Peter jumps right into this letter. His introduction of himself is short but important.
Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ
His name followed by 2 titles to describe his position followed by who he serves.
Peter is proclaiming himself Jesus Christ’s “slave” for a bond servant is one who was bought for a price. Peter also proclaims himself an Apostle meaning one who was sent out with orders, or a messenger sent out with orders by one who has authority over him. Again, a reference to his service to Jesus Christ.
Peter goes on to identify the audience for this letter as other believers who hold the same faith and then turns and praises God for providing a way for us to share in the divine nature having escaped the corruption in the world sparked by lusts/desires.
I’m going to break this next part down a little:
applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence
in your moral excellence, knowledge
in your knowledge, self control
in your self control, perseverance
in your perseverance, godliness
in your godliness, brotherly kindness
in your brotherly kindness, love
These qualities flow into and out from each other. All diligence in your faith. If you put the effort (heart, mind, soul) into growing your faith, you will naturally experience a growth in moral excellence (conscience reawakens, desire to do what is right according to God’s will and not your own).
Once your moral excellence begins to grow, your natural desire to learn more about your faith and what God wants and who God is will emerge and therefore your knowledge will naturally grow and deepen.
As your knowledge grows and deepens, you will begin to exercise more self control, focusing on what is right and good in God’s eyes.
As your self control grows, so does your perseverance knowing that nothing could dampen your desire for God and for His goodness, and suddenly your godliness grows as well.
As your godliness grows, so does your caring and kindness for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Your heart feels Christ’s love and you experience His sacrifice for all mankind on a deeper level and brotherly kindness is a natural result. You want to reach out and boost up a brother or sister, care for them in whatever ways you can simply because Jesus loves them and that is enough reason. Your love grows and expands.
Sounds a whole lot like the Fruits of the Spirit. Not exact but very similar concepts.
Galatians 5:22-23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
I looked up useless and unfruitful in the concordance. Another word for useless is lazy and that goes hand in hand with applying diligence. The lazy will not apply diligence and therefore will lack the qualities mentioned above. Unfruitful was the inability to bear fruit as it should. The lazy would obviously not possess the above qualities and therefore would not bear fruit as they should.
Peter’s whole focus is brotherly love. Picture him in prison, about to die and what does he do? He takes the time to write a letter to his brothers and sisters in Christ, to clarify things for them once again so they don’t go off track once he dies. He knows he is to die, but he just wants to reach out one more time.. just one more time… if he can only reach just one more person, just help one more…
Peter a man on a mission. He is an Apostle of Jesus Christ. He is His servant, body, heart, mind, and soul.
These last few verses Peter is reminding his readers that what he is saying to them is the real deal. He didn’t make it up like so many other false prophets running around. He’s reiterating to them that he personally was there, walked with Jesus, heard God the Father speak and everything. Peter was one of 3 disciples to go with Jesus up the mountain at the Transfiguration and heard God’s voice. It left a huge impression on him that he is relating the tale again in this letter.
He then reminds them that they should pay attention to the prophets of old concerning Jesus because they spoke the truth. He reminds them that prophesy is not meant for mans interpretations but God’s alone. At the time this letter was written false prophets were all over the place.
Even today it is hard to know which direction to turn for the truth. In fact it is probably harder to come to the truth today than it was way back when. In today’s world we have such easy communications however, there is so much communication it is hard to discern truth from lies.
With self publishing too, anybody can publish anything whether it be based on truth or not.
Look at how many different “Christian” churches there are now? Each with doctrines that at first glance look like the real deal. I read through many I find online and they pretty much all hold to the same “generic Christian” doctrine but when you read further on their websites, you run across things that make you do a double take…some examples are:
private services that occur AFTER public services where “true” believers can worship and practice their “gifts”
Statements about the bible being inaccurate
Statements about Jesus being “a great teacher/man” but not God
Statements regarding extreme tolerance of all viewpoints and religions
The list goes on and on. So it was difficult back in Peter’s day to know the truth if you hadn’t seen it yourself, but at least back then, they were only 1 or 2 steps away from someone who did actually witness the events.
Today? We have the Bible to guide us and instruct us. We don’t have Peter or any of the Apostles. There isn’t 1 person alive that witnessed or knew someone who witnessed Jesus Christ. We have the Bible . Some of the Bibles are so paraphrased they’ve strayed so far from the original meaning they don’t even look like the same book but even then, they do convey the main messages of God even if they lose the details.
We have so many choices of churches it is difficult to know where to turn. Pastors condemn “church hopping” but seriously? How can a person NOT church hop if they are seriously looking for a place to worship? Before I settle for a church, I want to make sure that that group of believers is being led by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God rather than being lead by some other force and subject to a man’s words.
Peter was seriously reminding them that his teachings to them were the real deal. He didn’t make them up, he learned at Jesus’ side and SAW and HEARD things most humans would give anything to see and hear just to truly and fully KNOW. Peter knows how important and how hard faith is. He saw and heard everything and yet it took Jesus actually rising from the dead for Peter and the other disciples to truly believe, to truly “get it”. They knew in their heads… but it didn’t truly hit their hearts until they SAW it and for Thomas it was when he felt it with his own 2 hands.
We don’t have that today. Today we must build our faith on an unwavering trust that the words we are reading in our Bibles are the Words of God.
God is working all the time and we are blessed at times with some evidence of it. (My ease with stopping smoking…??? Oh yeah, totally God)
And there have been so many other instances of answered prayers, moments of total peace and calm washing over us, moments of total clarity to problems we encounter.
I look at how my family has healed in the last 2 years. It’s amazing and it’s all God.
So yeah, we may not have a Peter to look to in the flesh, we may not have Jesus walking and talking and teaching us face to face, but we do have them. We have their words, their teachings in our Bibles.
We have evidence of God working. Working miracles everyday, working within us, and we CAN build our faith on the unseen because the knowing? It isn’t just in our minds when we feel the warmth of forgiveness and healing, when we witness a miracle or an answered prayer, it’s in our hearts and souls too.