This book bears the name of the writer (1:1), and is the second of two general epistles by Peter (3:1).
For information concerning Peter, the student is referred to the outline of I Peter, and to Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias.
The letter is addressed to "them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and the Savior Jesus Christ" (1:1). However, the immediate recipients of this epistle were the same people who received Peter's first letter, "sojourners of the dispersion," or Jewish Christians scattered abroad in the five provinces named in I Peter 1:1.
We have no definite information concerning the time and place of writing. Conservative estimates set the date around A.D. 67 or 68. Some scholars conclude from II Peter 1:13-16 that Peter's death was imminent. Although the epistle makes no direct reference to its point of origin, many commentators hold that Peter wrote it from Rome just before he died.
The libertines and mockers, two classes of false teachers within the church, were causing considerable difficulty. This letter warns the church against them, and exhorts Christians to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). The plea for steadfastness is prominent, in view of numerous heretics threatening the spiritual life of the saints.
A comparison of the Petrine Epistles reveals some interesting points. In I Peter the persecutions were from without, whereas II Peter reveals internal troubles. The first epistle often refers to the suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Second Peter fails to mention these. The spirit of the first letter is that of sweetness and mildness. The underlying tone in II Peter shows severity, anxiety, denunciation. In I Peter the second coming of Jesus is connected with the reward of the faithful saints, whereas in II Peter it is linked with the doom of sinners. The key-note of I Peter is hope; of II Peter, knowledge.