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1. Authorship. The genuineness of this epistle has been more questioned than that of any other book in the New Testament.2 The external evidence for it is comparatively meagre. We seem to hear echoes of its language in some of the earliest post-apostolic works, but the first writer to make express and unmistakable mention of it is Origen (230 A.D.), and he does so in such a manner as to show that he has doubts about its genuineness. A century later it is classed by Eusebius among the disputed books of the New Testament.
The difficulty of accepting it as a genuine writing of Peter has chiefly arisen, both in ancient and in modern times, from its differing so greatly in tone and substance from the first epistle, written, as we have seen, near the close of Peter's life. There is scarcely any reference in
1 On the connection between these two epistles, see p. 176.
2 The question of genuineness is of more than ordinary importance, as the epistle is written throughout in the name and with the authority of the Apostle Peter. With few exceptions, however, recent critics assign it to the second century.
it to our Saviour's sufferings or resurrection, which figure so largely in the first epistle; and what it chiefly inculcates is knowledge rather than hope.
But, apart from the versatility of Peter's mind, this difference in the character of the two epistles may to some extent be accounted for by the different circumstances under which they were written. While the first epistle was evidently designed to encourage and support Christians under persecution, this later one was intended to warn them against false teachers who were spreading corruption in the Church. At the same time this epistle, like the first, is eminently practical, insisting on the necessity of Christian duty for the perfecting of Christian knowledge, emphasising the danger of knowledge without practice (i. 5-10; ii. 20, 21), and giving a practical turn to the argument (iii. 11, 14). Moreover, amid the general difference of style a close examination of the language and thought in this epistle brings out many points of resemblance between it and Peter's language elsewhere. A likeness to the first epistle will be found on a comparison of the undernoted passages.1 It may also be seen in the frequent use of twofold expressions, e.g. (in this epistle) "precious and exceeding great," "not idle nor unfruitful," "without spot and blameless " (i. 4, 8, 9, 19; ii. 3, 10, 13, etc.), and in the marked recurrence in both epistles of the word "holy." A number of verbal coincidences have also been observed between this epistle and the Gospel of Mark as well as between it and Peter's speeches in the Book of Acts; but they are for the most part of such a nature as can only be appreciated by a student of the original.2
1 i. 2, 1 Pet. i. 2; i. 7, 1 Pet. i. 22, iii. 8; i. 19, 20, 1 Pet. i. 10-12; ii. 1, 1 Pet. i. 18; iii. 5, Pet. iii. 20; i. 3, 1 Pet. v. 10; iii. 14, 1 Pet. i. 19.
2 Traced by Dr. Lumby in Speaker's Commentary, and Expositor, vol. iv., First Series.
It has also been found that this epistle, like the first, is distinguished by the use of rare words, of a striking and pictorial character, after the manner of Peter, but not borrowed from the first: e.g. "whose sentence now from of old lingereth not" (ii. 3), "turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes" (ii. 6), "enticing unstedfast souls," "they entice in the lusts of the flesh" (ii. 14, 18) (the word translated "entice" meaning literally to take with a bait, being such a word as a fisherman would naturally use), "which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures" (iii. 16) (the Greek word for "wrest" meaning to put on the rack for the purpose of extorting a desired confession).
It has been remarked as a note of genuineness that although the writer was evidently acquainted with the first epistle (iii. 1) he does not copy its designation of the apostle, as a deliberate forger might have been expected to do, nor does he attach the same address to the epistle, nor conclude with the same doxology (i. 1, 1 Pet. i. 1).1 Similarly, the words spoken by the voice from heaven at the Transfiguration are not given exactly as they are reported in the Gospels; and in the same passage two words are employed, "tabernacle" and " decease," that would naturally be associated in Peter's mind with the memory of that great incident (i. 14-18, cf. Luke ix. 31-33), while the expression "even as our Lord Jesus Christ signified unto me," seems to contain an allusion to our Lord's prophecy of Peter's death in John xxi. 18, 19.2
1 On the other hand, an argument against the Petrine authorship has been found in the frequent occurrence of such expressions as our Lord Jesus Christ," Four Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ," "Jesus our Lord,"-instead of "Jesus Christ" commonly used in 1 Pet.
2 In the recurrence of the word "stablish" (Luke xxii. 32, R.V.), under a variety of forms, we have probably an illustration of the same retrospective tendency, which may be discerned also in the first epistle.
2. The Readers.-This epistle bears to be addressed to the same readers as the first (see p. 166).
3. Date and Place of Composition. There is a strong probability that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. Otherwise such an impressive instance of divine judgment could scarcely have been left unnoticed in alluding to the retributive justice of God.
At the same time the errors and dangers described in this epistle, which bear a strong resemblance, in some respects, to those referred to in the pastoral epistles (1 Tim. iv. 1, 2; vi. 5, 20, 21; 2 Tim. ii. 18; iii. 1-7), prove that it could not have been written much sooner than 70 A.D. In keeping with this is the allusion to Paul's epistles (iii. 15, 16), and also the frequency of the expression "put in remembrance" and kindred words (i. 12, 13, 15; iii. 1, 2). The fact that Paul's epistles are here ranked with "the other scriptures" is held by many to prove that this tract was written long after Peter's death.
Like the first epistle, this was probably written from Rome; but the use of the apostle's Hebrew name of Symeon, or Simon (i. 1), as well as the connection of this epistle with that of Jude, would seem to indicate a Palestinian influence of some sort, either in the person of the author or his amanuensis.
4. Character and Contents.-This epistle, unlike the first, is full of denunciation and warning. It was designed to put its readers on their guard against false teachers, who were enticing unsteadfast souls, "promising them liberty while they themselves are bondservants of corruption." In opposition to their immoral doctrines it inculcates a steady and persevering endeavour after holiness as the only way to advance in true knowledge and secure an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ. In particular, the writer seeks to confute the arguments and counteract the influence of certain scoffers who made light of the Second Coming, as if it were a vain delusion, and appealed to the constancy of Nature as a warrant for their unbelief. The delay of the divine judgment the writer attributes to the fact that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," alleging the delay to be a proof of God's mercy and long-suffering. The destruction of the world in the days of Noah is cited as an act of divine judgment analogous to that which is to take place at the end of the world, when the destroying element, however, shall be not water but fire. From the dread catastrophe there shall arise "new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness," for which Christians ought to be preparing; and the epistle concludes much in the same way as it commenced, with a call to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
The intrinsic worth of the epistle is well expressed by Calvin when he says, "the majesty of the Spirit of Christ exhibits itself in every part of the epistle."
1. Authorship.-—“Judas, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James." It may be regarded as certain that the James whom the writer here claims as his brother was the well-known head of the Church at Jerusalem, one of our Lord's brethren, and the writer of the epistle that bears his name (cf. Matt. xiii. 55; Mark vi. 3). Jude is therefore not to be identified with any of the apostles of the same name mentioned in the Gospels. Had he been an apostle he would doubtless have claimed