The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Bishop MacEvily’s Commentary on 2 Peter 3:12-15, 17-18

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 2, 2012

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).

In conclusion, he cautions them against being led astray by the erroneous doctrines of the impious scoffers in question, and exhorts them to endeavour to advance in grace and faith.

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 dissolved, 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.

2Pe 3:15a  And account the long-suffering of our Lord, salvation…

And look upon the long-suffering of the Lord, in deferring his coming, as solely intended for your salvation, to give you time for repentance and merit.

“And account the long suffering of our Lord, salvation,” that is to say, regard the long-suffering of God in deferring his coming to judge the world, not in a spirit of captious and deceitful inquiring, “where is his promise or his coming?” (verse 4), but, rather as intended, in the gracious designs of Providence, to secure your salvation, by giving you time for repentance, or for heaping up a treasure of merit.

2Pe 3:17  You therefore, brethren, knowing these things before, take heed, lest being led aside by the error of the unwise, you fall from your own steadfastness.

Do you therefore, beloved brethren, admonished beforehand of these things, be on your guard, lest, forced aside from the path of truth, by the erroneous teaching of these men, you fall away from the steadfast profession of Christian faith, and the practice of Christian virtues, in which the grace of God has established you.

The Apostle concludes this Epistle by cautioning them against being deceived by the erroneous teachings of the false scoffers. “Take heed, lest being led aside,” from the path of truth. The Greek word for “led aside,” συναπαχθεντες, means being carried or forced forward, as if by a crowd. “By the error of the unwise,” in Greek, των αθεσμων, of the lawless. He refers to these scoffers who trample on all laws, human and divine. “You fall from your own steadfastness,” both in the profession of faith and its inward belief, and the practice of virtues. Hence, faith is not inamissible. St. Paul assures us also, that Hymeneus and Philetus had fallen away from it (1 Tim 1:20).

2Pe 3:18  But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and unto the day of eternity, Amen.

But (by the zealous performance of good works), endeavour to increase in grace, both actual and habitual, and in the more perfect faith and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be rendered glory both in this life and during the never ending ages of eternity. Amen.

“But grow in grace,” that is, by advancing from virtue to virtue, endeavour to acquire an increase of grace, both actual and habitual. “And the knowledge of our Lord,” &c. This he says in opposition to those who, from an affectation of superior knowledge, were called Gnostics, though really ignorant and wandering from truth. The Apostle closes the Epistle with words almost the same as those with which he began it. “Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God, and of Christ Jesus our Lord” (2 Pet 1:). “To him be glory both now,” in this world, “and unto the day,” the never-ending moment, “of eternity. Amen.”

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