Day 354: Partakers of the Divine Nature

The Second Letter of Peter




Main Themes:

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

2 Peter 1:1-2 Simon Peter was made the head of the Apostles and the visible head of the Church by Christ himself, and his office has been passed down through the centuries in the papacy. This letter urged the faithful to continue to grow in faith and knowledge of Christ so as to be resilient against the false teachers who tried to confuse them. (CCC 162, 552-553, 881)

Ch 1:3-4 Partakers of the divine nature: This phrase aptly describes the effects of God’s grace. God created us so we would come to know, love, and serve him and someday be with him in Heaven. Through the infusion of sanctifying grace into our souls, we share in the very life of the Trinity. This is made possible by the Incarnation, which united the divine nature with human nature in the Person of Christ. Through Baptism, we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who unites us to Christ, making us children of God the Father. We are, in effect, “divinized,” or made “new creatures” in Christ. Those who die in a state of grace will remain united to Christ and will thereby enter Heaven and share perfectly in the divine life. It is in the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, that we participate in the divine life and “come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our community,” as we are reminded by the prayer of the deacon or priest as he pours wine and water into the chalice at Mass. (CCC 51, 460, 12165, 1692, 1721)

Ch 1:5-11 God’s gifts of faith and grace require a response from us, and he gives us all the grace to respond accordingly. We respond to God’s grace by seriously seeking holiness through the practice of the Christian virtues, above all the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. God is the infinite perfection of love and mercy, and we are called to be like God in the order of love and mercy.

Call and election: God the Father calls us to incorporate our lives into the life of Christ, by which we become the People of God; our response confirms this election. (CCC 158, 1804, 1810-1813, 2012-2016)

Ch 1:12-15 Peter, sensing his own end, wanted to emphasize the foundational truths of the Christian Faith. This section takes the form of a “testament,” a tradition in Jewish history by which major figures pass along their words of wisdom and prophecy as a legacy to the surviving generation.

Christ showed me: Christ told Peter that he would die as a martyr (cf. Jn 21:18-19), although some scholars speculate Peter may have had a revelation from Christ that is not recorded in Scripture. Peter was martyred in Rome around AD 64-67. Tradition reveals that Peter requested to be crucified upside-down because he was not worthy to die as Christ did. (CCC 618)

Ch 1:16-18 Against charges that the divinity of Christ was an invention of the Christian faithful, Peter attested to having been an eyewitness to the Transfiguration, wherein Christ appeared in glory with Moses and Elijah and God’s voice was heard from the sky. The Transfiguration is seen as an event that manifests his divinity and also serves as a foretaste of his glory at his Second Coming. (CCC 554, 556)

Ch 1:19-21 This is a short catechesis on the value and origin of Sacred Scripture: The principal author of Sacred Scripture is God as the human authors of the word of God wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The interpretation of Divine Revelation also must be subject to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who safeguards the Church’s Magisterium. (CCC 85-87, 104-114)

Ch 2:1-3 False teachers were a common problem in the first-century Church, as is attested in almost all of the New Testament writings. As in the Epistles of Paul, James, and John, we learn here that the false teachers denied the divinity of Christ, contradicted the teachings of Christ, lived immoral and dissolute lives, and sought material gain. (CCC 85-90, 464-469)

Ch 2:2 When believers fail to live moral lives, their credibility and the veracity of their faith is held up to ridicule. On the other hand, fidelity to Christ and his message gives an effective witness that Christ is the ultimate meaning of human life. (CCC 913, 1706, 2284-2286)

Ch 2:4-10 The faithful can take heart that the truth-expressed by both the witness and words of Christ’s followers-will overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of false teachers and a paganized culture. The grace of God is always more powerful than the influence of sin.

Spare the angels: We do not know what sin the angels committed, but some have speculated it was a sin of pride, perhaps a refusal to serve the spiritual needs of men and women. (CCC 391-395)

Ch 2:10-19 The pride of these false teachers blinded them to their falsehood, which contradicted the teachings of the Apostles. Worst of all, they preyed on the newer and weaker Christians, trying to pull them back into their former slavery to sin. (CCC 2285)

Ch 2:10 Lust of defiling passion: Apparently the false teachers were known both to encourage and to commit sexual sins. Sins of impurity have a destructive effect on the individual. In many instances the person becomes profoundly selfish and can easily lose the gift of faith along with hope and charity. (CCC 2351-2359, 2380-2381, 2387-2391)

Ch 2:15 Balaam: This pagan prophet was hired by Balak, the Moabite to cast a curse upon the Israelites, but each time he tried to do so, his words came out as a blessing on Israel (cf. Nm 22-24). At one point, when an angel appeared to Balaam, his own donkey spoke and scolded him for his mistreatment. 

Ch 2:20-22 This statement about apostasy addresses the gravity of the sin. Those who have come to know the truth and yet return to their former sins are worse off than those who never know the truth in the first place. With the gift of faith and the knowledge of Christ as the fulfillment of every human aspiration comes greater obligations. 

The dog turns back to his own vomit: A proverb that describes the backsliding Christian: Despite being repulsed by his own sins, he is enslaved to them and indulges in them against his better judgment. The point made here is that we need to be on guard to remain faithful to our Christian calling. Otherwise it is easy to slip back into sinful ways of the past. (CCC 260, 675, 2089, 2727)

Ch 3:1-4 False teachers will deny the Second Coming of Christ, claiming the prophesied warning signs have not come to pass. The generation that lived at the time of Christ had supposed that the end would come in their lifetimes. As time passed and the earliest followers began to die off, it was clear that the Second Coming would not occur soon. Now, some cynically declare that nothing had changed since the beginning of creation. 

The last days: This is the messianic times ushered in by the Incarnation that will culminate in the Second Coming of Christ.

Fell Asleep: This is a figure of speech for death. (CCC 585, 732)

Ch 3:5-10 Peter countered the false teachers by stating that the world had indeed changed over time and that God is rich in mercy and desires repentance of all people so that they find salvation and eternal happiness. The Lord will indeed come to judge the world in a way that is unimaginable. (CCC 1040)

Ch 3:8 Peter described a catastrophic end to the universe whereby everything would be destroyed by fire, thus opening the way for the creation of a new Heaven and a new earth.

One day is as a thousand years: God is eternal and, therefore, transcends time. For him, all moments are eternally and immediately present, beyond space and time. Through God’s eternal vision our lifetimes are seen as in an instant. (CCC 671-674, 1040-1050)

Ch 3:9 All should reach repentance: It is God’s earnest desire that everyone accept the grace of conversion and repentance by which they may obtain eternal life. (CCC 1037, 1098, 2822)

Ch 3:10 Day of the Lord: A day in which God judges the world-not only at the end of time but also in a personal way at the Particular Judgment at the moment of death. (CCC 1021-1022, 1051)

Ch 3:11-16 By living holy lives, Christians await and prepare themselves for the Final Judgment, when “new heavens and a new earth” will become their new home of righteousness. Keeping our eyes focused on this goal, we must remain steadfast in faith, persevering in our quest to imitate Christ’s life and love by his teachings. (CCC 671, 677, 1042-1050, 1405)

Ch 3:17-18 Foreknowledge of the dangers that await Christians should help us be prepared to combat erroneous ideas that contradict the teachings of Christ. (CCC 1706, 1713, 1776-1777, 1806)

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 God calls everyone to holiness by virtue of their reception of Baptism; this is referred to as the “universal call to holiness.” By nurturing our spiritual life through the practice of self-control, struggling against temptation to sin, and growing in the Christian virtues-particularly in faith, hope, and charity-we become more conformed to the image and likeness of Christ. In seeking holiness and imitating the love of Christ, we naturally turn away from sin and fulfill the moral law both in letter and in the spirit. (CCC 941, 1246-1248, 2000-2005, 2518, 2813)

Ch 4:3 Abstain from immorality: Specifically, Paul was speaking of illicit sexual acts. Cult prostitution and all kinds of perversions were common among the pagans. Any sexual act outside the marriage covenant is gravely sinful. (CCC 2348, 2380-2381, 2518)

Ch 4:9-12 Love seeks to grow and, therefore, is meant to be perfected. While such perfection will not be achieved until we reach Heaven, we are called to faithfully reflect the charity of Christ in our lives. Holiness of life-as was the case with Christ, Mary, and Joseph-is meant to be exercised in all of our relationships and daily activities. (CCC 2196, 2427)

Ch 4:13-14 Those who have fallen asleep: A euphemism for death that Paul had appropriated in describing the resurrection of the dead. Those who have died before Christ come again will rise before those still living are taken up. This passage is in part a bit of reassurance from Paul that those loved ones who have preceded us in death are not lost but will indeed be raised again on the last day.

May not drive: To mourn the death of a loved one is natural, but for Christians such mourning must always be joined to hope in the resurrection, a hope that is guaranteed by the Resurrection of Christ. This sense of hope in the midst of death is a consolation that is found in the Church’s funeral liturgy and Rite of Christian Burial. (CCC 26, 184-185, 649, 988-989, 1012)

Ch 4:15-18 The resurrection of the dead is key to our hope for eternal life. The funeral liturgy of the Church and the Rite of Commendation reflect this hope. (CCC 668, 1001-1002, 1021-1022, 1025, 1200, 1680-1690)

Ch 5:1-11 The Gospel teaches us to be vigilant for the Second Coming of Christ. Everyone is invited to habitual fidelity to Christ’s teaching in order to meet him worthily when he comes again. The time of this Second Advent is known only by God. 

Like a thief: The Lord will return suddenly and without warning. (CCC 672-675, 763, 872, 1840-1841, 2849)

Ch 5:5 Sons of light: This refers to those who live in righteousness as opposed to those who remain in sin and, therefore, live in darkness. (CCC 1216)

Ch 5:8 Breastplate…helmet: Imagery that suggests the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity are our protection and defense in our spiritual combat against sin and the wiles of the Devil. (CCC 1820)

Ch 5:12-22 Paul urged Christians to respect their leaders in both the secular and spiritual sphere. It was Paul’s practice to appoint bishops and/or presbyters to govern the different Christian communities. Fraternal love should manifest itself in a spirit of peace, mutual support, forgiveness, and hymns of joy and thanksgiving. (CCC 1269, 2633)

Ch 5:14 Admonish the idle: Everyone who is able should do some kind of work and earn their keep. As members of the one Mystical Body of Christ, every person has a role to play in building up the Church through their holy lives and works of evangelization. (CCC 2427-2428, 2834)

Ch 5:17 Pray constantly: Our very lives must be marked by habitual prayer, giving glory to God in all that we do. The Church fulfills this command in the Liturgy of the Hours, which sanctifies the day with all its diverse activity. (CCC 1174, 2638, 2648, 2742-2743, 2757)

Ch 5:19 Do not quench the spirit: Christians must let the Holy Spirit do his work by struggling to put into practice all the Christian virtues. To discern whether a prophecy or revelation comes from the Holy Spirit requires careful testing and comparison with the truths that have already been revealed by Christ as transmitted through the apostolic teachings (CCC 696, 799-801)

Ch 5:23-28 Our pursuit of holiness relies upon the grace of God and our response to that grace. Sanctity must permeate all areas of our lives so Christ’s life is manifested in everything. (CCC 898-900, 1533, 1962, 2442, 2636)

Proverbs 30:15-33 This brief collection of proverbs uses numbers as memorization devices. Most are based in observations of the natural world. 

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven we give you praise. We ask you to please come and meet us with your grace, because you are good. You are God. We love you. We belong to you. You have rescued us from death and you have brought us into the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You brought us into your Kingdom. You brought us into your Family. Help us to live as your beloved children. Help us to live with you as our Father. Help us to live as good citizens of your Kingdom, taking care of one another, being responsible for each other, enjoying all of the rights of a true adopted son or daughter of you, God our Father. May you be praised and glorified. We thank you so much. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”