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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
2 Peter 3

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

2 Peter 3:1. Not the commencement of a new epistle (Grotius), but of a new section, directed against the deniers of the advent of Christ.

ταύτην ἤδηἐπιστολήν] “This epistle I write to you, as already the second.” Pott: αὕτη ἤδη δευτέρα ἐστὶν ἐπιστολὴ, ἣν γράφω ὑμῖν. Fronmüller incorrectly explains ἤδη by: “now being near my death.” The epistle first written is the so-called First Epistle of Peter.

ἐν αἷς] applies both to this and the First Epistle of Peter (Winer, p. 128 [E. T. 177]). The prepos. ἐν does not stand here in place of διά (Gerhard), but refers to the contents.

διεγείρωδιάνοιαν] for the phrase: διεγείρειν ἐν ὑπομνήσει, cf. chap. 2 Peter 1:13.

ὑμῶν belongs to διάνοιαν.

εἰλικρινῆ, cf. Philippians 1:10.


Verse 2

2 Peter 3:2. Cf. Jude 1:17; in Jude mention is not made of the apostles, but only of the prophets.

μνησθῆναι] Infin. of purpose: “in order that ye may remember,” equivalent to εἰς τὸ μνησθῆναι (Vorstius).

τῶν προειρημένων ῥημάτων ὑπὸ τῶν ἁγίων προφητῶν] This applies evidently to the Old Testament prophets; and with especial reference to the prophecies which relate to the παρουσία of Christ (cf. 2 Peter 3:4 and chap. 2 Peter 1:19).(84) The Vulg. wrongly translates: ut memores sitis eorum quae praedixi verborum a sanctis prophetis (or sanctorum prophetarum).

καὶ τῆς τῶν ἀποστόλων ὑμῶν ἐντολῆς τοῦ κυρίου καὶ σωτῆρος] On the commonly accepted reading ἡμῶν, a double interpretation has been given; some, making ἡμῶν depend on ἐντολῆς, for the most part regard τῶν ἀποστόλων as in apposition to ἡμῶν, thus: “of our, the apostles’, command” (Luther: “the commandment of us, who are the apostles of the Lord;” thus, too, Calvin, Hornejus, Wolf, Pott, Dietlein, etc.); whilst Bengel more correctly takes ἡμῶν as in apposition to ἀποστόλων, as in Acts 10:41 : μάρτυσιἡμῖν; for otherwise ἡμῶν must have stood before ἀποστόλων; cf. also 1 Corinthians 1:18. Others, again, hold that ἡμῶν is dependent on ἀποστόλων; thus de Wette: “the commandment of our apostles of the Lord, i.e. of the apostles who have preached to us, and are sent from the Lord.” But against this interpretation is the circumstance, that whilst he elsewhere in the epistle designates himself as an apostle, the author of the epistle would thus make a distinction between himself and the apostles.(85) On the true reading: ὑμῶν, the gen. τοῦ κυρίου does not, as was for the most part formerly assumed, depend on ἀποστόλων, but on ἐντολῆς (Brückner, Wiesinger, Schott, Steinfass); either in the sense: “the commandment … of the Lord of the apostles, i.e. the commandment of the Lord, which the apostles have proclaimed;” or: “ τοῦ κυρίου is added by way of supplement to ἐντολ.,” and the expression is to be left as it stands originally: “your command of the apostles, of the Lord, i.e. which the Lord has given” (Brückner; thus also Wiesinger, Schott); the latter is to be preferred. No doubt the parallel passage in Jude runs: ὑπὸ τῶν ἀποστόλων τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν; but the whole epistle, and especially this passage of it, shows that the author of our epistle, even if he had Jude’s composition before him, in no way bound himself slavishly to individual expressions in it. According to Wiesinger, Schott, Steinfass, by the ἀπ. ὑμ. Paul and his fellow-labourers are meant; this, too, is more probable than that the apostle included himself among them.

By ἐντολή is here, as little as in chap. 2 Peter 2:21, to be understood the gospel or the Christian religion (or, as Dietlein thinks: “the announcement, i.e. the historical proclamation, of those predictions of the prophets, partly fulfilled, partly yet unfulfilled, which was entrusted to the apostles”); but ἐντολή means here, as it always does, the commandment; according to de Wette: “the commandment to guard against the false teachers,” after 1 Timothy 4:1 ff. But it is more appropriate, and more in harmony with the connection of thought, to understand by it the command to lead a Christian life, in expectation of the second coming of Christ (Wiesinger, Schott, Brückner); cf. chap. 2 Peter 2:22, 2 Peter 1:5 ff., 2 Peter 3:12.


Verse 3

2 Peter 3:3. τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες] cf. chap. 2 Peter 1:20.

γινώσκοντες] refers in loose construction (instead of an accus.) to the subject contained in μνησθῆναι.

ὅτι ἐλεύσονται κ. τ. λ.] Cf. Jude 1:18.(86)

ἐν ἐ΄παιγ΄ονῇ] gives sharp prominence to the conduct of the ἐ΄παῖκται. The word is a ἅπ. λεγ.; Hebrews 11:36 : ἐ΄παιγ΄ός; with the constr. ἔρχεσθαι ἐν, cf. 1 Corinthians 4:21.

κατὰ τὰς πορευό΄ενοι] Jude 1:18; Jude 1:16; ἰδίας is added so as to strengthen the pronoun αὑτῶν.


Verse 4

2 Peter 3:4. The scoffing words of the ἐμπαῖκται.

καὶ λέγοντες ποῦ ἐστιν ἐπαγγελία τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ] The question ποῦ ἐστιν expresses the negation; “quasi dicunt: nusquam est, evanuit; denique vana est et mendax;” cf. 1 Peter 4:18. The same form of speech with ποῦ ἐστιν: Psalms 42:4; Psalms 79:10; Malachi 2:17; Luke 8:25.

αὐτοῦ, i.e. Christi, cujus nomen ex re ipsa satis poterat intelligi (Grotius). Gerhard assumes that the scoffers did not mention the name of Christ per ἐξουθενισμόν; thus also Wiesinger, Hofmann. According to the connection (2 Peter 3:2), the ἐπαγγελία meant is that of the O. T. (cf. chap. 2 Peter 1:19 ff.(87)). In what follows we have the thesis of the scoffers in opposition to the ἐπαγγελία, and the basis of it. The thesis is: πάντα οὕτως διαμένει ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως; its basis is indicated by the words: ἀφʼ ἧς (sc. ἡμέρας) οἱ πατέρες ἐκοιμήθησαν. On the assumption that the ἀφʼ ἧς οἱ πατ. ἐκοιμ., as used by the scoffers, means the period marking off the commencement of the διαμένει, and that ἀπʼ ἀρχ. κτ. serves only as a more precise definition of it (Brückner, Schott), then by οἱ πατέρες must be understood “the ancestors, the first generations of the human race.” But on this view ἀφʼ ἧς κ. τ. λ. is an entirely superfluous determination (Wiesinger), nor would there thus be any indication of the ground on which the scoffers based their thesis; if, however, this be contained in ὀφʼ ἧς κ. τ. λ., the reference in οἱ πατέρες can be only either to the fathers of the Jewish people, to whom the ἐπαγγελία was given, cf. Hebrews 1:1 (Wiesinger), or those of the generation to which the scoffers belong (de Wette, Thiersch, Fronmüller, Hofmann). Now, since the falling asleep of the fathers of Israel, before its fulfilment, could not well be brought as a proof that the promise was of none effect, inasmuch as it referred to a time beyond that in which they lived (cf. 1 Peter 1:10 ff.), preference must be given to the second view. Wiesinger, indeed, says that the time of the composition of the epistle does not agree with this; but as the tarrying of the παρουσία had already been the occasion of wonder in the church, and Christianity, when this letter was composed, had now been in existence for at least thirty-five years, it is quite possible that even at that time those who held Libertine views could have supported their denial of the Parousia by the fact that the expectation cherished by the early Christians had remained unrealized, thus calling forth the prophecy here made. At any rate, it is a point not to be overlooked, that the words here used are represented as to be spoken at a time then still in the future. 2 Peter 3:8, which otherwise would stand totally unconnected with 2 Peter 3:4, also favours this view.(88) The connection of the two members of the verse is certainly a loose one, since on none of the different interpretations does ἀφʼ ἧς κ. τ. λ. stand in close connection with διαμένει. The thought which has been somewhat inadequately expressed is: Since the fathers fell asleep, nothing has changed,—the promise has not been fulfilled,—a proof that everything remains as it has been since the creation. With ἐκοιμήθησαν, cf. 1 Corinthians 7:39; 1 Corinthians 15:6, and other passages.

οὕτως does not require any supplement properly so called: “the scoffers point as it were with the finger to the (sacred) status quo of the world” (Steinfass).

διαμένει does not mean “has remained,” nor is it “will remain,” but the present expresses the continuous, uniform duration; δια strengthens the idea μένειν.

ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως: “since creation took its beginning.”


Verse 5

2 Peter 3:5. Refutation of the assertion: πάντα οὕτω διαμένει, by the adducing the fact of the flood.(89) λανθάνει γὰρθέλοντας] γάρ is not equivalent to δέ, but designates the thought which follows as the reason for their scoffing: “Thus they speak because;” cf. Winer, p. 423 [E. T. 568].

τοῦτο belongs either to λανθάνει or to θέλοντας; in the first case it refers to what follows: ὅτι κ. τ. λ.; in which case θέλοντας will mean: “willingly, on purpose” (Brückner, Wiesinger, Fronmüller, Hofmann; cf. Winer, p. 436 [E. T. 586]; Buttmann, p. 322. Luther: “but they wilfully will not know”); in the second case τοῦτο refers to the contents of the preceding statement, and θέλειν means “to assert;” “for, whilst they assert this, it is hidden from them that” (Dietlein, Schott). The position both of τοῦτο separated from ὅτι by θέλοντας, and of θέλοντας separated by τοῦτο from λανθάνει, favours the second construction; that θέλειν can be used in the sense of “to assert,” is clear from Herodian, v. 3. 11: εἰκόνα τε ἡλίου ἀνέργαστον εἶναι θέλουσι; the word marks the assertion as one based on self-willed arbitrariness, and as without any certain foundation.

ὅτι οὐρανοὶ ἦσαν ἔκπαλαι] οἱ οὐρανοί, the plural according to the common usage.

ἔκπαλαι; cf. chap. 2 Peter 2:3, not: “of old, formerly,” but: “from of old,” i.e. jam inde a primo rerum omnium initio (Gerhard).

ἦσαν belongs in the first instance to οὐρανοί; yet the subsequent γῆ is to be taken as applying to it also.

καὶ γῆ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ διʼ ὕδατος συνεστῶσα] συνεστῶσα expresses the idea of originating out of a combination; συνίστημι is often employed thus by the Greeks in the intransitive tenses, though the reference contained in συν sometimes disappears almost entirely. The prepositions ἐξ and διά must not be regarded as synonymous; ἐξ refers to the substance, διά to the means. A twofold significance is thus attributed to the water in the formation of the earth, which is also in harmony with the Mosaic account of the creation, where the original substance is distinctly spoken of as ὕδωρ, and in the formation of the earth water is mentioned as the instrumental element (Brückner). There is, accordingly, no foundation for the assertion of de Wette, that the author conceived the origin of the world, according to Indo-Egyptian cosmogony, as a species of chemical product of water. Many interpreters, as Bengel, Wiesinger, Schott, Fronmüller, Hofmann, as also Winer, p. 390 [E. T. 441], explain ἐξ ὕδατος by saying that the earth arose out of the water “in which it lay buried.” But this interpretation is refuted by the meaning of the verbal idea συνεστῶσα, which belongs to ἐξ ὕδατος; thus, too, an element would be introduced which would be of only secondary importance.(90) Although συνεστῶσα belongs grammatically only to γῆ, yet in thought it has been applied to οὐρανοί also; thus Brückner, Wiesinger, Schott, and in this commentary. This reference may be justified thus far, that οὐρανοί is understood of the second day’s work of creation, the visible heavens; but it is necessary only if κόσ΄ος, 2 Peter 3:6, is to be taken as meaning the heavens and the earth. De Wette arbitrarily refers the preposition ἐξ only to the earth, and διά to the heavens; the latter in the sense of: “through the water, between the water.” τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ] draws emphatic attention to the fact that the active cause of the creation of the world was the Word of God; to this τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ, the τῷ αὐτοῦ λόγῳ, 2 Peter 3:7, corresponds.


Verse 6

2 Peter 3:6. διʼ ὧν κ. τ. λ.] The question is, to what has ὧν retrospect? The answer depends on the meaning attached to: τότε κόσμος. To appearance this phrase must be regarded as identical with οὐρανοὶ καὶ γῆ, 2 Peter 3:5; 2 Peter 3:7 (2 Peter 3:10; 2 Peter 3:13), and in support of this view appeal may be made also to the τότε as distinguished from νῦν, 2 Peter 3:7. On this interpretation, accepted by most expositors (as also in this commentary), διʼ ὧν can refer only either to ἐξ ὕδατος and τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ (Gerhard, Brückner, Besser, Wiesinger, in this commentary also), or to ὕδατος alone (Calvin, Pott, etc.)(91)—the plural being explained from the circumstance that the water was formerly spoken of both as substance and as medium. The objection to this explanation, however, is that in the account of the flood there is nothing to show that it caused the destruction both of the heaven and of the earth, and that the earth only but not the heaven was submerged; Hofmann accordingly understands by τότε κόσμος, “the world of living creatures,” as Oecumenius already had done: τὸ ἀπώλετο ΄ὴ πρὸς πάντα τὸν κόσ΄ον ἀκουστέον, ἀλλὰ πρὸς ΄όνα τὰ ζῶα. On this view (where νῦν only, 2 Peter 3:6, seems to cause difficulty) ὧν refers to οὐρανοὶ καὶ γῆ (Oecumenius, Beza, Wolf, Hornejus, Fronmüller, Steinfass, Hofmann).(92)


Verse 7

2 Peter 3:7. οἱ δὲ οὐρανοὶ καὶ γῆ] The νῦν, which applies also to γῆ, cannot, if by τότε κόσμος is to be understood the world of living beings, be taken as an antithesis to τότε, but it refers simply to the present continuance of heaven and earth.

τῷ αὐτῷ [ αὐτοῦ] λόγῳ] points back τῷ τοῦ θεοῦ λόγῳ, 2 Peter 3:5; if the reading αὐτοῦ be adopted, this adjunct gives expression to the thought that, like as the originating of the heavens and the earth was dependent on the Word of God, so also is their preservation to annihilation by fire. If, however, αὐτῷ be the true reading, the idea seems to be implied that the reservation of the heavens and the earth unto judgment is based already on the words of creation.(93) Though this idea be surprising, it can certainly not, with Hofmann, be said to be paradoxical. It is, however, also possible that αὐτῷ is only meant to show that the word by which this keeping of the heavens and the earth takes place, is the Word of God equally with that by which they were created.

τεθησαυρισ΄ένοι εἰσί] “are stored up,” like a treasure, which is kept against a particular time, cf. Romans 2:5. Dietlein is of opinion that in the word the idea of use must be kept hold of; he defines it thus: “that heaven and earth are to serve as the material for punishment, in such a manner, however, that they at the same time perish themselves;” but this is justified neither by the reference (Romans 2:5), nor by the context.

πυρὶ τηρού΄ενοι κ. τ. λ.] “In that they are reserved for the fire against the day,” etc.; πυρί is more appropriately joined with τηρού΄ενοι (Brückner, Fronmüller) than with τεθησαυρισ΄ένοι εἰσί (Wiesinger, Schott, Hofmann); this last term does not require the adjunct, since in itself it corresponds to the ἦσαν συνεστῶσα, and it is only in the second member of the sentence that mention can be made of the future destruction by fire; otherwise, too, τηρού΄ενοι would be somewhat superfluous. The thought alluded to in πυρὶ τηρού΄ενοι is further developed in 2 Peter 3:10. Nowhere in the O. T. or N. T. is this idea so definitely expressed as here; yet from this it does not follow that it is to be traced to Greek, more particularly to the Stoic philosophy, or to Oriental mythology. The O. T. makes frequent reference to a future change in the present condition of the world (“Heaven and earth shall pass away,” Psalms 102:26-27), in connection with the appearance of God to judgment; cf. Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 51:6; especially Isaiah 66, where in Isaiah 66:22 a new heaven and a new earth is expressly spoken of; thus, too, Job 14:12. Equally is it more than once set forth that God will come to judgment in the destroying fire, Isaiah 66:15, Daniel 7:9-10, etc.; how easily, then, from passages such as these could the conception which finds expression here arise,(94) the more especially that it was promised that the world would never again be destroyed by a flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire appeared to be a type of the future judgment of the world.

Conceptions as to the world’s destruction similar to those in the O. T. are to be found in the N. T. Matthew 5:18 (Matthew 5:24; Mat_5:29), Hebrews 12:27; of fire accompanying the judgment, 1 Corinthians 3:13, 2 Thessalonians 1:8; of the new heaven and the new earth, Revelation 21:1.

εἰς ἡμέρανἀνθρώπων] The final end against which heaven and earth remain reserved for fire; ἀπώλεια: the opposite of σωτηρία, cf. Philippians 1:28 (chap. 2 Peter 2:3).

Dietlein erroneously understands τῶν ἀσεβῶν ἀνθρώπων as a designation of the whole of mankind, in that, with the exception of the converted, they are ungodly. To any such exception there is here no reference; the phrase has reference rather to the ungodly in contrast to the godly.


Verse 8

2 Peter 3:8 refers to the reason given in ἀφʼ ἧς, 2 Peter 3:4, on which the scoffers based their assertion; it points out that the delay, also, of the Parousia is no proof that it will not take place.

ἓν δὲ τοῦτο] “this one thing,” as a specially important point.

μὴ λανθανέτω ὑμᾶς] “let it not be hid from you;” said with reference to 2 Peter 3:5.

ὅτι μία ἡμέρα κ. τ. λ.] a thought that echoes Psalms 90:4. The words lay stress on the difference between the divine and the human reckoning of time. It does not designate God as being absolutely without limitations of time (cui nihil est praeteritum, nihil futurum, sed omnia praesentia; Aretius), for it is not the nature of God that is here in question, but God’s reckoning of time which He created along with the world, and the words only bring out that it is different from that of man.(95) For this purpose the words of the Psalms were not sufficient: χίλια ἔτη ἐν ὀφθαλ΄οῖς σου ὡς ἡ΄έρα ἐχθές; and therefore on the basis of them the author constructs a verse consisting of two members.

παρὰ κυρίου] “with God,” i.e. in God’s way of looking at things. Since, then, time has a different value in God’s eyes from that which it has in the eyes of men, the tarrying hitherto of the judgment, although it had been predicted as at hand, is no proof that the judgment will not actually come.(96)


Verse 9

2 Peter 3:9. Explanation of the seeming delay in the fulfilment of the promise.

οὐ βραδύνει κύριος τῆς ἐπαγγελίας] The genitive does not depend on κύριος (Steinfass), but on the verb, which here is not intransitive, as if περί (Hornejus), or ἕνεκα (Pott), or some such word were to be supplied, but transitive; although elsewhere it governs the accusative (Isaiah 46:13, LXX.: τὴν σωτηρίαν τὴν παρʼ ἐμοῦ οὐ βραδυνῶ), it can, in the idea of it, be likewise construed with the genitive.(97)

βραδύνει means not simply: “differre, to put off,” for the author admits a delay, but it contains in it the idea of tardiness (Genesis 43:10), which even holds out the prospect of a non-fulfilment; Gerhard: discrimen est inter tardare et differre; is demum tardat, qui ultra debitum tempus, quod agendum est, differt. Cf. with this passage, Habakkuk 2:3 (Hebrews 10:37) and Sirach 32:22 (in Luther’s translation, 35:22), LXX.: καὶ κύριος οὐ μὴ βραδύνῃ, οὐδὲ μὴ μακροθυμήσει.

κύριος here, as in 2 Peter 3:8, is God, not Christ, as Schott vainly tries to prove.

ὡς τινές βραδύτητα ἡγοῦνται] “as some consider it tardiness;” that is, that, contrary to expectation, the promise has not yet been fulfilled; Grotius: et propterea ipsam quoque rem promissam in dubium trahunt. τίνες denotes not the scoffers, but members of the church weak in the faith.

ἀλλὰ μυκροθυμεῖ εἰς ὑμᾶς] μακροθυμεῖν c. ἐπί: Matthew 18:26; Matthew 18:29; Luke 18:7, etc.; c. πρός: 1 Thessalonians 5:14; c. εἰς only here: “with reference to you.”

εἰς ὑμᾶς] not: “towards mankind called of free grace” (Dietlein), nor towards the heathen (Schott), but in ὑμᾶς the readers are addressed to whom the epistle is written, the more general reference to the others being understood as a matter of course. The reason of the non-fulfilment hitherto lies in the long-suffering love of God; the nearer definition lies in the words which follow.

μὴ βουλόμενος] The participle in an explanatory sense: “in that he is not willing.”(98)

τινὰς ἀπολέσθαι] τινάς, namely, such as still lead a sensual life.

ἀλλὰ πάντας εἰς μετάνοιαν χωρῆσαι] χωρεῖν here similarly as in Matthew 15:17 (Aeschyl. Pers. v. 385: εἰς ναῦν; cf. Wahl, s.v.), “but come to repentance,” or perhaps more correctly: “enter into repentance;” not as Dietlein thinks: “take the decisive step to repentance;” Calvin would, quite incorrectly, take χωρεῖν either as equivalent to recipere, so that κύριος would be the subject, or as an intrans. verb equal to colligi, aggregari.

With the thought, cf. 1 Timothy 2:4; Ezekiel 18:23; Ezekiel 33:11.(99)


Verse 10

2 Peter 3:10. ἥξει δὲ [ ] ἡμέρα κυρίου ὡς κλέπτης] ἥξει δέ stands first by way of emphasis, in contrast to what precedes: “but come will the day of the Lord.” These words express the certainty of the coming of the day of judgment, and ὡς κλέπτης its unexpected suddenness; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (Matthew 24:43): τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμέρας, 2 Peter 3:12, shows that κυρίου is here also equivalent to θεοῦ (not to χριστοῦ; Schott).

ἐν [ οἱ] οὐρανοὶ ῥοιζηδὸν παρελεύσονται] This relative clause states “the event of that day, which makes it essentially what it is” (Schott). ῥοιζηδὸν, ἅπ. λεγ., equivalent to μετὰ ῥοίζου, is best taken in the sense peculiar to the word: “with rushing swiftness” (Wiesinger, Schott, Hofmann; Pape, s.v.); Oecumenius understands it of the crackling of the destroying fire; de Wette, on the other hand, of the crash of the falling together. With παρελεύσονται, cf. Matthew 24:35; Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:17; Revelation 21:1. As to how the heavens shall pass away, see 2 Peter 3:12.

στοιχεῖα δὲ καυσούμενα λυθήσονται] στοιχεῖα cannot refer to the so-called four elements, “inasmuch as the dissolving of fire by means of fire is unthinkable” (Brückner), and it is arbitrary to limit the idea to three (Hornejus), or to two (Estius) elements; as now the position of the words shows that the expression has reference neither to the earth afterwards named, nor to the world as made up of heaven and earth (Pott: elementa totius mundi tam coeli quam terrae; thus, too, Brückner: “the primary substances of which the world, as an organism, is composed;” similarly Wiesinger, Schott), it must be understood of the constituent elements of the heavens, corresponding to the expression: αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν, Isaiah 34:4; Matthew 24:29 (cf. Meyer in loc.). This view is justified by the circumstance that in the preceding οἱ οὐρανοὶπαρελεύσονται no mention has as yet been made of the destruction of heaven and earth by fire. At variance with this view, Hofmann understands the expression στοιχεῖα here as a designation of the stars, arbitrarily asserting that στοιχεῖα “cannot be only original component parts, but must also be prominent points which dominate that by which they are surrounded,”—appealing to Justin (Apolog. ii. c. 5, and Dial. c. Tr. c. 23), who speaks of the stars as στοιχεῖα οὐράνια. To this view it may be objected, that the author could not picture to himself a burning of the stars, which appeared to him as fiery bodies; neither do any of the corresponding passages of Scripture allude to this.

The verb καυσοῦσθαι only here and in 2 Peter 3:12 : “to burn;” in the classics: “to suffer from heat;” the participle expresses the reason of the λυθήσονται: “will be dissolved by the burning.” λύειν, in the sense of: to destroy, to bring to nothing, Ephesians 2:14; 1 John 3:8,—very appropriate here if στοιχεῖα be the original elements.

καὶ γῆ καὶ τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ ἔργα κατακαήσεται] τὰ ἔργα are neither the wicked works of man (after 1 Corinthians 3:15), nor his works in general (Rosenmüller, Steinfass, Hofmann); the reference may be either to the opera naturae et artis (Bengel, Dietlein: “the manifold forms which appear on the earth’s surface, in contrast to the earth as a whole;” thus also Brückner, Wiesinger, Schott, Fronmüller); or the expression may be synonymous with that which frequently occurs in the O. T.: γῆ καὶ τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτῆς, that is to say, the creations of God which belong to the earth, as they are related in the history of creation, cf. Revelation 10:6. Hofmann wrongly urges against this view, that on it τὰ ἐν αὐτῇ would be sufficient; for even though this be true, it does not follow that the addition of the word ἔργα would prove that it is “the works of men” that are here meant. With reference to the reading εὑρεθήσεται, instead of the Rec. κατακαήσεται (see critical remarks), Hofmann regards it as original, and considers the words καὶ τὰεὑρεθήσεται as an interrogative clause subjoined to the preceding affirmative clause. Of course an interrogative clause may be subjoined to an affirmative; but when Hofmann, in support of his interpretation, appeals to 1 Corinthians 5:2, he fails to observe that the relation between the statement and the question there is entirely different from that which is supposed to exist here.


Verse 11-12

2 Peter 3:11-12. τούτων οὖν πάντων λυομένων] τούτων πάντων refers to all the things before mentioned, and not only, as Hofmann thinks, to the immediately preceding ἔργα. As regards the reading οὕτως, instead of the Rec. οὖν, it is indeed not supported by the preponderance of authorities; it deserves, however, the preference because it (equivalent to: “as has before been stated”) is more significant than the reading οὖν. The present λυομένων is explained by Winer, p. 321 [E. T. 430]: “since all this is in its nature destined to dissolution; the lot of dissolution is, as it were, already inherent in those things” (thus also Dietlein, de Wette-Brückner, Wiesinger); but it is more correct to find expressed in the present the certainty of the event, which is, no doubt, as yet future (similarly Schott), especially as the passing away of all things, as it is formerly described, is in consequence not of their nature, but of the will of God as Judge. Hofmann denies, indeed, any reference to the future, remarking: the present participial clause brings out that this is the fate of the subject; but this fate is one which is realized only in the future.

ποταποὺς δεῖ κ. τ. λ.] As regards its arrangement, this period, as far as the end of 2 Peter 3:12, is divided by many into two portions, of which the first closes either with ὑμᾶς (Pott, Meyer in his translation) or with εὐσεβείαις (Griesbach, Fronmüller), and forms a question to which the second half supplies the answer. But opposed to this construction is the word: ποταπούς, which in the N. T. is never used as indirect interrogation, but always in exclamation. Consequently the whole forms one clause, which has a hortative sense (so, too, Hofmann),(100) and before which may be supplied for the sake of clearness: “consider therefore.” The sense is: “since all that passes away, consider what manner of persons you ought to be;” Gerhard: quam pie, quam prudenter vos oportet conservari; yet ποταπός (in classical writers generally ποδαπός) is not equivalent to quantus (Bretschneider, de Wette-Brückner), but to qualis.

ἐν ἁγίαις ἀναστροφαῖς καὶ εὐσεβείαις] The plural marks the holy behaviour and the piety in their different tendencies and forms of manifestation. These words may be taken either with what precedes (so most commentators) or with what follows (thus Steinfass); the latter is to be preferred, since the force of ποταπούς would only be weakened by this adjunct.

προσδοκῶντας καὶ σπευδοντας τὴν παρουσίαν τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ ἡ΄έρας] not: “so that,” but: “since ye … in holy walk … look for.”

Most of the earlier interpreters arbitrarily supply εἰς to σπεύδοντας; Vulg.: exspectantes et properantes in adventum; Luther: “hasten to the day.” Others attribute to the word the meaning: “to expect with longing,” but this force it never has; in the passages quoted in support of it the word rather means: “to prosecute anything with zeal,” e.g. Pind. Isthm. v. 22: σπεύδειν ἀρετάν; Isaiah 16:5, LXX.: σπ. δικαιοσύνην; but then the object is always something which is effected by the action of the σπεύδοντος; the original signification of hastening, hurrying, is to be kept hold of here. That by which this hastening is to be accomplished is to be gathered from 2 Peter 3:11, namely, by an holy walk and piety. The context nowhere hints that it is to be accomplished only by prayer(101) (Hofmann, following Bengel).

The expression: τὴν παρουσίαν τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμέρας, occurs nowhere else; with τ. θεοῦ ἡμ., cf. 2 Peter 3:10 and Titus 2:13; to παρουσίαν Steinfass arbitrarily supplies “ τοῦ χριστοῦ.”

διʼ ἣν οὐρανοὶ κ. τ. λ.] A resumption of what is said in 2 Peter 3:10.

διʼ ἥν may be referred either to τὴν παρουσίαν (Steinfass, Hofmann) or to τῆς τ. θ. ἡμέρας; in both cases the sense remains substantially the same. It is to be taken neither as equivalent to per (like διά, c. gen.), nor in a temporal sense (Luther: “in which”); but it denotes here, as it always does, the occasioning cause, equal to “on account of” (Brückner, Wiesinger, Schott; cf. Winer, p. 373 [E. T. 498]). Dietlein translates correctly, but arbitrarily explains the phrase by: “in whose honour as it were.”

πυρούμενοι] cf. Ephesians 6:16; Dietlein falsely: “in that they will burn;” the part. is present, not future.

τήκεται] de Wette: “ τήκεται must not be taken strictly as meaning to be melted, as if στοιχ. were to be conceived of as a solid mass, it can be regarded as synonymous with λύεσθαι;” the reference to Isaiah 34:4, LXX.: καὶ τακήσονται πᾶσαι αἱ δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν (cf. Micah 1:4), cannot fail to be recognised.(102) Gerhard: cum tota mundi machina, coelum, terra et omnia quae sunt in ea sint aliquando peritura, ideo ab inordinata mundi dilectione cor nostrum abstrahentes coelestium bonorum desiderio et amore flagremus.


Verse 13

2 Peter 3:13. καινοὺς δὲ οὐρανοὺς καὶ γῆν καινήν] This verse, which does not depend on διʼ ἥν (Dietlein), but is joined in an independent manner to what goes before, forms the antithesis to the thought last expressed, and serves to strengthen the exhortation contained in 2 Peter 3:11-12.

By καινοὺςκαινήν the heaven and the earth of the future are distinguished as to their character from those of the present, and prominence is given to their glorified condition; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

The same idea of a new heaven and a new earth is expressed in Revelation 21:1.

κατὰ τὸ ἐπάγγελμα αὐτοῦ] cf. Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22.

αὐτοῦ] i.e. θεοῦ; the O. T. promise, principally at least, is meant. προσδοκῶμεν, which looks back to προσδοκῶντας, 2 Peter 3:12, significantly designates the new heaven and the new earth as the aim of the certain hope of believers.

ἐν οἷς δικαιοσύνη κατοικεῖ] A similar thought is contained in Isaiah 65:25; cf. also Revelation 21:3-27. Erasmus incorrectly refers ἐν οἷς to the subject contained in προσδοκῶμεν; it plainly goes back to καινοὺς οὐρ. κ. γῆν καιν. δικαιοσύνη, not equivalent to gloria et felicitas coelestis, utpote verae justitiae praemium (Vorstius), but the vera justitia itself, i.e. the holy conduct, completely in harmony with the divine will, of those who belong to the new heaven and the new earth.(103) Hofmann widens the idea too much, when he says that “ δικαιοσύνη is to be understood not as applying only to the right conduct of men, but in the sense of integrity of nature generally.”


Verse 14

2 Peter 3:14. διὸ, ἀγαπητοὶ, ταῦτα προσδοκῶντες] The participle does not give the explanation of the διό: “wherefore, because we expect this” (Wiesinger, Schott), but the waiting for it belongs to the exhortation (Dietlein, Brückner, Steinfass).

σπουδάσατε ἄσπιλοιἐν εἰρήνῃ] ἄσπιλοι, cf. 1 Peter 1:19 : ἀμώμητοι, besides here only in Philippians 2:15, “unblamable” (Deuteronomy 32:5 : τέκνα μώμητα); reverse of the false teachers: σπῖλοι καὶ μῶμοι, chap. 2 Peter 2:13.

αὐτῷ] not equal to ὑπʼ αὐτοῦ, nor is it the dat. comm. (Schott); and as little: “with reference to him” (Hofmann); but: “according to His (i.e. God’s) judgment.”

εὑρεθῆναι] refers not to the future time of the judgment, but to the present time of the expectation.

ἐν εἰρήνῃ] This adjunct does not belong to προσδοκῶντες, as Beza considers probable, but to εὑρεθῆναι ἄσπιλοι κ. τ. λ.; it gives the life-element, in which the Christian must move (so, too, Brückner); cf. Ephesians 1:4 : ἐν ἀγάπῃ; 1 Thessalonians 3:13 : ἐν ἁγιωσύνῃ, if he would be found an ἄσπιλος: εἰρήνῃ is here not “concord” (Pott, Augusti), nor is it “the good conscience,” but peace, in the full meaning of the word; the addition is explained from 2 Peter 3:15. Dietlein incorrectly takes ἐν εἰρήνῃ as the object to be supplied to ἄσπιλοι καὶ ἀμώμητοι, which are here used not as relative, but as absolute adjectives; at the same time, too, he limits εἰρήνη, in the conception of it, to “peace of the church, especially to peace in relation to the church authorities.” Not less erroneous is it to regard, with Steinfass, ἐν εἰρήνῃ as the opposite “of all division between the Jewish and the Gentile elements.” The interpretation of de Wette: “to your peace,” equivalent to εἰς εἰρήνην (Beza: vestro bono, clementem illum videlicet ac pacificum experturi), cannot be justified on linguistic grounds.


Verse 15-16

2 Peter 3:15-16. καὶ τὴν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μακροθυμίαν] See 2 Peter 3:9 : “the long-suffering of our Lord, which consists in this, that He still keeps back the last judgment.” It is open to question whether κύριος ἡμῶν means God (de Wette, Dietlein, Fronmüller) or Christ (Wiesinger, Schott, Steinfass); what goes before favours the former (2 Peter 3:14; 2 Peter 3:12; 2 Peter 3:10; 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 3:8), the N. T. usage the latter; in both cases the sense is substantially the same.

σωτηρίαν ἡγεῖσθε] antithesis to: βραδυτῆτα ἡγοῦνται, 2 Peter 3:9: “the μακροθυμία of the Lord account for salvation,” i.e. as something which has your salvation as its aim, that is, by your making such use of the time of grace, that the fruit of it is the σωτηρία.

καθὼς καὶ ἀγαπητὸς ἡμῶν ἀδελφὸς παῦλος κ. τ. λ.] The reference here to Paul is evidently meant to emphasize the exhortation given; it is, however, more particularly occasioned by the circumstance, that many persons had been guilty of wresting the apostle’s words, and against this the apostle wishes to warn his readers.

ἀγαπητὸς κ. τ. λ.] designates Paul not only as a friend, or a fellow-Christian, but as one with whom Peter feels himself most intimately connected in official relationship. Hofmann, on the other hand, presses the plural ἡμῶν, and thinks that by it the apostle, with a view to his Gentile readers, would unite the Jewish-Christians with himself, so as to show that the apostle of the Gentiles was a beloved brother to them as well as to him. The adjunct: κατὰ τὴν δοθεῖσαν αὐτῷ σοφίαν, acknowledges the wisdom which has been granted to him, of which also the utterances which the apostle especially has in his eye are the outcome.

ἔγραψεν ὑμῖν] Which epistle or epistles are meant? According to Oecumenius, Lorinus, Grotius, etc., as also Dietlein and Besser: it is the Epistle to the Romans, on account of Romans 9:22 ( ἤνεγκεν ἐν πολλῇ μακροθυμίᾳ) and Romans 2:4; according to Jachmann: the Epistle to the Corinthians (chiefly on account of 1 Corinthians 1:7-9), in consideration of the words: κατὰσοφίαν; according to Estius, Bengel, Hornejus, Gerhard, etc.: the Epistle to the Hebrews, on account of Hebrews 9:26 ff., Hebrews 10:25; Hebrews 10:37. These different opinions assume that καθώς applies only to the last thought expressed in this verse. But there is no reason for any such limitation, since this exhortation is joined in the closest manner possible to that which precedes it in 2 Peter 3:14. Wiesinger rightly rejects the supposition that καθὼς ἔγραψε refers still farther back, namely, to the whole section relating to the Parousia (de Wette, with whom Brückner agrees, and Schott).

Since the document to which the author alludes is, by ἔγραψεν ὑμῖν, indicated as one addressed to the same circle of readers as Second Peter, the reference here cannot be to the above-named epistles, nor yet to the Epistle to the Thessalonians (de Wette), but only to the Epistle to the Ephesians (Wiesinger, Schott, Hofmann: to this Steinfass adds the First Epistle to Timothy and the Epistle to the Colossians; Fronmüller, the last-named epistle and that to the Romans). In support of this may be urged the character of this epistle as a circular letter, and the echoes of it to be found in First Peter. It must also be observed, that although the precise thought expressed in the beginning of this verse is not to be found in that epistle, yet the epistle itself is certainly rich in ethical exhortations with reference to the Christian’s hope of salvation.(104) It is plainly entirely arbitrary to assume, with Pott and Morus, that the apostle here refers to an epistle which we do not now possess.


Verse 16

2 Peter 3:16. ὡς καὶ ἐν πάσαις [ ταῖς] ἐπιστολαῖς] sc. ἔγραψεν. By this adjunct the epistle of Paul, referred to in ἔγραψεν ὑμῖν, is definitely distinguished from his other epistles; but what is true of the former is asserted also of the latter, i.e. that they contain the same exhortations, a statement, however, which is more precisely limited by λαλῶν ἐν αὐταῖς περὶ τούτων. The difference in the reading, that is, whether the article is to be put with πάσαις or not, is of trifling importance for the meaning, since it is unwarranted to suppose that πάσαις ταῖς marks the epistles of Paul as forming a formally completed collection (Wiesinger),—the article only showing that the epistles of Paul were already known as such.

λαλῶν ἐν αὐταῖς περὶ τούτων] λαλῶν is not for: ἐν αἷς λαλεῖ (Pott), but it means: “when in them (i.e. in his epistles) he speaks of these things.” περὶ τούτων can only have the same reference as καθώς, 2 Peter 3:15; that is, then, not strictly to the teaching as to the Parousia as such, but chiefly “to the exhortation given in 2 Peter 3:14 f.” (Wiesinger), and what is connected with it.

The remark in what follows alludes to that which occasioned the mention of Paul’s epistles.

ἐν οἷς or αἷς ἐστι δυσνόητά τινα] It can hardly be decided which is the true reading: οἷς or αἷς. Schott thinks that for the sense it is immaterial, since, if αἷς be read, the τινά must be limited to the passages where Paul happens to speak περὶ τούτων; and if ἐν οἷς, the reference can be to those things or questions not generally, but only in the way in which they are discussed by Paul. Reiche holds a different view; in his opinion, ἐν οἷς refers to those things in themselves, ἐν αἷς to the epistles generally; this can, however, hardly be correct, for it is scarcely conceivable that the author should let fall a remark closely conjoined with what had gone before, which departs so entirely from the connection of thought. Besides, ἐν αἷς deserves the preference not only on account of the external authorities, but because of the following: ὡς τὰς λοιπὰς γραφάς (Wiesinger, Brückner, Reiche, Hofmann; Schott otherwise.) τινά is generally regarded as the subject, and δυσνόητα as the predicate belonging to it; the position of the words, however, decides that δυσν. τινά must be taken together as subject (Schott, Hofmann). By δυσνόητα must not be understood, with Schott, “the things which in themselves are opposed to the human mind,” but the expressions in which Paul speaks of them; Steinfass correctly: “ τινά are words, not objects;” for to the things the verb στρεβλοῦσιν is not suited. What the apostle meant can only be gathered from the connection; consequently the reference here cannot be to utterances of the Apostle Paul with respect to the Parousia itself (Schott), and therefore not to any statements of his, such as are to be found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58. Still less does the connection appear to justify the assumption that “the Pauline doctrine of freedom” (Wiesinger) is meant. Since, however, Paul’s statements with regard to Christian freedom stand in close relation to the final completion of salvation, and the idea of it forms such a characteristic feature of Paul’s teaching, which could only too easily be distorted by misunderstanding, it is certainly possible, indeed it is probable, that the author had it chiefly in mind in using this somewhat indefinite expression(105).

οἱ ἀμαθεῖς καὶ ἀστήρικτοι στρεβλοῦσιν] ἀμαθής, ἅπ. λεγ., according to de Wette, equivalent to “unteachable, with the implied idea of stubbornness and of unbelief.” This is incorrect, ἀμαθής means only “ignorant;” no doubt the secondary idea given by de Wette may be connected with this (as in the passages quoted, Joseph. Antiq. i. 4. 1, and iii. 14. 4), but here it is not to be presupposed, since the idea ἀστήρικτος connected with ἀμαθής, although denying strength of faith, does not deny faith itself; with ἀστήρικτοι, cf. chap. 2 Peter 2:14. Most interpreters assume that the reference here is to the seducers, the Libertines and deniers of the Parousia formerly mentioned; but as a designation of them the expressions are too weak; chap. 2 Peter 2:14, too, is opposed to this (Schott).

στρεβλοῦν, ἅπ. λεγ., strictly: “to turn with the στρέβλη.” Here it means: “to distort the words,” i.e. to give them a sense other than they actually have; equivalent to διαστρέφειν (cf. Chrysostom on 2 Corinthians 10:8 : οὗτοι πρὸς τὰς οἰκείας διέστρεψαν τὰ ῥήματα ἐννοίας); the word is to be found in another figurative sense in 2 Samuel 22:27, LXX.

ὡς καὶ τὰς λοιπὰς γραφάς] This addition is somewhat surprising, not only because all more precise statement of the γραφαί referred to is wanting, but because by it στρεβλοῦν, which formerly had reference only to the δυσνόητά τινα in the epistles of Paul, is here extended to entire writings; for to interpret γραφαί by “passages of Scripture” (de Wette), is arbitrary.

It is very improbable that the reference is to the O. T. Scriptures (Wiesinger, Schott, Steinfass), since the author would certainly have defined them more nearly as such(106) (Brückner); probably, then, other writings are meant, which, at the time of the composition of this epistle, served, like the epistles of Paul, for the instruction and edification of the Christian churches; it is possible, therefore, that these included other writings of the N. T.; but that they were only such, cannot be proved. That the words presuppose a collection of N. T. writings properly so called, is without any reason asserted by de Wette (Brückner).

πρὸς τὴν ἰδίαν αὐτῶν ἀπώλειαν] ἰδίαν serves to intensify αὐτῶν: “to their own destruction” (cf. chap. 2 Peter 2:1); the wresting of Scripture has this consequence, inasmuch as they make use of the distorted expressions, in order to harden themselves in their fleshly lust.


Verse 17-18

2 Peter 3:17-18. Concluding exhortation and doxology.

ὑμεῖς οὖν] Conclusion from what goes before.

προγινώσκοντες] “since ye know it beforehand;” i.e. that such false teachers as have been described will come; not: “that the advent of Christ will take place,” nor: “that the consequences of the στρεβλοῦν will be the ἀπώλεια” (Schott).

φυλάσσεσθε, ἵνα μή] Since φυλάσσεσθε is nowhere else construed with ἵνα μή, ἵνα κ. τ. λ. is not to be taken as an objective clause, but as one expressive of purpose; “consequently special emphasis lies on φυλάσσεσθε” (Schott).

τῇ τῶν ἀθέσμων πλάνῃ συναπαχθέντες] The ἄθεσμοι (cf. chap. 2 Peter 2:7) are the aforementioned ἐμπαῖκται and Libertines.

πλάνη is not: “seduction” (Dietlein: leading astray of others), for the word never has this meaning (not even in Ephesians 4:14); nor would the συν in the verb agree with this, but, as in chap. 2 Peter 2:18 : “moral-religious error;” with συναπαχθέντες, “carried away along with,” cf. Galatians 2:13, and Meyer on Romans 12:16.

ἐκπέσητε τοῦ ἰδίου στηριγμοῦ] With ἐκπίπτειν, cf. Galatians 5:4, and Meyer in loc.

στηριγμός, ἅπ. λεγ., is the firm position which any one possesses (not: the fortress; Luther); here, therefore, the firm position which the readers as believing Christians take up; cf. 2 Peter 1:12; antithesis to the ἀμαθεῖς καὶ ἀστήρικτοι, 2 Peter 3:16. Dietlein explains the word quite arbitrarily of the “remaining at peace in the church.”—2 Peter 3:18. αὐξάνετε δέ] Antithesis to the ἐκπέσητε; the remaining in the firm position can take place only where the αὐξάνειν is not lacking. Calvin: ad profectum etiam hortatur, quia haec unica est perseverandi ratio, si assidue progredimur. Hofmann incorrectly connects this imperative with φυλάσσεσθε, to which it is supposed to be related as a further addition; this view is opposed by δέ.

ἐν χάριτι καὶ γνώσει τοῦ κυρίου κ. τ. λ.] does not state “the means and the origin of the growing” (Schott), but that in which they should grow or increase; αὐξάνειν, without any nearer definition, would be too bald in presence of the ἵνα μὴἐκπέσητε κ. τ. λ. With regard to the two ideas: χάρις and γνῶσις, Aretius says: illud ad conversationem inter homines refero, quae gratiosa esse debet; hoc vero ad Dei cultum, qui consistit in cognitione Christi; this explanation is wrong; χάρις can be only either the grace of God, so that the sense of the exhortation would be, that they should seek to acquire the grace of God in ever richer measure (Hornejus, etc.); or—and this is preferable—the state of grace of the Christians (according to Calvin, etc.: the sum of the divine gifts of grace).

The γνῶσις is here specially mentioned, because the author regarded it as the living origin of all Christian activity.

The genitive: τοῦ κυρίου κ. τ. λ., is taken by de Wette, Brückner agreeing with him, with reference to χάρις, as the subjective, with reference to γνῶσις, as the objective genitive; in like manner Hofmann. This twofold reference of the same genitive is inconceivable;(1) if it belong to both ideas, it can only be the gen. auctoris (Dietlein, Steinfass); but since it is more natural to explain it in connection with γνῶσις as gen. objec., χάρις must be taken as an independent conception.

Finally, the doxology, applied to Christ; Hemming: testimonium de divinitate Christi, nam cum tribuit Christo aeternam gloriam, ipsum verum Deum absque omni dubio agnoscit.

The expression: εἰς ἡ΄έραν αἰῶνος, is to be found only here; Bengel takes ἡ΄έρα in contrast to the night: aeternitas est dies, sine nocte, merus et perpetuus; this is hardly correct; most interpreters explain the expression as equivalent to tempus aeternum, synonymous with εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, 1 Peter 1:25, or with εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας, Romans 16:27; this is too inexact; ἡ΄έρα αἰῶνος is the day on which eternity, as contrasted with time, begins, which, however, at the same time is eternity itself.

ἀ΄ήν] cf. Jude 1:25.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/2-peter-3.html. 1832.

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