Hit Over the Head with 2 Peter 3:9

I have no problem with stating that I have landed in peculiar situations due to my beliefs in the doctrines of election and presdestination. Some of these situations consisted of individuals simply wanting to tell me I was wrong on the subject while explaining to me that they were not approaching me to “debate”. In other words, we’re telling you that you’re wrong however we don’t want to get into it with you. They always seem to state that this debate has been  going on for centuries and hasn’t been resolved so why bother. I think that this approach minimizes the importance of the biblical doctrines in question and we should be willing to listen to the other side and examine these things carefully but who am I to suggest such things?  Others have been more heated whereas I’ve actually had people very upset with me and essentially treating me like I was lacking some fundamental intellectual capacity for even entertaining the idea that these doctrines were biblical. Have I not read the ol’ “John 3:16”? Let me assure you that this text is planted in my ear with a loud, repetitive accentuation on the word “whosoever” all with a spirit of triumph that they seem to believe they have. Another text that I’ve been “approached” with is the text in 2 Peter 3:9 which is often quoted as somehow ending the discussion. Today I’m going to address the text of 2 Peter 3:9 and offer an interpretation of this text which I feel is contextually sound and biblically based. We read in 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. (NASB)

There are several interpretations available of this text but by far the most popular is the idea that God is desiring that every person who exists, has existed or will exist will repent. The reason for the popularity of this text is simply because many feel this passage thwarts the idea of God’s Sovereignty in electing a people before the foundation of the world. They argue that God could never exclude anyone from salvation and this text in 2 Peter is the proverbial silver bullet that puts an end to the discussion. Of course, our focus is not on the exclusion of certain people but the undeserving inclusion of those who would never have mustered even a desire to be saved.  What exactly was Peter through the Holy Spirit attempting to communicate to us? Let’s take a look!

Firstly this entire passage from v.1 on is dealing with the coming of Christ in Judgment. Peter then speaks of condemning the false teachers and their teaching. I would go as far as to argue that it’s not really talking about how men are saved from sin.

We notice from the context all the way back in v.1 that there are two groups dealt with in these passages. V. 1 reads:

“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

He begins by saying that he is writing “unto you” or “the beloved”. Who is the “you” and the “beloved”? These are the recipients of the first and second letter not all mankind

1Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. (2 Peter 1:1-3).

He refers to them on several occasions as the “elect” or having been “elected” (1 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:10)

who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood (1 Peter 1:1-2)

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;(2 Peter 1:10)

The second group are the scoffers (v.3) who are referred to as “they” throughout. We read “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts and in V. 5 we see them referred to as “they”: “For when they maintain this”

Once again, the topic is the coming of Christ and the mockers questioning its validity. So we have the “you” (recipients of the letter) and the “they” (scoffers) so now we must follow the pronouns. (read vs. 3-9)Please look carefully at what Peter says that “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. or another translation: “longsuffering to us-ward”(KJV) The point in this passage is that God has delayed the second coming or is patient towards YOU (recipients of the letter/Christians) The reason He is patient is that He is not willing that any should perish but all would come to repentance. He will not bring His judgment while there are still some of them or Christians to come to repentance! You can’t separate the not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance from the but is longsuffering to us-ward or is patient toward you . Douglas Moo writes:

In this verse, the statement about God wanting “everyone to come to repentance” is preceded and governed by the statement that “he [the Lord] is patient with you.” In other words, it is God’s patience towards the believers to whom Peter writes that is the main idea here. We should perhaps, then, qualify the “everyone” at the end of the verse in terms of this leading idea: God is patient with you, wanting everyone of you to repent before the end comes. ( The NIV Application Commentary, 2 Peter & Jude, Zondervan, Douglas Moo, Page 188)

Ask yourself when Peter says “all should come to repentance”, all of whom? All of the scoffers? Everyone who has ever existed in the history of mankind? Nope, the all is defined as all of you, believers.  God is patient towards His people and always accomplishing His will. We must not forget that God is the one who grants repentance as 2 Timothy 2:24-25 states. It’s easy to pick a text and take it out of context to fit your presuppositions. We must remember the real important issue in this text. We often desire the Lord to come so that justice can finally be served and the Lord’s people can finally be in their glorified bodies. We might have even asked “why hasn’t He come yet”? I believe we should be very appreciative in a sense that He hasn’t come yet. It’s out of a concern for our salvation in bringing us to repentance that He has not come yet.


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