Truth for the Times - Introduction

J. B. Hewitt, Chesterfield

Part 1 of 8 of the series Truth for the Times

We live in days when the contents of the Christian faith are widely ques­tioned, and new and speculative theol­ogies are being propagated. With this a new morality is advocated by men who are undermining the faith, and their teaching leads to a breakdown in proper conduct. The problems and dangers faced in early days are very like our own, and the Spirit of God in these Epistles provides us with an impregnable defence when we are endangered from within.

The antidote is to be equipped with a full knowledge of the truth. The canonicity of 2 Peter is disputed by some, doubted by others, but joyfully accepted by every true Christian. There are only two alternatives, forgery or genuine­ness. Either it is the work of the apostle, or else his name is used to give a show of authority. Note the people to whom he writes, 3. 1.

Peter and Jude have a great deal in common and attack the false teaching prevalent in their day. There are many extraordinary resemblances and diver­gencies between 2 Peter 2 and Jude which will convince any open-minded reader that neither writer copied the other. Peter is prophesying and writes in the future tense generally, Jude declares the prophecies to be fulfilled, so he writes in the present tense. Com­pare 2 Pet. 2. 3, 12, 14, 15, 18 and Jude 16; 2 Pet. 2. 10, 11 and Jude 8; 2 Pet. 2. 2, 10, 18and Jude 19.

Writers. Peter is a slave of Jesus, and an apostle of Christ. He is now an old man, 1. 13, 14; he has happy memories of companionship with his Lord, 1. 14, 16-18. He held Paul in high esteem, and pays tribute to his writings, 3. 15, 16. Jude was the brother of James the just, a member of the household of Mary the mother of Jesus, Matt. 13. 55; Mark 6. 3. He was not an apostle, Jude 17, and distinguishes himself from the apostles by reference to a God-raised authority higher than his own when introducing his message of warning and exhortation in verse 17. His is the only book in the Bible entirely devoted to the great apostasy which is to come upon Chris­tendom before the Lord Jesus returns. Two distinct classes are before him, the faithful who are preserved for presenta­tion, v. 24, and the faithless who are reserved for retribution, vv. 6,15.

Purpose. Both Peter and Jude warn of dangers. Peter provides strength against internal evil, corruption and seduction 1. 4; 2. 12-19. The darkness is met by the lamp of truth, 1. 19. His readers are in peril of being deceived by the propaganda of false teachers.

Jude writes to guard saints against false teaching that issued in corrupt living. Apostasy is defined as corrupt; it is crafty, and is condemned by God. Apostasy and its doom are illustrated from the past by reminding them of Israel in the wilderness, the angels that kept not their first estate, and Sodom and Gomorrah.

These Epistles emphasize that the modernism, scepticism, and material­ism of the present day are the products of an impoverished soil, the remedy lying in rivers of spiritual vigour and vitality. These resources are at our dis­posal, so let us pray for a revival of Biblical, Holy-Spirit prayer and practice. Nothing less can keep us right and clean in this world. We have an unfailing lamp to light the way, and a God able to keep us from stumbling. We must show sin­cerity in all things, be steadfast in the faith, in view of the sure and certain hope of our Lord's return.

Date. Both Epistles are difficult to date; possibly between 67-68 ad. Peter was aged, and expecting death. His reference to many of Paul's writings as already existing, implies it was written at a late date, just before his death. This Epistle corresponds with Paul's second letter to Timothy, both being written in the shadow of martyrdom.

Peter and Jude had a balanced mini­stry, including both instruction and warning, 2 Pet. 3. 17-18; Jude 3, 4.

Message. 2 Peter: Progress in the Christian life: (a) By active co-opera­tion, 1. 5-8; (b) By accepting the truth, 1. 19-21; (c) By acceptable living. 3. 11. Perversion of divine truth: (a) By denial of the Person of Christ, 2. 1; (b) By denial of the promise of Christ, 3. 9. Key word: "knowledge".

Jude. Power that keeps, v. 1; Love that perfects, v. 24. The Lord is our Pre­server, v. 1, and will be the Prevailer, v. 14-15. Our God is the Protector, Puri­fier, and Perfecter of His saints, v. 24, 25. Keynote: "Keep yourselves".

Suggested Analysis of Second Peter.

Chapter One. Knowledge Expressed in Production, Wheat. Introduction, 1-2. Saints united in faith, v. 1; Sure of unlimited supplies, v. 2.

1. The Abundant Provision of God, 3-4. Divine power exercised, v. 3; Divine
promises given, v. 4; Divine prospect mentioned, v.   3; Divine   protection assured, v. 4.

2.  The Actual Progress of the Saint, 5-11. The starting point - faith, v. 5; the splendid qualities   — seven features, vv. 5-7; the simple principle — abound, v. 8a; the satisfying portion — fruitful, v. 8b; the sad possibility — blind, v. 9; the strenuous effort— make sure, v. 10; the sure reward — entrance, v. 11. The Accurate Prophetic Word, 12-21. Remembering the truth — to estab­lish, vv. 12, 13; recording the word — to encourage, vv. 14, 15; re-affirming the truth—to enrich, w. 19-21.

Chapter Two. Knowledge which Ends in Perdition, Tares. The methods and miseries of false teachers, (a) Their satanic doctrine, vv. 1-3. They deny the Lord, v. 1; defame the truth, v. 2; delude the saints, v. 3. (b) Their sure destruc­tion, w. 4-9. It slumbereth not, v. 3; swift in execution, vv. 4-5; some striking examples, vv. 4-6. (c) Their shameful deeds, w. 10-22. Defiled minds, v. 10; despisers of government, v. 10; desti­tute of the Spirit, v. 12; degrading in living, vv. 13-20; delivered to death, vv. 21,22.

Chapter Three. Knowledge Effects Preparedness, Harvest. The prepara­tion of the faithful soul, (a) Beware of unbelieving men, w. 1-7. They scorn purity of life, vv. 1, 2; scoff at the promise of Christ, vv. 3, 4; shut their eyes to judgment, vv. 5-7. (b) The believers unswerving faithfulness, w. 8-18. By dependence upon truth, vv. 8, 9; in view of that day, vv. 10, 11; by devout living, v.   12;  by diligent demeanour, v. 14; by discreet study, v. 16; by daily duty, v. 17; doxology of praise — glory forever, v. 18.

Suggested Analysis of Jude.

Salutation, w. 1-3: Our character and calling, v. 1; our conflict and challenge, v. 3. Consternation, vv. 4-13: Dangerous men, deluding messages, devilish methods, v. 4; disobedient angels, v. 6; defiled Sodomites, vv. 7-8; debasing behaviour, v. 9, 10; descriptive char­acters, v. 11; degrading conduct, w. 12, 13. Retribution, vv. 14-16: Prophecy accepted, v. 14; perversion apparent, vv. 15, 16. Recognition, vv. 17-19: The supreme authority of God, v. 17; shame­ful apostasy, vv. 18, 19. Exhortation, vv. 20-23: Building, praying, v. 20; keeping, looking, v. 21; have compassion, v. 22; snatching, hating, contending, v. 23. Adoration, vv. 24-25; Power avail­able — He is able; preservation assured — keep from stumbling; prospect allur­ing — present faultless; pleasure enjoyed and praise and power for ever.

There are 8 articles in
ISSUE (1976, Volume 27 Issue 1)

Gospel Work and other Assembly Activities

Historical Setting and Outline (1)

Manasseh and Ephraim

My Lord

The Temple of God (cont), 1Corinthians 3. 9-17

Truth for the Times - Introduction

The Two Draughts of Fishes

The Worship of God

There are 4 articles in this series

Truth for the Times - Introduction

Controlled by Divine Truth, 2 Peter 3

The Peril of Apostasy, Jude 4-19

The Antidote to Apostasy, Jude 1-3; 17-23

There are 40 articles by this author

Why I Believe the Bible

Glimpses of Christ

Outline Studies in Hebrews - Introduction

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 4 - 5

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 6-7

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 8 - 9

Outline Studies in Hebrews, Chapter 10

Outline Studies in the Pentateuch - Introduction

Genesis - Part 1

Genesis - Part 2

Suggested Analysis of Genesis

Exodus

Exodus: Its Message for Today

Leviticus

Numbers

Deuteronomy

Glimpses of Christ

Outline Studies in the Penteteuch

The Authority of Scripture in This Modern Age

Truth for the Times - Introduction

Controlled by Divine Truth, 2 Peter 3

The Peril of Apostasy, Jude 4-19

The Antidote to Apostasy, Jude 1-3; 17-23

Christ in the Prison Epistles - Introduction

Ephesians - Christ our Leader and our Lord

Philippians - Christ our Life

Colossians - Christ our Head

Philemon - Christ our Example

Help from Haggai - Introduction

Help from Haggai, Verses 2. 10-23

The Eight Men of James Chapter One

Meditation-a Lost Art

The Cross in Galatians

The Industrious Servant of Jehovah

Abraham - Friend of God

Living by Faith, Habakkuk

Help from Haggai, Verses 1. 1-11

Help from Haggai, Verses 1. 12-15; 2. 1-9

The Son of Consolation

The Lion-Hearted Amount the Lions - Daniel 6