2 Peter 3 - Outlines of 1 & 2 Peter (Book Notes menu page)
3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you;
in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
pure {ie., sincere} minds - are in contrast to the crafty (2Pet 2:1)
and deceptive (2:13,14) minds of the false teachers.
3:2 That ye may be mindful {GK=mnaomai, in remembrance}
of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets,
and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
Peter repeats his urgent purpose in writing: 'that you may remember...' (1:12-15).
Perhaps he was acutely aware of his own forgetfulness of a word of warning. (Luk 22:61)
Remember what? -
  • the words spoken by the apostles (2Pet 1:15-18, the testimony of eyewitnesses).
  • the words spoken by the prophets (1:19-21, the word of prophecy made 'more sure').
    Together, these comprise the Word of God (whereby we have the knowledge of our Savior and His promises), which is foundational to 'the precious Faith,' and to holy living (1:1-11).
3:3 Knowing this first,
that there shall come in the last days scoffers
walking after their own lusts,
3:4 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 the creation.
scoffers, walking after their own lusts - cp. Jude 1:17-19
  1. Who are these scoffers? -
    The false teachers (and their followers), who 'deny' {reject, refuse}...
    1. the deity and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ (2Pet 2:1).
    2. the redemption from sin by His blood (2:1).
    3. the power of Christ (2Tim 3:5)...
    4. the promise of Christ's second coming (v.4).
      Though unbelievers mock, Christ's return is central to the Faith.
      eg., Joh 14:1-3; 1Cor 11:23-26; 1The 4:14-18
  2. When will these scoffers come?
    "in the last days"- which is the period of time, bracketed by Christ's first & second comings, during which God's promises are being brought to completion. This period includes:
    1. Christ's first coming to redeem. Heb 1:2; 1Pet 1:20
    2. The apostasy of the church. 2Tim 3:1-7
    3. The Lord's return, in the air, for His own (at the Rapture, 1The 4:16,17),
      when He will bring our salvation to completion (1Pet 1:5,13; 5:4).
    'The last days' are followed by 'the Day of the Lord,' which includes judgment of unbelievers (to be discussed at v.10).
  3. What is the argument of scoffers?
    • all things {everything} continue {remain permanently unchanged} -
      ie., the natural order (of seasons, and of birth, life, and death) flows uninterrupted.
    • since 'the fathers' fell asleep...-
      The apostles spoke of Christ's return, 2000 years ago.
      The OT patriarchs (eg., Jacob, Gen 49:1,10)... 4000 years ago.
    • since creation... - at least 6,000 years, perhaps (as some think) millions of years...
      ie., 'If He hasn't come by now, He is not coming.'
3:5 For this they willingly are ignorant of,
that by the word of God the heavens were of old,
and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
3:6 Whereby
{ie., by the Word of God} the world that then was,
being overflowed with water, perished:
3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now,
by the same word are kept in store,
reserved unto fire against the day of judgment
{ie., condemnation}
and perdition
{GK=apoleia, destruction} of ungodly men.
willingly ignorant {GK=lanthano, unaware, 'forgetful' [Vine]}- They are 'willfully forgetful'...
  1. of the Word of God -
    It is not that they are unfamiliar with the Bible, but that they disregard it as myth. (cf. 2Pet 1:16,19)
  2. of the Power of God's Word -
    They want to forget that 'God spoke and it was done' (Psa 33:9).
    Yet, God's Word brought about...
    1. the creation (v.5) - Peter mentions two stages, involving 'water':
      1. the universe came into existence (Gen 1:1,2a),
      2. the earth was established for habitation (Gen 1:2b-10-f).
        The phrase "standing {lit., standing together} out of the water and in the water..."
        • may refer to the separation of sea and land.
        • may also refer to the substantiating of 'fluid' material things (cp. Psa 24:1,2).
          By God's Word, the divergent forces of the universe 'stand together.' Col 1:16,17
    2. the judgment, by water, in Noah's day (v.6; 2Pet 2:5; Gen 7:21-23) -
    3. the preservation of the present 'heaven and earth' for future judgment (v.7) -
      The earth is (lit.) 'stored up with (or, unto) fire,' against that day when "the elements {the rudimentary components} shall melt {lit., be loosed} with fervent heat" (v.10). Today, we have some idea of the forces released when the atom is loosed.
         Yet, we are willfully ignorant of the Power, who holds everything together (Col 1:16,17), and who also holds every man accountable to Himself (2Pet 2:9).
3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant {ie., unaware, forgetful (cf. v.5)} of this one thing,
that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day.
{cp. Psa 90:4}
3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise,
{ie., 'The Lord is not tardy concerning the appointed time of His promise...' [Wuest]}
as some men count slackness;
but is longsuffering to us-ward,
not willing 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 the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise,
and the elements shall melt with fervent heat,
the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
His promise {GK=epangelia, lit., (His) 'proclaimed upons', (His) appointments}
ie., God keeps His Word. cp. Num 23:19
the Lord is...
  1. not slack {ie., slow, tardy}- cp. Hab 2:3
    God's promises are not weakened by the passage of time, as are the promises of men.
    "God can spread over 1000 years, or execute in a single day, any purpose of His mind or action of His hand." [GWms]
  2. longsuffering {GK=makrothumeo, makro: 'long lasting'; thumeo: 'heat,' 'passion'} -
    He is patient in the exercise of His wrath. cp. Psa 86:15; Isa 30:18; Rom 9:22-24
    He has eternity behind Him, and eternity before Him.
  3. not 'willing' {GK=boulomai, wishing, desiring} ...
    This word "usually expresses the deliberate exercise of volition..." [Vine]
    • ...that any should perish {GK=apollumi, be destroyed, be lost} -
      Yet, this is the condition of everyone who is outside of Christ.
      cp. this word in Mat 18:11; Luk 13:3; Joh 3:15,16; Rom 2:12; 1Cor 1:18
    • ...but {rather, His desire would be} that all should come to {the condition of} repentance {GK=metanoia, a change of mind}.
      Repentance is a turning from sin and self, to the Savior.
      cp. Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30,31
    God turns the pages of the calendar - not too fast, nor too slow - but at a pace that ensures that all have opportunity to turn to Him. But we, who do not know the number of our days, do not have the luxury of delay. cp. Psa 95:7,8; 2Cor 6:2
the day of the Lord...- This term, as used in the prophetic passages in the Bible,
refers to a specific period of time, occurring at the end of 'the last days,' and culminating God's prophetic promises to Israel and the Church.
     'The Day of the Lord' begins following the Rapture of the Church, and includes the Great Tribulation, the battle of Armageddon, Christ's return to the earth to judge His enemies, and to establish His righteous reign over all the earth from Jerusalem, in His Millennial Kingdom (Rev 20:1-6). This period ends with a brief rebellion led by Satan, followed by the Great White Throne judgment of unbelievers (Rev 20:7-15), and the destruction of the heavens and the earth (described here, in v.10, cp. Rev 20:11). It is followed by the establishment of the new heaven and new earth (v.13; Rev 21:1).
     Peter focuses on the closing events of 'the Day of the Lord' (the final judgments and the transition from the old to the new creation). v.7,10-13; 2Pet 2:9
the day of the Lord will come...- It is certain. Those who trust in Him will not be disappointed.
Hab 2:3,4; Heb 10:37-39; Joh 14:2,3
...will come as a thief...- ie., unexpectedly. cp. Mat 24:42-44; 1The 5:2-6; Rev 3:3; 16:15
Despite being long foretold, Christ's coming, in judgment, will take many by surprise.
The Lord will keep His appointments, whether you are ready to meet Him or not.
...the heavens shall pass away with a great noise {GK=rhoizedon} - This word describes:
"the swish of an arrow, the rush of wings, the splash of water, the hiss of a serpent" [McGee],
"the roar of flames." [Vine]
Although that day may approach unexpectedly, its arrival is inescapable.
the elements {GK=stoichea, rudiments, primary parts} shall melt {GK= luo, to be loosed}...
At God's Word, the forces of nature, which He presently holds together, will be loosed (cp. v.7).
the earth... and the works {GK= ergon, the products and enterprises of human endeavors}...
shall be burned up {ie., be consumed by fire}. cp. Psa 102:25-28; Isa 51:6; Mat 24:35
3:11 [Seeing] then [that] all these things shall be dissolved {GK= luo, be loosed},
what manner [of persons] ought ye to be
in [all] holy conversation
{manner of life} and godliness,
3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God,
wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved,
and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise,
look for new heavens and a new earth,
wherein dwelleth righteousness.
In view of the coming judgment, and the temporary nature of this world,
our lives should be characterized by:
  1. holy living - To be 'holy' is to be 'separated' unto God.
    (Priests must be set apart for God. Ex 28:2,3,36,41; 1Pet 2:9,10.)
  2. godliness (cp. 2Pet 1:3-7) - ie., a lifestyle of devotion to God,
    which lives out a heartfelt desire to be like Him, and to please Him in all things.
  3. looking for {GK=prosdokao, expectantly watching} for Christ's return.
    (Contrast v.10a, regarding those who are not watching.)
    cp. 1Cor 1:7,8; 1Thes 1:9,10; Titus 2:13,14; Heb 9:28
  4. hasting unto {GK=speudo, diligently pursuing, actively desiring}...
    • the end of this sin filled world, which cannot stand.
    • the entrance of "the city which hath foundations" (v.13; Heb 11:8-10).
3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things,
be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
3:15 And account [that] the longsuffering of our Lord [is] salvation;
even as our beloved brother Paul also
according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
3:16 As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things;
in which are some things hard to be understood,
which they that are unlearned
{ie., ignorant} and unstable {unsteadfast}
{ie., twist, distort, pervert},
as [they do] also the other
{GK=loipoi, the remaining, the rest of} scriptures,
unto their own destruction.
3:17 Ye therefore, beloved,
seeing ye know [these things] before
{GK=proginosko, to know beforehand, to foresee},
beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked,
fall from your own stedfastness
3:18 But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Peter's final charge(s) to his readers (cp. 2Pet 1:12-15) -
  1. be diligent {GK=spoudazo, endeavoring, hastening to the goal (cp. 1:5-11)} -
    to be found by Him (at His coming, and upon His inspection)...
    • in peace - at home in His Holy Presence. cp. Rom 5:1,2
    • without spot - unstained by the world.
    • blameless - unblemished by sin; above reproach due to innate purity.
      cp. Eph 5:25-27; 1The 3:12,13; 5:23
  2. account that: the longsuffering of the Lord is salvation (v.15)
    • By the world's accounting, 'time is money... time is for pleasure.'
      But they willfully forget that "all these things shall be dissolved" (v.11).
    • By God's accounting, time allows...
      1. opportunity for the lost to come to repentance and salvation (v.9).
      2. opportunity for the saved to walk with, and work for, the Lord (v.14,15)
      Peter cites Paul's epistles, along with 'the rest' of Scripture, in support of his argument.
      • False teachers twist God's Word (misinterpreting and misapplying it to support their errors), because they have no spiritual understanding (1Cor 2:14).
      • The writings of the apostles agree with each other, because they wrote God's Word (the Scriptures) as the Spirit directed them (2Pet 1:20,21).
      Paul also wrote concerning...
      1. this present time of opportunity (eg., Rom 1:15-17; Eph 5:14-17; Col 4:2-6),
      2. the coming day of accountability (eg., 1The 4:13- 5:11; 2The 1:6-12).
      An historical illustration of living according to God's accounting:
      Moved by the ministry of Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, the missionary minded leader of the early Moravian Brethren movement, Leonard Dober sensed God's call to take the gospel to the plantation slaves on the Virgin Islands. His intention, to sell himself into slavery in order to reach these slaves, brought ridicule from fellow Christians. Yet, he considered no price too high, when Jesus Christ Himself had become a servant and died for him. In the late 1730's, Dober, at the age of eighteen, arrived in the Virgin Islands, where rather than being made a plantation slave, he was given work as a servant to the governor. However, he soon felt that this position was so superior to that of the slaves that it was detrimental to reaching them for Christ. Therefore, he left the governor's mansion to live in a small mud hut, where he could work one-on-one with the slaves. In three years time, his ministry drew 13,000 converts to Christ.
      [adapted from "Leonard Dober, a Slave for Christ" by Jonathan Cederberg, in "The Voice of the Martyrs" magazine, August 1998]
  3. beware lest you... (v.17)
    • being led away with the error {ie., delusion} of the wicked {lit., the lawless, the unprincipled}.
    • fall from your own steadfastness (ie., like the ignorant and unstable, v.16).
      • The self-deceived & willfully ignorant have abandoned the 'holy commandment' (2Pet 2:21).
      • True believers cling to that which they 'know beforehand' by God's Word (v.13,17; cp. 2Pet 1:19; 2Tim 3:13-17). The believer is 'established' {'made steadfast'} by adherence and obedience to God's Word (cp. 2Pet 1:12).
           Peter himself had once fallen from his 'own steadfastness', when he disregarded the Lord's words of warning (Luk 22:31,32). Throughout this epistle, he has sought to strengthen his brethren, by establishing them on the foundation of God's Word.
  4. grow (v.18; 1Pet 2:2)...
    • in grace (cp. 2Pet 1:1-3, 'grace be multiplied unto you') --
      Grace is the 'undeserved favor' by which God reconciles sinners to Himself, and fully supplies them with every resource needed for living to please and serve Him. Growth in grace includes an increasing awareness of dependency upon Him, and an increasing appropriation of His provision.
      cp. 2Cor 3:5; 12:9; 1Pet 4:10; 5:5,10
    • in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
      • Life, as a child of God, begins with a basic knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
        (2Pet 1:2-4; Joh 17:3; 2Cor 4:6)
      • Maturity, as a son of God, advances with a growing knowledge of who our Lord is,
        as the Spirit reveals Him. (2Pet 1:5-8; Eph 1:17-23)
      • Personal relationship with the Lord, develops
        with increasing understanding of His Person, Will and Ways,
        as the believer meets Him in His Word, and walks with Him through all of life.
        (Php 3:8-14; Col 1:9,10; Joh 15:4-16; Rev 3:20)
To him be glory both now and for ever {lit., to the eternal day, cp. 2Pet 1:19}.
Amen. 1Pet 5:10,11

This concludes the study in 2 Peter.

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