Notes on the Second Epistle of Peter
CLOSING SUMMARY AND WARNINGS
We have had in the first chapter the spiritual possessions, pursuit, and prospect of the Christian while un earth in the last days. The next chapter sets before us the character, conduct, and corrupting influence of false teachers. Now this last chapter (chap. 3) shows us the scoffers' taunt, ignorance, and perdition ; the long suffering and the day of the Lord ; the dissolving and disappearance of the heavens, the world and the works therein, all that the flesh has counted on ; and the final ending of " man's day," making room for the new heavens and the new earth, the abode of righteousness ; and the coining of the day of God.
These great and solemn events should teach us what manner of persons we ought to (Gk. must, as John 3. 7) be, in holy manner of living and godliness. A holy walk and godly ways must characterize us all the while we are looking for these glorious yet solemn certainties. " In all holy conversation " here (2 Peter 3. 11), is only repeating the " Holy in all manner of conversation " of the first epistle (ch. 1. 15). However degenerate the last days have become, we dare not give up or lower the standard of doctrine or practice first laid down. There must be complete separation from the filthy conversation of the lawless (see ch. 2. 7). This is not ecclesiastical separation, however necessary that may become in order to follow righteousness ; but holiness of life, which is necessarily separation from evil. The word godliness is therefore attached to holy living, and it is instructive to notice the three-fold use of the word in tins epistle :
1. We are assured that divine power has vouchsafed all that concerns godliness (ch. 1.3).
2. We are to make it an inward grace (ch. I. 6).
3. It is to come out in our lives in acts of godliness ; i.e. the word here (ch. 3. II) is in the plural.
Is not this the secret of a happy life, and of a holy life ? How many claim to have solved this secret, leaping to the summit of godliness as in a moment by one definite act of faith ! But alas, as the lovely flowers, gathered from a greenhouse and placed upon the breast, soon wither away for want of root, our godliness will soon fade under the scorching heat and the withering blasts of this uncongenial world, unless rooted in the full knowledge of Christ, ripened by inward growth through diligence. Only thus can it be truly sustained in its outward display.
This leads to a renewed summons to diligence (3. 14). This is the third lime the apostle seeks to rouse them to speedy effort, in view of the weighty considerations addressed to them, and surely we cannot over-estimate its importance in every way. Towards the past, it makes the calling and election sure ; in the present, it supplies all necessary grace for faithfulness (ch. 1. S and 10) ; and viewing the future : " Give diligence that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." The words " without spot " and " blameless " are, with only a slight variation in the latter, the very same as are used to describe Christ Himself (1 Peter 1, 19). He was without blemish, and without spot; in His blessed Person, as seen by the eye of God. without blemish ; perfect as to His holy walk before the eyes of men, without spot. Thus He "offered himself without blemish unto God," that He might present the church to Himself " without spot and without blemish " (Eph. 5. 27). Blessed fruit of His own love and service! But we are reminded that we are in a scene of defilement. " They that walk after the flesh." while calling themselves Chris¬tians, and feasting with us, are not merely spotted and blemished, but " spots and blemishes," corrupt and corrupting. " Their spot is not the spot of his children " (Dent. 32. 5). Unceasing vigilance and untiring earnestness are indeed necessary, to make good our escape from the corruptions and pollutions of the world (ch. 1.4; 2. 20). But the same diligence which builds up the soul in grace (1. 7, 8), and makes our calling and election sure (1. 10), will keep us unspotted from the world, so that we may not be ashamed at His coming, but may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and therefore without blame.
The apostle concludes his salutary warnings with an affectionate appeal for watchfulness : " Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness " (ch. 3. 17). Negligence is fatal to steadfastness, seeing it leads the soul defenceless into the very hand of the enemy, to fall a helpless prey. But again the secret of all present separation and security, and future blamelessness, is stated : " But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ " (ch. 3. 18). This is the one and only safeguard. This is the path where " he that is born of God keepeth himself, and the wicked one toucheth him not." Blamelessness depends on purity. Here again, as with the seven-fold graces of chapter one (vv. 7 and 8), so with the seven-fold result : each one supplies another, and therefore in the very nature of it. each one depends on the other. Blamelessness depends on spotlessness, spotlessness rests on separation, separation on steadfastness, steadfastness on growth in grace, growth in grace on growing in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and acquaintance with Christ on our diligence in the use of the Word.
The apostle would have Christians not merely established, as knowing the present truth, but he endeavours that they may have these things always in remembrance, that they may be mindful of the words of the prophets and the commandments of the apostles (ch. 1. 12-15; 3. 1, 2). Thus shall we be preserved blameless, through all the dangers and defilements of this corrupt scene, instead of being led away by the allurements of present things.