Friday, May 24, 2013

Lesson for May 26 Hope In the Day of the Lord

C.O.G.I.C. Title 
Hope in the Day of the Lord
May 26, 2013
2 Peter 3:1-15a
Lesson Aim: That you will know the significance of living holy.
note: Here are some background data to learn this Sunday's Lesson.

A.     Believers remember it (3:1-2).
3:1. Addressing his readers as Dear friends (agapētoi, “beloved, loved ones”; the first of four occurrences in this chapter: vv. 1, 8, 14, 17; cf. Jude 17-18), Peter called this his second letter to this group, and said both letters are reminders. Many scholars assume that the earlier letter is 1 Peter. But some suggest that calling 1 Peter a “reminder” does not suit its contents. Of greater importance, however, is Peter’s purpose: to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. “As reminders to stimulate you” translates the same Greek words which are rendered “to refresh your memory” in 2 Peter 1:13. The phrase eilikrinē dianoian (“wholesome thinking”) may also be rendered “sincere mind” or “pure disposition.” (Eilikrinēs occurs elsewhere in the NT only in Phil. 1:10, where it is trans. “pure.”) The English “sincere” is from the Latin words sine cera, “without wax.” Some pottery salesmen would use wax to cover cracks and weak places in pottery. Such a cover-up could be detected only by holding the jug up to the sun to see if any weaknesses were visible. Such a vase was “sun-judged” (the lit. meaning of the Gr. eilikrinēs). God wants His people to have sun-judged minds, not those in which their sin spots have been covered over.
3:2. Peter again reminded his readers of the need to remember (cf. 1:12-15). Others, like Peter, referred to the holy prophets (cf. Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21; Eph. 3:5), whose words were oracles regarding the day of the Lord and related topics. The command of our Lord and Savior refers to His teachings, which were then proclaimed by the apostles (cf. Jude 17). Peter’s linking the prophets and apostles placed them on the same level of authority (cf. Eph. 2:20). This also suits Peter’s earlier purpose of distinguishing the true servants of the Lord from the false. Believers do well to recall the writings of both Testaments regarding the Lord’s return.
B.     Scoffers laugh at it (3:3-7).
3:3. Peter understood that he and his readers were living in the last days, the period of time between the Lord’s First and Second Advents. First of all means “above all” (as in 1:20), foremost in importance. Scoffers are the false teachers who deny Jesus Christ (2:1) and His return (3:4). Jesus had said these heretics would come (Matt. 24:3-5, 11, 23-26), and Paul had written the same (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:1-9). Peter echoed the warning, adding that their scoffing is accompanied by their . . . evil desires (epithymias, also used in 2 Peter 1:4; 2:10, 18; Jude 16, 18). Arrogant snobbery and disdain for the idea of a coming judgment led to sexual perversion.
3:4. Their mocking took the form of a stinging question: Where is this “coming” He promised? Rejecting this promise, so often repeated in the New Testament (John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 1 Cor. 15:23; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thes. 3:13; 4:14-18; 2 Thes. 1:10; 2:1; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:8; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28; James 5:7) rests on the principle of uniformitarianism. This is the view that the cosmic processes of the present and the future can be understood solely on the basis of how the cosmos has operated in the past. There is almost an incipient deism here which rules out divine intervention in the universal order. In a universe governed by natural laws miracles, mockers argue, simply cannot happen. Therefore they say Jesus Christ could not come again.
The scoffers wanted to push their argument as far back as possible. So they referred to our fathers (lit., “the fathers”), that is, Old Testament patriarchs (John 7:22; Acts 3:13; 13:32; Rom. 9:5; 11:28; Heb. 1:1), and to the beginning of Creation. Since nothing has happened in all this time, mockers reasoned, why expect the Lord’s return now?
3:5-6. Peter met those arguments head on by reviewing some ancient history. Just as water by God’s command played a significant role in the early formation of the earth, so water also was the agent for destruction of the earth at God’s command. The heavens existed refers to the expanse or sky created on the second day of Creation (Gen. 1:6-8); and the earth was formed out of water and with water refers to the land appearing from the water on the third day of Creation (Gen. 1:9-10).
God the Creator is also God the Judge. In His sovereign will, any change in process can occur at any time for He designed and controls these “natural” processes. The scoffers deliberately (thelontas, “willingly”) forget God’s Creation and the Flood, an interesting contrast with Peter’s constant reminders to his readers to “remember” (2 Peter 1:12-13, 15; 3:1-2, 8). The scoffers deliberately put aside God’s Word and then complained that God was not doing anything. Interestingly Peter was both a creationist and a believer in the universal Flood (cf. his other references to the Flood: 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5).
At the beginning of 3:6 the words “by water” are literally, “through which.” This may refer back to “God’s Word” (at the end of v. 5 in Gr.), or it may refer to both water and the Word. But God’s use of water in both Creation and destruction seems to lend credence to the NIV rendering. The world (kosmos) refers to inhabitants, since the earth itself was not destroyed in the Flood. Similarly in John 3:16 “the world” (kosmos) means the globe’s inhabitants (cf. John 1:9; 3:17, 19; 4:42; 6:33; 7:7; 15:18-19; 17:14, 21, 23, 25; 1 John 2:2; 3:13; 4:14).
3:7. Verses 7, 10, and 12 are the only places where the New Testament depicts the future destruction of the world by fire. In the past the world was destroyed in the Flood by God’s Word and by water; in the future it will be destroyed by the same Word and by fire. Having decided to judge the world (cf. 2:3-4, 9, 17), God is simply holding the earth on layaway. It is reserved (tethēsaurismenoi, “being stored up like a treasure”) for fire and kept (tēroumenoi, “guarded” or “held”) for judgment. Isaiah (66:15-16) and Malachi (4:1) associated fire with the return of the Lord. References to it are also found in the Qumran literature (Dead Sea Scrolls) as well as other sources shortly before and after Christ’s birth. “The day of the Lord” (2 Peter 3:10) includes the Tribulation, the Millennium, the great white throne judgment, and the destruction of the present heavens and earth. At the great white throne after the Millennium, ungodly men (i.e., the wicked dead) will be judged and then thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). This, as Peter wrote, will be their day of judgment (cf. 2 Peter 2:9) and destruction. After they are cast into fire, the heavens and the earth will be destroyed by fire. God intervened castastrophically before (in the Flood), and He will do so again.
C.     God guarantees it (3:8-9).
3:8-9. Why should the Lord be so long in coming? Peter offered two answers. First, God counts time differently than does man. Once again Peter appealed to their memories (do not forget this one thing). The scoffers forget (v. 5), but believers should not. Christians should recall Psalm 90:4, which Peter quoted. People see time against time; but God sees time against eternity. In fact time only seems long because of man’s finite perspective. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
Some suggest that this statement argues against premillennialism. They point out that the concept of 1,000 years is not to be taken literally since it is merely a comparative time reference. However, the literal 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth is strongly affirmed in Revelation 20:1-6 (see comments there). Peter was simply using a simile. What to people, including scoffers, may seem like a long time is to the Lord very short. The present Church Age has lasted, in God’s eyes, not quite two days!
The second reason the Lord’s return seems to be so long in coming is that God wants as many people to be saved as possible (2 Peter 3:9). The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise. The words “is . . . slow” translate bradynei (“hesitate, linger, delay”), used only here in the New Testament. Again Peter gave a divine-human comparison (cf. v. 8). God’s so-called “tardiness” as viewed by some people (as some understand slowness) is only a delay with respect to their time schedules, not His. In fact God’s time schedule is modified by patience, a major attribute of the heavenly Father (cf. v. 15; Rom. 2:4; 9:22).
The words not wanting (mē boulomenos) anyone to perish do not express a decree, as if God has willed everyone to be saved. Universal salvation is not taught in the Bible. Instead those words describe God’s wishes or desires; He longs that all would be saved (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4) but knows that many reject Him.
D.     Peter describes it (3:10-13).
3:10. When the Lord does come, it will be both surprising and catastrophic: like a thief. This simile was used by Jesus (Matt. 24:42-44) and repeated by others (1 Thes. 5:2; Rev. 3:3; 16:15). The day of the Lord describes end-time events that begin after the Rapture and culminate with the commencement of eternity. In the middle of the 70th week of Daniel the Antichrist will turn against the people of God in full fury (Dan. 9:24-27; see comments on 1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Thes. 2:2-12).
In the catastrophic conflagration at the end of the Millennium, the heavens (the earth’s atmosphere and the starry sky, not God’s abode) will disappear with a roar, which in some way will involve fire (2 Peter 3:7, 12). The elements (stoicheia, either stars or material elements with which the universe is made) will be destroyed by fire (and will melt, v. 12), and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (eurethēsetai). This Greek word could mean that everything will be exposed for what it really is. Or it could suggest a question: “The earth and everything in it—will they be found?” Others (on the basis of some Gr. mss.; niv marg.) say the word eurethēsetai should be substituted with katakaēsetai, “shall be burned up.” Perhaps the first of these views is preferable (as rendered in the niv).
3:11. Peter sees all this as a strong motivational expectation which should provoke holy living. The question, What kind of people ought you to be? is rhetorical. But in case someone should miss the point, Peter answered it: You ought to live holy and godly lives. “Holy lives” (en hagiais anastrophais, lit., “in holy conduct”) refers to Christian separation and sanctification—apart from the world, apart toward God. “Godly” (eusebeiais; also in 1:3, 6-7) refers to piety before God. The word “live” (hyparchein) is in the present tense, indicating that these qualities are to be constantly present in light of the Lord’s return. Scoffers, questioning the Lord’s coming with its ensuing judgment on them, lead ungodly lives (2:7, 10, 12-15, 18-20; 3:3). By contrast, Jesus’ followers, anticipating His return, are to be godly (v. 14; cf. Titus 2:12-14; 1 John 3:3).
3:12. Holiness and piety (v. 11) not only cause God’s people to look forward to (from prosdokaō, “expect and anticipate”; cf. vv. 13-14) the Lord’s return but also to speed its coming. How do believers hasten it? The godly lives of the Lord’s people, their praying, and their witnessing help bring others to repentance. Peter then repeated for emphasis the fact that at the commencement of eternity (here called the day of God) the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt (cf. comments on v. 10). That event concludes “the day of the Lord” (v. 10) and commences “the day of God.”
3:13. The old cosmic system will then give way to a new heaven and a new earth and this is what believers are looking forward to (cf. vv. 12, 14), not to the earth’s destruction. The new heaven and new earth, given by the promise of God, will finally be the home or dwelling place of righteousness (lit., “in which righteousness dwells permanently”). It will be the home of righteousness because the Righteous One will be there (Jer. 23:5-7; 33:16; Dan. 9:24; Rev. 21:1, 8, 27). What a contrast this will be to the world’s unrighteousness!

vv. verses
cf. confer, compare
NT New Testament
trans. translation, translator, translated
lit. literal, literally
Gr. Greek
v. verse
NIV New International Version
i.e. id est, that is
mss. manuscripts
marg. margin, marginal reading
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

Another angle towards Sunday's Lesson:


Lesson for May 26, 2013: Patient Hope (2 Peter 3)

By Sam E. Stone
When doubters and cynics ridicule the church today, it is nothing new. That was happening a few years after the church began. As the apostle Peter neared the end of his life, even then he addressed the criticisms being leveled against Christians.
Scoffers’ Perspective2 Peter 3:3, 4It is important to remember that the last days started a long time ago. On the Day of Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection, Peter applied the last days prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 to that very moment (Acts 2:17; see also Hebrews 1:2; Jude 18). Thescoffers Peter describes may be the same ones mentioned earlier in 2 Peter 2:10, 18, 19. They could also be Gnostic doubters who were leading Christians astray. Their scoffing words led to sinful desires.
Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” is a Hebrew expression implying that something did not exist at all (see Malachi 2:17). The church’s critics argued that life now was just the same as it always had been; nothing is different. “After all, it has been 30 years since your Jesus returned to Heaven, and he still hasn’t come back for you! Things are unchanged.”
History’s Perspective2 Peter 3:5-7These skeptics are forgetting how God has stepped into time and history in the past. He did so first at the time of creation (Genesis 1:1–2:3). It is impossible to ignore the universal flood of Noah’s day as well (Genesis 6-8). God is able to give life and to take it (2 Peter 2:5-10). He promised never to destroy the world with a flood again; next time, he will use fire (compare Joel 2:30, 31; Psalm 50:3).
God’s Perspective2 Peter 3:8, 9God’s perspective is different from ours. A day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. This is taught elsewhere in Scripture as well (see Psalm 90:4). Donald Burdick notes, “God’s seeming delay in bringing about the consummation of all things is a result not of indifference but of patience in waiting for all who will come to repentance.” God is just—but he is also merciful. Paul noted that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
Believers’ Perspective2 Peter 3:10-15a, 18Jesus taught that his return will be unexpected and sudden, like a thief in the night (see Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39). The expression the day of the Lord was used by the apostle Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4; 1 Corinthians 5:5). He also spoke of it as the “day of Christ” (Philippians 2:16), “day of God” (2 Peter 3:12), and “day of judgment” (2:9 and 3:7).
This day of judgment will be like nothing we can imagine. The world will be destroyed by fire. No one can hide or escape. Everything that is important in this present age will be destroyed. No wonder Peter asks his readers, What kind of people ought you to be? He answers the question himself—You ought to live holy and godly lives. The Christian’s hope for the future puts him in a different category than those in the world.
The apostle adds that believers can speed its coming. Exactly how this may be done is not always evident. William Barclay suggests three things that may be involved: prayer (Matthew 6:10), preaching (Matthew 24:14), and by patience and obedience (1 Peter 2:12; compare Acts 3:19, 20.) The day of Christ’s return is to be earnestly desired (Isaiah 16:5; Revelation 22:20).
We live in an imperfect world now; then it will be perfect—a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. God’s will shall be done perfectly on earth as it is now being done in Heaven. God created the entirety of the world—the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). When Christ returns, they will no longer be needed. We will have something even better, something perfect, something eternal (see Isaiah 65:17; 66:22).
The knowledge that Christ is coming should motivate us to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. When we grow anxious for this better day to come soon, we must remember that God’s mercy is shown by his patience. The closing words of our lesson text tell what we must do: Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2009, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
May 20: 2 Timothy 3:1-9
May 21: Jeremiah 23:23-32
May 22: James 5:1-6
May 23: Hosea 14:1-7
May 24: Micah 4:1-5
May 25: John 14:1-7
May 26: 2 Peter 3:3-15a, 18

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