Setting

Knowing the danger of false teachers that faces the believers, Peter cannot but remind the believers again to heed the words of the prophets and apostles. He strengthens the believers’ hope in the Lord’s coming by stressing its certainty and exposing the fallacy of the scoffers. Then he exhorts them to be diligent in spiritual growth in order to welcome the coming of the Lord.

Key Verse

(3:17-18)

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Outline

  • Certainty of the Lord’s Coming
    (3:1-10)
  • Stirring up the pure mind by way of reminder
    (3:1-2)
  • Rise of scoffers
    (3:3-4)
  • Preservation of creation by God’s word
    (3:5-7)
  • The Lord’s patience and coming
    (3:8-10)
  • Living in Expectation of the Lord’s Coming
    (3:11-18a)
  • Looking forward to the Lord’s Coming
    (3:12-13)
  • Exhortations to be diligent
    (3:14-18a)
  • Benediction
    (3:18b)

Segment Analysis

  • 3:1-10

    1a.

    What does Peter want the believers to know and be mindful of?

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    He wants us to be mindful of the words of the holy prophets and of the apostles of the Lord (2). Of these, what we need to know first of all is the coming of scoffers in the last days (3).

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  • 1b.

    Peter tells the readers that the purpose of his epistles is to stir up their pure minds by way of reminder. Today, how can our pure minds be likewise stirred up?

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    We should always remind ourselves to live a life as a sojourner with a clear conscience in the presence of God throughout our lives (cf. Acts 23:1). To do so, we must keep every word of God and examine our lives with the words of God. That is why Peter encourages us to be mindful of the words and of the apostles. If God’s word is always in our hearts, we will be sanctified in the process (Jn 17:6,17; Deut 8:3). Practicing God’s word actively also keeps our hearts and ways pure before the Lord (2Tim 2:22; Ps 119:9).

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  • 2a.

    What is the message of the scoffers?

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    They will question the validity of the promise concerning the Lord’s coming (4).

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  • 2b.

    What characterizes the lives of the scoffers?

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    They walk according to their own lusts (4).

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  • 2c.

    What does this tell us about what motivates their scoffing?

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    Because of their sinful living, they surely resent the thought of the Lord’s coming. Thinking that the promise of the Lord’s coming has failed, they arrogantly challenge the Lord’s words and hope to win others to their way of living.

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  • 2d.

    What rationale will these scoffers use to deny the promise of the Lord’s coming?

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    The scoffers think that since all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation, the Lord’s coming and the destruction of the world is impossible. They make the false assumption that things will always remain the same as they have been until now.

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  • 3a.

    According to verse 5, what is the problem with the scoffers?

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    These scoffers willfully forget that God once destroyed the world with flood. They do not naturally forget but willfully forget. In other words, their problem is not ignorance but a deliberate refusal to accept the fact that the Lord will surely come again.

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  • 3b.

    How can we also make the same mistake today?

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    As believers, we know that the Lord is coming. But sometimes, our shortcomings and weaknesses make us reluctant to look forward to His return. Consequently, we may deliberately put the matter off our mind without making changes to our lives.

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  • 4.

    Why does Peter use the creation and the flood to refute the argument of the scoffers?

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    Just as God kept the water from the earth by His word until the day of the flood, He now sustains the heavens and the earth by His word until the day of judgment. Just because all things have continued since creation does not mean that God’s word has failed. In fact, it confirms the power of God’s word. Scoffers should not not mock the word of the Creator, knowing that the present existence hangs on the very word of God.

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  • 5a.

    What does Peter want us to not forget?

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    He wants us not to forget that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (8).

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  • 5b.

    What is his point (cf. Ps 90:4)?

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    Verse 8 addresses the apparent delay of the Lord’s return. God’s view of time is different from ours. While from man’s perspective, the Lord’s coming seems long in coming, from God’s eternal perspective, it is not long at all.

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  • 6.

    How should we act in response to the apparent delay of the Lord’s coming (9)? How is this different from the way many people react to the apparent delay?

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    Since the Lord is longsuffering towards us to allow us the chance to repent and be saved (9,15), we should change our ways now and return to God before the door of grace is shut. Unfortunately, some people take the Lord’s longsuffering as an opportunity to continue in sin or a sign that God will not bring judgment upon sinners. The Lord’s longsuffering and His will for us to repent also reminds us of our urgent duty to preach the gospel so that others may also repent and turn to God.

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  • 7.

    How do verses 9 and 10 answer the false claim that the Lord is slack concerning His promise?

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    If the Lord seems to have been delayed in His coming, it is only because He wants all people to come to repentance. But we should know that the Lord will not delay in fulfilling His promise but will bring it to pass in such a way that many will be caught totally unprepared.

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  • 8.

    What will happen to the physical existence when the Lord comes?

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    See verses 10-12.

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  • 3:11-18

    9a.

    What changes should you make in your life, knowing that all things will be dissolved?

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    (The answer is empty)
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  • 9b.

    According to Peter, what should our lives be like in response to the coming of the Lord?

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    We need to conduct ourselves in holiness and godliness (11) while looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God (12).

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  • 10.

    What does it mean to look for and hasten the coming of the day of God (12)?

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    The expression “look for” is also translated as “looking forward to.” In other words, we should long for the Lord’s return. To “hasten” the coming of the day of God means to wait eagerly for the Lord’s coming through more diligent preparation, preaching, and prayer (cf. Lk 18:7-8)

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  • 11.

    What characterizes the new heavens and new earth?

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    The new heavens and new earth is the dwelling place of righteousness (13).

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  • 12.

    Explain the exhortation of verse 14.

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    To be found by Him in peace means to have confidence at the coming of the Lord (1Jn 2:28; 4:17). We can have this confidence if we are “without spot and blameless.” Thus, Peter is encouraging us to live a life free from sin so that we may always maintain a clear conscience before the Lord.

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  • 13.

    Why do you think Peter mentions Paul’s letters in 15-16?

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    The reference to Paul’s epistles, which Peter considered to be part of the Scripture (16), reinforces the repeated emphasis on paying careful attention to the words of the prophets and of the apostles in the Scripture (cf. 1:19-21; 3:2). All the prophets and apostles, including both Peter and Paul, agree in their proclamation of the gospel and of the Lord’s coming.

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  • 14a.

    What does Peter warn us about in 17?

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    He tells us to be careful of being led away with the error of the wicked and fall from our own steadfastness. In other words, we must guard ourselves against false teachings, which can bring destruction upon us.

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  • 14b.

    What does it mean to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?

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    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ refers to His saving grace in our lives. Christ does not leave us alone after He cleanses our sins during baptism. He continues to work on us until we enter the heavenly kingdom (Eph 2:10; Php 2:12,13). We need to depend on His mercy and forgiveness when we have done wrong. We need to be transformed by the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. By keeping ourselves in His love, we can grow and become mature (Jude 20). To grow in the knowledge of our Lord means to know Him more and more. Not only should we become familiar with the Scriptures, we must learn to know the Lord more intimately. We need to know what pleases Him and what grieves Him. This knowledge comes from experience. It comes from the continual practicing of His words and the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit (Col 1:10; Eph 1:10-21). In sum, we can grow spiritually only if we remain in Christ and center our lives on Christ. The Lord tells us, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (Jn 15:4). A spiritual life that grows is one that is always connected to the life of Christ.

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  • 14c.

    How is such growth the antidote to the danger described in 17?

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    It is by the Lord’s grace through faith, not by our own efforts, that we can stand firm to the end. Whenever we turn our eyes away from the Lord, we make ourselves vulnerable to sin. Therefore, we have to walk closer with the Lord and aim to know Him more and more. A strong and growing relationship with the Lord is the best prevention against the forces of evil.

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