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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

2 Peter 3

  1. INTRO:
    1. This chapter reminds me of the mood in the U.S. following 9/11. No planes in the sky. Fighter jets patrolling the skies. Police were on constant alert. Nobody dared ignore suspicious activity. Airline security reached its all-time peak. Everybody knew the threat of unexpected attack was real & pervasive. It could be at any time, anywhere, from anybody. But as months & years separated Americans from those devastating events, the original vigilance cooled, then virtually chilled. Back to business as usual.
    2. Our Theme as Peter starts wrapping up his 2nd epistle...Christ’s Return!
      1. The NT clearly teaches: Jesus will Return! His 2nd Coming will be physical & personal (just like his Res & Ascension). His Coming will be immediately preceded by cosmic & terrestrial distress. Christ’s return will bring upon the world judgment that is sudden, unexpected, & inescapable. An antichrist figure is to arise prior to the 2nd Coming; who will be decisively overthrown. And, The kingdom of God, God’s rule & reign, will be fully established at Christ’s Return.
    3. A couple of reminders when it comes to End Times:
      1. While God has revealed some things about the future, much still remains a mystery.
      2. When searching for answers, continue to leave room for questions.
      3. Try not to make agreement on the particulars of future events a basis for fellowship w/other believers.
        1. If you agree on the fundamental, saving truths of the faith related to the triune God, the person & work of Christ in His incarnation, death, resurrection, & ascension, then cut each other some slack on just how Christ’s return is going to pan out. Be tolerant of those who don’t see things as clearly as you do.
      4. Though no one knows all the details, don’t hesitate to stand firm on those clearly set forth in Scripture:
        1. Christ will physically return; There will be a final judgment; Heaven & Hell are both real; The resurrection of our bodies is a certainty.
        2. These are set forth plainly in the bible & therefore can be counted on.
        3. 3-words: Balance, Balance, Balance! Some swing to obsession to details, others to ignorance of even the big picture. Some to ultra dogmatism which is unhealthy, others to endless indecision to doctrinal views which is unwise.
  2. 1 DAY IS AS A 1000 YEARS!
    1. (1) 4 reminders: Documents; Derision; Destruction; Delay.
    2. DOCUMENTS! (2)
    3. Note the linkage between OT & NT writings.
    4. The apostles of Christ filled the 260 chapters of the NT w/a about 300 references to the 2nd coming. It’s important!
    5. DERISION! (3,4) [Derision = ridicule or mockery]
    6. Understanding that the 2nd Coming was imminent, many early Christians were making the mistake of setting the date of His Return during their lifetime.
    7. What the false teachers couldn’t destroy with lies(2:1), they start to scoff & ridicule.
    8. (3) Scoffers - Doubting is a struggle to believe. Scoffing is a choice not to believe.
      1. If we’re honest Christians, we’ve all doubted something, at some time.
      2. “Interesting, every time a scoffer opens his mouth to deny the truth, he will help to confirm us in our conviction of the very truth which he denies!”
        1. A scoffer scoffs…& bible prophecy fulfilled again! :)
    9. (4) They ask - Where is the promise of his coming? All things continue as they were.
      1. They say God’s not going to break into history & interrupt the progress of time.
    10. All things continue as they were from the beginning of creation - NOT SO!
      1. That just isn’t true. Peter uses a triad formula, 3 examples to refute the scoffer’s argument. Creation(5a); The Flood(5b,6); & The final judgment(7).
      2. He explains...No, God did break into history as in the case of the flood. And He did so when men were convinced nothing would happen to them.
    11. DESTRUCTION! (5-7)
    12. They willfully forget – Plato said, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark: the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
    13. Peter now cites the 2 OT examples that God does break into history.
      1. 1st the created world; 2nd the flood!
    14. Gen.1:6-10 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
    15. They want you to forget that the very Word they deride is, in control of God’s universe. God created everything by His Word; His Word holds it together; His Word caused the flood; His Word will one day bring judgment of fire to the ungodly world.
      1. Note how many times “word” is used.
      2. Last time by water, this time by fire!
    16. So, Why hasn’t this taken place yet….it has been about 2000 yrs now?
    17. DELAY! (8,9)
    19. Peter discouraged date setting, explaining that God’s schedule is from a different perspective than ours & much more patiently worked out.
    20. Time, although considered a crucial commodity among human beings, is not a great issue with God.
      1. Story: One of the first times to the P.I. we were told to put away our watches. This didn’t make sense till our first teaching (explain: We were late to leave the house. When does church start? When we get there. How will they know when church starts? When we pull up. And they did!)
      2. Of course God deals with time, but being “outside of time”, He just has a different perspective of it. Thus, His time is not our time. His time is always the right time, no matter what the 2 hands on our watch say!
    21. One day is as a thousand years - The present church age has lasted, in God’s eyes, not quite 2 days!
      1. To God time is always in the present tense.
      2. Is this teaching showing us how to “add up” end times?
        1. Some have tried to number back the existent of man to 6000 years ago. Thus if we still have 1000 years for the millennium they said, then God must be rapping things up (i.e. 7 days = 7000 yrs). And so some prophesied the beginning of the tribulation to be the year 2000! Uhh, I guess not!
      3. But, this verse has nothing to do with this at all, nor the verse in which it comes from in Ps.90.
      4. So what’s He saying then?
        1. God doesn’t measure time by human standards. We must adjust ourselves to His way of time & not expect Him to live by ours.
          1. Like an impatient child on a trip, we must wait.
          2. We can’t hurry God by constantly asking, “Is it time yet?”
    23. The Lord is not slack – “hesitate, linger, delay” (used only here)
      1. What seems like tardiness or slowness is only in respect to your schedule!
    24. The Lord & His Promises!
      1. Every spring, the different species of trees in my yard put forth their leaves at different times. And so the promises of God! Some bloom in early spring, others I wait & wonder, “maybe the frost got them this year?” But then I wait, & sure enough the little buds appear on their branches.
        1. Mulberry trees are very slow in putting forth their leaves.
        2. Q: Have you ever had a mulberry promise from the Lord?
        3. Wait for it to come. At the appointed time it shall surely come
    25. The Lord & His Patience/longsuffering!
      1. God’s waiting is redemptive. Mercy’s day is lengthened! :)
      2. The Lord is not slow...He’s patient; He’s not tardy...He’s deliberately delaying; He’s not indifferent...He’s merciful.
    26. The Lord & His Plan for repentance!
      1. This is not a decree, as if God willed everyone to be saved. Universal salvation is not taught in the bible (re-read 7b).
      2. Peter says that God longs that all would be saved, but knows that many will reject Him.
      3. God can’t be waiting then for all people to be saved; He is waiting to receive all His own though. As Jesus said, "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” Jn.10:16
      4. The Lord is still seeking for His jewels lost in earths mud!
  3. Psalm 90!
    1. Read 1,2,4, 10, 12.
      1. Time is so important to us! From sundials to water clocks. Then hourglass to mechanical clocks. Then digital(splitting time into 1000ths of a second). To our cell phone clocks that automatically via satellite grab the exact time of day from the atomic clock over in Colorado. Our culture is definitely concerned w/time.
        1. Because of the earth shift w/the Japan quake, NASA estimated that the earth rotation speed increased 1.8 microsecond (a unit of time for 1 per million seconds).
    2. Here Moses compares God’s Eternity to man’s frailty!
      1. (1,2) Here we have a timeless God!
      2. (4) This isn’t saying time passes quickly for God, but that time passes quickly for us!
        1. If we lived for a 1000 yrs.(as Methuselah almost did) it is as if only 1 day went by… or even part of a night.
      3. (10) Moses speaks here to the length of our days being 70/80 years.
        1. “When time shall be no more, you will!”
        2. This year in the USA the average man lives for 75 years, the average woman 80 years. Big contrast to Haiti Men-47; Women-51.
          1. Infant mortality rate: USA 7/1000; Haiti 107 out of 1000 births.
        3. No matter where you live, with every living soul there comes a built-in time fuse. Some fuses burn slow, others more quickly.
        4. Every birth signals the beginning of a countdown; which w/o variation, zeros in on a forced exit from this scene.
        5. Every day 384 thousand new people arrive on this planet (4.45 a second); Every day 156 thousand leave it for eternity…their time-fuse burned out! (According to the Population Reference Bureau's "2010 World Population Data Sheet")
      4. (12) Moses gives us the secret of making life count! – Live it 1 day at a time!
        1. Mt.6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
        2. We count our years(birthdays) but not our days!
        3. Of all that we count in life, it is hardest to count our days.
        4. Q: How can we make each day count for God?
          1. Recognize life’s brevity. Only one life twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last”.
          2. ​​​​​​​Live each day for God – As if it were your last.
    3. How do we pray? “Lord, Come Quickly!” yet Lord, “hold off, so more will come into Your kingdom!”
      1. Its desiring His coming, but also being sympathetic for the unbelievers.
    4. The Danish philosopher, Kierkegaard, tells a parable of a theater where a variety show is proceeding. Each show is more fantastic than the last, and is applauded by the audience. Suddenly the manager comes forward. He apologizes for the interruption, but the theater is on fire, and he begs his patrons to leave in an orderly fashion. The audience think this is the most amusing turn of the evening, and cheer thunderously. The manager again implores them to leave the burning building, and he is again applauded vigorously. At last he can do no more. The fire raced through the whole building and the fun-loving audience with it.
      1. “And so,” concluded Kierkegaard, “will our age, I sometimes think, go down in fiery destruction to the applause of a crowded house of cheering spectators.”​​​​​​​

Verses 10-18

  1. INTRO:
    1. Everybody wants a date to circle on their calendar!
      1. Maybe it’s best, upon 1st waking up in the morning, to walk to your wall calendar & circle today’s date, & live your day in the light of this possibility!
    2. Ever had your house burglarized before?
      1. Explain a few times: Apt. Green Ave, Los Alamitos. Twice we were taken by surprise (stereo stacked ready to go inside; 2nd time outside) 3rd time, I was waiting!
      2. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched & not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Mt.24:43,44
    3. Last week we started looking at The Lord’s Return!
      1. In 3:3-7 Scoffers laughed it! - In 3:8,9 God guarantees it! - And today in 3:10-18 Peter will describe it & Show the behavior changed by it! (our outline)
  2. PETER DESCRIBES IT! (10,12,13)
    1. (10) Longsuffering is balanced w/justice!
    2. The day of the Lord – (75+ x’s) always connected w/judgment.
      1. It describes the end time events that begin after the rapture & culminate w/the beginning of eternity.
        1. Also called, “The Day, That Day, & the Great Day”.
        2. Day – not a 24 hour day(back in the grandpa’s day). It refers to “the whole program”.
    3. Day of God (13) – (2 x’s) the ushering in of eternity. (other time Rev.16:4)
      1. Concludes the Day of the Lord & begins the day of God.
    4. Day of Christ – (3 x’s) relates wholly to the reward & blessing of the saints at his coming.
    5. The Certainty of His coming – “will come”.
    6. The Character of His coming – “as a thief”.
    7. The Consequences of His coming – “the heavens will pass…”.
      1. Heavens – Not Gods abode(3rd heaven); but the 1st & 2nd heaven.
        1. 1st = earths atmosphere; 2nd = starry sky(space).
    8. A thief in the night - as a thief comes suddenly & unexpectedly, w/o announcement or warning.
      1. Used here for sinners who will least expect it.
      2. Used by Jesus about His own arrival in Mt.24:43.
      3. Used also for believers. See 1 Thes.5:1&4 (doesn’t have to take you by surprise if you’re watching). Also Rev.3:3.
    9. A great noise & fervent heat…“another one of the bibles great under statements.”
      1. Nuclear explosions we are now capable of making involve only a fist full of atoms. So, the releasing of all the atoms in the universe would at least bea great noise & fervent heat”!
      2. On March 5, 1979, nine U. S. satellites simultaneously radioed back to earth that a gamma radiation explosion occurred in a nearby galaxy known as N-49. This explosion lasted for only 1/10 of a second, but released more radiation than our sun does in 3, 000 years. Doyle Evans, an astrophysicist at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratories in New Mexico, noted that had this explosion of energy occurred in our galaxy, it would have instantly vaporized the earth! (Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.)
      3. All 3 images in vs.10 represent a disastrous fire.
      4. Elements - In the ancient world, this expression did not refer to atomic particles as it does in modern science, but to the basic building blocks of the perceivable, material world - the earth, water, wind.
        1. They’ll be wiped clear to make way for something new.
    10. This is where we get the term, “It’s all gonna burn!”
      1. Q: Where have you placed your investments? In which world?
        1. Some make this world their only concern. But Jesus rightly asked, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
      2. If you say, “I have concern for the next world”…then how do you show it in your day-to-day living?
      3. When everything gets torched the only thing you that will remain is your relationship w/Jesus Christ.
        1. If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Col.3:1-3
    11. (12) Hastening – “speed its coming”…How?
      1. This can be shown in prayer & effort:
        1. In Prayer - “Thy kingdom come”.
        2. In Witnessing – sharing our faith, so salvations happen, so Christ returns.
    12. (13) Its warrant? – His promise!
      1. Peter wasn’t trying to set out a time line...but to assert that the present world is temporary; only the future world is eternal.
      2. A little girl was taking an evening walk with her father. Wonderingly, she looked up at the stars and exclaimed: "Oh, Daddy, if the wrong side of heaven is so beautiful, what must the right side be!"
    13. Dwells – where righteousness has its fixed/permanent abode.
      1. It will be the home of righteousness, because The Righteous One will be there!
  3. BEHAVIOR CHANGED BY IT! (11,14-18)
    1. (11) What manner of persons ought you to be?
      1. Knowing these facts of the future, who should it cause you to be presently?
      2. This is actually a rhetorical question. But in case someone might miss it he answers, “Be” holy & “Be” godly!
        1. Holy speaks to separation (from the world & to God)
        2. Godly speaks to piety(dutiful) before God.
          1. Godliness is being aware of God’s presence in every aspect of your life!
            1. Which is the key to “living godly”!
          2. Church should be a place where every member is…
            1. Is cared for and grows to maturity.
            2. Is equipped to serve and finds his/her place of service.
            3. Is praying for and seeking the lost.
            4. Is under authority and walking in authority.
    2. (14) Be diligent – make every effort (NIV)
    3. Be in peace, w/o spot, & blameless!
      1. Are you making every effort to be in peace when He returns?
    4. (15,16) The apostle Paul teaches along these same lines.
      1. The apostles are unified in truth & purpose.
      2. God’s Procrastination is not inaction on God’s part, but instead a demonstration of His Loooonnnng-suffering.
    5. (17,18) Forewarned is Forearmed!
      1. This word beforehand is where we get our English word “prognosis”. When a medical prognosis is made, a patient is better able to prepare himself for what is ahead & if possible, to correct himself.
        1. If the doctor tells you to, “lay off the fried chicken, salt, bacon, & other artery cloggers… or have serious heart problems”; then you know beforehand & can change your eating habits according to this information you’ve received.
        2. Peter has given you the futures prognosis!
          1. What lifestyle changes do you need to make?
      2. How are we “armed”? – By growing in Grace & knowledge; & in giving glory!
        1. These will transform any believer into a useful faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ!
        2. Are you getting to know Jesus & what pleases Him better?
        3. How strong is your appetite for the food of God’s Word?
          1. If there’s no physical appetite in a child…something’s wrong!
          2. If there’s no spiritual appetite in a child of God…something’s wrong!
          3. O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You; In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. Ps.63:1
    6. Growing - The question we ask our children is, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"
      1. It's a good question for us at any stage of life!
        1. We must be constantly growing, developing, maturing.
        2. Spiritually we must never stop growing; and all along the way we must ask ourselves, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"
        3. Growing is falling down & getting up. Falling down & getting up. Falling down & getting up…all the way to heaven!
    7. Glory? – The glory of redemption, glory of spiritual growth, glory of manifesting the symphony of grace, glory of escape from the false teachers, glory of His ultimate return all glory belongs to Jesus!
      1. ​​​​​​​Is.42:8 I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other,
    8. Fall - Loose your proper foothold.
      1. Not referring to losing one’s salvation.
      2. On the other hand, if you took heed to the prognosis, then you’ll maintain your “steadfastness” or your “firm position/secure position”.
    9. Many Christians grow in knowledge by shoving bible truths into their minds; but often leave off growing in grace or, showing Bible truths in their lives!
      1. Peter gives us the balance of both learning & living the word!
    10. End application: Clean up! Look Up! Speak up!2
      1. Clean up your life! - All of us have sin in our lives. Deal seriously with it.
      2. Look Up & expect His Coming! - How can you live each day in constant expectation of His return?
        1. Remind yourself of the reality that this present world is temporary.
        2. How are you spending your time & money?
        3. Will most your investments survive His coming in the end?
      3. Speak up every chance you get! - With whom can you share Christ before it’s too late?
        1. May your words be the thing that nudges them one step closer to God’s eternal kingdom.
    11. So, what should you do in the light of the coming day of the Lord?
      1. Clean up! Look Up! Speak up!
      2. These 3 commands alone will keep us plenty busy until the Lord returns.
      3. In the meanwhile remember...“He’s got the whole world, in His hand.”
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.