13 May 2014

2 Peter 3:1-7

“First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’” (vv. 3-4)


A little disconcertingly, human beings have been around for a mere 0.004% of the earth's history. It can be hard to remember that the world, in fact, does not revolve around us, and was spinning on its axis for 4.5 billion years before we made an appearance. Being such relatively new additions to the planet, it's not surprising that we have a slightly squeezed view of history - and what an appropriate length of time would be before Jesus returns. 

Peter, it seems, was speaking into a debate taking place in the early Church as to whether Jesus was, in fact, going to make another appearance in the near future. It's easy to see why they were becoming impatient: in Mark 9:1, Jesus says "Truly, I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God has come with power."

You may have encountered people on your doorstep (literally) who firmly believe that Jesus' return and the day of judgement are imminent - that signs like natural disasters are the labour pains of our earth as it prepares for Jesus' return and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. Perhaps it is equally dangerous to be among the scoffers who declare that all things have continued as they were from the beginning of creation, as it is to be among those who declare they know the timing of Jesus' arrival. Matthew 24:44 says: "therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." Peter's reminder that God's power is absolute - that the earth was formed from the word of God - is a reminder that God's perfect timing is a perfect mystery.

To Ponder

  • Is impatience ever a virtue? Why (or why not)?
  • In your opinion, why wasn't Peter writing to the "scoffers" directly?

Bible notes author

Naomi Oates

Naomi Oates has worked for the Connexional Team in a variety of guises since 2012, currently as the Executive Officer to the Secretary of the Conference. She is also training part-time for presbyteral ministry.