Saturday, September 13, 2008

Exposition of 2 Peter 3

I have not been feeling very well recently, but anyway I was asked to lead cell bible study yesterday, and here are the exposition notes that I have prepared.

Exposition on 2 Peter 3

Passage

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (2 Peter 3)


Verse 1
… stirring up your sincere mind

Peter here shows his concern over the flock; and this is his second letter to them, thus showing forth his concern and love towards them. Both of them is directed towards the mind, hence Christians are to think; the foundation of faith is doctrine which requires thinking. But mere intellectual exercise is not in mind, for it must be sincere too. Thus only a believer who knows AND acts on that knowledge is in mind here. So as with all believers, we are to stir up our sincere mind as we approach God’s Word.

… by way of reminder

We are to be constantly reminded and remember the truth of God’s Word. There is no such thing as a truth of Scripture which we have heard enough of. For we are prone to forget God’s precious truths for us, and we must thus constantly immerse ourselves in them.

Verse 2
…that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets

The specific teaching that Peter wants us to remember is here to be presented. It is something that is predicted by the prophets of God. It is therefore not something random but a future event that is sovereignly ordained by God which will come to pass. This must have been frequently taught by Peter and all the apostles too (cf 2 Thess. 2:1-12) as Peter calls the believers to it “by way of reminder” (v. 1)

… and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,

God has already prepared us for the certain future as He gave us commandments for how we should conduct ourselves in these last days. It is the commandment given by God who is our Lord (kurios) and Savior, and this is mediated by the apostles; our apostles who are God’s gifts and messengers to us and FOR us.

NOTE: The Apostles sacrifice themselves for the flock, like Jesus for His flock. Those who want to lead must do likewise. The way up is down. (cf Mt. 20:25-28)

Verse 3
… knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires

In the last days, which we are in, scoffers or mockers will arise to mock Christians and the Christian faith. This is normal; that men (and women) will come out and mock Christians and mock the faith. They follow their sinful desires, thus showing forth that at the root of opposition to Christ is because men love the darkness rather than the light. They detest us because our lives and our Gospel shine a light and expose their wickedness and sinfulness. (cf Jn. 3:19-20)

Verse 4
… They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

These scoffers will mock us, and in this case the mockery will take the form of attacking God’s promises to us; the promise that God will come again for us. The scoffers use the evident uniformity of life against us. Surely, where is God since there is no visible proof of Him or His presence? Things have continued since “the fathers fall asleep” – a reference to great antiquity, up till now; even from creation till now. The world is continuing “by natural law” without God present, or so they say.

Verse 5
… For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God

According to Scripture (Gen. 1:1-2), the earth was formed out of water by God. Peter uses this as a historical fact to refute the scoffers. Creation is here being used as a fact to refute the scoffers to show God’s people that God is faithful to His promise made to us.

Notice here that Peter was not embarrassed of this truth, which in his day and age was contrary to the ideas of Greek philosophy (which taught an ancient form of the “steady state theory” cf Socrates) or of pagan religion with its mystical tall-tales. Yet over and above all this, Peter proudly proclaimed the FACT of Creation as a fact to refute the scoffers, even though the scoffers clearly do not believe in the biblical account of Creation. Peter does not adapt his message and water it down to “find common ground” with the scoffers but instead authoritatively call them to account using the truths of Scripture as factual truths.

In our day and age, the “scientific” theory of Evolution aka Neo-Darwinism functions as the ruling paradigm for the scoffers of our age. Similarly, we do not need to give them an inch and concede anything to them, except to show from Scripture and even the scientific method (or even philosophy of science) that Neo-Darwinism is intellectually and factually bankrupt as a paradigm to live our lives by or to rules our thoughts.

Verse 6
… and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.

This is an obvious reference to the Flood of Moses’ time. Like the Creation account, Peter treated this as a historical reality. The catastrophe that was the Flood left behind lots of evidences like the Great Canyon or the Fossil Record, which sinful Man try to suppress (Rom. 1:21) and re-interpret.

Similar to the reality of the Flood, there is simply no way except to take the events as historical and of Peter’s words as literal. Rejecting this means calling the Scripture and thus God a liar, for God can never inspire error.

Verse 7
… But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly

Just as the ancient world was destroyed by water in the Deluge, the world that we live in now will be destroyed by the opposite – fire. The present heaven and earth are awaiting destruction by fire, on the Great Day when Jesus Christ will come again to judge the world. This is a foretaste of eternal judgment as the ungodly will face the wrath of God in judgment for living a life in rebellion against God and His eternal holy Law.

Verse 8
… But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day

The context is talking about the seeming delay in God’s promise to come back again for His Bride, the Church. Yet we are here reminded that in God’s view time is no issue. There is no actual perceptive difference in God between a day and a thousand years, as God exists apart from time.

Verse 9
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness

Since there is no perceptive difference in God, God is always on time. And here, Peter explains why the Lord tarries and does not come sooner. Far from it that the Lord is slow in coming as we understand slowness, ...

… but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

God is patient towards us, not wanting us to perish, but that all to reach repentance. Who is the “us” – the object stated here? It is those who will believe in Jesus Christ and be saved through repenting of their sins and believing in Jesus as their Savior and Lord. The reason stated by Peter why God does not come quicker in our scheme of time is because God is still waiting for people to repent and believe in Him. When all that will believe (the “all” stated here) have believed, then the end will come; when the Great Commission has been completed, then the end will arrive and Jesus will come for us the Church.

Verse 10
… But the day of the Lord will come like a thief

It is an utter waste of time trying to predict when Christ will come, since the very nature of His coming is secret and not known to us, just like a thief would not inform you beforehand when they will strike. So we are to be always prepared for our Lord’s coming.

… and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved

As verse 7 states, the second coming of the Lord will be accompanied by flames and the melting of the elements which make the Sun look cool in comparison. The entire Creation would be burned up on that day, including planets and stars.

… and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed

There will be no more secrets on that day, as the Light of Christ will expose all acts, even the darkest and most hidden acts will be brought to the light and seen for what it is.

Verse 11
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, …, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn

In light of the knowledge of the Second Coming which is soon, and the temporal-ness of all things, how should we live? We should be living in lives of holiness and godliness, so as to be like God. We are to grow to be more and more Christ-like each and every day of our lives, and that should be our life’s purpose.

Verse 12
… waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God …

We are to live our lives in watchful anticipation of Christ’s coming again. Not only that, we are told to “hasten” the coming of the day of God. In what way are we to do this? We are to do this through evangelism; in sharing with others about Christ and thus bringing more people to repentance and faith in Him.

This is of course not to say that we can actually control Christ’s coming, but humanly speaking it will seem that way as we do what Christ has commanded us to do, as the reason why Jesus is not coming back yet is because they are still people that have not believed in Him which He died for. Such hastening is thus relative from our viewpoint depending on world evangelism.

Verse 13
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

This is our blessed hope; the one goal we should be looking towards. Our goal is the new heavens and the new earth, where righteousness dwells. We yearn for perfect justice, and perfect righteousness of which He has called and destined us for.

Verse 14
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish and at peace

As we await the coming of our Lord, let us be diligent (involving effort) to be seen by Christ as being holy. We are to work towards holiness and purity in our lives, being without as much as possible the pollution of sin.

Verse 15
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation

God’s patience in not coming sooner should be considered as salvation, especially for those of God’s people who have yet to believe in Christ. Do not therefore think of our Lord not coming as a bad thing, but of allowing sinners an opportunity to repent of their sins so as to be saved.

Verse 15-16
... just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters.…, as they do the other Scriptures

Paul’s writings are here very early, even while the Canon was still in the process of enscripturation, regarded as Scripture. This is an important point for us to note: that the Spirit of God works in the writers of the Scriptures so that what they produce will be the exact inerrant Word of God, and He further leads the Church to endorse them as the Word of God which it indeed is.

There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction … Scripture is sometimes harder to understand; difficult passages are present, yet all of these do not make the Scripture not Scripture. These hard to understand things are then mis-interpreted and twisted by the “ignorant and unstable” for their own destruction. From here, we can see that twisting God’s Word is NOT a trivial issue; it is a serious crime and ultimately leads to the path of destruction for those who persist in it. Note also that it is the ignorant and unstable who are stated as doing such. Ignorance is NOT a virtue ever celebrated in the Scriptures, and neither is unstableness. As we grow in our walk with God, we should grow less and less ignorant, and more and more grounded on God’s Word so that we are not unstable, carried about by every wind of doctrine (Eph. 4:14)

Verse 17
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability

We are to take responsibility for our walk with God, and we should grow in Christian maturity, not to be carried away by wicked, lawless people

Verse 18
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen

Instead of carried away by false teachings and wicked people, we are to positively grow in Christ. We are to grow in grace which builds our character and continues to make us godlier. Amen.

2 comments:

Ed Darrell said...

You wrote: In our day and age, the “scientific” theory of Evolution aka Neo-Darwinism functions as the ruling paradigm for the scoffers of our age.

Actually, I find more often the scoffers use criticism of evolution, most often because they fail to understand science, which means they dismiss God as the creator; but sometimes simply because they wish to lord it over others, claiming to have knowledge about how science errs, when it does not.

In any case, I think it is dangerous for any Christian to reject God's creation, as rejection of evolution theory requires. It's theologically unsound, and sets us up for ridicule.

PuritanReformed said...

Ed:

So are you claiming to "understand Science"? I am in the Research field myself, so perhaps you would like to prove your statement: "rejection of evolution theory necessitates rejection of God's creation"? Since you claim to be an expert in Science, that shouldn't be a hard thing to do, right? I eagerly await your answer.