Holman Bible Dictionary


(pee' tuhr) Twenty-second book of the New Testament.

Authorship The book claims to be written by the apostle Peter, but it was questioned in ancient times and is still under a cloud of uncertainty in some quarters. Usually the style and vocabulary are the critical areas of doubt. The two Petrine Letters show great differences which some explain by a change in amanuenses, or suggesting that Peter used Silas in 1 Peter while 2 Peter reflects his own unedited style. Readers can observe that in spite of differences, 2 Peter is more like 1 Peter than any other New Testament book. It was never rejected and met every test successfully, hence it rightly came into the canon.

The Date If we accept Peter's authorship, it must have been written before A.D. 68, probably shortly after 1 Peter was penned. This is the most likely date, although most modern critics place it much later. Eusebius places Peter's death in the fourteenth year of Nero that is variously dated from A.D. 64 to 68.

The Destination The address is too general to be of any help, so other data must be considered. If 2 Peter 3:1 refers to 1 Peter, then the destination must be the same as the previous letter. This is the better view, for all attempts to find another group or groups have failed. See 1 Peter.

The Readers The references to Jewishness are not as clear as 1 Peter, but still are inferred in 2 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:4-9; 2 Peter 3:5-8.

The Style If Peter wrote 2 Peter with his own hand, it explains some of the differences with 1 Peter. There are both Hellenistic and Semitic traces of vocabulary and syntax which would also fit the apostle's character. A major question is the literary affinity with Jude. First, affinity does not necessitate or even infer some dependency. It is virtually sure that Peter and Jude had some personal contact, but whether it resulted in both writing a portion of these letters in such similar style by mere conversation, or by viewing the document of the other is incapable of proof. Second, it is only one chapter of 2 Peter that is like Jude, leaving the bulk of the letter Petrine. Third, many have assumed Jude is late and that the writer of 2 Peter depended on it, hence 2 Peter is a late document and cannot be apostolic. This is incapable of proof, and, furthermore, may merely show the early date of Jude! Third, there is no way of proving which document relied on the other. Scholars have argued convincingly on both sides of the question.

The Purpose To forestall and defeat the influence of heretics who came in the church to lead the readers into antinomianism or total freedom from the law. This temptation to a sinful life-style so affected Peter that shortly after his first letter, he followed with this one.

Theological Contributions Practical Christian living is emphasized by the motifs of growth by addition in 2 Peter 1:3-8; judgment in 2 Peter 3:11-14; and exhortation to growth in 2 Peter 3:17-18. It is the Word of God that holds the forefront of this short letter: in 2 Peter 1:1 by emphasizing knowledge (2 Peter 1:3,2 Peter 1:5-6,2 Peter 1:8,2 Peter 1:12,2 Peter 1:20-21) and its divine origin, in 2 Peter 2:1 by showing its historicity (2 Peter 2:4-8), and in 2 Peter 3:1 by indicating Paul's letters are equal with “the other Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15-16). Peter strongly supported the influence of Scripture as the most important factor in our faith. One who could rely so much on personal experience did not and only appeals to it to further express the truth of Scripture (2 Peter 1:16-21).

The Theme: “Believers must continually give attention to the Word of God.”


Introduction (2 Peter 1:1-2)

I. Recognize the Greatness of the Word (2 Peter 1:3-21)

A. Its Power (2 Peter 1:3-11)

B. Its Application (2 Peter 1:12-14)

C. Its Truth (2 Peter 1:15-21)

II. Recognize the Enemies of the Word (2 Peter 2:1-22)

A. Their Presence (2 Peter 2:1)

B. Their Strategy (2 Peter 2:2-3)

C. Their Judgment (2 Peter 2:4-10)

D. Their Description (2 Peter 2:11-16)

E. Their Converts (2 Peter 2:17-22)

III. Recognize the Prophecies of the Word (2 Peter 3:1-18)

A. By What They Predict (2 Peter 3:1-10)

1. False Teachers (2 Peter 3:1-7)

2. Judgment (2 Peter 3:8-10)

B. By What They Require: Holiness (2 Peter 3:11-18)

Duane A. Dunham

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for '2 PETER'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1991.