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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

2 Peter 3

Verse 1

2Pe 3:1. In calling this his second epistle which he says he writes unto you, it shows that the persons he addresses in 1Pe 1:1 and 2Pe 1:1 are the same brethren though he designates them in different language. He is still calling attention to the motive in each epistle, namely, to stir up their memory. Pure minds denotes that their minds were sincerely interested in the truth.

Verse 2

2Pe 3:2. The holy prophets refers to those of the Old Testament times and the apostles pertain to the New. The truthfulness of each is the same, because the former "spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost or Spirit (chapter 1:21), and the latter spoke "as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Act 2:4). The particular things in their sayings being considered were predictions of complainers that were to show up. Peter wishes his brethren not to be confused and hence he is reminding them about it.

Verse 3

2Pe 3:3. Knowing this first. They had first-hand information because it came from inspired prophets and apostles. Last days. Some of the things to which Peter refers were being said at the time he was writing, for in verse 5 he speaks in the present tense when he says "are ignorant." Therefore the last days is a general reference to the Christian Dispensation. Scoffers means men who mock or make light of things they do not like but cannot refute. Robinson says the word was "spoken of impostors, false prophets, deceivers." The motive of these objectors is revealed by the words walking after their own lusts. It is a common practice of men who do not wish to be disturbed in their sinful ways, to make light of any authorities that threaten their punishment. They would naturally take that attitude toward the second coming of Christ, because it was predicted that He would judge the world when he comes (Mat 25:31-46; Act 17:31).

Verse 4

2Pe 3:4. Promise is from a word that is somewhat general and includes the idea of "announcement." It is that feature of the term that was worrying the scoffers, because it was announced that when Jesus comes he will condemn the wicked. Where is the promise. What has become of this promise that was predicted? The fathers comes from a word with so various a meaning that the connection will need be considered in each passage. One of the definitions of Thayer is, "The founder of a race or tribe, progenitor of a people, forefather." This is the sense Peter uses and hence it refers to the patriarchs in the beginning, because he mentions the flood as coming after these fathers fell asleep. The scoffers asserted that since that happened there have been no interruptions into the course of things that were arranged in the creation. Their point is to pooh-pooh such "pessimism" as that any change will ever take place.

Verse 5

2Pe 3:5. Willingly are ignorant because it is recorded in the Scriptures, and these scoffers could have known about it had they wanted to know the truth. It was by the word of God that the "heavens and earth" were created (Gen 1:1), and by which also the earth and water were separated from each other (Gen 1:9-10).

Verse 6

2Pe 3:6. World is from Kontos, which means the inhabitants of the earth, and that is the world that perished in the flood. The account of the flood is in the book that the scoffers did not deny being true, but their interest in lustful practices had kept them from learning about it.

Verse 7

2Pe 3:7. Heavens and earth are the same that are in verse 5 which were created by the word of God. After the people living on the earth were destroyed by the flood (except Noah and family), it left the heavens and earth still in existence and again was covered with inhabitants. The same word that created them is keeping them in store, being reserved against (until) the destruction by fire. That will be done on the same day that the ungodly men will be judged and sent into perdition. The earth will be permitted to remain until the day of judgment because man is to live on it that long.

Verse 8

2Pe 3:8. Having made his exposure of the scoffers and their wilful ignorance, the apostle devotes the rest of the epistle to the good brethren. They have been advised against being misled by the false statements of the scoffers, yet they doubtless wished sincerely to have information concerning the seeming delay of the second coming of Christ. Peter will take up that matter and explain it for the sake of them and other readers of the epistle. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years. It should be noted the apostle does not say a day is as long as a thousand years with us for that would not be true. When the earth revolves once man has been given a day. It must make such a revolution 365 times to give him one year and that must be multiplied a thousand times to amount to the period of the italicized statement. But with the Lord no such measurements are necessary for He inhabits eternity (or time, which is the same), and as there is no limit or end to it, He can prolong the earth's existence through hundreds of such revolutions as easily as through one. To man it seems like a drawn-out delay and hence the apostle gives the explanation herein.

Verse 9

2Pe 3:9. To be slack means to delay or be slow in doing something that has been promised or predicted. As some men count slackness. What would be regarded as tardiness by men does not apply to the Lord. That is, the seeming delay in bringing the earth to an end is not due to that cause as the scoffers implied. It is rather due to the longsuffering or patience that He is manifesting toward humanity. Not willing that any should perish. This statement is another proof that no chance of being saved will be given after the earth is destroyed. If men are delievered from their sins at all, it must be before the end of the world or before their death. In contrast with perish the apostle sets the phrase come to repentance, which shows that all who do not repent will perish. Jesus taught the same truth in person as recorded in Luk 13:3 Luk 13:5. But the longsuffering of God is not endless; it was not in the days of Noah (Gen 6:3; 1Pe 3:20). When God in his infinite wisdom decides that His long-suffering has served its full purpose He will bring about the end.

Verse 10

2Pe 3:10. The Lord is nowhere compared to a thief, but the time of His coming is where the likeness is. That is because a thief makes no announcement of his approach but comes in by surprise, usually selecting the time of night for the event. There are three heavens spoken of in the Bible, the third one being the dwelling place of God (2Co 12:1-4), and of course that will never pass away. The other two are in the material universe, comprising the region of the atmosphere for the first and that of the planets for the second. These shall pass away with a great noise. The italicized words come from one Greek word which Strong defines, "Whizzingly, i. e., with a crash." The origi- nal for elements is defined by Thayer as follows: "The elements from which all things have come, the material causes of the universe." These materials will become liquefied by the intense heat that the Creator will send upon them. The earth is a part of the same material universe mentioned in the quoted definition, but it is given special mention because it is where man lives at the present, thus giving him serious warning of the fateful event.

Verse 11

2Pe 3:11. All these things. The things of the material universe named in the preceding verse are all to be dissolved or melt. That will be the end of man's existence on the earth and hence the end of his opportunity to prepare for the judgment. Such is the reason for the exhortation to be holy (righteous) in conversation (conduct) by living according to godliness; live as God has directed us to live.

Verse 12

2Pe 3:12. Hasting means "to desire earnestly" for the coming of the day of God. And this notwithstanding the day will bring the dissolving of this earth on which we have lived and enjoyed the blessings of God. But this seeming contradiction in our attitude will be explained in the next verse.

Verse 13

2Pe 3:13. The promise referred to is in Mat 5:5 where the meek are promised to inherit the earth. The future state of the saved will be spiritual, hence the only way man can be given a foresight of it is by likening it to what he understands and enjoys while living in a material home. The present abode is on the earth with its two heavens, the atmosphere and starry region. Gen 1:14-16 says the planets were made to give light upon the earth, hence it is proper to mention those heavens in connection with the earth when referring to the home of mankind. But while the form of language is based upon man's present abode, in reality his eternal home will be spiritual and one wherein shall dwell righteousness.

Verse 14

2Pe 3:14. With such a prospect as this it should be an incentive for us to live in view of it. To do so we should be diligent (thoughtfully active) and maintain ourselves in the peace that is according to the wisdom from above (Jas 3:17). Since that wisdom is pure (unmixed) it will make those without spot who follow it.

Verse 15

2Pe 3:15. Longsuffering is salvation is the same as mentioned in verse 9, hence Christians should not fret over the seeming delay of His coming. Peter says that Paul wrote to these people on the same matters as the present epistle. Peter wrote both of his epistles to the same brethren for he calls this one the second one he had written to them (verse 1). In the first epistle he mentions brethren in Galatia and Asia, and we know that Paul wrote to brethren in those same regions (Galatians and Ephesians). Peter says that Paul wrote according to the wisdom given unto him. This refers to his inspiration for he tells us himself that his preaching was "In demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (1Co 2:4).

Verse 16

2Pe 3:16. Peter here makes a more general reference to the epistles of Paul, and says that in all of them he speaks of the same things that the present letter treats. This shows that Peter was familiar with the Pauline writings and that he had great respect for them. Since both apostles wrote about so many items that pertain to the kingdom of God, it would be unnecessary to try pointing out which Peter means by these things. All of the words hard to be understood are from the one Greek word DUSNOETOS, which Thayer defines with the same four words. Robinson defines it, "difficult of perception." We should note it does not say that it is impossible to understand them, hence the expression does not contradict the general idea of the simplicity of the Gospel. Moreover, it merely says there are some things like this, which would not be surprising in documents that have to do with performances of both God and man and of both bad men and Satan. Besides, the only ones who had any serious trouble were those who were unlearned (uninformed) and unstable (unsettled in their convictions). But even these are not to be excused for they could do better, since they wrest (twist) the scriptures which means to force them out of their obvious meaning. And since they wilfully misuse the sacred writings Peter says it will be unto their own destruction.

Verse 17

2Pe 3:17. The foregoing remarks are said for the warning of the better class of disciples to whom Peter is sending this epistle. They should beware and not be led astray by designing false teachers who are "walking after their own lusts." No person can be on both sides of a subject at the same time, hence in order to be sted-fast in the faith one must turn away from such evil characters.

Verse 18

2Pe 3:18. Grow in grace means to grow (or increase) in the favor of the Lord. Note that this exhortation is coupled with the knowledge of Him. Hence our favor with the Lord will increase as our knowledge of Him increases, which we may obtain only by becoming familiar with the Gospel. To hint be glory means that all honor and dignity should be ascribed to the Lord, and that such respect will be due Him for ever. Amen is ascribed as an expression of emphasis; its uses and meaning are explained in the comments at Rom 16:24 in first volume of the New Testament Commentary.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 1952.