2 Peter claims to be written by the apostle Peter:

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1)

And later in the same chapter:

17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Unlike the Synoptic Gospels, the internal claims for authorship are very strong & unambiguous, but the external evidence is quite sparse.

Some have said there may be allusions to 2 Peter in 1 Clement; aside from that I find no Patristic usage of this epistle in the first few generations. It shows up in Codex Sinaiticus & in the Easter letter of Athanasius, but it appeared to be on rather shaky ground prior to that time.

Eusebius included 2 Peter in his list of disputed books (see here); Origen was uncertain about its authorship as well (see here).

You might say that 2 Peter is the book that almost didn't make it into the Bible.

2 Questions:

  1. Why was 2 Peter included in the New Testament in the 4th century when its authorship was disputed for so long?
  2. What evidence suggests Peter really was the author?

Notes offered in hopes of promoting robust responses:

  1. To give a fair shake to those who come down on the other side of the authorship debate and wish to offer a counterpoint, I've posed the mirror image of this question here: Authorship of 2 Peter - evidence against Peter

  2. I am not just asking about vocabulary and hapax legomena as this question is, though I don't mind if answers build a portion of their case on vocabulary.

  3. I am not asking if Peter had the requisite level of literacy to write a letter--the practice of using an amanuensis in antiquity isn't really in dispute (see further discussion on scribes here).

  • Related, possible Duplicate What does the vocabulary of 2 Peter indicate about its authorship ?
    – Nigel J
    Mar 27 at 4:30
  • Hi @NigelJ, see #2 in the notes in the appendix the question. Mar 27 at 4:35
  • On an hermeneutic site, evidence of authorship is internal, within the document.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 27 at 4:39
  • Thanks @NigelJ, not trying to be difficult. Questions like this one have led me to believe that internal & external evidence are in scope. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/11470/… . I certainly agree though that internal evidence is highly relevant, which includes but is not limited to vocabulary. Mar 27 at 4:44
  • I suppose a question on the Meta site might be appropriate. But my own view is that we either are content to examine scriptural documents by hermeneutics or we are not. Broadening the site parameters, in my experience, does no good at all and only expands the opportunities for adverse influences to operate within it.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 27 at 5:19

As stated in the other question, the main arguments against the authenticity of 2 Peter are: The argument against the authenticity of 2 Peter essentially rests on three observations:

  1. A few (admittedly significant) antenicaean father express doubts such as Origen; Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History vi 25, iii 3); Jerome, etc. This exacerbated by the fact until after 200 AD, no Christian writer directly quotes 2 Peter.
  2. The language and style of 2 Peter is very different from that of 1 Peter
  3. 2 Peter calls the writings of Paul "Scripture" and places them on a par with the inspired canon of the OT. 2 Peter 3:15, 16. It is claimed that such a status for Paul's writings could not achieved this by the supposed time that 2 Peter (if genuine) was written.

The argument in favor of 2 Peter is more than the rebuttal of the above objections. However, let me briefly dismiss these objections:

  1. While some antenicaean questioned 2 Peter, none actually rejected the document and many accepted it as genuine.
  2. The difference in language and style (which is quite marked) of 1 vs 2 Peter can be easily explained on several grounds:
  • Peter used a different person to translate from his native Aramaic. "Silvanus" (1 Peter 5:12) was the helper in 1 Peter and this produced some of the most polished Greek in the NT
  • Peter matured and wrote on different topics and thus his style was bound to be different.
  1. The objection that Paul's writings could not be considered scripture by Peter's time is just an assumption and is based on what is unknown rather than what is known.

But most impressive of all -

  1. The style and content is consistent with the rest of the NT. Every other psudepigraphon I have examined (there are lots of them) are fairly obvious forgeries and usually consist of much much gnostic material which foreign to the genuine NT writings.
  • The reference to Paul in 2 Peter only means some of Paul's letters were being circulated. One would expect the books that became canonical to circulate among the churches soon after they were written. There use among the churches was a stipulation for books in the canon.
    – Perry Webb
    Mar 27 at 15:47
  • 1
    @PerryWebb - I agree - what became canonical achieved this quite quickly with the notable exception of Revelation.
    – Dottard
    Mar 27 at 20:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.