Let’s get into this great letter and see what the Lord has to teach us today. 2 Peter 1:1-2 are the greeting of the letter, the part that says from: and to: The greeting of this letter reads,
Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Peter likely used his old and new name together to remind the gentiles that he was not always who he had become, he had once been lost, a fisherman trying to make a living, not a teacher, not a leader, just a tradesman doing his best in the world he knew. But he had become a new man, he had become a fisher of men, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, an apostle, a teacher, a man who would do anything at all for his Lord, including die a terrible death, one which was not a long way off. It was in fact looming and Peter knew it, he was in prison with a death sentence hanging over his head.
Peter also called himself a servant, he used the word doulas, which means a slave, servant, or attendant who gives himself up to his master’s will and is completely devoted to his master to the disregard of one's own interests. That is how this apostle, leader of the first century church, and personal friend of Jesus Christ introduced himself, “Peter, the slave, no longer my will, but Jesus’ will.” Peter was not just one of the very special twelve chosen, he was in the inner-circle, one of three men, John, James, and Peter who Jesus spent extra time with, showed special things to, and asked more of. Peter was a big deal! But he remained humble, he introduced himself as wholly belonging to Jesus.
The way Peter referred to himself in the letter brings to mind the commission Jesus gave Him after His resurrection, after Peter’s infamous denial when he saw His beloved friend on the seashore and spoke to Him privately. Jesus too used Peter’s old name and though Peter didn’t know it, spoke prophetically about the great work that lay ahead for him. Peter said, you are not the man who denied me, you are the shepherd I have called you to be. John 21 records Jesus’ third appearance to his friends. Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other disciples were together fishing, but had caught no fish. Jesus appeared on the beach and called out to them, “Did you have any luck?” Not recognizing the speaker, they told him they had not. Jesus said, “Try lowing the net on the right side of the boat!” They did and the net was so full they couldn’t bring it into the boat. At this, Peter recognized his Lord. He dropped everything, including the proceeds from fishing, threw on some clothes and jumped into the sea to swim to his beloved Lord. The rest of the guys caught up, pulled in the fish, and enjoyed the breakfast Jesus made them on the fire he had built for the occasion. Afterward, Jesus and Peter walked, the other disciples following a little ways behind. The narrative continues with John 21:15-19 (The Message)
After breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 He then asked a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Shepherd my sheep.”
17-19 Then he said it a third time: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was upset that he asked for the third time, “Do you love me?” so he answered, “Master, you know everything there is to know. You’ve got to know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”
Jesus charged Peter with being a shepherd to His people, all His people, teaching them caring for them and loving them to prove his love for Him. Peter had so often proved his love to Jesus with impulsive and even foolhardy things. He jumped out of a ship to swim to shore, he cut off a guard’s ear, he begged Jesus not to die, and he stepped out of a boat in the middle of a storm to walk on water like Jesus. But Jesus now said, ‘the way to love me is by loving my people and one day by dying in the manner that scared you so much you pretended not to know me.’ And Jesus knew Peter would, because He had chosen Peter, loved him, taught him, and would give him His Holy Spirit. That is the same Spirit He has given you and me, Believer. Our charge remains the same, if we say we love Jesus, we show it by loving, caring for, and tending His sheep.
Peter addressed the letter to “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” It was common for the Jewish believers to see the gentile believers as less than. The Jews had been taught that every other nation on earth was less than they were because Israel was the chosen people, the other nations were heathens, pagans, and not God’s treasured possession. But Jesus had changed all that, He had given Peter a vision to tell him that was not the case. The Gospel was for all people; Salvation was for everyone. I encourage you to read Acts 10 and see how Jesus spoke to Peter and led him to understand and direct the rest of the apostles to share the Gospel with all nations, not just the Jews. So Peter encouraged the gentile believers that they were equal to their Jewish brothers and sisters, that all believers were equal in God’s sight not by works, not because they deserved it, but because of the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
Do some believers have more righteousness than others? Do some have higher standing in the kingdom? No! We all stand equally saved, chosen by the Father, born again by the blood of Christ, given His righteousness and sealed with the Holy Spirit. There is no A-team, B-team, and C-team. We are all the A-team, one Lord, one Faith, one Spirit, one baptism. Ephesians 4:4-7 says it this way,
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.
After Peter greeted the church, he included a blessing and prayer to the readers and receivers of the letter, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
We have unending grace from our Lord, we have peace so great it is incomprehensible to most people, it is multiplied, increased exponentially not because more is given (all is given), but because as we understand who God is, how wonderful Jesus is that we will recognize grace and peace and experience it more. If you are anxious, if you are wondering and wandering, if you do not feel peace, simply open the word of God and purposely get to know God more intimately. Pray to Him and remember to take the time to listen to His part of the conversation. As you understand more and more of God, you will have that peace that surpasses understanding and you will experience that love that surpasses knowledge. Paul too prayed this for us Ephesians 3:14-21 reads
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
You are so very greatly loved! Knowing who God is and who you are in Christ strengthens you, invigorates you, and gives you faith to keep walking this walk, which is not always easy, but it is amazing and worth it. Regardless of the turmoil, tribulations, or trials that try to impede you, you know Our awesome God uses them for your good and you pray with joy and thanksgiving, you refuse to let that garbage separate you from the knowledge of His amazing love and grace and you have that profound mysterious peace that appears so crazy to the world. They look at you and ask how can you proclaim God’s goodness instead of freak out? Philippians 4:4-9 says it this way,
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, you are not who you once were. You were made by God to be His very own, beloved treasure. You can know God. You have unending grace and peace of Jesus and love that cannot be measured. You are new, born again, with a new name, Spirit, and mind. What the world told you was a flaw, such as Peter’s impetuous nature, is a strength in His Kingdom. Peter’s hotheadedness became a steady burning passion for Jesus. His deep desires to keep Jesus with him, to have Jesus overthrow the Roman Empire, became a deep desire for God’s will not his own to the point that according to history, Nero imprisoned Peter around A.D. 67 and had him executed by crucifixion. Tradition says that Peter said he was not worthy of the same kind of death Jesus died and requested to be crucified upside down. I have no idea if that is truth or myth but we do know that according to multiple historical records Peter was martyred between 67-70 during the same persecution that caused the Dispersion, and that most likely 1 Peter was written just before his arrest by Nero and 2 Peter was written from prison as Peter’s torture was meant to discourage the Christians. Instead, Peter ensured his own suffering would light a fire in the believers and spread the Word of God even further. It certainly did.