2nd Peter – The Coming of the Lord

Peter discusses the teaching of some who claim that Jesus will not come again and deliberately ignore what Jesus has said concerning this. The people Peter is writing about are unhappy with spiritual power and turn not only from the teaching on the end times but also the prophets and the commandments. God created the world out of nothing, and He covered it in the Flood, so He is surely powerful. What is more, God is not slow in His coming, but rather in His mercy has delayed His return to give us time to repent, and some have chosen to see this mercy as a sign of aloofness. This is not out of ignorance but rather a deliberate denial of certain inconvenient facts.

To the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, but when the end comes, it will be like a thief coming in the night. If we are looking forward to that day, we may hasten it by living godly lives. When the end does come, God will take care of His people, not by preserving them from death, but in some cases reserving them for martyrdom. These people will receive their reward in the resurrection of the body.

How much are we and even some teachers in the Church exhorting our fellow Christians to be mindful of these facts today?

Peter then reminds the people to be without spot or blemish and to consider this time of delay as salvation. He tells them that some of Paul’s writings have been twisted by the ignorant and unstable to their own destruction. In doing this, Peter tells us two things. First, Paul’s epistles are scripture to Peter, and second, though there may be tensions between the apostles, there was never any rivalry or animosity. Peter then concludes by returning to the themes of growth, knowledge and journey.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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2nd Peter – Scoffers

Peter concludes his message which he was probably writing in the final days of his life, racing to give his fellow Christians a final exhortation before he joins the Church Triumphant. In chapter 2, Peter spoke at length on the false teachers and schismatics, and in the third chapter, he narrows his focus to those who were concerned that Jesus had not yet come again. Peter addresses two issues that the people scoff at, namely the words of the prophets and the teachings of Christ, and we can see the same issues today in the people. People can be uneasy with supernatural religion, since it is not on their terms.

Some in the ancient Church were claiming that since the Second Coming had not yet happened, it would never occur, and they were using this to follow their own passions. Peter denounces this by first stating that the statements of the apostles and the prophecies of the Old Testament are both equally the word of God. These scoffers existed in the ancient Church, Peter tells us that they will be with us in the last days, and they are with us today because the people are extraordinarily resilient and desire to go back to normalcy, even in an abnormal situation. Peter echoes Jesus in noting that this is much like the people in Noah’s time.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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2nd Peter – False Teachers, continued

Peter says that the false prophets have come, but that the false teachers will be, which may suggest that he sees the time of the prophets as over. He then speaks out about the destructive heresies (or schools), which by their very nature cause division in the Church. In this sense, the heretic and the schismatic are first cousins, one offends the holiness of God, while the other offends the wholeness of God’s plan, as the early Church has stated. Some of these operate in the Church (as even Judas shows), and while we trust the mind of the Church not to lead us into error, we must remain alert to the actual teaching that those that claim to come in the name of Holy Mother Church to make sure that it is in line with what she teaches. This is said that we might not have opportunity to be led astray, and that we might attend to our own formation.

Again we look at the methods of those offering false teachings which often come secretly or from the side, and perhaps contain a kernel of truth and then distorting it. In some cases, these heresies come from people who do not accept their role in God’s plan, which we have seen leading to every type of heresy. The Old Testament speaks extensively to the unsavory consequences of those such as Uzziah who try to usurp the authority not given to them. Some heretical teachers are called ”false brethren” by Paul in Galatians 2:4. These would infiltrate the Church as far as they could, but then break with it. God will punish those who are willfully wicked or do not live the Truth, but He will look after those who look to Him.

Peter narrows his comments here, referring specifically to those who attack those who are new to the faith and refers to these teachers as waterless clouds and mists driven by storm, completely lacking in any good teaching. Those who follow these teachers would have been better never knowing the Truth than to have turned away from it. We must listen to and live by the teaching that we have been given throughout the Apostles, and not to those that would lead us astray.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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2nd Peter – False Teachers

We must examine the things that are being taught, regardless of who teaches it to us. 2 Peter chapter 2 deals with this extensively, discussing the teachings of heresies, or sects of people who disagree with the orthodox teachings.

Peter speaks about false teachings that were extant at the time he was writing, but there are false teachers even today. Though these false teachers may not know that they are teaching error, they are a diabolical force on the world and the Church. There are a numbers of condemnations of these destructive heresies, warranting a comparison to great judgments in the Old Testament.

Looking at the sources of heresies, we find that people were looking for answers at that time, and many were seduced by a misreading of Christ’s message that was either ascetic and denied the flesh or hedonistic and denied the ability for the flesh to impact the spirit. Leaders were only too eager to help because the received rewards of money, the flesh, or power.

It is sometimes easy to turn a blind eye to this, but we must never forget that there are real consequences to error that affect real people that will cause real suffering. Many of these false teachings come in "from the side" in a clandestine manner and appear in some position of authority. These people betray their true beliefs when they claim to remain faithful while encouraging others to join them in their error. To honor someone who is making a shipwreck of his or her faith simply because of the office is actually to do dishonor to the office.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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2nd Peter – A Map for Spiritual Progress

Peter proclaims that he is a servant of Christ like the rest of us and
makes a very explicit statement that Jesus is the God and Savior which
is not as common in the Gospels as more oblique references. He then
turns to his theme for this letter, which is that knowledge of God is
not enough; we must also act on it. No addressee is named, and the
traditional thanksgiving prayer is omitted from this letter. This may
mean that this was written for multiple audiences toward the end of
Peter’s life as the persecution was being stepped up.

Peter then notes that divine power has assigned to them all things
related to eternal life and godliness and by this we may escape our
passions and partake in the divine nature, a form of apotheosis. Peter
then sets up a series of supports for faith that build upon each other:
virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly
affection, and love.

This is a map for spiritual progress and we must keep moving forward on
it, or risk our faith mutating into something else and the way Peter
discusses this indicates that this was a well-known formula in first
century Christianity.

Peter then recounts the events of Christ’s baptism and transfiguration
to show that they have been eyewitnesses to His majesty as evidence
that these stories are not myths but rather a message like a bright
light shining in a dark place.

No prophecy of Scripture, Peter then compels us to understand, came from human will, but rather from the Holy Spirit.

Peter ends with a discussion of the coming of Christ, which is more
characteristic of the early Church than the modern Church. This more
pilgrim Church should serve as the sort of bright light that Peter
mentions in the first chapter, and we would do well to follow this
example in the modern Church.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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2nd Peter – Introduction

This begins a series entitled ”Second Peter, Jude, and the Christian Apocalyptic". While each the three sections can stand on its own, they share many common themes.

Second Peter is a pastoral letter with some apocalyptic elements traditionally attributed to St. Peter. It and and Jude share so much each other that some have questioned Second Peter’s authenticity. There are many arguments on how to date the text and how to identify the author and the author’s motives, but an internal analysis of the text does not permit that the author had any of the usual reasons for creating pseudepigraphal works. It is cited by many of the early Church fathers. The Church has declared Second Peter to be canonical and has cited it extensively in its arguments on pastoral issues, and our faith in Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit tell us that the text is accurate.

The closing theme is Gerard Satamian’s Chansons Sans Paroles Op. 2 Pastorale, from the album Dry Fig Trees. www.magnatune.com

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Life of St. Paul – Paul in Jerusalem and Rome

Paul is welcomed by the brethren in Jerusalem, and is shown many Jewish converts to Christianity who are zealous for the law. Many of these had heard that Paul advises converts to forsake Moses, and Paul is told to — and does indeed — help some converts to perform a purification ritual to prove that this accusation is untrue. (Paul in fact writes in Galatians that the circumcised should live according to the circumcision.)

Some Jews from Asia see Paul in the temple and mistakenly believe that the converts are Greek Gentiles and that Paul has defiled the temple by doing this. A riot breaks out across Jerusalem, and Paul is arrested. The tribune asks Paul to speak to the crowds, which he does, though the crowds erupt again when Paul tells of the mission to the Gentiles. Paul is then taken away again, but when they find out that he is a Roman citizen, the Roman authorities send him to the Sanhedrin. Paul then pits the Pharisees and the Sadducees against each other and gets off.

Forty men then take up a plot to kill Paul. Paul discovers this and is then taken to Caesarea, where he is shuffled around various rulers (Felix, Festus, and King Agrippa II) and then makes an appeal to the emperor, which means that his case must be heard by the Emperor. On his way to Rome, he is shipwrecked on Malta, where he spends the winter and makes a strong impression on the people there.

Paul then arrives at Rome and the believers meet him as he is in chains. He then makes an impassioned plea to the local leaders of the Jews, who have not heard much about him other than general news of the sect. Some listened but others turned away when Paul claimed that the Gentiles were to be preached to as well. He lived in Rome for two years and sent several letters in the next few years, including one to Timothy where he dispatches several people to preach the good news and asks for material to continue to study. Beyond this, we do not have any definitive information on the life of St. Paul.

Paul’s life challenges us to think of the Church as something more than a social group, and to shine forth Christ. If we see the Church as merely a denomination, we do a disservice to the true Church of God. We must keep an active life of mission to bring people to the truth of God and work to form a community to spread the word of Christ.

Music: Boismortier’s Sonata 6 in G Minor – Allemanda-Allegro, from the album ‘Six Sonatas for Flute and Violin – Opus 51 – Boismortier’ performed by Duo de Bois. www.magnatune.com

The end of our Life of St. Paul series coincides with the end of the Church’s observance of the Year of St. Paul. We hope that this year of Pauline material has been beneficial to you. As always, your feedback and comments can be directed to podcast@siministries.org, and are very much appreciated.

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Life of St. Paul – Closing the Second Missionary Journey

After a brief of discussion Corinth and how it is important as one of the most detailed descriptions of the early Church, we move back to the second missionary journey, describing how Paul corrects some of the errors of Apollos other Ephesians. While in Ephesus, several people who had in the past practiced magic publicly burned their magic books. The silversmiths, not happy with the loss of business that the Christians were causing to the temple of Artemis, cause some trouble and Paul leaves Ephesus.

Following a missed rendezvous in Troas, Paul receives word from Titus that Corinth is at peace with him and he continues on to winter in Corinth for three months. It was here that Paul wrote the letter to the Romans, intending full well to continue on. A plot against Paul turns him around to return by land through Troas, rather than by water as he had expected. Paul then speaks about how the Holy Spirit tells him that imprisonment awaits him in every city, and Jerusalem in particular. Paul then talks about how he has not withheld any portion of the gospel and thus that he is not responsible for the blood of the people.

Then, after exhorting the Ephesian elders to watch for wolves, Paul goes up into Caesarea and then Jerusalem.

Music: Boismortier’s Sonata 6 in G Minor – Allemanda-Allegro, from the album ‘Six Sonatas for Flute and Violin – Opus 51 – Boismortier’ performed by Duo de Bois. www.magnatune.com

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Life of St. Paul – Ending the First Missionary Journey, Beginning the Second

After Paul leaves Perga, his company arrives in Antioch in Pisidia (a different Antioch than the great Syrian city). Soon their ministry to the Gentiles spreads throughout this entire region. Such success brought much consternation to a number of Jews.

In every synagogue and Gentile gathering, Paul takes every opportunity to boldly proclaim the Gospel. His powerful proclamation of the Word excites much joy and many conversions among some. Others are enraged by his message and frank approach.

Ministering to Gentiles ever proves to be an exciting endeavor: in Lyconium, Paul is mistaken for Hermes and Barnabas for Zeus and only with great difficulty do they convince them not to offer sacrifice on their behalf.

Paul’s adversaries in each city tend to be Non-Christian Jews and Judaizers, those Christians who say circumcision is necessary for salvation. The issue of circumcising Christians becomes a hot-button issue, and it is eventually addressed by the Council of Jerusalem. At this council the early Church rules that Gentile Christians must abstain from eating meat with blood in it, engaging in fornication, and practicing any type of idolatry. After attending this council, Paul and Barnabas return to Antioch.

From Antioch, Barnabas asks Paul to join him in a visit to all the churches they had planted on their first Missionary Journey. The two argue whether or not to bring John Mark on the journey, and part company over the issue. Paul and Silas then begin the Second Missionary Journey, picking up key disciples like Timothy as they travel.

When the Holy Spirit prevents Paul from entering the Roman province of Asia, he journeys to Europe. It is during this period that the Gospel first reaches the major metropolitan cities of Corinth and Ephesus. It is at this time that he meets Priscilla and Aquilla. He also incites even more negative reaction from the Jews.

His ministry becomes increasingly dynamic during the Second Missionary journey. With the exception of Athens, it seems that the larger the city he enters, the greater the fruit. Possessing orthodox theology, awe-inspiring miracles, deep learning and mature pastoral skills, he is nothing short of a marvel. This missionary-statesman inaugurates a new chapter in Christianity.

Music: Boismortier’s Sonata 2 in E Minor – Affettuoso, from the album ‘Six Sonatas for Flute and Violin – Opus 51 – Boismortier’ performed by Duo de Bois. www.magnatune.com

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Life of St. Paul – First Missionary Journey

Having powerfully witnessed Christ on the road to Damascus, Saul finds his zeal redirected and renewed towards the Gospel. But who in the early Church (which was almost entirely Jewish) could have imagined the great outpouring of faith upon the Gentiles that came from the ”First Missionary Journey”?

After praying and fasting, the leaders of the Antioch Church sent off Saul and Barnabas to preach the Gospel, ”the work to which [the Holy Spirit had] called them.”

Their setting sail from Antioch to Cyprus (an intentional invasion of Gentile territory to convert the world) was nothing short of revolutionary and entirely unprecedented in the Jewish world.

Shortly thereafter the missionaries become known as ”Paul and company.” They depart for the further travels, eventually traveling to Europe. As the journey continues, the grace-inspired genius of this missionary strategist comes to the fore.

Music: Boismortier’s Sonata 2 in E Minor – Allegro, from the album ‘Six Sonatas for Flute and Violin – Opus 51 – Boismortier’ performed by Duo de Bois. www.magnatune.com

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