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“Swift Destruction” and Imminence in Peter’s Epistles (Part 2/2)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.

2 Peter 2:1

The false teachers that would rise up among them would bring swift destruction upon themselves. This was not a judgement that would happen years and years in their future. This is actually Peter’s point:

Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

2 Peter 2:2–3

Even though these false teachers would show up, they would bring swift destruction upon themselves at the judgement. This judgement is what Peter said had arrived in his first epistle. In fact, he said that Jesus was ready to judge and that the end of all things was at hand (1 Peter 4:5, 7, 17). See yesterday’s article for a list of the time statements in 1 Peter.

Now, who were these false teachers that would rise up? Well, Peter continues talking about them throughout this chapter and the next:

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”

2 Peter 3:3–4

One of the roadblocks to biblical interpretation is reading each chapter as if it is a new section. When he mentions that scoffers would arise in the last days, one may be tempted to read themselves into the passage, and they may even point their finger at others in an attempt to identify these false teachers. However, Peter said in the second chapter, referring to a passage quoted above, “just as there will also be false teachers among you.” He wasn’t looking to some far off time, but he was focused on a trouble that would quickly disturb the church and subsequently be crushed.

Notice what Jude says:

These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.

Jude 16–19

Could Jude be even more obvious? He is quoting Peter directly, and he declares that the scoffers had arrived. When I pointed this out in a sermon outline for a preaching school class I took, the teacher said I must have gotten it from somewhere, and I did: Jude.

There are a few more passages I want to notice. Unlike yesterday, I’ll include brief commentary on each passage.

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

2 Peter 1:10–11

Typically, I might read this passage and say to the congregation, “See, you can make your calling and election sure, and then you can have an abundant entrance into the kingdom!” Which is great, but it isn’t the point of Peter’s words here. He was talking to real people who were enduring real persecution. As Paul said, “Through many tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Since peter had just written an entire epistle addressed the “little while” of tribulation that would precede the inheritance, salvation, and glory that was ready to be revealed, it makes sense that he was giving them a very real promise that would be realized in their future.

So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.

2 Peter 1:19

The dawning of the day and the arrival of the morning star (perhaps I should write Morning Star) appear to me to be a clear reference to at least the themes in Revelation 21-22 (Revelation 21:25, 22:16; cf. Romans 13:12). To me, this sets the stage for the discussion on the New Heavens and New Earth in chapter 3 since that is the context of Revelation 21.

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

This statement only makes sense if we are talking about a generation. Because if it can be expanded over thousands of years, when will it ever stop? Jesus had said the end would come when everyone had a chance to hear the gospel, and Paul affirmed that very thing had been accomplished (Matthew 24:14; Mark 16:15; Colossians 1:23). See my essay on the preaching of the gospel and the end which can be found in my free commentary on Romans 8.

Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!

2 Peter 3:11–12

Peter had already said that the end of all things was at hand, and in this passage it seems obvious to me that Peter expected that they would be alive to see that end.

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

2 Peter 3:14–16

Again, Peter expected that they would be found by Him. He also mentions the swift destruction of the “scoffers” or “mockers” again.

Before I go, I’m going to make one more point. When Peter said that God didn’t want anyone to “perish but for all to come to repentance” he is referencing something he heard years before in the ministry of Jesus:

Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Luke 13:1–5

This is one of those passages I would quote from hundreds of times during the “invitation” (altar call), but I quoted it totally out of context. Notice the phrase “likewise perish.” Jesus isn’t talking about the loss of their soul here, but He has in mind a time when the Roman leaders would mix their blood with the blood of the animals that were sacrificed and towers would fall on people. This is a prediction of the Jewish-Roman war that happened in the late 60s.

In conclusion, both 1 and 2 Peter were written concerning events that would soon take place. This expectant attitude just isn’t found in Peter’s epistle, but it is the backdrop for practically every New Testament book.

2 thoughts on ““Swift Destruction” and Imminence in Peter’s Epistles (Part 2/2)”

  1. See, you can make your calling and election sure, and then you can have an abundant entrance into the kingdom…you agree it could be used today but kinda shy away and say that’s not the point,i think preterists are afraid to say that scripture has been fulfilled BUT we can also draw from it aswell..yourl dont like the DUAL aspect…for example he who endures to the end shall be saved,we know the preterist position there,but also it surely applies today in a sense of warning,to those who might turn away from even though it was written to them,its still for us…what you think Daniel?

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