2 Peter & Jude

by Eileen Poh

Day 18

Read 2 Peter 3:8-10

I met my husband Philip when I was doing my doctoral research at Tyndale House in Cambridge, UK, and we moved to Singapore a few years after our marriage. While in Cambridge, I was keen to visit the city of Norwich. Philip promised that he would take me there some day. Time and again, I would remind him of what I call his ″Norwich promise″. Eventually, after a couple of years, Philip kept his promise, and we went to Norwich and visited its lovely cathedral.

We must follow God's timetable, not ours.

Delay in keeping a promise does not mean that the promise will never be fulfilled, or that the person who made the promise can no longer be trusted. This is Peter's point concerning the timing of Jesus' second coming. The false teachers have scoffed at their belief that Jesus will come again: ″Where is this 'coming' he promised?″ (2 Peter 3:4)

Peter reminds his readers that God's perspective of time is different from ours (v. 8), and refers them to Psalm 90:4. To God, a day is not 24 hours; a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. We must follow God's timetable, not ours.

Then Peter discloses God's delay for sending Jesus Christ a second time. It is not because He is slow or unwilling to keep His promise. Rather, it is because He does not want anyone to perish without Christ (v. 9); He desires everyone to repent and be saved. We might be impatient with a delay, but God is not like us. He is a patient and longsuffering God. If He delays in judging those who do not believe in Him, it shows His love for them.

But ″the day of the Lord″ will eventually come one day. And it will come suddenly and unannounced, like a thief burgling your house (v. 10). When that day comes, ″the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare″ (v. 10). While some older English translations of the Bible render the last part of verse 10 as ″everything in it will be burned up″, the more reliable manuscripts of this verse use a word that means ″will be found″, ″will be discovered″, or ″will be disclosed″.12 When Jesus comes again to judge, the earth (which includes humankind) and everything done will be disclosed or laid bare before Him.

New Testament scholar Tom Wright explains it well: ″What will happen is that some sort of 'fire', literal or metaphorical, will come upon the whole earth, not to destroy, but to test everything out, and to purify it by burning up everything that doesn't meet the test. The 'elements' that will be 'dissolved' are probably the parts of creation that are needed at the moment for light and heat, that is, the sun and the moon: according to Revelation 21 they will not be needed in the new creation. But Peter's concern throughout the letter is with the judgment of humans for what they have done, not with the non-human parts of the cosmos for their own sake.″13

God will keep His promise. Jesus Christ will come again.

12 Wright, Early Christian Letters for Everyone: James, Peter, John and Judah, p.119.
13 Wright, Early Christian Letters for Everyone: James, Peter, John and Judah, p.119-120

Think through:

How ready are you for Jesus' second coming? What areas in your life might you have to change as you prepare yourself for Jesus' coming?

God is delaying Jesus' second coming because He wants everyone to repent and believe in Him. How are you using this opportunity to share the gospel with those who do not know Jesus? Think of someone who needs to hear the gospel, and ask God for an opportunity to speak to this person about Jesus Christ.




About Author

Eileen Poh was a lawyer for some years before doing full-time theological studies. Her doctoral thesis (at King’s College London) examines the social relationships between Christians and non-Christians in Asia Minor in the second half of the first century AD. Eileen lectures in Biblical Studies at Discipleship Training Centre, Singapore. She is married to Philip Satterthwaite.

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