Denial of the Parousia. 1* This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; through them by way of reminder I am trying to stir up your sincere disposition, 2to recall the words previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and savior through your apostles.a 3Know this first of all, that in the last days scoffers* will come [to] scoff, living according to their own desiresb 4and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming?* From the time when our ancestors fell asleep, everything has remained as it was from the beginning of creation.”c 5They deliberately ignore the fact that the heavens existed of old and earth was formed out of water and through water* by the word of God;d 6through these the world that then existed was destroyed,e deluged with water.* 7The present heavens and earth have been reserved by the same word for fire, kept for the day of judgment and of destruction of the godless.f
8* But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years* and a thousand years like one day.g 9The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.h 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief,* and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire, and the earth and everything done on it will be found out.i
Exhortation to Preparedness.* 11Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought [you] to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion,j 12* waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God,k because of which the heavens will be dissolved in flames and the elements melted by fire. 13But according to his promise we await new heavens and a new earth* in which righteousness dwells.l
14Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace. 15And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you,m 16speaking of these things* as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.
V. Final Exhortation and Doxology*
17Therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, be on your guard not to be led into the error of the unprincipled and to fall from your own stability.n 18But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory now and to the day of eternity. [Amen.]o
* [3:1–4] The false teachers not only flout Christian morality (cf. Jude 8–19); they also deny the second coming of Christ and the judgment (2 Pt 3:4; cf. 2 Pt 3:7). They seek to justify their licentiousness by arguing that the promised return of Christ has not been realized and the world is the same, no better than it was before (2 Pt 3:3–4). The author wishes to strengthen the faithful against such errors by reminding them in this second letter of the instruction in 1 Peter and of the teaching of the prophets and of Christ, conveyed through the apostles (2 Pt 3:1–2; cf. Jude 17); cf. 1 Pt 1:10–12, 16–21, especially 16–21; Eph 2:20.
* [3:3] Scoffers: cf. Jude 18, where, however, only the passions of the scoffers are mentioned, not a denial on their part of Jesus’ parousia.
* [3:4–7] The false teachers tried to justify their immorality by pointing out that the promised coming (parousia) of the Lord has not yet occurred, even though early Christians expected it in their day. They thus insinuate that God is not guiding the world’s history anymore, since nothing has changed and the first generation of Christians, our ancestors (2 Pt 3:4), has all died by this time. The author replies that, just as God destroyed the earth by water in the flood (2 Pt 3:5–6, cf. 2 Pt 2:5), so he will destroy it along with the false teachers on judgment day (7). The word of God, which called the world into being (Gn 1; Ps 33:6) and destroyed it by the waters of a flood, will destroy it again by fire on the day of judgment (2 Pt 3:5–7).
* [3:5] Formed out of water and through water: Gn 1:2, 6–8 is reflected as well as Greek views that water was the basic element from which all is derived.
* [3:6] Destroyed, deluged with water: cf. 2 Pt 2:5; Gn 7:11–8:2.
* [3:8–10] The scoffers’ objection (2 Pt 3:4) is refuted also by showing that delay of the Lord’s second coming is not a failure to fulfill his word but rather a sign of his patience: God is giving time for repentance before the final judgment (cf. Wis 11:23–26; Ez 18:23; 33:11).
* [3:10] Like a thief: Mt 24:43; 1 Thes 5:2; Rev 3:3. Will be found out: cf. 1 Cor 3:13–15. Some few versions read, as the sense may demand, “will not be found out”; many manuscripts read “will be burned up”; there are further variants in other manuscripts, versions, and Fathers. Total destruction is assumed (2 Pt 3:11).
* [3:11–16] The second coming of Christ and the judgment of the world are the doctrinal bases for the moral exhortation to readiness through vigilance and a virtuous life; cf. Mt 24:42, 50–51; Lk 12:40; 1 Thes 5:1–11; Jude 20–21.
* [3:12] Flames…fire: although this is the only New Testament passage about a final conflagration, the idea was common in apocalyptic and Greco-Roman thought. Hastening: eschatology is here used to motivate ethics (2 Pt 3:11), as elsewhere in the New Testament. Jewish sources and Acts 3:19–20 assume that proper ethical conduct can help bring the promised day of the Lord; cf. 2 Pt 3:9. Some render the phrase, however, “desiring it earnestly.”
* [3:13] New heavens and a new earth: cf. Is 65:17; 66:22. The divine promises will be fulfilled after the day of judgment will have passed. The universe will be transformed by the reign of God’s righteousness or justice; cf. Is 65:17–18; Acts 3:21; Rom 8:18–25; Rev 21:1.
* [3:16] These things: the teachings of this letter find parallels in Paul, e.g., God’s will to save (Rom 2:4; 9:22–23; 1 Cor 1:7–8), the coming of Christ (1 Thes 4:16–17; 1 Cor 15:23–52), and preparedness for the judgment (Col 1:22–23; Eph 1:4–14; 4:30; 5:5–14). Other scriptures: used to guide the faith and life of the Christian community. The letters of Paul are thus here placed on the same level as books of the Old Testament. Possibly other New Testament writings could also be included.
* [3:17–18] To avoid the dangers of error and loss of stability Christians are forewarned to be on guard and to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Pt 1:2) of Christ. The doxology (2 Pt 3:18) recalls 1 Pt 4:11. Some manuscripts add Amen.
b. [3:3] 1 Tm 4:1; 2 Tm 3:1; Jude 18.
d. [3:5] Gn 1:2, 6, 8; Ps 24:2.
i. [3:10] Is 66:15–16; Mt 24:29.
l. [3:13] Is 65:17; 66:22; Rom 8:21; Rev 21:1, 27.