, the same brilliance that described the Father (Yahweh). 

Peter is referring to the transfiguration, a theophany similar to the ones on Mount Sinai (Exodus 19-20) and Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8-18). Peter is placing emphasis on honor and glory because it is a future vision that will occur again at Jesus’ second coming. The words spoken at the transfiguration point us back to Jesus’ baptism, where His ministry began, and He was commissioned as God’s Son (Matthew 3:17).

The transfiguration was the most supernatural event in Jesus’ ministry.

The transfiguration is an affirmation of the truth of Scripture.

  • Moses represented the Law.
  • Elijah represented the prophets.
  • Both pointed to Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets.
    • Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
    • Hebrews 1:1-3 Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him. The Son is the radiance  of God’s glory and the exact expression of His nature, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

All three of the synoptic Gospels record the transfiguration after a declaration of Jesus’ return as being a demonstration of power and glory. 

  • Matthew 16:27-17:13
  • Mark 9:1-13
  • Luke 9:27-36

The transfiguration is a manifestation of Christ’s return and the establishment of His kingdom. This understanding also supports the passages in the synoptic Gospels where Jesus said that some of them would not die before they saw the glory of the Kingdom. The transfiguration was the glory of the Kingdom. 

As a final point, Peter is an eyewitness to the transfiguration event, lending credibility to its authenticity. 

Verse 18

Peter continues with his argument that he was witness to Jesus’ glory and hearing the Father’s voice while on the holy mountain. Verse 18 ties verse 17 into what follows in verses 19 and 20. 

Verse 19

The “we” once again refers to the apostles, which is confirmed by the context of the verse in the use of “we” and “you,” where the apostles have the truth that the church needs to pay attention to their message. The prophetic word must refer to the Old Testament because of the connection to the following verse’s use of “prophecy of Scripture.” The Greek word to denote Scripture here refers to writings, not an event. 

  • Isaiah 42:1 This is My Servant; I strengthen Him, this is My Chosen One; I delight in Him. I have put my Spirit on Him; He will bring justice to the nations.
  • Psalm 2:7 I will declare the LORD’s decree: He said to Me, “You are My Son; today I have become Your Father.”

It would appear that Peter is saying that their witness of the transfiguration confirms the prophetic nature of Scripture, the assurance of Jesus as Messiah, and His future coming to judge the world and establish His kingdom.

Peter then points the reader to Scripture’s truth and how it functions as a light on the narrow road. This is in contrast to the false teachers who had deviated from the narrow path and were leading people away from God’s truth.

  • Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet and light on my path.
  • Proverbs 6:23 For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life.

How long do we need to travel the narrow path? Peter’s answer is until Jesus’ return, “until the day dawns and the morning star rises.” This is the day of judgment and salvation. Those who love God will be saved, and those who opposed God will be punished.

  • Isaiah 13:6 Wail! For the day of the LORD is near. It will come like destruction from the Almighty.
  • Isaiah 13:9 Look, the day of the LORD is coming – cruel, with rage and burning anger – to make the earth a desolation and to destroy the sinners on it.
  • Ezekiel 30:3 For a day is near; a day belonging to the LORD is near. It will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.
  • Joel 1:15 Woe because of that day! For the Day of the LORD is near and will come as devastation from the Almighty.
  • Amos 5:18 Woe to you who long for the Day of the LORD! What will the Day of the LORD be for you? It will be darkness and not light.
  • Obadiah 15 For the Day of the LORD is near, against all the nations. As you have done, so it will done to you; what you deserve will return on your own head.
  • Zephaniah 1:7 Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD, for the Day of the LORD is near. Indeed, the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has consecrated His guests.
  • 2 Corinthians 1:14 As you have partially understood us – that we are your reason for pride, as you are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.
  • Philippians 1:6 I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
  • Philippians 2:16 Hold firmly to the message of life. Then I can boast in the Day of Christ that I didn’t run or labor for nothing.

When Christ returns, we will no longer need the prophetic Word because the Morning Star will illuminate our hearts, and the prophecies that pointed to His return will have all been fulfilled.

Verse 20

There are two possible interpretations of this verse, and different translations will word it differently.

  • The first is found in the NIV, NET, and NLT, among others. They read, “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.” 
    • The vision and the explanation both come from God, not from the prophet. 
    • A genuine prophetic word must contain both the vision and an accurate interpretation. 
  • The second is found in the HCSB, NKJV, and ESV, among others. They read, “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.
    • Interpretation can’t be made to support the position you’d like or your own views. 
    • Peter was likely pointing to the false teachers he condemns in chapter 2, interpreting Scripture in such a way as to support their position that Jesus will not return. 
    • This practice is a danger in today’s church. 

From the context of both the passage and the entire letter, it appears that the second choice is the correct interpretation. The false teachers of Peter’s day, just like false teachers today, interpreted passages to satisfy their own views and desires. This is a dangerous practice and has led many astray and even resulted in the establishment of cults.

Verse 21

This verse provides the foundation for the previous verse. The apostle’s interpretation of prophecy does not come from their own minds; it comes through revelation from God. Peter makes two points in this verse.

  • The origin of all prophecies is from God. All of Scripture came from God.
  • The correct interpretation of all prophecies is from God. The Holy Spirit unveils the truth in Scripture, not our desires of what we want Scripture to say.

As believers, we need to grab hold of this and never let go. It is the basis for following characteristics of Scripture.

  • Authority – God’s Word conveys authority in how we should live our lives.
  • Infallible – It is incapable of being wrong.
  • Inerrant – It is without error.


  • Ask yourself if you believe in the authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture. If you have any doubts, pray for God to remove them. You aren’t alone in this struggle. Even the great evangelist Billy Graham struggled with the notion of the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. However, after struggling in prayer over this issue, his doubts were removed.
  • Always double-check what you hear or read from preachers, pastors, bible teachers, websites (this one included!) to make sure they aren’t false teachers or twisting Scripture to support their agenda.
  • Hold fast to reading and applying Scripture in your life. It is the lamp to keep us on the narrow path.
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to bring alive Scripture and guide you through its truth.

2 Peter Lesson One

2 Peter 1:1-15 – Growth in Faith

Simeon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ: 

To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. 

May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 

His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature,  escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you. 

12 Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you have. 13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this bodily tent, to wake you up with a reminder, 14 knowing that I will soon lay aside my tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has also shown me.  15 And I will also make every effort that you may be able to recall these things at any time after my departure. (HCSB)

Verse 1

The use of the term “Simeon” instead of “Simon” is the first curious feature of the letter. The spelling of his name is Semitic and would be directed at a Palestinian setting. The only other place where Peter is called Simeon is in Acts 15:14, likely because of its Palestinian setting. 

In calling himself a slave of Jesus, he means that he’s placed himself under the authority of Jesus and submits to His lordship. It also implies a sense of honor to be Jesus’ servant. There is some Old Testament connection with the use of the term “servant.” 

  • Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – Exodus 32:13a Remember Your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.
  • Moses – Deuteronomy 34:5a So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab.
  • Samuel – 1 Samuel 3:9-10 He told Samuel, “Go and lie down. If He calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came, stood there, and called as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 
  • David – 1 Samuel 17:32 David said to Saul, “Don’t let anyone be discouraged by him;  your servant will go and fight this Philistine!” 

It was also used in the New Testament  for Paul, James, and Jude. It denotes not only humility but also honor in serving Jesus. Additionally, not only was Peter writing as a servant, but he was also an apostle of Jesus. Such a title would denote authority within the infant Christian church.

Verse 2

Peter’s greeting here is similar but not an exact copy of his greeting in 1 Peter. 

As we grow in our relationship with Jesus and God, our knowledge of them increases. We understand God’s unconditional acceptance through grace as we place our trust in Jesus. When this happens, a transformation begins in our hearts, which is evident in our behavior. As the transformation grows, we experience abundant grace and peace not only with God but also with others.

Verse 3

The first question to ask when reading this verse is, “who is Peter referring to with the term ‘divine power?’”

  • Jesus
    • Jesus is called “God” in verse 1.
    • Jesus appears last in verse 2, making a reference to Jesus natural.
    • Power refers to Jesus in verse 16 of this chapter.
  • Father
    • Due to holding the primary place in the Trinity.
    • Peter would likely view the Father as the one who possesses divine power.

Therefore, it is likely that Peter is referring to Jesus, although the ambiguous nature of the passage infers that Peter is not distinguishing between God the Father and Jesus.

The main point is that Jesus has provided everything that believers need for “life and godliness.” Also, the term “us” refers to all Christians and not just apostles or Jewish Christians. Additionally, salvation is accomplished by understanding Jesus’ glory and goodness, and they trust God with their salvation.

Verse 4

The phrase “by these” ties in neatly with “glory and goodness” from the previous verse. As believers, we inherit the promises of God as we grow in the knowledge of Jesus and become more like Him. 

The phrase “divine nature” creates a tension of already-not yet. When we become a Christian, we inherit a divine nature and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, we still have a sinful nature and won’t be fully perfected until we dwell in heaven. 

The word “corruption” refers to sin in the world and the way it corrupts everything, especially us. We escape corruption as followers of Jesus.

Verses 5-7

The phrase “for this very reason” links verses 5-7 to verses 3-4. However, holiness doesn’t happen by chance or inaction. Instead, it requires effort on our part to pursue holiness. The virtues presented, starting here and ending in verse 7, should not be viewed as a template to follow in order. However, we should take note of the first and last virtues in the list.

  • Faith – the root of all virtues.
  • Love – the goal and climax of the Christian life. 

Trusting God is the foundation on which all other virtues build. 

  • Knowledge – Rooted in God’s grace. True knowledge discerns the difference between truth and lies, right versus wrong.
  • Self-control – One of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:23 and a requirement for knowledge. It is the inner strength to control our sinful desires and cravings.
  • Endurance – The characteristic of endurance for a believer is found in numerous Scripture passages and is particularly important to the recipients of Peter’s letter. Courage to deal with difficult periods in our lives.
  • Godliness – Living a life of obedience to God’s commands. It is understood as reverence and obedience.
  • Brotherly affection – The love bond between fellow believers and the family-like care and devotion that should set apart the Christian community. 
  • Love – A spirit of love is the ultimate expression and proof that a person is a Christian. To share in each other’s burdens. Those who have love possess all the other virtues.

Verse 8

The phrase “these qualities” points back to the list contained in verses 5-7. There are three main points Peter is making.

  • The list of virtues needs to be apparent in the lives of believers.
  • There must be spiritual growth (increasing) through the process of sanctification. 
  • Unbelievers and false Christians will lack virtues listed in the preceding verses. 

Verse 9

Some translations use the term “nearsighted,” but a better translation is the one in the HCSB, shortsighted. Peter is saying that those who do not possess the virtues listed above have become blind to the saving grace and forgiveness of sins that they once embraced. They are not living as forgiven sinners but as unconverted people. Believers who live immoral lives signify that forgiveness of sins is not valued, while those who treasure being forgiven live in a way that pleases God. They are in a state of spiritual illness.

Verse 10

“Therefore” connects this verse to the previous one. Peter is exhorting the reader to hold fast to their faith through concentrated effort and not by being lax. We must be careful to understand that Peter is not endorsing work’s based salvation but evidence of salvation because of behavior and virtues that the believer displays. When a believer has an active faith that pursues God, they will not stumble. The correct understanding of “stumble” is not that we won’t sin but that we will not forsake God or commit apostasy. Believers who possess the virtues described in verses 5-7 are daily growing their relationship with God. Additionally, God has no doubt about our eternal state. Instead, the believer may have doubts about their eternal destiny, causing them to stumble.

Verse 11

Peter now turns to the eschatological kingdom, the one that believers will enter on the Day of the Lord and the one that the lost will never see. Peter is once again inferring that entrance into heaven is based upon salvation with works, much like James talks about. Salvation without works is either a bare existence salvation or a false salvation. For those who do enter heaven, the reward we will receive goes beyond anything that we deserve.

Verse 12

This is a simple verse but a stark reminder of how weak our faith and commitment can be. For those who have experienced the saving grace of Jesus, that should be something we never forget. However, how many of us do fall away or go through periods of intentional disobedience? How many times have we read of some ministry leader who has wandered from the path and fallen into sin? Think about the Exodus generation. They witnessed miracles first-hand yet were openly disobedient. We fool ourselves if we think that could never happen to us. Therefore, we need pastors, elders, deacons, family, and spiritual friends to constantly remind us and encourage us to stay on the narrow path. We need to do the same to those around us. It is easy to get complacent in our faith. Peter is calling for us to be focused and intentional to prevent this complacency. 

Verse 13

Peter is using an illustration, bodily tent, to denote his physical body. As long as he was still alive, he felt called to be a constant encouragement to those around him. He would rouse those who had fallen into a spiritual stupor to wake up and press into God.

Verse 14

Peter understands that this life is short, even if we live to 80 years. At some point, our “bodily tent” will give way, and we will pass into eternity through one of two doors. None of us know when that will happen to us; some may die young, and some may live a long time. Our next breath is never guaranteed. Additionally, in the context of this letter, Peter may have begun to observe the persecution that would soon fall upon the church from the Roman government, and he knew that danger was swiftly approaching.

Verse 15

Here Peter is basically restating what is contained in verse 12, that he will never cease to look after fellow Christians and steer them back onto the narrow path. There is also an inference that his writing will be a guide even after he has been killed.


  • We must ask the question, “Are we truly a Christian?” If the answer is yes, we all have the Holy Spirit living within us to empower and equip us to live a victorious life. If the answer is no, I pray that the truth of the Gospel will be revealed to you, and you will surrender your life to Christ.
  • Our spiritual state will only grow if we are intentional to cultivate it through: Bible study, prayer, worship, fellowship, and service. Just as the athletes we watch or the musicians we listen to, their ability was cultivated through countless hours, weeks, or years of dedicated practice. The Christian life requires the same, or even more, dedication.
  • We must take responsibility to pursue godliness. However, it isn’t done in our power but in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Take an inventory of how well you display the virtues in verses 5-7. Then ask your spouse, children, close Christian friends, or co-workers how they would rate you. Then take that feedback and address the areas where you are lacking.

1 Peter Lesson Eleven

1 Peter 5:1-14 – Elders

Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because 

God resists the proud 

but gives grace to the humble.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. 

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. 

10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.  11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen. 

12 I have written you this brief letter through Silvanus (I know him to be a faithful brother) to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Take your stand in it! 13 The church in Babylon, also chosen, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (HCSB)

As we conclude our study of 1 Peter, the focus is on leadership within the church. There are three possible reasons for Peter to address the elders specifically at the close of the letter.

  • Leaders may face the majority of the persecution, at least at the beginning.
  • It may be a reference to Ezekiel 9:6, where the judgment in God’s temple begins with the elders.
  • It may be because elders are the leaders of God’s people.

All are reasonable possibilities, and it may be that all three are a correct understanding of the passage.

Now, let’s define what a biblical elder is, as the understanding has changed in the minds of many since the church was first established. The term “pastor,” which is often used for the leadership of a church, is not a biblical term. What we today understand as a pastor is the same as the “elder” that Peter is talking about here. The Greek term is presbyteroi and was used to denote leadership positions in churches found in the New Testament.

  • Acts 11:30 They did this, sending it to the elders by means of Barnabas and Saul.
  • Acts 15:2 But after Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, the church arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem concerning this controversy.
  • Acts 15:4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them.
  • Acts 15:6 Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter.
  • Acts 21:18 The following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.
  • Acts 14:23When they had appointed elders  in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
  • 1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium,  especially those who work hard  at preaching and teaching.

Another thing to note about New Testament churches is that the term elder is always used in the plural. There was never one person in charge of a local congregation. I’m not suggesting you should leave your church if there is one pastor who is the sole authority figure. There are many other factors to consider in that decision. However, I am saying that a church modeled after the example in the Bible is led by a plurality of men who function like the term “elder” that Peter is using in this letter. 

Verse 2

Now that we’ve defined what an elder is let’s look at the responsibilities of an elder.

  • Elders are to shepherd God’s flock. This is a reminder that the congregation is not theirs, they belong to God, and God has placed the shepherd in a leading role. 
    • A primary task of shepherding is faithfully preaching the Word. 
    • Another task is raising new leaders within the congregation to carry on the work or plant a new church.
    • To ensure the flock is discipled in accordance with Matthew 28:19-20.
  • The term “overseeing” in Greek is the word episkopountes, signifying another role. 
    • From the context in this passage, the position of elder and overseer were the same in the New Testament church.
    • This is not necessarily true for the modern church. An overseer could be in an official position or as a lay helper in an area of the church.
  • They should never serve out of compulsion. If their heart is not in serving, they shouldn’t do it. Serving should be in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit and in line with God’s will. 
  • Serving should be a selfless act and not to try and become wealthy. There is always the danger that they could be tempted by the prospects of becoming wealthy through their ministry or even steal funds from the church. There are examples of the first in some megachurches and/or prosperity gospel churches. The New Testament has examples of false teachers driven by a love of money.
    • 2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not like the many  who market God’s message  for profit. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.
    • 2 Cor 11:7-15 Or did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted,  because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by taking pay from them to minister to you. When I was present with you and in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia  supplied my needs. I have kept myself, and will keep myself, from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows I do! 12 But I will continue to do what I am doing, in order to deny the opportunity of those who want an opportunity to be regarded just as our equals in what they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their destiny will be according to their works.
    • 1 Timothy 6:5-10 and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness  is a way to material gain. But godliness with contentment is a great gain.For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. 

Throughout the Bible, the relationship of leaders to those under them is often described as a shepherd-like relationship.

  • Psalm 23 – Yahweh’s relationship to David.
  • Isaiah 40:11 – Yahweh to Israel.
  • Jeremiah 23:1-4 – Israel’s corrupt shepherds will be replaced by faithful shepherds.
  • Ezekiel 34:1-10 – Yahweh will rescue His people from selfish shepherds.
  • Zechariah 11:4-17 – A caring shepherd is replaced by a worthless and uncaring shepherd.
  • Matthew 9:35-38 – Jesus appoints new shepherds for His people.
  • John 10:1-18 – Jesus is the good shepherd.
  • John 21:15-17 – Peter is to be a shepherd.

Verse 3

Elders are to act as examples and not as heavy-handed rulers. 

  • Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them.
  • Mark 10:42 Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate  them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. 

Followers of Jesus are to be servants and not heavy-handed rulers.

  • Matthew 20:28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,  and to give His life—a ransom for many.
  • Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man  did not come to be served, but to serve,  and to give His life —a ransom  for many.

Verse 4

This verse ties back into verse one with the idea of suffering followed by glory. The implication is that those who serve faithfully will receive a great reward later. Peter calls Jesus “the chief Shepherd,” a term not used anywhere else in the New Testament or the Septuagint. By using this title, Peter reminds all ministry leaders that they are servants under Jesus. The “crown” could be an extra reward for being a faithful servant, or it could be eternal life. The other New Testament references of “crown” or in Greek stephanos talk about entrance into heaven, so we should interpret the term as signifying eternal life.

Verse 5

Although there are various interpretations of what Peter means by the term “younger,” in this case, the literal interpretation is the correct one. Younger people, in general, are more prone to act in a disobedient manner. At the same time, Peter is not condoning lemming-like obedience if the elders are not acting in a manner prescribed for them. However, Peter is saying that those who are under leadership should follow and submit to leaders without complaining or resisting the guidance of the leaders. This is critical to create a spirit of unity and harmony within each local church body. A vital component of this is by acting with humility. When each of us remembers that we are created beings and sinners, it is more difficult to complain about others. Pride, the opposite of humility, often gets in the way when we try and accomplish things in a group.

Verse 6

Peter uses terminology here, “mighty hand,” that is connected with God delivering Israel out of Egypt.

  • Exodus 3:19 However, I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go, unless he is forced by a strong hand.
  • Exodus 32:11 But Moses interceded with the Lord his God: “Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people You brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand?
  • Deuteronomy 4:34 Or has a god attempted to go and take a nation as his own out of another nation, by trials, signs, wonders, and war, by a strong hand and an outstretched arm, by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

Just as Yahweh delivered His people from bondage in Egypt, He will also deliver the recipients of Peter’s letter. The image of God’s mighty hand emphasizes the power of God.

Verse 7

Depending on the translation you use, it may read “cast” or “casting” all your care(s) on Him. The second option is a better understanding of the original Greek as it explains how we humble ourselves under God’s strong hand. There is a double implication in the text. Believers humble themselves by casting their worries on God, while those who are prideful will continue to worry. Worry is a form of pride in that when believers are filled with anxiety; they believe they must solve their problems in their own strength. They only trust a little “g” god, themselves. When we cast our anxiety on God, we demonstrate trust in Yahweh.

Verse 8

As Peter draws to a close in the letter, he continues to encourage his readers. In addition, Peter tells them to always be on guard.

  • Be serious.
  • Be alert.

Peter also uses a lion as symbology for Satan.

  • Roaring lion – used to strike fear into the hearts of God’s people. The roar is a metaphor for persecution to intimidate believers and cause them to abandon their faith. 
  • Devour – if Satan can cause believers to abandon their faith, then he has devoured them.

Consider the contrast between God and Satan.

  • God cares for His children. Asks them to bring their worries to Him. Promises to protect them.
  • Satan aims to bring terror to believers and tries to pile worry and fear on them.

Peter warns us that even though Satan is defeated, he is still a crazed enemy. However, if we don’t fear his bark (roar), we will never be devoured by his bite.

Verse 9

Peter continues his warning against Satan. In the previous verse, Peter warns us to be on our guard. In this verse, he encourages us to be proactive in resisting Satan. The Greek word for resist, antistete, is also used in an active tense in:

  • Acts 13:8  But Elymas the sorcerer (this is the meaning of his name) opposed  them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
  • Galatians 2:11  But when Cephas  came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned.
  • 2 Timothy 3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres  resisted Moses,  so these also resist the truth, men who are corrupt in mind,  worthless  in regard to the faith.
  • 2 Timothy 4:14-15 Alexander  the coppersmith did great harm to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works. 15 Watch out  for him yourself because he strongly opposed our words.

This verse also adds weight to the argument that the persecution that the readers were facing was not governed officially by the Roman government or the emperor. Instead, this was widespread discrimination and abuse suffered in the Greco-Roman world by Christians because of their allegiance to Jesus and refusal to participate in many of the normal societal activities. 

Verse 10-11

These two verses conclude the body of the letter and summarize the main points of the letter.

Verse 10

Peter focuses on God’s strength as the means by which believers can persevere and obtain salvation. God’s grace impacts believers in the following ways:

  • Restoration
  • Establishing
  • Strengthening
  • Supporting

All this occurs regardless of the believer’s circumstances, but they are especially beneficial during times of suffering.

Peter is also saying that before we attain glory, each of us will go through periods of trials and suffering. The phrase “suffered a little” should not be interpreted as a short period of our earthly existence, although it may. Instead, it should be compared to our eternal glory and residence in heaven. When viewed in that light, our earthly suffering, no matter how intense or long, is short in comparison.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Verse 11

God is the sovereign ruler over all of creation for all of time.

Verse 12

Silvanus is Silas who is mentioned often in the book of Acts as Paul’s partner in ministry and missionary journeys. Silvanus would deliver the letter and act as an interpreter if the recipients had questions as to the meaning of what was written. The phrase “to be a faithful brother” indicates that Peter had absolute trust in Silvanus’ ability to interpret and answer questions on his behalf.

Peter then gives one last encouragement for them to take their stand in the grace of God. Peter is also implying that failing to stand would indicate apostasy and judgment on the last day.

Verse 13

There are various interpretations of the church in Babylon. The one that makes the most sense from a contextual standpoint in Peter’s letter is that Babylon represents the church at large. All of us are foreigners/exiles while we are living in our physical body here on earth. Our true home is heaven, and once we die, or Jesus returns, our exile will end, and we will live in our true home.

The “Mark” referenced here is John Mark, who went with Paul on his first missionary journey. Peter is not Mark’s literal father. Peter is likely older, maybe much older, and feels affection towards Mark as a father would towards a son.

Verse 14

Although it would seem strange to many cultures today, in the Greco-Roman and Mediterranean world, greeting others with a kiss was common practice. This practice indicated respect and brotherly love for others and was devoid of any sexual overtones.

Finally, closing with a wish of peace was significant to the recipients of the letter. They were being tossed by persecution and discrimination. They were in need of the peace that only Jesus could provide.


  • If you are in any type of leadership position within the church, make sure you are doing it for the right reason – according to God’s will? 
  • If you are in any type of leadership position, make sure you are doing it with the correct attitude? 
    • Not for any type of financial benefit.
    • With a spirit of humility and not heavy-handedness.
    • Setting a Christ-like example by serving as a leader.
  • Regardless of whether you are in a leadership position or not, do you support those over you? We may not always agree with them, but as long as they are not in disagreement with Scripture, we have no biblical grounds to complain about their leadership. It is easy to get discouraged when the congregation is always complaining and nitpicking about leaders, and it is little wonder that the average life-span of an elder (pastor) in the Western church is just over three years due to burn-out.
  • Do you approach spiritual warfare with a serious attitude? Western culture can picture Satan as a little red guy with a pitchfork or some similar picture. However, a proper understanding of him should drive us to consider his evil intent and desire to see us fail as a Christian. We should immerse ourselves in reading Scripture, prayer, an accountability partner, and Christian fellowship.
  • Do we rest in God’s grace and the assurance that no matter what we go through, an amazing and indescribable eternity awaits us?