2 Peter 3:1–18 (NKJV)
Peter has just finished discussing the danger of false prophets and the judgment to which they will be subjected. He has made it clear that only following the word of God is efficacious in maintaining one’s salvific relationship with Christ.
1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.2 Peter 3:1-9
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Peter jumps here to a discussion not just of false prophets and teachers, but also of scoffers, detractors of the faith, who would mock the Christian faith, asking where Christ and His return are, wondering why He has waited so long to come back to earth. Peter refers to the creation and its sustained existence as proof for God’s reality. He then speaks of God’s sovereignty over earth, destroying it by flood in the days of Noah, and reserving His judgment by fire for the end times. This all points to the timelessness of God, the idea that a day or a thousand years is no different to God, because He stands outside of time. Knowing God’s eternal, sovereign way of looking at the earth and time, we can know that just because His actions seem to be too long in coming for us, because we are limited by time and space, God’s timing is perfect and deliberate. Therefore, one cannot consider God to be slack or slow. God’s mercy makes time for sinners to repent and turn from their sins. God waits for creation to turn to Him in salvation. He waits for the right time to return and rapture His church and begin the judgment of the earth. His timing is perfect and complete. Trust Him and persevere in faith.
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.2 Peter 3:10-13
Peter speaks of the day of the Lord as an event which cannot be predicted or known. He describes it as coming like a thief in the night, with no warning. The day of the Lord, or judgment, will come with great noise, and the heavens and earth will melt away. Since the earth will dissolve in the heat of God, how much more should women and men everywhere conduct themselves in holiness and godliness. Look for the coming of the Lord with open, aware eyes. If you look for the coming of Christ, living in holiness, you can look for the new heaven and new earth created by God for His people. Be ready, live holy, and look for Christ’s return.
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.2 Peter 3:14-18
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
With the coming of the Lord in sight, be sure to be at peace with God, without sinful spot or blemish. Peter points to the longsuffering of the Lord which brings salvation of those who will believe and call upon Him. Paul has written of the coming of the Lord. Unstable people have taken the deep sayings of the word of the Lord and twisted them to their purposes. They do so at their own expense, unable to save themselves from the judgment of God they draw upon themselves. Since believers know the truth, they should beware falling from their place of security in their faith. Do not allow mockers or scoffers to pull you away from the security of your faith in God. Instead, “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” This summary instruction of the aged apostle sums up the message of the leader of the church in the Norther region. Make Jesus your focus and live as Him and for Him. He is the goal and the example. Live in such a way that your life brings glory to God at all times, both now and forever. He will come as a thief in the night. Be ready at any time to see Him in the air!
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