II Peter 3:1-5

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

A REMINDER OF GOD’S WORD

INTRODUCTION:

 

In II Peter 1 we see:

 

            1.   The Lord has called believers.

 

            2.   The Lord has implanted within believers a divine nature.

 

            3.   The Lord has given believers His power to enable them to live godly lives.

 

            4.   Believers should live God-honoring lives.

 

            5.   God has given believers His word in order to guide them in their lives.

 

In II Peter 2 we have seen that there are going to be false teachers. God’s purposes are going to be fulfilled regardless of what the false teachers do.

 

Although the false teachers will deny important doctrines in the last days, God’s purposes will be fulfilled. It is just a matter of time. Even the destruction of the universe will occur right on schedule. Since believers know these things, they need to beware lest they fall. Instead they should be growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.

 

In II Peter 3 we see that there are going to be scoffers who will attempt to make a mockery of Christianity. So we will have to be prepared to deal not only with false teachers and their false teaching, we will also have to be prepared to deal with mockers.

We see that –

    I.     PETER WROTE THIS EPISTLE TO REMIND HIS READERS OF THE WORDS OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT SCRIPTURES – 3:1-2

 

II Peter 3:1-2 – (1) This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: (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.

 

Peter reminds his readers why he is writing this second epistle or letter.

 

This refers to the letter he is presently writing, i.e. to II Peter. He had previously written the one we know as I Peter.

 

The use of second implies that I Peter was the first epistle and that they were both written to the same general group of people. It also suggests that Peter was not a prolific writer. Although he may have written other letters which God did not providentially preserve, he makes no mention of any.

 

He addresses his readers as beloved which is used in the sense of dear ones or dear friends.

 

I now write unto you suggests that Peter is describing himself as being in process of writing.

 

Both refers to both I Peter and II Peter.

 

In . . . which may suggest within which, but it may instead suggest by means of which. There is not much difference. If Peter does not stir them up in some way with these letters, he will not be stirring them up by means of these letters either.

 

I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance recalls II Peter 1:12-16 where Peter indicated that he is writing to remind them of things he had witnessed. It also gives insight into Peter’s purpose in writing I Peter where He reminded the believers of the sufferings of Christ in order to prepare them to suffer for the sake of righteousness as God might direct.

 

Your pure minds suggests your unmixed (or unalloyed) kinds of thinking, your unmixed dispositions, or your unmixed thoughts. The minds of believers should be unmixed in that they are totally desirous of living godly lives that are pleasing to the Lord.

 

By way of remembrance indicates the means Peter is using to stir up the pure minds of his readers. It is by reminding them of certain things. As believers read Peter’s epistles as well as the rest of the Scriptures, they will be reminded of things that are otherwise easily forgotten. It reminds us of the necessity of daily Bible study.

 

II 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.

 

Verse 2 indicates the purpose of Peter’s stirring up his readers’ pure minds by reminding them of some things.

 

That is understood in the sense of in order that or for the purpose that.

 

Ye may be mindful means you may remember or you may keep in mind in contrast to you may forget.

 

What they should remember is the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets and also the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.

 

Peter thus places the commandment issued by the apostles on a par with the words spoken before by the holy prophets. Although Peter does not specifically indicate what these words are which were spoken before by the holy prophets, we should be able to discern them from what is stated.

 

Peter also does not specifically indicate what the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour is. However, we should also be able to discern it from what is stated.

 

The context is contrasting the truth which is found in the prophetic word by which believers should conduct their lives with the words of the false prophets and the false teachers. Therefore, the words spoken before by the holy prophets appears to represent the Old Testament Scriptures; whereas, the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour appears to represent the New Testament Scriptures. If one keeps in mind what the Scriptures say, he will quickly recognize false teaching for what it is. Thus, the best way someone can protect himself from false teaching is to saturate his mind with the truth of the Word of God.

 

Words are things which are said, sayings, or expressions.

 

Spoken before describes words and indicates that they were told beforehand or told in advance. The tense of spoken before indicates action completed in the past with its result continuing on. These words had been spoken by the prophets, and they remain spoken for all to observe.

 

By the holy prophets indicates the ones who spoke these words in advance, and holy means that they were dedicated to God.

 

One is reminded of II Peter 1:19 , We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed. . . . Peter wrote . . . that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation (II Peter 1:20 ); and he gave the reason in 1:21, For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The similarity in language between 1:19-21 and this verse suggests very strongly that the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets are the Old Testament Scriptures. They have been spoken before and remain available for reading.

 

The other thing of which the readers should be mindful is of the commandment of us. The fact that commandment is singular rather than plural suggests that it is one thing which the apostles worked on jointly. Inasmuch as the apostles did not all get together to issue some joint commandment which we have, and since the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets seem to refer to the Old Testament, it appears that the commandment of us refers to the New Testament Scriptures of which the apostles were the major contributors. It is true that, by A.D. 67 when Peter was writing, the New Testament was not yet complete; but a good portion of it was. Furthermore, the fact that Peter refers to it as the commandment suggests that following or obeying it is not optional; it is mandatory.

 

Us is identified as the apostles of the Lord and Saviour. This group of apostles is limited to the Twelve and Paul.

 

The Lord and Saviour refers to Christ. He was their Master, and He had also delivered them from sin and its consequences.

We also see that –

  II.     SCOFFERS WILL SEEK TO DISCREDIT CHRIST AND CHRISTIANITY – 3:3-4

 

II Peter 3:3-4 – (3) Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, (4) And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

 

Knowing this first is understood in the sense of because you know this first or since you know this first.

 

Since there is no second mentioned by Peter, first indicates degree rather than time and is used in the sense of above all or especially.

 

There shall come suggests that the scoffers were not yet there, or that they were not yet there to the same degree that they would be later on.

 

In the last days are the days that precede the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. They had already started to come during the lifetime of Peter, and they would continue to come until the rapture.

 

Scoffers are mockers who do not believe the gospel message and are seeking to make a mockery of it.

 

Walking after their own lusts describes these scoffers; and walking literally means going, proceeding, or traveling. It is used frequently in the New Testament in a figurative sense meaning conducting themselves or living.

 

After their own lusts indicates that the standard by which they live is their own wicked desires or cravings. It leaves no doubt that they are an unsaved group of people.

 

 

II Peter 3:4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

 

And saying indicates a second thing these scoffers are doing. They think that they have found a soft spot by which they can disprove the truths of Christianity. They had heard that the Lord would return; but since He has not yet done so, they think that this has disproved the truth of the promise.

 

What they are saying is, Where is the promise of his coming? They were saying this in order to mock it. Obviously, the Lord has not yet returned. They are mocking the truth of His promised return, and in effect are stating that He will not be returning in the future either. Inasmuch as the Lord promised that He would return, their mockery casts doubt on His truthfulness and credibility and, therefore, attempts to discredit His character as well.

 

The promise is undoubtedly the promise that He Himself has made, and of his coming clarifies which promise these mockers meant.

 

His coming refers to His second coming rather than to the rapture, and his refers to Christ.

 

Their reason for disbelieving the promise Christ had made regarding His coming is introduced by for, which is explanatory.

 

Since is from the time when.

 

The fathers is used in the sense of the ancestors and refers to the Jewish Fathers: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the sons of Jacob. The reference to the fathers suggests that the scoffers were Jewish.

 

Fell asleep is a kind or euphemistic way of saying died.

 

All things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation is known as the principle of uniformity upon which evolutionists base their thinking, and Peter is about to tell them that it is a false assumption based upon a willing ignorance of certain facts.

 

All things is all-inclusive. Therefore, if Peter can show as little as one thing where all things have not continued as (they were) from the beginning of the creation, he will disprove their false assumption.

 

Continue as they were is used in the sense of remain as (they were).

 

From the beginning of the creation indicates the time from which these scoffers assume that all things continue as they were. This assumption is not that all things continue as they were since the creation was completed; instead, it is since the creation was started and, therefore, includes the creation itself. Peter will demonstrate in the next several verses that this is a false assumption. To use it to mock the promised return of Christ is foolishness.

Next, we see that –

 III.     THE SCOFFERS’ CLAIM THAT ALL THINGS CONTINUE AS THEY WERE FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION IS REFUTED BY THE FACT THAT GOD CREATED THE WORLD BY HIS WORD – 3:5A

 

It was not always this way. The world is not eternal. There was a time when the world did not exist.

 

II Peter 3:5 a – For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old . . . .

 

For introduces an explanation of what is wrong with the assumption made by the scoffers and is understood in the sense of now.

 

This refers to what follows in verses 5-7: first, the creation came by the word of God; second, the flood came by the word of God; and third, the preservation of the heavens and earth unto the day of judgment came by the word of God.

 

This they . . . are ignorant of is literally this escapes their notice or this is hidden from them, and it is used in the sense of this they forget.

 

Willingly suggests that they choose not to know the truth; instead, they choose to believe that Christ will not return. They, therefore, deliberately overlook certain facts which would disprove their assumption.

 

By the word of God shows the means by which God accomplished the creation. He spoke, and it happened. It reminds one of And God said in Genesis 1:3 , 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, and 26 where He spoke things into being.

 

In Genesis 1:1 God created the heaven and the earth. It was without form and void.

 

Some time later in Genesis 1:6-8 , God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. . . . He called the firmament Heaven.

 

In Genesis 1:9-10 we find the gathering of the waters into the seas. Thus, by the word of God, things were brought to pass in the creation. God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1 ); God made light (Genesis 1:3-5 ); God made the firmament (Genesis 1:6-9 ); God gathered the waters together into seas (Genesis 1:9-10 ); God brought forth vegetation and trees (Genesis 1:11-13 ); God made the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 1:14-19 ); God created animal life and birds (Genesis 1:20-23 ); God made the beasts of the earth, cattle, and creeping things (Genesis 1:24-25 ); and finally, God made man (Genesis 1:26-27 ). Indeed, all things have not continued as they were from the beginning of the creation.

 

The heavens were of old refers to the firmament in Genesis 1:8 which God called Heaven. There Heaven is plural in Hebrew but translated as singular. It is merely translated as a plural in II Peter 3 , but there is really no difference in meaning.

We furthermore see that –

 IV.     THE SCOFFERS’ CLAIM THAT ALL THINGS CONTINUE AS THEY WERE FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION IS REFUTED BY THE FACT THAT GOD GATHERED TOGETHER THE WATERS IN THE FORMATION OF THE SEAS – 3:5B

 

It was not always this way. The waters were not always gathered together to form the seas.

 

II Peter 3:5 b – (For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God) . . . the earth standing out of the water and in the water.

 

The earth standing out of the water and in the water refers to the gathering together of the waters in the formation of the seas. Now, this did not occur at the same time as the creation of the firmament. God was fashioning the creation which He had made by His word.

 

Of old means long ago.

 

The tense of standing indicates an action completed in past time with its result continuing on. When this change was made by the word of God, there was no return to what it was like before the change was made. The change was permanent.

CONCLUSION:

 

Let the mockers mock. Let them sneer at Christianity all they want. It will not make any difference. God’s word is good, and He will keep it.

 

Don’t forget that God will also keep His word regarding salvation.

 

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.