Knowing God in the Last Days: A Commentary on 2 Peter, by Mark H. Hoeksema. Jenison, Michigan: RFPA, 2017. 96 pages. (hardcover) [Reviewed by Rev. Heath Bleyenberg.]
What a fitting title for this worthwhile commentary on 2 Peter—Knowing God in the Last Days! By this title Hoeksema rightly captures the main theme of Peter’s second epistle, namely, the knowledge God’s people must have. But particularly, a knowledge we must have as we live in the last days. Peter warns his readers that “there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” (). These same scoffers go hand in hand with the false teachers of chapter 2 “who privily shall bring in damnable heresies.” The ignorant man will be taken in by these false teachers and scoffers. The knowledgeable man who abounds “in the knowledge our Lord Jesus Christ” ( ) will not follow after “cunningly devised fables” ( ), but will be alert and on guard against false prophets who question and deny the promise of Christ’s coming.
The author begins with a brief introduction, including a defense of this epistle in the canon of Scripture, the date this epistle was written and to whom it was written (the immediate recipients), and an identification of the theme and purpose of the book. Hoeksema also makes clear his perspective. This is a feature lacking in many other commentaries. Has it ever happened to you that some book (commentary) catches your eye at the book store or at the thrift shop? But you are unfamiliar with the author. Then you wonder “How does this man approach God’s Word? Does he hold to the verbal inspiration of Scripture? Is he writing from a dispensational viewpoint? Preterist? Evangelical? Arminian?” Hoeksema makes clear that as a Reformed Christian his perspective “is that 2 Peter is the inspired and infallible Word of God and must be explained as such,” and that in his interpretation he subscribes to the Three Forms of Unity (the main Reformed confessions). This is helpful for the discerning reader.
This is a brief commentary, numbering 96 pages. This is no criticism, but a commendation. Hoeksema is simple, straightforward, and to the point. Holding to the verbal inspiration of Scripture, he explains what the words mean. As a child of God, that is what I want to know. I do not want every chapter of a commentary I read to begin with an anecdotal story. Give me God’s Word! Tell me what it means! Knowing God in the Last Days does exactly that. The book is divided into brief sections in which verses are explained. Individual words are defined. The relationship between verses is set forth. The author compares Scripture with Scripture, showing that his interpretation is in harmony with the rest of God’s Word. This is an exegetical commentary through and through.
The author makes appropriate comments in all his explanation, but limits himself. This ought to whet the appetite of the reader and spur him on into further study, examination, and application of particular points of interest. Rev. Nathan Decker, in the foreword, speaks of the usefulness of this book for God’s people:
The commentary will be excellent for a quick read to grasp the book as a whole in its general themes, for a needed reference to understand a particular section, for the family to read aloud around the dinner table for family worship, or for believers in a Bible study to generate thoughts and discussions on this portion of God’s word.
I trust that, as we enter into the late stages of these last days, Bible societies will be increasingly drawn to 2 Peter and choose it to be the object of their study. Elders in the church of Christ, called to be watchmen upon the walls of Zion, must be knowledgeable of the machinations of these false prophets and teachers and then sound the alarm to warn God’s people. Young adults in Christian colleges must be instructed by 2 Peter in light of the age-old heresy of uniformitarianism, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (), which heresy serves as the basis for evolutionism.
Knowing God in the Last Days is a timely commentary and a faithful exposition of God’s Word. May God use it for the good of His church, and by our study of God’s Word may we “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” ().