The Bad: V 1 This letter was not written by Peter; it was written around 90-100 CE, years after Peter’s death. V 1-11 consist of nothing but mind-numbingly boring Christianese platitudes. The only feature notable about them is their entire lack of reference to any specific details about Jesus. There is no indication from these verses that Jesus was ever a real person, and in fact, v 4 refers to Jesus’ “divine nature”. V 16-18 appear to refer to the Transfiguration (Mark 9, Matt 17, Luke 9), but again, there are no details given beyond what the author could have learned from reading the synoptic gospels, all of which may have been written prior to this letter.
In v 19-21, the author defends the words of the prophets, insisting that their visions were not of their own making (dreams, drugs, hallucinations?), but from god. No evidence is provided for that assertion, though. And note the reference to Christ as the Morning Star.
The Ugly: This entire chapter is one long polemic against ‘false teachers’. But the author does not specify who these false teachers are – non-believers, practitioners of other religions, or simply clergy representing other doctrines within Christianity. They could be any or all of these; intolerance is deeply entrenched among religious fanatics of all stripes, and is just as likely to be directed at those within the faith as to those on the outside.
Read the whole rant and shake your head. The god portrayed here is surely good old Yahweh, and his character hasn’t improved any from the OT. And the guy who penned this diatribe had a lot of pent-up anger. I only made a few notes:
V 4 since when do angels sin? Aha – I found the answer on the Institute for Creation Research website (believe it or not!). Apparently the ‘sinning angels’ will appear in Jude 6. Which answers another question – why does the SAB state that one of the reasons this letter is believed to have been written between 90-100 CE is because it is dependent on Jude? Now that makes sense, too.
V 7 Lot was a righteous man… if you find that statement credible, you need to go back and reread Genesis 19. V 10 Methinks the author has some serious hang-ups about sexuality. V 16 “Peter” really believes that Balaam’s donkey actually talked (Num 22:21).
V 19-22 Special vitriol is directed towards apostates. That’s us! Don’t you love the metaphors – ‘a dog returns to its vomit’ (Prov 26:11), and ‘a washed pig returns to the mud’. Lovely.
The Bad: V 3-4 and 8-9 Jesus hasn’t shown up as expected, and the believers are getting restless. But don’t worry – days and years aren’t what we think they are, and Jesus isn’t really late – he’s just delaying his arrival to give everyone enough time to repent. Seriously?
V 11-14 contain the usual advice to be good, but again, not for the sake of treating others humanely, but to ensure a ticket to heaven.
V 15-16 mention Paul’s letters, another indication that this was written later. And the author’s comment about them is more evidence of divisions within the church already – those who have different interpretations are deemed to be ‘ignorant and unstable’.
The Ugly: V 5-7 contain incredibly bad science and a deadly message. I had to reread to make sense of them, they are so bizarre. Like this: when god made the earth, he brought it out of the water and surrounded it by water, and then he used this water to create the flood that destroyed the world and all the bad people. So… by the same logic, the present-day heavens and earth are being stored up by god to use for fire, to again destroy the earth and all the bad people. So consider yourselves warned. Wow! And there’s some nasty apocalyptic imagery to go with this passage (v 10 and 12)