2 Peter 3:1-13 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. Who will come into the church and how are these men described? See 2 Peter 3:3 (printed below)

You may be sure that in the last days scoffers will come, expressing their scoffing, and living for their own evil desires. (2 Peter 3:3)

At the time of Peter’s epistle, perhaps some 30-35 years may have elapsed since our Lord’s ascension into heaven and the promise of His return in glory. Now mockers, or, scoffers begin to make their presence felt within the church. They are described as scoffers who are openly “expressing their scoffing.” As the years have passed, they have become emboldened to express their disbelief in the promise of God that Christ will return in glory. They are further described as “living for their own evil desires.” Again, the alleged “delay” in Christ’s return has emboldened them to live for their lusts—they have become confident that there will not come a day of just retribution.

2. What question will these men ask? What will be their argument? See 2 Peter 3:4 (printed below)

They will say, “Where is the fulfillment of the promise that he will come? From the time the fathers fell asleep in death everything goes on as it has since the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)

Peter provides us with an outline of the argument submitted by these men. “Thirty to thirty five years have passed since His ascension,” they assert, “and nothing has happened; if He were coming back He would have done so by now!” “Indeed,” their argument continues, “from the day that the fathers died, all things have continued as they were!” (These scoffers maintain that since the time of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob nothing of great spiritual significance has happened.) “Indeed, all things have continued as they were from the beginning of the creation!” They are maintaining that since the time God created the world there has been a consistent and unbroken uniformity.

3. What does Peter tell us these men “intentionally forget?” See 2 Peter 3:5-6 (printed below)

But this they intentionally forget; namely, that long ago there were heavens and an earth formed out of the water and in the midst of the water by the word of God. (6) By those same waters the world of that time was destroyed, being deluged with water. (2 Peter 3:5-6)

At this point Peter refutes their argument by asserting: there is something that they willfully—intentionally—forget, namely, the cataclysmic flood that occurred in the days of Noah. Peter asserts that the flood was of such tremendous cataclysmic proportions that it can be described as bringing to an end “the world of that time.” In verse 5 Peter is referring to the creation account as recorded in Genesis 1:1-2,6-10. Peter then in verse 6 proceeds to remind us of the cataclysmic flood that came as a judgment upon the world of mankind in the days of Noah (cp. Genesis 7:11-12).

4. What does Peter tell us about God in verses 8-10 (printed below?)

Do not forget this one thing, beloved, namely, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like one day. (9) The Lord is not negligent with regard to the promise, as some consider negligence; on the contrary, he is exhibiting great patience toward you. He does not desire anyone to perish, but all to come to repentance. (10) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that day the heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the elements will be destroyed by being burned up, and the earth together with the works that are in it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:8-10)

Alluding to Psalm 90:4, Peter reminds us that God is the sovereign Lord of time. We must also remember that the Lord is not negligent. Sinful man is so prone to misinterpret the Lord’s longsuffering patience as negligence (note Psalm 50:21). But the Lord’s very character precludes any negligence on His part (cp. Numbers 23:19). Finally we must remember that the day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” That day of judgment has been divinely appointed and therefore it is inevitable (Acts 17:31)—it will come just as surely as the forewarned day of judgment came upon Old Testament Israel (Lamentations 2:17). But when that day comes it will come like a thief—it will come unexpectedly upon a world that refused to take heed and refused to repent (note Luke 17:26-27).

5. As Christians, how ought we to live? See 2 Peter 3:11-13 (printed below)

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?—You ought to live in holy conduct and godliness, (12) as you watch for and eagerly await the coming of the day of God. On that day the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will be dissolved by the intense heat. (13) But, according to his promise, we are watching for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness resides. (2 Peter 3:11-13)

As Christians, we ought to be prepared for the day of our Lord’s return by living lives that are characterized by holy conduct and godliness—lives that are devoted to God and that are oriented around God. We should anticipate the coming day of the Lord not with fear, but with confident expectation. As people who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, clothed in His righteousness and being transformed into His likeness by His Holy Spirit, we shall be welcomed by God into His new creation. As Romans 8:1 assures us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”