The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
August 21, 2011


1) 2 Peter 3:1-9 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


2 Peter 3:1-9
by Tom Edwards

In 2 Peter 3:1,2, Peter declares, "This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles."

Peter addresses his readership in 2 Peter 1:1 as having been "those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours" -- so they were fellow Christians.  And since this is his second epistle to them, we can look to Peter's first epistle to see specifically who these Christians were: They were the saints who had been "scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia."  We also had noted that they were primarily Gentiles.  

Peter appears to have been very close to these Christians.  He uses "beloved," a term of endearment, four times in this chapter to address them -- and a fifth time in referring to the apostle Paul.  

Peter also shows, in this second epistle to these brethren, that he is "stirring up" their "sincere mind by way of reminder" (2 Pet. 3:1).  The importance of reminders is also seen in 2 Peter 1:13.   In both passages, the words "stir" and "stirring" come from a Greek word (diegeiro) that means "to wake fully, that is, arouse (literally or figuratively)" (James Strong).  Isn't that the purpose of all reminders?  They serve to gain our attention, to alert us to something. They arouse us toward an action or toward something we need to be mindful of.  They wake us up to those things.  

Peter specifies messages from two sources that he exhorts the brethren to remember: 1) the words of the holy prophets, and 2) the commandment of Jesus, which the apostles had taught.   Of course, all of this is from the one source -- God.  

In 2 Peter 1:10-12, Peter had made mention of those who were OT prophets.  For he says it was the Spirit of Christ within them that had "predicted the sufferings of Christ."  So, obviously, those prophets were of the OT Period, since it was the Lord's death (which they prophesied) that brought an end to the OT Age and began the Gospel Age.  Numerous NT passages point to the benefit of studying the OT, such as Romans 15:4 and 1 Corinthians 10:11; but note also what Paul was using to teach others in Acts 28:23, "When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening."  Consider also John 1:45: "Philip found Nathanael and said to him, 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote -- Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'"

In also pointing out that what the apostles spoke is what the Lord had commanded, Peter shows that all the NT should be viewed as being the words of Christ -- rather than just those words that are in red letters of the red-letter editions.  For example, consider John 16:12-15, where Jesus says the following: "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.  All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you."   We realize, too, that all the Bible is "God breathed" --  in other words, divinely inspired by the Lord (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20,21) -- and that pertains to each word (as inferred in Acts 2:4-11, in which the apostles spoke of the mighty acts of God in languages they did not know.  How could they, therefore, have put that into their own words?)

God's message as revealed through the early NT prophets and apostles was necessary so we could even have a NT and also be able to better understand the OT.  Paul says, concerning his writings, "By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit" (Eph. 3:4,5).   The importance of their work can also be seen in Ephesians 4:11-15.  For through them (along with the evangelists, pastors, and teachers), the saints could be equipped, built up, made wise toward the deception of false teachers, and enabled to speak the truth in love.

Peter refers to the character of these saints as being "sincere" (2 Pet. 3:1) from the Greek word "eilikrines," which Bullinger defines as "judged of in the sunlight, and so found to be genuine; hence, unmixed, pure."  James Strong and Thayer also show its meaning to include being judged and examined by sunlight, respectively.  We can liken the meaning of this to a defected sculpture that had its flaws patched up with just a wax filler; but when the sculpture would be placed in the hot sunshine, then that wax would melt and those blemishes would soon be revealed.  But if a sculpture withstood the test, then it would appear to be "without wax" and "sincere."  So, in a manner of speaking, we, as Christians, are to be "without wax."  In other words, we must be pure, sincere, not hypocritical nor fake; for we will each be judged by the Son of God, who can certainly detect any flaws we would have in our lives!  This particular Greek word for "sincere" is used in just one other passage in the NT, Philippians 1:9-11, where Paul's concern and prayer for his brethren's development is mentioned -- which includes their having love, knowledge, discernment, SINCERITY, and a righteous life above reproach.  So sincerity is a good and needful quality.  Many other versions render it in 2 Peter 3:1 as "pure."  

There are many things for one to remember these days; but of all things most important, what could be more necessary than what Peter states in 2 Peter 3:2 to "remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles"?   God's word is that which molds us into being the spiritual people He wants us to be.  For instance, in writing to Timothy, Paul states, "...I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15).

Peter then writes in 2 Peter 3:3, "Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts[.]"

To many premillennialists, the "last days" had begun when Israel became a nation again about 63 years ago.  They base this on Matthew 24:32-34 by wrongly viewing the budding fig tree as representing Israel's rebirth as a nation in 1948.  Some of the premillennial books were, therefore, projecting that Jesus would return by 1988 -- for a generation is about 40 years.  What they failed to understand, however, is that this prophecy was made with regard to the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in A.D. 70 -- about 40 years after the Lord had made this statement.  

Rather than listen to men's ideas on when the last days began, we can look to the scriptures to see of it assuredly.  For example, in Acts 2:14-18, Peter shows that the last days started on the day in which the church was established -- 10 days after the Lord had ascended back to the right hand of God.  So the phrase "last days" is also referring to the last dispensation of time, the Gospel Age.  After that, time shall be no more -- just one great eternity.   

Peter informs that during the last days "mockers" would come.  James Strong defines the Greek word for "mockers" to also imply "a false teacher."  In the only other passage where this Greek word is used in the NT, Jude shows this truth was not merely something Peter was preaching, but the other apostles, too.  For he declares, "But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,  that they were saying to you, 'In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts'" (Jude 1:17,18).  Jude then describes them as "the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit" (v. 19).

In 2 Peter 3:4, Peter specifies some of what these mockers would be saying: "Where is the promise of His coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."  Because the Lord had not yet returned, these scoffers, in their unbelief, had rejected the thought that He ever would come -- and ridiculed the very idea.  

The second coming of Christ, however, is a promise in the Scriptures that we can believe in whole heartily and eagerly look forward to with all certainty.  For its promise is seen in various places of the NT -- such as in John 14:2,3, where Jesus assured His apostles with it.  Also in Acts 1:11, where the angels promised it at the Lord's ascension.  In addition, the apostle John (1 Jn. 3:2,3) and the apostle Paul (1 Thess. 4:13-18) also make mention of it.  

These mockers try to make an observation from history to base their false implication. But Peter shows how faulty they are in 2 Peter 3:5,6: "For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water."

The promise that Christ would come is from God's own word, and note what Peter says about the power of that word.  By it, the Lord created the heavens and the earth; and by that word, God also destroyed the world during the days of Noah.  And just as the Lord chose to destroy the world in Noah's day by using a flood, Peter shows that the earth's future destruction will be by fire -- and it, too, will occur as surely as the flood did in Noah's day!  We are not talking about a 90% chance of it happening -- or even a 99% chance -- but, rather, with a 100% certainty!  Therefore, it is more sure than tomorrow's sunrise!

There was none, who had  remained in their sins and unbelief and rejected God's message, that survived the flood of Noah's day, which they probably had not previously believed in and most likely mocked Noah for even preaching about it.  But as the waters came to destroy them, there doubts were washed away -- but, by then, it was too late for their salvation.  

Now, Peter writes of those who are mocking something else.  They are scoffing at the second coming of Christ.  But just as the flood of Noah's day came, even so Christ will come again; and when He does, then these mockers, who by their unbelief have ridiculed the truth of the Lord's return, will also suffer the consequences.  Paul speaks of this in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.   It will be on a day that will be characterized by fire -- instead of water, as in Noah's day  -- and is also spoken of in 2 Peter 3:7: "But the heavens and the earth which now exist are kept in store by the same word, reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."  

We wonder how these mockers could be so blind to these powerful truths about God, but it appears they had simply chose to be that way.  The NASB uses the phrase, "it escapes their notice," in pertaining to this.  It is also rendered as "For this they are willingly ignorant of" (KJV); "For this they willingly forget..." (ASV), and "But they deliberately ignore the fact..." (International Standard Version).  As Guy N. Woods writes, "These facts they had not only ignored, they had done so willfully and deliberately...That these facts escaped them was not due to inadvertency; they had willfully and purposefully allowed them to pass."  How tragic that is when people choose to be blind to God's word, rather than turning to that which can save their souls from an eternal torment.  Mocking the truth won't change it nor make it cease to be.  

Something else these mockers needed to realize is that God does not view time the way we do, nor is He subject to time the way man is. For what might seem as a long or short time to man, would not be the same for the Lord, as Peter indicates in 2 Peter 3:8: "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day."  This can be said because the Lord does not dwell in time as we do, where we have our days, weeks, months, and years.  Instead, the Lord dwells in eternity, where there is no time as we know it -- just one great eternity.  So this is one of the arguments Peter gives for why the Lord has not yet returned.  Man can become impatient, but God doesn't.  He neither delays nor carries out anything prematurely.  For example, when we think about one of the most important events in the history of the world -- when God sent His Son Jesus -- the Bible shows that took place in "the fulness of time" (Gal. 4:4), which means "the proper or destined time."  The Bible also declares that it was "at the RIGHT TIME that Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6, emphasis mine).  

Another reason for why the Lord has not yet come is what Peter sets forth in 2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."  Consider also 2 Peter 3:15, "and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you[.]"  So what these mockers are unknowingly ridiculing is the patience and love of God toward the lost.  And, ironically, the Lord is even being patient toward the mockers.  But let us remind ourselves that the opportunity to receive God's grace, such as in the days of Noah, can eventually come to an end.  So let us each submit our lives to God for His love, mercy, and grace while we have the time.  For there might not be a tomorrow for us to do so!


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians also continue praying for the following people:

Helen Bott (my sister), who recently had surgery, due to cancer.  Her biopsy has now revealed that not all the cancer was eliminated.  For there is some in her lymph node.  She will, therefore, be seeing her oncologist this Wednesday (8/24) to find out what her next step will be.

Trevis Williams, who has come down with an infection.

Shirley Young, who has been suffering physically from fibromyalgia. 

Cheryl Crews, who continues with infection, not feeling well, and undergoing treatment.   

Danny Holton,
who has pancreatic cancer in its 4th stage. 

R.J. Evans, who will soon begin treatment for a slow-developing prostate cancer, caught in its early stage.      

Jackie Evans (R.J.'s wife), who is seeking a remedy to eliminate a 3-year back pain.   

Bill Barfield, an 85-year old with prostate cancer, whose mobility was also impaired several years ago, due to a stroke.    

Bill Holt, who is still recuperating from a severe pancreatic pain, which required about 3 weeks in the hospital and living on just intravenous feeding for almost all of that time.    

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
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Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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