Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. — 2 Peter 1:1-2
Letters from the apostles always begin with a salutation that sounds very similar to this. I suppose if letter writing were the ordeal it would have been then, letters today would probably be long and well-introduced like this as well. Yet, as common as the salutation is, it is still full of valuable content. Let’s take a look at a few of these.
To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours: This is a truly fascinating remark to me. Peter starts by mentioning his position as apostle and using the term “servant,” literally a Roman slave. He makes the claim of servant-leadership, like the service Christ rendered in washing his disciples feet before his last meal before the cross. (John 13:4)
He continues by humbling himself further by noting that his faith, the faith of one who knew Christ, is of equal standing to those to whom he is writing. Peter was a special member of the Twelve, but his faith is the same as our faith. He was just a sinner saved by faith in the sacrifice of the Creator-Man, Jesus Christ. As Jesus told Thomas, who wanted some proof of Jesus’ identity after the resurrection, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed.” (John 20:29) Christ was referring to the faith of the very men and women Peter was writing. Peter reaffirms it in this greeting.
By the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: This faith we have in common with Peter is in “our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” This is somewhat contentious among certain anti-Christian sects who try to say that God and Jesus are separate individuals and yet Peter continues to repeat the theme throughout this letter. (2 Peter 1:11; 2:20; 3:2, 18) Jesus is God and Savior. (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 9:6; 1 Corinthians 15:47)
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. Grace is that which will allow Christ’s followers, in that faith of equal standing with Peter, into the presence of God. Grace is only needed where there is sin and boy is there ever sin. It is greatly confusing in this post-modern age how many try to say that man is not inherently sinful when this is really the easiest doctrine to see played out every day in humanity. It is the greatest delusion of our age that people think they are not sinners.
Grace is an unmerited gift. Grace comes in two forms. The first form is a general form that is universally received from God. God is restrained from judging the great sin of the nations and provides means by which sin is restrained. It’s not beneficial or convenient for sinners to sin constantly. This is a form of general grace.
What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath [sinners] prepared for destruction. — Romans 9:22
The second form of grace is a specific kind received only by believers. This is the kind of grace Peter is referring to here. This grace is given to those who rely upon the work of Jesus Christ on the cross to become a ransom for the sins of that believer. (Matthew 20:28; Ephesians 1:7; Acts 10:43) This grace flows from the Christian to others, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,” goes the Lord’s prayer. (Matthew 6:12)
Peter’s salutation tells us that we have peace and grace through Christ. He tells us about the deity of Christ. He also teaches us to seek humility and follow the servant-leadership model of Christ. So much in such a small, seemingly irrelevant, bit of text. Amen.