Commentary on Second Peter
by Dave Brown
Return to Commentaries page
Go to First Peter
2 Peter 1
1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and (the) Savior Jesus Christ:
[Peter’s salutation for his second letter affirms that he is a slave to Jesus Christ as well as an apostle in the official (as opposed to the generic) sense of the word. This would be one of the eleven before the replacement of Judas in Acts 1, and after that, again one of the twelve. He writes to true, faithful Christians (there are no unfaithful Christians in the original sense of the word, but the word Christian is one of the most misused in the English language). He describes them as having obtained a like precious faith. He is not talking about something that only goes on in the head and heart, but something that can be “obtained.” Jude talks about this in Jude 3: “I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.” And Romans 10:17: “So faith comes of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” The ONLY source of faith is communication from God, in its various forms throughout the ages, but for us today, it is only through the words of the Bible. “With us” probably refers to “us, the apostles,” showing the consistency of doctrine within the church through a good part of the first century. “The righteousness of God” is the central theme of the book of Romans, initiated in Romans 1:16-17 (see Romans commentary). It is important to recognize that we are not saved by our own righteousness, we are saved by the righteousness of God. It was the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ that freed the Jews from the Law of Moses and gave us the free gift of eternal life.
2 Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
[For discussions on grace, see the discussions on 1 Peter 1:2, 10, and 13. To summarize, do not make the common mistake of false teachers who want to view grace as a one-way pipe of salvation. In most contexts we can see God’s grace indeed is a gift, but it is a gift of enabling us to do God’s will and to be improved in our righteousness. This results in a greater degree of peace to those who receive these gifts, one of which (perhaps the primary one) is the “knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.”]
3 seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that called us by His own glory and virtue;
[An extremely powerful and useful verse in confirming that our current Bible (assuming unbiased and objective scholarly translation) is totally sufficient in that it contains all of the things that we need for spiritual life and godliness, and thus eternal life. This clause complements “in the knowledge …” of the previous verse. These things that have been granted to us are elements of truth, and when received generate knowledge within us. Such knowledge comes in words, whether oral or written – they come in no other way. Him that called us is God (John 6:44). This calling is not the proverbial “still small voice,” but rather “His own glory and virtue.” The implication is that we should be called to Jesus and righteousness by our recognition that He is God the glorious maker of the universe, and that being God, He is the ultimate, the very definition, of virtue. This is somewhat that all good men see, but it is impossible for those given to sin to see or understand; and in fact, their minds are often so perverse as to see the goodness of God as something that is evil (Isaiah 5:20).
4 whereby He hath granted unto us His precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.
[Whereby – by the knowledge of Him we now possess the precious and exceeding great promises of God. There are many, but perhaps the greatest was that to Abraham (and all mankind): “And in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). This was fulfilled in Christ, in all of His teachings and promises, including that of eternal life. “Through these” – through these promises and this knowledge we are enabled to become “partakers of the divine nature.” What is this? Perhaps some insight from Hebrews 12:10: “For they indeed for a few days chastened (us) as seemed good to them; but He for (our) profit, that (we) may be partakers of His holiness.” No doubt “His holiness” is inseparable from “the divine nature,” and we are commanded to be holy (perfect) as He is holy (Matthew 5:48). That this applies to our moral nature is confirmed by the remainder of this verse, since if we have “escaped from the corruption of the world by lust,” that would enable us to attain to the holiness that will be pleasing to God. Let us notice again that this is attained not through some miraculous act of God upon us, but through our learning the information that has been made readily available to all of us by God.]
5 Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in (your) virtue knowledge;
6 and in (your) knowledge self-control; and in (your) self-control patience; and in (your) patience godliness;
7 and in (your) godliness brotherly kindness; and in (your) brotherly kindness love.
[These are often called the seven virtues. Clearly this is not an exhaustive list, although perhaps if others can be identified, they might fall within one of these. The sequence seems to be of importance since the idea is to start with faith as the first, and perhaps minimum virtue that all Christians must have, and add to them systematically until the ultimate is reached, which is love. This is not to say that they are mutually exclusive and you can have none of the second until you have totally attained the first. But there is a hierarchy as we attain a mature degree of each. If this is true than we can see how the first thing that must be added to this degree of faith is virtue, we might say to “clean up your act.” As Christians there are obviously some things that we need to put away from our lives. Some of these things may be difficult in the sense that they are “bad habits” that will require work for the rest of their lives. So, while they might add virtue, this does not mean that it can be added and forgotten about. Faith itself must be continue to be built for the rest of one’s life – we never have a sufficient amount of it. Since “faith comes through hearing” (Romans 10:17), we must continue to learn the truth and increase our faith. And so it is with all of the virtues. As we add another we do not neglect the previous one; rather, as we move on to greater righteousness, all of our past accomplishments must continue to improve. So after we get our moral lives in order, the next one to work on is knowledge. Of course, the implication here is not that we have no knowledge to start with, since both faith and virtue required a degree of knowledge. The difference is that now the concentration is on knowledge. We consider all of the various ways that we can increase our knowledge of God’s word and implement as many as possible. As our knowledge increases so should our self-control. This is something we all have to work on, and the knowledge that we have gained (and continue to gain) at this point gives us the tools that we need to improve our self-control. Tools of greater faith, greater knowledge and an improved sense of virtue. The ultimate of self-control is patience, which in the New Testament has the meaning of endurance, as opposed to the normally accepted meaning of being able wait on others without complaint (although this is part of spiritual endurance as well). Maturity and endurance should naturally lead to godliness, which is the nature of being devoted to serving God in all ways according to His will, often called piety. All the virtues prior to this one would prepare the Christian to generally improve his/her relationship with God in this way. Doing God’s will is essentially a matter of giving oneself to loving God (1 John 5:3; John 14:15). The next virtue is to apply this godliness to loving our neighbors as ourselves, the second greatest commandment. It might seem that the final virtue, that of love, should have come before godliness and brotherly kindness. But the final virtue seems to concentrate on love, per se, as opposed to its applications. That is, putting the interests of God and our fellow man above our own (Philippians 2:4), as was the case of Jesus, and allowing this love to dominate all phases of our lives.]
8 For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
[These things are the virtues listed above. You cannot be idle and unfruitful if you have these virtues. Thus, you can test whether you have them or not. If you are idle and unfruitful, you do not have these virtues – it is a simple as that. “Unto the knowledge …” this is the motivation for the virtues. In other words, “as a result of this knowledge.” So, being idle and unfruitful could come about in two ways: ignorance of this knowledge, or a failure to believe it.]
9 For he that lacks these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins.
[Remember that Peter is speaking to Christians, which explains that they have been “cleansed from his old sins.” This state of blindness, as we will see when we get to 3:21, puts these fallen away Christians in a worse state than had they never heard the gospel.]
10 Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble:
11 for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
[Again, this is something that would only be said to Christians. The implication is clear, and it will be confirmed as we get into Chapter 2 – it is possible for a once-saved person to fall from grace. Thus, we need to give diligence to make our salvation sure. How? by adding the virtues listed above. This is great assurance that if we are diligent to add these virtues eternal salvation will be ours. This is the eternal kingdom of Jesus, who is sitting on David’s throne in heaven right now reigning over those of us who regard him as King, and thus have entered this kingdom (Acts 2:30-31; Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:12).]
12 Wherefore I shall be ready always to put you in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and are established in the truth which is with (you).
[Do we complain when our preachers do not bring us new information from the Bible that we have not already learned? Some do. Let them read this verse, and then state that they are not in need of being put in remembrance of things in which they are already established.]
13 And I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;
14 knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle cometh swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ signified unto me.
[It is amazing how many new things we learn from Peter as he is (merely?) putting us in remembrance of things that he assumes we already know. Peter was urgent in doing this since it had been revealed to him that he would not be living that much longer. But then, how many of us can count on another day or even another hour. If nothing else, our Lord Jesus Christ has signified to us that we should be ready at all times for his arrival to us and our departure from this life.]
15 Yea, I will give diligence that at every time ye may be able after my decease to call these things to remembrance.
[Another clear indication of the use of the scriptures, an emphasis that seems to pervade this entire letter. We do not need to have Peter alive standing before us. We have his writings, which are superior to his presence in that we can study them and be totally knowledgeable of all of them at any time. This is something that would not be possible just from his temporary presence.]
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
[The inference here is that there were some enticing the disciples of Jesus who were using “cunningly devised fables” as the basis for their teachings. Peter would have none of that. He certainly did not need it, since he had spent time with Jesus from the very beginning of His ministry. But the example Peter is referring to here is the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-5), which is detailed in the next verse. Jesus has access now to all power, and he will use this power when he comes again and judges every person who has ever lived.]
17 For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there was borne such a voice to him by the Majestic Glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased:
18 and this voice we (ourselves) heard borne out of heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount.
[This confirms that the previous verse is talking about what is called the transfiguration, since both Matthew (17:2) and Mark (9:2) state that he was transfigured before them, specifically in Mark 9:3: “and his garments became glistering, exceeding white, so as no fuller on earth can whiten them.” And by Matthew’s account, Matthew 17:2-3: “and he was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the sun, and his garments became white as the light. And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him.” It was Peter who offered a suggestion, Matthew 17:4-5: “And Peter answered, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, I will make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he was yet speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.’”]
19 And we have the prophetic word more sure; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts:
[More than what? Infinitely more sure than the fables of verse 16. Also confirmed by a voice out of heaven from the Father Himself. So, we can know as Peter did, that Jesus Christ was sent into this world as a fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham that through his seed would all nations of the world be blessed (see Galatians 3). Simile figures of speech: (1) a lamp shining in a dark place, (2) the dawning of the day, and (3) the day star. The first two of these are obvious, as is the case of most similes, which are designed to provide a greater understanding of what is being described, which in this context is “the prophetic word” of all that Jesus was and is. The day star is talking about Jesus Himself (“the Way, the Truth and the Life”), who refers to Himself as the morning star (Revelation 2:28 and 22:16). All of these figures indicate a process of “lighting up” and not an end result of already being lit. The implication is that we need to continue to study these sure prophetic words to build our faith and virtue upon that knowledge.]
20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation.
[An often abused and intentionally misunderstood verse. What is private interpretation? Is it an individual studying God’s word and coming to a conclusion as to what it teaches? Those who make this application intentionally ignore (since they should know better) the plain teachings throughout the New Testament that the Bible can and should be understood by the ordinary person (e.g., Ephesians 3:4). So, what is it? It is exactly what the false teachers are trying to defend: some organization making the translation and dictating their false doctrines to the “laity.” There is nothing in the New Testament that indicates that some organization will be established that will serve that function. But this is the claim of the Roman Catholic Church, the many cults (Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc.), and all the cults of personality who regard their leader as a spokesman of God. To some extent this includes those denominational preachers who frequently talk about what the Holy Spirit is revealing to them. Let us hear this verse loud and clear: NO PROPHECY OF SCRIPTURE IS OF PRIVATE INTERPRETATION – NONE, not any, no exceptions. Let us be satisfied with what we know the word of God says.]
21 For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spoke from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.
[This states that the truth is unique and understandable. Men were not speaking their own opinions – they were speaking what they were instructed by God through the Holy Spirit to speak. This assures that we should be able to understand these things because God WANTS us to understand them. If not, then why all the emphasis on learning the truth throughout the Bible.]
2 Peter 2
2:1 But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privately bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
[As contrasted with the simple revealed truth discussed above, false prophets attempt to exalt themselves in any way they can. First, they usually destroy all of the victim’s dependence in the Bible as God’s word. They do this in a variety of ways, which most readers here will be aware of. This is by far the most destructive heresy, since destroying the belief that the Bible is the word of God makes their followers totally dependent on them and impossible to question anything they say. Of course, that is their goal. They deny the Master putting themselves up as superior to Christ and the word that He has delivered through the Holy Spirit. Even though some of them claim to be of Christ and listening to the Holy Spirit, this lie does nothing but make them even more lethal to the spiritual nature of their followers. Essentially, they put themselves in the place of Christ (2 John 9). Their destruction will be swift when Jesus comes again; and in the meantime, many of them destroy themselves through their evil practices. If a teacher does not encourage you to seek the truth for yourself and question everything that he says, then you know he is not of God.
2 And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of.
[Peter still seems to be speaking to his fellow Christians here, warning them of these false prophets. Any teachers who encourages lasciviousness and does not repent should be put out of the local church as soon as that can be accomplished according to the scriptures. Those who tolerate them are partakers in their evil works. Hopefully disciplinary action will bring them to repentance (see 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 2). Otherwise, they will bring reproach on the local group of Christians and lead many astray.
3 And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose sentence now from of old lingers not, and their destruction slumbers not.
[The love of money is akin to covetousness, and we know that it is the root of all kinds of evils. Religion is probably one of the easiest ways for a charismatic person to make a lot of money without much work or investment. In fact, if you are extremely charismatic there are people who will line up to fund your new work. So, no wonder there are so many different brands of religion out there. “From of old” introduces Peter’s discussion on God’s judgment in the following verses. If you want to know what is behind the errors that are taught, follow the money and notice how the false doctrines translate themselves into cash for someone. But have no fear, judgment “lingers not” and “destruction slumbers not.”]
4 For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
5 and spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, having made them an example unto those that should live ungodly;
7 and delivered righteous Lot, sore distressed by the lascivious life of the wicked
8(for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed (his) righteous soul from day to day with (their) lawless deeds):
[Think of this as: “For if God …” did this (4-8), this is what he WILL do (9-10). These are the things that God has done:
- Spared not angels. A favorite verse of those who love to speculate on the origin of Satan. This seems plausible: that there was a revolt against God in heaven by angels led by Satan. This indicates what God did when that happened. See also Revelation 12:7-13.
- Spared not the ancient world. Judged by means of the flood.
- Turned cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes. God promised that he would not judge the world by water again, but this did not include fire. This was limited, but it was to show us how God views immorality. This does not change based on how the clergy votes sin to be in their religious conferences.
- Delivered Lot (the only positive thing, but some of the results in 9-10 are also positive). This is a contrast with Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot was not the most righteous person who ever lived, but the fact that he was “sore distressed by the lascivious life of the wicked” and that seeing and hearing it “vexed his righteous soul.” Not perfect, but his heart was directed toward God.
9 the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment;
[This has to be a very frightening statement to those who persist in their sins. It should provide a great incentive for us to be godly. Godly is defined to be pious and conforming to God’s will for us. The first part of this verse indicates that God is willing to help us accomplish this if we will submit our will to His (see 1 Corinthians 10:13).]
10 but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and despise dominion. Daring, self-willed, they tremble not to rail at dignities:
[We are commanded to walk after the Holy Spirit and not after the flesh (Romans 8 5-9). Chiefly is a word for especially; it is not to eliminate all other sinful acts. We are to find our rightful place in our society and do our best to contribute to it. Those who rebel just to rebel or in a quest for power create problems both for themselves and for society in general. If you have a legitimate gripe, use a legitimately legal way to resolve it.]
11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, bring not a railing judgment against them before the Lord.
[You would think that if anyone would have the right to bring a railing judgment, it would be the angels with their might and power. But they are satisfied to allow God to bring justice to heaven and earth, as we should be as well. Certainly nothing wrong with our praying for justice, but we should be satisfied for God to take care of it in His way and in His time.
12 But these, as creatures without reason, born mere animals to be taken and destroyed, railing in matters whereof they are ignorant, shall in their destroying surely be destroyed,
[Peter is speaking of those introduced from the beginning of this chapter. It is up to us to grow spiritually above being mere animals. When we take the path of least resistance and follow after the false teachers (vs. 1) and fail to think for ourselves, we are herded and flocked like animals and become part of the masses. “Taken and destroyed” will not take place for many until after the judgment, but it is certain, and quite often it occurs in this lifetime. They think they are destroying their enemies, but God turns it around and causes their wicked ways to destroy themselves.]
13 suffering wrong as the hire of wrong-doing; (men) that count it pleasure to revel in the day-time, spots and blemishes, reveling in their deceiving while they feast with you;
[This is important – these people may well be among us and in our churches. They may even be teachers – false teachers. Note how this relates to what Paul said to the elders at Ephesus: Acts 20:29-30: “I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” The corruption of the churches did not come from an attack from some entity outside of the local congregations. Local churches were corrupted by their own power-hungry leaderships who were not satisfied to hold positions in the local churches – they had to combine these autonomous churches into largely geographical units and appoint super-elders (which they called Bishops) over each of these. It was only a matter of time before these evolved into larger and larger units that ultimately became the Roman Catholic Church. Being corrupted by men largely under Satan’s influence, any hope that this super-organization of churches would be anything but satanic was without any foundation. Thus, the earth beast (corrupt religion also identified as the false prophet) made itself known and later joined in partnership with the sea beast (corrupt government), in that their goal was much the same: to deceive and control the masses by deception (see Revelation 13). We can be sure that they are satanic in that all of their power comes from deceit.]
14 having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; enticing unsteadfast souls; having a heart exercised in covetousness; children of cursing;
[We have all experienced the extremes of those who have forsaken the truth and attempted to take as many down with them as they could – as if this would somehow justify their reprobate ways. But the sins of the Roman Catholic priesthood, and the covering of it up by the Vatican, which in all probability is still going on – these are things that anyone can see that shows that Peter’s assessment of them might even be restrained. These particular sins are given as examples – synecdoche – for all such sins of those whose choice to become depraved has separated them from the way of the Lord, and proves his words: the last state is worse than the first (Matthew 12:45; 2 Peter 2:20).]
15 forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the (son) of Beor, who loved the hire of wrong-doing;
16 but he was rebuked for his own transgression: a dumb donkey spoke with man's voice and stayed the madness of the prophet.
[He loved the money of his evil hire more than he loved God, although clearly he knew what was right, and he even talked to God (see Numbers chapters 22-31). The event with the donkey is given in Numbers 22:28. Please read through this story – we will not repeat it here. It is one of the most referenced stories in the Old Testament, and for good reason. The fact that you might talk to God at one point does not mean you cannot become a depraved, wicked person causing tremendous harm later.]
17 These are wells without water, and clouds driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved.
[There are things that they are promising with no intention to deliver. This is done for deceptive purpose so that they can control others. People like this have a place that has been reserved for them as stated in verse 9.]
18 For, uttering great swelling (words) of vanity, they entice in the lusts of the flesh, by lasciviousness, those who are just escaping from them that live in error;
[This last clause indicates that they prey especially on those who have weaknesses in certain areas (perhaps recently converted). For example, persuading an alcoholic that it is OK to take a drink. Or someone who has a problem with pornography that there is no problem in just looking at certain things or going to an obviously profane movie. Or telling a compulsive gambler that, as long as you set a limit, it’s OK. There are all kinds of ways to play the role that Satan did when he said: “Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). These are called “great swelling words of vanity … [that] entice the lusts of the flesh” by Peter. These types of false teachers are particularly spiritually harmful to dedicated Christians.]
19 promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption; for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he also brought into bondage.
[Liberty from what? From our service to Jesus Christ? Why would anyone want liberty from that blessing? But for those who are weak and have a mind to go their own way, this is indeed enticing.]
20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first.
[What does this do to the doctrine of “once-saved-always-saved? Is it that those teaching this doctrine of Satan cannot read? I am sure that they can. What does it mean “escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?” No one reading this needs me to explain what it means since you cannot escape these defilements without being saved and in Christ. Similarly, can there be any doubt about what “again entangled therein and overcome” could possible mean? God said: “in the day you eat thereof you shall surely die.” Satan said “you shall not die.” Satan is the father of lies and the spiritual father of these false teachers. Clearly those teaching faith-only and once-save-always-saved are servants of Satan promulgating his lies.]
21 For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
[We will not speculate whether the first clause of the above is just a rhetorical comment or that there are degrees of punishment in hell. Our opinion is that it is rhetorical and no strong implications should be drawn from it as far as degrees of punishment. It seems rather that they have plunged themselves deeper into sin that they were before they were baptized, and it will take them much more effort to overcome these sins now than it was to overcome those before baptism.]
22 It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire.
[Proverbs 26:11. An excellent picture to illustrate how disgusting such behavior of those who were once saved and decide to engage in worldliness.
2 Peter 3
3:1 This is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by putting you in remembrance;
[This is a function of which teachers should be aware. It is important to break new ground, but that is not always essential. Peter indicates here and in 2 Peter 1:12-15 that repeating something that the hearers already know is a good practice to remind them of truthful doctrine.]
2 that ye should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandments of the Lord and Savior through your apostles:
[“Before” indicates that this is talking about the Old Testament prophets who gave evidence of the deity of Jesus. This shows the value of the Old Testament, which was reflected by Paul in multiple places. As for the teachings that we are currently under, they are given by the commandments of Jesus, either directly or through the apostles.]
3 knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts,
4 and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
[Last days are those of the current dispensation, from the day of the first Pentecost after Jesus’ ascension until the end of time as we know it, at which time Jesus will appear for the final judgment. However, the implication is that some time will take place, since Peter was not talking in the present tense. The “promise of His coming” was apparently more of a pressing issue at this time than it is now. Having such a long time gone by we tend to think that it will not (at least necessarily) be imminent. There are several indications in the New Testament that there was a general belief that Jesus coming would be shortly (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 2:2). Mockers today rarely use this thought – but they have many others, and there is no lack of mockery on different subjects, most of them allegedly scientific.
5 For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God;
6 by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
[They do not will to forget, since that is essentially impossible. But they willfully ignore what they know to be the case, and here Peter brings it back to their minds. God has destroyed all but a few on this earth in the past, and He is fully capable of doing it again.
7 but the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
[“By the same word” is the word of God (from verse 5). That God has the power to destroy the earth in any way that He wants to is beyond dispute. To willfully forget is to put this sure and certain knowledge out of one’s mind. When this is done, it displays the depths that the depraved will go to deny the obvious. From the point of view or those who are listening to what God is saying, Peter proclaims that this is just God’s way of holding off until He sees the time is right to implement the destruction of the ungodly.]
8 But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
[God’s time is not our time. We need to respect God’s judgement in this regard. Be patient, but never stop believing that the chances that Jesus will come within the next hour is the same as his coming at any other time. If we are not ready now, chances are we never will be.]
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
[This explains the reason that the judgment is being delayed. God’s love for all mankind causes Him to provide as much of an opportunity for us to repent as possible.]
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
[“But” contrasts with those who deny that there will be a judgment either by their actions or their words. What will happened when the Lord Jesus Christ comes to judge is described here in quite a bit of detail. This tends to obliterate the concept that this earth will be transformed into an eternal dwelling place, i.e., heaven. There is no reason to believe that heaven (or hell for that matter) are physical places. See 1 Corinthians 15. This is truth beyond which we do not need to speculate.]
11 Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in (all) holy living and godliness,
12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
[A rhetorical question to be sure, but one that emphasizes the motivation that we obtain from knowing for certain that the worldly things around us will all be destroyed by fire and thus dissolved into nothing. Even the “heavens” will be on fire, indicating a complete destruction of “the heavens and the earth.” Further motivation toward righteousness will be ours if we look for and earnestly desire the day when we can shed ourselves of all of these worldly things and meet the Lord in the air, where we will ever be with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.
[See Revelation 21 and 22, which are totally consistent with this description.]
14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in his sight.
[Think deeply and meditate on the chapter above – that is the meaning of the “wherefore.” This motivation away from sin and toward the mind of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8). Let us give ourselves totally to God’s righteousness.]
15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you;
[Many scholars love to pit Peter against Paul. This verse/sentence totally dispels that speculation. Paul quite often stressed that “the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation,” e.g., 1 Timothy 1:16.]
16 as also in all (his) epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unsteadfast wrest, as (they do) also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
[Three major points made in this amazing verse:
- All (emphasize all) of Paul’s epistles are scripture. Many today want to eliminate Paul’s writings from the canon altogether. Clearly they are as wrong as they can be, and those who are familiar with Paul’s writings and who believe the Bible has been given to us to guide us unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17) recognize fully how lost faithful churches would be without the guidance provided by Paul’s letters. The word “scriptures” (Greek graphe) appears 51 times in the New Testament and they all refer to the sacred writings of God inspired by the Holy Spirit. The “other scriptures” here would seem to refer to the Old Testament writings.
- Some things in Paul’s writings are hard to be understood. Most are not (Ephesians 3:4). However, it would be reasonable that when Paul wrote to more mature Christians, as he did to those at Rome, he would go into a much higher spiritual plane than when speaking to those in need of milk. Listen to Paul after he attempted to explain God’s dealings with the Jewish people in Romans 11:33-36: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and unto him, are all things. To him (be) the glory for ever. Amen.
- The enemies of the truth, which Peter euphemistically refers to as “ignorant and unsteadfast” twist (and have always twisted) these scriptures to their own advantage. But Peter trusts the readers’ judgments to recognize that this is nothing new – they have been doing this from the very beginning of time with the strong urging of Satan.
17 Ye therefore, beloved, knowing (these things) beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own steadfastness.
[This is still referring to Paul’s writings among all other scriptures. It gives us confidence that we can be secure in the knowledge of the scriptures, and that they are fully capable of providing all that we need for salvation as well as all of our other spiritual needs. Further, it warns us that if we listen to the false teachers as opposed to the truth of the scriptures, we will fall from our salvation.]
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him (be) the glory both now and forever. Amen.
[The alternative to falling is growing, and when we fail to grow we will fall. So Peter’s final words are an exhortation that in rejecting the words of the false teachers who would twist the scriptures and lead us astray, we should continue to grow in this “grace and knowledge” that has been so openly given to us by Jesus.]
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
Return to Commentaries page