2 Peter 3
Peter starts this chapter by explaining that he wrote his letters ‘to stimulate you to wholesome thinking’. There’s a big emphasis in Scripture on our thinking and reasoning (see Rom.12:2, 1 Cor. 14:20, Eph. 4:17, 23). Our thinking is to be sincere, clear and pure. We must not allow our minds to dwell on things that are inconsistent with ‘the mind of Christ’ (1 Cor. 2:16); instead, we should ‘set our minds on things above, not on earthly things’ (Col. 3:2).
In v2, Peter once again mentions the Old Testament prophets, alongside the New Testament apostles. In particular, he reminds us that we should not be surprised that in the last days (the period between the Day of Pentecost and the return of Christ), some will scoff at the idea of Jesus returning to earth. These scoffers have forgotten the words and promises of God. It was by the word of God (‘let there be …’ Gen. 1: 3 etc.) that the heavens and the earth came into being. By the same word, creation will one day be undone, to be replaced by a new creation (v13). Perhaps we often find ourselves longing for the return of Christ, and the glories to be revealed on that day, but we must remember that, although God measures time differently from us (v8), ‘he is not slow in keeping his promises’. The apparent delay is evidence of the gracious mercy of God, giving opportunity for repentance.
The Day of the Lord will come like a thief (i.e. ‘sudden, unexpected, and disastrous to the unprepared’), and the present heavens and earth will be destroyed and laid bare. (v10). This future cosmic destruction and renewal has implications for how we live here and now in this life: ‘Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.’ And ‘since we are looking forward to new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells, we should make every effort (see 1:5, 10) to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him’.
I find it so encouraging to read in v16 that even Peter found some of Paul’s writing hard to understand, but note also how he describes the writings of Paul as Scripture. We may not understand everything in the Bible, and some parts of it we perhaps may not particularly like, but twisting or distorting the word of God is a sign of ignorance and instability. We must not allow ourselves to be carried away by those who try to wriggle away from the plain meaning of Scripture.
He finishes his letter as he started it, encouraging us to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.’