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The Day of the Lord July 30, 2014

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 2 Peter 3.

Summary: Peter begins by speaking affectionately to his readers, stating that he has written them two letters to arouse them to godly life. He wants to focus their attention on Old Testament prophecy and apostolic teaching.

Peter then states that his exhortation is based on the fact that during the close of the Messianic dispensation, false teachers will appear; they will:

  • scoff
  • live evil lives
  • be skeptical about the First and Second Coming of Christ, since they assume that the world has not changed since the Old Testament times.

Yet these false teachers are willfully evil, as their assumption regarding the immutability of the world is incorrect – the Flood occurred. At that time, God used water to change the world; now, He can use fire to change the world.

Now Peter states although God has yet to use fire to change the world, there is a difference between the divine and human computation of time. In particular, His perseverance extends to these false teachers; His patience is balanced by His justice, though. The Second Coming of Christ is certain, and at that time, the world and the heavenly bodies will be burned up.

Peter then exhorts his readers to have an attitude of godly fear in light of this terrible event. They must display holy behavior, which stems from their holy character. They must earnestly long for this coming event – when they will meet Christ without shame and dwell permanently in their new, righteous home.

Peter reminds his readers that in Paul’s letters, he addresses the same themes that Peter has discussed in this letter; thus, he associates the letters of Paul with the Old Testament Scriptures as the Word of God. He states that unfortunately, unsteadfast souls are twisting Paul’s letters, especially the doctrine of justification.

Now Peter exhorts his readers to be watchful, since there are many dangers around them, and they might fail in facing them. He concludes by exhorting them to continue to grow in divine grace and have divine fellowship with God – who is worthy of all praise.

Thoughts: In verses 8-10, Peter discusses the Second Coming of Christ; in particular, he states that it will suddenly come upon us. Admittedly, when I read this passage, I started pondering the eschatological implications of Peter’s note on how “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”; perhaps since Christ ascended into heaven around 30 A.D., can we expect him to return around 2030 A.D., as that mark the “third day” since his ascension into heaven? I then remembered that dwelling on eschatology is rather unproductive, since I could put my time on this planet to better use by living a “holy and godly” life – especially in light of Peter’s exhortations. I hope to be found faithful when Christ returns, and so I must maintain my focus on that great Day without getting distracted by eschatology.

In verses 15 and 16, Peter discusses how Paul’s letters are equivalent to the Old Testament Scriptures. Thomas offers some insights on this point:

Ignorant and unsteadfast souls were already twisting Paul’s writings. Probably the reference is a general one, or it may be specifically to Paul’s letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians, included in the churches of Asia Minor, to which Peter was writing (1 Peter 1:1). It is thought with great probability that it was St. Paul’s doctrine of justification that was particularly causing their own destruction (verse 16).

I am certainly eager to meet Peter and Paul in the next life and delve into their relationship; in particular, I would like to know how Paul viewed Peter’s letters. Did Paul know about Peter’s letters? If so, and if he also knew about Jude’s letter, how did he react to the common links between this letter and Jude’s letter? On a slightly different tack…if false teachers in Asia Minor were already twisting Paul’s teaching regarding the doctrine of justification, how did they respond to this letter? How many of Paul’s letters did Peter read? Did he have a special affection for any of Paul’s letters?

In verse 18, Peter highlights the importance of “knowledge” in the Christian life, especially as believers anticipate the Second Coming of Christ. Thomas offers some insights on this point:

Knowledge of God here, as elsewhere, implies personal experience and conscious fellowship, and this is one of the prime secrets of Christian steadfastness and progress. Thus the letter ends as it began, with its keynote of knowledge.

When I was in the fourth grade, I received a Bible from my Sunday School teacher, and she wrote this verse on the front endpaper. I still use that Bible when I 1) teach Sunday School and 2) participate in small group Bible studies, and I’ve occasionally pondered this verse. Now that I have completed my stroll through this letter, I have a new perspective on the concept of “knowledge.” Indeed, I now see that while it is good to have some understanding of God at an intellectual level, I must not be satisfied with my progress in that regard – I need to have divine fellowship with Him in order to truly know Him. If it is His will, I hope to know Him more in that regard.

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