What does it say?
Just as Paul’s second letter to Timothy represents his final instructions, 2 Peter is the last we hear from Peter, probably written shortly before his execution. There are many similarities between 2 Timothy and 2 Peter, and there are also many similarities between 2 Peter and the tiny epistle of Jude.
Peter opens his last letter with a challenge to continue spiritual growth and instructions on how to do so. Next, he warns his readers of the threat of false prophets and the heresy they propagate. His final chapter looks forward to the return of Jesus Christ and how we should live in light of that sure hope. Peter appears to be writing to the same groups of believers, both Jewish and Gentile, in Asia Minor (Turkey) as he did in his first epistle.
Jude is the brother of James and half-brother of Jesus. He is an old man by the time he writes this letter, perhaps as late as 80 AD. He is alarmed by the heretical teaching that is threatening believers, perhaps responding to the same issues that motivated Peter to write 2 Peter, and this might account for the many parallels between the two letters. Though brief, Jude’s letter is filled with Old Testament references and is very direct and to the point in dealing with dangerous teachers twisting scripture for their personal agendas.
What does it mean?
Peter’s epistle is very straightforward. His first chapter encourages us to build upon the foundation of our faith. This offers great insight into the process of being a disciples and making disciples. The second chapter warns against false teachers and false teaching, and the final chapter affirms the certainty of Christ’s return. It’s been said that the purpose of 2 Peter is to call believers to continual spiritual growth that they might combat apostasy as they anticipate Christ’s sure return.
Jude communicates a sense of urgency and encourages believers to actively resist false teaching. The urgency for acting is not merely Jude’s thought that the Lord’s return will be soon, but is rooted in the importance of standing firm in God’s truth whenever Christ might return. We believe that the Lord’s return is imminent, meaning that it could occur at any moment, today or hundreds of years from now. The urgency it to be about the mission of sharing God’s love and true with those that have not heard.
How will I respond?
The Good News of Jesus Christ is the foundation of my faith. Looking at Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1, what is one specific area of personal growth that I can focus over the coming year?