Join us as we study through 2 Peter verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
2 Peter 1:1-11 Inductive Bible Study With Discussion Questions – Small Group Study Guide Lesson
I. Greeting (1-2)
II. He strengthens us for godly living (3-4)
III. Be diligent to grow in godly character (5-11)
I. Greeting (1-2)
- Give a short review of Peter’s history.
- How does he describe himself in his greeting? Why is this important?
- What does the phrase “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours” mean?
- Who does the pronoun “ours” refer to here?
- What does this statement tell us about the position of everyday believers in God’s family?
- How does one increase in grace and peace?
1. Peter – Before we study the epistle of 2 Peter, let us take a look at the author.
Meaning of name: Rock
When and where he lived: Peter had the special opportunity to live at the time when Jesus came to the earth and see him face to face. Israel was subject to Rome and chaffing under its rule. There were frequent riots and uprisings. Several influential parties rose up in Israel. The Pharisees were religious conservatives and were known for their piety. The Sadducees were more liberal and worked with Rome. They also denied the resurrection. The zealots were against any cooperation with Rome and were basically terrorists. All the religious-minded in Israel were expectantly waiting for the coming of the Messiah. It would have been exciting time to live. Peter got to witness with his own eyes the Son of God incarnate, the crucifixion, and the resurrection.
Training and occupation: Peter was a fisherman. He hadn’t received a high education or training (Acts 4:13) yet God called him to be a fisher of men (Matt 4:19). His time with Jesus transformed him from an uneducated and even fearful man into a courageous and faithful apostle who became instrumental in the establishment of the church.
Place in history: Peter was the unspoken leader of the twelve. It seems he was always the first to pipe up and answer Jesus questions or ask him questions. He was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples who got to witness the transfiguration (Matt 17). He was singled out at the Last Supper and in the last verses of John (after Jesus’ resurrection) for special teaching. He evidently had a special position in the establishment of the church (Matt 16:18-19).
He is the most well-known of the disciples, both for some of his blunders and for his outspoken faith. Peter preached the sermon at Pentecost where three thousand believed (Acts 3). He also was instrumental in establishing the church in Samaria (Acts 8) and bringing the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11). These facts can help us to understand what it means that Peter has the “keys of heaven” (Matt 16:19).
Headstrong/speaking before thinking Peter often spoke before he thought (Mark 8:32-33, Mark 9:5). He sometimes told Jesus what to do. Often he spoke in haste and said foolish things. He was a very outspoken person and was prone to get excited. It is important for a leader to lead, but Peter sometimes went too far.
Weak in the flesh (Mark 14:37-42, 14:66-72) – At times his weak flesh took over (then Jesus often called him Simon) and caused him to do something he later regretted. He fell asleep at the garden when Jesus asked him to pray and he denied Jesus three times. He chopped off the ear of the high priest’s slave. Much later he was afraid of the Jewish sect of believers and wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles.
Inconsistency – As Peter was growing in the Lord he was inconsistent. He would have a great success in faith or action and that would be followed by a failure. He started walking on the water to Jesus and then looked around him and sank in the water. He declared his allegiance to Christ and then denied him three times. He brought the gospel to the Gentiles and then later wouldn’t eat with them. Part of this problem was caused because he was hasty and didn’t think things through completely.
Excited – Peter was excited about his relationship with Christ. He was excited to be able to learn from Jesus and witness what He did firsthand. Look at the example where he ran to the tomb to check if it was empty and then went inside when John just stuck his head in the door (John 20:1-9)
Committed (Mk 10:28)- Peter may have fallen at times, but he was committed to Christ. He gave up his career and his home to follow and serve Christ. He became a full-time Christian worker. Many believers today want to separate their spiritual life from their “real” or daily life. They just want a touch of Jesus. Peter wanted all of his life to be affected by Jesus (John 13:9).
Put God first (Acts 5:29) – Peter did put Jesus first in his life most of the time. He did so at the risk of his own life. He put God ahead of career.
Repentant – When Peter sinned by denying Christ he later repented of it and reaffirmed his faith in Christ three times (John 21:15-19). Peter seems to have learned from his mistakes because over time he became more and more mature and more and more courageous in His walk with the Lord and ministry for Him.
Persevered until the end of his life/transformed – Peter was transformed by his time with Jesus and especially when he was indwelt with the Holy Spirit. It is really a mark of a true believer to repent of sins, learn from mistakes, and grow throughout their life. Peter did these things. In the end he gave his life for Christ.
2. A servant and an apostle – Peter was a servant. He invested his life in sharing the good news, planting churches, and making disciples. Long before he wrote this book, Jesus taught Peter and the disciples about servant leadership. By identifying as a servant, Peter is demonstrating that he remembers Jesus’ words and is committed to leading others in a godly way.
He also identifies as an apostle. Although he is a servant, he still has authority in the church as God’s appointed leader. This gives him authority to instruct and command on all matters related to faith. Sharing his credentials is another way to say “Listen up! An important message from God is incoming.”
3. Obtained a faith of equal standing with ours – Peter just introduced himself as an apostle. However, he makes sure his readers understand that he is not better than them. His salvation is no different than theirs. His eternal life is the same. His relationship to God is of the same nature. He was writing as one of them and not as a pope looking down on them. Christian leaders are not more saved than the brothers and sisters in their congregations. It is healthy to respect and honor them, but they should not be put on a pedestal or treated as some kind of demigods.
Peter wanted to avoid any kind of attitude like Cornelius showed in Acts 10:25-26 –
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and
worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.”
What is an example of going too far in exalting Christian leaders or pastors?
How can believers be sure to respect their leaders without going too far?
II. He strengthens us for godly living (3-4)
- What does verse 3 tell us about the source of living a godly and successful life?
- It says that He granted these things to us. Specifically, how do we obtain them or how do we get or find them?
- Where else do people turn to for these things that pertain to life? How are these sources of wisdom or strength lacking?
- What does it mean that he “called us to us own glory and excellence?”
- List out some of these “precious and great promises.”
- How can one become a “partaker of the divine nature?”
- What is the corruption that is in the world (verse 4)?
1. All things that pertain to life and godliness – Life comes from God. Before He breathed the breath of life into the mud he had formed into the shape of a man, human life did not exist. Therefore life comes from God. He not only created life originally, but He sustains it. Scientists have been searching for for decades for the so called “god particle.” They do not understand why the universe does not fly apart into chaos and have concluded that some unseen force is holding it together. As believers, we know that whether or not there is such an actual particle, the universe is held together by His divine power.
Colossians 1:17 – And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
But this statement goes beyond physical life and covers all aspects of spiritual life. Having a successful spiritual life can only come through His divine power. There is no other way to heaven except by the name of Christ. There is no way to receive eternal life except by trusting in Jesus and His work on the cross. We are of ourselves totally depraved, with no ability to please God of ourselves no matter how we try.
Therefore the meaning of this statement is this: to have true success in your life, you must depend on Christ’s power. There is no other way to please God. There is no other way to become godly.
2. He has granted to us all things…through the knowledge of Him – He is the source of everything you need for morality. And He grants that to us in two ways. The first way is the knowledge. He reveals to us His perfect will in Scripture. And we should go to the Scripture rather than to the world for spiritual wisdom. The second way is through the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. The Spirit indwells believers and gives strength to overcome sin.
Here are some sources people look to for wisdom and strength as it pertains to life and right living:
- Themselves. Through new age meditation (yogo and the like), people look deep within themselves for answers. But people do not have the right answers.
- Self-help books. Many self-proclaimed self-help gurus like Tony Robbins tour the world making grand promises. They ask people to believe and encourage them to walk on coals or glass or do other reckless things in the name of developing confidence. These gimmicks do not provide long-term answers. Joining such seminars and buying such books is money thrown down the drain.
- Other religions. There is only one way to God and that is through Jesus. All other religions are blind men leading the blind.
- Family, friends, and online experts – Naturally people turn to other people for answers. They look for people with experience or success. Unbelievers are not capable of offering sound advice when it comes to moral matters since their spiritual eyes have not been opened (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Here are just a few areas of life you can find wisdom for in God’s Word:
- Raising children
- Starting a business
Application: Do not go to the world for wisdom and help on spiritual matters. Sure, you can get help from an unbelieving math expert on how to solve a math problem. That is not a moral problem. But for every topic that touches morality we should go to God’s Word. His Word speaks into our lives into every area.
3. He called us to his own glory and excellence – He has called us to salvation. When we are saved our eyes have been opened. We can then see and appreciate God, giving Him glory. In fact, that is what we will be doing for eternity (Revelation 7:9-12).
Notice how even salvation is not man-centric. Make no mistake. Salvation is wonderful for us. But even our salvation is not ultimately about us. The final purpose of salvation is so that we will become worshipers of Creator God.
4. He has granted to us His precious and great promises –
Activity – Give each person in your group a chance to share a promise from Scripture that is meaningful to them. If you are studying through this passage on your own, take some time to reflect on God’s promises and write down five that are especially important to you.
5. You may become partaker of the divine nature – Notice this does say that we actually are divine in any way. Christians do not become “little Christs.” However, we do become like Him in some ways. He makes us His children and like the saying goes “like father, like son.” He takes away our sin and imputes His righteousness to us (2 Corinthians 5:21). His Spirit indwells us. And He gives us strength to be holy. He makes us a new creation and gives us a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17).
6. Having escaped from the corruption that is in the world – The world is under a curse and has been since the fall of man in Genesis 3. It is rotting and decaying from the inside out under the influence sin. Sin is like a virus which multiplies over and over again. It keeps growing until it finally kills its host.
Believers are subject to a new reality. We are no longer of the kingdom of this world, but have transferred our citizenship to a heavenly kingdom. Sin is no longer corrupting us, decaying us from the inside. Instead, our sins have been forgiven and we are washed white as snow. After salvation, sanctification is a process. Instead of the sin multiplying in and taking us over, the fruit of the spirit are growing and becoming more evident!
III. Be diligent to grow in godly character (5-11)
- If God has already granted us everything we need for a successful spiritual life, then how does making “every effort” fit into the equation?
- How does God’s work and our work fit together?
- Share some ways believers could make “every effort” to do the things described in verses 5-7.
- How are the qualities Peter mentions connected with faith?
- Share one specific way you will make an effort in one specific quality Peter mentions this week.
- Peter says, “if these qualities are yours and are increasing.” Are they?
- What do we learn from this statement about the life of a disciple?
- If having these qualities keeps you from being unfruitful, then what are the marks of the unfruitful life? And what is Peter’s view of fruit in this verse?
- Is this person who lacks these qualities (verse 9) saved or not?
- What would you say to a person who professes faith, but does not appear to be growing or showing these qualities?
- How could you use verses 9-10 to help people reach an assurance of salvation?
- How could you use verses 9-10 to challenge people who maybe shouldn’t have an assurance of salvation?
- How can you be diligent to confirm your calling and election?
1. The combination of God’s work with man’s work – Salvation comes entirely by God’s effort, not ours. It is His divine power which transforms us and gives us eternal life. However, at the same time we see here that God expects believers to make every effort to diligently grow in the faith. The Christian life is not a lazy one where we sit around and wait for God to do something in our lives. This passage is clear that believers are to be diligent spiritually.
An athlete who wants to win competitions trains hard. He wakes up early. He eats healthy food. He exercises and practices. Athletes cannot improve their skills without lots of hard work. Farmers also diligently prepare the soil and sow the seed before they expect a crop (2 Timothy 2:3-13). A Christian should do no less.
What does that look like in action?
What are some ways believers can make every effort in these areas?
- Intensive Scripture memory.
- Intensive prayer (to the point of sacrificing other things you want to do).
- Intensive Bible study (diligently seek out a deeper understanding).
- Diligence in attending church, training, fellowship.
- A constant awareness of seeking to glorify God in everything.
2. Supplement your faith – This passage has a similar idea to James’ famous teaching on faith and works in James 2. Faith by itself is dead. The Christian life is not just raising your hand in church and professing faith. Faith in God is the first step. Real faith will be accompanied by real effort to grow.
3. Qualities of the godly believer – For each of the below qualities discuss two questions:
What is it? How can you grow in it?
- Brotherly affection
4. What is a fruitful Christian? – Verse 8 answers this question. A person who does not have these qualities and there is no evidence of growth in these areas is ineffective and unfruitful. Therefore, a person who is growing in those seven areas is considered to be a fruitful Christian.
Application: Growing believers are fruitful believers. The trajectory of a genuine believer is forward and up. Lengthy periods of backsliding or plateauing could signal a lack of genuine saving faith and should certainly call into question one’s assurance of salvation. Look at the above seven qualities and evaluate yourself on these areas. How would you rate yourself? Are you growing?
5. A real Christian should live in victory – Remember back in verse 3 that God’s divine power gives us everything we need for life and godliness. He gives us everything we need to grow in Christian character. If you are not growing, then there is one of two problems:
A. You do not have His divine power in your life. If this is the case, you are not a real believer.
B. You have access to His divine power, but have become disconnected (or out of fellowship with) from Him. As Peter says, it could be that you have forgotten the victory you have in Christ. You have forgotten to go to Him for help. You have forgotten to practice the principles in His word which will help you escape temptation. You have the position in Christ to live a victorious life, but are not acting on what you have. If this is you, you need to wake up from your lethargy, ask God for His mercy and help, and then start being diligent to make every effort in these areas again.
6. Be diligent to confirm your calling and election – Here I think is Peter’s main point. Believers can have assurance of salvation when they are living out these qualities in their everyday life. Doing so is fruit of salvation and evidence of their new nature in Christ.
A believer should not parrot “once saved, always saved” and continue forward in a lazy spiritual life. God’s election is irreversible and unchangeable. Those whom He elects will be saved. But how can a person be sure he is elect and truly saved?
Bible teacher John MacArthur says, “Though God is “certain” who His elect are and has given them an eternally secure salvation, the Christian might not always have assurance of his salvation. Security is the Holy Spirit revealed fact that salvation is forever. Assurance is one’s confidence that he possesses that eternal salvation. In other words, the believer who pursues the spiritual qualities mentioned above guarantees to himself by spiritual fruit that he was called and chosen by God to salvation.”
Application: The simple lesson for us is that if we want to have assurance of salvation, we must practice godliness. The fruit of the Spirit is evidence of the Spirit in your life. Its that simple!
7. An entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord – Real believers who are elect will diligently pursue the things of God. The people who diligently pursue the things of God prove their salvation. And these people will gain entrance (not by their own merits, but by God’s grace) into the eternal kingdom. This is what we hope for. And this is the joy we look forward to even as we diligently strive to please God here on earth. Athletes may train in order to win the championship or receive the gold medal. We look forward to an eternity with God in heaven.
Application: Think of one way this week you can make every effort to grow in one of the character qualities listed today. Write down a specific thing you will do this week to improve in that area and then be diligent to accomplish it.
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