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"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." -2 Peter 3:9
The believer's hope in the return of Christ is an anchor for our souls as we live out our lives in a difficult world. Storms will always come our way because the world is in rebellion to God. Yet because the day of Christ's return is not made known to us, each generation of Christians has hoped that they are living in the last days. In light of this, it's not uncommon for those who oppose the gospel of Christ to point out that His promised return has not happened, thus, "All things continue on as they were from the beginning" (v. 4).
Peter addresses this by first reminding us that in fact all things have not remained the same. Noah's flood is proof of this. Secondly, we are reminded that God's takes an eternal perspective on the confines of "time." To Him, a thousand years is like a day. Furthermore, God's delay has to do with His longsuffering. Judgment is coming. When it comes, it will be irreversible. Therefore, His longsuffering love desires to give every person an opportunity to be saved before Christ's return (3:9). He finds no pleasure in the suffering judgment will bring. Lastly, we are reminded that Jesus made it clear He would return as a thief in the night. No one will be fully prepared for the day of His return. We will know the "signs of the times" that describe the generation of His return, but that's about it (v. 10).
The logical conclusion for us all is that if this world is going to be destroyed in judgment and a new Heaven and Earth created, we should live accordingly (v. 10-13). We must live our daily lives with this perspective in mind. Those who live in light of Christ's return live a life enriched by God in the here and now. They also possess a secure hope that the deepest longings of their hearts will one day be fully realized. What we believe matters for time and eternity.
God's Promise Is Not Slack
1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation." 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
v. 1 Beloved – The Apostle addresses his readers in a way that truly represents Christ's attitude toward them (1 John 4:19).
Second Epistle – An epistle is simply a letter. This is Peter's second letter written to this group of people. That's why this book is called 2 Peter.
by Way of Reminder – Even pure minds need reminding so that they might remain pure. When a person is saved and cleansed from his or her sins, that person's mind becomes genuine and sincere. Since a pure mind can become impure again through intentional sin or neglect, Peter felt compelled in both letters to stir up their pure minds by way of reminder.
v. 2 the Holy Prophets – The words of these holy prophets Peter is referring to are recorded for us in the writings of the Old Testament. These Old Testament writings have come to us by the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit through these holy men and are treasured as the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Commandment – Peter attributes Divine authority to his writings and the writings of his fellow apostles.
Apostles – Jesus Christ personally trained and ordained 12 apostles (Matt. 10:1-27, Mark 3:14-19).
Savior – "soter" (Gk.) savior, deliverer, preserver
v. 3 Scoffers – One who mocks. The implication here is to that of a false teacher.
Last Days – Referring to the days just before the Lord's return. The New Testament writings warn us repeatedly that in the last days many will mock and scoff at the truth of God's Word (1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:1; 1 John 2:18; Jude 1:18).
Walking – This word is used figuratively in the New Testament to depict one's lifestyle.
v. 4 Where is the Promise of His Coming? – A common question of a scoffer. This is a cynical question aimed at undermining the belief in the return of Christ (Matt 24:48, Luke 12:45). The second coming of Christ is clearly taught in scripture (1 Cor 15:23; 1 Thess 2:19; 2 Thess 2:8; 1 John 2:28).
the Fathers Fell Asleep – A biblical expression referring to the death of the fathers of our faith in the Old Testament.
v. 5 Willfully Forget – The attitude of scoffing is a deliberate choice to forget God's truth.
By the Word of God – God spoke the world into existence with a word (Gen 1:3, 6, 14). One of the things the scoffers have chosen to forget is the literal creation of the heavens and earth by the spoken Word of God as described in scripture.
Standing Out of Water and in the Water – A biblical description of how the earth was created. God separated the waters of the atmosphere with the waters of the earth and then divided the land and the seas (Gen 1:6-10)
v. 6 Perished, Being Flooded With Water – A biblical description of the people of the known world being destroyed by water at the time of Noah (Gen 7). Scoffers also choose to reject this story of Noah and the flood.
v. 7 Preserved by the Same Word – God created the heavens and the earth with a word. He is preserving and holding it all together by His word (Col. 1:16-17).
Reserved for Fire – The earth has a reservation for final destruction by fire according to God's word. God destroyed the inhabitants of the earth once before by water. Next time it will be by fire (Zeph. 3:8; Matt 25:41; 2 Peter 3:10, Rev 20:10).
Day of Judgment – A coming day when God has promised to punish all sinners. See 2 Peter 2:9; Matt 10:15; 12:36; 1 John 4:17, Rev 20:11-15, 21:8).
Perdition – "apoleia" (Gk.) utter destruction and ruin.
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
v. 8 Beloved – In the midst of this terrible talk of judgment, Peter softens these harsh words by reminding his readers that they are among the beloved of God.
One Day is as a Thousand Years, and a Thousand Years as One Day – God does not account time as man does. God lives outside of the dimension of time and space. Long periods of time do not produce impatience or anxiety for God. This is why He can patiently watch and wait while we anxiously scuttle about. See Ps. 90:4. God has the eternal perspective that we lack.
v. 9 Slack Concerning His Promise – Peter is referring to the Lord's promise to return in final judgment and ultimate restitution. Because the Lord sees time much differently than man does, He is not slack or slow acting as man would measure slowness.
Longsuffering – "makrothumeo" (Gk.) be patient, slow to anger, slow to punish
Perish – To be destroyed or put to death. In this case, eternal death (John 3:15, 16).
Repentance – "metanoia" (Gk.) a change of heart that leads to a change of action
The Day of the Lord
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
v. 10 the Day of the Lord – The scriptural Day of the Lord is a threatening and dark day. See Isaiah 2:12; Joel 1:15; 2:1, 31 as well as the rest of this verse. A careful study of scripture reveals that this Day of the Lord will be a day of great judgment for those who are not right with God. See Amos 5:18-20.
a Thief in the Night – Peter is now using metaphorical language do describe the Day of the Lord. A thief does not announce his coming but seeks to catch his victims off guard and unaware. He often comes at night under the cover of darkness when most are sleeping and not alert to impending danger. What Peter is saying is that God will not give further warning for those who oppose His truth or resist His rule. God's judgment will come without warning to the wicked.
Heavens will Pass Away – When the Day of the Lord arrives it will be a cataclysmic event that affects much more than just the earth (Matt 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).
Heavens – "ouranos" (Gk.) the vaulted expanse of the sky with all visible in it
Elements – "stoicheion" (Gk.) elementary principles of all matter
Burned Up – Further description reveals that all life as we know it will come to an end at the Day of The Lord. Everything on earth and all that takes place in the earth will totally cease.
v. 11 Dissolved – "luo" (Gk.) Undone, destroyed.
Godliness – "eusebeia" (Gk.) reverence and respect toward God
v. 12 Looking For – "prosdokao" (Gk.) To expectantly wait for. Christians should look forward to the return of Christ with great expectancy and eagerness. See 1 Cor. 1:7; Titus 2:13; Jude 1:21.
Hastening the Coming – It is possible that the Christian church can actually hurry this Day of the Lord along through our evangelistic efforts by preaching the Gospel to all creatures, thus bringing about an early completion to the final number of Gentiles to be saved before the coming of the Lord (Rom. 11:25).
The Day of God – Another way of saying The Day of the Lord.
v. 13 According to His Promise – the promise of a new heaven and earth is found in both the Old and New Testaments. See Isa 65:17; 66:22; Rev 21:1.
Righteousness – The state of him who is as he ought to be, the condition of being acceptable to God.
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
v. 14 Looking Forward to These Things – The Day of the Lord should be a day all Christians look forward to with eager expectation and not fear.
Diligent – To make every effort; to be hardworking.
To be Found by Him in Peace – Descriptive of one who is in right standing with God and has peace with God. See Romans 5:1. The next phrase is a good description of what a person looks like who has peace with God through Jesus Christ.
v. 15 Salvation – "soteria" (Gk.) deliverance, preservation, safety, deliverance from harm
Paul...Has Written to You – Here Peter acknowledges the authenticity, authority, and inspiration of the Apostle Paul's writings.
v. 16 All His Epistles – By this time Peter was aware of multiple letters written by the Apostle Paul. Paul's many letters to the churches were widespread and well known. The Apostle Paul wrote the majority of New Testament letters to the churches.
Untaught – unlearned, ignorant
Unstable – "asteriktos" (Gk.) vacillating, unsettled
the Rest of the Scriptures – Peter is implying that the writings of the Apostle Paul are to be considered as on an equal plain as other scriptures that have been universally accepted as the Word or God.
v. 17 Beware Lest You Also Fall – Peter gives warning here to every true Christian who reads this letter.
Beware – It is possible for true Christians to be deceived and be led away into the error of the wicked. There are so many exhortations in scripture for believers to beware (Rom. 11:22; Col. 2:8; Heb. 2:1-3, 3:12-15, 6:1-6, 10:26). Peter is clearly warning the steadfast Christian to be careful and on guard not to fall away into the deception of the wicked.
v. 18 Knowledge – "gnosis" (Gk.) The deeper more perfect and enlarged understanding of Christianity.
To Him be the Glory – This is another undeniable reference to the deity of Christ. There is no one deserving eternal glory but God alone. Here we see that Jesus will rightfully receive glory (Is. 42:8, 48:11; Ex. 20:3-5, 34:14; John 5:23).
Forever – "aion" (Gk.) An unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity. This never-ending state is applied in scripture to God (Rev 10:6) as well as the state of heaven (Rev 22:5) and hell (Rev 19:3; 20:10).