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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

Reading Guide

Second Peter contains many conventions typical of ancient letters. It opens with notice of sender and addressees and continues with a greeting ( 1.1–2 ) and thanksgiving ( 1.3–10 ). The body of the letter provides an apology, or explanatory defense, to numerous slanders about God's final judgment: Taking up each slander, the author defends the authenticity of the prophecy of the second coming of Jesus ( 1.16–18 ); the inspiration of both prophecy and its interpretation ( 1.19–21 ); the fact of divine judgment as found in the Scriptures ( 2.1–3, 4–10; 3.4–7 ); and a denial of the argument of “delay” ( 3.8–9, 10–13 ). Typical of Christian letters, it concludes with an exhortation * ( 3.17–18 ) and praise of God ( 3.18 ). The argument of the letter goes as follows.

  • 1. Letter opening: author, addressees, God's benefaction ( 1.1–11 )

  • 2. Occasion of the letter: Peter's farewell address ( 1.12–15 )

  • 3. Reply to the first slander: prophecy of Jesus' coming defended ( 1.16–18 )

  • 4. Reply to the second slander: prophecy and interpretation defended ( 1.19–21 )

  • 5. Reply to the third slander

    • A. Opponents deny the master's judgment ( 2.1–3 )
    • B. Defense of God's judgment from Scripture ( 2.4–10 )
  • 6. Shame on the opponents

  • 7. Reply to the fourth slander

    • A. Opponents deny God's promise in a static world ( 3.1–4 )
    • B. Defense of the divine word of judgment ( 3.5–7 )
  • 8. Reply to the fifth slander

    • A. Opponents cite God's delay of judgment to deny it ( 3.9 )
    • B. Delay a gift of mercy; unpredictable time of Jesus' return ( 3.8, 10–13 )
  • 9. Final exhortation and letter closing ( 3.14–18 )

Because of the polemical * tone and argument, 2 Peter resembles an essay or literary letter. In addition to the letter form, the author employs another important genre, * the farewell address ( 1.12–15 ), a genre typical of the speeches of dying patriarchs and leaders (Lk 22.14–38; Acts 20.17–35 ). It generally contains a prediction of the leader's death, a prediction of future crises for those who remain, a legacy, and an exhortation to a particular virtue, in this case fidelity to the ancient tradition. These characteristic elements will be discussed below in 1.12–15 .

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