Most of us want our final words to be something meaningful, inspiring, or at least memorable. We have an innate sense that our last words will impact those we leave behind.
In 2 Peter, we read Peter’s final words to the churches in Asia Minor and his desires for them. He knows that his time is coming to an end (2 Peter 1:14) and three times Peter says he writes to them as a reminder of what they know and have learned (2 Peter 1:12, 13; 3:1-2).
What did Peter choose to say in this final letter to those he loves?
He ends his letter with, “take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18 ESV). Peter encourages these Christians to continue following Jesus, and to be wary of false teachers.
Peter reminds his readers that they can take comfort in the certainty of God’s Word. God’s Word clearly tells us God’s calling for our lives. To be a Christian means you have received God’s grace—his unmerited favor—and you have believed the truth about Jesus Christ. Receiving God’s grace transforms the way we live (2 Peter 1:3-11), resulting in godly character and godly desires. To grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ means we will strive to increase in godliness (2 Peter 1:5-7) and continue to trust Scripture’s teaching with the help of God’s Spirit (2 Peter 1:16-21).
The false teachers were offering something different from God’s Word, distracting the churches from what it truly means to follow Christ. Instead of following God’s Word, Peter warns that they use “false words” (2 Peter 2:3) to exploit and confuse Christians. These false teachers were telling Christians that God’s grace frees them to live however they want. Ironically, their lifestyle and teaching aren’t freeing, but keep people enslaved to sin: “They promise . . . freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (2 Peter 2:19). Peter writes out of deep concern for Jesus’ church, warning those he loves away from false teaching that will lead to judgment (2 Peter 2:3).
If Jesus is coming back and the present world is passing away, what sort of people should we be?
Peter ends his letter by reminding his audience that he is not the only one whose time is coming. Soon, the Lord will return and establish the new heavens and the new earth (2 Peter 3:13).
In light of Jesus’ return, Peter leaves us with a question and a charge. The question is, if Jesus is coming back and the present world is passing away, what sort of people should we be (2 Peter 3:11)? Have you ever asked yourself that question? If what the Bible says is true, how would that change your life?
Second, he charges us to “grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18 ESV). Here’s another question: Do you know Jesus, and are you striving to grow in your relationship with him?
To discover the dangerous teaching Peter warns us away from, open 2 Peter, and then ask the Lord how you might grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.