This Bible Study is part of the "1st and 2nd Peter" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
Peter talks about the second coming of Jesus Christ—a day of judgment coming on the evil people in this world, a future time that is going to be exciting. We pick up in Chapter 3, verse 1. Notice Peter’s concern. This is a pastoral letter; he was writing to people who were struggling.
I am Doug Winnail, a Pastor with the Living Church of God. With this segment, we will conclude our Bible study of 1 Peter and 2 Peter. The Apostle Peter wrote 2 Peter to a scattered group of churches in northern Asia Minor in the middle of the first century. He was writing to people who were being persecuted, having to deal with false doctrines and false ideas being scattered throughout the Church. His basic message was not to forget basic truths and basic aspects of the faith. He mentions over and over in this particular epistle the words "‘knowledge" and "truth" and "discernment" and "remembering."/P>
In Chapter 3, Peter talks about the second coming of Jesus Christ—a day of judgment coming on the evil people in this world, a future time that is going to be exciting. We pick up in Chapter 3, verse 1. Notice Peter’s concern. This is a pastoral letter; he was writing to people who were struggling.
2 Peter 3:1-3
Beloved [my brothers and sisters], I now write to you this second epistle [This is his second letter to the same group of people in northern parts of Asia Minor, but he also has lessons for us today.] (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets [He is going to be talking about the Day of the Lord, the prophecies in the Old Testament, and talking about the day of the return of Jesus Christ.], and of the commandment of us [Peter is writing and talking about his own writings as being commandments—Commandments of God.], the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days…
Peter mentioned in Chapter 1 of 2 Peter that the Church of God—God’s true Church—will have a more sure word of prophecy. But he also mentions right here that in the last days—at the end of the age—scoffers will come, scoffing at and making fun of the Truth, making fun of the Bible and making fun of Bible prophecies.
2 Peter 3:3
… scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts…
People don’t want to live by God’s Word today. They want to do their own thing. We— several generations in America and Europe—have been reared to do our own thing. "‘If it feels good, do it! Don’t let anybody else tell you what to do."‘ Recently, in Time magazine, a movie starlet made the comment: "‘Why do we have to do what those old religious people tell us to do? We ought to be able to do our own thing!"‘ Well, our society is doing that, and Peter prophesied it 2,000 years ago.
2 Peter 3:3-4
…scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
and saying, "‘Where is the promise of His coming? ["You mean Jesus is really going to come back? When? How do we know?"] For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning…
Peter is saying that many people will say, as they do today: "‘God doesn’t intervene in history. Those were just stories. Those were just myths. He does not really exist. He doesn’t really intervene in history.’" Peter then mentions several places where God actually did intervene in history.
2 Peter 3:5-6
For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God [in the Bible] the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water…[This is talking about a flood that came and destroyed the earth.] by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
The Bible talked about that—it occurred. In fact, when you look into the legends of cultures all around the world, there are legends of a flood. The details vary from place to place, but if it never occurred, why do cultures scattered allaround the globe record in their history that there was a flood? The Bible says it occurred. Peter also said that "‘people will be willfully ignorant of’" these things; they will want to forget these things discussed in the Bible.
2 Peter 3:7
But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment…
In other words, when the new heaven and the new earth come, this earth is going to be burned up and God is going to "start all over," at least on the surface of the earth. This is what we learn from Scripture.
2 Peter 3:8
But, beloved [Here, again, is Peter’s emphasis: "Don’t forget what you know! Don’t forget the Truth! Prove what the Truth is, and hold on to it."], do not forget this one thing [Peter is about to give a very important principle of how to understand the Bible, how to understand God’s plan and purpose and how to understand various aspects of prophecy], that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
God has a plan and a purpose that He is working out on this earth. It appears that He is allowing about 6,000 years for mankind to work out a plan and a purpose. The last 1,000 years of the 7,000-year cycle will be when Jesus Christ returns to this earth and sets up the Kingdom of God on this earth. I realize, geologically, that the time that living beings have been on this earth may go back millions of years. But when you look at recorded history, when man first began to write and record things, that history only goes back about 6,000 years. There has to be a reason why suddenly writing appeared, and why history was being kept and why 6,000 years ago people started thinking pretty much like we think today. We don’t have time to go into all of those issues here. But the idea expressed in Scripture is that 1,000 years is like a day, and a day is like 1,000 years. Jesus Christ, we are told in Revelation, is coming back, and will reign on this earth for 1,000 years. His reign is the seventh 1,000-year period in this "seven-day" weekly cycle that is pictured.
Here we find a principle for understanding various aspects of Bible prophecy. Many people think: "‘Well, Christ did not come back in 1844. He did not come back in the year 2000. He is probably not coming back."‘ They are reluctant to believe in the return of Jesus Christ. Yet Peter says here…/P>
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise…/P>
God has a plan, a purpose, an agenda. He is going to work it out in His time./P>
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise [Jesus Christ said, "‘I am going to return in the very like manner that I left. I am going to come back down. People are going to see me. They saw me leave, they are going to see me return.] as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us [Why is God patient? Why is God longsuffering? It says, He is] not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Many people’s minds, over the course of history, have been opened to understand the Truth. Some people have backslid. They have gone backwards from that Truth. But before Christ returns, there is going to be a period of tribulation in which many people who have understood the Truth of God and have "slipped" from it are going to have probably about three-and-a-half years in which to be sobered up, to realize there is a God. There is a God that intervenes in history. They may remake some of their decisions and rethink some of their ideas during that period of time. God is patient. God allows us to go through trials and tribulations. This world is going to go through a big tribulation, basically to point people to the fact that there is a God that does intervene in history. Then, Jesus Christ is going to come back after that Tribulation and establish the Kingdom of God on this earth.
In verse 10, Peter talks again about the Day of the Lord. He is concluding this book of 2 Peter, but he is concluding on a positive note. He saying, "‘There is a judgment coming, but there is a reward beyond that.’"
2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night…
Jesus Christ said the same thing in Matthew 24. People are not going to be prepared, but if we are watching world events, Jesus said, "‘Watch for this, watch for that." God wants us to understand the approximate time. But we will not know the exact time. But by watching for certain things, we will begin to realize when the end of the age is near.
2 Peter 3:10-11
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. [This is before the new heaven and the new earth comes toward the end of the book of Revelation.] Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved…
Peter is saying, "‘Look ahead, realize what is coming and adjust your perspective accordingly.’"
2 Peter 3:11
Therefore, since all these things [all these physical things] will be dissolved [As he mentioned in earlier chapters, "‘Don’t get overly involved with this world. Don’t get caught up in partying. All that is going to come to an end."] [think about] what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.
Peter’s whole emphasis, going through 1 and 2 Peter, is that you are going to be going through trials and tribulations, but don’t forget the big picture. Remember you have been called to be lights and examples to this world. You have been called to teach mankind a better way of life. So, focus on what kinds of persons you…
2 Peter 3:11-13
… ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 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…Nevertheless we, according to His promise [The promise of Jesus Christ. He is going to return, set up a kingdom on this earth.], look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
David said in Psalm 119:172: "All Thy commandments, God—all of Your commandments—are righteousness." When Jesus Christ returns to this earth and the saints rule with Him on this earth, the Laws of God—the Commandments—are going to go forth from Jerusalem. They will be taught to all mankind around the world and the false teachers that Peter talks about, both in the first century and at the end of the age, will be exposed. Their false ideas will be eliminated. People will be saved from the suffering and the confusion and the frustration that comes from following false teachings, and they will be pointed in a right direction. That is going to be a real boon and blessing to mankind, when children will be raised from birth to understand the Truth of God. It is going to be an incredible opportunity to a part of that.
In concluding 2 Peter, Peter says…
2 Peter 3:14
Therefore, beloved [Again, notice the warmth and the concern. He is not ordering people around. He is not saying, "‘Look at me, I am in charge."], looking forward to these things [these promises of eternal life, the opportunity to reign with Jesus Christ, to be freed from the misunderstanding and confusion of this world], be diligent [He began this book of 2 Peter in Chapter 1 talking about "‘Be diligent to add to your faith, virtue and knowledge" and so on. Now, he is concluding the book, coming back full circle to what he was talking about in the very first chapter.] to be found by Him [Jesus Christ] in peace, without spot and blameless…
Jesus Christ said that we are to strive to become perfect. That does not mean just totally perfect in every way. It means getting the big picture, getting focused on the Truth and working on our character, but we are to strive to do that as Christians.
2 Peter 3:14-15
…to be found by Him in peace [peace of mind, at peace with each other], without spot and blameless; and [account] that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation [We are considerate that the patience of our Lord is going to bring about our salvation.]; as also our beloved brother Paul…
Paul actually had to accost Peter in a particular situation. Peter did not want to be seen with uncircumcised individuals, and he "backed away" when such people came around. Paul told him: "‘Peter that was wrong." Peter could have reacted, and held that against Paul, thinking "‘Boy, you showed me up, you embarrassed me in front of people, I am never going to speak to you again."‘ But Peter was a Christian. He was trying to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 3:15-16
… our beloved brother Paul [That is his reference to Paul.], according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand…
When you read Paul’s epistles of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Romans, you see that they get into some very technical discussions. Many people, even in Peter’s time, were twisting Paul’s writings out of context. It is really surprising whenever you listen to arguments by so-called Christian teachers today that argue against the Sabbath and against the Holy Days and against the dietary laws, which God gave for our benefit; they use Paul’s writings to throw these things out, to say that we don’t need to believe in those anymore. Peter is warning the Church. He said, "‘Be careful."‘ People were twisting Paul’s writings, distorting those writings.
2 Peter 3:16
…which [those who are] untaught and unstable…twist to their own destruction…
Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath. He kept the Holy Days. The Apostles did the same. Yet people are being told today: "You don’t have to keep them." They use Paul’s writings to justify those teachings.
2 Peter 3:16
…[He says they twist Paul’s writings just as they twist] the rest of the Scriptures.
Brethren, in order to keep from being deceived, you have to prove what the Bible says. You have to read very carefully. You have to examine not only what the Bible says, but what the early Church did and said and taught. Peter is writing to a group of people who had to wrestle with these false ideas in the first century. But he is also writing to us today. He concludes, saying…
2 Peter 3:17
You therefore, beloved, since you know [these things.]…
I have told you what is going to happen. I have told you about false teachers. I have told you that you are going to have to hang on during trials. You are going to have to submit to authority in the home, in the family, in your business and in your nation.
2 Peter 3:17
…since you know this beforehand [that false teachers are going to be coming], beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness [That you slide away from the solid position that you once had, from the solid beliefs that you once had.], being led away with the error of the wicked [or the lawless people. People that are teaching to do away with the Laws of God—don’t be sucked into that. Don’t be swept away with that.].
He concludes the letter the same way he began Chapter 1. He says…
2 Peter 3:18
…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. [This is not a knowledge of his person. It is a knowledge of what Jesus Christ said and what He taught and what the Bible says. He said you need to grow in that.] To Him be [ever] glory both now and forever [more].
It is very interesting that he ends with an admonishment to focus on Jesus Christ. In fact, if you want to do a study on your own, you can check later in Isaiah 42:8. For somebody coming from a Jewish background, Isaiah mentions that God says, "‘I am the Lord, that is My name. I will not give my name to any other." Yet Peter is referring to the fact that Jesus Christ is now the Lord—is the one we need to focus on, that He is part of the God family. Peter ends the book of 2 Peter on a very positive note—looking to Jesus Christ, knowing His teachings, believing in what He taught. If we do that, we are going to be able to endure and overcome and make it through the difficult periods of time that we face today, that Christians faced in the first century. We will be able to recognize and avoid being deceived by false teachers. Peter mentions to the early Church: "‘Hang on to the Truth." He emphasizes the importance of knowledge, the importance of remembering what is right and what is true. This is the advice that he offered to scattered churches in the first century. But he also mentions that these things are for us today so that we cannot be deceived by those who would try and pull us away from the Truth, that we can prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ and that we can be in the Kingdom of God.
If you would like to learn more about conditions in the early Church, what happened to Apostolic teachings, what happened to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Apostles and how Christ’s teachings were corrupted and perverted over the centuries, please request our booklet Restoring Apostolic Christianity. You may be surprised, but you will be excited by what you learn—and it will probably change your life.
I am Doug Winnail, with the Living Church of God.