2 Peter 3:1 (NIV) 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.
On verse 1: As an ongoing theme in 2 Peter, we see that successful Christian living is not just about constantly learning new things; it’s just as much about reminding ourselves of the truths of God’s Word that we often forget or take for granted. How well you recall the promises of God’s Word will determine how well you live and deal with life’s challenges.
2 Peter 3:2 (NIV) 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.
On verse 2: How did the letters of Paul, Peter, John, James and others become part of the New Testament? Sure, these individuals were important Christian leaders, but should we elevate the status of what they wrote to the level of God’s Word and holy Scripture? Peter gives us a clue into why. He writes, “the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles”. In other words, during Peter’s time,there was already an understanding in the early church that Jesus Christ was speaking through the apostles, similar to how the Holy Spirit inspired the Old Testament prophets (see 2 Peter 1:20-21). That is why in verse 2 Peter puts the apostles’ words on the same level as “the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets” (i.e. the Old Testament prophecy books). Thus we treat the apostles’ letters in the New Testament as God’s Word, just like the early church did.
2 Peter 3:3-4 (NIV) 3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 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.”
On verses 3-4: Why is it so important to recall the words of the prophets and apostles as found in the Bible? It’s because as you live in this world, other messages will try to compete for your attention and allegiance, including the message of “scoffers” who mock people who live by faith and who preach a completely different message. Amid all other options, hang onto God’s Word.
2 Peter 3:5-7 (ESV) 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, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 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.
On verses 5-7: I particularly like the ESV translation of these verses because it emphasizes the role that God’s Word played in creation (v5), in the great flood (v6) (“by means of these” refers not just to the water but also to the word), and in the last days when a new heaven and earth will replace the old (v7). God’s Word has the power to create and destroy worlds. His Word is the most creative force that has ever existed or will exist. Just as it is by God’s Word that the earth was created, destroyed and restored, so it is by God’s Word that we live, die, and are resurrected.
2 Peter 3:8-9 (ESV) 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. 9 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.
On verses 8-9: “Why has it been so long and Jesus still has not returned?” That is a question people were asking in Peter’s day and it is a question people still ask today. Peter’s answer: it’s because of God’s patience. God knows that the moment Jesus returns, those who reject Him will perish forever. So God waits until the appointed time. Like a man holding the door of a burning building open so that as many people as possible can escape, God holds out hope that people who have not yet received Him will come to Him before it is too late.Who is someone in your life that needs to know Jesus? Pray for opportunities and courage to share Jesus with them.
Heavenly Father, thank You that though heaven and earth pass away, Your Word will remain. May I hang onto Your life-changing Word and share it with others today. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!