Our limited perspective colors everything in our lives. We are limited in how we perceive time, other people, circumstances, and even ourselves. While being a Christian give us a biblical perspective on spiritual things (I Corinthians 2:14-16) that perspective is not complete because we still live in sinful flesh in a fallen world. God’s perspective, in contrast, is eternal and perfect—untainted by sin. We know that He is sovereign and has a plan that will come to pass. In fact, as Peter has taught us, His plan is a plan from eternity past and He will bring it to fruition at His pleasure and for His glory.
Therefore, Peter reassures his audience to remember their limited perspective. Christ’s return has been imminent since He ascended into heaven and to these believers, who may have endured persecution for their faith, it might have seemed like God was taking forever to do what He promised to do. Knowing this, Peter reminds his audience that “God is not slow”. In fact, it’s the exact opposite as Peter points out that rather than demonstrating that God is slow, the time between Christ’s ascension and God’s judgment reveal that God “is patient”. The fact is, God is not taking His time but is allowing the time to pass for a purpose. In waiting, God demonstrates His patience or long suffering. While He waits patiently, He endures the mockery, the defiance, the hostility, and the unbelief of mankind. Instead of instantly dealing with sinners as they deserve, God demonstrates a remarkably long fuse. The question that we must ask as we interpret this passage is “Why?”
I’m not sure where the teaching got started, but I’ve heard it in more than one Southern Baptist church that God is waiting on that one last soul to repent and trust Christ to save him/her and then God is going to send Christ to get His bride—the church. The idea, then, is that God is waiting on someone to make a decision and that He is bound to wait until they make up their mind so that He can accomplish His eternal purposes. I can’t find any evidence in scripture that the God Who knows the end from the beginning and works all things out according to the counsel of His own will is sitting on His throne with His finger hovering over “the button” just waiting to see if someone is going to choose to trust Jesus to save them
Therefore, in order to properly interpret the last half of this verse (or maybe it’s the last 2/3 of it) we have to ask a very important question. When Peter says God “is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” we need to know who “you”, “any”, and “all” are? Is this “you” in a general sense?” Does “all” mean everyone is going to be saved? These are questions that would be best answered in a blog post unto themselves.
So, while I normally hate to leave you in a cliff hanger, I must say “Tune in next time…same Bat-time…same Bat-channel”.