Home » Various Sermons » Those Scoffers: 2 Peter 3.1-10

Those Scoffers: 2 Peter 3.1-10

“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved.  In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”  For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.  But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” – 2 Peter 3.1-10

The second chapter of 2 Peter ended with Peter showing that the false teachers are nothing more than mere animals in their behavior and that their pride has become overly bloated.  He moves from the fallacy of the false teachers themselves to once again defending against what they are teaching.  Simply put, Peter is trying to cover all his bases.

In this section of 2 Peter, Peter begins to poke holes in the theories of the false teachers.  Showing them that they’re theories aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be.  Moreover he moves to prove once more that Jesus is coming again and that whatever delay there may seem to be, it is a delay out of God’s mercy.  In this section, Peter is nearing the end of his letter, but he still point emphatically, that despite what the false teachers are teaching, Christ will return, God will judge the world.

“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved.  In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,” – 2 Peter 3.1-2

With this next section, Peter in a sort of formal fashion moves into his next subject, reminding the readers of his authority, and his previous letter.[1] Peter has moved into a new section, this being based on a change in “content and structure,” but is shown most clearly with the phrase, “beloved.”[2] He calls his audience, “beloved,” and this is phrase which appears with other New Testament writers, such as Paul and John and it speaks of Peter true and genuine concern for his readers.[3] Moreover this phrase also communicates the truth of God’s love, of his “saving grace,” to the people Peter writes to.[4]

Once again, Peter in a way challenges the opponent’s teachings, and calls his readers to remember the “predictions” of the prophets of old.  That though the false teachers deny the second coming, the prophets have long spoken of the Day of the Lord, of Yahweh’s judgment.[5] Moreover Peter affirms that there is a “unity” between the Old Testament and Jesus and his Apostles (i.e. the New Testament).[6] The New Testament as well as the Old, refers to this coming Judgment, which is not one simply made up by the Apostles, but based on a line of thought from the prophets.[7] (This argument brings back what Peter has already said concerning the false teacher’s teachings).[8] So while the false teachers had said the Christian faith was based on myth, but Peter affirms that it is based on not on myth, but upon the tradition of those who had written the bible. [9]

That there is a unity between the two Testaments is a beautiful thing.  It speaks of the fact that God’s words are truly seen throughout the Bible.  Though the false teacher might say that there is different sort of God between the two testaments they are wrong.  Moreover as the Prophets predicted the Day of the Lord and Jesus and the Apostles the return of Christ, we can have an assurance that it indeed will come.  Though different words and phrases are at times used, they still speak of the same event.  At some point Christ will return, and at some point there will be Judgment.  This wasn’t something new, and this certainly wasn’t something made up by the Apostles.  Therefore we can have some real assurance that Christ will return.

“knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.  They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”” – 2 Peter 3.3-4

Peter calls the false teachers scoffers (as well as those who are to come), and that their main thing which they are scoffing are the traditions of the church.[10] That mockers would come is something also alluded to in 1 John 2.18.[11] “Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.”  These mockers were expected to come in the last days, is a common biblical phrase.[12] It is one which Macarthur explains as “a phrase that refers to the entire time between Christ’s first and second comings.”[13]

With Christ’s death and his resurrection, the last days in a sense were ushered in, and so the mockers appearance should be expected.  As Peter warned about these false teachers, so had Paul in Acts 20.29-30.  “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.  Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.”

These teachers mocking is something which is based not logical, but on mere “intimidation,” that what the Christians believe is only silly fable.[14] Instead the false teachers are as Peter as already noted, really concerned with being able to follow “their own sinful desires,” they deny the second coming since that frees them of Judgment.[15] Before even listening to the teachings of the false teachers, Peter points out that they are people of low moral character, and who resorts to mocking their opponents, therefore, why even bother listening to what they teach?[16]

Their question of “Where is the Coming” is in many ways based on other biblical questions that dealt with mocking (Judges 6.13, Isaiah 36.19).[17] For example, Jeremiah himself was in a way also asked this question by mockers, (Jeremiah 17.15).[18] “Behold, they say to me, “Where is the word of the Lord?  Let it come!””  The reason of their question is based on the fact that since the “Fathers,” had fallen asleep, God has acted.

The phrase “the fathers fell asleep,” can be referring to two different ideas.  One line of thought is that it refers to the idea of the Christians who had already died, i.e. Stephen, James the son of Zebedee, and others, and that it was the same sort of thing which Paul wrote about in 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18.[19] The other idea is that this phrase refers to the Old Testament “fathers.”[20] While the first line is quite persuasive and used often (especially to comment that this proves that Peter didn’t write 2 Peter), its weakened by the fact that the New Testament writers, never referred to the first generation Christians as the “fathers,” but the NT writers do often referred to the Old Testament patriarchs as the “fathers,” moreover the Old Testament also often refers to the fathers.[21]

What they are scoffing in particular is Christ’s return.[22] Peter thus once again highlighting his Opponents’ major teaching, that Christ was not going to return. [23] Moreover, the false teachers, seem to think that they have evidence which prove their point (earlier Peter defended their claim that Jesus will not return, since there is no judgment (2.3b)), but here they claim the return will not happen because God does not change anything.[24] They claim that since the creation of the universe, that since the Abraham God has sat back and let things go, not divinely intervening in any way.[25]

Mockers are an expected thing, Jesus, Paul, and Peter all warned of their coming, Peter dealt with their appearance.  We shouldn’t be shocked that someone dares mock the name of Jesus, that some dares mock us for believing in Christ.  It should be expected, but just because they do mock does not invalidate what it is that we believe in.  Moreover they claimed that God did not act, and this often a claim that made by many even today.  However, as Peter will move on to point out, God has acted in the past and God will continue to act.  Just because we do not see his actions, does not mean he is idle.  Our God, is not an idle one, but an active one.

“For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.  But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” – 2 Peter 3.5-7

While the false teachers seem to think that the world will continue as it has forever, Peter instead points them again to the past actions of God and shows that as he had personally changed the world before with water, he can do so again with Fire.[26] The False teachers have “deliberately overlooked” facts that don’t suit their argument, they instead seek “facts,” that fit what they say, therefore Peter reminder for his readers to remember God’s words via the prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles becomes all the more important.[27]

Peter seems to be referring to two different waters, in verse five i.e. that the first water is the primeval watery chaos, the face of the waters in Genesis 1.2, but then the formation of dry land via the gathering together of waters in Genesis 1.9-10.[28] He likely is stressing the waters in creation, for Peter next draws upon the Flood, the “waters,” of Judgment that God used.[29] In following verse after all Peter then says that the world was “deluged with water and perished.”  By the same water which God used in creation, he also used to destroy the world, the world here referring not so much the physical world, but the sinful humans of the earth, who were judged.[30]

God had promised to not destroy the world again with water as seen via the rainbow, and while God seems to be delayed, Peter says that God will indeed punish the earth again, but this time via fire.[31] 3.7 That the world will be destroyed a second time by fire is a view held in the Old Testament by other prophets such as Isaiah 66.15-16 and Malachi 4.1.[32] “For behold, the Lord will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire.  For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the Lord shall be many.” “”For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.”

Jesus himself drew a parallel between the destruction of the Earth at Noah’s time and the coming destruction, (Cf. Mathew .24.37-39, Luke 17.26ff).[33] “As were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

Peter already had shown in the previous chapter that God had judge the world at the time of Noah with water, that he had judge Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and so he aptly able to judge the world again.[34] Peter isn’t saying that the Flood was as destructive as the future destruction of the earth and heavens will be, but that its “comparable.”[35] In the end there will be destruction so complete that the entire creation is wiped out, and with it sin, but the godly will be spared.

The false teacher would deny that God has ever acted in the past, but Peter shows that God acted in creation and that God acted also when he judged the world at the time of the flood.  This of course doesn’t even tell of his other actions throughout the Old and New Testament, or even of Jesus’ actions.  We have an active God.  Moreover while the false teachers denied the final judgment, God’s actions not only prove them wrong, it proves that this Judgment will come.  We may thus have assurance that God is still in control, that the coming judgment is still coming.  Christ will return.

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” – 2 Peter 3.8-10

“Do not overlook,” while the false teachers might have overlooked God’s past actions, Peter warns his audience to not do the same thing.[36] Here again, Peter uses the phrase beloved to indicate another section of his argument.[37] Having dealt with their first objection, that he world has been changed, Peter now deals with their second object, that God if does Judge at all is delayed.  Firstly Peter points out that this delay is only something in the eyes of man, for God are outside of time. [38] This verse seems to be based upon Psalm 90.4. “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.”

That there is any sort of delay at all proves that God is indeed a “God of mercy and compassion.” The delay is not because God is “indifferent, powerless, or distracted,” it is all because of his mercy.[39] As Exodus 34.6 states,[40] “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,”  Moreover as Paul also states in 1 Timothy 2.4 that God is one “who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”   This verse does not teach, that all will eventually come to God, but instead that they have chance to come to him, up and until the Judgment.[41] Instead, what the verse points out is that though the false teachers use this as a prove against the judgment, it should instead lead them to repetenance.[42]

However, though God does indeed delay his judgments, it is only delayed and at some point it will come.[43] Peter reminds the readers hear of Jesus own words in Mark 13.32-37 that Jesus’ coming would be unexpected.[44]

“”But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.  It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake.  Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.  And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.””

This unexpected coming Day of the Lord will be followed, the heavens being burned with an intense heat that will also destroy t eh world, in the end, all the earth and everything that man has created will be destroyed.  Due to the Great burning, in the end the earth will be “exposed,” or will be “found,” and this ending phrase is a bit confusing.  But what it seems to indicate is that in the end, that it refers to the earth being found in a sort of “forensic sense of examined and “found  out.”[45] That in the end, when the earth is destroy only man will remain and his deeds laid bare, found out for all to see.[46]

Perhaps similar to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 3.13-15 “each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.  If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

In the end, Jesus will return and it will be unexpected, but still it will happen.  Moreover when the Day of the Lord Come, when time is come to the end the world will be destroyed.  Sin will be destroyed.  In the end God wins it that simple.  Though the false teacher questions Christ’s return, questions that God will destroy the world.  The day of Yahweh will come, the day of judgment will come.  But this is all on God’s time, for while it seems so long to us, to God it’s as if no time has passed.  Christ will come at some point, unexpectedly, but until then God has given is given those who have to accept him a chance to.


[1] Patrick J. Hartin, “The Second Letter of Peter,” in The New Collegeville Bible Commentary: New Testament ed Daniel Durken (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008), 803.

[2] Thomas R. Schreiner, the New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 367-8.

[3] John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 2 Peter & Jude (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2005), 115.

[4] Schreiner, 368.

[5] MacArthur, 116.

[6] David H. Wheaton, “2 Peter,” in New Bible Commentary, ed. G. J. Wenham et al., 21st century ed. (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1394.

[7] MacArthur, 117.

[8] Schreiner, 370.

[9] Hartin, 804.

[10] Jerome H. Neyrey, “2 Peter,” in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1990), 1021.

[11] R. H. Strachan, “The Second Epistle General of Peter,” in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll, (Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1983), 142.

[12] Schreiner, 372.

[13]MacArthur, 112.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Schreiner, 372.

[17] Hartin, 804.

[18] Schreiner, 372.

[19] Wheaton, 1394.

[20] MacArthur, 114.

[21] Schreiner, 373.

[22] Neyrey, 1021

[23] Hartin, 804.

[24] Neyrey, 1021.

[25] MacArthur, 114.

[26] W. J. Dalton, “2 Peter,” in A New Catholic Commentary on the Holy Scripture, ed. Reginald C. Fuller, Leonard Johnson, and Conleth Kerns (Nashville and New York: Thomas Nelson, Inc. Publishers, 1975), 1255-6.

[27] Schreiner, 375.

[28] Strachan, 143.

[29] Schreiner, 376.

[30] MacArthur, 119.

[31] Strachan, 143.

[32] Hartin, 804.

[33] Dalton, 1256.

[34] Neyrey, 1021.

[35] Schreiner, 377.

[36] Wheaton, 1395.

[37] Schreiner, 379.

[38] Hartin 804.

[39] MacArthur, 122.

[40] Hartin, 804.

[41] Wheaton, 1395.

[42] Schreiner, 381.

[43] Neyrey, 1021.

[44] Hartin, 805.

[45] Neyrey, 1021.

[46] Schreiner,  381-2.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 160 other followers