2 Peter 3
- By Ben Fronczek
Over the past few months I have been bringing lessons from letters written by the Apostle Peter. I have to admit, I like Peter. He wasn’t the kind of guy one would imagine being a religious or holy man. When we are first introduced to Peter (called Simon), he was a fisherman. Many fishermen of that time were gruff, unkempt, vile, shabbily dressed, and often used vulgar language. He would be what we call a man’s man today. These guys were full of vigor and had hot tempers. Perhaps that’s why his friends and fellow fisherman, James and his brother John were called the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17). Their’s was a rough life since fishing was a very messy and physically demanding job. They must have been somewhat fearless too because some of the storms that came quickly upon the Sea of Galilee were fierce and furious. They often caught the fishermen by surprise and could easily capsize the 20 to 30 foot boats they used.
One day when Jesus showed up on the scene and said, “Follow Me.” We read that Peter and his brother Andrew, simply dropped everything and left their fishing business behind to follow Jesus. In Gospel accounts we read that Peter was outspoken, impulsive, and was still humble enough and realized that he did not even deserve to be in Jesus’ presence. At one point he told Jesus,
“Go away from me Lord for I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5:8)
Being a rugged individual Himself, Jesus and Peter seem get along great. Peter along with James and John became what we now call His inner circle and they seemed a little closer than the other apostles. Peter saw almost all the miracles that Jesus performed including Him walking on water when he had an opportunity to do the same (Matthew 14:25-33). He saw the glory of Jesus on the Mt. of transfiguration where Jesus began to glow as bright as the sun (Matt. 17:1-9). He got to listen to all those amazing teachings of Jesus first hand. He saw the death, and then three days later witness Jesus’ empty tomb, and witnessed the resurrected Christ. He heard Jesus final command, to go into all nations and make more disciples, and then baptize them and teach them to obey everything that He commanded (Matt 28:18-20). And then Peter was there to witness Jesus rising through the clouds back to heaven which was followed by the angels promising that one day again He would return the same way that he departed. (Acts 1:9-11)
Serving as the spokesman of the first believers on the day of Pentecost Peter was the first to stand up and preach the good news about Jesus to the Jews telling them about who Jesus was, and why they needed to put their faith in Him as their Lord and Savior. And in the latter part of Acts 2 he encouraged the people to repent and turn away from their sinful ways and be baptized so that their sins would be forgiven. And then we read that 3000 respond to his message and were baptized that very day. (Acts 2:37-41).
Later we also read that Peter would also be the first one to bring the good news about Jesus to the Gentiles when he goes to the home of a Roman Centurion, named Cornelius (in Acts 10). They likewise baptized his entire household opening up the way of salvation for not just the Jews but for everyone else.
Peter willingly suffered persecution, imprisonment, beatings, and even rejoiced at the fact that he was worthy to suffer disgrace for the Lord‘s sake (Acts 5:17 & 40-41). After that we do not read too much about Peter other than the fact that he served as an elder in the early Church.
As most of you know Peter was totally dedicated to Jesus even though he had a moment of weakness and denied even knowing Jesus three times the night He was arrested. There are traditional stories that state that before Peter himself was crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy of being crucified like Jesus, he had to watch his wife be crucified. Trying to encourage her he was heard crying out to her, “Remember our Lord, remember our Lord.”
From an arrogant, cocky, man of thunder, he became a humble, willing, obedient servant of the Lord, even to death. He rejoiced in that day of his death, knowing that he would be reunited with his beloved Savior. The lowly fisherman became a mighty fisher of men – and one that changed and shaped the world forever and is still proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ through his writings.
I was surprised to read that many scholars believe that Peter is actually the author behind the Gospel of Mark. They believe that John Mark was simply the scribe recording Peter’s words. And then we have the letters we just studied, I & II Peter.
As we studied these letters we read messages of hope:
- Peter says that God has given us everything we need for a life of godliness through our knowledge of him (Jesus). And He has also given us his great and precious promises so that through them we may participate in His own divine nature and escape the corruption in the world cause by evil desires. (1 Pet. 1:3-4)
- He also lets us know that we have been given a new birth into a living hope and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade- kept for you in heaven
- He said that we are precious to God, we are a chosen people a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to Him (1 Pet. 2:2-5 & 9)
- He said that we should cast our anxiety on God because He cares for us. (1 Pet. 5:7)
- He said that even if you suffer Christ will restore you and make you strong (5:10)
We also saw that he gave us wise instruction:
- That we should prepare our mind for action, be clear minded, be self controlled so we can pray. He wrote, be obedient children and do not conform to the evil desires we had before we were Christians. Rather, to the best of our ability we should be Holy because our heavenly Father is holy (1 Pet. 1:13-16). And we should do our best to love one another. In doing so we actually become a mechanism or a vehicle of God’s grace to others.
- We should do our best to get rid of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
- He said that we should seek to grow up in our salvation and like new born babes crave pure spiritual milk. And to our faith add goodness and to goodness add knowledge, and to knowledge add self control.. perseverance… godliness… brotherly kindness and love
- Peter said that we should live our lives as strangers here in this world in reverent fear. And that…
- We should live for God and do good, and humbly submit to those who are over us, and offer hospitality without grumbling
- He said that we should do our best to make sure our calling and election is sure.
But then he also gave us many warnings, such as:
- We need to be careful, alert and self controlled because the our enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. He said we need to resist him and stand firm in our faith. (1 Pet.5:8-9)
- He also warns us of the fact that there will be false teachers even from within the church that we have to be careful of. These individuals are dangerous and can deceive weaker members and cause much harm to the church. (2 Pet. 2)
And finally as we close this series we come to one scary final warning and a recommendation in 2 Peter 3. To begin with, Peter reminds his readers exactly why he wrote these letter.
“Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.”
He wrote these things down as reminders, to stimulate (Greek: Wake up, stir up, or arouse) us to wholesome (or Pure) thinking. Our generation like theirs has become very lacked in thinking about or acting on spiritual matters. Other things apparently have slipped in and have become more important to many of us. Peter wanted to shake up his readers a bit for their own good. He wanted to remind them of what was written about and spoke about in the past by those OT prophets and what Jesus said.
And just like people mock and scoff at our Christian beliefs today, many doubted then, especially the warning that Jesus will come again. And when the day of the Lord arrives a cataclysm will come as well.
“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgmentand destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Just like people of old who mocked and probably laughed at Noah and his family, people today sneer at the suggestion that such a disaster or judgment shall befall our planet today. Peter writes here that God does not look at time like we look at time. He doesn’t have a watch or calendar, rather He is patient not wanting anyone to perish and is waiting for everyone to come to repentance (that is everyone who will).
And then he goes on to talk about the event: Read 3:10
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.”
Peter lets us know that this event will come unannounced, like a thief. When is going to happen? We don’t know. Peter doesn’t know, but it’s going to happen.
“The heavens will disappear with a roar and the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”
Exactly what this means, I don’t know for sure. I don’t think anyone knows. Is it possible for something like this to happen? Based on scientific evidence our planet could be fried and burnt to a crisp in a moment’s notice. There are powers at work in the universe that few barely understand. Like: – The effect black hole moving close to our solar system. – A gamma ray burst or another devastating blast of cosmic radiation. – The effect of something called dark energy, or the questionable effect of the earth passing thru the galactic plane which will happen at the end of this year. This is what the Mayans warned us about that something major is about to happen. And there may more dangers that we don’t even know about..
To Peter, it really it doesn’t matter how, or even when. What matters to him is are you going to be ready.
“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[a] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth,where righteousness dwells.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.”
At this point, I believe here at the end his final letter Peter is pouring our his heart out to his readers. It is the last message we receive from him. It doesn’t matter how or when this event is going to take place, he is more concerned about his readers being ready and living like, and being the kind of people we ought to be. And if you are living the way you should and are standing right with God you shouldn’t fear that day, rather you can look forward to it. Why, because we are looking forward to a new reality, a new and better existence for faithful men and women, in a new heavenly existence described as a new heaven and earth promised by God Himself. In that realm somehow we will be changed into spiritual beings, glorious beings like Jesus Himself. (1 Cor. 15)
The question is, are we ready? Better yet, are you ready?
Peter says that the Lord is patiently waiting for you to come to Him in faith. This promise does not cost us more than our faith and devotion. Jesus paid the price and died on the cross for every sin that we have and ever will commit. He’s the one who was willing suffer in your place for those sins as a gift to you because He loves you. All we need to do is accept that gift in faith. He wants you to confess that faith to others and do your best to turn away from doing evil things. And if you allow yourself to be baptized He said that He would remove those sins from just like a surgeon cuts away a cancer. He lets us know that if you do this you will be like a new born babe in God’s eyes. (Acts 2:37-38, 22:16; Colossians 2:9-13 & Romans 6:3-11)
Get ready and prepare because none of us know when that great day will come. For that matter we don’t know how long we are going to live. Peter pleads with us to get ready!
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566