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.
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.