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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
2 Peter 3



Other Authors
Verse 1


Occurring four times in this chapter.

Second - I write

An incidental testimony to the authorship of the second epistle.

Pure minds ( εἰλικρινῆ διάνοιαν )

The latter word is singular, not plural. Hence, as Rev., mind. The word rendered pure is often explained tested by the sunlight; but this is very doubtful, since εἵλη , to which this meaning is traced, means the heat, and not the light of the sun. Others derive it from the root of the verb εἱλίσσω , to roll, and explain it as that which is separated or sifted byrolling, as in a sieve. In favor of this etymology is its association in classical Greek with different words meaning unmixed. The word occurs only here and Philemon 1:10. The kindred noun εἰλικρίνεια , sincerity, is found 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Corinthians 2:17. Rev., here, sincere.

Mind ( διάνοιαν )

Compare 1 Peter 1:13; and see on Mark 12:30.

Verse 3

Scoffers walking ( ἐμπαῖκται πορευόμενοι )

This is the reading followed by A. V. But the later texts have added ἐμπαιγμονῇ , in mockery, occurring only here, though a kindred word for mockings ( ἐμπαιγμῶν ) is found Hebrews 11:36. This addition gives a play upon the words; and so Rev., “Mockers shall come with mockery, walking,” etc.

Verse 4

From the beginning of the creation ( ἀπ ' ἀρχῆς κτίσεως )

Not a common phrase. It occurs only Mark 10:6; Mark 13:19; Revelation 3:14.

Fell asleep ( ἐκοιμήθησαν )

A literal and correct translation of the word, which occurs frequently in the New Testament, but only here in Peter. Some have supposed that the peculiarly Christian sense of the word is emphasized ironically by these mockers. It is used, however, in classical Greek to denote death. The difference between the pagan and the Christian usage lies in the fact that, in the latter, it was defined by the hope of the resurrection, and therefore was used literally of a sleep, which, though long, was to have an awaking. See on Acts 7:60.

Verse 5

This they willingly are ignorant of ( λανθάνει αὐτους τοῦτο θέλοντας )

Lit., this escapes them of their own will. Rev., this they wilfully forget.

The heavens were

But the Greek has no article. Render, there were heavens. So, too, not the earth, but an earth, as Rev.

Standing ( συνεστῶσα )

Incorrect; for the word is, literally, standing together; i.e., compacted or formed. Compare Colossians 1:17, consist. Rev., compacted.

Out of the water

Again no article. Render out of water; denoting not the position of the earth, but the material or mediating element in the creation; the waters being gathered together in one place, and the dry land appearing. Or, possibly, with reference to the original liquid condition of the earth- without form and void.

In the water ( δὶ ὕδατος )

Omit the article. Διά has its usual sense here, not as Rev., amidst, but by means of. Bengel: “The water served that the earth should consist.” Expositors are much divided as to the meaning. This is the view of Huther, Salmond, and, substantially, Alford.

Verse 6

The world that then was ( ὁ τότε κόσμος )

Lit., the then world. The word for world is literally order, and denotes the perfect system of the material universe.

Being overflowed ( κατακλυσθεὶς )

Only here in New Testament. Cataclysm is derived from it.

Verse 7

The heavens - which now are ( οἱ νῦν οὐρανοὶ )

A construction similar to the then world (2 Peter 3:6). The now heavens, or the present heavens.

Kept in store ( τεθησαυρισμένοι )

Rev., stored up. Lit., treasured up. The same word which is used in Luke 12:21, layeth up treasure. Sometimes with the kindred noun θησαυροὺς , treasures, as Matthew 6:19; lit., treasure treasures.

Unto fire

Some construe this with treasured up; as Rev., stored up for fire; others with reserved, as A. V.; others again give the sense stored with fire, indicating that the agent for the final destruction is already prepared.

Verse 9

Is not slack ( οὐ βραδύνει )

Only here and 1 Timothy 3:15. The word is literally to delay or loiter. So Septuagint, Genesis 43:10, “except we had lingered. Alford's rendering, is not tardy, would be an improvement. The word implies, besides delay, the idea of lateness with reference to an appointed time.

Come ( χωρῆσαι )

Move on, or advance to.

Verse 10

The day of the Lord

Compare the same phrase in Peter's sermon, Acts 2:20. It occurs only in these two passages and 1 Thessalonians 5:2. See 1 Corinthians 1:8; 2 Corinthians 1:14.

As a thief

Omit in the night. Compare Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 1 Thessalonians 5:4; Revelation 3:3; Revelation 16:15.

With a great noise ( ῥοιζηδὸν )

An adverb peculiar to Peter, and occurring only here. It is a word in which the sound suggests the sense (rhoizedon)and the kindred noun, ῥοῖζος , is used in classical Greek of the whistling of an arrow; the sound of a shepherd's pipe; the rush of wings; the plash of water; the hissing of a serpent; and the sound of filing.

The elements ( στοιχεῖα )

Derived from στοῖχος , a row, and meaning originally one of a row or series; hence a component or element. The name for the letters of the alphabet, as being set in rows. Applied to the four elements - fire, air, earth, water; and in later times to the planets and signs of the zodiac. It is used in all ethical sense in other passages; as in Galatians 4:3, “elements or rudiments of the world.” Also of elementary teaching, such as the law, which was fitted for an earlier stage in the world's history; and of the first principles of religious knowledge among men. In Colossians 2:8, of formal ordinances. Compare Hebrews 5:12. The kindred verb στοιχέω , to walk, carries the idea of keeping in line, according to the radical sense. Thus, walk according to rule (Galatians 6:16); walkest orderly (Acts 21:24). So, too, the compound συστοιχέω , only in Galatians 4:25, answereth to, lit., belongs to the same row or column with. The Greek grammarians called the categories of letters arranged according to the organs of speech συστοιχίαι . Here the word is of course used in a physical sense, meaning the parts of which this system of things is composed. Some take it as meaning the heavenly bodies, but the term is too late and technical in that sense. Compare Matthew 24:29, the powers of the heaven.

Shall melt ( λυθήσονται )

More literally, as Rev., shall be dissolved.

With fervent heat ( καυσούμενα )

Lit., being scorched up.

Verse 11

To be dissolved ( λυομένων )

So Rev. But the participle is present; and the idea is rather, are in process of dissolution. The world and all therein is essentially transitory.

Ought ye to be ( ὑπάρχειν )

See on 2 Peter 1:8.

Conversation ( ἀναστροφαῖς )

See on 1 Peter 1:15. Rev., living.

Godliness ( εὐσεβείαις )

See on 2 Peter 1:3. Both words are plural; holy livings and godlinesses.

Verse 12

Looking for ( προσδοκῶντας )

The same verb as in Luke 1:21, of waiting for Zacharias. Cornelius waited (Acts 10:24); the cripple expecting to receive something (Acts 3:5).

Hasting unto ( σπεύδοντας )

Wrong. Rev., earnestly desiring, for which there is authority. I am inclined to adopt, with Alford, Huther, Salmond, and Trench, the transitive meaning, hastening on; i.e., “causing the day of the Lord to come more quickly by helping to fulfil those conditions without which it cannot come; that day being no day inexorably fixed, but one the arrival of which it is free to the church to hasten on by faith and by prayer” (Trench, on “The Authorized Version of the New Testament”). See Matthew 24:14: the gospel shall be preached in the whole world, “and then shall the end come.” Compare the words of Peter, Acts 3:19: “Repent and be converted,” etc., “that so there may come seasons of refreshing” (so Rev., rightly); and the prayer,” Thy kingdom come.” Salmond quotes a rabbinical saying, “If thou keepest this precept thou hastenest the day of Messiah.” This meaning is given in margin of Rev.

Wherein ( δι ' ἣν )

Wrong. Rev., correctly, by reason of which.

Melt ( τήκεται )

Literal. Stronger than the word in 2 Peter 3:10, 2 Peter 3:11. Not only the resolving, but the wasting away of nature. Only here in New Testament.

Verse 13

We look for

The same verb as in 2 Peter 3:12. It occurs three times in 2 Peter 3:12-14.

New ( καινοὺς )

See on Matthew 26:29.

Verse 14

Without spot and blameless

See on 2 Peter 2:13.

Verse 16

Hard to be understood ( δυσνόητα )

Only here in New Testament.

They that are unlearned and unstable ( οἱ ἀμαθεῖς καὶ ἀστήρικτοι )

Both words are peculiar to Peter. On the latter, see on 2 Peter 2:14.

Wrest ( στρεβλοῦσιν )

Only here in New Testament. Meaning, originally, to hoist with a windlass or screw; to twist or dislocate the limbs on a rack. It is a singularly graphic word applied to the perversion of scripture.

The other scriptures ( τὰς λοιπὰς γραφὰς )

Showing that Paul's epistles were ranked as scripture. See on Mark 12:10.

Verse 17

Being led away ( συναπαχθέντες )

Better, Rev., carried away. It is the word used by Paul of Barnabas, when he dissembled with Peter at Antioch. “Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation” (Galatians 2:13).

Of the wicked ( ἀθέσμων )

See on 2 Peter 2:7.

Fall from ( ἐκπέσητε )

Lit., “fall out of.” Compare Galatians 5:4.

Steadfastness ( στηριγμοῦ )

Only here in New Testament. See on 2 Peter 1:12.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 2 Peter 3:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 21st, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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