Beloved (But Unlikely) Brotherhood
2 Peter 3:14-16
1. We may gather from his writings that the apostle Peter valued the concept of brotherhood – the idea that all those who are in Christ are members of the same family of God wherever they are in the world.
a. 1 Peter 2:17 – “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood....”
b. 1 Peter 5:9 – “...knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”
2. From his last paragraph, however, we are reminded that he also practiced brotherhood, and we are given reason to think about it what it may mean for us to do the same.
a. In our text Peter makes a significant allusion to Paul, and from it we learn several things.
i. We learn that both Peter and his readers were familiar with the writings of Paul and that they all realized they contained some things hard to understand.
ii. We learn that Peter considered Paul’s writings as inspired and equally authoritative as his own.
iii. We learn that Peter had a warm regard for Paul and was on affectionate terms with him.
b. It is this last thought –“our beloved brother Paul”– speaks so well of both of them.
3. This is the last mention of Paul in the New Testament, but by this time enough had happened to make an ordinary relationship difficult to maintain.
a. Peter had been in Jerusalem when an approving Saul of Tarsus kept the garments of the witnesses against the noble brother Stephen, and when Saul proceeded to breath threats and murder against disciples of the Lord everywhere (Acts 7-9).
b. Paul had once withstood Peter to his face – opposed his conduct in the presence of some with whom Peter may have been a bit intimidated (Gal. 2:11f). Paul, before them all, brought Peter face to face with a kind of hypocrisy in his life which was not in keeping with the truth of the gospel.
c. Some of the things Paul had written some things which were hard to be understood, and his words had been mishandled by the unstable. The temptation for anyone in Peter’s position would have been to hear of it and hold Paul in suspicion.
4. How, then, had these two men been able to continue to regard each other as beloved brothers?
a. The answer may be found in a little word used twice in verse 15: “our.”
i. “Our Lord as salvation...”
ii. “Our beloved brother Paul...”
b. These two great men, both with notable stumbles in their histories, were one in brotherhood because they had the same obedient faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
i. Acts 15:7-11
ii. Acts 26:15-19
c. They extended the “right hand of fellowship” to each other because they believed and taught the same gospel (Gal. 2:9).
i. In our text Peter is saying that the things he has written in this letter are the same as what Paul wrote in all his letters.
ii. He recognized and respected “the wisdom given” his beloved brother.
5. We might observe that there are also personal qualities mentioned by Peter which undoubtedly add to the ability to maintain beloved brotherhood even where it is unlikely.
a. Notice that “beloved” is the tone that exists on a broader level than just between the two of them (v. 14, 17).
b. Diligence and stability in the pursuit of personal holiness is also suggested in both the beginning and ending of our text.
c. The “patience of our Lord” (which the false teachers Peter was battling just wrote off as slackness) is also a crucial asset in brotherhood.
6. “Thou art giving and forgiving, Ever blessing, ever blest,
Well-spring of the joy of living, Ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our brother, All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, Lift us to the joy divine.”
7. Peter and Paul taught people the same thing about how to become a Christian.
a. Acts 2:37-38
b. Acts 16:30-34