13 Preparation: the Coming Day 2 Pet 3:1-18 – Study NotesFireproof Faith
Regardless of cynics and naysayers, the Word of God is true! Jesus is coming again, the world will be destroyed by fire, and the Day of Judgment will usher in eternity in heaven or hell. Just as surely as God created the universe and flooded the earth in Noah’s time, history will end in His way and on His schedule. Therefore, you and I are to live in light of that promise, be on guard against error, and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.
3:1-2 What You Must Always Remember
3:1 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.
Two letters, one purpose: to remind. They needed that. We do, too!
Stir up: stimulate, energize, move into action. 2 Pet 1:13.
High view of Scripture. These are treated together as equally God-breathed: holy prophets (OT); Lord and Savior, via your apostles (NT).
Never let the words of men (false teachers) supplant the words of God!
Get rid of anything that messes with your memory of Scripture!
3:3-7 What Mockers Always Forget
3:3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
The “last days” = the entire Christian era. Acts 2; Heb 1.
Mock: scoff, ridicule, make fun of, deride; trick, deceive (Matt 2:16).
Why mock? Biblical truth threatens those who follow their own lusts.
“Fathers” – likely OT patriarchs, not deceased early Christians.
Denied Christ’s return. “Empty promise. Nothing has changed.”
Uniformitarianism: belief that things have always been, and will always be, as they are now. No divine, supernatural intervention. No miracles. No destruction of Earth. No Day of Judgment. No heaven, hell, or eternity.
3:5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice* that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. *or, they deliberately overlook …
Uniformitarianism? No! Two historic, basic events: creation and flood.
Both recorded as actual facts in Gen 1-11 and affirmed here.
Earth not created from water. Water was divided as part of its formation.
Even today, atheists deny creation and flood. Why? Many seek to avoid the consequences. God. Truth. Scripture. Morality. Judgment. Eternity.
3:7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
His word created all, maintains all, controls all, and will destroy all.
“Heavens and earth” – compound phrase to mean world or habitat.
At present, reserved – by God’s power and patience – for fire.
Fire – used throughout Scripture re: God’s judgment.
Kept, judgment, destruction. As with angels, Flood, Sodom, etc. Ch. 2.
Ungodly men – these false teachers and their followers.
The final outcome is definite, though its time has not yet come.
3:8-10 What You Dare Not Miss
3:8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 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. See Hab 2:3.
God is above, beyond, and unbound by time. The great I AM. Ps 90:4.
Man cannot judge God to be too fast or too slow.
No basis here for some 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth, or for the six days of creation as referring to 6,000 years, 1,000 years per day.
Kept, judgment, destruction. As with angels, Flood, Sodom, etc. Ch. 2.
If God is not slow, why has he not yet carried out his promise?
God wants ALL to be saved. So must we! No Calvinism here.
3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements* will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up**.
Same Day of the Lord for all these events, for all people. No pre-mill’m.
As a thief: Matt 24:43; Luke 12:39; 1 Th 5:2; Rev 3:3; 16:15. Suddenly, unexpectedly, and irreversibly.
*Some mss. read, “found out, exposed, laid bare” (before God’s throne).
2 Pet 3:12 confirms that all will be destroyed by fire. All material things, along with the planet itself, will be destroyed by fire.
Yet many teach that the “new earth” will be this same earth, renewed. Heaven on earth, a physical place without sickness, aging, etc. The “Jehovah’s Witnesses” teach something very similar.
3:11-18 What You Must Be and Do
3:11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!
Indicative fact to imperative act. Due to the coming, total destruction …
Holiness and godliness – prominent in 1 & 2 Peter.
Concentrating on that day changes this day and every day.
How can we “hasten” or “speed up” the second coming?
By our holy conduct, godly character, and anticipation of his return.
Since God is patiently waiting for all to come to repentance … evangelism!
3:13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
Isa 65:17; 66:22 – first stated as a “new world” for Judah after the exile.
Rom 8:18-25 – creation to be set free.
Rev 21:1-9 – new Jerusalem coming down, God to dwell with men.
The NT consistently uses earthly terms to describe our eternal home.
How could it be otherwise? But is it literally a physical, material place?
Our transformed bodies will not be flesh and blood (1 Cor 15:50), but rather glorified, imperishable, spiritual, and heavenly, like Christ (1 Jn 3:1-2). How could such bodies be compatible with a physical planet earth?
Instead, the new “heavens and earth” may be God’s domain, for which we will be suited when we are raised and transformed to be like Christ. Wow!
3:14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
Again, indicative fact leads to imperative act.
Be diligent! As noted in 2 Pe 1:5ff.
How do you want Christ to find you when he returns?
Think of God’s patience, not as a delay, but as an opportunity to save!
Paul: dear to Peter, writing by inspiration (wisdom given), re: salvation and the return of Christ.
3:16 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.
Paul’s letters: already being collected and regarded as holy “Scripture.”
Hard to understand, to be approached humbly, carefully, studiously.
Twisted and perverted, as other Scriptures, by false teachers.
Self-destruction is sure. Many will follow them! 2 Pet 2:1-3; Matt 7:13-23.
3:17 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, 18 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.
*Causative participle: “because you know this …”
**Lawless, unseemly, disgraceful. Used also in 2 Pet 2:7.
NT warns constantly: “You can fall away and be lost. Don’t let it happen!”
Be guarded and grounded, not gullible! Stable, solid, and steadfast!
Not carried away by … but grow … Eph 4:14-16.
To grow in grace and knowledge I will …
To glorify Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior I will …
Written by Cory Collins
Cory Collins is a Bible teacher and a minister of the gospel. He serves with Keller church of Christ in Keller, Texas. He and his wife, Tanya, have been married since 1977. They have two children and one grandchild.