Notes on 2 Peter 3:1-7
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
2 Peter 3:1, KJV 1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in (both) which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
By this, Peter claims he wrote both Epistles bearing his name. He states that he wrote both letters to “stir up” the “pure minds” of the believers “by way of remembrance”—he isn’t bringing in any new doctrines or teachings, just a reminder to the readers about what had happened (perhaps, salvation and suffering) and what is going to happen. He brings new information, as will be seen, but what he adds is a supplement rather than a revision. Example: Jesus had said that the believers would be persecuted. Peter adds more details, and an encouragement for them to not give up the faith. Jesus had also said that there would be false prophets and false Christs who would be able to perhaps even deceive the very ones who had been saved (see Matthew 24). Now Peter gives additional details about what the false prophets would speak and some of the lifestyle they would live, in this letter.
2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:
Here Peter reminds the believers to “be mindful” or to remember the words of the Old Testament, especially the prophets, who spoke of Jesus, His sufferings and His glory to come. He also speaks of the commandments from the apostles. Peter was one of the Twelve Apostles and had the authority to speak to believers. Note that he never demanded worship or any other form of respect, here or in the Acts.
Interestingly, some have counted 613 specific commands or commandments in the Old Testament. The Council at Jerusalem reduced these to four (see Acts 15) but the Lord Himself only made two commandments: Love God and your neighbor (Mark 12:28-33).
3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
These scoffers may or may not be the same as the false prophets or false teachers about whom Peter had warned the readers. The scoffers may well be the disciples or converts of these false prophets. Compare this with the incident where Elisha was returning to Bethel after Elijah had been taken to Heaven. “Little children (2 Kings 2:23, KJV)” came out of the city and mocked Elisha. Regardless of the age of these young people, they had no business mocking one of God’s prophets.
4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as (they were) from the beginning of the creation.
Now Peter gives an example of the scoffers’ “argument”, so to speak: they apparently knew about the truth of Christ’s returning (it is mentioned often in the Gospels and other Epistles), but were making fun of it by saying, “Where’s the promise? What’s different? Nothing has changed since creation began!”, or perhaps other mocking comments. Sad indeed are those who know the truth, and had at one time seemed to have accepted the truth, but walked away from it and then made fun of it. The false prophets and false teachers were probably well pleased, but Peter sure wasn’t. Neither should we!
5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
God created the heavens and the earth per Genesis 1 and on Day 3 of creation week separated the earth from the water. The scoffers seem to be willingly ignorant of that fact: what were they believing?
6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
Peter refers back to the Flood of Noah’s day (Genesis 6-9). The only people to survive were Noah, his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law, eight people total. Another incredibly sad item, that God’s perfect earth had become so corrupted that He destroyed it.
7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
This is a reference to the post-Flood earth, current in Peter’s day as in our day. The last part of this verse is somewhat difficult but seems to say that the current earth will remain until the day of judgment (there are at least two, the Judgment of Nations, Matthew 25; and the Great White Throne judgment of Revelation 20) and “perdition” of ungodly men.
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV)