How to Read 2 Peter

The Book of 2 Peter


Planting a garden requires the right tools. And so does interpreting the Bible. But instead of shovels, rakes, and weeders, we use observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application. 

Second Peter teaches about the God who loves us enough to save us from evil once and for all. This video from The Bible Project provides an overview of the book. The goal of this post is not to replace your personal study of the Bible. Rather, it is to help you navigate the structure of 2 Peter, discover what it teaches, dive into how it fits into the rest of the Bible, and look at how it applies to your life. Use these questions as a guide as you watch this video.   



Now that you have an overview of 2 Peter in mind, you can apply what you know to interpret specific passages in 2 Peter. Read 2 Peter 1:1–9. Utilize observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application to dissect the meaning of this passage. Use the ideas from the videos to inform your answers to the following questions about 2 Peter 1:1–9.   

2 Peter 1:1-9 (ESV)

Greeting

1Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirm Your Calling and Election

3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,4by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.9For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Observation asks the basic question: who, what, where, and when. It examines the passage at a surface level—the characters, events, themes, culture, and genre. Observations may seem obvious at first, but they open the door to the meaning of any part of the Bible. Be careful to not jump ahead to interpreting the observations, or assigning them meaning. Just list them. 

Example: Peter says that God has given the Church all things that pertain to life and godliness through His divine power. 

Observe: As you read the passage, what observations did you make about 2 Peter 1:1–9? (Consider the author, time period, background information, cultural aspects, genre, themes, and actions of the characters. Also, take note of any information offered in the video.)
Log In to Continue


Where an observation determines what the passage says, interpretation takes the next step to find out what the passage means. We’ve asked what the passage says about God and humanity, and now we ask what that means. Look at the themes and ask what they mean as well.

Example: (Observation) Peter says that God has given the Church all things that pertain to life and godliness through His divine power. (Interpretation) God gives His people all they need to grow in Him.

Interpret: What is significant about each of the observations you made above? What is the main message of 2 Peter 1:1–9? How does its message connect with the main message of all of 2 Peter? (Think about what this book teaches about God and humanity and what that teaching means, as well as the meaning of the themes. Consider insights from the video as well.)
Log In to Continue


Contextualization looks at how the passage fits into the rest of the book and into the story of the Bible. It connects the themes that pop up throughout the story of Scripture and sees how the book fits into the biblical narrative. 

Example: God equips His people throughout the biblical narrative. He equipped Moses to stand before Pharaoh, He gave David strength as he ran from Saul, and He empowered the prophets to speak on His behalf to the exiled Israelites. For those who put their faith in Jesus, God gives the Holy Spirit to help believers to obey God, love others, and grow into the image of Christ.

Contextualize: What themes does 2 Peter 1:1–9 seem to establish? How do those themes connect with the rest of the book of 2 Peter? What themes would you say have potential to carry forward into other books of the Bible? What themes connect back to the Old Testament?
Log In to Continue


Application asks, “So what?” It considers how the meaning of this passage applies to our day-to-day lives. The point of reading Scripture isn’t to become puffed up with knowledge, but to be transformed. Ask God to show you how you can specifically put the truths from this book into practice. Brainstorm ways you can live out what you learned throughout your day.

Example: The fact that God has given me everything I need for life and godliness shouldn't be a reason to be arrogant. Instead, His grace expressed through this gift to me and the rest of the Church should draw me to humility. I should continually recognize that the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit in my life are from God. Rather than boasting about what God has given me, I thank Him.

Apply: How does the truth from 2 Peter 1:1–9 affect you and your relationship with God and others? What are some specific actions you could take to live out the truths found in this book this week? If you're having trouble coming up with an application of this particular passage, how could you apply the main message of 2 Peter to your life this week?
Log In to Continue


The last step in reading the Bible helps wrap everything up. We take the time to summarize the main message and implications of the book. As you summarize what you learned, it solidifies what God taught you through this video.  

Share: Now that you’ve spent time learning about 2 Peter, how would you explain the main points of this book to a friend? If you were going to explain what you learned to a friend, what would you say? What would you be sure to include? Why?
Log In to Continue


Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be like weeding a garden. You can find great joy in learning about God through His Word. Read through 2 Peter this week. As you study, use observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application as a guide. Take the next step and put what you learn into practice. 


To learn more about The Bible Project, click here.