2 Peter


2. Remedies for doubt, 1:16-3:13

v] The coming Day is sure


Peter continues to deal with the issue of the coming day of the Lord, arguing that although there is a seeming delay in the day of judgment, all will inevitably stand before the judge of the universe and therefore it is necessary to lives of "holiness and godliness."


i] Context: See 3:1-7.


ii] Background: See 1:1-2


iii] Structure: A refutation against those who deny divine judgment:

Argument #5, v8-13:

The issue of an apparent delay, v8-10:

the incalculable nature of divine time, v8;

the providential nature of the delay of judgment as a gift of time for repentance, v9;

the power of God to end the world and bring it to judgment, v10.

The appropriate response, v11-13:

"lives of holiness and godliness", v11;

waiting expectantly for the inevitable end, v12-13


iv] Interpretation:

The passage primarily concerns the coming of the Lord. There are many "coming days" in the scriptures. These are days when God acts in a mighty way to deal with those who are opposed to him. Such comings are comings in judgment. The coming that Peter speaks about, is clearly the coming in judgment of Jesus in the last day. He is speaking about the great day of judgment that will occur after the return of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead. It is a time of great upheaval, both on this earth and throughout the cosmos. It is a time of conflagration that will bring about the destruction of all that is evil and will conclude with the establishment of the heavenly kingdom in all its perfection - new heavens and new earth.

There is no time given as to when the day of judgment will occur, nor what period of time it will take to be completed. The point that Peter makes, is that it will occur and therefore, we should live our lives today in a way that recognises that we must stand before the judge of the universe on that great day. Scoffers, and the seeming delay of Jesus' return, should not dissuade us from relying on Christ.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 3:8

The coming day is sure, v8-13: i] Having argued for a day of coming judgment against the proposition that the stability of the created order precludes the notion of a catastrophic end, our writer now turns to the issue of an apparent delay in the day of judgment, v8-10. The delay in the Lord's coming is a matter of perspective, given that time is part of the created order; it does not hold the Creator as it holds the creature, v8. This seeming delay has but one purpose, the opportunity for repentance, ie., it is an act of divine grace, v9. God's patience does not mean that the coming is cancelled. The Lord will come, and the heavens will be no more; the elements will be dissolved, and the earth will be destroyed / exposed, v10.

de "but" - but/and [this one thing]. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, and therefore not translated; "My dear friends, there is one fact you must never forget", Barclay.

mh lanqanetw (lanqanw) imp. "do not forget" - let it not escape notice, hide from, conceal. Addressing those believers who have drifted in their understanding of Biblical truth, our writer asks them to remember that their understanding of time is not God's - note similar exhortations to remember, 3:2, 5. Time is not something God is bound by since time is part of the created order. Peter uses this notion of the relativity of time to address those who assume that a delay in divine judgment implies that there will be no final judgment. It is hard to conceive of time as an element of creation such that God exists outside of time, but such is the case in the heavenlies. We often explain this enigma, as it relates to us, by referring to the kingdom of God as a now / not yet reality. The judgment still lies in the future, but then in another sense it already "is", cf., Jn.4:23; 5:25. In an attempt to stretch my Bible students I always ran the line that God was greater than Dr. Who because God could be at different points of time at the same time. Actually, in the last series of Dr. Who they had the good doctor in different times zones at the same time, so destroying my illustration!!!

uJmaV "-" -you. Accusative of respect; "let it not escape notice with respect to you".

agaphtoi voc. adj. "dear friends" - beloved. Vocative, although technically standing in apposition to "you"; the adjective used as a substantive. A kindly address to the recipients of the letter. Our author sometimes begins a new argument with such an address, so 3:1, 3:14.

oJti "-" - that. Epexegetic, specifying touto, "this", namely that with the Lord a day ......

para + dat. "with" - [one day] beside = with. "With"; here in the sense of "in the sight or judgement of someone", BAGD.

kuriw/ (oV) dat. "the Lord" - lord. Here obviously "God".

wJV "is like" - as, like [a thousand years]. Comparative; here expressing a relationship between events, as NIV.

cilia eth wJV hJmera mia "a thousand years are like a day" - [and] a thousand years as one day. Quoting Psalm 90:4. This quote has prompted numerous suggestions as to the accepted eschatology of the time, eg., The thousand year reign of Christ. Yet, the point our author is making is that "divine time is not human time. Human time is relatively immediate, a single lifetime, while divine days can stretch over eons", Davids*. Whatever "divine time" may be, it is unrelated to linear time, the time associated with the created order. In time, as we experience it, God exists at the beginning of time and at the end of time, at same time (which is why I would explain to my young Bible students that God is greater than Dr. Who). "With the Lord, a day can mean a thousand years and a thousand years are like one day", Cassirer.


To speak of delay, as though God is indifferent, is to fail to see the great benefit of such a delay. God's kindly patience gives additional opportunities for the salvation of lost humanity.

kurioV (oV) "the Lord" - lord. Nominative subject of the verb "to delay." As above, probably God, but of course Jesus is commonly given the title "Lord" in the NT so possibly Jesus is intended here.

ou bradunei (bradunw) "is not slow" - does not neglect, go slow, delay. Peter gives a second reason for Christ's seeming delay, which is no delay. God is patient with his rebellious children. Although it seems likely that God is not locked into our experience of created time, it is possible that our writer is only making the point that "God's perspective of time is not limited by a human life-span", Bauckham.

thV epaggeliaV gen. "in keeping his promise" - of = with respect to the promise. The genitive is probably adverbial, reference / respect, modifying the verb "slow"; "slow with respect to the promise" / "the Lord is not delaying with respect to his promise", Davids; "the Lord is not slow with what he promises", Moffatt.

w{V "as" - as, like [some consider, regard slowness]. Comparative; "like some people's idea of slowness."

alla "-" - but [he is long-suffering, patient]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not ...., but ...."; "no, what is really happening is that he exhibits the patience he has for us", Cassirer.

eiV uJmaV "with you" - toward you. Here the preposition eiV expresses reference / respect; "with respect to you." Variant dia, causal, "because of you", so "for your sake", Moffatt. Also just hJmaV, "us", although unlikely.

mh boulomenoV (boulomai) pres. part. "not wanting" - not wanting. The participle is adverbial, possibly modal, expressing the manner in which he realises his patience, "he is patient ... not wanting", but also possibly causal, "because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost", CEV.

apolesqai (apollumi) aor. mid. inf. "to perish" - [any] to perish. The infinitive can be classified as complementary, completing the sense of the verbal aspect of "wanting", but better as introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what is desired, namely, "that there should be enough time that none should perish", Cassirer.

cwrhsai (cwrew) aor. inf. "to come" - [but all] to have room for, receive, hold. The infinitive, as with "to perish." God is long-suffering so there is room for everyone to repent." "He wants them to find their way to repentance", Barclay.

eiV + acc. "to [repentance]" - to, into [repentance]. The preposition expresses the direction of the action and arrival at, so "toward repentance." "Change his ways", JB, misses the point. Biblical repentance involves a turning toward and taking hold of God for mercy, and is not a new-years resolution for improved behaviour.


With regard the final great day of God's coming in judgment, Peter makes two points: First, the coming day is unexpected. All such comings are unexpected, including the final coming of the Lord. It will come like a thief in the night - a picture used by Jesus, cf., Matt.24:43, Lk.12:39, and Paul, 1Thes.5:2. Some manuscripts actually make it "during the night", but this is probably not original. The point is simple enough, the day will come upon us unexpectedly, so be alert. Second, this day will be a day of cosmic dissolution: a) the "heavens", the sky, the space about the earth, the cosmos, will disappear with the whizzing sound of a storm; b) the "elements", the heavenly bodies, will be burned up and melt in the heat; c) and the earth will be laid bare, probably with the sense burned up, destroyed. Nothing evil in that day will remain hidden. The last day will be a day of cosmic battle which will end in a mighty victory over evil.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, and so left untranslated.

hJmera kuriou "the day of the Lord" - day of lord [will come]. Nominative subject of the verb "to come." The article hJ would be expected, but the phrase is an Old Testament technical term used of the day of divine judgment and adopted by NT authors, cf., Am.5:18f. The term parallels the day of Christ's coming, similarly a day of judgment.

wJV "like" - as. Comparative particle, expressing manner, "in the manner of, as if he were"

klepthV (hV ou) "a thief" - a thief. The Lord's coming will be in the manner of the coming of a thief, ie., unexpected, catching out the unwary (rather than suddenly), cf., Matt.24:43, Lk.12:39, 1Thess.5:2-6. Peter emphasises the unexpected nature of the coming. Given the similar wording in 1 Thessalonians, some commentators suggest that our author is drawing on Paul rather than the gospel tradition. Our author tells us that he is aware of some of Paul's letters.

en h|/ "-" - in which. The preposition en is probably temporal, while the relative pronoun "which" refers to the coming, so "when it comes", Barclay. "When the heavens will vanish with a crackling roar", Moffatt.

oiJ ouranoi (oV) "the heavens" - the heavens. Here the canopy over the earth, the sky housing the sun, moon and stars, cf., "Background", 3:1-7.

rJoizhdon adv. "with a roar" - with a great noise, rushing sound, crackling, hissing, whizzing, roar. Modal adverb, expressing the manner of the coming. Hapax legomenon - once only use in the NT. Usually a wind related sound.

pareleusontai (parercomai) fut. mid. "disappear" - will go past, pass by, pass away. Isa.34:4; "Vanish", Barclay.

stoiceia (on) "elements" - [and] the elements. Nominative subject of the verb "to dissolve." In pl. heavenly bodies, possibly the basic elements of the universe (earth, air, fire and water), otherwise the rudimentary principles of the earth. Possibly here all the elements that make up the physical cosmos, but probably better the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars. So, if "laid bare" (see below) means "destroyed" then what is destroyed is: a) "the heavens", the canopy which houses the heavenly bodies; b) "the elements", the heavenly bodies themselves; and c) the earth.

luqhsetai (luw) fut. pas. "destroyed" - will be loosed / dissolved. Here in the sense of "will be destroyed"; "will be dissolved by heat and utterly melt away."

kausoumena (kausow) pres. pas. part. "by fire" - burning up, melting in massive heat. The participle is adverbial, probably instrumental, expressing means; "when that day comes the ...... the cosmos will be will be consumed by fire and destroyed." "The elements will be dissolved in flames", REB.

euJreqhsetai (euJriskw) fut. pas. "will be laid bare" - [and the earth and the works in it] will be found out, discovered, exposed. Variant readings, none of which are well attested: katakahsetai "will be burned up", afanisqhsontai "will vanish", eureqhsetai luomena "will be found dissolved = destroyed." Here, "exposed to the judgment of God" - nothing will remain hidden; "then the earth, and everything on it, will be seen for what they are", CEV. The consequence of such exposure inevitably entails its destruction, so "no trace will be left of the earth, or of anything contained in it", Cassirer.


ii] Although the coming day is a day of judgment, it also ushers in "new heavens and a new earth", and for this reason, we should order our lives in "holiness and godliness", v11-13. Given this bad and good news, "one ought to be living now the lifestyle of the promised coming age, a lifestyle that will mark one out as a person who belongs to that age and will make the coming judgment a welcome event rather than a dreaded one", Davids*.

luomenwn (luw) gen. pres. pas. part. "since [everything] will be destroyed" - [all these things] being loosed = destroyed. A genitive absolute construction, usually treated as temporal, although here causal, "because all these things will be destroyed." The intended sense of "loosed" is obviously the same as in v10, "dissolved = destroyed." "Since all these things are to suffer annihilation", Cassirer.

ouJtwV "in this way" - thus, so / as follows. Adverb of manner. Here referring back, as NIV.; "seeing everything is coming to an end like this", NJB.

potapouV acc. int. pro. "what kind of people" - of what sort of, kind of persons. Accusative interrogative pronoun functioning as the accusative subject of the infinitive "to be" - an accusative infinitive construction. "Given the terrible day, how should we respond?"

uJparcein (uJparcw) pres. inf. "[ought you] to be" - to be [is necessary] for you? The infinitive serves as the subject of the verb "is necessary."

en "-" - in. Here introducing a prepositional phrase which is probably adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of our uJparcw, "being, existing"; we are to exist with holy living and godly lives.

anastrofaiV (h) dat. "live [holy]" - [holy] ways of living, behaviour, conduct, life-style, acts. Holy living is not religious living, but a lifestyle that reflect the actions of Christ. Such is obviously a loving lifestyle, although love is a rather nebulous word. Compassion has more substance to it, but even better, mercy / forgiveness. God's people are to be merciful as he is merciful.

eusebeiaiV (a) dat. "godly lives" - [and] piety, godliness, reverence. Possibly kai, "and", is epexegetic, so "living holy lives in Godly fear." "And that devotion to God should determine us in whatever we do", Cassirer.


Our reflective lives, says Peter, should exhibit pious expectation; a constant looking forward to the one who comes.

prosdokwntaV (prosdokaw) part. "as you look forward to" - expecting, waiting for, looking forward to [and hastening, hurrying]. Possibly here "longing for". This participle, as with "hastening", is adverbial, probably temporal; "while you wait for the coming day of the Lord and try to hasten its arrival", TH. This "looking forward to" expresses a similar idea to "watching" in the synoptics, of being alert as a watchman is alert.

thV .... hJmeraV (a) gen. "the day" - [the coming, advent] of the day. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, subjective, but better adjectival, attributed, "the coming day."

tou qeou (oV) gen. "of God" - of god. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, identifying the possession of a derivative characteristic. Note the change from "day of the Lord" to "day of God" = the day of judgment.

speudontaV (speudw) part. "speed [its coming]" - The participle "hastening" is adverbial, temporal, see prosdokwntaV above. The idea that our actions may hasten the coming day of judgment is an interesting one. Some argue that effective evangelism achieves this end and certainly the Jews at this time believed that the coming of the messiah was linked to an obedience of the Torah, cf., Isaiah 60:22. The only other place in the NT were human activity may serve as the trigger for Christ's return is Acts 3:9. Bauckham, Davids*, Leaney support "hastening", yet it is more likely that the meaning of the word here is "eager", "desire" and therefore, possibly "strive for", Reicke, or "hasten toward." So, v12a could be something like "eagerly longing and striving toward the coming day...."; "expecting and earnestly longing for the coming of the day of God", Phillips.

dia h}n "-" - because of, on account of which. Causal; "for on it", Barclay. The destruction of the cosmos, described in v10, is restated.

puroumenoi (purow) pas. part. "by fire" - [the heavens] being burned with fire, refined by fire, set on fire [will be destroyed]. Possibly an attendant circumstance participle expressing action accompanying the verb "will be loosed, destroyed", "because of which the heavens will be set on fire and destroyed", or possibly instrumental, "will be destroyed by fire", as NIV. Although anarthrous, the participle could be adjectival, attributive, limiting "heavens", "the blazing heavens will be dissolved", Berkeley.

thketai (thkw) pres. pas. "melt" - [and the elements] are turned to liquid, melted. Hapax legomenon. "The heavens will be dissolved in fire, and the heavenly bodies will melt in flames", Barclay.

kausoumena (kausow) pres. pas. part. "in the heat" - burning up, being consumed with heat. The participle may be adverbial, possibly instrumental, expressing means, "will melt with heat", or temporal, or just attendant circumstance, "making the stars blaze and melt", Moffatt. Again, although anarthrous, the participle could be adjectival, attributive, limiting "elements", "the burning elements [will be] melted", Berkeley.


The coming day will see the destruction of evil, but it will also usher in a new age of righteousness. Believers will participate in new heavens and a new earth, even participate in the divine nature, 2Pet.1:4.

de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the argument, here to a contrast; "however, what we might expect ....", Cassirer.

kata + acc. "in keeping with" - in accordance with, corresponding to. Expressing a standard. The parenthetical statement, "in accordance with the promise which God has made", comes as something of an afterthought; "after all, it could hardly be otherwise if God has fulfilled his promises", Davids*.

autou gen. pro. "his" - [the promise] of him. The genitive may be adjectival, possessive, or verbal, subjective, or ablative, of source / origin, the promise that comes from God. "But, because God has promised that it will be so", Barclay.

kainouV ... ouranouV kai ghn kainhn "a new heaven and a new earth" - [we eagerly wait for] new heavens and a new earth. Accusative direct object of the verb "to wait for, expect." The phrase is emphatic by position in the Gk. "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth", Isa.65:17, cf. Isa.66:22, Rom.8:21, Matt.19:28. The phrase refers to the transformation of creation, metaphorically described in the book of Revelation. This transformation is best observed in the person of Jesus, our risen Lord, the first-fruit of resurrected humanity. The appearances of the risen Lord to the disciples are but hints of the transformation of Jesus' person that will blind Paul on the road to Damascus, cf., Jn.20:17. The word "heaven" may just be a reference to the sky, the universe even, possibly the spiritual domain where, like the earth, evil powers reside, but obviously not God's dwelling. At any rate, this age is passing away and not worth committing our lives to, and so we look forward to something that does last, something of substance.

en oi|V "-" - in which. Locative, expressing space / sphere; "wherein", AV.

dikaiosunh (h) "righteousness" - righteousness, justice [dwells, is at home]. Nominative subject of the verb "to dwell." Speaking of the eon ("dwells" is a durative present tense) of righteousness which will follow the day of judgment. This was a widely held idea in Jewish thought, cf., 1 Enoch 45:4f, 65:7, 72:1. Possibly more with the sense of justice, of the new age where justice dwells; "in which uprightness is at home", Sidebottom.


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