Peter's Final Words
In the late 60s A.D. the apostle Peter sat imprisoned in Rome under the infamous emperor Nero. Not long after Peter penned his second and final epistle, Nero will have died and Peter will have been executed. If we keep in mind Peter’s imprisonment and death sentence, it amplifies the encouragement we receive from his final written words.
In 2 Peter 3:14-15 Peter begins with a reminder, “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, [promises of new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells] be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation…” All who wear the name “Christian” await those great and precious promises offered by our Lord, but not all exercise diligence toward the goal.
Peter advises that we work to be found spotless, without blemish, and at peace. The word translated “without spot” in the ESV is the Greek word aspilos, which means irreproachable or unsullied. It is different than the word translated “without blemish.” That word is amōmētos, which means blameless. To be spotless, unblemished and at peace, our lives must be respectable and upright. It calls to mind many of the qualifications of an overseer in 1 Timothy 3, “above reproach…self-controlled, respectable…not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome”.
This is in stark contrast to those Peter spoke of a few paragraphs before when he says, “What the true proverb says has happened to them: ‘the dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.’” (2 Peter 2:22) Those Peter spoke of in the quote from chapter two had made a poor decision. They had sullied themselves by returning to the same lives they lived before salvation. They failed to heed the warning of 2 Peter 3:17 “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.”
Stability in our spiritual lives should not be a far off dream. Peter’s words indicate that a Christians stability ought to be a given. Stability should not, however, be confused with invincibility or John Calvin’s false doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Rather, Peter’s warning is for us not to lose stability by making foolish decisions. In order to maintain it, Peter offers a second course in verse 18, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Our Christian walk inevitably comes to a two pronged fork in the road. Will we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, or will we lose our own stability? The entirety of 2 Peter 3 reminds us that our Lord is patient. He is not slack in His promises, nor has He forgotten us. He is coming back for us, so we must be diligent until He brings us all back home.