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II Peter 3

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Promise of the Lord's Coming God's Promise Is Not Slack The Day of the Lord The Promise of the Lord's Coming The Day of the Lord: The Prophets and Apostles
3:1-7 3:1-9 3:1-7 3:1-7 3:1-2
        The Day of the Lord: False Teachers
        3:3-7
3:8-13 The Day of the Lord 3:8-10 3:8-9 3:8-10
  3:10-13   3:10-13 Fresh Call to Holiness. Doxology
  Be Steadfast 3:11-13   3:11-18
3:14-18 3:14-18 3:14-18 3:14-16  
      3:17-18  

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

1.  First paragraph

2.  Second paragraph

3.  Third paragraph

4.  Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 3:1-7
 1This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. 3Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." 5For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

3:1 "beloved" This term is originally used by God the Father for the Son at His baptism (cf. Matt. 3:17) and His transfiguration (cf. Matt. 17:5 and 2 Pet. 1:17). It becomes a title for God's people (cf. Rom. 1:7). It is only used once in 1 Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 2:11; 4:12), but used extensively in 2 Peter 3 (cf. 2 Pet. 3:1,8,14,15-17). It is also very common in 1 and 3 John.

▣ "the second letter" This apparently refers to 1 Peter, if you believe Peter is the source behind both 1 and 2 Peter, which I do.

NASB"sincere minds"
NKJV"your pure minds"
NRSV"your sincere intention"
TEV"your pure thoughts"
NJB"an unclouded understanding"

This term can mean pure in the sense of sincere or morally straight (cf. Phil. 1:10). The false teachers were not pure in any sense. They were immoral and manipulative self-seekers.

▣ "by way of reminder" These are almost exactly the words of 2 Pet. 1:13-14 (cf. Jude 17). In the Bible humans are often called on to remember God, His Word, and His acts. God, however, is encouraged to forget their sin (i.e., Jer. 31:34; Isa. 43:25; metaphorical in Ps. 103:3; Isa. 1:18; 38:17; 44:22; Micah 7:18).

3:2 "remember the words" This is an aorist passive infinitive. This is a strong emphasis on knowing (1) the OT (cf. 2 Pet. 1:21); (2) the words of Jesus (cf. 2 Pet. 2:21); and (3) and their apostolic application (cf. 2 Pet. 1:1). This is parallel to Jude 17.

The knowing/remembering was meant to affect believer confidence in the Second Coming and their Christlike living!

▣ "spoken beforehand by the holy prophets" This is a perfect passive participle, which implies the permanent revelation (perfect tense, cf. Matt. 5:17-19; 1 Pet. 1:25) given by the Spirit (passive voice, cf. 2 Pet. 1:20-21).

This refers to all the OT. The Jews believed that all Scripture was written by prophets. This is why Moses is called a prophet in Deut. 18:15 and that Joshua through Kings are called the "former prophets."

"the commandment of the Lord and Savior" This was an idiom referring to the gospel ( "the holy commandment," cf. 2 Pet. 2:21; "the commandment," 1 Tim. 6:14). It is related to the idiom "the law of Christ" (cf. Gal. 6:2).

▣ "your apostles" As prophet gave the first covenant, Apostles give the second!

3:3 "know this first of all" This same phrase is used in 2 Pet. 1:20. Peter uses this literary idiom to mark his main points.

▣ "in the last days" This OT phrase denotes the period of time just before the culmination of human history. Peter is a bit ambiguous as to what time period this refers. In 2 Peter 2, he speaks of false teaching "coming," yet they are already present in his day. This is theologically similar to John's "antichrist. . .antichrists" of 1 John 2:18. These false teachers and mockers will characterize every future period of church history, beginning with the first century. See Special Topic at Mark 13:8.

"mockers will come with their mockings" This is parallel to Jude 18. The nominative and instrumental forms of the same noun are used for emphasis. These false teachers were making and will continue to make fun of the biblical promises about Christ's return (cf. 2 Pet. 3:4).

▣ "following after their own lusts" The false teachers are obvious because of their words and deeds (cf. Matt. 7:15-20 and 2 Tim. 3:2-5). This is parallel to Jude 18.

3:4 "where is the promise of His coming" This could refer to (1) the OT Day of YHWH's Coming or (2) the NT Second Coming of Christ.

NASB, NKJV"the fathers"
NRSV, TEV"our ancestors"
NJB"our Fathers"

The OT period is mentioned in 2 Pet. 3:2, so "the Fathers" must refer to the OT Patriarchs or tribal leaders. This is confirmed by 2 Pet. 3:4-6, which speak of creation.

The context clearly refers to God's visitation in judgment (cf. 2 Peter 2). The OT asserts that humans will one day give an account to God for the stewardship of the gift of life (i.e., Matt. 25:31-46; 20:11-15). These mockers not only depreciated Jesus' incarnation, they also scoffed at His return as Judge.

▣ "fell asleep" This is an OT euphemism for death, which is continued in the NT (cf. Matt. 27:53; Mark. 5:39; John 11:11; 1 Cor. 11:30; 15:51; Eph. 5:14; 1 Thess. 4:14).

▣ "all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation" Human history, though minimal in time compared to geological history, gives humans the sense of regularity. This is the presupposition of modern science (i.e., Uniformitarianism) that natural process and regularity of natural laws can be projected both backward and forward in time. The Bible asserts that there was a beginning to creation and there will be an end. God created with a purpose. That purpose was fellowship with creatures made in His image who reflect His character. The world is accountable to an ethical, moral God. However, the illusion of endless time and the regularity of nature has caused the false teachers to reject the revelation of Scripture, Jesus' words, and Apostolic proclamation. Human history and individual longevity are long enough to lull humans into a false perception of confidence in a "tomorrow just like today"!

3:5

NASB"it escapes their notice"
NKJV"they willfully forget"
NRSV, NJB"they deliberately ignore"
TEV"they purposely ignore"

This term has the connotation of forgetting something or hiding something; therefore, an intent of purposefulness is contained in the term (cf. 2 Pet. 1:9; 3:5,8). These false teachers "conveniently forgot" or "chose to ignore" the intervention of God into His creation and His stated intent to all-creation accountability (i.e., judgment).

▣ "by the word of God" This is creation by the spoken word (cf. Gen. 1:3,6,8,14,20,24). It is called in theology by the Latin term "fiat," which means "by means of the spoken word," see John L. Walter, The Lost World of Genesis One, where he asserts that Genesis 1 is not the creation of matter, but a functioning universe. The Gnostic false teachers denied that a holy God could form, much less, create sinful, coexistent matter.

NASB, TEV"the earth was formed out of water and by water"
NKJV"the earth standing out of water and in the water"
NRSV"and earth was formed out of water and by means of water"
NJB"the earth was formed by the word of God out of water and between the waters"

Water is a significant element in Gen. 1:2 ( "the deep" and "the waters"). It is not mentioned as being specifically spoken into existence. The Greek preposition "through" (dia) water can also mean "between," "circled," "amidst," "action of," or "sustained by" (cf. Ps. 24:2; 136:6). This phrase could refer to Gen. 1:2; 1:6; or 1:9.

3:6 "the world was destroyed" This refers to Noah's flood (cf. Gen. 6-8). I have included a brief note from my commentary on Gen. 1-11.


GENESIS

"There has been some conjecture that the term "flood" may be related to the Assyrian term "to destroy." Was the flood of Noah's day world-wide or only in the Ancient Near East? The term "earth" is often translated "land" in a local sense. If humans had not spread out to all the parts of the earth, which is surely implied in the tower of Babel experience of 2 Peter 10-11, then a local flood would have done the job. The best book I have read on the rational evidence for a local flood is Bernard Ramm's The Christian View of Science and Scripture" (p. 62).

 


3:7

NASB"by His word"
NKJV, NRSV"by the same word"
TEV"by the same command"
NJB"it is the same Word"

As God created by the spoken word and reigns by the word (i.e., Christ, cf. John 1:1), we were born again by the living and abiding W ord of God (1 Pet. 1:23). He will also cleanse by the spoken word (i.e., flood judgment, fire judgment). The metaphor of Jesus in Rev. 19:15 as returning with a two-edged sword from His mouth is another way to express this same truth.

▣ "the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire" This is a periphrastic perfect passive participle, which speaks of something that has already occurred. Here it is used in the prophetic sense of the certainty of a future event based on the trustworthiness of God's word. This entire context emphasizes the power and pre-eminence of God's word (cf. 2 Pet. 1:19; 3:5,7; 1 Pet. 1:23; 2:8; 3:1).

This judgment by fire may come from the OT in two senses: (1) the Psalms speak of fire going before the Lord (cf. Ps. 18:8; 50:3; 97:3) or (2) the judgments of YHWH in the wilderness wanderings (cf. Lev. 10:2; Num. 11:1-3; 16:35; 26:10) or eschatological (cf. Dan. 7:10; Isa. 30:27,30,33).

Fire often accompanies YHWH's presence in the OT. This may be associated with (1) God as an agent of knowledge and revelation (light); (2) God as a purifying agent; or (3) God as a judge (i.e., destroying agent).

SPECIAL TOPIC: FIRE

▣ "kept for the day of judgment. . .of ungodly men" This is a present passive participle. Both 2 Peter 2 and Jude have emphasized that evil angels and evil humans are kept for a day of accounting. All conscious creatures (cf. Phil. 2:9-11) will one day be held accountable as stewards of the gift of life (cf. Gal. 6:7).

This eschatological day is a time of judgment for the ungodly, but a time of great reward for believers. The persecuted church needs to remember that one day God will set all things right!

▣ "destruction" We get the English word Apollyon from this word (cf. Rev. 9:11).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 3:8-10
 8But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

3:8

NASB"do not let this one fact escape your notice"
NKJV"do not forget this one thing"
NRSV"do not ignore this one fact"
TEV"do not forget one thing"
NJB"there is one thing. . .you must never forget"

This is a present imperative with a negative particle, which usually implies "stop an act in process." Because of the persecution (cf. 1 Pet.) and the false teachers (cf. 2 Pet.) believers were beginning to question the trustworthiness of the biblical eschatological events.

▣ "one day is like a thousand years" This is an allusion to Ps. 90:4. It asserts the truth that time is not a factor with an eternal God. Only His creatures experience past, present, and future. We are time-bound, time-conscious. Believers must hold on to the truth that what God promises, God will do (cf. 1 Kgs. 8:24,26,56). We trust in His character, His promises, His word, and His Son! Time is irrelevant although God uses time for His unfolding purposes.

The first generation of believers expected Jesus to return quickly (cf. Mark 13:30). This is one reason why they did not write down Jesus' words and deeds (the Gospels) for many years. But with the continuing delay

1. the eyewitnesses began to die

2. false teachers began factions

3. some began to wonder why

Both Paul (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2) and Peter (cf. 2 Peter 3) address this subject of the delayed Second Coming. Even in the teachings of Jesus there is a tension between the imminent return (cf. Matt. 10:23; 24:27,34,44; Mark 9:1; 13:30) and "some events must occur first"

1. return world-wide evangelization, cf. Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:10

2. the revelation of the "man of sin," cf. Matt. 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2; Revelation 13

3. the great persecution, cf. Matt. 24:21,24; Revelation 13

Peter uniquely links the delay with God's compassion for the lost! God is delaying Christ's return so that more may repent and turn to Him through Christ. Believers' godly lives are to point the unbelievers toward God!

3:9 "the Lord is not slow" This use of "the Lord" must refer to YHWH. God's unfolding plan (cf. Hab. 2:3) of creation and redemption seems so slow to humans. The time element allows us to exercise trust within time. This period of our lives is the only time believers live by faith, which pleases God. Our patience and godly living are expressions and evidence of our faith/trust commitment to Him.

"but is patient toward you" One of the characteristics of God is His long-suffering patience toward both sinners and saints. However, His patience is taken advantage of by both groups. His patience has a purpose, the restoring of the image lost in the Fall.

▣ "not wishing for any to perish" This is a Present middle (deponent) participle. God wants all humans to be saved (cf. Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11; John 3:16; 4:42; Acts 17:30; Rom. 11:32; 1 Tim. 2:4,6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2). Because all humans are made in His image for personal fellowship, He sent His Son to die so that all may respond to Him (cf. Rom. 5:12-21). This is an important balance to theological systems which major on God's place in salvation, but minimize mankind's needed covenantal response. I have included my notes from 1 Tim. 2:4 (Vol. 9, p. 25) regarding this topic.


Notes from my commentary on 1 Timothy 2:4

2:4 "who desires all men to be saved" Believers are to pray for all people because God wants all people saved. This was a shocking statement to the exclusivistic false teachers, whether Gnostic or Jewish or, more probably in the pastoral letters, a combination. This is the great truth about God's love for all mankind (cf. 1 Tim. 4:10; Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11; John 3:16; Acts 17:30; Rom. 11:22; 1 Tim. 2:4,6; 4:10; Titus 2:11; Heb. 2:9; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 John 2:2). This verse shows the imbalance of dogmatic, super-lapsarian, double-edged predestination which emphasizes God's sovereignty to the exclusion of any needed human response. The stated truths of "five point" Calvinism, especially "irresistible grace" and "limited atonement" violate the covenant aspect of biblical faith. It is improper to reduce God to a puppet of human free will, as it is also improper to reduce mankind to a puppet of divine will. God in His sovereignty has chosen to deal with fallen mankind by means of covenant. He always initiates and structures the covenant (cf. John 6:44,65), but He has mandated that humans must respond and continue to respond in repentance and faith (cf. Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16,19; 20:21), as well as obedience and perseverance!

Often the theological discussion of God's sovereignty (predestination) and human free will deteriorates into a proof-texting contest. The Bible clearly reveals the sovereignty of YHWH. However, it also reveals that His highest creation, mankind, made in His image, had been given the awesome personal quality of moral decision making. Humans must co-operate with God in every area of life.

The term "many" has been used to assert that God has chosen some (the elect) but not all; that Jesus died for some, not all. A careful reading of the following texts shows that these are used in a parallel sense!

 

Isaiah 53 Romans 5
1.  "all" (Isa. 53:6)
2.  "many" (Isa. 53:11-12)
1.  "all" (Rom. 5:18)
2.  "many" (Rom. 5:19)

 


SPECIAL TOPIC: YHWH's ETERNAL REDEMPTIVE PLAN

"for all to come to repentance" Notice the emphasis on "all," not just "some" (i.e., elect). Everyone is potentially elect in Christ. See SPECIAL TOPIC: REPENTANCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT at Mark 1:4.

3:10 "the day of the Lord will come like a thief" This phrase "the day of the Lord" is an OT phrase for the end of time. Thieves are often used as a metaphor for an unexpected visitation (cf. Matt. 24:43-44; Luke 12:39; 1 Thess. 5:2; Rev. 3:3; 16:15) from God (i.e., Judgment Day/Second Coming/Resurrection Day).

▣ "the heavens will pass away" This is a recurring theme (i.e., physical creation will cease, but not God's word, cf. Mark 13:31; Matt. 5:18; 24:35) describing the temporality and finitude of physical creation (cf. Rev. 21:1).

NASB, NJB"with a roar"
NKJV"with a great noise"
NRSV"with a loud noise"
TEV"with a shrill noise"

This word has the connotation of a whizzing sound of something moving rapidly through the air. The consummation and cleansing of the new age will come with a sound and flame much like the inauguration of the new age at Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:2-3).

▣ "the elements" Most words develop from a literal, physical sense to a metaphorical extension. This term (stoicheia) originally referred to something in a row, a series. It developed into several connotations:

1. The basic physical building blocks of the world (air, water, earth, and fire, cf. 2 Pet. 3:10, 12).

2. The basic teachings of a subject (cf. Heb. 5:12; 6:1 for Judaism).

3. The angelic powers behind the heavenly bodies (cf. I Enoch 52:8-9; the early church fathers; Col. 2:8, 20; 1 Cor. 15:24) or the angelic ranks (aeons) of the Gnostic false teachers (cf. Col. 2:10, 15; Eph. 3:10).

4. Angels hostile to mankind who tried to stop the giving of the Law to Moses (cf. Acts 7:38; Heb. 2:2).

5. Possibly the impersonal structures of our fallen world that allow fallen mankind to appear independent from God (education, government, medicine, religion, etc., cf. Gal. 4:3, 8-9 and Hendrik Berkhof's Christ and the Powers by Herald Press, p. 32).

 

▣ "with intense heat" This is a present passive participle implying God as an unnamed agent. This was a medical term to denote high fever.

NASB"the earth and its works will be burned up"
NKJV"the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up"
NRSV"the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed"
TEV"the earth with everything in it will vanish"
NJB"the earth and all it contains will be burned up"

There are many Greek manuscript variants in this phrase.

1.  "will be discovered" (cf. MSS א, B, K, P)

2.  "will be found destroyed" (cf. MS P72)

3.  "will be burned up" (cf. MS A)

4.  "will be hidden" (cf. MS C)

There is no certainly of the original Greek text, or even probability, in the translation of this phrase.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 3:11-13
 11Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

3:11 "what sort of people ought you to be" The false teachers de-emphasized morality and lifestyle godliness, so Peter continues to hold these things up.

▣ "in holy conduct and godliness" The term "godliness" is an important concept in 2 Peter as it is in the Pastoral Letters. I am reproducing my notes from 1 Tim. 4:7 (cf. Vol. 9, p. 53). 2 Peter uses the noun in 2 Pet. 1:3,6,7 and 3:11 and the adverb in 2 Pet. 2:9.


Notes from my commentary on 1 Timothy

▣ "godliness" This is a pivotal term in the Pastoral Letters. It refers to the doctrinal and daily lifestyle implications of the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 3:16). It describes not the exceptional, but the expected. It is a compound term from "good" (eu) and "worship" (sebomai). True worship is daily living by means of proper thinking (cf. 1 Tim. 4:16a). Notice the number of times this word is used in the Pastoral Letters:

1. Noun (eusebeia), 1 Tim. 2:2; 3:16; 4:7,8; 6:3,5,6,11; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:1

2. Adverb (eusebēs), 2 Tim. 3:12; Titus 2:12

3. Verb (eusebeō), 1 Tim. 5:4

4. The related term theosebeia, 1 Tim. 2:10

5. The negated term (alpha privative, i.e., asebeia), 2 Tim. 2:16; Titus 2:12

 


3:12

NASB, NKJV"looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God"
NRSV"waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God"
TEV"as you wait for the Day of God and do your best to make it happen soon"
NJB"while you wait for the Day of God to come, and try to hasten its coming"

These are both present active participles, which describe two aspects connected to the Second Coming, here uniquely called "the day of God." The first term basically means "to look for expectantly" (cf. Acts 3:5; 10:24) or "to wait with apprehension" (cf. Luke 21:26; Acts 27:33; 28:6). It is used three times in 2 Peter 3:12,13, and 14. Believers wait expectantly, but unbelievers fear this day of reckoning.

The second term has two senses related to the grammatical structure in which it is found:

1. If it is a transitive verb (i.e., passes the action on to a direct object) it means "to urge," "to be eager for" (cf. footnotes of NRSV, ASV, NEB, NIV, Peshitta, and New Century Version, similar in meaning to the early church's maranatha).

2. If it is an intransitive grammatical construction (i.e., it describes a state of being or focuses on the agent of the action) it means "to hasten" (cf. Luke 19:5; Acts 22:18). The theology that believers' actions can hasten the Lord's return is found in Matt. 6:10 (prayer) and Acts 3:19-20 (revival); Romans 9-11 (full number of Gentiles and Jews are saved). In this context the godly lifestyle of believers is encouraged by an imminent eschatological hope.

This is a difficult expression because of our modern mind-set which depreciates paradox. God is sovereign and has set the date for Christ's return, but the actions of believers (i.e., prayer, witness, godliness) may change the date (i.e., sooner or later). This is the covenant aspect of biblical truth which is so confusing to modern western people. God is affected by His children (both negatively and positively)! However, this very truth is why intercessory prayer works.

▣ "because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning and the elements will melt with intense heat"The interpretive question is, "Are these allusions literal or apocalyptic?" These OT-type statements have much in common with Isa. 10:10-13; 34:4; 51:6; Joel 2:28-32; Mic. 1:4. This context has referred several times to this physical realm of time and space ending in connection with heat. This cleansing sets the spiritual stage for the new heavens and the new earth. Will they be physical (Eden restored) or spiritual (cf. 1 Cor. 15:35-58)? It is hard to describe ultimate and spiritual realities in earthly human terms. The reality is not affected by the genre!

3:13 "But according to His promise" (cf. Isa. 65:17-25; 66:22-24)

▣ "new heaven and a new earth" (cf. Isa. 11:6-9; 65:17; 66:22; Rev.21:1-27)

▣ "in which righteousness dwells" God desires a setting and a people commensurate with His own character (cf. Isa. 45:24-25). A holy God demands a holy people (cf. Isa. 60:12; Matt. 5:48). It is the new creation because it is contrasted with the fallen creation (cf. Gen. 3).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 3:14-18
 14Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18but 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.

3:14 "be diligent to be found by Him in peace" This is an aorist active imperative, which emphasizes urgency. Believers have a responsibility to live godly lives. There must be an appropriate covenantal response to God's love.

The second verbal is an aorist passive infinitive. It apparently refers to "the day of God" in 2 Pet. 3:12. Jesus often uses the illustration of believers as stewards put in charge of their master's estate. They must be ready at any time for His return and at that time to give an account of their stewardship (cf. Mark 13:33-37; Luke 18:8).

Peace is only possible if (1) the person has responded to the gospel offer; (2) the person understands the gospel message; and (3) the person is daily living out the gospel. The false teachers and their followers fail on all three counts and they have no peace!

▣ "spotless and blameless" This phrase is used in 1 Peter 1:19 to refer to Christ (cf. John 8:46; 14:30; Luke 23:41; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26-27; 1 Pet. 2:22; 3:18; 1 John 2:2; 4:14). It is an OT metaphor to describe the purity of sacrificial animals (cf. Lev. 22:19-20). We are to live in light of (1) Christ's example, (2) Christ's commands, and (3) Christ's coming!

3:15

NASB, NRSV"regard the patience of our Lord assalvation"
NKJV"and accountthat the longsuffering of our Lord issalvation"
TEV"Look on our Lord's patience as the opportunity he is giving you to be saved"
NJB"Think of our Lord's patience as your opportunity to be saved"

To whom does this refer (1) Christians who are already saved or (2) the ungodly and rebellious false teachers and their followers? It is obviously looking back to God's patience in 2 Pet. 3:9. Some take advantage of God's mercy to sin and live self-centered lives. Others embrace God's forgiveness and emulate His character.

▣ "just as our beloved brother Paul" This phrase clearly shows that there was no tension between Paul and Peter. Each of them recognized the call and giftedness of the other (cf. Gal. 2 7-10). The incident recorded in Gal. 2:11-21 did not cause a permanent rift.

"wrote to you" It is uncertain as to which of Paul's letters this refers. If the recipients (Asia Minor) are the same as 1 Peter and Paul wrote Galatians to a northern group of churches in Asia Minor, then Galatians was written early to the same area that 2 Peter is written to, and the best possible option is Galatians. But in reality we do not know.

Option number two is that since the general topic of this chapter is the Second Coming, then possibly Paul's early letters to the Thessalonians is what is referred to. Option three is that some speculate that part of Romans functioned originally as a cyclical letter. For me Galatians or Romans, which are Paul's more salvation-oriented theological books, are probably the best guess.

3:16 "as also in all his letters" Much of the criticism of 2 Peter being written by the Apostle Peter relates to this reference to Paul's letters. It is true that all of Paul's letters were gathered together and circulated under the title "The Apostle," but this happened much later than Peter's death under Nero (a.d. 64-68). However, this text does not assert how many of Paul's letters Peter is talking about, nor does this reference imply the circulation of the entire corpus.

"speaking in them of these things in which are some things hard to understand" What things? (1) Revelation (cf. 2 Pet. 3:2); (2) the last days (2 Pet. 3:3-4a); (3) creation (2 Pet. 3:4b-5); (4) the flood of Noah (2 Pet. 3:6); (5) judgment day (2 Pet. 3:7,10); (6) God's time (2 Pet. 3:9); (7) the Second Coming (2 Pet. 3:12); (8) the new age of righteousness (2 Pet. 3:12-13); (9) personal salvation (2 Pet. 3:14a, 15a); (10) godly living (2 Pet. 3:11,14b); or (11) something in chapter one or two?

Whatever it was the false teachers misunderstood it and twisted it to their own ruin. In this sense it is possibly Paul's emphasis on salvation as a free gift from God apart from human works of righteousness (i.e., justification by faith). It is possible that James (cf. James 2:14-26) corrects another misunderstanding of Paul's preaching.

▣ "which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures"It is helpful to me to realize that the Apostles who personally walked with Jesus for several years did not always understand Him (cf. Mark 9:32; Luke 2:50; 9:45; 18:34; John 2:22; 10:6; 12:16; 16:18). Neither did all the Apostles understand the writings of other Apostles. We are called to be a faithful witness and godly covenant brother! None of us understands all things.

In the NT the term "Scriptures" always refers to the OT. The NT was not completed and compiled until the end of the first century. Most of the familiar texts on inspiration and trustworthiness of Scripture refer to the OT (cf. Matt. 5:17-19; 1 Cor. 2:9-13; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Pet. 1:23-25; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).

This is one of the very few places where NT writings are equated with OT Scriptures. Peter affirms Paul's inspiration and the authority of his writings by this phrase.

"to their own destruction" The Bible is God's self-revelation to a lost and needy world. Sinful humans (i.e., false teachers) twist it to their own peril. Judgment is coming; Jesus is the only hope; everyone will stand before God one day!

3:17 "knowing this beforehand" False teachers are always present! The readers were worried about the false teachers' use of Scripture (i.e., OT) and Apostolic writings (cf. 2 Pet. 3:2). There are several biblical ways to discern a false teacher.

1. signs or wonders, but in the name of another god (Deut. 13:1-5)

2. accurate prediction of the future, but in the name of another god (Deut. 18:18-22)

3. lifestyle (Matt. 7; James, 1 John, and 2 Peter)

4. miracles are not automatically a sign of God (Matt. 24:24)

5. message must be Christocentric (1 John 4:1-6)

6. misinterpretation of God's revelation (2 Pet. 3:2)

 

▣ "be on your guard" This is a present middle imperative. This is a military term like 1 Peter 1:4. Believers have a personal responsibility to continue to check and evaluate what others say about God/Christ. There are deceivers both within and without the fellowship (cf. Eph. 4:14; 6:11-12). Do not be spiritually naive!

▣ "so that you are not carried away" This is an aorist passive participle. It is the opposite of the OT term for faith that meant to be firm-footed (i.e., steadfastness or stability). This same term describes Peter's own actions in Gal. 2:13.

3:18 "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior" This is a present active imperative. It has been a central theme of the book. Believers guard against error by growing in the knowledge of the gospel and living out the gospel. This is parallel to Jude 20.

▣ "To Him be the glory" This phrase is used predominately of God the Father (see note at 1 Pet. 4:11, cf. Jude; 2 Pet. 3:24-25), but occasionally of Christ (cf. 2 Tim. 4:18; 2 Pet. 3:18; Rev. 1:6).

In the OT the most common Hebrew word for "glory" (kbd) was originally a commercial term which referred to a pair of scales and meant "to be heavy." That which was heavy was valuable or had intrinsic worth. Often the concept of brightness was added to express God's majesty (cf. Exod. 19:16-18; 24:17; Isa. 60:12). He alone is worthy and honorable. He is too brilliant for fallen mankind to behold (cf. Exod. 33:17-23; Isa. 6:5). God can only be truly known through Christ (cf. Jer. 1:14; Matt. 17:2; Heb. 1:3; James 2:1).

The term glory is somewhat ambiguous.

1. it may be parallel to "the righteousness of God"

2. it may refer to the holiness or perfection of God

3. it could refer to the image of God in which mankind was created (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6), but which was later marred through rebellion (cf. Gen. 3:1-22)

It is first used of YHWH's presence with His people in Exod. 16:7,10; Lev. 9:23; Num. 14:10.

NASB, NRSV"both now and to the day of eternity"
NKJV"both now and forever"
TEV"now and forever"
NJB"in time and eternity"

This is literally "both now and unto a day of age." It is a unique form of a typical ending, somewhat parallel to Jude 1:25. The Jews saw history in terms of two ages, an evil age and a coming age of righteousness. This coming age is synonymous with the eternal kingdom. See Special Topic at Mark 13:8.

"Amen" This word is absent in the ancient uncial Greek manuscript B (i.e., Vaticanus), but present in P72, א, A, and C. See Special Topic at Mark 3:28.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did the Gnostics deny the Second Coming?

2. What is the major message of the NT concerning the Second Coming?

3. Why does Peter mention Paul's writings?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods