This is the second letter from the Apostle Peter, written a few years after the first. It was written to the same recipients, but with a different theme. While First Peter offered comfort and encouragement about enduring persecution from the outside, Second Peter was written to confront an internal threat: false teachers.
In the opening lines in verses 1-2, Peter mentioned a very encouraging truth. He presented himself as an apostle, one of only twelve who had walked with Jesus and knew Him intimately. Peter’s original readers would have been familiar with his story and his special relationship with Jesus. But instead of boasting about his credentials, Peter said that his readers (including you and me) had “obtained a faith of equal standing” with him (v.1). Grace puts every believer on level ground. All who have trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior have been given the same power and the same means to live a godly life (v.3). We have all been rescued from the corrupting power of sin, given a new “divine nature”, and granted access to everything God has promised in Scripture (v.4). What a privilege to have heard the gospel and to have been given an opportunity to respond in faith! But placing your faith in Jesus is not the end of salvation — it is only the end of the beginning.
Saving faith begins a process of spiritual development (we often call it “discipleship”) that will not end until Christ returns. Until then there will always be room to “grow in grace” (see 3:18). And that growth comes about through effort. Once we are saved we are not to become passive, thinking that discipleship will automatically happen to us. Instead, we “make every effort” (v.5) to develop the qualities that keep us from becoming “ineffective and unfruitful” (v.8). Peter links together seven qualities that are built on our faith in Christ — indispensable attributes of discipleship that we must actively, consciously develop throughout the remainder of our lives: virtue (moral excellence), knowledge (an ever-deepening intimacy with the Lord), self-control, steadfastness (patient endurance of trials), godliness, brotherly affection (love for God’s family), and love (for everyone, especially the lost).
Peter must have been aware of lazy, complacent believers among his original readers — those who had become passive and stalled-out in their spiritual development — because he said, “Brothers…make your calling and election sure” (v.10). I think that was Peter’s way of saying, “Come on, guys! Are you saved or not? If you are saved, let’s see some effort, some spiritual growth!”
Peter was absolutely convinced of the truth of the gospel. As an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus, he recalled the unforgettable, other-worldly scene of the Transfiguration when the glorious deity of his Master was revealed (v.16-18; see Matthew 17:1-8). That was enough to convince Peter forever that Jesus was the Son of God and Savior of the world. But none of his readers had seen the proof that he had seen (and neither have you or I). None of them had heard the audible voice of God affirming His Son (v.17). But Peter offered “something more sure” to build our faith upon: the Word of God, the Scripture (v.19). Since so many of the “prophetic” promises of the Old Testament have been fulfilled in the coming of Jesus, we can be assured of its truth. Though Scripture was written down by human authors, they wrote as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit (v.21). Since God inspired the Word, it is authentic and reliable — and we can’t lose if we build our lives on it.