STUDY 20 - THE EPISTLES OF 2
PETER AND JUDE
For this study see: M.C.Tenney, pp.365-374; R.H.Gundry, pp.443-448.
Further reading: D.A.Carson, et al., An
Introduction to the New
Testament, pp.433-443; 459-464
The background and concern of the Petrine epistles and of 1, 2
& 3 John are false doctrines within the church. In every
situation heresy is met positively.
1. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND
Much space is taken up in modern textbooks with the question of the
epistle's authorship. As Tenney indicates it has less external support
for apostolic authorship than does 1 Peter. However, consider the
The writer calls himself Simon Peter, an apostle (1:1;
cf., 1 Pet.1:1)
He alludes to his death as predicted by the Lord (1:13-14;
With others he was an eyewitness of the transfiguration
He infers a first letter by "this is now my second letter"
(3:1; is this 1 Peter?).
The reference to Paul may support apostolic authorship
The epistle has apostolic tone, that is, one of authority
Some see a reference to Mark's Gospel in the promise, "I
every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to
remember these things" (1:15). But this argument is tenuous.
The main objection to Petrine authorship of the epistle
concerns the decided difference in vocabulary and style between it and
1 Peter. Tenney says, "The second epistle is written in a more laboured
and awkward Greek". He suggests the employment of a different
amanuensis, or Peter's transcription, as solutions to the problem. 
False teaching and teachers were a threat to the churches. As Tenney
says, "The peril confronting the churches was that of doubt and error
arising from the false teachings of those who professed to be leaders".
 Peter anticipates this heresy coming to his churches and pens a
warning (2:1-3). The threat - in the form of gnosticism - became a
reality by the time of Jude.
Date and place of writing
Notice what Tenney says about localised persecution and the threat of
heresy infiltrating the church:
"If the epistle was dispatched from Rome about A.D. 65-67, Peter
realised that the disturbance that originally threatened to affect the
provinces had proved to be only local... New problems had arisen that
demanded attention; the danger to his churches was now less from
without than it was from within. 
H.C.Thiessen accepts the Petrine authorship of 2 Peter and believes
that Jude quotes from the epistle and not vice versa. His dating:
A.D. 66-67. Peter died about A.D. 68.
H.C.Thiessen compares the two epistles of Peter by saying, "In
1 Peter the emphasis falls on suffering, in 2 Peter on false teachers
and false teaching; consequently the former epistle is one of
consolation, the latter of warning". 
Characteristics of the heresy
The danger was a gnostic heresy, which carried with it intellectual and
antinomian characteristics. The words 'know' and 'knowledge' (Gk.
gnosis) appear many times in the epistle (consider:
1:2,3,5,6,8,12,14,16,20; 2:9,20,21; 3:3,17,18).  Peter's emphasis of
true knowledge indicates the presence of the false knowledge of the
Notice these characteristics: immorality (2:2,10:12f.), insubordination
(2:10), greed for gain (2:3), plausibility and craftiness (2:3,14,19),
rhetoric (2:18), mockery of the doctrine of the parousia (3:3f.),
wresting Scripture (3:16).
M.C.Tenney sees three main sections in the epistle:
2 Peter: The True
Knowledge of God
The nature of true knowledge (1:2-21)
The peril or abandoning knowledge (2:1-22)
The hope in true knowledge (3:1-18).
Peter seeks to combat false gnosis with true spiritual gnosis.
2 Peter 1:20,21 recognises the OT as God's Word: "Above all,
you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the
prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin
in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along
by the Holy Spirit". M.C.Tenney believes this to be the chief
contribution of the epistle. Compare Peter with 1 Thess.2:13 and 2
Tim.2:15; 3:16 here. For the church the written revelation of the
OT was the disclosure of God's mind and will, and that in a day of
theological controversy and moral decline it was the accepted standard
of faith and practice. Further to this, "the allusion to Paul's
epistles as 'scriptures' in 3:16 indicates the beginning of the canon
of the NT" (M.C.Tenney). 
The epistle has historical value and ethical relevance.
1. AUTHORSHIP AND BACKGROUND
The similarities between Jude
and 2 Peter
M.C.Tenney says that the literary relationship of Jude with 2 Peter is
an important factor in determining the epistle's background.  The
similarities are to be seen especially in the polemic against false
teachers. 'Love feasts' are also alluded to in 2 Pet.2:13 and
Jude 12. 
Notes on similarities:
Similarities can be explained by the fact that the epistles are written
to those facing the same situation (but this does not explain word
The epistles shared a separate common source (not
The author of 2 Peter incorporated Jude in his work
Jude was stimulated to write his epistle by seeing
Peter's (M.C.Tenney). 
The author "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ
and brother of James" (v.1). The author is generally taken to be
one of the younger brothers of Jesus - 'James' being the elder of the
Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13). Again, Mk.3:35 may explain why he
does not call himself 'the brother of Jesus'. The injunction of
verse 17 - "Remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ
foretold" - indicates that he was not an apostle.
Date and place of writing
M.C.Tenney is right in saying that the epistle gives no clear
indication as to where or when it was written. He suggests, "If
Jude ministered to the Jewish churches of Palestine, it may well have
been sent to them in the period just prior to the fall of Jerusalem".
Jude writes to urge his readers to "contend for the faith"
The false teachers
The reference to "godless men, who change the grace of our God into a
licence for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and
Lord" (v.4) indicates a group of antinomians, who were abusing the
liberty of the gospel (cf., Rom.3:8; 6:1). They denied the Lord
Jesus (v.4), and were insubordinate (vv.8-10). They were also
immoral (vv.7-8), ungodly and boasters (vv.15-16). Note the use of the
word 'ungodly': "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands
of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of
all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the
harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (vv.14,15; italics
The doom of false teachers was certain (vv.5-7,14-15), but they had to
be confronted (v.3).
The use of the Apocryphal
There are possible references to: The Assumption of Moses (in v.9) and
the Book of Enoch (in vv.14-15). These non-canonical works were
widely circulated in the first century A.D.  Note that Jude is not
accepting the works as a whole. By way of comparison, Paul quotes
the pagan philosopher poets Aratus (Acts 17:28), Menander (1
Cor.15:33), and Epimenides (Tit.1:12). 
Consider M.C.Tenney's outline of this single chapter epistle:
Jude: A Warning against
The announcement of emergency (vv.3-4)
The appeal to historical precedents (vv.5-7)
The arraignment of apostate teachers (vv.8-16)
The advice to believers (vv.17-23)
Concluding benediction (vv.24-25).
"The value of the epistle is seen in vv.20-25. Notice
the so-called 'noble imperatives', which focus on the Spirit of God and
the love of God::'build yourself up', 'pray in the Holy Spirit', 'keep
yourselves in God's love'. The doxology of vv.24-25 is majestic!
The importance of making a
At this moment many sections of the Christian church are questioning
orthodox Christian doctrines, such as the substitutionary work of
Christ, and compromising the Faith.  We need to take the word to
heart: "Contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the
saints". Each church age must faithfully represent the gospel to
1. M.C.Tenney, p.367.
2. M.C.Tenney, p.368.
3. M.C.Tenney, p.368.
4. H.C.Thiessen, Introduction to the New Testament, Grand
Rapids, Eerdmans, 1943, p.286. The italicised words are Thiessen's.
5. The NIV translates the word for 'know' differently in
6. M.C.Tenney, p.370.
7. M.C.Tenney, p.370.
8. In the NT reference to the Agape Feasts or Love Feasts is
only found in these epistles, but a comparison may be made with 1
9. F.C.Clogg, An Introduction to the New Testament, 3rd
edition, London, University of London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1948.
10. M.C.Tenney, p.371.
11. M.C.Tenney, p.371.
12. They were not included in the Jewish canon of Scripture,
although they were added to some versions of the LXX.
13. D.W.Burkick and J.H.Skilton comment: "Such usage in no way
suggests that the quotations, or the books from which they were taken,
are divinely inspired. It only means that the biblical author
found the quotations to be a helpful confirmation, clarification or
illustration" ("Jude" in E.H.Palmer (Gen.Ed.), The NIV Study Bible,
14. For the study of God's anger, propitiation and the
substitutionary work of Christ see: L.Morris, The Atonement, Leicester,
IVP, 1984, pp.151-176.