Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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2 PETER - Chapter 3

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2 Peter 3

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  FALSE TEACHERS  2, 1 -- 3, 13 (continued)

3, 1-13:  The Second Coming.    1-3.  In his first Epistle St. Peter endeavored to set forth the basis---the living hope---on which Christians must evaluate the issues of life (1 Pet. 1, 3-12).  The sword that St. Peter held over the head of the recalcitrant was the Second Coming of Christ with its glorious vindication of His faithful followers (1 Pet. 4, 7 -- 5, 11).  Thus this doctrine of Christ's glorious Second Advent forms the foundation of Christian hope.    4.  Where is the promise, etc.: this scornful denial of Christ's prophecy (Matt. 25, 31-46) motivated the moral extravagances of the false teachers.  The fathers: the first generation of Christians.  The false teachers interpreted the death of so many Christians who had not lived to see the Second Coming of Christ as proof for their denial of the doctrine itself; hence, St. Peter's warning that they "abuse what they do not understand" (2, 12).  Next follows a rebuttal of the objections against the doctrine of Christ's Second Coming.  First objection: All things continue as they were: the fathers have died; the world continues as it was; and so all things will continue as from the beginning.    6.  Rebuttal: By these means: i.e., the word of God and water; hence, the Deluge brought about the destruction of the first creation.    7.  This same word of God that created the world and decreed the Deluge reserves the heavens that now are, and the earth for destruction by fire.  Second objection: Many of the fathers have fallen asleep and Christ's coming has still not materialized (4).  Rebuttal: A thousand years compared to eternity is but a pittance of time; how then can a man, whose span of life is but three score and ten years judge in these matters?    10.  The sudden and unexpected advent of the day of our Lord will leave not time for repentance.  Judgment will be pronounced upon all men; the earth itself will be purified by fire.  Jesus, too, had spoken of the destruction of heaven and earth (Matt. 24, 35; Luke 21, 33); St. Paul, of a judgment by fire (1 Cor. 3, 13; 2 Thess. 1, 8); and St. John, "of a new heaven and a new earth" (Apoc. 21, 1).  The heavens . . . and the elements: the sun, moon and stars which St. Peter distinguishes from the earth, and the works that are in it.    11 f.  The final dissolution of all things will put an end to false doctrine with its sensual way of life; but a God-fearing life will continue to enjoy the happiness of salvation.  You who await and hasten towards, etc.: such who pray for and await the perfect realization of God's kingdom.    13.  The ordeal by fire will not result in a complete destruction of the universe but will rather purify and cleanse it of all dross (Isa. 65, 17; 66, 22).  God's curse on the earth by reason of Adam's fall will no longer mar the purified heavens and earth.

Conclusion  3, 14-18

14.  An Exhortation to prepare for the coming of Christ so as to be found by Him without spot and blameless, in peace.    15.  Account Christ's delay in coming as salvation, i.e., as a time of grace in which men may repent and be saved.  Peter's condemnation of license and disorder (2, 11-12) and the necessity of a Christian way of life find ample support in the writings of our most dear brother Paul.  Probably Peter had in mind the Epistles addressed to the churches at Rome, Ephesus and Colossae.  All his epistles: St. Peter need not have had information of every letter written by Paul; still in view of Peter's residence and detention in Rome, his intimate acquaintance with Mark and Silvanus, he certainly was in a position to know practically all of Paul's Epistles.    16.  Things . . . which the unlearned, etc.: St. Paul's insistence on justification by faith in Jesus Christ and the helplessness of the Mosaic Law gave rise to a movement which despised all the injunctions found in the Law.  False teachers capitalized on this antinomian tendency; they taught that the moral obligations mentioned by the Law no longer bound Christians.  St. Paul's emphasis on Christian freedom (Gal. 4, 31), justification by faith independently of the Law (Rom. 3, 28), and the curse of the Law (Gal. 3, 10), made difficult reading for recent and poorly instructed converts to Christianity.    17.  A final exhortation to resist the lawless, i.e., the foolish who may seek to ensnare you.    18.  The Epistle closes as it began (1, 2) with a hope and a prayer for the spiritual advancement of his readers.  To him be glory, etc.: the doxology.

Charles G. Heupler, O.F.M. Cap.

Confraternity Bible:

The Second Coming  1 This, beloved, is now the second epistle that I am writing to you wherein I stir up your pure mind to remembrance, 2 that you may be mindful of what I formerly preached of the words of the holy prophets and of your apostles, which are the precepts of the Lord and Savior.  3 This first you must know, that in the last days there will come deceitful scoffers, men walking according to their own lusts, 4* saying, "Where is the promise or his coming?  For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."  5 For of this they are willfully ignorant, that there were heavens long ago, and an earth formed out of water and by water through the word of God.  6 By these means the world that then was, deluged with water, perished.  7* But the heavens that now are, and the earth, by that same word have been stored up, being reserved for fire against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

8 But, beloved, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  9 The Lord does not delay in his promises, but for your sake is long-suffering, not wishing that any should perish but that all should turn to repentance.  10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; at that time the heavens will pass away with great violence, and the elements will be dissolved with heat, and the earth, and the works that are in it, will be burned up.  11 Seeing therefore that all these things are to be dissolved, what manner of men ought you to be in holy and pious behavior, 12 you who await and hasten towards the coming of the day of God, by which the heavens, being on fire, will be dissolved and the elements will melt away by reason of the heat of the fire!  13 But we look for new heavens and a new earth, according to his promises, wherein dwells justice.

Exhortation, Doxology  14 Therefore, beloved, while you look for these things, endeavor to be found by him without spot and blameless, in peace.  15 And regard the long-suffering of our Lord as salvation.  Just as our most dear brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given him, has written to you, 16 as indeed he did in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things.  In these epistles there are certain things difficult to understand, which the unlearned and the unstable distort, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures also, to their own destruction.

17 You therefore, brethren, since you know this beforehand, be on your guard lest, carried away by the error of the foolish, you fall away from your own steadfastness.  18 But grow in peace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  To him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen.


4: Where is the promise or his coming: a scornful denial of Christ's Second Coming.  Fathers: the first converts of Christianity, many of whom were at this time dead.

7: The word that created the world and destroyed it, now preserves the world for the general conflagration at the end of time.