Today’s Scripture Focus: 2 Peter 3:8-15
In order to understand our scripture focus in chapter 3 today, we need to spend a little time in chapter 2. In it, the early Church is reminded that judgment delayed is not judgment denied. God has never failed to issue judgment on wickedness while rescuing the faithful. Examples are given of wicked angels cast into hell, Noah and the Flood, and Lot in Sodom and Gommorah. False teachers have infiltrated the churches of Asia Minor as the influence of Paul, Peter, John, and James has weakened due to their deaths and imprisonments. These “prophets” may seem to be prospering now, but they won’t escape the fire.
Peter goes on to identify these new teachers by their character. They are motivated by greed. In their brashness, they aren’t afraid to insult even heavenly beings. Yet Peter says that even angels don’t insult demons when pronouncing the Lord’s judgment. The lifestyle of the false teachers is marked by unruly parties, seductive pleasures, adultery. What’s worse, they use these sinful actions to attract weak and unsuspecting Christians so they might take advantage of them. Though they promise “freedom” to act anyway you want, they themselves are actually slaves to their wicked behavior, for “whatever overpowers you, enslaves you” (v. 19)
Chapter 3 details the main false teaching being spread by these ungodly leaders—that Jesus will not return. Peter explains what both holy prophets have foretold and what he and the other apostles have taught. Right before Jesus returns, scoffers and skeptics will infiltrate God’s people. In other words, what was happening in the church in Asia Minor was exactly what should be happening before Christ returned. Christ’s return has been delayed for two reasons—God’s time is different than humanity’s time (“a day is as a thousand years”), and in God’s mercy the Second Coming is being delayed so that more people might repent.
2 Peter concludes by urging Christians to live pure lives. Just as false teaching regarding the end and final judgment is tied to immoral behavior, so proper belief concerning the end and final judgment should be on display in holy living. Hope for a new world where God’s righteousness is fully at home motivates ways of believing and behaving as life will be lived in that new world. In other words, Christians should live as if Christ could come back at any moment. The best way to do that is to live as if He had already come back. The old earth will one day be destroyed by fire. The best way to prepare for the new earth is to live as a citizen of it right now.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
Do you think Jesus’ return will be soon? Why or why not? What does “soon” mean?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?