2 Peter 3
THIS IS NOW MY SECOND LETTER TO YOU. I HAVE WRITTEN BOTH OF
THEM AS REMINDERS TO STIMULATE YOU TO WHOLESOME THINKING: Peter's first
letter was most likely 1Pe. He implied that he wrote this letter soon after the
earlier one. This second epistle, he said, went to the same audience in northern
Asia Minor (cf 1Pe 1:1). His purpose in writing the second letter was to refresh
his readers' memories (cf 2Pe 1:13).
HOLY PROPHETS: As opposed to just "prophets", used only
3 times in the NT: Luke 1:70; Act 3:21; Rev 22:6; the "holy" is prob emphatic,
but it could also be taken as a point against "unholy" prophets.
THE COMMAND GIVEN BY OUR LORD AND SAVIOR THROUGH YOUR
APOSTLES: Cp Christ's words: "Many false prophets will appear and deceive
many people" (Mat 24:11). Peter put the teaching of the apostles, which these
men received from Jesus Christ, on a level of authority equal with the writings
of the OT prophets (cf 2Pe 1:12-21; 3:16; Acts 1:16; Rom 9:29; Heb
IN THE LAST DAYS: The days before Jesus Christ's
return. This is the same way other writers of Scripture used the phrase "last
days" (cf 2Ti 3:1-5; 1Jo 2:18,19).
SCOFFERS WILL COME...: See Article, Listen up!
SCOFFING AND FOLLOWING THEIR OWN EVIL DESIRES: Examples
of scoffers: Potiphar's wife (Gen 39:14-17), the Israelites in the wilderness
(Exo 32:1), and in Isaiah's (Isa 5:19; 66:5) and Ezekiel's day (Eze
12:22,23,27). Cp also Amo 5:18; Mal 2:17; 3:1.
The overthrow of Jerusalem was not the "coming" of Jesus. See
Mar 12:9; Luk 20:15,16; 13:6-9.
THIS 'COMING' HE PROMISED: See Lesson, "Parousia".
EVER SINCE OUR FATHERS DIED, EVERYTHING GOES ON AS IT HAS
SINCE THE BEGINNING OF CREATION: One could hardly find a better summary
anywhere of the philosophy of naturalism that so thoroughly permeates modern
western civilization (cf Jer 17:15; Mal 2:17). Peter referred to a denial of
supernaturalism and an assertion of uniformitarianism, or gradualism. In
particular, the scoffers denied the promise of the Lord Jesus that he would
return (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; etc). They assumed that God -- if there IS such
a Being -- does not intervene in the world.
BY GOD'S WORD THE HEAVENS EXISTED AND THE EARTH WAS FORMED
OUT OF WATER AND BY WATER: Peter cited two events in the creation of the
cosmos that show things have not always been as they are. God did intervene in
the world in the past. When God spoke, the universe came into existence (Gen
1:6-8; cp Heb 11:3). God spoke again and the dry land separated from ("out of")
the waters (Gen 1:9-10). Thus God used water to form the dry land.
A new "earth" was formed out of water and through water. God
saved the earth by "baptizing" it!
BY THESE WATERS ALSO THE WORLD OF THAT TIME WAS DELUGED AND
DESTROYED: Peter's emphasis is on the Flood as a universal judgment on
sinful men and women. But he evidently conceives this judgment as having been
executed by means of a cosmic catastrophe which affected the heavens as well as
This catastrophe involved the opening up of the heavens to
deluge the earth with rain (Gen 7:11). Peter spoke of world history in three
periods divided by two cataclysms: the world before the Flood (v 6), the present
world (v 7), and the future world (v 13).
The literal world/earth will NOT be destroyed: cp Zec 3:8 with
Zec 3:9,10; Mic 1:4; Num 14:21; Hab 2:14; Ecc 1:4; Isa 45:18.
BY THE SAME WORD THE PRESENT HEAVENS AND EARTH ARE RESERVED
FOR FIRE: God has given orders that the present heavens and earth (vv 5,6)
will experience another judgment yet future. Then God will with His word destroy
them by fire rather than by water (cp vv 10,12). The world is presently
"reserved" for fire in the sense that this is its inevitable destiny (cp Deu
32:22; Isa 66:15,16; Zep 1:18; Mal 4:1).
RESERVED FOR FIRE: In Noah's day destruction by water
came from heavens and earth. In Last Days, destruction by fire will come from
heaven (guided missiles, controlled satellites) and earth (vast stores of atomic
weapons). Cp Isa 24:21.
The Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, tells a parable of a
theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each show is more fantastic than the
last, and is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager comes forward. He
apologizes for the interruption, but the theater is on fire, and he begs his
patrons to leave in an orderly fashion. The audience think this is the most
amusing turn of the evening, and cheer thunderously. The manager again implores
them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously. At
last he can do no more. The fire raced through the whole building and the
fun-loving audience with it.
"And so," concluded Kierkegaard, "will our age, I sometimes
think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of
A DAY IS LIKE A THOUSAND YEARS, AND A THOUSAND YEARS ARE
LIKE A DAY: Cit Psa 90:4. "Peter did not say that to God 'one day IS a
thousand years, and a thousand years ARE one day.' The point is not that time
has no meaning for God but rather that His use of time is such that we cannot
confine Him to our time schedules. His use of time is extensive, so that He may
use a thousand years to do what we might feel should be done in a day, as well
as intensive, doing in a day what we might feel could only be done in a thousand
There really is nothing about this phrase remotely of the
precision required as a foundation for the "7-day / 7,000-year" equivalence
theory. Firstly, the passage here is plainly figurative throughout. Furthermore,
if the first part of the v "proves" that one day (of 24 hours) = 1,000 literal
years, then the addition of the last phrase ("and" -- or 'or' -- "as a watch in
the night") would equally "prove" that either: (a) 28 hours (ie a day plus a
"watch") = 1,000 literal years, or (b) 4 hours (ie a "watch" only) = 1,000
literal years. Either such "proof" would totally disarm any "day for a thousand
years" "principle"! By the first, one day (of 24 hours) = 24/28 times 1,000
years, or 857.143 years. And by the second, one day (of 24 hours) = 6,000 years.
As to whether the "thousand years" of Rev need be taken as a precise literal
measurement of time, or merely as a round figurative number, see NRev
THE LORD IS NOT SLOW IN KEEPING HIS PROMISE: Citing Isa
46:10-13. Prophecy is necessary because God has chosen to settle His accounts
with men slowly. God is eternal, and so is His plan for all creation. God is in
no hurry to fulfill His promises, whether His promise of the eternal kingdom for
all the saints or the promise of eternal destruction and judgment for sinners.
Prophecy is necessary then so that men are reassured of divine deliverance and
blessing, as well as divine judgment (see 2Pe 2:4-9). Through the ages, the
saints have learned that they must wait for the promises of God to be fulfilled
and that this may not happen in their lifetime (Heb 11:13-16,39,40). God may
choose to delay judgment on the wicked until their sin reaches full bloom; the
possession of the land of Canaan would not happen in Abraham's lifetime, but
more than 400 years later after the suffering of the people of God (Gen
15:12-17). God also allows the wicked to persist and even to prosper, so that
those whom He has chosen might be saved (Rom 9:22-24). God's plan and program
are carried out on His schedule, not ours (see 2Pe 3:8-10). Prophecy becomes
necessary from time to time to remind men of those things God has planned for
the future which He will surely fulfill.
NOT WANTING ANYONE TO PERISH: Cp Eze 18:28,32; Eze
33:11; Jer 29:11. Do these verses suggest some sort of "universal salvation"?
"This verse [Eze 33:11] is frequently used to support the view
that God wants to save all men and it is only their refusal to turn to Him which
prevents this, for does not Peter say, 'The Lord is... not willing that any
should perish, but that all should come to repentance' (2Pe 3:9)?
"A moment's reflection is enough to cast doubts on this
conclusion. That God is merciful, gracious and a God of love, goes without
saying; but to argue that He is so to all men, meaning every individual,
contradicts the fundamental teaching of Scripture that God's purpose is being
worked out 'according to ELECTION' (Rom 9:11).
"The words of Jesus indicate a selection process: 'No man can
come to me, except the Father which hath sent me DRAW him' (John 6:44). It is
because of this that Paul writes to the Thessalonians: 'We give thanks to God...
knowing, brethren beloved, your ELECTION of God' (1Th 1:2,4)....
"God is all-powerful and able to do as He wills in His
universe. If He will indeed have all mankind to be saved, why is it that so many
never get to hear the gospel message? The words of the apostle in 1Ti 2:4 -- in
which he says that '[God] will have all men to be saved' -- cannot mean that it
is His desire to save every member of the human race. To interpret it thus would
contradict the fundamental principle that God's purpose is being worked out on
the basis of election. In these words the apostle, who had been divinely
appointed as a preacher to the Gentiles, is simply saying that it was no longer
the case that 'salvation is of the Jews'. God is now working with the Gentiles
(all mankind) and it was His will that salvation be offered to 'all men' (ie,
all nationalities) and not just to Jews.
"In 2Pe the apostle is writing to the brethren in the
Ecclesias of Asia Minor. It is to these, troubled by the Judaizers and in danger
of grave apostasy from the Truth, that he writes: 'The Lord... is longsuffering
to us-ward (RV, youward), not willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance' (2Pe 3:9). These to whom Peter writes had been called
by the Father but were in danger of failing to 'make [their] calling and
election sure' (2Pe 1:10). The same applies to these verses from Ezekiel. They
are not addressed to the individuals of the pagan world but to the Covenant
"The vast majority of the Gentile world, then and now,
comprise that great crowd of mankind that 'is in honour, and understandeth not'
and who are, by God's appointment, 'like the beasts that perish' (Psa 49:20).
Being left by God to wander 'out of the way of understanding', they will by His
divine decree 'remain in the congregation of the dead' (Pro 21:16). That this
sad fact does not give God pleasure, we would agree. Let us not, however, go to
the extreme of emphasizing this to the point where we deny that God's purpose is
'according to election' " (AEz 186,187).
TO COME TO REPENTANCE: Any apparent delay is due to
God's loving kindness, allowing greater opportunity for salvation.
THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME LIKE A THIEF: Ref return
of Christ in LD: Mat 24:43; Luke 12:39; 1Th 5:2; Rev 3:3; 16:15. Christ is
portrayed often -- he even portrays himself -- as a "thief" in the NT, in
connection with his Second Coming (Mat 24:42-44; Luke 12:39,40; 1Th 5:2,4,6; 2Pe
3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15). This may seem extraordinary, since stealing is a sin, and
a "thief" therefore must be a sinner -- and how could Christ be a sinner? (A
similar question might be asked: how could Christ compare himself to a serpent:
John 3:14; Num 21:7-9? But that's another story!) However, there is one instance
when a "thief" is not committing a crime, and that is when he is simply
reclaiming (by stealth or surprise) what is rightfully his (cp David and his
men, who followed the Amalekites and retrieved their kidnapped families and
stolen goods: 1Sa 30!). And that seems to be exactly the point in these NT
instances also: Christ when he returns will be merely taking back what is
rightfully his! The true "thieves" will be seen to be those servants who ate his
bread and drank his wine and enjoyed themselves in leisurely consuming that
which belonged to their Master (see the parable in Mat 24:48-51 and Luke
12:45-47). Their mistake -- and it was a crucial one -- was in forgetting they
were mere stewards or caretakers, and instead supposing that all their Master's
properties belonged to them, and acting accordingly! So, if we are to be sure
that Christ does not come as a "thief" to us, we must not act as "thieves"
ourselves now, stealing from him what is rightfully his. We must remember that
all we possess really belongs to the One who is our true Lord and Master; that
we merely hold it all in trust, to be used to serve him.
THE HEAVENS WILL DISAPPEAR WITH A ROAR: "Heavens" are
used figuratively of the established Mosaic order in Psa 50:4,5; 102:26 (cp Heb
1:11,12); Mat 24:29,35; Joel 2:30,31; Rev 6:12-14.
THE ELEMENTS: Gr "stoicheia" -- one of Paul's words for
the entire Judaistic framework (Gal 4:3,9; Col 2:8,20).
DESTROYED: Gr "luo", to be unloosed, not to be
destroyed. Like the unloosing of a tent (Joh 2:19). Cp v 12.
EARTH: Gr "ge", the equivalent of the Heb "eretz" --
which may (and often does) sig the "Land", esp the "Land of Israel". See Lesson,
"Land" or "earth"?
Also see Lesson, Earth burned up?
WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE OUGHT YOU TO BE?: "So it is with
all the doctrines of Scripture; they are all intended to have a transforming
power, and it is in this way that we should view them. This reflection provokes
another: if the Scriptures are designed to have such a vital influence upon us,
how regularly and how prayerfully we should be reading them; and what a wise
arrangement it has been that in our daily readings we set out to read all of
them, and not just a selection according to our taste" (FP, Xd
AND SPEED ITS COMING: If Christ's coming is deferred to
allow greater repentance (vv 9,15), then his coming may be hastened by greater
repentance and godliness.
The Greek participle translated "hastening" or "speeding"
("speudontes") sometimes means "desiring earnestly" (RSV mg). If Peter meant
that here, the sense would be that believers not only look for the day of God
but desire earnestly to see it (cp vv 8-10; Mat 24:42; 25:13). The KJV has
"hastening unto" -- a rather poor translation, implying that Peter meant
believers are rapidly approaching the day of God. Yet "unto" would have to be
added; it is not in the text. Most of the translators and commentators, however,
take "speudontes" in its usual sense of hastening. They assume that Peter was
thinking that believers can hasten the day of God by their prayers (cp Mat 6:10)
and perhaps by their preaching (cp Mat 24:14; Acts 3:19,20) (EBC). Believers
affect God's timetable by our living and our praying (cp Jos 10:12-14; 1Ki
"Clearly this idea of hastening the End is the corollary of
the explanation (v 9) that God defers the Parousia because He desires Christians
to repent. Their repentance and holy living may therefore, from the human
standpoint, hasten its coming. This does not detract from God's sovereignty in
determining the time of the End... but means only that His sovereign
determination graciously takes human affairs into account" (Bauckham).
COMING: See Lesson, "Parousia".
DESTRUCTION: Gr "luo", to be unloosed, not to be
destroyed. Like the unloosing of a tent (Joh 2:19). Cp v 10.
A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH: Citing Isa 65:17,18:
"Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth" -- which consists of
"Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy", in other words, with a
distinctively Jewish orientation. Not just a new world order, but a new world
order revolving around Israel!
THE HOME OF RIGHTEOUSNESS: Isa 65:17,18 is quoted in
Rev 21:1-3 (to which Peter may be alluding), for this passage adds the thought
that "the dwelling of God" -- and thus the "home of righteousness" -- "is with
men" (Rev 21:3).
"Give us a government animated by pure benevolence, armed by
universal authority and irresistible power; and distinguished by the wisdom
essential to successful enterprise of all kinds, with the world's exchequer at
their disposal, and therefore untrammeled by considerations of economy in the
arrangements made for the comfort and convenience of the people -- give us such
a government, and all the people in every land would be as well looked after as
the passengers on board the magnificent liners that plough the ocean in all
directions. Man cannot give it us: God can and will: for He has promised.
Therefore, we patiently wait" (RR, Diary 27).
MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO BE FOUND SPOTLESS, BLAMELESS AND AT
PEACE WITH HIM: Peter again urged his readers to "diligent" action (cp 2Pe
1:5,10). "Spotless" means without defect or defilement (as in a spotless
sacrifice, cp 2Pe 2:13; 1Pe 1:19), and "blameless" means without justifiable
cause for reproach.
OUR LORD'S PATIENCE MEANS SALVATION: We should view the
Lord's tarrying as a manifestation of His longsuffering that leads people to
repentance and salvation rather than as a sign that he is never coming (v 9; cp
1Pe 3:20). While God is waiting, He is both giving time for the unbeliever to be
saved, and for the believer to be working out his salvation (cp Phi 2:12,13) in
terms of progress in sanctification.
JUST AS OUR DEAR BROTHER PAUL ALSO WROTE YOU WITH THE
WISDOM THAT GOD GAVE HIM: Prob Peter has in mind Rom 2:4; 9:22,23;
IN ALL HIS LETTERS: In one of these letters, Gal 2:11,
etc, Paul publicly blames Peter for inconsistency and hypocrisy!
"Readers may safely make the tacit assumption that already
Paul's letters were in general circulation. Peter himself had his own personal
copies. Bigg, professor of ecclesiastical history at Oxford early this [20th]
century, has this illuminating • Comment on the efficiency with which the
early church would probably organize the circulation of these treasured letters:
'Under the Empire, epistolary communication was as easy as it is now, though the
speed of conveyance was not quite so great. It is not only possible but probable
that Peter received every one of Paul's epistles within a month or two of its
publication.' (Cp the implications of 1Th 1:8,9.) Col 4:16 provides a clear
example of those early ecclesias exchanging copies of Paul's epistles"
HIS LETTERS CONTAIN SOME THINGS THAT ARE HARD TO
UNDERSTAND, WHICH IGNORANT AND UNSTABLE PEOPLE DISTORT, AS THEY DO THE OTHER
SCRIPTURES, TO THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION: It is somewhat comforting to learn
that even the Apostle Peter found some of what Paul wrote hard to understand!
Peter also wrote some things in his two epistles that tax our understanding. The
"untaught" (Gr "amatheis") are those who had not received teaching concerning
all that God had revealed. The "unstable" (Gr "asteriktoi") are those who were
not always consistent in their allegiance to God or the world, namely
double-minded, fence-straddling compromisers. These types of people
misunderstood and in some cases deliberately misrepresented the meaning of
Paul's writings. However, this only added to their own guilt before
"The verb 'distort' ('streblousin'), occurring only here in
the NT, means 'to twist or wrench,' specifically, 'to stretch on the rack, to
torture' (Moulton). They take Paul's statements and twist and torture them, like
victims on the rack, to force them to say what they want them to say"
OTHER SCRIPTURES: Certainly means "other parts of the
Bible", because here Paul's letters are described by a word normally used only
for the OT. This in itself is an amazing statement -- as Peter is putting Paul's
writings on the same level as those of Moses.
A comparable example is found in 1Ti 5:18, where Paul quotes
Luk 10:7 as an inspired scripture. In 1Pe 5:12 the apostle makes a direct
assertion of inspiration. Also see Gal 2:9; Col 1:29.
BE ON YOUR GUARD SO THAT YOU MAY NOT BE CARRIED AWAY BY THE
ERROR OF LAWLESS MEN AND FALL FROM YOUR SECURE POSITION: Much of what Peter
had written was warning that he summarized here. His appeal was tender
throughout this epistle (cp vv 1,8,14). The threat to his readers was the false
teachers (2Pe 2). Peter's mental picture was of a torrent of false teaching
knocking believers off their feet and sweeping them away.
BUT GROW IN THE GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR
JESUS CHRIST: Finally, Peter adds a positive exhortation (cp 1:5-10). Rather
than being swept away by error his audience should keep on growing (present
imperative) in God's grace. They could do so by consciously depending on His
resources (His power and promises, 2Pe 1:3,4) and by growing in the knowledge
(Gr "gnosei") of "our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (cp 2Pe 1:11; 2:20; 3:2).
They could do the latter by getting more intimately acquainted with Him day by
day (2Pe 1:5-8).