I received the following question:

I wanted to ask for some guidance on a passage of Scripture which I’m confused where it fits with Right Division.  It is II Peter 3:15-17.  The thing that really throws me off a little bit is that Peter makes reference to Paul’s letters being written to the people he is writing to as being one and the same.  I realize that they are in the dispensation of Grace and so the message was pretty much the same but the audience to my knowledge was still Jews.  I guess this really was making me think that the letters of Peter were to us, is that an accurate assumption?  I couldn’t think of any other explanation.  What are your thoughts?

Well, first of all, we know that I Peter was written to the Jews in the Dispersion, as that is who he dedicates the letter to (I Peter 1:1). Most scholars assume that his second letter is written to the same audience as the first, which I think is not a terrible assumption. So I would tend to think that Peter was writing to the Jews in II Peter as well.

Yes, Peter was writing in the dispensation of grace. But that doesn’t mean he had to be writing to “us” as non-Jews. In considering these things we cannot forget that when a letter was written is not the only important factor, but also who it was written to. In the dispensation of grace, as Paul says, all nations are equal in God’s sight. Yet that does not mean that all nations cease to exist in God’s sight. Male and female are equal in Christ, but God still has separate commands to husbands and wives. In the same way, God could still write things specifically to His people even after He was dealing with them on an equal footing with other nations. I believe that that is what He did in the books of Peter. Basically, He was telling the Jews through Peter how they are to live in the dispensation of grace, when all their national privileges and protections are removed. Many of these instructions are valuable for us as well, but that does not mean they were specifically written to us.

Then you ask about the fact that Peter mentions Paul’s books. As Peter says at this time, many of Paul’s letters were already considered “Scripture.” Thus, they would have started to be broadly circulated, and people who were not in the ekklesias to whom they were originally written (like us) were already beginning to read them and learn from them and, in some cases, twist them. Thus it is very likely that the Jews to whom Peter was writing, even if they were not the original recipients of Paul’s letters (although some of them may have been,) would probably have had access to some of those letters, and would have been taught that they were Scripture. Thus, Peter refers both to Paul’s letters and to their misuse in this passage.