2-Peter - 3:1-18

Burning of the Present Heavens and Earth

      1 This is now, beloved, the second letter that I have written to you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by reminding you; 2 that you should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior: 3 knowing this first, that in the last days mockers will come, walking after their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." 5 For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth formed out of water and amid water, by the word of God; 6 by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. 7 But the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But don't forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 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 be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness, 12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. 14 Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent to be found in peace, without blemish and blameless in his sight. 15 Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote to you; 16 as also in all of his letters, speaking in them of these things. In those, there are some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unsettled twist, as they also do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware, lest being carried away with the error of the wicked, you fall from your own steadfastness. 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.

Chapter In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of 2-Peter 3.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

The principal design of this chapter is to demonstrate, in opposition to the objections of scoffers, that the Lord Jesus will return again to this world; that the world will be destroyed by fire, and that there will be a new heaven and a new earth; and to show what effect this should have on the minds of Christians. The chapter, without any very exact arrangement by the author, essentially consists of two parts.
I. The argument of the objectors to the doctrine that the Lord Jesus will return to the world, and that it will be destroyed, 2-Peter 3:1-4. In doing this, the apostle 2-Peter 3:1-2 calls their attention to the importance of attending diligently to the things which had been spoken by the prophets, and to the commands of the apostles, reminding them that it was to be expected that in the last days there would be scoffers who would deride the doctrines of religion, and who would maintain that there was no evidence that what had been predicted would be fulfilled, 2-Peter 3:3. He then 2-Peter 3:4 adverts to the argument on which they professed to rely, that there were no signs or indications that those events were to take place; that there were no natural causes in operation which could lead to such results; and that the fact of the stability of the earth since the time of the creation, demonstarted that the predicted destruction of the world could not occur.
II. The argument of Peter, in reply to this objection; a strong affirmation of the truth of the doctrine that the Lord Jesus will return; that the earth and all which it contains will be burned up; that there will be a new heaven and a new earth; and the effect which the prospect of the coming of the Lord Jesus, and of the destruction of the world by fire, should have on the minds of Christians, 2-Peter 3:5-18.
(1) the arguments of Peter, in reply to the objection from the long-continued stability of the earth, are the following:
(a) He refers to the destruction of the old world by the flood - a fact against which the same objections could have been urged, beforehand, which are urged against the predicted destruction of the world by fire, 2-Peter 3:5-7. With just as much plausibility it might have been urged then that the earth bad stood for thousands of years, and that there were no natural causes at work to produce that change. It might have been asked where the immense amount of water necessary to drown a world could come from; and perhaps it might have been argued that God was too "good" to destroy a world by a flood. Every objection which could be urged to the destruction of the world by fire, could have been urged to its destruction by water; and as, in fact, those objections, as the event showed, would have had no real force, so they should be regarded as having no real force now.
(b) No argument against this predicted event can be derived from the fact that hundreds and thousands of years are suffered to elapse before the fulfillment of the predictions, 2-Peter 3:8-9. What seems long to men is not long to God. One thousand years with him, in reference to this point, are as one day. He does not measure time as men do. They soon die; and if they cannot execute their purpose in a brief period, they cannot at all. But this cannot apply to God. He has infinite ages in which to execute his purposes, and therefore no argument can be derived from the fact that his purposes are long delayed, to prove that he will not execute them at all.
(c) Peter says (2-Peter 3:15, following) that the delay which was observed in executing the plans of God should not be interpreted as a proof that they would never be accomplished, but as an evidence of his long-suffering and patience; and, in illustration of this, he refers to the writings of Paul, in which he says that the same sentiments were advanced. There were indeed, he says, in those writings, some things which were hard to be understood; but on this point they were plain.
(2) a strong affirmation of the truth of the doctrine, 2-Peter 3:9-10, 2-Peter 3:13. He declares that these events will certainly occur, and that they should be expected to take place suddenly, and without any preintimations of their approach - as the thief comes at night without announcing his coming.
(3) the practical suggestions which Peter intersperses in the argument illustrative of the effect which these considerations should have on the mind are among the most important parts of the chapter:
(1) We should be holy, devout, and serious, 2-Peter 3:11.
(2) we should look forward with deep interest to the new heavens and earth which are to succeed the present, 2-Peter 3:12.
(3) we should be diligent and watchful that we may be found on the return of the Saviour "without spot and blameless," 2-Peter 3:14.
(4) we should be cautious that we be not seduced and led away by the errors which deny these great doctrines, 2-Peter 3:17; and,
(5) We should grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, 2-Peter 3:18.

The apostle shows his design in writing this and the preceding epistle, 2-Peter 3:1, 2-Peter 3:2. Describes the nature of the heresies which should take place in the last times, 2-Peter 3:3-8. A thousand years with the Lord are but as a day, 2-Peter 3:9. He will come and judge the world as he has promised, and the heavens and the earth shall be burnt up, 2-Peter 3:10. How those should live who expect these things, 2-Peter 3:11, 2-Peter 3:12. Of the new heavens and the new earth, and the necessity of being prepared for this great change, 2-Peter 3:13, 2-Peter 3:14. Concerning some difficult things in St. Paul 's epistles, 2-Peter 3:15, 2-Peter 3:16. We must watch against the error of the wicked, grow in grace, and give all glory to God, 2-Peter 3:17, 2-Peter 3:18.

In this chapter the apostle makes mention of the end and design of his writing this second epistle; foretells that there would be scoffers at the coming of Christ in the last days; describes the coming of Christ and the burning of the world; and closes with the use saints should make of these things. The end of his writing both this and the former epistle was to put the persons he writes unto in mind of the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel, delivered by the prophets and apostles, 2-Peter 3:1; and then, agreeably to what the prophets had said, he predicts that there would be scoffers in the last day; who are described by their sinful course of life, and by their words, what they would say concerning the coming of Christ, and their reasoning about it, 2-Peter 3:3; which arose from their ignorance of the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of the situation of them; and is refuted by showing that things have not remained as they were from the creation; that the earth standing in and out of the water, as it was capable of being overflowed with a flood, so it perished by one; and that the present heavens and earth are reserved and prepared for a general burning at the day of judgment, in which wicked men will be destroyed, 2-Peter 3:5; but let these men scoff as they will, the length of time since the promise of Christ's coming was made should be no objection with the saints to the performance of it; since the longest term of time is nothing with God, however considerable it may be with men, 2-Peter 3:8; besides, the reason of the coming of Christ being deferred, is not owing to any dilatoriness in the performance of the promise, but to the longsuffering of God towards his elect, being unwilling that anyone of them should be lost, but that all should be brought to repentance, 2-Peter 3:9; but as for the coming of Christ, that is certain, and will be sudden; at which time will be the general conflagration, which is described in a very awful manner, 2-Peter 3:10; and the use to be made of such a tremendous dispensation by the saints is to live a holy and godly conversation, 2-Peter 3:11; to be eagerly looking for the coming of Christ, 2-Peter 3:12, and to expect, according to his promise, new heavens and a new earth, in which will dwell righteous persons, 2-Peter 3:13; and to be diligent to be found in peace at that day, 2-Peter 3:14; and to account the longsuffering of God salvation; and the whole of this account, and the use of it, is strengthened by the testimony of the Apostle Paul, of whom, and of his epistles, a character is given, 2-Peter 3:15; and the epistle is concluded with some cautions and exhortations to the saints, to beware lest they should be carried away with the errors of wicked men, and so fall from any degree of steadfastness in the faith; and to be concerned for a growth in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ Jesus, to whom glory is to be ascribed for ever and ever, 2-Peter 3:17.

(2-Peter 3:1-4) The design here is to remind of Christ's final coming to judgement.
(2-Peter 3:5-10) He will appear unexpectedly, when the present frame of nature will be dissolved by fire.
(2-Peter 3:11-18) From thence is inferred the need for holiness, and stedfastness in the faith.

SUMMARY.--The Purpose of the Second Epistle. The Sayings of Scoffers. God's Apparent Delay to Give Opportunity for Repentance. The Day of the Lord. The New Heavens and New Earth. The Blameless Lives We Ought to Live. Paul's Writings. Final Admonitions.

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