Green Tree Bible Study 22: Scoffers and the Day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:1-9)

By Dr. Robert E. Picirilli

Peter has been making passing references to the day of the Lord (7:19; 2:3, 9). Now he comes to the subject in earnest. He makes several important points.

First, he briefly mentions the purpose of this epistle (vv. 1, 2). Peter desired his readers have a means of keeping in mind the teachings of the prophets and apostles. As we shall see, he was thinking primarily of the teachings concerning the day of the Lord.

Second, he warns readers that scoffers will rise (vv.3, 4). The phrase “The promise of His coming” refers to Jesus’ promised coming. This is the truth that will be mocked. Why? They will mock it because they “proceed after their own lusts.” People live in fleshly indulgence find it easier to deny the coming of the Lord.

They find encouragement in noting that things haven’t changed so far. “Our forefathers always talked of His coming, and they’ve all died,” they laugh, “so where is He? Furthermore, nothing’s changed since creation! Why should we expect some strange intervention from heaven?

Third, he names the facts that have been ignored (vv. 5-7). The mockers are willfully ignoring two important points:

1. The former world created by God was destroyed by Him in the flood.

2. This present world is likewise reserved by God for destruction—this time by fire.

Note the literal contrast between the “then” world and the “now” world. The “then” earth is the former earth created by God and which perished in the flood (vv. 5, 6). The “now” earth is the present earth which will perish by fire in the day of the Lord. This certainly appears to indicate that there were drastic changes in the order of the “cosmos” (Greek for “world”: kosmos) at the time of the flood. This is a point not considered in many modern scientific theories.

Fourth, he states the reason for the delay (vv. 8, 9). Mockers might ask: Why, then, has He not returned?Peter gives us a two-fold answer:

1. God’s timing is not man’s (8) This verse can be compared to Psalm 90:4. What we might plan for a day might take a thousand years in His schedule. It might also be the other way around. God is not plagued by man’s impatience or procrastination. Indeed, He can make a promise and take millennia or more to bring it to pass.

2. The reason for the delay is God’s longsuffering. When we delay, it may mean we have forgotten or are unable to perform. Not so with God: Jesus tarries because God does not desire that any perish. This contradicts consistent Calvinism which states that God has never desired the salvation of the non-elect. But if He desires that all be saved, why are some lost? Because it is His foremost will that we be free, personal, moral and responsible people who freely choose to serve Him without being forced to do so.

For these reasons God holds back the day of judgment a little longer. What folly, then, that the very ones He waits for include those who mock the promise of His coming, “despising the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering” (Rom. 2:4)! Tarry or not, the day of the Lord will come (v. 10). We must not let the wait lull us into disbelief or indifference.