"THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER" Chapter Three OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To be reminded that there will be scoffers of the promise of the Lord's coming 2) To review the catastrophic events to occur when the Lord returns, and the promise of new heavens and a new earth 3) To note Peter's estimation of Paul as a brother and his epistles as Scripture 4) To carefully consider the twofold admonition at the end of the epistle SUMMARY In this final chapter Peter seeks to stir up his readers by reminding them to give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles of the Lord. Especially as it relates to promise of His coming, for in the last days scoffers will come who conveniently forget that the Word which tells of the judgment day by fire was also the same Word which brought about the destruction of the world by the flood. Any delay is not to be construed as slackness on the Lord's part, for time means nothing to the Lord. Rather, delay is an indication of the Lord's longsuffering, who does not want any to perish but for all to repent (1-9). When the day of the Lord does come, it will be unexpected like a thief in the night. A mighty conflagration will dissolve the heavens and the earth with all its works. In anticipation of such things, Christians are to focus on holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening that day when God's promise will be fulfilled of new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (10-13). We should view the longsuffering of the Lord as opportunity for salvation, even as Paul wrote in his epistles of such things (though unlearned and unstable souls have twisted his words to their own destruction, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures). With admonitions to beware lest they fall, and to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, Peter brings his second epistle to a close with a doxology to Christ (14-18). OUTLINE I. THE SCOFFERS WILL COME (1-9) A. REMEMBER THE WORDS SPOKEN BEFORE (1-4) 1. Peter writes this second epistle to stir up his readers by way of reminder 2. To be mindful of the prophets' words and the apostles' commandments 3. That scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts a. Questioning the promise of the Lord's coming b. Declaring that all things continue as they were since creation B. REMEMBER THE WORLD WAS DESTROYED BEFORE (5-7) 1. Which the scoffers willfully forget 2. That the world once perished being flooded with water 3. The same word that brought destruction by water now promises judgment by fire a. The heavens and the earth which now exists are reserved for fire b. When comes the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men C. REMEMBER THE LORD'S TIMELESSNESS AND LONGSUFFERING (8-9) 1. Do not forget that time means nothing to the Lord a. One day is as a thousand years b. A thousand years is as one day 2. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, but longsuffering a. Not willing that any perish b. But that all should repent II. THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME (10-18) A. UNEXPECTED WITH CATACLYSMIC DESTRUCTION (10-12) 1. The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night 2. The heavens and the earth be dissolved a. The heavens will pass away with a great noise b. The elements will melt with fervent heat c. The earth and its works will be burned up d. The heavens will be dissolved being on fire 3. Since all these things will be dissolved... a. What manner of persons ought we to be in holy conduct and godliness? b. Looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God? B. EXPECTED BY THOSE WHO ARE LOOKING (13-18) 1. According to His promise, we look forward a. To new heavens and a new earth b. In which righteousness dwells 2. Looking forward to these things, we should be diligent a. To be found by Him in peace b. To be without spot and blameless 3. We thus consider the longsuffering of the Lord to be salvation a. Of which the beloved brother Paul has written, according to the wisdom given him b. In which are some things hard to understand, which the unstable and untaught twist to their own destruction 4. Knowing such things beforehand, we should beware and grow a. Beware lest we fall from our own steadfastness, led away with the error of the wicked b. Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 5. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The scoffers will come (1-9) - The day of the Lord will come (10-18) 2) How did Peter seek to stir up his readers' minds? (1-2) - By reminding them of the words of the prophets and the commandments of the apostles 3) What would scoffers be saying in the last days? (3-4) - "Where is the promise of His coming?" - "For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." 4) What do they willfully forget? (5-6) - That by the Word of God the world was once destroyed by water 5) What does the Word of God say concerning the heavens and the earth? (7) - They are kept in store and reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men 6) What should we be careful not to forget? (8) - That time is meaningless to the Lord - With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day 7) How will the day of the Lord come? (9) - As a thief in the night 8) What will happen when that day comes? (9) - The heavens will pass away with a great noise - The elements will melt with fervent heat - The earth and the works that are in it will be burned up 9) Since all these things will be dissolved, what should we do? (11-12) - Concern ourselves with holy conduct and godliness - Look for and hasten the coming of the day of God 10) Again, what will happen to the heavens and the elements? (12) - The heavens will be dissolved being on fire - The elements will melt with fervent heat 11) Despite such an end, what do we look for according to His promise? (13) - New heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells 12) Looking forward to such things, about what should we be diligent? (14) - To be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless 13) How should we view the longsuffering of the Lord? (15) - Salvation 14) Who else wrote about such things? How? (15-16) - Our beloved brother Paul - According to the wisdom given him 15) How does Peter describe the epistles of Paul? (16) - As speaking of these things - In which are some things hard to understand 16) What do the untaught and unstable do with such writings of Paul? (16) - They twist them to their own destruction 17) In what category does Peter place the writings of Paul? (16) - As part of "the Scriptures" 18) Knowing such things beforehand, what warning does Peter give his readers? (17) - Beware lest you fall from your own steadfast, being led away with the error of the wicked 19) What final admonition does Peter give to his readers? (18) - Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
"THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER" Chapter Two OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To examine Peter's detailed description of false teachers 2) To be aware of their techniques in leading others astray, and their sad end 3) To ascertain whether or not these false teachers had ever been true Christians SUMMARY One of the themes of Peter's second epistle is "beware of false teachers", and such is the focus of the second chapter. Just as there were false prophets in Old Testament times, so there would be false teachers. Peter first describes the destructiveness of false teachers. Denying the Lord who bought them, they will secretly introduce destructive heresies. Many will follow them, and the way of truth will be blasphemed. But they will bring swift destruction on themselves (1-3). Illustrating the doom of false teachers, Peter reminds his readers of what happen to the angels who sinned, the ancient world destroyed by the flood, and the fiery end of Sodom and Gomorrah. Surely God knows how to reserve the wicked for the day of punishment, and the example of Lot shows that He also knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations (4-9). Peter then discusses the depravity of false teachers. In arrogance they revile against authority, all the while reveling in pleasure and lusts as they circulate among the Christians they seek to influence. Like the prophet Balaam, they are motivated by the wages of unrighteousness and have forsaken the right way. Empty of true substance, they are like wells without water, clouds tossed by a tempest (10-17). Finally, Peter describes the deceptions of false teachers. In both their methods and promises they seek to deceive those who like them had once escaped the pollutions of the world. But the false teachers are once again enslaved by such pollutions and their last end is worse than the beginning (18-22). OUTLINE I. THE DESTRUCTIVENESS OF FALSE TEACHERS (1-3) A. THEIR DESTRUCTIVE HERESIES (1-2) 1. Just as there were false prophets, so there will be false teachers 2. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them 3. Many will follow their destructive ways, and the truth will be blasphemed B. THEIR DESTRUCTIVE METHODS (1,3) 1. They bring in their heresies secretly 2. They will exploit through covetousness and deceptive words C. THEIR DESTRUCTIVE END (1,3) 1. They will bring swift destruction on themselves 2. Their judgment is not idle, their destruction does not slumber II. THE DOOM OF FALSE TEACHERS (4-9) A. THE EXAMPLE OF ANGELS WHO SINNED (4) 1. God did not spare the angels who sinned 2. He cast them down to hell (Tartarus) 3. Delivered them to chains of darkness, reserved for judgment B. THE EXAMPLE OF THE FLOOD (5) 1. God did not spare the ancient world, bringing the flood on the ungodly 2. He saved Noah and his family of eight, a preacher of righteousness C. THE EXAMPLE OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH (6-8) 1. God turned the cities into ashes, condemning them to destruction 2. He made them an example to those who would live ungodly 3. He delivered righteous Lot a. Who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked b. Who was tormented daily by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds D. GOD WILL DELIVER THE GODLY, PUNISH THE UNJUST (9) 1. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations 2. He will reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment III. THE DEPRAVITY OF FALSE TEACHERS (10-17) A. REVILING AGAINST AUTHORITY (10-13a) 1. They walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness 2. They despise authority, are presumptuous, self-willed 3. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, unlike angels a. Who are greater in power and might b. Who do not bring reviling accusations before the Lord 4. They are like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed a. Speaking evil of things they do not understand b. Who will utterly perish in their own corruption c. Who will receive the wages of unrighteousness B. REVELING WITH GREAT PLEASURE (13b-14) 1. They count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime 2. Spots and blemishes, they carouse in their own deceptions while feasting with Christians 3. They have eyes full of adultery that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls 4. They have hearts trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children C. REVOLTING AGAINST THE RIGHT WAY (15-17) 1. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray 2. Like Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness a. Who was rebuked for his iniquity b. His madness restrained by donkey speaking with a man's voice 3. They are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest 4. For who the gloom of darkness is reserved forever IV. THE DECEPTIONS OF FALSE TEACHERS (18-22) A. DECEPTIVE IN THEIR METHODS (18) 1. They speak great swelling words of emptiness 2. They allure those who have escaped through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness B. DECEPTIVE IN THEIR PROMISES (19) 1. They promise liberty, while they themselves are slaves of corruption 2. For by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage C. WHOSE LATTER END IS WORSE THAN THE BEGINNING (20-22) 1. Having become entangled and overcome by the pollutions of the world which they had escaped through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 2. It would have been better not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them 3. It has happened to them according to the proverb a. "A dog returns to his own vomit" b. "A sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire" REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The destructiveness of false teachers (1-3) - The doom of false teachers (4-9) - The depravity of false teachers (10-17) - The deceptions of false teachers (18-22) 2) What does Peter warn that false teachers will do? (1) - Secretly bring in destructive heresies - Even denying the Lord who bought them 3) What impact will such false teachers have? (2) - Many will follow their destructive ways - The way of truth will be blasphemed 4) How will such teachers exploit people? (3) - By covetousness, with deceptive words 5) What three examples does Peter use to illustrate the doom of false teachers? (4-6) - The angels who sinned and were cast down to hell - The ancient world destroyed by the flood - The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah turned into ashes 6) How was Lot oppressed by living in Sodom? (7-8) - Every day seeing and hearing the filthy conduct of wicked 7) What two things does the Lord know to do? (9) - How to deliver the godly out of temptations - How to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment 8) Who in particular will receive such punishment? (10) - Those who walk in uncleanness and despise authority - Those who are presumptuous and self-willed; not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries 9) What are angels unwilling to do? (11) - Bring reviling accusations against dignitaries before the Lord 10) How does Peter further describe the false teachers? (12-14) - They speak evil of things they do not understand - They count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime - They have eyes full of adultery, beguiling unstable souls - They have hearts trained in covetousness, and are accursed children 11) In whose way have such false teachers followed? (15-16) - Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness and was rebuked by a donkey 12) How else does Peter describe these false teachers? (17) - As wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest - For whom the gloom of darkness is reserved 13) How are the false teachers able to allure others? (18) - By speaking great swelling words of emptiness - Through the lusts of the flesh and licentiousness 14) Who will they seek to allure? (18) - The ones who have escaped from those living in error 15) In promising others liberty, what are they themselves? Why? (19) - Slaves of corruption - For by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage 16) What had these false teachers once escaped? How? (20) - The pollutions of the world - Through the knowledge of Jesus Christ 17) What had then happened to them? (20) - They were again entangled in the pollutions of the world and overcome 18) How had their latter end become worse for them than the beginning? (20-21) - It would have better for them not to have known the way of righteousness - Than knowing it, to then turn from the holy commandment 19) What twofold proverb does Peter use to describe their sorry condition? (22) - A dog returns to his own vomit - A sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire 20) What in this chapter reveals that these false teachers had once been saved? (1,15,20,21, 22) - The Lord had bought them - They have forsaken the right way - They had escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of Jesus - They had known the way of righteousness - Like a sow, they had been washed
"THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER" Chapter One OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER 1) To note the value of growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ 2) To understand what is involved in growing in the knowledge of Jesus 3) To appreciate the importance of being reminded of things we already know 4) To see that our faith relies on both eyewitness testimony and prophetic fulfillment SUMMARY Peter addresses his second epistle to those with like precious faith, evidently the same recipients to whom he wrote his first epistle (3:1; cf. 1Pe 1:1). His benediction of grace and peace is bestowed in connection with the knowledge of God and Jesus, hinting at one of the main themes of this epistle. Reference is then made to God's divine power as the source of all things that pertain to life and godliness, including precious promises by which those who have escaped worldly lusts may now be partakers of the divine nature (1-4). In view of such blessings, Peter exhorts his readers to diligently abound in graces that will render them fruitful in the knowledge of Christ. Failure to do so would be indicative of grave spiritual malady, while diligence in doing so will ensure their calling and election, resulting in an abundant entrance into the heavenly kingdom of Jesus Christ (5-11). Peter then explains why he would write such things when he knows they are well established in them. In light of his impending death, he wants to stir them up and make sure they will always be mindful of these things after he is gone (12-15). He also reminds them of the nature of his testimony concerning power and coming of the Lord. He was an eyewitness, not a deceiver with cunningly devised fables. As an example, reference is made to the events he witnessed on the Mount of Transfiguration (16-18; cf. Mt 17:1-9). Peter then exhorts them to give careful heed to the prophetic word made sure, for it will serve as a light in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in their heart. Such prophecies are to be heeded because they come from men who were moved by the Holy Spirit (19-21). OUTLINE I. INTRODUCTION (1-2) A. THE AUTHOR (1a) 1. Peter 2. A bondservant and apostles of Jesus Christ B. THE RECIPIENTS (1b) 1. Those who have obtained like precious faith 2. By the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ C. GREETINGS (2) 1. Grace and peace be multiplied 2. In the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord II. GROW IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE (3-21) A. WITH PRECIOUS GIFTS FROM GOD (3-4) 1. His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness a. Through the knowledge of Him b. Who called us by glory and virtue 2. His glory and virtue has given us exceedingly great and precious promises a. Through which we may be partakers of the divine nature b. Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust B. ABOUNDING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST (5-11) 1. Diligent to add to our faith: a. Virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance b. Godliness, brotherly kindness, love 2. Diligent to make our call and election sure a. Abounding in these graces, neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ b. Not lacking in these graces, neither shortsighted nor forgetful of our cleansing c. Ensuring that we do not stumble, but have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ C. STIRRED UP BY CAREFUL REMINDER (12-21) 1. By one who knows his death is imminent a. Who desires not to be negligent in reminding them b. Even though they know and are established in the present truth c. Who thinks it right to stir them up by way of reminder d. Knowing he will shortly put off his tent, as Jesus showed him e. To ensure they will always have a reminder of these things after his death 2. Whose eyewitness testimony along with the prophetic Word we should heed a. He did not offer cunningly devised fables 1) When proclaiming the power and coming of the Lord 2) But was an eyewitness of His majesty 3) Such as when Christ received honor and glory from God the Father on the Mount of Transfiguration b. We also have the prophetic word confirmed 1) Which we do well to heed a) As a light in a dark place b) Until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts 2) Knowing the prophetic nature of Scripture a) It was not of private interpretation (origin), or by the will of man b) But holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - Introduction (1-2) - Grow In Grace And Knowledge (3-21) 2) To whom does Peter address this epistle (1) - To those who have obtained like precious faith 3) In what way are grace and peace multiplied for the Christian? (2) - In the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord 4) What has God's divine power given to us? How? (3) - All things that pertain to life and godliness - Through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue 5) What else has been given to us? Why? (4) - Exceedingly great and precious promises - That we might be partakers of the divine nature - Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust 6) What spiritual graces are we to diligently add to our faith? (5-7) - Virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love 7) What will be our condition if we abound in these graces? (8) - Neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ 8) What will be our condition if we lack these graces? (9) - Shortsighted, even to blindness - Forgetful of being purged from our old sins 9) What benefit will there be in doing these things? (10-11) - We will make our calling and election sure - We will never stumble - We will have an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ 10) What was Peter careful to ensure concerning these things? (12,15) - To remind them always, even though they know them and are well established - To leave them a reminder of these things after his decease 11) What did Peter hope to accomplish? What did he know would soon happen? (13-14) - To stir them by reminding them - He would put off his tent (i.e., die), just as Jesus showed him 12) In making known the power and coming of the Lord Jesus, what did Peter claim? (16) - He did not follow cunningly devised fables - He was an eyewitness of the Lord's majesty 13) What experience in Jesus' life does Peter refer to as an example of witnessing the Lord's honor and glory? (17-18) - The transfiguration on the mount (cf. Mt 17:1-9; Mk 9:2-9; Lk 9: 28-36) 14) In addition to apostolic testimony, what else do we have to which we should give careful heed? (19) - The prophetic word made more sure 15) How does this word serve us? (19) - As a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in our hearts 16) What should be remembered regarding the prophetic word? (20-21) - No prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation (i.e., origin) - Prophecy did not come by the will of men, by holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit
"THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PETER" Introduction AUTHOR The apostle Peter, as stated in the salutation (1:1). The writer claims to have had special revelation from the Lord concerning his demise (1:14; cf. Jn 21:18-19), and to have been present when the Lord was transfigured on the mountain (1:16-18; cf. Mt 17:1-9). He also alludes to the first epistle (3:1), and acknowledges acquaintance with the apostle Paul (3:15). Ether Peter wrote it, or it is a blatant forgery. The external evidence reveals that this epistle was slow to be accepted by many in the church. Eusebius (300 A.D.) considered it among doubtful books, but Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.) accepted it, and Robertson's Word Pictures notes that those who alluded to it in their writings include Justin Martyr (165 A.D.), Irenaeus (185 A.D.), Ignatius (107 A.D.), and Clement of Rome (96 A.D.). RECIPIENTS The letter is addressed to those "who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" (1:1). The author notes this is the second epistle he has written to them (3:1). If it is indeed the second epistle written to the same audience as First Peter, then the recipients were those Christian "pilgrims" (cf. 1Pe 1:1; 2:11) who were living in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, provinces in what is now Turkey. TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING Peter makes reference to his imminent death (1:14). It is generally accepted that Peter died during the reign of Nero. Since Nero committed suicide in 68 A.D., the epistle must be dated before then. The epistle was therefore probably written sometime during 67 A.D. The place of writing is uncertain, though if written while imprisoned shortly before his death, it would have been from Rome. PURPOSE OF THE EPISTLE Peter states His purpose very clearly in writing this epistle: * To stir up his brethren by way of reminder (1:12-15; 3:1) Knowing his death is imminent (1:13-14), Peter wanted to ensure that his readers remain established in the truth (1:12), and be mindful of both the words spoken before by the prophets and the commandments given by the apostles, especially in regards to the promise of the Lord's return (3:1-4). THEME OF THE EPISTLE The theme of 2nd Peter can be gleaned from its last two verses (3:17-18), and stated as: "BEWARE, BUT GROW" He warns Christians to beware lest they fall from their steadfastness, being led away by error. At the same time, he exhorts them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. After the opening salutation, virtually every verse of the epistle is either an encouragement to grow or a warning against false teachers (including those who scoff at the idea of the Lord returning). KEY VERSES: 2 Peter 3:17-18 "You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen." OUTLINE INTRODUCTION (1:1-2) 1. From Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ (1:1a) 2. To those who have obtained like precious faith (1:1b) 3. Grace and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and Jesus (1:2) I. GROW IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE (1:3-21) A. WITH PRECIOUS GIFTS FROM GOD (1:3-4) 1. All things that pertain to life and godliness (1:3) 2. Exceedingly great and precious promises (1:4) B. ABOUNDING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST (1:5-11) 1. Supplying our faith with Christ-like graces (1:5-7) 2. Making our call and election sure (1:8-11) C. STIRRED UP BY CAREFUL REMINDER (1:12-21) 1. By one who knows his death is imminent (1:12-15) 2. Whose eyewitness testimony along with the prophetic Word we should heed (1:16-21) II. BEWARE OF FALSE TEACHERS (2:1-22) A. THEIR DESTRUCTIVENESS (2:1-3) 1. Their destructive heresies (2:1-2) 2. Their destructive methods (2:1,3) 3. Their destructive end (2:1,3) B. THEIR DOOM (2:4-9) 1. The example of the angels who sinned (2:4) 2. The example of the flood (2:5) 3. The example of Sodom and Gomorrah (2:6-8) 4. God will deliver the godly, and punish the unjust (2:9) C. THEIR DEPRAVITY (2:10-17) 1. Reviling against authority (2:10-12) 2. Reveling with great pleasure (2:13-14) 3. Revolting against the right way (2:15-17) D. THEIR DECEPTIONS (2:18-22) 1. Deceptive in their methods (2:18) 2. Deceptive in their promises (2:19) 3. Whose latter end is worse than the beginning (2:20-22) III. LOOK FOR THE LORD'S RETURN (3:1-18) A. THOUGH SCOFFERS WILL COME (3:1-9) 1. Who forget the world was destroyed by water (3:1-7) 2. Do not forget that the Lord is not bound by time, and is longsuffering (3:8-9) B. FOR THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME (3:10-18) 1. As a thief in the night, with cataclysmic destruction (3:10,12) 2. For which we should be ready, with holy conduct, looking for the promise of new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (3:11,13-14) 3. Remembering that the Lord's longsuffering is salvation, as Paul wrote (3:15-16) 4. So beware lest you fall, growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (3:17-18) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION 1) To whom was this second epistle of Peter written? (1:1; 3:1) - To those who had obtained a like precious faith - To those who had received the first epistle 2) What region of the world did they live in? - Modern day Turkey 3) When was this epistle possibly written? - 67 A.D. 4) Where was Peter when he wrote this epistle? - In Rome 5) What purpose did Peter have in writing this epistle? (1:12-15; 3:1) - To stir up his brethren by way reminder 6) What is suggested as the theme of this epistle? - Beware, but grow 7) What is suggested as the key verses in this epistle? - 1Pe 3:17-18 8) According to the outline above, what are main divisions of this epistle? - Grow in grace and knowledge - Beware of false teachers - Look for the Lord's return
God’s Soap Recipe
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
When Old Testament instructions are compared to the New Testament explanations for those actions, it becomes clear that many of the ancient injunctions were primarily symbolic in nature. For instance, when the Passover Lamb was eaten, none of its bones was to be broken. This symbolized the sacrifice of Christ, Whose side was pierced, yet even in death escaped the usual practice of having His legs broken (John 19:31-37).
With all the symbolism in the Old Testament, it is important that we do not overlook the Old Testament instructions that were pragmatic in value and that testify to a Master Mind behind the writing of the Law. One such directive is found in Numbers 19, where the Israelites were instructed to prepare the “water of purification” that was to be used to wash any person who had touched a dead body.
At first glance, the water of purification sounds like a hodge-podge of superstitious potion-making that included the ashes of a red heifer, hyssop, cedar wood, and scarlet wool. But this formula was the farthest thing from a symbolic potion intended to “ward off evil spirits.” On the contrary, the recipe for the water of purification stands today as a wonderful example of God’s brilliance, since the recipe is nothing less than a procedure to produce an antibacterial soap.
When we look at the ingredients individually, we begin to see the value of each. First, consider the ashes of a red heifer. As most school children know, the pioneers in this country could not go to the nearest supermarket and buy their favorite personal-hygiene products. If they needed soap or shampoo, they made it themselves. Under such situations, they concocted various recipes for soap. One of the most oft’-produced types of soap was lye soap. Practically anyone today can easily obtain a recipe for lye soap via a quick search of the Internet. The various lye-soap recipes reveal that, to obtain lye, water was poured through ashes. The water retrieved from pouring it through the ashes contained a concentration of lye. Lye, in high concentrations, is very caustic and irritating to the skin. It is, in fact, one of the main ingredients in many modern chemical mixtures used to unclog drains. In more diluted concentrations, it can be used as an excellent exfoliate and cleansing agent. Many companies today still produce lye soaps. Amazingly, through God’s inspiration, Moses instructed the Israelites to prepare a mixture that would have included lye mixed in a diluted solution.
Furthermore, consider that hyssop also was added to the “water of purification.” Hyssop contains the antiseptic thymol, the same ingredient that we find today in some brands of mouthwash (McMillen and Stern, 2000, p. 24). Hyssop oil continues to be a popular “healing oil,” and actually is quite expensive. In listing the benefits of Hyssop, one Web site noted: “Once used for purifying temples and cleansing lepers, the leaves contain an antiseptic, antiviral oil. A mold that produces penicillin grows on the leaves. An infusion is taken as a sedative expectorant for flue, bronchitis, and phlegm” (see “Hyssop”).
Two other ingredients stand out as having cleansing properties. The oil from the cedar wood in the mixture provided a minor skin irritant that would have encouraged scrubbing. And the scarlet wool (see Hebrews 9:19) added wool fibers to the concoction, making it the “ancient equivalent of Lava® soap” (McMillen and Stern, 2000, p. 25).
Thousands of years before any formal studies were done to see what type of cleaning methods were the most effective; millennia before American pioneers concocted their lye solutions; and ages before our most advanced medical students knew a thing about germ theory, God gave the Israelites an award-winning recipe for soap.
McMillen, S.I. and David Stern (2000), None of These Diseases (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell), third edition.
“Hyssop” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.taoherbfarm.com/herbs/herbs/hyssop.htm.
Evolutionists Want It Both Ways
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Astronomers from more than 30 research institutions in 15 countries are working together to select a site for a giant telescope that they hope will read TV or radio signals from alien civilizations. Slated to cost one billion dollars, the Square Kilometer Array, or SKA, would be the world’s most powerful radio telescope. Speaking at a conference of the International Society for Optical Engineering in Orlando, Florida, project astronomers said they hope to find “immediate and direct evidence of life elsewhere in the Universe” (“Sites Under...,” 2006).
Despite this bold venture, the scientists admit that “such a search would have distinct limitations, to be sure.” “Distinct limitations”? Like what? For one, the scientists “aren’t sure how to recognize such signals, if they do turn up. The hope is that the signals would consist oforganized patterns suggestive of intelligence, and not attributable to any known celestial sources” (“Sites Under...,” 2006, emp. added). Wait a minute. Evolutionary scientists are renowned for their condescending ridicule of creationists because those who believe in God assert that evidence of intelligent design in the Universe is proof of an Intelligent Designer. No, the evolutionists counter, the Universe got here by accident through random chance, mindless trial and error, and the blind, mechanistic forces of nature. They maintain that life on Earth owes its ultimate origin to dead, non-purposive, unconscious, non-intelligent matter. Yet they are perfectly willing to squander one billion dollars on a telescope with the speculative idea that solid proof—hard evidence—for the existence of alien life would reside in otherwise undecipherable radio or TV signals that convey “organized patterns suggestive of intelligence.” [NOTE: One is reminded of NASA’s Viking mission to Mars in the mid-seventies in which scientists eagerly declared evidence for life on Mars based on initial photos that appeared to show a “B” or even a face on a rock (cf. “‘Life’ on Mars,” 2006; Warren and Flew, 1976, pp. 112,156). Such judgments soon were deemed premature and incorrect.] Atheistic evolutionists want it both ways: organized patterns prove the existence of life and organized patterns do not prove the existence of God. Philosophers and logicians refer to such duplicitous posturing as irrational and “logical contradiction.” Apparently, evolutionists call it “science.”
“‘Life’ on Mars” (2006), [On-line], URL: http://burro.astr.cwru.edu/stu/mars_life.html.
“Sites Under Review for Telescope that Could Detect Alien TV” (2006), World Science, July 10, [On-line], URL: http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/060711_ska.htm.
Warren, Thomas B. and Antony Flew (1976), The Warren-Flew Debate (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Did Peter Authorize Infant Baptism?
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
While there is no documentation of infant baptism in Acts 2, some allege that Acts 2:39 proves the necessity of infant baptism (e.g., Lenski, 1961, p. 110; Barnes, 1972, p. 54). Acts 2:39 reads: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (emp. added). This immediately follows Acts 2:38, which reads: “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ” The phrase “to all who are afar off ” implies that Gentiles would have the opportunity and obligation to submit to baptism for the remission of sins (see Coffman, 1977, p. 57; Lenski, 1961, p. 110). But what did Peter mean when he said “the promise is to you and to your children”? Did he command infants to be baptized?
When Peter said, “the promise is to you and to your children,” he was not speaking specifically about infants or implying that young children needed to respond to the commands of Acts 2:38. Peter’s presentation was designed for the people who shared responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ (verse 36), a group that certainly did not include children. Peter assured his listeners that the promise of salvation was not limited to them, but would be available to every future generation. Albert Barnes commented on the “promise” of Acts 2:39:
Similar promises occur in Isaiah 44:3, “I will pour my Spirit on thy seed, and my blessing on thine offspring;” and in Isaiah 59:21, “My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord from henceforth and for ever.” In these and similar places their descendants or posterityare denoted. It does not refer merely to children as children... (1972, p. 54, emp. in orig.).
Luke intended the reader to understand “children” to mean “descendants” in Acts 13:33, so it is not unreasonable to suggest that the same meaning is present in Acts 2:39. One meaning ofteknois, the Greek word translated “children” in Acts 2:39, is “descendants” (Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, 1979, p. 994). Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker suggest that teknois does denote “descendants” in Acts 2:39. This interpretation fits in the context of Peter’s discussion concerning the fulfillment of prophecy: Joel prophesied that everyone who called upon the name of the Lord would be saved (Joel 2:32), and Peter affirmed that the blessings associated with conversion would be available not only to those in his hearing, but also to the members of every subsequent generation who obeyed (see Longenecker, 1981, p. 285).
The idea that God cares for all people in every generation, and desires that all be saved, is not unique to Peter’s comments in Acts 2:39. God said to Israel, “ ‘As for Me,’ says the Lord, ‘this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,’ says the Lord, ‘from this time and forevermore’ ” (Isaiah 59:21). The message of concern for future generations is evident in the New Testament as well. The text of 2 Peter 3:9 reveals that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
If Peter’s use of the word “children” did include a reference to the children who were in his audience, Peter did not command the children to be baptized. Nor did Peter imply that Joel, Isaiah, or David prophesied concerning infant baptism (see McGarvey, 1863, p. 44). Peter simply said that the “promise” was partially for the children. Of what promise did Peter speak? In the context of Peter’s presentation on Pentecost, it appears that the promise was salvation through Christ, but nowhere did it imply the necessity of infant baptism (see Longenecker, 1981, p. 285; De Welt, 1967, p. 49; Reese, 1983, p. 79). Wayne Jackson observed:
Peter affirmed that the divine promise (of salvation with its accompanying gift of the Spirit) would be available to future generations (expressed by the phrase “your children”). Contrary to the assertions of some (cf. Lenski, 110), there is no support here for infant baptism. Prof. Howard Marshall of the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) declared that to use this passage in support of infant baptism is to “press it unduly” (81). Babies can neither believe nor repent, hence, are not valid candidates for immersion (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Hackett renders the phrase “unto your descendants” (cf. Acts 13:3) [2000, p. 28, parenthetical comment in orig.].
Not every gift given to children is intended for children to possess and enjoy at the time the gift is given. Instead, gifts often are intended to be used by recipients after they mature. In such cases, the gifts will be ready when the children are ready for them. Peter said that the gift of salvation is available to all those who were called by God (Acts 2:39)—and God calls people by His Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). But people who cannot yet understand the Gospel cannot believe in Christ and obey the Gospel (Romans 10:13-16). Furthermore, infants cannot repent of wrongdoing or decide to cease sinning, because they cannot choose to do wrong. Peter commanded the members of his audience to repent, so the applicability of his message was not to infants. Only those who can believe and repent can be included in the “children” of Acts 2:39, because the “promise” was conditioned on belief and repentance (see McGarvey, n.d., p. 40).
As children grow up, they learn the difference between right and wrong, and, eventually, they reach an age when they have the ability to choose sin. All mature humans sin at some point (Romans 3:23). It is at that time that we need to have our sins washed away by Christ’s blood—we need to be baptized, but not when we are infants.
Arndt, William, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised.
Barnes, Albert (1972 reprint), Barnes’ Notes on the Old and New Testaments: Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Coffman, James Burton (1977), Commentary on Acts (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
De Welt, Don (1967 reprint), Acts Made Actual (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Jackson, Wayne (2000), The Acts of the Apostles: From Jerusalem to Rome (Stockton, CA: Courier).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961 reprint), The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Longenecker, Richard N. (1981), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, F.E. Gaebelein, Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
McGarvey, J.W. (1863), Original Commentary on Acts (Bowling Green, KY: Guardian of Truth), ninth edition.
McGarvey, J.W. (no date), Commentary on Acts (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
Reese, Gareth L. (1983 reprint), New Testament History: Acts (Joplin, MO: College Press).
The Unbelievers’ Examination of Jesus’ Miracle in John 9
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Christians believe that Jesus worked miracles for two primary reasons: (1) a supernatural Creator exists (see Lyons and Butt, 2014), Who is capable of working supernatural miracles in accordance with His will, and (2) the Bible is the inspired Word of God (see Butt and Lyons, 2015), which testifies to the miracles of Christ. Of significance is the fact that the Bible does not record the miracles of Christ in a flippant, feel-good, hocus-pocus type of manner. On the contrary, the accounts of Jesus’ miracles are consistently characterized with reason and restraint. At times, there was great investigation that took place—even by Jesus’ enemies—in hopes of discrediting Him.
Consider, for example, the occasion on which Jesus gave sight to a man born blind (John 9:7). After receiving his sight, neighbors and others examined him, inquiring how he was now able to see. Later he was brought to the Pharisees, and they scrutinized him. They questioned him about the One who caused him to see, and then argued among themselves about the character of Jesus. They called for the parents of the man who was blind, and questioned them about their son’s blindness. Then they called upon the man born blind again, and a second time questioned him about how Jesus opened his eyes. Finally, when they realized the man would not cave in to their intimidating interrogation and say some negative thing about Jesus, “they cast him out” (9:34). They rejected him, and the One Who made him well. Yet, they were unable to deny the miracle that Jesus performed. It was known by countless witnesses that this man was born blind, but, after coming in contact with Jesus, his eyes were opened.
The entire case of Jesus healing the blind man in John 9 was scrutinized thoroughly by Jesus’ enemies, yet even they had to admit that Jesus caused the man to see (John 9:16,17,24,26). It was a fact, accepted, not by credulous youths, but by hardened, veteran enemies of Christ. Considering that positive testimony from hostile witnesses is the weightiest kind of testimony in a court of law, such reactions from Jesus’ enemies are extremely noteworthy in any discussion on the miracles of Christ.
Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1180.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2014), “7 Reasons to Believe in God,” Apologetics Press,http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1175&article=2452.
"But Augustine Said..."
|by||Brad Bromling, D.Min.|
By many estimations, Augustine was one of the most significant theologians of the Christian age. Born in north Africa in 354 to a pagan father and pious mother, Augustine lived a playboy’s life until age 33 when he was baptized by Ambrose of Milan. After his conversion, he diligently studied theology and devoted his life to preaching and teaching. Through his writings, he left an enormous legacy that has served to inform each generation since his time of the doctrinal concepts of the fourth century.
Genesis and its account of creation often were discussed by Augustine. Therefore, it is not surprising to hear his name mentioned in the creation/evolution debate. But it is surprising to see how some modern writers employ his work (Barbero, 1994, p. 38; Frye, 1983, p. 15; Ross, 1994, pp. 16-24). First, they make an issue over Augustine’s equivocation on the exact nature of the creation days: “What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive, and how much more to say!” (Augustine, City of God, XI:6). Second, they observe that Augustine cautioned his readers against speaking about such things as the orbit and motion of stars, lest an infidel should hear them make a mistake on these matters and dismiss their teaching concerning the resurrection and other core doctrines of Scripture (Snow, 1990, p. 25).
The impression is given, then, that if the great theologian Augustine felt skittish about strictly defining the creation days, and was wary of Christians speaking about science, then perhaps the creation-science movement is an illegitimate venture. In other words, theology and science don’t mix.
Giving Augustine his due, the fact remains that he was only a man. He held erroneous positions and missed the mark at various junctures in his theological writings. What he said is not to be considered normative. Departing from Augustine should not be construed as departing from scriptural authority.
Truth is not determined by one’s agreement with a specific scholar. This is recognized in science as well as theology. Modern scientists would bristle at being forced to conform to all of Darwin’s views. So, creationists feel unfairly treated when told their views don’t jibe with Augustine’s. If Augustine was wrong about the creation days, so be it. His mistake need not be accepted blindly.
Augustine’s point regarding a Christian discussing science seems be that caution should be taken to ensure that what is said is true: “...it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics...” (Augustine, as quoted in Van Till, 1990, p. 149). No creationist would deny the importance of accuracy when discussing scientific matters. Obviously, a Christian who presents erroneous information from the sciences hardly will be taken seriously. That is not to say that a Christian should not present accurate science and accurate biblical exegesis together. All truth runs in parallel lines.
What often is missed in these discussions about Augustine is his firm belief in the infallibility of Scripture and in its clear teaching of creation ex nihilo (out of nothing). He wrote: “God didn’t find [some preexisting matter—BB], like something co-eternal with himself, out of which to construct the world; but he himself set it up from absolutely nothing” (Augustine, 1993, p. 151). He adamantly denied that any material thing existed before the creation week of Genesis 1: “And if the sacred and infallible Scriptures say that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...it may be understood that he made nothing previously” (City of God, XI:6).
Historically, Augustine has made many contributions to theology: some good, some not so good. His writings are worth reading, but they are not our standard. Our “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5).
Augustine (1993), “Sermon 214,” The Works of Saint Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century, ed. John E. Rotelle (New Rochelle, NY: New City Press, translated by Edmund Hill), Sermons III/6.
Barbero, Yves (1994), “NCSE Makes Impact at AAAS Annual Meeting,” NCSE Reports, pp. 38-39, Winter/Spring.
Frye, Roland Mushat (1983), “Creation-Science Against the Religious Background,” Is God a Creationist?, ed. R.M. Frye (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons), pp. 1-28.
Ross, Hugh (1994), Creation and Time (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress).
Snow, Robert E. (1990) “How Did We Get Here?,” Portraits of Creation, ed. Howard J. Van Till, et al. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), pp. 13-25.
Van Till, Howard J. (1990), “The Character of Contemporary Natural Science,” Portraits of Creation, ed. Howard J. Van Till, et al. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), pp. 126-165.
Borrowing from Other Nations
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
It’s no secret that the U.S. Government has been borrowing unprecedented amounts of money in an effort to stave off financial calamity (cf. Ip, 2009; Zuckerman, 2009). The sum of all recognized debt of federal, state, and local governments, international, private households, business and domestic financial sectors in America is now $57 trillion (Hodges, 2009). The majority of that debt has accumulated just in the last three decades, with 79% ($45 trillion) of total debt created since 1990. America is, in fact, the world’s largest international debtor (Hodges).
So what? Is that bad? After leading the nation for 40 years, before departing this life, Moses delivered a magnificent speech to the new generation of Israelites pertaining to their imminent occupation of the Promised Land. In his farewell remarks, God empowered him to articulate critical factors necessary to national survival. He also delineated the specific curses that would afflict the nation if it turned its back on God and His Word, as well as the specific blessings that would enrich the nation if the citizens maintained their commitment to God. Here are insightful, relevant social, political, and economic factors that beckon the attention of the United States of America.
Consider just one: In view of the economic woes facing our own nation, one feature in particular ought to give every American pause. It is listed first in the series of blessings that would characterize the nation if its citizens and leaders would “diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments” (Deuteronomy 28:1). That blessing? “You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow” (vs. 12). If, on the other hand, the nation declined spiritually by failing to obey God and keep His commandments, aliens would lend to them (vs. 44).
Economists, politicians, and all Americans should beware. The God of the Bible has articulated precisely the details of national success as well as national catastrophe. We would do well to give sober consideration to them. America is moving swiftly down a pathway to destruction—and that end result will be due to a single factor: America’s shift away from offering due respect and submission to God and Jesus Christ. The solution?
If you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God,...the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God (Deuteronomy 28:1-2).
Hodges, Michael (2009), “America’s Total Debt Report,” Grandfather Economic Report, June, [On-line], URL: http://mwhodges.home.att.net/nat-debt/debt-nat.htm.
Ip, Greg (2009), “We’re Borrowing Like Mad. Can the U.S. Pay It Back?” The Washington Post, January 11.
Zuckerman, Mort (2009), “Drowning in Debt: Obama’s Spending and Borrowing Leaves U.S.Gasping for Air,” New York Daily News, October 10.
Good Works—To Be Seen or Hidden?by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
When examining the various lists of alleged Bible contradictions that skeptics have compiled, a person likely will notice how some alleged contradictions seem to appear on almost every list. The question, “Has anyone seen God?” (cf. John 1:18; Genesis 32:30), appears quite frequently, as does the supposed difficulty of Joseph being the son of two different men (cf. Matthew 1:16; Luke 3:23). One question that also has made its way onto numerous skeptics’ lists (somewhat to my surprise) is that of whether or not God wants His disciples to do good works to be seen of men. Purportedly, two statements that Jesus made within the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 5-7) are incompatible. First, Jesus stated:
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16, emp. added).
Later, Matthew recorded a warning Jesus gave His audience, saying:
Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them.... [W]hen you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly (6:1,3-4, emp. added).
According to skeptics, these New Testament passages are contradictory. At one moment Jesus supposedly said, “We should” let others see our good works, and in the next He said, “We shouldn’t” let others see our good works (see Wells, 2001). Are the skeptics correct in their assertions? What is the truth of the matter?
The Bible student who carefully examines these passages (and others) will notice that Jesus never said that His followers must not do good deeds in the presence of others. On the contrary, He always has wanted good deeds to be done, but they are to be done for the purpose of giving God the glory, not man. Sadly, many Bible critics have twisted the true message of Jesus, in an effort to find a contradiction in His teachings (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). The Bible teaches that God expects His followers to be doing good deeds. To the churches of Galatia, the apostle Paul wrote: “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (6:10). During the last week of His life, Jesus taught that His disciples are responsible for doing such things as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick (Matthew 25:31-46). But these good works, and many others, are to be done in order to bring glory to God, not ourselves. When Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,” He ended this sentence with the phrase, “and glorify your Father in heaven.” A similar statement was written years later by the apostle Peter:
Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation (1 Peter 2:11-12, emp. added).
Through the good works of mankind, God is to be exalted. (“To Him be the glory both now and forever”—2 Peter 3:18). Man, on the other hand, must never perform godly works for the purpose of drawing attention to himself.
In their efforts to expose the Bible as a book of errors and Jesus as less than divine, skeptics frequently omit the part of Matthew 6:1-4 that gives the context of Jesus’ statement concerning good deeds. Jesus was not forbidding all good deeds done in public. Rather, He was condemning the performance of “charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them” (6:1, emp. added). In the very next verse, Jesus elaborated on what He meant, saying, “Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men.” The hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, whom Jesus explicitly condemned earlier in this sermon (5:20), performed “all their works…to be seen by men” (Matthew 23:5). This was the attitude of which Jesus warned His listeners. Do not do charitable deeds in order to receive praise from men, but do them (whether private or public) to be seen of God.
Jesus taught that the proper motivation must lie behind every “good” action, in order for that action to be pleasing in God’s sight. Some godly actions may be done in secret (e.g., giving monetarily to a good work, praying for the sick, fasting, etc.). Others can (and must) be done openly (e.g., preaching the Gospel—cf. Acts 2). Whatever actions in which we engage ourselves, in order for them to be pleasing to God, they must stem from a sincere heart whose motivation is to bring glory to God.
Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.Skepticsannotatedbible.com.