2 Peter 3
Why Jesus is taking his sweet time
Writing to refresh memory1Dear friends, this is my second letter to you. I’ve written both as reminders for you, to help you keep your thoughts pure. 2And I’ve wanted to refresh your memory about what God’s devoted prophets taught. And I don’t want you to forget what you heard your apostles teach you about the commandments our leader and Savior gave us.
Making fun of the Second Coming3This is really important, and I don’t want you to miss it. In these end times, critics are going to ridicule your faith. They’ll do whatever they want, chasing their lusts. 4And they’ll say, “So, whatever happened to the Second Coming? That was a promise, wasn’t it? But my goodness, that generation is dead and gone. Nothing happened. Life goes on as it has since Creation.”
5Well, they talk about Creation; but they ignore the Creator. With nothing more than words, God created the sky and everything in it. From water, God created the earth. 6Later, he used that water to flood the world and kill it. 7God’s word now sustains the heavens and the earth we see today. He’ll keep doing that until Judgment Day. Then, everyone who rejected God will be annihilated in a fire.
8Don’t miss this, dear friends: With the Lord, one day is like a thousand years; and a thousand years are like a day. 9Our leader isn’t late, as some claim. He didn’t break his promise. Instead, he’s being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone annihilated. He wants everyone to reject sin instead of rejecting him.
The end marks a new beginning10There’s a day coming, known as the Day of the Lord. It’s going to sneak up on everyone like a thief. The sky will disappear with a roar. Creation will melt in the heat—Earth included. 11There you have it. Since everything will be destroyed, don’t you think it would be wise to live a good life devoted to God? 12That’s what we’re looking forward to: the Day of God, when the skies and everything in them will light up and burn away and when all of creation will melt in the heat.
13But there’s a new beginning, God promised. New heavens. And a new Earth, home for pure-hearted souls. 14So, my dear friends, while you wait for this, stay at peace with God. Don’t let sin stain you or damage you in any way. You wouldn’t want to show up looking like that. 15Take this patience of the Lord for what it is: salvation.
Our dear brother Paul wrote you about this same topic, drawing from the wisdom God gave him. 16When Paul wrote about this, it’s sometimes hard to understand what he meant. Ignorant people take advantage of this. They twist and distort his words, like they do other sacred writings.
17Dear friends, now that you know this, stay alert. You’re on solid ground with God. Stay there. Don’t get lured away by these frauds. 18Grow in your understanding of our leader and Savior Jesus Christ, through his kindness. He deserves our praise now and forever. And that’s the truth. 
Literally, “in the last days.” Some scholars say they presume Peter is talking about his day, since he’s about to describe the fraudulent teachers he has been talking about earlier in the letter.
This is a unique argument, many scholars say. No one else on record used this approach to explaining why it was taking Jesus so long to come back when he talked about his return and then said “this generation of human beings will live to see everything I’ve described” (Matthew 24:34). Peter may have been inspired to use this argument because of a psalm: “A thousand years to us is like yesterday to you. Or just last night” (Psalm 90:4).
Peter tells his readers, “I don’t want you to forget what you heard your apostles teach you about the commandments our leader and Savior gave us” (3:2). What are some of the commandments you remember Jesus giving people?
Peter admits that the Second Coming might seem a little late. He’s possibly writing a few decades after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. How do you react to his argument justifying the delay? “With the Lord, one day is like a thousand years; and a thousand years are like a day. Our leader isn’t late, as some claim. . . . Instead, he’s being patient with you. . . . He wants everyone to reject sin instead of rejecting him” (3:8-9).
Peter promises a new beginning after the end of creation: “New heavens. And a new Earth, home for pure-hearted souls” (3:13). How do you think most Christians imagine this new experience? Do they think it will be a physical existence or perhaps an existence in another form?
Peter, writing about why Jesus is taking so long to return, adds, “Our dear brother Paul wrote you about this same topic, drawing from the wisdom God gave him” (3:15). Do you think his statement might imply that what Peter wrote on the topic drew from his personal understanding, rather than God’s word somehow miraculously expressed to him?
Do you think readers in the first century already considered the writings of Paul and others as sacred Scriptures, God’s word with equal status to their Bible, the Old Testament? Some suggest they did because of what Peter said in 3:16. He accused some people of distorting the word Paul wrote, “like they do other sacred writings.”
LIFE APPLICATION. Do you think we should be concerned about the fact that with nuclear weapons we have the power to do much of what Peter describes happening to creation on the “Day of the Lord” (3:10)?
- “The sky will disappear with a roar. Creation will melt in the heat—Earth included” (3:10).
- “Everything will be destroyed” (3:11).
- “The skies and everything in them will light up and burn away, and then all of creation will melt in the heat” (3:12).
LIFE APPLICATION. Peter warns his readers about fake leaders in the church: “Don’t get lured away by these frauds” (3:17). Why do you think so many Christians get tricked into following frauds?