Monday, 17 February 2020
…knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 2 Peter 3:3
Peter said in verse 3:1 that he wanted to stir up the mind of his readers so that they would be aware of what was spoken. This was important so that they wouldn’t wind up on a wrong path, as he now explains by saying, “knowing this first.” This is a phrase also spoken in 2 Peter 1:20. It highlights the importance of what he will next say, calling them to pay heed. From there, he says, “that scoffers will come in the last days.”
The term “last days” isn’t some point where the Christian’s of the world will suddenly realize things have gone from bad to worse. Nor are they a time by which we can say, “See the world has become just like the Bible predicted.”
The context of what the apostles mean for the last days is from the ascension of Christ until the time when He comes for His people – it is of indeterminate length. It reveals people who fit the biblical description of “scoffer” throughout its duration. One will not on a certain day in church history pick up the morning paper and come to the conclusion that things have gotten so bad that we must be in the last days. But this is what many people do.
In particular, 2 Peter 3 and 2 Timothy 3 are used to justify such a stand. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 reads –
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”
It seems as if this is a set point in time that suddenly calls out, “These are the last days.” But the same term is used elsewhere by the apostles, showing clearly that it is a term which speaks of the entire duration of the church age, such as in 1 Peter 1:20 and Hebrews 1:2. The phrase is also used in a passage parallel to Peter’s words now in Jude 1:18.
With this understood, that the things he will describe in the coming verses speaks of an extended period of time, he now finishes this verse with, “walking according to their own lusts.” The word “walking” signifies the conduct of one’s life. One can walk in peace with others, one can walk in harmony with God’s word, etc. The people Peter is warning against are walking in a way which pursues the carnal nature of man. They may be pursuing greed, sexual sin, sports cars, power and control over others, or some other fleshly pursuit.
Life application: If you consider the verses Peter is writing out now, and then compare them against the backdrop of history, you will see that it reflects the heart attitude of people throughout all ages. Likewise, men have been walking according to their own lusts since the time of Adam.
Know then and understand that we have been living in the “last days” since Jesus left. It is our business to be about His business. The world around us needs the knowledge of Jesus, not unsubstantiated predictions about why the world has finally arrived at “the last days.” There are other ways of discerning the timing of prophetic events from the Bible which are revealed in proper context.
Heavenly Father, give us wisdom and prudence as we walk before You, knowing that just as Christ Jesus ascended to heaven, so He will return again to earth. May we be found productively going about His business when He returns rather than sitting idly by waiting for a day which is unknown to us. Amen.