2 Peter and the Return of Jesus

The implied opponents in 2 Peter denied the return of Jesus (1:16, 2:1-3, 14, 18). There are several reasons for this, but primarily it was because the first generation of believers were old or dead. Peter himself is about to die, Paul will die about the same time. Yet Jesus has not returned – why is this?

It is possible that the opponents charged the older generation with creating the return of Jesus, it is a “cleverly devised myth (1:16). Bauckham suggests that the opponents might have claimed the apostles made up the return of Jesus in order to control the early church (Jude, 2 Peter, 154).” I am not sure how that would work, it almost sounds like the first generation knew they were creating a cult and they came up with a story and brainwashed their converts.

I think that it is more like that the phrase “cleverly devised myth” implies that they opponents claimed that the (Jewish) apostles over-interpreted the words of Jesus because of there apocalyptic world view. As the church became increasingly Gentile, it became more rational. The second and third generation Gentile believers were not reading Daniel and 1 Enoch, they were reading Stoic and Epicurean philosophy. As a result the “apocalyptic” aspect of early Christianity was muted. These false-teachers deny the return of Jesus because they do not share the apocalyptic assumptions of Paul and Peter!  (This suggestion has the advantage of explaining the missing text from Jude, especially the citation of 1 Enoch which concerns the apocalyptic return of the Lord. Peter avoided them since they would cause more trouble from his opponents.)

The opponents also denied a future judgment as well as the return of Jesus. The coming of Messiah is bound up with the idea of a judgment on the nations in Jewish apocalyptic. When Messiah comes, he will judge the nations and punish those who are not considered “righteous.” In Matt 25: 31-46, for example, when Jesus returns he will punish the nations that mistreated his children. If the Messiah is not coming back, then he is also not going to judge people for their present behavior (2:19).

Peter’s strategy for countering his opponents is interesting especially since we now live some 2000 years after Jesus.  It is fairly easy to mock the  idea of a “return of Jesus” given that he has been away for quite some time, and some of his followers keep failing at predictions of the day and hour.   Rather than point to so-called fulfilled prophecies or trends in society which “prove” Jesus is coming very soon, Peter argues first that God keeps his promises, even if there is a long time between promise and fulfillment.  Second, if there is a delay, that delay is a reflection of God’s mercy and his hope that those facing judgment will repent.  I think this is  the point of 3:8 (“a day is like a thousand years”) is to point out that God often gives a long time for repentance.

Does this sort of “strategy” work today?  How does a Christian firmly hold to the return of Jesus while separating from the more embarrassing examples of recent years?

31 thoughts on “2 Peter and the Return of Jesus

  1. And yet, some like the full preterist Peter Leithart seek to build their case from 2 Peter. Note Leithart has a full commentary on 2 Peter. I am not a “preterist” myself! In fact to honor the “text” and “covenant” we surely must see “Israel” thru the whole of Scripture, and especially Modern Israel, (Rom. 11: 28).

  2. I think he will return but no scholars or famous priests can predict when because only Jesus knows when he will return. In the post it said something about how God always keeps his promises and that’s what I like to believe. He said that one day he will return and that doesn’t mean that it has to be a certain time, but one day he will return to earth. I think that Christians hold firm to the return of Jesus because they know that only Jesus knows when he will come back. For me personally when I hear that someone has predicted the end of the world, it usually does not even make me worry because they have been guessing for thousands of years. So I believe that one day he will return. When will that be? I have no idea just like everyone else but being a Christian you should not pay attention to the predictions of random people.

  3. As mentioned, Peter writes about the “myths” that Jesus was not going to return. Myth in the Greek= “mythos” which means “a story without basis in fact, a legend”. Peter must have surely been in a precarious position. The return of Christ was probably anticipated during the lifetime of the Disciples yet Jesus himself said “no man knows the hour or the day, not even the Son but only the Father”. If Jesus himself did not know then surely Harold Camping certainly does not know! None of us do. Many people are reading the scriptures to get a “leg up” on He will return but, no one knows. People look for signs anywhere they can to sound the warning bells and perhaps make a little money on the side. Let’s leave the second coming up to God. But, we should be diligent and eager for His return. Don’t be caught with your proverbial pants down.

  4. The bible does strictly say that the Lord will return, 1 Thessalonians says “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet The Lord in the air”. I believe what the bible says because it is God breathed. If you think about it though, before we were alive I am sure that people went through everything we have been through with others trying to predict the day of the Second Coming although “no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows” (Matthew 24:36). The day has been tried to figure out since the days of Jesus himself being alive, so we can count on people continuing to predict the day even though no one will ever know until the actual day of his return. Can it really be a myth if it is written in the bible?

  5. I’ve never really considered the idea that there were equally as many skeptics to the fact that Jesus was, is, and is to come. I’m really not sure where to go in my thought on this, but at the same time it is one of those things that holds equal prudence today when it comes to defending our faith. There were as many people putting out false thoughts and disagreeing with the apostles and their followers as there are today. It might not be as big of a deal now as it was then, but it is still of significance. Other than that I am kind of lost with what was mentioned here. It seems contextually right to me, but it still isn’t registering in my mind.

  6. The sort of “strategy” Christian hold today about God coming back still works because the Bible shows that God keeps his promises. He kept his promises to Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, Paul and every other figure in the Bible. If God can keep all those promises, especially the promise of a savior in His son Jesus Christ, I can believe he will fulfill the promise of Jesus coming back. Christians can maintain this belief in the “return of Jesus” because the Bible is the true word of God. Jesus’ return gives believers hope in a better world; a world that is not ravaged by sin more and more. If Jesus was not coming back, there would be no hope for the future for Christians. If the return is not real, who is to say that heaven is real. The Bible gives believers a clear message that Jesus will return and bring a new hope and love to his followers. If the return is not real, the Bible is then considered wrong, or vastly misinterpreted. It is a core belief that the Bible is the True Word of God, so the return is a real event Christians can continue to believe in.

  7. I do believe that Christ will return, and I also would support this from the passage of scripture that Shelby had mentioned above. I know that Jesus Christ will return, but I do also understand how it was hard for Peter as well as Paul. They did believe that Jesus would return and leaned toward the idea that He would return during their lifetime. I also understand how people can become so lax and not even remember that the Lord their God is returning… and soon. I have found myself thinking that He will not return during my lifetime; it is so easy to think that. It has been around 2000 years since He lived and died on this earth. What is to say that He will return within the next couple years? Especially with all of these people stating their ideas of when the Lord will return. I know that this is tiresome in itself, for both believers and nonbelievers. It does not shake my emotions and knowledge that Jesus will return like He said He will. A reason these false prophecies do not tear down my faith is because I hold on to the verses in God’s holy and true word that says, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mat. 24:36, Mark 13:32)
    God’s word is true. I know that Christ will return, and until He does, I need to be living like His return is tomorrow. Though people and circumstances in this life may try to steer me away, my eyes need to be fixed on the ultimate prize.

  8. I also believe that Christ will return. Like Shelby mentioned in her post, although we do not know the exact moment when Christ will return, God’s Word does promise His return. The mystery of Christ’s return has troubled people for ages. Persecuted Christians throughout history believed the End Times were near and believed Christ was coming during their lifetime. You see this in the mentality of persecuted Christians in the Middle Ages, persecuted Fundamentalists in the 1920s, and many Christians today believe that Christ’s return is very near. Although the Bible does not say the exact day that Christ will return, that remains a mystery, the Bible does give us “clues” as to when the End Times are near in Revelation. I believe that Christians should stop trying to predict when Christ will return. We are not omniscient like Christ; therefore we will never know the exact day, month, or year. Christ is all knowing and all powerful. He will return in His own timing. We should hold firm to the promise of His return without worrying or questioning when. While we wait for Christ’s return we should continue serving Him and leading others to Christ through our life’s testimony.

  9. Many people have tried to predict Jesus’ return. They have predicted the “end of the world” several times. These type of people are obviously not true Christians and have not read the Bible very thoroughly. The Bible clearly says that Jesus will return. Acts 1:11 says “they said ‘men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven”. There is no doubt that Christ will return someday. However, we will not know when until it actually happens. The Bible never says when Christ will return. In fact, Matthew 24:43-44 says “so you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” We can try and predict when he will return as much as we like, but he will return at a time when we do not expect it. No one knows when he will return.

  10. Jesus’ return is something that is hard but amazing to think about, wondering what it will actually be like. The information that brings us close to where or what is going to happen, presents itself in Revelation. I think that it is very interesting that there has been may accounts where people have predicted the return of Christ. Even though it says that no one knows when the rapture will happen (Matthew 24:36-51), people still think they have it all down to a science when it comes to determination when the rapture will happen. I also wonder that it was like in Jesus’ time after he rose from the grave what the people were thinking and wondering when it was going to happen. Just like today, there was probably a lot of confusion and curiosity when it came to Jesus returning.

  11. As stated several times above, we do not know the coming of Christ and we never will. The fact that this may be a “myth” is quite humorous to me.The part about using the return of Christ as a way to control the church litteraly made me laugh. At some point in my life I had heard that the concept of eternal life or rather the fact that one could lose one’s faith, was just another way to control the early church. If they can lose their salvation, then they will think twice about sinning. In the same way, I can see that the return of Christ might make the faithfulness of people stronger, knowing that Jesus might come back any day now. Just as I came to understand that one could not lose their salvation, I believe that we can look at more than just 2 Pater for our answers and thankfully gain understanding of a bigger picture. Taking any book as itself out of the context of the bigger picture is ALWAYS going to give a scewed image of the grand picture. I like to see this as kind of a big race. We may not know the whole course but we still are running it. We will not know that the race is over until we run right into the obvious finishline, and Jesus return is that finish line. All we have to do now is keep running and keep our mind on the race, not the finish line. In the end, all you will remember is how you did during the race, not how good it felt to be done.

  12. I agree with miss Sgunn91, the future mrs skelley! I question the motives of people who declare to know the date of Christ’s return. Perhaps they are simply ignorant Christians, but I think it would be hard to be unaware of passages like Matt 24:44,”So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Mark 13:32 also states that, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Maybe people who predict Jesus’s return are in it for the money(if people read their books and whatnot) or the fame? I am not sure, but it is hard for me to put people who believe they can predict the end of the world, in a category of people who truly believe and obey the Bible (at least that part of it). The focus is not to be on when Christ returns, but that fact that he will someday, and we should all live in light of that and be ready for it…

  13. This is a sweet quote from Calvin here!

    ‘Let us, however, consider this settled: that no one has made progress in the school of Christ who does not joyfully await the day of death and final resurrection. Paul, too, distinguishes all believers by this mark [Titus 2:13; cf. 2 Tim. 4:8], and Scripture habitually recalls us to it whenever it would set forth proof of perfect happiness. “Rejoice,” says the Lord, “and raise your heads; for your redemption is drawing near.” [Luke 21:28 p.] Is it reasonable, I ask you, that what our Lord meant to be sufficient to arouse us to rejoicing and good cheer should engender nothing but sorrow and dismay? If this is so, why do we still boast of him as our Master? Let us, then, take hold of a sounder view, and even though the blind and stupid desire of the flesh resists, let us not hesitate to await the Lord’s coming, not only with longing, but also with groaning and sighs, as the happiest thing of all. He will come to us as Redeemer, and rescuing us from this boundless abyss of all evils and miseries, he will lead us into that blessed inheritance of his life and glory.’ – (Calvin, Inst. 1)

  14. I could not agree more with this post! Yes it does seem crazy and a little bit hopeful to tell people that Jesus is coming soon or that he is coming back at all. To non believers this is foolishness. But to us, we know because we know God’s character as reviled in the Bible, that he does in fact hold true to every promise he has ever made and will continue to do so. I agree with the statement that Jesus has “delayed” his return because he wants to give his children as much time as possible to return to him and he is generous enough to give his church time to spread his good news of life. as much as we long for his return we should value this time we have here on earth as valuable time to gather as many people as we can to spend eternity with Him. But, because we still do not know the day or hour, this should create a sense of urgency within us to spread the Gospel. In Mathew 24 :14 it says that Christ will not return until all of the nations or people groups have heard the good news. so if we want Christ to come we better get to work!

  15. It’s quite interesting that we hear time from time that scholars and well-known priest try and predict when Jesus will arrive on earth. No one on earth can predict when Jesus is coming. Only Jesus knows when he will come to earth. I believe that one day Jesus will return to earth, Mark 13: 32-33 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come”. In Mark, it talks about that Jesus will come back one day on earth but there’s no way for us to predict or even know when that will ever happen. It can happen today, tomorrow, or ten years from now. God is true to his word, he will return soon. How soon? We may never know. It can sometime be a struggle to not listen to famous priest and scholars because they study the bible in and out. You would assume that they will know what they are talking about. But we need to fight the urge and remember what Mark 13:32-33 says. It’s a crazy thought that one day Jesus will return, but we can’t predict the future. We don’t know know what lies ahead of us from minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, year by year.

  16. I feel that this “strategy” lies within the theology of the church. There are many incorrect theologies and beliefs held by Americans today. To have the correct theology, one must read the Bible. Not only parts of the Bible, but the Bible in its entirety. Understanding theology is easier for modern day Christians to understand the coming of Christ, as we have the complete collection of books in the Bible, including Revelation. I feel that this may give modern day Christians the advantage to understand why and how Jesus will return. Revelation is often thought of first when the word “eschatology” is brought up. However, there are many other books within the Bible that discuss the topic of eschatology, including 2 Peter. I think being able to read clearly about false prophets and wrongful teachings in the Bible can help Christians hold on to the coming of Jesus. Reading the teachings of 2 Peter and what he has to say about the returning of Jesus gives modern Christians great insight in how to move forward from embarrassments of the past. Peter warns his readers about false teachers and how they will want to lead others astray. Jobes states these false teachers are rejecting the second coming of Jesus so that they can live their lives according to their own desires (375). Knowing this, Christians can look at actions and intentions of teachers. Then compare it to the teachings of the Bible to determine if they are truly Biblically based. If not, they can be corrected or identified as a false teacher. Then this can allow for Christians to distance themselves from their teachings and understand they are seeking to please themselves and not the Lord. The Bible tells us that there will be false teachers, even until the coming of Jesus (Rev. 2, Matt. 24:5, 2 Peter 2:1). However, this should not discourage Christians, rather encourage them to continue to teach the Gospel correctly and wait for the new earth to come.

  17. I struggle with this chapter. Why has he waited so long? The longer he does the more will be punished for their sin, who would not have even existed had he not waited. Its as if the punishment of the many is outweighed by the repentance of the many. Thoughts?

  18. I completely agree with your statements of Jesus being “delayed” because I think many Christians including myself think He is waiting to see just how many of us will come back to Him. I am pretty sure He would want as many of us as He can get to come back to Him. Also, with the world being as divided as it is right now I do not think He would like to come back to that. We should become closer together rather than further apart for His return. ! Corinthians 1:10 even states, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” This here shows that we should become unified rather than distancing ourselves from each other. Jobes even explains Jesus as a “living stone” to which believers are joined (Jobes, 2011). This is also seen as a symbol of unity. So, when it comes to Jesus being “delayed” I think He is waiting for us to become a more unified body of believers.

  19. I very much enjoyed this read. It has always fascinated me with people talking about end times and the return of Jesus. Foolishness is the view point of non-believers when it comes to end times eschatology as believing that a man who lived 2,000 years ago returning doesn’t sound very appealing to the average person. To top it all off, radical Christians predicting the date of the return of Jesus and failing is also a major turn off to Christianity.These false teachers are rejecting the second coming of Jesus so that they can live their lives according to their own desires (Jobes, 375). This goes along with something that the article mentioned that has always intrigued me as point of apologetics. When Messiah comes, he will judge the nations and punish those who are not considered righteous. With this being true, to the unbelievers mind if their is no return of the Messiah then their is no judgment; If their is no judgment then there is free reign to do whatever and face no consequence.

  20. It can be hard sometimes to feel like you’re waiting for something to happen that you have no time frame for. Some people are very afraid of Christ’s return, but I am personally looking forward to it! However, it is impossible to know when Jesus will return and it’s very hard sometimes to remain faithful and patient. But I like to hold fast to the promises of God, and remember that He promised to come back. So we need to be faithful to remember that, and wait for him.

  21. I remember some years ago there was a man with his face on a billboard. This billboard had the day of the rapture on it, and this man in the end made out with a bunch of the churches money and disappeared. I would say any strategy is better than that, but Peter’s words that God is faithful to His promises are more than a strategy that we see. God being faithful to His promises is part of God’s very nature. I think that this method or approach or whatever we call it is a very powerful one because no one does know the time or the hour. Christ will return. God is faithful to His promises. Our job is to wait and obey. God’s responsibility is the outcome.

    • Mark,

      You made a really good point here. I would agree with you in that no one knows and will never know exactly when and how the and of the world will happen. That is all up to God and that is all obviously a part of God’s plan that he has had set forth for us since the beginning. The biggest thing that comes from this, at least for me, is one simple word, and that is trust. We all need to not fall under these lies about when the rapture will happen and in turn, get scared about them like it will actually happen, and more be patient and trust in the fact that God has everything under control.

  22. I do believe that Christ is going to return to earth one day, it is stated in the Bible multiple times. But we as humans will never know when that day is going to come, we just have to be ready for whenever it may be. It is hard to live in a time where everyone wants to know when something is supposed to happen, it drives people nuts not knowing when a big event is going to happen. But in Peter’s time they just waited and waited, I am sure they wondered when the return will happen, but they also knew that they were getting old and were going to see the Lord soon in heaven. Trying to separate form the embarrassing scenarios that have occurred over the years is hard, because society puts a label on all Christians. And not all Christians believe they know when Christ is going to return, that is something God only knows.

  23. I think that the believers during that time very well could have thought that the return of Jesus was just a myth. Something that Paul would have made up in order to get more people to follow his teachings. It is important, today. to keep in mind that God keeps His promises; if He promises that Jesus will return, He will. I know people today who say that Jesus is coming back soon because the world is such a bad place and that it can not get any worse. But looking back to Roman times, Christians were being fed to lions, I am sure they were thinking the exact same thing, that it could not get any worse than that, Jesus is coming back soon. No one knows when Jesus’ return will be, they just keep guessing (Matthew 24:36-37). I completely agree, that everyday that Jesus does not return it is God’s mercy, allowing people another day to know Him better as well as the fact that more can come to have the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus.

  24. Peter’s approach is very different than the media would like it. While he approaches it from the standpoint of God’s faithfulness, the world desires to see signs of the end. Jobes says, “That day will come “like a thief” (2 Peter 3:10), a phrase… that echoes Jesus’ teaching on eschatology in Matthew (24:43 and Luke (12:39)” (Pg. 374) By Peter using that language to refute those who claimed that Christ was not going to return (3:4), he was emphasizing the need to not worry about signs of the end. The end is going to come swiftly. Also, he says that His coming seems slow because of His desire that all come to repentance. (2:9) People nowadays may see it as an excuse for Jesus not yet showing up. However, Christians are to stay strong during the waiting period. Peter encourages Christians to live “holy and Godly lives” (2 Peter 3:11) while they wait for Christ’s coming. Instead of living a spiritually dormant life until Christ comes, let us do the work of Christ and continue to evangelize instead of waiting to leave the Earth.

  25. I believe that God will return and it is going to be awesome. I may not be alive when it happens, but you better bet I will be dancing. Obviously, we all wish that the future was predictable and that God would tell us when He is coming back. I think the beauty is in the unknown. God wanted us to have urgency on our hearts to witness and He wanted to give us time to know Him. Peter talks about how God coming back seems slow, but it is to God’s advantage. The longer it is the more will be in Heaven. The more the merrier! We need to use this unknown as motivation to continue to live active lives for Christ. I think Peter and all the others who died for Christ’s cause would want us to be active and not stagnant. God wants us to witness and not be worried about the future. God will return and that is so exciting to think about.

  26. I think a proper emphasis on the return of Jesus should fall between the two extremes of being lazy and being crazy. Reading about Christ’s return should motivate us to take advantage of the time we have been given! That can take form in personal repentance, growth, and discipline. But it can also take form in the community. We ought to be telling of the love and forgiveness that we receive with others so that they might experience a relationship with Jesus as well. I am not one for fire and brimstone preaching, I prefer to appeal to individuals who know and trust me. In that context, I think Jesus’ end-time or apocalyptic return shifts away from a “turn or burn” mindest into a gracious gift. God has gifted us every single day as an opportunity to love and worship Him. And because of that relationship we get to experience his abounding grace and blessing (careful not to dip a toe into prosperity gospel). Because of this, my appeal to non-belivers is often based on what they feel they lack. If they are lacking peace, joy, patience, etc. then I have great news for them! I have never approached someone with the intent to describe how they are despicable in the eyes of God (who they probably do not believe) just so they can dismiss me as a crazy aggressive stranger. There is power in a relationship, and while we wait here we get to enjoy a unique one with God through Christ. So why not use our time and relationships to describe the blessing that is God’s love for us?

Leave a Reply