2 Peter 3:15 MEANING

2 Peter 3:15
(15) The longsuffering of our Lord.--Again, as in 2 Peter 3:9, we are in doubt as to whether God the Father or the Lord Jesus is meant. In neither case is absolute certainty obtainable; but here the balance seems decidedly in favour of the latter meaning. In 2 Peter 3:8 "the Lord" certainly means God, and not the Lord Jesus (comp. 2 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 2:11). In 2 Peter 3:18 "our Lord" is expressly stated to be Jesus Christ. The two intermediate 2 Peter 3:9; 2 Peter 3:15, are open to dispute. The fact that "our" appears in this verse before "Lord," as in 2 Peter 3:18, inclines the balance here towards the meaning in 2 Peter 3:18. Moreover, had God been meant, it would have sufficed to say, "and account that His long-suffering is salvation." If this is correct, and "our Lord" means Jesus Christ, "then throughout this weighty passage the Lord Jesus is invested with the full attributes of Deity." Here, possibly, as also in 2 Peter 1:1 (see Note), the expression points to the writer's entire belief in the unity of the two Persons. Account the longsuffering of our Lord salvation instead of accounting it to be "slackness" (2 Peter 3:9); make use of it for working out your own salvation in fear and trembling, instead of criticising it.

As our beloved brother Paul.--This may possibly mean something more than that St. Paul was a fellow-Christian and a personal friend--viz., that he was a fellow-worker and brother-evangelist. More than this it cannot well mean, though some interpret it "brother-Apostle." Tychicus is twice called "beloved brother" by St. Paul (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7), and the addition of "our" here can make no such change of meaning. It is doubtful whether there is any allusion to the dispute between St. Peter and St. Paul (Galatians 2:11), although an expression of marked affection would be quite in place as evidence that all such differences were now forgotten. In any case the familiarity and equality which the expression "our beloved brother Paul" implies should be noticed. It is in marked contrast to the way in which Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement of Alexandria speak of St. Paul, and in this way is a decided note of genuineness. A writer of the sub-Apostolic age would not easily be able to free himself from the feeling of the age in this respect. Clement of Rome (Corinthians, xlvii. 1), says, "Take up the Epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle." Ignatius (Ephesians, 12:2) calls him "Paul the sanctified, the martyred, worthily called blessed." Polycarp (see next Note) calls him "the blessed and glorious Paul," or "the blessed Paul." Clement of Alexandria commonly says simply "the Apostle," but sometimes "the divine Apostle" or "the noble Apostle." An imitator in the second century would scarcely have attained to the freedom of "our beloved brother Paul."

According to the wisdom given unto him.--Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:10; Galatians 2:9. Polycarp, in his Epistle to the Philippians (2 Peter iii. 2), says, "Neither I nor any one else like me can equal the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who . . . wrote letters to you, into which if ye look diligently, &c. &c." This seems to show that St. Paul's letters had already become the common property of the churches.

Hath written unto you.--More literally, wrote to you. What Epistle, or Epistles, are here meant? Few points in this Epistle have been more debated. The following are some of the many answers that have been given to the question: (1) a lost Epistle; (2) Hebrews, because of Hebrews 9:26-28; Hebrews 10:23-25; Hebrews 10:37; (3) Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, because our Epistle is supposed to be addressed to the Christians of Asia Minor; (4) Ephesians only, for the reason just stated, and because Colossians and Galatians contain little or no mention of the day of judgment; also because of Ephesians 4:30, and the encyclical character of the Epistle; (5) 1 Corinthians, because of 1 Corinthians 1:7-9; (6) Romans, because of Romans 2:4 and Romans 9:22-23; (7) 1 and 2 Thessalonians, because of 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:23, because 2 Peter 3:10 recalls 1 Thessalonians 5:2, also because "things hard to be understood" admirably describes much of 2 Thessalonians 2, which treats of the time of Christ's coming, the very subject here under discussion.

Of these seven theories, (1) can neither be proved nor disproved; (3) and (4) lose much of their weight when we consider that the persons addressed in 2 Peter are nowhere defined, excepting that to some extent they are identical with those addressed in 1 Peter. Of the remaining four, (7) seems to be very probable, both on account of the large amount of coincidence, and also because of the early date of those Epistles, allowing an interval of fifteen years, in which the two Epistles might easily have become well known in other churches. Still it is difficult to find a passage in them about the longsuffering of God, such as Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22-23. And when we consider that Romans also Appears to have been an Encyclical Letter, and was written not so very long after the Epistles to the Thessalonians; that in Romans 3:8. St. Paul himself tells us that he had been grossly misunderstood; that Romans 9:3 might easily cause serious misunderstanding, and that Romans 6:16 seems to be recalled in 2 Peter 2:19--it will perhaps be thought that on the whole Romans best answers to the requirements of the context.

Verse 15. - And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation. The apostle is referring to verse 9. Scoffers count the delay of the judgment slackness; the Christian should count it salvation; it is for the salvation of the elect that the judgment tarrieth. It is almost certain that by "our Lord" here St. Peter means the Lord Jesus, whom he describes by the same title in verse 18. Even as our beloved brother Paul also. The plural pronoun may be intended to imply that St. Paul was known to the Churches to which St. Peter was writing, and was beloved there. St. Peter addresses his readers as "beloved" four times in this Epistle; he here uses the same epithet of St. Paul. It comes naturally from his lips; but a writer of the second century would probably have used much stronger words of praise in speaking of one so much reverenced. According to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; rather, wrote to you (comp. Polycarp, 'Ad Philipp.,' 1:3, "One like me cannot equal the wisdom of the blessed Paul"). That wisdom was given mite him, as he himself says (1 Corinthians 3:10). If we ask to what Epistles of St. Paul is St. Peter referring, the passage which at once occurs to us is 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5. This Epistle was probably known to St. Peter; there may be a reference to 1 Thessalonians 5:2 in verse 10 of this chapter; and Silvanus, whose name St. Paul associates with his own in both Epistles to the Thessalonians, was with St. Peter when he wrote his First Epistle (1 Peter 5:12). But St. Peter's Second Epistle is addressed (primarily at least) to the same Churches to which the first was written (chapter 3:1). We must therefore either say, with Dean Alford, that "our Epistle belongs to a date when the Pauline Epistles were no longer the property only of the Churches to which they were written, but were dispersed through, and considered to belong to, the whole Christian Church;" or we must suppose that the passages in St. Peter's thoughts were not in the Epistle to the Thessalonians, but in some of the Epistles addressed to the Churches of Asia Minor; as, for instance, Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 2:8; Ephesians 3:9-11; Colossians 1:22; Colossians 3:4, 24; or, possibly Romans 2:4 and Romans 9:22, as there seem to be some reasons for believing that this last Epistle was addressed to the Church at Ephesus among others.

3:11-18 From the doctrine of Christ's second coming, we are exhorted to purity and godliness. This is the effect of real knowledge. Very exact and universal holiness is enjoined, not resting in any low measure or degree. True Christians look for new heavens and a new earth; freed from the vanity to which things present are subject, and the sin they are polluted with. Those only who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, shall be admitted to dwell in this holy place. He is faithful, who has promised. Those, whose sins are pardoned, and their peace made with God, are the only safe and happy people; therefore follow after peace, and that with all men; follow after holiness as well as peace. Never expect to be found at that day of God in peace, if you are lazy and idle in this your day, in which we must finish the work given us to do. Only the diligent Christian will be the happy Christian in the day of the Lord. Our Lord will suddenly come to us, or shortly call us to him; and shall he find us idle? Learn to make a right use of the patience of our Lord, who as yet delays his coming. Proud, carnal, and corrupt men, seek to wrest some things into a seeming agreement with their wicked doctrines. But this is no reason why St. Paul's epistles, or any other part of the Scriptures, should be laid aside; for men, left to themselves, pervert every gift of God. Then let us seek to have our minds prepared for receiving things hard to be understood, by putting in practice things which are more easy to be understood. But there must be self-denial and suspicion of ourselves, and submission to the authority of Christ Jesus, before we can heartily receive all the truths of the gospel, therefore we are in great danger of rejecting the truth. And whatever opinions and thoughts of men are not according to the law of God, and warranted by it, the believer disclaims and abhors. Those who are led away by error, fall from their own stedfastness. And that we may avoid being led away, we must seek to grow in all grace, in faith, and virtue, and knowledge. Labour to know Christ more clearly, and more fully; to know him so as to be more like him, and to love him better. This is the knowledge of Christ, which the apostle Paul reached after, and desired to attain; and those who taste this effect of the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, will, upon receiving such grace from him, give thanks and praise him, and join in ascribing glory to him now, in the full assurance of doing the same hereafter, for ever.And account that the longsuffering of our Lord,.... Not his longsuffering towards the wicked, and his forbearance with them, for that is not the means of, nor the way to, nor does it issue in, their salvation, but in their sorer punishment and greater damnation, see Romans 2:4; but towards the elect, as in 2 Peter 3:9; whom he bears much and long with before conversion, while in their sins, and in a state of unregeneracy, and waits to be gracious to them, as he is in their calling, and to make known and apply his great salvation to them; and as with particular persons, so with the whole body of them, till they are all gathered in, and even with the world for their sakes; and particularly the Lord's longsuffering here intends the deferring of his coming, or his seeming slackness in the performance of his promise: the reason of which is,

salvation: the salvation of all his chosen ones, and in that it issues; he waits, he stays, that none of them might perish, but that they might be all brought to faith and repentance, and so be saved: wherefore the apostle would have the saints consider it in this light, and not imagine and conclude, with the scoffing infidels, that he is slack and dilatory, and will not come, but that his view in it is the salvation of all his people, which by this means is brought about: in confirmation of which, and other things he had delivered, he produces the testimony of the Apostle Paul;

even as our beloved brother Paul also; he calls him a "brother", both on account of his being a believer in Christ, one that belonged to the same family with him, and was of the household of faith, born of the same Father, and related to the same Redeemer, the firstborn among many brethren, and likewise on account of his being a fellow apostle; for though he was not one of the twelve apostles, but his call and mission were later than theirs, yet Peter does not disdain to put him among them, and upon an equal foot with them, nor was he a whit behind the chief of them: he styles him a "beloved" brother; expressing his affection for him, which the relation between them called for, and which he bore to him, notwithstanding his public opposition to him, and sharp reproof of him, Galatians 2:11, and perhaps loved him the more for it; see Psalm 141:5; and he makes mention of him, and that under these characters, partly to show their agreement and consent in doctrine; and partly to recommend him to the Jews, to whom he writes, who had, upon report of his doctrine and ministry, entertained an ill, at least a mean opinion, of him; as also to set us an example to speak well of one another, both as ministers and private believers:

according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; meaning not all his epistles, as being written for the general good of all the saints, as well as for those particular churches or men to whom they were sent; for what Peter speaks of is what was particularly written to them, and is distinguished in 2 Peter 3:16 from the rest of Paul's epistles; nor does he intend the epistle of Paul to the Romans, for the longsuffering of God spoken of in that, as in Romans 2:4, is his longsuffering to the wicked, which issues in their destruction, and not his longsuffering to his elect, which is salvation, as here; but he seems manifestly to have in view the epistle to the Hebrews, for Peter wrote both his first and second epistles to Jews; wherefore, since none of Paul's epistles but that were written particularly to them, it should seem that that is designed, and serves to confirm his being the author of it; in which he writes to the Hebrews concerning the coming of Christ, and of the deferring of it a little while, and of the need they had of patience to wait for it, Hebrews 10:36; and in it also are some things difficult to be understood concerning Melchizedek, the old and new covenant, the removing of the Aaronic priesthood, and the abrogation of the whole ceremonial law, &c. things not easily received by that nation; and the whole is written with great wisdom, respecting the person and office of Christ, the nature of his priesthood, and the glory of the Gospel dispensation; and in a most admirable manner is the whole Mosaic economy laid open and explained: he was indeed a wise master builder, and whatever he wrote was "according to wisdom"; not fleshly wisdom, the wisdom of this world, nor with enticing words of men's wisdom, but according to the divine wisdom, under the influence of the spirit of wisdom and revelation; for he had not this of himself naturally, nor did he learn it at Gamaliel's feet, but it was what was "given to him"; it came from above, from God, who gives it liberally; and as he himself always owned it to be a free grace gift of God bestowed on him, and that all his light and knowledge were by the revelation of Christ, so Peter ascribes it to the same, that God might have all the glory, and all boasting in man be stopped.

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