This is not a regurgitation old Christian doctrine for Twenty-First Century consumption. Peter’s central insight is that the revelation of Christ in the lives of Christians is intertwined with history in such a way that history itself impacts how we see and understand Jesus Christ. Historical reflection increases the scope and/or depth of the perspective from which we are able to understand Christ and His mission to the world. Christ doesn’t change, nor does His mission. But over time faithful Christians are able to incorporate what history teaches us about humanity and our world into what we know and understand about Christ and His mission. Consequently, our appreciation for Christ and His mission grows as we apply the lessons of our own history to biblical Christianity, and as we apply the lessons of historic Christianity to our world. There is a kind of reciprocal or symbiotic relationship between Christianity and history (or the development and maturity of humanity). It’s not perfect, but it is there.
First Peter provides Christians with hope for the future of humanity as Christianity left its Jerusalem “nest” with Christ’s mission for the world. It provides a message of hope in the face of struggle and suffering as Christianity first undermines the paganism of Roman culture in order to provide the foundation for Christian culture. The transition, said Peter, will be difficult—but rewarding.
Second Peter continues this same theme, but acknowledges that the transition process may be more difficult than first expected because there were false teachers who had successfully entered the ranks of the earliest churches, and were actively working to destroy God’s plan of salvation in Christ. Indeed, the unfolding of God’s plan for the salvation of humanity has taken much longer than any of the biblical writers first thought, though it has not surprised God in the least. Nonetheless, said Peter, stay true to Christ because the process of His progressive revelation in history will continue to provide true guidance.