Purpose of This Letter
1 Beloved, I am now writing you this second letter. In this [as in the first one], I am stirring up your untainted mind to remind you, 2 that you should remember the words spoken in the past [about the future] by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior given by your apostles [His personally chosen representatives].
The Coming Day of the Lord
3 First of all, know [without any doubt] that mockers will come in the last days with their mocking, following after their own human desires 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming [what has become of it]? For ever since the fathers fell asleep [in death], all things have continued [exactly] as they did from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they willingly forget [the fact] that the heavens existed long ago by the word of God, and the earth was formed (a)out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed by being flooded with water.(A) 7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly people.
8 Nevertheless, do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day.(B) 9 The Lord does not delay [as though He were unable to act] and is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is [extraordinarily] patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
A New Heaven and Earth
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will vanish with a [mighty and thunderous] roar, and the [material] elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and the works that are on it will be (b)burned up.
11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be [in the meantime] in holy behavior [that is, in a pattern of daily life that sets you apart as a believer] and in godliness [displaying profound reverence toward our awesome God], 12 [while you earnestly] look for and await the coming of the day of God. For on this day the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the [material] elements will melt with intense heat!(C) 13 But in accordance with His promise we expectantly await new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.(D)
14 So, beloved, since you are looking forward to these things, be diligent and make every effort to be found by Him [at His return] spotless and blameless, in peace [that is, inwardly calm with a sense of spiritual well-being and confidence, having lived a life of obedience to Him]. 15 And consider the patience of our Lord [His delay in judging and avenging wrongs] as salvation [that is, allowing time for more to be saved]; just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him [by God], 16 speaking about these things as he does in all of his letters. In which there are some things that are difficult to understand, which the untaught and unstable [who have fallen into error] twist and misinterpret, just as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17 Therefore, [let me warn you] beloved, knowing these things beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of (c)unprincipled men [who distort doctrine] and fall from your own steadfastness [of mind, knowledge, truth, and faith], 18 but grow [spiritually mature] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory (honor, majesty, splendor), both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
a. 2 Peter 3:5: Peter is not referring to the creation of earth from water, but to the appearance of land masses from the water that had covered the earth in the early stages of creation. His point is that the mockers who will claim that things continue to be just as they always have been will be overlooking the fact that the status quo, as they see it, took an act of God to create in the first place, and God has already intervened in the history of the world once to wipe out mankind by a cataclysmic flood (v 6; cf Gen 6; 7).
b. 2 Peter 3:10: Two early mss have “discovered” instead of “burned up.” It is possible that Peter means something like “discovered for what they really are—temporary creations.”
c. 2 Peter 3:17: I.e. the people who teach a distorted doctrine.