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.
at his parousi/a Jesus’ kingdom will be fully established (cf. 1,11) as Paul says explicitly in 1 Cor 15,23-25.
In 3,12 the author speaks of the parousi/an th=j tou= qeou= h(me/raj, another way of referring to the events of the end. This is apparently the same as the day of the Lord (3,10). This is the day on which the heavens and earth will be destroyed by fire and replaced by new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells (3,13). The author has much more to say about this.
The present heavens and earth have been treasured up by the word of God for fire, held for the day of judgment and destruction of impious people (3,7). The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire was a sign of what was going to happen to the impious (2,6). The idea that the present heavens and earth have been treasured up for fire by the word of God probably implies that this is based on prophecy. Several passages might have been understood to predict this47. The idea that the eschatological fire destroys the present heavens and earth might have been seen as implied in the prediction of new heavens and earth in Isa 66,22, following upon vv. 15-16. However, this idea also has significant parallels in Iranian and especially Stoic ideas about a conflagration that ends the world48.
On the day of the Lord the heavens will pass away with a loud noise and the elements, burning, will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be disclosed (3,10). The physical universe will be dismantled. At the same time, the truth about the earth and its works will be made known. The slavery to corruption of the earth and some of its inhabitants will be clear when they undergo corruption. Likewise, the freedom from corruption of those who do not will be clear. The dissolution of the universe at the end is thus a motive for living virtuously (3,11). On the day of God the heavens, burning, will be dissolved, and the elements, burning, will melt (3,12).
The return of Jesus, the destruction of the present heavens and earth in fire, and their replacement with new heavens and a new earth, will happen unexpectedly, like the coming of a thief (3,10, quoting 1 Thess 5,2). Moreover, it is impossible to tell even approximately when this will happen because time is not the same for God as for humans (3,8, quoting Ps 90,4). Further, God is patient because God wants everyone to repent and be found among the pious at the end of the world (3,9.15).
In 2 Pet 1,19 the author pictures the coming of the day of the Lord, foretold in scripture, as the dawning of day and the rising of the morning