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Summary: There is a wrong way and a right way to look at the Lord’s apparent delay in coming again.

Introduction

Peter most likely wrote this, his second letter (2 Pet. 3:1 ) to the churches of Asia Minor (1 Pet. 1:1 ), from a Roman jail a short time before his martyrdom (some time during the period AD 64-67).

If 1 Peter has as its main focus a defense against threats from outside the church, namely, persecution, then 2 Peter has as its main focus a defense against threats from inside the church, namely, false teaching. For example, Peter writes in this second letter:

• “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:16).

• “But false prophets…arose among the people [of former days], just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet. 2:1).

• “…Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires” (2 Pet. 3:3).

Since this letter was written so close to the time of Peter’s death, it may be viewed as a farewell discourse, in which he (1) announces that he is near the end of his earthly life (2 Pet. 1:13-14 ), (2) reminds his followers of what he has taught them (2 Pet. 3:1 ), (3) commands his followers how to live (2 Pet. 1:5-8 ), and (4) predicts what will happen in the future (2 Pet. 3:10 ). Doug Oss and Thomas R. Schreiner write in their comments in the ESV Study Bible: “In a farewell discourse, a leader has his last chance to influence his followers in the right direction for the sake of the movement in which he has been a guiding light.”

Our study today covers the first thirteen verses of chapter 3. In this part of his letter, Peter addresses the issue of Jesus’ second coming (parousia), a promised event which the false teachers claim will never take place (3:4 ). Peter explains their “deliberate oversight”—they alter doctrine in an attempt to justify “their own sinful desires” (v. 3)—and helps his readers understand the actual reason the Lord’s return seems to be delayed. The passage may be outlined as follows:

2 Peter 3:1-13

There is a wrong way and a right way to look at the Lord’s apparent delay in coming again.

Introduction: Why Peter Is Writing [3:1-2]

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles…

Why is the Lord delayed in His coming? How shall we think about that?

I There Is a Wrong Way—the Way of Unbelief [3:3-7]

A. Faulty Explanation [3:3-4]

Assertion: God does not intervene in His creation.

…Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

B. Factual Explanation [3:5-7]

Correction: God has intervened in a cataclysmic way twice already and will intervene again.

1. First Intervention: Creation [v. 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,

2. Second Intervention: the Flood [v. 6]

and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.

3. Coming Intervention: Judgment [v. 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.

Why is the Lord delayed in His coming? How shall we think about that?

II There Is a Right Way—the Way of Belief [3:8-13]

A. What God Is Doing [3:8-10]

1. He Is HOLDING OFF in Patience for Sinners [vv. 8-9]

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. 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.

Some have used verse 9 as a proof text to invalidate the doctrine of election. Two responses we might make to that are:

a. God offers through the proclamation of the gospel a sincere and well-meant invitation to all to turn from sin (to repent) and come to Christ (to believe). Anyone who puts his or her faith in Christ will be saved.

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