The Berean Expositor
Volume 33 - Page 218 of 253
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Before we can attempt to interpret II Pet. 3: it is essential that we view the whole
epistle, so that we may neither misplace, nor over, nor under, emphasize any one feature.
The Apostle has before him one theme, namely, the fact of the second coming of Christ,
and one great thing to do, defend that hope against the attack of the scoffers of his own
day. These scoffers, in their turn, were prophetic of the attitude of men generally against
the doctrine of the second coming and the day of judgment, which will characterize the
last days. Consequently in writing the epistle we find the Apostle adopting (consciously
or unconsciously) the principle of the balance. Omitting for the present the exhortative
introduction and conclusion (II Pet. 1: 1-11, and 3: 14-18) we discover that the theme
of the epistle is distributed thus:--
II Peter 1: 12 - 3: 13.
A | 1: 12-15. PETER. | Parousia truth.
Stir up . . . . . remembrance.
B | 1: 16-21. APOSTLES and PROPHETS. |
Visions of second coming confirmed by Prophets.
C | 2: 1-22. FALSE PROPHETS. |
Judgment neither lingers nor slumbers.
Angels, the Flood, Sodom, are evidences
that God does not intervene in judgment.
He knows how "to reserve" angels and man
for the day of judgment.
Noah saved through the Flood.
A | 3: 1. PETER. | Second Epistle.
Stir up . . . . . remembrance.
B | 3: 2. PROPHETS and APOSTLES. |
Words of Prophets confirmed by Apostles.
C | 3: 3-13. SCOFFERS. |
God is not slack concerning His promise.
Creation itself bears evidence that He does intervene.
He has reserved unto fire the present system.
The godly will be preserved just as Noah was through the Flood.
The recognition of this "balance" is worth more than pages of comment. Peter has but
one theme, and he presents it in this twofold manner so that we shall not miss the point he
desires to make. The second coming of Christ, he said, was not a fable, but based solidly
upon the testimony of prophecy, which came, not by human intelligence, but by
inspiration of God. The scoffers said, "Where is the promise of His coming?"
(II Pet. 3: 4). "Where is?" (Pou estin). This is the formula of incredulity, not a genuine
enquiry. Another instance of its use is, "My tears have been my meat day and night,
while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?" (Ps. 42: 3). The "promise" in
II Pet. 3: 4 is put for "the fulfillment of that promise", which these scoffers denied, and
indicates no desire on their part for instruction in the text of prophecy. Weymouth
renders the passage, "What has become of His promised return?" The scoffers do not