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THE SECOND EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 3 - Verse 1

 

2ND PETER 3—ANALYSIS OF THE CHAPTER.

THE principal design of this chapter is to demonstrate, in opposition to the objections of scoffers, that the Lord Jesus will return again to this world; that the world will be destroyed by fire, and that there will be a new heaven and a new earth; and to show what effect this should have on the minds of Christians. The chapter, without any very exact arrangement by the author, essentially consists of two parts.

I. The argument of the objectors to the doctrine that the Lord Jesus will return to the world, and that it will be destroyed, 2 Pe 3:1-4. In doing this, the apostle (2 Pe 3:1,2) calls their attention to the importance of attending diligently to the things which had been spoken by the prophets, and to the commands of the apostles, reminding them that it was to be expected that in the last days there would be scoffers who would deride the doctrines of religion, and who would maintain that there was no evidence that what had been predicted would be fulfilled, 2 Pe 3:3. He then 2 Pe 3:4 adverts to the argument on which they professed to rely, that there were no signs or indications that those events were to take place; that there were no natural causes in operation which could lead to such results; and that the fact of the stability of the earth since the time of the creation, demonstrated that the predicted destruction of the world could not occur.

II. The argument of Peter, in reply to this objection; a strong affirmation of the truth of the doctrine that the Lord Jesus will return; that the earth and all which it contains will be burned up; that there will be a new heaven and a new earth; and the effect Which the prospect of the coming of the Lord Jesus, and of the destruction of the world by fire, should have on the minds of Christians, 2 Pe 3:5-18.

(1.) The arguments of Peter, in reply to the objection from the long-continued stability of the earth, are the following:

(a.) He refers to the destruction of the old world by the flood—a fact against which the same objections could have been urged, beforehand, which are urged against the predicted destruction of the world by fire, 2 Pe 3:6-7. With just as much plausibility it might have been urged then that-the earth had stood for thousands of years, and that there were no natural causes at work to produce that change. It might, have been asked where the immense amount of water necessary to drown a world could come from; and perhaps it might have been argued that God was too good to destroy a world by a flood. Every objection which could be urged to the destruction of the world by fire, could have been urged to its destruction by water; and as, in fact, those objections, as the event showed, would have had no real force, so they should be regarded as having no real force now.

(b.) No argument against this predicted event can be derived from the fact that hundreds and thousands of years are suffered to elapse before the fulfillment of the predictions, 2 Pe 3:8,9. What seems long to men is not long to God. A thousand years with him, in reference to this point, are as one day. He does not measure time as men do. They soon die; and if they cannot execute their purpose in a brief period, they cannot at all. But this cannot apply to God. He has infinite ages in which to execute his purposes, and therefore no argument can be derived from the fact that his purposes are long delayed, to prove that he will not execute them at all.

(c.) Peter says (2 Pe 3:15, seq.) that the delay which was observed in executing the plans of God should not be interpreted as a proof that they would never be accomplished, but as an evidence of his long-suffering and patience; and, in illustration of this, he refers to the writings of Paul, in which he says that the same sentiments were advanced. There were indeed, he says, in those writings, some things which were hard to be understood; but on this point they were plain.

(2.) A strong affirmation of the truth of the doctrine, 2 Pe 3:9,10, 2 Pe 3:13. He declares that these events will certainly occur, and that they should be expected to take place suddenly, and without any preintimations of their approach—as the thief comes at night without announcing his coming.

(3.) The practical suggestions which Peter intersperses in the argument illustrative of the effect which these considerations should have on the mind, are among the most important parts of the Chapter:

(1.) We should be holy, devout, and serious, 2 Pe 3:11.

(2.) We should look forward with deep interest to the new heavens and earth which are to succeed the present, 2 Pe 3:12.

(3.) We should be diligent and watchful, that we may be found on the return of the Saviour "without spot and blameless," 2 Pe 3:14.

(4.) We should be cautious that we be not seduced and led away by the errors which deny these great doctrines, 2 Pe 3:17 and

(5.) we should grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Pe 3:18.

Verse 1. This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you. This expression proves that he had written a former epistle, and that it was addressed to the same persons as this. Comp. Intro. & 3.

In both which I stir up your pure minds, etc. That is, the main object of both epistles is the same—to call to your remembrance important truths which you have before heard, but which you are in danger of forgetting, or from which you are in danger of being turned away by prevailing errors. Comp. See Barnes "2 Pe 3:12, seq. The word rendered pure, eilikrinhv occurs only here and in Php 1:10, where it is rendered sincere. The word properly refers to that which may be judged of in sunshine; then it means clear, manifest; and then sincere, pure—as that in which there is no obscurity. The idea here perhaps is, that their minds were open, frank, candid, sincere, rather than that they were pure. The apostle regarded them as disposed to see the truth, and yet as liable to be led astray by the plausible errors of others. Such minds need to have truths often brought fresh to their remembrance, though they are truths with which they had before been familiar.

{*} "remembrance" "reminding"

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