In 79 A. D. the city of Pompeii was destroyed by pyroclastic flow from the volcano Vesuvius near the city of Naples, Italy. Archaeologists later found cavities where the bodies had been. They filled these cavities with plaster and from the molds discovered a great deal about the people who had died at Pompeii. Many were trying to flee the destruction. But the archaeologists found the body of the Roman sentinel still at his post. He had faithfully refused to abandon his duties as a lookout, even with death all around him.
Another interesting example of keeping a faithful watch is a story I read once about some scientists who were studying a female falcon for a number of days. While she was being studied her mate waited faithfully in the area, watching for her. When she was released she rejoined her mate and they flew off together. Both these stories illustrate aspects of how we should faithfully and patiently watch for the culmination of God’s plan, which, of course, includes the coming of Christ.
We should be eagerly anticipating our reunion with Him—going about the business He has given us, but always looking for Him, always thinking, "WILL HE COME TODAY?" This is the thought in 2 Pet 3:11-16, living in anticipation of the future.
The word ‘therefore’ in v. 11 looks back to the day of the Lord of v. 10. ‘Therefore’, as a connective generally points to a deduction or conclusion. In other words, “based on what we’ve seen, what can we conclude?” In this case, Peter bases his conclusion on the fact of the coming destruction of the old heavens and earth in the day of the Lord.
The day of the Lord is mentioned many times in Scripture and has many aspects, but the most common theme is judgment and destruction (Joel 2:11). It seems to include all of the future end-times events, such as the coming of Christ and His millennial reign. It is always described as a future time when God will deal with Israel—and humanity in general—in judgment and restoration. So it must begin with the tribulation. In his study Bible at 1 Thess. 5:2 Charles Ryrie describes the day of the Lord as “an extended period of time, beginning with the Tribulation and including the events of the second coming of Christ and the millennial kingdom on earth.” He adds at 2 Pet. 3:10: “It will begin unexpectedly at the beginning of the Tribulation (like a thief, 1 Thess. 5:2) and end at the conclusion of the Millennium with the destruction of the heavens and earth (Rev. 21:1).”
Peter frames his conclusion in v. 11 as a question which concerns what sort of persons we should be. In the last part of v. 11 he says our lives should be characterized be holy living and godliness (or "devoted service to God"). This without question takes us back to early in chapter one where Peter gives the capsule summary of the Christian life. Then in v. 12 the apostle adds a new element: in addition to our holy and godly lives we should live in an expectant manner. Here for the first of three times Peter uses a Greek word that means, “to look forward” (compare vv. 13 and 14). Therefore, this stress on our expectant attitude is a major emphasis in this section. The word translated here, “earnestly desiring,” is usually translated as “hastening.” Though ‘hastening’ may be a more frequent usage, “earnestly desiring” is possible; it seems better to take it here as parallel to “looking forward,” rather than try to see a new idea introduced only once.
What we are looking forward to is the day of God, which in the context must be just another way of saying the day of the Lord. Then Peter reiterates that during that time the heavens will be destroyed by fire. In v. 13 he draws a contrast: we are looking forward to the new heavens and earth, because they will be characterized by righteousness.
The ‘therefore’ of v. 14 is an even stronger Greek conclusion than in v. 11, and indicates an advance on his thinking. In v. 11 and following, the idea is since these things will be destroyed, we need to live holy, in the manner of looking forward to the day of the Lord and the new heavens and earth. In v. 14 and following, the idea is since you look forward to all of this, be diligent. It is interesting that Peter also uses the combination of this Greek word for ‘therefore’ and “be diligent” in 1:10.
To what does the admonition about diligence apply? When Christ comes we should be found by Him to be spotless and blameless. The same two descriptions are used by Peter to refer to Christ in 1 Pet. 1:19. The idea here is Christ likeness. We are also to be characterized by peace. In 1:2 the apostle wished that peace would be abundant in our lives. Paul spoke of peace toward God (Rom. 5:1), and toward other believers (1 Thess. 5:13). Christ spoke of leaving peace with us (John 14:27). When Christ comes if we have trusted in Him (John 3:16; 5:24; Acts 16:31; Rom. 4:5; etc.) we need not fear Him. But we do want Him to find us diligently seeking to rid ourselves of that which would dishonor Him.
In v. 15 Peter refers back to the patience of God that He mentioned in 3:9. We are to have to same attitude towards any perceived delay as the Lord: it is an opportunity for the salvation of souls. Since we are looking forward to these things, we could indeed get impatient, as did supposedly the scoffers of vv. 3 and 4.
When Peter brings up the name of Paul, his fellow apostle, he apparently has two purposes. One, a broader purpose, as was alluded to under Introductory Matters, was to show by implication that Peter and Paul’s Christianity was the same. The second purpose, specifically in this context, has to do with confirming Paul’s agreement with the teaching of this passage. Paul had written about “these things” (v. 16). Although Peter may have had in mind Paul’s statements about God’s patience, such as in Rom. 2:4, he also may have been referring to Paul’s general agreement with Peter’s view of end times events.
Interestingly, Peter says in v. 16 that in Paul’s epistles some things are difficult to understand. This could cause to us say, “Well, if they are hard for you, Peter, no wonder they are hard for us.” Another thing to notice is that he calls Paul’s writings “Scripture.” Peter recognizes that Paul’s epistles had been supervised by the Holy Spirit (compare 1:20-21). Finally, he points out that the unlearned and unstable distort Paul’s writings. This is probably another reference to false teachers.
In this third chapter Peter has opposed the scoffers’ denial of Christ’s return (vv. 1–7), he has offered the correct view of God’s future judgement (vv. 7–10), and, in what we have seen in this study, he concludes with exhortations concerning how we should live in view of future events (vv. 11–16). In our last study, we are going to see Peter’s summary of the whole epistle.
2 Peter Flow Chart
2 Peter 1:1-7
2 Peter 1:8-11
2 Peter 1:12-15
2 Peter 1:16-21
2 Peter 2:1-3
2 Peter 2:3b-10a
2 Peter 2:10b-22
2 Peter 3:1-6
2 Peter 3:7-10
2 Peter 3:17-18