Cover to Cover
2 Peter 1
In this life, there are always going to be various interpretations of Scripture, and people will often group together with people who have similar beliefs. There are also different ideas on how the church should operate and different voices that want to influence you. In fact, anytime you get two people together, you will most likely find at least one thing where there is a disagreement. Each one thinks they are right, and some are very passionate about being right. Some will work to divide a church or a group of people because they feel justified in being right. Others will withdrawal from a church or a group of friends because they don’t agree with their leadership.
You may sense an inward desire for unity and understanding, which is also God’s desire, but be aware that we live in an imperfect world with imperfect understanding with people with imperfect motives. Minor differences can be overlooked with the grace of God. It’s okay if we agree to disagree on topics that don’t change the foundations of our faith. For example, some believe the rapture will take place before the tribulation, some after, some in the middle. I can still fellowship with you and agree to disagree on the placement of the rapture. We can agree that we’re all going when He comes. However, we need to agree on the major doctrines of the Bible, which is what Peter was writing about in this letter. Knowing what Peter was writing about will help us better understand the content and apply it to our present day.
2 Peter is a second letter written by the Apostle Peter to Christians living in Asia Minor. The Jews were living under Roman rule, a government that overtook the Greek empire. When Christianity began, there were influences from the world that tried to alter the Gospel that the apostles and early leaders preached. Gnosticism was a belief system based on ancient Greek ideas, and it was trying to influence Christianity with false doctrine. Gnosis means knowledge of spiritual mysteries. Gnosticism believed that the natural or material world was created by an imperfect spirit, and some, when introduced to Christianity, thought Christ was sent by this deity to redeem the human spirit. The Gnostics emphasized spiritualism over the authority of the Christian church and the basic doctrine of Christian beliefs. They denied Jesus’ lordship, they lived a sensuous lifestyle, and they ridiculed the idea of Christ’s second coming. This heretical doctrine was creeping into the early church, and Peter was writing to admonish the early Christians to adhere to the doctrine of the apostles and to reject anything contrary to their teaching.
One reason God has given you a pastor is to help keep you on track with basic doctrine. One purpose for staying on track is for you to walk in truth. Another reason for you staying on track is so that false doctrine doesn’t spread and negatively influence a group of people as we work together to reach the world for Christ. False doctrine is like a cancer; it spreads to try to take over healthy cells. Part of the calling on a pastor’s life is to protect the truth of God’s Word. A pastor gives time to study and prayer, has been trained for ministry, and has an anointing from God to have insight and understanding. Pastors aren’t perfect. No one is right about everything, but you should be in a church where you can agree on the basics. When God placed you in a local church, He has placed you under the care and responsibility of that pastor. Part of a pastor’s calling is to guard people from false doctrine, which is what Peter, as an apostle was doing when he wrote 2 Peter. Hopefully as a result of this letter, Christians took heed to Peter’s admonishment, and made the correction. It is sad when people reject correction and leave a church. It’s even more divisive when that person works to cause strife or division. Support and pray for your pastor, not just for the person, but for the sake of the purity of the Gospel and the effectiveness of your home church.
In chapters 41 and 42, we receive more specific details about the millennial temple – the sanctuary, side chambers, western end, temple area, chambers for priests, and outer dimensions of the temple. We know that Jesus died to end the old covenant that was based on animal sacrifice, and established a new covenant based on His blood. We know that His sacrifice removed the sin penalty. In this temple, there are priests and sacrifices mentioned, a physical reminder of what Christ has done for us.