3:9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, 1 as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish 2 for any 3 to perish but for all to come to repentance. 4
2 Peter 3:15Context
3:15 And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation, 5 just as also our dear brother Paul 6 wrote to you, 7 according to the wisdom given to him,
1 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.”
2 tn Grk “not wishing.” The participle most likely has a causal force, explaining why the Lord is patient.
3 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.
4 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.
5 tn The language here is cryptic. It probably means “regard the patience of our Lord as an opportunity for salvation.” In the least, Peter is urging his audience to take a different view of the delay of the parousia than that of the false teachers.
6 sn Critics generally assume that 2 Peter is not authentic, partially because in vv. 15-16 Paul is said to have written scripture. It is assumed that a recognition of Paul’s writings as scripture could not have happened until early in the 2nd century. However, in the same breath that Paul is canonized, Peter also calls him “brother.” This is unparalleled in the 2nd century apocryphal works, as well as early patristic writings, in which the apostles are universally elevated above the author and readers; here, Peter simply says “he’s one of us.”
7 sn Paul wrote to you. That Paul had written to these people indicates that they are most likely Gentiles. Further, that Peter is now writing to them suggests that Paul had already died, for Peter was the apostle to the circumcised. Peter apparently decided to write his two letters to Paul’s churches shortly after Paul’s death, both to connect with them personally and theologically (Paul’s gospel is Peter’s gospel) and to warn them of the wolves in sheep’s clothing that would come in to destroy the flock. Thus, part of Peter’s purpose seems to be to anchor his readership on the written documents of the Christian community (both the Old Testament and Paul’s letters) as a safeguard against heretics.