2 Peter 3
J.B. Phillips New Testament
God delays the last day, in his mercy
3 1-2 This is the second letter I have written to you, dear friends of mine, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate you, as men with minds uncontaminated by error, by simply reminding you of what you really know already. For I want you to remember the words spoken of old by the holy prophets as well as the commands of our Lord and saviour given to you through his messengers.
3-4 First of all you must realise that 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!”
5-7 They are deliberately shutting their eyes to a fact that they know very well, that there were, by God’s command, heavens in the old days and an earth formed out of the water and surrounded by water. It was by water that the world of those days was deluged and destroyed, but the present heavens and earth are, also by God’s command, being kept and maintained for the fire of the day of judgment and the destruction of wicked men.
8-10 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. It is not that he is dilatory about keeping his own promise as some men seem to think; the fact is that he is very patient towards you. He has no wish that any man should be destroyed. He wishes that all men should come to repent. Yet it remains true that the day of the Lord will come as suddenly and unexpectedly as a thief. In that day the heavens will disappear in a terrific tearing blast, the very elements will disintegrate in heat and the earth and all that is in it will be burnt up to nothing.
Never lose sight of the eternal world
11-13 In view of the fact that all these things are to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be? Surely men of good and holy character, who live expecting and earnestly longing for the coming of the day of God. True, this day will mean that the heavens will disappear in fire and the elements disintegrate in fearful heat, but our hopes are set not on these but on the new Heaven and the new earth which he has promised us, and in which nothing but good shall live.
14-16 Because, my dear friends, you have a hope like this before you, I urge you to make certain that such a day would find you at peace with God and man, clean and blameless in his sight. Meanwhile, consider that God’s patience is meant to be man’s salvation, as our dear brother Paul pointed out in his letter to you, written out of the wisdom God gave him. In that letter, as indeed in all his letters, he referred to these matters. There are, of course, some things which are difficult to understand, and which, unhappily, ill-informed and unbalanced people distort (as they do the other scriptures), and bring disaster on their own heads.
17-18 But you, my friends whom I love, are forewarned, and should therefore be very careful not to be carried away by the errors of wicked men and so lose your proper foothold. On the contrary, you should grow in grace and in your knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ—to him be glory now and until the dawning of the day of eternity!