Like his first letter, Peter’s second letter was written to believers in the early church who had experienced persecution and suffering. At this time, Peter was in a Roman prison. He was aware that his death was imminent ( 2 Peter 1:13-15).
Besides the outside threats to their faith, these believers were also confronted with false teachers within the church who tried to lead them away from the true gospel.
Peter warned against false teachers. In the opening chapter of his letter, Peter’s exhortation to live like Jesus gives believers a measure for making sure they are following the truth. The best defense against false teachers is a dedication to a knowledge of the truth. Ask your children: How do we live like Jesus? Why do we live like Jesus?
First, God’s people live like Jesus through the power of Jesus (2 Peter 1:3-4) and through personal application (2 Peter 1:5-7). Not only is the Christian life marked by faith in Christ, it is characterized by goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. These come from knowing Jesus, who calls us to Himself.
Second, God’s people live like Jesus to confirm their calling (2 Peter 1:8-11). If we claim to have faith but do not live like Jesus, we have forgotten what Jesus has done for us. Because God has credited to us Jesus’ righteousness, we strive to live in loving obedience to Him to show those around us that Jesus has truly changed our lives.
Soon after writing this letter, Peter was killed in Rome as Jesus had predicted (John 21:18-19). Help your kids grasp that Jesus lived a perfect life and died the death we deserve for our sin. When we trust in Jesus, God forgives our sins and changes our hearts. Jesus calls and empowers His followers to live like Him.
Peter’s story of faith began when Jesus said, “Follow Me” ( Matthew 4:19) . Peter and his brother Andrew – two fishermen from Galilee – left their nets and followed Jesus. As one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, Peter witnessed firsthand Jesus’ miracles and teachings.
Peter believed that Jesus is the Messiah ( Matthew 16:16), and he was understandably upset when Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him (Matthew 26:34-35) . Peter fell asleep as Jesus prayed in the garden, and he drew his sword to defend Jesus when He was arrested (Matthew 26:40; John 18:10). Peter denied Jesus 3 times, but after the resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter and the other disciples. Then Jesus restored Peter to ministry at the sea of Galilee (John 21:15-19).
The first 12 chapters in the Book of Acts record the Holy Spirit’s work through Peter after Pentecost. God revealed to Peter that the gospel is for everyone – Jews and Gentiles. Peter was arrested and imprisoned for sharing the gospel, but an angel of the Lord rescued him ( Acts 12:1-8).
Peter wrote his first letter sometime between AD 62 and 64 to believers who had experienced persecution and suffering. He encouraged them and reminded them how to live holy lives as followers of Christ, looking forward to an eternal reward in their true home – heaven.
Peter’s letter was written nearly two thousand years ago to believers who were not far removed from Jesus’ life on earth. We still wait eagerly for Jesus’ return, but God calls us to faithfulness in hard times – using our time on earth to better know and love Him, and to tell others about Him. As believers, we are called to live a life of love and to glorify God by what we do and say, even in the midst of trials and troubles.