This is a mild suspicion I've held for a while, and on occasion I will attempt a search to see if any scholars have expressed the view, but so far I have found nothing other than generic bible verse cross-references in footnotes (i.e. only noting conceptual or verbal parallels, not literary dependence).1

The reason for my suspicion is predicated on:

  • In the critical perspective, 2 Peter (circa AD 100-150) is unanimously considered to be dependent on 1 Peter (c AD 80-85) and Jude (c AD 90-120) to some degree, and by proxy of those two texts, to be dependent on 1 Enoch as well. Given 2 Peter's footing in the apocalyptic genre, it seems natural the author would be familiar with the Revelation as well, given that it was written in the same time period as two other sources 2 Peter used.
  • The Revelation promises 'the star of the dawn' as a reward for those who endure in their faith to the eschaton (2.28), while 2 Peter promises '(the) Morning Star' (1.19) in a similar eschatological context. The language isn't identical — τὸν ἀστέρα τὸν πρωϊνόν in Revelation, φωσφόρος in 2 Peter — but the author of 2 Peter has shown himself to filter his sources through his own wording and the referent appears to be the same.
  • The Revelation mentions a thousand years (20.4-6), a judgment of works involving destructive fire (20.9-15), and the creation of a new heaven and earth (21.1). Likewise, 2 Peter mentions a thousand years (3.8), a judgment of works involving destructive fire (3.7,10,12), and the creation of a new heaven and earth (3.13). Revelation 20-21 and 2 Peter 3 each contain a very similar matrix of millennium - judgment fire - new creation.

It seems a long-shot. Admittedly, the first point is a general recognition of the apocalyptic mode of thought in the two books, and the second point is circumstantial. However, read in light of the third point, 2 Peter seems closer to the Revelation than might initially be expected.

So, my overall question is: What evidence, if any, is there of 2 Peter's direct literary dependence on the Revelation? If there is no evidence of direct literary dependence, are there any texts predating, or contemporary to, 2 Peter and Revelation that could explain their independent use of the same matrix of millennium - judgment fire - new creation? Have any scholars tackled the idea, either to support it or criticize it? What was their argumentation?

(In crude terms, my question might be simplified as: In the same way 2 Peter worked with a copy of Jude, and the Shepherd of Hermas worked with a copy of the Revelation, did the author of 2 Peter work with a copy of the Revelation?)

1 I've tried scraping JSTOR and Google Scholar with various permutations of the keywords — literary, dependence, 2 Peter, apocalypse, revelation, John, millennium — with no results addressing my question, or instead arguing about literary dependence of 2 Peter and the Revelation of Peter.

I've also looked in a handful of commentaries via Google for either book, in addition to general study books (Ehrman's _Introduction to the New Testament_, and the Oxford Annotated NRSV). So far this has produced nothing, with the sole exception of a footnote for 2 Peter 3.13 in the Jewish Annotated New Testament, which says rather simply, 'Isa 65.17; 66.22; Rev 21.1 (though there is no evidence that the author of 2 Peter knows Revelation).' This scant parenthesis (which cites no sources), though, is hardly the level of attention I'd like to find, if there is anything to find.

  • I'm unaware of any scholars who believe the is a certain dependency between 2 Peter and Revelation. However, a well-known parallel exists between 2 Peter 2:!5 and Rev 2:14. The only other NT book to mention Balaam is Jude, but the context is a little different. Aug 4, 2016 at 9:52
  • 2
    @MarkEdward - Thanks for that. I had a look at Bauckham's Jude, 2 Peter commentary this morning. He must have 15 pages on 2P's literary relationships, but not a peep about links to Revelation! There was some interesting comment on 1P and 2P relations (or lack thereof), though. He also includes a table of which contemp lit the author of 2P "knew" with implications for dating, and again Rev doesn't feature.
    – Dɑvïd
    Aug 4, 2016 at 17:23
  • @MarkEdward Interesting about the note in the Jewish Annotated New Testament. I checked; it provides the identical cross-refs as the ESV. (Checking a couple other cross-ref Bibles I have to hand, they provide different texts here, although the NRSV Anglo xref Bible has the same three -- odd, since I'm sure they were done de novo for that edition.) Also interesting here is that it seems that the ESV xrefs use the 1885 (English) Revised Standard (as opposed to the 1905 ASV) as a starting point, and that gives also Rev 21:27. FWIW.
    – Dɑvïd
    Aug 4, 2016 at 20:13
  • 1
    @MarkEdward Since I don't think there is a definitve answer, I will just make a comment that the Murtorian Fragment mentions an "Apocalypse of Peter", in which there is some doubt as to it's authenticity. It does include some of the same language; it's style is "apocalyptic" but it is considered Gnostic, as it mentions that "God will save sinners from their plight in Hell", which 2 Pet. vehemently condemns. It was considered by Clement of Alexandria to be sacred text, but not adopted by the church. All this to say that the "apocalyptic genre" was very much a part of the Patristics.
    – Tau
    Aug 6, 2016 at 8:25
  • 1
    "Scholar" is a very broad word. It could mean a grad student somewhere. This question seems broader than other questions that were closed for being too broad.
    – user33515
    Dec 7, 2017 at 16:26

2 Answers 2



Are there any texts predating, or contemporary to, 2 Peter and Revelation that could explain their independent use of the same matrix of millennium - judgment fire - new creation?

2 Peter undoubtedly has a literary dependence upon "the Writings" and "the Prophets".

  • Millenium: the occurrence of "a thousand years" in 2 Peter follows more closely its use in Psalm 90 than its use in Revelation.

    For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
    -- Psalm 90:4 (KJV)
    But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
    -- 2 Peter 3:8 (KJV)
  • Judgment fire:

    Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
    -- Psalm 11:6 (KJV)

    9Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee. Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them. 10Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.
    -- Psalm 21:8-10 (KJV)

    But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
    -- 2 Peter 3:7 (KJV)
  • New Heavens and New Earth:

    For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
    -- Isaiah 65:17 (KJV)

    For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
    -- Isaiah 66:22 (KJV)

    Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
    -- 2 Peter 3:13 (KJV)

    It should be noted here that Peter in his second Epistle follows the Hebrew of Isaiah in regard to "New Heavens" since he gives καινοὺς οὐρανοὺς (plural) for שָׁמַ֥יִם חֲדָשִׁ֖ים (plural), whereas John follows the LXX, giving οὐρανὸν καινὸν (singular) for the LXX's οὐρανὸς καινὸς (singular)


It is pretty clear the "Q source" (as it were) for Peter and John is the collection of works known as "the Law", "the Writings" and "the Prophets", which happens to be the case for all New Testament authors. There really is no compelling reason to believe, or even imagine, that Peter had ever seen John's work.


The source for all scripture is the Holy Spirit, so we should recognize that all scripture is bound together in and from that one source, and will connect one to another. As all scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16), and as all scripture is not of private interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20), then we must rely upon God's word to define and interpret God's word. The scriptures must be the source code, and we look for the first and original use of those scriptures to be able to understand their meaning when used in later texts.

The dates for the books presented in the question are suspect, as better information for their dates of writing are available from DatingTheNewTestament.com here . The site provides the date for 2 Peter as close to A.D. 60, and for Revelation somewhere around 69 -70 AD. Although, there is room for earlier years authorship, as Robert Young's Analytical Concordance states regarding Revelation:

"It was written in Patmos about A.D. 68, whither John had been banished by Domitius Nero, as stated in the title of the Syria version of the book;..."

The best answer is that Revelation refers back to 2 Peter in several verses. In addition to those listed above are Rev 2:14 & 2 Pet 2:15; Rev 3:10 & 2 Pet 2:9; Rev 5:6 & 1 Pet 1:19; Rev 5:9 & 2 Pet 2:1; Rev 18:13 & 2 Pet 2:3; Rev 20:2 & 2 Pet 2:4; Rev 20:11 & 2 Pet 3:7; and Rev 21:1 & 2 Pet :13.

The earlier book, therefore cannot be said to rely upon the later book. So, we look for Revelation, that later book, to reference the earlier book of 2 Peter. And, there are several authors who have commentaries which relate several passages of Revelation to 2 Peter, as well as to much of the New Testament books.

The Book of Revelation, by Foy E. Wallace, Jr - p. 426:

"This phrase, new heaven and new earth, was not new in scripture terminology. The Old Testament prophets referred to Israel’s return from Babylon and their restoration to their own land of Judea as to them a “new heaven and new earth.” (Isa. 65 : 17--66 :22 ; Ezek. 11: 19--36 :26-36). To the Corinthians the apostle Paul described the new state in Christ as the old things having passed away--referring to the new spiritual relation to Christ in the new covenant versus the old fleshly Israelism of the old covenant. (II Cor. 5 :17) To the scattered Jerusalem church the apostle Peter adapted that phrase in his exhortation to look for the heavenly reward in the eternal world. (2 Pet. 3 :13) In the apocalypse the apostle John applied the same phrase to the emergence of the church from the tribulation period."

Bishop John Lightfoot, on the new heavens on new earth:

"That the destruction of Jerusalem is very frequently expressed in Scripture as if it were the destruction of the whole world, Deut. 32:22; "A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.' Jer. 4:23; 'I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light,' &c. The discourse there also is concerning the destruction of that nation, Isa. 65:17; 'Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered,' &c. And more passages of this sort among the prophets. According to this sens, Christ speaks in this place; and Peter speaks in his Second Epistle, third chapter; and John, in the sixth of the Revelation; and Paul, 2 Cor. 5:17, &c". (Works vol. 2, pp. 18-19)

Philip Mauro's commentary on Rev. 20:11-15:

"And now is fulfilled the prophecy of Peter; “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). John’s brief statement, “from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them”, declare that now they have ceased to exist." Source: Of Things Which Soon Must Come to Pass, p.525

Suggested Sources:

F. W. Farrar, Dating the Book of Revelation, 1882

Milton S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics, 1898

Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 325 AD; Bk iii, chapt. v-viii

Greg Bahnsen, Historical Setting for The Dating 0f Revelation, 1984

Bishop John Lightfoot's Works 1685 edition

Dr. John Owen, Sermon on 2 Pet iii, Vol 9, p. 134, 1721 Link: https://www.preteristarchive.com/russ-ap2o/

Peter J. Liethart, The Promise of His Appearing, An Exposition of Second Peter, 2004

Kurt Simmons, All Things Made New, The New Heavens & Earth, 2017 preteristcentral.com here.

Many, many more sources can be found at PreteristArchive.com here.

I also have many of the OT sources for Revelation documented in my posts "The Signs of Revelation", Parts I - VIII at my blog ShreddingTheVeil.org here.

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    – Caleb
    Dec 9, 2017 at 16:56