Peter wrote, “The Lord is…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9).
But what did he mean?
The first nine verses of the last chapter of 2 Peter, chapter 3, deal with Christ’s promise to come again and set up His kingdom. The coming false teachers will actually deny that Jesus is coming again. Hodges writes, “For these teachers there is no such thing as the Second Advent” (2 Peter, p. 89).
Whatever 2 Pet 3:9 means, it is closely related to the Lord’s Second Coming.
So much confusion about this simple statement.
First, the promise in view in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise,” is not the promise of everlasting life to the believer. It is the promise of the Second Coming of Christ (“Where is the promise of His coming,” 2 Pet 3:4). This is not an evangelistic context.
Second, the word perish in v 9 is explained in v 6. These are the only two uses of the word perish in 2 Peter. Perishing here is physical death, whether of believers or unbelievers. In the Tribulation, billions will die prematurely. God doesn’t want billions of premature deaths.
Third, repentance is the antidote to premature death, not to eternal condemnation. Peter spoke of the need to believe in Jesus to have everlasting life in Acts 10:43-48; 15:7-11; and 1 Pet 1:23. The Lord on many occasions spoke of the need to repent in order to extend your physical life (Matt 12:41; Luke 13:3, 5; Luke 15:1-32).
Fourth, repentance is turning from one’s sinful ways. Compare Matt 12:41 and Jonah 3:10. Peter is speaking of global repentance, worldwide repentance. His point is that the Tribulation and Second Coming will not occur until the sins of the world are filled to the brim. That was true when the Flood occurred. And it will be true when the Tribulation occurs. Compare 2 Pet 3:10-12.
It is a Biblical principle that judgment doesn’t fall on a nation or the whole world until its sins are full. Remember the Flood? Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? Remember the Canaanites? Remember Jonah and the Ninevites? Remember the kings of Israel who humbled themselves and repented?
Therefore, the point of 2 Pet 3:9b is that the Rapture and Tribulation will not come until the sins of the world are filled to the brim. As long as enough people repent worldwide, the seven-year Tribulation period and its billions of deaths will be delayed.
Make sure your worldview is that God wants everyone to have full and meaningful lives. He never wanted death in the first place. He is not looking forward to the billions of deaths during the Tribulation. He is delighted the longer the world forestalls that terrible time.
God is good and He wants what is best for the children of Adam and Eve.