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2 Peter 3 - Remember the Words of the Prophets and Apostles

INTRODUCTION: Peter had written in chapter one about the benefits and responsibilities of our position in Christ, and in chapter two about the ever present potential of false teachers. In this last chapter he returned to the foundation laid for a solid walk of faith, and warns of those who will openly mock about the Lord's return.

NOTE: Scripture passages are from the World English Bible [WEB].


2 Peter 3 "1 This is now, beloved, the second letter that I have written to you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by reminding you; 2 that you should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandments of us, the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:"

COMMENTS: Peter wants his readers to take note of the consistent message in both of his letters as he directs them to the sound doctrine of the holy prophets of the past before the appearance of Messiah, and that of the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. In chapter one he stated, 2 Peter 1 "12 Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you; 14 knowing that the putting off of my tent comes swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 Yes, I will make every effort that you may always be able to remember these things even after my departure." The Lord Jesus made provision for the saints to have a faultless teacher who also would remind of those things already taught. John 14 "26 But the counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you." Those who received Paul at Berea used the Old Testament scriptures to make sure that his teaching was consistent with God's truth. Acts 17 "10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Beroea. When they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of the mind, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed; also of the prominent Greek women, and not a few men." When Paul was unable to visit Corinth himself, he sent a younger man who could faithfully carry the ministry of the word. 1 Corinthians 4 "17 Because of this I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every assembly." The written word and the Holy Spirit are provided that we might have a reliable means to examine leaders in subsequent generations to be sure they are grounded in God's truth.


2 Peter 3 "3 knowing this first, that in the last days mockers will come, walking after their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of his coming? For, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." 5 For this they wilfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth formed out of water and amid water, by the word of God; 6 by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. 7 But the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men."

COMMENTS: Eight people survived the global flood by God's grace, and God provided a covenant that he would never again destroy by water, all those who lived on the earth. Genesis 9 "8 God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, 9 "As for me, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your offspring after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the livestock, and every animal of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ship, even every animal of the earth. 11 I will establish my covenant with you: all flesh will not be cut off any more by the waters of the flood, neither will there ever again be a flood to destroy the earth." 12 God said, "This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set my rainbow in the cloud, and it will be for a sign of a covenant between me and the earth."" Peter says that just as the ungodly choose to dismiss the reality of the global flood of judgment in the past, they will scoff at the return of Christ for the judgment that God will bring upon the whole earth.

In verse two of this chapter, Peter referred to the importance of words from the holy prophets, and this next passage from one of those prophets is in agreement about scoffers. Isaiah 28 "21 For Yahweh will rise up as on Mount Perazim. He will be angry as in the valley of Gibeon; that he may do his work, his unusual work, and bring to pass his act, his extraordinary act. 22 Now therefore don't be scoffers, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, on the whole earth." So, even centuries before the appearance of Christ, scoffers were warned by the word of God about the bonds of unbelief, and a coming destruction for the whole earth. The Lord Jesus made comparison of the judgment during the time of Noah, and his future return for judgment that will find many unprepared. Matthew 24 "35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 But no one knows of that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 "As the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ship, 39 and they didn't know until the flood came, and took them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man."

The Lord Jesus has told us that no one will know the time of his return, so we must realize that each individual must not delay to receive the grace gift of salvation by faith in Christ Jesus before it is too late. The scoffers were present in the time of the apostles, and they are still evident today. Peter, Jude, and Paul each wrote to believers who were their contemporaries and their words as inspired scripture have the same importance to the readers of today. Jude 1 "17 But you, beloved, remember the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you that in the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts." 2 Timothy 3 "1 But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power. Turn away from these, also." But the mockers will not gain any favor of the Lord regardless of how many other apparent good works they may try to claim. Galatians 6 "7 Don't be deceived. God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption. But he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life."


2 Peter 3 "8 But don't forget this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some count slowness; but is patient with us, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up."

COMMENTS: Peter wants to remind us that the Lord is not constrained by time, either short or long, and all of his work can be accomplished in an instant of time. But his mercy extends over countless generations to ensure salvation to eternal life for all that he has chosen. Psalm 86 "15 But you, Lord, are a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth." And all those who have believed but died before the return of Christ, will not miss the promise because they will be resurrected. John 6 "38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39 This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise him up at the last day. 40 This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Paul used the same figure of speech as Peter when he wrote of how the Lord's return would be unpredictable, and he gave comfort to the Christians that the consequences suffered would be only for the unbelievers. 1 Thessalonians 5 "1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that anything be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night. 3 For when they are saying, "Peace and safety," then sudden destruction will come on them, like birth pains on a pregnant woman; and they will in no way escape." Even before the appearance of Messiah Jesus, scripture had recorded that the Lord would change the earth in a rapid fashion. Psalm 102 "25 Of old, you laid the foundation of the earth. The heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will endure. Yes, all of them will wear out like a garment. You will change them like a cloak, and they will be changed. 27 But you are the same. Your years will have no end." There was also the promise of salvation for those who have the law of the Lord in their heart. Isaiah 51 "4 Attend to me, my people; and give ear to me, my nation: for a law shall go forth from me, and I will establish my justice for a light of the peoples. 5 My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth, and my arms shall judge the peoples; the islands shall wait for me, and on my arm shall they trust. 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment; and those who dwell therein shall die in the same way: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished. 7 "Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; don't fear the reproach of men, neither be dismayed at their insults. 8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation to all generations." The New Testament then provides further reason for our confidence as those who have placed complete trust in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5 "17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new."


2 Peter 3 "11 Therefore since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness, 12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells."

COMMENTS: Peter presents a question that should cause each Christian to take time to consider the answer within our own hearts, and whether the attitudes and actions of our daily living are consistent with the truth he has outlined. Do we allow our hearts to be drawn toward laying up treasure here on earth, or do we strive for holiness while earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God? As the centuries that Israel had been allowed by God to have kings in their land was coming to an end, the prophet Isaiah wrote the message from God about a new creation. Isaiah 65 "17 For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. 18 But be you glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. 19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people; and there shall be heard in her no more the voice of weeping and the voice of crying." Isaiah 66 �22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me," says Yahweh, "so your seed and your name shall remain. 23 It shall happen, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me," says Yahweh. 24 "They shall go forth, and look on the dead bodies of the men who have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

We also have these words of guidance directly from the Lord Jesus. Matthew 6 "19 Don't lay up treasures for yourselves on the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves don't break through and steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." The apostle John has recorded the message in Revelation that is consistent with the prophecies of Isaiah. Revelation 21 "1 I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away, and the sea is no more. 2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 I heard a loud voice out of heaven saying, "Behold, God's dwelling is with people, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away from them every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; neither will there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more. The first things have passed away." 5 He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." He said, "Write, for these words of God are faithful and true." 6 He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life. 7 He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be his God, and he will be my son. 8 But for the cowardly, unbelieving, sinners, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their part is in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death."


2 Peter 3 "14 Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent to be found in peace, without blemish and blameless in his sight. 15 Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote to you; 16 as also in all of his letters, speaking in them of these things. In those, there are some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unsettled twist, as they also do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware, lest being carried away with the error of the wicked, you fall from your own steadfastness. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen."

COMMENTS: Because we look for the fullness of the new creation brought by Christ, Peter advises Christians to be diligent to be found in peace, and confident that we will be blameless in the Lord's sight. He wants each Christian to hold fast to the truth given by the prophets and apostles, and guard themselves against the error of those who twist the scriptures and miss the salvation in Christ that is available to those who accept by faith his perfect sacrifice and reject false doctrine. Peter refers to Paul's letters as scripture, and thus gives us good reason to look to some excerpts from them. Philippians 4 "4 Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, "Rejoice!" 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honourable, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think about these things. 9 The things which you learned, received, heard, and saw in me: do these things, and the God of peace will be with you." Paul speaks of the peace from God and the patience we should exhibit as we wait for his return. 1 Thessalonians 1 "1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, to the assembly of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We always give thanks to God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labour of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father." Paul testifies of his personal benefit of the patience of the Lord to bring him to salvation. 1 Timothy 1 "15 The saying is faithful and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might display all his patience, for an example of those who were going to believe in him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen."

The wisdom and glory that belong alone to the Lord forever has been very evident in the writing of Peter, Paul, and other writers of scripture. Looking at various passages is a fitting way to conclude this study. Psalm 72 "19 Blessed be his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and amen." When asked by his disciples that he teach them to pray, Jesus gave them this reply in part. Matthew 6 "13 Bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen." This next passage from Paul embodies an inherent quality of his exhilaration about the Lord. Romans 11 "33 Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out! 34 For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor? 35 Or who has first given to him, and it will be repaid to him again? 36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things. To him be the glory for ever! Amen." 1 Timothy 1 "17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13 "20 Now may the God of peace, who brought again from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an eternal covenant, our Lord Jesus, 21 make you complete in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen." Revelation 5 "13 I heard every created thing which is in heaven, on the earth, under the earth, on the sea, and everything in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb be the blessing, the honour, the glory, and the dominion, forever and ever! Amen!"

--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord I want to have your Spirit within me to stir up the sincerity of my heart to grasp the truth from your prophets and apostles as recorded in scripture. There are indeed many mockers throughout the world today who follow diverse beliefs that deny the truth of scripture that you have judged all ungodly people within the earth once by water, saving only eight by your grace; and that you have reserved the earth for another total judgment by fire, for all who are ungodly, following their own lusts. I do believe that your grace and mercy has extended over centuries to allow those who will come to you by faith to make the number of your chosen ones complete. Your ways are past finding out for those you have created, and to you a thousand years is as a day, and a day is as a thousand years. Thank you Lord that your great patience has brought me to be among your chosen ones, and for that I give to you all my praise knowing that there was nothing I could offer to you to preserve my soul for your coming kingdom. Keep my thoughts clear so I will continually be prepared for your return, knowing that no one will be able to set an advance schedule for that unpredictable time. I want to remember that I am only a foreigner passing through this present perishable world and the works therein, on the way to my eternal heavenly home. Only through your enablement Lord can I live in a holy and godly manner, looking ahead and earnestly desiring the coming new heavens and new earth where righteousness will dwell. May I remain steadfast in my faith, so I will grow in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To you Lord, be all glory both now and forever. Amen.

Published 31 August 2012