by Acton Beard
The Peter of the Gospels is radically different from the Peter we see in Acts and in his two epistles. In the Gospels, though in Jesus' inner circle (with James and John) he is full of bravado and good intentions but unable in character or spiritual maturity to follow through. The three times, by a fire, he falls from grace when he blatantly denies knowing Jesus at all. In Luke 22:61-62, the Lord being led through the courtyard by his captors, turns to gaze at Peter who remembers in that instant that his betrayal was foretold, and he bursts into tears over his conviction of his guilt and sin.
Flipping over to John's gospel and chapter 21, we read the precious story of Peter's reinstatement by grace as again, three times by a fire, Jesus asks him if he loves Him. The first two times, Jesus uses the Greek word, "agape" which is the highest form of love to challenge Peter. And in his response, Peter acknowledges his capacity to "phileo" (meaning brotherly love, a step down from agape) love for Jesus. Then the third time, Jesus asks using "phileo" and Peter understands that Jesus understands that in his human frailty, he is not capable of being more than he is. With that understanding and redemption by the grace of our Lord, comes Peter's maturity and boldness to stand for what he knows to be true as never before. It's then that Jesus commissions Peter and from this point forward we see a very different man.
This is important in our appreciation of Peter's passionate writing in all that follows in the second epistle in particular. Peter has lived the other side of his message, making it all the more powerful for us. This letter includes critical statements for every believer in inwardly digest:
Among those are:
-- Chapter 1:3 "EVERYTHING we could ever need for life and godliness HAS ALREADY BEEN DEPOSITED IN US by His divine power."
-- Faith's Ladder of Virtue, Chapter 1:5-7 "Lavishly supplement your faith with goodness, and to goodness add understanding and to understanding add self control and to self control add patient endurance and to patient endurance add godliness and to godliness add mercy towards others and to mercy add unending love."
--Chapter 1:16 "We were not retelling some masterfully crafter legend when we told you about His transfiguration and glory for we saw His magnificence and splendor unveiled before our eyes."
--Chapter 1:19- the written message of the prophets has been made more reliable and fully validated by the confirming voice of God on the Mount of Transfiguration..
--Chapter 1:20 "interpretation of scripture prophecy requires the Holy Spirit for it doesn't originate in someone's imagination. No true prophecy comes from human initiative, but is inspired by the moving of the Holy Spirit upon those who spoke the message from God."
Additionally there are several passanges on our need to beware of false teachers and finally, how to be prepared for the coming Day of the Lord, which is to lead holy lives. "
AND, if we are impatient for the Day of His return, we must remember that it is out of His loving patience for us as "He doesn't want anyone to perish but all to come to repentence." Chapter 3:10.
There is always powerful, personal testimony and opportunity for prayer in our conversations around our readings and study. We will break til mid summer but are always open to newcomers so watch for updates on our next study. May God richlly bless your efforts to grow deeply in His love.