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1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
Ver. 1. This second epistle ] So must ministers with one sermon peg in another, and never cease beating and repeating the same point, saith St Augustine (de Doct. Christian.), till they perceive by the gesture and countenance of the hearers, that they understand it and are affected with it.
I stir up ] Gr. διεγειρω , I rouse you, who perhaps are nodding with the wise virgins,Matthew 25:5; Matthew 25:5 .
Your pure minds ] Gr. Pure as the sun. Chrysostom saith of some in his time that they were ipso caelo puriores, more pure than the visible heavens; and that they were more like angels than mortals. Hom. lv. in Matt.
2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
Ver. 2. Mindful of the words ] See Trapp on " 1Co 15:2 " Run to this armoury of the Scriptures for weapons against seducers and epicures.
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
Ver. 3. Scoffers ] Those worst kind of sinners, Psalms 1:1 ; those abjects of the people, Psalms 35:15 ; those pests ( λοιμος ), as the Septuagint render them, LXXE Psalms 1:1 ; those atheists that jeer when they should fear, and put far away the evil day, that make no more matter of God’s direful and dreadful menaces than Leviathan doth of a sword; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear, Job 41:29 . They make children’s play of them, as the word here used importeth, εμπαικται .
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
Ver. 4. Where is the promise, &c. ] The sleeping of vengeance causeth the overflow of sin (the sinner thinks himself hail-fellow a with God, Psa 50:21 ), and the overflow of sin causeth the awakening of vengeance.
a On such terms, or using such freedom with another, as to accost him with ‘hail, fellow!’; on a most intimate footing; over familiar or unduly intimate. ŒD
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
Ver. 5. Willingly ignorant of ] A carnal heart is not willing to know what it should do, lest it should do what it would not, Acts 28:27 . Ut liberius peccent, libenter ignorant, saith Bernard of such: That they may sin the more freely, they are willingly ignorant. They wink wilfully that they may not see, when some unsavoury potion is ministered to them, as Justin Martyr expresseth it.
That by the word of God ] And that by the same word again they may as soon be dissolved, yea, reduced to their first original, nothing. A learned man propoundeth this question, How did the Lord employ himself before the world? And his answer is this: A thousand years to him are but as one day, and one day as a thousand years. Again, Who knoweth (saith he) what the Lord hath done? Indeed, he made but one world to our knowledge; but who knoweth what he did before, and what he will do after? Thus he. (Dr Preston of God’s Attrib.)
And the earth standing, &c. ] God hath founded the earth upon the seas, and established it upon the floods,Psalms 24:2; Psalms 24:2 . This Aristotle reckons among the wonders in nature, and well he may. (Lib. de Mirab.) God hath set the solid earth upon the liquid waters for our convenience, Psalms 104:6-7 . This, if wicked atheists would well weigh, it would make them tremble,Jeremiah 5:22; Jeremiah 5:22 . But they have either so much to do, or so little to do, that they think not at all on these standing miracles. Or, if they do, yet for want of grace all their thoughts of this nature soon vanish; they are but like prints made on the water; as soon as the finger is off, all is out.
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
Ver. 6. Being overflowed with water ] Therefore that is not altogether true, that all things continue as they were at first, as the scoffers affirmed, 2 Peter 3:4 .
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
Ver. 7. Reserved unto fire ] The old world was destroyed with water, propter ardorem libidinis, for the heat of their lust, saith Ludolphus; the world that is now shall be destroyed with fire, propter teporem charitatis, for their lack of love. This latter age of the world is so filthy (saith another) that it cannot be washed with water, and shall therefore be wasted with fire.
8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Ver. 8. One day is with the Lord, &c. ] Nullum tempus occurrit regi; how much less to the Ancient of days! In God there is no motion or flux; therefore a thousand years to him are but as one day.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Ver. 9. Not willing that any one should perish ] See Trapp on " 1Ti 2:4 " Not willing that any of his should perish.
But that all should come to repentance ] Gr. χωρησαι , withdraw, go aside, retire into some private place for the purpose of repentance. It is a great work and requires privacy. He that will make verses or do anything serious that requires study, will get alone, sequester himself from company. He that would commune with his own heart, pour forth his soul, and make his peace with God, must get into a corner. "He sitteth alone, and keepeth silence," Lamentations 3:28 ; he summons the sobriety of his senses before his own judgment, and thinking seriously on his evil ways, "he turneth his feet to God’s testimonies," Psalms 119:59 .
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Ver. 10. The heavens shall pass, &c. ] The very visible heavens are defiled with men’s sins, Revelation 18:5 , and must therefore be purged by fire; as the vessel that held the sin offering was in the time of the law.
With a great noise ] ροιζηδον , such a noise as the sea makes in a great storm, or like the hissing of parchment shrivelled up with heat, as others make the comparison.
Shall be burnt up ] This the very heathens knew in part, as appears by the writings of Lucretius, Cicero do Natura Deorum, Ovid’s Metam. lib. i.
11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,
Ver. 11. What manner of men ] ποταπους , even to admiration, quales et quanti, as the word signifies, Mark 13:1 . How accurate, and how elevated above the ordinary strain!
In all holy conversation and godliness ] Gr. εν αγιαις αναστροφαις και ευσεβειαις , in holy conversations and godlinesses, in the plural; to show that godliness should run through our whole conversation, as the warp runs through the woof.
12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Ver. 12. Looking for ] As Sisera’s mother looked out at a window, and expecting the return of her son, said, "Why are his chariots so long in coming?" so should we look up and long for Christ coming in the clouds, those chariots that carried him up, and shall bring him back again.
And hasting unto ] Votis accelerantes, speeding and accelerating. True it is that God hath set the day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness,Acts 17:31; Acts 17:31 , and we cannot alter it; yet we may be said to hasten it by our preparations and prayers. O mora! Christe, veni, " Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."
The heavens being on fire, &c. ] A far greater fire than that at Constantinople, where 7000 houses are said to have been on fire at once, A. D. 1633. (Blount’s Voyage.)
And the elements shall melt ] And fall like scalding lead or burning bell metal on the heads of the wicked, who shall give a terrible account with the world all on fire about their ears. Whether this shall happen in the year 1657 (as some conjecture, because in the year of the world 1657 the old world was drowned, and because the numeral letters in MU-n-DI Conf-L-agrat-I-o, MDCLVII make up the same number), I have nothing to affirm. (Alsted Chron.) Sure it is, the saints shall take no hurt at all by this last fire, but a great deal of benefit. Methodius writeth that Pyragnus (a certain plant so called) grows green and flourishes in the midst of the flames of burning Olympus, as much as if it grew by the banks of a pleasant river. And of this he saith that himself was an eyewitness. Praeclarum sane novissimi diei indicium et documentum.
13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Ver. 13. According to his promise ] Which is good sure hold. For he pays not his promises with fair words, as Sertorius did, but with real performances.
14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Ver. 14. That ye may be found of him ] Watching, working, well doing. See Trapp on " Mat 24:42 " See Trapp on " Mat 24:44 "
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
Ver. 15. That the longsuffering, &c. ] Romans 2:4 , which sentence Peter picks out of Paul’s Epistles, as one of the choicest, and urgeth it here.
Even as our beloved brother, &c. ] Ingenium est profiteri per quos profeceris, saith Pliny. St Peter makes honourable mention of St Paul; so Ezekiel of his contemporary Daniel.
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Ver. 16. Hard to be understood ] See my True Treasure. In things necessary the Scripture is plain and easy; and the very entrance thereinto giveth light, saith David, Psalms 119:30 ; yea, subtilty and sagacity, saith Solomon, Proverbs 1:4 . And for the more dark and difficult places, Legum obscuritates non assignemus culpae scribentium, sed inscitiae non assequentium, saith he in Gellius, the fault is not to be laid upon the Scriptures, but upon our uuskilfulness and inability to understand them.
Which they that are unlearned and unstable ] That for want of sacred learning are unsettled, ill-bottomed; and do therefore, like Peter on the water, walk one step and sink another. Our forefathers (saith Speed out of Walsingham) did not without great reason distinguish the people into learned and lewd; because such are commonly lewd who are not learned. Sure we are out of this text, that they are unstable that are unlearned; and that men therefore err because they know not the Scriptures in the right sense of them, Matthew 2:2 ; they err in heart because they know not God’s ways, and become a prey to seducers, because "ever learning, but never come to the knowledge of the truth," 2 Timothy 3:7 ; "The simple believeth every word," saith Solomon, Proverbs 14:1 . The blind man swalloweth many a fly, saith our English proverb. The god of this world blinds the minds of his vassals, keeps them ignorant, and then doth what he will with them, as the Philistines did with Samson when they had digged out his eyes. He useth the same method ordinarily to carry on his designs, that he took in the Parlamentum iudoctum, the lack learning Parliament, held here A. D. 1404, in the reign of Henry IV (Speed, 775); or as in the Council of Ariminum. The Arians have procured the exile of the orthodox learned bishops, and perceiving the company that was left, though they were very unlearned, yet they would not be persuaded directly to disannul anything that had been before concluded in the Council of Nice, did abuse their ignorance in proposing the matter, and drawing them to their side. For they demanded of them whether they would worship ομοουσιον , or Christ? These not understanding the Greek word, rejected it with execration, being, as they thought, opposed unto Christ, (Ruffin. Eccles. Hist. lib. x.)
Wrest, as they do, &c. ] When we strive to give unto the Scriptures, and not to receive from it the sense, when we factiously contend to fasten our conceits on God, like the harlot, take our dead and putrefied fancies, and lay them in the bosom of the Scriptures, as of a mother, when we compel them to go two miles which of themselves would go but one, when we put words into the mouths of these oracles by mis-inferences or mis-applications, then are we guilty of this sin of wresting the Scriptures. Tertullian speaketh of some that murder the Scriptures to serve their own purposes. And the same author fitly calleth Marcion, the heretic, Murem Ponticum, the rat of Pontus, because of his gnawing and tawing the Scripture to make it serviceable to his errors ( Caedem Scripturarum faciunt ); this is a very dangerous sin, when men shall writhe the Scripture, and set it on the tenters to fit it to their fancies, as Scyron and Procrustes are said to have fitted their guests to the bed of brass which they had framed to their own size.
17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
Ver. 17. Beware lest ] Cavebis autem si pavebis. Let him that stands take heed lest he fall. Be not high minded, but fear. Fear a snake under every flower, a snare under every new truth. Try the spirits whether they be of God or not, because many false prophets are abroad, who deceive the hearts of the simple, and make them fall from their own stedfastness. Try therefore before ye trust; look before ye leap. Alioqui saliens antequam videas, casuals es antequam debeas, i.e. If ye look not before ye leap, ye will fall before ye would. (Bernard.) Therefore walk circumspectly, tread gingerly, step warily, lift not up one foot till ye have found sure footing for the other, as those, Psalms 35:6 . Take the apostle’s counsel here: never more needed than today, quando facta est fided Evangeliorum fides temporum. Nam aut scrb buntur tides ut volumus; aut, ut volumus intelliguntur, as Hilary complains of those better times, a It is grown a witty thing now among such variety of opinions to hold the truth, and to be a sound believer, as Erasmus once said. Beware therefore (every man for himself) lest ye also, swimming down the stream of the times, "and led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness." And (for a sovereign preservative) "grow in grace, and in the knowledge," &c.: grow downward howsoever; grow in humility, and God will both teach and "save the humble person," Psa 25:1-22 Job 22:2 .
Fall ] As leaves fall from the trees in autumn.
a Hil. ad Constant. in libro, quem illi exhibuit.
18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Ver. 18. But grow ] In firmness at least, as an apple doth in mellowness; as oaks grow more slowly than willows and bulrushes, yet more solidly, and in the end to a greater bulk and size.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25