This post includes the Bishop’s brief analysis of chapter 3, followed by his notes on today’s reading. In addition, I’ve also included the Bishop’s paraphrase of the text he is commenting on. The paraphrasing is in purple text.
Analysis of 2 Peter 3~In this chapter, the Apostle tells the faithful, that this is the second Epistle he addressed to them, in which, as well as in the former, he wished to remind them of the truths of faith, predicted by the prophets, and inculcated by the Apostles. He probably refers, in a particular manner, to the doctrine regarding the coming of Christ, in due time, to judge the world—a doctrine questioned by the false teachers (3:1-2). In order to put them on their guard, he tells them that such persons would come amongst them, and at all times trouble the Church (3:3). The principal error of these men will consist in ridiculing the great doctrine of Christ’s coming to judge the world. This is, indeed, the practical teaching of the impious at all times (3:4).
He refutes the teaching of those men, who probably ridiculed the idea of fire— one of the most active principles or elements of the present world—being made instrumental in its ruin, by showing that an element, which equally entered into the constitution of the present system—viz., water, was employed for its destruction, formerly. He thus refutes their assertion, that things continued in the same tvay from creation (3:5-6). He next refutes their deduction from analogy, that things would continue as they were for ever, by showing, that the world is to be destroyed by fire (3:7). The scoffs of the impious regarding the tardiness of Christ’s coming, he shows to be groundless; since the measure of time with God is quite different from that adopted by us (3:8). And, in truth, this delay is intended by God as a judgment of mercy, to give men time for repentance, and to enable the number of the elect to be filled up (3:9). He again repeats his assertion, that the present system of the world is to be changed and renovated (3:10)- and draws moral conclusions from thence—viz., that we should, by sanctity of life, prepare and fit ourselves for the renovated heavens and earth, the abode of the blessed (3:11-13), and endeavour to be found, in the presence of our Judge, free from spot (3:15).
He refers to the Epistle of St. Paul, as inculcating the same things, and observes regarding them, that they are difficult and hard to be understood; to persons not fit to read them, they are like all other inspired scriptures, a source of spiritual ruin (3:15-16).
Notes on 2 Peter 3:8-14~
2Pe 3:8 But of this one thing be not ignorant, my beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
But as for the railleries of these impious scoffers regarding the tardy performance of God’s promise to come and judge the world, they are to be unheeded; for, if the measure of time in the designs of God be considered, there is no room whatever for objection on this point. With him a thousand years and one day are the same; viewed in comparison with eternity, both are a mere point.
The Apostle now proceeds to point out how devoid of all foundation are the scoffs and railleries of those impious men with regard to the slowness and tardiness of Christ’s coming. With him, who beholds eternity at one glance, the longest and shortest periods of time are all the same; a thousand years as well as a single day compared with eternity are the same, infinitely distant from it; and hence, any delay in the coming of Christ, is, according to their computation of time, but not according to the measure adopted by Him.
2Pe 3:9 The Lord delayeth not his promise, as some imagine, but dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance,
The Lord does not put off, beyond the determined time, the execution of his promise, as some persons imagine, but he endures patiently and with long-suffering on your account, not willing that any persons should be lost, but that all should return to penance.
What men are apt to consider a delay on the part of God to fulfil his promise, is not a delay at all; but rather a gracious judgment of his mercy, an exercise of his long-suffering, wishing to give his people time for repentance; “not willing that anyone should perish, but that all should return to penance;” the meaning of which words is, that, by a sincere, antecedent will, God wishes no one to perish, but that all men should be saved; He also gives all men sufficient means of salvation. The words, “the Lord delayeth not his promise,” admit of this construction also, according to the Greek, ου βραδυνει κυριος της επαγγελιας, the Lord of the promise is not slow. “As some imagine,” are thus read in the Greek, ως τινες βραδυτητα ηγουνται, as some compute slowness. “For your sake.” In the common Greek, for our sake. The Codex Vaticanus has, εις υμας, the Alexandrian, δí υμας. Both support the Vulgate. How calculated is not the serious meditation on these words of the Apostle, “A thousand years with God is but as a single day,” to raise our thoughts to eternal enjoyments, and make us undervalue all the pleasures and riches and honours of this life, which, be it ever so prolonged, when compared with eternity, is but a mere point. “A thousand years in his sight is but as yesterday which is past and gone.” (Psalm 90:4) With the Psalmist we should frequently, in the day of trial and affliction, “Keep in mind the eternal years” (Psalm 77:6) Our conversation, our thoughts, should be in heaven, whence we are to expect, in his own good time, a deliverer; and we should rest assured, that if he appear tardy in coming to our relief, it is to give us time for penance, and to enable us to hoard up greater treasures of merit.
2Pe 3:10 But the day of the Lord shall come as a thief, in which the heavens shall pass away with great violence and the elements shall be melted with heat and the earth and the works which are in it shall be burnt up.
But the day of the Lord, like the nightly and sudden approach of a thief, shall come unexpectedly; in it the heavens will pass away with a great crash, such as is occasioned by a violent storm of wind or the pealing of thunder, and the elements changing their figure and appearance, shall, all on fire, be dissolved with great heat, and the earth, with all its productions, natural and artificial, as well as the works of mankind shall be burnt up.
The day on which the Lord Jesus is to judge the world, will come unexpectedly, “as a thief,” to which, in the common Greek, is added (in the night). These latter words are not found in either the Alexandrian or Vatican manuscripts, and were, most likely, added here and taken from 1 Thess 5:2, where the day of judgment is described. “In which the heavens shall pass away,” that is, the regions of the air, in Sacred Scriptures often called “heavens,” shall pass away, and, purged of all their present grossness and imperfection, shall be changed into a more perfect and incorruptible
form. “With great violence.” The Greek word, ροιζηδον, means the hissing or
crashing noise caused by a violent storm of wind or thunder. The fire of conflagration will, most probably, precede the coming of the judge, and causing the death of such men as will have survived the other precursory evils of the day of judgment, viz., famine, the sword, &c., shall continue to pass with great noise from hemisphere to hemisphere, and continue during the holding of the judgment, devouring and purging the elements, until, after the sentence of the judge, increasing in ardour and violence, it shall precipitate the impious into hell.
“And the elements shall be melted with heat.” Some understand these of the four elements, viz., fire, air, earth, and water. They shall be melted away, not in such a way, as to be utterly destroyed, but merely changed, just as melted gold loses its dross and form, while its substance remains. Others say, the “elements” refer only to the earth and water; for,the Apostle treated already of the element of air, when saying “the heavens shall pass away,” and as for the element of fire, they say it is hard to conceive how the fire of conflagration can destroy the elementary fire. To this it might, however, be replied, that it will only dissolve it, and depriving it of all grossness and imperfection, purify and render it a fit ingredient of the new creation, which is to be the dwelling place of the glorified children of God.
“And the earth, and the works which are in it.” He again repeats the burning of “the earth,” though contained under the words, “elements shall be destroyed,” because it has this peculiar to itself, that on its surface, men have made the most valuable improvements, and from its bowels come forth these treasures which worldlings prize most. “And the works which are in it,” that is to say, its animal and vegetable productions, as also the works of art, such as, buildings, gold, &c.; very likely he refers also to the moral works of man, which will be consumed by, and afford fuel to, the fire of conflagration.—(1 Cor 3:15). “If any one’s work burn,” &c. ; and the Apostle wishes to stimulate the faithful to perform works which will stand the test of this devouring fire; such is the moral exhortation clearly expressed in the following verses.
2Pe 3:11 Seeing then that all these things are to be dissolved, what manner of people ought you to be in holy conversation and godliness?
Since, then, all things, heaven, the elements, and the works that are found in creation, are to be dissolved, and a new and perfect order of things to be introduced, how pure and holy should you not be both in the sanctity of your intercourse with your neighbor and in acts of piety towards God.
“What manner of people ought you to be,” that is, how perfectly elevated
above all terrestrial ideas and affections should you not be, to fit you for the new and perfect order of things which is to succeed the present; “in holy conversation,” in your several relations with men, “and godliness,” and your piety, acts of faith, hope, love, religion, &c., towards God. “Conversation and godliness,” are read in the plural in the Greek.
2Pe 3:12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with the burning heat?
Firmly hoping for, and hastening on to meet, or anticipating by your diligent preparation, the coming of the day of the Lord, by which the heavens, being set on fire, will be disolved, and the elements shall melt away with a burning heat?
“Looking for,”‘ that is, by firm hope, looking forward to, “and hastening unto,” or, anticipating, in the fervour and zeal of your preparation, “the coming of the day of the Lord,” acting each day as you would, were the day of the Lord immediately at hand. “By which,” that is, either day, or coming of the Lord. “The heavens being on fire shall be dissolved.” The meaning of this is the same as that of verse 10; here, it is merely added, that the heat by which all things will be dissolved is the heat of fire. “The heavens will be dissolved.” This refers to the lower heavens or regions of the air; although it is most likely that the starry heavens will not be dissolved, it is still very probable, they will be changed or perfected, so as to suit the glorified condition of the children of God. ” The powers of heaven-(the stars) shall be moved,” as the Church sings in her Office, quando cœli movendi sunt et terra.” “And the elements shall melt away with a burning heat.” They shall melt away like wax, with the form changed, the substance shall remain. “Transit figura hujus mundi” (i.e., “For the fashion of this world passeth away”, 1 Cor 7:31).
2Pe 3:13 But we look for new heavens and a new earth according to his promises, in which justice dwelleth.
But, although the present system of creation be dissolved, we look for and expect new and renovated heavens, a newly renovated earth, in which perfect justice and immaculate sanctity will dwell.
“But we look for new heavens,” that is, heavens renovated and perfected, into which the present heavens shall be changed, including both the lower air, or atmosphere, and the starry heaven. For, the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days—(Isaiah 30:26). “And a new earth,” the present earth renovated and changed in its qualities and purified of all the dross and imperfection, which it contracted from the “slavery of corruption.”—(Rom 8) “According to his promises.” The new heavens, &c., are promised (Isaiah 65:17, 66:22); or, the words may refer to the general promises of eternal happiness, made to the saints. ” In which justice dwelleth,” that is, which will be the seat and habitation of the blessed, free from all stains or defilements. “There shall not enter into it anything defiled.”—(Rev 21:27).
2Pe 3:14 Wherefore, dearly beloved, waiting for these things, be diligent that you may be found before him unspotted and blameless in peace.
Wherefore, dearly beloved, as you are firmly hoping for this renovated state of things, this new heaven and new earth, exert all your care and diligence to be found by the Lord, at his coming, free from all gross crimes, particularly such as are practiced by the deceitful scoffers, and, as far as possible, free from lesser defects, in a state of peace both with God and your neighbor, thus calmly prepared to meet your judge.
“Wherefore, dearly beloved, seeing that you look for these things,” seeing that you expect a new heaven and a new earth, and a total renovation of all things, at the coming of Christ to judgment, and that you thus turn a deaf ear to the incredulous, and to the scofiing questions of the impious, asking, “where is his promise or his coming?” verse 4), “be diligent,” exert your utmost care and diligence, “that you may be found undefiled,” that is, free from the grosser crimes, such as the Simonites, Gnostics, and other heretics had fallen into, (“walking after their own lusts,” verse 3); “and undefiled,” free from lesser or venial faults, as far as possible. “To him,” in his presence, “in peace,” by being in peace both with God and your neighbour. Thus you will calmly and peaceably be prepared to meet the judge.