2 Kefa ~ An Introduction

In my last post, we completed our study of 1 Kefa. In this post, we begin our study of 2 Kefa. Before we start going verse by verse, let me share some background material from various commentaries to get us started, and then look at 2 Kefa 1:1-2.

Introduction to 2 Kefa

Second Kefa emphasizes practical Messianic living. As the Messianic movement gained steam, Messianic communities began to encounter more false teachers in their midst. Kefa cautioned Believers to beware of false teachers with their bogus doctrines and lascivious lifestyles. Against this view, 2 Kefa argues that the Day of the Lord is undoubtedly coming and that Believers should live in light of this truth.

The temptation to a sinful lifestyle so concerned Kefa that he followed up with this one shortly after his first letter. Kefa also warned against denials of Yeshua’s return with its accompanying judgment. He urged his readers to make every effort to grow in the Messianic faith’s knowledge and practice.

Authorship & Date

Regarding authorship, 2 Kefa is one of the most disputed letters in the Brit Hadashah. The style differs so much from 1 Kefa that the same person could not have written both unless he were purposely trying to alter his style. But Kefa could have given literary freedoms to a different scribe (1 Kefa 5:13) for each, with the second being more accustomed to a bombastic style. The attestation for 2 Kefa is weaker than that for most other Brit Hadashah books but more substantial than that of early Messianic books that did not become part of the canon for the Brit Hadashah.

The author of 2 Kefa plainly identified himself as the emissary Kefa:

From: Shim’on Kefa, a slave and emissary of Yeshua the Messiah. To: Those who, through the righteousness of our God and of our Deliverer Yeshua the Messiah, have been given the same kind of trust as ours: ~ 2 Kefa 1:1 (CJB)

The letter contains several personal allusions to Kefa’s life. He mentioned that his death was close (1:14), described himself as an eyewitness of the transfiguration of Yeshua (1:16–18), quoted the words of the voice from heaven at this event (1:17), indicated that he had previously written to the letter’s recipients (whom he called “dear friends” in 3:1), and also called Sha’ul “our dear brother” (3:15). This suggests that the author was close to Sha’ul. Such references point to Kefa as the author.

Many contemporary scholars, however, reject Kefa as the author of this letter. They argue the following:

  1. The personal references to Kefa’s life are a literary device used by someone who wrote under the emissary’s name to create the appearance of authenticity.
  2. The style of Greek in 2 Kefa is different from that of 1 Kefa.
  3. The reference to Sha’ul’s letters as a collection (3:15–16) points to a date later than Kefa’s lifetime.
  4. SecondKefa was dependent upon Jude. If this is true, Kefa’s authorship is problematic.

In response to these objections, one should consider the following:

  1. The early church soundly rejected the practice of writing under an apostolic pseudonym, regarding it as an outright forgery.
  2. Kefa may have had help in writing 1Kefa5:12 and not in writing 2 Kefa, a situation that would lead to different styles in his Greek.
  3. Rather than the whole collection, Kefa may have referred only to those Pauline letters that were known at the time of writing.
  4. Kefa may have borrowed some from Jude, or both may have used a common source of this evidence suggests that 2 Kefa should be accepted as authentic.  [1]

As for me, I am persuaded by those who originally compiled the canon as to its authenticity.

If Kefa authored 2 Kefa, it must have been composed by the mid-60s CE, when he was martyred in Rome.  [2]

Structure

To: Those who, through the righteousness of our God and of our Deliverer Yeshua the Messiah, have been given the same kind of trust as ours:

Second Kefa is a general letter with a typical salutation, main body, and farewell features. Its style is that of a pastoral letter, driven by the recipients’ needs, rather than some formal treatise.

After the greeting, Kefa reminds his audience of their Messianic identity – as those saved from their sins by Yeshua – and calls them to be godly people who live as if Yeshua’s return is a reality (1:3-21). Kefa then warns about false teachers motivated by greed and lust rather than by love for God (2:1-22). Much of this section and the start of the next section have strong similarities with the letter of Jude (compare 2 Kefa 2:1–18; 3:1–3 with Jude 4–18). There are several explanations for these overlaps: 2 Kefa relies on Jude, Jude relies on 2 Kefa, or both Jude and 2 Kefa rely on a common source (perhaps oral tradition).

Kefa then offers an additional argument against false teaching, assuring his readers that Yeshua will surely come again (2 Kefa 3:1–13). The letter closes with a final instruction for the Believers to depend on what they know to be true, refusing to be led astray by the false teachers (3:14–18).

In my next post, we will explore Confirming Your Calling and Election in 2 Kefa 3-15.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] CSB Study Bible: Notes.

[2] Faithlife Study Bible.