Translations: Chinese GB Big5

2Peter 3 (web)

Hope in the Future by Recalling the Past

3:1 This is now, beloved,
the second letter that I have written to you;
and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by reminding you;
3:2 that you should remember the words
which were spoken before by the holy prophets,
and the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
3:3 knowing this first, that in the last days mockers will come,
walking after their own lusts,
3:4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming?
For, from the day that the fathers fell asleep,
all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."

3:5 For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old,
and an earth formed out of water and amid water, by the word of God;
3:6 by which means the world that then was,
being overflowed with water, perished.
3:7 But the heavens that now are, and the earth,
by the same word have been stored up for fire,
being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

3:8 But don't forget this one thing, beloved,
that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day.
3:9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise,
as some count slowness; but is patient with us,
not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

3:10 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 be dissolved with fervent heat,
and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

Hope Produces Holiness

(Application #1 from vs 10)
3:11 Therefore since all these things are thus to be destroyed,
what manner of persons ought you to be
in holy living and godliness,
3:12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God,
(Application #2 from vs 10)
by reason of which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved,
and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
3:13 But, according to his promise,
we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which dwells righteousness.
3:14 Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things,
be diligent to be found in peace, without blemish and blameless in his sight.

Treat the Apostles Teachings as Scripture

(Another line of reasoning from vs 9 taking into account vs 2)
3:15 Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation;
even as our beloved brother Paul also,
according to the wisdom given to him, wrote to you;
3:16 as also in all of his letters, speaking in them of these things.
In those are some things hard to be understood,
which the ignorant and unsettled twist,
as they also do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
(Conclusion from vs 3-16)
3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand,
beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked,
you fall from your own steadfastness.
3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

Discussion Questions

vs 1-2 If you've read the Bible through once, then why read it again?
Should we accept the apostles commands as if they were the commands of Christ?
vs 3+ Have you ever heard mockers - even within the "Christian" community - scoffing at the idea of the literal return of Christ or at the physical resurrection from the dead?
Do you expect to see Christ return in your lifetime?
vs 5+ What is a negative aspect of Christ's return - which may be a reason that people scoff at it?
vs 8 What are the implications for how you should live your life if God reckons a day to be as 1000 years?
vs 9 God wants everyone to come to repentance and no one to perish. So how has delaying His return helped?
vs 11 Since everything will be destroyed, what kind of lifestyle should we live?
vs 13 What else, besides the judgment with the destruction it brings, should we look forwards to in the return of Christ?
vs 14 When it says "make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him", what are ways in which we may go about this?
vs 15+ What is Peter's attitude towards Paul's writings?
vs 17 What is the "error" he is referring to?
vs 18 What can help us to avoid falling with the ungodly?


Stimulate Others to Wholesome Thinking

2Peter 3:1,2
Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.

His first epistle was about Salvation, Sanctification, Submissiand on Suffering. This epistle is more polemic, though starting with isses of Christian character and maturity, he goes on to warn about false teachings and false teachers, and in this chapter deals with issues of eschatology.

Much of the Christian life is about thinking. Unlike those who practice their religion as mindless drones, Christians are encouraged to think, to discern, to scrutinize all things in light of scripture. Though such thoughtfulness has historically often been discouraged by the religious elite who feel threatened by those who are as knowledgeable as they, yet the body of Christ is much safer from false teachings and more fruitful in its individual application as each member grows in their knowledge of God through personally meditating on scripture. In contrast note what occurred soon after Catholicism was established. They made the people illiterate and took the Bible away from the body, the result being encapsulated in the term "the Dark Age".

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2Tim 3:16 So "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2Tim 4:2-4

Scoffers in the Last Days

2Peter 3:3,4 "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'"

Likewise Jude writes, "'The Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.' These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, 'In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.' These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit." Jude 1:14-19

And Paul writes, "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons." 1Tim 4:1

It seems to me that these passages are not referring to those who merely outside the faith, but rather of apostates. Paul writes concerning the second coming, "Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs" 2Thess 2:3a The Greek word he uses for "rebellion" is "apostasia" from which we get "apostasy" - those who fall away, defecting away from the faith. Jesus said, "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people." Matthew 24:10,11

So it's one thing for those outside the faith to deny the second coming. But there will come a times when a large percentage of "Christians" will abandon the faith in the Lord's return and opt to follow their own evil desires, which will prepare the way for the anti-Christ.

Creation by the Word

2Peter 3:5-7  But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Note the emphasis here is on the significance of the Word of God, in contrast to these apostates who have abandoned the Word, opting for their own opinion and stories they have fabricated. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." John 1:1-3 "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Col 1:15-17

Atheistic naturalists reject the idea of creation because of the implications of a Creator. "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good." Ps 14:1 "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities— his eternal power and divine nature— have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." Rom 1:20,21

What are some implications of being created? If we are created then our meaning and purpose in life is given to us by our Creator to whom we are accountable. It also means that our meaning in purpose is tied up with our perspective concerning life after death, ideas of which the materialists would rather avoid. God creates and God destroys.

A Day a Thousands Years

2Peter 3:8
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

From this perspective Jesus has only been away for a couple of days. "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." Ps 90:4
Jude parallels 2Peter. In this respect he quotes from chapter 1 of the Book of Enoch saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." The book of Enoch goes on to speak in terms of thousands of years with regards to the such an event. It's the inevitably and not the imminence of the Lord's return upon which we set our hopes. Yet even as time passes so that inevitably becomes more imminent. Thus Paul says, "Our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed." Rom 13:11b But "of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven" Mt 24:36

What's the Delay?

2Peter 3:9,10
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

What's the delay? Primarily for all categories of people come to faith. For "He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." Acts 17:26b-27 Consequently God wants the gospel to go the ends of the earth. "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Mt 24:14 I believe what has been primarily delaying the Lord's return is the procrastination of the Christian community to propagate the gospel worldwide, which is our primary function.

God doesn't want anyone to perish. But to be right with God people must repent. "Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?  But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." Rom 2:4,5

There will be an end not only to mankind in our present form, but to all creation. For "the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." Rom 8:21

Live to Speed His Coming

2Peter 3:11,12 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

What kind of people should we be? What kind of lifestyle should be live in view of that which we believe? "From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away." 1Cor 7:29-31 That is, in view of our faith, we should readjust our priorities. And "physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1Tim 4:8 A godly lifestyle is a life lived in view of God.

Note as I inferred previously, we are involved in delaying or speeding the Lord's return. How can you speed the Lord's return? By living a godly life - doing that which the Lord has called us to do with the attitude and behavior which reflects that of the Lord.

Look Forward to a New Home

2Peter 3:13,14
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." 2Cor 4:18-5:1

Likewise Jesus said, "In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:2,3

With this end in view we make every effort to be blameless and at peace with Him. Not that such is a requirement for salvation. For that would be salvation by works. Rather we do so because it's the right thing to do in view of our eternally secured destiny. Remember what Peter said in the first chapter, "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2Peter 1:5-11

Peter Affirms Paul's Writings as Scripture

2Peter 3:15,16 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. 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.

Paul's testimony itself sets a precedence for God's patience, as Paul writes, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners— of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." 1Tim 1:15,16

Now some pit Paul against Peter. But in fact Paul and Peter agree. They preach the same gospel. Also it says here "as Paul wrote you". Paul wrote to these same people whom Peter was writing to. Peter and Paul ministered together. In fact Peter may be alluding to the book of Romans which has the expression, "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?" Rom 2:4, and contains some difficult passages which indeed ignorant and unstable people have distorted over history. But nonetheless Peter views Paul's writing as scripture. In fact the phrase "as they do the other Scriptures" is more precisely "as they do the rest of the Scriptures". And the word for "Scriptures" is used 51 times in the New Testament and is exclusively translated "Scripture" every time. So Paul's writings are to be treated as Scripture and not mere opinion. The apostles writings are foundational to the faith. (Eph 2:20)

To distort Paul's writings (as many a post-Biblical theologian has done) invites destruction, just as Peter warned previously that "there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them— bringing swift destruction on themselves." 2Peter 2:1b

Scrutinize Teachings

2Peter 3:17,18 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Implied in the command to be on your guard against error is the conscious and intentional effort to identify error. Further implied in the conscious and intentional effort to identify error is the freedom to do so. Consequently the first indication of a false teacher is one who does not allow his teachings to be scrutinized. And such people abound. They get away with error either because "men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." 2Tim 4:3 and so "they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2Tim 4:4 Or because the false teachers will not allow their teachings to be scrutinized and thus train their followers to be gullible.

Another warning flag, again common today, are those who base their teachings almost exclusive on what the Bible may imply versus what it explicitly states. Or they take stories and historical events in the Bible and interpret what the Bible explicitly says in light of such events rather than interpreting such events or what may be implied in such events in light of what the Bible says explicitly. So many preachers use stories in the Bible simply as sounding boards to push whatever doctrine they prefer and to say whatever they want to say.

For this reason I have devoted most of my studies to the New Testament letters. For such contain the most explicit instructions and emphatic doctrine directed to the Christian community. Everything else in the Bible I recommend be interpreted in light of the New Testament letters. Even the gospels should be interpreted in light of the New Testament letters. Doing so one is less likely to read into the Bible rather than reading out of it. 

"fall from your secure position" is what I refer to as an NIVism. A poor translation typical of NIV. The word in Greek the NIV translates as "secure position" is actually "steadfastness", as most other translations have it. It's referring to falling from a consistent godly lifestyle. It's not referring to Eternal Security or losing your salvation. Notice also the contrast in verse 18 referring to "growing". So it's about growth and not about existence or status. If a believer doesn't keep alert to error, it may hinder his growth. That's all it's saying.

2Peter 3 RAP

3:1 This is my second letter to you
2 To remind you to think on things you once knew
Recall the words spoken by the prophets of old
And the command of Christ through the apostles being told
3 First of all you must understand
That scoffers will come and take their stand
4 They will say "Where is this coming foretold
For everything is as it was of old"
5 But they forget that long ago
God's word made the heavens and the earth below
The earth was formed from water - that's right - H2O
6 By which the ancient world was destroyed as you know
7 By the same word they are reserved for fire
As also are the mocker, the sinner and liar
8 But do not forget this one thing I say
9 With the Lord a thousand years is as a day
Concerning His promise the Lord is not slow
But patient with you lest to hell you might go
10 The Lord will come in the night like a thief
And destroy everything, that is my belief
11 What kind of people should you then ought you to be
You ought to live right and also holy
12 As you look forward to the day of the Lord
Though it brings death, yet that you can afford
13 For also it will bring a new heaven and earth
That is for those who have gone through the new birth
14 So then dear friends during this interim
Be found spotless and blameless and at peace with him
15 Keep in mind that God's patience means salvation
Just as Paul wrote with God's inspiration
16 He writes the same way in all his letters
Speaking in them of all these matters. 
Though some things he says are hard to understand
Which some do distort, them I must reprimand
For they do so to other scriptures as well
But in the end they may end up in hell
17 Therefore dear friends, be on your guard
Lest you be carried away and you fall really hard
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior
To Him be the glory now and forevermore.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Aug 16,2017