THE RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND OF 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF 

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CHAPTER4 THE ROLE AND MEANING OF THE MOTIF OF HASTENING THE COMING OF THE DAY OF GOD WITHIN THE MESSAGE OF 2 PETER: AN EXEGETICAL STUDY

INTRODUCTION

The study of the CJ7re u6 <.> derivatives in Chapter three of this inquiry confirmed the presence of 2 Peter’s hastening motif. The precise role and meaning of the hastening motif within 2 Peter’s overall message was, however, not investigated in that word study because such an investigation was beyond the scope of the word study. The investigation which is required in order to ascertain the role and meaning of the hastening motif within Peter’s message involves, instead, an exegetical study of wider proportions. The present part of the inquiry aims at the fulfilment of the task by exegetically studying 2 Peter with the primary objective of determining the precise role and meaning of the hastening motif within its message. The scope of the exegetical study is therefore also limited to those sections and aspects of 2 Peter that seem to be immediately relevant for a proper understanding of 2 Peter’s hastening motif.

THE HASTENING MOTIF IN 2 PETER 3:1-13

2 Peter’s hastening motif is most conspicuous in 2 Peter 3: 12 which in turn appears to be an integral part of 2 Peter 3:1-13. It is for this reason that the exegetical study which is being undertaken in this chapter focuses on and takes 2 Peter 3:1-13 as its point of departure.

 2 Peter 3:1-13: An inte1rral part of 2 Peter

The first two verses of 2 Peter 3 furnish some general but important information concerning several aspects of 2 Peter as a whole. The information that seems to be particularly relevant for this investigation’s exegetical study is:

  • information concerning the literary form of 2 Peter
  • information concerning the purpose and contents of 2 Peter in general; and
  • information concerning the structural pattern of 2 Peter.

 2 Peter 3:1-2 : The literary form of 2 Peter

The use of the words TCtVTTJV ••• uµiv … e7r1CJTOATJV in 2 Peter 3:1 identifies 2 Peter as an epistle or letter addressed to a group of Christians. The epistle was a well known and widely utilized literary form within the Hellenistic society even before the appearance of Christianity. It could be used to communicate on different occasions, about various matters, and there were accordingly a variety of letters in existence within that culture (Martin 1978:241-2; Longenecker 1983:101-2; Stambough & Balch 1986:39-40; Ryken 1987:87-90). Doty points out that there were even handbooks written by letter theorists with the purpose of helping Hellenistic letter writers in the composition of different types of letters (1973:9-10). The need for the use of a letter then and nowadays « arises because of the inability of two or more parties to communicate face to face. Thus, the letter becomes the written means of keeping oral conversation in motion » (White 1988: 1731 )
In the life of the early Christian Church, the letter became essential when, as a result of Christians’ mobility and the missionary planting of various new church communities, there came into existence dispersed Christian groups geographically far from the Church’s key leaders; Christian groups with whom it was still exceptionally important for the key leaders of the Christian Movement to communicate (Martin 1978:231-2; Longenecker 1983:103). Christian authorized leaders (for example, the apostles) who could not speak or preach to a particular Christian group because of the spatial separation, resorted to the use of the letter as a substitute of their presence (Ryken 1984:68). The use of the plural pronoun uµiv in 2 Peter 3:1 suggests that 2 Peter belongs to this category of early Christian letters.
The nature of 2 Peter is therefore that of a letter through which its author became somehow present among the recipients in order to be ‘heard’ while ‘speaking’ to them through its reading. This has important implications for 2 Peter’s interpretation today and this investigation into the hastening motif within 2 Peter’s message has therefore also to take this nature of 2 Peter into consideration.
The literary form of 2 Peter has been variously categorized by different New Testament scholars. Some of the suggestions in this regard are:

  • Parenetic (Weersink 1969:191);
  • Civic decree (Danker 1980:166);
  • Testament (Bauckham 1983:131); and
  • Apocalyptic (LOvestam 1984:287).

It is, however, doubtful if these categories are helpful and appropriate when used in respect of 2 Peter as a whole. Most of these suggestions seem relevant and appropriate when viewed as ways of drawing attention to certain sections and aspects of 2 Peter. Thus, there is no necessity to contest that 2 Peter uses language akin to that of civic decrees in 1:3ff (Danker 1978:66), parenetic materials in 1:5ff (Kahmann & Dehandschutter 1983: 17), and apocalyptic texts in 3:10ff (Vaughan & Lea (1988:195).
What cannot be conceded as valid is the tendency of considering the whole document in terms of these categories. Such a tendency leads, in our judgement, to serious forms of totality transfers especially when all that is connected with a particular literary form elsewhere is read into documents such as 2 Peter. The point we are making in this particular context may be illustrated by the way in which certain scholars argue for their viewpoint that 2 Peter belongs to the testament literary form by appealing to 2 Peter 3:1-2 and its parallel, namely, 1:12;15. Bauckham (1983:132), for example, argues, among others, that the use of words for « remind/reminder » in these verses, and the hint to the author’s impending death (1:13-15) implies that 2 Peter is offered as the apostle Peter’s will or testament. He forcefully expresses this as follows:
« 1:12-15 is full of language typical of farewell speeches … and explicitly describes the occasion for the writing of 2 Peter as Peter’s knowledge of his approaching death and his wish that his teaching be remembered after his death. These two features are standard and almost universal features of the genre » (1983:132).
It is about the way in which Bauckham argues for this viewpoint on the basis of these passages that we want to raise the following objections concerning such a treatment of words:

  • Why do the words « remind/reminder » necessarily have to do with a testament genre? In the light of the polysemous nature of words, we contest this approach. These words are used within the New Testament in contexts which need not imply the presence of such a literary form (For examples in this regard see Louw & Nida 1989a: 246-9).
  • Why is it that expression of consciousness concerning one’s approaching death necessarily imply such a literary form? We are not convinced that such a treatment of words is proper and we therefore suspect and suggest that this sort of procedure is one of those unfortunate cases in which New Testament interpretation is made on the basis of a particular category that has been borrowed elsewhere and we cannot be so confident, therefore, that the author and/or the original readers would have employed them. It is, in other words, quite possible that 2 Peter was and is not meant to be understood with such categories. A reference to an impending death may, even today, depending on the context, simply be a rhetorical device meant to highlight the seriousness with which the author desires the readers to take his or her particular message or teaching. The same is quite possible in connection with the use of words like « remind/reminder » within a teaching context.

The testament genre category was, of course, introduced in 2 Peter discussions in an effort to deal with the authenticity of the letter. Our survey in chapter one has accordingly indicated that it was introduced into this long-ranging debate as early as by F.C.Baur [1792-1860] (see section 1.2.1.3.1.6). Since this present inquiry does not necessarily have to evaluate the pros and cons of the usefulness of this category within the context of that debate, presenting such an evaluation as part of this inquiry here, would amount to lengthy and, in our judgement, an unnecessary excursion within the scope and the issues concerning this inquiry into 2 Peter’s hastening motif.
The suggestion that 2 Peter be considered as a letter by which the author intended to be « heard » while speaking to a far-away Christian community through 2 Peter’s reading, appear to be broad enough for the purposes of this study. Above all, it is something simple and not a disputed viewpoint. Such a general category would allow the author to include or compose certain sections resembling other literary forms such as apocalyptic.

 2 Peter 3:1-2: A 2eneral description of the purpose and contents of 2 Peter

The use  of  oieyeip<..>  …  oi&voiav  in 2 Peter 3:1  describes  the general  purpose  of 2 Peter (and indeed of the other letter which is referred to in this verse) as the stimulation of the readers toward proper thinking. This implies that, through 2 Peter, the author intended to assist the recipients by strengthening their capability to take good decisions with regard to what was proper for them to believe and to do in terms of their Christian status. The word 6 ie y ei p <..> generally suggests the idea of waking someone up when such a person tends to be sleepy. This same word is used in 2 Peter 1: 13 where the author seems eager to justify the practice of constantly sending the recipients letters. The context of its use in 2 Peter 3:1 also suggests that the necessity for the watchfulness which is implied in such a stimulation of proper thinking may have been connected with the danger of false teachings. The exhortation to « be on your guard » in 2 Peter 3:17 may be a confirmation of this connotation. Kistemaker (1987:322; -see also Vaughan & Lea 1988: 136) appears therefore justified to write:
« What is the meaning of the phrase ‘wholesome thinking’? Peter means unsullied and pure thinking. The expression ‘common sense’ comes close to conveying what Peter means. He contrasts the thinking of the believers with that of the false teachers; and he implies that Christians should be mentally alert to discern truth from error ».
It must be emphasized that this is certainly only a general broad description of 2 Peter’s purpose. When its purpose is described in such general terms, it would not be difficult to understand 2 Peter as sharing this purpose with many other New Testament books, especially with 1 Peter which is most likely the other letter being referred to in 2 Peter 3:1. The specific and distinctive purpose of 2 Peter becomes apparent when one reads it as a whole. The meaning of the hastening motif within 2 Peter’s message must be sought within the context of the general purpose of 2 Peter as indicated in these verses, as well as within the context of its more specific purpose which becomes clear from the reading of 2 Peter as a whole.
How is 2 Peter intended to help the recipients towards proper thinking? The use of the prepositional phrase, ev inroµvf]au, in 2 Peter 3:1 and 1:13 describes the primary function of 2 Peter as that of reminding the recipients concerning the teachings ( p17µ6. r <a> v) of the holy prophets, as well as about the command ( ev.,. oi.. f] t;) of the Lord Jesus. The genitives in rf]t; TWV cbroar6i..<a>v uµ&v evroi..f]t; ‘fOU1rnp(ou do give rise to some problems. Blass & Debrunner (1970:93) regards this usage as an instance of what is referred to as concatenation of genitives with different meanings; and accordingly suggests the rendering, « … of the commandment of the Lord transmitted by the apostles …  »
The difficulty concerning these genitives is also noted by Bauckham (1983:287) who states:
« The double possessive genitive in this expression is awkward. It must mean that the commandment is primarily Christ’s, but also in a secondary sense the apostles’, because they were the people who preached it to the readers. »
The prophets who are meant in 2 Peter 3:2 and whose teachings 2 Peter functions to remind the readers of, just as it does with regard to the commandment of Christ transmitted through the apostles, are most certainly those of the Old Testament era. The use of uµwv with a?roaroA(.t)V suggests that the apostles belong to the readers in a way that the prophets do not; that is, the prophets referred to in this passage are of another era, while the apostles belong to the readers in view of their being ministers of the era to which the readers also belong, namely, the New Testament dispensation.
2 Peter seems therefore intended to keep the teachings of the prophets and the commandment of the apostles constantly before the readers. The implication of this is obvious: the author of 2 Peter attaches great importance to the Old Testament scriptures and to the additional complementary teaching which Jesus entrusted to His apostles. 2 Peter accordingly emphasizes the necessity for its recipients to acquire the knowledge which comes from this two-fold source. This emphasis on the Old Testament does not appear to be a mere claim of the author, as it indeed can be indicated to be a reality. It is, for example, pervasive even in the immediate context of 2 Peter 3: 1-2. This is clear from the way in which the author uses forms of y’LV~aK(.t) and lav0av(.t) in 2:12; 3:3,5 & 8. The false teachers and the scoffers are depicted as being in their terrible condition because of their false knowledge or ignorance concerning certain matters; and 2 Peter is intended to help prevent the readers from developing along that road of doom. This two-fold source of useful knowledge is indicated in 2 Peter 1: 16-21 where the pattern is apostles (Christ) and Prophets, while in 2 Peter 3:2 the pattern is reversed. The emphasis on the prophets and the apostles as two sources of reliable knowledge is noted by, among others, Bigg (1961:289) who, while commenting on 2 Peter 3:2 made the following remark:
« The author here reverts to the end of chapter 1; and repeats the appeal to his two witnesses, the prophets and the apostles ».
The author of 2 Peter also makes a strong claim to being one of the apostles, namely, the apostle Peter (especially in 2 Peter 1:1; and 1:12-18). general description of 2 Peter’s contents may therefore be stated as follows: 2 Peter contains the teachings of the prophets (Old Testament) as well as the witness of the apostles concerning those issues which the author deemed relevant to the readers. It is also quite clear that the author considered these teachings as being seriously compromised and/or threatened by the attitudes and activities of certain false teachers (2:1ff) and scoffers (3:3ff). 2 Peter is therefore also to be characterized as being a document in which the apologetic motif appears prominent (Desjardins 1987:89). The meaning of the hastening motif in 2 Peter’s message must accordingly also be sought within this general context of 2 Peter’s contents.

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2 Peter 3:1-2: The structural pattern of 2 Peter

One of the implications flowing from the literary form of 2 Peter as described in 4.2.1.1. above is that 2 Peter may validly be handled as a homily, more or less, similar to those which were delivered in Jewish and Christian assemblies during the Graeco-Roman period, but a homily that is in the letter format. McDonald (1980:62) investigates the form of these homilies and then draws attention to this aspect of 2 Peter as follows:
« It would appear that, after allowance has been made for literary and epistolary elements, 2 Peter discloses a classic Jewish homiletic structure, in which the three main parts stand in antithesis to each other in such a way that the third or concluding part resumes and presses home the leading theme of the first part or introduction. »

SUMMARY
PREFACE
CHAPTER 1: ORIENTATION 
1.1. INTRODUCTION
1.2. SURVEY OF PREVIOUS RESEARCH INTO THIS MOTIF
1.3. THE INVESTIGATION’S LAYOUT AND PROCEDURE
CHAPTER 2: SOME FUNDAMENTAL METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES PERTAINING TO THE STUDY 
2.1. INTRODUCTION
2.2. METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES WHICH ARE ESPECIALLY PERTINENT TO THE WORD STUDY IN CHAPTER THREE
2.3. METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES WHICH ARE ESPECIALLY PERTINENT TO CHAPTER FOUR
2.4. METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES WHICH ARE ESPECIALLY RELEVANT FOR CHAP’fER FIVE
2.5. METHODOLOGICAL ISSUES WHICH ARE ESPECIALLY PERTINENT TO CHAPTER SIX
CHAPTER 3: THE USE AND MEANINGS OF a1tcu~c.> DERIVATIVES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT 
3.1. INTRODUCTION
3.2. THE awe 6& <a> DERIVATIVES IN THE GOSPELS
3.3. THE cnre6cS<.> DERIVATIVES IN ACTS
3.4. THE a7re6cS<.> DERIVATIVES IN ROMANS
3.5. THE MEANINGS OF THE a7re6cS<.> DERIVATIVES IN 2 CORINTHIANS
3.6. THE MEANING OF ea7ro6cSaaa IN GALATIANS
3.7. THE MEANING OF a7roucS6(ovTec; IN EPHESIANS 4:3
3.8. U1l’OUcSa10Tep<.>c; IN PHILIPPIANS 2:28
3.9. THE MEANING OF ea7roucS6aaμev IN 1 THESSALONIANS 2:17
3.10. THE MEANINGS OF THE a7re66<.> DERIVATIVES IN 2 TIMOTHY
3.11. THE MEANINGS OF THE a7re66<.> DERIVATIVES IN TITUS
3.12. THE MEANINGS OF THE a7re66<.> DERIVATIVES IN HEBREWS
3.13. THE a7re6cS<.> DERIVATIVES IN 2 PETER
3.14. 1l’aaav a1l’ou&7)v IN JUDE 3
3.15. CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS
CHAPTER 4: THE ROLE AND MEANING OF THE MOTIF OF HASTENING THE COMING OF THE DAY OF GOD WITHIN THE MESSAGE OF 2 PETER: AN EXEGETICAL STUDY
4.1. INTRODUCTION
4.2. THE HASTENING MOTIF IN 2 PETER 3:1-13
4.3. POSSIBLE FORESHADOWINGS OF THE HASTENING MOTIF IN 2 PETER 1:1-11
4.4. BY WAY OF SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5: 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF WITHIN THE NEW TESTAMENT (outside 2 Peter) 
5.1. INTRODUCTION
5.2. 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF IN ACTS 3:19-21
5.3. 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF IN THE PATERNOSTER’S « THY KINGDOM COME » PETITION
5.4. 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF IN 1 CORINTHIANS 16:22 AND REVELA.TION 22:20
5.5. 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF IN MATTHEW AND MARK’S OLIVET DISCOURSES
5.6. 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF IN MATTHEW 28:19,20
5.7. 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF IN 1PETER2:12
5.8. 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF IN REVELATION 8:4
5.9. SOME CONCLUDING REMARKS ABOUT THE EXAMINATION
CHAPTER 6: THE RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND OF 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF 
6.1. INTR.ODUCTION
6.2. AN EXAMINATION OF THE APPROPRIATENESS OF ZOROASTRIAN  TRADITIONS
6.3. AN EXAMINATION OF THE APPROPRIATENESS OF RABBINIC TRADITIONS
6.4. AN EXAMINATION OF THE APPROPRIATENESS OF JEWISH RESISTANCE TRADITIONS
6.5. CONCLUDING REMARKS AND SOME SUGGESTIONS ABOUT THE RELIGIOUS BACKGROUND OF 2 PETER’S HASTENING MOTIF
CHAPTER 7: THE CONTEMPORARY RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY
7.1. INTRODUCTION
7.2. THE PRESENT INQUIRY AND NEW TESTAMENT STUDY IN GENERAL
7.3. THE PRESENT STUDY AND 2 PETER RESEARCH IN PARTICULAR
7.4. THE STUDY AND THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH’S CALLING TODAY
BIBLIOGRAPHY
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
THE MOTIF OF HASTENING THE WRD’S COMING: 2 PETER 3:1-13 AND ITS ALLEGED PARALLELS AND BACKGROUND

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