Tuesday, July 20, 2010

II Peter 3:9 God's Eternal Purposes Part III

When we left this verse last time, we had ourselves quite a quandry. Who was Peter talking about in the later half of verse 9. In order to examine the text a little better, or maybe it was just to make it easier for me to understand, I'm going to do things a little differently and rather than write a narrative exposition of the text, we're just going to ask some questions and see where they lead us.

The verse in question is

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

1) Who is “you”?

In the immediate context of the epistle, verse 8 says “But do not let this one fact escape your notice…” and verse 1 says “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder.,,” In contrast, verse 3 talks about another group—“mockers”. Also, verse 5 uses a lot of 3rd person pronouns “…they maintain…their notice…” Also, in chapter two, Peter takes an entire chapter to describe this other group, consistently referring to them in the 3rd person and introducing the chapter by indicating that his audience is distinct from that group. v 1-“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.” Further, the fact that Peter is writing to Christians and not just humanity in general is seen in chapter 1 and verse 1 of the epistle where he writes:” To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours,”

Therefore, the word “you” appears to be the Christians to whom Peter was writing.

2) Who is “any” and “all”?

If, as seems to be the case based on examination of II Peter, the “you” in this sentence is indentified as the Christians to whom Peter wrote, it doesn’t make sense for “any” and “all” to refer to any human being and all human beings. Given the context and train of thought here, it doesn’t make sense for him to shift from the specific audience that he has addressed to a more general “all of mankind” audience. Mockers will come, and they will be destroyed (vs 3-7). In contrast, you are objects not of God’s wrath but His love and the delay in judgment is for your benefit (vs 8-9).

3) If “you”, “any”, and “all” are believers, what does it mean when Peter uses the word “wishing”? Doesn’t that mean that God’s desire is for everyone to be saved?

Short answer—no, that’s not what this means. While God certainly takes no pleasure in the death or punishment of sinners (Ezekiel 18:23), it would be very foolish for us to think that God does not demand justice for the sins commented that have offended Him so badly. Therefore, God’s will is to punish sinners who do not repent of their sins and trust Christ to save them. Further, God’s will is to save sinners who place their faith in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. Therefore, it appears the most logical conclusion is that God’s patience is extended towards those whom He will save based on their repentance from sin and faith in Christ because He does not desire for them to perish but rather He desires to redeem them, all to the praise of His glory.

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