God Sends Encouragement
Peter had been a failure, but Jesus made him into a pastoral leader. First he was called to be a disciple, which means 'learner' or 'pupil' (no Christian ever stops learning in this life). Then Jesus appointed him as an apostle, which means 'sent out with authority'. Although he had been the spokesman for the disciples, he sometimes said the wrong thing (Matthew 16:21-23), and even denied that he knew Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75). But, after the resurrection, Jesus recommissioned him (John 21:15-19) to feed the church with truth.
In this letter, Peter writes to Christians who needed encouragement. Many were scattered because of persecution; away from home and family, like refugees, and adjusting to a different culture in (what is now) Northern Turkey. Peter knew that they would only keep going with Jesus if they continued to believe the truth. So Peter starts by explaining that they can trust what he says - because he is an accredited apostle of Jesus Christ. [Please note: the apostles have the special responsibility to show how Jesus is the focus of all God's purposes, and how all of the Scriptures point to Him.] And we need the apostles too. Without their help we might easily misinterpret the Old Testament, and misunderstand the gospel of what Jesus said and did.
Unlike Old Testament religion, Christianity is not just a set of rules, a religious or social pattern. It is believing the truth about Jesus Christ, knowing how to have a personal relationship with Him, and then learning (as a disciple) how to live a new life with Him. While family tradition and church cultures may be helpful, it is essential for every generation to check what they believe against the Apostles' teaching. A hunger to do this indicates spiritual health (like a baby who eagerly drinks its milk). That is especially true when working away from home, feeling alone or experiencing opposition because you love Jesus. You may feel distant, but like Peter's original letters, God has carefully arranged for His Word to reach you where you are. By trusting what He says, you can stay close to Him.
© Dr Paul Adams