Main point summary
We ought to be people that remember and rest in God's promise and therefore live lives that are set apart and godly; patiently and eagerly waiting for his promise to be fulfilled in judgment and the new creation.
2 Peter 3:1-13
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved.
In both of them g I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,
h that you should remember the predictions of i the holy prophets
and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,
knowing this first of all,
that scoffers will come
j in the last days with scoffing,
k following their own sinful desires.
l They will say,
“Where is the promise of m 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 n was formed out of water and through water o by the word of God ,
and that by means of these the world that then existed p was deluged with water
and q perished.
But by the same word r the heavens and earth that now exist
are stored up for fire,
being kept until the day of judgment and s destruction of the ungodly.
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved,
that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years,
and t a thousand years as one day.
u The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise
v as some count slowness,
but w is patient toward you, 1
x not wishing that any should perish,
but y that all should reach repentance.
But z the day of the Lord will come like a thief,
and then a the heavens will pass away with a roar,
and b the heavenly bodies 1 will be burned up
and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved,
c what sort of people ought you to be
in lives of holiness and godliness,
d waiting for
the coming of the day of God,
because of which the heavens will be set on fire
and e the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
But according to his promise
we are waiting for f new heavens and a new earth
g in which righteousness dwells.
Note: quotation from the holy prophets - Isa 34:4
patience vs eagerness Rom 8:19-23
Connection with nearsightedness (cf 1:7-9)
The scoffers are overlooking the past word of God, and yet , it is the very same word that dictates the future.
It seems most likely, judging by the context of the book that Peter is referring to the entire OT and the words of Jesus and his apostles. Specifically the gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:4-6). The reality that through the gospel, God calls us to his glory (2 Pet 1:3-4). In Jesus words, it is the gospel of the kingdom (Matt 24:13-31). See also 2 Pet 1:11, 16-21.
Jesus also warned of the presence of false prophets in the last days (Matt. 24:9–14). Along with their scoffing, they are “following their own sinful desires.” Scoffing at God and his promises never stands alone in a moral vacuum; it is accompanied by a self-directed morality that indulges the whims of the individual. The presence of these scoffers ironically confirms the very divine revelation they deny. (from the ESV Study Bible, Crossway Bibles)
This evidently ignores all the examples Peter mentions from God's word in 2:4-8. Their own comparison fails to make sense based on other scripture: All things did not continue as they were from the beginning of creation, e.g. the curse and Noah's rescue All things did not continue as they were after the patriarchs fell asleep, e.g. the Mosaic covenant, exiles More dangerously, this is a blatant denial of Jesus (cf. 2:1) and his incarnation.
It is “by means of” water and the word of God that the Lord brought judgment on “the world that then existed” (i.e., the pre-flood world). The world “was deluged with water and perished.” “Perished” ( apollymi ) can refer to either physical (Matt. 8:25) or eternal death (John 3:16). Hebrews 1:11 (quoting Ps. 102:26) describes how one day both heaven and earth will perish, though God remains forever. Of course, only the context can determine the extent of the destruction in view; after all, the heavens and earth did not cease to exist when God destroyed them with the flood. God destroyed the world as it was “deluged with water.” This verb ( kataklyzō ) occurs nowhere else in the NT but does appear several times in the LXX in the context of judgment, such as to describe a “deluge of rain” on false prophets who promised peace when God’s wrath was in fact at hand (Ezek. 13:8–16). Peter has already pictured the flood as a type of eschatological judgment (2 Pet. 2:5). Here it serves that same purpose as a counterargument against the false teachers’ claim that “all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (3:4). The scoffers deliberately overlook the reality of the flood, to their own destruction.
Peter further explains that the present heavens and earth are “being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” For the fourth time Peter uses a form of the verb translated “being kept” (tēreō), each time in connection with judgment (cf. 2 Pet. 2:4, 9, 17). This verb stresses God’s active sovereignty over the judgment. The expression “day of judgment” is another way of referring to the day of the Lord, at which time God will bring final salvation to his people and eternal destruction on his enemies (3:10).
Cf. 1 Tim 2:4; Rom 2:4
Cf. Ps. 90:4
cf. Ps. 102:25–26; Heb. 1:10–12; Rev. 6:14
Is it an annihilation of the present cosmos and the creation of a new universe, or is it a transformation of the present cosmos, including the earth? The latter seems probabe in light of: The Greek implies continuity and not destruction. There is discontinuity, but not only. Rom. 8:18–25 and other NT texts Noah's flood mentioned here has the same ideas of continuity and discontinuity OT prophecies about the renewal of the earth, cf. Isaiah 65, 66 Christ’s resurrection body being in continuity with his earthly body, with some discontinuity Christ’s resurrection body is a pattern for the resurrection bodies of Christians (1 Cor. 15:12–58) All the covenants point to a renewal with continuity and discontinuity God seems always to renew, not destroy and recreate, parts of his creation that are marred by sin.
“According to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth.” Peter has in mind Isaiah 65:17–25, where the prophet envisions the day when God consummates his promises and causes his people to dwell in a world free from the stain of sin and the curse. Although this is not the only place in the OT Prophets where God promises to transform creation (cf. Amos 9:13–15), this theme is especially prominent in Isaiah (cf. Isa. 43:16–21; 51:3). The NT authors pick up this language at several points also (Rom. 8:19–23; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15). The theme culminates in Revelation 21–22, where John describes the new heavens and new earth in breathtaking imagery.
Holiness is not a mere separation from, but separated unto. This is not a case of being different from the world, but being sent into the world and being set apart to God.
Why does the author begin with "Since"? What is the relationship he's bringing out? Has he done this before - exhorting present living in the light of the end? Why does he connect our living with the end this way? What is holiness and godliness?
How ought we to live holy and godly lives? What are we waiting for and hastening? What is the difference between waiting and hastening; between eagerness and patience? Why does Peter remind his readers of the coming day of the Lord again?
Why does Peter start with 'but'? What is he emphasising our hope to be? Judgement or the new heavens and new earth? What is special about the new heavens and earth? Who dwells there?
Peter, probably in Rome, knows that he is about to die (1:13-14) and thus he writes in that manner, reminding and challenging them (stirring them up) to grow in faith and warning the church about false teachers. With his mind fixed on eternity, he challenges his readers to fix their minds on their calling to glory. Because God's power and promises are working in them, they are challenged make certain of this calling to glory by making every effort to increase in faith with love. The opposite of this is dangerous nearsightedness. He fixes them upon the reliability of God's word in the prophets and in the apostles, because false teachers have arisen, who question the very words of God. They deny that there will be a day of judgement and thus promote licentiousness. After all, if there is no judgement, they can pursue sex and money all they want! Peter points the church to scripture again, showing how, in the OT, the wicked were judged and the righteous were preserved. Similar to the wicked in the OT, these teachers pursue their sinful desires and lead others to do so, assuming that the freedom that is promised implies licentiousness (cf. Romans 6). The reality, Peter says, is that they are entangled and enslaved to sin. They know the truth, and dump it. Now, in 2 Peter 3, Peter explains more of the theology that causes these false teachers to live the way they do. REMEMBER THE PROMISE (3:1-7) Peter's aim is made clear again: he is reminding and challenging the people again to remember the word of God - both from the OT and the words of Jesus and the apostles. Specifically, believe in the gospel of God which saves us to glory (3:1-2) Why? Because there will be scoffers who scoff, because they run after their own sinful desires (cf. 2:18-19). They proclaim that the word of God is not reliable, basing this on the claim that there were no interventions by God since the OT patriarchs died just like things have remained the same since creation - an argument that collapses in itself, and makes a mockery of God and his word! (3:3-4) Peter then explains the basis of the argument: an intentional, disregarding of the word of God. Specifically: (3:5-6) a. The heavens (also a creation of God) were created first b. God then intervened when he created the earth with the word of his mouth (Gen. 1:3–31; Ps. 33:6; Heb. 11:3) c. God intervened also when he judged the earth with water and it perished (Genesis 6–9) And yet, the very same word of God promises not another watery judgement, but one of fire for the ungodly, and a complete upheaval of the present creation and the end of history. The flood was a type of judgement to come. (3:7) 1. Do we ignore the word of God? What words of God and principles of God do we deliberately overlook? 2. How seriously do we take the reading, meditation and study of God's word? Do we leave it to the "theologians" and overlook things ourselves? What does that indicate about our view of God? Are we whole-Bible Christians or Bits and pieces Christians? 3. Do we recognise both promises of God - the promises and the threats? Or do we make God a one-sided buddy? What impact do the promises of God have in our lives? 4. How might we remember these things ourselves? REST ON THE PROMISE (3:8-10) Peter now exhorts the believers to not do what the scoffers do. Don't overlook [i.e. remember] God's incomprehensible use of time to fulfil his word. Implicitly, Peter exhorts us to trust and rest on the timing of God's working (3:8) He then explains how God works his promises with time. While scoffers assume God's delay is an indication of there being no judgement, Peter explains the opposite. God uses time to display his patience, with a heart that desires all to reach repentance, cf. Rom 2:4. (3:9) Nonetheless, whether or not all people do repent, God will fulfil his promise and execute his judgement, swiftly and unexpectedly, resulting in a fiery refining of creation and an exposing of all the works of the earth. So h e will fulfill his promise; we rest on that. When he will do so, we know not, but we rest in him (3:10) 1. Do we trust the timing of God? Or do we prefer our own schedule? 2. Do we both fear and admire this God of justice and patience? Does God's patience lead us to repentance? What sins do we hold on to in secret? Do we make a mockery of God's patience? 3. God desires all to reach repentance. Do we share this desire, or are we self-centred, inward-looking people, waiting for God to judge the world instead of us trying to save people? 4. Do we fear the judgement of God upon others? Do we 'preach hell with tears'? 5. Why would we as Christians, look forward to a day of final judgement? REFLECT THE PROMISE (3:11-13) Now, if God's promise is true and will be fulfilled, especially in judgement, we ought not to associate with ungodliness, but be set apart to godliness, with our lives reflecting the Godwardness of our hearts (3:11) Our posture of the godly, set-apart life is to be that of patience and eagerness - waiting for and hastening the day of God's judgement. The repeated fury of the judgement indicates the seriousness of it and we would do well to live in the light of that. There is hope too, for sinfulness will be finally judged (3:12) Nonetheless, while there is a promise of fierce judgement, there is a longer-lasting promise of a new heavens and a new earth. A place of no ungodliness, but a place where righteousness dwells. Our hope is not just the destruction of the ungodly, but the destruction of ungodli ness and a physical place where God dwells with us - he and we in righteousness. Our citizenship is there; our lives ought to reflect that. (3:13) 1. How seriously do we take eschatology? Not the intellectual study of last things, but life-changing, sanctifying repentance in the light of last things. 2. Do we desire holiness unto God? The opposite is to be entangled in those same defilemen ts (2:20). 3. How am I impatient and uneager for the Lord's coming? How am I patient and eager for the Lord's coming - how do I hasten it? 4. Do we use 'holiness' as a means of comparing ourselves with others? I'm holy because I don't do things that others do? Or am I holy because I'm not entangled with the world-system itself? Eg. of bribes in the church. 5. The earth being stored for fire implies that the current state is both temporary and imperfect. The perfect is coming! The end of sin is also coming. Do we hope? Who or what do we hope for?