The parts of this epistle, written not long before St. Peter's death, and the destruction of Jerusalem, with the same design as the former, are likewise three:
I. The inscription, C. i. 1, 2
II. A farther stirring up of the minds of true believers, in which, 1. He exhorts them, having received the precious gift, to give all diligence to "grow in grace," 3-11 2. To this he incites them, 1. From the firmness of true teachers, 12-21 2. From the wickedness of false teachers, C. ii. 1-22 3. He guards them against impostors, 1. By confuting their error C. iii. 1-9 2. By describing the great day, adding suitable exhortations, 10-14
III. The conclusion, in which he, 1. Declares his agreement with St Paul, 15,16 2. Repeats the sum of the epistle, 17,18
To them that have obtained - Not by their own works, but by the free grace of God. Like precious faith with us - The apostles. The faith of those who have not seen, being equally precious with that of those who saw our Lord in the flesh. Through the righteousness - Both active and passive. Of our God and Saviour - It is this alone by which the justice of God is satisfied, and for the sake of which he gives this precious faith.
Through the divine, experimental knowledge of God and of Christ.
As his divine power has given us all things - There is a wonderful cheerfulness in this exordium, which begins with the exhortation itself. That pertain to life and godliness - To the present, natural life, and to the continuance and increase of spiritual life. Through that divine knowledge of him - Of Christ. Who hath called us by - His own glorious power, to eternal glory, as the end; by Christian virtue or fortitude, as the means.
Through which - Glory and fortitude. He hath given us exceeding great, and inconceivably precious promises - Both the promises and the things promised, which follow in their due season, that, sustained and encouraged by the promises, we may obtain all that he has promised. That, having escaped the manifold corruption which is in the world - From that fruitful fountain, evil desire. Ye may become partakers of the divine nature - Being renewed in the image of God, and having communion with them, so as to dwell in God and God in you.
For this very reason - Because God hath given you so great blessings. Giving all diligence - It is a very uncommon word which we render giving. It literally signifies, bringing in by the by, or over and above: implying, that good works the work; yet not unless we are diligent. Our diligence is to follow the gift of God, and is followed by an increase of all his gifts. Add to - And in all the other gifts of God. Superadd the latter, without losing the former. The Greek word properly means lead up, as in dance, one of these after the other, in a beautiful order. Your faith, that "evidence of things not seen," termed before "the knowledge of God and of Christ," the root of all Christian graces. Courage - Whereby ye may conquer all enemies and difficulties, and execute whatever faith dictates. In this most beautiful connexion, each preceding grace leads to the following; each following, tempers and perfects the preceding. They are set down in the order of nature, rather than the order of time. For though every grace bears a relation to every other, yet here they are so nicely ranged, that those which have the closest dependence on each other are placed together. And to your courage knowledge - Wisdom, teaching how to exercise it on all occasions.
And to your knowledge temperance; and to your temperance patience - Bear and forbear; sustain and abstain; deny yourself and take up your cross daily. The more knowledge you have, the more renounce your own will; indulge yourself the less. "Knowledge puffeth up," and the great boasters of knowledge (the Gnostics) were those that "turned the grace of God into wantonness." But see that your knowledge be attended with temperance. Christian temperance implies the voluntary abstaining from all pleasure which does not lead to God. It extends to all things inward and outward: the due government of every thought, as well as affection. "It is using the world," so to use all outward, and so to restrain all inward things, that they may become a means of what is spiritual; a scaling ladder to ascend to what is above. Intemperance is to abuse the world. He that uses anything below, looking no higher, and getting no farther, is intemperate. He that uses the creature only so as to attain to more of the Creator, is alone temperate, and walks as Christ himself walked. And to patience godliness - Its proper support: a continual sense of God's presence and providence, and a filial fear of, and confidence in, him; otherwise your patience may be pride, surliness, stoicism; but not Christianity.
And to godliness brotherly kindness - No sullenness, sternness, moroseness: "sour godliness," so called, is of the devil. Of Christian godliness it may always be said,
"Mild, sweet, serene, and tender is her mood, Nor grave with sternness, nor with lightness free: Against example resolutely good, Fervent in zeal, and warm in charity."
And to brotherly kindness love - The pure and perfect love of God and of all mankind. The apostle here makes an advance upon the preceding article, brotherly kindness, which seems only to relate to the love of Christians toward one another.
For these being really in you - Added to your faith. And abounding - Increasing more and more, otherwise we fall short. Make you neither slothful nor unfruitful - Do not suffer you to be faint in your mind, or without fruit in your lives. If there is less faithfulness, less care and watchfulness, since we were pardoned, than there was before, and less diligence, less outward obedience, than when we were seeking remission of sin, we are both slothful and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ, that is, in the faith, which then cannot work by love.
But he that wanteth these - That does not add them to his faith. Is blind - The eyes of his understanding are again closed. He cannot see God, or his pardoning love. He has lost the evidence of things not seen. Not able to see afar off - Literally, purblind. He has lost sight of the precious promises: perfect love and heaven are equally out of his sight. Nay, he cannot now see what himself once enjoyed. Having, as it were, forgot the purification from his former sins - Scarce knowing what he himself then felt, when his sins were forgiven.
Wherefore - Considering the miserable state of these apostates. Brethren - St. Peter nowhere uses this appellation in either of his epistles, but in this important exhortation. Be the more diligent - By courage, knowledge, temperance, &c. To make your calling and election firm - God hath called you by his word and his Spirit; he hath elected you, separated you from the world, through sanctification of the Spirit. O cast not away these inestimable benefits! If ye are thus diligent to make your election firm, ye shall never finally fall.
For if ye do so, an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom - Ye shall go in full triumph to glory.
Wherefore - Since everlasting destruction attends your sloth, everlasting glory your diligence, I will not neglect always to remind you of these things - Therefore he wrote another, so soon after the former, epistle. Though ye are established in the present truth - That truth which I am now declaring.
In this tabernacle - Or tent. How short is our abode in the body! How easily does a believer pass out of it!
Even as the Lord Jesus showed me - In the manner which had foretold, John 21:18, &c. It is not improbable, he had also showed him that the time was now drawing nigh.
That ye may be able - By having this epistle among you.
These things are worthy to be always had in remembrance For they are not cunningly devised fables - Like those common among the heathens. While we made known to you the power and coming - That is, the powerful coming of Christ in glory. But if what they advanced of Christ was not true, if it was of their own invention, then to impose such a lie on the world as it was, in the very nature of things, above all human power to defend, and to do this at the expense of life and all things only to enrage the whole world, Jews and gentiles, against them, was no cunning, but was the greatest folly that men could have been guilty of. But were eyewitnesses of his majesty - At his transfiguration, which was a specimen of his glory at the last day.
For he received divine honour and inexpressible glory - Shining from heaven above the brightness of the sun. When there came such a voice from the excellent glory - That is, from God the Father. Matt 17:5.
And we - Peter, James, and John. St. John was still alive. Being with him in the holy mount - Made so by that glorious manifestation, as mount Horeb was of old, Exod 3:4,5.
And we - St. Peter here speaks in the name of all Christians. Have the word of prophecy - The words of Moses, Isaiah, and all the prophets, are one and the same word, every way consistent with itself. St. Peter does not cite any particular passage, but speaks of their entire testimony. More confirmed - By that display of his glorious majesty. To which word ye do well that ye take heed, as to a lamp which shone in a dark place - Wherein there was neither light nor window. Such anciently was the whole world, except that little spot where this lamp shone. Till the day should dawn - Till the full light of the gospel should break through the darkness. As is the difference between the light of a lamp and that of the day, such is that between the light of the Old Testament and of the New. And the morning star - Jesus Christ, Rev 22:16. Arise in your hearts - Be revealed in you.
Ye do well, as knowing this, that no scripture prophecy is of private interpretation - It is not any man's own word. It is God, not the prophet himself, who thereby interprets things till then unknown.
For prophecy came not of old by the will of man - Of any mere man whatever. But the holy men of God - Devoted to him, and set apart by him for that purpose, spake and wrote. Being moved - Literally, carried. They were purely passive therein.
But there were false prophets also - As well as true. Among the people - Of Israel. Those that spake even the truth, when God had not sent them; and also those that were truly sent of him, and yet corrupted or softened their message, were false prophets. As there shall be false - As well as true. Teachers among you, who will privately briny in - Into the church. Destructive heresies - They first, by denying the Lord, introduced destructive heresies, that is, divisions; or they occasioned first these divisions, and then were given up to a reprobate mind, even to deny the Lord that bought them. Either the heresies are the effect of denying the Lord, or the denying the Lord was the consequence of the heresies. Even denying - Both by their doctrine and their works. The Lord that bought them - With his own blood. Yet these very men perish everlastingly. Therefore Christ bought even them that perish.
The way of truth will be evil spoken of - By those who blend all false and true Christians together.
They will make merchandise of you - Only use you to gain by you, as merchants do their wares. Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not - Was long ago determined, and will be executed speedily. All sinners are adjudged to destruction; and God's punishing some proves he will punish the rest.
Cast them down to hell - The bottomless pit, a place of unknown misery. Delivered them - Like condemned criminals to safe custody, as if bound with the strongest chains in a dungeon of darkness, to be reserved unto the judgment of the great day. Though still those chains do not hinder their often walking up and down seeking whom they may devour.
And spared not the old, the antediluvian, world, but he preserved Noah the eighth person - that is, Noah and seven others, a preacher as well as practiser, of righteousness. Bringing a flood on the world of the ungodly - Whose numbers stood them in no stead.
It plainly appears, from these instances, that the Lord knoweth, hath both wisdom and power and will, to deliver the godly out of all temptations, and to punish the ungodly.
Chiefly them that walk after the flesh - Corrupt nature; particularly in the lust of uncleanness. And despise government - The authority of their governors. Dignities - Persons in authority.
Whereas angels - When they appear before the Lord, Job 1:6, Job 2:1, to give an account of what they have seen and done on the earth.
Savage as brute beasts - Several of which in the present disordered state of the world, seem born to be taken and destroyed.
They count it pleasure to riot in the day time - They glory in doing it in the face of the sun. They are spots in themselves, blemishes to any church. Sporting themselves with their own deceivings - Making a jest of those whom they deceive and even jesting while they are deceiving their own souls.
The way of Balaam the son of Bosor - So the Chaldeans pronounced what the Jews termed Beor; namely, the way of covetousness. Who loved - Earnestly desired, though he did not dare to take, the reward of unrighteousness - The money which Balak would have given him for cursing Israel.
The beast - Though naturally dumb.
Fountains and clouds promise water: so do these promise, but do not perform.
They ensnare in the desires of the flesh - Allowing them to gratify some unholy desire. Those who were before entirely escaped from the spirit, custom, and company of them that live in error - In sin.
While they promise them liberty - From needless restraints and scruples; from the bondage of the law. Themselves are slaves of corruption - Even sin, the vilest of all bondage.
For if after they - Who are thus ensnared. Have escaped the pollutions of the world - The sins which pollute all who know not God. Through the knowledge of Christ - That is, through faith in him, 2Peter 1:3. They are again entangled therein, and overcome, their last state is worse than the first - More inexcusable, and causing a greater damnation.
The commandment - The whole law of God, once not only delivered to their ears, but written in their hearts.
The dog, the sow - Such are all men in the sight of God before they receive his grace, and after they have made shipwreck of the faith. Prov 26:11.
Be the more mindful thereof, because ye know scoffers will come first - Before the Lord comes. Walking after their own evil desires - Here is the origin of the error, the root of libertinism. Do we not see this eminently fulfilled
See note ... "2Pe 3:2"
Saying, Where is the promise of his coming - To judgment (They do not even deign to name him.) We see no sign of any such thing. For ever since the fathers - Our first ancestors. Fell asleep, all things - Heaven. water, earth. Continue as they were from the beginning of the creation - Without any such material change as might make us believe they will ever end.
For this they are willingly ignorant of - They do not care to know or consider. That by the almighty word of God - Which bounds the duration of all things, so that it cannot be either longer or shorter. Of old - Before the flood. The aerial heavens were, and the earth - Not as it is now, but standing out of the water and in the water - Perhaps the interior globe of earth was fixed in the midst of the great deep, the abyss of water; the shell or exterior globe standing out of the water, covering the great deep. This, or some other great and manifest difference between the original and present constitution of the terraqueous globe, seems then to have been so generally known, that St. Peter charges their ignorance of it totally upon their wilfulness.
Through which - Heaven and earth, the windows of heaven being opened, and the fountains of the great deep broken up. The world that then was - The whole antediluvian race. Being overflowed with water, perished - And the heavens and earth themselves, though they did not perish, yet underwent a great change. So little ground have these scoffers for saying that all things continue as they were from the creation.
But the heavens and the earth, that are now - Since the flood. Are reserved unto fire at the day wherein God will judge the world, and punish the ungodly with everlasting destruction.
But be not ye ignorant - Whatever they are. Of this one thing - Which casts much light on the point in hand. That one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day - Moses had said, Psalm 90:4, "A thousand years in thy sight are as one day;" which St. Peter applies with regard to the last day, so as to denote both his eternity, whereby he exceeds all measure of time in his essence and in his operation; his knowledge, to which all things past or to come are present every moment; his power, which needs no long delay, in order to bring its work to perfection; and his longsuffering, which excludes all impatience of expectation, and desire of making haste. One day is with the Lord as a thousand years - That is, in one day, in one moment he can do the work of a thousand years. Therefore he "is not slow:" he is always equally ready to fulfil his promise. And a thousand years are as one day - That is, no delay is long to God. A thousand years are as one day to the eternal God. Therefore "he is longsuffering:" he gives us space for repentance, without any inconvenience to himself. In a word, with God time passes neither slower nor swifter than is suitable to him and his economy; nor can there be any reason why it should be necessary for him either to delay or hasten the end of all things. How can we comprehend this If we could comprehend it, St. Peter needed not to have added, with the Lord.
The Lord is not slow - As if the time fixed for it were past. Concerning his promise - Which shall surely be fulfilled in its season. But is longsuffering towards us - Children of men. Not willing that any soul, which he hath made should perish.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief - Suddenly, unexpectedly. In which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise - Surprisingly expressed by the very sound of the original word. The elements shall melt with fervent heat - The elements seem to mean, the sun, moon, and stars; not the four, commonly so called; for air and water cannot melt, and the earth is mentioned immediately after. The earth and all the works - Whether of nature or art. That are therein shall be burned up - And has not God already abundantly provided for this 1. By the stores of subterranean fire which are so frequently bursting out at Aetna, Vesuvius, Hecla, and many other burning mountains. 2. By the ethereal (vulgarly called electrical) fire, diffused through the whole globe; which, if the secret chain that now binds it up were loosed, would immediately dissolve the whole frame of nature. 3. By comets, one of which, if it touch the earth in its course toward the sun, must needs strike it into that abyss of fire; if in its return from the sun, when it is heated, as a great man computes, two thousand times hotter than a red - hot cannonball, it must destroy all vegetables and animals long before their contact, and soon after burn it up.
Seeing then that all these things are dissolved - To the eye of faith it appears as done already. All these things - Mentioned before; all that are included in that scriptural expression, "the heavens and the earth;" that is, the universe. On the fourth day God made the stars, Gen 1:16, which will be dissolved together with the earth. They are deceived, therefore, who restrain either the history of the creation, or this description of the destruction, of the world to the earth and lower heavens; imagining the stars to be more ancient than the earth, and to survive it. Both the dissolution and renovation are ascribed, not to the one heaven which surrounds the earth, but to the heavens in general, 2Peter 3:10,13, without any restriction or limitation. What persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation - With men. And godliness - Toward your Creator.
Hastening on - As it were by your earnest desires and fervent prayers. The coming of the day of God - Many myriads of days he grants to men: one, the last, is the day of God himself.
We look for new heavens and a new earth - Raised as it were out of the ashes of the old; we look for an entire new state of things. Wherein dwelleth righteousness - Only righteous spirits. How great a mystery!
Labour that whenever he cometh ye may be found in peace - May meet him without terror, being sprinkled with his blood, and sanctified by his Spirit, so as to be without spot and blameless. Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22.
And account the longsuffering of the Lord salvation - Not only designed to lead men to repentance, but actually conducing thereto: a precious means of saving many more souls. As our beloved brother Paul also hath written to you - This refers not only to the single sentence preceding, but to all that went before. St. Paul had written to the same effect concerning the end of the world, in several parts of his epistles, and particularly in his Epistle to the Hebrews. Rom 2:4.
As also in all his epistles - St. Peter wrote this a little before his own and St. Paul's martyrdom. St. Paul therefore had now written all his epistles; and even from this expression we may learn that St. Peter had read them all, perhaps sent to him by St. Paul himself. Nor was he at all disgusted by what St. Paul had written concerning him in the Epistle to the Galatians. Speaking of these things - Namely, of the coming of our Lord, delayed through his longsuffering, and of the circumstances preceding and accompanying it. Which things the unlearned - They who are not taught of God. And the unstable - Wavering, double - minded, unsettled men. Wrest - As though Christ would not come. As they do also the other scriptures - Therefore St Paul's writings were now part of the scriptures. To their own destruction - But that some use the scriptures ill, is no reason why others should not use them at all.
But grow in grace - That is, in every Christian temper. There may be, for a time, grace without growth; as there may be natural life without growth. But such sickly life, of soul or body, will end in death, and every day draw nigher to it. Health is the means of both natural and spiritual growth. If the remaining evil of our fallen nature be not daily mortified, it will, like an evil humour in the body, destroy the whole man. But "if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body," (only so far as we do this,) "ye shall live" the life of faith, holiness, happiness. The end and design of grace being purchased and bestowed on us, is to destroy the image of the earthy, and restore us to that of the heavenly. And so far as it does this, it truly profits us; and also makes way for more of the heavenly gift, that we may at last be filled with all the fulness of God. The strength and well - being of a Christian depend on what his soul feeds on, as the health of the body depends on whatever we make our daily food. If we feed on what is according to our nature, we grow; if not, we pine away and die. The soul is of the nature of God, and nothing but what is according to his holiness can agree with it. Sin, of every kind, starves the soul, and makes it consume away. Let us not try to invert the order of God in his new creation: we shall only deceive ourselves. It is easy to forsake the will of God, and follow our own; but this will bring leanness into the soul. It is easy to satisfy ourselves without being possessed of the holiness and happiness of the gospel. It is easy to call these frames and feelings, and then to oppose faith to one and Christ to the other. Frames (allowing the expression) are no other than heavenly tempers, "the mind that was in Christ." Feelings are the divine consolations of the Holy Ghost shed abroad in the heart of him that truly believes. And wherever faith is, and wherever Christ is, there are these blessed frames and feelings. If they are not in us, it is a sure sign that though the wilderness became a pool, the pool is become a wilderness again. And in the knowledge of Christ - That is, in faith, the root of all. To him be the glory to the day of eternity - An expression naturally flowing from that sense which the apostle had felt in his soul throughout this whole chapter. Eternity is a day without night, without interruption, without end.