From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain Second Peter and Jude             Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018



List of All Sources Quoted At End of File






CHAPTER 3:10-18




3:10                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     The day of the Lord will come like a thief--it will be a day on which the heavens will pass away with a rushing noise, the elements be destroyed in the fierce heat, and the earth and all the works of man be utterly burnt up.

WEB:              But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

Young’s:         and it will come -- the day of the Lord -- as a thief in the night, in which the heavens with a rushing noise will pass away, and the elements with burning heat be dissolved, and earth and the works in it shall be burnt up.

Conte (RC):    Then the day of the Lord shall arrive

like a thief. On that day, the heavens shall pass

away with great violence, and truly the elements

shall be dissolved with heat; then the earth, and

the works that are within it, shall be completely

burned up.


3:10                 But the day of the Lord.  When He will come to judgment.  [14]

                        That is, the day in which he will be manifested. It is called his day, because he will then be the grand and prominent object as the Judge of all.  Compare Luke 17:27.  [31]

                        This expression usually, but not always, refers to the second advent.  Such is the meaning here.  [22]

                        “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief.”  The order of the words in Greek emphasizes the certainty of the coming of the day of judgment, and its unexpected suddenness is expressed by as a thief (Matthew 24:43-44; Luke 12:39-40; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Revelation 16:15).  Peter does not describe the different stages and events of the Second Coming of Christ minutely.  With him six great events are closely connected:

(1)     the Second Coming of Christ;

(2)     the resurrection of believers (1 Peter 4:13; 5:1, 4);

(3)     the resurrection of the wicked (2 Peter 2:9; 3:7);

(4)     the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:4, 9; 3:7);

(5)     the end of the world (1 Peter 3:10, 12);

(6)     the manifestation of a new heavens and a new earth.

Peter, in his prophetic vision, sees the whole history of the consummation of all things in one glance as taking place in one Great Day of the Lord.  The coming of the Day of God and the end of the world are to him one event.  [50]

Old Testament precedent for the language:  The day which in 2 Peter 3:12 is called “the day of God,” and elsewhere “the day of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 2:2), “the day of the Lord Jesus” (2 Corinthians 1:14).  The expression carries us back to the Old Testament prophecies of Jehovah’s day, or the day of the Lord (Joel 1:15; Isaiah 2:12; Ezekiel 13:5), and the day of His Coming (Malachi 3:2).  There it designates Messiah’s Coming, or Jehovah’s own Coming in connection with the realization of Messianic hope, and that as an event of judicial as well as gracious consequence.  In such passages as the present it is transferred to the day of the Second Advent, and to that specially as a day of judicial sifting and decision.  [51]

                        will come as a thief in the night.  Unexpectedly; suddenly.  [31]

                        The suddenness, therefore, and unexpectedness of the coming of the day of the Lord, and the terror which it will occasion to the wicked, are the circumstances in which it will resemble the coming of a thief, and not that it will happen in the night-time.  [47]

The confidence of the Apostle that this will be the end of the history of the human race is not shaken by the seeming “slackness” in its approach.  Either reproducing the thought which he had heard from his Master’s lips (Matthew 24:43), or echoing the very words of Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:2), he declares that it will come, and will come suddenly, when men are not looking for it.  [38]

in the which the heavens shall pass away.  That is, what seems to us to be the heavens.  It cannot mean that the holy home where God dwells will pass away; nor do we need to suppose that this declaration extends to the starry worlds and systems as disclosed by modern astronomy.  The word is doubtless used in a popular sense--that is, as things appear to us; and the fair interpretation of the passage would demand only such a change as would occur by the destruction of this world by fire.  If a conflagration should take place, embracing the earth and its surrounding atmosphere, all the phenomena would occur which are here described; and, if this would be so, then this is all that can be proved to be meant by the passage.  Such a destruction of the elements could not occur without “a great noise.”  [31]

Perhaps based on the saying recorded in Mark 13:24, “In those days . . . the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken.”  Cf. Isaiah 34:4, “All the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll:  and all their host shall fade away;” also 51:6 and the quotation of these passages in Hebrews 1:10-12.  [45]

           with a great noise [roar, NASB].  Either swiftly and violently, or with such a noise as is usually caused by such violent and speedy motions.  [28]

            The last four words answer to one Greek adverb, not found elsewhere, which implies the “whizzing” or “rushing” sound of an arrow hurtling through the air (Hom. Il. xvi. 361).  The “heavens” (in the plural, after the common mode of speech both in the Old and New Testament) shall, in that great day, be the scene of a great convulsion.  [38]

            “With a great noise” (roizedon).  Only here in the N.T.  The noun, roizos, is used of the whizzing of an arrow or a scourge, or of the rustling of winds.  Here it refers to the crackling and roaring of fire.  [45]  

            Or:  Better, with a rushing noise. The expression occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but some such idea as that in Isaiah 34:4, Revelation 6:14, is probably indicated—not the roar of flames or the crash of ruins, but the parting and rolling up of the heavens.  (Compare Revelation 20:11.)  [46]  However with the explicit mention of “melting” and being “burned up”—the presence of “fire” in some painful and significant sense—seems incredibly difficult to remove.  [rw]

and the elements.  The word “elements” may possibly stand for what were so called in some of the physical theories of the time, the fire, air, earth, water, out of which all existing phenomena were believed to be evolved (compare Wisdom 19:18).  The word was, however, used a little later on for what we call the “heavenly bodies,” sun, moon, and stars (Justin Mart. Apol. ii. 4. 4), and that meaning, seeing that the “elements” are distinguished from the “earth,” and that one of the four elements is to be the instrument of destruction, is probably the meaning here.  [38]  Also see “in depth” discussion below.  [rw]

shall melt.  [Revised Version,] shall be dissolved—Authorized, “shall melt.”  The Greek does not contain the idea of melting from heat, but simply that of dissolution.  It occurs in John 2:19, “Destroy this temple.”  [44]

The word itself may not imply the source of the melting, but note carefully the cause the apostle immediately proceeds to add!  [rw]

with fervent heat.  Naturally—since it takes significant heat to melt just about anything and an intense heat to melt earthly minerals.  [rw]

the earth also.  Nothing escapes this all consuming conflagration.  [rw]

and the works that are therein.  That is, whether they are the works of God or man--the whole vegetable and animal creation, and all the towers, the towns, the palaces, the productions of genius, the paintings, the statuary, the books, which man has made.  [31] 

Equivalent to “the earth and the fullness thereof,” “works” being used in a comprehensive sense for products both of nature and art.  The moral work of each individual is not meant; consequently, a reference to 1 Corinthians 3:13 is misleading. The two passages have little in common, and nothing is gained by bringing in the difficulties of the other passage here.  In this passage the Apostle is stating plainly and in detail what some of the Prophets of the Old Testament had set forth in general and sometimes obscure language—that a judgment by fire is in store for the world (Isaiah 66:15-16, 24; Malachi 3:1-3, 4:1).  [46]

shall be burned up [will be laid bare, NIV; will be exposed, NASB].  Neither this reading nor “disappear” (aphanisthesontai) are very strongly supported.  The best attested reading is “discovered” (eurethesetai), which does not make sense.  The original reading has perhaps disappeared, but it must have been a word meaning “burned up,” or “disappeared,” or something similar.  [45]


                        In depth:  Meaning of “the elements” in our text [51].  The phrase “with fervent heat,” which is given by the A.V. and retained by the R.V., represents a participle which means “burning fiercely,” or “consumed with fierce heat.”  The question of difficulty here, however, is what we are to under stand by these “elements.”

Some (e.g. Bengel, Alford, Plumptre, etc.) suppose that the heavenly bodies are meant, these being, as it were, the elements making up the heavens.  This view is held to be supported by such considerations as these:  the fact that the sun, moon, and stars are introduced into other biblical descriptions of the day of the Lord (Isaiah 13:9-10; 24:23; 34:4, etc.), and especially in Christ’s own announcement of it (Matthew 24:29); the relation in which this clause stands to the preceding statement about the heavens themselves; the employment of the term by early Christian writers (e.g. Justin Martyr, Apol. ii. 5, Trypho, xxiii.) in this sense; and the apparent distinction drawn here between these elements and both the heavens and the earth.

Others (Bede, etc.) take the four elements of the physical universe, earth, air, water, fire, to be in view.  In this case there is the awkwardness of representing the writer as speaking of the dissolution of fire by fire; hence it is proposed to limit the expression to three of these elements, or even to air and water alone (Estius).

All these views, however, as well as other modifications of them (such e.g. as the idea that the stars in particular are meant), attribute to Peter a more sharply-defined meaning than was probably intended.

The great objection to the first view is that the term does not appear to denote the heavenly bodies in any other passage of Scripture.  In Classical Greek it seems to mean primarily the several parts of a series, the components which make up something; whence it came to be used of the simple series of sounds which form the elements of language, the first principles or elementary data of science, such as the points, lines, etc. of geometry, and, in Physics, the component parts of matter, which were reduced to four in the philosophical schools.

In the New Testament it occurs only seven times, viz. in the present verse and again in 2 Peter 3:12, in Galatians 4:3; Galatians 4:9, in Colossians 2:8; Colossians 2:20, and Hebrews 5:12.  In the Petrine passages it clearly has a physical sense; in the others an ethical. 

Here it is applied, with no reference to scientific or philosophical ideas, but in a broad and popular sense, to the parts of which the heavens in particular, or the system of things generally, are made up.  It may denote, therefore, much the same as is covered by the phrase “the powers of the heavens” in Matthew 24:29 (so Huther), the idea being that these heavens shall pass away by having their constituent parts dissolved.  Or it may refer in the wider sense to the whole framework of the world, as that world was conceived to consist of heavens and earth (so Wordsworth, etc.). 


                        In depth:  The problem of the closing words of the verse [51].  Instead of “burnt up,” some of the very best documentary authorities, including the two most ancient manuscripts, give another reading, which means “shall be found.”  It is supposed, however, that this reading is one of those in which the earliest documents themselves have gone astray, and that, as the reading followed by the Received Text is supported by far inferior authorities, this is one of a few passages in which the original text has not been preserved in any of our existing authorities.  The reading of the oldest manuscripts is supposed by the latest critical editors to have arisen from a corruption of another, which would mean “shall flow (or, melt) away” (see Westcott and Hort, vol. 2 p. 103).

Those who retain the reading which the ordinary laws of evidence would lead us to adopt, get a satisfactory sense out of it by interpreting it “shall be discovered,” that is, found out judicially, or made to appear as they are.  This would fit in very well with the idea of the next verse, which is that of the manner of life which the thought of the judicial end should recommend. Some propose to hold by the ordinary sense of the verb, and to turn the sentence into an interrogation—“Shall the earth and the works that are therein be found (i.e. shall they continue) then?” 

There is no uncertainty as to the sense which is meant to be conveyed.  The uncertainty attaches only to the particular expression which was given to that sense.

But this forms, in view of the singular results which are shown by the documents, one of the most perplexing problems in the criticism and history of the text.  One of the primary manuscripts has another reading, which means “shall disappear.”  A later Syriac Version inserts the negative, and gives “shall not be found.”  The wide variety of reading is a witness to the early uncertainty of the text here, and to the difficulty felt with the term which was transmitted by the oldest documents.

It is well to know, on the testimony of those who have devoted their lives to such questions as these, that the passages affected by anything amounting to substantial variation “can hardly form more than one-thousandth part of the entire text,” and that “the books of the New Testament as preserved in extant documents assuredly speak to us in every important respect in language identical with that in which they spoke to those for whom they were originally written” (Westcott and Hort’s New Testament in Greek, ii. pp. 2, 284).


                        In depth:  Destruction of the earth by fire in pagan intellectuals [39].   The expectation of the destruction of the world by a diluvium ignisdeluge of fire—analogous to the diluvium aquaedeluge of water—was a traditional idea among the ancients, both poets and philosophers, especially the Stoics.  We give passages from Wetstein.  The philosopher Seneca says:  “At that time the foam of the sea, released from laws, was borne on without restraint.  By what cause, do you inquire? By the same cause by which the conflagration will take place when to God it seems good to establish a better order of things, and to close the old.  Water and fire rule terrene things:  from the former comes origination; from the latter, destruction.”

                        Cicero says: “Our philosophers suppose that at last the whole world will take fire, when, the moisture being consumed, neither the earth can be nourished nor the air circulate, so that nothing will be left but fire; from which, again, under the animating power of God, a renovation of the earth will take place, and the same fair order will be reproduced.”

                        Eusebius says: “It is the opinion of the Stoic philosophers, that all substance should go into fire, as a seed, and from it again should spring the same organization as before.”


                        In depth:  Case for a purified planet rather than the literal destruction of the earth [7].  Of these circumstances Peter mentions only the physical convulsions which precede and attend the appearing of Christ.  The language he employs is highly figurative and when taken literally leads to strange conclusions.  He borrows his figures from the last two chapters of Isaiah and from the Eighteenth Psalm; the latter is describing a severe storm, as it declares that “the foundations of the world were laid bare:  so Peter declares, “The earth and the works that are therein shall be discovered” (margin).  Isaiah described the blessedness of the return from captivity, that was to be, for the Jews, like enjoying “new heavens and a new earth.”  In no case does it mean that the coming of the Lord is to destroy this earth. 

When Peter declares that  “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and works that are therein shall be burned up”  he is merely referring to the “signs” attending the coming of Christ to which the Master Himself referred when He said:  “The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken.  And then shall they see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory.”  “But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh.”

Peter is merely giving a picture of coming judgments.  The issue of these convulsions, whatever their nature, is “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness”; not a new globe, for the nations of the world are pictured as still here; as in Isaiah and the two closing chapters of the Bible, the “new earth” is this same old world, purified, glorified, redeemed, and the scene of righteousness and blessedness and universal peace. 


                        A second case for the purification scenario [50]:  If we accept the reading “shall be found or discovered” instead of “shall be burned up,” this clause must be pointed as an interrogative sentence:  Shall the earth and the works that are therein be found?  The general thought would be the same.  These works refer to all which man has made.

                        The destruction here spoken of does not involve actual annihilation.  It involves rather a change of the forms and qualities of the earth, and not the blotting out of the substance.  It is a transmutation, a transformation, the regeneration of which Christ speaks in Matthew 19:28.  Burning is not annihilation, but involves only a change of form, and the melting of the elements leaves their substance untouched (3:12).

                        The fire spoken of, as well as in verse 12, is to be thought of as a fire of purification, and not one of annihilation.  There is no foundation for the theory of the annihilation of this world in the analogies drawn from nature, in the deductions of science, or in the teachings of Scripture.     



3:11                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Since all these things are thus pre-destined to dissolution, what sort of men ought you to be found to be in all holy living and godly conduct,

WEB:              Therefore since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness,

Young’s:         All these, then, being dissolved, what kind of persons doth it behove you to be in holy behaviours and pious acts?

Conte (RC):    Therefore, since all these things will

be dissolved, what kind of people ought you to be?

In behavior and in piety, be holy,


3:11                 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved.  The heavens and the elements of the universe, including the earth and the works that are therein.  [50]

                        shall be.  Greek,are being (in God‘s appointment, soon to be fulfilled) dissolved”; the present tense implying the certainty as though it were actually present.  [20]

                        The Greek participle is in the present tense, and is probably used to convey the thought that even now the fabric of the earth is on its way to the final dissolution.  If with some of the better MSS we read “shall thus be dissolved,” instead of “then,” the participle must be taken as more definitely future, being coupled, as in that case it must be, with the manner as well as the fact of the dissolution.  [38]

what manner of persons ought ye to be.  Since we have no abiding home on this earth and seek one beyond, we should live in a state of preparation.  [22]

The verb for “be” is that which emphatically expresses a permanent and continuous state.  The thought implied is that the belief in the transitoriness of all that seems most enduring upon earth should lead, as a necessary consequence, to a life resting on the eternal realities of truth and holiness.  [38]

in all holy conversation [conduct, NKJV].  If one is to be “godly” (which is invoked next) how can anyone function without honorable and moral behavior?  It would be like expecting a human body to be alive though it lacks a heart!  [rw]

The qualities themselves are denoted by plural nouns meaning literally “holy modes of living” and “godlinesses,” in reference to all the various forms in which the holy walk and godliness exhibit themselves.  [51]

and godliness.  The two words are in the plural number, “In all holy conducts and pieties,” demonstrating the many ways in which we can show holy conduct and piety.  [41]

                        “Seeing that the world shall pass away, and that all must appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, let us live in the true fear of God, serve Him in all forms of holy behavior and piety, and carefully guard against sin” (Augustine).  [ - ]



3:12                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     eagerly looking forward to the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens, all ablaze, will be destroyed, and the elements will melt in the fierce heat?

WEB:              looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

Young’s:         waiting for and hasting to the presence of the day of God, by which the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements with burning heat shall melt;

Conte (RC):    waiting for, and hurrying toward,

the advent of the day of the Lord, by which the

burning heavens shall be dissolved, and the

elements shall melt from the heat of the fire.

3:12                 Looking for.  It’s not something you dread.  You are waiting for it with optimistic anticipation of all the good it will bring—and the removal of all the evils you have had to survive.  [rw]

                        The “looking for” is expressed by the term which is rendered “wait for” in Luke 1:21; Luke 8:40; Acts 10:24, “expect” in Acts 3:5, “be in expectation” in Luke 3:15, etc.  [51]

and hasting unto [speed its coming, NIV].  The Greek word rendered “hasting,” (σπεύδω  speudō) means to urge on, to hasten; and then to hasten after anything, to await with eager desire.  This is evidently the sense here--Wetstein and Robinson.  The state of mind which is indicated by the word is that when we are anxiously desirous that anything should occur, and when we would hasten or accelerate it if we could.  The true Christian does not dread the coming of that day.  He looks forward to it as the period of his redemption, and would welcome, at any time, the return of his Lord and Savior.  [31]

I am inclined to adopt, with Alford, Huther, Salmond, and Trence, the transitive meaning, hastening on; i.e., “causing the day of the Lord to come more quickly by helping to fulfill those conditions without which it cannot come; that day being no day inexorably fixed, but one the arrival of which it is free to the church to hasten on by faith and by prayer” (Trench, on “The Authorized Version of the New Testament”).  See Matthew 24:14:  the gospel shall be preached in the whole world, “and then shall the end come.”  Compare the words of Peter, Acts 3:19:  “Repent and be converted,” etc., “that so there may come seasons of refreshing” (so Revision, rightly); and the prayer, “Thy kingdom come.”  Salmond quotes a rabbinical saying, “If thou keepest this precept thou hastenest the day of Messiah.”  This meaning is given in margin of [the] Revision.  [2]

the coming of the day of God.  Called “the day of God,” because God will then be manifested in His power and glory.  [31]

A unique phrase; elsewhere “coming” (parousia) is either followed by “Christ,” “Lord,” or some other person, or used absolutely to mean “the coming of the Lord;” and similarly we have “the day of the Lord,” &c., never “of God.”  Perhaps we should translate “The coming of Christ in the day of God.”  Some copyists have substituted the more usual “Lord” for “God.” [45]

wherein [because of which, ESV, NKJV].  “By reason of which:  Either the coming or the day, it makes no difference to the sense.  The purpose of the present heavens and earth is to serve the present dispensation, the close of which is a sufficient reason for their dissolution.  [45] 

The sense remains substantially the same whether we refer “which” to “the coming,” or “to the day of God.”  This coming of Christ which ushers in the day of God is the occasion which brings about the dissolution of the heavens and the earth.  [50]

the heavens being on fire.  The atmospheric elements.  [39]

shall be dissolved.  Its substance will be gutted into non-existence:  the “heavens” were there and now it’s not.  What was there has ceased to exist.  [rw]   

and the elements shall melt.  “Melt” is here correct, being quite a different word from that rendered “melt” in 2 Peter 3:10, which is the same as that here translated “be dissolved.”  In the so-called Second Epistle of Clement (chap. 16) we have a somewhat similar passage—“The day of judgment cometh even now as a burning oven (Malachi 4:1), and [the powers] of the heavens shall melt, and all the earth as lead melting on the fire.”  [46]

Macknight thinks that, by the elements, in this verse, we are not to understand, as in 2 Peter 3:10, the heavens or atmosphere, but the elements of which this terraqueous globe is composed; namely, earth and water, and every thing which enters into the composition of these substances, and on which their constitution and form depend.  Hence, 1st, In speaking of them, he uses an expression which he did not use in 2 Peter 3:10.  There his words were, The elements, burning, λυθησονται, shall be dissolved; here he says, The elements, burning, τηκεται, (for τακησεται,) shall melt; a “word which is applied to the melting of metals by fire.  Wherefore, as the elements signify the constituent parts of any thing, the expression, shall melt, applied to the constituent parts of the terraqueous globe, intimates that the whole, by the intense heat of the conflagration, is to be reduced into one homogeneous fluid mass of burning matter.  Consequently, that it is not the surface of the earth, with all the things thereon, which is to be burned, as some have imagined, but the whole globe of the earth.”  And that he is here speaking of these elements, and consequently of the destruction of this earth, appears still further by the promise made in the next verse.  [47]

with fervent heat?  The mechanism that will accomplish the result.  “Fire” and “heat” go hand in hand, one producing the other.  [rw]



3:13                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     But in accordance with His promise we are expecting new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness will dwell.

WEB:              But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

Young’s:         and for new heavens and a new earth according to His promise we do wait, in which righteousness doth dwell;

Conte (RC):    Yet truly, in accord with his promises,

we are looking forward to the new heavens and the

new earth, in which justice lives.


3:13                 Nevertheless we, according to His promise.  The allusion here seems to be, beyond a doubt, to two passages in Isaiah, in which a promise of this kind is found.  Isaiah 65:17, “for, behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.”  Isaiah 66:22, “for as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord,” etc.  Compare Revelation 21:1, where John says he had a vision of the new heaven and the new earth which was promised:  “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea.”  [31]

look for new heavens and a new earth.  It is a grave misfortune that these new heavens and new earth have not been far more insisted upon than they have been as forming the inheritance of the saints.  It would have made the future state of the blessed not a dreamy abstraction but an almost tangible reality.  [41]

Raised as it were out of the ashes of the old; we look for an entire new state of things.  [15]

There are two words for “new” in Greek; one looks forward, “young” as opposed to “aged;” the other looks back, “fresh” as opposed to “worn out.”  It is the latter word that is used here and in Revelation 21:1-2.  Both are used in Matthew 9:17, but the distinction is not marked in our version—“They put new wine into fresh wine-skins.”  [46]

Overview of interpretive options:  The word “new,” applied to the heavens and the earth that are to succeed the present, might express one of the following three things--that is, either of these things would correspond with all that is fairly implied in that word:  (a) If a new world was literally created out of nothing after this world is destroyed; for that would be in the strictest sense “new.”  That such an event is possible no one can doubt, though it is not revealed.  (b) If an inhabitant of the earth should dwell after death in any other of the worlds now existing, it would be to him a “new” abode, and everything would appear new.  Let him, for instance, be removed to the planet “Saturn,” with its wonderful ring, and its seven moons, and the whole aspect of the heavens, and of the world on which he would then dwell, would be new to him.  The same thing would occur if he were to dwell on any other of the heavenly bodies, or if he were to pass from world to world.  (c) If the earth should be renovated, and suited for the home of man after the universal conflagration, it would then be a new abode.  [31] A fourth alternative—an adaptation of point “b”--is that heaven itself could rightly be described as a “new heavens and new earth” because it will be new to us and what is beneath our feet will surely be considered “earth” and what is above our heads “heaven.”  It is our inherent (?) internal mechanism for “placing” ourselves in our surrounding environment  [rw]  

                        Interpreted as a rejuvenated and purified earth on the current planet:  After all, the world will be renewed rather than destroyed: compare Revelation 21:5.  [24]

By “new earth” we may understand this present earth, renewed or made new in beauty, and splendor, and purity, such as was the garden of Eden before the fall, fit to gladden the eyes and minds of God’s people:  in this case, all which has been said of the destruction of the world must mean, not its annihilation, but such destruction as came upon it in the deluge, which might be called its purification or cleaning; or the destruction may mean its being “dissolved” into its component elements, which will be brought together again to form the new earth; new in quality and character, though not in matter.  And with this will agree the expression, “There shall be no sea,” which seems to imply that there shall be real and material land.  [42]   

Other Biblical texts allegedly pointing to a “replacement earth” where the present one currently is:  Some expositors suppose that these lower heavens and this earth, having been melted down by a general conflagration, shall thereby be refined, and that God will form them into new heavens and a new earth for the habitation of the righteous; a supposition which seems to be favored by Peter, Acts 3:21, where he speaks of the restitution of all things, which God hath promised by the mouth of all his holy prophets; by Paul, Romans 8:21, where he says, The creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of destruction; and also by the Lord Jesus himself, whose words (Revelation 21:5) are, Behold, I make all things new.  As Peter had a revelation from Christ that he would create new heavens and a new earth, he might justly call that his promise; but the patriarchs and believing ancients were not without the expectation of such an inheritance.  See Genesis 17:7; Daniel 12:2; Hebrews 11:10-16.  [47]

wherein dwelleth righteousness.  Righteousness, of course, is the abstract for the concrete; the quality is put for the persons that exhibit it.  And just as the condition of being at home in this present material world is the possession of flesh and blood, so is it impossible for anything but purity to be at rest in, or even to enter into that future world.  [27] 

This again reproduces the thought of Isaiah (Isaiah 65:25) that “they shall not hurt (LXX, “act unrighteously”) nor destroy in all my holy mountain,” and John’s account of the new Jerusalem that “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth” (Revelation 21:27).  It is implied in Paul’s belief that “the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21).  Earth itself, purified and redeemed, is to be the scene of the blessedness of the saved, as it has been, through the long æons of its existence, of sin and wretchedness.  [38]


                        In depth:  These new heavens and earth cannot be identical with the millennium of Revelation 20? [4]  That this cannot refer to the millennium, supposed to be promised in the Revelation of John, appears, not only because this epistle was writ before the Revelation, which, saith Irenaeus, was seen, “ad finem Domitiani imperii, about the end of the reign of Domitian,” whereas Peter suffered martyrdom in the reign of Nero; but also,

(1) because the millennium of John is peculiar to the martyrs, and those who have suffered for the cause of Christ; the “new heavens and earth,” here mentioned, are the common expectation of all Christians, who upon this account are admonished to be “found of him without spot, and unblameable, in peace” (verse. 14). 

(2) I grant, that the apostle is here speaking of the destruction, not only of the sublunary heavens and earth (verse 12) by fire:  but this concession is so far from doing any service to the hypothesis of the millennium of John, that it doth perfectly destroy it:  for this conflagration of the world is contemporary with the day of “judgment, and perdition of ungodly men:” and by that very fire which consumes the world, are they to perish (verse 7).  So doth the Scripture constantly express the punishment of the wicked, saying, that “at the end of the world the angels shall cast them into a furnace of fire” (Matt. xiii. 28), and that Christ shall “come in flaming fire to take vengeance” on them (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8). 

Whereas the millennium of John must be at an end before that day:  for after he had spoken of “the first resurrection,” and the conclusion of one thousand years, in which they were to reign who were then raised, and of the insurrection of Gog and Magog against them:  I say, after the conclusion of those years, doth he introduce One “sitting on a great white throne, and the dead both small and great standing before him, and being judged out of those things which were written in the book, according to their works” (Revelation 20:13, 14). 



3:14                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     Therefore, dear friends, since you have these expectations, earnestly seek to be found in His presence, free from blemish or reproach, in peace.

WEB:              Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for these things, be diligent to be found in peace, without blemish and blameless in his sight.

Young’s:         wherefore, beloved, these things waiting for, be diligent, spotless and unblameable, by Him to be found in peace,

Conte (RC):    Therefore, most beloved, while

awaiting these things, be diligent, so that you

may be found to be immaculate and unassailable

before him, in peace.


3:14                 Wherefore, beloved seeing that ye look for such things.  The “looking for” (again the same term as in 2 Peter 3:12-13) may give the reason for the duty which is enjoined, as it is understood by both the A.V. and the R.V.—“seeing that ye look,” etc.,; or (less probably), it may form a part of the duty, “look for these things and give diligence” (Huther, etc.). [51]

be diligent.  That is, in securing your salvation. The effect of such hopes and prospects should be to lead us to an earnest inquiry whether we are prepared to dwell in a holy world, and to make us diligent in performing the duties, and patient in bearing the trials of life.  [31]

that ye may be found of Him.  Found by him when he returns in such a state as to secure your eternal peace.  [31]

This could refer simply to the lifestyle God expects us to be living at the time of His return or, less likely, to His formal positive judgment of us at the Judgment Day tribunal.  Logically, however, the latter is impossible without the former!  [rw]

in peace.  Both with God and with one another.  [41]

“Peace” is used in its widest Hebrew sense, as including every element of blessedness, peace with God, and therefore peace with man, the peace which Christ gives, not as the world gives (John 14:27), the peace which passes understanding (Philippians 4:7).  [38]

“In peace” cannot well refer to differences between Jewish and Gentile Christians, a subject quite foreign to this Epistle.  It may possibly refer to the false teachers and the discord caused by them; but more probably it has no special reference.  It expresses at once the condition and the consequence of being “spotless and blameless.”  “There is no peace, saith my God, for the wicked.”  [46]

without spot and blameless.  The words are nearly identical with those which describe the character of Christ as “a lamb without blemish and without spot” in 1 Peter 1:19, and their re-appearance is a fresh link in the chain of evidence as to identity of authorship.  They who expect the coming of Christ should be like Him in their lives.  The first of the two words may be noticed as used also by James (James 1:27).  [38]

The pair of epithets, “spotless and blameless,” should be noticed as forming a marked contrast to the false teachers, who are called “spots and blemishes” (2 Peter 2:13).  [46]

without spot.  For if we are expecting the bridegroom we should keep our garments white and clean.  [7]

and blameless.  “Without spot” utilizes a physical image; “blameless” a moral one.  If moral matters were mortal ones, then we could see our purity by whether our clothes had “spots” on them.  [rw]



3:15                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And always regard the patient forbearance of our Lord as salvation, as our dear brother Paul also has written to you in virtue of the wisdom granted to him.

WEB:              Regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote to you;

Young’s:         and the long-suffering of our Lord count ye salvation, according as also our beloved brother Paul -- according to the wisdom given to him -- did write to you,

Conte (RC):    And let the longsuffering of our

Lord be considered salvation, as also our most

beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom

given to him, has written to you,


3:15                 And account [consider, NKJV] that the longsuffering of our Lord.  The words have a pointed reference to 2 Peter 3:9.  Men were impatient, and counted the “long-suffering of God” as tardiness in the fulfillment of His promises.  The true way of looking at it was to see in it the working out of His plan of salvation for all who should be willing to receive it.  In the “long-suffering of our Lord” (obviously from 2 Peter 3:18), the “Lord Jesus,” we see a testimony, indirect but not the less explicit, to the full participation of the Son in the counsels and purposes of the Father.  [38]

                        If this is correct, and “our Lord” means Jesus Christ, “then throughout this weighty passage the Lord Jesus is invested with the full attributes of Deity.”  Here, possibly, as also in 2 Peter 1:1, the expression points to the writer’s entire belief in the unity of the two Persons.  [46]

                        Evidence for the two alternatives:  Is it the “Lord Jesus” or the “Lord God” (= the Father) who is specifically under consideration?  If Christ is referred to here, the passage becomes one of great importance in relation to the doctrine of His Person, as it speaks of Him in the same terms as have been already applied to God, and indirectly claims for Him Divine prerogatives.  And this is made on the whole the more probable reference both by general N.T. use, and by the phrase, “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” which comes in subsequently in the same paragraph (2 Peter 3:18).  On the other hand, it is argued that the application of the title “Lord,” in 2 Peter 3:8-10, 12, 14, rules its application here, and points to God in the large O.T. sense as the subject.  [51] 

is salvation.  His delay to come to judgment is designed not to show that He will never come, but to give men opportunity to secure their salvation. [14]

The Divine delay is to be interpreted as “salvation,”—as the suspension of judgment with a view to a prolonged offer of grace.  [51]

even as our beloved brother Paul.  [This] designates Paul not only as a friend, or a fellow-Christian, but as one with whom Peter feels himself most intimately connected in official relationship.  Hoffmann, on the other hand, presses the plural [= our beloved brother], and thinks that by it the apostle, with a view to his Gentile readers, would unite the Jewish Christians with himself, so as to show that the apostle of the Gentiles was a beloved brother to them as well as to him.  [8]

From this reference to Paul the following things are clear:  (1) that Peter was acquainted with his writings; (2) that Peter presumed that those to whom he wrote were also acquainted with them; (3) that Peter regarded Paul as a “beloved brother,” notwithstanding the solemn rebuke which Paul had had occasion to administer to him, Galatians 2:2ff.; (4) that Peter regarded Paul as an authority in inculcating the doctrines and duties of religion; and (5) that Peter regarded Paul as an inspired man, and his writings as a part of divine truth.  See 2 Peter 3:16.  [31]

The terminology as an argument for this being a genuine (rather than counterfeit imitation) of the apostle Peter:  The commentators remark that no one in the next century forging this epistle would speak thus familiarly of Paul.  Ignatius calls him “the sanctified, the martyred, the worthily-called blessed,” and Polycarp “The blessed and glorious Paul.”  [41]

A writer of the sub-Apostolic age would not easily be able to free himself from the feeling of the age in this respect. Clement of Rome (Corinthians, xlvii. 1), says, “Take up the Epistle of the blessed Paul the Apostle.”  Clement of Alexandria commonly says simply “the Apostle,” but sometimes “the divine Apostle” or “the noble Apostle.” An imitator in the second century would scarcely have attained to the freedom of “our beloved brother Paul.”  [46]

also according to the wisdom given unto him.  Adopting Paul‘s own language, 1 Corinthians 3:10, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me as a wise master-builder.” Supernatural and inspired wisdom “GIVEN” him, not acquired in human schools of learning.  [20]

Polycarp, in his Epistle to the Philippians (2 Peter iii. 2), says, “Neither I nor any one else like me can equal the wisdom of the blessed and glorious Paul, who . . . wrote letters to you, into which if ye look diligently, &c. &c.”  This seems to show that Paul’s letters had already become the common property of the churches.  [46]

hath written unto you.  Greek aorist, “wrote,” as a thing wholly past: Paul was by this time either dead, or had ceased to minister to them.  [20]

It is not necessary to suppose that Paul had written any epistles addressed specifically, and by name, to the persons to whom Peter wrote.  It is rather to be supposed that the persons to whom Peter wrote (1 Peter 1:1) lived in the regions to which some of Paul’s epistles were addressed, and that they might be regarded as addressed to them.  The epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians were of this description, all addressed to churches in Asia Minor, and all, therefore, having reference to the same people to whom Peter addressed his epistles.  [31]

                        What particular passage is referred to in the epistles of Paul cannot certainly be identified.  Perhaps no individual place was meant, but a general reference made to various passages in his epistles.  [40]          


                        In depth:  Theories of what epistle(s) Peter has specifically mind [46].  Few points in this Epistle have been more debated.  The following are some of the many answers that have been given to the question:

(1) a lost Epistle;

(2) Hebrews, because of Hebrews 9:26-28; Hebrews 10:23-25, 37;

(3) Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, because our Epistle is supposed to be addressed to the Christians of Asia Minor;

(4) Ephesians only, for the reason just stated, and because Colossians and Galatians contain little or no mention of the day of judgment; also because of Ephesians 4:30, and the encyclical character of the Epistle;

(5) 1 Corinthians, because of 1 Corinthians 1:7-9;

(6) Romans, because of Romans 2:4 and Romans 9:22-23;

(7) 1 and 2 Thessalonians, because of 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, 23, because 2 Peter 3:10 recalls 1 Thessalonians 5:2, also because “things hard to be understood” admirably describes much of 2 Thessalonians 2, which treats of the time of Christ’s coming, the very subject here under discussion.

Of these seven theories, (1) can neither be proved nor disproved; (3) and (4) lose much of their weight when we consider that the persons addressed in 2 Peter are nowhere defined, excepting that to some extent they are identical with those addressed in 1 Peter.

Of the remaining four, (7) seems to be very probable, both on account of the large amount of coincidence, and also because of the early date of those Epistles, allowing an interval of fifteen years, in which the two Epistles might easily have become well known in other churches.  Still it is difficult to find a passage in them about the longsuffering of God, such as Romans 2:4; 9:22-23.  And when we consider that Romans also appears to have been an Encyclical Letter, and was written not so very long after the Epistles to the Thessalonians; that in Romans 3:8.  Paul himself tells us that he had been grossly misunderstood; that Romans 9:3 might easily cause serious misunderstanding, and that Romans 6:16 seems to be recalled in 2 Peter 2:19—it will perhaps be thought that on the whole Romans best answers to the requirements of the context.


                        In depth:  Which epistle(s) of Paul that Peter has in mind hinge upon what subject matter and what specific individuals are in Peter’s mind [51].  To what Pauline writing or writings may Peter be supposed to refer?  The question has been keenly debated and very variously answered.  It turns upon two prior questions, those, namely, touching the subjects immediately in view and the persons immediately addressed.

Those who think that the verse deals only with the subject last mentioned, namely the “long-suffering of our Lord,” naturally look for statements made by Paul on that particular theme, and identify the writing with the Epistle to the Romans which, in such passages as Romans 2:4, Romans 9:22, takes that strain.

Those who regard this Second Epistle as directed not so much to Asiatic Christians as to Christians generally, conclude that the writing intended may be such an Epistle as that to the Hebrews, especially in view of the declarations in Hebrews 9:26, etc., Hebrews 10:25, 37.  Others fix on First Corinthians, in which so much is said on the subject of wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:7-9, etc.).

Others, who take the mysterious subject of the Second Advent as the special difficulty on which Peter appeals to Paul, are of opinion that the Epistles to the Thessalonians are meant, both because their early date affords time for their general circulation even among remote Christians, and because they are so much engaged (e.g. in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:2, and the Second Epistle throughout) with the Lord’s Coming.

There is little reason, however, to suppose that Peter alludes only to the one subject of the Divine long-suffering, as that is specified in the same verse.  That is itself but a part of the general exhortation in 2 Peter 3:14-15.  It is most reasonable, therefore, to regard him as referring, in this remarkable tribute to Paul, to the general subject which he has been engaged with—the end of the present system of things, the Lord’s Coming, the duties to be inferred from the prospect, and the seductive errors of the false teachers.

The “wrote unto you” seems also clearly to identify the writing or writings with communications made to the same circle of readers as Peter himself addresses, and these readers, as the Epistle itself indicates (2 Peter 3:1), are substantially those to whom the former Epistle was directed.  Among the Pauline Epistles we have several addressed to this Asiatic circle, Ephesians, Colossians, Galatians, not to speak of the Epistle to the Laodiceans (Colossians 4:16). 

And of these, if we are entitled to identify the writing with any of the extant Epistles, those to the Colossians and Ephesians best fulfill the conditions.  In the former (e.g. Colossians 1:22; Colossians 2:8) we find exhortations on the subject of the Christian life like those given here by Peter, and warnings like his against false teachers and a pretentious type of knowledge.  In favor of the latter we have also the considerations, that it was probably a kind of circular letter, and that there are many points of affinity between it and the Petrine Epistles (specially the First).



3:16                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     That is what he says in all his letters, when speaking in them of these things. In those letters there are some statements hard to understand, which ill-taught and unprincipled people pervert, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own ruin.

WEB:              as also in all of his letters, speaking in them of these things. In those, there are some things that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unsettled twist, as they also do to the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Young’s:         as also in all the epistles, speaking in them concerning these things, among which things are certain hard to be understood, which the untaught and unstable do wrest, as also the other Writings, unto their own destruction.

Conte (RC):    just as he also spoke in all of his

epistles about these things. In these, there are certain

things which are difficult to understand, which the

unlearned and the unsteady distort, as they also do

the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.


3:16                 As also in all his epistles.  The Pauline Epistles were by this time become the common property of all the churches.  The “all” seems to imply they were now completed.  The subject of the Lord’s coming is handled in 1 Thessalonians 4:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; compare 2 Peter 3:10 with 1 Thessalonians 5:2.  Still Peter distinguishes Paul’s Epistle, or Epistles, “TO YOU” [verse 15] from “all his (other) Epistles” [verse 16], showing that certain definite churches, or particular classes of believers, are meant by “you.”  [20]

                        Or:  The English represents the Greek accurately enough, but the absence of the article in the original should be noted as showing that there was not yet any complete collection of St Paul’s Epistles.  All that can be legitimately inferred from the expression is that Peter knew of other Epistles (probably 1 and 2 Thessalonians , 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans) besides those—or that—to which he had referred in the preceding verse (= Ephesians and Corinthians).  [38]

speaking in them of these things.  Paul, in all his epistles, says Dr. Macknight, has spoken of the things written by Peter in this letter.  For example, he has spoken of Christ‘s coming to judgment, 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 4:14-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Titus 2:13.  And of the resurrection of the dead, 1 Corinthians 15:22; Philemon 3:20, 21.  And of the burning of the earth, 2 Thessalonians 1:8.  And of the heavenly country, 2 Corinthians 5:1-10.  And of the introduction of the righteous into that country, 1 Thessalonians 4:17; Hebrews 4:9; 12:14, 18, 24.  And of the judgment of all mankind by Christ, Romans 14:10.  [18] 

in which are some things.  Not yet established in what they have learned; shaken by every seeming difficulty; who, in perplexing texts, instead of waiting until God by His Spirit makes them plain in comparing them with other Scriptures, hastily adopt distorted views.  [20]

What subject matter is under consideration?  The “in which” refers, according to the best reading, not to the “things” of which Paul spake, but to the Epistles themselves.  The adjective “hard to be understood” occurs only here.  Some suppose the reference to be particularly to Paul’s doctrine of the Second Coming, as given in such passages of his Epistles as 1 Corinthians 15:12-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:13, etc.; others to his doctrines of justification and Christian freedom, which engaged so much of his teaching, and were peculiarly open to perversion.  It is also suggested that the more mystical sections of his doctrine, those found, e.g., in Ephesians 2:5, etc., Colossians 2:12, may be specially in view, as these were capable of being turned to the advantage both of the party of immoral licence, and of errorists like Hymenaeus and Philetus, who taught that the resurrection was past already (Hofmann).  [51]

The correct Greek text reading here?  According to the greatest number of MSS the apostle does not say, εν αις, in which epistles, but εν οις, in or among which things; namely, the things which Paul had written concerning Christ’s coming to judgment, the burning of the earth, the heavenly country, and the introduction of the righteous into that country.  The Alexandrian, however, and six other MSS read here, εν αις, in which epistles.  This, Beza says, is the true reading, because he thinks it would have been improper in Peter to say that Paul had written obscurely concerning subjects of which Peter himself had written more things hard to be understood than any Paul had written in any part of his epistles.  Nevertheless “the common reading may be retained, because the antecedent to the neuter relative, οις, may be a word not expressed, but understood, namely, γραμμασι, which signifies letters or epistles, Acts 28:21.  On this supposition Peter’s meaning will be, In which epistles there are some things hard to be understood.”  Barclay, in his Apology, explains this of the 9th chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, in which there are some things that seem to be contrary to God’s long-suffering to all, and which are very liable to be perniciously wrested.  [47] 

hard to be understood.  “There is scarce anything drawn from the obscure places, but the same in other places may be found most plain” [Augustine]. It is our own prejudice, foolish expectations, and carnal fancies, that make Scripture difficult [Jeremy Taylor].  [20]

We are left to conjecture what these were.  We might think of the mysterious predictions of “the man of sin” in 2 Thessalonians 2, or the doctrine of the “spiritual body” in 1 Corinthians 15:44, 2 Corinthians 5:1-4, but it is not easy to see how these elements of Paul’s teaching could have been perverted to the destruction of men’s spiritual life.  On the whole, therefore, it seems more likely that the Apostle finds in the “unlearned and unstable” the party of license in the Apostolic Church, who claimed to be following Paul’s assertion of his freedom, by eating things sacrificed to idols and indulging in sins of impurity, or who quoted his words “that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28) as sanctioning a profligate Antinomianism.  [38]

Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith, not by works, and of subjection not under the law, but under grace, readily lent itself to such perversion; and has always been more or less perverted in this way by professing Christians.  When the false teachers “promised their disciples liberty” (2:19), they might quote such passages as Galatians 5:1, “With freedom did Christ set us free:  stand fast, therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage.”  Paul himself was always conscious of the possibility that his teaching might be thus perverted, and repeatedly tried to guard against it, e.g. Galatians 5:13, “For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion of the flesh.”  [45]

which they that are unlearned.  ἀμαθής is not used elsewhere in the N.T. It signifies not so much “unlearned” as “uneducated”; a mind untrained and undisciplined in habits of thought, lacking in the moral qualities of a balanced judgment.  [36] 

Unlearned, not trained in the study of Scripture, e.g. to give a modern application, not trained to interpret a passage by its context and according to the whole teaching of the work in which it stands, and in view of the circumstances and intention of the author; but taking isolated fragments in any sense that the mere words could be made to bear.  [45]

The evil here adverted to is that which arises in cases where those without competent knowledge undertake to become expounders of the word of God.  It is not said that it is not proper for them to attempt to become instructed by the aid of the sacred writings; but the danger is, that without proper views of interpretation, of language, and of ancient customs, they might be in danger of perverting and abusing certain portions of the writings of Paul.  Intelligence among the people is everywhere in the Bible presumed to be proper in understanding the sacred Scriptures; and ignorance may produce the same effects in interpreting the Bible which it will produce in interpreting other writings.  Every good thing is liable to abuse.  [31]

and unstable.  Who have no settled principles and views. The evil here adverted to is that which arises where those undertake to interpret the Bible who have no established principles.  They regard nothing as settled.  They have no landmarks set up to guide their inquiries.  They have no stability in their character, and of course nothing can be regarded as settled in their methods of interpreting the Bible.  They are under the control of feeling and emotion, and are liable to embrace one opinion today, and another directly opposite tomorrow.  [31]

wrest.  Pervert; misunderstand and misapply.  [14]

Only here in New Testament.  Meaning, originally, to hoist with a windlass or screw; to twist or dislocate the limbs on a rack.  It is a singularly graphic word applied to the perversion of Scripture.  [2]

“The original word, στρεβλουσιν, signifies to put a person to the torture, to make him confess some crime laid to his charge, or reveal some secret which he knows.  Applied to writings it signifies, by far-fetched criticisms and unsupported senses of words, to make a passage speak a meaning different from what the author intended.  Hence in our language we have the expression, to torture words.  Of this vice they are most commonly guilty who, from pride of understanding, will receive nothing but what they can explain.  Whereas, the humble and teachable receive the declarations of revelation according to their plain, grammatical, unconstrained meaning, which it is their only care to attain, by reading the Scriptures frequently and with attention.” — Macknight.  [47]

We can only conjecture what these utterances of Paul were, which were perverted by the ignorant and unsteadfast.  Commentators refer to the Pauline doctrine of freedom (Galatians 5:1; Romans 5:20), which Paul himself says was perverted by some (Romans 3:8), to a false doctrine of the resurrection (2 Timothy 2:18, possibly based upon a perversion of Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:12; or even of 1 Corinthians 15:12-58.  Gerhard includes among these perversions false views of the Parousia, of justification by faith, of Christian liberty, of the coming of Antichrist, and especially the justification and excuses of lawless extravagancies.  [50]   

as they do also the other scriptures.  The other scriptures may mean the Old Testament, or New Testament writings already written.  The point to be noted is that already when Peter wrote Paul's epistles were accepted as a part of the Scriptures.  [22]

The word “Scriptures,” as used by a Jew, had a technical signification--meaning the inspired writings, and was the common word which was applied to the sacred writings of the Old Testament.  As Peter uses this language, it implies that he regarded the writings of Paul as on a level with the Old Testament; and as far as the testimony of one apostle can go to confirm the claim of another to inspiration, it proves that the writings of Paul are entitled to a place in the sacred canon.  It should be remarked, also, that Peter evidently speaks here of the common estimate in which the writings of Paul were held.  He addresses those to whom he wrote, not in such a way as to declare to them that the writings of Paul were to be regarded as a part of the inspired volume, but as if this were already known, and were an admitted point.  [31]

That an Apostle should speak of the writings of a brother-Apostle in the same terms as the books of the Old Testament—viz., as Scripture—need not surprise us, especially when we remember the large claims made by Paul for his own words (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; Ephesians 3:3-5.  Compare Acts 15:28; Revelation 22:18-19).  [46]

Case that the terminology was intended to cover other first century Christian writers as well:   Few passages are more important than this in its bearing on the growth of the Canon of the New Testament.  It shows (1) that the distinctive term of honor used of the books of the Old Testament was applied without reserve to Paul’s writings; (2) that probably other books now found in the Canon were also so recognized.  The last inference is confirmed (1) by the use of the term “Scripture” as connected with a quotation from Luke 10:7 in 1 Timothy 5:18; (2) by St Paul’s reference to “prophetic writings” or “Scriptures” as unfolding the mystery which had been hid from ages and generations in Romans 16:26, and probably by the tests which he gives in 2 Timothy 3:16 as the notes by which “every inspired Scripture, or writing,” might be distinguished from its counterfeit.  [38]

unto their own destruction.  By embracing false doctrines.  Error destroys the soul; and it is very possible for a man so to read the Bible as only to confirm himself in error.  He may find passages which, by a perverted interpretation, shall seem to sustain his own views; and, instead of embracing the truth, may live always under delusion, and perish at last.  It is not to be inferred that every man who reads the Bible, or even every one who undertakes to be its public expounder, will certainly be saved.  [31]

The passage has been seized on in support of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the obscurity of Scripture, its possible injuriousness to the private student, and the danger of leaving it in the hands of the people without an authoritative interpretation.  What Peter is warning against, however, is the perils of a misuse of Scripture.  What he states is not that Scripture is unsafe in the hands of the people, but that there are certain things in it which are capable of being perverted by a particular class.  And while he gives this caution to the “ignorant and unstable,” he speaks of Paul as writing “according to the wisdom given unto him,” and earnestly enjoins upon all these Gentile Christians scattered throughout the Asiatic Churches “to be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (2 Peter 3:2).  [51]



3:17                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     You, therefore, dear friends, having been warned beforehand, must continually be on your guard so as not to be led astray by the false teaching of immoral men nor fall from your own stedfastness.

WEB:              You therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware, lest being carried away with the error of the wicked, you fall from your own steadfastness.

Young’s:         Ye, then, beloved, knowing before, take heed, lest, together with the error of the impious being led away, ye may fall from your own stedfastness,

Conte (RC):    But since you, brothers, know these

things beforehand, be cautious, lest by being drawn

into the error of the foolish, you may fall away from

your own steadfastness.


3:17                 Ye therefore, beloved.  It is evident how much Peter’s mind was warmed with affection towards his brethren, since he, no less than four times in this short chapter, addresses them by that endearing term, “Beloved.”  And how did he testify his love, but by guarding them against the dangers to which they were exposed, and by prescribing to them the most effectual means of deliverance and safety?  [10]

seeing ye know these things before [beforehand, NKJV].  Being aware of this danger, and knowing that such results may follow.  People should read the Bible with the feeling that it is possible that they may fall into error, and be deceived at last.  This apprehension will do much to make them diligent, and candid, and prayerful, in studying the Word of God.  [31]

Seeing that I have forewarned you of the certain appearance, conduct, and success of these false teachers and scoffers.  “Forewarned, forearmed.”  [46]

Beware.  Be on your guard.  [47]

lest ye also.  This has already happened to others; it can happen to you as well.  Do not be blind to the danger!  [rw]

being led away [carried away, ESV, NASB].  The phrase “carried away with” is an extremely forcible one.  It is the phrase which Paul applies to the action of Barnabas when he dissembled with Peter himself at Antioch (Galatians 2:13).  It may suggest the picture of the “error” as a powerful current sweeping what it can into its bosom, and snatching the unwary off with it from the rock of their steadfastness.  [51]

It is noticeable that while Paul had used the word for being “led away” of Barnabas as being influenced by the Judaizing teachers at Antioch (Galatians 2:13), Peter here applies it to those who were persuaded by teachers at the opposite pole of error.  [38]

with the error of the wicked.  Both their doctrinal and their moral error.  Whether existing separately or together, they are both fatal to the soul.  [rw]

fall from your own steadfastness.  Your firm adherence to the truth.  [31]

The “steadfastness” of the readers of the Epistle as contrasted with the unstable or unsteadfast of 2 Peter 3:16 is acknowledged; but they are warned that it requires care and watchfulness to preserve it.  He does not assume any indefectible grace of perseverance.  The tense of the verb in “lest ye fall” indicates that it would be a single and decisive act.  [38]

                        Implicit evidence that 2 Peter was written before Jude?  The entire absence of directions—which Jude gives rather elaborately—as to how these evil men and their victims are to be treated by sound Christians is in favor of the priority of this Epistle.  When evil men begin to arise, the first impulse is to avoid them and their ways, and to this course Peter exhorts his readers.  When such men have established themselves and gained proselytes, people begin to consider how to deal with the seducers and to win back the seduced, and to these points Jude directs his readers.  [46]               



3:18                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     But be always growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be all glory, both now and to the day of Eternity!

WEB:              But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

Young’s:         and increase ye in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; to him is the glory both now, and to the day of the age! Amen.

Conte (RC):    Yet truly, increase in grace and in the

knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To

him be glory, both now and in the day of eternity.



3:18                 But grow.  He exhorts us to make progress; for it is the only way of persevering, to make continual advances, and not to stand still in the middle of our journey; as though he had said, that they only would be safe who labored to make progress daily.  [35]

Don’t be content with what you are—your spiritual knowledge or spiritual maturity.  Always attempt to grow stronger and deeper in both.  [rw]

                        in grace.  There is nothing mystical and remote from the experience of daily life in this exhortation:  “Grow in grace”; and it is not growth in some occult theological virtue, or transcendent experience, but a very plain, practical thing, a daily transformation, with growing completeness and precision of resemblance, into the likeness of Jesus Christ.  [27]

and in the knowledge.  The knowledge of a person is not the same as the knowledge of a creed or of a thought or of a book.  We are to grow in the knowledge of Christ, which includes but is more than the intellectual apprehension of the truths concerning Him.  He might turn the injunction into—“Increase your acquaintance with your Savior.”  Many Christians never get to be any more intimate with Him than they were when they were first introduced to Him.  They are on a kind of bowing acquaintance with their Master, and have little more than that.  They have got no nearer Jesus Christ than when they first knew Him.  Their friendship has not grown.  It has never reached the stage where all restraints are laid aside and there is perfect confidence.  [27] 

of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Peter here, as in 1:2, lays stress on an ever increasing knowledge of the person, and the offices, and the benefits of Christ.  A true knowledge of Christ[’s importance] is the cause of all Christian activity.  [50]

to Him be glory.  The word “glory” in the Greek has the article, which makes it include all the glory which men were wont, in their doxologies, to ascribe to God.  The Apostle has learnt the full meaning of the words “that all men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father” (John 5:23).  The effect of his teaching may be traced in the Churches to which the letter was mainly addressed, in Pliny’s account of the worship of Christians in the Asiatic provinces, as including “a hymn sung to Christ as to God” (Ep. ad Trajan. 96).  [38]

An abbreviated version of Jude [verse] 25; cf. also the doxologies, Romans 9:5, 11:36, and 16:27, “to him (whom) be the glory for ever;” Philippians 4:20; 1 Timothy 6:16; 2 Timothy 4:18; and Hebrews 13:21, “to whom be the glory for ever and ever;” 1 Peter 5:11.  [45]

both now.  Whatever you may have done in the past, there is no reason to continue in those behavioral and doctrinal errors.  You can never change “yesterday,” but only “today.”  Likewise if you have been doing the right thing, that is no excuse for slacking off.  You must continue in the here and “now”—not to mention “tomorrow” as well.  [rw] 

and for ever.  Revised Version margin, “Greek, ‘unto the day of eternity;’ literally ‘of the age.’   The phrase is different from that used in the doxologies just referred to, and only occurs here in the New Testament.  The phrase occurs in Ecclus. 18:10, “As a drop of water from the sea, and a pebble from the sand; so are a few years in the day of eternity,” where “day of eternity” is a synonym for “eternity.”  [45]

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.  [47]

Amen.  Dr. Benson remarks, that when this word is placed at the beginning of a sentence, it is an earnest asseveration.  In the conclusion of a sentence, it imports an earnest wish that it may be so.  [47]

The lack of personal salutations at the close of the epistle:  The absence of any salutations, like those with which the First Epistle ended, is, perhaps, in part due to the wider and more encyclical character which marks the Second.  The Apostle was content that his last words should be on the one hand an earnest entreaty that men should “grow” to completeness in their spiritual life, and, on the other, the ascription of an eternal glory to the Lord and Master whom he loved.  [38]


                        In depth:  The “doxology” of verse 18 as evidence of genuine Petrine authorship [46].  The Epistle comes to a most abrupt conclusion, without any personal remarks or greetings.  This is so unlike the First Epistle, so unusual in Apostolic letters generally, that an imitator, and so accomplished an imitator as the writer of this Epistle must have been, would scarcely have omitted so usual and natural an addition. 

The addition would have been doubly natural here, for the [im]personator (if the writer of the Epistle be such) is [im]personating Peter near the end of his life, writing to congregations whom he is not likely either to see or address again.  Surely the circumstances would have seemed to him to demand some words of personal greeting and tender farewell; and Acts 20:18-35; 2 Timothy 4:6-18, would have supplied him with models.  But nothing of the kind is inserted.

Assume that Peter himself is the writer, and then we can understand how he came to disappoint such natural expectations.  His heart is too full of the fatal dangers which threaten the whole Christian community to think of himself and his personal friends.  As to his death, which cannot be far off, he knows that it will come swiftly at the last, and his chief fear is lest it should come upon him before he has left on record these words of warning and exhortation (2 Peter 1:13-15).  Therefore, at the opening he hurries to his subject at once, and presses on, without pause or break, until it is exhausted; and now that he has unburdened his heart he cares to say no more, but ends at once with a tribute of praise to the Master that bought him.










1          [Anonymous].  Teacher’s Testament/Nelson’s Explanatory Testament

            Thomas Nelson & Sons;  New York: 1912


2          Marvin R. Vincent, D.D.  Word Studies in the New Testament.  Charles

Scribner’s Sons;  New York:  1887


3          Robert Young.  Commentary on the Holy Bible.  A. Fullarton & Co; 

Edinburgh and London; Fullarton, Macnab & Co.,  New York:  18--


4          Daniel Whitby, D.D. and Moses Lowman.  A Critical Commentary and

            Paraphrase on the New Testament.  Carey  Hart, Chestnut Street   

Philadelphia; Wiley & Putnam, 163 Broadway, New York:  1846.


5          Matthew Henry.  Vol. IV:   Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole           Bible.  New York:  Fleming H. Revell Company; Reprint.


6          Rev. Dr C. G. Barth.  The Bible Manual.  London:  James Nisbet and Co.,



7          Charles R. Erdman.  The General Epistles.  Philadelphia:  The Westminster

            Press, 1918.


8          Joh. Ed. Huther, Th. D., Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the

            General Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude    [Meyer’s Commentary

            on the New Testament].  New York:  Funk & Wagnalls, Publishers, 1887.


9          Professor Bernhard Weiss, D.D.  A Commentary of the New Testament             Vol. IV.  New York and London:  Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1906.


10        Charles Simeon, M.A.  Horae Homileticae  Vol. XX.  London:      Holdsworth

            and Ball, 1833.


11        Rev. S. T. Bloomfield, M.A.  Recensio Symoptica Annotations Sacrae

            [Bloomfield’s Critical Digest  Vol. VIII].  London:  C and J Rivington, 1828.                  

12        George Leo Haydock.  Haydock’s Catholic Family Bible and Commentary

            New York:  Edward Dunigan and Brother, 1859 [Photopraphic Reprint: 

            UTS, Richmond, Virginia:  CB/97/J/1991.  Paperback]


13        Howard Crosby, D.D.  New Testament, With Brief Explanatory Notes.  New

York:  Charles Scribner, 1863.


14        Anonymous  [Justin Edwards].  The New Testament of Our Lord and      Saviour Jesus Christ.  New York:  American Tract Society, 18--.  [NOTE:

This edition has more notes, but Edwards’ name is attached to     a shorter

edition of the same material at UTS, Richmond, Virginia:  CB/971KE/1851.


15        John Wesley, M.A.  Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament.  Cincinnati,

            Ohio:   Carlton & Lanahan; New York:  E. Thomas:  18--.


16        Orello Cone, D.D.  International Handbooks to the N.T.  Vol. 3:  The      Epistles.  New York:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons / Knickerbocker Press, 1901.


17        Philip Doddridge, D.D.  The Family Expositor (Paraphrase and Version of

the New Testament [American edition]).  Amherst, Ms.:  J. S. & C. Adams,

and L. Boltwood; New York:  J Leavitt, 1834.


18        Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., etc.  The New Testament of our Lord and

            Saviour Jesus Christ  Vol. VI.  New York:  Abingdon Press, [n.d.].          


19        Donald Fraser, M.A., D.D.   Synoptical Lectures of the Books of Holy    Scripture  Vol. II.  New York:  Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1885.


20        Rev. Robert Jamieson, D.D.     Rev. A. R. Fausset, A.M.     Rev. David Brown             D.D.   A Commentary, Critical and explanatory, on the Old and New          Testaments  Vol. II     The S. S. Scranton Company     Hartford:  1871.


21        Martin Luther.  The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude Preached and

Explained (Wittenberg, 1523-1524).  Translated and with notes by E. H.

Gillett.  New York:  Anson D. F. Randolph, 1859.    


22        Barton W. Johnson.  People’s New Testament.  Internet Edition.  1891.


23        Arno Gaebelein.  Annotated Bible.  Internet Edition.  1920s.


24        John R. Dummelow.  Dummelow’s Commentary on the Bible.  Internet   Edition.  1909.


25        Robert Hawker.  Poor Man’s Commentary.  Internet Edition.  1828.


26        Johann A. Bengel.   Gnomon of the New Testament.  Internet Edition.  1742.


27        Alexander MacLaren.  Exposition of the Holy Scriptures.  Internet Edition.



28        Matthew Poole.  English Annotations on the Holy Bible.  Internet Edition.



29        John Trapp.  Complete Commentary.  Internet Edition.  Written 1600s;

            1865-1868 edition.


30        Joseph Sutcliffe.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  Internet

            Edition.  1835.


31        Albert Barnes.  Notes on the New Testament.  Internet Edition.  1870.


32        James Gray.  Concise Bible Commentary.  Internet Edition.  1897-1910.


33        F. B. Meyer.  Thru The Bible (Commentary).  Internet Edition.  1914 edition.


34        John and Jacob Abbott.  Abbott’s Illustrated New Testament.  Internet

            Edition.  1878. 


35        John Calvin.  Commentaries.  Internet Edition.  Written in 1500s.  Printing:



36        William R. Nicoll, editor.  Expositor’s Greek Testament.   Internet



37        Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges:  James, 1 Peter, 2         Peter, Jude.  Internet Edition.  Each individual volume:  1896.


38        Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:  1 Peter, 2 Peter, Jude. 

E. M. Plumptre.  Internet Edition.  1890.    


39        D. D. Whedon.   Commentary on the New Testament; volume 5:  Titus to

Revelation.  Internet Edition.  New York:  Hunt & Eaton, 1880.


40        Ariel A. Livermore.  The Epistles to the Hebrews, the Epistles of James,

Peter, John, and Jude and the Revelation of John the Divine[:]  Commentary and Essays.    Internet Edition.  Boston:  Lockwood, Brooks and Company.



41        M[ichael] F. Sadler.  The General Epistles of SS. James, Peter, John, and

Jude.  Second Edition.  London:  George Bell and Sons.  1895.


42        Robert S. Hunt.  The Epistle to the Hebrews and the General Epistles.  In

the Cottage Commentary series.  London:  Joseph Masters, 1865.


43        A. T. Robertson.  New Testament Interpretation (Matthew to Revelation): 

            Notes on Lectures.  Taken stenographically.  Revised Edition by William M.

            Fouts and Alice M. Fouts.  Louisville, Kentucky:  1921.  Mimeographed.


44        William G. Humphry.  A Commentary on the Revised Version of the New

Testament.  London:  Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Company, 1882. 


45        W. H. Bennett.  The General Epistles:  James, Peter, John and Jude.  In the

Century Bible series.  Edinburgh:  T. C. & E. C. Jack, 1901.


46        A. J. Mason.  “First Epistle of Peter” in Ellicott’s New Testament

            Commentary for English Readers.  Internet Edition.  1884.  


47        Joseph Benson.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  Internet

            Edition.  1811-1815.


48        William B. Godbey.  Commentary on the New Testament.  Internet Edition.



49        James Nisbett, editor.  Church Pulpit Commentary.  Internet Edition.  1876.

            [Note:  this is not “The Pulpit Commentary.”]


50        Revere F. Weidner.  Annotations on the General Epistles of James, Peter,

            John, and Jude.  In the Lutheran Commentary series.  New York:  Christian

            Literature Company, 1897.


51        Schaff’s Popular Commentary on the New Testament.  Internet Edition.