Hebrews (which was specifically for Jewish Christians). Seeing the coming storm, St. Peter was writing to console, encourage and strengthen his increasingly beleaguered churches of ex-pagans in their faith. 25
After the martyrdom of St. James the Lesser in 62, his brother St. Jude wrote his brief circular Epistle of St. Jude to his fellow Jewish Christians. In 66 parts of this epistle were incorporated by St. Peter in his Second Epistle of St. Peter to his ex-pagan Christians. Both epistles were written to warn against wandering teachers taking advantage of St. Paul’s doctrine of free grace to preach immorality (i.e. libertinism). St. Jude was the only one of ‘the Lord’s brothers’ who we know to have been married: his descendants were later brought before the Emperor Domitian. Writing to his Corinthians, St. Paul had referred to St. Peter and ‘the Lord’s brothers’ as examples familiar to the Corinthians of missionaries who were assisted in their travels by ‘a sister’. This suggests that St. Jude too had visited Corinth, and had therefore travelled to Rome. Thus St. Peter followed up his I St. Peter fortifying his churches against external attacks from pagans with II St. Peter warning against internal attacks by heretics. In the first epistle St. Peter names St. Silas as his secretary. To St. Silas then this epistle’s high quality Greek may be credited.* 26
In much the same manner as II St. Timothy was St. Paul’s last testament, II St. Peter was St. Peter’s. Both warned against the heretics who have afflicted and always will plague Church life, and whose fantasies, immorality and calumnies will always provoke divisions, scandals and persecution. Indeed false teachers and false notions concerning Jesus Christ had abounded from the beginning. The water of his baptism had hardly dried off when Simon Magus made his bizarre request. After the Judaisers who urged the compulsory retention of Jewish practices and had tended to deny the preexistent divinity of Jesus Christ, had come the libertarian abusers of St. Paul’s doctrine of free grace. In these earliest days all heresy sprang from a Jewish root. The wandering false teachers who had devastated St. Paul’s Galatian churches always claimed to be ‘Teachers of the Law’, and advocated circumcision, various Mosaic rites and all the observances of the Sabbath. By the time of the three ‘pastoral epistles’ the Judaisers were teachers of ‘fables and endless geneologies’ and ‘all their strivings are about the Law’. To the minute Mosaic observances they advocated they progressively added doctrinal speculations and a very definite asceticism involving wholesale abstinence from meat, wine and even marriage as necessary for salvation. These false teachers had quickly found a ‘market’ in the many people who wanted teachers who could dazzle them with their learning or clever philosophical speculations, who restricted their demands to external practices only or else who would simply let them keep their vices. Many teachers became progressively more immoral in their teachings. Wild swings between extremes of ‘encratism’ (forbidding nearly everything) and antinomianism (forbidding nothing) became characteristic of them. The Apostles’ work of preparing for the future was well done indeed. In St. Paul’s three ‘pastoral’ epistles and in II St. Peter we glimpse not only the
Published on Nov 29, 2011
Published on Nov 29, 2011
This survey of how the New Testament came to be written is also a chronicle of the first 40 years of the history of the Christian Church. It...