2 Peter 3

The False Teachers’ Denial of the Lord’s Return

Dear friends, this is already the second letter I have written
Grk “I am already writing this [as] a second letter.” The object-complement construction is more smoothly rendered in English a bit differently. Further, although the present tense γράφω (grafō) is used here, English convention employs an epistolary past tense. (The Greek epistolary aorist might have been expected here, but it also occurs in situations unlike its English counterparts.)
you, in which
The relative pronoun is plural, indicating that the following statement is true about both letters.
I am trying to stir up
Or “I have stirred up, aroused.” The translation treats the present tense verb as a conative present.
your pure mind by way of reminder:
I want you to recall
Grk “to remember.” “I want you” is supplied to smooth out the English. The Greek infinitive is subordinate to the previous clause.
“Both” is not in Greek; it is supplied to show more clearly that there are two objects of the infinitive “to remember” - predictions and commandment.
the predictions
Grk “words.” In conjunction with πρόειπον (proeipon), however, the meaning of the construction is that the prophets uttered prophecies.
foretold by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.
Holy prophets…apostles. The first chapter demonstrated that the OT prophets were trustworthy guides (1:19–21) and that the NT apostles were also authoritative (1:16–18). Now, using the same catch phrase found in the Greek text of 1:20 (τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες, touto prōton ginōskontes), Peter points to specific prophecies of the prophets as an argument against the false teachers.
Above all, understand this:
Grk “knowing this [to be] foremost.” Τοῦτο πρῶτον (touto prōton) constitute the object and complement of γινώσκοντες (ginōskontes). The participle is loosely dependent on the infinitive in v. 2 (“[I want you] to recall”), perhaps in a telic sense (thus, “[I want you] to recall…[and especially] to understand this as foremost”). The following statement then would constitute the main predictions with which the author was presently concerned. An alternative is to take it imperativally: “Above all, know this.” In this instance, however, there is little semantic difference (since a telic participle and imperatival participle end up urging an action). Cf. also 2 Pet 1:20.
In the last days blatant scoffers
The Greek reads “scoffers in their scoffing” for “blatant scoffers.” The use of the cognate dative is a Semitism designed to intensify the word it is related to. The idiom is foreign to English. As a Semitism, it is further incidental evidence of the authenticity of the letter (see the note on “Simeon” in 1:1 for other evidence).
will come, being propelled by their own evil urges
Grk “going according to their own evil urges.”
and saying,
The present participle λέγοντες (legontes, “saying”) most likely indicates result. Thus, their denial of the Lord’s return is the result of their lifestyle. The connection to the false teachers of chapter 2 is thus made clear.
“Where is his promised return?
Grk “Where is the promise of his coming?” The genitive παρουσίας (parousias, “coming, advent, return”) is best taken as an attributed genitive (in which the head noun, promise, functions semantically as an adjective; see ExSyn 89–91).
For ever since
The prepositional phrase with the relative pronoun, ἀφ᾿ ἧς (af’ hēs), is used adverbially or conjunctively without antecedent (see BDAG 727 s.v. ὅς 1.k.).
our ancestors
Grk “fathers.” The reference could be either to the OT patriarchs or first generation Christians. This latter meaning, however, is unattested in any other early Christian literature.
The verb κοιμάω (koimaō) literally means “sleep,” but it is often used in the Bible as a euphemism for the death of a believer.
all things have continued as they were
Grk “thus,” “in the same manner.”
from the beginning of creation.”
For they deliberately suppress this fact,
The Greek is difficult at this point. An alternative is “Even though they maintain this, it escapes them that…” Literally the idea seems to be: “For this escapes these [men] who wish [it to be so].”
that by the word of God
The word order in Greek places “the word of God” at the end of the sentence. See discussion in the note on “these things” in v. 6.
heavens existed long ago and an earth
Or “land,” “the earth.”
was formed out of water and by means of water.
Through these things
The antecedent is ambiguous. It could refer to the heavens, the heavens and earth, or the water and the word. If the reference is to the heavens, the author is reflecting on the Genesis account about “the floodgates of the heavens” being opened (Gen 7:11). If the reference is to the heavens and earth, he is also thinking about the cosmic upheaval that helped to produce the flood (Gen 6:11). If the reference is to the water and the word, he is indicating both the means (water) and the cause (word of God). This last interpretation is the most likely since the final nouns of v. 5 are “water” and “word of God,” making them the nearest antecedents.
the world existing at that time was destroyed when it was deluged with water.
But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, by being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
Grk “the ungodly people.”

Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice,
The same verb, λανθάνω (lanqanō, “escape”) used in v. 5 is found here (there, translated “suppress”).
that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day.
The Lord is not slow concerning his promise,
Or perhaps, “the Lord is not delaying [the fulfillment of] his promise,” or perhaps “the Lord of the promise is not delaying.” The verb can mean “to delay,” “to be slow,” or “to be hesitant.”
as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish
Grk “not wishing.” The participle most likely has a causal force, explaining why the Lord is patient.
for any
He does not wish for any to perish. This verse has been a battleground between Arminians and Calvinists. The former argue that God wants all people to be saved, but either through inability or restriction of his own sovereignty does not interfere with peoples’ wills. Some of the latter argue that the “any” here means “any of you” and that all the elect will repent before the return of Christ, because this is God’s will. Both of these positions have problems. The “any” in this context means “any of you.” (This can be seen by the dependent participle which gives the reason why the Lord is patient “toward you.”) There are hints throughout this letter that the readership may be mixed, including both true believers and others who are “sitting on the fence” as it were. But to make the equation of this readership with the elect is unlikely. This would seem to require, in its historical context, that all of these readers would be saved. But not all who attend church know the Lord or will know the Lord. Simon the Magician, whom Peter had confronted in Acts 8, is a case in point. This is evident in contemporary churches when a pastor addresses the congregation as “brothers, sisters, saints, etc.,” yet concludes the message with an evangelistic appeal. When an apostle or pastor addresses a group as “Christian” he does not necessarily think that every individual in the congregation is truly a Christian. Thus, the literary context seems to be against the Arminian view, while the historical context seems to be against (one representation of) the Calvinist view. The answer to this conundrum is found in the term “wish” (a participle in Greek from the verb boulomai). It often represents a mere wish, or one’s desiderative will, rather than one’s resolve. Unless God’s will is viewed on the two planes of his desiderative and decretive will (what he desires and what he decrees), hopeless confusion will result. The scriptures amply illustrate both that God sometimes decrees things that he does not desire and desires things that he does not decree. It is not that his will can be thwarted, nor that he has limited his sovereignty. But the mystery of God’s dealings with humanity is best seen if this tension is preserved. Otherwise, either God will be perceived as good but impotent or as a sovereign taskmaster. Here the idea that God does not wish for any to perish speaks only of God's desiderative will, without comment on his decretive will.
to perish but for all to come to repentance.
Grk “reach to repentance.” Repentance thus seems to be a quantifiable state, or turning point. The verb χωρέω (cōreō, “reach”) typically involves the connotation of “obtain the full measure of” something. It is thus most appropriate as referring to the repentance that accompanies conversion.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes,
Grk “in which.”
the heavens will disappear
Or “pass away.”
with a horrific noise,
Or “hissing sound,” “whirring sound,” “rushing sound,” or “loud noise.” The word occurs only here in the NT. It was often used of the crackle of a fire, as would appear appropriate in this context.
and the celestial bodies
Grk “elements.” Most commentators are agreed that “celestial bodies” is meant, in light of this well-worn usage of στοιχεῖα (stoiceia) in the 2nd century and the probable allusion to Isa 34:4 (text of Vaticanus). See R. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter [WBC], 315–16 for discussion.
will melt away
Grk “be dissolved.”
in a blaze,
Grk “being burned up.”
and the earth and every deed done on it
Grk “the works in it.”
will be laid bare.
One of the most difficult textual problems in the NT is found in v. 10. The reading εὑρεθήσεται (heureqēsetai), which enjoys by far the best support (א B K P 0156vid 323 1241 1739txt pc) is nevertheless so difficult a reading that many scholars regard it as nonsensical. (NA27 lists five conjectures by scholars, from Hort to Mayor, in this text.) As R. Bauckham has pointed out, solutions to the problem are of three sorts: (1) conjectural emendation (which normally speaks more of the ingenuity of the scholar who makes the proposal than of the truth of the conjecture, e.g., changing one letter in the previous word, ἔργα [erga] becomes ἄργα [arga] with the meaning, “the earth and the things in it will be found useless”); (2) adoption of one of several variant readings (all of which, however, are easier than this one and simply cannot explain how this reading arose, e.g., the reading of Ƥ72 which adds λυόμενα [luomena] to the verb - a reading suggested no doubt by the threefold occurrence of this verb in the surrounding verses: “the earth and its works will be found dissolved”; or the simplest variant, the reading of the Sahidic mss, οὐχ [ouc] preceding ἑυρεθήσεται - “will not be found”); or (3) interpretive gymnastics which regards the text as settled but has to do some manipulation to its normal meaning. Bauckham puts forth an excellent case that the third option is to be preferred and that the meaning of the term is virtually the equivalent of “will be disclosed,” “will be manifested.” (That this meaning is not readily apparent may in fact have been the reason for so many variants and conjectures.) Thus, the force of the clause is that “the earth and the works [done by men] in it will be stripped bare [before God].” In addition, the unusualness of the expression is certainly in keeping with the author’s style throughout this little book. Hence, what looks to be suspect because of its abnormalities, upon closer inspection is actually in keeping with the author’s stylistic idiosyncrasies. The meaning of the text then is that all but the earth and men’s works will be destroyed. Everything will be removed so that humanity will stand naked before God. Textually, then, on both external and internal grounds, εὑρεθήσεται commends itself as the preferred reading.
11 Since all these things are to melt away
Grk “all these things thus being dissolved.”
in this manner,
Or “thus.”
what sort of people must we
‡ Most mss have a pronoun with the infinitive - either ὑμᾶς (humas, “you”; found in A C[*] P Ψ 048vid 33 1739 Maj., as well as the corrector of Ƥ72 and second corrector of א), ἡμᾶς (hēmas, “we”; read by א* 630 2464 al), or ἑαυτούς (heautous, “[you your]selves/[we our]selves,” read by 1243). But the shorter reading (with no pronoun) has the support of Ƥ72*,74vid B pc. Though slim, the evidence for the omission is nevertheless the earliest. Further, the addition of some pronoun, especially the second person pronoun, seems to be a clarifying variant. It would be difficult to explain the pronoun’s absence in some witnesses if the pronoun were original. That three different pronouns have shown up in the mss is testimony for the omission. Thus, on external and internal grounds, the omission is preferred. For English style requirements, however, some pronoun has to be added. NA 27 has ὑμᾶς in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.
Or “you.”
be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness,
Grk “in holy conduct and godliness.”
12 while waiting for and hastening
Or possibly, “striving for,” but the meaning “hasten” for σπουδάζω (spoudazō) is normative in Jewish apocalyptic literature (in which the coming of the Messiah/the end is anticipated). Such a hastening is not an arm-twisting of the divine volition, but a response by believers that has been decreed by God.
the coming of the day of God?
The coming of the day of God. Peter elsewhere describes the coming or parousia as the coming of Christ (cf. 2 Pet 1:16; 3:4). The almost casual exchange between “God” and “Christ” in this little book, and elsewhere in the NT, argues strongly for the deity of Christ (see esp. 1:1).
Because of this day,
Grk “on account of which” (a subordinate relative clause in Greek).
the heavens will be burned up and
Grk “being burned up, will dissolve.”
dissolve, and the celestial bodies
See note in v. 10 on “celestial bodies.”
will melt away in a blaze!
Grk “being burned up” (see v. 10).
13 But, according to his promise, we are waiting for
Or possibly, “let us wait for.” The form in Greek (προσδόκωμεν, prosdokōmen) could be either indicative or subjunctive. The present participle in v. 14, however, is best taken causally (“since you are waiting for”), suggesting that the indicative is to be read here.
new heavens and a new earth, in which
The relative pronoun is plural, indicating that the sphere in which righteousness dwells is both the new heavens and the new earth.
righteousness truly resides.
Grk “dwells.” The verb κατοικέω (katoikeō) is an intensive cognate of οἰκέω (oikeō), often with the connotation of “taking up residence,” “settling down,” being at home,” etc. Cf., e.g., Matt 2:23; Acts 17:26; 22:12; Eph 3:17; Col 1:19; 2:9. Hence, the addition of the adverb “truly” is implicit in the connotation of the verb in a context such as this.

Exhortation to the Faithful

14  Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for
Grk “dear friends, waiting for.” See note in v. 13 on “waiting for.”
these things, strive to be found
The Greek verb used in the phrase strive to be found is the same as is found in v. 10, translated “laid bare.” In typical Petrine fashion, a conceptual link is made by the same linkage of terms. The point of these two verses thus becomes clear: When the heavens disappear and the earth and its inhabitants are stripped bare before the throne of God, they should strive to make sure that their lives are pure and that they have nothing to hide.
at peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence.
“When you come into” is not in Greek. However, the dative pronoun αὐτῷ (autō) does not indicate agency (“by him”), but presence or sphere. The idea is “strive to found {before him/in his presence}.”
15 And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation,
The language here is cryptic. It probably means “regard the patience of our Lord as an opportunity for salvation.” In the least, Peter is urging his audience to take a different view of the delay of the parousia than that of the false teachers.
just as also our dear brother Paul
Critics generally assume that 2 Peter is not authentic, partially because in vv. 15–16 Paul is said to have written scripture. It is assumed that a recognition of Paul’s writings as scripture could not have happened until early in the 2nd century. However, in the same breath that Paul is canonized, Peter also calls him “brother.” This is unparalleled in the 2nd century apocryphal works, as well as early patristic writings, in which the apostles are universally elevated above the author and readers; here, Peter simply says “he’s one of us.”
wrote to you,
Paul wrote to you. That Paul had written to these people indicates that they are most likely Gentiles. Further, that Peter is now writing to them suggests that Paul had already died, for Peter was the apostle to the circumcised. Peter apparently decided to write his two letters to Paul’s churches shortly after Paul’s death, both to connect with them personally and theologically (Paul’s gospel is Peter’s gospel) and to warn them of the wolves in sheep’s clothing that would come in to destroy the flock. Thus, part of Peter’s purpose seems to be to anchor his readership on the written documents of the Christian community (both the Old Testament and Paul’s letters) as a safeguard against heretics.
according to the wisdom given to him,
16 speaking of these things in all his letters.
Grk “as also in all his letters speaking in them of these things.”
Some things in these letters
Grk “in which are some things hard to understand.”
are hard to understand, things
Grk “which.” The antecedent is the “things hard to understand,” not the entirety of Paul’s letters. A significant principle is seen here: The primary proof texts used for faith and practice ought to be the clear passages that are undisputed in their meaning. Heresy today is still largely built on obscure texts.
the ignorant and unstable twist
Or “distort,” “wrench,” “torture” (all are apt descriptions of what heretics do to scripture).
to their own destruction, as they also do to the rest of the scriptures.
This one incidental line, the rest of the scriptures, links Paul’s writings with scripture. This is thus one of the earliest affirmations of any part of the NT as scripture. Peter’s words were prophetic and were intended as a preemptive strike against the heretics to come.
17 Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned,
Grk “knowing beforehand.”
be on your guard that you do not get led astray by the error of these unprincipled men
Or “lawless ones.”
These unprincipled men. The same word is used in 2:7, suggesting further that the heretics in view in chapter 3 are the false teachers of chapter 2.
and fall from your firm grasp on the truth.
Grk “fall from your firmness.”
18 But grow in the grace and knowledge
The term “knowledge” (γνῶσις, gnōsis) used here is not the same as is found in 2 Pet 1:2, 3, 8; 2:20. This term is found in 1:5 and 1:6.
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the honor both now and on
Or “until.”
that eternal day.
‡ The vast bulk of mss add ἀμήν (amēn, “amen”) at the end of this letter, as they do almost all the rest of the NT books (only Acts, James, and 3 John lack a majority of witnesses supporting a concluding ἀμήν). The omission in B 1241 1243 1739* 1881 2298 appears to be original, although the fact that some of the best and earliest Alexandrian witnesses (Ƥ72 א A C P Ψ 33 co), along with the Byzantine text and early versions (vg sy), add the particle renders such a judgment less than iron-clad. NA27 places the word in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.
Grk “day of eternity.”

Copyright information for NETfull