Summary: 1)Doctrinal Perceptiveness through the Word (2 Peter 3:15b–17), 2) Spiritual Progress in the Word (2 Peter 3:18a), and 3) Continual Praise in the Word (2 Peter 3:18b)
We’ve all just gone through a traumatic event: time change. We can look forward to enjoying light for longer in the day and the prospect of spring. For all of us, this time change is difficult for we lost an hour of sleep. Those who examine the effects of sleep note the increased accidents on the roads around time changes. When we suffer a sleep deficit, it can result in decreased reaction time, cognitive processing ability, awareness as well as increased risks of various aliments including obesity. The natural question is how much sleep is necessary or optimal? With various pressures, including added March Break activities, there are times when we just don’t get sufficient sleep.
When we consider the word of God, the question of sufficiency is much different. The sufficiency of Scripture means that Scripture contained all the words of God he intended his people to have at each stage of redemptive history, and that it now contains everything we need God to tell us for salvation, for trusting him perfectly, and for obeying him perfectly (Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine (p. 127). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.).
What we find in Second Peter is the reason why this is so important. For Peter and his hearers, it meant knowing how scripture is sufficient helps understand how to relate to the rest of scripture, how to deal with the difficult passages of scripture and how we must be on guard for false teachers, who will twist scripture for their own private sins.
The danger for each of us in handling the word of God is to be so casual with it that we would either assume everything is going to be fully understood on first reading or worse, think that it is just for some kind of so called “spiritual information”. Scripture is sufficient for us to understand God, His desire for us and serve as both a warning and a tool to deal with those who would deny the truth. If we don’t embrace the sufficiency of Scripture for these tasks then we are going to allow harmful doubts to rob us of guidance or assurance.
Peter shows us in real world situations in 2 Peter 3, how the Word of God is a sufficient rule for faith and practice. He shows us how we can achieve: 1)Doctrinal Perceptiveness through the Word (2 Peter 3:15b–17), 2) Spiritual Progress in the Word (2 Peter 3:18a), and 3) Continual Praise in the Word (2 Peter 3:18b)
1) Doctrinal Perceptiveness through the Word (2 Peter 3:15b–17)
2 Peter 3:15b-17 (And count the patience of our Lord as salvation,) just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. (ESV)
With the phrase just as, Peter referenced similar warnings that the apostle Paul had given about false teaching.
Peter graciously spoke of his fellow apostle as our beloved brother Paul, underscoring their common life and mission. As the two foremost leaders of the early church, Peter and Paul were certainly well-aware of each other’s ministry. In fact, both had been present at the pivotal Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6–21), and both had ministered with Silas (cf. Acts 15:40 with 1 Peter 5:12). More than twenty years earlier, Peter had even been confronted by Paul when he wrongly refused to eat with Gentile Christians (Gal. 2:11–21; cf. vv. 8–9; 1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22). As a primary spokesman for the early church, Peter was undoubtedly embarrassed by Paul’s public admonition. Nevertheless, he graciously accepted the rebuke and responded with repentance. His respect for Paul was undiminished.
Here he appeals to Paul’s inspired letters for support—reminding his readers to reject the false teachers and remember what Paul wrote to them, according to the wisdom given him. What Paul “wrote to” them is expressed in the Greek aorist tense, as a thing wholly past: Paul was by this time either dead, or had ceased to minister to them (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (2 Pe 3:15). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.).
• The sufficiency of scripture to be a continuing authoritative guide does not cease at the death of the human writer. Some believe an eyewitness testimony becomes null and void at the death of the witness since it cannot be challenged to the face of the witness. But Scripture can be validated by concurrent evidence and fulfilled prophecy. The reliability of the evidence continues to be valid and verifiable.