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TitleReading 2 Peter as a Farewell Text
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsWelch, John W.
EditorHalverson, Taylor
Book TitleNew Testament Minute: 2 Peter
Volume22
Number of Volumes27
Chapter4
PublisherScripture Central
CitySpringville, UT
Keywords2 Peter; Bible; New Testament

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Reading 2 Peter as a Farewell Text

Certainly, it would have been difficult for Peter to say goodbye to his people, as he knew he was about to be put to death because of his unwillingness to cease testifying of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Peter was a loving, mentoring, spiritual leader who took this as an opportunity to express his deathbed wishes, to relive sacred shared experiences, and to give exhortations, blessings, warnings, counsel, and his final testimony in this short epistle now known as 2 Peter. Other notable teachers, prophets, and leaders such as Moses, Socrates, Lehi, King Benjamin, and even the Savior gave some of their most important counsel and blessings as they were about to die. In recent times, Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s parting testimony expressing his deeply held convictions of Jesus Christ and His gospel came as a final farewell expression of his articulate apostleship in recent latter days.

Farewell speeches become unforgettable expressions of love and concern for the speaker’s dear associates and for future generations. Such speeches provide a concise summary of lessons of the past and hopes for the future. Farewell words perpetuate the teachings and aims of departing speakers as they stand to the end as witnesses of truth. Second Peter can be seen as such a text by analyzing it in light of the work of William S. Kurz, who has identified twenty elements found in twenty-two classical and biblical farewell speeches. While most farewell speeches contain on average only a dozen of these elements, 2 Peter remarkably contains nineteen of them. This is strong evidence that 2 Peter was, essentially, a classic farewell text. These twenty elements are listed here along with their corresponding verses in 2 Peter:

  1. A summons calls upon the audience (1:1–4).
  2. The speaker mentions his own mission as an example to be followed (1:12–13, 16).
  3. The speakers declare their own innocence and discharge of duty (1:5, 12, 16; 3:15–18).
  4. Impending death is mentioned (1:14–15).
  5. Exhortations are given (1:5–8, 10, 19; 3:14).
  6. Many warnings and injunctions are delivered, as found throughout 2 Peter.
  7. Blessings are pronounced (1:2).
  8. Farewell gestures are mentioned to be found guiltless (3:14).
  9. Specific immediate tasks for successors are described (3:11–18).
  10. A theological review of the past is provided generally.
  11. Future events are revealed (2:1–3, 12–14; 3:3–4, 7).
  12. Promises of various kinds are given throughout 2 Peter.
  13. A successor is appointed (see 3:14–16, where the Apostle Paul is mentioned).
  14. The normal bewailing the loss is absent in 2 Peter, as Peter goes forward confidently.
  15. Future degeneration is to come (2:10–14, 21).
  16. Covenant renewal is recalled by remembering the covenants of old.
  17. Providing for those who will survive is mentioned in 3:9–13.
  18. Final consolations to the inner circle fill chapter 3.
  19. Didactic speech is found in each chapter of 2 Peter.
  20. Peter faces the certainty of death with faith (1:3; 3:14).

The farewell nature of 2 Peter sheds light on the authenticity of this text. It follows the traditional model of solemn farewell speeches. It echoes the pattern of other writings in the Bible, conveying the words of other departing prophets. It is a sincere expression of love and devotion by Peter who has known and served the people whom he addresses here. It was preserved and revered as Peter’s expression of farewell to his people. In this context, 2 Peter rings true.

Scripture Reference

2 Peter 3:1