One of the recent conferences of the Orthodox priests who work in the Outside Kerala Region had a very relevant theme: “Share the glory and goodness of God”. It gave a call for the theosis or divinization of Christian ministers. This was taken from the introductory remarks of the Second Epistle of St. Peter, which reads: “His (God’s) divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2Pet.1:3). Let us examine the context in which the verse was originally written and what are the demands of being called in the glory and goodness of God.
Even though the authorship of the Second Epistle was always disputed right from the beginning, the main ideas are compatible with those of the Early Christian Church. Origen was the first Church Father who ascribed the epistle to St. Peter, the disciple of Christ as it is mentioned in the very first verse of the book. A careful reading of the letter would expose the context in which it was written. It seems that Peter wrote it almost at the end of his life by visualizing his death (2Pet. 1:14-15). His intention was to make sure that his disciples or students teach the right kind of Gospel in their congregations. He did this because many false interpreters of the Bible were misguiding the people (2.1). Peter speaks about “eloquent but erring” teachers who crept in to an Apostolic Church and invaded it. These had not only deviated from the “orthodox” faith of the Church but also misguided the believers, who were supposed to be divinized through the study of Bible.
False Interpreters of the Scripture
The main theme of the Epistle is, however, a caricature of the “false interpreters” of the Bible. Peter finds them as a dangerous group like the “False Prophets” of the Old Testament. These were mostly court prophets, who worked in the palaces of Old Testament kings. For them money, power and name were more important than the Word of God. Just to please the rulers of Israel they compromised with the world mostly. The Bible teachers of the Church of 2 Peter are not better than these. See the important allegations raised against them in the Epistle:
1. They introduce destructive heresies (2:1): The responsibility of a Christian teacher is always to teach the right faith in accordance with the Bible. But there were many in the past who became heretics, because of their lack of commitment to God, who appointed them as teachers of His Word. Even today there are many who do this without knowing that they will have to report back to Him, who sent them.
2. They do not respect the heavenly beings (2:10): Because of their over confidence and arrogance they lose their thoughts even about heaven. The presence of heavenly beings like angels in the Church will totally be ignored by these foolish preachers. They do not realize that whatever they do is naked before the “unseen” divine beings.
3. They are arrogant (2:11): Due to their ability to know the Scripture, understand it and interpret it, some theologians become arrogant. They forget the source of their wisdom and think that whatever they do are just because of their talents. Gradually they distance themselves from God and the people among whom they are appointed as God’s companions.
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