Terrance Callan, «The Christology of the Second Letter of Peter», Vol. 82 (2001) 253-263
The Christology of 2 Peter is very exalted. The author calls Jesus God and speaks of his divine power.
He uses the title ‘Lord’ both for Jesus and for God; in the latter cases there is usually some ambiguity about
which of them is meant. However, the author presents God as a person distinct from Jesus, and there is no
suggestion that the author would affirm the existence of two Gods. The transfiguration revealed Jesus as the
son of God. It may be understood as an epiphany of the divine Jesus. It was a moment when Jesus received
glory from God, in virtue of which he is praised like God.
2 Peter reflects a stage in early Christian thinking when the word ‘god’ was used in two ways. Usually it was a proper noun that designated the one who revealed himself in the Hebrew scriptures. Occasionally it was used as a common noun that designated those who belonged to the category of the divine. In this way 2 Peter can call Jesus God without either identifying Jesus with God or seriously affirming the existence of two Gods. Eventually these uses were related in the doctrine of the Trinity.
The following essay sets forth in systematic form the Christology expressed in the Second Letter of Peter. Despite the relative neglect of 2 Peter in New Testament scholarship, there have been several recent discussions of its theology1. However, none discusses 2 Peter’s Christology at any length; all focus on its ethics and eschatology. These are clearly the main concerns of 2 Peter. Nevertheless, 2 Peter’s presentation of Christ is also significant2.
1. Jesus as God
In the first verse of the letter, the author of 2 Peter calls Jesus God. He says that the readers have received faith by the justice tou= qeou= h(mw=n kai_ swth=roj 'Ihsou= Xristou=. Because there is only one article, the phrase probably refers to Jesus as both God and savior3. Grammatically parallel phrases occur in 2 Pet 1,11; 2,20; 3,18, and unambiguously designate Jesus as both lord and savior4.
This is the only place where 2 Peter explicitly calls Jesus God. However, other things 2 Peter says about Jesus more or less clearly imply this same understanding. One of the clearest instances is 1,3 where the author of 2 Peter speaks of th=j qei/aj duna/mewj au)tou=, and the antecedent of au)tou= is probably Jesus, the last named substantive (in v. 2)5. Because the author of 2 Peter sees