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Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

2 Peter 3

Verse 1

2 Peter 3:1 . Ἤδη , now ) Therefore he had lately written the former Epistle. The seven Canonical Epistles were written by the apostles shortly before their death. While they still remained alive, they had judged that it was less needful for them to write. αἷς , in which ) (plural). Syllepsis. [13] The meaning is, in which (second Epistle), as in the former Epistle. ἐν ὑπομνήσει , by reminding you ) ch. 2 Peter 1:12 . Ye already know , 2 Peter 3:3 ; it is only needful that I should remind you: Jude 1:5 . εἰλικρινῆ , sincere ) adulterated with no error.

[13] See Append. on this figure.

Verse 2

2 Peter 3:2 . Προφητῶν , by prophets ) Jude 1:14 . τῶν ἀποστόλων , ἡμῶν , of us, the apostles ) In apposition, as Acts 10:41 . Others read, τῶν ἀποστόλων ὑμῶν , [14] of your apostles ; who live among you at the present time, in antithesis to the ancient prophets. Comp. the apostle of the Gentiles , Romans 11:13 . τοῦ Κυρίου , of the Lord ) This is to be taken with the apostles .

[14] ABC Vulg. read ὑμῶν : Rec. Text, with cursive MSS. of later date, ἡμῶν . E.

Verse 3

2 Peter 3:3 . Πρῶτον , first ) So ch. 2 Peter 1:20 , note. γινώσκοντες , knowing ) The nominative case coheres with that ye may be mindful: comp. Acts 15:23 , note. The righteous already knew this from the word of the apostles, Jude 1:17-18 . ἐλεύσονται , shall come ) in greater number and shamelessness. By which very thing they themselves confirm the truth of this prediction. ἐμπαῖκται , [15] mockers ) Thus the Septuagint renders Isaiah 3:4 , חעלולים , those who perform the most serious matters in the most trifling manner, even when they do not employ joke and laughter. [They are wholly given up to mocking, having no foundation besides for whatever they please to do. V. g.] ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑς , [16] lusts ) This is the origin of error, the root of licentiousness.

[15] The fuller reading, ἐν ἐμπαιγμονῇ ἐμπαῖκται , is preferred both in the margin of both Editions and in the Germ. Vers., which has “lauter Spötter,” or rather, as it is read in the margin of the Germ. Vers. “Erz-Spötter.” E. B.

[16] κατὰ τὰς ἰδίας πορευόμενοι , walking according to their own lusts ) This is an exact description of an abandoned man, that he does whatever is his own pleasure, and is not restrained by any reverence towards GOD. V. g.

ABC (C omitting ἐν ) Vulg. add ἐν ἐμπαιγμονῇ . Rec. Text, with inferior authorities, omits these words. E.

Verse 4

2 Peter 3:4 . Ποῦ ἔστιν , where is? ) They think, either that it ought already to have taken place, or that it never will take place. This is also their meaning when they say, all things continue as they were . ἡ ἐπαγγελία , the promise ) Mockers thus term it, not in respect of themselves, but in mimicry, [17] because the righteous earnestly desire the fulfilment of the promise . αὐτοῦ , of Him ) Of the coming Lord, whom they disdain to mention by name. ἀφʼ ἧς ) ( ἡμέρας ), from the day in which . οἱ πατέρες , the fathers ) who rested their hopes on the promise. πάντα , all things ) the heaven, the water, the earth. οὕτω , thus ) An adverb of pregnant meaning; that is, thus continue, as they do continue. ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως , from the beginning of the creation ) These mockers at any rate confess, that the world did not exist from eternity.

[17] See Append. on MIMESIS. E.

Verse 5

2 Peter 3:5 . Λανθάνει γὰρ , for it escapes their notice ) This is the reason why they thus speak. Antithetical to, let it not escape your notice , 2 Peter 3:8 . τοῦτο , this ) The nominative case. θέλοντας ) willing it to be so. Their ignorance is voluntary. They obstinately neglect to consider the deluge. οὐρανοὶ γῆ , the heavens the earth ) The heavens and the earth before the deluge were very different in quality, though not in substance, from their present state. ἦσαν ἔκπαλαι ) had been, of old , just as they are now. The deluge, and the destruction of the world by fire, Peter says, might have appeared equally incredible: and yet the former event has taken place, and the latter will take place. Just as the mockers were arguing against the destruction of the world by fire, so before the deluge men might have argued against the deluge. But as the argument of these last was proved to be groundless by the testimony of the event, so also is the argument of the former. The urgency of the reasoning derived from the deluge destroys the force of the thus, as they were ( οὕτω ), of the mockers, 2 Peter 3:4 . The pluperfect has a backward reference from the time of the deluge to the time of the creation: and the word then , 2 Peter 3:6 , has also a reference to that. ἐξ ὓδατος καὶ διʼ ὓδατος , out of the water and by the water ) A gradual process. The water had covered the earth: the earth emerged out of the waters; and the water was serviceable for the stability of the earth, as the Creator formed and placed it. Water is in other cases lighter than earth, and earth seeks the lower parts, to such a degree, that all water in a straight line from the surface to the centre of this globe, or round system, always has earth beneath it: but on the surface itself, the earth everywhere rises above the water in a greater or less degree; and even this place the water yielded and left to the earth, as it were unwillingly, and when compelled by the most powerful command of God, Exodus 20:4 ; Psalms 24:2 ; Psalms 104:5-8 ; Psalms 136:6 ; Job 38:10-11 ; 2Es 16:59 . συνεστῶσα , standing together ) that is, was . The joining together and lasting duration of the earth is pointed out: and thus standing firmly , answers to the word of old . Thomas Burnet, in his Theory of the Earth, 2 Peter 2:5 , applies the participle (which in the English Version is ambiguous, standing ), not only to the earth, but also to the heavens . By paying attention to this error, you will avoid many things which Burnet has raised upon it. τῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγῳ , by the word of God ) Genesis 1:6-9 . This is constructed with were ( ἦσαν ), expressed, and was ( ἦν ), understood. The duration of all things is determined by the Word of God, so that it can be neither longer nor shorter.

Verse 6

2 Peter 3:6 . Δἰ ὧν , by means of which ) by means of the heavens and the earth; whence the water flowed together. ὁ τότε κόσμος , the world which then was) that is, the human race: for ἀπώλεια , destruction , is not here attributed to the heaven and the earth, as Burnet understands it. Comp. the end of 2Pe 3:7 and 2 Peter 3:10-13 . The deluge was universal. ἀπώλετο , perished ) There follows an emphatic increase of the sense by the figure Epitasis [18] of judgment and perdition , 2 Peter 3:7 . With this corresponds the saying, they shall perish, they shall be judged , Romans 2:12 . Before the deluge God said: My Spirit shall not always pass sentence (judgment) upon man , Genesis 6:3 . Judgment is reserved for the last day.

[18] See Append. on this figure. E.

Verse 7

2 Peter 3:7 . Οἱ δὲ νῦν οὐρανοὶ , but the heavens which now are ) The heavens are the same and the earth is the same, as of old (although they appear to have undergone no slight change at the deluge): but the mockers speak as though they were not at all the same. The apostle expresses their feeling, δὲ , but , makes an antithesis: by water , and, for or unto fire . Fire shall refute the mockers. This verse also depends upon that , 2 Peter 3:5 . τῷ αὐτοῦ ) The article is rarely placed before αὐτοῦ ; [19] but it is thus placed, Hebrews 2:4 ; James 1:18 . τεθησαυρισμένοι , reserved ) Therefore it is that the heavens and the earth do not more quickly grow old. πυρὶ , unto or for, fire ) The Dative. Let those fiery meteors be thought of, which in our time often gleam from the lofty sky. τῶν ἀσεβῶν , of the ungodly ) these very persons, and the others.

[19] Nevertheless the reading αὐτῷ , which is set down by the margin of the larger Ed. among those not to be approved of, in the margin of Exodus 2:0 is put on a level with the reading αὐτοῦ ; and the Germ. Vers. bas “durch eben das Wort.” E. B.

Τῷ αὐτῷ is read by AB (according to Lachm.) Vulg. Memph.: and so Lachm. But Τῷ αὐτοῦ , by B (according to Tisch.) C: and so Tisch. Stephens’ Rec. Text omits τῷ ; but not so the Elzev. Rec. Text. E.

Verse 8

2 Peter 3:8 . Ἓν δὲ τοῦτο ) but this one thing ; namely, that which pertains to this subject. This one thing only pertains to teaching in this epistle; which (epistle) in other respects admonishes, but does not teach. μὴ λανθανέτω ) do not suffer it to escape your notice . ὑμᾶς , you ) Antithetical to them , 2 Peter 3:5 . He does not so fully reply to the mockers, as he instructs the faithful. μία ἡμέρα παρὰ Κυρίῳ ὡς χίλια ἔτη , καὶ χίλια ἔτη ὡς ἡμέρα μία , one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day , Psalms 90:4 , Septuagint, ὅτι χίλια ἔτη ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖς σου , Κύριε , ὡς ἡμέρα ἡ ἐχθὲς ἥτις διῆλθε , καὶ φυλακὴ ἐν νυκτί . for a thousand years, O Lord, are in Thy sight as yesterday, which is gone, and as a watch in the night . The preceding words convey this meaning: Thou art our refuge, Eternal God; and not we ourselves, frail weak men. The reason is added: for a thousand years, etc . Moses describes the eternity of God much more absolutely: Peter describes it in the relation which it bears to the last day, and to men looking for that day; so that His eternity may itself be perceived, by which in essence and in operation, He wonderfully exceeds all measure of time; and that His divine knowledge may also be included in the idea, that knowledge to which all future things are present: and His Power (may be recognised), which does not require long delays for the performance of its work; and His Long-suffering, from which all impatient expectation is absent and all eager haste. With the Lord one day is as a thousand years (Peter adds this to the saying of Moses): that is, He is equally blessed in one day, or in one moment, and in a thousand years and a whole age: He is able to perform the work of a thousand years in one day. Wherefore in the following verse it is added: He is not slow : It is always in His power to fulfil His promise. And a thousand years are as one day (thus Peter, while in this clause he re-echoes the former one, and accommodates both to the subject in hand, appropriately varies the words of Moses): that is, no delay happens which is long to God. As to a man of excessive wealth, a thousand guineas are as a single penny; so to the Eternal God a thousand years are as one day: wherefore in the next verse it is added: but is long-suffering: He gives us space for repentance without any annoyance to Himself. Comp. Sir 18:10-11 . The sum of Peter’s words is, the age-measurer (so to speak) of God differs from the hour-reckoner of mortals. His gnomon [20] shows at once all hours in the greatest activity and in the greatest repose. To Him the times pass away neither more slowly nor more quickly than is befitting to Him and to His economy. There is no reason why He should consider it needful either to delay or to hasten the end. How shall we understand this? If we were able to understand it, there would be no occasion for Moses and Peter to add, with the Lord .

[20] Gnomon properly denotes the pin of a sun-dial. T.

Verse 9

2 Peter 3:9 . Οὐ βραδύνει , does not delay ) as though the time of His promised coming were already present, Hebrews 10:37 , note. Thus Sir 35:17-18 , καὶ κρινεῖ δικαίως ( ὁ Ὕψιστος ) καὶ ποιήσει κρίσιν καὶ ὁ κύριος οὐ μὴ βραδύνῃ , οὐδὲ μὴ μακροθυμήσῃ ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς , κ . τ . λ ., the Most High shall judge righteously, and execute judgment; for the Lord will not be slack, neither will He be patient towards them , etc. This passage of the Son of Sirach closely agrees with the passage of Peter’s epistle. τῆς ἐπαγγελίας , His promise ) that is, ἕνεκα , on account of . The promise will be fulfilled, 2 Peter 3:13 , whatever these mockers may prate, 2 Peter 3:4 . μακροθυμεῖ , is long-suffering ) For this reason He waits, until the number of those who shall be saved shall be complete, 2 Peter 3:15 . τινὰς , that any ) not even those, who are just spoken of, as some men . ἀπολέσθαι , should perish ) This would be the case, if He did not give space for repentance. Comp. 2Es 8:59 . χωρῆσαι , may have recourse to ).

Verse 10

2 Peter 3:10 . Ἥξει ) will be present . οἱ οὐρανοὶ , the heavens ) which the mockers say shall continue as they are, 2 Peter 3:4 . ῥοιζηδὸν , with a great noise ) The word ῥοῖζος has letters resembling the sound of an arrow in its flight, the trickling of water, etc. στοιχεῖά , the elements ) that is, the works which are in the heavens , as the following words show. The sun, the moon, and the stars, are often called στοιχεῖα , by Theophilus of Antioch, p. 22, 148, 228, and by others, whom Wolf has brought together in his edition, and whom Suicer has noticed, and Menage on Diogenes Laertius, vi. 102, they are called elementa by Jerome. As at the creation, so at the destruction of the world, the sun, the moon, and the stars, are accustomed especially to be mentioned, Matthew 24:29 ; and they are certainly contained in some part of Peter’s representation, and especially in the word elements , rather than fire, air, water , and earth . For Peter makes mention of the earth separately, and under this he includes water , or even air (of which, however, the Scripture rarely makes mention, when speaking of the nature of things); fire will be that, by which the elements shall melt away. The same word is used, Wis 7:17 . It is a most elegant metaphor. For as a letter on a parchment, [21] so is a star in the heaven. ἔργα , the works of nature and art.

[21] Elementum was used of a letter of the Alphabet. E.

Verse 11

2 Peter 3:11 . Λυομένων , since they are being dissolved ) The present tense; as though it were now taking place: thus in 2 Peter 3:12 , τήκεται , are melting . On the fourth of the six days of creation, the stars also were made, Genesis 1:16 . They also shall be dissolved together with the earth. They are mistaken, who restrict the history of the creation and the description of this destruction only to the earth and to the quarter of the heaven which is nearer to the earth, but feign that the stars are more ancient than the earth, and that they will survive the earth. It is not to the heaven only which surrounds the earth, but to the heavens , that both dissolution and restoration are ascribed, 2 Peter 3:10 ; 2 Peter 3:13 . δεῖ , ought you to be) This is the commandment mentioned in 2 Peter 3:2 . Others thus place the stops ὑμᾶς ; εὐσεβείαις προσδοκῶντας . [22] ἀναστροφαῖς , in your conversations ) [ i.e. dealings and whole walk] as regards the affairs of men. εὐσεβείαις , in all godliness ) as regards divine things.

[22] Tisch. and Lachm. read no interrogation. E.

Verse 12

2 Peter 3:12 . Τὴν παρουσίαν , the coming ) This depends upon looking for and hastening , taken together: when ye offer prayers for His speedy coming . He who eagerly desires anything, urges forward the matter itself, if he is able, to a speedy accomplishment. Σπεύδω is used with an Accusative, Septuagint; Esther 5:5 ; Isaiah 16:5 . The participle includes the statement of the cause, as in 2 Peter 3:14 . τοῦ Θεοῦ , of God ) The expression, the day of God , is of rare occurrence. For diei Dei ( the day of God ), the Latin translator, or a very early copyist, wrote diei Domini [23] ( the day of the Lord ), probably for the sake of a more easy pronunciation. This reading was adopted in some Greek manuscripts, which everywhere follow the Latin readings. On the other hand, one Latin manuscript at Lovain has in the margin diei Dei . God grants to men many thousand days: one, and that the last, is the great day of God Himself. διʼ ἣν , on account of which ) viz. coming . An instance of the figure Chiasmus, consisting of four parts: what manner of persons looking for on account of which but new heavens . The first part is deduced from the third, and the second from the fourth. πυρούμενοι · καυσούμενα ) In other places, πυροῦσθαι applies rather to a dry body, καυσοῦσθαι to a moist one.

[23] AB Vulg., in some MSS. have Θεοῦ . But C and Amiat. MS. (the oldest) of Vulg. have κυρίου . E.

Verse 13

2 Peter 3:13 . Καινοὺς , new ) A great mystery, new heavens and a new earth . It is something external to God and external to man. [24] ἐπάγγελμα , promise ) 2 Peter 3:4 . ἐν οἷς δικαιοσύνη κατοικεῖ , in which dwelleth righteousness ) Therefore they shall not grow old. There will be a complete separation between good and evil, Matthew 3:12 ; Matthew 13:30 . The inhabitants who ought to be righteous , 2 Peter 3:11 , compared with 6 and 7. In the new world, which comprises the heaven and the earth, dwelleth righteousness. The new world is one whole: in it (the whole) dwelleth righteousness. That part, which had been polluted by unrighteousness, shall be freed from pollution.

[24] The promise is not merely of some new manifestation of God, or of some change in man, but of something external ; not of that which is subjective , but objective . T.

Verse 14

2 Peter 3:14 . Προσδοκῶντες , expecting ) with trembling and with joy. This word has a wide meaning αὐτῷ , of Him ) God.

Verse 15

2 Peter 3:15 . Σωτηρίαν ἡγεῖσθε , account as salvation ) although those mockers account it slackness, slowness , 2 Peter 3:9 . καθὼς , even as ) This has reference to the whole subject treated of up to this time. Comp. περὶ τούτων , respecting these things , 2 Peter 3:16 . ὁ ἀγαπητὸς ἡμῶν ἀδελφὸς , our beloved brother ) Paul has not praised Peter; but yet Peter praises Paul, showing that he was not offended with him, although he was sometimes reproved by him, and was far surpassed by him in the work of the Lord: respecting the love of Paul towards Peter there could be no doubt. ὑμῖν , to you ) Hebrews. He intimates that there was the less need for him to write to them at length, and expresses his approval of the epistle of Paul. But Paul had written to this purport respecting the completion of the age, which was then nigh at hand, Hebrews 1:1 ; Hebrews 9:26 ; Hebrews 10:25 ; Hebrews 10:37 , and to the same effect in his other epistles.

Verse 16

2 Peter 3:16 . Ἐν πάσαις , in all ) Peter wrote this epistle very shortly before his own martyrdom and that of Paul. Therefore Paul had written nearly all his epistles long before, even the epistles to those to whom Peter writes. Peter therefore read all the epistles of Paul, which were perhaps sent to him by Paul himself: nor did he take it ill, that Paul had written respecting Peter in such terms as he had to the Galatians, ch. 2. Who can doubt, that the epistles of Paul were, at an early period, collected into one body? περὶ τούτων , concerning these things ) Concerning the coming of the Lord, which is delayed through His long-suffering, but yet is near and sudden, and the things which will happen at His coming and before it. When Paul appeared to delay the day of the Lord to a longer period than the other apostles, there were some who either doubted or denied His coming altogether. ἐν οἷς , in which things ) δυσνοήτα , hard to be understood . It is one thing to be hard to be understood, and another thing to be beyond the reach of the understanding. τινὰ ) some things , not all. ἃ ) which things, which subjects , and so even the writings of Paul. With this corresponds the expression which follows, “they wrest the Scriptures ,” and so even the subjects mentioned in them. The one is to be understood as included with the other. οἱ ἀμαθεῖς , the unlearned ) who are without heavenly learning. στρεβλοῦσιν ) twist , whereas they are straight in themselves. There is an instance, 2 Timothy 2:18 . τὰς λοιπὰς γραφὰς ; the other Scriptures ) It follows from this that the epistles of Paul already formed part of the Scriptures . Comp. has written , 2 Peter 3:15 . προς , to ) so that they seem to agree with the abandoned perception of the wicked. ἰδίαν , their own ) without any injury to St Paul. ἀπώλειαν , destruction ) ch. 2 Peter 2:1 .

Verse 17

2 Peter 3:17 . Ὑμεῖς ) ye , warned by the injury of others. προγινώσκοντες ) knowing the danger beforehand . στηριγμοῦ , from your defence ) [“Stedfastness”] Comp. 2Pe 3:16 ; 2 Peter 1:12 . This defence is grace. Comp. Jude 1:21 .

Verse 18

2 Peter 3:18 . Αὐξάνετε , increase ) the more; the more they decrease [ ἐν χάριτι καὶ γνώσει , in grace and knowledge ) ch. 2 Peter 1:3 ; 2 Peter 1:8 . V. g.] ἡμέραν αἰῶνος , the day of eternity ) This title agrees with that sense, in which the apostle employed it, through the whole of this chapter. Eternity is a day , without night, unmixed and perpetual. [25]

[25] Bengel, J. A. (1866). Vol. 5 : Gnomon of the New Testament (M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (W. Fletcher, Trans.) (84 110). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.