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When and to Whom was 2 Peter written?

Before looking at the text of 2 Peter we will establish, as best we can, to whom the book was written and when the work was written.

To Whom

Peter provides a spiritual description of the people in 1:1.  He states they are people who have “obtained a faith of equal standing to ours.”  “Ours” refers to the apostles.  Thus Peter is stating that he is writing to people who have the same quality and object of their faith as the apostles have.  They are Christians and children of God.  They have reached that standing in the same way the apostles have as well. They have reached this standing not by their own achievements, but rather by the righteousness of Jesus, who is God and Savior.

As to physical description the only indication we have is found in 2 Peter 3:1: “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, brethren.”  It is my contention that this refers to 1 Peter.  Thus the audience in 1 Peter is the same as the audience in 2 Peter. 1 Peter gives the location of the audience in 1:1, where it states the audience is those in “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”  Thus Christians in the Northern Galatia area.  I have discussed Peter’s connection with this group in an earlier post (read it here).

 

When is it written

Since this is the second letter by Peter then it has to be written after 1 Peter.  1 Peter was written after 64 A.D. It is in 64 A.D. that Peter is in Rome (the reference to Babylon in 1 Peter seems to be cryptic way of referring to Rome).   Thus 2 Peter has to be written after 64 A.D.  Second, it also has to be written within the lifespan of Peter.  Peter was crucified under the reign of Nero in 68 A.D. Thus the book has to be written before 68 A.D.  The fact that the death of Peter appears in the book to imminent, for instance Peter states he will soon be “deceased” (2 Peter 1:14), seems to put the writing of 2 Peter closer to 68 A.D.  before Peter is killed by Nero.

Another question that arises with regards to dating is Peter’s relationship to Jude.  There is no doubt that Peter and Jude share similarities.  They described false teachers in much the same way, they use the same Old Testament examples, and they both refer to previous predictions of the uprising of false teachers.  This similarity has been explained in one of four ways.  One, these similarities are there because both Peter and Jude shared the same inspiring Spirit. Two, Peter and Jude used common descriptions of their time.  Three, Peter had a copy of Jude and used Jude’s language in writing 2 Peter 2.  Four, Jude had a copy of 2 Peter and used Peter’s language in writing Jude.  Of course a c0mbination of the four is possible.

This potentially could effect dating.  If you believe in the view of common descriptions of their time or the same inspiring Spirit explaining the similarities between Jude and 2 Peter, then it has no effect on dating.  If you are convinced that the final two possibilities are legitimate, then the dating of both Jude and 2 Peter hinge on who used who.

My contention is that if either author used the language of the previous author to drive home the point, much like other authors have applied and used previous Scripture to make their point, then it is Jude who used Peter.  I make this contention primarily because 2 Peter 2 is written in the future tense, while Jude is written in the present tense. It seems Peter is pointing toward what will happen, while Jude is saying what was predicted has happened.

However, if you believe that Peter used Jude that still does not change the date of 2 Peter. It is possible that Jude wrote as early as the 50s, but it seems he wrote in the mid-to-late 60s.  Thus Peter could have had access to Jude by the time of his writing and still completed 2 Peter by the time of his death in 68 A.D.

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5 Comments

  1. Just regarding Peter and Babylon ,which i believe was were he established a Church. This was literal Babylon , as there was quite a Jewish community living there, it has nothing to do with Rome. There is little evidence of Peter ever being in Rome.

  2. I enjoy the book of 2peter when i was doing my project, very interesting

  3. 2Peter of today was written in 3rd or 4th century by Romans that view paul-ine doctrine as righteous as opposed to the teachings of Nazarenes .

  4. In Peter II

    Peter is dying of natural causes. There is only regret he will not be alive for the return. He speaks of the truth of the faith. Based on actual events. He is every bit the rock until the end. He is writing to the same area as Paul in Galatians. Unlike in Galatians he does not elevate himself by bashing Paul.
    There is no comparison between

    Trouble me no more because I bear the stripes of Christ.

    and

    My friends may you grow in grace and in the knowledge of out Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    There is little doubt this is composed by Peter but I would place the date at 60 AD and the writing in Jerusalem. This would be before the Epistle to the Galatians arrived with its harsh language. The years in Galatians plus the trip and two year stay in Rome, as in Acts, also brings us to 60 AD.

    In Peter 1
    The Church in Babylon is a reference to his wife. It comes just before the salutation from his son.

  5. Trevor you are correct. The use of Babylon as a “cryptic way of saying Rome” was used by the Roman Catholic Church to justify their twisting of the scriptures to say that Peter was the first pope. First of all, the article above doesn’t adequately point to the fact that Peter, Jude, Paul, etc. were all inspired by the Holy Spirit while writing these letters. This wasn’t a copy of another letter, these men were not writing what they “believed” as if they deduced these things of their own volition, they were guided by the Holy Spirit in order to write the will of God in a letter. To say otherwise is unscriptural and is also a means to take some of the legitimacy away from the Bible itself. These were not the “works of men” but the holy Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

    The places suggested were: (a.) Babylon in Egypt (b.) Jerusalem (c.) Rome (d.) Babylon on the Euphrates. Those who propose Jerusalem or Rome assign to the title Babylon as figurative. There is no evidence that Jerusalem was ever called Babylon in a figurative sense; and it was long after the writing of both epistles of Peter that such a designation was applied to Rome. What we actually find is that there is ample scriptural evidence that points to Peter never having been in Rome! It was Paul who brought the Gospel to Rome not Peter.

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