Who Wrote 2 Peter

Table of contents

Debates over the authorship of various books in the Bible are common among Biblical scholars. Some of these debates are legitimate as the book of the Bible lacks a claim of authorship, while others appear to be ridiculous as the claims within the Scripture appear to settle the issue. Some books, such as 2 Peter fall into the category of books that claim a certain authorship, but sufficient arguments exist that can cast some doubt as to the truth of the legitimate writer.

The theory of the authorship of 2 Peter is a question that has caused a great deal of debate and controversy within the church. The purpose of this paper is not to defend the theory that Peter wrote this epistle. An investigation of various arguments on the subject will be used to debate both the tradition view of Peter as the author and the more liberal view that someone other than Peter is responsible for writing the epistle. This is not a new debate, but rather an ongoing controversy that has existed since the second century.

The arguments for both sides seem similar at times, and both use valid evidence to support their conclusions. This paper will show how a logical conclusion can be drawn that the Apostle Peter was the author of second epistle of Peter.

History of the Authorship of 2 Peter

The answer to the question of authorship of 2 Peter seems as if it should straightforward as the book claims within the first few words to have been written by the apostle Peter. Surprisingly this question has existed since the days of the early church and even to this day clarity is still being sought. Although 2 Peter was not as widely known and recognized in the early church as 1 Peter, some may have used and accepted it as authoritative as early as the second century and perhaps even in the latter part of the first century (1 Clement [AD 95] may allude to it). ” This early canonical acceptance did not end the debate. The first time the book was credited to Peter was around the beginning of the third century in the time of Origen. “Even he cast some doubt as to the church’s ability to ascribe the book to Peter, but Origen did not completely deny it either. Origen’s comments in his Expositions on the Gospel according to John, provided evidence that some in his day doubted the Petrine authorship of 2 Peter. He stated, “And Peter, on whom the church of Christ is built, against which the gates of Hades shall not prevail, has left one acknowledged epistle, and, it may be, a second also, for it is doubted. ” Origen also placed doubt on Petrine authorship by making the statement that the existence of the book was not known until his own time, which caused serious problems. Eusebius (265–340) placed it among the questioned books, though he admits that most accept it as from Peter. After Eusebius’s time, it seems to have been quite generally accepted as canonical. ” After the time of Eusebius, the debate over the second epistle continued on, but eventually the book as accepted in the New Testament Canon by Clement. The controversy over Peter’s authorship grew silent for many years, but never completely disappeared. “In recent centuries, however, its genuineness has been challenged by a considerable number of interpreters. The only fact that seems to be certain in the debate is that the authorship of 2 Peter will never be completely satisfied. Many in the early church were quick to classify 2 Peter as a letter written by the Apostle Paul. “Why would the author of 2 Peter refer to Paul’s letters, which did not circulate as a group until about 95 AD? ” The early church leaders also saw the fact that the author of 2 Peter referred to himself many times within 2 Peter. They further recognized that the author of 2 Peter identified himself twice as any times as did the author of 1Peter.

In 2 Peter the author goes on to compare “all the letters of Paul with the writings mentioned previously, further suggesting that the recipients do not posses the entire Pauline corpus. ” Although some in the early church felt that 2 Peter was written by Paul, this belief never gained a great deal of traction and eventually was dismissed by church leaders. A major factor in the history of the authorship 2 Peter was the date of the death of the apostle Peter. Most conservative thinkers would date the death of Peter to the time of Nero and would place the date around 66 AD.

This timing would allow for Peter to be the writer of this book and answers most of the objections made by the more liberal minded scholars. Those who ascribe to a later death for Peter, used this evidence to support the idea that someone other than the Apostle wrote this book. Most church leaders agreed on the timing of the death of Peter and since it was such a public event there is little doubt that he died in the middle 60’s. The early church used this date and the writing within the book itself to create a strong argument for Peter being the author.

The early church fathers had many important decisions to make as leaders of the followers of Christ and one of the most important ones was which writings to accept into the Biblical Canon. Of all of the books of the New Testament 2 Peter was one of the most debated and argued over. “The first direct quotation of 2 Peter is in 1 Clement, a letter written around the end of the first century. Theide says that once the quotations started appearing, the list is longs to the number of times 2 Peter was referenced. Another Church Father Irenaeus, also appeared to take a part of 2 Peter or allude to it, but he choose not to mention this book by name. Not even the book of Revelation received as much scrutiny as 2 Peter. The hesitancy of the early church to accept 2 Peter was due in part to that fact of Peter’s name was being used in many Gnostic writings. At least three apocryphal writings were being circulated at the same time as 1 and 2 Peter. Another difficulty was both Peter and Jude alluded to Enoch, which quickly became known as an apocryphal book.

It is clear that in the Fourth Century, at the Councils of Hippo, 2 Peter was recognized as being part of the Biblical Canon. “At this same counsel other books such as I Clement and the Epistle of Barnabas were rejected mainly on the grounds that they lacked a claim of authorship by someone who was considered an apostle. ” A scholar of church history during this time wrote this synopsis of the feelings of the believers towards Peter’s second epistle. He wrote, “Quite probably the churches which originally received it, knowing it not to be Peter’s own work, would not have granted it the same status in their own use as they did, e. . , to the Pauline letter. . . . Whatever the reasons for its lack of wide use in the second century, this seems to have contributed to its very slow progress toward general acceptance into the canon. ” As with most historical data, little is known of the status of this epistle during the next 1000 years. As the church entered the period of the Reformation many of the standards of the church were called into question including the Biblical Canon. “2 Peter was regarded as second-class Scripture by Luther, rejected by Erasmus, and regarded with hesitancy by Calvin. The fact that 2 Peter had several claims of authorship by the Apostle Peter within its text allowed it to be spared and recognized as part of the inspired Word of God.

Arguments for Petrine

The book of 2 Peter begins with this verse, “Simon Peter, a bond servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. ” This statement seems to make clear the claim that Peter wrote this letter would also seem to leave little room for doubt.

Few other books with such a claim have been disputed, but the critics are quick to ignore this initial claim by Peter and scrutinize the letter. This is not the only place in the letter that Petrine authorship is proclaimed and details of the life of the Apostle support this assumption. 2 Peter 1:16 speaks of the author as a man who is facing or is near to his death. This allusion would certainly support the idea of Peter as the writer, because it was believed Peter knew he would be martyred and wanted to give his followers one final word of encouragement.

Further in the letter in 2 Peter 2:16-18, the author shared a retelling of the Transfiguration of Christ. In the gospel of Matthew, Peter is one of only three men who accompanied Jesus at this event. The retelling of the details of this amazing display could only be completed by Peter, James, or John. One final statement from with the book itself can be found in chapter three. 2 Peter 3:1 made a clear references to a prior letter, which should be assumed as being 1 Peter. There is little comparable material in the two epistles, but this reference to the first epistle seems to lead to the conclusion that they were written by the same person. On the one hand it is argued on this fact the 1 and 2 Peter must have two different authors, but on the other hand it seems strange that a pseudo-writer would not use any content from the prior book he was attempting to imitate. ” The evidence within the book itself would seem to clearly suggest that Peter was the author. The reception of the early church leaders of 2 Peter or the lack thereof can be seen as a contradictory. On one hand the book of 2 Peter is mentioned very little in the ancient writings of the church leaders. On the contrary, those same leaders did not lump the book of 2 Peter into the category of the rejected books.

Few if any of these men make a clear statement of denial of Peter as the author, but many did cast doubts about it. Some of the earliest remaining documents that refer to 2 Peter, have shown evidence that a debate over its authorship was present in the church. “One such document written by Origen in the third century is considered to be the first to explicitly mention 2 Peter by name. ” This mention by Origen may be the first documented reference to 2 Peter, but many scholars believe there are other writings made by the early church fathers which made allusions to the book.

Another leader, Jerome, mentioned doubts surrounding the authenticity of 2 Peter, but never concluded that Peter did not write this letter. A strong fact to support the Petrine authorship is the overwhelming majority the church fathers do not argue against the epistle. “2 Peter was never rejected as suspicious nor was it attributed to anyone other than Peter. In support for Petrine authorship, 2 Peter enjoys wide inclusion in what is arguably the strongest early Papyrus, which was thought to be as early as the 3rd Century. Due to the support by the church fathers and the lack of opposition to the book, 2 Peter is believed to have unofficially gained canonization as early as the mid-second Century. Critics of Petrine authorship are quick to point out differences in the styles of the two books of Peter. They feel that the two epistles could not possibly have been written by the same man. Upon examination of the two books, there are clear differences between the two letters. “The vocabulary of 1 Peter has only 153 words in common with 2 Peter while 543 are unique to 1 Peter and 399 unique to 2 Peter. The book of 2 Peter also has far fewer participles than does first Peter and the ones in 2 Peter are often repeated. “One common example given by critics is the use of apokaluyi” in 1 Peter and parousiva in 2 Peter to refer to the Lord’s coming. ” This is not a practice that is unique to these two letters. Many of the works of Paul contain unique language to the particular letter in which it was used. Paul also choose the same terms as Peter used for the Second Coming and selected these words when writing 1 Corinthians and 2 Thessalonians.

The problem with the argument for similarity between the two epistles seems to be that the critics almost expect Peter’s second epistle to be simply a rehash of the same material as was seen in the first. There is an unreasonable demand for vocabulary and themes that match the first work, but the critics seem to forget the reasons behind the writing of each letter. Each letter was written to address a different set of circumstances and there was a unique purpose to each epistle. The critics can point to stylistic differences in the books, but this lack of similarity can be explained.

The more liberal leaning thinkers also point to the differences in the theology and doctrinal themes of the books as reason to Petrine authorship. The purpose of 1 Peter can be summed up as a challenge to the believers to endure suffering and live holy lives. 2 Peter on the other hand seems to contain mostly strong warnings against the false teachers of the day and also a final message to the believers before the death of Peter. This criticism seems to ignore the fact that Peter felt the need to address issues that were pressing at the time of his writing.

Differences should be expected if the author is dealing with different problems, as was the case with Peter. The assumption that an author must deal with the same topics in both letters is unrealistic and uncommon. Most if not all of Paul’s letters deal with issues that were unique to the area to which Paul sent the letter. It can be concluded that Peter deserves the same consideration as Paul in this matter. Although there are many differences between the two letters of Peter many similarities also exist between them. The critics point to an excessive amount of repetitive word in 2 Peter, but 1 Peter can also be characterized by repetition of words. Bigg says, “The habit of verbal repetition is therefore quite as strongly marked in the First Epistle as the Second. There are similarities of thought and no document in the New Testament is so like 1 Peter as 2 Peter. ” Upon review of both letters, there does seem to be enough commonality between the two books of Peter to conclude that the same man wrote both books.

Since there is little evidence to argue against Apostle Peter as the author the first book of Peter, the conclusion can be reached that he also wrote the second. One of the more common practices among the writers of the New Testament was to have a scribe or someone who would write their words for him. Longenecker states in his work, “The Greek papyri, therefore, indicate quite clearly that an amanuensis was frequently, if not commonly, employed in the writing of personal letters during the time approximating the composition of the NT epistles. ” Sometimes this was done to help the writer use better Greek and make his work more understandable.

Men like Peter, who were not educated in the same manner as the upper class, would need assistance in making their writing more professional and acceptable to the educated class. “One plausible explanation for the differences between 1 Peter and 2 Peter is that Peter used an amanuensis to do the actual writing of 1 Peter with Peter checking and approving the final product. ” This seems to be the clear method in which the first epistle of Peter was written. 1 Peter 5:12 says, “Through Silvanus, our faithful brother (for so I regard him), I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God.

Stand firm in it! ” A logical conclusion to explain the differences between the two letter of Peter is that he wrote 2 Peter himself and he had someone write his words for him in his first letter. Peter received the inspiration for both letters from the Holy Spirit, but the methods of recording each of the books were unique. The best argument for Peter being the author of the second epistle is the fact that the letter was eventually accepted as into the New Testament Canon.

One of the main reasons for its acceptance would have to be the assumption that the book was written by a man of the standing in the church like the Apostle Peter. “Although it could be pseudonymous letters like “The Gospel of Peter”, “The Apocalypses of Peter”, “The letter of Peter to James”, none of these works was accepted into the canon because they hadn’t God’s inspiration. ” Second Peter had gained acceptance into the Canon by the time of Cyril of Jerusalem. The issue of its canonicity was settled by the acceptance of the church leaders such as Cyril, Athanasius, Augustine, and Jerome.

These church leaders, who were not easily swayed to allow books into the Canon, acknowledged 2 Peter to be Scripture because of the overwhelming internal and external evidence.

Arguments Against Peter

Although there seems to be an abundance of evidence to support the idea that Peter wrote the second epistle of Peter, many Christian scholars and thinkers disagree with this assumption. The amount of evidence to disprove Petrine authorship seems to be as great and some would argue more that the evidence to support his authorship.

Issues about the date, the style of writing, the lack of historical claims, the brevity of the book, the language used by the author, and the similarities to Jude are all cited as reasons to discount the possibility of the disciple known as Simon Peter being the writer. At one point in the history of the church, the leading school of thought was that 2 Peter was an example of pseudepigraphal literature and therefore was not the work of the Apostle. There is little doubt that a definitive answer as to the authorship of this book will not be obtained until all questions are answered by God in eternity.

The book of 2 Peter was and is still considered by many to be pseudepigraphal in nature and was not written by Peter. Ksemann states that “2 Peter is perhaps the most dubious writing in the New Testament. ” Others went as far as to conclude that virtually no one believes that 2 Peter was written by the disciple and friend of Christ named Peter. These men would argue instead that someone else wrote the letter and used the name of Peter to give legitimacy to it. Pseudonymous works are defined as “the practice of writing a literary work under the pretense that someone else, usually someone more famous, wrote it. 2 Peter is one of only a few books that were accused of being pseudonymous that survived the scrutiny of the canonical counsels and eventually it was accepted by the church fathers. The looming questions over the authorship of 2 Peter has led to the conclusion by most critical scholars that the book needs to be labeled as pseudepigraphal literature. The issues come from those who are not willing to accept the first verse of 2 Peter and the other internal evidence as sufficient for proving that Peter was the author.

These scholars, feel the evidence to support Petrine authorship is weak and should not be accepted without questions and a thorough examination. One major issue is that the features of the letter seem to give evidence of a time later than Peter’s lifetime. In 2 Peter 3:4, the author used the phrase, “Ever since our fathers died. ” This verse seems to make a reference the first generation of Christians, which would seem strange coming from Peter as he too was part of this group.

Another instance is 2 Peter 3:15 which states, “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. ” The author seemed to be looking back at the letters of Paul as works already complete and established. Most of Paul’s works were not even known about until well after the death of Peter. The internal evidence in 2 Peter seems to offer as many questions about the authorship of the book as it does answers. The possibility of a pseudonymous author is high due to these facts.

One of the most convincing arguments against Petrine authorship of 2 Peter is a thorough examination of the Greek of the epistle. Peter was described as a Galilean fisherman in the gospels and he and his brothers were most likely worked for a fishing business owned by his family. According to Dr. Leo Percer, “Peter was not uneducated, as he most likely attended schools that were taught by the Pharisees to help him learn the Law of Moses. He was not however educated to the extent that we would have been proficient in writing Greek. ” Many scholars look to the description of Peter in the book of Acts as proof of his lack of education.

Acts 4:13 states, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus. ” The Greek of 2 Peter appears to be much less formal and unstructured and it is very different from the Greek of 1 Peter. The ability to conclude that both letters were written by the same hand is very difficult to prove. The Greek of 1 Peter and the Greek of 2 Peter is quite different and contain words and phrasing that make it difficult to reconcile the differences between the two books.

Two major issues result from the Greek of 2 Peter and help support the idea that Simon Peter was not the author of second Peter. The first is the simple fact that most scholars agree that Peter did write the first book attributed to him, which makes the case against his authorship of the second. The second is the grandiose language that is used by the author. The fact remains it is unlikely that a Galilean fisherman would use the language in this book. “The author of 2 Peter seems to be pretentious and out to prove that he has a grasp of the Greek language through the use of such flowery words. Peter was looked at as the leader of the early church, which would give him no reason to feel the need to write in a way to give himself any more credibility than he already possessed. One critic made this statement “this letter betrays an artificial dialect of high-sounding words learnt from rhetoricians and books such would not fit well with both Peter’s modus operandi (of heavy reliance on written sources for his composition) and with the psychological probability of one attempting to write in a second language. These objects do provide problems for those trying to prove Peter as the author of 2 Peter. An even more problematic argument against the authorship of Peter for this short epistle is apparent similarities between 2 Peter and Jude. The books share a common message and a common theme. It also appears that the books share at least 17 common passages and parallels to one another. One example is 2 Peter 1:12 and Jude 5. 2 Peter 1:12 says, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. The parallel verse in Jude 5 says “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. ” Just in these two verses alone there are seven shared words and a few common phrases. Most of the similarities in these two books occur in chapter two and three of 2 Peter and can be seen throughout the one chapter of Jude. This commonality between the two letters presents problems in attempting to establish Petrine authorship.

Another issue to be answered is the date of Jude and 2 Peter and the chronology of the two letters. “If Jude was written after Peter’s lifetime (as most scholars assume), then if 2 Peter uses Jude, it cannot be by Peter. ” There is little evidence for a late date of Jude, but there seems to a great deal of evidence for 2 Peter having a late date. The date most scholars agree to for Jude is around 64 AD and even conservative thinkers would place the earliest date for 2 Peter at somewhere around 65 AD.

This dating would lead to the possible conclusion that if Peter was written after Jude that much of 2 Peter was copied from Jude. The comparison of the books also supports the idea of 2 Peter being written at a much later date. A later date for Peter would allow for the writer of the book to use Jude as a source and would help to explain the many similarities. No matter which book was written first, there seems to be clarity that the books share from one another. A final, and maybe not as convincing, argument is that the overwhelming opinion of Biblical scholars is that Peter was not the author of this letter.

One scholar writes, “the issue of authorship is already settled, at least negatively: the apostle Peter did not write this letter and that the vast bulk of NT scholars adopt this perspective without much discussion. ” Other men such as Stephen Harris and Werner Kummel agree with this position and go as far as to say that “virtually no authorities defend the Petrine authorship of 2 Peter. ” Even leading conservatives such as Carson and Moo would agree that there is little popular support to back Petrine authorship, but they still hold to the view that Peter wrote both books.

The evangelicals and conservatives remind the liberals of the early acceptance of 2 Peter into the canon, but the liberals feel this decision was made before enough scrutiny of the book was made. “Nearly two thirds of Bible experts contend that Peter did not write 2 Peter. ”


The evidence for or against Petrine authorship of 2 Peter is in no way strong enough settle the issue in a conclusive manner. For each point in support of Peter there is an equally convincing argument against him. This debate is not new; as it has been going on for close to 2,000 years.

At times over that history, the issue seemed to be settled for Peter, but this was a short lived victory as the authorship of the book has been an ongoing issue for the church. Men from the time of Peter until now have searched for a definitive answer, but the answer has remained illusive. Each one of the arguments made by those who support Peter as the author has a counter argument against it. “The external evidence, while not proving authenticity neither disproves it, for the evidence provides twenty-two possible usages of 2 Peter. ” Those who argue for Peter point to the internal evidence, and the personal allusions to the life of Peter.

These illusions such as the retelling of the Transfiguration and the suffering of Christ are written by the author to establish his identity as the Apostle Peter. The other side would argue that a pseudo-author wrote in these illusions to try to establish his work as a book of an Apostle. An examination of the issues regarding the history, style, and even the doctrine of 2 Peter have been attempted to be used against Peter, but on the contrary, may be used to support it. Many of the problems the critics have with these issues can be answered by the fact that Peter likely used an amanuensis to help write his book.

Those who disagree with Peter as the writer of 2 Peter would offer pseudonymity as the answer to the question of authorship. The issue with this stand has to be that “at the time of 2 Peter’s canonization, the practice of pseudonymity was scorned and had not one example of New Testament usage, while the canonical books were only admitted after careful scrutiny of genuineness. ” Since 2 Peter was admitted into the Canon, the assumption of there being a pseudo-author is answered. Point by point each argument for Petrine authorship can be disputed, but each one against his authorship can also be torn down.

Personal Conclusion

After examining all of the leading arguments both for and against Peter, I have come to the conclusion that Peter did in fact write the book of 2 Peter. The issue for me isn’t style or the quality of the Greek used by the author; it is in a personal belief that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. 2 Peter 2:1 clearly identifies Peter as the author of the epistle, and this ends the debate for me. As I examined evidence against Petrine authorship, I was always drawn back to the fact that the Bible says Peter wrote the book.

As Payne says in his book, “How can one accept the verbal, plenary inspiration—which would demand Petrine authorship at verse one—and still call 2 Peter non-canonical? ” 2 Peter was accepted, even though it was under a cloud of suspicion, into the New Testament Cannon, which qualifies it as the inerrant Word of God. If I believe that the Bible is never wrong, then 2 Peter must have been written by the Apostle named Simon Peter. The question of authorship for me is answered in 10 simple words, “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ. ”

Calculate the price
Make an order in advance and get the best price
Pages (550 words)
*Price with a welcome 15% discount applied.
Pro tip: If you want to save more money and pay the lowest price, you need to set a more extended deadline.
We know how difficult it is to be a student these days. That's why our prices are one of the most affordable on the market, and there are no hidden fees.

Instead, we offer bonuses, discounts, and free services to make your experience outstanding.
How it works
Receive a 100% original paper that will pass Turnitin from a top essay writing service
step 1
Upload your instructions
Fill out the order form and provide paper details. You can even attach screenshots or add additional instructions later. If something is not clear or missing, the writer will contact you for clarification.
Pro service tips
How to get the most out of your experience with MyHomeworkGeeks
One writer throughout the entire course
If you like the writer, you can hire them again. Just copy & paste their ID on the order form ("Preferred Writer's ID" field). This way, your vocabulary will be uniform, and the writer will be aware of your needs.
The same paper from different writers
You can order essay or any other work from two different writers to choose the best one or give another version to a friend. This can be done through the add-on "Same paper from another writer."
Copy of sources used by the writer
Our college essay writers work with ScienceDirect and other databases. They can send you articles or materials used in PDF or through screenshots. Just tick the "Copy of sources" field on the order form.
See why 20k+ students have chosen us as their sole writing assistance provider
Check out the latest reviews and opinions submitted by real customers worldwide and make an informed decision.
Business and administrative studies
Thank you
Customer 452773, March 19th, 2023
Business and administrative studies
Customer 452773, February 23rd, 2023
I just need some minor alterations. Thanks.
Customer 452547, February 10th, 2021
English 101
IThank you
Customer 452631, April 6th, 2021
Business and administrative studies
excellent job! got an A, thank you
Customer 452773, May 24th, 2023
thank you so much
Customer 452749, June 10th, 2021
Business and administrative studies
always perfect work and always completed early
Customer 452773, February 21st, 2023
Business and administrative studies
excellent job
Customer 452773, March 12th, 2023
Business and administrative studies
Excellent job
Customer 452773, March 17th, 2023
Thank you!
Customer 452545, February 6th, 2021
Customer 452591, March 18th, 2021
Thank you!!! I received my order in record timing.
Customer 452551, February 9th, 2021
Customer reviews in total
Current satisfaction rate
3 pages
Average paper length
Customers referred by a friend
15% OFF your first order
Use a coupon FIRST15 and enjoy expert help with any task at the most affordable price.
Claim my 15% OFF Order in Chat

Sometimes it is hard to do all the work on your own

Let us help you get a good grade on your paper. Get professional help and free up your time for more important courses. Let us handle your;

  • Dissertations and Thesis
  • Essays
  • All Assignments

  • Research papers
  • Terms Papers
  • Online Classes