2 Peter 3:16 MEANING

2 Peter 3:16
(16) As also in all his epistles.--All those known to the writer. The expression does not necessarily Imply that St. Paul was dead, and that his Epistles had been collected into one volume. That each church made a collection of them as they became known to it, and that in the great centres they became known soon after they were written, are conjectures of great probability.

Speaking in them of these things--viz., of the return of Christ and of the destruction of the world. Some, however, understand the words as meaning the exhortations to holiness here given.

Some things hard to be understood.--Certainly the difficulties with which 2 Thessalonians 2 bristles are well described by this expression, and they relate to the very point in question--the time of Christ's coming. Moreover, scoffers could easily turn them to account by arguing that "the man of sin" had not yet appeared, and that therefore there was no likelihood of the end of the world coming just yet. But in admitting that 2 Thessalonians 2 is among the passages alluded to here, we are not committed to the theory that 1 and 2 Thess. are alluded to in 2 Peter 3:15. Many refer these words to St. Paul's doctrine of justification by faith as wrested to mean "faith without works." So, again, Ephesians 2:5-6, and Colossians 2:12 might be wrested to mean that "the resurrection is past already" (2 Timothy 2:18). (See Note on Romans 3:8 respecting perversion of his teaching.)

Unlearned and unstable.--The word for "unlearned" here is not the same as that translated "unlearned" in Acts 4:13. (See Note there.) That signifies "without special study;" this means "without ordinary instruction." Ignorance naturally produces instability; those who have no clear principles of Christian doctrine easily fall victims to seductions of all kinds. (Comp. 2 Peter 2:14.)

Wrest.--Literally, torture by means of the rack; and hence "strain," "distort." That St. Paul's doctrine of Christian liberty, as opposed to the bondage of the Law, was seen by himself to be liable to great abuse, and had already begun to be abused, we learn from his own writings (1 Corinthians 6:12-20; Galatians 5:13-26; where see Notes. Comp. Revelation 2:20.)

The other scriptures.--The Old Testament cannot well be meant. St. Peter would scarcely have placed the writings of a contemporary side by side with the Scriptures of the Old Testament (the canon of which had long since been closed) without some intimation of a grouping which at that time must have been novel, and probably was quite unknown. It is much more probable that Christian writings of some kind are intended, but we can only conjecture which, any of the canonical writings of the New Testament then in existence, and perhaps some that are not canonical. That an Apostle should speak of the writings of a brother-Apostle in the same terms as the books of the Old Testament--viz., as Scripture--need not surprise us, especially when we remember the large claims made by St. Paul for his own words (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Ephesians 3:3-5. Comp. Acts 15:28; Revelation 22:18-19). In 1 Peter 1:12, Evangelists are almost made superior to the Old Testament Prophets--a statement indicating a view which harmonises well both with 2 Peter 1:15-19 and with the view set forth here; for in 2 Peter 1:15 he assigns to this Epistle much the same purpose as in 2 Peter 1:19 he assigns to the Old Testament Prophets. Moreover, we have seen how Clement of Rome uses the term "Scripture" of a passage which comes from some uncanonical book (see above on 2 Peter 3:4). See Introduction, I. c. . 4.

Unto their own destruction.--The Greek is very emphatic as to its being "their own." (Comp. "Bring upon themselves swift destruction," 2 Peter 2:1.) It is their own doing--St. Paul and other writers of Scripture are not to blame; and it befits them--they will find the end they deserve. This passage gives no countenance to the Roman doctrine that all Scripture is hard to understand, and therefore not to be read by the people. All that is here said is that some Scripture is hard to understand, and that bad men make a bad use of the fact. The inference drawn from this by St. Peter is not, "Do not read Scripture," nor even "Pass over what seems to be hard," but "Be on your guard against being led astray by interpretations contrary to the spirit of the gospel."

Verse 16. - As also in all his Epistles. The true reading is probably ἐν πάσαις ἐπιστολαῖς without the article. The words, therefore, do not imply the existence of a complete collection of St. Paul's Epistles, but mean only "in all Epistles which he writes." Speaking in them of these things; that is, of the day of God, the end of the world, etc. St. Peter was acquainted with other Epistles of St. Paul besides those addressed to the Asiatic Churches. There are evident indications of his knowledge of the Epistles to the Thessalonians and Corinthians, as well as of that to the Romans. In which are some things hard to be understood. The manuscripts vary between ἐν οῖς and ἐν αῖς. The first reading would refer to the words immediately preceding - "these things;" "among the subjects on which St. Paul wrote there are some things," etc. The second would refer to "all his Epistles," and would mean that there are certain difficulties in St. Paul's Epistles generally. St. Peter does not tell us what difficulties were in his thoughts - whether St. Paul's teaching about "the man of sin," and "the day of the Lord," or his doctrine of justification by faith, and his assertion of Christian liberty, which might be perverted into anti-nomianism by such men as the false teachers censured in chapter 2. The word δυσνόητος, "hard to be understood," occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest; rather, the ignorant and unsteadfast. Both words are peculiar to this Epistle; the last occurs also in 2 Peter 2:14, the first here only in the New Testament. The verb also translated "wrest" (στρεβλοῦσιν) is found only here; it means "to twist with a windlass," and so "to strain, to torture, to distort." As they do also the other Scriptures. This passage is of the greatest interest, as showing that some of St. Paul's Epistles had by this time taken their place in the estimate of Christians by the side of the sacred books of the Old Testament, and were regarded as Holy Scripture. By "the other Scriptures" St. Peter means the Old Testament, and also, perhaps, some of the earlier writings of the New, as the first three Gospels and the Epistle of St. James. St. Paul, in 1 Timothy 5:18, quotes a passage which seems to come from Luke 10:7 as Scripture (comp. 1 Peter 1:12). Unto their own destruction; literally, their own destruction of themselves. The use of both adjective and pronoun intensifies the meaning (comp. chapter 2 Peter 2:1, 12).

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.As also in all his epistles,.... From whence it appears, that the Apostle Paul had, by this time, wrote several of his epistles, if not all of them; and they were all written according to the same wisdom, and under the influence of the same spirit, as his epistle to the Hebrews:

speaking in them of those things; of the same things, Peter had been speaking of, of the coming of Christ, as that he should appear a second time to them that look for him, and would come as a thief in the night, and that the fashion, scheme, and form of this world should pass away, and that saints should look and wait for his coming, and love it: something of this kind is said in all his epistles; see Hebrews 9:28; and also of mockers, scoffers, seducers, and wicked men that would arise in the last days; see 1 Timothy 4:1,

in which are some things hard to be understood. The phrase, "in which", refers either to the epistles, or the things spoken in them. The Alexandrian manuscript, and three of Robert Stephens's copies, read , "in which" epistles, but the generality of copies read , "in", or "among which things", spoken of in them, concerning the subject here treated of, the coming of Christ; as the time of Christ's coming, which is sometimes represented by the apostle, as if it would be while he was living; and the manner of his coming in person with all his saints, and his mighty angels, with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and trump of God, things not easily understood; and the destruction of antichrist at his coming, which will be with the breath of his mouth, and the brightness of his coming; as also the resurrection of the dead, of the saints that will rise first, and that with spiritual bodies; and likewise the change of the living saints, and the rapture both of living and raised saints together, in the, clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and the standing of them before the judgment seat of Christ, and the account that everyone must give to him, 1 Thessalonians 4:15 1 Corinthians 15:44;

which they that are unlearned; untaught of God, who have never learned of the Father, nor have learned Christ, nor have that anointing which teacheth all things; who, though they may have been in the schools of men, were never in the school of Christ; and though they have been ever learning, yet will never come to the knowledge of the truth; for men may have a large share of human literature, and yet be unlearned men in the sense of the apostle; and very often it is, that such wrest and pervert the Scriptures to the ruin of themselves, and others:

and unstable; unsettled in their principles, who are like children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine; the root of the matter is not in them; nor are they rooted and built up in Christ, and so are not established in the faith; they are not upon the foundation Christ, nor do they build upon, and abide by the sure word of God, or form their notions according to it, but according to their own carnal reasonings, and fleshly lusts; and so

wrest the word of God, distort it from its true sense and meaning, and make it speak that which it never designed; dealing with it as innocent persons are sometimes used, put upon a rack, and tortured, and so forced to speak what is contrary to their knowledge and consciences; and so were the words of the Apostle Paul wrested by ill designing men, as about the doctrines of grace and works, so concerning the coming of Christ; see Romans 3:8;

as they do also the other Scriptures; the writings of Moses, and the prophets of the Old Testament, the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the other epistles of the apostles of the New Testament: and which is eventually

unto their own destruction; for by so doing they either add unto, or detract from the Scriptures, and so bring the curse of God upon them; and they give into doctrines of devils, and into heresies, which are damnable, and bring upon themselves swift destruction, which lingers not, and slumbers not. Now from hence it does not follow, that the Scriptures are not to be read by the common people; for not all the parts of Scripture, and all things in it, are hard to be understood, there are many things very plain and easy, even everything respecting eternal salvation; there is milk for babes, as well as meat for strong men: besides, not the Scriptures in general, but Paul's epistles only, are here spoken of, and not all of them, or anyone whole epistle among them, only some things in them, and these not impossible, only difficult to be understood; and which is no reason why they should be laid aside, but rather why they should be read with greater application and diligence, and be followed with fervent prayer, and frequent meditation; and though unlearned and unstable men may wrest them to their perdition, those that are taught of God, though otherwise illiterate, may read them to great profit and advantage.

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