Thoughts on 2 Peter 1:1-2

As I wrote the other day in my alliterative post on 2 Peter 1:3-4 I’ve been spending time in 2 Peter. I’ll post some thoughts on my reading in 2 Peter as I progress.

The first two verses of 2 Peter 1 in the ESV1 read, ‘[1] Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: [2] May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.’

Servanthood and Apostleship

Simeon (not Simon) Peter calls himself a servant and apostle. Servant is the Greek doulos (G1401) and generally means a slave or bondservant. Service can be voluntary or involuntary. The Greek word translated as apostle is apostolos and means messenger, ambassador or sent one.

There is debate and division in the church today about the role of apostleship and whether modern day apostles exist. Ephesians 4:11 speaks of the so-called fivefold ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. My reading of Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:12-13 lead me to believe that these roles are still required because the church is yet to ‘attain to the unity of the faith’. Self-titled apostles are usually found in the charismatic/pentecostal ranks and there is a collection of leaders who form a loose confederation under the name ‘New Apostolic Reformation’.

This raises the question in my mind of what the collective noun is for a group of apostles. A posse of apostles, a reformation of apostles, a squadron of apostles, an ecclesia of apostles? But I digress! Given that the word apostolos refers to messengers or ambassadors or sent ones, together with my understanding of Ephesians 4:11-13 I can see evidence and need for modern day lower-case ‘a’ apostles. I think a missionary would fall under the definition of an apostle. By the same token, I believe that the role of capital-A Apostles ceased on the basis of Acts 1:21-22 where the qualifications of Apostleship are stated as being male, being with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry at His baptism, and being witness to the ascended Christ.

So Peter is both a servant–bound to and serving the Lord Jesus, and an Apostle–a messenger or one sent out to be an ambassador for the Kingdom of God.

Faith of Equal Standing

The next concept that stands out to me is where Peter declares he is writing to ’those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours’.

At first reading this sounds like he is elevating his faith to a high level that us common believers could only aspire to. But he is really saying the opposite–that anyone wo believes in and has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ possesses a faith that places them on equal standing within the Kingdom of God.

And the source or basis of that faith is the same for all–it is obtained by the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

(Grace + Peace) x Knowledge

Finally I want to make some comments about verse 2.

Peter prays/asks that grace and peace (two of the great qualities of the Kingdom of God) be not just made available to, or increased, or added to the lives of believers; but indeed they be multiplied ’to you’. The Greek word translated as multiplied refers to abounding and plenty. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take as much grace and peace as there is available to me.

But Peter indicates the source of this abundant grace and peace–it is ‘in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord’. Grace and peace in abundance is available (and only available) through knowing God and the Lord Jesus.

  1. Scripture quotations taken from the ESV. Copyright by Crossway. ↩︎