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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
2 Peter 3

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-3

2 Peter 3:1 f. In this, as in his former letter, he is only reminding them of the OT prophecies and of the teaching of the apostles—the twofold witness to which he had appealed in ch. 1.

2 Peter 3:1. the second epistle: the author again claims identity with Peter, and refers to 1 P.; what he here says is, however, an inaccurate description of 1 P., and if the genuineness of 2 P. is maintained, it is better to suppose that the reference is not to 1 P. but to some other epistle of Peter's which has not been preserved.—unto you: this has been taken to imply that 2 P. was addressed to some particular church or churches, to which Peter had previously sent an epistle; it is better to regard it (like the references in 2 Peter 1:12) as part of the "literary drapery" of the letter; cf. also 2 Peter 3:15.

2 Peter 3:2. your apostles: in the parallel passage in Jude (Jude 1:17) the author implies that he was not himself an apostle; some commentators see here a similar disclaimer, but this interpretation is not necessary; the meaning is, those apostles who were your teachers.

2 Peter 3:3. On the relation of this verse to Jude, see on Jude 1:18.


Verses 3-7

2 Peter 3:3-7. A further characteristic of the false teachers was the denial of the Second Advent (their coming is again spoken of as in the future; cf. 2 Peter 2:1 and 2 Peter 3:17). Their scepticism is based, partly, on the non-fulfilment of the primitive hope of the immediacy of the Parousia, and partly on a belief in the rigid immutability of the world process. The first generation of Christians ("the fathers"—which can hardly be taken to mean "the OT saints"; there is here an indication of the late date of the epistle) has already passed away and all things remain as they had been from the beginning. But their reasoning is false. They wilfully forget that by the word of God the heavens were made and the earth from water and by means of water, and that by the same means they were afterwards destroyed. So by the word of God the heavens that now are and the earth will be destroyed by fire. There is no parallel in Jude to the teaching of 2 P. with reference to the Parousia; this is the author's main addition to Jude, and probably represents his main purpose in writing.

2 Peter 3:6. the world that then was: the universe, the first heavens and earth. The tradition that the heavens as well as the earth were destroyed at the Flood is found in Enoch (8:33-5), and is a development of the earlier tradition of Gen.

2 Peter 3:7. stored up for fire: treasured up for destruction by fire. The belief that the universe would be destroyed by fire (cf. 2 Peter 3:10 ff.) was widely prevalent in the second century (cf. Origen, Contra Celsum, iv. 11, 79).


Verses 8-13

2 Peter 3:8-13. Moreover the Lord is not really slow to fulfil His promise; He "does not reckon time as men reckon." His seeming slowness is not the manifestation of His impotence, but of His long-suffering love (cf. 2 Peter 3:15). His purpose is that time for repentance should be given to all; when the end comes it will be sudden, and there will be no time for repentance then. The fact that all material things will pass away constitutes a call to holy living (we can see here, per contra, the connexion between the libertinism of the false teachers and their disbelief in the Parousia), especially since we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein righteousness dwelleth (cf. Isaiah 65:17, Enoch 91:16).

2 Peter 3:12. earnestly desiring the coming: render, "hastening (mg.) the coming," i.e. by repentance; for the belief that men's repentance was the essential condition of the Parousia cf. Acts 3:19 f., "Repent, therefore . . . that he may send the Christ."


Verses 14-18

2 Peter 3:4-18. The epistle closes, as it had opened, with an exhortation to godliness. The Gospel is not a cloke for licentiousness but a call to righteousness. This, the author adds, was the burden of Paul's teaching in all his letters, though his words had been misunderstood by the ignorant and distorted by the wicked into a justification of moral laxity. (That this was the case, even in Paul's lifetime, can be seen, e.g. in Romans 3:8; Romans 6:1, also in 1 Cor. passim; cf. James 2:8-13*.) He bids his readers beware lest they are led astray by these perversions of the apostolic teaching, and exhorts them to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord.

2 Peter 3:15. unto you: unless we suppose that 2 P. was addressed to some particular church, it is not necessary to see here a reference to any one particular epistle of Paul's addressed to that church; the appeal is to the general teaching of Paul. Nor is it necessary to limit "these things" (2 Peter 3:16) to the words which immediately precede—the doctrine that the delay of the Parousia is due to the long-suffering of God, or even that disbelief in the Parousia is connected with moral laxity. The author is only concerned to say that Paul's condemnation of libertinism is not less emphatic than his own.

2 Peter 3:16. the other scriptures: lit. "writings," but almost certainly the word is used in the technical sense, Scriptures. It is difficult to resist the conclusion that in speaking of the Pauline Epistles and "the other Scriptures," the author implies the existence of a NT Canon (at any rate none of the attempts to explain the passage differently is satisfactory) and if this conclusion is accepted, the Petrine authorship of the epistle must be abandoned.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/2-peter-3.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 7th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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