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2 Peter 3:8-9

Context

3:8 Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, 1  that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. 3:9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, 2  as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish 3  for any 4  to perish but for all to come to repentance. 5 

1 tn The same verb, λανθάνω (lanqanw, “escape”) used in v. 5 is found here (there, translated “suppress”).

2 tn Or perhaps, “the Lord is not delaying [the fulfillment of] his promise,” or perhaps “the Lord of the promise is not delaying.” The verb can mean “to delay,” “to be slow,” or “to be hesitant.”

3 tn Grk “not wishing.” The participle most likely has a causal force, explaining why the Lord is patient.

4 sn He does not wish for any to perish. This verse has been a battleground between Arminians and Calvinists. The former argue that God wants all people to be saved, but either through inability or restriction of his own sovereignty does not interfere with peoples’ wills. Some of the latter argue that the “any” here means “any of you” and that all the elect will repent before the return of Christ, because this is God’s will. Both of these positions have problems. The “any” in this context means “any of you.” (This can be seen by the dependent participle which gives the reason why the Lord is patient “toward you.”) There are hints throughout this letter that the readership may be mixed, including both true believers and others who are “sitting on the fence” as it were. But to make the equation of this readership with the elect is unlikely. This would seem to require, in its historical context, that all of these readers would be saved. But not all who attend church know the Lord or will know the Lord. Simon the Magician, whom Peter had confronted in Acts 8, is a case in point. This is evident in contemporary churches when a pastor addresses the congregation as “brothers, sisters, saints, etc.,” yet concludes the message with an evangelistic appeal. When an apostle or pastor addresses a group as “Christian” he does not necessarily think that every individual in the congregation is truly a Christian. Thus, the literary context seems to be against the Arminian view, while the historical context seems to be against (one representation of) the Calvinist view. The answer to this conundrum is found in the term “wish” (a participle in Greek from the verb boulomai). It often represents a mere wish, or one’s desiderative will, rather than one’s resolve. Unless God’s will is viewed on the two planes of his desiderative and decretive will (what he desires and what he decrees), hopeless confusion will result. The scriptures amply illustrate both that God sometimes decrees things that he does not desire and desires things that he does not decree. It is not that his will can be thwarted, nor that he has limited his sovereignty. But the mystery of God’s dealings with humanity is best seen if this tension is preserved. Otherwise, either God will be perceived as good but impotent or as a sovereign taskmaster. Here the idea that God does not wish for any to perish speaks only of God's desiderative will, without comment on his decretive will.

5 tn Grk “reach to repentance.” Repentance thus seems to be a quantifiable state, or turning point. The verb χωρέω (cwrew, “reach”) typically involves the connotation of “obtain the full measure of” something. It is thus most appropriate as referring to the repentance that accompanies conversion.



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