A late and pseudonymous epistle that hovered on the edge of the canon, but eventually the claim to be a second letter from Peter (2 Pet. 3: 1) prevailed. Its late composition is indicated by the references to the epistles of Paul which had become collected and widely read (2 Pet. 3: 15–16) and by the incorporation of most of the epistle of Jude in 2 Pet. 2: 1–18. Christians of the first generation have died (2 Pet. 3: 4).
The epistle attempts to refute heretics who are evidently embarrassed by Christian apocalyptic eschatology. They argue complacently that the delay of the parousia shows that there will be no judgement at all. The writer replies that just as God once destroyed the world by the flood, so he can equally terminate it, by fire (3: 5–7), notwithstanding the promise of the rainbow (Gen. 9: 16). There will be a divine judgement; and the apostle’s presence (1: 18) at the Transfiguration gave him authority to preach the parousia. But in these traditional Jewish-based ideas the epistle employs Hellenistic language, and so it represents an interesting stage in the transition of Christianity to another culture, at c. 80–90 CE.
While the difficulties in ascribing the letter to Peter the apostle seem insurmountable, its many associations with him, and the allusion to 1 Peter in 2 Pet. 3: 1 permit it to be regarded as what Peter would have written in about 85 CE.