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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

2 Peter 3

Verse 1

Beloved (αγαπητο). With this vocative verbal (four times in this chapter), Peter "turns away from the Libertines and their victims" (Mayor).

This is now the second epistle that I write unto you (ταυτην ηδη δευτεραν υμιν γραφω επιστολην). Literally, "This already a second epistle I am writing to you." For ηδη see John 21:24. It is the predicate use of δευτεραν επιστολην in apposition with ταυτην, not "this second epistle." Reference apparently to I Peter.

And in both of them (εν αις). "In which epistles."

I stir up (διεγειρω). Present active indicative, perhaps conative, "I try to stir up." See 2 Peter 1:13.

Mind (διανοιαν). Understanding (Plato) as in 1 Peter 1:13.

Sincere (ειλικρινη). Old adjective of doubtful etymology (supposed to be ειλη, sunlight, and κρινω, to judge by it). Plato used it of ethical purity (ψυχη ειλικρινης) as here and Philippians 1:10, the only N.T. examples.

By putting you in remembrance (εν υπομνησε). As in 2 Peter 1:13.

Verse 2

That ye should remember (μνησθηνα). First aorist passive (deponent) infinitive of μιμνησκω, to remind. Purpose (indirect command) is here expressed by this infinitive. Imperative in Jude 1:17.

Spoken before (προειρημενων). Perfect passive participle of προειπον (defective verb). Genitive case ρηματων after μνησθηνα.

And the commandment (κα της εντολης). Ablative case with υπο (agency).

Of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles (των αποστολων υμων του κυριου κα σωτηρος). Hυμων (your) is correct, not ημων (our). But the several genitives complicate the sense. If δια (through) occurred before των αποστολων, it would be clear. It is held by some that Peter would not thus speak of the twelve apostles, including himself, and that the forger here allows the mask to slip, but Bigg rightly regards this a needless inference. The meaning is that they should remember the teaching of their apostles and not follow the Gnostic libertines.

Verse 3

Knowing this first (τουτο πρωτον γινωσκοντες). Present active participle of γινωσκω. See 2 Peter 1:20 for this identical phrase. Nominative absolute here where accusative γινωσκοντας would be regular. Peter now takes up the παρουσια (2 Peter 1:16) after having discussed the δυναμις of Christ.

In the last days (επ' εσχατων των ημερων). "Upon the last of the days." Jude 1:18 has it επ' εσχατου χρονου (upon the last time). In 1 Peter 1:5 it is εν καιρω εσχατω (in the last time), while 1 Peter 1:20 has επ' εσχατου των χρονων (upon the last of the times). John has usually τη εσχατη ημερα (on the last day, 2 Peter 6:39). Here εσχατων is a predicate adjective like συμμυς μονς (the top of the mountain).

Mockers with mockery (εμπαιγμονη εμπαικτα). Note Peter's play on words again, both from εμπαιζω (Matthew 2:16), to trifle with, and neither found elsewhere save εμπαικτης in Judges 1:18; Isaiah 3:4 (playing like children).

Verse 4

Where is the promise of his coming? (που εστιν η επαγγελια της παρουσιας αυτου;). This is the only sample of the questions raised by these mockers. Peter had mentioned this subject of the παρουσια in 2 Peter 1:16. Now he faces it squarely. Peter, like Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:1; 2 Thessalonians 2:1), preached about the second coming (2 Peter 1:16; Acts 3:20), as Jesus himself did repeatedly (Matthew 24:34) and as the angels promised at the Ascension (Acts 1:11). Both Jesus and Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:1) were misunderstood on the subject of the time and the parables of Jesus urged readiness and forbade setting dates for his coming, though his language in Matthew 24:34 probably led some to believe that he would certainly come while they were alive.

From the day that (αφ' ης). "From which day." See Luke 7:45.

Fell asleep (εκοιμηθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of κοιμαω, old verb, to put sleep, classic euphemism for death (John 11:11) like our cemetery (sleeping-place).

Continue (διαμενε). Present active indicative of διαμενω, to remain through (Luke 1:22). In statu quo.

As they were (ουτως). "Thus."

From the beginning of creation (απ' αρχης κτισεως). Precisely so in Mark 10:6, which see.

Verse 5

For this they wilfully forget (λανθανε γαρ αυτους τουτο θελοντας). Literally, "for this escapes them being willing." See this use of λανθανω (old verb, to escape notice of, to be hidden from) in Acts 26:26. The present active participle θελοντας (from θελω, to wish) has almost an adverbial sense here.

Compacted (συνεστωσα). See Paul's συνεστηκεν (Colossians 1:17) "consist." Second perfect active (intransitive) participle of συνιστημ, feminine singular agreeing with γη (nearest to it) rather than with ουρανο (subject of ησαν imperfect plural). There is no need to make Peter mean the Jewish mystical "seven heavens" because of the plural which was used interchangeably with the singular (Matthew 5:9).

Out of water and amidst water (εξ υδατος κα δι' υδατος). Out of the primeval watery chaos (Genesis 1:2), but it is not plain what is meant by δι' υδατος, which naturally means "by means of water," though δια with the genitive is used for a condition or state (Hebrews 12:1). The reference may be to Genesis 1:9, the gathering together of the waters.

By the word of God (τω του θεου λογω). Instrumental case λογω, "by the fiat of God" (Genesis 1:3; Hebrews 11:3 ρηματ θεου).

Verse 6

By which means (δι' ων). The two waters above or the water and the word of God. Mayor against the MSS. reads δι' ου (singular) and refers it to λογω alone.

Being overshadowed (κατακλυσθεις). First aorist passive participle of κατακλυζω, old compound, here only in N.T., but see κατακλυσμος in 2 Peter 2:5.

With water (υδατ). Instrumental case of υδωρ.

Perished (απωλετο). Second aorist middle indicative of απολλυμ.

Verse 7

That now are (νυν). "The now heavens" over against "the then world" (ο τοτε κοσμος verse 2 Peter 3:6).

By the same word (τω αυτω λογω). Instrumental case again referring to λογω in verse 2 Peter 3:6.

Have been stored up (τεθησαυρισμενο εισιν). Perfect passive indicative of θησαυριζω, for which verb see Matthew 6:19; Luke 12:21.

For fire (πυρ). Dative case of πυρ, not with fire (instrumental case). The destruction of the world by fire is here pictured as in Joel 2:30; Psalms 50:3.

Being reserved (τηρουμενο). Present passive participle of τηρεω, for which see 2 Peter 2:4.

Against (εις). Unto. As in 2 Peter 2:4; 2 Peter 2:9 and see 1 Peter 1:4 for the inheritance reserved for the saints of God.

Verse 8

Forget not this one thing (εν τουτο μη λανθανετω υμας). Rather, "let not this one thing escape you." For λανθανετω (present active imperative of λανθανω) see verse 2 Peter 3:5. The "one thing" (εν) is explained by the οτ (that) clause following. Peter applies the language of Psalms 90:4 about the eternity of God and shortness of human life to "the impatience of human expectations" (Bigg) about the second coming of Christ. "The day of judgment is at hand (1 Peter 4:7). It may come tomorrow; but what is tomorrow? What does God mean by a day? It may be a thousand years" (Bigg). Precisely the same argument applies to those who argue for a literal interpretation of the thousand years in Revelation 20:4-6. It may be a day or a day may be a thousand years. God's clock (παρα κυριω, beside the Lord) does not run by our timepieces. The scoffers scoff ignorantly.

Verse 9

Is not slack concerning his promise (ου βραδυνε της επαγγελιας). Ablative case επαγγελιας after βραδυνε (present active indicative of βραδυνω, from βραδυς, slow), old verb, to be slow in, to fall short of (like λειπετα σοφιας in James 1:5), here and 1 Timothy 3:15 only in N.T.

Slackness (βραδυτητα). Old substantive from βραδυς (James 1:19), here only in N.T. God is not impotent nor unwilling to execute his promise.

To youward (εις υμας). Προς rather than εις after μακροθυμε in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 and επ in James 5:7, etc.

Not wishing (μη βουλομενος). Present middle participle of βουλομα. Some will perish (verse 2 Peter 3:7), but that is not God's desire. Any (τινας). Rather than "some" (τινες) above. Accusative with the infinitive απολεσθα (second aorist middle of απολλυμ. God wishes "all" (παντας) to come (χωρησα first aorist active infinitive of χωρεω, old verb, to make room). See Acts 17:30; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:4; Hebrews 2:9 for God's provision of grace for all who will repent.

Verse 10

The day of the Lord (ημερα κυριου). So Peter in Acts 2:20 (from Joel 3:4) and Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 5:5; and day of Christ in Philippians 2:16 and day of God in 2 Peter 2:12 and day of judgment already in 2 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 3:7. This great day will certainly come (ηξε). Future active of ηκω, old verb, to arrive, but in God's own time.

As a thief (ως κλεπτης). That is suddenly, without notice. This very metaphor Jesus had used (Luke 12:39; Matthew 24:43) and Paul after him (1 Thessalonians 5:2) and John will quote it also (Revelation 3:3; Revelation 16:15).

In the which (εν η). The day when the Lord comes.

Shall pass away (παρελευσοντα). Future middle of παρερχομα, old verb, to pass by.

With a great noise (ροιζηδον). Late and rare adverb (from ροιζεω, ροιζος)-- Lycophron, Nicander, here only in N.T., onomatopoetic, whizzing sound of rapid motion through the air like the flight of a bird, thunder, fierce flame.

The elements (τα στοιχεια). Old word (from στοιχος a row), in Plato in this sense, in other senses also in N.T. as the alphabet, ceremonial regulations (Hebrews 5:12; Galatians 4:3; Galatians 5:1; Colossians 2:8).

Shall be dissolved (λυθησετα). Future passive of λυω, to loosen, singular because στοιχεια is neuter plural.

With fervent heat (καυσουμενα). Present passive participle of καυσοω, late verb (from καυσος, usually medical term for fever) and nearly always employed for fever temperature. Mayor suggests a conflagration from internal heat. Bigg thinks it merely a vernacular (Doric) future for καυσομενα (from καιω, to burn).

Shall be burned up (κατακαησετα). Repeated in verse 2 Peter 3:12. Second future passive of the compound verb κατακαιω, to burn down (up), according to A L. But Aleph B K P read ευρεθησετα (future passive of ευρισκω, to find) "shall be found." There are various other readings here. The text seems corrupt.

Verse 11

To be dissolved (λυομενων). Present passive participle (genitive absolute with τουτων παντων, these things all) of λυω, either the futuristic present or the process of dissolution presented.

What manner of persons (ποταπους). Late qualitative interrogative pronoun for the older ποδαπος as in Matthew 8:27, accusative case with δε υπαρχειν agreeing with υμας (you). See 2 Peter 1:8 for υπαρχω.

In all holy living and godliness (εν αγιαις αναστροφαις κα ευσεβειαις). "In holy behaviours and pieties" (Alford). Plural of neither word elsewhere in N.T., but a practical plural in πασα αναστροφη in 1 Peter 1:15.

Verse 12

Looking for (προσδοκωντας). Present active participle of προσδοκαω (Matthew 11:3) agreeing in case (accusative plural) with υμας.

Earnestly desiring (σπευδοντας). Present active participle, accusative also, of σπευδω, old verb, to hasten (like our speed) as in Luke 2:16, but it is sometimes transitive as here either (preferably so) to "hasten on the parousia" by holy living (cf. 1 Peter 2:12), with which idea compare Matthew 6:10; Acts 3:19, or to desire earnestly (Isaiah 16:5).

Being on fire (πυρουμενο). Present passive participle of πυροω, old verb (from pur), same idea as in verse 2 Peter 3:10.

Shall melt (τηκετα). Futuristic present passive indicative of τηκω, old verb, to make liquid, here only in N.T. Hort suggests τηξετα (future middle), though Isaiah 34:4 has τακησοντα (second future passive). The repetitions here make "an effective refrain" (Mayor).

Verse 13

Promise (επαγγελμα). As in 2 Peter 1:4. The reference is to Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22. See also Revelation 21:1. For καινος (new) see on Matthew 26:29. For the expectant attitude in προσδοκωμεν (we look for) repeated from verse 2 Peter 3:12 and again in verse 2 Peter 3:14, see απεκδεχομεθα (we eagerly look for) in Philippians 3:20.

Wherein (εν οις). The new heavens and earth.

Dwelleth (κατοικε). Has its home (οικος). Certainly "righteousness" (δικαιοσυνη) is not at home in this present world either in individuals, families, or nations.

Verse 14

Wherefore (διο). As in 2 Peter 1:10; 2 Peter 1:12.

Give diligence (σπουδασατε). As in 2 Peter 1:10.

That ye may be found (ευρεθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive (cf. ευρεθησετα in verse 2 Peter 3:10). For this use of ευρισκω about the end see 2 Corinthians 5:3; Philippians 3:9; 1 Peter 1:7.

Without spot and blameless (ασπιλο κα αμωμητο). Predicate nominative after ευρεθηνα. See 2 Peter 2:13 for position words σπιλο κα μωμο and 1 Peter 1:19 for αμωμος (so Jude 1:24) κα ασπιλος (so James 1:27). Αμωμητος (old verbal of μωμαομα) only here in N.T. save some MSS. in Philippians 2:15.

Verse 15

In his sight (αυτω). Ethical dative. Referring to Christ.

Is salvation (σωτηριαν). Predicate accusative after ηγεισθε in apposition with μακροθυμιαν (long-suffering), an opportunity for repentance (cf. 1 Peter 3:20). The Lord here is Christ.

Our beloved brother Paul (ο αγαπητος αδελφος Παυλος). Paul applies the verbal αγαπητος (beloved) to Epaphras (Colossians 1:7), Onesimus (Colossians 4:9; Philemon 1:16), to Tychicus (Colossians 4:7; Ephesians 6:21), and to four brethren in 2 Peter 3:16 (Epainetus Romans 16:5, Ampliatus Romans 16:8, Stachys Romans 16:9, Persis Romans 16:12). It is not surprising for Peter to use it of Paul in view of Galatians 2:9, in spite of Galatians 2:11-14.

Given to him (δοθεισαν αυτω). First aorist passive participle of διδωμ with dative case. Peter claimed wisdom for himself, but recognises that Paul had the gift also. His language here may have caution in it as well as commendation. "St. Peter speaks of him with affection and respect, yet maintains the right to criticise" (Bigg).

Verse 16

As also in all his epistles (ως κα εν πασαις επιστολαις). We do not know to how many Peter here refers. There is no difficulty in supposing that Peter "received every one of St. Paul's Epistles within a month or two of its publication" (Bigg). And yet Peter does not here assert the formation of a canon of Paul's Epistles.

Speaking in them of these things (λαλων εν αυταις περ τουτων). Present active participle of λαλεω. That is to say, Paul also wrote about the second coming of Christ, as is obviously true.

Hard to be understood (δυσνοητα). Late verbal from δυς and νοεω (in Aristotle, Lucian, Diog. Laert.), here only in N.T. We know that the Thessalonians persisted in misrepresenting Paul on this very subject of the second coming as Hymenaeus and Philetus did about the resurrection (2 Timothy 2:17) and Spitta holds that Paul's teaching about grace was twisted to mean moral laxity like Galatians 3:10; Romans 3:20; Romans 3:28; Romans 5:20 (with which cf. 2 Peter 6:1 as a case in point), etc. Peter does not say that he himself did not understand Paul on the subject of faith and freedom.

Unlearned (αμαθεις). Old word (alpha privative and μανθανω to learn), ignorant, here only in N.T.

Unsteadfast (αστηρικτο). See on 2 Peter 2:14.

Wrest (στρεβλουσιν). Present active indicative of στρεβλοω, old verb (from στρεβλος twisted, στρεφω, to turn), here only in N.T.

The other scriptures (τας λοιπας γραφας). There is no doubt that the apostles claimed to speak by the help of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:27; Colossians 4:16) just as the prophets of old did (2 Peter 1:20). Note λοιπας (rest) here rather than αλλας (other). Peter thus puts Paul's Epistles on the same plane with the O.T., which was also misused (Matthew 5:21-44; Matthew 15:3-6; Matthew 19:3-10).

Verse 17

Knowing these things beforehand (προγινωσκοντες). Present active participle of προγινωσκω as in 1 Peter 1:20. Cf. πρωτον γινωσκω (2 Peter 1:20; 2 Peter 3:1). Hence they are without excuse for misunderstanding Peter or Paul on this subject.

Beware (φυλασσεσθε). Present middle imperative of φυλασσω, common verb, to guard.

Lest (ινα μη). Negative purpose, "that not."

Being carried away (συναπαχθεντες). First aorist passive participle of συναπαγω, old verb double compound, to carry away together with, in N.T. only here and Galatians 2:13.

With the error (τη πλανη). Instrumental case, "by the error" (the wandering).

Of the wicked (των αθεσμων). See on 2 Peter 2:7.

Ye fall from (εκπεσητε). Second aorist active subjunctive with ινα μη of εκπιπτω, old verb, to fall out of, with the ablative here (στηριγμου, steadfastness, late word from στηριζω, here alone in N.T.) as in Galatians 5:4 (της χαριτος εξεπεσατε, ye fell out of grace).

Verse 18

But grow (αυξανετε δε). Present active imperative of αυξανω, in contrast with such a fate pictured in verse 2 Peter 3:17, "but keep on growing."

In the grace and knowledge (εν χαριτ κα γνωσε). Locative case with εν. Grow in both. Keep it up. See on 2 Peter 1:1 for the idiomatic use of the single article (του) here, "of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

To him (αυτω). To Christ.

For ever (εις ημεραν αιωνος). "Unto the day of eternity." So Sirach 18:9f. One of the various ways of expressing eternity by the use of αιων. So εις τον αιωνα in John 6:5; John 12:34.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.