2 Peter 3:10-18: The Return of Jesus
November 7, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
One of the great doctrines of the Bible – and one that is frequently under-preached – is the doctrine of the return of Jesus. When was the last time you heard a sermon on Jesus’ second coming? And yet, the only hope for the world is that Jesus is coming back.
First, Peter teaches them about that return of Jesus. He will come “like a thief.” That is, he will come at a time when we do not expect it. A thief always comes when we are not looking for him. The point is the element of surprise. Jesus will come at a time that is not expected. One thing we can know for sure about the return of Jesus, is that we cannot know for sure exactly when he will return. He will come like a thief, as a surprise.
What is more, when Jesus returns, the old will go and the new will come; the heavens will disappear with a roar, the very elements themselves will be destroyed, and the earth and everything in it laid bare. What all this means in concrete terms is hard to imagine, but what is clear is that it will be a dramatic and fiery end to the current order of existence. Everything around us that we count so permanent “will be destroyed in this way.”
Second, Peter then exhorts us to be a certain kind of people. We are to live holy and godly lives. We are to look forward to Jesus’ second coming (“the day of God”), and speed his return. We speed his return by telling people about Jesus, through evangelizing the world, through living godly lives to obey Christ’s commission to the world. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. We look forward to that and do what we can to speed the coming of Christ. That means we are to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him. Now is the day of salvation; come to Christ. Follow Christ. Be a pure disciple of Christ. God is being patient to give us to time to repent.
Third, Peter then takes a moment to exhort his readers to not misunderstand Paul’s writings. As he does so, he indicates clearly that their understanding was that Paul (and the other apostles) were writing “Scripture.” Be careful, then, that we do not distort what Paul (or Peter) wrote. The Bible is the very Word of God.
Fourth and finally, Peter summarizes and repeats his main admonition throughout the letter now in light specifically of the return of Christ. We are not to be carried away by the error of the lawless. That means we are not to live as if it did not matter how we live, that we can break God’s law with impunity. Instead we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus.” Rightly understood, grace is not that which allows us to get away with behaving badly but instead that which we are to grow in. All to God’s glory now and forever.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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