Comments On 2 Peter Chapter 3
By Jonathan Mitchell
This letter was written to 1st century Christians. The context of this chapter is a reminder (vss. 1-2) for them concerning events that will continue coming upon them during last aspects, situations or circumstances, or final phases, "of these/the days." I suggest that the author is referring to his and their own times, not to events of the far-off future. Let us examine the text:
1. O beloved ones, this [is] already a second letter [that] I am writing to you, within which I am thoroughly arousing (raising through; thoroughly awakening) your complete thought process (intellect, comprehension and the things going through the mind) which has been evaluated in sunlight (or: your sunlight-separated, sincere understanding), in union with a putting in mind (or: a remembrance) [and]
2. to be born in mind (or: to be called to mind), about the flowing declarations (or: gush-effects; results of the flow) having been spoken beforehand by the set-apart (or: holy; sacred) prophets, even (or: as well as) the sent-forth representatives (emissaries) which pertained to you folks, of the implanted goal (impartation of the finished product and destiny within; inward directive) of, from and which is, the Lord and Savior (Deliverer),
Note the present and personal phrase in vs. 2 concerning the flowing declarations... which pertained to YOU FOLKS. This letter involves "the implanted goal" that had come to them via the proclamation of the message about the coming and work of the Messiah. This Word-delivered "impartation of the finished product [i.e., Christ]" and inner destiny for them had created the "inward, or inner, directive of, from and which is, the Lord and Savior." It was Christ within and among them - which was and is the expectation of the Glory (i.e., God's presence), and which comes from the manifestation (the resurrection of Christ and the deliverance from God) which calls forth our praise (Col. 1:27).
3. while continuing in knowing this first, by experience, that upon [the] last (or: final [phases]) of these (or: the) days mockers (scoffers) will proceed coming and going - in mocking (scoffing; deriding), according to their own cravings (or: in correspondence to their personal full passions), folks continually traveling from one place to another (or: = people normally ordering their lives according to their personal desires) -
The setting for what the author is saying is: [the] last, or final [phases], of these (or: the) days. The definite article (the) in Greek was originally used to specify or indicate something specific that the speaker had in mind, and corresponds to our English "this" or, here, in the plural, "these." They were living in the conjunction (the meeting "ends") of the former age of the Law and the first Adam with the new age of the Spirit, given in grace, and the last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45). In 1 John 2:18 they were instructed:
"it continues being (or: is progressively) a last hour (= an eschaton of the Day, or the closing moment [of the age])."
What the rest of vs. 3, above, describes what Peter's readers continued "knowing... by experience."
4. even saying, "Where is the promise of His presence? For since the fathers were put (or: lulled) to sleep, all things (or: everything) constantly remain(s) thus (in this way or manner) throughout, from [the] beginning of creation (the framing; the reduction from a state of disorder)."
This would have been the question of those who knew what the OT had promised, and it concerned the presence of the Messiah. But the Jews of that era - who had not accepted Jesus as being the Messiah - could see no outward change of circumstances. They were expecting a Messiah that would establish a kingdom of this world system - not crucified Messiah that would be resurrected to live within and among a body of people, and that would change the inner person of the heart.
5. You see, it continues unnoticed and unrecognized - [by] those folks habitually desiring this [to be the case] (or: = they deliberately ignore the fact) - that skies (or: atmospheres; heavens) and land were continuously existing from long ago (or: = from ancient times) - from out of the midst of water, and through water - being made to stand together (being placed or put together) by (or: in; with) the Word (Logos; thought and idea; reason) of God (or: which is God),
6. through which [very waters; or: directives of His Word] the ordered System (world of culture and relationships) of that time destroyed (or: lost) itself, being washed down (inundated; deluged) by water.
He is referencing first the natural creation, and then the destruction that came during the time of Noah.
7. Yet at the present time the heavens and the earth (or: the atmospheres and skies, as well as the land), by the same Word (or: in the same Logos) - having been collected and being stored up as treasure, by (or: in; for; with) fire - continuously exist, being constantly kept (watched, guarded and maintained) with a view to a day of separating for deciding (or: with the character of evaluating for judging), as well as of loss, ruin or destruction which pertains to the irreverent humans (or: of people devoid of reverential awe toward God).
Now here he has returned to the present time (of the 1st century) and instructs those folks about a situation that was at hand, the destruction and burning of Jerusalem in AD 70. In the genre of apocalyptic literature that was popular among Jewish writers of those times, the heavens and the earth was a phrase that referred to the entirety of their world and way of life. For the Jews, the temple (God's dwelling place) was the embodiment of "the heavens," or, that which ruled the land, and "the earth (or: land)" was a figure for the people. Jesus had prophesied about the coming judgment (Mat. 24 and Lu. 21).
8. Yet now this one thing [p72: But in this] - let it not continue unnoticed, escape your detection, or be hidden from you - beloved ones, one day beside the Lord [is] as a thousand years, and yet a thousand years [is] as one day.
9. The Lord [= Yahweh] is not continually delaying the promise, as certain folks consider delay, but rather is constantly patient (long of emotion and slow in passion; long before rushing heatedly) unto you, constantly not intending any folks to be lost (or: to destroy themselves), but to the contrary, [for] all people to make room, allow space, give way and progress into a change of mind (or: = repentance and a return to God).
God's promise to send the Messiah had come, and so, too, would the promise about the destruction of Jerusalem come at the time that He had planned for it. He gave the Jews who rejected Jesus as the Christ an entire generation (approximately forty years) to yet accept Him. We see God's heart and intent: that all people would make room and allow space for Him, and would thus give way and progress into a change of mind. At some point in their existence, all will indeed bow in allegiance to Him (Phil. 2:10).
10. So the day of the Lord [= Yahweh] will proceed in arriving as a thief [i.e., suddenly and without notice], in which [day] the heavens (or: atmospheres; or: skies) will proceed passing by with the noise of sudden movement, but yet rudimentary, elementary principles (or: basic component and parts of a system arranged in rows, or a grid; e.g., the elements and assumptions of a religious or intellectual system), being progressively heated as with a burning fever, will be progressively loosed (unfastened; unbound; or: nullified; destroyed). And then land (or: soil; ground; earth; or: = a territory) - along with the things produced (or: actions; deeds; workmanships; accomplishments) [note: God's and/or man's] within the midst of it - will continue being found (or: discovered; found out) [p72 adds: being progressively loosed (or: destroyed); A reads: will be burned up]!
This is an apocalyptic (cf Milton S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics, Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001) description of the final days of God coming in destruction (via the Romans, just as He had via the Assyrians and Babylonians in Israel's history) upon Jerusalem and the passing by of the rudimentary, elementary principles and religious systems (cultus) of the Law and the former age. Our God is a consuming Fire that reveals human works (e.g., 1 Cor. 3:13-15) and purifies(Mal. 3:2-3).
11. With all these people thus, then, being presently loosed, one after another (or: being in the process of being progressively unbound; or: with all these things being continuously dissolved in this way), in what sort of way is it continuously necessary and binding for you folks [other MSS: us; other MSS have no personal pronoun here] to constantly subsist (or: humbly rule or supportively possess)? Within set-apart (or: holy; sacred), upturned modes of behavior and [lives of] reverence (devout ease, virtuous conduct and goodness from relationship with God)!
The form of the word these is both masculine and neuter, so I have rendered it as both people and "things." With the coming of Christ people were then presently loosed, one after another, but at the same time the old existence and old arrangement was "being continuously dissolved" - or as Paul put it in 2 Cor. 5:17,
"...[there is] a new creation (or: [it is] a framing and founding of a different kind; [he or she is] an act of creation having a fresh character and a new quality): the original things (the beginning [situations]; the archaic and primitive [arrangements]) passed by (or: went to the side). Consider! New things have come into existence (have been birthed; or: It has become new things; or: He has been birthed and now exists being ones of a different kind, character and quality)." [note: cf Rev. 21:5]
So, because of this change and loosing, they should live their lives within set-apart, upturned (i.e., toward the realm of the Spirit and the enthroned Messiah) modes of behavior.
12. - while constantly being receptive toward (or: continuing with expectation with regard to) and eagerly speeding along (or: progressively hastening after) the presence of God's Day (or: the presence, which is God's day; or: the presence of the day which has the quality and character of God and which is God), through which skies and atmospheres (or: heavens) - being continuously on fire - will continue being loosed (or: untied)! And so [the body of] elements (rudimentary principles and assumptions; component parts of the system), now being continuously intensely hot and burning, [are] presently being progressively melted down (or: liquefied).
Their lives should be instruments that eagerly speed God's presence (that is within them and among them, since they are God's temple) to those around them. As Paul spoke of running a race (Phil. 3:14) they should "progressively hasten after" the presence of God's Day - a day "which has the quality and character of God, and which is God." They were "children of the Day" (1 Thes. 5:5) - even though "the days (= present times) are of a bad quality (or: a gush of misery; unsound; harmful; or: in a sorry plight; or: toilsome)" - Eph. 5:16.
13. Yet we, according to (or: down from and in line with) the effect and result of His promise, are habitually receptive toward fresh skies and continue with expectation, face to face with atmospheres new in kind and quality (or: keep an opinion with regard to new heavens) and a land (or: soil; ground; earth) new in kind and quality, within which [situations; conditions] a rightwising, eschatological deliverance (or: righted existence of living in covenant relationships of the fairness which accords with the Way pointed out; liberated participation in the justice and equity of the new arrangement) is presently and permanently settled down (is continuously dwelling and at home).
But Peter and his listeners were by habit receptive toward the new creation and the new covenant arrangements where they had been
"made alive together by (or: joins us in common life with, for and in; [p46, B: within; in union with]) the Christ.... and He jointly roused and raised (or: suddenly awakens and raises) [us] up, and caused [us] to sit (or: seats [us]; = enthroned [us]) together within the things situated upon [thus, above] the heavens within and in union with Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:5-6).
They were now face to face with atmospheres new in kind and quality that presented them with fresh skies and kept them with opinions that were shaped by the new heavens (i.e., the rule of Christ via the Spirit, in the kingdom of the heavens - as Jesus described in His parables). And God's rightwising, eschatological deliverance (the work and resurrection of Christ) is constantly resident within this new world of the Second Humanity - the resurrected existence that is the life of the ages which has settled down and continuously dwells within Christ.
14. Wherefore, beloved ones, while continually being receptive toward these things, be eager to be found [being] spotless folks and flawless ones in Him (or: with Him; for Him), in peace and in union with harmony [= shalom]. (or: On account of which, accepted folks, in continuing with an expectation that is face to face with these [occurrences], eagerly speed along to Him unblemished and blameless folks to be found centered in peace; or: ... through which loved folks are continuing expecting these [situations]. Let folks [who are] by Him absent of spot and blemish be found within the midst of peace).
I have presented three different readings of this verse. The first is an admonition toward living a set-apart life that reflects God's image and is appropriate for those who presently are existentially in Him, and who exist in peace and in union with harmony. They were counseled to be receptive toward these things, and to be found by others as folks that live in the new creation.
The second reading recognizes them as being "accepted" by God and as having an expectation that was at that time face to face with God's invasion of their world - via the Christ, the giving of the Spirit, and the soon to come judgment upon (and: decision about) Jerusalem. These members of His body were to "eagerly speed to Him folks that His death had cleansed - so that they could be found to be centered in His peace.
The third reading treats vs. 14 as a continuation of vs. 13 by rendering the conjunction "through which." Because of the last phrase of vs. 13, "loved folks are continuing expecting these aforementioned situations to develop. So let everyone who has been transformed by Him to be spotless lambs that have placed their bodies beside the acceptable Living Sacrifice (Christ - Rom. 12:1-2), be found living within the midst of His peace. These admonitions refer to our present existence, in Him, right hear and right now.
15. And so, make it a habit to consider the long-suffering patience of our Lord [= Yahweh, or Christ] [to be] deliverance (salvation; wholeness and health), according as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you, in accord with (or: down from) the wisdom being given to him (or: by him),
Note Peter's association of God's patience - and, by extension, Christ's long-suffering of the cross - with God's deliverance (the work of the cross and then the resurrection). Peter is tying in what he is saying with Paul's presentations of the message of God's goodness, ease and well-being (the gospel}.
16. even as in all the letters, habitually speaking in them concerning these things, in which certain things are misunderstood (or: imperceptible to the mind; hard to understand), which the unlearned folks and unstable ones (unfounded ones; people not set fast and firm) repeatedly distort, as by twisting them out of place on a rack - as also the rest of the writings (or: Scriptures) - toward their own loss (or: ruin; destruction).
Even in Peter's day people were misunderstanding what Paul taught, and it takes the unveiling of our minds to perceive and understand what he wrote. Much theoretical wood, hay and stubble needs to be burned out of Christian traditions. Theologians and modern scribes have repeatedly distorted and twisted Paul's message of grace and the finished work of Christ. Law-laden doctrines have brought much loss and destruction to the body of Christ, and for humanity.
17. You, then, beloved ones, being ones by repeated experiences previously acquainted [with this] (or: knowing beforehand by experiences), be constantly on watch, guard, and keep yourselves in custody, lest - at some point being carried (or: led) away together by the deception (or: in straying; or: to deceit) of the unestablished (unprincipled; inordinate; lawless) folks - you could fall out from your own state of fixed firmness (or: steadfastness).
I suggest that Peter, as well, is admonishing Christians of his day to guard against the Judaizers that brought the deception (see my Comments on Romans). As Paul referred to those who continued with Law observance as having fallen out of grace (Gal.5:4), Peter warns that his listeners could fall out from [their] own state of fixed firmness. This whole letter was addressing present concerns that Peter had for all of the called-out communities. The mixing of the old with the new would burst the bag (i.e., the body of Christ) that held the new wine of the Spirit and Life of Christ.
18. So be continually growing and increasing within grace and in union with favor, as well as [in] intimate, experiential knowledge and insight of (or: from, and which is) our Lord (Owner; Master) and Savior (or: Deliverer; Rescuer; Restorer to health and wholeness), Jesus Christ (or: Anointed Jesus; = Jesus the Messiah). By Him (or: To Him) [is] the glory (or: In Him [is] the manifestation which calls forth praise; For Him [is] the reputation) both now and on into the midst of a Day that lasts for an indefinite period of time, and which is [the] Age (or: unto a day whose character and quality is [the] Age; or: into the midst of a day whose source is [the] Age [of the Messiah]; or: to a day which belongs to [the] Age; into a Day which is an age). It is so (or: Count on it; Amen)!
His letter concerned their continual growing and increasing within grace and in union with the favor which they were presently enjoying and which brought increasing intimate, experiential knowledge and insight of, and from our Lord. The glory (etc.) is by Him, in Him and for Him from the time that Peter wrote this, on into the midst of the Day, which is Christ and lasts on into the indefinite time periods of the Age of the Messiah.
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