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Bible Commentaries
2 Peter 3

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-18

Grotius, with his usual tartness, contends that this is the beginning of a new epistle by Simon, but not Simon Peter. But if so, why did Peter leave the words at the end of the second chapter unclosed, without either greetings or salutations; an abruptness unknown to the apostles. This notion is too vague for refutation.

2 Peter 3:1-2 . This second epistle is, with one undeviating design, to stir up your pure minds to watchfulness and prayer, and that ye may be mindful of the words of the holy prophets, and also of the cautions repeated by Christ, and by us his apostles, against all false teachers and scoffers at what we say concerning the visitations of God on the jewish nation, and of the fall of the sacred temple. Lactantius says, lib. 4. cap. 21, Petrus et Paulus predicaverunt, &c. “Peter and Paul preached at Rome, and what they preached, being written, remained as a record. In which they predicted many astonishing events, and this among others, that after a short time God would send a king who should vanquish the jews, should level their cities with the ground, and besiege them so closely, that they should be so far reduced by famine, as to feed on the bodies of one another.” This record is in perfect unison with the holy scriptures.

2 Peter 3:3 . Scoffers. The heretics described in the preseding chapter, who scoffed at prophecy respecting the fall of Jerusalem, like the filthy sinners which the deluge washed away. See the reflections on Genesis 8:0.

Ver, 5, 6. The earth standing out of the water and in the water perished. The apostle clearly understood, as stated at large on Genesis 8:0., that the earth was destroyed by the daily flux and reflux of the sea, attended with incessant rain and clouds of darkness for forty days. The quantity of water, as all modern geologists allow, was not more at the deluge than now, but was concentrated and poured out upon a guilty world, to execute the divine vengeance.

2 Peter 3:7 . The heavens and the earth are reserved unto fire. See on Psalms 50:3.

2 Peter 3:8 . One day is with the Lord as a thousand years. The time of his second advent may seem long to a suffering church, yet it is not long with him, to whom a day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. Perhaps Peter alludes to the words of Moses, Psalms 90:4: A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday; which may refer to the deluge, then nearly a thousand years before. The words are cited also by St. Barnabas in his epistle, and referred to, it would seem, by the Erythr├Žan Sibyl: “all time is short with God, who always is, and ever shall exist.” Zosim. Hist. 11: 445.

2 Peter 3:9 . The Lord is not slack concerning his promise; he has not retarded its accomplishment, as some might imagine. It is because he awaits with much longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to him by repentance. Mons version.

2 Peter 3:10 . The earth shall be burnt up. This is foretold in several other passages. Psalms 11:6; Psalms 50:3. Isaiah 33:12-14, 2 Thessalonians 1:8. Well then has the prophet observed, that when Christ shall come to destroy the wicked scoffers at his word, “It shall not be as the battle of the warrior, with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but with burning, and fuel of fire.” Isaiah 9:5.

Mr. Mede here in a very learned manner observes, that the heavens and the earth which perished with water in the flood, could mean no more than the deluge exciting confusion of the elements which destroyed the world. Therefore it is not likely that more than this earth will be destroyed at the great conflagration. The Greek word, soikeia, though it agree with the Chaldaic, menalitta, and often signify the planets, the zodiac, or the hosts of heaven; yet he thinks it should here be restricted to the elements, because the three heavens have each their separate hosts. The third or empyreal heavens have angels for their hosts; the second or ethereal heavens have the stars for their hosts; and these lower heavens are inhabited by the fowls, and unclean spirits, which shall be expelled when the earth is refined by fire. Now, as the starry heavens were not affected by our sin, he sees no reason why they should be destroyed, when God shall purge the earth of the guilt and blood of men. To this burning of the world he applies Haggai 2:6-7; Haggai 2:21-22, which most critics apply to the political heavens. But those awful passages, Jeremiah 4:23; Jeremiah 49:7-22, Ezekiel 25:0 and Ezekiel 35:12, may perhaps be applied with more propriety. Sacred prophecy is however often mixed in its bearings; hence our Saviour, by an awful climax, proceeds from describing the destruction of Jerusalem to the destruction of the world. On this subject, Sixtus, of Sienna in Italy, has collected the opinions of several gentiles, and of Ambrose, Hilary, and Augustine, which very much coincide with Mr. Mede.

2 Peter 3:13 . We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth. The margin refers us to Isaiah 65:17, which must be erroneous, for the new earth there is connected with agriculture, with the procreation of children, with some sin, and some death. He that dies a hundred years of age, shall die a child, but the sinner, though allowed to attain that age, shall be accounted an execration on the earth. Certainly the prophecies of Isaiah regard the glory of the church in the latter day. But under all those exhilirating figures, it is likely that the piercing eye of prophecy went farther, and glanced on the new heavens and the new earth, described in Revelation 21:22. Be that as it may, we have the plain promise of Christ. I go to prepare a place for you, a heaven where righteousness shall for ever dwell. John 14:3.

2 Peter 3:15-16 . Our beloved brother Paul hath written unto you. See the introduction to the epistle to the Hebrews. Peter here, without hesitation, calls himself a brother of Paul; and by the phrase, according to the wisdom given unto him, utters the common sentiment of the churches, that Paul was divinely inspired. Which they that are unstable wrest; meaning the jewish sects, and others affecting great regard to the person of Christ. Like the false prophets in Jeremiah’s time, they wrested and perverted all the threatenings that Paul and others had denounced against the infidel nation of the jews. This also they did to their own destruction, for not escaping from Jerusalem, as the christians did, they perished in the siege.

2 Peter 3:17 . Beware lest ye also be led away with the error of the wicked. The caution is in unison with the words of Christ in Luke 21:8; Luke 21:34, and of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2.

2 Peter 3:18 . Grow in grace, by building up yourselves in your most holy faith, which produces all the fruits of the Spirit, and all the excellence of the christian temper.

To him be glory, both now and for ever. Amen. This doxology comprises the full worship of the church in every form of prayer, adoration, and praise, presented to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. The like glory is often ascribed to Christ, as in John 13:32. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him, in himself. Also in John 17:5. Now, oh Father, glorify thou me with thy own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. To him every knee must bow, and every tongue confess, in the full worship of the gentile world, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:11. Paul also repeats his ascriptions of praise, when writing to Timothy, saying, To whom be honour and power everlasting. Thus Christ is over all, God blessed for ever. Romans 9:5.

Dr. Macknight on the epistles, like Dr. Campbell on the gospels, may wish to keep his Arianism out of sight, when speaking of Christ and of his glory. But I must protest against many passages as fully coincident with Arianism, passages sported throughout the epistles. Take 1 Corinthians 2:8, for an instance. “They would not have crucified the Lord of glory; the glorious head of his church, and of the world, and the final judge of men.” Now, no Arian would scruple to use those words. But Christ is crowned with glory and honour. Psalms 8:6. Christ is the King of glory. Psalms 24:6. He is the glory of Jehovah, revealed from heaven. Isaiah 40:5. This is the age in which we are peculiarly called to hold fast the form of sound words, and make no concessions to the infidel philosophy given as a substitute for genuine christianity.


As thorns, and briars, and weeds are the constant vexation of the husbandman, so heretical sects have afflicted the church from the beginning. The false teachers, who sought bread, and made a gain of the church, daily disturbed the peace of the saints, and wounded the minds of the apostles, because they destroyed souls, and called them off from peaceful pastures. They wrested and distorted the scriptures to their interest, or their humour, and finally to their own destruction.

This argument of Peter is a happy one to alarm the scoffers, and to comfort the church, that the heavens shall pass away with a great noise; thunders in all the elements, and thunders in new forms; yea, thunders and rendings in all the subterranean world; the kindling of fires, the quenching of volcanoes, the sea and the waves roaring. Nature convulsed to her centre, and the heavens departing as a scrowl of parchment. Where now, oh nations, are your cities? Where now, oh merchants, are your shipping, and the palaces of your princes! But let us profit by the longsuffering of God, which is salvation to all that wait upon him, to all that repent and believe in Jesus. He is not willing that any should perish; and though sinful, they were made in his image, have been preserved by his care, and bought with an inestimable price. Oh what goodness, what love and tender pity towards sinners, who still persist in their revolt. What more can heaven do to save a ruthless race!

But rejoice, ye righteous, in the burning of the world, and the dissolution of the elements. God shall prepare for you new heavens, and a new earth. “The virtuous there shall dwell, and evermore delights enjoy.” Nothing that mortals have ever seen or known can be compared with the heavens which God will create; the happy kingdom to which he will finally conduct his saints.

The inference is clear and strong; seeing we look for such things, what manner of persons should we be in all manner of temper, of conduct, and deportment? How holy, how wise, how heavenly should we be, seeing we expect the Lord from heaven. Let us grow in grace, by the mortification of sin, and by nourishing the inner man of the heart in all the means of grace. Let us aim at the measure of the stature of Christ. Let us grow by adding to our faith every virtue and adorning of the mind. Let us look on the growth and fruitfulness of the trees and fields, which flourish in their season, and mature their fruits. Let the loveliness of such a state be particularly attractive to us, that when the Lord shall appear, we may have joy at his coming.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/2-peter-3.html. 1835.
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