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2 Peter 3:3-4

Context
3:3 Above all, understand this: 1  In the last days blatant scoffers 2  will come, being propelled by their own evil urges 3  3:4 and saying, 4  “Where is his promised return? 5  For ever since 6  our ancestors 7  died, 8  all things have continued as they were 9  from the beginning of creation.”

2 Peter 3:8-14

Context

3:8 Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, 10  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, 11  as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish 12  for any 13  to perish but for all to come to repentance. 14  3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, 15  the heavens will disappear 16  with a horrific noise, 17  and the celestial bodies 18  will melt away 19  in a blaze, 20  and the earth and every deed done on it 21  will be laid bare. 22  3:11 Since all these things are to melt away 23  in this manner, 24  what sort of people must we 25  be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, 26  3:12 while waiting for and hastening 27  the coming of the day of God? 28  Because of this day, 29  the heavens will be burned up and 30  dissolve, and the celestial bodies 31  will melt away in a blaze! 32  3:13 But, according to his promise, we are waiting for 33  new heavens and a new earth, in which 34  righteousness truly resides. 35 

Exhortation to the Faithful

3:14 Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for 36  these things, strive to be found 37  at peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence. 38 

1 tn Grk “knowing this [to be] foremost.” Τοῦτο πρῶτον (touto prwton) constitute the object and complement of γινώσκοντες (ginwskonte"). The participle is loosely dependent on the infinitive in v. 2 (“[I want you] to recall”), perhaps in a telic sense (thus, “[I want you] to recall…[and especially] to understand this as foremost”). The following statement then would constitute the main predictions with which the author was presently concerned. An alternative is to take it imperativally: “Above all, know this.” In this instance, however, there is little semantic difference (since a telic participle and imperatival participle end up urging an action). Cf. also 2 Pet 1:20.

2 tn The Greek reads “scoffers in their scoffing” for “blatant scoffers.” The use of the cognate dative is a Semitism designed to intensify the word it is related to. The idiom is foreign to English. As a Semitism, it is further incidental evidence of the authenticity of the letter (see the note on “Simeon” in 1:1 for other evidence).

3 tn Grk “going according to their own evil urges.”

4 tn The present participle λέγοντες (legontes, “saying”) most likely indicates result. Thus, their denial of the Lord’s return is the result of their lifestyle. The connection to the false teachers of chapter 2 is thus made clear.

5 tn Grk “Where is the promise of his coming?” The genitive παρουσίας (parousia", “coming, advent, return”) is best taken as an attributed genitive (in which the head noun, promise, functions semantically as an adjective; see ExSyn 89-91).

6 tn The prepositional phrase with the relative pronoun, ἀφ᾿ ἧς (af|h"), is used adverbially or conjunctively without antecedent (see BDAG 727 s.v. ὅς 1.k.).

7 tn Grk “fathers.” The reference could be either to the OT patriarchs or first generation Christians. This latter meaning, however, is unattested in any other early Christian literature.

8 tn The verb κοιμάω (koimaw) literally means “sleep,” but it is often used in the Bible as a euphemism for the death of a believer.

9 tn Grk “thus,” “in the same manner.”

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

11 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.”

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

13 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.

14 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.

15 tn Grk “in which.”

16 tn Or “pass away.”

17 tn Or “hissing sound,” “whirring sound,” “rushing sound,” or “loud noise.” The word occurs only here in the NT. It was often used of the crackle of a fire, as would appear appropriate in this context.

18 tn Grk “elements.” Most commentators are agreed that “celestial bodies” is meant, in light of this well-worn usage of στοιχεῖα (stoiceia) in the 2nd century and the probable allusion to Isa 34:4 (text of Vaticanus). See R. Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter [WBC], 315-16 for discussion.

19 tn Grk “be dissolved.”

20 tn Grk “being burned up.”

21 tn Grk “the works in it.”

22 tc One of the most difficult textual problems in the NT is found in v. 10. The reading εὑρεθήσεται (Jeureqhsetai), which enjoys by far the best support (א B K P 0156vid 323 1241 1739txt pc) is nevertheless so difficult a reading that many scholars regard it as nonsensical. (NA27 lists five conjectures by scholars, from Hort to Mayor, in this text.) As R. Bauckham has pointed out, solutions to the problem are of three sorts: (1) conjectural emendation (which normally speaks more of the ingenuity of the scholar who makes the proposal than of the truth of the conjecture, e.g., changing one letter in the previous word, ἔργα [erga] becomes ἄργα [arga] with the meaning, “the earth and the things in it will be found useless”); (2) adoption of one of several variant readings (all of which, however, are easier than this one and simply cannot explain how this reading arose, e.g., the reading of Ì72 which adds λυόμενα [luomena] to the verb – a reading suggested no doubt by the threefold occurrence of this verb in the surrounding verses: “the earth and its works will be found dissolved”; or the simplest variant, the reading of the Sahidic mss, οὐχ [ouc] preceding ἑυρεθήσεται – “will not be found”); or (3) interpretive gymnastics which regards the text as settled but has to do some manipulation to its normal meaning. Bauckham puts forth an excellent case that the third option is to be preferred and that the meaning of the term is virtually the equivalent of “will be disclosed,” “will be manifested.” (That this meaning is not readily apparent may in fact have been the reason for so many variants and conjectures.) Thus, the force of the clause is that “the earth and the works [done by men] in it will be stripped bare [before God].” In addition, the unusualness of the expression is certainly in keeping with the author’s style throughout this little book. Hence, what looks to be suspect because of its abnormalities, upon closer inspection is actually in keeping with the author’s stylistic idiosyncrasies. The meaning of the text then is that all but the earth and men’s works will be destroyed. Everything will be removed so that humanity will stand naked before God. Textually, then, on both external and internal grounds, εὑρεθήσεται commends itself as the preferred reading.

23 tn Grk “all these things thus being dissolved.”

24 tn Or “thus.”

25 tc ‡ Most mss have a pronoun with the infinitive – either ὑμᾶς (Jumas, “you”; found in A C[*] P Ψ 048vid 33 1739 Ï, as well as the corrector of Ì72 and second corrector of א), ἡμᾶς (Jhmas, “we”; read by א* 630 2464 al), or ἑαυτούς (Jeautous, “[you your]selves/[we our]selves,” read by 1243). But the shorter reading (with no pronoun) has the support of Ì72*,74vid B pc. Though slim, the evidence for the omission is nevertheless the earliest. Further, the addition of some pronoun, especially the second person pronoun, seems to be a clarifying variant. It would be difficult to explain the pronoun’s absence in some witnesses if the pronoun were original. That three different pronouns have shown up in the mss is testimony for the omission. Thus, on external and internal grounds, the omission is preferred. For English style requirements, however, some pronoun has to be added. NA 27 has ὑμᾶς in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.

tn Or “you.”

26 tn Grk “in holy conduct and godliness.”

27 tn Or possibly, “striving for,” but the meaning “hasten” for σπουδάζω (spoudazw) is normative in Jewish apocalyptic literature (in which the coming of the Messiah/the end is anticipated). Such a hastening is not an arm-twisting of the divine volition, but a response by believers that has been decreed by God.

28 sn The coming of the day of God. Peter elsewhere describes the coming or parousia as the coming of Christ (cf. 2 Pet 1:16; 3:4). The almost casual exchange between “God” and “Christ” in this little book, and elsewhere in the NT, argues strongly for the deity of Christ (see esp. 1:1).

29 tn Grk “on account of which” (a subordinate relative clause in Greek).

30 tn Grk “being burned up, will dissolve.”

31 tn See note in v. 10 on “celestial bodies.”

32 tn Grk “being burned up” (see v. 10).

33 tn Or possibly, “let us wait for.” The form in Greek (προσδόκωμεν, prosdokwmen) could be either indicative or subjunctive. The present participle in v. 14, however, is best taken causally (“since you are waiting for”), suggesting that the indicative is to be read here.

34 tn The relative pronoun is plural, indicating that the sphere in which righteousness dwells is both the new heavens and the new earth.

35 tn Grk “dwells.” The verb κατοικέω (katoikew) is an intensive cognate of οἰκέω (oikew), often with the connotation of “taking up residence,” “settling down,” being at home,” etc. Cf., e.g., Matt 2:23; Acts 17:26; 22:12; Eph 3:17; Col 1:19; 2:9. Hence, the addition of the adverb “truly” is implicit in the connotation of the verb in a context such as this.

36 tn Grk “dear friends, waiting for.” See note in v. 13 on “waiting for.”

37 sn The Greek verb used in the phrase strive to be found is the same as is found in v. 10, translated “laid bare.” In typical Petrine fashion, a conceptual link is made by the same linkage of terms. The point of these two verses thus becomes clear: When the heavens disappear and the earth and its inhabitants are stripped bare before the throne of God, they should strive to make sure that their lives are pure and that they have nothing to hide.

38 tn “When you come into” is not in Greek. However, the dative pronoun αὐτῷ (autw) does not indicate agency (“by him”), but presence or sphere. The idea is “strive to found {before him/in his presence}.”



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