Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 55
The Believer’s Virtue
II Peter 1:1 – 2:8
Okay, now we’re beginning in II Peter and ready to start with verse 1. And I want again to emphasize that, except for Paul’s epistles, all of Scripture is on a straight timeline – things just unfolding the way the Old Testament said it would – with everything looking forward to the day when Christ would set up His kingdom here on earth (after the 7 years of Tribulation has run it’s course). And so all these writers of the Jewish economy, the Kingdom Gospel, are looking at all this to come in their lifetime.
So go back for a second to James, so that you get what I’m driving at – that all of these writers – James and Peter and John and Jude and even the writer of the Revelation – are still writing on the same basis of the Old Testament prophecies, Christ’s earthly ministry and Peter and the Eleven in the book of Acts. And now they’re looking for the horrors of the Tribulation that they feel are right out in front of them – which, of course, will be fulfilled to a certain degree with the 70 AD invasion of Titus (but that wasn’t the Tribulation that is still future). So to give you an inkling of what I’m talking about, James 1:1, and take note to whom is he writing?
“…to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.” And remember that, because of Saul of Tarsus’ tremendous persecution, what happened to that Jerusalem congregation? They scattered for fear of their lives, and they took up residence in other parts of that part of the world, the Roman Empire. All right, turn again to I Peter, and the language is almost the same.
I Peter 1:1
“Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” So Peter was writing to “strangers that had been scattered.” Not to the citizens of Rome and Athens, but to the strangers who were scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia and so on and so forth. Those are Jews who had been scared away from Jerusalem because of the awful persecution of Saul. All right, now then, when you come into II Peter the language doesn’t change all that much.
II Peter 1:1a
“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us…” Now, when and where did Peter attain his faith that Jesus was the promised Messiah? Way back there at Galilee when he was at his fishing nets and the Lord walked by and said, ‘Follow me.’ Well, Peter’s faith began with Christ’s earthly ministry.
And the same way here – he’s writing to those people who had been connected with Christ’s earthly ministry (they, as yet, know nothing of Paul’s Gospel of Grace. They are still under what we call the Kingdom economy). And you can just follow this on through into I John. I just thought of this on the way up, “How can I review this and make the point that these little epistles are still connected to the Jews of Christ’s earthly ministry?” All right, so even I John chapter 1 verse 1,
I John 1:1
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;” Now what’s John referring to? Christ’s earthly ministry. When they actually saw Him and they were with Him and they, you might say, handled Him and so forth. All an extension now of Christ’s earthly ministry. Well, you can come right on in to II or III John saying basically the same thing, but now look at Jude just so I make my point. I want you to see how all of this ties straight back to Christ’s earthly ministry and His Gospel of the Kingdom, and that it was directed to the Jew only.
“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,…” Who was James? He was part and parcel of Israel. See? And so he’s tying himself to the Twelve. Well, we certainly know that Revelation is all Jewish. I was reading a commentary written in 1890 and it just thrilled my heart! That old fellow said the same thing I’ve been saying for the last 20 years. All of these things are Jewish. These are all Jewish epistles. The book of Revelation is all Jewish. There’s nothing of Gentiles except as they come under being associated with Israel. But the books and these little epistles are all written to the Jewish people. And, unknown to them of course, God has set aside the Apostle Paul with the revelation of the mysteries. One of these mysteries was the out-calling of the Gentile Body of Christ, the Church Age, which has been going on now nearly 2,000 years.
All right, now according to the Old Testament promises coming out of the Old Testament, we have in order; Christ’s earthly ministry, His rejection, His resurrection and His ascension back to Glory. Then Peter starts proclaiming in Acts chapter 2 that the One they crucified was the Christ and if they would repent of having rejected their Messiah then in chapter 3 verse 20 what does he say? “God will send Jesus Christ.” Why? “To yet fulfill the promises of the Old Testament.”
And so everything stays on that top timeline in their correct order. And so here we come through the book of Acts, and these believing Jews are looking at these seven years of Tribulation that they know are just out in front of them, but they have no idea that it’s going to be pushed out into the future, now for nearly 2,000 years. Now the Lord knew, but remember, He was God! He’s the author of The Book. He knew that this was all going to be postponed, but Peter didn’t. In Acts chapter 2 Peter quotes Joel and he takes you right on through the Tribulation to the Second Coming and the Kingdom Age, with no interruption. Peter had no idea that this top timeline was going to be interrupted.
And so, always remember, these things that we have now had 1,900-and-some years of this Age of Grace, which came about through the revelations of the mysteries that were revealed to the Apostle Paul. And that of course is why I emphasize Paul’s writings are for us today. Romans 11:13 tells us “he is the apostle to the Gentiles.” So that is where we should be getting all of our doctrine and instructions for salvation, and how to live a fruitful life for our Lord. All the rest of Scripture was written to the Nation of Israel, and they were still under the Law of Moses. Why would anyone miss Heaven by trying to follow instructions that were never intended for the Gentile Body of Christ is beyond me.
And so keep all these things in mind now as we move on into II Peter chapter 1 verse 1. He’s still writing to the same people he wrote to in his first letter (they’re still under the Law of Moses), but he’s writing probably about 10 years later. II Peter is written just shortly before he’ll be martyred. He makes mention of it down here in verse 14, that he will shortly be facing his demise. I have said it over and over that I feel that Peter and Paul were both martyred probably within a matter of days or weeks because both of them speak now at the end of their earthly sojourn. I might as well cover my tracks with Scripture, so we’ll go ahead and look at it.
II Peter 1:14a
“Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle,…” Now the tabernacle is a reference to Peter’s human body, this is his temporary tent. All right, now I said that Paul was, no doubt, martyred at about the same time, so let look at that again, so back up if you will to II Timothy chapter 4. Almost identical language with Peter and I think almost the identical time frame. While Paul is being readied for his martyrdom in Rome, I think Peter is being readied for his martyrdom wherever he was. I think Jerusalem. I may be wrong. But he says, “Babylon;” but I think the Babylon that’s he’s speaking of is Jerusalem as it is referred to in a couple of other places. Here Paul has the end in sight.
II Timothy 4:6
“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is (what?) at hand.” And he’s speaking of his physical death. And so, both of these gentlemen now, Paul and Peter, come to the end of their ministry in the latter part of the 60’s AD and then, shortly after Paul and Peter are gone, in comes the Roman invasion under Titus in 70 AD; and Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed and the Jews are then scattered into the dispersion that has lasted up until our own time. Now let’s begin II Peter.
II Peter 1:1
“Simon Peter, a servant, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:”All right, let’s compare Scripture with Scripture. Here Peter is claiming to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, by inspiration. Now let’s back up to Galatians chapter 2 where, from the pen of the Apostle Paul, we see it defined a little finer. Galatians chapter 2 dropping in at verse 7 and 8. And I know when people hear and see me delineate these verses it shakes them up. They really don’t want to believe it and yet they can’t argue with the Scripture because there’s no gobbledy gook language here. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand this; it’s plain English. Here Paul is writing.
“But contrariwise, (or on the other hand) when they (the Twelve, with whom he had come to settle these arguments) saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision, (the Gospel of the Gentile) was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision (the Gospel of the Jew or the Gospel of the Kingdom) was unto Peter;” Now that’s plain language. You have two totally different economies. The Gospel of the uncircumcision (the Gentile world), was committed unto Paul; the Gospel of the Jew was committed unto Peter. All right, but now look at the next verse.
“(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of (whom? The Jews.) the circumcision, (see how plain that is. Peter was an apostle of the circumcision.) the same was mighty in me (by declaring the Apostle Paul, of course, an apostle) toward the Gentiles:)” Now let’s back that up with Scripture. Keep your hand in Galatians; I’m not through here. Come back with me to Romans chapter 11, because unless you see these things in black and white, it may be a little hard to swallow. But here it is, just as plain as language can make it.
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles,…” See how plain that is? He wasn’t an apostle of Israel. He was an apostle of the Gentiles. Peter and the Eleven were apostles of Israel, two totally different apostleships. Same God! That’s why I was going to make the point here when we get back to II Peter that, even though these things are written primarily to Jewish believers, that doesn’t mean that we ignore it. That doesn’t mean you take it out of your Bible and throw it away. It’s applicable. We can learn because we’re dealing with the same God and God doesn’t differentiate in His righteousness, in His reaction with you and I as Gentiles, and the Jew. In that respect He’s the same. But, on the other hand, by the responsibilities, the directions He gives them for fulfilling their dispensation – yes, it’s different than what he gives us. All right, so now back to Galatians 2 for a moment.
“And when James, Cephas, (Peter) and John, who seemed to be pillars, (that is of that Jerusalem church) perceived (or understood) the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we (Paul and Barnabas) should go unto the heathen, (the Gentiles) and they (James, Peter and John and the rest of the Twelve) unto the circumcision (to Israel.)”
Turn again to II Peter verse 2. So we’ve established that indeed Peter is an apostle of Israel as Paul is the apostle of the Gentile – but it’s the same God. And so we can certainly glean things in here that are for our benefit.
II Peter 1:2-3a
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord. 3. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,.…” Does that sound much different than Paul? No. Turn to Titus, because I want people to see that this Book fits hand in glove even though you may have Peter addressing Jews and Paul addressing Gentiles, but God’s the same. All right, Titus chapter 2. Now this is Paul writing to you and I. Almost the same thing that Peter wrote to his Jewish believers.
“For the grace of God (see, just like Peter said about grace and knowledge, Paul says the same thing) that bringeth salvation hath (past tense) appeared to all men. (now here it comes) 12. Teaching us (this is what we’re supposed to know) that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”Does that sound much different than Peter? No. Practically the same language, and so, for the believer of any dispensation, these are the things that God is looking for. Now back to II Peter and let’s read the last part of verse 3.
II Peter 1:3b-4
“…through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: (being good) 4. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Now wait a minute. Just stop and think what they’ve uncovered the last few weeks in Iraq (May, 2003). What did that tell you? Corruption upon corruption. Those palaces showed more human corruption and immorality than people could even imagine. But you know what, it isn’t limited to Baghdad. It’s not limited to Iraq – that’s the world in general. Right here in our own beloved nation. My, whenever I read of the political corruption, I have to be amazed that we have survived as a republic as long as we have. The corruption is just beyond human understanding. Not just sexual. It can be financial. It can be in every category of society. Corruption abounds. See? Well, we’re not to be part and parcel of that. We’re to be above the corruption that is in the world through lust.
What did Paul say was the number one commandment? Thou shalt not covet! Well, what’s the difference between coveting and lusting? Almost nothing. And so what prompts all this corruption? What prompts an embezzler? What prompts the person who starts getting crooked? Coveting. Coveting. I don’t care whether it’s Enron or WorldCom or whatever, it’s all the same thing, see? Back to chapter 1 verse 5.
II Peter 1:5
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;” What is always paramount? Faith! “Without faith you cannot please God.” Everything in our relationship with God has to start on that bedrock word – Faith. Without faith you don’t stand a snowball’s chance of making it. But with faith then everything begins to fall in place, see? All right, and so by faith, as we feed on the Word of God, it’s going to bring us to a place of virtue.
II Peter 1:6
“And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;” That’s a small ‘g’ – that doesn’t mean we become gods. It merely means we pertain to a life that is after God’s design.
II Peter 1:7-8a
“And to godliness brotherly kindness; (or love) and to brotherly kindness (indeed) charity. (which is love) 8. For if these things be in you, and abound,…” Now who is Peter writing to? Believers. Believers in the midst of even the Jewish community of unbelief. Even a lot of the fellow Jews who were neighbors and friends of these believers hated them and persecuted them – made life miserable for them. And we’re under the same circumstances. That part isn’t any different, but see, this is who Peter’s writing to. He’s writing to believing Jews who are being persecuted by their own fellow unbelieving Jews as well as the pagan Romans and then between that vice (not sinful vice, the squeezing vice! A shop vice.) In between that vice are these believers being constantly squeezed, see? And so Peter is admonishing them not to give in to these pressures. Verse 8 again.
II Peter 1:8
“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Now there’s another word that Paul is always using. Let’s back up to that one. Come back with me to Ephesians chapter 3 – and then go on ahead to Colossians chapter 1 where he mentions the same thing again, which means it’s important that we have knowledge! Now this is Paul’s prayer on behalf of Gentile believers. And he says:
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts (how?) by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18. May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (which is four dimensions and we live in a world of three.) 19. And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” Which includes knowledge. Now turn to Colossians chapter 1 and he makes it a little plainer probably than in Ephesians. Here is one of the Apostle’s prayers on behalf of you and I as believers.
“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all (even the unsaved world) pleasing,….” In other words, God doesn’t expect us to be a bunch of kooks that the world can just ridicule because we’re oddballs. No, we are to be so rooted in our Christian faith that, even though the world may not love us, they’ll have to respect us for what we are. They have to look at us and admit that they wish that they could be as we are. So Paul is praying that we might be just good solid testimonies of God’s grace.
“…being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;” We’re not just saved to sit. We are saved to serve and we’re going to serve by increasing in our knowledge. And how do you increase in knowledge? Prayer and Bible Study. And oh it’s so lacking. But get into the Book and learn and pray and grow.