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Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

2 Peter 3

Verses 1-2

Words To Trust

In chapter 2, Peter dealt with the false teachers and the terrible judgment they faced. His transition to speaking to the brethren is made by use of the word "beloved." Both 1 and 2 Peter are written to open-minded brethren with the purpose of reminding them of some facts they had already learned. Their minds had been purified through obedience to the truth. Particularly, Peter reminded them of truths which had been dealt with by the prophets, the Lord and his apostles. The Lord had first delivered the commandment, or whole body of truth to be obeyed, and had used the apostles to tell the world of it ( 2Pe_3:1-2 ; Joh_16:13-14 ; Act_1:6-8 ).

Verses 3-4

Mockers Who Would Deny the Lord's Return

The first thing to be considered is the coming of those who would mock the truth. The "last days" are the days of the gospel age, which is the final age of God dealing with man ( Act_2:16-17 ; Heb_1:1-2 ). This is just one of several New Testament warnings about false teachers who would come during the Christian age ( Act_20:29-31 ; 1Ti_4:1-3 ; 2Ti_4:3-4 ; 1Jn_2:18 ). Peter indicated they would be those who would seek to fulfill their own selfish desires.

They, according to Peter's prophecy, would center their scoffing on the second coming of Christ, suggesting that since the patriarchs died, or even the beginning of creation, all things continued like normal. Actually, this fits exactly the Lord's statements concerning his return ( 2Pe_3:3-4 ; Mat_24:36-44 ).

Verses 5-9

Answering the Scoffers

The scoffers had ignored the creation. It was a perfect proof that things had not always been the same. Instead, God had spoken and the waters were separated to that above and below the firmament. Then, God spoke and caused dry land to appear ( 2Pe_3:5 ). In fact, it was by means of the water above the firmament that God had brought about the flood, which was also an event that proved things had not always been the same. Peter mentioned the heavens and earth that existed in his day in contrast to the earth that existed before the flood. God spoke and the world was covered with a flood. Further, Peter said, it is by his word that the present world is reserved, or stored up, for a destruction by fire. The word "perdition" could be better understood if we used the word destruction. Much like the world was not wiped out of existence by the flood, these ungodly men will not cease to exist but will be banished from God's presence. The word translated "perished" in verse 6 is the same one translated "perdition" in verse 7.

Peter would also have the scoffers know that the passage of time did not mean that God would fail to keep his promise. Time is insignificant to an eternal being. God allowed time to pass, not because he forgot his promise, because he is willing to suffer long with man in the hope that all will take advantage of their opportunity and repent. God desires the salvation of all men ( 2Pe_3:8-9 ; Joh_3:16-17 ; 1Ti_2:3-4 ).

Verses 10-12

The "Day of the Lord"

There are numerous references to the "day of the Lord" in the New Testament ( 1Co_1:8 ; Php_1:6 ; 1Th_5:2 ; 2Th_2:2 ). When coupled with Peter's words in 2Pe_3:10 , they can be seen as plainly referring to the second coming of Christ. That coming will be unexpected, like that of a thief ( Mat_24:42-44 ). Evidently, the word "heavens" stands for the place where the birds fly. They will pass away with a loud noise, which is the noise of destruction and may describe the roaring of a fire (see verse 7). The very building blocks of the universe, or elements which may be atoms or even smaller, will be melted in the flame. The earth and all of man's works in it, such as houses, monuments, etc., will also be burned up.

The fact that this earth and all the works in it will be destroyed should have moved Christians to recognize their ultimate home, or country which is the meaning of the word "manner," and live as if they really were its citizens ( Php_3:20-21 ; Heb_11:13-16 ; 2Co_4:18 ). Christ's disciples should, therefore, live a pure and reverent life in the sight of God. The Christian should look forward to the Lord's coming, according to Peter, and be so expectant that he would speed its coming if he could ( 2Pe_3:11-12 ).

Verses 13-18

The Promise of New Heavens and A New Earth

The new heavens and new earth promise is evidently from Isa_65:17 ; Isa_66:22 . Christians should know that when the old earth is destroyed there will be a fresh world in which to live ( Rev_21:1-27 ). Since they looked forward to the Lord coming again and a new dwelling place, Peter said they should give their best and fullest effort to be at peace with men and God, without sin laid to their charge and able to stand before God free of condemnation ( 2Pe_3:13-14 ).

Instead of scoffing at God's promise of the Lord's return, Peter said Christians should be grateful the Lord waited and count it as an opportunity for more to be saved. It should be remembered that Paul withstood Peter to the face on one occasion ( Gal_2:11 ). Yet, Peter called him"beloved brother." All Christians should learn from the spirit displayed by this apostle and learn to stand up for truth without hating the sinner and, more importantly, how to receive criticism intended to help us without letting our pride get in the way. Peter recognized Paul's writing as inspired, thus he said "according to the wisdom given to him" ( 2Pe_3:15 ; 1Co_2:12-13 ; Gal_2:9 ).

It is impossible to know which of Paul's references to longsuffering Peter had in mind, but any of them could be used by Christians to help them keep on keeping on. Evidently Paul's letters enjoyed a wide circulation in the early church. Paul had certainly written about judgment, the suddenness of the Lord's coming, God's longsuffering and the eternal abode of the soul. Some, but not all, things in Paul's writings were hard to understand. This can be because of false ideas held by the reader as well as the depth of the subject matter. Peter was an apostle, yet could admit difficulty in understanding some of the things Paul presented. No one should be ashamed to admit such problems. Instead, all should be prepared to give intensive study to a matter before reaching a conclusion ( Act_8:31 ; 2Ti_2:15 ). Peter said the untaught and those without firm convictions would take a hard to be understood scripture out of its context and destroy its true meaning. Notice Peter counted Paul's writing as scripture ( 2Pe_3:16 ).

Since they had been warned of false teachings and the twisting of scripture in advance, Peter believed Christians would be better prepared to avoid being carried away into false doctrine. If Christians cannot fall, why would Peter warn them against it? Instead of falling from their stable position, Peter would have them to grow up in God's favor and in a fuller understanding of Christ's teachings. Peter closed by ascribing Christ glory until the "day of eternity," as Woods translates. Woods goes on to say it is appropriate to call eternity a day "because it is indeed an everlasting one, without a yesterday to precede it, or a tomorrow to follow it" ( 2Pe_3:17-18 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.