RESISTING FALSE TEACHERS
St. Peter in Prison
1631 by Rembrandt
(Picture credit Wikimedia Commons)
All Scripture quotations in this publication are from the holy Bible, New International Version, except where noted (published by Zondervan Corporation, copyright, 1985)
Copyright © Jim Gerrish 2014
The little epistle of Second Peter is often ignored by Christians today. Some reasons for this are that the epistle is often questioned by scholars, and it is also a short work easily overlooked by Bible readers. 1
Second Peter is without a doubt the most questioned book in the New Testament, with most scholars doubting that Peter could have written it. Fuller professor Thomas Schreiner says, “If one were inclined to doubt the authenticity of any letter in the New Testament, it would be 2 Peter.” 2
It might help us to look at some of the reasons why many scholars reject it. Perhaps the primary reason is that the style of writing is different than that of First Peter. This has been noticed since earliest times. The book has an unusual vocabulary, with 57 words being used in the book in it that are not used in the remainder of the New Testament.3 The early father of the church, Jerome (c. 347-430), felt the difference in style was due to the use of a different scribe. It is of note that Jerome included Second Peter in his famous Vulgate version of the Bible. 4
Scholars feel that Second Peter is dependent on Jude and many of them feel that Jude is a postapostolic work. As with other Bible books, some scholars feel that the adversaries in the book are Gnostics and they seem certain that Gnosticism did not develop until the Second Century. Some think that the book was not sufficiently attested to by the earliest Christian leaders. Also, the book was not mentioned in the Muratorian Fragment, which may be dated as early as AD 170, and contains the earliest listing of New Testament books.
To Second Peter’s credit, it is now felt by some that Jude could actually be dependent on Second Peter instead of the other way around. 5 Many writers now admit that there was certainly a proto-Gnosticism in the First Century and that Paul actually dealt with it in the Book of Colossians.
It should be noted that not all scholars reject Peter’s authorship of the epistle. While some in the early church questioned that Peter wrote it, they never questioned the book’s message.
Clement of Rome, around AD 95, seems to have quoted from it. The church father Irenaeus (130-200) possibly alludes to the book. Clement of Alexandria (150-215) wrote a commentary to Second Peter— a commentary which is now lost. It is interesting that the early church totally rejected other supposed writings of Peter but they still clung to Second Peter. 6 Regarding the Muratorian Frangment, it should be noted that the work is damaged and neither does it include Hebrews, James or First Peter. 7
Second Peter was probably written to the same group of people the apostle addressed in his first letter. Peter warns them about the appearance of certain false teachers. He actually reminds them of his first letter to them in 2 Peter 3:1. It is of note that Peter mentions being present for Christ’s Transfiguration (1:16-18). This would obviously be a bold claim to make for someone writing under a false name.
The book was likely written from Rome since early tradition attests that Peter was there. It would have had to be written before Nero took his own life in AD 68. Scholars generally date the book from around AD 64-66, shortly before Peter was martyred by the mad ruler.
Although Second Peter is a little book, it is packed with greatly needed gospel information. Schreiner says that the “eschatological enthusiasm” of early Christianity still pulsates through this small work. 8
Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: 2 Peter 1:1
It is interesting that some of the best manuscripts have not “Simon” here, but rather the Semitic “Symeon.” This original name is used only in one other instance in the New Testament, at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:14. Schreiner sees this name as an indication that 2 Peter should have an early date of writing, rather than a later one. 1 It is also very doubtful that a false writer would dare to use the Semitic name of Peter. 2
Of course, Simon Peter was the chief of the apostles. Since he, in a sense, held the “keys to the kingdom” (Matt. 16:19), we can understand why it was Peter who opened up the gospel to the Gentiles in Acts chapters 10 and 11. In both of his epistles Peter is continuing to minister to Gentile people, although he was primarily an apostle to the Jews (Gal. 2:7).
Peter calls himself a “servant” (doulos) of Jesus. This Greek word is often used of believers in the New Testament. The word really means “slave.” Barclay says of this word: “To call the Christian the doulos of God means that he is inalienably possessed by God.” 3 Jesus did say in Matthew 23:11, that the one who is greatest will be the servant. Peter also calls himself “apostle” (apostolos), or one “sent out” by the Lord.
We see here that our righteousness comes from God (cf. Jer. 23:6). It is a gift from God through Jesus, and in other places it is referred to as “imputed” or “credited” righteousness (Rom. 4:11, 23-24). We are instructed for our protection to always wear this righteousness of Jesus as a breastplate (Eph. 6:14).
In this verse the expression “God and Savior Jesus Christ” is used. Schreiner says here: “The grammar clearly indicates that Jesus Christ is called ‘God’ in this verse.” 4 There are several other places in Scripture where Jesus is called God (cf. Jn. 1:1, 18; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; Heb.1:8).
We cannot help but notice that “faith” is also a gift from God (cf. Eph. 2:8; Rom. 12:3). We are like poor beggars reaching out to God who graciously gives us everything that pertains to life and godliness. Peter assigns great value to faith, calling it “precious.” Fuller professor Everett Harrison asks, “and why not: It is the ‘coin of the realm’ in God’s kingdom.” 5 The word used here for “precious” is a Greek compound isotimos, and it means “of equal worth.” 6 We must never forget that our Christian faith is precious. Like those to whom Peter wrote, most of us are Gentiles who suddenly find ourselves by faith elevated to the same level as Peter and many others in that early church. All of us, if we are mature in Christ, need to hold tight to this precious faith. Trapp says, “A child may hold a ring in his hand, as well, though not as fast as a man.” 7
“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (1:2). Peter uses a standard prayer or blessing here, wishing that his hearers be filled with an abundance of the Lord’s grace and peace. Long ago Chrysostom (347-407) said, “Peace is the mother of all good things and the foundation of our joy.” 8 It assures us that the long war between God and man is at last over.
Peter here begins to emphasize the knowledge of God. The Greek word is epignosis, and means a “full, perfect, precise knowledge of God.” 9 Peter is no doubt beginning his attack on the Gnostic teachers who were promising a special hidden knowledge, which really turned out to be a false knowledge. College director and web commentator David Guzik says of this true knowledge:
Knowing God is the key to all things that pertain to life and godliness…We are willing to try almost anything except the knowledge of him. We will trust in the schemes and plans of men instead of the knowledge of him. We will try knowing ourselves instead of the knowledge of him…The Greek word knowledge doesn’t refer to a casual acquaintance. It means an exact, complete, and thorough knowledge… It comes as we learn of him through his Word, through prayer, and through the community of God’s people. It is true that we need God alone, but God does not meet us only in our “aloneness” but also in the community of his people…. 10
Once the Apostle Paul cried out that he might know the Lord better (Phil. 3:10). We can only say that if Paul needed to know the Lord better, then we certainly do. The great reformer John Calvin said: “For the more anyone advances in the knowledge of God, every kind of blessing increases also equally with the sense of divine love.” 11 The great key to becoming a real Christian is to know God and have a personal relationship with him. In Matthew 7:23, we see some very busy supposed Christians appearing before the Lord, and we are surprised to hear him say, “…I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
BEING FULLY EQUIPPED IN CHRIST
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
We must not miss the fact that God has already given us everything we need to live highly successful spiritual lives. The Gnostics were looking down on these new Christians because they did not have their gnosis or “superior knowledge.” In the Charismatic Movement of last century it was quite common for Christians to look down on other Christians who were supposedly not “baptized in the Holy Spirit.” This created a lot of problems at the time, because it was basically judgmental and it violated a clear biblical principle found in Philippians 2:3. Now we know the truth, that we are complete in Jesus (Col. 2:9-10). He has, in fact, blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens since we are now in Christ (Eph. 1:3). The Lord has performed all this by his great power and might (dunamis). It has all come in the salvation package. This is an incredibly important concept and we do not want to miss it.
The understanding of this great biblical truth comes through our increasing knowledge of the Lord Jesus. American pastor, Bible teacher and writer, Warren Wiersbe, says here: “The false teachers claimed that they had a “special doctrine” that would add something to the lives of Peter’s readers, but Peter knew that nothing could be added.” 12 This does not mean that we should spurn things like the filling of the Holy Spirit. We need to relax and allow the Spirit to fill us up and take over in our lives (Eph. 5:18). This filling is part of the “everything” we have received in Christ. It does not mean that we should fail to progress and develop the things God has given each of us. Peter will talk much about this in verses 5-7.
All this reminds us of downloading a very large and wonderful computer program. Although it is now in our computer, and we own it, we still may be very slow in appropriating and using this wonderful download. To put this in religious terms, we are truly and gloriously saved if we have accepted Jesus, but the benefits of this salvation are often slow in coming and in our utilizing.
So, God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. This word godliness (eusebeia) is the nearest Greek word for “religion.” It not only describes someone who correctly worships God but someone who correctly serves his fellow human beings. Scottish professor and author William Barclay says, “When a man becomes a Christian, he acknowledges a double duty, to God and to his fellow-men.13 English Baptist Peter Pett says here, “In Christ we become partakers of the divine nature (Christ in you the hope of glory)…and this is in contrast with the false prophecy which introduces only degradation, corruption and decay (2 Peter 2:1-22).” 14
“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (1:4). Wiersbe suggests that Peter may have really liked the word “precious.” He speaks of precious faith (2 Pet. 1:1), precious promises (2 Pet. 1:4), precious blood (1 Pet. 1:19), precious stone (1 Pet 2:4, 6), and finally a precious Savior
(1 Pet. 2:7). 15
Let us note that we have “precious promises” given to us. In a real sense, we believers are entering the Promised Land, and it is a land of promises. All we have to do is take these promises and make them a reality in our lives. We have to step out and find ourselves “standing on the promises of God,” as the old hymn has it. Through these precious promises we will find ourselves partaking of the divine nature, or partaking of his holiness (Heb. 12:10).
The church father Hilary of Arles (c. 403-449) has it: “Just as God stepped out of his nature to become a partaker of our humanity, so we are called to step out of our nature to become partakers of his divinity.” 16 This does not mean that we will become some kind of little gods as New Age and other Eastern teaching would declare. Adam and Eve listened to this lie and brought about the fall of the human race.
Pett says here: “The point is not that we become divine, but that the seed of the divine word has been implanted within us, so that we have been made one with the divine Christ (cf. Jn. 15:1-6).” 17 Schreiner adds, “Believers will ‘participate’ (koinonoi) in the divine nature, but they will not become gods.” 18
To fulfill this heavenly pattern we must escape the corruption of this world. The Greek word here is apopeugo, and it means to escape by flight. 19 The word “corruption” (phthora) has reference to the present evil age, and that age or world order is perishing.20 We have only to look around us to verify this fact. Everything we see is decaying and perishing. The Scripture verifies this in 1 John 2:17, where we read, “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
The world and all its corruption is all around us and is constantly beckoning us to join with it. As Strachan says: “Man becomes either regenerate or degenerate.” 21 We must run away or take flight from these lusts.
THE LADDER OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 2 Peter 1:5
This section is often referred to as a ladder. Actually it is probably a memory device to help early believers remember these important virtues. Average people in Bible times did not have easy access to written materials as we do today and they had to commit much of the gospel teaching to memory. Although this section is called a ladder we should not think that it gives us a step-by-step approach to becoming a mature Christian. While faith comes first, and this is surely the beginning, love comes last. Obviously, we cannot leave Christian love for last. This list takes us to “where the rubber meets the road” as one old radio preacher used to say. Bunyan would add, “The soul of religion is the practical part.” 22 It is surely “bad luck” to walk under this ladder. We need to start climbing it!
Peter tells us that we should make every effort to add these qualities to our lives. The Greek word he uses is spoudazo. It means “to make haste, be eager, give diligence, to do one’s best, to take care, to exert one’s self.” 23 The picture is that we should give all diligence or in a sense “bring in a full supply.” There is a very descriptive Greek word used here for “all.” It is epichoregein. In Greek times this word described a wealthy civic minded person who equipped the chorus in the plays. This word described a lavish pouring out of effort and supplies in order to bring forth a noble performance. In time the word grew to describe one who was responsible for all kinds of equipment. It could even describe equipping an army or equipping the soul with the virtues of life. 24
Peter’s ladder begins with faith, of course. Faith is not just the first step on the ladder but it is like the engine on the train. Schreiner says: “Faith is the root of all the virtues, and love is the goal and climax of the Christian life. Otherwise, we should not press the order of the virtues listed, nor should we think Peter encouraged his readers to work first on one virtue before moving to the next one.” 25
To our faith we should add goodness or virtue (arete). It should be noted that this word was very popular in the ancient world, although it is rare in the New Testament. The word means excellence. In New Testament times it described that thing which made a person a good friend and a good citizen. It described a person who had mastered the technique of living well. It even has a second meaning of courage. 26 Someone may ask why Peter would include a word which was popular in the pagan world. Ashland professor David A. DeSilva adds here; “The apostolic faith is indeed in keeping with the highest and most enlightened ideals celebrated in the Greco-Roman world.” 27 By general revelation God revealed, even to pagan people, many good and wholesome concepts that would help preserve the human race.
Next, we should add knowledge (gnōsis). We note that this word is somewhat different than the full-knowledge we mentioned earlier. This knowledge speaks of a faithful continuation in studies. 28 It is defined further as “seeking to know, inquiring, investigating.” 29 It is tragic today that many Christians seem to forsake this pursuit of knowledge. By doing so we fall prey to Satan’s many deceptions. It is interesting that Peter ends this little epistle by saying, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (2 Pet. 3:18).
Peter continues up the ladder: “…and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; (1:6). Self-control (egkrateia) is listed with the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23. It is also a virtue much lacking in our western world. We see this fact displayed everywhere, in grossly overweight people, in excesses of entertainment, in uncontrolled temperament, etc. Barclay describes this virtue in a man saying, “…it envisages a situation in which his passions remain, but are under perfect control and so become his servants, not his tyrants.” 30
Peter now mentions perseverance (hupomonēn). This virtue displays the idea of steadfast endurance or patience. Barclay says: “It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can do to us and the transmuting of even the worst event into another step on the upward way.” 31 We must endure to the end to be saved (Matt. 24:13). However, we should not let this unnerve us. The theologian, Louis Berkhof, remarks: “It is, strictly speaking, not man but God who perseveres. Perseverance may be defined as that continuous operation of the Holy Spirit in the believer, by which the work of divine grace that is begun in the heart, is continued and brought to completion. It is because God never forsakes his work that believers continue to stand to the very end.” 32
The apostle then gives us the step of godliness or piety (eusebeia). He has already mentioned this word in verse 3, and there we defined it as the nearest word in Greek for “religion.” It describes a person who serves God and man in a correct and proper manner. So eusebeia describes a very practical kind of religion.
Last, Peter says, “and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (1:7). For the first word here he has a familiar Greek word, at least for those who live in the US. The word is philadelphia and it means brotherly love. We have a major US city by this name. There is something seriously wrong with a religion that drives people apart or puts them in some kind of isolation. This brotherly love must be unfeigned and sincere (1 Pet. 1:22). We must feel kind affection to one another in the church (Rom. 12:10) and this brother love must continue (Heb. 13:1).
Godby tells an early and interesting story that happened regarding William Penn and the Indians of America:
Meeting the Indian chiefs under the great elm trees, they were unutterably astonished, for the first time in their lives to see white men unarmed. Penn said, “We are all children of the same loving heavenly Father, who wants us to live together in peace. Now, where shall we found a settlement?” The savages break and weep, saying, “You are the very people we want to live with and teach us how to worship the Great Spirit as we ought. So our land is before you. Settle where you will.” Penn choose that very spot and called it Philadelphia, the very Greek word used by the Holy Ghost in this passage and translated “brotherly love.” It means the mutual love of the white man and the Indian in case of the Pennsylvania metropolis…Amid the dark, bloody massacres of the pioneer ages, not a drop of Quaker blood was shed by an Indian. 33
Last of all, Peter mentions that we should add love. This is the agape kind of love mentioned so much in the Bible. It is the kind of love that Jesus has for us all, the God kind of love mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13. It is a love that never stops, and never ends.
EFFECTIVE AND PRODUCTIVE WORKERS
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:8
Obviously, we need to always increase in our Christian lives— to go forward, to make progress. It is a little like riding a bicycle. Either we go on or we go off. Wiersbe tells us that God’s divine genetic structure is already in us. We only need to go on and be conformed to the image of the divine Son of God (Rom. 8:29). He says, “Spiritual growth is not automatic. It requires cooperation with God and the application of spiritual diligence and discipline, ‘Work out your own salvation…For it is God which worketh in you (Phil. 2:12-13).’” 34
It seems that in this verse Peter is directing us to look around at the fruitfulness of nature. Most of the other translations picture “unfruitful” (akarprous) rather than “unproductive” here. When we look at nature we are amazed at the constant drive for fruitfulness seen everywhere. This is surely a pattern the Lord would like to impress upon us. The birds are building nests in order to bring forth young; the flowers are producing nectar to attract bees, in order that their seed can be brought forth. The same pattern is everywhere in nature. Fruit-bearing must be the crowning achievement of living things. It seems that God desires “fruit,” “more fruit,” and “much fruit” as we see in John 15: 1-5.
The human race is expected to be fruitful and multiply in the natural sense (Gen. 1:28). However, the modern and postmodern world is failing big-time here. Lou Dobbs relates: “There are more households across America with dogs than with children. Pets outnumber children across America by four to one.” 35 When writing this section, I took my daily walk only to pass a young woman who was also walking, but she was pushing along 3 to 4 small dogs in what looked like an enclosed baby carriage. Hopefully, Christian people will not stop bringing forth children. The bright note is that today in America birth rates for religious people are running twice as high as birthrates among the secular. 36
But there is more to this matter of reproduction. Redeemed humans are expected to bring forth an abundance of spiritual fruit as we see in Galatians 5:22-23 and in other places. These are things like love, joy, peace, longsuffering, and gentleness. We might pause to ask ourselves, “What kind of fruit is growing on our trees or vines?” Are we producing only crabapples and sour grapes?
God wants us to abound or even super-abound with good spiritual fruit. In ancient Israel it was always a disgrace for married folks to be without children. We can imagine how much more of a disgrace it is for a Christian to be without spiritual fruit. In Israel it was almost a curse to be barren just as it was a curse for a field to be unproductive (Heb. 6:7-8). It is clear here that the more we know about the Lord the more fruitful will be our lives.
In speaking of the Christian qualities enumerated earlier Peter says: “But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins” (1:9). Nearsightedness is called myopia in the medical field. Peter here seems to be talking about a spiritual myopia. The words he uses are tuphlos, meaning blind, and muopazon, meaning short-sighted with one’s eyes screwed up because of the light. 37
How tragic that so many modern and postmodern Christians have spiritual myopia. They see only the present earthly things but do not see distant or heavenly things. The twentieth century American commentator, James Burton Coffman, reminds us of two famous examples of spiritual myopia. Lot pitched his tent toward nearby Sodom and soon resided there (Gen. 13:10), while Demas became dazzled by the lure of the present age and forsook his service with Paul and the heavenly world (2 Tim. 4:10). 38
Some commentators when speaking of the cleansing in this verse think that this is speaking of baptism. Pett points out that baptism never signifies cleansing, but that cleansing in the Bible always comes with the blood of sacrifice (cf. Exo. 29:36; 30:10; Neh.12:45; Job1:5). 39
MAKING OUR CALLING AND ELECTION SURE
Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 2 Peter 1:10
This verse clearly displays the tension that we see throughout the New Testament. Some have referred to it as “the already- and the not yet.” We are already recipients of God’s calling and election. Eternal life is ours. However, we have not yet received the fullness of God’s kingdom. We must make our election sure by believing, receiving and continuing on in the Lord’s program. We must never use “once saved- always saved,” as an excuse to sit down and take it easy in our Christian lives. To do so is to deny the precious promises God has given us. The children of Israel did this very thing by not entering the Promised Land, although they were just a short distance from it. As a result their bones fell and were parched in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:5).
Wiersbe says here of the true Christian: “He will not always be on the mountaintop, but he will always be climbing higher…” 40 We must with diligence (spoudasate) confirm our upward calling. Today a lot of Christians are stumbling around in unbelief, doubting their salvation, and even falling into various sins. These are here commanded to make their salvation sure. When we are diligent to do the things Peter has mentioned we will neither stumble nor fall.
The apostle makes a great promise here saying, “…and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1:11). We no doubt all want to go to Heaven, yet, we may want to ask ourselves just how will we enter that great and eternal kingdom? In 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, Paul speaks of Christians who have built with the wrong materials. He notes how their work will be tried by fire in the last days. He says some Christians will lose everything but still be saved. They will be like those escaping through the flames. Let me say that I don’t want to enter Heaven after losing everything for which I have worked and having to arrive there with my shirttail on fire.
Peter says if we do the things he has suggested we can have a rich welcome in the eternal kingdom. I think here of some of our great military heroes. They do not just return home but they get a hero’s welcome. They are even honored personally by the President of the United States as they receive from him the coveted Medal of Honor. Harrison says: “Here is an intimation that heaven’s society will not be classless.” 41 For sure, there will be heroes in heaven and we all have an opportunity to become some of them.
PETER’S SOON DEPARTURE
So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 2 Peter 1:12
Some have called this the Holy Grail of instruction: “Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; and then tell them what you have told them.” Peter seems to be applying this rule here. Actually, so much of our teaching is repetition and that was certainly the case in the days before an abundance of printed materials. We see this theme of “reminding” several places in Scripture (cf. 2 Pet. 3:1-2; Phil. 3:1; Jude 1: 5, 17).
It seems that Peter is giving a word of encouragement here. He is reminding them that they already know these things and assuring them, despite their troubles, that they are firmly established in the truth. In most cases we can do a lot more with encouragement than we can do with criticism.
“I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me” (1:13-14). Peter refers to his body as a tent (skēnos) just as Paul once did in 2 Corinthians 5:4. As long as he was in the tent of his body he was determined to teach. Long before, the Lord had commanded him: “feed my sheep” (Jn. 21:15-17).
Peter’s desire was to stir them up (diegeiro), to awaken them, to arouse their minds and render them active. 42 Someone once said (and now it’s a book title), that we in today’s church are no longer “standing on the promises,” as the old hymn goes, but rather we are “sitting on the premises.”
The great apostle knew that he would not be around for much longer. The Lord had given him that word long before, as he was being reinstated after his terrible fall. Jesus said to him: “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (Jn. 21:18). Tradition says that he was led to the cross and crucified in the reign of Nero. Trapp says: “What is this life, but a spot of time between two eternities? Our tents shall he taken down.” 43 Long ago the Venerable Bede (c. 672-735) said, “Going to be with the Lord is like coming home from a journey and exchanging the tent for the comforts of home.” 44
Schreiner remarks that this statement about Peter’s approaching death would have been an awkward statement coming from a pseudonymous writer. 45 So it only adds weight that Peter was in fact the author of this little book.
Peter promises, “And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things” (1:15.) Quite an impressive number of scholars and interpreters feel that Peter is here referring to the Gospel of Mark. Church history and tradition tell us that Peter was in Rome in his later years and was martyred there by Nero. Prior to that event Mark was with Peter and became his interpreter.46 He wrote his gospel with great care. Likely much of it came from Peter’s notes and sermons. Some think this work was in progress and Peter was promising to speed it up. 47
The apostle uses an interesting word for his departure or decease. It is the Greek word exodon meaning exodus. Albert Barnes, the nineteenth century American theologian says: “This is not the usual word to denote death, but is rather a word denoting that he was going on a journey out of this world.” 48
EYEWITNESSES OF HIS MAJESTY
We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2 Peter 1:16
In the New Testament world there was no lack of clever and invented stories and myths relating to religion. In the first place, there were many false gods and goddesses, with names like Venus, Apollo and Diana, and they abounded everywhere. In addition, many false concepts of worship had been introduced from Babylon, as well as from the numerous mystery religions. These had their strange rites, initiations, and secret knowledge. Of course, Gnosticism was beginning to bud in its early stages and it too contained many clever, invented stories.
Peter is here remembering an event of which no false religion could ever boast. He had been one of the three human witnesses to the awesome Transfiguration of Jesus on that high mountain, which was probably Mt. Hermon. We remember how Jesus had promised the disciples that some of them would not die till they saw the Kingdom of God come with power (Mk. 9:1-2; Lk. 9:27-28). The unbelievable experience of the Transfiguration is recorded in Matthew 17:1 ff., Mark 9:2-8, and in Luke 9:28-36. Peter, James and John were privileged to see Jesus take on some of the splendor he had before the world began (Jn. 17:5). His face and clothes became brilliantly white. They got to see Moses and Elijah there speaking with Jesus and they at last heard the very voice of God from the cloud declaring Jesus to be the beloved Son of God. It was unforgettable. Those cleverly invented stories could not remotely compare with eyewitness accounts.
It appears that Peter was relating the report of the Transfiguration to counter the false teaching of the Gnostics regarding the Second Coming or Parousia of Jesus. Apparently the Gnostics had discounted the Lord’s coming (1:16; 3:3-7). The distinguished New Testament professor, Fred B. Craddock, says “The Transfiguration is not only a prophecy of the second coming but a clear demonstration of it.” 49 Baptist professor Bob Utley sees the second coming as being a central theme of the whole book. 50
“For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” (1:17). DeSilva says here: “The Transfiguration…thus becomes an historical proof of the fact that Christ would return as ruler and judge…a solid basis for refuting the teachers’ claims…the Transfiguration also becomes God’s personal confirmation of the Old Testament oracles that the early Christian leaders said applied to Christ’s Second Coming (1:19-21).” 51 Schreiner adds: “In all three of the Synoptic Gospels the Transfiguration immediately follows the declaration that God’s kingdom will come with power, suggesting that the Transfiguration represents and anticipates Christ’s powerful coming (Mat 16:28-17:13; Mk. 9:1-13; Lk. 9:27-36).” 52
“We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain” (1:18). Gregory the Great (c 540-604) says of this: “There used to be many people who thought that this letter was not written by Peter. But it is enough to read this verse, and you will soon see that it was Peter who stood with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.” 53 It was not just Peter who saw this glorious event. John was there too and he could never forget it. He says in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
THE PROPHET’S WORDS MADE MORE CERTAIN
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19
It is amazing what Peter does here. He has just told of his great and magnificent experience in actually seeing the transfigured Lord. Yet, he turns us back to the written word of the prophets, which his vision only confirms. He directs his hearers not to his astounding vision but to the solid and eternal word of the prophets. Harrison states here: “It is an amazing assessment of the validity of holy Scripture that Peter declares it to be more dependable than a voice from heaven heard with the natural ear.” 54 Wiersbe tells us why this is true for he says that experiences are merely subjective while the Word of God is objective. 55 We need to always remember not to trust in people’s dreams and visions, or in our own spiritual experiences. On one occasion (Gal. 1:8), Paul said that even the word from a heavenly angel should not be allowed to distract us from the gospel.
It seems that this is one of the main points Peter is making, that people should put their trust in the word of God that endures forever (1 Pet. 1:24-25). He says that the word of the prophets is like a lamp shining in a dark place. A single lamp may not give off much light but it is a wonderful thing in a totally dark room. Renowned Greek scholar, A.T. Robertson says of the words “dark place” (auchmērōi topōi), that it has reference to a parched, squalid, dirty, dark, murky, place. 56 This certainly describes the situation found with the Gnostic teachers.
The day star in ancient times was generally considered to be Venus. The Greek word is phōsphoros and it is from this Greek term that we get our English word “phosphorus.” 57 The morning star or daystar reminds us of these verses in Revelation 2:28 and 22:16 where Jesus claims to be the “Morning Star.”
NATURE OF THE PROPHETIC WORD
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 2 Peter 1:20
The Holy Scripture is not a private thing (idios), or one’s own.58 No prophet can claim it as his own revelation, but in a similar sense, no believer can make his or her own interpretation, or put a private spin on the word. It is given by God and given to the people of God. We see an ideal situation in the church of Berea. After Paul had preached there it is said of them: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). At Berea there was a whole church searching and interpreting the Scripture for their common good.
This must not be understood to mean that the individual cannot read the Bible and interpret it with the Holy Spirit’s help. The Bible declares that there is a priesthood of believers and that each one is capable of interpreting Scripture. But still, that should involve us comparing our interpretation with others and seeing what the saints of God have believed about the verse through history.
I remember one pastor in my early years who was convinced that Jesus was born under an apple tree. So far as I can remember he never explained where he got such an idea but it certainly did not fit with all other interpretations. His name was Johnson, and he earned the nickname of Apple Tree Johnson. That is probably what Peter means by a private interpretation. We know today through the latest archaeological information that Jesus was probably born in a Bethlehem cave, a place where animals were often kept. One can see what was probably that cave displayed in the lower level of the Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem.
Today we see a renewed interest in prophecy and there are some people in the church who claim gifts of prophecy. However, much trouble has been caused by some of these prophets. They are often like “loose cannons” on the ship. We must understand that the same principles Peter mentions apply to modern prophets. Guzik says here: “There must be sober confirmation of any prophetic word, and that not through another prophetic word, but through the Scriptures. In the gift of prophecy, God never speaks to only one person, and always provides confirmation.” 59
Craddock seems to describe our era well saying: “If the church in the time of 2 Peter had no pew Bibles, nor owned individual copies of sacred texts, and yet suffered from schisms crated by private interpretations, just think how much greater this problem became with the advent of the printing press.” 60
“For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (1:21). This verse brings us to the highly disputed concept of the Bible’s inspiration. Peter says prophetic inspiration does not originate in individuals but it comes from God. Generally it is said in the church that prophecy as well as the whole Bible is “God-breathed.” Writers spoke as they were “carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The Greek word for “carried along” is pheromenos, and it means, “borne along, moved, influenced.” 61
Many Christians over the ages have believed in the verbal inspiration of Scripture. By this it is felt that in the original Bible manuscripts were revealed by God’s Holy Spirit, and that he has even chosen the correct wording from the writer’s vocabulary. This is not to be seen as a mechanical thing where the writer is like a robot with no part in the matter. God does not override their individual personalities, but still he guides them in order to make an infallible record of his truth.62
Guzik describes this process saying: “‘Moved’ has the sense of carried along, as a ship being carried along by the wind or the current…It is as if the writers of Scripture ‘raised their sails’ in cooperation with God and the Holy Spirit carried them along in the direction he wished.” 63
Schreiner also comments on this, saying: “Both human beings and God were fully involved in the process of inspiration. The personality and gifts of the human authors were not squelched or suppressed…Concursus means that both God and human beings contributed to the prophetic word. Ultimately, however, and most significantly, these human words are God’s words… Evangelical theology rightly infers from this that the Scriptures are authoritative, infallible, and inerrant, for God’s word must be true.” 64
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them— bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Peter 2:1
It was surely true that there were false prophets in Israel. They were almost like swarms of flies or locusts. Many Bible texts bear witness to their presence among the people (cf. Deut. 13:1-5; 1 Kgs. 22:5-28; Isa. 9:15; 28:7-8; Jer. 2:8, 26; 5:31; Ezek. 13:1-23; Mic. 3:5-12; Zeph. 3:4). On one occasion the few real prophets of God were in hiding, but there were some four hundred-fifty prophets of Baal and another four hundred prophets of Asherah, all strutting around (1 Ki. 18:19 ff.).
Peter makes plain that just as there were false prophets in Israel there would be false teachers among the new Christian churches. While Peter uses the future tense here, he uses the present tense in 2:17 and 3:5, indicating that these evil teachers were already present in the churches. 1
These teachers came with great stealth as they introduced dangerous teachings. Peter calls these “heresies” (hairesis). Here the word may refer to false teaching, but most early usage referred to a sect or faction. By the end of the first century, the word had mostly taken on the meaning of “heresy.” 2 Today in the church we are usually very strict in avoiding known heresy, but we think nothing of dividing ourselves into opposing groups within the church, not realizing that such division is also heresy (Gal. 5:20).
It is interesting how these teachers introduce their heresies. The word is pareisagōmeans and it means “to lead in by the side of others; to lead in along with others.” 3 Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest says, “That is, these false teachers, teaching much true doctrine, would cleverly include false teaching with it…” 4 We can all probably remember some Christian teacher who taught a lot of good things but who also gave us some strange ideas that troubled us.
We note here the word agorazō (bought) and we realize that the Lord has bought us or redeemed us from the hand of the enemy. The obvious question that arises is who and how many did the Lord purchase. Did the Lord arrange only a “limited atonement” or did Jesus die to purchase all people? It is important that we examine the Scriptures about this subject. In 1Timothy 2:6, we note that Jesus gave his life as a ransom for all. In 1 Timothy 4:10, we read that Jesus “… is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.” In 1 John 2:2 we read: “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” Pett says of this dilemma, “He is potentially there for all, but effective only for those who respond to him from the heart.” 5
These heretics will ultimately deny the Lord Jesus. Peter says that this will bring upon them a swift destruction. The Greek word for “swift” is tachinen, and from the root of this word we get “tachometer.” Their destruction will be both swift and sudden. 6 Barclay adds here, “There is no more certain way to ultimate condemnation than to teach another to sin.” 7
“Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute” (1:2). We see “many” falling from the faith and this brings up the important question of whether or not a “saved” person can lose his or her salvation. It is obvious that these false teachers were preying on brand new believers who were not yet grounded in their faith.
Some of these were no doubt like the seed sown on rocky or thorny ground in Jesus’ famous parable (Matt. 13:20-22). Also, we know in nature that there is such a thing as a miscarriage where the fruit is cast off. In human life all around us we understand how everything that is born does not come to maturity. However, the word appears to be plain in verses like John 10:28-29, 1 Corinthians 1:8-9; Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 and Romans 8:28-39, that the truly saved will continue to the end. It is clear here that the false teachers themselves were not among the redeemed because they are later called dogs and pigs, (2:22) and not sheep. 8
It is generally felt that Peter was confronting an early form of Gnosticism in this letter. It is important to understand that there were two streams of development within this doctrine. The Greek ideas involved in this doctrine denigrated the natural in favor of the spiritual. One branch of Gnosticism was extremely aesthetic, while the other branch was antinomian. It seems this is the branch we are dealing with here. They apparently felt that since the spirit was important and the flesh was not important, one could do whatever that person wished with the body. It simply didn’t matter. They were sort of antinomian libertines.
Peter mentions that these teachers had “shameful ways.” The Greek word is aselgeia and Barclay describes it as a person who “…is lost to shame and cares for the judgment of neither man nor God.” It is a blatant immorality that repels people from the church of God. 9 It is lasciviousness or uncleanness. This picture reminds us of the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Isaiah said: “…Priests and prophets stagger from beer and are befuddled with wine…” (Isa. 28:7). Jeremiah said: “And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible: They commit adultery and live a lie. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his wickedness…” (Jer. 23:14).
John reminds us that the world listens to such as these (1 Jn. 4:5). Craddock adds: “If anyone encouraged keeping the old lifestyle while embracing the new religion, no doubt many would find the combination to their liking.” 10 Such teaching was designed to turn people from the way of truth, and Christianity was called the “way” in its early days as we see in Acts 9:2.
“In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2:3). These teachers are full of greed (pleonexia). Barclay says of them that they are like the priests who teach for hire in Micah 3:11. They are like those who minister for dishonest gain or filthy lucre in Titus 1:11. They “identify godliness and gain, making their religion a money-making thing (1 Tim. 6:5).” 11
Because of their greed they exploit (emporeuomai) the Lord’s people. This word is often connected with engaging in business in Greek literature. In their greed they lure young believers with fabricated words (plastoislogois). 12 This root here is the basis for our word “plastic.” Obviously, none of us would wish for a plastic religion.
No doubt most of us have felt at times that we were being exploited by pastors and other religious teachers, especially some of those who appear regularly on television. We have no doubt had the feeling that they were making merchandise of us at times. Godby asks, “How many preachers, if paid money enough, will let their own members slip through their fingers into hell.” 13 Craddock scoffs at them saying: “In offering their ‘religious services’ for money, regardless of its source, they are inferior to Balaam’s jackass…” 14 We wonder sometimes if these teachers know that they will be judged more severely than others as James 3:1 tells us.
We must all be careful that we do not peddle God’s word for profit (2 Cor. 2:17). Paul sighs in Philippians 3:18-19, “For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.”
This is not to deny that pastors have the biblical right to financial support. This is attested to many places in scripture (cf. 1 Cor. 9:1-14; Gal. 6:6; 1 Ti. 5:17-18). Still, the pastor or other religious worker must never become focused on the financial aspect.
LESSONS FROM THE ANCIENT WORLD
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 2 Peter 2:4
Here we get a brief look into the antiquity that is past. We note in Scripture that God gives little press to the devil and his hosts. Calvin remarks of the fallen angels in this passage, “…since God in Scripture has only sparingly touched on them, and as it were by the way, he thus reminds us that we ought to be satisfied with this small knowledge.” 15
We can determine from this account that sin did not begin with man in the garden. From other scriptures we know that sin began with Satan or Lucifer, as he in pride desired to be like God (Isa. 14:12-15; Ezek. 28:11-19). From Revelation 12:4, we know that numerous angels, likely a third of them, followed after Satan. It is no mystery that sin was already represented in the Garden of Eden with the serpent. Also, it was represented there by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:9).
So this Scripture states the bare fact that some angels sinned. These angels were quickly placed into dungeons where they now await their final judgment. How did the angels sin? Ancient Jewish teaching has much information on this event. In the pseudepigraphal books, many written before the coming of Christ, this history is related. The book of 1 Enoch is the basis for much that is told us in 2 Peter and also in Jude. We cannot recommend that people study this book but obviously it has some grains of truth in it. We see the Spirit of truth both here and also in Jude, pick up some of the material that is truthful.
Here is a short summary that should help us understand the background for this passage. In Genesis 6:1-4, the Sons of God (angels) lusted after the daughters of men and had sexual relations with them. The products of this unlawful union were the giants of old. Since the giants resulted from evil spiritual beings uniting with humanity, great evil resulted.
God was swift to judge these angels, but the world was so corrupted that God decreed a great flood to destroy the giants as well as evil humanity.
The angels, as we see in this verse, were assigned to Tartarus (tartaroun). Here Peter is speaking of a well-known Greek conception. The Greeks felt that Tartarus was the very lowest hell. 16 Obviously, they were correct about this. Peter says that these rebellious angels were placed in gloomy dungeons as they awaited judgment. We cannot be totally sure that all the rebellious angels met this fate. Perhaps some did not unite with humanity, and perhaps these make up the demons who persecute humanity today. 17
Now we realize that this may sound like some fairy tale to many moderns and postmoderns. However, we should remember that giants are well attested in biblical history. They are also well attested in the human unconscious mind, and are thus still seen in many children’s stories. Clarke says, “…The tradition of their fall is in all countries and in all religions, but the accounts given are various and contradictory; and no wonder, for we have no direct revelation on the subject.” 18
This attempt of Satan and his hosts seems to be an attempt to preempt the incarnation. If this satanic invasion had been allowed to continue it probably would have made the redemption of Christ impossible. After all, how could Christ have redeemed humans if they were no longer humans, but some kind of mixture or mongrelization with fallen spiritual beings?
We might ask why Peter brought up this difficult subject. It is likely that the false teachers opposing Peter were using this well-known story of the angels to justify their evil actions. “Most probably what was happening was that the wicked men of Peter’s time were citing the example of the angels as a justification for their own sin. They were saying, ‘If angels came from heaven and took mortal women, why should not we?’” 19
Obviously, Peter in this very long sentence is pointing out to these rebels how God was quick to judge the angels. He goes on to show how God judged the evil world, and how he judged evil Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet in all this he delivered the righteous.
Peter goes on saying, “if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; (2:5). Without pausing, Peter introduces the judgment of the great flood that destroyed evil giants as well as evil people. Apparently the deceitful teachers were not only denying God’s judgment but were denying the return of Jesus. Schreiner says: “The universality of the judgment in Noah’s day functions well as a preview of the universal judgment at the end of the age.” 20
The flood in the Greek language is called the kataklusmos, which would be known as cataclysm in our modern world. Peter tells us that Noah preached to the evil people in his day. We are never told this in the Old Testament but it certainly was true. It is almost unthinkable that he likely preached for 120 years without a single convert. This should serve as an encouragement to some ministers today who are laboring on difficult fields.
In the Greek of this passage Noah is called “the eighth man” (ogdoon). Schreiner enlightens us saying: “In early church writings the number eight was considered the number of perfection since Jesus was raised on the eighth day – Sunday. Hence, it may be that Noah is portrayed here as the beginning of a new creation after the flood…” 21
No doubt much of the same argument was heard in Noah’s day as was heard in Peter’s day. The teachers were apparently saying that the Lord Jesus would not return (3:3-4), 22 and therefore they were living as they pleased. Many commentators have noted that this section corresponds very closely with Jude, verses 5-7. In both cases the sure wrath of God was about to fall upon the sinners, and they would not escape his judgment.
Peter continues the sentence almost without taking a breath. He says, “…if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;” (2:6). The story of the awful destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, along with some other cities of the plain, is a classic picture of God’s judgment upon sinners (Gen. chs. 18-19). The cause of this destruction was primarily the sin of homosexuality. We realize that it is no longer “politically correct” to talk about this but we must, since it is biblically correct to speak about it.
The citizens of these doomed cities were not just homosexuals but they were blatant and militant homosexuals, determined to force their sins upon others, even upon the angels of God. This gives us some idea why God is so opposed to this particular sin (cf. Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9). It goes against his divine plan for the procreation of the race. We must understand today that the homosexual movement is not just a movement for freedom of some oppressed peoples, but it is a militant movement determined to force homosexuality upon us all and to put an end to normal sexual relations.
Peter says,“and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)”—(2:7-8). In this den of iniquity Lot resided. In this verse we learn that he was still a righteous man. He had offered hospitality to strangers and he had later protected them from the raging mob by even offering his own daughters in their place. He lived in continued distress because of the evil around him. We need to remember the words of Newman here. He says, “Our great security against sin lies in being shocked at it.” 23 We need to ask ourselves if we are distressed and tormented at the increasingly wicked sight before our own eyes.
We should not miss the message here. God will judge the wicked with awful judgment and he will deliver the righteous out of his judgment. Schreiner says about this, “The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah is not merely a historical curiosity but functions as a type of what God will do in the future.” 24 Wiersbe adds: “Our present age is not only like “the days of Noah,” but it is also like ‘the days of Lot.’” 25
GOD’S RESCUE PROGRAM
…if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 2 Peter 2:9
We should not miss the fact in this passage that the righteous will be in the middle of God’s judgment in the last days, but they will be delivered through it. This was true with Noah and flood. God destroyed and remade the whole world with Noah and his family still in it (Gen. ch. 7; Matt. 24:37). Lot was in an extremely wicked city to its very end, but God delivered him just as the fire fell. There are other examples of this principle not mentioned in this text. The children of Israel were in Goshen when God destroyed Egypt but they were untouched.
There is a great deal of popular teaching today that says we Christians will not experience suffering, that we will be snatched out before any trouble comes. This was essentially the message of the false prophets throughout the ages. They cried “peace” when there was no peace (Jer. 6:14). They prophesied ease, peace and plenty.
So God is especially good at two things. He can deliver the righteous in the day of judgment and he can hold the wicked for that day, and insure that they will not escape. We note again that the righteous are delivered in the very Day of Judgment.
Regarding the wicked, we should notice the present participle kolazomenous (continuing their punishment). Although it is not certain, it seems to indicate that the wicked are already receiving some of their punishment here (cf. Lk. 16:23-24). 26 After all, the Scripture does say that the way of the wicked is hard (Prov. 13:15).
The righteous will be delivered, however, “The danger in a time of trial is apostasy (Lk. 8:13; 22:28)…some scholars detect a reference to the test of faith that will conclude history.” 27 In fact, several early church writers and fathers like Hermas, Hippolytus and Irenaeus warned Christians that times would get tough for them in the last days. 28
THE ARROGANT WICKED
This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 2 Peter 2:10.
Sin has taken such a strong hold on them that they are fully in its power, they cannot shake it off, they are its slaves.” 29 In their corruption and sin these men have also become bold and arrogant. The Greek for bold is tolmētai and for arrogant is authadeis. Together they could be translated “boldly arrogant.” 30
These men despise dominion. No doubt this includes all dominion from the local government, to the apostle Peter, to national governments and even to the celestial government. All these authorities would interfere with their selfish and sensual plans. Proverbs 21:24 describes such as these, “The proud and arrogant man—‘Mocker’ is his name; he behaves with overweening pride.”
Not only do these teachers despise authority but they even slander celestial beings. They blaspheme “glories” (doxas), probably a reference to the good angels. 31 They no doubt realize that if all authority could be overthrown they could live as they please.
Now Peter gets into the specifics saying, “yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord” (2:11). At this point Peter begins to draw from Jude verse 4. 32 Of course, this could have been vice versa with Jude drawing from Peter. Including portions of one biblical book in another is not entirely strange. For instance, we see this sort of thing in Isaiah 2:3 and in Micah 4:2.
What is likely meant here is that good angels and even archangels will not bring a charge against fallen angels but rather they refer the matter of judgment to God. They seemed to sense that “to blaspheme angels was to shake the fist at heaven.” 33 These angels seem to echo Alexander Pope’s words, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” 34
We read in Jude v. 9 about a dispute between the angel Michael and the devil over the body of Moses. The devil claimed his body probably because Moses was once a murderer and had killed an Egyptian. Even the great angel Michael would not bring a charge against the devil but said, “the Lord rebuke you!” (Jude v.9). Once again, as in Jude, we see the Spirit of truth going to extract an account from the pseudepigraphal book called The Assumption of Moses.35 Again, we would not advise this book as a whole to be read for doctrine. However, we know a biblical idea is being taught here, since Jude uses it and since we see a very similar thing in in Zechariah 3:1-2.
This passage reminds us a great deal about some of the things that have gone on in the Spirit Filled and Charismatic camps. Many times I have heard people rebuke the devil in no uncertain terms. Sometimes they seem to be talking more to the devil than to the Lord. We all need to walk softly in this area an exercise great caution.
“But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish” (2:12). These false teachers are called “brute beasts.” The word for “brute” is aloga, and it means that they are unreasoning and irrational. 36 Pett remarks about them: “And yet although being nothing better than animals they think that they can mess with heavenly powers. What folly.” 37
These teachers are like wild and dangerous beasts who are destined to be caught and exterminated. In the Greek, the word corruption (phthoran) in its various forms is used three times in this verse as the false teachers are described. This is not picked up in the NIV. The ASV says of these teachers that they “… shall in their destroying surely be destroyed.” The NKJV says they “…will utterly perish in their own corruption.”
We might ask if we have such teachers around today. The answer is obviously “yes.” Often, these vicious teachers strut in the fancy robes as doctors in the field of theology. Yet, in their hearts and in their writings they are opposed to Jesus and his simple gospel. Paine says of them: “The characteristic of modern, liberal, critical teachers which amazes one most is their absolute confidence in their own conclusions, based upon evidence however trivial, and involving tremendously important departures from tenets maintained for centuries by the historic church.” 38
“They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you” (2:13). I remember a pastor who once preached a sermon entitled “Payday Someday.” Although it often takes a great deal of time, God will settle his accounts. These false teachers obviously did not believe this. In their wild and unruly pleasure they caroused around in broad daylight. Adam Clarke, the British Methodist theologian, says: “Most sinners, in order to practice their abominable pleasures, seek the secrecy of the night; but these, bidding defiance to all decorum, decency, and shame, take the open day, and thus proclaim their impurities to the sun.” 39
Obviously, these false teachers were joining in with the regular love feasts, where the Lord’s Supper was also celebrated. Peter calls them “blots” and “blemishes” in these holy festivals (cf. Eph. 5:27). DeSilva says: “These were obviously crass enemies of moderation, self-control, and the mastery of the passions that marked the virtuous person.” 40 Barclay adds of them that they were lacking, “not only religious truth but also sound common sense. The pleasures of the body are demonstrably subject to the law of diminishing returns. In themselves they lose their thrill, so that as time goes on it takes more and more of them to satisfy.” 41
“With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed— an accursed brood!” (2:14). Their eyes are full of an adulteress as the Greek word implies. 42 “They looked at every woman at Christ’s table as a sex object.” 43 Unlike Job of old they had lost control of their eyes (Job 31:1). They were far from taking Jesus’ advice about a lustful look in Matthew 5:28.
These men were seducers who caught the unwary as with a bait (deleazontes), as one would do in fishing. They “hooked” people into a lascivious lifestyle. 44 It is no wonder that prostitutes through time have been called “hookers.” It is especially interesting that one of the newest crazes on US college campuses is called having a “hookup.” This is supposedly an idealistic sexual union that is to be done totally without feeling or commitment. Unfortunately, 41 percent of students who hooked up have ended up feeling sadness or even despair about their experience. 45
These false teachers were “experts in greed.” Somehow, sex and covetousness have a way of going together. We remember in Luke 12:15, how Jesus warned against covetousness. It says here that these deceitful teachers were exercising (gumnazo) their hearts in covetousness just as athletes exercised in a gymnasium, 46 or as health enthusiasts faithfully exercise at the spa. It is interesting how people mix covetousness, sex and religion all together. Barnes explains this saying: “For the religious principle is the most powerful of all principles; and he who can control that, can control all that a man possesses.” 47
FOLLOWERS OF BALAAM
They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 2 Peter 2:15
In the Old Testament, the prophet Balaam was an excellent example of one who mixed religion with covetousness. The Scripture hints that he also mixed illicit sex into the toxic brew as well. This man stands as a type of all false prophets. The story of Balaam is told to us in Numbers chapters 22, 23 and 24. In Revelation 2:14, we are told how Balaam helped lure the Israelites into forbidden sexual engagements with the Moabite women. This resulted in the disastrous national sin at Baal Peor. In the end, as they conquered their land, the Israelites slew Balaam with the sword (Num. 31:8; Josh. 13:22).
The Jewish people see Balaam as the first Gentile prophet. In Scripture he certainly gets the credit for his evil advice and actions (Num. 31:16). Balaam had a true prophetic gift and makes some of the clearest messianic prophecies in the Bible, but he was a mixture. He wanted to serve God but his tongue was a mile long with covetousness. He tried his best to get God to give him permission to participate in King Balak’s evil plans of cursing Israel. “As the Numbers story unfolds, we can see his fingers itching to get at the gold of Balak. True, he did not take it; but the desire was there.” 48 All this reminds us of Judas who was anxious to receive the reward of iniquity (Acts 1:18).
We have seen in modern and postmodern times how ministry or prophecy, covetousness and sex have a way of going together. Our hearts have been broken as popular and powerful ministers have succumbed to one or all of these temptations. They have followed the way of Balaam. They have sought money and pleasure from their prophetic gifts.
“But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey— a beast without speech— who spoke with a man’s voice and restrained the prophet’s madness” (2:16). The story of Balaam and his donkey is surely one of the strangest stories in Scripture. Balaam somehow was not able to discern the Lord’s instructions but the donkey did. Barnett says of this: “A dumb ass possessed sounder prophetic vision than a religious official whose moral sense had been perverted by gain from wrongdoing.” 49
It is amazing that this befuddled prophet found himself actually carrying on a conversation with the donkey as if it were not the least bit unusual. 50 Apparently the Lord spoke through a donkey similar to how the devil once spoke through the serpent. The early churchman Hilary of Arles (c. 443-449) says of this: “He had become a madman because of his disobedience to the commandments of God, and dumb animals are wiser than that, since they observe the law of nature.” 51
SPRINGS WITHOUT WATER
These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 2 Peter 2:17
There could be nothing more cruel and deceptive in the arid Middle East than to have the promise of water without producing any. How tragically deceptive is a dry well to a thirsty traveler. The Greek here speaks more of a spring than a well. 52 How sad it would be for a sign to be put up directing the traveler to a spring, only to find out that the promised spring had dried up. Wells and springs are the source of life in desert lands. Many a thirsty caravan perished because a well or spring had dried up. These supposedly “wise” teachers and deceptive guides have forsaken the spring of living water (Jer. 2:13). These false teachers do not even have the status of clouds, but rather they are wind driven mists. They have no chance of dropping moisture.
Blackest darkness is their lot. The Greek word for blackness (zophos) has the meaning of muskiness, darkness or thickest gloom. Bengel describes it as “the chilling horror accompanying darkness.” 53 In speaking of these dangerous leaders, the Wesleyan evangelist of early days, William Godby, once cried out, “Good Lord, deliver me from a preacher’s hell!” 54
“For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error”(2:18). Bigg aptly explains what these false teachers are doing. He says, “Grandiose sophistry is the hook, filthy lust is the bait…” 55 Once more, with the word deleazousin (entice), Peter is using a hunting and fishing symbol of laying baits for others as he did in verse 14.
We cannot miss the ones upon whom these phony teachers are preying. They are very new Christians who have just escaped out of the fallen world’s errors. They have not yet gained stability in their walk and are easily influenced. These have not yet learned that they cannot use their new faith as an occasion to appease the flesh (Gal. 5:13) or as a cloak for covetousness (1 Pet. 2:16).
“They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity— for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2:19). Ah, how the promise of freedom has led many a soul into deep bondage and slavery! As Craddock has it, “The misled soon discover that the magnificent promise of freedom is fulfilled in a new kind of bondage.” 56 To the Jews who thought they were free Jesus said: “…I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (Jn. 8:34). As long as we live in this world we will either remain slaves of sin or else we will willingly become slaves of the Lord Jesus, just as Peter himself was. There is no in-between. Pure freedom is pure illusion.
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 2 Peter 2:20
There has been a long debate concerning these verses, as to whether Peter is speaking about the false teachers or about their followers. Pett suggests that it about the followers as seems to be made clear in 2:18. 57 If it is about the followers, those newly converted from paganism, it brings us face to face with the problem we dealt with earlier. Can one who is a new Christian fall from the grace of Christ? Pett says, “It would seem that these people had not yet come to saving faith in Christ. They were still learning the rudiments on which their faith would be built.” 58 They may have been the seed on rocky soil or the seed sown among thorns that Jesus once spoke about.
The church has had a centuries-long struggle with the matter of people seriously backsliding and then returning in repentance. Many in the early church who had, under pressure, sacrificed to the Emperor were not easily readmitted to the church. Also, in the New Testament there are several passages that deal with the frightening subject of falling away (cf. Mk. 9:42-43; 14:21; Heb. 6:4-6). It is said, “The New Testament makes a distinction between those who are in the churches and those who are regenerate (cf. 2 Co. 13:5; 2 Ti. 2:18-19; 1 Jn. 3:7-8; 2:19).” 59
For those who know the Lord and then turn back or fall away, the Scripture has some alarming things to say. No doubt Peter has in mind here the warning of Jesus in Matthew 12:45. He spoke of one who had been cleansed of an evil spirit but who left his house clean but unoccupied: “Then it [the expelled spirit] goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
So far as these wicked teachers are concerned, they do not seem to possess a modicum of God’s saving grace. They truly are pigs and dogs as Peter will say. If these men are connected in any way with those Jude describes, he says of them: “These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit” (Jude 19). Wiersbe also says of them: “There is no indication that the false teachers had ever experienced the new birth.” 60
“It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them” (2:21). Evangelical pastor and author, Ray Stedman, says, “Knowledge (especially ‘full knowledge’) without obedience is exceedingly dangerous! Jesus said of Judas that it would have been better for him not to have been born, than to have turned from the truth he had known (Matt. 26:24).” 61 There is a simple solution to this whole matter of falling away. It is found in the great commandment of Matthew 22:37, “…Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind….” When we do this there is absolutely no room in our hearts or minds for strange teachings or other loves.
“Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.’” (2:22). Peter gives us a thoroughly disgusting description of the false teachers. This verse seems to be based on Proverbs 26:11 which says, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” We should note that both the pig and the dog are considered unclean animals by the Jews. Wiersbe sums it up saying “The pig looked better and the dog felt better, but neither one had
been changed.” 62
Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 Peter 3:1
Peter calls his recipients “dear friends.” This Greek word (agapetoi) would best be rendered by our word “beloved.” 1 This statement makes us think that Peter knew some of these people personally from his ministry in their midst. The apostle immediately links this letter with his first one, erasing reasonable doubt that the two letters are connected.
Pett remarks about this saying, “There are no good grounds for not seeing this as referring to 1 Peter.” 2 In such case, he would be writing to the same people as in 1 Peter.
The apostle’s purpose is to remind the people and to stimulate their minds to wholesome thinking. We all need reminding from time to time and we certainly need our lazy minds stimulated in the direction of God’s truth. The Greek word he uses for “wholesome thinking” is the word eilikrinēs. The word not only means right, pure and good, but it means “sun-judged.” 3 Our thoughts must be brought into the light. This is especially true in these days of the Internet when at least one-quarter of western Christians are prowling the dark pages of readily-available porn.
“I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles” (3:2). The words spoken in the past by the prophets are no doubt a reference to the Old Testament prophets. 4 Peter will soon be speaking about the Day of the Lord, and that was the persistent theme of most all the prophets. There were also numerous prophecies about the suffering of the Messiah. These were found especially in the Servant Songs of Isaiah (Isa. 50:4— 53:12). Yet, somehow Israel missed this extremely important picture of a suffering Savior.
We see something particularly interesting here. By this word, Peter is placing the apostolic traditions of the New Testament on par with the Old Testament prophets. 5 He will elaborate on this in verse 16 of this chapter, comparing the teachings of Paul with the rest of the Scriptures.
LAST DAY SCOFFERS
First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 2 Peter 3:3
Peter wanted to make two things clear, that scoffers would come in the last days and that scoffers were now present. This was a very good indication that the last days had arrived. The Greek word Peter uses for “last” is eschaton, from which we get our word eschatology, or the study of last things.
It is important for us to understand the biblical concept of the last days. It is clear that the last days began with the ministry of Jesus and became especially evident at Pentecost (Heb. 1:2; Acts 2:17). It is also apparent that the last days have a bitter-sweet quality. There will be terrible times for the wicked (2 Tim. 3:1; Jas. 5:3), but there will be wonderful times for the righteous. The mountain of the Lord’s house will be established and acknowledged world-wide (Isa. 2:2). The Israelites will return to the Lord with trembling (Hos. 3:5). Obviously the physical return of Israel to the biblical land, which began to happen in the 1880s and continues until this day, is a clear sign of the lasts days.
So, if the last days began with the ministry of Jesus, it is a biblical certainty that we are still living in the last days. The presence of scoffers all around us surely verifies that we are indeed living in these days. The arch infidel Richard Dawkins scoffs in his recent book The God Delusion. He says, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomanical, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” 6
In his book Where The Conflict Really Lies, Science, Religion, and Naturalism, Alvin Plantinga lists Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris as the “Four Horsemen” of atheism, and claims that they are attempting to “…run roughshod over religion.” 7 It is thus clear as Paul says, we are the people, “…on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Cor.10:11).
Why are human beings so intent on scoffing. Guzik says, “They also have a clear moral problem, wanting to reject the Lordship of Jesus Christ over their lives.” 8 Years ago evolutionist leader, Julian Huxley, was interviewed by Merv Griffin. He boldly admitted: “The reason we accepted Darwinism even without proof, is because we didn’t want God to interfere with our sexual mores.” 9
Let us see what else these last day scoffers are talking about. “They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’” (3:4). These scoffers were likely reflecting a typical Greek understanding of the universe, that it was static or eternal. Interestingly, many modern astronomers and cosmologists held this view of the heavens until the 1960s. At that time the work of Edwin Hubble and others forced them to adopt the idea that the universe had a beginning and is expanding. 10
They questioned the coming or parousia of Jesus. Such questioning of God’s word was no new thing. Jeremiah’s critics had cried out, “Where is the word of the LORD? Let it now be fulfilled!” (Jer. 17:15). Malachi’s detractors had said, “…All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them,” and “Where is the God of justice?” (Mal. 2:17).
Peter’s critics no doubt cried out for several reasons. The coming of Christ in swift judgment would have seriously upset their lustful plans. His coming would also show them up for the liars and deceivers they really were. The same thing is true for the wicked boasters, deceivers and scoffers today.
We should note here that the “fathers” (pateres), mentioned by Peter, most likely referred to the Old Testament fathers of the faith. Schreiner says, “The plural ‘fathers’ never refers to the first generations of Christians in the New Testament, but it always refers to the patriarchs of the Old Testament…Furthermore, there are hundreds of verses in the Old Testament where ‘fathers’ refers to the patriarchs.” 11
“But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed” (3:5-6). It has been only in recent years that some scientists have begun to shed light on the power of the word of God. Most have done it unintentionally as they have explored the vast reaches of astronomy, cosmology and quantum physics.
Einstein proved to us by his formula E=mc2 that there is an incredible and unbelievable supply of energy in all of matter— that matter and energy are really one and the same thing. 12 . Now, the big question is “Where did all that energy in the creation come from?” There really seems to be no natural explanation. It is truly interesting what some physicists are saying today. J.A. Wheeler says the essence of the universe is information. James Jeans says it is more like a thought, while Werner Heisenberg thinks it is like an idea and George Wald sees it more as mind. 13 All these ideas are extremely close to “word.” We read in John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
We see something else in this verse which scientists have yet not been able to corroborate. The earth was formed out of water and by water (Gen. 1:6). We may have to wait a while until science catches up with this statement. Peter makes the point that just as the world was made through water, when God decided to destroy the world in Noah’s day he simply did so as he rearranged or juxtapositioned the water. 14
These scoffing teachers did not believe in a personal God who could intervene in the earth’s matters. Peter showed them where they were greatly in error. God had intervened in creating the world and he had also intervened in destroying it in the days of Noah.
The Bible is clear that Jesus created the world by his word. It also tells us that he sustains the present world by his word (Heb. 1:3). Just imagine, the sun came up this morning because of the word of God! The winds blow and the waves come in and out because of the word. Even our hearts beat because of the word of God.
“By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (3:7). Just as the antediluvian world and its heavens were reserved for destruction by water the present world and its heavens are reserved for destruction by fire. Wiersbe sums it up well: “…The same word that created and sustains the world is now holding it together, stored with fire, being preserved and reserved for that future day of judgment…” 15
The Greek word used in this verse for “reserved” or “stored up” is thesaurizo. It has the meaning “to gather up and lay up, store up.” 16 It is as if the fire for the last day was already arranged and kept in storage for the earth’s destruction. We see in another place how the earth will be laid bare by the raging fires of the end time. Amazingly, there is good news with all this judgment. There will emerge a new heaven and a new earth immediately after the fire, as Peter will go on to say in verse 13.
Schreiner feels that this is the only place in Scripture where we are clearly told that the earth will be destroyed by fire. 17 However, the Bible often speaks of a fiery judgment upon the earth (Isa. 30:30; 66:15; Amos 7:4; Zeph. 1:18; 3:8; Mal. 4:1). Why would God have to go to such an extent to purge the earth? Seventeenth century Bible commentator, John Trapp, answers this saying: “This latter age of the world is so filthy…that it cannot be washed with water, and shall therefore be wasted with fire.” 18
When we ponder earth’s makeup we can understand how easy it would be for the earth to be purged by fire. Actually, some of the vast wildfires in the western US almost illustrate this fact. We are told by scientists that one of the anthropic constants is that oxygen comprises 21 percent of atmosphere. If it were 25 percent, fires would erupt spontaneously. 19 Also, today we are threatened with atomic weapons from rogue nations. One Hebrew believer reminded us of Joel 2:30, where we read in Hebrew of Tameri Ashan (palm trees of smoke). We noticed in Israel that untended palm trees look very much like the image of an atomic bomb.
Well, just as God made Noah waterproof, he wants to make us fireproof. We noticed in 2:9, that God knows how to rescue the godly person from the horrors of the last day. He is skilled in doing this. We however need to do our part and cooperate. In 1 Corinthians 3:14-15 we read of a last day believer: “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” Here we have a picture of a Christian who escapes the final judgment losing all his works and with his shirt-tail on fire so to speak. This is a warning to all of us that we need to allow the Lord to burn out the dross in our lives and make us able to come through the fires of the last days just as the three Hebrew children did in the days of Daniel (Dan. 3:1-30). They were totally unharmed even without the smell of smoke upon them.
HOW GOD KEEPS TIME
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2 Peter 3:8
We get an inkling of God’s timing with Psalm 90:4, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” Although God may work in time, he is not bound by time or limited by it. Actually, today our scientists are beginning to understand more of the mystery of time. Since Einstein proposed his theory of relativity, scientists have realized that we live in a space-time continuum. The physicist F. David Peat says of this: “Einstein’s special theory of relativity implied that space and time were to be unified into a new four-dimensional background called space-time.” 20
Since Einstein, we can no longer look at the limitations of time as we once did. We may have to try and look at time as God looks at it. Marcus Chown says: “The faster you go the slower you age…Space and time are both relative, lengths and time intervals become significantly warped at speeds approaching the speed of light. One person’s interval of space is not the same as another person’s interval of space. One person’s interval of time is not the same as another person’s interval of time…” 21 Einstein once remarked; “For us physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion.” 22 All this should help us to take time in a relative sense.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (3:9). Sometimes it seems that the Lord is painfully slow in doing things, even in answering our prayers. If we could see things from his perspective we would understand his apparent slowness. God lingers so that more people can repent and receive his salvation (Rom. 2:4). His will is that all people could be saved (2 Tim. 2:4). Guzik asks, “… How many of us are glad that Jesus didn’t return ten years, or five years, or two years, or one year, or two months ago? There is a compassionate purpose in God’s timing.” 23 God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Eze. 33:11) but he is patient and long suffering toward us all.
There are many mysteries to the Lord’s coming. There are several scriptures that speak of a surprise and sudden coming (Matt. 24:43; 1 Thess. 5:2; Rev. 3:3; 16:15). Yet, other scriptures speak of a delay or time interval until specific things happen (cf. Matt. 24:15, 21, 24; Mk. 13:10, 2 Thess. 2:3; Rev.ch. 13). We seem to be left in a certain tension concerning his coming and perhaps that is intentional to keep us on our toes.
THE GREAT DAY OF THE LORD
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 2 Peter 3:10
Prophetic fulfillment is often a strange and puzzling thing. The Word of God can be partially fulfilled on more than one occasion leading up to the final fulfillment. Sometimes we see prophecy related to the partial and final fulfillments woven tightly together as in Matthew 24. In this chapter it is almost impossible to separate events relating to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, with events concerning the end of the age. Both are in fact “Days of the Lord.” 24 Thus we can see that the Day of the Lord was coming in Isaiah’s day and also in Jesus’ day. It was partially fulfilled at least two times, in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BC and the Romans in AD 70.
God’s day is still coming. Man’s day, on the other hand, is just about finished. He has done what he pleased, mocked God; defied his laws and polluted God’s creation. Satan’s day is also coming to an end. He knows that he has but a short time left (Rev. 12:12). For several thousand years he has claimed to be the “prince of this world,” but his authority is about finished (Jn. 12:31). At various times in history God has broken in on man’s day and Satan’s day with events reminiscent of the coming Day of the Lord. Yet, the final day remains in the future. Dear friends, the final Day of the Lord is surely coming!
There seems to be no good reason for us to separate the concepts of “the Day of the Lord,” “the Day of Christ,” “the Day,” and “that Day” as they are used in scripture. 25 All these speak of the same event. The entire book of Revelation likewise speaks in detail of this day. It is sometimes confusing because we are attempting to peek into a time frame that is partially hidden from us. In other words: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face…” (1 Cor. 13:12). It is much like a prehistoric man trying to glimpse the wonders of the electronic age in which we now live. It simply was not revealed to him. Electronic wonders for him were limited to occasional flashes of lightning.
There are two clear aspects to the day of the Lord. 26 The first one, which is most obvious in the Old Testament, is the aspect of judgment upon the wicked. Apparently in Old Testament times some wicked folks desired the Day of the Lord in order that they might escape from all their problems. The prophet reminded them of this judgment aspect, saying: “Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light” (Amos 5:18).
The prophets see that the Day of the Lord will bring down the proud and lofty. Isaiah says “The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day” (Isa. 2:11). It is a day of disaster and destruction upon the ungodly (Isa. 13:6). We see this also pictured in Revelation 6:17: “For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” God will shake the earth terribly (Isa. 2:19). As is said in Job 38:13, God’s plan is to shake the wicked out of the earth. Then the people will cast their idols of gold and silver to the moles and bats (Isa. 2:20).
Earth’s great and mighty ones will cry for the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them from the face of the Lamb (Rev. 6:15). The cry of that day will be bitter (Zep. 1:14). Wicked hearts will faint as they are seized with terror (Isa. 13:7-8). The heavenly bodies will no longer give their light (Isa. 13:10-13). A devouring fire will break out on the earth as the Lord comes (2 Thess. 1:7). In Malachi 4:1, the prophet says: “‘Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘Not a root or a branch will be left to them.’”
While the day of the Lord will be an unmitigated disaster for the ungodly, we see that it will be a day of blessing for the righteous. The prophet Malachi also says that the righteous will go forth leaping like calves released from a stall. In Malachi 4:3 he says: “Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things…”
We who love and serve the Lord will actually be able to lift up our heads as the Day of the Lord approaches (Lk. 21:28). We will have great confidence and boldness in that day (2 Tim. 1:12; 1 Jn. 4:17). After all, when Jesus appears we will appear with him in glory (Col. 3:4), and be like him (1 Jn. 3:2-3). In 2 Thessalonians 1:10, we see that he will come “…to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed…”
On that blessed day, Jesus will come with all his saints (1 Thess. 3:13). Even those who sleep in Jesus will be brought in that great triumphal procession. For the saints of the Lord, the Day of the Lord has nothing for us to fear. It is a day of blessing and glory.
Thus we see God’s people will be involved in the final Day of the Lord as they have also been involved in every preceding Day of the Lord. After the disasters of that day, God’s people will stand. In Proverbs 10:25 we read: “When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.” In verse 29 we also read: “The way of the LORD is a refuge for the righteous, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.”
It would help us to look into some of the mechanics of the coming day. It will come like a thief (kleptes) or in other words, it will come with a suddenness that will surprise many people. Peter says, “The heavens will disappear with a roar…” Barclay describes the word “roar” (roizedon) as a crackling or whirring sound. 27 It is interesting that when the atomic bomb was first tested in Nevada, several reporters described the explosion as a “crackling” or “whirring” sound.28
Peter tells us that “the elements will be destroyed by fire.” The word for elements is stoicheia and it refers to the basic stuff or building blocks from which our world is made. 29 No doubt in New Testament times the general understanding of “elements” reflected the Greek ideas of air, earth, fire and water. 30 The word for “destroyed” is the Greek kausoumena, and it has reference to “a violent consuming heat.” 31
The apostle adds, “the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” For “laid bare” he uses the Greek word heurisko and it may be seen as depicting people’s relationship before God. That relationship will be made public and all the secrets of the human race will be disclosed. 32 What a day it will be when all the hidden things will be revealed and when the earth will disclose all its evil secrets and its vast bloodshed.
PREPRAING FOR THE DAY OF THE LORD
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives…2 Peter 3:11
How can we prepare for the Day of the Lord that we ourselves might stand? We need to make sure our faith is not misplaced and that it is very strong. In Philippians 1:6, the apostle says: “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” In 2 Timothy 1:12, the Apostle Paul states with confidence: “…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.”
We need not despair at trials and difficulties that may come upon us in the meantime. In 1 Peter 1:7, the apostle tells us: “These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
We must be very careful about deception regarding the Day of the Lord and the period leading up to it. Jesus sternly warns us on several occasions about being deceived. We are promised that the period leading up to this day will abound with false prophets (Matt. 24:4-5, 11). They will gently lead God’s people astray with fanciful tales and fables of the end days. They will cause them to relax and be unprepared for the day. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11, we are told that those who refuse to believe the truth will be sent a powerful delusion that they should believe a lie. Later in 2 Peter 3:17, Peter will warn: “Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.”
One error that has gained great status in the western church during the last fifty years is the error or myth of the secret rapture of the church. This myth essentially declares that there will be three comings of Jesus, his incarnation, the secret rapture and the final coming in earth’s judgment. It should be sufficient to point out here that the very early church knew nothing about this. Justin Martyr said around AD 160: “The prophets have announced two advents of Christ. In the first one, which has already past, he came as a dishonored and suffering man. However, in the second advent, according to prophecy, he will come from heaven with glory, accompanied by his angelic host. At that time he will raise the bodies of all men who have lived.” 33
Just one more quote from earliest times should assure us on this subject. Around AD 180, Irenaeus said: “All the prophets announced his two advents…In the second one, he will come on the clouds, bringing on the day which burns as a furnace.” 34 Other church fathers also spoke of just two advents.
Obviously, those who do not love the truth will not be saved. The “belt of truth” is the first item we must put on in the last-day armor. If it is weak, the sword will fall off and perhaps the trousers with it, leaving us undone in the day of battle. The Bible tells us to buy the truth and to not sell it (Prov. 23:23). We will have many opportunities to sell out cheaply. As we see, truth in the end day will become a very precious commodity.
The fervent desire of the early Christians was that they would be kept strong to the end and be found blameless in the Day of the Lord (1 Cor. 1:8). This reflects the Lord’s teaching that only “… he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13). To this purpose, it is God’s plan to seal his servants in their foreheads (Rev. 7:3). This is likely a picture of a mind totally protected by the Spirit against all influences of the final evil age. We know in the end-days that there will be a great falling away or rebellion before God and at last, the Lawless One will himself appear. We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:3: “…that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed…”
In spite of all the evil influences of the last day, Daniel saw a people there who would be strong and do mighty works for God (Dan. 11:32). In Ephesians 6:13-18, Paul gives some very urgent and practical advice to the Lord’s soldiers who will face the last day. Paul speaks not about “some day,” but specifically about “THE DAY” (in Greek). He says:
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
In preparation for the great day, the Lord’s people must live holy and godly lives. The Greek words used here are hagiais and eusebeiais. The first of these important words means “set apart for the service of God.” 35 We cannot serve the Baals of this age and the true God at the same time. We cannot have one foot in the world and one in the Kingdom of God. The other important word, eusebeiais can be summed up with the words piety, reverence, and godliness.36 These important words will help to describe the last day overcomers that we see so often in the Book of Revelation.
Pett says of these overcomers that they will survive the coming holocaust. They will do it with, “…constant prayer (1 Pet. 3:12; 4:7; 5:7; Lk.18:7-8; Eph.6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17) and feeding on the word (1 Pet. 2:2; Eph. 5:26; Heb.5:12-14)”…and by their “faithful testimony to Christ (1 Pet. 3:15).” 37
Peter continues his sentence saying, “…as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat” (3:12). We see one thing here that characterizes the early Christians in New Testament times. They were actually looking forward to the Day of the Lord. This amazes us. In spite of all the suffering that was in store leading up to the time, the early Christians were truly excited, even ecstatic about the day. Plainly, we have lost much of this excitement. We have lost it because we have become confused about the Day of the Lord.
It is made clear in this verse that believers can speed the coming of this day and the appearing of Jesus. Obviously, part of this is possible as we live holy and godly lives like Peter has just said. We can speed his coming no doubt by praying the Lord’s Prayer, “…Thy Kingdom come…!” (Matt. 6:10). We see in Revelation 8:3-4, that the prayers of believers actually help bring on the Great Tribulation, which ends the world. Also, in Matthew 24:14, we read, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Somehow, the preaching of the gospel to the nations helps bring on the end of the age.
There is another way we can speed the coming of this day. We can be diligent to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psa. 122:6). There continues to be a prayer group in Denver Colorado that has existed for almost half a century. Long ago in this group they became stumped by this verse, as to how they could hasten the coming of the Lord. They all agreed to seek only the Lord and to pray about it for the next week. When the group reassembled they had all been given the same verse, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psa. 122:6). As we pray for Jerusalem and Israel, we assist in bringing the end of the faltering Gentile age (Lk. 21:24). We beg God for the Age to Come. We can even pray, “come Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20). I find myself praying this prayer a lot these days, “Lord Jesus, this is your world and you made it. Please come and rule it!”
The “coming” mentioned in this verse is the word parousia. It means the “personal presence” of our Lord and Savior. 38 We cannot forget that at the end of this age we will see him as he is and then we will suddenly be made like him (1 Jn. 3:2).
“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (3:13). Here it is again! The earliest Christians were really “looking forward” to the Day of the Lord and the return of Christ. Here Peter speaks of the promises of Scripture. Isaiah the prophet had given some of these promises. In Isaiah 65:17 he wrote: “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” In Isaiah 66:22, the saints are promised, “‘As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,’ declares the LORD, ‘so will your name and descendants endure.’”
In Revelation 21:1 we are given a picture of the new heavens and earth. John says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” Once more the word kainos is used for “new.” Wuest reminds us that “the new is seen from the aspect of quality; the new, as set over against that which has seen service, the outworn, the effete or marred through age” 39 The Lord is not speaking of something that is brand new but something that is renewed. This new heaven and new earth will be the home of eternal righteousness (cf. Rev. 21:27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Heb. 12:14).
Because of the massive Greek influence in our western world and even in early Christianity, we have almost lost the concept of the new earth. We remember that the Greeks considered the spiritual realm as important while they considered the earth and all earthly things as unimportant. One recent writer, Randy Alcorn, has sought to bring the new earth back into focus. Alcorn says, “As human beings, whom God made to be both physical and spiritual, we are not designed to live in a non-physical realm – indeed, we are incapable of even imagining such a place (or, rather non-place). 40
Alcorn compares Christianity to eastern religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, which look at the afterlife in vague and intangible terms. He says that Christianity refutes these notions and that it does not give up on either humanity or the earth. 41 Instead of seeing saints flying off to heaven, he sees heaven coming down to earth. He says, “The great redemptive promises of God will find their ultimate fulfillment on the New Earth, not in the present Heaven.” 42
Alcorn adds, “If we serve faithfully on the present Earth, God will give us permanent management positions on the New Earth.” 43 Somehow we faintly remember the verse of scripture which says, “You have made them [the saints] to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). If we try, we can remember other passages like the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Then there are the wonderful verses in Psalm 37. “For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land (v. 9)…But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace (v. 11)…the righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever (v. 29)…Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it (v. 34).” God even promises in Proverbs 10:30: “The righteous will never be uprooted, but the wicked will not remain in the land.”
When Alcorn looks at our present view of Heaven and our disdain for earth he says, “If God were to end history and reign forever in a distant Heaven, Earth would be remembered as a graveyard of sin and failure.” 44
MAKING EVERY EFFORT
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 2 Peter 3:14
Peter reminds the beloved of all ages that we should “make every effort” or be diligent (spoudazo) regarding our hope. This word can mean, “do you best, make haste, take care, hurry on.” It speaks of “intense effort.” 45 All this effort and concern should be focused toward our being “found spotless, blameless and at peace” with the Lord Jesus. The matter of being spotless or blameless is a regularly recurring theme of Scripture, yet, we seem to hear so little about it today. Sometimes we even get it confused with moral perfection, which obviously cannot be attained in this earthly life. John says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8).
We know that Christ, through his great acts of justification and positional sanctification, no longer looks upon us as sinners. However, what the Lord is asking of us concerns not our positional sanctification or imputed righteousness, but our progressive sanctification. God has declared us to be saints, now he wants us to live like saints. This is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit working in us. He is “holy” after all, and he desires that we be holy, blameless, and spotless. Calvin says, “He, then, who waits for new heavens, must begin with renewal as to himself, and diligently aspire after it.” 46
We cannot help but note how the matter of being spotless and without blemish contrasts with the false teachers whom Peter has called “spots” and “blemishes” in their love feasts (2:13). 47 How closely our Christian lives need to be patterned after the one who was himself without spot, blemish or sin (1 Pet. 2:21-22). When we get the garbage out of our lives it is much easier to live at peace with Jesus (Rom. 5:1).
“Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him” (3:15). Peter has already mentioned how the Lord’s patience or delay enables many to be saved. It is surely interesting that Peter turns to Paul for confirmation of his statement. We cannot help but be reminded of the terribly embarrassing rebuke Paul once gave to Peter (Gal. 2:11-21). This verse illustrates the total forgiveness Peter must have felt toward Paul. He actually refers to him as a “dear brother.” Peter even lauds Paul for having a special wisdom of God. The scholar John A.T. Robinson concludes that Paul still must have been alive when Peter wrote this. 48 If so, this would argue an early date for this epistle.
In commenting on this warm passage Gregory the Great (c. 540-604) remarked: “Thus the friend of truth was able to praise even the fact that he had been criticized, and he was happy to do so because he realized that he had been wrong.” 49
“He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (3:16). Concordia professor Paul Kretzmann comments: “Two points are here evident, the inspiration of the letters of Paul and the agreement between the doctrine as taught by the various apostles.” 50 Some scholars claim that the whole corpus of Pauline letters must have been published at this point, that Paul was long dead and that this epistle of Peter must have been of a late date. Schreiner assures us that there is no firm evidence that such is the case. 51
Peter acknowledges that some things in Paul’s letters are difficult to understand. After all, Paul had visited in heaven on at least one occasion (2 Cor. 12:2-4) and had come away with some things that were simply unspeakable. Throughout his letters Paul displays a profound understanding of the gospel.
No doubt, the false teachers were using some of Paul’s teachings to justify their lawless living. Pett feels that they were using Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith alone in support of their loose living. 52 We note from Paul’s epistles that there were many folks who misused his teachings. The word here for “distorting” Paul’s doctrine is strebloo, and it means to twist, wrest, even to torture as in putting on the rack. 53 These false teachers were literally torturing the teaching of the great apostle. They were doing so to try to justify their own false teaching and libertine lifestyle. G. K. Chesterton once said that orthodoxy was like walking along a narrow ridge; one step to either side was a step to disaster. 54
Peter’s warm reference to Paul here helps us in our understanding of the relationship between the apostles. They were certainly not in any competition with one another. This passage also helps us to understand how highly the apostolic writing was acclaimed in the first century. Utley says, “…This is one of the very few places where New Testament writings are equated with Old Testament Scriptures.” 55
PETER’S PARTING WORDS
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. 2 Peter 3:17
The pastor-teacher Warren Wiersbe, who is well-known for his “Be” series of Bible studies, reminds us of them in this chapter— “Be mindful (3:1-2)…Be not ignorant (3:8)…Be diligent (3:14)…Beware (3:17).” 56 Peter phrases it here in another way, “be on your guard.” We are told in 1 Corinthians 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” There is always a danger that the believer can be “carried away” with the temptations of this present evil age or by the twisting of scripture.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” (3:18). The whole gospel really comes down to the free grace of God. Without God’s grace there literally would be no hope and no salvation. Peter prays for that grace in his benediction.
Often over the years we have prayed this very prayer over our grandchildren, that they grow both in grace and in their knowledge of Jesus. It seems that we never have to pray about their growing in size.
Several sources I have cited here are from the electronic media, either from websites or from electronic research libraries. Thus in some of these sources it is not possible to cite page numbers. Instead I have cited the verse or verses in each chapter of 2 Peter (e.g. verse v. 2:1 or vs. verses 3:1-2) about which the commentators speak.
1. Thomas R. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, Vol. 37 (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 2003), p. 253.
2. Ibid., p. 259.
3. Fred B. Craddock, First and Second Peter and Jude (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 85.
4. Charles F. Pfeiffer & Everett F. Harrison, eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The Second Epistle of Peter (Chicago: Moody Press, 1962), p. 1454.
5. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 267.
6. Dr. Bob Utley, Free Bible Commentary, Introduction. http://www.freebiblecommentary.org/new_testament_studies/VOL02/VOL02B_06.html.
“It is interesting that other supposed writings of Peter (i.e., the Acts of Peter, the Acts of Andrew and Peter, the Acts of Peter and Paul, Passion of Peter and Paul, the Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles, the Apocalypse of Peter, and the Preaching of Peter) were all rejected by the early churches as spurious (i.e., non-inspired).”
8. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 255.
1. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 284.
2. Utley, Free Bible Commentary, Intro.
3. William Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible. 1956-1959, v. 1:1. “http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=1”.
4. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 286.
5. Pfeiffer & Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 1457.
6. Utley, Free Bible Commentary, v. 1:1.
7. John Trapp, John Trapp’s Complete Commentary, 2 Peter, d. 1669, v. 1:1. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/view.cgi?bk=60
8. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, NT, v. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, & Jude (Downers Grove: Inter Varsity Press, 2000), p. 130.
9. Kenneth S. Wuest, In These Last Days, II Peter, I, II, III John, and Jude in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1963), p. 18.
10. David Guzik, Commentary on 2 Peter, David Guzik Commentaries on the Bible. 1997-2003, vs. 1:2-4. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/guz/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=1.
11. John Calvin, Commentary on 2 Peter, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible. 1840-57, p. 145. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=1.
12. Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, NT (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2007), p. 930.
13. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 1:3-7.
14. Pett, Peter. Commentary on 2 Peter, Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible. 2013, v. 1:3. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=1.
15. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 931.
16. Bray, Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, p. 133.
17. Pett, Commentary on 2 Peter, Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible. v. 1:4.
18. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 294.
19. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 22.
20. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 296.
21. Quoted in A.T. Robertson, Commentary on 2 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament. 1932, 33, Renewal 1960, Broadman Press, v. 1:4. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=1.
22. Quoted in Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 22.
24. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 1:3-7.
25. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 298.
26. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 1:3-7.
27. David A. DeSilva, 2 Peter, The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Colorado Springs: Cook Communications Ministries, 2005), pp. 318-319.
28. Cited in James Burton Coffman, Commentary on 2 Peter, Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament, (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, 1983-1999), v. 1:5. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=1.
29. G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1960), p. 94.
30. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 1:3-7.
32. Quoted in Herbert W. Bateman IV, gen. ed., Four Views on the Warning Passages of Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2007), pp. 172-173.
33. William Godbey, Commentary on 2 Peter, William Godbey’s Commentary on the New Testament, 1896-1900, v. 1:7. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=1.
34. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, pp. 932 , 931.
35. Lou Dobbs, Upheaval (New York: Threshold Editions, 2014), p. 162.
36. Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity (Washington: Regenery Publishing Inc., 2007), p. 17.
37. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 26.
Barclay adds here: “We grow what Peter calls muopazon…This word can have either of two meanings. It can mean short-sighted…It can also mean blinking, shutting the eyes.” (Barclay, vs. 8-11).
38. Coffman, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 1:9.
39. Pett, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 1:9.
He says, “The only water that cleanses in the Old Testament is the water of purification which is mixed with the ashes of a heifer. That represents the blood of sacrifice in convenient form.”
40. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 933.
41. Pfeiffer & Harrison, eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 1458.
42. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 29.
43. Trapp, John Trapp’s Complete Commentary, v. 1:14.
44. Bray, Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, p. 138.
45. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 261.
46. Eusebius Pamphilus, Ecclesiastical History, Popular Edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), p. 127.
47. Pett, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 1:15.
48. Albert Barnes, Commentary on 2 Peter, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, 1870, v. 1:15, http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=1.
49. Craddock, First and Second Peter and Jude, p. 106.
50. Utley, Free Bible Commentary, v. 1:16.
51. DeSilva, 2 Peter, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 319.
52. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 316.
53. Bray, Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, p. 140.
54. Pfeiffer & Harrison, eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p.1459.
Wuest adds here: “The idea in the Greek text is, ‘We have the prophetic word as a surer foundation’ than even the signs and wonders which we have seen” (Wuest, p. 34).
55. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 935.
Schreiner also comments: “Peter’s call to pay heed to the word is the main point of the text, for the entire letter up to this point has been pointing to this command” (Schreiner p. 321).
56. Robertson, Commentary on 2 Peter, Robertson’s Word Pictures of the New Testament, v. 1:19.
57. Utley, Free Bible Commentary, v. 1:19.
58. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 35.
59. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Peter, David Guzik Commentaries on the Bible, vs. 1:20-21.
60. Craddock, First and Second Peter and Jude, p. 108.
61. Barnes, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 1:21.
62. Wuest, In These Last Days, pp. 40-42.
63. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 1:20-22.
64. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 324.
1. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 327.
2. Ibid., p. 328.
“Many scholars think Peter did not refer to false teaching here but the introduction of factions into the church. The word hairesis clearly refers to false teaching by the beginning of the second century.”
3. Barnes, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 2:1.
4. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 46.
5. Pett, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 2:1.
6. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, pp. 319-320.
7. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 2:1.
8. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 939.
9. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 2:1-3.
10. Craddock, First and Second Peter and Jude, p. 116.
11. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 2:3.
The Didache notes here, “Not everyone who speaks in the spirit is a prophet, but only if he follows…in the path of the Lord. Accordingly, from their conduct the false prophet and the true prophet will be known” (Bray p. 145).
12. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 333.
13. Godbey, Commentary on 2 Peter, William Godbey’s Commentary on the New Testament, v. 2:3.
14. Craddock, First and Second Peter and Jude, p. 115.
15. Calvin, Commentary on 2 Peter, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, p.167.
16. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 2:4-11.
17. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Peter, David Guzik Commentaries on the Bible, vs. 2:4-6.
“Apparently some fallen angels are in bondage while others are unbound and active in the earth as demons….”
18. Adam Clarke, Commentary on 2 Peter, The Adam Clarke Commentary, 1832, v. 2:4. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=2.
19. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 2:4-11.
20. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 338.
22. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 940.
23. Quoted in Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 2:4-11.
24. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 340.
25. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 942.
26. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 344.
27. Ibid., p. 343.
28. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors, The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1956), Vol. 1, p. 558; Vol. 2, p. 11 and Vol. 5. p. 217.
Several of the earliest church fathers comment upon the awful time of tribulation coming upon the church at the end of the age. Hermas (c. AD 150) says: “Happy are you who endure the great tribulation that is coming. And happy are they who will not deny their own life.” Hippolytus (c. AD 200) speaks of the tyrant who will “…reign and persecute the church, which flees from city to city, and seeks concealment in the wilderness among the mountains.” Irenaeus (c. AD 180) says: “For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which they are crowned with incorruption – when they overcome.”
29. Paul Kretzmann, Commentary on 2 Peter, Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary, 1921-23, vs. 2:10-14. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=2.
30. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 347.
32. DeSilva, 2 Peter, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 320.
33. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 347.
34. Alexander Pope’s An essay on criticism, 1709.
35. Craddock, First and Second Peter and Jude, p.115.
36. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 55.
37. Pett, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 2:12.
38. Quoted in Coffman, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 2:12.
39. Clarke, Commentary on 2 Peter, The Adam Clarke Commentary, v. 2:12.
40. DeSilva, 2 Peter, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 323.
41. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 2: 12-14.
42. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 57.
43. Utley, Free Bible Commentary, v. 2:14.
44. Stedman, The Ray C. Stedman Library, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 2:14. http://www.raystedman.org/2peter/2peter1.html.
45. Donna Freitas, The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy (New York: Basic Books, 22013), p. 12.
46. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 57.
47. Barnes, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 2:14.
48. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 2:14.
49. Quoted in Stedman, The Ray C. Stedman Library, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 2:15-16.
50. DeSilva, 2 Peter, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, p. 323.
51. Bray, Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, p. 151.
52. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 947.
53. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, & David Brown, Commentary on 2 Peter, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible – Unabridged, 1871-78, v. 2:17. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/view.cgi?bk=60&ch=2.
54. Godbey, Commentary on 2 Peter,William Godbey’s Commentary on the New Testament, v. 2:17.
55. Quoted in Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 258.
56. Craddock, First and Second Peter and Jude, p. 115.
57. Pett, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 20-22.
58. Ibid., v. 20.
59. Kenneth L. Barker & John R. Kohlenberger III, eds., Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary, Vol. 2: New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), p.1073.
60. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 949.
61. Stedman, The Ray C. Stedman Library, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 2:21.
62. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 949.
1. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 367.
2. Pett, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 3:1-2.
3. Pfeiffer & Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 1461.
4. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 370.
5. Bo Reicke, The Epistles of James, Peter, and Jude (NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964), p. 173.
6. Quoted in David Kupelian, How Evil Works: Understanding and Overcoming the Destructive Forces That Are Transforming America (New York: Threshold Editions, 2010), p. 146.
7. Alvin Plantinga, Where The Conflict Really Lies, Science, Religion, and Naturalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. x.
8. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 3:3-4.
9. Quoted in Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), p.163.
10. Gerald Schroeder, The Science of God: The Convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom, (NY: The Free Press, 1997), p. 22.
“Through the early 1960s in the face of mounting evidence to the contrary, two thirds of leading U.S. scientists surveyed believed it [the universe had no beginning]. For 3,300 years, since the revelation on Sinai, the Bible denied it, steadfastly claiming there was a beginning to our universe.”
See also, Marcus Chown, The Quantum Zoo, A Tourist’s Guide to the Neverending Universe, p. 144. He also notes Hubble’s view that the universe is expanding.
11. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 373.
12. Marcus Chown, The Quantum Zoo, A Tourist’s Guide to the Neverending Universe, pp. 114-115.
“The equation E=mc2 encapsulates this fact. The physicists’ symbol for the speed of light, c, is a big number – 300 million meters per second. Squaring it- multiplying it by itself- creates an even bigger number. Applying the formula to 1 kilogram of matter shows that it contains 9×1016 joules of energy- enough to lift the entire population of the world into space!”
13. Gerald L. Schroeder, God According to God, A Physicist Proves We’ve Been Wrong About God All Along, (NY: Harper Collins, 2009), p. 202.
14. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 67.
15. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 952.
Origen in The Ante-Nicene Fathers adds: “All the rest of the race will be completely burned up, and the [Christians] alone will remain.” (Roberts & Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, IV, p. 550).
16. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 68.
17. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 378.
18. Trapp, John Trapp’s Complete Commentary, v. 3:7.
19. Geisler & Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 98.
20. David Peat, From Certainty to Uncertainty: The Story of Science and Ideas in the Twentieth Century (Washington: Joseph Henry Press, 2002), p. 4.
21. Chown, The Quantum Zoo, A Tourist’s Guide to the Neverending Universe, p. 93.
22. Quoted in Chown The Quantum Zoo, A Tourist’s Guide to the Neverending Universe, p. 104.
23. Guzik, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 3:8-10.
24. Renald Showers, “The Biblical Concept of the Day of The Lord,” (Showers is a faculty member at the Institute of Biblical Studies). http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Renald-Showers/63204244.
25. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 383.
“In the New Testament the day of the Lord also is the day of Christ (1 Cor. 1:8; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1”6, 10; 2:16).”
26. Showers, “The Biblical Concept of the Day of The Lord.”
27. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 3:10.
28. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 953.
29. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 384.
30. Barker & Kohlenberger, Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary, Vol. 2: New Testament, p. 1075.
31. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 72.
32. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 387.
33. Roberts & Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, V1, p. 180.
34. Ibid, p. 506.
35. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 73.
36. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 189.
37. Pett, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 3:11.
38. Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown, Commentary on 2 Peter, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, v. 3:12.
39. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 74.
Wiersbe adds here: “Of course, this great explosion and conflagration will not touch the ‘heaven of heavens:’ where God dwells.” (Wiersbe p. 954)
40. Randy Alcorn, Heaven (Tyndale House Publishers, 2004), p. 16.
41. Ibid., p. 77.
42. Ibid., p. 44.
43. Ibid., p. 200.
Methodius in the Ante-Nicene Fathers adds: “Moreover, man was appointed by the original order of things to inhabit the world and to rule over all that is in it. (Roberts & Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers, V6, p. 366).
44. Randy Alcorn, Heaven, p.145.
“Jerome often said that Heaven and Earth would not be annihilated but would be transformed into something better. Augustine wrote similarly, as did Gregory the Great, Thomas Aquinas, and many medieval theologians.” p. 155.
45. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 74.
46. Calvin, Commentary on 2 Peter, Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible, p. 182.
47. Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown, Commentary on 2 Peter, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, v. 3:14.
48. John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 183.
49. Bray, Ancient Christian Commentary On Scripture, p. 161.
50. Kretzmann, Commentary on 2 Peter, Kretzmann’s Popular Commentary, vs. 3:14-18.
51. Schreiner, The New American Commentary, p. 396.
52. Pett, Commentary on 2 Peter, v. 3:16.
53. Wuest, In These Last Days, p. 75.
54. Barclay, Commentary on 2 Peter, vs. 3:15-16.
55. Utley, Free Bible Commentary, v. 3:16.
56. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, p. 956.