2 Peter 3

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ScofferThis is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Observation

  • This is the second letter Peter has written the recipients.
  • In both letters Peter reminds the recipients of the predictions of the holy prophets
  • In both letters Peter reminds the recipients of the commandments of the Lord.
  • The commandments of the Lord came through the apostles.
  • Scoffers will come in the last days.
  • Scoffers will follow their sinful desires in the last days.
  • Scoffers will ask, “Where is Christ’s second coming? It has been a long time.”
  • The heavens existed long ago.
  • The earth was formed out of water and through water.
  • The earth was formed by the word of God.
  • In the past the earth was deluged with water and perished.
  • The heavens and earth are stored up for fire.
  • On the Day of Judgment the ungodly will be destroyed.
  • To the Lord a day seems like a 1000 years and 1000 years seems like a day.
  • God is not slow to fulfill His promises.
  • Some think God is slow to fulfill His promises.
  • God is patient towards us.
  • God is not willing that any of you should perish.
  • God wants all of you to repent.
  • The day the Lord comes will be like a thief coming in the night.
  • When the Lord comes the heavens will pass away with a roar.
  • When the Lord comes the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved.
  • When the Lord comes all the works done on earth will be exposed.
  • When the Lord comes there will be a new earth
  • Righteousness will dwell in the new earth.
  • The recipients of the letter were waiting for the things that will happen when the Lord comes.
  • We are to be found in Christ when Christ returns
  • We are to be without spot or blemish.
  • We are to be at peace.
  • The patience of God waiting for Christ’s return is a sign of Gods mercy.
  • Paul wrote to these same people
  • Paul wrote according to the wisdom given to him.
  • Some of the Paul’s writes are hard to understand.
  • The things that are hard to understand the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction.
  • Peter calls Paul’s letters scripture.
  • Since we are aware that scriptures are twisted we need to take care to not be lead astray by them.
  • If we get carried away by the error of lawless people we could become unstable.
  • We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ
  • Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.
  • To Jesus be glory now and forever.

Interpretation

As Peter concludes his letter, he addresses the coming of Christ. In addition to false teachers, there will be scoffers in the last days. What are the last days? As Peter is referring here the last days are the period of time from the ascension of Christ to His return.

I am sure you have heard, “People have always believed they were living in the end times.” This is said so as to scoff and say, “There are no end times. Things are like they always have been.” Peter says here that we have enough in the scripture to not let this persuaded us. Peter says he is trying to stir us into action. We are to study the scriptures. They tell us of Christ’s coming.

The scoffers attempt to be witty and shrewd by showing contempt to God. They attempt to destroy faith by questioning the integrity of God. They claim nothing has changed. Everything is as it always has been. Since everything is as it has always been then in will always be as it is now.

Peter refutes the scoffer by saying they are willfully ignorant. Evil was on the earth long before the earth was destroyed by water. It is now poised to be destroyed by fire. However, God is patient so not of the elect will perish. Those who scoff will say, “God sure is slow about getting around to keeping His promises.” However, God is outside of time. 1000 years and a day are all the same to God. God is not slow to respond. God is outside of time.

Peter then says something that is often taken out of context. God “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” That verse has led many to conclude that God is not sovereign. God wants people to come to Him but they just won’t.  So God delays coming, because that is all He can do. That is, God is slow because He does not really want to punish evil. He really wants everyone to repent. That is why His coming again is delayed.

This is poor hermeneutics. But because we have been taught this, we accept it.

This ignores not only the rest of scripture but also the immediate context. First Peter has just said God is not slow in His return. He is not delaying it. God’s plan is unfolding and will unfold as He desires.

Second, the idea that God does not wish anyone to perish is exactly correct. The gospel has gone to all, to everyone to repent. The problem is the definition of God’s will. God’s will, can mean that God which has decreed. This is obviously not the meaning here. God has not decreed that all will repent. Peter, in the last chapter, said God will not spare false teachers. Another meaning of God’s willing is a command. An example is the 10 commandments. This is the type of will Peter has in mind here. That is why the translators of the ESV have translated the Greek word βούλομαι as wishing whle others translation use the more ambiguous term will. It could also be translated “be disposed.” God’s disposition is not to destroy, that is why Christ came as a sacrifice for our sins. That is why Jesus intercedes for us to the father.

Third, who is the “any” to whom Peter refers? It certainly could be understood to many anyone on earth. But it could also mean any of you. That is, it could mean any of the people to whom Peter is writing. Early in the sentence Peter tells us it is the people to whom Peter is writing, “…but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish…” To whom is Peter writing? Peter says the beginning of the book. “Those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Peter 1:1) In other words, Peter is talking to the elect, to Christians.

Therefore Peter is saying, God is patient to you, not wishing that any of the you, the elect, should perish. The patience of the Lord allows our salvation.

Peter ends with an admonition. Peter tells us to study the scriptures, even the hard parts. It is these hard part the false teachers twist. Therefore, knowing even the hard parts will keep us safe.

Application

Peter tells about the coming of Christ. The coming of Christ has been a topic of much debate within the church. Pre-millennial Post-millennial, amillennial, Pre-tribulation Post-tribulation, Mid-tribulation, Preterism, full and partial, versus Futurism, These can be confusing. They can lead us to conclude it just is not worth studying. But there have been many many false teachers who have used exactly this confusion to teach falsely. Therefore, it is in our own self-interest to study the scriptures  and understand as best we can. That is the way scripture tells us to prepare. Study and do the word of the Lord.

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