Life-Study of 2 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The subject of 1 Peter is the Christian life under the government of God. The book of 2 Peter is a continuation of 1 Peter, and it also emphasizes God’s government. However, in this Epistle we also see God’s provision. Therefore, we may say that the subject of 2 Peter is the divine provision and the divine government.
With God’s government there is God’s provision. God grants us His provision so that we may cooperate with His government. In other words, if we would carry out God’s government, we need God’s provision; that is, we need the divine supply. In 2 Peter the writer first presents the divine supply. We see how God’s power provides all the supply for our need. This is the main significance of this book. Furthermore, the Epistle of 2 Peter shows us a continuation of the picture of God’s government unveiled in 1 Peter. Therefore, what we have in 2 Peter is the divine provision and the divine government.
Second Peter 1:1 and 2 are the introduction to this Epistle. Verse 1 says, “Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have been allotted like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Simon is Peter’s old name, and Peter is his new name given by the Lord (John 1:41-42). Simon refers to his old man by birth; Peter, to his new man by regeneration. The two names are combined here as one to signify that the old man, Simon, has now become the new man, Peter.
The name Simon Peter may be an allusion to the old universe and the new universe. This Epistle indicates that under God’s government the old universe will be changed into the new universe (3:10-13). We may say that the new heaven and new earth are represented by Peter and that the old universe is represented by Simon. In the four Gospels we see Simon as the old man representing the old creation. Now in Peter’s Epistles we see a new man, a new person, representing the new universe.
In 1:1 Peter refers to himself as “a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.” In the first Epistle he mentions only that he is an apostle; he does not say anything about being a slave. But here Peter says that he is both a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ. The word “slave” indicates Peter’s submission to the Lord, and the word “apostle,” the Lord’s commission to him. Submission and commission imply a two-way traffic between us and the Lord. When we submit ourselves to Him, He will commit something to us. With a slave there is submission, but with an apostle there is the Lord’s commission.
The word “those” in 1:1 refers to the Jewish believers in dispersion in the Gentile world. In 1 Peter 1:1, Peter refers to them as “the chosen pilgrims of the dispersion of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”
In 2 Peter 1:1, Peter speaks of those “who have been allotted like precious faith.” As the children of Israel were allotted a piece of the good land (Josh. 14:1-5), we have been allotted like precious faith. This implies that all the things which relate to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), including the divine nature (v. 4) partaken of by the believers through the like precious faith according to the precious and exceedingly great promises, are the real inheritance given to the believers by God in the New Testament.
The children of Israel with their twelve tribes were to possess the good land. The Lord told Joshua to make an allotment of land to each of the twelve tribes. This was done through the Urim and the Thummim, which were on the breastplate worn by the high priest. By means of the breastplate with the Urim and the Thummim, God could speak to His people. God used the Urim and the Thummim to reveal His will. It was through the Urim and the Thummim that Joshua came to know God’s instructions concerning which lot should go to each tribe. Once again, Peter uses an Old Testament term to describe a New Testament reality.
We know that the good land, the portion of the children of Israel in Old Testament times, typifies the all-inclusive Christ. Now, according to the New Testament, our portion is Christ. Colossians 1:12 refers to Christ as our portion: “Giving thanks to the Father, who qualified you for a share of the portion of the saints in the light.” As the good land was the portion of the Old Testament saints, so Christ is the portion of the New Testament believers. Furthermore, in the Old Testament the good land was allotted to the twelve tribes, and in the New Testament precious faith is allotted to us.
The phrase “allotted like precious faith” causes a difficult problem for translation and exposition. How can faith be our allotted portion? According to the Bible, Christ is our portion. This means that it is Christ who has been allotted to us. But here Peter says that we have been allotted like precious faith. How are we to understand this? To speak of Christ being our portion may be somewhat doctrinal. It is more experiential to say that faith is our portion. If Christ is merely Christ to us and not also faith, we would not be able to participate in Him or share in Him. In order for us to partake of Christ, He must become our faith.
In 1:1 Peter speaks of the allotment of “like” precious faith. The Greek word rendered “like” literally means of equal value or honor; hence, equally precious. It does not mean equal in measure, but equal in value and honor to all the receivers. All the portions of the precious faith are equal not in measure, quantity, but equal in quality. For example, the portion of the good land allotted to each of the twelve tribes differed in size. Judah received a larger portion than Benjamin did. But although the allotments were different in size, they were equal in quality. The quality of the land was the same for each tribe. For this reason, each allotment was equally precious. The principle is the same with the like precious faith.
We have seen that our portion today includes all things which relate to life and godliness. This includes the divine nature, of which the believers partake through the like precious faith according to the precious and exceedingly great promises. All these elements put together make up our portion. Please remember that our allotment comprises all things relating to life and godliness, including the divine nature partaken of by us. All this is the inheritance given by God to those who believe in Christ.
What is our real inheritance? Our inheritance is all things relating to life inwardly and godliness outwardly. Our portion includes the divine nature, of which we partake through the common faith, which is equally precious. When we put together these different items— faith, divine nature, precious and exceedingly great promises, life, and godliness—we have the totality of our allotted inheritance.
Peter also says that the believers have been allotted like precious faith “with us.” The pronoun “us” refers to the apostle Peter and all the other believers in the Jewish land. All the believers in the Gentile world share the same precious faith to substantiate the blessing of life of the New Testament with all those in the Jewish land as their common portion allotted to them by God.
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