Life-Study of 2 Peterby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to chapter three of 2 Peter. In 3:1-9 we see God’s judgment on the heretical mockers. In this Epistle we have not only false teachers but also mockers. These mockers may be the false teachers themselves or those who are influenced by the teachings of the false ones. Both the false teachers and the heretical mockers will be judged by God. Let us now consider 3:1-9 verse by verse.
In verse 1 Peter says, “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you, in both of which I stir up your pure mind by a reminder.” Here we see that Peter’s aim was to stir up the pure mind of the saints. In order to understand God’s governmental dealings, we need a pure mind.
In verse 2 Peter continues, “To remember the words spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior by your apostles.” The words spoken by the prophets are the contents of the Old Testament, the Scriptures (v. 16; 1:20), and the commandments by the apostles are the contents of the New Testament, the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). Peter uses both to confirm and strengthen his writings as an inoculation against the heretical teachings in the apostasy. In his first Epistle, concerning the full salvation of God, he refers to both the prophets and the apostles (1 Pet. 1:9-12). Then in the second Epistle, concerning the shining of the divine truth, he refers again to both (1:12-21). Here in verse 2 Peter does this for the third time. Therefore, Peter’s teaching is based upon the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament, the two sections of the Holy Word. This indicates that what Peter says here actually refers to the entire Bible. His reminder is based upon both the prophecies of the Old Testament and the teachings of the New Testament.
Verse 3 says, “Knowing this first, that in the last days mockers will come with mocking, going on according to their own lusts.” The “last days” denotes the closing period of the present age (2 Tim. 3:1; Jude 18). This period began from the end of the so-called apostolic age, in the latter part of the first century, and will last until Christ’s second appearing. In verse 3 Peter tells us that in the last days mockers will come. These mockers may be the false teachers in 2:1. Their mocking is part of the apostasy and is according to their lusts.
According to verse 4, these mockers say, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” The promise of the Lord’s coming was given to the fathers by the holy prophets in the Old Testament (Psa. 72:6-17; 110:1-3; 118:26; Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:3-9; Mal. 4:1-3). But the mockers said, with a mocking tone, “Where is the promise of His coming?” It is possible that they used the pronoun “His” in a contemptuous manner. The mockers said that everything has continued unchanged from the beginning of creation.
In verses 5 and 6 Peter fights back: “For this is hidden from them by their own willfulness, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth, subsisting out of water and through water, through which the world then, being flooded by the water, perished.” Here Peter points out that the mockers willingly ignore the record in the Old Testament concerning God’s judgment by the flood. That flood was a serious judgment. Nevertheless, the mockers willingly ignored the record in the Bible about it. Literally, the Greek words rendered “this is hidden from them by their own willfulness” mean “this escapes them by their own willfulness”; that is, they are willfully ignorant of this. Hence, it escapes their notice. The heretical mockers ignore willfully and deny purposely the word of God spoken by the prophets in the Scriptures. Therefore, Peter reminds the believers to remember the holy words spoken by both the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles (vv. 1-2).
The promise concerning the Lord’s coming (v. 4) is the word of God. The mockers should not ignore that it was by the word of God that the heavens and the earth came into existence (Heb. 11:3), and it is by the same word that the heavens and the earth are being kept (Heb. 1:3) for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (2 Pet. 3:7). Therefore, the mockers should be assured that by the word of God all the material universe, including them, will be judged by the coming of the Lord.
Peter says in verse 5 that by the word of God the heavens were of old. The words “were of old” mean existed from ancient times. In the beginning, that is, of old, the heavens and the earth were created by God (Gen. 1:1). By the word of God (Psa. 33:6) the heavens came into existence first, and then the earth (Job 38:4-7).
In verse 5 Peter speaks of the earth “subsisting out of water and through water.” As in Colossians 1:17, the Greek word rendered “subsisting” literally means standing together, standing with (in juxtaposition, side by side). First the earth came into existence in Genesis 1:1, and then from Genesis 1:9, also by the word (the speaking) of God (Psa. 33:9), the earth began to subsist out of water and through water, that is, to stand together with water in juxtaposition, partly emerging out of water and partly submerged under water. This is the way the earth came into existence.
The relative pronoun “which” in verse 6 refers to water in verse 5. The earth subsisted out of water and through water in an orderly condition. But through the same water it was judged and destroyed by the flood at Noah’s time (Gen. 7:17-24). This indicates that all things have not remained as they were from the beginning of creation.
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