Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 4 * BOOK 55
2 Peter 2:9 – 3:18 – Part 2
We’d just like to thank you for joining with us in this taping as hopefully we’ll finish II Peter in this one and be ready for I John in our next taping when we begin book number 56. We hope you like this classroom effect. We’ve had more than one letter that said, “I almost feel like I’m back in college again sitting in a classroom.” And that’s all we want to do is just simply teach the Book and hopefully make it understandable so that folks can study it on their own. Okay, let’s pick up where we left off in II Peter chapter 3 and we’re down there at verse 14.
II Peter 3:14a
“Wherefore,.…” Because of all that we know from the Word of God is going to happen and nothing is going to stop it. We don’t claim to know when, but it is coming,
II Peter 3:14a
“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, (in other words, the end of time and the whole operation of this planet and the human race, the human experience is going to come to an end) be diligent….” In other words, don’t take these things haphazardly. Be serious about it. God is real. God is genuine. He’s Sovereign. He’s in control. And His Word is true. You know, I think that’s what people are finding out – the more you study this Book, the more you realize that it is the Word of God. The meticulous way it’s been put together. It’s just impossible for mortal men to have done the things that are evident when you study the Scripture.
People who scoff at the Scripture are usually people who have never studied it. They have never come to realize the little intricacies that are so evident for those of us who do study – and so this is what Peter is telling his folks – “be diligent.” Because, like he said back in chapter 1 in this same book, “we’re not following cunningly devised fables.” Yeah, turn back with me a minute because that says it so well. Still in II Peter but back to chapter 1 verse 16. Just remind yourself of this constantly.
II Peter 1:16a
“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables,.…” These aren’t just campfire stories, and legends. These are not things that have been concocted by men’s ideas.
II Peter 1:16b
“…when we made known unto you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” Peter is speaking from first hand experience. All right, now come back to where we just were in chapter 3. And so he says, again:
II Peter 3:14b
“…be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace,.…” Now that’s the joy of the believer that we have peace with God. We don’t have to worry about the life to come because we know that we’re already His.
II Peter 3:14c
“…without spot, and blameless.” Well, now we can’t gain that by our own endeavor, so again it goes back to what the Scriptures tell us that we’re “washed by that shed blood of Christ. We’re declared forgiven.” And we have nothing against us. We’re blameless.
Now that word rings a bell. Come back with me to I Corinthians chapter 1, and this is a verse that some people don’t like. It rubs them wrong and I can’t help that. We stand on what the Book says. Remember the Corinthians were the most carnal of any of the congregations that Paul had established. They were babes in Christ. They had a lot of problems. A lot of people today would say they weren’t even Christians, but that’s not what the Book says.
I Corinthians 1:4-6
“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you (to these Corinthians) by Jesus Christ; 5. That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, (every word they spoke reflected their new life in Christ) and in all knowledge; 6. Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:” In other words, they came out of their pagan background; their lives were transformed, and they became testimonies of God’s saving grace. Now verse 7.
I Corinthians 1:7
“So that ye come behind in no gift; (everything that was potentially there was for them to enjoy) waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:” Remember when we taught the introduction in the book of James? Even Paul and his followers thought that the Body of Christ would be Raptured before the Tribulation would begin, and it still will be.
I Corinthians 1:8
“Who shall also confirm (or make everything absolute) you unto the end, (He’s never going to let go of you. Why?) that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, the true believer. Even though we may fail from day to day, yet, when the Lord comes and if we’re suddenly alive and remain and are translated, we will never stand before the Lord with sin to confess. “We’re going to be blameless” – automatically! And that isn’t license for loose living. No way, shape, or form! But we are in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ – when we’re translated into His presence, we will be immediately “blameless.’“
Now we’re still going to come before the Lord for the judgment of reward for what we’ve done in our bodies – but we are never going to have to shake in our boots before the Lord, having sin to deal with. That will be automatically cleansed and removed.
All right, back to II Peter now then, verse 15. Now here are verses that some of you probably think I run into the ground, but when I saw these verses several years ago, I thought, “This is what I’ve been looking for!” Because a lot of people get on my case for making too much of Paul and his writings. They’re going to follow Peter because, after all, Peter spent three years with Jesus. Peter understood everything that He said and did, so they think, “I’ll follow Peter, not Paul.” (Although by inspiration Paul wrote to us several times that we were to be followers of him.) And I know people don’t like that, but that’s what the Word proclaims.
But, here we have that same Peter, admonishing even his Jewish followers that, if they want true salvation (that is, I think he’s speaking in terms of days to come, and without really knowing himself how much time he has left to instruct them. And he didn’t realize that all these things are not going to be culminated. The Spirit knew that we were going to go on into a 2,000-year period of grace, so with that in mind, the Spirit must have inspired Peter to tell his people that, for salvation) go to Paul’s writings.
II Peter 3:15a
“And account (or understand) that the longsuffering (the patience) of our Lord is salvation;.…” Now we’ve stressed this before. From Genesis, especially chapter 3, when Adam and Eve have fallen – all the way from Genesis clear through to the end of the human experience, the whole heart of God is the salvation of the human being.”
Like we saw in our last program, God’s not willing that any should perish. Well, if He didn’t want them to perish, what did He want them to have? Salvation! And salvation is saved from eternal doom, but also saved unto a life of service and love for the Creator, for the Savior – however you want to refer to Him. All right, so Peter now, writing to Jewish believers, is reminding them that:
II Peter 3:15b
“…even as our beloved brother Paul.…” Now just stop and think a minute. That took some doing – come back with me to Galatians chapter 2 – another portion that we use so often. But again, most people will have nothing to do with it, because it shows so explicitly the difference between Peter’s ministry and Paul’s. Peter was an apostle of Israel along with the Eleven. Paul is the apostle of the Gentiles, totally separated; and never can you mix the two all together. Keep them separated, and this Bible is as plain and easy to understand as anything can be.
All right, so in Galatians chapter 2:
“And when James, Cephas, (Peter) and John….” Now, it’s amazing, that’s not the way we normally speak of them, is it? Normally it’s Peter, James and John. But here it’s James and Peter and John – so James is in the place of superiority now. And these guys:
“…who seemed to be pillars,….” What does that mean? Well they weren’t what they thought they were. Now back in the early days of the Jerusalem church, back there in Acts chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5; they were pillars of the Jerusalem church. Everything rested on those twelve men as they were proclaiming the Good News to the Jews, that Jesus the Christ was the Messiah, Whom you killed, but God raised from the dead.
All right, so they were the kingpins. In fact, it says so plainly that when these Jews (even Barnabas who had land on the island of Cyprus, sold it. What’s he do with the proceeds? Brought it and laid it at the feet of the apostles) were the ones that were in control of everything. They were the ones that were preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. They were the ones administering that common kitty out of which these Jewish believers got whatever they needed, and no one lacked. And so they were the pillars of the Jerusalem church. But now you see, when we get to about 51 AD, which is about 30-some years after Pentecost, Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us that “they seemed to be pillars.” They weren’t, But they thought they were.
Well, why weren’t they? Because the whole Jewish program is falling apart because of Israel’s unbelief; and they’re not coming to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Instead, they’re turning more and more to unbelief – and even in Paul’s own experience – twice in the book of Acts when he tried to appeal to the Jewish people and they rebelled against him, what did he say? “From henceforth we go to the Gentiles.”
Remember when Paul got to Rome, and he called for the Jewish leadership of Rome, and they came to where he was under house arrest and, again, he pleaded to them on the basis of Who Jesus Christ really was and how they had rejected it? “But they believed him not.” And so in Acts 28:28, what does Paul say?
“Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” All right, so as Israel is continuing to reject Christ’s Kingdom and His authority as their Messiah, it’s all falling apart. Falling through the cracks is the way I always explain it. But the Twelve don’t know it yet. And so the Twelve were no longer the pillars that they had been. There was nothing there to “pillar” and that’s why Paul uses that. Now continuing on with verse 9 in Galatians:
“…who seemed to be pillars, perceived (or understood) the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; (A gentleman’s agreement. And here was the agreement) that we should go unto the heathen, (Gentiles) and they unto the circumcision.” (Israel) Now that’s as plain as language can make it. Paul and Barnabas were designated to be the apostles of the Gentiles. Peter and the Eleven are the apostles of Israel. We’ll stay with the Jew; you go to the Gentile. Gentleman’s agreement. And like I’ve said over and over, what kind of a cad would Peter have been if he’d turned right around after a gentleman’s agreement and started ministering to Gentiles? He would have gone against his own word. But he didn’t. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Peter ever went into a ministry with the Gentiles. He stayed with Israel.
All right, now let’s come on down into the Scriptures here in Galatians. So, this counsel ends on a good note and Paul and Barnabas go back, merrily on their way, to their Gentile ministry, and Peter and the Eleven are going to continue there with Israel in Jerusalem. Remember their salvation messages – Peter’s to the Jews was that believing that Jesus was the Son of God, their Messiah, repentance and water baptism. Paul’s salvation message to us Gentiles is believe in your heart that Jesus died for your sins, was buried and rose again, as we see in I Corinthians 15:1-4. That may not seem all that much different, but for us today, Paul tells us in Galatians chapter 1, it’s the difference between Heaven and Hell. Okay, now verse 11.
“But when Peter was come to Antioch, (sometime later, years later I think – and he came visiting up at Antioch as a representative of the Jewish church in Jerusalem, Paul says) I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” I think he had to jump on a soapbox to do it, but Peter was eyeball to eyeball with Paul, and Paul was upset. Now we’re pretty confident that Paul had a temper of sorts. He could get real upset and here was one of those times. He was upset with Peter to no end and, “I withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed.” He was at fault. Verse 12, and here’s why.
“For before that certain came from James, (that is when Peter was visiting up here at Antioch with this Gentile congregation. But while he’s there, some Jews come down from Jerusalem, from the Jerusalem church. And so he says) he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.” (the Jews) Peter had now come to realize that Paul’s converts were just as much in God’s fold as any Jew could be, and so he ate with the Gentiles. But, when these Jews came from Jerusalem, Peter (bless his heart, and you know what you have to think of? The little maid at the fire when Jesus was on trial. Peter must have been a big guy but he must have had a weak will because you see as soon as these people came from Jerusalem, Peter) chickened out. He should have just dug his heels in and said, “Listen, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t eat with these believing Gentiles.” But he chickened out, and because of those men from Jerusalem, “he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were the Jews.”
In other words Peter was fearing them who were of the circumcision. Peter was human, wasn’t he? He was afraid of what these Jews would take back to Jerusalem. And what would they take back? I can hear them now. “Do you know what Peter is doing? He’s back eating with Gentiles again. He’s back in those ham sandwiches, just like he was when he was up at Cornelius’ house.”
“And the apostles, and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3. Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.”
Well, the same thing here. Same thing all over again. and Peter chickens out. He should have just stood up and said, “Look, we’re all believers, we’re all serving the same Christ.”But he didn’t. “And so he feared those who were of the circumcision” from the Jerusalem church. Now verse 13.
“And the other Jews (who were converts and members of Paul’s and Barnabas’ Antioch congregation,) dissembled likewise with him; (in other words, they pulled out with Peter. And now this is the one that’s hard to believe.) insomuch that (even) Barnabas (who was back in that first counsel meeting when him and Paul shook hands with Peter, James, and John, to keep separate, Gentiles and the Jews, ) also was carried away with their dissimulation. (or their false ideas) 14a. But (Paul writes) when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel,.…” What’s he referring to? Well, part and parcel of Paul’s Gospel of grace is that there is no difference. A Jew is just as much in need of salvation as a Gentile. And when he becomes a believer, he’s just as much a member of the Body of Christ as a Gentile. And so that’s what Paul is saying. They didn’t walk uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel. And so he said:
“…I said unto Peter before them all, (an open public rebuke and it must have been humiliating) If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?” Now that’s almost a double-talk there, but what you’ve got is: “Now Peter, you’re a Jew and you’ve been eating with these Gentiles. And you’ve been recognizing that there really is no difference. Now, if that’s the case, why do you now all of a sudden compel the Gentiles to live as the Jews?” And that came up in that counsel back here, ahead of all this where they agreed that Paul and Barnabas would go to the Gentiles.
So anyway, here Peter has been publicly rebuked by the little Apostle Paul – and I think Paul was a little short fellow. And now, look what he says – and here’s why I have to admire Peter, how he can come right back in Christian love and oversight of what Paul had done years back, and now, by inspiration remember, the Holy Spirit prompts him to write this:
II Peter 3:15b
“…even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;” Now, he’s talking to Jews, and there’s only one portion of Scripture that Paul wrote to Jews and what would that be? The book of Hebrews.
And so, from this, I’m quite adamant that Paul wrote Hebrews. And it was directed to Jews who were having a hard time coming out of Judaism and stepping into this Gospel of Grace. All right, but don’t stop there. Now verse 16… and not just in Hebrews:
II Peter 3:16a
“As also in all his epistles, (Romans through Philemon) speaking in them of these things;…. (what things? Salvation. As we started Hebrews a couple of years ago, what was the first thing I said? You won’t find the plan of salvation in Hebrews. There’s not a Roman Road in Hebrews. It’s not in there. You won’t find the plan of salvation laid out in Acts. You won’t find it laid out in these little Jewish epistles. It’s not in there. And if you want the plan of salvation for us in the Age of Grace, you’ve got to find it between Romans 1:1 and the last verse of Philemon and it’s in there over and over and over, how that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.
And Peter is reminding us that if you want salvation in this Age of Grace, you go to Paul’s epistles. That’s Peter speaking. Now, if I could just get some of these people that jump all over me for making too much of Paul to read this, and realize that Peter made just as much of Paul as I do. Peter says, “if you want true salvation, you go to Paul’s epistles,” and I say the same thing. If you want to know the real Christian walk in this Age of Grace, you go to Paul’s epistles. If you want to know the end of the Church on this earth, you go to Paul’s epistles; it’s the only place you’ll find it. All right, and so he says:
II Peter 3:16a
“As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; (here goes the heart of Peter again) in which (in Paul’s epistles) are some things hard to be understood,.…” How could a man with Peter’s experience – with Peter’s walk with the Lord, with Peter’s clout in the church at Jerusalem – tell the whole world that he had problems understanding some of Paul’s writings? Quite an admission wasn’t it? I think he was so steeped in that legalism of Judaism that he just simply had a hard time dropping some of that stuff and stepping into Paul’s Gospel of Grace because it’s not easy departing from the Jewish way.
That’s the problem with most people today. They cannot drop some of that “works religion” and take these things by faith-plus-nothing that Paul shares with us. It rubs against the grain and Peter admits it by the inspiration of the Spirit. All right, but now reading on:
II Peter 3:16b
“…which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, (the scoffers again, the false teachers – if they use Paul’s stuff, at all, they’re going to twist it all out of shape) as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Now the amazing thing I pick up on in that statement is, “…the other scriptures….” What is Peter putting on Paul’s epistles? The stamp of inspiration. It’s just as much Scripture as what Moses wrote. What Paul writes is just as much the Word of God as what the prophets wrote. It’s just as much the Word of God as what Peter wrote or what Jesus said. Or anybody else. It’s all Scripture, according to Scripture.
All right, and so they’ve twisted these things, “even as they do also the other scriptures.” Not just Paul’s, but they twist all of them to their own destruction. All right, now I hope I’ve made my point that Peter admonishes the people today to go to Paul’s epistles; whereas most of Christendom says, go to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Acts. Evidently, that’s what they tell them because that’s where all the preaching is. But Peter doesn’t do that. Peter says, “You go to Paul’s epistles, for, in them, is where we know we can find eternal life!” All right, now then, one more verse. Verse 17.
II Peter 3:17a
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked,…” Now he comes right back to those false teachers that we’ve talked about earlier. Don’t fall into the error of the wicked and thereby:
II Peter 3:17b-18
“…fall from your own stedfastness. 18. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”