Terrance Callan, «The Soteriology of the Second Letter of Peter», Vol. 82 (2001) 549-559
2 Peter presents Jesus as savior in that he purchased his followers from
slavery to corruption and the defilements of the world. Human beings became
slaves of corruption through erroneous thinking and following the desires of the
flesh, i.e. sin. Jesus’ followers have been released from this servitude by their
recognition that Jesus has purchased them from their previous owner and is now
their master. The ethical teaching of 2 Peter is based on continuing in the freedom
from slavery to sin that has come through Jesus. The eschatological teaching of 2
Peter describes the completion of salvation, the culmination of both slavery to sin
and following Jesus.
The Pauline character of the soteriology of 2 Peter is very marked. In view of the author’s claim (in 2 Pet 3,16) that Paul agrees with what the author has said, this is not surprising.
only do they look forward to life as a result of piety, they are also destined to share divine nature43. The most salient characteristic of divine nature is incorruptibility; the immediately following reference to having escaped the corruption in the world makes it very likely that the author equates sharing divine nature with becoming incorruptible44. If so, the hope of sharing divine nature is equivalent to that of putting on incorruptibility and immortality in 1 Cor 15,50-55. This will occur when they enter the eternal kingdom of Jesus (2 Pet 1,11).
The promises of definitive freedom from corruption and entry into Jesus’ eternal kingdom are part of the prophetic word that points forward to the end of the world (1,19), which is found in scripture (1,20). Specifically, they are found in the letters of Paul (3,15-16). What is promised includes the return of Jesus (3,4) and the establishment of new heavens and earth (3,13). The author of 2 Peter emphasizes that the future completion of salvation has been promised by Jesus in order to convince his readers to maintain this expectation.
Käsemann criticizes 2 Peter for not making eschatology central to its theology, but using it merely to solve the problem of theodicy and to encourage morality45. However, eschatology is central to the theology of 2 Peter in that it functions as the completion of the salvation God has begun in Jesus46. We have seen that ethics for 2 Peter, as for Paul, is a matter of behaving so as not to undo salvation. 2 Peter’s eschatological expectations present the ultimate consequences of one’s ethical choices. As a warrant for ethics, the eschatology of 2 Peter is soteriological because ethics is soteriological.
One element of 2 Peter’s beliefs about the end of the world, and the first mentioned in the letter, is that Jesus will come again at the end. In 1,16 the author says that his teaching about the du/namij kai_ parousi/a of Jesus did not derive from myths. There is another reference to this in 3,4 where the author quotes his opponents as asking, ‘Where is the promise of his parousi/a?’ It is clear that the author, like other early Christians, expected the return of Jesus at the end of the world. However, the author does not say why Jesus will return or what he will do at his return; the author simply says that Jesus will return. Perhaps the author presumes that