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Song of Solomon
2 Peter 3 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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2 Peter 3
2 Peter 3:1
This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in
which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
This Second Epistle, beloved, I now write unto you;
this Epistle already a second one I write unto you.
("already") implies that the interval between the two Epistles was not long. The expression "beloved," four times repeated in this chapter, shows the apostle's affectionate interest in his readers; and the word "second" forces us to make our choice between the Petrine authorship of the Epistle or the hypothesis of a direct forgery.
In both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance;
in which, i.e.
, "Epistles;" the word "second" implied an allusion to a First Epistle. St. Peter repeats the words which he had used in chapter 2 Peter 1:13, "I think it meet... to stir you up by putting you in remembrance." Mind (
) is the reflective faculty (see
1 Peter 1:13
); that faculty should be exercised in holy things. The thoughts that pass through the Christian's mind should be holy thoughts; his mind should be pure. The word rendered "pure" (
) occurs in
(where see note); the corresponding substantive is found in
1 Corinthians 5:8
2 Corinthians 1:12
2 Corinthians 2:17
. It is said of things which can bear to be judged in the sunlight, and so means "pure, clear," or (according to another possible etymology) "unmixed," and so "genuine, sincere."
2 Peter 3:2
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:
That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets.
"That ye may be mindful" is represented by one word in the Greek (
); compare the exact parallel in
. Great stress is laid on the word of prophecy in both Epistles (see
1 Peter 1:10-12
2 Peter 1:19
). And of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour; rather, as in the Revised Version,
and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles.
All the best manuscripts read
here. It is a remarkable expression; but Christ's apostles can be rightly called the apostles of those to whom they are sent, as being their teachers, sent to them for their benefit; just as the angels of God are called also the angels of Christ's little ones (
). Compare also "the angels of the seven Churches" in the Revelation. St. Peter shows an intimate knowledge of several of St. Paul's Epistles, and of that of St. James; he is writing to the Churches addressed in his First Epistle, most of which were founded by St. Paul or his companions. We must therefore understand this passage, as well as verse 15 of this chapter, as a distinct recognition of the apostleship of St. Paul. The translation of the Authorized Version, "the apostles of the Lord and Saviour," involves a violent disturbance of the order; it seems best to make both genitives depend on "commandment:" "your apostles' commandment of the Lord;" the first genitive being that of announcement, the second of origin. The commandment was announced by the apostles, but it was the Lord's commandment. (For the double genitive, comp.
. For the whole verse, see the parallel passage in
2 Peter 3:3
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers.
(For the irregular construction of
, see Winer, 3:63, 2, a.) St. Peter has the words, "knowing this first," in
2 Peter 1:20
, where he is speaking of the interpretation of prophecy; he repeats them now when referring to the scoffers who mocked at the long delay of the Lord's coming foretold by the prophets. (For "the last days," see note on 1 Peter 1:20.) The Revised Version has, "Mockers shall come with mockery." This represents the words
, found in nearly all the best manuscripts, which give emphasis to the expression after the Hebrew manner. The word
occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and
, scoffers, only in the parallel passage,
Walking after their own lusts.
Self-indulgence often leads to skepticism. This verse is quoted in a homily ascribed to Hippolytus.
2 Peter 3:4
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as
from the beginning of the creation.
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?
, "Where is the God of judgment?"). The Lord had prophesied of his coming; St. Paul had spoken more than once as if that coming were very near at hand (
1 Corinthians 15:51
2 Corinthians 5:4
1 Thessalonians 4:15
). Yet he came not. Already men were beginning to mock, and to question whether the long-delayed promise would ever be fulfilled.
For since the fathers fell asleep;
from the day that.
By "the fathers" must be meant here the fathers of the Christian Church. St. Peter was writing more than thirty years after the Ascension. The first generation of Christians was rapidly passing away. Stephen "fell asleep" first, then James the son of Zebedee, the other James the Lord's brother, and many others who had looked, it may be, to see the coming of the Lord among those "which are alive and remain" (
1 Thessalonians 4:17
). But they had died, and he came not; and from the day of their death things went on as they were. Should men look for him still, the mockers asked, when the fathers looked in vain? The mockers adopted, in mockery, doubtless, the Christian phrase for death. The Lord first had said, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth ;" then the holy Stephen "fell asleep;" and so "they which are asleep" became the recognized name for the dead in Christ. Death is like sleep; the holy dead rest from their labours. They "sleep not idly," for they are at home with the Lord, and they are blessed; but yet the quiet rest of Paradise, though "far better" than this earthly life, is sleep compared with the perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, which the redeemed of the Lord shall enjoy at last in his eternal glory.
All things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation;
all things continue thus
, as they are, and as they have been from the beginning. There has been no sudden catastrophe; the world has gone on as it was; the laws of nature are still working with their changeless uniformity" (see a remarkable parallel in Clement, I, 23, which is important also as an independent proof that this argument of the scoffers is as old as the end of the first century).
2 Peter 3:5
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:
For this they willingly are ignorant of;
this escapes them of their own will.
All things have not always been as they are; there have been great changes; there was once a great catastrophe; but this they willfully forget, Huther translates differently, "For, whilst they assert this, it is hidden from them that," etc. But this rendering seems forced and unsatisfactory, and gives a meaning to
which it has nowhere in the New Testament.
That by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.
The Revised Version translates,
That there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the Word of God.
The mockers say that all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. That creation itself was a great, a stupendous change, a mighty effort of the power of God. St. Peter refers to it in words evidently derived from the Book of Genesis, not from any other sources, whether Greek, Egyptian, or Indian. There were heavens from of old (the word
occurs elsewhere only in
2 Peter 2:3
). There was an earth formed or standing out of the water. The Greek participle here used is
, literally, "standing together or consisting" (comp.
); it may be taken closely with both prepositional Clauses, "earth consisting of water and by means of water." Thales had taught that water was the beginning of things, the original element (
πάντα ἐξ ὕδατος
); the narrative in Genesis represents water as originally overspreading all things: "The earth was without form [
, Septuagint], and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." We may therefore understand St. Peter as meaning that the earth was formed or compacted out of water, or out of those substances which the water at first held in solution; and that it is kept together in coherence and solidity by means of water. If, on the other hand, we regard the participle as closely connected with the second preposition only, the meaning will be that the earth, held together and compacted by means of water, rose up out of the water, and appeared above it, when God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear." It is possible, again, to understand the preposition
locally, and to translate "amidst water." Comp.
, "He stretched out the earth above the waters;" and
, "He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods." Of course, neither St. Peter nor Moses is speaking in the language of science; their object was, not to teach scientific truth, but to present the great fact of creation in an aspect suitable to our poor capacities. For the clause, "by the Word of God (
, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God (
)." St. Peter may be referring to the formula, "And God said," so constantly repeated in the account of the creation, or (what is really the same truth) to the fact that "all things were made by him [by God the Word], and without him was not anything made that was made."
2 Peter 3:6
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.
The Greek for" whereby" is
, literally, "through which things." The plural here presents some difficulty. The most obvious antecedents are "the heavens and the earth" of the last verse; but many commentators refer the relative to the twice-repeated "water." The meaning will be the same whichever view we take. "The fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened;" that is, the Deluge was brought to pass by means of the heavens,
, the waters that were above the firmament, and the earth,
, the waters that were below the firmament, which came from the earth as the waters first mentioned came from the heavens. Another possible view is that of Huther, who refers
to the water and the Word of God. By the world here must be meant the world of living creatures. This is St. Peter's answer to the mockers: there had been one great catastrophe; there will be another.
2 Peter 3:7
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.
But the heavens and the earth, which are now;
the heavens which are now, and the earth.
The "now" does not refer, as some think, to any change wrought by the Flood, but distinguishes the present heavens and earth from the new heavens and new earth, which Christians are to look for (verse 13). By the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto fire. Several of the better manuscripts have "by his Word," which, on the whole, seems to give the best meaning. The reading in the text may, indeed, be understood in a similar sense, "by the same Word of God;" otherwise it would mean that the original word of creation determined also the duration of the world and the means of its destruction. The words rendered, "are kept in store," are, literally, "have been treasured (
). It seems better to take the dative
("with fire," or "for fire") with this verb rather than with the following, as in the Authorized Version. If we take the first meaning of the dative, the sense will be that the world has been stored
, that it contains, stored up in its inner depths, the fire which is destined ultimately to destroy it. But the other view seems on the whole more probable; the heavens and the earth are stored up
fire or unto fire,
, with the purpose in the counsels of God of their ultimate destruction by fire. This is the clearest prophecy in Holy Scripture of the final conflagration of the universe; but comp.
2 Thessalonians 1:8
. Such a doctrine formed part of the physical theories of the Stoics; it is also found in the 'Book of Enoch.'
Against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
The participle "reserved" (
) is best taken with this clause: "Reserved against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
2 Peter 3:8
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day
with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing;
let not this one thing escape you
, as especially important.
That one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
"With the Lord" means in his sight, in his estimate of things (comp.
, "A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday"). Bengel finely says, "Dei aeoniologium (sic appellare liceat) differt ab horologic mortalium. Illius gnomon omnes homis simul indicat in summa actione et in summa quiete. Ei nec tardius nec celerius labuntur tempera quam ipsi et oeconomiae ejus aptum sit. Nulls causa est cur finem rerum aut protelare aut accelerare necessum habeat. Qui hoc comprehendemus? Si comprehendere possemus, non opus foret a Mose et Petro addi, apud Dominum." God is eternal: his thought is not, like ours, subject to the law of time; and even we can understand that one day, as the day of the Saviour's death, may have far more of intense action compressed into it, and far more influence upon the spiritual destiny of mankind, than any period of a thousand years. This passage seems to be quoted by Justin Martyr, the 'Epistle of Barnabas,' Irenaeus, and Hippolytus; but they may be referring to
, though the quotations resemble the words of St. Peter more closely than those of the psalm.
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness.
The Lord here, as frequently in these Epistles, is God the Father; it is he only who knoweth that day and that hour (
). Some take the genitive
with "the Lord," and translate, "The Lord of the promise is not slack." This is a possible connection, but, not so satisfactory as the ordinary rendering. (For the genitive with the verb
, see Winer, 3:30, 6, b.) The latter clause may be understood, "as some think it,
, the delay of the judgment, to be slackness;" or better, perhaps, "as some understand the meaning of slackness." Men are slow in fulfilling their promises from various, often selfish, motives; the Lord's delay comes from love and long-suffering. But is long-suffering to us-ward; rather, to
, which seems to be the best-supported reading; two ancient manuscripts give "for your sake." St. Peter has the same thought in the First Epistle (
1 Peter 4
:20); there he reminds us how the long-suffering of God waited while the ark was a-preparing; here he tells us that the delay of the judgment, at which unbelievers scoff, is due to the same cause. We note here an item of evidence for the common authorship of the two Epistles (comp.
, quoted in
, and Ecclus. 32:22, in the Septuagint; also Augustine's well-known words, "Pattens quid aeternus").
Not willing that any should perish;
not wishing or desiring
). The participle gives the reason of the Lord's delay; he hath no pleasure that the wicked should die (
Ezekiel 18:23, 32
, and Ezekiel 33:11).
But that all should come to repentance.
The G reek word for "come" (
), occurs in the same sense in
(see also the remarkable parallel from Plutarch, 'De Flum.,' page 19 (quoted by Alford),
). Calvin takes it transitively, "willing to
all to repentance." But the common translation is plainly right (comp.
1 Timothy 2:4
2 Timothy 2:25
2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
But the day of the Lord will come.
, will come, stands emphatically at the beginning of the clause; whatever the mockers may say, whatever may happen, come certainly will the day of the Lord. "The day of the Lord" meets us often in the prophets; it is usually associated with the thought of judgment (see
). In the New Testament it signifies the second advent of Christ (
1 Thessalonians 5:2
1 Corinthians 1:8
2 Thessalonians 2:2
As a thief in the night.
The best manuscripts omit here "in the night." St. Peter is evidently echoing the Lord's words in that great prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives, which must have made such a deep impression upon the apostles. This illustration of the sudden coming of the thief is repeated not only by St. Peter here, but also by St. Paul (
1 Thessalonians 5:2
), and twice by St. John (
and Revelation 16:15).
In the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise.
The Greek for "with a great noise (
)" occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and is one of those remarkable poetic forms which are not unfrequent in this Epistle: the noun
is used of the whizzing of arrows, of the rush of wings, of the sound of mighty winds or roaring waters. It may be understood here of the crash of a falling world or of the roar of the destroying flames. The word rendered "pass away" is that used by our Lord in the prophecy just referred to (
; also in
And the elements shall melt with fervent heat.
It is uncertain whether by "the elements" (
) St. Peter means the four elements (in the old and popular use of the word), or the great constituent parts of the universe, the heavenly bodies. Against the first view is the assertion that one of those elements is to be the agent of destruction. But the word rendered "melt" means "shall be dissolved" or "loosed;" and it may be, as Bishop Wordsworth says, that "St. Peter's meaning seems to be that the
, elements or rudiments, of which the universe is composed and compacted, will be loosed; that is, the framework of the world will be disorganized; and this is the sense of
in the LXX. (Wisd. 7:17 Wisd. 19:17) and in Hippolytus, 'Philos.,' pages 219, 318. The dissolution is contrasted with the consistency described by the word
in verse 5. The heavens are reserved for fire, and will pass away with a rushing noise, and, being set on fire, will be dissolved; the elements will be on fire and melt, and he reduced to a state of confusion; the earth and the works therein will be burnt up. There does not seem, therefore, to be any cause for abandoning the common meaning of
, the elemental principles of which the universe is made." On the other hand, the word
is certainly used of the heavenly bodies by Justin Martyr ('Apolog.,' 2. c. 5, and 'Dial. cum Tryphon,' c. 23); and the heavenly bodies are constantly mentioned in the descriptions of the awful convulsions of the great day (
, etc.). The objection that the word does not bear this meaning elsewhere in Holy Scripture is of little weight, as this is the only place in which it has a physical sense. The literal translation of the clause is, "The elements, being scorched, shall be dissolved." The word for "being scorched" (
) occurs in the New Testament only here and in verse 12; it is used by the Greek physicians of the burning heat of fever. The verb
means "shall be dissolved or loosened."
The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
By "the works that are therein" St. Peter seems to mean all the works both of God and of man, "opera naturae et artis" (Bengel). There is a very remarkable reading here (supported by the Sinaitic and Vatican and another uncial manuscript),
, "shall be discovered," instead of
, "shall be burned up." If we understand "the works that are therein" of man's works and actions, this reading will give a good sense (comp.
1 Corinthians 3:13
, "Every man's work shall be made manifest, for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is"). Or the clause may be regarded as interrogative, "Shall the earth and the works that are therein be found?" But the reading, "shall be burned up" is well supported, and suits the context best.
2 Peter 3:11
all these things shall be dissolved, what manner
ought ye to be in
holy conversation and godliness,
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved;
seeing that all these things are being dissolved.
The participle is present, and implies the certainty of the event foretold, and, perhaps, also that the germs of that coming dissolution are already in being, that the forces which are ultimately to bring about the final catastrophe are even now at work. Some of the better manuscripts read, instead of
, thus: "seeing that all these things are thus being dissolved."
What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?
The Greek word for "what manner of persons" means literally, "of what country;" it seems to point to the great truth that God's people are fellow-citizens of the saints, that the commonwealth of which they are citizens is in heaven. The word for "to be" is the emphatic
, which denotes original, essential, continuous being. (On the word for "conversation" (
, behaviour, conduct), see note on 1 Peter 1:15.) Both this noun and the following are plural in the Greek, and therefore mean "in all aspects and forms of holy conduct and godliness." Some commentators connect these last words, "in all holy conversation and godliness," with the next verse: "looking in all holy conversation," etc. Some, again, understand this verse as asking a question, which is answered in the next; but the Greek word for "what manner of persons" (
) seems to be used in the New Testament as an exclamation only, not interrogatively.
2 Peter 3:12
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.
The preposition "unto" is inserted without authority. The second participle
is followed directly by the accusative, and is evidently transitive. In the Septuagint Version of
represents the "hasting righteousness" of our translation (comp. Pindar, 'Isthm.,' 5:22, where
means "to pursue virtue"). Here the translation "hastening" is most appropriate. The Father hath put the times and seasons in his own power; but as the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, so now he is "long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish;" and in his gracious mercy waits for the repentance of his chosen. St. Peter seems to represent Christians as "hastening the coming [literally, 'presence'] of the day of God" by working out their own salvation, and helping to spread the knowledge of the gospel (
), and so rendering the long-suffering patience of God no longer necessary. The words imply also the duty of praying for that coming, as we do in the second petition of the Lord's Prayer, and in the Funeral Service, "Beseeching thee, that it may please thee, of thy gracious goodness, shortly to accomplish the number of thine elect, and to hasten thy kingdom." Compare St. Peter's speech in
, where he says, "Repent ye therefore... that so (
) there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ" (verses 19, 20, Revised Version). This remarkable coincidence of thought furnishes an argument of considerable weight in favour of the genuineness of this Epistle. Another possible rendering of the word is "earnestly desiring," which is adopted in the text of the Revised Version, and is preferred by some commentators.
Wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved.
The Greek for "wherein" is
, on account of which,
, on account of the day of God, or, what comes to much the same meaning, on account of the coming, the presence, of that day. Old things must pass away because of the coming of the day of God; the old order must give place to new.
And the elements shall melt with fervent heat.
The apostle repeats the striking words which he had already used in verse 10, with a different verb. The Greek word for "shall melt" here is not
, as in verse 10, but a stronger word
, are being melted, or wasted away. The tense is the prophetic present, implying a certain fulfillment. There is probably a reference to
, where the Septuagint rendering is
Καὶ τακήσονται πᾶσαι αἱ
δυνάμεις τῶν οὐρανῶν
2 Peter 3:13
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth;
but, according to his promise, we look for.
The promise is that in
, "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth" (see also
). St. John saw in vision the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah and St. Peter: "The first heaven and the first earth were passed away." It may be that, as the water of the Deluge was the baptism of the ancient world into a new life, so the fire of the great day will be the means of purifying and refining the universe, transforming it into new heavens and a new earth, making all things new. Our Lord's use of the word "regeneration," in
, seems to favour this view. In the regeneration of the individual soul the personality remains, the thoughts, desires, affections, are changed; so, it may be, in the regeneration of the world the substance will remain, the fashion (
) of the old world will pass away (
1 Corinthians 7:31
). But it is impossible to pronounce dogmatically whether the new heavens and earth will be a reproduction of the old in a far more glorious form, through the agency of the refining fire, or an absolutely new creation, as the words of Isaiah seem to imply. St. John, like St. Peter, speaks of a new earth, and tells us that that new earth will be the dwelling-place of the blessed. He saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven; the throne of God and of the Lamb (he tells us) shall be in it: "The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them." The holy city, Jerusalem, which is above, is in heaven now; the commonwealth of which the saints are citizens is in heaven (
). But heaven will come down to earth; the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be there; there his servants shall serve him. The distinction between earth and heaven will be abolished; for where God is, there is heaven.
Wherein dwelleth righteousness
, "Thy people shall be all righteous;" also Isaiah lay. 25;
2 Peter 3:14
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things;
, the coming of the Lord, the restitution of all things, the new heavens and the new earth.
Be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless;
- the same word which is used in
2 Peter 1:10
to be found without spot and blameless in his sight in
peace. Christians who look for the coming of Christ must earnestly strive to imitate their Lord, the "Lamb without blemish and without spot." In the word
, "without spot," we have a link with
1 Peter 1:19
. The word for "blameless" (
) is found elsewhere only in
. The dative
should be rendered, not "of him" or "by him," but "in his sight" or "before him." Peace is used in its fullest sense - peace with God and with man; the peace which Christ giveth; "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding." "In peace" was a common inscription on Christian graves.
2 Peter 3:15
the longsuffering of our Lord
salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
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,
Colossians 3:4, 24
; or, possibly
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.
2 Peter 3:16
As also in all
epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as
also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
As also in all his Epistles.
The true reading is probably
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
. 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
, "hard to be understood," occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.
Which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest;
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" (
) 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
as Scripture (comp.
1 Peter 1:12
Unto their own destruction;
their own destruction of themselves.
The use of both adjective and pronoun intensifies the meaning (comp. chapter 2 Peter 2:1, 12).
2 Peter 3:17
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know
before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing that ye know these things before.
The pronoun "ye" is emphatic; others have gone astray; "continue ye faithful." The construction is participial, and there is no expressed object; literally, "knowing before,"
, that false teachers will arise. Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness; rather, as in the Revised Version,
lest, being carried away
It is interesting to notice that the word rendered "led or carried away" is used by St. Paul, in
, of St. Barnabas, who, along with St. Peter himself, was then "carried away" with the dissimulation of the Judaizers. The word rendered "wicked," rather "lawless," is used elsewhere in the New Testament only in chapter 2 Peter 2:7. The word for "steadfastness" (
) occurs only here.
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in grace, and
the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him
glory both now and for ever. Amen.
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Growth is necessary for steadfastness; we cannot persevere unless we continually advance in faith (comp.
1 Peter 1:5-7
1 Peter 2:2
). Some, as Alford, take the genitive with "grace" as well as with "knowledge;" but this connection forces us to regard it first as subjective, then as objective - the grace which Christ gives, and the knowledge of which he is the Object - and so seems somewhat forced. St. Peter insists on the knowledge of Christ as essential for growth in grace, at the beginning, as at the end, of this Epistle. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. We notice the doxology addressed to Christ; it reminds us of the hymn which Pliny, in his famous letter to Trajan, says the Christians of Bithynia (one of the provinces mentioned in
1 Peter 1:1
) were wont to address to Christ as to God. To him be (or is) the glory - all the glory which belongs to God, which we ascribe to him. "For ever" is, literally, "for the day of the age or of eternity (
)." This remarkable expression is found only here, and is variously interpreted. Bengel explains it as, "dies sine nocte, morus et perpetuus;" Huther as, "the day on which eternity begins as contrasted with time, but which day is likewise all eternity itself." Fronmuller quotes St. Augustine: "It is only one day, but an everlasting day, without yesterday to precede it, and without tomorrow to follow it; not brought forth by the natural sun, which shall exist no more, but by Christ, the Sun of Righteousness."
Courtesy of Open Bible
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