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Scripture reading – 2 Peter 3
We conclude our study of the Second Epistle of Peter with today’s Scripture reading. In fact, the author confirms this was his second letter, writing, “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you” (3:1). Then, Peter went on to restate his purpose for the letter, and it was to “stir up [their] pure [sincere] minds by way of remembrance” (3:1b). Thus, it behooves us to ask, “remembrance of what?”
Peter sensed, even had a foreboding, that his life and ministry were drawing to a close (1:14). With affection and a sense of urgency, the old apostle penned what would be his last letter. He had described the character and conduct of false teachers in the previous chapter, and warned believers concerning their corrupting influence (2:10-22). Knowing apostate teachers were impelling the churches with damnable heresies, Peter wanted believers to remember the things they had been taught (3:1).
Remember, and Never Forget (3:1-2)
Believers of the latter first century were urged to remember, and never forget “the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour” (3:2). There were precious, handwritten copies of the “words” and doctrines of the prophets of old (3:2a). Also, many alive at that time had firsthand knowledge of the teachings and doctrine of “the apostles of the Lord and Savior,” of whom Peter was numbered (3:2).
The Last Days, and the Judgment to Follow (3:3-7)
Understanding the “last days” began with Christ’s ascension to heaven, and will conclude with His Second Coming, Peter warned, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (3:3).
Who were those scoffers, and upon what did they heap their scorn? First, they were men who derided the promise of Christ’s return, and said, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (3:4a). They demanded, show us the promise, give us a sign Christ is coming. They went on with their derision, saying, “for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (3:4). Those scoffers would have men believe nothing had changed since creation, and things would continue even as they were (3:4).
Peter condemned the scoffers as foolish, wicked men. They denied God had by the power of His Word, created the universe (3:5), and by His Word destroyed the world by the flood (3:6). They were blind, and refused to believe it was the power of God’s Word that preserved and sustained the “heavens and the earth” (3:7). Indeed, it was by the will and mercies of God that the world was spared from judgment and destruction. By His Word the Lord upholds creation, and by His word He can unleash His fury and destroy everything. Yet, He has preserved the world “unto fire against [and until] the day of judgment and perdition [destruction] of ungodly men” (3:7).
Why Christ Has Not Come (3:8-9)
Peter then gave believers insight into the eternal perspective of God, as opposed to the finite, temporal view of man (3:8). While man measures the passing of time in seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years; Peter declared, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (3:8). Men scoffed in Peter’s day, “Look how many years have passed, and there is no sign of Christ’s coming!” The apostle answered those foolish men, and declared God is infinite, and for Him the passage of time is as no more than a day!
The apostle warned, “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (3:9).
Why has Christ not returned as He promised? For one, He “is longsuffering to us-ward” (3:9b). The Lord is patient. We tend to be impatient, and our view of fairness and justice demands immediate satisfaction. The Lord, however, is “not willing that any should perish” (3:9c). He is just, and His character demands justice. Nevertheless, He longs for sinners to be saved, and “that all should come to repentance” (3:9d).
Closing thoughts (3:10-18) – Much more might be considered in the balance of today’s Scripture reading, and I pray I might expand on this chapter in the future. In summary, I invite you to consider briefly the assurance we have of Christ’s return, and the fiery judgment that will follow (3:10). Peter instructed believers concerning their obligation to the Lord, and lifestyle choices in light of the imminent return of Christ (3:11-14).
In closing, consider three things believers should do in light of Christ’s Second Coming: Invite lost sinners to be saved (3:15-16); Beware of wicked men who would lead you spiritually astray (3:17); finally, “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever” (3:18).
Friend, Christ is coming! Are you ready?
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