Think About the Patience of God: II Peter 2 and 3

thumbnail22Chapter 1 of Peter’s second letter ends, “You should give (God’s) word your closest attention, for it shines like a lamp amidst all the dirt and darkness of the world, until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in your hearts…..No prophecy came because a man wanted it to:  men of God spoke because they were inspired by the Holy Spirit.”  (verses 18b and 19b, JBP)

Chapters 2 and 3 are short, but they are heavy reading, giving vivid descriptions of what the earliest Christians were facing in a world under the Roman Empire’s domination, and also facing in their own churches by the infiltration of heretical, or false teachings.  What is remarkable in reading Peter’s apostolic warnings is how relevant his descriptions and exhortations are in light of what Christians are facing in the world and the Church 2000 years later.  The Catholic Commentary says, “In fact, the ideas and practices that Peter confronts have a striking resemblance to our own day.  He was confronting skeptics who doubted God’s intervention and judgment in the world and denied that Christ would come again to bring a new heavens and earth.” (Keating, p. 133)  And this fact leads us to ponder again what we find in chapter 3:  “….in the last days mockers will undoubtedly come–men whose only guide in life is what they want for themselves–and they will say, ‘What has happened to his promised coming?  Since the first Christians fell asleep, everything remains exactly as it was since the beginning of creation!’…But you should never lose sight of this fact, dear friends, that time is not the same with the Lord as it is with us–to Him a day may be a thousand years, and a thousand years only a day.” (verses 3,4,8)

And, Keating continues, “Do we not live in an age that questions whether God really judges anyone?  Peter was also confronting an ideology that justified all kinds of sexual immorality in the name of a specious freedom.  Do we not see this everywhere around us?  In the name of this false freedom human beings become ‘slaves of corruption.’ (2:19)”

At the same time that we are faced with gruesome facts, Peter gives us reasons to hope in God our Father by reminding us of other unchanging truths upon which we as Christians build our lives in this world and the next:  “…the fact is that He is very patient towards you.  He has no wish that any man should be destroyed.” (3:9)   In these few words, Peter has given a description of the character of the personal, Creator-God whom the world and other religions find impossible to understand.  The Apostle reminds us throughout this short, powerful letter that “God’s patience is meant to be man’s salvation.”  (3:15)

“Finally, II Peter presents us with a marvelous promise of divine power.  It says to us clearly:  you are called to nothing less than a share in the divine nature (1:4)…this  does not mean that we become God or become independent gods, as some New Age teaching would claim.  Rather, it means that we find our true life in direct communion with God.  This promise of being partakers of the divine nature opens us to what the Christian tradition calls ‘divinization’ or ‘deification’:  not that we become God by nature but that we are enabled by grace as human beings to share in the divine life.  In the face of competing worldviews and of the despair felt by so many today, we need to hear anew the glorious invitation to become partakers of God’s own life.”  (Keating, p. 134)

And so we come to the end of our summer’s study of I and II Peter.  I hope you will visit this blogsite again soon, because I will begin posting weekly blogs drawing upon Holy Scripture and many other treasures of the Church, old and new, centering on encouragement for those who pray for their loved ones.  Blessings to you in Christ,  JC