What the Commentators Have to Say…

When discussing the possibility that Second Peter 3:3 is a reference to the final days of the Jewish system (culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem), I was told, “I’ve been studying the Bible for 44 years, and I’ve never heard that before.”  The next thing was “Guy N. Woods and Gospel Advocate don’t say that.”  Then came, “I searched online, and the only person that says that is Max King!”

These statements were full of logical fallacies (Guy N. Woods isn’t the standard of interpretation, just because you haven’t heard it doesn’t mean it isn’t true, just because you haven’t heard it doesn’t mean people haven’t ever said it, and I’m not Max King–nor one of his disciples).  But, in order to show that this isn’t some new interpretation, and that it isn’t something that was somehow hidden from public view, we present to you the thoughts of many well-known and well-respected commentators.

Burton Coffman on 2 Peter 3:3

Burton Coffman wrote a 37-volume, verse-by-verse Commentary, originally published by Firm Foundation. About this set, the following quotation is given online: “Many people consider the Coffman series to be one of the finest modern, conservative commentary sets written.” The following is from his notes on 2 Peter 3:3. Bold font added for emphasis

Wheaton declared that it is “likely” that the mockers here are the same as the false teachers of the preceding chapter; and Dummelow considered it “probable”; but the view here is that they were almost certainly the same. This is indicated by two considerations: (1) They are sensual characters, walking after their own lusts, as were the false teachers; and (2) they are evidently people who were familiar with the “promise” of the Lord’s coming, who had indeed once believed it, but then became mockers.

Thus, this prominent preacher/writer/teacher in the church of Christ realized that the “mockers” in 2 Peter 3:3 are to be identified as the “false teachers” of 2 Peter 2. It is not a separate group of people. If it is the same group of people, then 2 Peter 3:3 describes the “mockers” that were working in Jude’s day (Jude 16-19).

College Press Commentary on 2 Peter 3:3

Usually called the “Old Green Commentaries,” the College Press Commentary set was written by members of the Christian Church and the church of Christ. Bold font added for emphasis.

“The last days” is a term used sometimes in the New Testament with reference to the last days of Judah (and Jerusalem) as a nation (Acts 2:17, James 5:3). This could be true here

The author of that volume went on to say that it seemed more to him that it was the end of the world. But he did make it a point to say that this phrase could be a reference to the last days of Judah and Jerusalem in this passage. That was published in 1962.

John Sutcliffe on 2 Peter 3:3

John Sutcliffe, a Methodist preacher, wrote his commentaries on the New Testament in 1835. Bold font added for emphasis.

[Note on 2:10] That walk after the flesh — and despise government. The Jews, at the time of the writing of this epistle, were beginning the war against the Romans. The old proverb was realized in them: He whom God destroys is first mad. The reins were launched to passion, and the tongue to infamy.

[Note on 3:1-2] This second epistle is, with one undeviating design, to stir up your pure minds to watchfulness and prayer, and that ye may be mindful of the words of the holy prophets, and also of the cautions repeated by Christ, and by us his apostles, against all false teachers and scoffers at what we say concerning the visitations of God on the Jewish nation, and of the fall of the sacred temple. Lactantius says, “Peter and Paul preached at Rome, and what they preached, being written, remained as a record. In which they predicted many astonishing events, and this among others, that after a short time God would send a king who should vanquish the Jews, should level their cities with the ground, and besiege them so closely, that they should be so far reduced by famine, as to feed on the bodies of one another.” — This record is in perfect unison with the Holy Scriptures.

[Note on 3:3] Scoffers. The heretics described in the preceding chapter, who scoffed at prophecy respecting the fall of Jerusalem, like the filthy sinners which the deluge washed away. See the reflections on Genesis 8.

The idea that applying these verses to the final days of Judah and Jerusalem is somehow a “new” idea is false. The above was written nearly 200 years ago.

N.T. Caton on 2 Peter 3:3

N.T. Caton’s Commentary on the Minor Epistles is part of the “New Testament Commentary” series, done by members of the Lord’s church in the late 1800s. J.W. McGarvey, Moses E. Lard, and Robert Milligan also wrote volumes for this collection. Bold font added for emphasis.

Verse 3.—Knowing this first, that scoffers…

Among other things, remember that both prophets and apostles have told you that in the last days of Judaism scoffers will appear. These, walking after their own passions, deride, ridicule and attempt to make sport of the doctrine of the cross, and the teaching therewith connected.

This book was originally published in 1897, showing that this was the belief of well-respected members of the Lord’s church over a hundred years ago. This is not a new idea.

John Gill on 2 Peter 3:3

John Gill was a English Baptist who lived in the 1700s. He wrote his N.T. commentaries between 1746-1748. Bold font added for emphasis.

“the last days”; either in the days of the Messiah, in the Gospel dispensation, the times between the first and second coming of Christ; for it is a rule with the Jews(s), that wherever the last days are mentioned, the days of the Messiah are intended; see Heb. 1:1; when the prophets foretold such scoffers should come; or in the last days of the Jewish state, both civil and religious, called “the ends of the world”, 1 Cor. 10:11; a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, when iniquity greatly abounded, Matt. 24:11;

This well-known man presented this interpretation as a possibility over 250 years ago.

Thomas Coke on 2 Peter 3:3

in 1803, Thomas Coke, a prominent Methodist preacher, published his final New Testament commentary. Bold font added for emphasis.

Knowing this first— That is, either what was to happen first in order of time, or as a premise, from whence they might conclude, that they ought to remember the predictions of the prophets, and the commandments of the apostles. The last days particularly and more immediately refer to the last days of Jerusalem, or of the Jewish state. See Jude 18-19.

Again, the idea that 2 Peter 3:3 refers to false teachers prior to the final days of the Jewish system is not a new one. Here is another very well-known commentary which presented that exact interpretation over 200 years ago.

Adam Clarke on 2 Peter 3:3

Adam Clarke spent 40 years preparing his 6,000-page commentary collection, and it has been recognized as a “standard” work for nearly 200 years.

The last days – Probably refer to the conclusion of the Jewish polity, which was then at hand.

This interpretation is not new, nor is it something that was somehow kept secret. Adam Clarke’s commentary collection has sold literally over a million copies since it was first published. And it is also included in almost every computer Bible program, adding up to millions more copies spread throughout the world.

Conclusion:

The idea that the “last days” in 2 Peter 3:3 is a reference to the final days of the Jewish system (including Jerusalem) is not a new idea. It has been presented in popular and well-known commentaries for at least 250 years. Until Guy N. Woods’ commentary came out in the 1950s, the most widely-read commentary in the Lord’s Church on Second Peter was the one by N.T. Caton—and he stated clearly that the end of Judaism was under consideration in this passage. This proves that not only is this interpretation not new, but also that it was the primary view held in the Lord’s Church less than 100 years ago.

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