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).
September 4, 2011


1) 2 Peter 3:14-18 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


2 Peter 3:14-18
by Tom Edwards

In our last lesson, we closed with Peter's exhortation, in view of the fact that the day of the Lord would come, to "...Therefore...be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless" (2 Pet. 3:14).  

When we think about being found in peace, it might cause us to think about three ways in which the Bible speaks of it:

First, through Christ, we have peace with God: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).  That peace is maintained by the way we live; for our faith is to be an obedient faith (Jms. 2:14-26): "The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:9).  "...but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good..." (Rom. 2:10).  

Secondly, we are to strive to be at peace with others: "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men" (Rom. 12:18).  The need for this is also seen in one of the Lord's Beatitudes when He was giving His sermon on the mount: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matt. 5:9).   Notice that the Lord doesn't say merely "peace lovers," but "peacemakers."  Of course, the definition of the Greek word also means "loving peace." So if one truly loves peace, will he not be actively involved in striving to promote and maintain that?  To the Romans, Paul says, "So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another" (Rom. 14:19).  Think, too, of the example of Barnabas in winning over the skeptic hearts of the brethren in Jerusalem toward the apostle Paul.  Barnabas helped establish peace between Paul and the brethren there (Acts 9:26-28).  

And, thirdly, if we are striving to have peace with God and to be in peace with others, then we will also have peace in ourselves.  For to have peace with God and others involves our submission to the Lord's will; and those who do so will have "peace" as a fruit of the Spirit -- along with love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22).  

We must note that, in the Bible, peace means more than merely the absence of war.  Rather, it also refers to our entire well-being.  For "peace" is from the Greek word "eirene," which Thayer shows to mean various things in the Scriptures: "1) a state of national tranquility  1a) exemption from the rage and havoc of war  2) peace between individuals, i.e. harmony, concord 3) security, safety, prosperity, felicity, (because peace and harmony make and keep things safe and prosperous)  4) of the Messiah's peace  4a) the way that leads to peace (salvation)  5) of Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is  6) the blessed state of devout and upright men after death."  So, according to the Scriptures, true peace can involve various things.  

The greatness of peace can be seen in Philippians 4:6,7: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."   As we saw earlier, in Galatians 5:22, peace is also a fruit of the Spirit and which every Christian has through abiding in the Lord.

In 2 Peter 3:15, Peter exhorts the brethren to "regard the patience of the Lord as salvation."  We saw this in connection with why there has been such a long wait the world has had for the second coming of Christ.  Peter shows in this one verse the reason for that:  It is so more will come to the Lord for salvation before Christ returns.  For as 2 Peter 3:9 declares, "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."

God's desire to save all can be seen throughout the Bible.  For instance, in Ezekiel 33:11, God says, "Say to them, 'As I live!' declares the Lord GOD, 'I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?'"   Consider also Ezekiel 18:30-32.  

Peter points out that Paul had also taught this truth to regard the patience of God as salvation.  Let us also note that it was Paul who rebuked Peter to his face, and in the presence of others, due to his hypocrisy concerning the Gentiles; but here, in 2 Peter 3:15, Peter refers to Paul as "our beloved brother Paul."

Peter, as well as some of those whom he was addressing, knew of Paul's writings.  His epistles to the Ephesians and the Galatians would be to the same area that Peter was writing his epistle.  Epistles of the gospel were shared (Col. 4:15,16).  The letters of the NT are much more than the mere writings of men.  For they are writings that have been inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16).  Therefore, Paul was certainly concerned about all reading that message: "I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren" (1 Thes. 5:28).  The epistles were publicly read in the churches.  "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near" (Rev. 1:3).  Paul gave Timothy various instructions in his epistle to him.  Notice specifically 1 Timothy 4:13: "Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching."  Even prior to the church age,  Jesus Himself read the OT publicly in the synagogue (Luke 4:16-21).  Note, too, what James, the half brother of the Lord, states in Acts 15:21 about the continual public reading of the Law: "For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath."  We see this exemplified in Antioch of Pisidia, when Paul entered a synagogue there on the Sabbath Day, during his first missionary journey.  Acts 13:15 states, "After the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, 'Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.'"   It was then when Paul stood up and preached a sermon to them.

In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter makes a statement about Paul's writings.  The verse states, "as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction."  We note here that Peter did not say that some things are impossible to comprehend; but only that some things are difficult.  We need to strive to fully understand all the Scriptures, rather than being like those who distort the message.  For look where it can lead to twist the Scriptures --  to one's "own destruction."

Peter points out that the "untaught and unstable DISTORT" God's word.  "Distort" comes from the Greek word "strebloo," which Thayer defines as "1) to twist, turn awry  2) to torture, put to the rack  3) metaphorically to pervert, of one who wrests or tortures language in a false sense."  It is also translated as "twist," "wrest," and "pervert" in some other versions.  To twist a passage to mean the exact opposite would certainly be one way of perverting the Scriptures -- and that's what these were doing whom Peter writes of.  How often have we seen this being done?  What about those who would read 1 Peter 3:21 ("baptism now saves you") and then say that baptism has nothing to do with salvation?  Or those who read James 2:24, 26 ("You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. ...faith without works is dead");  and then turn around and say we are saved by mere "faith alone"?  

Peter shows that some of the things he wrote about, Paul also did.  For instance, we had noted the patience of God that Peter speaks of, which we are to regard as salvation.  Compare this to what Paul writes in Romans 2:4: "Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?" Again, we see of the Lord's patience in connection with repentance.  

Another subject that Peter brought out in this chapter is the Lord's second coming, which he describes by saying that "the day of the Lord will come like a thief" (2 Pet. 3:10) -- because it will happen when not expected.  Peter also shows of the ultimate destruction of all the physical universe when that happens.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:2-6, Paul declares a similar thing.  

We pointed out at the beginning of this epistle that Peter is writing 2 Peter to point out the need for knowledge to protect the Christians against the false teachers.  We have already seen this set forth, and now look how he closes this letter: "You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen" (2 Peter 3:17,18).  

As long as we live, we need to always be concerned about growing in the faith.  For it involves not merely learning of the right from the wrong, but also in developing the right qualities that are to characterize us as God's children (cf. 2 Pet. 1:2-4) -- and increasing in those qualities, such as in the virtues of moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (2 Pet. 1:5-7).    

Peter warns again, in closing, of the dangers of being deceived by false teachers -- and, therefore, urges them to "be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness" (2 Pet. 3:17).  As Guy N. Woods writes, "To be 'forewarned' is to be 'forearmed,' and such was the purpose of the apostle's admonition here."

The dangers of false teachers are seen in various places of the Scriptures: Faith can be "upset," "overthrow[n]" (2 Tim. 2:15-18); "rejected" and made "shipwreck" (1 Tim. 1:18-20).  See also Titus 1:10,11.  Some of the false teachers during the period of the early church were the Judaizers.  Paul makes it very clear how detrimental their teachings could be to one's relationship with God in Galatians 5:1-4.  For Paul says to those Christians who had gone back into Judaism, "You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace" (v. 4).

So Paul closes this epistle with instruction as to how the brethren can be on guard against  false teaching and not be carried away.  His closing words, in 2 Peter 3:18, are, "but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."  There is no greater way that one can develop than to "grow in the grace and knowledge" of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, may we each continue to do so in our daily walk with God; and if you haven't started that walk yet, may this be the day that you begin!              


News & Notes

Danny Holton, whom I have mentioned as having stage 4 pancreatic cancer, passed away this Saturday morning, September 3, 2011.  He had lived and preached in Greenville, Mississippi.

Visitation will be September 6 (Tuesday) from 10:00 to 12:00 at the Smith Funeral Home at 1580 S. Colorado Street in Greenville.  The funeral will begin at 12:00.  

Let those of us who are Christians be remembering his family, friends, and relatives in our prayers.

He and his wife Roberta had been married for 41 years.  

I'm glad that I had met Danny when he was preaching in Wheelersburg, Ohio, during the late 80's.  He was a very likeable person who had a good way with others.  He enjoyed people, loved communicating, and had a good sense of humor.  I recently recalled that what became my main office desk that I used when preaching in Ashland, Kentucky, about 25 miles down the river from Danny, was one that he had generously given me.   

Because Danny was a Christian, we, who are God's children, can have the following comfort, as Paul sets forth in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, in which he declares, so that the brethren would "not grieve as do the rest who have no hope," that when the Lord returns, "the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words."

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints"  (Psa. 116:15).


On September 2, I also received an update from my sister (Helen Bott) who has stage 3 cancer.  After talking with another one of her doctors, Helen found out some things she hadn't heard previously.  For one, they did remove some lymph nodes; and, two, she will also be having radiation treatments, along with her chemotherapy.  Her complete hysterectomy was due to cancer being spread throughout the uterus; and since it appeared to have also spread to her lymph nodes nearby, six of them were removed.  When they did the biopsy, they found one of those lymph nodes to be cancerous.  I was glad it was just one of them -- instead of many.  

She is scheduled to have the chemo arm port put in this coming Thursday.  

Then on Friday, she will have a muga scan and a cat scan to see if her cancer is also elsewhere.

On September 19th, she is to begin the chemo treatments (1 every 3 weeks for 5 months).  For a total of 6 aggressive, high potency  treatments and will also begin radiation treatments about the same time (which she will have 5 days a week for 6 weeks).

I continue to solicit the prayers of the saints for her.


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

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

Jackie Evans (R.J.'s wife), whom I have mentioned as having a 3-year back pain, was told by her doctor recently, after having an MRI, that she could wait two or three years before going ahead with surgery -- as long as she can manage the pain.       

Cheryl Anderson, who has been having some health problems.

Jean Calloway, who was back in the hospital recently, due to fluid build-up and a touch of pneumonia.  The fluid build-up has been a re-occurring problem for her, though it has been several months since her last episode of it.  She also continues to remain on oxygen.

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

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.   He will eventually also be undergoing surgery.  

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

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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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