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Bible Commentaries

Wells of Living Water Commentary

2 Peter 3

Verses 1-18

Inexcusable Ignorance

2 Peter 3:1-18


We like the way this chapter opens. The Apostle says, "This Second Epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance .

The child of God often needs to be stirred up to remember. In the first chapter of this Epistle we found that Peter was going to stir up the saints relative to the Lord's Second Coming. He wanted them to keep the Lord's Return constantly in remembrance. Now, he would stir them up concerning the conditions which will forecast that Coming, and sustain its certainty.

1. There is an admonition to remember the destruction of some who were saved out of Egypt. Jude writes in his fifth verse telling us of the advent of false teachers who have crept in unawares. Then he says, "I will therefore put you in remembrance , though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not." Also. how "the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."

This call to remembrance is likewise akin to Peter's in that it gives a warning to those who hold the faith lest they fall away from it and become apostate. Here is a tremendous message.

The Lord spoke in the parable of the Sower, of the seed which was choked out by thorns, and also the seed which grew for a while but soon faded away under the hot sun.

How many there are today who hear and know the doctrine of the Coming of the Lord, It is a sweet morsel unto them, but just as soon as persecution arises, they fall away.

2. There is an admonition to remember all the words spoken by Jesus (Acts 20:35 ). So many believers fall by the way and lose their crowns, and their place in the Kingdom, because they fail to remember the words which Christ, the Prophets, and the Apostles have spoken.

If we only walked in the Spirit, we would remember Christ's words, inasmuch as it is written: "[He will] bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26 ).

No seaman, or captain, guiding his boat through treacherous seas dares to neglect his charts, and his compass. No Christian dares forget the words of his Lord.

We have abundant revelations from God as to the march of current events. Alas, however, so few are giving any attention to prophecy.

Why should we fail to remember? Why should we cast away our confidence in the Blessed Hope, which has great recompense of reward?

How well I remember the moment

When Christ spoke sweet peace to my soul;

The day that I found full salvation,

From me ev'ry burden did roll:

If I should forget that glad moment,

Or cease to confess my dear Lord.

Let me then forget all my cunning,

My tongue fail to utter a word.

How well I remember the moment

When all on His altar I laid;

The day that I brought back unto Him,

The life that His ransom had paid:

If I should forget that surrender,

Refusing His call to obey,

Let me my ingratitude ponder,

My crown then be taken away.

Wherever grace operates, works are eliminated; where ever works operate, grace is eliminated.

Salvation from sin's penalty cannot be. lost. A saved sinner cannot go to hell, because he has passed from death to life, and his life is eternal. However, there is much that a Christian may lose. He may lose his crown. He may lose his place of honor and service, in the reign of Christ.

This is a solemn consideration. Remember the admonition, "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown." We must not cast away our confidence which has great recompense of reward. We must suffer with Him, if we would reign with Him.


Here is the way the verse reads: "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."

1. Ignorance is always to be deplored, but inexcusable ignorance is to be decried. Paul said on one occasion concerning Satan, "We are not ignorant of his devices." Paul was not ignorant, simply because. God had revealed to him, in His Word, the cunning of Satan, and of his strategies. In Romans 2:1-29 we read, "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man." The inexcusable man, is the man who refuses the light. He knew God, but he glorified Him not as God. He professed himself to be wise, when he was a fool.

2. An example of inexcusable ignorance. We refer to the Jews of Christ's day. Acts 13:1-52 tells us (beginning with Acts 13:27 ) "For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew Him not, nor yet the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning Him." Acts 13:29 tells us, "And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre."

Is it not strange that the Jews who read the Prophets, did not know Him of whom the Prophets wrote? Peter charged them with the death of Christ, and then he said unto them, "I wot that through ignorance ye did it." Yet, why should they have been ignorant when the voice of the Prophets was before them all the time?

We are just as ignorant. The people of our day are fulfilling prophecy just as literally and minutely as did the Jews of Christ's day. They knew it not; neither does the present-day populace know.

The masses, not only of the, unsaved and worldly, but of the professedly saved, and church members, are utterly ignorant of the Prophets, and of the present-hour fulfillment of their prophecy.

In Luke 24:25 the Lord said, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the Prophets have spoken." We wonder if some day He will not say unto many saints the same sad words?


Our two verses tell us that in the last days scoffers will arise, walking in their own desires, or lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His Coming?"

We are sure that the young people who read this will acknowledge the fact that the last-day scoffers are here. People are saying today, just what Peter said they would say. They are crying. "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."

1. Christ's first coming was not believed. We read in John 1:10-11 that He was in the world and the world knew Him not. In Acts 13:1-52 , Peter told the Jews that they knew Him not. We read in Romans 11:25 that blindness had come upon Israel.

What grief must have been in our Lord's heart when He stood overlooking Jerusalem, He said at that time: If thou hadst known even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace but now they are hid from thine eyes."

2. Christ's Second Coming is likewise not believed. In 1 Thessalonians 4:14 it is written, " If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him." These words tell us, in effect, that if we believe, in the First Coming, and we do, we should also believe in the Second Coming.

The next verse goes on to say, "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord , that we which are alive," etc., then follows a description of our Lord's Coming from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel.

In the fifth chapter of the same Epistle, 1 Thessalonians 5:4 , we read, "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." May God help us not be ignorant for Christ said, "I will come again."


"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; whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished."

The Apostle is still speaking of scoffers, who mock the Second Coming of Christ. He now says that they are willingly ignorant, and he refers particularly to their unbelief concerning the judgments which the Prophets announce will take place at the Coming of Christ.

The scoffers say that all things continue as they were from the beginning. In this they are mocking the possibility of the age-end judgments which the Bible proclaims will accompany our Lord's Second Advent. Peter says they are "willingly" ignorant, because they all know the story of the flood and how the earth was destroyed thereby.

The Apostle draws the conclusion that the same earth which was once destroyed by water will yet be destroyed by fire. We know that the physical earth is stored with fire, and one day it will be consumed by fire.

Before we deny the Coming Advent judgments, let us go over to the old country and view the ruins of ancient Nineveh. Let us try to find the site upon which the once gorgeous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were builded. He who destroyed those cities will destroy the cities which are now lifting up their heads against Him, The Battle of the great God Almighty draws on apace. We are foolish to decry God's coming wrath.


"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."

1. We think God never will act because He does not act immediately. The scoffers say that since the centuries have passed, and He has not come, He will never come. The Apostle says that we should, not be ignorant that a thousand years are but a day with God.

We count time by "years." God counts time by "millenniums." Sometimes even a day seems to us to be weary and long; Its moments seem hours; Its hours seem days; and its days seem years.

We need to remember that from the promise in the gardens relative to the Seed of the woman, until the time when the Seed was born of the virgin there was a period of four thousand years. Yet, the statement is written in the Epistle to the Galatians, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman."

Because approximately two thousand years have passed since the Lord said, "If I go * * I will come again," is that any reason to doubt that promise? Two thousand years is but two days with God.

2. We must remember that God is "longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish." There is a reason for God's waiting. The Lord might have come in the lifetime of Peter. Had He done so, where would we have been?

3. However, God is "not slack concerning His promise." This is the statement in 2 Peter 3:9 ; and then, in 2 Peter 3:10 , he adds, "But the. day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night." When the Lord does come, He will come on schedule time, and He will not tarry.


The Holy Spirit through Peter has given us four admonitions concerning ignorance. He now gives us three appeals to those who believe in the Coming of the Lord. It is our part to discuss the first of these three.

1. A call to godliness. 2 Peter 3:11 reads: "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be?" In effect, Peter is saying, "Since you know that all these things will be dissolved, since you know that the day of the Lord will come as a thief, since you know that the earth, and its works will be burned up, therefore you should live 'in all holy conversation and godliness.'" Others may live for things In the world, and lay up their treasures on earth. It would be folly for us to do so. If you know that this earth is about to fall under the fiery judgments of God, will you seek to permanently place your treasures therein?

2. A promise of new heavens and a new earth. Peter not only gives us this call to godliness and to holy conversation; Peter not only tells us that we should live godly and holy; Peter not only tells us of the coming judgment upon this physical earth, but he also tells us that, according to God's promise, we "look for New Heavens and a New Earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." Thus the appeal to separation from sin, and to holy living in Christ becomes the stronger.

The appeal is based first upon the fact that the world and all therein shall be destroyed, and secondly upon the fact that new heavens and a new earth shall come.

"Be ye therefore holy as your Father in Heaven is holy."


1. A call to diligence. Peter's next appeal is based upon knowledge. He says, "Beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless." 2 Peter 3:11 said, "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved." 2 Peter 3:13 said, in effect, seeing that the new heavens and new earth shall be established, How tremendous now is this appeal for diligence.

Others who do not accept the Lord's Coming, may live deliriously upon the earth, and carelessly waste their years in rioting and folly, but we who believe in the Lord's Return, in the judgments which will follow on this earth, and particularly in the glories of the new heavens and new earth, should be giving diligence that we may be found of Him in peace without spot, and blameless.

2. A call reinforced. In Peter's Second Epistle you remember that he wrote, "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue." The Apostle Paul wrote virtually the same thing. He wrote of pressing toward the prize of the up-calling of God in Christ Jesus, and then he called upon the saints to be thus minded.

Beloved, life is not given unto us for frivolity and for fun. It is given unto us freighted with precious moments and days that we may lay up for ourselves a goodly heritage against the time to come.

In all of this we must remember that we were saved by grace, but that we must give all diligence for an abundant entrance into the glory. Some will be ashamed from before Him at His Coming. God grant that we may be found robed and ready, in peace, and without spot and blameless.


Second Peter closes with a tremendous warning. Once more we find the expression, "Seeing ye know these things," This is the third time since 2 Peter 3:11 that we have the faith of the saints thrown against the unbelief of the mockers. They mock, we believe. They ridicule the Second Coming of Christ, the promise of His Coming, and the judgments which will fall upon the earth. We believe.

Peter says in 2 Peter 3:17 , "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." Peter is not giving us a warning lest we lose eternal life, but he is giving us a warning lest we lose our crowns. Saved people may be saved "by the skin of their teeth." Peter wants them to have "an abundant entrance."

The last statement of the chapter sums up the yearning of the Holy Spirit in Peter, in one tremendous call: "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Whatsoever else we may do, this one thing let us do, lest we should be ashamed before Him.

The wicked may mock. Weak and faltering saints may fail, but let us "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."

Hold fast to that thou hast attained,

Nor let it slip;

Christ has a wondrous crown ordained,

For those who have the faith sustained,

So do not trip.

Salvation is made sure by grace,

It can't be lost;

Yet, you can lose your victor's race,

And you can lose your reigning place,

With fearsome cost.



"When a man cleaves a block he first pierces it with small wedges. and then with greater; and so doth the devil make entrance into the soul by degrees. Judas first purloineth and stealeth out of the bag; then censureth Christ as profusely lavishing. What needs this waste? This was not only a check to the woman, but to Christ Himself. Lastly, upon Christ's rebuke he hates Him, and then betrays Him to His enemies." There is no dealing with the devil except at arm's length. Those little wedges of his are terribly insinuating because they are so little. Keep them out, or worse will follow. Occasional glasses lead on to drunken orgies; occasional theater-going grows into wantonness and chambering; trifling pilfering soon grows to. downright theft; secret backslidings end in public abominations. The egg of all mischief is as small as a mustard seed. It is with the transgressor as with She falling stone, the further he fails the faster he falls. * *

O my Saviour, let me not fall by little and little, or think myself able to bear the indulgence of any known sin because it seems so insignificant. Keep me from sinful beginnings, lest they lead me on to sorrowful endings." Chas. II. Spurgeon.

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Bibliographical Information
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on 2 Peter 3". "Living Water".