It is our intention to write a few sketches in this rubric on this third Chapter of II Peter. We believe that this section of II Peter lends itself very well to a separate discussion in a short series of essays. Without fear of contradiction we may affirm that the subject on this passage is: the certainty of the coming (parousis) of the Lord in the face of all mockers and denial, or in spite of the impatience of the saints who account that the Lord is tardy and slack concerning his promise. On the other hand the purpose of this writing is to stir up the pure minds of the saints by means of Scriptures, so that they may not be moved from their own steadfastness, but may grow up in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We need not quote the entire section of verses 1-7 of this Chapter at this time. We deem it sufficient for our purpose to quote only the verses 1 and 2 for the present, where we read “This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you: in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye ‘be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior . . .”
Peter is an aged man when he writes this epistle. He will not long remain in this tabernacle anymore. Of this he speaks in I Pet. 1:14. It is because he knows that he must shortly put off this his tabernacle, that he writes to the churches; he will stir up their remembrance of all that pertains to a walk of hope and godliness in the midst of this world. He is very certain concerning the reality of these things; he and the other apostles have not been followers of cunningly devised fables; on the contrary they were eye-witnesses of his glory, which glory they beheld on the mount of transfiguration. On that holy mount they beheld the power and coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ.
At the head of this chapter Peter once more speaks of making the church mindful. The Word of God must dwell richly in these churches. It must be a lamp unto their feet and a light upon their pathway. And this Word shines more and more unto the perfect day.
Writes Peter to the churches that this is the “second letter” which he writes to them. The reason for expressing this is, evidently, not that the churches did not know that this was the second letter, but Peter intentionally calls attention to this fact to impress upon the minds of these churches the seriousness of the matters of which he writes. Both are of such a nature that they stir up the minds of the churches. These churches are not hearing the word for the first time, nor is the matter of the return of Christ, of which Peter here speaks, one which the churches had not been instructed in by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They had been instructed earlier. Now they must be reminded. Of these things Peter too can write: “though ye know them and be established in the present truth” (I Pet. 1:12). The church must “beware lest . . . being led away with the error of the wicked” they fall “from their own steadfastness” (I Pet. 3:17). Fact is, that they must grow in the grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ” (I Pet. 3:18).
The point of contact with these churches is their “pure minds.” The term translated “pure” in the King James Version really means “unmixed with error.” Such a mind will not allow Satan’s error to be mingled with the truth nor will it allow the lie to supplant the truth. The term mind (dianoian) refers to the mind as it is a penetrating mind; it grasps the truth of God in Christ as this pertains to all things in heaven and on earth, and particularly, in this case the truth concerning the coming of Lord Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the promise: This mind is enlightened by the Spirit of truth; it is really the portion of those who have the mind of Christ and who can put spiritual things with spiritual (I Cor. 2:10-16). Certainly there is no spiritual point of contact with those who are of a reprobate mind. For the natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit. They are foolishness to him. Certainly the natural man cannot be stirred to remembrance. He never grasped the spiritual truths and realities in Christ in the first place, and, therefore, he cannot be “stirred up” to remembrance. When the mind of the wicked is “stirred up” it is a very evil mind. It merely stirs up all his latent hatred and mockery. It never has a wholesome and saving effect.
What are the means which Peter employs to stir up the remembrance of these believers in Christ?
Peter will use the twofold testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures as well as of the New Testament Scriptures. I know he does not put it quite in this form. Instead of speaking of the “Old Testament Scriptures” he says, “the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets,” and instead of speaking of the “New Testament Scriptures” he writes: ‘the commandment of us’ the apostles of the Lord and Savior.” In passing we must observe that for Peter the words of the holy prophets are the end of all contradiction. They are the “more sure prophetic word.” They have been made “more sure” through their fulfillment in the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. For in Christ we see the veracity of their words “spoken before.” The term “spoken before” in the Greek (proeireemenoon) refers to all the united testimony of all the prophets. It is action completed up to the present time. These prophets all spoke. Each spoke in his own manner and time, and each added to and stood upon the testimony of the former prophets. For they were all led and filled with the one Spirit of Christ which was in them and did signify to them, when they searched out the time and the manner of the time of the suffering of Christ and of the glory to follow. Moreover, we should too observe that for Peter there is no differencebetween the “commandment” of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior and these Scriptures as far as they are the norm for the life of faith and hope of the church, and as they are the means of grace to work the grace of steadfastness and immovableness from the hope of the Gospel. It is very interesting and worthy of note that Peter places the writings of Paul on a par with “all the Scriptures” in verse 16 of this chapter. There we read: “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
What the apostles had taught and commanded they had done in the name of Christ whose apostles they were. They were “sent” by him, led by His Spirit into all the truth. Hence, their name apostles. They had been eye-witnesses and ear-witnesses of the miracles and works of Christ. And thus both the words spoken before by the prophets and the commandment of the Apostles are unified in Christ. Both are the words of Christ. In the one he promised one to come and in the other we have him speaking who did come in his power as the Son of God, and who shall come with clouds in his day.
There is one point which is of paramount and of actual importance for the believers. It is that there are men and women in the midst of the church of God in this world who are not those hoping for Christ’s return on the clouds of heaven, but are mockers walking after their own lusts. Writes Peter in verses 3-4 as follows: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the lust day scoffers, walking after their own lust, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
The phrase “knowing this first” means that it is a point of great importance. It is the chief thing to know concerning the enemy and the times in which we live. Peter employs a similar construction concerning the nature of the holy Scriptures in I Pet. 1:20: “knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation . . .” The first thing to know is the chief element in Peter’s stirring up their pure minds by way of remembrance. The full meaning and danger of these scoffers as a New Testament phenomenon must be understood. The believers must understand that these men are:
1. Such that walk after their own lust.
2. They are scoffers.
3. They are a peculiar manifestation of the antichrist in these last days.
Concerning each of these elements we must say just a few words.
These men who walk after their own lust are they who say: let us eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. They are men who are haters of God. The term “after their own lusts” indicates that they do not make the law of God the rule and standard of their life. They are a rule and law to themselves. They are proud, boastful, haughty and full of all manner of wickedness. They are controlled by the prince of this world (Eph. 2:1-3). They are the children of disobedience upon whom the wrath of God is come! They are entirely corrupt these mockers and scoffers. And this walking after their own lusts explains their deepest attitude toward God as they lift their voice against heaven!
In the second place they are scoffers. They act like children. They are childish fools. They do not take the reality of heaven and hell seriously. Hence, they mock. They wag their tongue against the Lord. And the subject of their mockery and song is thepromise of the Lord’s coming. In this mockery they really mock with the hope of Israel, the hope of the righteous, and with all that is promised in both the Old and the New Testament Scriptures. It should be noticed that they direct their mockery to the church and about God. The saints place all their confidence and joy upon the faithfulness of God who has promised, and this is the exact point that these mockers call in question. The fiery darts of the wicked are aimed very carefully. Should they succeed in having the saints doubt the faithfulness of the Lord, then they would have the victory. Yet, thus they are only mockers and are not men who stand four-square in the reality of God’s faithfulness and sure mercies.
Lastly, it should be noticed that this is a phenomenon which is peculiar to these last times. The only point left on the agenda of the Lord is his final return. All the other great savings acts of the wonder of God’s grace are past realities. Christ has been born, has suffered, has died, has risen again, did sit down on the right hand of God. But Christ ‘must still come to judge the living and the dead and to make all things new. We still look for a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. And this article of faith of the believers, for their final vindication, the wicked have made their jest and scorn. They really say: “Where is thy God?” You trust in God, but He will not come to save you.
Let this word sink deep into your hearts; such is your enemy, says Peter. Let them not draw you away from your own steadfastness.