THE SECOND EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER Commentary by A. R. Faussett

 

INTRODUCTION

Authenticity and genuineness.–If not a gross imposture, its own internal witness is unequivocal in its favor. It has Peter’s name and apostleship in its heading: not only his surname, but his original name Simon, or Simeon, he thus, at the close of his life, reminding his readers who he originally was before his call. Again, in 2Pe 1:16-18, he mentions his presence at the Transfiguration, and Christ’s prophecy of his death! and in 2Pe 3:15, his brotherhood with Paul. Again, in 2Pe 3:1, the author speaks of himself as author of the former Epistle: it is, moreover, addressed so as to include (but not to be restricted to) the same persons as the first, whom he presupposes to be acquainted with the writings of Paul, by that time recognized as “Scripture” (2Pe 3:15, “the long-suffering of God,” compare Ro 2:4). This necessarily implies a late date, when Paul’s Epistles (including Romans) already had become generally diffused and accepted as Scripture in the Church. The Church of the fourth century had, besides the testimony which we have of the doubts of the earlier Christians, other external evidence which we have not, and which, doubtless, under God’s overruling providence, caused them to accept it. It is hard to understand how a book palpably false (as it would be if Peter be not the author) could have been accepted in the Canon as finally established in the Councils of Laodicea, A.D. 360 (if the fifty-ninth article be genuine), Hippo, and Carthage in the fourth century (393 and 397). The whole tone and spirit of the Epistle disprove its being an imposture. He writes as one not speaking of himself, but moved by the Holy Ghost (2Pe 1:21). An attempt at such a fraud in the first ages would have brought only shame and suffering, alike from Christians and heathen, on the perpetrator: there was then no temptation to pious frauds as in later times. That it must have been written in the earliest age is plain from the wide gulf in style which separates it and the other New Testament Scriptures from even the earliest and best of the post-apostolic period. Daille well says, “God has allowed a fosse to be drawn by human weakness around the sacred canon to protect it from all invasion.”

Traces of acquaintance with it appear in the earliest Fathers. Hermas [Similitudes, 6.4] (compare 2Pe 2:13), Greek, “luxury in the day … luxuriating with their own deceivings”; and [Shepherd, Vision 3.7], “They have left their true way” (compare 2Pe 2:15); and [Shepherd, Vision 4.3], “Thou hast escaped this world” (compare 2Pe 2:20). Clement of Rome, [Epistle to the Corinthians, 7.9; 10], as to Noah’s preaching and Lot’s deliverance, “the Lord making it known that He does not abandon those that trust in Him, but appoints those otherwise inclined to judgment” (compare 2Pe 2:5, 6, 7, 9). Irenæus, A.D. 178 (“the day of the Lord is as a thousand years”), and Justin Martyr seem to allude to 2Pe 3:8. Hippolytus [On Antichrist], seems to refer to 2Pe 1:21, “The prophets spake not of their own private (individual) ability and will, but what was (revealed) to them alone by God.” The difficulty is, neither Tertullian, Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria, nor the oldest Syriac (Peschito) version (the later Syriac has it), nor the fragment known as Muratori’s Canon, mentions it. The first writer who has expressly named it is Origen, in the third century (Homily on Joshua; also Homily 4 on Leviticus, and Homily 13 on Numbers), who names it “Scripture,” quoting 2Pe 1:4; 2:16; however (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 6.25]), he mentions that the Second Epistle was doubted by some. Firmilian, bishop of Cappadocia, in Epistle to Cyrpian speaks of Peter’s Epistles as warning us to avoid heretics (a monition which occurs in the Second, not the First Epistle). Now Cappadocia is one of the countries mentioned (compare 1Pe 1:1 with 2Pe 3:1) as addressed; and it is striking, that from Cappadocia we get the earliest decisive testimony. “Internally it claims to be written by Peter, and this claim is confirmed by the Christians of that very region in whose custody it ought to have been found” [Tregelles].

The books disputed (Antilegomena), as distinguished from those universally recognized (Homologoumena), are Epistles Second Peter, James, Second and Third John, Jude, the Apocalypse, Epistle to Hebrews (compare Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.3,25]). The Antilegomena stand in quite a different class from the Spurious; of these there was no dispute, they were universally rejected; for example, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Revelation of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas. Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 348) enumerates seven Catholic Epistles, including Second Peter; so also Gregory Nazianzen (A.D. 389), and Epiphanius (A.D. 367). The oldest Greek manuscripts extant (of the fourth century) contain the Antilegomena. Jerome [On Illustrious Men], conjectured, from a supposed difference of style between the two Epistles, that Peter, being unable to write Greek, employed a different translator of his Hebrew dictation in the Second Epistle, and not the same as translated the First into Greek. Mark is said to have been his translator in the case of the Gospel according to Mark; but this is all gratuitous conjecture. Much of the same views pervade both Epistles. In both alike he looks for the Lord’s coming suddenly, and the end of the world (compare 2Pe 3:8-10 with 1Pe 4:5); the inspiration of the prophets (compare 1Pe 1:10-12 with 2Pe 1:19-21; 3:2); the new birth by the divine word a motive to abstinence from worldly lusts (1Pe 1:22; 2:2; compare 2Pe 1:4); also compare 1Pe 2:9 with 2Pe 1:3, both containing in the Greek the rare word “virtue” (1Pe 4:17 with 2Pe 2:3).

It is not strange that distinctive peculiarities of STYLE should mark each Epistle, the design of both not being the same. Thus the sufferings of Christ are more prominent in the First Epistle, the object there being to encourage thereby Christian sufferers; the glory of the exalted Lord is more prominent in the Second, the object being to communicate fuller “knowledge” of Him as the antidote to the false teaching against which Peter warns his readers. Hence His title of redemption, “Christ,” is the one employed in the First Epistle; but in the Second Epistle, “the Lord.” Hope is characteristic of the First Epistle; full knowledge, of the Second Epistle. In the First Epistle he puts his apostolic authority less prominently forward than in the Second, wherein his design is to warn against false teachers. The same difference is observable in Paul’s Epistles. Contrast 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1; Php 1:1, with Ga 1:1; 1Co 1:1. The reference to Paul’s writings as already existing in numbers, and as then a recognized part of Scripture (2Pe 3:15, 16), implies that this Epistle was written at a late date, just before Peter’s death.

Striking verbal coincidences occur: compare 1Pe 1:19, end, with 2Pe 3:14, end; “His own,” Greek, 2Pe 1:3, 2Pe 2:16; 3:17 with 1Pe 3:1, 5. The omission of the Greek article, 1Pe 2:13 with 2Pe 1:21; 2:4, 5, 7. Moreover, two words occur, 2Pe 1:13, “tabernacle,” that is, the body, and 2Pe 1:15, “decease,” which at once remind us of the transfiguration narrative in the Gospel. Both Epistles refer to the deluge, and to Noah as the eighth that was saved. Though the First Epistle abounds in quotations of the Old Testament, whereas the Second contains none, yet references to the Old Testament occur often (2Pe 1:21; 2:5-8, 15; 3:5, 6, 10, 13). Compare Greek, “putting away,” 1Pe 3:21, with 2Pe 1:14; Greek, “pass the time,” 1Pe 1:17, with 2Pe 2:18; “walked in,” 1Pe 4:3, with 2Pe 2:10; 3:3; “called you,” 1Pe 1:15; 2:9; 5:10, with 2Pe 1:3.

Moreover, more verbal coincidences with the speeches of Peter in Acts occur in this Second, than in the First Epistle. Compare Greek, “obtained,” 2Pe 1:1 with Ac 1:17; Greek, “godliness,” 2Pe 1:6, with Ac 3:12, the only passage where the term occurs, except in the Pastoral Epistles; and 2Pe 2:9 with Ac 10:2, 7; “punished,” 2Pe 2:9, with Ac 4:21, the only places where the term occurs; the double genitive, 2Pe 3:2, with Ac 5:32; “the day of the Lord,” 2Pe 3:10, with Ac 2:20, where only it occurs, except in 1Th 5:2.

The testimony of Jude, Jude 17, 18, is strong for its genuineness and inspiration, by adopting its very words, and by referring to it as received by the churches to which he, Jude, wrote, “Remember the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.” Jude, therefore, must have written after Second Peter, to which he plainly refers; not before, as Alford thinks. No less than eleven passages of Jude rest on similar statements of Second Peter. Jude 2, compare 2Pe 1:2; Jude 4, compare 2Pe 2:1; Jude 6, compare 2Pe 2:4; Jude 7, compare 2Pe 2:6; Jude 8, compare 2Pe 2:10; Jude 9, compare 2Pe 2:11; Jude 11, compare 2Pe 2:15; Jude 12, compare 2Pe 2:17; Jude 16, compare 2Pe 2:18; Jude 18, compare 2Pe 2:1; 3:3. Just in the same way Micah, Mic 4:1-4, leans on the somewhat earlier prophecy of Isaiah, whose inspiration he thereby confirms. Alford reasons that because Jude, in many of the passages akin to Second Peter, is fuller than Second Peter, he must be prior. This by no means follows. It is at least as likely, if not more so, that the briefer is the earlier, rather than the fuller. The dignity and energy of the style is quite consonant to what we should expect from the prompt and ardent foreman of the apostles. The difference of style between First and Second Peter accords with the distinctness of the subjects and objects.

The date, from what has been said, would be about A.D. 68 or 69, about a year after the first, and shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, the typical precursor of the world’s end, to which 2Pe 3:10-13 so solemnly calls attention, after Paul’s ministry had closed (compare Greek aorist tense, “wrote,” past time, 2Pe 3:15), just before Peter’s own death. It was written to include the same persons, and perhaps in, or about the same place, as the first. Being without salutations of individuals, and entrusted to the care of no one church, or particular churches as the first is, but directed generally “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us” (2Pe 1:1), it took a longer time in being recognized as canonical. Had Rome been the place of its composition or publication, it could hardly have failed to have had an early acceptance–an incidental argument against the tradition of Peter’s martyrdom at Rome. The remote scene of its composition in Babylon, or else in some of the contiguous regions beyond the borders of the Roman empire, and of its circulation in Cappadocia, Pontus, &c., will additionally account for its tardy but at last universal acceptance in the catholic Church. The former Epistle, through its more definite address, was earlier in its general acceptance.

Object.–In 2Pe 3:17, 18 the twofold design of the Epistle is set forth; namely, to guard his readers against “the error” of false teachers, and to exhort them to grow in experimental “knowledge of our Lord and Saviour” (2Pe 3:18). The ground on which this knowledge rests is stated, 2Pe 1:12-21, namely, the inspired testimony of apostles and prophets. The danger now, as of old, was about to arise from false teachers, who soon were to come among them, as Paul also (to whom reference is made, 2Pe 3:15, 16) testified in the same region. The grand antidote is “the full knowledge of our Lord and Saviour,” through which we know God the Father, partake of His nature, escape from the pollutions of the world, and have entrance into Christ’s kingdom. The aspect of Christ presented is not so much that of the past suffering, as of the future reigning, Saviour, His present power, and future new kingdom. This aspect is taken as best fitted to counteract the theories of the false teachers who should “deny” His Lordship and His coming again, the two very points which, as an apostle and eye-witness, Peter attests (His “power” and His “coming”); also, to counteract their evil example in practice, blaspheming the way of truth, despising governments, slaves to covetousness and filthy lusts of the flesh, while boasting of Christian freedom, and, worst of all, apostates from the truth. The knowledge of Christ, as being the knowledge of “the way of righteousness,” “the right way,” is the antidote of their bad practice. Hence “the preacher” of righteousness, Noah, and “righteous Lot,” are instanced as escaping the destruction which overtook the “unjust” or “unrighteous”; and Balaam is instanced as exemplifying the awful result of “unrighteousness” such as characterized the false teachers. Thus the Epistle forms one connected whole, the parts being closely bound together by mutual relation, and the end corresponding with the beginning; compare 2Pe 3:14, 18 with 2Pe 1:2, in both “grace” and “peace” being connected with “the knowledge” of our Saviour; compare also 2Pe 3:17 with 2Pe 1:4, 10, 12; and 2Pe 3:18, “grow in grace and knowledge,” with the fuller 2Pe 1:5-8; and 2Pe 2:21; and 2Pe 3:13, “righteousness,” with 2Pe 1:1; and 2Pe 3:1 with 2Pe 1:13; and 2Pe 3:2 with 2Pe 1:19.

The germs of Carpocratian and Gnostic heresies already existed, but the actual manifestation of these heresies is spoken of as future (2Pe 2:1, 2, &c.): another proof that this Epistle was written, as it professes, in the apostolic age, before the development of the Gnostic heresies in the end of the first and the beginning of the second centuries. The description is too general to identify the heresies with any particular one of the subsequent forms of heresy, but applies generally to them all.

Though altogether distinct in aim from the First Epistle, yet a connection may be traced. The neglect of the warnings to circumspection in the walk led to the evils foretold in the Second Epistle. Compare the warning against the abuse of Christian freedom, 1Pe 2:16 with 2Pe 2:19, “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption”; also the caution against pride, 1Pe 5:5, 6 with 2Pe 2:18, “they speak great swelling words of vanity.”

 

CHAPTER 1

2Pe 1:1-21. Address: Exhortation to All Graces, as God Has Given Us, in the Knowledge of Christ, All Things Pertaining to Life: Confirmed by the Testimony of Apostles, and Also Prophets, to the Power and Coming of Christ.

1. Simon–the Greek form: in oldest manuscripts, “Symeon” (Hebrew, that is, “hearing), as in Ac 15:14. His mention of his original name accords with the design of this Second Epistle, which is to warn against the coming false teachers, by setting forth the true “knowledge” of Christ on the testimony of the original apostolic eye-witnesses like himself. This was not required in the First Epistle.

servant–“slave”: so Paul, Ro 1:1.

to them, &c.–He addresses a wider range of readers (all believers) than in the First Epistle, 2Pe 1:1, but means to include especially those addressed in the First Epistle, as 2Pe 3:1 proves.

obtained–by grace. Applied by Peter to the receiving of the apostleship, literally, “by allotment”: as the Greek is, Lu 1:9; Joh 19:24. They did not acquire it for themselves; the divine election is as independent of man’s control, as the lot which is east forth.

like precious–“equally precious” to all: to those who believe, though not having seen Christ, as well as to Peter and those who have seen Him. For it lays hold of the same “exceeding great and precious promises,” and the same “righteousness of God our Saviour.” “The common salvation … the faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3).

with us–apostles and eye-witnesses (2Pe 1:18). Though putting forward his apostleship to enforce his exhortation, he with true humility puts himself, as to “the faith,” on a level with all other believers. The degree of faith varies in different believers; but in respect to its objects, present justification, sanctification, and future glorification, it is common alike to all. Christ is to all believers “made of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”

through–Greek, “in.” Translate, as the one article to both nouns requires, “the righteousness of Him who is (at once) our God and (our) Saviour.” Peter, confirming Pau;’s testimony to the same churches, adopts Paul’s inspired phraseology. The Gospel plan sets forth God’s righteousness, which is Christ’s righteousness, in the brightest light. Faith has its sphere IN it as its peculiar element: God is in redemption “righteous,” and at the same time a “Saviour”; compare Isa 45:21, “a just God and a Saviour.

2. Grace … peace–(1Pe 1:2).

through–Greek, “in”: the sphere IN which alone grace and peace can be multiplied.

knowledge–Greek, “full knowledge.”

of God, and of Jesus our Lord–The Father is here meant by “God,” but the Son in 2Pe 1:1: marking how entirely one the Father and Son are (Joh 14:7-11). The Vulgate omits “of God and”; but oldest manuscripts support the words. Still the prominent object of Peter’s exhortation is “the knowledge of Jesus our Lord” (a phrase only in Ro 4:24), and, only secondarily, of the Father through Him (2Pe 1:8; 2Pe 2:20; 3:18).

3. According as, &c.–Seeing that [Alford]. “As He hath given us ALL things (needful) for life and godliness, (so) do you give us ALL diligence,” &c. The oil and flame are given wholly of grace by God, and “taken” by believers: their part henceforth is to “trim their lamps” (compare 2Pe 1:3, 4 with 2Pe 1:5, &c.).

life and godliness–Spiritual life must exist first before there can be true godliness. Knowledge of God experimentally is the first step to life (Joh 17:3). The child must have vital breath. first, and then cry to, and walk in the ways of, his father. It is not by godliness that we obtain life, but by life, godliness. To life stands opposed corruption; to godliness, lust (2Pe 1:4).

called us–(2Pe 1:10); “calling” (1Pe 2:9).

to glory and virtue–rather, “through (His) glory.” Thus English Version reads as one oldest manuscript. But other oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, “By His own (peculiar) glory and virtue”; being the explanation of “His divine power”; glory and moral excellency (the same attribute is given to God in 1Pe 2:9, “praises,” literally, “virtues”) characterize God’s “power.” “Virtue,” the standing word in heathen ethics, is found only once in Paul (Php 4:8), and in Peter in a distinct sense from its classic usage; it (in the heathen sense) is a term too low and earthly for expressing the gifts of the Spirit [Trench, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament].

4. Whereby, &c.–By His glory and virtue: His glory making the “promises” to be exceeding great; His virtue making them “precious” [Bengel]. Precious promises are the object of precious faith.

given–The promises themselves are a gift: for God’s promises are as sure as if they were fulfilled.

by these–promises. They are the object of faith, and even now have a sanctifying effect on the believer, assimilating him to God. Still more so, when they shall be fulfilled.

might, &c.–Greek, “that ye MAY become partakers of the divine nature,” even now in part; hereafter perfectly; 1Jo 3:2, “We shall be like Him.”

the divine nature–not God’s essence, but His holiness, including His “glory” and “virtue,” 2Pe 1:3; the opposite to “corruption through lust.” Sanctification is the imparting to us of God Himself by the Holy Spirit in the soul. We by faith partake also of the material nature of Jesus (Eph 5:30). The “divine power” enables us to be partakers of “the divine nature.”

escaped the corruption–which involves in, and with itself, destruction at last of soul and body; on “escaped” as from a condemned cell, compare 2Pe 2:18-20; Ge 19:17; Col 1:13.

through–Greek, “in.” “The corruption in the world” has its seat, not so much in the surrounding elements, as in the “lust” or concupiscence of men’s hearts.

5. And beside this–rather, “And for this very reason,” namely, “seeing that His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2Pe 1:3).

giving–literally, “introducing,” side by side with God’s gift, on your part “diligence.” Compare an instance, 2Pe 1:10; 2Pe 3:14; 2Co 7:11.

all–all possible.

add–literally, “minister additionally,” or, abundantly (compare Greek, 2Co 9:10); said properly of the one who supplied all the equipments of a chorus. So accordingly, “there will be ministered abundantly unto you an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Saviour” (2Pe 1:11).

to–Greek, “in”; “in the possession of your faith, minister virtue. Their faith (answering to “knowledge of Him,” 2Pe 1:3) is presupposed as the gift of God (2Pe 1:3; Eph 2:8), and is not required to be ministered by us; in its exercise, virtue is to be, moreover, ministered. Each grace being assumed, becomes the stepping stone to the succeeding grace: and the latter in turn qualifies and completes the former. Faith leads the band; love brings up the rear [Bengel]. The fruits of faith specified are seven, the perfect number.

virtue–moral excellency; manly, strenuous energy, answering to the virtue (energetic excellency) of God.

and to–Greek, “in”; “and in (the exercise of) your virtue knowledge,” namely, practical discrimination of good and evil; intelligent appreciation of what is the will of God in each detail of practice.

6. Greek, “And in your knowledge self-control.” In the exercise of Christian knowledge or discernment of God’s will, let there be the practical fruit of self-control as to one’s lusts and passions. Incontinence weakens the mind; continence, or self-control, moves weakness and imparts strength And in your self-control patient endurance” amidst sufferings, so much dwelt on in the First Epistle, second, third, and fourth chapters. “And in your patient endurance godliness”; it is not to be mere stoical endurance, but united to [and flowing from] God-trusting [Alford].

7. “And in your godliness brotherly kindness”; not suffering your godliness to be moroseness, nor a sullen solitary habit of life, but kind, generous, and courteous [Alford]. Your natural affection and brotherly kindness are to be sanctified by godliness. “And in your brotherly kindness love,” namely, to all men, even to enemies, in thought, word, and deed. From brotherly kindness we are to go forward to love. Compare 1Th 3:12, “Love one toward another (brotherly kindness), and toward all men (charity).” So charity completes the choir of graces in Col 3:14. In a retrograde order, he who has love will exercise brotherly kindness; he who has brotherly kindness will feel godliness needful; the godly will mix nothing stoical with his patience; to the patient, temperance is easy; the temperate weighs things well, and so has knowledge; knowledge guards against sudden impulse carrying away its virtue [Bengel].

8. be–Greek, “subsist” that is, supposing these things to have an actual subsistence in you; “be” would express the mere matter-of-fact being (Ac 16:20).

abound–more than in others; so the Greek.

make–“render,” “constitute you,” habitually, by the very fact of possessing these graces.

barren–“inactive,” and, as a field lying fallow and unworked (Greek), so barren and useless.

unfruitful in–rather, … in respect to, “The full knowledge (Greek) of Christ” is the goal towards which all these graces tend. As their subsisting in us constitutes us not barren or idle, so their abounding in us constitutes us not unfruitful in respect to it. It is through doing His will, and so becoming like Him, that we grow in knowing Him (Joh 7:17).

9. But–Greek, “For.” Confirming the need of these graces (2Pe 1:5-8) by the fatal consequences of the want of them.

he that lacketh–Greek, “he to whom these are not present.”

blind–as to the spiritual realities of the unseen world.

and cannot see afar off–explanatory of “blind.” He closes his eyes (Greek) as unable to see distant objects (namely, heavenly things), and fixes his gaze on present and earthly things which alone he can see. Perhaps a degree of wilfulness in the blindness is implied in the Greek, “closing the eyes,” which constitutes its culpability; hating and rebelling against the light shining around him.

forgotten–Greek, “contracted forgetfulness,” wilful and culpable obliviousness.

that he was purged–The continually present sense of one’s sins having been once for all forgiven, is the strongest stimulus to every grace (Ps 130:4). This once-for-all accomplished cleansing of unbelievers at their new birth is taught symbolically by Christ, Joh 13:10, Greek, “He that has been bathed (once for all) needeth not save to wash his feet (of the soils contracted in the daily walk), but is clean every whit (in Christ our righteousness).” “Once purged (with Christ’s blood), we should have no more consciousness of sin (as condemning us, Heb 10:2, because of God’s promise).” Baptism is the sacramental pledge of this.

10. Wherefore–seeking the blessed consequence of having, and the evil effects of not having, these graces (2Pe 1:8, 9).

the rather–the more earnestly.

brethren–marking that it is affection for them which constrains him so earnestly to urge them. Nowhere else does he so address them, which makes his calling them so here the more emphatical.

give diligence–The Greek aorist implies one lifelong effect [Alford].

to make–Greek middle voice; to make so far as it depends on you; to do your part towards making. “To make” absolutely and finally is God’s part, and would be in the active.

your calling and election sure–by ministering additionally in your faith virtue, and in your virtue knowledge, &c. God must work all these graces in us, yet not so that we should be mere machines, but willing instruments in His hands in making His election of us “secure.” The ensuring of our election is spoken of not in respect to God, whose counsel is steadfast and everlasting, but in respect to our part. There is no uncertainty on His part, but on ours the only security is our faith in His promise and the fruits of the Spirit (2Pe 1:5-7, 11). Peter subjoins election to calling, because the calling is the effect and proof of God’s election, which goes before and is the main thing (Ro 8:28, 30, 33, where God’s “elect” are those “predestinated,” and election is “His purpose,” according to which He “called” them). We know His calling before His election, thereby calling is put first.

fall–Greek, “stumble” and fall finally (Ro 11:11). Metaphor from one stumbling in a race (1Co 9:24).

11. an entrance–rather as Greek, “the entrance” which ye look for.

ministered–the same verb as in 2Pe 1:5. Minister in your faith virtue and the other graces, so shall there be ministered to you the entrance into that heaven where these graces shine most brightly. The reward of grace hereafter shall correspond to the work of grace here.

abundantly–Greek, “richly.” It answers to “abound,” 2Pe 1:8. If these graces abound in you, you shall have your entrance into heaven not merely “scarcely” (as he had said, 1Pe 4:18), nor “so as by fire,” like one escaping with life after having lost all his goods, but in triumph without “stumbling and falling.”

12. Wherefore–as these graces are so necessary to your abundant entrance into Christ’s kingdom (2Pe 1:10, 11).

I will not be negligent–The oldest manuscripts read, “I will be about always to put you in remembrance” (an accumulated future: I will regard you as always needing to be reminded): compare “I will endeavor,” 2Pe 1:15. “I will be sure always to remind you” [Alford]. “Always”; implying the reason why he writes the second Epistle so soon after the first. He feels there is likely to be more and more need of admonition on account of the increasing corruption (2Pe 2:1, 2).

in the present truth–the Gospel truth now present with you: formerly promised to Old Testament believers as about to be, now in the New Testament actually present with, and in, believers, so that they are “established” in it as a “present” reality. Its importance renders frequent monitions never superfluous: compare Paul’s similar apology, Ro 15:14, 15.

13. Yea–Greek, “But”; though “you know” the truth (2Pe 1:12).

this tabernacle–soon to be taken down (2Co 5:1): I therefore need to make the most of my short time for the good of Christ’s Church. The zeal of Satan against it, the more intense as his time is short, ought to stimulate Christians on the same ground.

by–Greek, “in” (compare 2Pe 3:1).

14. shortly I must put off–Greek, “the putting off (as a garment) of my tabernacle is speedy”: implying a soon approaching, and also a sudden death (as a violent death is). Christ’s words, Joh 21:18, 19, “When thou art old,” &c., were the ground of his “knowing,” now that he was old, that his foretold martyrdom was near. Compare as to Paul, 2Ti 4:6. Though a violent death, he calls it a “departure” (Greek for “decease,” 2Pe 1:15), compare Ac 7:60.

15. endeavour–“use my diligence”: the same Greek word as in 2Pe 1:10: this is the field in which my diligence has scope. Peter thus fulfils Christ’s charge, “Feed My sheep” (Joh 21:16, 17).

decease–“departure.” The very word (“exodus”) used in the Transfiguration, Moses and Elias conversing about Christ’s decease (found nowhere else in the New Testament, but Heb 11:22, “the departing of Israel” out of Egypt, to which the saints’ deliverance from the present bondage of corruption answers). “Tabernacle” is another term found here as well as there (Lu 9:31, 33): an undesigned coincidence confirming Peter’s authorship of this Epistle.

that ye may be able–by the help of this written Epistle; and perhaps also of Mark’s Gospel, which Peter superintended.

always–Greek, “on each occasion”: as often as occasion may require.

to have … in remembrance–Greek, “to exercise remembrance of.” Not merely “to remember,” as sometimes we do, things we care not about; but “have them in (earnest) remembrance,” as momentous and precious truths.

16. For–reason why he is so earnest that the remembrance of these things should be continued after his death.

followed–out in detail.

cunningly devised–Greek, “devised by (man’s) wisdom”; as distinguished from what the Holy Ghost teaches (compare 1Co 3:13). But compare also 2Pe 2:3, “feigned words.”

fables–as the heathen mythologies, and the subsequent Gnostic “fables and genealogies,” of which the germs already existed in the junction of Judaism with Oriental philosophy in Asia Minor. A precautionary protest of the Spirit against the rationalistic theory of the Gospel history being myth.

when we made known unto you–not that Peter himself had personally taught the churches in Pontus, Galatia, &c., but he was one of the apostles whose testimony was borne to them, and to the Church in general, to whom this Epistle is addressed (2Pe 1:1, including, but not restricted, as First Peter, to the churches in Pontus, &c.).

power–the opposite of “fables”; compare the contrast of “word” and “power,” 1Co 4:20. A specimen of His power was given at the Transfiguration also of His “coming” again, and its attendant glory. The Greek for “coming” is always used of His second advent. A refutation of the scoffers (2Pe 3:4): I, James and John, saw with our own eyes a mysterious sample of His coming glory.

were–Greek, “were made.”

eye-witnesses–As initiated spectators of mysteries (so the Greek), we were admitted into His innermost secrets, namely, at the Transfiguration.

his–emphatical (compare Greek): “THAT great One’s majesty.”

17. received … honour–in the voice that spake to Him.

glory–in the light which shone around Him.

came–Greek, “was borne”: the same phrase occurs only in 1Pe 1:13; one of several instances showing that the argument against the authenticity of this Second Epistle, from its dissimilarity of style as compared with First Peter, is not well founded.

such a voice–as he proceeds to describe.

from the excellent glory–rather as Greek, “by (that is, uttered by) the magnificent glory (that is, by God: as His glorious manifested presence is often called by the Hebrews “the Glory,” compare “His Excellency,” De 33:26; Ps 21:5).”

in whom–Greek, “in regard to whom” (accusative case); but Mt 17:5, “in whom” (dative case) centers and rests My good pleasure. Peter also omits, as not required by his purpose, “hear Him,” showing his independence in his inspired testimony.

I am–Greek aorist, past time, “My good pleasure rested from eternity.”

18. which came–rather as Greek, “we heard borne from heaven.”

holy mount–as the Transfiguration mount came to be regarded, on account of the manifestation of Christ’s divine glory there.

we–emphatical: we, James and John, as well as myself.

19. We–all believers.

a more sure–rather as Greek, “we have the word of prophecy more sure (confirmed).” Previously we knew its sureness by faith, but, through that visible specimen of its hereafter entire fulfilment, assurance is made doubly sure. Prophecy assures us that Christ’s sufferings, now past, are to be followed by Christ’s glory, still future: the Transfiguration gives us a pledge to make our faith still stronger, that “the day” of His glory will “dawn” ere long. He does not mean to say that “the word of prophecy,” or Scripture, is surer than the voice of God heard at the Transfiguration, as English Version; for this is plainly not the fact. The fulfilment of prophecy so far in Christ’s history makes us the surer of what is yet to be fulfilled, His consummated glory. The word was the “lamp (Greek for ‘light’) heeded” by Old Testament believers, until a gleam of the “day dawn” was given at Christ’s first coming, and especially in His Transfiguration. So the word is a lamp to us still, until “the day” burst forth fully at the second coming of “the Sun of righteousness.” The day, when it dawns upon you, makes sure the fact that you saw correctly, though indistinctly, the objects revealed by the lamp.

whereunto–to which word of prophecy, primarily the Old Testament in Peter’s day; but now also in our day the New Testament, which, though brighter than the Old Testament (compare 1Jo 2:8, end), is but a lamp even still as compared with the brightness of the eternal day (compare 2Pe 3:2). Oral teachings and traditions of ministers are to be tested by the written word (Ac 17:11).

dark–The Greek implies squalid, having neither water nor light: such spiritually is the world without, and the smaller world (microcosm) within, the heart in its natural state. Compare the “dry places” Lu 11:24 (namely, unwatered by the Spirit), through which the unclean spirit goeth.

dawn–bursting through the darkness.

day star–Greek, the morning star,” as Re 22:16. The Lord Jesus.

in your hearts–Christ’s arising in the heart by His Spirit giving full assurance, creates spiritually full day in the heart, the means to which is prayerfully giving heed to the word. This is associated with the coming of the day of the Lord, as being the earnest of it. Indeed, even our hearts shall not fully realize Christ in all His unspeakable glory and felt presence, until He shall come (Mal 4:2). Isa 66:14, 15, “When you see this, your heart shall rejoice … For, behold, the Lord will come.” However, Tregelles’ punctuation is best, “whereunto ye do well to take heed (as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day have dawned and the morning star arisen) in your hearts.” For the day has already dawned in the heart of believers; what they wait for is its visible manifestation at Christ’s coming.

20. “Forasmuch as ye know this” (1Pe 1:18).

first–the foremost consideration in studying the word of prophecy. Laying it down as a first principle never to be lost sight of.

is–Greek, not the simple verb, to be, but to begin to be, “proves to be,” “becometh.” No prophecy is found to be the result of “private (the mere individual writer’s uninspired) interpretation” (solution), and so origination. The Greek noun epilusis, does not mean in itself origination; but that which the sacred writer could not always fully interpret, though being the speaker or writer (as 1Pe 1:10-12 implies), was plainly not of his own, but of God’s disclosure, origination, and inspiration, as Peter proceeds to add, “But holy men … spake (and afterwards wrote) … moved by the Holy Ghost”: a reason why ye should “give” all “heed” to it. The parallelism to 2Pe 1:16 shows that “private interpretation,” contrasted with “moved by the Holy Ghost,” here answers to “fables devised by (human) wisdom,” contrasted with “we were eye-witnesses of His majesty,” as attested by the “voice from God.” The words of the prophetical (and so of all) Scripture writers were not mere words of the individuals, and therefore to be interpreted by them, but of “the Holy Ghost” by whom they were “moved.” “Private” is explained, 2Pe 1:21, “by the will of man” (namely, the individual writer). In a secondary sense the text teaches also, as the word is the Holy Spirit’s, it cannot be interpreted by its readers (any more than by its writers) by their mere private human powers, but by the teaching of the Holy Ghost (Joh 16:14). “He who is the author of Scripture is its supreme interpreter” [Gerhard]. Alford translates, “springs not out of human interpretation,” that is, is not a prognostication made by a man knowing what he means when he utters it, but,” &c. (Joh 11:49-52). Rightly: except that the verb is rather, doth become, or prove to be. It not being of private interpretation, you must “give heed” to it, looking for the Spirit’s illumination “in your hearts” (compare Note, see on 2Pe 1:19).

21. came not in old time–rather, “was never at any time borne” (to us).

by the will of man–alone. Jer 23:26, “prophets of the deceit of their own heart.” Compare 2Pe 3:5, “willingly.”

holy–One oldest manuscript has, “men FROM God”: the emissaries from God. “Holy,” if read, will mean because they had the Holy Spirit.

moved–Greek, “borne” (along) as by a mighty wind: Ac 2:2, “rushing (the same Greek) wind”: rapt out of themselves: still not in fanatical excitement (1Co 14:32). The Hebrew “nabi,” “prophet,” meant an announcer or interpreter of God: he, as God’s spokesman, interpreted not his own “private” will or thought, but God’s “Man of the Spirit” (Ho 9:7, Margin). “Thou testifiedst by Thy Spirit in Thy prophets.” “Seer,” on the other hand, refers to the mode of receiving the communications from God, rather than to the utterance of them to others. “Spake” implies that, both in its original oral announcement, and now even when in writing, it has been always, and is, the living voice of God speaking to us through His inspired servants. Greek, “borne (along)” forms a beautiful antithesis to “was borne.” They were passive, rather than active instruments. The Old Testament prophets primarily, but including also all the inspired penmen, whether of the New or Old Testament (2Pe 3:2).

 

CHAPTER 2

2Pe 2:1-22. False Teachers to Arise: Them Bad Practices and Sure Destruction, from Which the Godly Shall Be Delivered, as Lot Was.

1. But–in contrast to the prophets “moved by the Holy Ghost” (2Pe 1:21).

also–as well as the true prophets (2Pe 1:19-21). Paul had already testified the entrance of false prophets into the same churches.

among the people–Israel: he is writing to believing Israelites primarily (see on 1Pe 1:1). Such a “false prophet” was Balaam (2Pe 2:15).

there shall be–Already symptoms of the evil were appearing (2Pe 2:9-22; Jude 4-13).

false teachers–teachers of falsehood. In contrast to the true teachers, whom he exhorts his readers to give heed to (2Pe 3:2).

who–such as (literally, “the which”) shall.

privily–not at first openly and directly, but by the way, bringing in error by the side of the true doctrine (so the Greek): Rome objects, Protestants cannot point out the exact date of the beginnings of the false doctrines superadded to the original truth; we answer, Peter foretells us it would be so, that the first introduction of them would be stealthy and unobserved (Jude 4).

damnable–literally, “of destruction”; entailing destruction (Php 3:19) on all who follow them.

heresies–self-chosen doctrines, not emanating from God (compare “will-worship,” Col 2:23).

even–going even to such a length as to deny both in teaching and practice. Peter knew, by bitter repentance, what a fearful thing it is to deny the Lord (Lu 22:61, 62).

denying–Him whom, above all others, they ought to confess.

Lord–“Master and Owner” (Greek), compare Jude 4, Greek. Whom the true doctrine teaches to be their Owner by right of purchase. Literally, “denying Him who bought them (that He should be thereby), their Master.”

bought them–Even the ungodly were bought by His “precious blood.” It shall be their bitterest self-reproach in hell, that, as far as Christ’s redemption was concerned, they might have been saved. The denial of His propitiatory sacrifice is included in the meaning (compare 1Jo 4:3).

bring upon themselves–compare “God bringing in the flood upon the world,” 2Pe 2:5. Man brings upon himself the vengeance which God brings upon him.

swift–swiftly descending: as the Lord’s coming shall be swift and sudden. As the ground swallowed up Korah and Dathan, and “they went down quick into the pit.” Compare Jude 11, which is akin to this passage.

2. follow–out: so the Greek.

pernicious ways–The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, “licentiousness” (Jude 4). False doctrine and immoral practice generally go together (2Pe 2:18, 19).

by reason of whom–“on account of whom,” namely, the followers of the false teachers.

the way of truth shall be evil spoken of–“blasphemed” by those without, who shall lay on Christianity itself the blame of its professors’ evil practice. Contrast 1Pe 2:12.

3. through, &c.–Greek, “IN covetousness” as their element (2Pe 2:14, end). Contrast 2Co 11:20; 12:17.

of a long time–in God’s eternal purpose. “Before of old ordained to condemnation” (Jude 4).

lingereth not–though sinners think it lingers; “is not idle.”

damnation–Greek, “destruction” (see on 2Pe 2:1). Personified.

slumbereth not–though sinners slumber.

4. if–The apodosis or consequent member of the sentence is not expressed, but is virtually contained in 2Pe 2:9. If God in past time has punished the ungodly and saved His people, He will be sure to do so also in our days (compare end of 2Pe 2:3).

angels–the highest of intelligent creatures (compare with this verse, Jude 6), yet not spared when they sinned.

hell–Greek, “Tartarus”: nowhere else in New Testament or the Septuagint: equivalent to the usual Greek, “Gehenna.” Not inconsistent with 1Pe 5:8; for though their final doom is hell, yet for a time they are permitted to roam beyond it in “the darkness of this world.” Slaves of Tartarus (called “the abyss,” or “deep,” Lu 8:31; “the bottomless pit,” Re 9:11) may also come upon earth. Step by step they are given to Tartarus, until at last they shall be wholly bound to it.

delivered–as the judge delivers the condemned prisoner to the officers (Re 20:2).

into chains–(Jude 6). The oldest manuscripts read, “dens,” as Alford translates: the Greek, however, may, in Hellenistic Greek, mean “chains,” as Jude expresses it. They are “reserved” unto hell’s “mist of darkness” as their final “judgment” or doom, and meanwhile their exclusion from the light of heaven is begun. So the ungodly were considered as virtually “in prison,” though at large on the earth, from the moment that God’s sentence went forth, though not executed till one hundred twenty years after.

5. eighth–that is, Noah, and seven others. Contrasted with the densely peopled “world of the ungodly.”

preacher–not only “righteous” himself (compare 2Pe 2:8), but also “a preacher of righteousness”: adduced by Peter against the licentiousness of the false teachers (2Pe 2:2) who have no prospect before them but destruction, even as it overtook the ungodly world in Noah’s days.

6. with, &c.–“TO overthrow” [Alford].

ensample–“of (the fate that should befall) those who in after-time should live ungodly.” Compare Jude 7, “set forth for an example.”

7. just–righteous.

filthy conversation–literally, “behavior in licentiousness” (Ge 19:5).

the wicked–Greek, “lawless”: who set at defiance the laws of nature, as well as man and God. The Lord reminds us of Lot’s faithfulness, but not of his sin in the cave: so in Rahab’s case.

8. vexed–Greek, “tormented.”

9. knoweth how–He is at no loss for means, even when men see no escape.

out of–not actually from.

temptations–trials.

to be punished–Greek, “being punished”: as the fallen angels (2Pe 2:4), actually under sentence, and awaiting its final execution. Sin is already its own penalty; hell will be its full development.

10. chiefly–They especially will be punished (Jude 8).

after–following after.

lust of uncleanness–defilement: “hankering after polluting and unlawful use of the flesh” [Alford].

government–Greek, “lordship,” “dominion” (Jude 8).

Presumptuous–Greek, “Darers.” Self-will begets presumption. Presumptuously daring.

are not afraid–though they are so insignificant in might; Greek, “tremble not” (Jude 8, end).

speak evil of–Greek, “blaspheme.”

dignities–Greek, “glories.”

11. which are–though they are.

greater–than these blasphemers. Jude instances Michael (Jude 9).

railing accusation–Greek, “blaspheming judgment” (Jude 9).

against them–against “dignities,” as for instance, the fallen angels: once exalted, and still retaining traces of their former power and glory.

before the Lord–In the presence of the Lord, the Judge, in reverence, they abstain from judgment [Bengel]. Judgment belongs to God, not the angels. How great is the dignity of the saints who, as Christ’s assessors, shall hereafter judge angels! Meanwhile, railing judgments, though spoken with truth, against dignities, as being uttered irreverently, are of the nature of “blasphemies” (Greek, 1Co 4:4, 5). If superior angels dare not, as being in the presence of God, the Judge, speak evil even of the bad angels, how awful the presumption of those who speak evil blasphemously of good “dignities.” 2Sa 16:7, 8, Shimei; Nu 16:2, 3, Korah, &c., referred to also in Jude 11; Nu 12:8, “Were ye (Aaron and Miriam) not afraid to speak evil of My servant Moses?” The angels who sinned still retain the indelible impress of majesty. Satan is still “a strong man”: “prince of this world”; and under him are “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world.” We are to avoid irreverence in regard to them, not on their account, but on account of God. A warning to those who use Satan’s name irreverently and in blasphemy. “When the ungodly curseth Satan, he curseth his own soul.”

12. (Jude 19).

But–In contrast to the “angels,” 2Pe 2:11.

brute–Greek, “irrational.” In contrast to angels that “excel in strength.”

beasts–Greek, “animals” (compare Ps 49:20).

natural–transposed in the oldest manuscripts, “born natural,” that is, born naturally so: being in their very nature (that is, naturally) as such (irrational animals), born to be taken and destroyed (Greek, “unto capture and destruction,” or corruption, see on Ga 6:8; compare end of this verse, “shall perish,” literally, “shall be corrupted,” in their own corruption. Jude 10, naturally … corrupt themselves,” and so destroy themselves; for one and the same Greek word expresses corruption, the seed, and destruction, the developed fruit).

speak evil of–Greek, “in the case of things which they understand not.” Compare the same presumption, the parent of subsequent Gnostic error, producing an opposite, though kindred, error, the worshipping of good angels”: Col 2:18, “intruding into those things which he hath not seen.”

13. receive–“shall carry off as their due.”

reward of–that is, for their “unrighteousness” [Alford]. Perhaps it is implied, unrighteousness shall be its own reward or punishment. “Wages of unrighteousness” (2Pe 2:15) has a different sense, namely, the earthly gain to be gotten by “unrighteousness.”

in the daytime–Translate as Greek, “counting the luxury which is in the daytime (not restricted to night, as ordinary revelling. Or as Vulgate and Calvin, “the luxury which is but for a day”: so Heb 11:25, “the pleasures of sin for a season”; and Heb 12:16, Esau) to be pleasure,” that is, to be their chief good and highest enjoyment.

Spots–in themselves.

blemishes–disgraces: bringing blame (so the Greek) on the Church and on Christianity itself.

sporting themselves–Greek, “luxuriating.”

with–Greek, “in.”

deceivings–or else passively, “deceits”: luxuries gotten by deceit. Compare Mt 13:22, “Deceitfulness of riches”; Eph 4:22, “Deceitful lusts.” While deceiving others, they are deceived themselves. Compare with English Version, Php 3:19, “Whose glory is in their shame.” “Their own” stands in opposition to “you”: “While partaking of the love-feast (compare Jude 12) with you,” they are at the same time “luxuriating in their own deceivings,” or “deceits” (to which latter clause answers Jude 12, end: Peter presents the positive side, “they luxuriate in their own deceivings”; Jude, the negative, “feeding themselves without fear”). But several of the oldest manuscripts, Vulgate, Syriac, and Sahidic Versions read (as Jude), “In their own love-feasts”: “their own” will then imply that they pervert the love-feasts so as to make them subserve their own self-indulgent purposes.

14. full of adultery–literally, “full of an adulteress,” as though they carried about adulteresses always dwelling in their eyes: the eye being the avenue of lust [Horneius]. Bengel makes the adulteress who fills their eyes, to be “alluring desire.”

that cannot cease–“that cannot be made to cease from sin.”

beguiling–“laying baits for.”

unstable–not firmly established in faith and piety.

heart–not only the eyes, which are the channel, but the heart, the fountain head of lust. Job 31:7, “Mine heart walked after mine eyes.”

covetous practices–The oldest manuscripts read singular, “covetousness.”

cursed children–rather as Greek, “children of curse,” that is, devoted to the curse. Cursing and covetousness, as in Balaam’s case, often go together: the curse he designed for Israel fell on Israel’s foes and on himself. True believers bless, and curse not, and so are blessed.

15. have–Some of the seducers are spoken of as already come, others as yet to come.

following–out: so the Greek.

the way–(Nu 22:23, 32; Isa 56:11).

son of Bosor–the same as Beor (Nu 22:5). This word was adopted, perhaps, because the kindred word Basar means flesh; and Balaam is justly termed son of carnality, as covetous, and the enticer of Israel to lust.

loved the wages of unrighteousness–and therefore wished (in order to gain them from Balak) to curse Israel whom God had blessed, and at last gave the hellish counsel that the only way to bring God’s curse on Israel was to entice them to fleshly lust and idolatry, which often go together.

16. was rebuked–Greek, “had a rebuke,” or conviction; an exposure of his specious wickedness on his being tested (the root verb of the Greek noun means to “convict on testing”).

his–Greek, “his own”: his own beast convicted him of his own iniquity.

ass–literally, “beast of burden”; the ass was the ordinary animal used in riding in Palestine.

dumb–Greek, “voiceless-speaking in man’s voice”; marking the marvellous nature of the miracle.

forbade–literally, “hindered.” It was not the words of the ass (for it merely deprecated his beating it), but the miraculous fact of its speaking at all, which withstood Balaam’s perversity in desiring to go after God had forbidden him in the first instance. Thus indirectly the ass, and directly the angel, rebuked his worse than asinine obstinacy; the ass turned aside at the sight of the angel, but Balaam, after God had plainly said, Thou shalt not go, persevered in wishing to go for gain; thus the ass, in act, forbade his madness. How awful a contrast–a dumb beast forbidding an inspired prophet!

17. (Jude 12, 13.)

wells–“clouds” in Jude; both promising (compare 2Pe 2:19) water, but yielding none; so their “great swelling words” are found on trial to be but “vanity” (2Pe 2:18).

clouds–The oldest manuscripts and versions read, “mists,” dark, and not transparent and bright as “clouds” often are, whence the latter term is applied sometimes to the saints; fit emblem of the children of darkness. “Clouds” is a transcriber’s correction from Jude 12, where it is appropriate, “clouds … without water” (promising what they do not perform); but not here, “mists driven along by a tempest.”

mist–blackness; “the chilling horror accompanying darkness” [Bengel].

18. allure–Greek, “lay baits for.”

through–Greek, “in”; the lusts of the flesh being the element IN which they lay their baits.

much wantonness–Greek, “by licentiousness”; the bait which they lay.

clean escaped–Greek, “really escaped.” But the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, “scarcely,” or “for but a little time”; scarcely have they escaped from them who live in error (the ungodly world), when they are allured by these seducers into sin again (2Pe 2:20).

19. promise … liberty–(Christian)–These promises are instances of their “great swelling words” (2Pe 2:18). The liberty which they propose is such as fears not Satan, nor loathes the flesh. Pauline language, adopted by Peter here, and 1Pe 2:16; see on 1Pe 2:16; (compare 2Pe 3:15; Ro 6:16-22; 8:15, 21; Ga 5:1, 13; compare Joh 8:34).

corruption–(See on 2Pe 2:12); “destroyed … perish … corruption.”

of whom–“by whatever … by the same,” &c.

20. after they–the seducers “themselves” have escaped (2Pe 2:19; see on Heb 6:4-6).

pollutions–which bring “corruption” (2Pe 2:19).

through–Greek, “in.”

knowledge–Greek, “full and accurate knowledge.”

the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ–solemnly expressing in full the great and gracious One from whom they fall.

latter end is worse … than the beginning–Peter remembers Christ’s words. “Worse” stands opposed to “better” (2Pe 2:21).

21. the way of righteousness–“the way of truth” (2Pe 2:2). Christian doctrine, and “the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour.”

turn–back again; so the Greek.

from the holy commandment–the Gospel which enjoins holiness; in opposition to their corruption. “Holy,” not that it makes holy, but because it ought to be kept inviolate [Tittmann].

delivered–once for all; admitting no turning back.

22. But–You need not wonder at the event; for dogs and swine they were before, and dogs and swine they will continue. They “scarcely” (2Pe 2:18) have escaped from their filthy folly, when they again are entangled in it. Then they seduce others who have in like manner “for a little time escaped from them that live in error” (2Pe 2:18). Peter often quoted Proverbs in his First Epistle (1Pe 1:7; 2:17; 4:8, 18); another proof that both Epistles come from the same writer.

 

CHAPTER 3

2Pe 3:1-18. Sureness of Christ’s Coming, and Its Accompaniments, Declared in Opposition to Scoffers about to Arise. God’s Long Suffering a Motive to Repentance, as Paul’s Epistles Set Forth; Concluding Exhortation to Growth in the Knowledge of Christ.

1. now–“This now a second Epistle I write.” Therefore he had lately written the former Epistle. The seven Catholic Epistles were written by James, John, and Jude, shortly before their deaths; previously, while having the prospect of being still for some time alive, they felt it less necessary to write [Bengel].

unto you–The Second Epistle, though more general in its address, yet included especially the same persons as the First Epistle was particularly addressed to.

pure–literally, “pure when examined by sunlight”; “sincere.” Adulterated with no error. Opposite to “having the understanding darkened.” Alford explains, The mind, will, and affection, in relation to the outer world, being turned to God [the Sun of the soul], and not obscured by fleshly and selfish regards.

by way of–Greek, “in,” “in putting you in remembrance” (2Pe 1:12, 13). Ye already know (2Pe 3:3); it is only needed that I remind you (Jude 5).

2. prophets–of the Old Testament.

of us–The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, “And of the commandment of the Lord and Saviour (declared) by YOUR apostles” (so “apostle of the Gentiles,” Ro 11:13)–the apostles who live among you in the present time, in contrast to the Old Testament “prophets.”

3. Knowing this first–from the word of the apostles.

shall come–Their very scoffing shall confirm the truth of the prediction.

scoffers–The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate add, “(scoffers) in (that is, ‘with’) scoffing.” As Re 14:2, “harping with harps.”

walking after their own lusts–(2Pe 2:10; Jude 16, 18). Their own pleasure is their sole law, unrestrained by reverence for God.

4. (Compare Ps 10:11; 73:11.) Presumptuous skepticism and lawless lust, setting nature and its so-called laws above the God of nature and revelation, and arguing from the past continuity of nature’s phenomena that there can be no future interruption to them, was the sin of the antediluvians, and shall be that of the scoffers in the last days.

Where–implying that it ought to have taken place before this, if ever it was to take place, but that it never will.

the promise–which you, believers, are so continually looking for the fulfilment of (2Pe 3:13). What becomes of the promise which you talk so much of?

his–Christ’s; the subject of prophecy from the earliest days.

the fathers–to whom the promise was made, and who rested all their hopes on it.

all things–in the natural world; skeptics look not beyond this.

as they were–continue as they do; as we see them to continue. From the time of the promise of Christ’s coming as Saviour and King being given to the fathers, down to the present time, all things continue, and have continued, as they now are, from “the beginning of creation.” The “scoffers” here are not necessarily atheists, nor do they maintain that the world existed from eternity. They are willing to recognize a God, but not the God of revelation. They reason from seeming delay against the fulfilment of God’s word at all.

5. Refutation of their scoffing from Scripture history.

willingly–wilfully; they do not wish to know. Their ignorance is voluntary.

they … are ignorant of–in contrast to 2Pe 3:8, “Be not ignorant of this.” Literally, in both verses, “This escapes THEIR notice (sagacious philosophers though they think themselves)”; “let this not escape YOUR notice.” They obstinately shut their eyes to the Scripture record of the creation and the deluge; the latter is the very parallel to the coming judgment by fire, which Jesus mentions, as Peter doubtless remembered.

by the word of God–not by a fortuitous concurrence of atoms [Alford].

of old–Greek, “from of old”; from the first beginning of all things. A confutation of their objection, “all things continue as they were FROM THE BEGINNING OF CREATION.” Before the flood, the same objection to the possibility of the flood might have been urged with the same plausibility: The heavens (sky) and earth have been FROM OF OLD, how unlikely then that they should not continue so! But, replies Peter, the flood came in spite of their reasonings; so will the conflagration of the earth come in spite of the “scoffers” of the last days, changing the whole order of things (the present “world,” or as Greek means, “order”), and introducing the new heavens and earth (2Pe 3:13).

earth standing out of–Greek, “consisting of,” that is, “formed out of the water.” The waters under the firmament were at creation gathered together into one place, and the dry land emerged out of and above, them.

in, &c.–rather, “by means of the water,” as a great instrument (along with fire) in the changes wrought on the earth’s surface to prepare it for man. Held together BY the water. The earth arose out of the water by the efficacy of the water itself [Tittmann].

6. Whereby–Greek, “By which” (plural). By means of which heavens and earth (in respect to the WATERS which flowed together from both) the then world perished (that is, in respect to its occupants, men and animals, and its then existing order: not was annihilated); for in the flood “the fountains of the great deep were broken up” from the earth (1) below, and “the windows of heaven” (2) above “were opened.” The earth was deluged by that water out of which it had originally risen.

7. (Compare Job 28:5, end).

which are now–“the postdiluvian visible world.” In contrast to “that then was,” 2Pe 3:6.

the same–Other oldest manuscripts read, “His” (God’s).

kept in store–Greek, “treasured up.”

reserved–“kept.” It is only God’s constantly watchful providence which holds together the present state of things till His time for ending it.

8. be not ignorant–as those scoffers are (2Pe 3:5). Besides the refutation of them (2Pe 3:5-7) drawn from the history of the deluge, here he adds another (addressed more to believers than to the mockers): God’s delay in fulfilling His promise is not, like men’s delays, owing to inability or fickleness in keeping His word, but through “long-suffering.”

this one thing–as the consideration of chief importance (Lu 10:42).

one day … thousand years–(Ps 90:4): Moses there says, Thy eternity, knowing no distinction between a thousand years and a day, is the refuge of us creatures of a day. Peter views God’s eternity in relation to the last day: that day seems to us, short-lived beings, long in coming, but with the Lord the interval is irrespective of the idea of long or short. His eternity exceeds all measures of time: to His divine knowledge all future things are present: His power requires not long delays for the performance of His work: His long-suffering excludes all impatient expectation and eager haste, such as we men feel. He is equally blessed in one day and in a thousand years. He can do the work of a thousand years in one day: so in 2Pe 3:9 it is said, “He is not slack,” that is, “slow”: He has always the power to fulfil His “promise.”

thousand years as one day–No delay which occurs is long to God: as to a man of countless riches, a thousand guineas are as a single penny. God’s oeonologe (eternal-ages measurer) differs wholly from man’s horologe (hour-glass). His gnomon (dial-pointer) shows all the hours at once in the greatest activity and in perfect repose. To Him the hours pass away, neither more slowly, nor more quickly, than befits His economy. There is nothing to make Him need either to hasten or delay the end. The words, “with the Lord” (Ps 90:4, “In Thy sight”), silence all man’s objections on the ground of his incapability of understanding this [Bengel].

9. slack–slow, tardy, late; exceeding the due time, as though that time were already come. Heb 10:37, “will not tarry.”

his promise–which the scoffers cavil at. 2Pe 3:4, “Where is the promise?” It shall be surely fulfilled “according to His promise” (2Pe 3:13).

some–the “scoffers.”

count–His promise to be the result of “slackness” (tardiness).

long-suffering–waiting until the full number of those appointed to “salvation” (2Pe 3:15) shall be completed.

to us-ward–The oldest manuscripts, Vulgate, Syriac, &c., read, “towards YOU.”

any–not desiring that any, yea, even that the scoffers, should perish, which would be the result if He did not give space for repentance.

come–go and be received to repentance: the Greek implies there is room for their being received to repentance (compare Greek, Mr 2:2; Joh 8:37).

10. The certainty, suddenness, and concomitant effects, of the coming of the day of the Lord. Faber argues from this that the millennium, &c., must precede Christ’s literal coming, not follow it. But “the day of the Lord” comprehends the whole series of events, beginning with the pre-millennial advent, and ending with the destruction of the wicked, and final conflagration, and general judgment (which last intervenes between the conflagration and the renovation of the earth).

will–emphatical. But (in spite of the mockers, and notwithstanding the delay) come and be present the day of the Lord SHALL.

as a thief–Peter remembers and repeats his Lord’s image (Lu 12:39, 41) used in the conversation in which he took a part; so also Paul (1Th 5:2) and John (Re 3:3; 16:15).

the heavens–which the scoffers say’ shall “continue” as they are (2Pe 3:4; Mt 24:35; Re 21:1).

with a great noise–with a rushing noise, like that of a whizzing arrow, or the crash of a devouring flame.

elements–the component materials of the world [Wahl]. However, as “the works” in the earth are mentioned separately from “the earth,” so it is likely by “elements,” mentioned after “the heavens,” are meant “the works therein,” namely, the sun, moon, and stars (as Theophilus of Antioch [p. 22, 148, 228]; and Justin Martyr [Apology, 2.44], use the word “elements”): these, as at creation, so in the destruction of the world, are mentioned [Bengel]. But as “elements” is not so used in Scripture Greek, perhaps it refers to the component materials of “the heavens,” including the heavenly bodies; it clearly belongs to the former clause, “the heavens,” not to the following, “the earth,” &c.

melt–be dissolved, as in 2Pe 3:11.

the works … therein–of nature and of art.

11. Your duty, seeing that this is so, is to be ever eagerly expecting the day of God.

then–Some oldest manuscripts substitute “thus” for “then”: a happy refutation of the “thus” of the scoffers, 2Pe 3:4 (English Version, “As they were,” Greek, “thus”).

shall be–Greek, “are being (in God’s appointment, soon to be fulfilled) dissolved”; the present tense implying the certainty as though it were actually present.

what manner of men–exclamatory. How watchful, prayerful, zealous!

to be–not the mere Greek substantive verb of existence (einai), but (huparchein) denoting a state or condition in which one is supposed to be [Tittmann]. What holy men ye ought to be found to be, when the event comes! This is “the holy commandment” mentioned in 2Pe 3:2.

conversation … godliness–Greek, plural: behaviors (towards men), godlinesses (or pieties towards God) in their manifold modes of manifestation.

12. hasting unto–with the utmost eagerness desiring [Wahl], praying for, and contemplating, the coming Saviour as at hand. The Greek may mean “hastening (that is, urging onward [Alford]) the day of God”; not that God’s eternal appointment of the time is changeable, but God appoints us as instruments of accomplishing those events which must be first before the day of God can come. By praying for His coming, furthering the preaching of the Gospel for a witness to all nations, and bringing in those whom “the long-suffering of God” waits to save, we hasten the coming of the day of God. The Greek verb is always in New Testament used as neuter (as English Version here), not active; but the Septuagint uses it actively. Christ says, “Surely I come quickly. Amen.” Our part is to speed forward this consummation by praying, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Re 22:20).

the coming–Greek, “presence” of a person: usually, of the Saviour.

the day of God–God has given many myriads of days to men: one shall be the great “day of God” Himself.

wherein–rather as Greek, “on account of (or owing to) which” day.

heavens–the upper and lower regions of the sky.

melt–Our igneous rocks show that they were once in a liquid state.

13. Nevertheless–“But”: in contrast to the destructive effects of the day of God stand its constructive effects. As the flood was the baptism of the earth, eventuating in a renovated earth, partially delivered from “the curse,” so the baptism with fire shall purify the earth so as to be the renovated abode of regenerated man, wholly freed from the curse.

his promise–(Isa 65:17; 66:22). The “we” is not emphatical as in English Version.

new heavens–new atmospheric heavens surrounding the renovated earth.

righteousness–dwelleth in that coming world as its essential feature, all pollutions having been removed.

14. that ye … be found of him–“in His sight” [Alford], at His coming; plainly implying a personal coming.

without spot–at the coming marriage feast of the Lamb, in contrast to 2Pe 2:13, “Spots they are and blemishes while they feast,” not having on the King’s pure wedding garment.

blameless–(1Co 1:8; Php 1:10; 1Th 3:13; 5:23).

in peace–in all its aspects, towards God, your own consciences, and your fellow men, and as its consequence eternal blessedness: “the God of peace” will effect this for you.

15. account … the long-suffering … is salvation–is designed for the salvation of those yet to be gathered into the Church: whereas those scoffers “count it (to be the result of) slackness” on the Lord’s part (2Pe 3:9).

our beloved brother Paul–a beautiful instance of love and humility. Peter praises the very Epistles which contain his condemnation.

according to the wisdom given unto him–adopting Paul’s own language, 1Co 3:10, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me as a wise master-builder.” Supernatural and inspired wisdom “GIVEN” him, not acquired in human schools of learning.

hath written–Greek aorist, “wrote,” as a thing wholly past: Paul was by this time either dead, or had ceased to minister to them.

to you–Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, the same region as Peter addresses. Compare “in peace,” 2Pe 3:14, a practical exhibition of which Peter now gives in showing how perfectly agreeing Paul (who wrote the Epistle to the Galatians) and he are, notwithstanding the event recorded (Ga 2:11-14). Col 3:4 refers to Christ’s second coming. The Epistle to the Hebrews, too (addressed not only to the Palestinian, but also secondarily to the Hebrew Christians everywhere), may be referred to, as Peter primarily (though not exclusively) addresses in both Epistles the Hebrew Christians of the dispersion (see on 1Pe 1:1). Heb 9:27, 28; 10:25, 37, “speak of these things” (2Pe 3:16) which Peter has been handling, namely, the coming of the day of the Lord, delayed through His “long-suffering,” yet near and sudden.

16. also in all his epistles–Ro 2:4 is very similar to 2Pe 3:15, beginning. The Pauline Epistles were by this time become the common property of all the churches. The “all” seems to imply they were now completed. The subject of the Lord’s coming is handled in 1Th 4:13; 5:11; compare 2Pe 3:10 with 1Th 5:2. Still Peter distinguishes Paul’s Epistle, or Epistles, “TO YOU,” from “all his (other) Epistles,” showing that certain definite churches, or particular classes of believers, are meant by “you.”

in which–Epistles. The oldest manuscripts read the feminine relative (hais); not as Received Text (hois), “in which things.”

some things hard to be understood–namely, in reference to Christ’s coming, for example, the statements as to the man of sin and the apostasy, before Christ’s coming. “Paul seemed thereby to delay Christ’s coming to a longer period than the other apostles, whence some doubted altogether His coming” [Bengel]. Though there be some things hard to be understood, there are enough besides, plain, easy, and sufficient for perfecting the man of God. “There is scarce anything drawn from the obscure places, but the same in other places may be found most plain” [Augustine]. It is our own prejudice, foolish expectations, and carnal fancies, that make Scripture difficult [Jeremy Taylor].

unlearned–Not those wanting human learning are meant, but those lacking the learning imparted by the Spirit. The humanly learned have been often most deficient in spiritual learning, and have originated many heresies. Compare 2Ti 2:23, a different Greek word, “unlearned,” literally, “untutored.” When religion is studied as a science, nothing is more abstruse; when studied in order to know our duty and practice it, nothing is easier.

unstable–not yet established in what they have learned; shaken by every seeming difficulty; who, in perplexing texts, instead of waiting until God by His Spirit makes them plain in comparing them with other Scriptures, hastily adopt distorted views.

wrest–strain and twist (properly with a hand screw) what is straight in itself (for example, 2Ti 2:18).

other scriptures–Paul’s Epistles were, therefore, by this time, recognized in the Church, as “Scripture”: a term never applied in any of the fifty places where it occurs, save to the Old and New Testament sacred writings. Men in each Church having miraculous discernment of spirits would have prevented any uninspired writing from being put on a par with the Old Testament word of God; the apostles’ lives also were providentially prolonged, Paul’s and Peter’s at least to thirty-four years after Christ’s resurrection, John’s to thirty years later, so that fraud in the canon is out of question. The three first Gospels and Acts are included in “the other Scriptures,” and perhaps all the New Testament books, save John and Revelation, written later.

unto their own destruction–not through Paul’s fault (2Pe 2:1).

17. Ye–warned by the case of those “unlearned and unstable” persons (2Pe 3:16).

knowing … before–the event.

led away with–the very term, as Peter remembers, used by Paul of Barnabas’ being “carried,” Greek, “led away with” Peter and the other Jews in their hypocrisy.

wicked–“lawless,” as in 2Pe 2:7.

fall from–(grace, Ga 5:4: the true source of) “steadfastness” or stability in contrast with the “unstable” (2Pe 3:16): “established” (2Pe 1:12): all kindred Greek terms. Compare Jude 20, 21.

18. grow–Not only do not “fall from” (2Pe 3:17), but grow onward: the true secret of not going backward. Eph 4:15, “Grow up into Him, the Head, Christ.”

grace and … knowledge of … Christ–“the grace and knowledge of Christ” [Alford rightly]: the grace of which Christ is the author, and the knowledge of which Christ is the object.

for ever–Greek, “to the day of eternity”: the day that has no end: “the day of the Lord,” beginning with the Lord’s coming.

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