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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
2 Peter 3



Other Authors
Verse 1

Beloved (αγαπητοιagapētoi). 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 γραπω επιστοληνtautēn ēdē deuteran humin graphō epistolēn). Literally, “This already a second epistle I am writing to you.” For ηδηēdē see John 21:24. It is the predicate use of δευτεραν επιστοληνdeuteran epistolēn in apposition with ταυτηνtautēn not “this second epistle.” Reference apparently to 1 Peter.

And in both of them (εν αιςen hais). “In which epistles.”

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

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

Sincere (ειλικρινηeilikrinē). Old adjective of doubtful etymology (supposed to be ειληheilē sunlight, and κρινωkrinō to judge by it). Plato used it of ethical purity (πσυχη ειλικρινηςpsuchē eilikrinēs) as here and Philemon 1:10, the only N.T. examples.

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

Verse 2

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

Spoken before (προειρημενωνproeirēmenōn). Perfect passive participle of προειπονproeipon (defective verb). Genitive case ρηματωνrēmatōn after μνηστηναιmnēsthēnai the commandment (και της εντοληςkai tēs entolēs). Ablative case with υποhupo (agency).

Of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles (των αποστολων υμων του κυριου και σωτηροςtōn apostolōn humōn tou kuriou kai sōtēros). υμωνHumōn (your) is correct, not ημωνhēmōn (our). But the several genitives complicate the sense. If διαdia (through) occurred before των αποστολωνtōn apostolōn 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 γινωσκοντεςtouto prōton ginōskontes). Present active participle of γινωσκωginōskō See 2 Peter 1:20 for this identical phrase. Nominative absolute here where accusative γινωσκονταςginōskontas would be regular. Peter now takes up the παρουσιαparousia (2 Peter 1:16) after having discussed the δυναμιςdunamis of Christ.

In the last days (επ εσχατων των ημερωνep' eschatōn tōn hēmerōn). “Upon the last of the days.” Judges 1:18 has it επ εσχατου χρονουep' eschatou chronou (upon the last time). In 1 Peter 1:5 it is εν καιρωι εσχατωιen kairōi eschatōi (in the last time), while 1 Peter 1:20 has επ εσχατου των χρονωνep' eschatou tōn chronōn (upon the last of the times). John has usually τηι εσχατηι ημεραιtēi eschatēi hēmerāi (on the last day, John 6:39.). Here εσχατωνeschatōn is a predicate adjective like συμμυς μονςsummus mons (the top of the mountain).

Mockers with mockery (εμπαιγμονηι εμπαικταιempaigmonēi empaiktai). Note Peter‘s play on words again, both from εμπαιζωempaizō (Matthew 2:16), to trifle with, and neither found elsewhere save εμπαικτηςempaiktēs 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 αυτουpou estin hē epaggelia tēs parousias autou̱). This is the only sample of the questions raised by these mockers. Peter had mentioned this subject of the παρουσιαparousia 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 (απ ηςaph' hēs). “From which day.” See Luke 7:45.

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

Continue (διαμενειdiamenei). Present active indicative of διαμενωdiamenō to remain through (Luke 1:22). In statu quo.

As they were (ουτωςhoutōs). “Thus.”

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

Verse 5

For this they wilfully forget (λαντανει γαρ αυτους τουτο τελονταςlanthanei gar autous touto thelontas). Literally, “for this escapes them being willing.” See this use of λαντανωlanthanō (old verb, to escape notice of, to be hidden from) in Acts 26:26. The present active participle τελονταςthelontas (from τελωthelō to wish) has almost an adverbial sense here.

Compacted (συνεστωσαsunestōsa). See Paul‘s συνεστηκενsunestēken (Colossians 1:17) “consist.” Second perfect active (intransitive) participle of συνιστημιsunistēmi feminine singular agreeing with γηgē (nearest to it) rather than with ουρανοιouranoi (subject of ησανēsan 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 (εχ υδατος και δι υδατοςex hudatos kai di' hudatos). Out of the primeval watery chaos (Genesis 1:2), but it is not plain what is meant by δι υδατοςdi' hudatos which naturally means “by means of water,” though διαdia 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 (τωι του τεου λογωιtōi tou theou logōi). Instrumental case λογωιlogōi “by the fiat of God” (Genesis 1:3; Hebrews 11:3 ρηματι τεουrēmati theou).

Verse 6

By which means (δι ωνdi' hōn). The two waters above or the water and the word of God. Mayor against the MSS. reads δι ουdi' hou (singular) and refers it to λογωιlogōi alone.

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

With water (υδατιhudati). Instrumental case of υδωρhudōr (απωλετοapōleto). Second aorist middle indicative of απολλυμιapollumi f0).

Verse 7

That now are (νυνnun). “The now heavens” over against “the then world” (ο τοτε κοσμοςho tote kosmos 2 Peter 3:6).

By the same word (τωι αυτωι λογωιtōi autōi logōi). Instrumental case again referring to λογωιlogōi in 2 Peter 3:6.

Have been stored up (τετησαυρισμενοι εισινtethēsaurismenoi eisin). Perfect passive indicative of τησαυριζωthēsaurizō for which verb see Matthew 6:19; Luke 12:21.

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

Being reserved (τηρουμενοιtēroumenoi). Present passive participle of τηρεωtēreō for which see 2 Peter 2:4.

Against (ειςeis). 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 λαντανετω υμαςhen touto mē lanthanetō humas). Rather, “let not this one thing escape you.” For λαντανετωlanthanetō (present active imperative of λαντανωlanthanō) see 2 Peter 3:5. The “one thing” (ενhen) is explained by the οτιhoti (that) clause following. Peter applies the language of Psalm 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 κυριωιpara kuriōi beside the Lord) does not run by our timepieces. The scoffers scoff ignorantly.

Verse 9

Is not slack concerning his promise (ου βραδυνει της επαγγελιαςou bradunei tēs epaggelias). Ablative case επαγγελιαςepaggelias after βραδυνειbradunei (present active indicative of βραδυνωbradunō from βραδυςbradus slow), old verb, to be slow in, to fall short of (like λειπεται σοπιαςleipetai sophias in James 1:5), here and 1 Timothy 3:15 only in N.T.

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

To youward (εις υμαςeis humas). ΠροςPros rather than ειςeis after μακροτυμειmakrothumei in 1 Thessalonians 5:14 and επιepi in James 5:7, etc.

Not wishing (μη βουλομενοςmē boulomenos). Present middle participle of βουλομαιboulomai Some will perish (2 Peter 3:7), but that is not God‘s desire. Any (τιναςtinas). Rather than “some” (τινεςtines) above. Accusative with the infinitive απολεσταιapolesthai (second aorist middle of απολλυμιapollumi God wishes “all” (πανταςpantas) to come (χωρησαιchōrēsai first aorist active infinitive of χωρεωchōreō 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 κυριουhēmera kuriou). 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 Philemon 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 (ηχειhēxei). Future active of ηκωhēkō old verb, to arrive, but in God‘s own time.

As a thief (ως κλεπτηςhōs kleptēs). 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 ηιen hēi). The day when the Lord comes.

Shall pass away (παρελευσονταιpareleusontai). Future middle of παρερχομαιparerchomai old verb, to pass by.

With a great noise (ροιζηδονroizēdon). Late and rare adverb (from ροιζεω ροιζοςroizeōτα στοιχειαroizos) - 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 (στοιχοςta stoicheia). Old word (from λυτησεταιstoichos 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 (λυωluthēsetai). Future passive of στοιχειαluō to loosen, singular because καυσουμεναstoicheia is neuter plural.

With fervent heat (καυσοωkausoumena). Present passive participle of καυσοςkausoō late verb (from καυσομεναkausos 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 καιωkausomena (from κατακαησεταιkaiō to burn).

Shall be burned up (κατακαιωkatakaēsetai). Repeated in 2 Peter 3:12. Second future passive of the compound verb ευρετησεταιkatakaiō to burn down (up), according to A L. But Aleph B K P read ευρισκωheurethēsetai (future passive of heuriskō to find) “shall be found.” There are various other readings here. The text seems corrupt.

Verse 11

To be dissolved (λυομενωνluomenōn). Present passive participle (genitive absolute with τουτων παντωνtoutōn pantōn these things all) of λυωluō either the futuristic present or the process of dissolution presented.

What manner of persons (ποταπουςpotapous). Late qualitative interrogative pronoun for the older ποδαποςpodapos as in Matthew 8:27, accusative case with δει υπαρχεινdei huparchein agreeing with υμαςhumās (you). See 2 Peter 1:8 for υπαρχωhuparchō all holy living and godliness (εν αγιαις αναστροπαις και ευσεβειαιςen hagiais anastrophais kai eusebeiais). “In holy behaviours and pieties” (Alford). Plural of neither word elsewhere in N.T., but a practical plural in πασα αναστροπηpāsa anastrophē in 1 Peter 1:15.

Verse 12

Looking for (προσδοκωνταςprosdokōntas). Present active participle of προσδοκαωprosdokaō (Matthew 11:3) agreeing in case (accusative plural) with υμαςhumās desiring (σπευδονταςspeudontas). Present active participle, accusative also, of σπευδωspeudō 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 (πυρουμενοιpuroumenoi). Present passive participle of πυροωpuroō old verb (from pur), same idea as in 2 Peter 3:10.

Shall melt (τηκεταιtēketai). Futuristic present passive indicative of τηκωtēkō old verb, to make liquid, here only in N.T. Hort suggests τηχεταιtēxetai (future middle), though Isaiah 34:4 has τακησονταιtakēsontai (second future passive). The repetitions here make “an effective refrain” (Mayor).

Verse 13

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

Wherein (εν οιςen hois). The new heavens and earth.

Dwelleth (κατοικειkatoikei). Has its home (οικοςoikos). Certainly “righteousness” (δικαιοσυνηdikaiosunē) is not at home in this present world either in individuals, families, or nations.

Verse 14

Wherefore (διοdio). As in 2 Peter 1:10, 2 Peter 1:12.

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

That ye may be found (ευρετηναιheurethēnai). First aorist passive infinitive (cf. ευρετησεταιheurethēsetai in 2 Peter 3:10). For this use of ευρισκωheuriskō about the end see 2 Corinthians 5:3; Philemon 3:9; 1 Peter 1:7.

Without spot and blameless (ασπιλοι και αμωμητοιaspiloi kai amōmētoi). Predicate nominative after ευρετηναιheurethēnai See 2 Peter 2:13 for position words σπιλοι και μωμοιspiloi kai mōmoi and 1 Peter 1:19 for αμωμοςamōmos (so Judges 1:24) και ασπιλοςkai aspilos (so James 1:27). ΑμωμητοςAmōmētos (old verbal of μωμαομαιmōmaomai) only here in N.T. save some MSS. in Philemon 2:15.

Verse 15

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

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

Our beloved brother Paul (ο αγαπητος αδελπος Παυλοςho agapētos adelphos Paulos). Paul applies the verbal αγαπητοςagapētos (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 Rom 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 (δοτεισαν αυτωιdotheisan autōi). First aorist passive participle of διδωμιdidōmi 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 και εν πασαις επιστολαιςhōs kai en pasais epistolais). 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 περι τουτωνlalōn en autais peri toutōn). Present active participle of λαλεωlaleō That is to say, Paul also wrote about the second coming of Christ, as is obviously true.

Hard to be understood (δυσνοηταdusnoēta). Late verbal from δυςdus and νοεωnoeō (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. Romans 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 (αματειςamatheis). Old word (alpha privative and μαντανωmanthanō to learn), ignorant, here only in N.T.

Unsteadfast (αστηρικτοιastēriktoi). See note on 2 Peter 2:14.

Wrest (στρεβλουσινstreblousin). Present active indicative of στρεβλοωstrebloō old verb (from στρεβλοςstreblos twisted, στρεπωstrephō to turn), here only in N.T.

The other scriptures (τας λοιπας γραπαςtas loipas graphas). 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 λοιπαςloipas (rest) here rather than αλλαςallas (other). Peter thus puts Paul‘s Epistles on the same plane with the O.T., which was also misused (Matt 5:21-44; Matthew 15:3-6; Matthew 19:3-10).

Verse 17

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

Beware (πυλασσεστεphulassesthe). Present middle imperative of πυλασσωphulassō common verb, to guard.

Lest (ινα μηhina mē). Negative purpose, “that not.”

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

With the error (τηι πλανηιtēi planēi). Instrumental case, “by the error” (the wandering).

Of the wicked (των ατεσμωνtōn athesmōn). See note on 2 Peter 2:7.

Ye fall from (εκπεσητεekpesēte). Second aorist active subjunctive with ινα μηhina mē of εκπιπτωekpiptō old verb, to fall out of, with the ablative here (στηριγμουstērigmou steadfastness, late word from στηριζωstērizō here alone in N.T.) as in Galatians 5:4 (της χαριτος εχεπεσατεtēs charitos exepesate ye fell out of grace).

Verse 18

But grow (αυχανετε δεauxanete de). Present active imperative of αυχανωauxanō in contrast with such a fate pictured in 2 Peter 3:17, “but keep on growing.”

In the grace and knowledge (εν χαριτι και γνωσειen chariti kai gnōsei). Locative case with ενen Grow in both. Keep it up. See note on 2 Peter 1:1 for the idiomatic use of the single article (τουtou) here, “of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

To him (αυτωιautōi). To Christ.

For ever (εις ημεραν αιωνοςeis hēmeran aiōnos). “Unto the day of eternity.” So Sirach 18:9f. One of the various ways of expressing eternity by the use of αιωνaiōn So εις τον αιωναeis ton aiōna 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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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