"Beloved...Beloved...Beloved" (2 Peter 3)
“Beloved…Beloved…Beloved” (2 Peter 3)
2nd Peter 3 concludes with a trifecta of warnings and encouragements to his “beloved” (3.1, 8, 14) brethren. This three-fold usage of “beloved” serves to remind us of the proper motivation behind encouraging and reminding our brethren: love! Peter loved his brethren deeply, and that love inspired him to share his feelings as well as provoking him to say what was most needful for them. Love is the impetus for God’s disciplining His children (Heb. 12.6), and Peter in like fashion seeks to edify his brethren one final time.
1. Remember the Prophets and the Christ
In 3.1-6, Peter seeks to stir up their minds “by way of reminder” (v.1) to remember the prophets’ predictions and the commandments of Jesus by way of His apostles. There would come those who would deny the final judgment predicted by the prophets and Christ. Their logic is faulty yet popular even to this day: “all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (v.4). This is flatly wrong: anyone who has read Genesis 6-8 knows of a time where all things did NOT continue as they had before! In addition, the argument used here is illogical: not having had a car accident in the past is in no way a guarantee that a car accident will not happen in the future! Previous events can be used to show what could happen, but the absence of events in our past cannot be used to prove what will not happen in the future.
Peter’s reminder in 3.5-6 is soundly based on what has happened already in the Biblical record. God once before promised to destroy the world on account of wickedness (Genesis 6.7) and He fulfilled that promise (Genesis 7.23). That same God has promised to destroy it again by fire resulting in the “destruction of the ungodly” (v.6). To scoff against the possibility of final judgment is to accuse God of being a liar, which is an impossibility of itself (Heb. 6.18). Christians must resist the sneers and jeers of those who deny the scripture and stick with the sound word of God.
2. We Are Assured of What, Not of When
In 3.8-13 the Holy Spirit through Peter addresses the question of “when” regarding final judgment. We can absolutely be assured of what will happen because of God’s promises concerning those things. What we are given no indication of in scripture is when that judgment will take place. Jesus made this especially clear in Matthew 24.36: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”. Given this fact, the Holy Spirit reminds us of some very important truths and conclusions based on this fact.
First, God is not subject to our concept of time. Our perception of His acting quickly or slowly is not one that He shares with us. Rather, God chooses to act at the right time (whenever He deems it so) which is subject to His love and patience towards us. The timing of God’s decision to judge the world is unknown, and as a result comes “like a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5.2; cf. Rev. 3.3, 16.15). Considering these truths, we must live lives in anticipation and preparation for the Judgment, “lives of holiness and godliness” (2 Peter 3.11), “waiting for new heavens and a new earth” (3.13).
3. Be Diligent, Take Care, and Grow
3.14-18 concludes this great letter to the “beloved” with three final encouragements.
First, “be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” (3.14). This diligence is an echo of a thought already expressed in 1.10, where we are to be diligent in confirming “our calling and election”. We are called to be spotless and without blemish, which is the common O.T. description of a sacrifice that is acceptable to God (Exodus 12.5, Lev. 1.10, 3.1, etc.). Christ died so that the church would be washed and presented to Himself “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5.27). Only a proper sacrifice before the LORD produces peace. This was the peace that Abel enjoyed, and Cain forsook (Gen. 4.4-5)!
Second, “take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people” (3.17). Peter acknowledges that many of Paul’s writings contain that which can be difficult to understand and easily twisted unto destruction. Side note: it’s not just Paul’s writings that contain truths that are difficult to understand. Each book of the Bible, including this very letter, contains things that can be difficult to understand and easily twisted by the “ignorant and unstable” (3.16)! The message is clear: do not allow the twisting and wrangling of the word (done by those who have no fear of God before their eyes) to upset the stability the Truth gives us.
Lastly, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Our faith must grow, our knowledge of Christ must grow, our fruit for the LORD must increase to be pleasing to God. Ask yourself honestly: do you know more about Jesus today than you did yesterday? Did you learn anything new from your Bible today? Can you say honestly you grew in grace during the past week, and if so when and how did you do that??? One must not believe the lie that time elapsed since baptism necessarily equals growth and development. Your spiritual tree may have many rings, but how tall is it? How much fruit has it produced? We’re called to grow in grace and knowledge, not simply to exist. Jesus found fault with a fig tree that had produced no fruit (Matt. 21.19), and we do well to heed the warning lest we be “withered” too!
In all things, may we seek to glorify the Father now, that we may glorify Him forever in eternity.