Download Audio, 29 MB Remain Faithful Until He Comes, 2 Peter 3:14-18
Peter’s second letter concerns the prophetic word and remaining true to it. In this letter he reminds the readers that Jesus is coming again soon and that He will reward those who persevere in faith and good works.
In 2 Pet 3:10-13, Peter looked at the very end, the time just before and just after the eternal kingdom moves to the new earth. He said that we should be holy people in light of the coming righteous kingdom.
In the concluding five verses of the letter, Peter calls for the believing readers to remain faithful in spite of the error of the wicked. They are to keep on growing till Christ returns.
Desire to Be Found Spotless and Blameless at the Bema
(2 Pet 3:14)
His believing readers were “beloved” to Peter. He loved them. They were not merely people whom he taught. He loved them.
“Looking forward to these things” looks back to verses 10-13. In fact, the same verb, prosdokao„, is used in three verses in a row by Peter: verses 12, 13, and here in 14: “looking for…we…look for…looking forward to.” The readers, and we ourselves, are looking forward to the return of Christ and Him establishing His righteous kingdom.
In his commentary Michael Green tellingly writes, “Because it is only righteousness that will survive in the new heaven and new earth, it is imperative that Christians live righteously” (p. 142).
Prophetic truth should produce in us the desire to “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”
When Jesus raptures us to Himself, we will be “found” by Him. He will find us as we are.
But how will we be found by Him? Steadfast? Or not steadfast?
(N. D. Kelly says that “to be found by the Lord when He comes…is a clear reference to the judgment” (p. 370). He means the Great White Throne Judgment. Kelly thinks all will be judged there. But we know that Peter is talking about the judgment of believers, which occurs at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:9-11), 1,000 years before the Great White Throne Judgment.)
Remember when the Lord found Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they sinned? See Genesis 3:8. He was walking in the Garden in the cool of the day and He found Adam and Eve hiding from Him! They had made coverings for their bodies, coverings they had not needed before. But now they experienced something God never wished them to experience: shame. They were hiding in shame.
When Jesus returns, He will find us in one of two ways. Either we will be spotless and blameless (lit. blemished), or we will be spotted and blemished.
Peter used this same language twice earlier. In 2 Pet 2:13 Peter said that the coming false teachers “are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you…” The words “spots and blemishes” are the same Greek words as in 3:14, except that in 3:14 the letter “a” is added (aspiloi and amo„me„toi), meaning unspotted and unblemished, or, in the NKJV, “without spot and blameless.”
Peter also uses these words in 1 Pet 1:19 in reference to Jesus’ death on the cross: “but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot [amo„mou and aspilou].”
We should long to be found by Christ as having been faithful, without spot or without blemish.
John in his first epistle likewise said that two options were 1) confidence and 2) shame at Christ’s coming (1 John 2:28).
In his commentary on 2 Peter Zane Hodges explain Peter’s words in this way,
The words spotless and blameless do not indicate sinlessness but rather lives lived free of the general depravity and corruptness all around them, especially of the sort encouraged by the licentiousness of the false teachers (p. 122).
Consider the Lord’s Patience Your “Deliverance”
(2 Pet 3:15a)
Peter reminds his readers of the perfect example, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was “longsuffering.” That is, the Lord suffered patiently throughout His ministry. It wasn’t just in the Garden of Gethsemane and during His many trials and His scourging and His crucifixion that He endured suffering and mistreatment. All during His ministry He was mocked and questioned and challenged and disrespected.
He endured all of that.
Peter says the readers should “consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”
In what is the Lord’s longsuffering “salvation”? Peter is not speaking of salvation from hell here, though most commentators suggest he is.
Most commentators suggest that Peter is thinking back to 2 Pet 3:9. Both verses discuss the patience/longsuffering (same Greek word in both places, makrothumia) of the Lord. Both verses also urge the readers to consider (hegeomai) God’s patience as a good thing.
In his commentary Zane Hodges thinks that deliverance (soteria) here refers to the rapture. When the Lord comes, we will be delivered from the Tribulation wrath as He catches us up into the air to meet Him.
If we keep looking to the Lord, we will remain spotless and blameless. We will be delivered from this present evil age and the false teachers in it if we keep looking to the Lord Jesus.
Paul Also Spoke of Our Coming Deliverance
(2 Peter 3:15b-16)
Peter reminds them that Paul had written about the need to focus on Christ and the need to live righteously in light of His soon return. Hodges suggests that Peter is thinking in particular of 1 Thessalonians.
In a very human touch Peter says that there things in Paul’s letters that are hard to understand. Can’t we all say “Amen” to that?
He also says the untaught and unstable twist Paul’s words “to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures.”
Why bring this up in this letter? Probably because false teachers were already starting to misuse Paul’s letters and Peter was aware of that (so Donald Senior, p. 138). Possibly Peter knew that the coming false teachers of which he spoke in Chapter 2 would twist Paul’s words. False teachers often use the Scriptures to teach their false doctrines. But they twist the Scriptures. They do not interpret them naturally.
Notice that Peter is calling Paul’s writings Scripture! No longer are there just the 39 books of the OT. Now Paul’s epistles are Scripture. And so are Peter’s two epistles, though we cannot be sure he knew they were Scripture, for he does not say.
Beware of Falling by False Teachers
(2 Peter 3:17)
“Beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness.” The readers were currently steadfast.
The word translated steadfast (sterigmos) is used only here in the NT. A related form is used when the Lord told Peter to “strengthen” the brethren. It has the idea of firmness and steadiness in literature outside the Bible. The readers were steady, firm, solid. That is, they were walking in fellowship with God.
Note the contrast between the steadiness of the readers and the instability of false teachers (2 Pet 3:16).
But unlike some pastors and theologians today who say that a born-again person cannot fall away, Peter warns of that very thing. In light of the fact that there are people who twist the Scriptures (v 16), wicked men who teach error (v 17), we must beware lest we fall!
I remember some people who used to be regulars at our church, people who were walking with the Lord, but who no longer going to church here or elsewhere. They have ceased to walk in fellowship with the Lord.
It can happen to any of us. I’m not safe from the danger of falling. Nor are our board members. Nor are you. We all need regular fellowship in God’s Word in order to remain steadfast.
Keep on Growing in the Grace and Knowledge
of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
(2 Peter 3:18)
The way we keep from falling, the way we remain steadfast, is by keeping on growing in the grace and knowledge of God.
Either you are growing or you are not. If you are growing, then you will not fall unless you stop growing. As long as you continue to hear and apply God’s Word as it is clearly taught, you will grow, grow, and grow some more.
With the children we sing, “Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow. Of course, hearing the Bible taught is as important, if not more important, than your personal Bible reading. The two go together.
Zane Hodges makes a super observation about the need to maintain a proper understanding of the grace of God in both our justification and our sanctification:
In the modern evangelical church, when a born again believer is ensnared by doctrines that mix grace and works, growth in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and of His word comes largely to a halt. This is not surprising since our fundamental relationship to God is based on His saving grace to us in Jesus Christ. When someone is confused about that, his confusion throws a veil over Scripture as a whole. Progress necessarily stops (p. 125).
Notice that we are growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Christian life centers on Christ. We grow by getting to know Him more and more.
He is the one who deserves glory “both now and forever.” He is glorious. And we should glorify Him with our lives.
Michael Green points out that “It is fitting that the glory of Christ should close this epistle which has had so much to say about…the ascended Lord” (p. 152).
On Thursday I spoke with an 84 year old man who is dying of cancer. He is in hospice care. His desire is to glorify God even in his death. Shouldn’t we aim to bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ both in life and in death?
Zane Hodges ends his commentary on 2 Peter with these words, “Thus, though this is a concluding benediction, it is also a final exhortation: ‘Live to the glory of our Lord and Savior!’”
We do not live in a world that promotes a proper view of the Lord Jesus Christ and His teachings. Even teachers who call themselves Christians often twist and distort the clear meaning of God’s Word.
We need to be on guard less we fall away from the Lord. We need to keep on growing.
Ultimately if you aren’t going forward in the Christian life, you are going backwards. That is why we call Christians who have fallen backsliders.
The Lord Jesus has promised He will come again soon. And He keeps all His promises.
Live each day as though the Lord might return that day. Live in light of the Lord’s soon return and your judgment at the Bema.
We want to be found by Him without spot and without blemish. Don’t we all want to hear our Lord and Savior say, “Well done, good servant”?