Disbelief in the Coming of Jesus
Text: II Peter 3:1-15
I. Many false doctrines are rooted in a simple belief that word or phrase that has a particular meaning in one context has the same meaning in all other contexts.
A. For example, the Greek word presbuteros in Acts 2:17 means someone advanced in age
1. So does it hold the same meaning Acts 14:23?
2. How do you appoint someone to be old?
3. Yet, there is a group that claims that there is no office of elder.
a. Elders, we are told, are merely older people in a congregation
b. They justify this by saying one meaning applies to all contexts
B. The Greek word peirazo can mean to tempt, as in James 1:13
1. But in Hebrews 11:17 the same word is used to say that Abraham was peirazo by God
2. Atheists jump on things like this to claim there is a contradiction
3. But none actually exists because peirazo is a broader word that means “to try or to test”
a. God will not try or test a man to do evil in James 1:13, but in English we use a more specialized word, “tempt” to say the same thing
b. God tested or tried Abraham’s faith in Hebrews 11:17 to prove its strength. The aim of the trial was not sin
C. Both premillennialism and preterism are beliefs that are rooted in misapplying the coming of Jesus as if all “comings” are the same
II. Where is the promise of his coming? - II Peter 3:1-4
A. It appears that everything continues as it always has - Ecclesiastes 1:4-9
1. It is easy to fool yourself into believing this world will continue for millions of years.
2. Some question the validity of God’s promise, but some believe that the promise has already been fulfilled
a. Preterism claims that Jesus came in A.D. 70, destroyed Jerusalem and that fulfilled his promise to return.
B. Peter’s point is that God’s word has power
1. It was by God’s word that the world was created - II Peter 3:5
2. It was by God’s word that the world was destroyed by a flood - II Peter 3:6
3. That same word promises that the world will be destroyed by fire in a day of judgment
a. It isn’t the destruction of Jerusalem that is mind because it is the heavens and earth.
b. I’ve seen someone argue that “earth” can just mean “land” as in Matthew 2:6 and “heaven” is what the Jews called the Holy of Holies in the Temple.
c. But because something has one meaning in one context, does it retain that same meaning everywhere?
d. Just because the Jews saw the Holy of Holies representing heaven, it doesn’t mean there is no heaven but the Holy of Holies. Quite the opposite actually.
e. Notice that it is “heavens” and not “heaven” in this verse. The word “heaven” is used three different ways in the Bible
(1) There is the heaven where the birds fly; that is our atmosphere - Jeremiah 4:25
(2) There is the heaven where the sun, moon and stars reside; that is, outer space- Isaiah 13:10
(3) And there is the heaven where God dwells which is a spiritual realm - Hebrews 9:24
f. But more important “heavens and earth” are defined in the context as what God created and God destroyed with a flood.
(1) The Temple and Jerusalem did not exist at this point in history
(2) We are talking about the atmosphere and outer space
C. God doesn’t forget his promises
1. Time doesn’t have the same meaning to God that it has to man - II Peter 3:8
a. Yet, there a version of premillennialism that claims because God created the world in six days, followed by a day of rest, then the world’s history can be divided into six 1,000 year periods, followed by the peaceful reign of Jesus for a 1,000 years.
b. Others use this passage to say that days of creation were actually long periods of time.
c. Then there are people who use this in some way to calculate the end of the world, even though later in II Peter 3:10 it says it is not predictable, like a thief.
d. This isn’t a formula, note the use of “as”.
2. Peter’s point is like Psalms 90:4-6
D. There is a purpose to the delay - II Peter 3:9
1. The world continues because of God’s grace to give men a chance to change
E. But notice that all these arguments would not makes sense if Peter was talking about the destruction of Jerusalem in a few years from the time this letter was written.
III. A coming that will not be missed - II Peter 3:10-11
A. The heavens and earth will pass away
1. The phrase “will pass away” comes from the Greek word parerchomai
2. Heaven and earth will pass away, but in contrast Jesus’ words will remain forever - Matthew 24:35
3. Or when someone dies - James 1:10
4. The earth and heavens will perish - Hebrews 1:10-12
B. And it won’t be a quiet going. It is going with a “whoosh”
C. The elements will melt with fervent heat
1. “Elements” is the primary materials out of which everything is formed.
a. Thus the basic ingredients of this physical universe will melt in intense heat.
2. Preterists wish to claim that “elements” refers to the “elemental things of the world” as used in Galatians 4:3,9 and thus refers to a figurative destruction of the Law.
a. Colossians 2:8, 20 talk about the same concept: “elemental principles of the world”
b. In isn’t limited to the Law, it includes idolatry - Galatians 4:8
c. Notice that II Peter 3:10,12 that there is no phrase “elemental things of the world” or “elemental principles of the world”. It just says “the elements”.
d. Again there is a borrowing of a meaning from one context and a claim that all uses must have the same meaning.
3. We already demonstrated from II Peter 3:5-6 that Peter is talking about the earth, atmosphere and outer space.
a. This is about a physical destruction
b. Not a figurative destruction of ideas
4. The word “melt” translates the Greek word luo which means to break up, destroy, or dissolve
a. In other words everything will be broken up into elemental pieces.
D. Both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up
1. The same Greek word for “burned up,” katakaio, is used in Acts 19:19. It means to be consumed by fire.
2. What will be consumed? The earth and its works.
a. That would include the towering peaks, the rolling hills, the winding streams, the extended plains, the deep forests, the mighty oceans, the peaceful valleys, the underground minerals, springs, lakes, and oceans
b. It will include all the works of man: those expensive homes, the sprawling cities, the parks, the farms, the gardens, highways, books, machines, and merchandise
IV. What manner of persons ought you to be? - II Peter 3:12-15
A. Seeing that all of this world isn’t meant to last, why are you putting so much emphasis on transient things?
B. God promises a new heaven and earth - II Peter 3:13
1. It will be a spiritual home, not a physical one - I Corinthians 15:44, 46, 50
2. The old will be gone - Revelation 21:1
C. It will be one in which righteous lives
1. There will be nothing unclean in it - Revelation 21:27
D. Again, it cannot describe the world since the fall of Jerusalem
1. I Timothy 4:1 - A falling away in later times
2. II Timothy 3:1-5 - Difficult times in the last days
3. These things continue to this day
V. Don’t get caught up in the empty doctrines of men - I Timothy 6:3-5