Second Peter: Shunning Error in Light of the Savior’s Return. By Zane C. Hodges. Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2015. 142 pp. Paper, $15.00.
This commentary is a compilation of writings on Second Peter that were published in Zane Hodges’s newsletter, The Kerugma Message.
Hodges spends very little time on introductory matters. But it is clear that he takes a conservative and traditional view of the book. He believes that the book was written by the Apostle Peter shortly before his death (p. 13). In addition, Hodges has a very high view of the inspiration of the Scriptures (pp. 50–52).
As the title suggests, Hodges sees the main theme of the book as encouraging the readers to live godly lives in view of the fact that Christ promised that He would return. The false teachers of Peter’s day (and ours as well), denied the promises related to that return. The false teachers Peter has in mind also lived immoral lives. Since they denied the Second Coming of Christ, they saw no need to live holy lives.
It will come as no surprise to the readers of the JOTGES that this commentary is written from a Free Grace perspective. Even though Second Peter is a small book of only three chapters, there are verses in it that are widely debated and misunderstood. Hodges, in his typical fashion, explains these verses in a way that does not deny the fact that eternal life is a free gift from God. In addition, he shows the reader the importance of good works in the life of the believer. While good works are not a part of the offer of eternal salvation, there are consequences for immorality for the Christian.
In 2 Pet 1:5–7, Hodges points out that holiness in the life of the believer is not automatic (pp. 20–23). While God has given the believer everything he needs to live that life, the believer must choose to do so and must take advantage of the resources God has given. These resources include the Holy Spirit and the promises of Christ’s return.
In one of the most misunderstood verses in the NT (2 Pet 1:10), Hodges argues convincingly that the “call and election” of the believer does not involve eternal salvation. Instead, the Christian has been called and elected to be rewarded in the kingdom and reign with Christ. While all Christians will be in the kingdom, only Christians who live the life described in 1:5–7 will be rewarded in this manner (p. 31).
In his discussion on 2 Peter 2, Hodges discusses the immoral lifestyle of the false teachers. He points out that while a believer can be a false teacher, these particular teachers were not Christians (p. 55). The danger the believing readers faced was that they could be duped by these false teachers. If they did, they would also fall into an immoral lifestyle. These are the ones Peter has in mind in 2:21–22 (pp. 84–87).
In this section, Hodges argues that even believers who have made some advancement in Christian maturity can fall prey to such heresies. A Christian that turns away from what he knows and no longer desires to obey Christ, is worse off than if he had never know what Christ expected of him. It would have been better if he had never started the Christian maturing process at all. Such a Christian is worse off because he will have a deep sense of guilt under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. In many cases this guilt is buried under “new depths of rebellion and/or licentiousness.” In an effort to escape such emotional pain, the Christian slides into even more sin.
In the famous passage found in 2 Pet 3:8–9, Hodges holds that the idea that God wants all men to come to repentance is not a reference to the fact that God wants all men to be eternally saved, even though God does have that desire (p. 104). Instead, the repentance here is a reference to turning from sin. Turning from sin is not a requirement for the reception of eternal life. God wants men to turn from their sin because eventually the sin of mankind will usher in the Great Tribulation. During this period, billions of people will die and God does not desire that to occur (pp. 101–106). God is extremely patient with mankind. It is for that reason that Christ has not yet returned.
This commentary concludes with questions related to each chapter of the commentary (pp. 127–31). There are fourteen such chapters. It is hoped that these questions will help facilitate small group discussions.
The discussions found on the pages are clearly written by one who loved the Word of God. They are based on the context of the individual passages as well as the book as a whole. Once again, Hodges has shown how eternal salvation is by God’s grace through faith alone in Christ alone, but that works are necessary for rewards. There is a great deal of false teaching today concerning these facts. This commentary on 2 Peter is a great help combating both the false teachings found in Christendom, as well as the denial by the world that Christ is coming back. If a person only owns one commentary on 2 Peter, it should be this one. I give it my highest recommendation.
Kenneth W. Yates
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society