Join us as we study through 2 Peter verse by verse. Our discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, 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 1:12-21 Inductive Bible Study With Discussion Questions – Small Group Study Guide Lesson Notes
I. Reminders are important (12-15)
II. We preached truth from God (16-21)
I. Reminders are important (12-15).
• What word/theme is repeated in these verses?
• What qualities was Peter reminding them of?
• What did Peter believe was going to happen to him soon? Why did he think this?
• Why are reminders so important?
• If you could choose to be taught something new or reminded of something you have learned before, which would you choose? Why?
• What Bible passages show us that reminders and remembering are important?
• How can you remind yourself of important things you have learned or applications you have made?
Isaiah 46:9 – Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.
Deuteronomy 6:12 – Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Psalm 77:11 – I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Luke 22:19 – And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
John 21:18-19 – Truly, truly, I tell you, when you were young, you dressed yourself and walked where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Reminders are important – In verses 12-15 Peter uses the words “remind” or “recall” three times. He is reminding the saints about the importance of godly Christian character, qualities listed out in verses 5-8. First, he says, “I intend always to remind you of these qualities.” From this we see that frequent reminders are necessary.
The occasional reminder is not enough. He also says, “to stir you up by way of reminder.” The reminders were meant to serve a purpose. That purpose was to encourage action. Perhaps due to forgetfulness, they were growing passive and needed a kick to get up and start to take action. Thirdly, he says “you may be able at any time to recall these things.” Effective reminders mean that people can fully remember what they are supposed to and can recall it at any time. That is the difference between straining to remember the words or reference of a verse and being able to instantly quote it perfectly.
The concept of remembering is very important in the Bible. God repeats commands many times. He repeats His covenants. He reminds His people of what He has done for them. The same lessons and principles are taught again and again. The reason is simple. We are forgetful. We have short-term memories. These short-term memories apply both to blessings God has given us and negative consequences of sin. We are quick to forget the good God has done in our lives and therefore complain more against Him (See Exodus 34).
We are also quick to forget the consequences of sin and therefore keep sinning against God. But God commands us many times in the Bible to not forget. He commands us to remember. Why do we forget? We forget because we don’t value something enough. We forget because we don’t make the proper effort to remember.
Often times Christians are more interested in learning something new from Scripture than reviewing something learned before. Preachers often delight in sharing some new insight, theory, or detail. However, we would do well to remember what the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “there is nothing new under the sun.” The Bible has been complete for almost 2000 years. There are not many completely new ideas. And if there is something that is completely new, then very possibly it is not orthodox at all.
Athletes often repeat the same regime every day. Farmers go through the same process to grow their crops. The life of a disciple is really not that complicated. We often know what to do, but either forget or don’t do it.
What can you do to make sure you don’t forget? Here are a few ideas:
• Every year write down things you are thankful for and put them in a jar. Then the next year bring it out, review the past years’ blessings and add new thanksgivings inside. You can do this at New Year or Thanksgiving if you celebrate it.
• Keep a journal. Include special thanksgivings, blessings, or answers to prayer inside. Review it from time to time.
• Write a song, book, or poem based on what God has done in your life.
• Instead of a normal Christmas tree (or Chinese New Year orange tree), have a memorial tree. Specially select things to put on the tree which remind you of God’s grace shown to you throughout the years.
• Hang Scripture or Scripture calligraphy around your home.
• Make a memorial quilt.
• Record special moments of God’s grace in your life with pictures and then make a memorial photo album.
• Teach your children what God has done in your life. Your children can become something like a living memorial of God’s grace to you.
2. Remind you of these qualities – The qualities are those mentioned in verses 5-7. These are many of the basic character qualities that should belong to and be increasing in the life of every disciple. The Christian life is a continuous battle. Every day we struggle against temptation, often coming from our old nature. A follower of Christ should never become complacent or satisfied with himself. Instead, we must push forward daily, and as we learned in the last lesson, “make every effort” to be growing in these areas.
Application: In the last lesson, one application was to choose one of the qualities listed and make a specific application as to how you would improve in that area during the last week. Did you do it? What is one additional area you can focus on this week? List out one specific way you will grow in that area.
3. The putting off of my body will be soon – Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him in regards to how he would die (John 21:18-19). Peter knew that he would be martyred one day for his faith in Christ. And he believed that time would be soon. But notice what Peter does when he believes his time is approaching. He sits down to write a letter and exhort the church to live out and grow their faith.
You can see what priorities a person has by observing what they do when they are given a short time to live. Many people these days have what they call a “bucket list”. These lists normally are places they want to go and things they want to do. I just did a quick search on Google for “a great bucket list”. Here are the top eight suggestions in the top result:
• Ride horses on the beach.
• Go bungee jumping.
• Take a hot air balloon ride.
• Visit an elephant sanctuary.
• Attend the Olympics.
• Be in the Saturday Night Live audience.
• Be in a parade float.
• Ride a mechanical bull.
There are many such ideas about travel and adventure. I did also find some about health and well-being. One of them, for example, was “compliment yourself every day in the mirror.” I scanned through one list of 150 ideas. Do you know what I didn’t see on the list even once? Sharing the gospel, making a disciple, writing a letter to encourage people to follow Jesus. Most people’s bucket lists are focused on themselves, things that they want to do or enjoy. Peter focused on others. He was “making every effort” on their behalf.
Application: If you knew you didn’t have much time left, what would you spend your time doing? In fact, we don’t know how much time we have left. So what do you spend your time doing?
The way you spend your time reveals who you are, no matter how much time you think you have left. So I would like each of you to take a few minutes to start your spiritual bucket list. Write down things which you hope to do for God as His disciple before you die.
These are long term goals which you can begin working on. The list you write now should be considered a starter list. Save it and keep working on it. It is important to have good and clear long-term goals. If you don’t have good goals, don’t be surprised if you don’t go anywhere. Step one, have good long-term goals. Step two, make every effort to finish them!
II. We preached truth from God (16-21).
• What are some cleverly devised myths in the world?
• Why did Peter know that what he taught about Jesus was true?
• Explain why the disciples’ eyewitness evidence of the resurrection is important.
• How does the fact that Peter and most of other disciples were martyred make their testimony even more believable?
• What prophetic word does Peter refer to in verse 19?
• What prophesies in the Old Testament can you think of that point toward Jesus?
• What does Peter mean by: “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation”?
• What does verse 21 teach us about the source of the Scriptures?
• If someone asked you why you believe the Bible is true, what would you say?
• What are some basic reasons you can give to seekers which point to the truth of the Scriptures?
John 17:1-5 – After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Mark 13:31 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Peter and the disciples are reliable eyewitnesses – Peter makes it clear that his testimony regarding Jesus is reliable. He didn’t make it up. It wasn’t part of some conspiracy or scheme to gain riches or followers. Peter and the other disciples simply reported what they saw and heard.
John says the same thing as Peter. They were fishermen. They didn’t set off planning to turn the world upside down. But they answered Jesus’ call, witnessed spectacular things, and then reported those things to others.
2. One of the biggest evidences of the resurrection is the disciples’ testimony and changed lives – Paul lists out one of the most compelling evidences for the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15. It is that over five hundred witnesses confirmed it, many of whom were still alive to verify that when Corinthians was written.
The disciples’ changed lives and eventual martyrdom is another strong evidence for the resurrection. Since the disciples were contemporaries of Jesus, they would have known the facts about Jesus’ resurrection. They told people that Jesus rose again from the dead. Today I tell people the same thing. However, I am not an eyewitness. I am telling people this based on faith. I believe that what I am saying is true. The knew whether or not they were telling the truth. So, there are two options: either the disciples were intentionally lying or they were speaking the truth.
Let us examine option one. If they were intentionally lying, for what? Normally people lie for one of two reasons. Either they hope to gain some personal benefit or they hope to avoid punishment. People lie to gain money, fame, or followers. Criminals also lie to avoid punishment for their crimes. What people don’t do is to lie so that they will be punished.
But when we look at the lives of the disciples. They did not gain riches for their story. One could argue that they achieved fame or followers. However, the end result was that they were killed because they wouldn’t stop spreading this story that Jesus arose. If they were telling lies for personal benefit, would they have been willing to give their lives for it? Or would they have changed their tune at the last moment and backed down to save their skin? Human nature tells us if it was all a “cleverly devised myth” that they would back down and tell the truth, instantly causing the newfound church to crumble. The point is this: the disciples believed what they were saying. They had no incentive to make up this story, and in fact, every incentive to recant it, but they never did, giving their lives for their faith.
Why did they do this? They witnessed spectacular things! They saw Jesus’ transfiguration. They heard God’s audible voice from heaven. The disciples were compelled to tell others what they had seen and heard.
Application: God has changed your life too. God has spoken to us just as clearly through the Scripture. How can you, like Peter, tell others about this? The day may come when you too will face persecution for your faith. You may be pressured to stop sharing with people or to deny the faith. How can you prepare for that day now?
3. The prophetic word is fully confirmed – God’s plan of redemption was prophesied in the Old Testament. Some prophecies are general like the seed of man crushing the serpent’s head or the seed of Abraham blessing the world. Other prophesies are very specific such as the Messiah being born in Bethlehem of the tribe of Judah. These prophesies came true in front of the eyes of the apostles. It is not that their experience was authoritative, but rather that they witnessed God’s authoritative prophesies happening.
Here are several specific prophesies which have already been fulfilled.
A. Daniel describes in detail the future course of history in the Middle East for five centuries. He predicts the demise of the Babylonian Empire and the rise and fall of Alexander the Great. You can read about this in Daniel 7-11.
B. Many prophecies are made about the Messiah as well. It was predicted that He would be born in Bethlehem and He was (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1). God even used a census to bring His parents there to make sure it would happen. There are scores of other things prophesied about the Messiah including that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:22-23).
A few other prophesies include:
• He would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9, Matthew 21:1-7)
• He would take our sins. (Isaiah 53:4-6, Romans 5:8)
• He would be pierced. (Zechariah 12:10, Matthew 24:30)
• He would be a light for the nations of the world. (Isaiah 42:1-7, Matthew 12:15-18)
C. The regathering of Israel – Many Old Testament prophecies tell us that God would gather Israel together as a nation again once they had been scattered throughout the world (Isaiah 11:11-12, Ezekiel 37:11-12, 14, 21-22, 25). Many other Biblical teachings and prophecies require that Jews be part of a Zionist nation. This looked nearly impossible after A.D. 70 when the Jews were scattered throughout the world.
Never before or since has a nation been scattered throughout the world and returned to create a nation anew. What happens without fail is that these people are then assimilated into other nations. They intermarry and slowly fade away as a distinct people group. But God gathered the Jewish nation together in 1948 just as He prophesied 2700 years before! Biblical scholars fully expected and believed this would happen. The Bible proved itself to be true once again.
4. You will do well to pay attention – People often overlook or forget about God’s prophecies. But His prophecies are like a lamp shining the dark. They lead and guide us to the truth in uncertain times.
Application: What prophecies has God made (which are still unfulfilled) which can guide you nowadays like a lamp in the dark? What prophesies, if any, have been fulfilled in the last 100 years? What prophesies can you see ripe for fulfillment in the world today (in other words, trends which make prophesies easier to fulfill now than before)?
5. Prophecy is inspired by the Holy Spirit –
It does not come from people’s own thoughts or ideas. It is divine in origin. This does not only signify prophecy about the future. Keep in mind that the vast majority of what prophets spoke to God’s people about was not even related to the future. Rather, they often brought God’s message of repentance.
For over 3800 times, Old Testament writers referred to their writings as the words of God. They themselves were aware that what they were writing came from God and not their own thoughts.
The consistency of Scripture with over forty writers is further confirmation that they were writing God’s thoughts and not their own.
Imagine I gave each a group of forty people an assignment to write a book on the meaning of life and the history of the world. Then I ask each person to write one chapter. And I required some of these people to write at the same time without checking what other people had written first. What would the result be? It would be filled with contradictions. Naturally people would have different opinions and viewpoints. These different ideas would create problems in the text. You would have forty different mini-books, not one. But the Bible is a unified whole without contradictions. It is itself already a miracle.
It does not come from one’s own interpretation. This does not refer to what Scripture means as we hear it and then seek to understand it. Rather it refers to the source of that Scripture. Hence, Peter uses the words “come from.” God supervises the entire process so that is accurate and reliable to the letter. God did not just tell them, “Write about the sin of man,” and let them go to work. He did use their own personalities and writing styles. They were active in the process. But God was in control and Scripture is ultimately from Him.
5. Prophecy is not produced by the will of man – Willing something to happen does not make it so. One of the most important marks of a real prophet from God is that he is never wrong.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 – But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
If a so-called prophet prophesies something that does not come to pass, he is a false prophet and has no place in the church. The modern apostolic movement has given rise to many people who claim to be prophets. You should note that many of these are extremely vague. One reason for that is that when something is vague it cannot be disproven. Such vague prophesies offer little edification or benefit even if (and that is a big if) true. But in fact, they can be very dangerous. They distract people from focusing on Christ and His Word and draw people’s attention to unprofitable speculation.
Application: Confirm everything you read on the internet with Scripture. Focus on reading and studying the Scriptures so that you understand the truth and more quickly know when something is off.
Comment: Leave a comment below to share your insight on this 2 Peter 1:12-21 Bible study. We would love to hear what you learned from this passage.