“Your Word Is Truth”
Who Wrote Second Peter?
MANY modern religious scholars in Christendom express some doubt that the apostle Peter really wrote First Peter. However, many of them dogmatically assert that the apostle Peter simply could not have written Second Peter. They call it a “pseudograph,” that is, a forgery.
Thus The Interpreter’s Bible (1957), although refuting the charges that First Peter is not genuine, states that “the possibility of Petrine authorship is definitely eliminated” as regards Second Peter. The Jerusalem Bible (1966) likewise considers First Peter as authentic but says regarding Second Peter that the writer perhaps “belonged to a group of Peter’s disciples. . . . This is what we should call forgery but what in those days literary convention found admissible.” In a similar vein the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), Vol. 1, p. 577, states that “nearly all critics agree that” Second Peter is “pseudonymous,” that is, a forgery.
Why do so many modern critics who profess to be Bible scholars question the canonicity and authenticity of Second Peter? One reason is that early “church fathers” quote little from it. Why is that? It could well be that Second Peter simply was not circulated as widely as First Peter.
Among other objections raised to Second Peter’s having been written by the apostle Peter is the fact that its writing style is different from that of First Peter. But what does that prove? Little, when we analyze it. In his first letter Peter tells that he is using Sylvanus as his secretary. (1 Pet. 5:12) In view of this, it is to be expected that its style would differ somewhat from that found in Second Peter if Peter used another secretary or wrote it himself.
This very question of writing style strongly supports Peter’s having composed the second letter bearing his name. The late professor W. G. Moorehead states that “there are not a few instances in which words rarely found in the other Bible books are common to the two Epistles.” For example, there is areté, meaning “virtue.” It is found in both of Peter’s letters but elsewhere only at Philippians 4:8. (1 Pet. 2:9; 2 Pet. 1:3, 5) This professor also notes that there “are many striking similarities in thought and diction in the two Epistles.”
Similarly, scholar E. M. B. Green states that “despite the wide differences no book in the New Testament is so like 2 Peter as 1 Peter. They have been shown . . . to have as close an affinity on a purely linguistic basis as 1 Timothy and Titus, where unity of authorship is universally admitted.”—The Expositors Bible, p. xvi.
Then again, a Professor J. R. Lumby notes that in First Peter there are twenty words not found elsewhere in the Christian Greek Scriptures. And there are twenty-four other words found in Second Peter that are not found elsewhere in the Scriptures. If one had been trying to perpetrate a forgery he certainly would have made use of the twenty words distinctive to First Peter instead of ignoring these and using twenty-four other distinctive ones. But these facts are consistent with Peter’s having written both letters; he apparently having a tendency to employ such little-used words.
Among other objections to Second Peter as having been written by the apostle Peter is the claim that ideas presented therein savor more of the second century than of the first century of our Common Era. That is merely a matter of interpretation as to what Peter had in mind when he wrote.
But does not Second Peter refer to the apostle Paul’s writings as Scripture, saying that some have twisted these to their own hurt? Does not such an indication of the development of apostasy point to events of the second century? No. The apostle Paul began writing letters some fifteen years before Second Peter was written, ample time for Paul’s letters to be established as Scripture as far as Peter was concerned. And apostasy, to which Peter alludes, was already at work in Paul’s day; it did not first make its appearance in the second century.—1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Pet. 3:15, 16.
The fact is that Second Peter has as much in common with First Peter as regards substance as it does in regard to writing style. To mention two points: Both letters make reference to the Deluge and show that only eight persons survived. Interestingly, aside from the apostle Peter, only Jesus Christ drew on the Deluge to drive home a lesson, that is, as far as the Christian Greek Scriptures are concerned. (Matt. 24:37-39; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 2:5; 3:6, 7) Both First and Second Peter stress the importance of the inspired Scriptures and the manner of their inspiration.—1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:19-21.
References in Second Peter to personal experiences of Peter give further evidence that it was written by the apostle. It begins with “Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a faith, held in equal privilege with ours.” Further, the writer of 2 Peter 1:14 makes reference to what Jesus told Peter as to the manner of his death, as recorded at John 21:18, 19. The writer then tells of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ that he had witnessed at the time he heard God’s words testifying to the fact that Jesus is his beloved Son. As a result of having witnessed this scene, the writer says, “we have the prophetic word made more sure.”—Matt. 17:1-9; 2 Pet. 1:19.
Additionally, the writer makes reference to his having composed a previous letter, saying: “Beloved ones, this is now the second letter I am writing you, in which, as in my first one, I am arousing your clear thinking faculties by way of a reminder.” (2 Pet. 3:1) And it is of interest that this letter has a very strong personal touch. Seven times in this short letter he refers to himself with the personal pronoun “I,” such as, “I consider it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle.” (2 Pet. 1:12-15; 3:1) Throughout the letter we find an earnestness and directness that it would have been nearly impossible for a forger to imitate.
When all the facts are examined, it is clear that the winds and rains of higher criticism beat in vain against the testimony of God’s Word. Those who want to dispute it can find seeming gnats to strain out, but in doing so they swallow the camel of baseless doubt. Jehovah God has seen to it that only authentic books and letters have become part of his Word, the Holy Bible.
“Listen! Someone is saying: ‘Call out!’ And one said: ‘What shall I call out?’ ‘All flesh is green grass, and all their loving-kindness is like the blossom of the field. The green grass has dried up, the blossom has withered; but as for the word of our God, it will last to time indefinite.’”—Isa. 40:6, 8.