International Sunday School Lesson
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Lesson Text: 2 Peter 3:3-15a
Lesson Title: The Hope of His Coming
The return of Christ is no
mere fairy tale, no "happily ever after" ending drawn from an
imaginative mind. Rather, it is the fulfillment of an
unconditional promise of Christ given to His church over two
thousand years ago when He said, "I will come again, and receive
you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John
14:3). The return of Christ is the blessed hope of the church
(Titus 2:11-14), a time of resurrection and reunion with
departed loved ones (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), and a time of
judgment for the enemies of the cross (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).
It has been said that people
often need to be reminded than informed. And that is what Peter
does in 2 Peter 3. "This second epistle, beloved, I now write
unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of
remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were
spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us
the apostles of the Lord and Saviour" (2 Peter 3:1-2). After a
direct and powerful rebuke in 2 Peter 2, the apostle now turns
to words of encouragement and hope. His words are not based on
sentiment but Scripture. Peter is absolutely committed to the
truth of Scripture both Old and New Testaments. If you want to
have a legitimate hope it must be based upon the word of God,
both Old and New Testaments.
Although Peter's readers had
truly been converted it is important to remember they had been
taught all their life that Messiah would come as a political and
military ruler and establish His kingdom on earth. In spite of
Christ's death and resurrection His promised return was a
challenge for these persecuted believers especially in light of
the existing Roman government and the religious skeptics. How
were these young Christians to handle all the challenges and
questions concerning Christ's return? Peter's words answers
their questions and calms their fears.
The Scoffers and His Coming (2 Peter 3:1-7)
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days
scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the
fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the
beginning of the creation."
"Knowing this first" or "to
start," Peter wants his readers to know that "scoffers shall
come in the last days." A "scoffer" is someone who "mocks." It
is the fundamental desire of unsaved people, religious or
otherwise, to attack the integrity of the word of God (2 Peter
1:10). Their "scoffing" and "mocking" is rooted in "their own
lusts." "Lust" is their "passion." It's what "scoffers" live
for. Fulfilling their "passions." "Scoffers" are consumed with
"their own lust." As far as they are concerned, they are the
final authority on any subject (Isaiah 28:15). Absolutes do
exist in the world but not in the mind of the "scoffer."
The "last days" refers to the
period of time since Christ came the first time. It refers to
the New Testament age (Hebrews 1:2). We are living in "the last
days." It means the entire time from the first coming to the
Second Coming. All throughout the time period after Christ's
first coming "scoffers" have said, "Where is the promise of his
coming?" Here is one of the identifiable marks of a "scoffer."
They love to flaunt their presumed intellectualism. They want to
sound more knowledgeable than those who believe the Bible.
The question raised by the
"scoffers" concerns their "fathers" or loved ones who have
"fallen asleep" or died. They make the point that nothing has
changed. In other words, life and death come, time rolls on and
nothing is different. They go all the way back to the time of
"creation" itself and challenge God's Word. By making this
statement, they accuse God and Christ of lying.
In our day the "scoffers"
might say, "We heard preachers preaching the return of Christ in
the 1970's and 1980's and 1990's and He didn't come. We heard
the warning of the year 2000 and nothing happened." Remember,
these "scoffers" think they are the final authority on
everything so they are not afraid to challenge God's Word or the
promises of Christ concerning His return.
"Scoffers," the media is
filled with them. "Scoffers," the world-wide web is saturated
with them. 'Scoffers," the educational world and political world
produces them by the millions! "Scoffers," God's Word will judge
them (Romans 1:18).
"For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of
God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the
water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being
overflowed with water, perished"
Peter takes his readers back
to the third day of creation where God raised the land from the
all-encompassing hold of the waters (Genesis 1:9-10). That is
where God gave the oceans, seas, and waters boundaries. Storms
come and the tide comes in and out every day but the waters are
kept within those boundaries. Once, God Almighty overrode those
boundaries and caused "the world that then was" to be
"overflowed with water." It was the event we know as "the flood"
in the days of Noah (Genesis 6-7). Day after day, month after
month, and year after the year the waters were kept within their
boundaries until God destroyed the earth in judgment.
Just like our world today, Peter's says people are
"willingly...ignorant" of this fact. The world-wide flood
happened. And so will the return of Christ. People who "scoff"
today "willingly" reject both historical and scriptural truth.
The result of that rejection and "ignorance" is that they will
"But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word
are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of
judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
God has promised never to
judge this earth again with water (Genesis 9:11-15). But He will
judge the earth again with "fire." The present "heavens and the
earth" which you and I see and live in, are "kept in store,
reserved" for the coming judgment of God. In other words, the
"earth" upon which we live and the "heavens" that are above us
are being held by God as "fuel for the fire" when He rains
"judgment and perdition" upon "ungodly men." God is poised and
ready to give the signal for judgment just as He did in the days
of Noah. This concept totally defies comprehension by those
"scoffers" who hold the idea that "...all things continue as
they were from the beginning of the creation" (2 Peter 3:4).
The Schedule and His Coming (2 Peter 3:8-9)
"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day
is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as
In spite of the fact that man
should never question the word of God and the promise of His
coming, why has the Lord not already returned? At this point
Peter begins to talk about the reason for the delay in the
Lord's return. There was no reason for believers then or now to
be "ignorant" of what is taking place in God's schedule for His
return. Note the contrast between the "willful ignorance" of the
"scoffers" in verse 5 and the ability of the "beloved" believers
to be knowledgeable.
First, there is the matter of
time. Peter quotes from Psalm 90:4, "For a thousand years in thy
sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in
the night." Peter wants his readers to look at this from God's
point of view. For those still living on earth it may seem like
a long time but from God's perspective "one day is with the Lord
as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." If
"scoffers" and sinful men think it has been a long time between
the promise and the fulfillment of Christ's second coming, then
that is their problem, not God's! It has been over 2,000 years
since the promise was given but the promise will be fulfilled.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count
slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any
should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
"The Lord is not slack
concerning his promise, as some men count slackness..." is a
reminder that God does not renege on His promises. While sinful
men often break their promises and are impatient and either
ahead or behind schedule in keeping their promises, God is not.
And that brings us to our second reason why the Lord has not
already returned. It is the matter of the Lord's patience.
"Longsuffering" is a word that means "God has a large capacity
for holding back anger before sending judgment" (Exodus 34:6;
Joel 2:13). "Us-ward" is a reference to Peter, his present
readers, and all who will come to Christ in saving faith.
The Lord's "longsuffering" is
vital because God is "not willing that any should perish." His
"longsuffering" leaves the door of opportunity open for those
who have never been saved to trust Christ as their Savior before
He returns. These gracious words should not cause a sinner to
delay coming to Christ in "repentance" for unbelief, but rather
realizing God's mercy and immediately call upon the Lord for
Note: Saul of Tarsus is a
wonderful example of God's "longsuffering." As Saul consented to
the death of Christians God stood patiently by and withheld His
judgment and Saul then repented of unbelief and was gloriously
The third reason why the Lord
has not yet returned relates to His heart's desire. "Not willing
that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance"
speaks of God's desire and God's heart for every sinner to be
saved. This verse should not be interpreted as a guarantee that
"all" or everyone is going to ultimately be saved. Those who
accepted Christ's offer of salvation will be eternally saved and
those who reject Christ's offer of salvation will "perish." The
word "perish" means "utterly destroyed" and refers to the
sinner's eternity in torment and hell (Revelation 21:8). While
God is merciful, gracious and longsuffering, sinful man must not
presume upon God's grace (Genesis 6:3; Jeremiah 8:20; 2
The Sequence of His Coming (2 Peter 3:10-13)
"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in
the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and
the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and
the works that are therein shall be burned up."
This verse picks up where 2
Peter 3:7 left off, coming back to the fact that "the heavens
shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt
with fervent heat" and "the earth also and the works that are
therein shall be burned up." When these events happen the age of
grace as we know it today will have ended with the rapture of
the saints by Christ. The Tribulation, Great Tribulation,
Judgment Seat of Christ, Great White Throne Judgment, and all
the end time events will have taken place. The long awaited day
of deliverance from sin upon this earth will be realized.
Creation is fully and finally out from under the curse of sin
This whole period of time is called "the day of the Lord." It is
a phrase used throughout the Bible signifying the divine
interventions of God in human history bringing His judgment.
What is described in 2 Peter 3:10 is God's final lash of
judgment. The "elements" or the components from which the
"earth" is made will one day in the future "melt with fervent
heat," not from man's destruction of the planet but from the
hand of Almighty God. And while the "scoffers" suggest that
God's promise is slow in coming, Peter says the end will come so
quickly it will be like "a thief in the night." It will come
unexpectedly and without warning.
The passing away of the
"heavens" which refers to the "visible physical universe" will
be with "great noise." It suggests the overwhelming crackling
sound like fire upon steel as it pops and cracks from the heat.
The "noise" from God's judgment will be deafening, unlike
anything man has ever heard. God's power and judgment will
consume everything in the material and physical universe.
Peter's words remove all doubts as to the judgment and
destruction that is to come upon this earth after Christ's
"Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what
manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and
godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of
God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and
the elements shall melt with fervent heat?"
"Seeing then" means "since all
this is known to you as believers," it "ought" to have an effect
on the way you live now. In the face of such overwhelming
destruction of the material world, what should the attitude and
actions be of the Christian? "Manner" means "sort or quality."
"Conversation" means "lifestyle, conduct or behavior."
"Godliness" means "reverence or respect." Peter is challenging
believers to devote themselves to holy conduct and godliness
while waiting for the climatic event to come.
The world is headed for
destruction but Christians are to remain faithful in both life
and witness. "Look" expresses an attitude of expectancy, an
outlook on life that watchfully waits for the Lord's arrival.
Peter's use of the words "hasting unto" only strengthens his
thoughts of the believer's expectancy and hope in the face of
"Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens
and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
"Nevertheless" means "in spite
of what is coming." "We" is believers. Sinners may deny what
Peter has just written about the future of the world, but
Christians should look forward to them with hope and joy. We can
do so because all that is coming is "according to his promise."
While sinners have no hope without Christ the believer is
looking "for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth
righteousness." With these words Peter takes us away from the
scenes of destruction and misery of a sinful world inside the
gates of the heavenly city where all things are "new." Both the
Old and New Testaments speak of this day (Isaiah 65:17; John
14:2-3). Man's attempt to describe this "new heavens" and "new
earth" are feeble at best. Jesus' own teaching on His coming
kingdom still staggers the mind of the child of God as it did
His disciples when they heard Him teach it. John the Apostle
gave us bits and pieces of information throughout the Book of
Revelation (Revelation 21:1, 22-23 22:1-3) and yet it still
overwhelms the human mind.
One thing is for sure and that
is the "new heavens" and the "new earth" will be a place
"wherein dwelleth righteousness." As inadequate as we are today
to live as righteously as we should, we do look forward to a new
day of "righteousness." "Dwelleth" means "settled down, be at
home, take up residence." In God's "new heaven" and on God's
"new earth" "righteousness" will be a permanent resident!
The Significance in His Coming (2 Peter 3:14-15a)
"Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be
diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and
"Wherefore, beloved, seeing
that ye look for such things" stresses a note of significance.
Since the believer is looking for "new heavens" and a "new
earth," Peter exhorts us to "be diligent that ye may be found of
him in peace, without spot, and blameless." Since believers have
a "new heaven" and a "new earth" to look forward too, we should
be living our very best desiring that when we are "found of him"
our lives will be that of "peace" no "spots" and "blameless." It
means that when Christ comes He will find us in His "peace" of
confidence and hope, no "spots" or blemishes in our Christian
character, and "blameless" in our Christian reputation. This
indeed is important as we await our Lord's return.
"And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation."
This verse is really a
summation of Peter's entire discourse in this passage. He wants
his readers to "account" or interpret the "longsuffering" of the
Lord for what it is: "salvation." Christians should regard God's
patience with joy, knowing that He is daily saving sinners until
the family of God is complete.
Waiting is something that not
many of us enjoy. In this day of instant everything a delay of
any measure is usually not acceptable. Our Lord calls upon us to
wait for His return. And we are to do so with confidence in the
character of God to fulfill His promise. We must not yield to
the questions and cries of the skeptics and the scoffers. We
must never doubt God's ability to do what He said He would do.
Christians are nearer home today than ever before. While we wait
let us remember that God is showing His longsuffering and
sinners are coming to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Don't let the seeming delay cause you to doubt His Word.
"For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and
will not tarry" (Hebrews 10:37).
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