Scriptures

2 Peter 3

Introduction

“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; 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 Saviour: knowing this first, that in the last days mockers will come, walking after their own lusts, 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.” 2 Peter 3:1-4

The Day Of The Lord

In the previous chapter Peter warned his readers to be careful in regards to false teachers. And one of those warnings was about the damage these false teachers can do especially within our assemblies.

In this chapter Peter warns them about another group of people who can cause damage, but not so much on the inside but on the outside.

When we as Christians face ridicule about Jesus’ return, we need to remember Jesus’ promise that He will certainly return, John 14:1-3 / Acts 1:9-11.

Peter says the first thing we need to remember is that Christians should expect mockers. He says, when we get people coming up to us and having a go about our faith concerning Jesus’ return, just remember. Remember the words spoken before the holy prophets, remember the commandment of the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.

In other words when these people come up to us and start mocking us because of our faith just remember that what God says is going to happen, will happen.

Whether He spoke through His prophets or spoke through His apostles, God’s Word is sure. And when God’s Word says that unbelievers will come and ridicule us, you can be sure that they will and in that way it shouldn’t come as a surprise to us.

And when are we to expect these mockers? Peter says, in the last days. When Peter uses this phrase ‘last days’, he is referring to the age of the Messiah, Hebrews 1:1-2. In other words ever since the birth of Christianity, there has been and will continue to be those around us who will mock us for various reasons.

Peter says when these scoffers come along, the real motivation behind it all is because they are walking according to their own lusts. In other words, most people know that when we talk about Jesus’ return, we’re talking about judgment. And so what these people do is make fun of us, why? Because it soothes their guilty consciences.

Peter says the biggest argument that these people will use is that everything continues as it always has. How are we going to answer these critics?

Remember what Peter has just told, he told us to remember what the holy prophets and apostles have said. Remember that God’s Word is true and consistent.

“For this they wilfully forget that there were heavens from of old, and an earth formed out of water and amid water, by the word of God; by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. 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.” 2 Peter 3:5-7

Whilst we are remembering God’s Word, these scoffers are forgetting, these scoffers have forgotten about the flood.

Many people disregard the Old Testament and forget the many stories within them but as Christians we need to remember what other people forget or disregard, we are to remember because it gives us the big picture.

And so Peter says these scoffers forget, but not just forget, they wilfully forget. In other words they purposefully choose not to remember an event that proves their argument wrong. They aren’t interested in determining truth, they like many other people, are actually trying to justify their lifestyle.

Many people today conveniently ignore the evidence because they know the evidence would weaken their case, that’s why they ridicule Christians, rather than dealing with it fairly and seriously. But Peter says, the flood is evidence of the certainty of God’s Word.

What happened with Sodom and Gomorrah is evidence of the certainty of God’s word, 2 Peter 2:5-6. Peter says by God’s Word, the world was once destroyed by water.

And he says the same Word that promised and carried through with the promise about the flood, is the Word that promises and will carry through about the Lord’s coming and the fire to accompany it.

In other words, since God kept His first promise to destroy the world with water, we can expect Him to keep His present promise as well.

“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. 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”. 2 Peter 3:8-9

These scoffers may come along and say, ‘yes but, it has been so long since that promise was made.’ And in one sense they might be right, it has been just over two thousand years since the promise of the Lord’s return but to answer that question we need to remember something else, we need to remember that God is not affected by time.

We all know that our time on earth is short, we all know that time dominates our lives every day whether we like it or not. But God is not man and He is not controlled by time as we understand it.

Peter says with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Now sadly this is one of those passages which has been used and abused and taken out of context over the years.

Some people have homed in on this verse to make it mean something it was never meant to mean but Peter is simply reminding us that time is irrelevant to God.

And so while it may have been just over two thousand years since this promise of Jesus’ return, to God that is no different from two days, Psalm 90:4. In other words another two thousand years could pass, and God’s Word would not be weakened at all.

Since God kept His promise about the first coming of Christ, Genesis 3:15, we can expect Him to fulfil the promise of His Son’s return. No one knows when Christ is coming back, Acts 1:7.

We must remember God’s Word is sure, we must remember God is not governed by time and finally Peter says there is one more thing we need to remember, remember that God is patient.

Peter says these mockers believe that the Lord is slow concerning His promise. It has been just over two thousand years since the promise was made. However, while some people may think that the Lord is slow in coming back, we can be sure that He is slow for a reason.

Peter says, ‘He is patient with us not wanting anybody to perish’. Although God is a just God, He is also a merciful and loving God. While God’s justice requires judgment and eternal punishment of all the ungodly, God’s love and mercy is willing to give them time to repent.

This explains the Lord’s delay in returning, He has given every generation that has lived during the last two thousand years’ time to repent. And in that way He has been patient with everyone, He’s is hoping that people will repent.

Peter says remember God’s Word is sure, remember God is not governed by time and remember that God is patient with us and He wants those who aren’t Christians to come to Him today.

Peter now goes ahead and speaks about what will actually happen when our Lord Jesus finally does come back.

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 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. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:10-13

The day when Jesus returns, Peter calls the day of the Lord.

There are some who believe that the coming of Christ and the day of the Lord are actually two separate events. They believe that the coming of Christ is a secret coming in which He will rapture His saints. And they believe that the day of the Lord is the final Day of Judgment which occurs much later.

But if they who believe this would actually take the time to read the text, they would soon discover that both Peter and Paul use these expressions interchangeably. Paul describes the coming of the Lord and its implications for the righteous, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

But then the apostle Paul calls it the day of the Lord as he is discussing the timings of these events, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4. And so, the coming of the Lord and the Day of the Lord is one in the same thing. Luke simply tells us that Jesus will return in the same way they saw Him go up into heaven, Acts 1:9-11.

We all know how most thieves work, they usually wait until late at night to break into someone house and nobody goes to bed expecting to be burgled. Peter says for a lot of people, Jesus’ return is going to happen in the same way they are just not expecting it, Paul tells us the same thing, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3.

Peter tells us about the Lord’s return and says, it will be unexpected, without warning. Paul says as Christians we don’t need to know the date and time of His return, but as Christians we should be ready for His return. Paul says the day of the Lord should not overtake you like a thief would, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6.

In other words we should be ready for His return not because we know the day or hour of His coming, not because of any so called revelation that pinpoints the time of His coming. But we should be ready for His return because as Christians we’re told to stay alert.

We always need to remember that Jesus is coming back one day and until then we need to remain faithful to His word and repent when necessary, Revelation 3:1-3. Because if we don’t, then the Lord will indeed come upon us as a thief in the night.

The second thing which Peter tells us concerning the Lord’s return is that it will be catastrophic. When we read Peter’s words, do they sound like a ‘silent’ return of Jesus?

Peter is not talking about some fiery purification process of the earth as some believe. He is talking about what can only be described as the total destruction of the whole universe.

The sun, moon and the stars are going to melt because of a great heat. And that word ‘melt’, is the Greek word ‘luo’ which means to break up, destroy, or dissolve as the other verses translate it. Peter says all these things will be dissolved, the heavens will be dissolved from being on fire. The word ‘melt’ is the Greek word ‘teko’ which means to liquefy.

In other words, the universe is going to be totally destroyed, now look what Peter says will happen to the Earth, he uses words like, ‘pass away, melt, and dissolve’.

Peter says when it comes we will know it has come because the world as we know it will be non-existent. For some people this is frightening and so it should be, but not for the Christian.

Peter says when everything in the universe has been totally destroyed, this will actually usher in a new order. He says there will be a new heavens and a new earth in which the righteousness will live. This is what Old Testament saints looked forward to, Hebrews 11:13-16.

The new heavens and a new Earth is something which the early Christians looked forward to, Hebrews 13:14. This new heavens and new Earth which Peter is talking about is the ultimate destination for Christians. We look forward to this new heavens and new earth because of God’s promise.

Peter says no-one knows the date and time of Jesus’ return but when it happens, it’s going to be catastrophic. Everything will be totally destroyed and then we will go to live eternally in the place which God has prepared for His people. And he says we can sure that’s going to happen because God said it’s going happen.

If we believe God and trust that, that great day is coming, what do we do in the meantime? Peter says the very fact that we believe that Jesus the Christ is going to return should inspire us all to live right for God. Jesus’ return should encourage us to live holy lives and strive for godliness.

All our wealth, all our fame and all our physical relationship are going to be dissolved when Jesus returns. The only thing that has promise of the life to come is godliness, 1 Timothy 4:8.

Peter says Jesus’ return should encourage us to live holy lives and he says we should be looking forward to and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God.

The Apostle Paul didn’t have any problem in wanting the Lord to come, 1 Corinthians 16:22, and the apostle Peter Himself had no problem in asking the Lord to come, Acts 3:19-20. And so, as Peter draws his letter to a close, it is evident that he is filled with love toward his brethren.

“Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent to be found in peace, without blemish and blameless in his sight. 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. As also in all of his letters, speaking in them of these things.” 2 Peter 3:14-16

Notice that he calls them ‘beloved’, 2 Peter 3:1 / 2 Peter 3:8 and in the text here he uses this term of endearment twice, once and later he will use it again, 2 Peter 3:18. And it’s with this love which Peter has in his heart for his brethren, he writes his final words.

And I say his final words because remember he has already told us that he is about to die, 2 Peter 1:14, and as far as we know Peter didn’t write any other letters after this one.

Like we mentioned earlier, the words of a dying man can be the very thing which will last forever. And as just as the final words of any dying person are significant, we know that they can reveal what is of greatest concern to that person.

So what is Peter concerned about? What is Peter going to write to the very people whom he dearly loved? Notice Peter has already used the word ‘diligence’, which means earnestness. He used it when he was encouraging us to earnestly grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 1:5 / 2 Peter 1:10.

But here he uses the word ‘diligence’ to encourage us to earnestly look for peace whilst we’re waiting for the Lord’s return. Peter says when Jesus returns He should find us in peace, without blemish and blameless, Luke 18:8. When he talks about peace, he can be talking about our relationship with God or he can be talking about our relationship with our fellow man or he can be talking about both.

Whatever Peter has in mind the point is, when we as Christians focus on being at peace with God, then God will help us to be at peace with our fellow man, Proverbs 16:7.

We’ve all got our faults, spots and blemishes but how on earth can we be without blemish and blameless? It’s certainly not because of anything we have done but because of what Someone else has done.

In the eyes of God we are without blemish and blameless only because of the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:25-27. Jesus was the One who redeemed us from sin through His precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, 1 Peter 1:18-19 / Philippians 3:5-6.

If we continue to follow God’s ways, if we continue to confess our sins to Him then the blood of Jesus will come to wash us clean, 1 John 1:7-9. So whilst we’re continually being washed, we’re continually going to be found without blemish and blameless in God’s eyes.

Peter says remember the patience of the Lord is salvation. He has already reminded us that time is irrelevant to God, 2 Peter 3:8, and he has also reminded us that God is patient in His return because He wants others to come to Him in repentance, 2 Peter 3:9. The apostle Paul says the same thing, 2 Corinthians 6:1-2.

Now it’s interesting that Peter mentions the apostle Paul in these verses. Remember that Peter himself took advantage of God’s patience for him to repent after he denied Jesus three times and we find the apostle Paul rebuking Peter for being a hypocrite, Galatians 2:11-21. And we can see very clearly that Peter did repent of being a hypocrite by the very fact that he calls Paul his beloved brother.

Peter clearly held no animosity toward his beloved brother Paul for what may have occurred at Antioch. We remember God’s patience in terms of His return and we need to be careful what we do with the Scriptures.

Peter says yes there are some of Paul’s writings which are hard to understand but don’t go twisting the Scriptures to our own destruction.

The Bible can be a great source for much good, Hebrews 4:12 / 2 Timothy 3:16-17 / James 1:21, but they can also be abused and used to cause a lot harm.

It’s all very well running around with a huge sword ready to do battle, but if we don’t know how to handle that sword properly, the chances are we’re going to hurt ourselves with it. And it’s in that way which Peter says twisting the Scriptures can lead to your own destruction.

And so Peter reminds us that we need to be careful when we’re dealing with the Scriptures because if we’re not careful, we can fall and be led away by the error of those who twist the Scriptures.

“You, therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware, lest being carried away with the error of the wicked, you fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:17-18

What Peter says in this one verse, verse 17, is a total summary of what he’s been warning us about in 1 Peter 2-3. He is telling us that there is a very real danger of falling away.

Remember he told us that these false teachers who were once true Christians are now denying the Lord who bought them, 2 Peter 2:1. He told us that these same people have now forsaken the right way and gone astray, 2 Peter 2:15.

And finally he told us that these very same people once escaped the filthy things of the world but are now entangled again in those very things, 2 Peter 2:20. And as a result they are now in a worse state than they were before they actually became Christians.

And what he says here in verse 18, is a total summary of what he is encouraging us to do in 2 Peter 1. He reminded us of the blessings which come by the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 1:1-4.

He reminded us about how we can grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 1:5-11. He reminded us that in order for us to grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ, we constantly need to look at the witness of the apostles and the witness of the Old Testament Scriptures, 2 Peter 1:12-21.

In other words Peter is simply saying, if we want to avoid falling away, then simply keep on growing. Grow in the grace of Jesus Christ, by appreciating and living with and in God’s unmerited favour.

Remember growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ isn’t just about intellectual knowledge, it’s more than that. Growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ means to live like Jesus lived, behave like Jesus behaved, speak like Jesus spoke. Handle difficult times like Jesus did, trust in our heavenly Father like Jesus did.

Growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ will not only help us from falling away, but it will also ultimately help us to give glory to him both now and forever.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 6:23

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