New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:1 second epistle. This shows that Peter’s second epistle was addressed to the same general audience as the first. They, therefore, would already have knowledge of what he had written before, but now he was giving them additional instruction in light of the difficult days coming and his own approaching demise. The Lord’s return might even have been very soon, as far as they knew, for it was always imminent. Surely Peter’s message of the first century is even more needed and appropriate today in the twenty-first century.
3:1 pure minds. It is vital that Christians in the last days “stir up” their minds, not just their emotions, but exactly the opposite seems to be happening today.
3:1 remembrance. See also II Peter 1:13. It is easy to forget the more important truths when we are being bombarded continuously by the trivial.
3:2 words which were spoken. Peter would remind us here again of “the more sure word of prophecy” to which we should “take heed” (II Peter 1:19). The words “spoken before by the holy prophets” are simply the Old Testament Scriptures.
3:2 commandment of us. The teachings of “the apostles of the Lord and Saviour” were largely known by verbal transition to the churches of Peter’s day, although they probably had seen some of Paul’s epistles (note II Peter 3:15,16) and possibly also had access to Mark’s gospel account (note I Peter 5:13). In any case, these have all now been collected and recognized as the New Testament Scriptures. Peter is, therefore, urging us to stir up our minds by both the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures, for this will be more and more important as the world’s rebellion against God intensifies and the coming of the Lord draws near. This very same theme was emphasized by Paul in his last epistle, just before his death, especially in his own closing exhortations (II Timothy 2–4).
3:3 first. “First” means “First of all,” or “of primary importance.” Compare II Peter 1:20. It is vitally important both to understand this key characteristic of the last days (that is, the denial of both creation and consummation), and also to know and practice the divinely inspired Scriptures.
3:3 last days. The context here is set in the last days. Although we must not set dates, these aspects of the last days are surely more characteristic of our own times than any time before us. At least, we are closer to the last days than anyone has ever been before! Thus Peter’s exhortation and analysis surely fits us better than anyone before us.
3:3 their own lusts. People of the last days, by and large, will be almost entirely motivated by self-interest, and will be unconcerned about God’s purposes, either for themselves or for the world as a whole. They will mock God’s Word. This word is used thirteen times in the New Testament, twelve of which speak of mocking Christ.
3:4 the promise of his coming. In Peter’s time, the early Christians were really looking for the Lord’s return, and there have been sporadic periods of prophetic interest in the nineteen long centuries since. The far greater part of the world’s population, however, is utterly indifferent to this hope, and even most of those who are working for global change today are working to bring in a world system based on evolutionary humanism rather than looking for God to return to His creation. In fact, most of the world’s people do not even believe in a personal Creator God at all, let alone His divine incarnation in Christ and His great plan of salvation. They are too busy “walking after their own lusts.”
3:4 beginning of the creation. The pseudo-scientific rationale for this indifference to the promised consummation of all things when Christ returns is their belief that there was never any real creation of all things in the beginning. The things that continue today, they say, are the things that have always been, and therefore always will be. This is the so-called principle of uniformity. According to this principle, it is assumed that the processes that govern nature today have always been the same in the past, so that the present is the key to the past. Since no creation is occurring today, it never happened in the past either. “All things continue”—not just after creation was finished, but “from the beginning of creation.” Thus, what people have called “creation” was accomplished by the same natural processes that continue to operate today. This means, then, that “creation” has been proceeding so slowly over long ages as to be quite unobservable in the mere few thousand years of human records. This remarkable belief is evolutionary uniformitarianism, and it completely dominates the scientific and educational establishments of every nation in the world today. It has been made the basic premise of origins and meaning, not only in science and history, but also in the social sciences, the humanities, the fine arts and practically every other discipline of study and practice in the world. This indeed is a most remarkable fulfillment of Peter’s prophecy, and surely must indicate that these days really are “the last days,” unless somehow the Lord brings about a great revival of truth in the world’s schools.
3:5 willingly are ignorant. It is remarkable that such a universally dominating theory of origins, meaning, and destiny could be based on absolutely no genuine evidence at all! There is no scientific or historical evidence that any significant evolutionary changes have ever taken place, and the most basic laws of science (the laws of probability and thermodynamics) prove that genuine macro-evolution could not happen at all. As Peter prophesied, this belief would be based on “wilful ignorance.” They are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
3:5 heavens were of old. Evolutionists, whether they are atheistic, pantheistic, deistic, or theistic evolutionists, willingly ignore God’s testimony that the heavens and the earth did not evolve by continuing natural processes but were called into existence by God’s omnipotent Word, fully complete and functioning from the beginning. See Genesis 1:1-2:3; Exodus 20:8-11; Psalm 33:6-9; Hebrews 4:3,10; 11:3; and many other Scriptures. The only reason God took as long as six natural days to finish the whole creation was to serve as a pattern for man’s six-day work week (Exodus 20:8-11). The various theories of cosmic evolution, stellar evolution and planetary evolution are all unproven and internally destructive, as are the various theories of chemical evolution, organic evolution, human evolution and cultural evolution. There are now thousands of fully qualified scientists, some from every field of science, who have studied the scientific evidence pro and con, and who have come to the conviction that the Biblical record of earth history is precisely correct and that evolutionary theory is totally false.
3:5 in the water. In the first stage of creation, after the second day, the primeval earth material was surrounded by vast “waters above the firmament” and suspended in other “waters under the firmament” (Genesis 1:7). The waters beneath the “firmament” (the “expanse” of the troposphere) later were either formed into seas or confined in a “great deep” beneath the earth’s crust. This regime apparently continued until the time of the great Flood when they all came together again. Until then the earth was “standing” (Greek sunistemi—that is, being “sustained”) in and by the waters. The earth is, in fact, uniquely the “water planet.”
3:6 overflowed. The antediluvian world (Greek kosmos, meaning “ordered system”) was “overflowed” (Greek katakluzo, a word used only here, but obviously related to kataklusmos, which was the Noahic cataclysm) with the primeval waters, both above and below the firmament (“the fountains of the deep” and “the windows of heaven”—see notes on Genesis 7) and perished (not annihilated but utterly devastated and transformed).
3:6 perished. The “perishing” of the “world that then was” is especially evidenced by the vast beds of fossils of plants and animals that have been preserved in the sedimentary rocks of the earth’s crust. These fossil beds have been misinterpreted by evolutionary scientists as a record of the evolution of life over many ages (despite the ubiquitous absence of any true transitional forms in these billions of fossils). What they really represent is the cataclysmic destruction of life in one age, at the time of the great Flood. Both sedimentary rocks and unhardened sediments have mostly been deposited under water, and they now cover most of the earth’s land surface, as well as ocean bottom surface. Furthermore, flood traditions somewhat similar to the Flood record in Genesis have been found among almost all nations and tribes of the earth. The genuine facts of science and history thoroughly support the Biblical account of the flood, while only willful ignorance can warrant the evolutionary interpretation of these evidences, and Peter said it would be so in the last days! Most important of all, of course, is the divinely inspired record in the Bible itself (Genesis 6–9), confirmed by Christ (Luke 17:26,27; Matthew 24:37-39), Peter and others that the Flood indeed was a worldwide cataclysm. That being the case, the fossil record (which is the main hope of the evolutionist) is mostly a record of the Flood, not of evolution.
3:7 which are now. The heavens and the earth which “were of old” (II Peter 3:5) were destroyed by water. “The heavens and earth which are now” will be destroyed by fire (II Peter 3:10). Finally “new heavens and a new earth” (II Peter 3:13) will last forever. In the interim of the present cosmos, processes indeed are under the domain of conservation, or even uniformity (note Genesis 8:22).