SECOND EPISTLE OF S. PETER,
This Epistle, though not at first received as canonical, was acknowledged as such about the end of the fourth age. See Euseb. l. iii. Hist. c. 3. S. Jer. de Vir. Illust. Tillem. art. 33. The design, as it appears, C. i. 13. and C. iii. 1. was to give them admonitions and instructions against teachers of false doctrine, particularly against the Simonites. It seems to have been written a little before his martyrdom, about the year 66. Wi.
--- In this epistle S. Peter says, (C. iii.) "Behold this is the second epistle I write unto you:" and before, (C. i. 14.) "Being assured that the putting off of this my tabernacle is at hand." This shews that it was written a very short time before his martyrdom, which was about thirty-five years after our Lord's ascension. In this epistle he admonishes the faithful to be mindful of the great gifts they received from God, and to join all other virtues with their faith. He warns them against false teachers, by describing their practices and foretelling their punishments. He describes the dissolution of this world by fire, and the day of judgment. Ch.
--- This epistle may be considered as the spiritual testament or last will of the apostle, as it contains his last admonitions to the faithful. He first calls their attention to the care they should have of their sanctification and perfection, next to the perils that concern the Church on the part of heretics, those that menaced her in her infant state, and those that will assail her in the latter days, which includes an invincible proof of her perpetuity; for it is the same infallible and indefectible Church that is to encounter the latter as the former trials, but always with promised success. Hence the great S. John Chrysostom says: the same day that shall see the Church of God ended, shall see the end of the world; and to these continued struggles shall succeed perfect peace, to be enjoyed through a blissful eternity. If some are still found to object, that the present epistle was not written by S. Peter, on account of the marked difference of the style, S. Jerom removes this objection thus: S. Peter employed different interpreters, sometimes Glaucias, and sometimes S. Mark; hence the difference of the style, from the diversity of his scribes. S. Mark was with him when he penned the first, but was not with him when he dictated the present. The present epistle contains, as we said above, an account of the last dreadful trials that are to assail the faithful before the end of time; but all that faith teaches us on that subject is: first, That the world will have an end; secondly, that it will end by fire; and thirdly, that the world will not be destroyed, but changed and perfected. Hence all that is said with regard to the duration of the world; on the nature and quality of the fire that is to burn and purify the world; if it be to precede or follow the last judgment, all is problematical, all is doubtful. Hence the Christian knows a good deal, who knows how to entertain proper doubts.
Ver. 1. In the justice (or by the justice) of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. As justice and sanctification are equally attributed to God and to Jesus Christ, it shews that the Son was equally and the same God with the Father. Wi.
Ver. 3. Glory and virtue.† By the Greek text, virtue is not here the same as power, as commonly in other places, but signifies God's goodness, mercy, and clemency. Wi.
[†] V. 3. Et virtute, kai arethV.
Ver. 4. Partakers of the divine nature. Divine grace infused into our souls, is said to be a partaking in the divine nature by an union with the spirit of God, whereby men are made his adoptive children, heirs of heaven, &c. Wi.
Ver. 5. Join with your faith, virtue: think not that faith alone will save you without the practice of virtues and good works. By abstinence or temperance, is understood that virtue which helps to moderate the inordinate love of sensual pleasures, and to govern all disorderly passions and affections. Wi.
Ver. 9. Groping,† like one that is blind. The Greek may signify one who hath his eyes shut, or that is like a blind mole. Wi.
[†] V. 9. Manu tentans, muwpazwn.
Ver. 10. By good works you may make sure, &c. without diving into the hidden mysteries of predestination, &c.
--- You shall not sin at any time. These words evidently suppose, that the graces and assistances of God will not be wanting; for it would be in vain to command, unless a man had both free will and capacity to perform. But, as it follows, these helps shall be abundantly ministered to you. Wi.
Ver. 12. I will begin.† That is, by the Greek, I will take care. Wi.
[†] V. 12. Incipiam, ouk amelhsw, non omittam, non negligam, &c.
Ver. 13. As long as I am in this tabernacle: to wit, of the body, in this mortal life. Wi.
Ver. 14. The laying aside,† or dissolution; i.e. my death is at hand. Wi.
[†] V. 14. Depositio, h apoqesiV.
Ver. 15. That you frequently have after my decease,† &c. Some expounded these words to signify: I will have you frequently in my thoughts, and remember you, praying for you after my death. But this does not seem the true and literal sense, nor do we need such arguments to prove that the saints pray for us. Wi.
[†] V. 15. Dabo operam et frequenter habere vos, post obitum meum, ut horum memoriam faciatis. umaV . . . thn toutwn mnhmhn poieisJai.
Ver. 16. We have not by following artificial fables. Lit. learned fables,† invented to promote our doctrine. We, I with others, were eye-witnesses of his glory on Mount Thabor. Wi.
[†] V. 16. Non doctas fabulas, ou sesofismenoiV muqoiV. Some copies had indoctas, on which account the Rhem. Testam. issued before the corrections of Sixtus V. and Clemens VIII. has unlearned.
Ver. 19. And we have the surer word of prophecy, or to make our testimonies and preaching of Christ more firm. The revelations of God made to the prophets, and contained in the holy Scriptures, give us of all others the greatest assurance. Though the mysteries in themselves remain obscure and incomprehensible, the motive of our belief is divine authority. Wi.
--- If our testimony be suspicious, we have what you will certainly allow, the testimony of the prophets: attend then to the prophets as to a lamp that illumines a dark place, till the bright day of a more lively faith begins to illumine you, and the day-star arises in your heart: till this faith, which is like the day-star, give you a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ. It is by the divine oracles you will acquire this knowledge, provided you peruse them with proper dispositions.
Ver. 20. No prophecy of the scripture is made by private interpretation; or, as the Protestants translate it from the Greek, is of any private interpretation, i.e. is not to be expounded by any one's private judgment or private spirit. Wi.
--- The Scriptures cannot be properly expounded by private spirit or fancy, but by the same spirit wherewith they were written, which is resident in the Church.
Ver. 21. For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time. This is to shew that they are not to be expounded by any one's private judgment, because every part of the holy Scriptures is delivered to us by the divine spirit of God, wherewith the men were inspired who wrote them; therefore they are not to be interpreted but by the spirit of God, which he left, and promised to his Church to guide her in all truth to the end of the world. Our adversaries may perhaps tell us, that we also interpret prophecies and Scriptures; we do so; but we do it always with a submission to the judgment of the Church, they without it. Wi.