The apostle Peter tells us in chapter 3 of his second epistle that the day of the Lord will come as a thief and that we should expect and hasten the day of God. The apostle Paul on the other hand refer to today as “man’s day” in 1 Corinthians 4:3, where man is put in the place of judgment. But the day is coming where the Lord will judge and that day is called the day of the Lord or the day of God in 2 Peter chapter 3.
No doubt we have all heard and said that one day to the Lord is like a thousand years. Actually, this is a rough quotation from 2 Peter 3, a chapter that speaks both of the Lord’s second coming and the righteous and just judgment that will occur at the time of His coming. Of course, to us it seems as if the Lord has delayed His coming already for two thousand years, but to Him, it’s just a couple of days. Actually Peter tells us that this delay is not motivated by the Lord’s indifference or because He is arbitrary about the timing, but rather because He is long-suffering towards us. That means He is mercifully granting us more time, more time to be mature and to be prepared for His coming so that none will unnecessarily perish.
2 Peter chapter one is one of the most profound chapters in the New Testament. It is full of solid, nourishing words conveying the central thought of the entire New Testament teaching. In this chapter, Peter touches both life and truth as he speaks concerning the precious faith that we all have received. He also strongly points us to the sure word of the Scripture. But then in chapter two, he turned dramatically back to God’s governmental judgment, a major theme of his first epistle. But here the righteous judgment of God that Peter described in great details is not general or vague but rather it is intensely focused on the false teachers who had begun to permeate the church and lead God’s people away from the very item that Peter had poured out in chapter one.
The apostle Peter had a strong reaction to the apostasy that were spreading into the church near the end of his life. In fact he wrote his two epistles largely as an inoculation against the heretical teachings that were gradually corrupting the faith of the saints. Especially regarding the matter of the Lord’s second coming in glory.
In 2 Peter, he first gives an eye-witness account of seeing the Lord Jesus revealed in glory as a foreshadow of His promise return . Then he points the believers to the word of God, specifically the Old Testament prophecies concerning Christ, as he says in chapter 1:19 “and we have the prophetic word made more firm, to which you do well to give heed as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;“ But after these two strong encouragements he goes on to speak of the coming judgment of the righteous God especially on those false teachers who were defiling the saints and leading them astray.
The book of 2 Peter continues the thought of his first epistle; God’s governmental judgment. But it also stresses God’s divine provision for His people to enable them to live under such divine ruling. The first chapter of 2 Peter describes this provision in its various aspects such as the divine power and all things pertaining to life and godliness, the divine promises and even partaking of the divine nature.
These provisions are all on the side of life. But Peter also details provisions on the side of the divine truth. First we have the testimonies of the apostles themselves who were actual eye-witnesses of the glory and majesty of Christ. Second we have the prophetic word shining as a lamp in a dark place to enlighten us until the morning star rises in our hearts.
Second Peter chapter one is one of the most weighty and profound passages in all of scripture. Phrase after phrase in these few verses convey the progression and development of the divine life as it germinates, matures and comes to full growth.
Along this long progression or path all of the attributes of God divine life become the virtues that developed and are ultimately expressed through us. Of course while God supplies the divine power according to Peter which enables us to escape the corruption of the world that work through lust and to become partakers of the divine nature, there are some basic conditions that we need to meet, such as having a full knowledge of all the divine things pertaining to life and godliness. And in addition we need to add all diligence to co-operate with the divine power operating within us. The result of this marvelous development is that God is expressed through us and we in turn are supplied a rich and unshakable entrance into God’s kingdom.
2 Peter 1 leads us through a wonderful progression or development of the precious faith that Peter mentions to us in his first epistle. This faith, our divine inheritance is like a divine seed imparted or planted into our being. As with any seed, deep within resides all the attributes of the life of that seed. Peter clearly tells us that the life in the seed of faith is the very life of God. It’s Christ Himself. So the attributes which Peter goes on to describe are the marvelous virtues of God’s life as expressed in Christ. Following this line these verses in 2 Peter open to us the progressive development of the divine life within the seeker. As we move from faith to virtues to knowledge to self-control to endurance to godliness and then to brotherly love with the final stage of this life maturity being the very agape love, God’s own love being expressed.
Most of the time Christians are satisfied if their behavior before the unbelieving world reflects a proper ethical conduct and high moral. In fact if we spend our entire day living in such a way surely at the end of our day we will be peaceful and probably feel quite good about ourselves and our testimony.
But the Bible declares what God is seeking from His people is not mere ethics and morality but a life that expresses Godliness, which means a life that expresses God Himself. This is much different, much higher than mere morality. Listen again to 2 Peter 1:3 “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us all things which relate to life and godliness, through the full knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and virtue.“
In a very real sense the first few verses of second Peter encapsulate much of how God will accomplished His eternal plan or economy. Beginning with the gift of faith, we have God’s righteousness, the righteousness of Christ, grace and peace being multiplied in the full knowledge of God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the divine power operating in the believers in conjunction with their co-operation leading to their escape from lust. Then God’s own glory and virtues and our being called through them and to them. Further we have God’s precious and exceedingly great promises, all of which lead us to become partakers of His divine nature resulting ultimately in our transformation in full salvation. What a tremendous beginning to this short but thoroughly crucial portion of the holy word.