The Day of the Lord
Comments for Study 3
2 Peter 3:1-18
Memory Verse: 14
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I. Where is This Coming (3:1-8)
>1. What is the intent of this letter and 1 Peter?
* 2 Peter 3:1 "Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking."
* "Dear friends" -Peter considered them friends. He may have known them from visits to their congregations or they visited him. However, I doubt he could have personally met all of them. How about the heretics? Did he consider them his friend? Jesus considered Judas a friend. (Matthew 26:50)
* "this is now my second letter to you" -Most scholars believe Peter is referring to 1 Peter.
* "to stimulate you to wholesome thinking" -This must be remembered when studying both letters. It is also a good example for Bible teachers to follow.
>How does Peter lead us to wholesome thinking? (2)
* 2 Peter 3:2 "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."
* "I want you to recall" -In order to recall God's word we need to study God's word.
* "the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets" -The only written word the first century congregations had was the words of the prophets.
* "the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles" -The apostles went from congregation to congregation repeating the words Jesus gave them. These were written down. Mark, Matthew, Luke and then John collected then as the Holy Spirit directed. We have these gospels now. The Holy Spirit also inspired Paul to write letters containing to the message the Lord gave him. (Acts 9:1-31; Galatians 1:11-2:21) We also have letters John, Peter, and James wrote.
>How does this help us understand the importance of Holy Spirit filled Bible study?
* Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are the words of God. These are the words of God we are to study. Some have excluded one from their study and preaching. The Old Testament can be studied in the light of the New Testament. The New Testament is supported by the Old Testament. Both have God's message to mankind.
* Jesus is the living word of God. He is the bread of life. The written word of God is also called the bread of God. Do you take your share of daily bread?
* Whenever we study the Bible we should ask God to send the Holy Spirit to teach us. Jesus said, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26) And he said, "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning." (John 15:26-27)
>2. What is a scoffer?
* 2 Peter 3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires."
* "First of all" -Peter was writing congregations who had experienced persecution from without. So he wrote his first letter to encourage them. Now they were experience trouble from within. So in this letter he is writing about false teachers. Peter is now going to help them understand why this was happening.
* "you must understand" -Through Bible study we can understand many things about God, the source of all life. The Bible is not a fortune book teaching us how to be rich in the world. It is not a book to tell us specifics about our future like people try to use horoscopes. It is not a science or history text book. It does teach us about God and his plans for redemption and salvation for his people. It also helps us understand many things about the things his people face in life. It gives us direction in righteous living as we wait for his coming kingdom.
* "in the last days scoffers will come" -Ever since Jesus was born in a manger scoffers have been harassing his people. A scoffer mocks and treats with scorn and derision. They laugh at and ridicule God's people. Consider how people treated Jesus as he was on trial and hung on the cross. (Matthew 27:27-31, 39-44)
>What do they follow?
* "following their own evil desires" -They have no self-control. They do what ever they want. They have no fear of God.
* Peter is not just talking about those who never stepped inside a church, though this is what unbelievers do. Rather, he is writing about heretics who at one time attended a church. According to verse 4 they will have heard about Jesus' second coming either through a Bible preacher or teacher. They may have even been a very important person in a congregation. They may have been your friend. They may be your children or parents. They may be your spouse.
>What does it mean by "in the last days"? (3, 8; Psalm 90:4; John 6:39-40; Heb. 1:2)
* 2 Peter 3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires."
* 2 Peter 3:8 "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."
* 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."
* John 6:39-40 "And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
* Hebrews 1:2 "but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe."
* 1 Peter 1:5 "who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."
* "in the last days" -Peter used the Greek words "epi eschatos hemera" here. "Epi" is a primary preposition properly meaning superimposition (of time, place, order, etc.). "Hemera" has the meaning age, day, and judgment. Hermera is used more with the light part of a twenty-four (24) hour day. "Eschatos" narrows the time period to the end time. With other New Testament writers, Peter viewed the whole period beginning with Christ's first coming (more precisely his ascension) to his second as the last days. (Acts 2:17, and 2 Timothy 3:1, Hebrews 1:2, and 1 Peter 1:20) They understood this to be the "last" of the days because neither former prophecy nor new revelation concerning the history of salvation indicated the coming of another era before the return of Christ. The word "last" in "last days," "last times" and "last hour" also expresses a sense of urgency and imminence. I as a Christian am to be alert, waiting for the return of Christ. (Matthew 25:1-3) Last day also refers back to the six days of creation and the one day of rest. We are now at the last hour of the sixth day. The next day, the Sabbath rest, starts when Jesus comes again.
* The Old Testament prophets often spoke of "The day of the Lord" as the time when God reveals His sovereignty over human powers and human existence. For example "The day of the Lord" is the dominant theme of Joel. Besides Joel six other Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 13:6,9; Ezekiel 13:5, 30:3; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7,14; Malachi 4:5; perhaps Zechariah 14:1 too) uses the term "the day of the Lord". Sometimes the prophets of Israel and Judah abbreviated it to "that day". It was familiar to their audience, a term by which the audience expected light and salvation (Amos 5:18), but the prophets painted it as a day of darkness and judgment (Isaiah 2:10-22; 13:6,9; Joel 1:15; 2:1-11,31; 3:14-15; Amos 5:20; Zephaniah 1:7-8,14-18; Malachi 4:5). The Old Testament language of the day of the Lord is aimed at warning sinners among God's people of the danger of trusting in traditional religion without commitment to God and to His way of life. It is language that could be aimed at judging Israel or that could be used to promise deliverance from evil enemies (Isaiah 13:6,9; Ezekiel 30:3; Obadiah 15). The day of the Lord is thus a point in time in which God displays His sovereign initiative to reveal His control of history, of time, of His people, and of all people.
* The apostles Peter and Paul also used the term "day of the Lord" (in place of "Lord" they also put "God" and "Lord Jesus"). (Acts 2:20; and 1 Corinthians 1:8, 5:5; and 2 Corinthians 1:14; and 1 Thessalonians 5:2; and 2 Thessalonians 2:2; and 2 Peter 3:10-12)
* The apostles used the terms "last times" and "last days" referring to the whole period introduced by Jesus' first coming. (John 11:24; Jude 1:17-18; Acts 15:16-18; Hebrews 9:36; and 2 Peter 3:3) These days are last in comparison to Old Testament days, which were preliminary and preparatory. (Romans 16:25-26; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26) Also, the Christian era is the time of the beginnings of prophetic fulfillment. (1 Corinthians 10:11) The "days" can be interpreted as "ages" (Matthew 12:39, 13:39-40, 49, 24:3, 28:20; Ephesians 1:21, 2:7; and 1 Timothy 6:19; Titus 2:12; Jude 1:25) (periods of time) that reflect the six days of creation with the seventh day as a day of rest. Indeed the apostles very clearly call the one thousand year reign of Jesus as "the Lord's Sabbath" and "the day of rest". (Hebrews 4:1-11, 6:5; Revelation 14:13) Jesus himself invited us to his day of rest (Matthew 11:19; Luke 18:30, 20:34-36) and to work now and rest in the future (John 9:4). Since this is the time just before the Sabbath rest, then we are in the sixth day, the time when man and woman (Adam and Eve) were created. The Lord God Almighty is called the "King of the ages". (Revelation 15:3)
* Blackstone wrote in his book Jesus is Coming “The division of time into sevens, or weeks, permeates the Scriptures. A fundamental enactment of the Mosaic Law was the keeping of the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8). This was based upon God's great rest day in Genesis 2. Upon this is founded not only the week of days, but also the week of weeks leading to Pentecost (Lev. 23:15-16); the week of months, with the Atonement and seven days feast of Tabernacles in the seventh month (Lev. 23:27-28); the week of years, ending with the Sabbatic year (Lev. 25:4); and the week of weeks of years, ending with the seventh Sabbatic year, and followed by the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:8-12).” He continues with more and quotes 2 Peter 3:8 then continues, “…so we also have the great week of Millenniums. Six thousand-year days of labor and then the Millennium, or blessed seventh thousand-year of rest.” He is not the first to see the significance.
* For more on this time period read the manuscript "The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires" found on this site.
* Imminence is about being ready even though we don't know when Jesus will come, more than what most understand as the Christian meaning of the word.
* Habakkuk 2:2-3 "Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."
* Jesus often told us the same thing in parables about his return; the nobleman who went to a far country, the servants given talents while their master is away, the ten virgins, etc. The letters of the apostles also address the timing of Jesus' return. Many who call themselves Christians believe in immanence, that is, that Jesus can return at any time since his ascension. Is this in line with Jesus' parables? And what of claim that the gospel must be preached in the whole world before he came again? This did not happen until recent years. Below is a quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry in chapter 3 under the heading "Expectation and Imminence".
* If the second coming could not have been imminent for those originally commanded to watch at the time they were so commanded, then the commanded expectancy could not have implied imminence of the event looked for. It then becomes unnecessary for us to regard Jesus' coming as imminent, for we have received no further and no different exhortations. In other words, if a delay in the Parousia of at least several years was compatible with expectancy in apostolic times, a delay for the several years of the tribulation is compatible with expectancy in current times. Jesus clearly indicates to the early disciples that His coming will be delayed for some time. The express purpose of the parable concerning the nobleman who went to a "far country" is that the disciples should not think "the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately" (Luke 19: 11-27). "While the bridegroom was delaying" also intimates delay (Matt. 25:5). In the parable of the talents, Jesus likens His return to the lord who "after a long time" came back from a far country (Matt. 25:19).
Jesus bases the parable of the servants on the presupposition of a delay in His coming, for without the delay no interval would have provided opportunity for the servants to display their true colors (Luke 12:41-48; Matt. 24:45-51). And when Jesus has the wicked servant say, "My master will be a long time in coming," He tacitly admits that there will be a delay. As the wicked servant's eternal judgment "with the unbelievers (or hypocrites)" shows, the contrast in servants distinguishes true disciples, whose characteristic it is to watch, from false disciples, whose characteristic it is not to watch. The necessary delay made no difference to the expectant attitude of the true servant, but it revealed the falsity of the wicked servant. Jesus does not condemn recognition of delay, but the attitude which takes selfish advantage of the delay. Moreover, readiness denotes not so much tiptoe anticipation as faithful service day by day: "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes" (Luke's version).
We might suppose that the long period of delay required in the parables would be satisfied by "a few years." But a few years is all the delay post-tribulationism requires. Jesus could not have given in good faith the great commission with its worldwide extent -"all the nations" and "the remotest part of the earth" -without providing a considerable lapse of time in order that the "disciples might have opportunity to perform the task. The long-range missionary endeavors of Paul may not possess independent argumentative weight (Paul's journey to Rome was contingent on the Lord's will, Rom. 1:9, 10). Yet as the Lord's commission for him to go "far away to the Gentiles" (Acts 22: 21) and to witness before "kings" (Acts 9:15) and as the promise in Jerusalem that he would "witness... at Rome" (Acts 23:11; cf. 27:24) link up with the great commission generally, they gain considerable weight.
It may be countered, with an appeal to Paul's statement "the gospel... was proclaimed in all creation under heaven" (Col. 1:23), that "the extensive preaching of the gospel in the first century might . . . satisfy the program of preaching to the ends of the earth." However, Paul wrote his statement during his first Roman imprisonment, some thirty years after Jesus gave the great commission, an interval more than four times as long as the tribulation. And Paul had not fulfilled his intention of visiting Spain, where the Gospel had not yet been preached (Rom. 15:20, 24). Evidently he himself did not regard the great commission as fulfilled. Apparently, then, in Colossians 1:23 Paul is not affirming a fulfillment of the great commission, but is setting the universality of the Gospel (the good news is for all men, even though it has not reached all men) in opposition to the esotericism of the Colossian heresy.
Of corroborative value is the personal history of Peter (John 21:18, 19; 2 Pet. 1:14) . Jesus foretold that Peter, then middle-aged ("when you were younger ... "), would die at an infirm old age ("when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you ... "). If we try to save the imminence of the Parousia by saying that Peter could have been martyred at any time, we forget that his infirmity and old age were not imminent. And if we say that the prediction concerning Peter was not common knowledge among Christians until long after his death, we overlook the presence of other apostles on the occasion of the prediction. Furthermore, John writes of the incident in order to correct a misimpression which had arisen concerning his own death. The whole matter, then, must have received some publicity in the early Church.
To claim that these delays were "general in nature, without specific length;" merely avoids the issue. Whether general or specific, long or short, the delays were delays and, by being stated, rendered the second coming non-imminent to the apostolic Church. Moreover, the delays were not entirely general in nature. The specificity of the great commission ("in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth"), of the promise that Paul should bear witness at Rome, and of Peter's old age as a time of infirmity to the degree of inability to dress himself make the delays much more pointed than the doctrine of imminence can allow.
Again, to claim that "the delays had been fulfilled by the time the exhortations to watch were written" runs afoul of historical facts. At least those exhortations to watch in the epistles appeared in writing before the disciples could have fulfilled the great commission, before Paul had completed his extensive missionary efforts, and before Peter had reached old age, become infirm, and died. From the very beginning, even before the written exhortations, Christians knew that they were to watch through the oral ministry of Jesus and the apostles and prophets. In one of his earliest epistles Paul already commends believers for their watchfulness (1 Thess. 1:9, 10). The point remains that if watching could not have connoted imminence in the apostolic age, it need not connote imminence now.
But should we not think that all else was contingent upon the second coming, that an "only if Christ does not return beforehand" qualified every other expectation? Possibly, but only possibly, in connection with the personal circumstances of Peter and Paul. It is very hard to think, however, that an imminent return of Christ might have taken away sufficient opportunity to fulfill the great commission. Moreover, when imminence becomes the ruling principle by which all else was and is rendered contingent, even the events of the tribulation do not have to take place; they might "die on the vine" just as the great commission and the predictions concerning Paul and Peter would have done had Jesus returned beforehand.
* This ends the quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry.
>3. What are scoffers saying in our generation and why do they say it? (4; Matt. 26:64; Luke 18:8; John 14:2-3; Acts 1:9-11)
* 2 Peter 3:4 "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."
* Matthew 26:64 "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. "But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."
* Luke 18:8 "I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"
* John 14:2-3 "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."
* Acts 1:9-11 "After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."
* Matthew 24:48-51 "But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
* The scoffers believe that Jesus isn't coming. At one time they looked forward to his coming. Jesus coming means redemption from our current body of sin and flesh as well as cruel oppressive human governments and the ungodly. They wanted this to happen. But after awhile nothing happened. So they gave up their hope in Jesus' coming.
* "our fathers died" -Peter must have been thinking about Jews whom he had preached the gospel to. "Our fathers" seems to refer to Israelites. However, this verse can easily apply to Gentile Christians today. I have read articles in papers and seen television shows that express this same sentiment. These sources say, "Its been two thousand years and Jesus hasn't come."
>What does the past teach us about the absolute nature of God's word? (5-7; Matt. 24:35)
* 2 Peter 3:5-7 "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. 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."
* Matthew 24:35 "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."
* "by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water" -Genesis 1:1 records the creation of the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:2 states, "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Then God said, "Let there be light" (Note: A Hebrew calendar day starts in darkness at sunset and goes through dawn, the light of the day and ends at dusk. Hence, the sequence of the first day begins in verse 2 in darkness and ends with verse 5 at sunset.) The Spirit was hovering over the waters of the earth during the darkness of the first day. The entire surface of the earth was covered with water initially. Then on day two God made sky and on day three God made land. And so Peter wrote, "the earth was formed out of water and by water".
* "By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed." -Peter writes about the world wide flood in Noah's day. (Genesis 6, 7, 8, 9) The water Peter is writing about in verses 5 and 6 is H2O. The water of Noah's flood came from huge caverns (springs of the great deep) under the land and water in the sky. (Genesis 7:11-12)
>What is the future of the present heavens and earth?
* "the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire" -A common theme in the Old and New Testament. The prophet Joel wrote a lot about Jesus' second coming based on three disasters that came upon Israel in his day. One of them was fire. (Joel 1:20, 2:3-5, 30) Peter quoted Joel 2:28-32 on the day of Pentecost. (Acts 2:16-21)
* According to Revelation 20:7-21:1 after mankind and angels final judgment the very elements of creation will burn away. Only since the atomic age has man discovered the atom and the great energy and heat release when it is torn apart. The very words used by Peter through the Holy Spirit is the same as the atom burning away. We really do not know for sure. We can only conjecture that this is what is meant. When this occurs the curse that all creation is under because of man's sin (Gen. 3:17-19) will be burned away with it. The age long effects of God's great curse on the ground as recorded in Genesis 3:17 must be and will be purged from the very elements to the primordial soup of creation before it can be renewed for its eternal purposes as the new heavens and the new earth. This is when Jesus' promise to his bride, “Heaven and earth will pass away,” (Matt. 24:35) will be accomplished.
* My grandmother crocheted beautiful afghans for those she loved. One day she told me that she was going to create one for me. That day we went to a store to buy the yarn. She allowed me to choose the yarns colors and size. When she paid the cashier I could only imagine what her present to me might look like for I had seen afghans that she had created for my relatives. The same day we bought the yarn, she began the work. Day after day she sat in a rocking chair and stitched with a rocking rhythm. The project took a long time to finish, much longer than I expected. Day after day I watched it grow in length and beauty; first one line, then two. Lines turned into a pattern. The pattern was repeated when another color was added. With the use of many colors new patterns of beauty emerged. Finally, after several months, Grandma Pohlman finished my afghan. It was more beautiful than I had originally imagined. To this day when I wrap the soft warm afghan around me I remember and appreciate my grandmother's act of love.
Similar to my grandmother, God has been working meticulously throughout time, working on the restoration afghan of love. When he is finished with his work and presents it to his beloved, they will be able to appreciate it for eternity.
* The above two points are taken from "The Believer's Future - Hope that Inspires" also found on this site.
II. Come Like a Thief (3:9-10)
>4. Why hasn't Jesus come yet? (9)
* 2 Peter 3:9 "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."
* "not wanting anyone to perish" -People will perish as long as they die in sin. Anyone will perish who have not accepted Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord.
* "everyone to come to repentance" -Repenting is turning from sinful acts and turning to God and his way.
* The Lord's motive is his love and compassion.
>Since Peter is writing believers and saying Jesus is patient with us, what can we learn from this verse and verse 15? (Matt. 24:14)
* 2 Peter 3:15 "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."
* Matthew 24:14 "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."
* "Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation"
* "He is patient with you" -Jesus is full of compassion. Have you sinned since you asked Jesus to forgive your sins? Yet he loves you still. He is patient with us. He is long suffering and slow to anger. He forgives and will continue to forgive as long as we are in the flesh.
>5. What is the day of the Lord? (10a; and 2 Thess. 2:1-2; and 1 Thess. 5:1-2)
* 2 Peter 3:10a "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief."
* 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come."
* 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 "Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night."
* "the day of the Lord" -The day of the Lord is one day only. It can be understood as one twenty-four (24) hour day that starts at sunset goes through dawn, the light period and ends at sunset. Thus it is Jesus coming. The day of the Lord is not plural like "in the last days" in verse 3. The single day here is Jesus' coming and the plural "in the last days" is the time before his coming. The day of the Lord contains the harvest that Jesus and the apostles taught about. (Matthew 13:30, 39, 21:34, 41, 25:24, 26; Mark 4:29, 12:2; Luke 20:10; John 4:35-36; Romans 1:13; and 1 Corinthians 9:10-11; Galatians 6:9; Revelation 14:15-16) The last days as Peter stated on Pentecost when he quoted Joel started with Jesus' death and resurrection and will end when Jesus comes on the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord starts the Lord's one thousand year reign.
* See question 2 above for more.
* "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night -J. Vernon McGee wrote, "There is some argument as to whether this takes place at the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom or at the end of the millennial kingdom. I am convinced that the Day of the Lord is an extended period of time which opens with the Tribulation, followed by the thousand-year reign of Christ, the brief rebellion led by Satan, and the judgment of the Great White Throne. Then, as we find in the Book of Revelation, the new heavens and the new earth come into view."
J. Vernon McGee continued, "The Day of the Lord will include judgment also. The "day of the Lord" is a familiar term in Scripture. The prophets used it, the Lord Jesus used it, and many of the New Testament writers used it. It is a technical term. The Day of the Lord begins in darkness, as the Old Testament prophets said -it begins with tribulation. It ends with this great atomic explosion, this great judgment of the earth by its being dissolved by fire. Between these two great events is the period of the seven years of tribulation, the coming of Christ to the earth to establish His kingdom, the millennial kingdom, the brief release of Satan and the rebellion of those who rally to him, Satan's final confinement, and the Great White Throne judgment of the lost. Then after the judgment of the earth, which Peter is describing, the new heaven and the new earth come into view." (Thru the Bible Commentary -Second Peter)
* The day of the Lord is a familiar Old Testament image for the ultimate day of God’s judgment, his final day in court when he settles the injustices of the world (e.g., Isaiah 2:12; Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18-20). (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament)
* "But the day of the Lord will come" -Calvin wrote, "This has been added, that the faithful might be always watching, and not promise tomorrow to themselves. For we all labor under two very different evils —too much haste and slothfulness. We are seized with impatience for the day of Christ already expected; at the same time we securely regard it as afar off. As, then, the Apostle has before reproved an unreasonable ardor, so he now shakes off our sleepiness, so that we may attentively expect Christ at all times, lest we should become idle and negligent, as it is usually the case. For whence is it that flesh indulges itself except that there is no thought of the near coming of Christ?" (Calvin's Commentaries)
>What is it compared to? (Matt. 24:42-44; Rev. 16:15)
* Matthew 24:42-44 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."
* Revelation 16:15 "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."
* "will come like a thief" -Peter (like he does in much of his letter) has in mind Jesus' teachings. Jesus compared his second coming like a thief. (Matthew 24:42-44) Jesus very clearly told his disciples he would leave the world and leave his disciples in the world, but come back to the world. (John 17:11, 13)
* A thief does not give a time and date as to when he will come. A thief does not respond to an invitation from the owner. A thief comes suddenly, uninvited, and unexpectedly. A thief comes with one intent, to take for himself something that may or may not have belonged to him or her originally.
* Jesus did not give an exact time as to when he could come. (He did give general hints.) He did not say, "In two thousand one hundred and twenty years from now I will come." Why not? Jesus wants us to be prepared at all times. So he says, "Keep watch." He said, "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:44) Jesus intent in coming like a thief is to take his people from the world.
* "As a thief in the night" -J. Vernon McGee wrote, "The same expression which Paul uses in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, indicates that it will begin unexpectedly." (Thru the Bible Commentary -Second Peter)
* Matthew Henry wrote, "The certainty of the day of the Lord: though it is now above sixteen hundred years since this epistle was written, and the day has not yet come, it assuredly will come. God has appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness, and he will keep his appointment. It is appointed to men once to die, and after this the judgment, Hebrews 9:27. “Settle it therefore in your hearts that the day of the Lord will certainly come, and you shall certainly be called to give an account of all things done in the body, whether good or evil; and let your exact walking before God, and your frequent judging yourselves, evidence your firm belief of a future judgment, when many live as if they were never to give any account at all.”" (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible)
>Who is the Lord Jesus taking from and what is he taking? (John 10:2-3; 14:30-31; 15:19)
* John 10:2-3 "The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."
* John 14:30-31 "I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me. 'Come now; let us leave.'"
* John 15:19 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."
* The devil, his demons, and his human followers control the people of this world. They do not control Jesus' people for we have the Holy Spirit. (John 15:19) However, we are very few compared to the people who are not Jesus' people. (Matthew 7:13-14) That is why Jesus calls the devil the prince of this world. (John 14:30-31) The Lord God Almighty is in control of history. God's plan will be fulfilled. The devil's rebellion will not stop God's plan. A part of God's plan is that Jesus will take from the prince of this world, the devil. When Jesus comes gain he will act like a thief and take from the world.
* What Jesus will take from the world is quit obvious from Jesus' many teachings. He will take his people from the earth, what is not called the rapture. (Rapture is from the Latin word that means "caught up" as is in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.) Jesus wanted his people to be in the world (John 17:11, 15) so that we may be a light in the world. (Matthew 5:14) Being a light means he wants us to be as he was a light, which includes preaching the gospel to the people of the world. (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10; Acts 1:7-8) There are more reasons why he wants his people to remain in the world. The point here is that we are Jesus' people, we are few, we are in a world of sinners, and Jesus will suddenly remove us from the world.
* 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
>6. What does the elements being destroyed by fire remind you of?
* 2 Peter 3:10b "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."
* "The heavens will disappear with a roar" -There are at least three heavens. (2 Corinthians 12:2) The first heaven is the sky. The second heaven is the place where the sun, moon, planet and stars are. The third heaven is where God dwells. Whether all three or only the first two are meant is not clear. However, it is believed the first two are meant.
* "the elements will be destroyed by fire" -After mankind and angel’s final judgment the very elements of creation will burn away. Only since the atomic age has man discovered the atom and the great energy and heat release when it is torn apart. The very words used by Peter through the Holy Spirit is the same as the atom burning away. We really do not know for sure. We can only conjecture that this is what is meant. When this occurs the curse that all creation is under because of man's sin (Genesis 3:17-19) will be burned away with it. The age long effects of God's great curse on the ground as recorded in Genesis 3:17 must be and will be purged from the very elements to the primordial soup of creation before it can be renewed for its eternal purposes as the new heavens and the new earth. This is when Jesus promise to his bride, “Heaven and earth will pass away,” (Matthew 24:35) will be accomplished.
* "and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare" -In doing so the earth will be brought to a formless and empty state. (Genesis 1:2)
* Peter's words here are after the one thousand year reign of Christ. (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22; Revelation 21:1)
* "the heavens will pass away with a roar (KJV; great noise)" -J. Vernon McGee wrote, "The Greek word used here for "noise" is "rhoizedon". It is the word used for the swish of an arrow, the rush of wings, the splash of water, the hiss of a serpent. Have you ever listened to an atom bomb go off? Do you remember a number of years ago when they were experimenting with the bombs and we could see and hear them on television? This is the very word and the only word I know that could describe such a noise." (Thru the Bible Commentary -Second Peter)
* "the elements will be destroyed by fire (KJV; shall melt with fervent heat)" -J. Vernon McGee wrote, "You see, matter is not eternal as was once believed; you can get rid of matter -that is, it can be converted into energy. Peter speaks here of "the elements," the little building blocks of the universe, the “stoicheia” as it is in the Greek. “Stoicheion” is a better word than our word atom which comes from a Greek word meaning something you cannot cut, because we have found that an atom can be cut and it can be taken apart." (Thru the Bible Commentary -Second Peter)
* "destroyed (KJV; melt)" -J. Vernon McGee wrote, "'Melt' employs one of the simplest Greek words, the verb "lyo", which simply means "to untie or to unloose." By untying the atom, man has been able to produce a little bomb that can do tremendous wonders. Today men are trying to release that energy because you and I live in a world that is running out of resources. When God stocked this earth, He put plenty of oil in it, and He put plenty of groceries here. It was like a great supermarket. Men came and prostituted this earth. They have polluted the earth and are beginning to use up all that God had put in the pantry and all that He had put in the filling station. But there is a tremendous potential of energy in the little atom, and I tell you, when God destroys this earth someday, it is going to be a tremendous thing. I think that it will be just like a great atomic explosion, and the earth will go into nothing. I have always felt that the Lord will probably turn the little atoms wrong side out and use the other side of them for a while. When He does that, man will never be able to untie them again. " (Thru the Bible Commentary -Second Peter)
* "The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" -J. Vernon McGee wrote, "This will certainly include the tremendous amount of water that is on the earth-it will be burned up. We know today that water is made up of two elements, hydrogen and oxygen, and both of them are gases that are inflammable and can be very explosive. Firemen tell us that there are certain kinds of fire which, when water is put on them, are only helped along by it. Fire fighters have to use certain kinds of chemicals to put out such fires. 'The works that are therein shall be burned up.'" (Thru the Bible Commentary -Second Peter)
>Why should we not put hope in this world, no matter how it looks now?
* The world is only temporary. We cannot take it with us when we die. It will not exist forever.
* Jesus is not only restoring his bride, he is also restoring all that sin has twisted and tainted. (Acts 3:21) All of creation was diminished and continues to diminish because of sin. (Gen. 3:17, Rom 5:12, 8:19-23, Isa. 24, Col. 1:15-20) The whole of creation was thrown into disharmony. Thus, the world and all of creation needs to be restored. (Matt. 19:28, Acts 3:20-21, Heb. 12:26- 28, and 2 Peter 3:10-13, Isa. 24, 65:17, 66:22)
* J. Vernon McGee wrote, "Peter is saying that God will judge in the future just as He has in the past. At the beginning of this chapter, Peter says that the scoffers will say, "All things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (v.4). The scoffer's great fallacy is in not knowing the past, yet it is the evolutionist who makes so much of the fact that there was a great catastrophe in the past. The great mountains out here in the West, the High Sierras, were thrown tip at that time by some great convulsion of nature. That happened sometime in the past, and it was a judgment of God, if you please." (Thru the Bible Commentary -Second Peter)
* Matthew Henry wrote, "And now who can but observe what a difference there will be between the first coming of Christ and the second! Yet that is called the great and dreadful day of the Lord, Malachi 4:5. How much more dreadful must this coming to judgment be! May we be so wise as to prepare for it, that it may not be a day of vengeance and destruction unto us. O! what will become of us, if we set our affections on this earth, and make it our portion, seeing all these things shall be burnt up? Look out therefore, and make sure of a happiness beyond this visible world, which must all be melted down." (Matthew Henry's Commentary of the Whole Bible)
III. Live Holy and Godly Lives (3:11-18)
>7. What kind of life should we live? (11-12, 14)
* 2 Peter 3:11-12 "Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 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."
* 2 Peter 3:14 "So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him."
* "You ought to live holy and godly lives" -Jesus' coming should inspire us to live as Jesus instructed us to live. Holy living is free of sin and to God. Godly living is devoted to worship and service to God.
* "as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming" -There have been and currently is for me many reasons to loose hope. My life right now is full of all kinds of troubles to the point of wanting to give up and leave this world. Yet there is hope; in Christ there is always hope.
* "make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him."
* "That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat." -What is "that day" here? There appears to be two separate times of destructive fires. Jesus' soon second coming will bring fire on the earth just before and at his coming. (Revelation 8:5, 7, 9:17-18, 11:5, 13:13, 16:8, 18:8, 20:9) Then after one thousand years new heavens and a new earth will be made from the old through fire.
* As usually in the New Testament, Peter's discussion of the future is practical and suggests how to live in the present. This focus corresponds with the motives of some apocalyptic writers but contrasts with what appear to be those of many others: impatient curiosity about the future. Those who suffered in the present order especially embraced apocalyptic hope, which gave them strength to persevere in the midst of seemingly insurmountable tests in this age. (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament)
* Calvin wrote, "Heaven and earth, he says, shall pass away for our sakes; is it meet, then, for us to be engrossed with the things of earth, and not, on the contrary, to attend to a holy and godly life?" (Calvin's Commentaries)
>8. Is our home in this world? (13; Heb. 11:13-16)
* 2 Peter 3:13 "But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness."
* Hebrews 11:13-16 "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country--a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."
* "a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness"
>9. Is Peter the only person who wrote about the last days and the day of the Lord? (16)
* 2 Peter 3:15b-16 "...just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 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."
* "our dear brother Paul" -Paul and Peter were not in competition with each other.
* "also wrote you" -We have a lot of Paul's letter. Paul's letter to the Galatians was directed to some of the same congregations that Peter wrote to in his two letters that we have.
* "He writes the same way in all his letters" -Peter must have read many of the same letters that we have in the modern Bible.
* "His letters contain some things that are hard to understand" -This is true to this day and why commentaries such as is offered on this site useful.
>What does he equate Paul's letters with?
* "wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him" -God works through the gifts he gives us as the Holy Spirit directs. In Paul case God gave his wisdom and the Holy Spirit used it as he directed him.
* "as they do the other Scriptures" -Peter states that Paul's letters are Scriptures as much as the books in the Old Testament are considered Scripture.
* Scripture is considered writing inspired by God.
>What kind of people distort Scriptures?
* "which ignorant and unstable people distort"
* "to their own destruction" -Eternal destruction, even destruction in this life is often our own faults.
>10. What does the fact that Peter warns us tell us about what could happen? (17)
* 2 Peter 3:17 "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."
* "Therefore" -Peter is going to make a concluding statement.
* "since you already know this" -As Peter says earlier, he and Paul and others told them these things before. We know and need reminded.
* "be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men" -Peter warns of the heretics one more time. This can be considered the main point of this letter.
* "and fall from your secure position." -Jesus makes us secure as we walk by faith in love. We can resist this by turning to sin again.
>How can we stop this from happening to us? (18)
* 2 Peter 3:18 "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."
* "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." -Similar to how Peter started his letter.
* "To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." -A salutation that must have also been a saying and/or salutation amongst the early church.
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