Study of 2 Peter: The Historical Jesus

Questions for 2 Peter Chapter 1:

1. What human qualities do we need to make us active and effective in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.

2. Why do we need to be reminded of things we already know?

3. Why is it important that there was an "historical Jesus?"

Answers to Questions:

Answer to Question 1:

In the 5th verse of the Second Epistle of Peter we find a remarkable list of virtues to which every Christian must aspire. Peter understood that Christian faith is not a static thing. We do not merely have an epiphany then set back and wait for the Second Coming. Instead, we must work to perfect ourselves, and Peter here sets out a road map to help us do this very thing.

This important passage of Peter is translated variously in different versions of the Bible. William Barclay, with his wide knowledge of classical literature and depth of understanding of the ancient Greek language does an excellent job. He writes, "Bend all of your energy to the task of equiping your faith with courage, your courage with knowledge, your knowledge with self-control, your self-control with steadfastness, your steadfastness with piety, your piety with brotherly affection and your brotherly affection with Christian love."

Notice how Peter begins with faith. That is where all hope begins. Next he speaks of the courage to pursue our faith in spite of persecution and doubts. To reinforce our courage we seek knowledge - we study the bible and contemplate God's word. Self-control is another important factor, for it keeps us from succumbing to temptation and leads inevitably to piety. Piety, which is Christianity in action leads to love of our fellow man and finally, to Christian love. He does not say so, but Christian love results in a better world here on Earth and assurance of the here-after.

Answer to Question 2:

In verse 10 Peter says, "And so I will always remind you of these matters, even though you already know them and are firmly grounded in the truth you have received."

Although a Christian may know how to act with his fellow men, although he may have achieved many of the virtues Peter speaks of in this chapter, there is a tendency for complacency in the heart of every person. Peter feels compelled to remind his readers and intends to continue reminding his readers of their obligations.

Rather like a loving mother who tells her darling children to look both ways before they cross the street, even after they are grown, he wants only to direct his fellow Christians to be the best that they can be.

Answer to Question 3:

Many modern scholars write of an "Historical Jesus" as if he were someone different than the Christ of our faith. They analyze the Gospels and historical documents, looking for the historical facts, trying to piece together a biography of the "man" rather than the "Son of Man".

This is not necessarilly a bad thing. Much can be learned from the life of Jesus, even shed of any religious significance.

Even so, in verse 16 Peter tells us that there is, indeed, an "Historical Jesus". He tells us, "We have not depended on made-up stories in making known to you the mighty coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. With our own eyes we saw his greatness. We were there when he was given honor and glory by God the Father when the voice came to him from the Supreme Glory".

It is the fact of Christ's physical existence that makes us confident in his promises. Historical facts support our faith that Christ fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament. In this age of skepticism many, like Thomas, need to touch the wounds of Jesus. Historical documentation validates the fact that Christ walked among us; he sacrificed himself upon the Cross. As Peter notes, "So we are even more confident of the message proclaimed by the prophets."

Study 2Peter Chapter 2

Letters of Peter Home
Overview
1st Letter
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3
- Chapter 4
- Chapter 5
2nd Letter
- Chapter 1
- Chapter 2
- Chapter 3

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