Sabbath School Lesson for June 10-16, 2017

Peter, in warning his flock about internal troubles that threaten the church, would not have missed out on a chance to remind them to prepare for the return of the Good Shepherd. After all, Jesus Himself told parables that emphasized the need for preparation for that great Judgment Day.

For instance, in the parable about the faithful and the evil servant in Luke 12:35-48, Jesus pointed out that we don’t know the time of our Master’s return, so therefore we need to be ready at all times. And this was exactly Peter’s concern–that they be ready to meet their Maker.

Peter, in character with the tone of the rest of his letter, does not dwell on the unpleasantness of the Judgment. His purpose is not to invoke fear as a motivating factor. We notice he is quick to mention the new heavens and new earth that are the result of this cleansing fire that destroys the wicked. Looking forward to the justice that awaits his readers should make their diligent obedience even more meaningful and worthwhile.

Scripture Gem: “Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness?” 2 Peter 3:11 NRSV

Peter’s last words about the nature of the judgment and Jesus’ Second Coming are also very important in helping us avoid some of the misconceptions about these events that abound in these end times. These misconceptions include:

  • the total destruction of the wicked versus never-ending torture
  • the seemingly long delay of His return, leading to doubt of His coming and even doubt of God’s existence

Both assumptions declare that God is not the God of love we know Him to be.

  • Would God actually allow the wicked dead to suffer for endless ages?
  • Would God allow the living righteous to suffer on earth for as long as they have?

Many have found it easy to dismiss God and much easier to find themselves on the “scoffer” side of the fence, looking at and laughing at those gullible Christians…much as they laughed and mocked Noah just before the flood.

Sunday: The Line of Authority

Peter begins this third chapter with a confirmation of the source of these warnings he is about to give them. They come from both…

  1. “the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets” (think Old Testament)
  2. “the commandment of the apostles of the Lord and Savior” (think New Testament)

Both sources lend credibility to Peter’s admonitions. Both are grounded in the Word of God. Both prophets and apostles, according to Peter, were thus equal when it comes to dispensing God’s messages. They both are reliable sources from which to learn about God.

Peter feels a true calling for this pastoral work from Jesus’ three directives for Peter to feed and tend His lambs and sheep. See John 21:15-17. Both young and old are therefore the focus of Peter’s ministry. He not only feeds them from Sabbath to Sabbath, but tends to them all through the week, much as every other faithful pastor since. They aren’t following Peter’s example, however, as much as Jesus Himself and the pattern He set, when He ministered here on earth.

Discussion Questions: Read 2 Peter 3:1, 2. Why is it important to accept both the Old and New Testaments (the prophets AND the apostles)? What happens when only one or the other is studied and read?

Read John 21:15-17. Why was Peter required to express his love three times?

Read Psalm 79:13. What did Jesus mean by telling Peter to “feed my sheep”? Who are the lambs, and who are the sheep?

Monday: The Scoffers

The catchphrase of scoffers of the Second Coming is “all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). Everything is the result of cause and effect activities in nature, and divine intervention is not recognized.

This was the reasoning of the antediluvians before the flood. Called uniformitarianism by some, these scoffers consider history a closed continuum. Everything remains uniform, locked in predictable patterns. Supernatural episodes are mere fantasies of the human psyche.

Even the spiritual giant Enoch, the patriarch before the Flood who was taken to heaven without seeing death, was troubled by questions of mortality and why our world continues in its wayward, sinful course. He wondered if there was life beyond death. See Patriarchs and Prophets, Ellen G. White, p. 85.

It’s safe to say that doubting is human, but when God isn’t the One we go to for answers, then we are in danger of becoming scoffers, the kind Peter warns us about.

Discussion Questions: Read 2 Peter 3:3, 4. Does it sound like “walking according to their own lusts” contributes to them becoming scoffers? How would their lifestyles affect their attitudes about the Second Coming?

Read Jude 16-19. How does Jude further describe these scoffers or mockers? What is the end result of their influence (v. 19)?

Read Romans 1:18-21. Can study of the natural world also lead to more faith in God? How and why do scientists come up with such differing ideas and theories?

Tuesday: A Thousand Years as a Day

Peter quite effectively informs his readers about why these scoffers are wrong in their conclusions (2 Peter 3:5-7). After all, the earth was destroyed by the Flood (proof that God can intervene and halt existence as we know it here on earth).

To enhance this reminder, he also interjects that God’s time reckoning is vastly different from ours and the purposes of God are far above our understanding. In other words, His desire for universal peace and love will lead to unexpected delays, as He attempts to save as many as possible. He longs for all to come to repentance, just as He did at the time of the Flood (2 Peter 3:8-9).

Discussion Questions: Read 2 Peter 3:5-7, Matthew 25:41, 46, and John 5:28, 29. What does it mean “reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition (utter destruction, loss, eternal damnation) of men”? Are the fires already burning?

Read 2 Peter 3:8-10. How do these verses help explain why Jesus hasn’t come yet? Can everyone be brought to repentance? In what way? What is God really waiting for?

Read 2 Corinthians 6:2. Despite any seeming delays of the Second Coming, why should we not postpone our repentance?

Wednesday: So What?

Peter does not leave his readers hanging. He gives clear instruction that the Second Coming, despite the unknown time of its occurrence, should impact how each of us lives. Holy conduct and godliness should be the order of the day.

He knew the danger of the church becoming more worldly as time went on, and less fervent in preaching Christ’s gospel to those who need it. But in truth, the closing days should call for higher moral standards, more pure lifestyles, and increased spreading of the Word.

The King of the Universe is about to return. This should call for more intense preparation than ever before! And yet, many ignore the urgency of our times and lower their standards, rather than raise them. Mission work is not seen as the most profitable way to spend our time and resources. But just the opposite reaction is required, with the time of His Coming fast approaching.

Discussion Questions: Read 2 Peter 3:11-13. How can God’s people “hasten”, or influence in any way, God’s Coming? Do our actions actually impact when it will happen? Or will the time just seem to be nearer for us, when we are busy doing God’s will?

Read Matthew 24:43-51. Why does Jesus use this parable to conclude His long answer to their question about the end of the world? Why is it also an appropriate ending for Peter’s epistles?

If the servants in this story had known the time was soon for their master’s return, how much more preparation would have been going on? What excuse do we have to delay our preparation to meet Jesus, since we know we are living in the last days?

Thursday: A Final Appeal

The last words from Peter in this epistle are for his readers to be steadfast, unwavering in devotion and faith. But this does not mean stagnant, because his very last words encourage us to grow in grace and our knowledge (relationship) with Jesus.

In keeping with the humble spirit of Peter, he directs our attention to Paul and his similar warnings to be steadfast and true. He reminds us that, like other Scripture writers, Paul’s words and messages are likely to be misconstrued, twisted from their original intent.

Perhaps Peter was referring to Paul’s call to righteousness by faith alone (Romans 3:21, 22). Surely, Jews and Gentiles alike were accustomed to worship, based on works–the Jews’ meticulous keeping of the law, and the Gentiles’ offerings to their idols. Both kinds of worship leaned heavily on their own actions, rather than on the love that God has for each of His creatures.

Peter had experienced the love of God through Jesus Christ, and that alone motivated his behavior and attitudes. He wanted his “flock” to taste this same feeling of closeness with God, and be ready for His return, whenever that would happen.

Discussion Questions: Read 2 Peter 3:14-18. How are they to be ready for Jesus, and what warnings does this include?

Read Romans 2:4, 12:18, and Philippians 2:12. How does Paul describe the ways we can be ready for Jesus’ Coming?

Read Romans 6:1-14. How does this passage help us understand Paul’s true intentions in understanding faith and works in our lives? Is he encouraging breaking God’s law, as some were accusing him?


Peter gives us a contrasting image of people who are actively living and looking forward to the Coming of the Lord, and those who openly exhibit impure lifestyles and scoff at those who believe in His Coming.

Peter’s final words in his epistle include these passionate entreaties:

  1. God relays His messages through both the prophets (in the Old Testament) and apostles (in the New Testament), making the letters of Peter and Paul reliable sources to learn about God (Sunday)
  2. Inappropriate and selfish behaviors lead to the “scoffer” mentality (Monday)
  3. God’s patience and seeming delay should not be used to postpone our decision to follow Jesus (Tuesday)
  4. Our lives should reflect the urgency of the times by being pure and godly, but also by our willingness to help others be ready (Wednesday)
  5. Do not be led astray by false teachers, who twist and misconstrue God’s truth, as it is in His word (Thursday)

Embracing the Message

Ponder each of the helpful phrases in 2 Peter 3 that tell us exactly what we are to do or not do, as we get ready for Jesus’ Return:

  • “be mindful of the words which were spoken before…” (v. 1-2)
  • do not be a scoffer and walk according to your own selfish lusts (v. 3)
  • do not say “Where is the promise of His coming?” (v. 4)
  • remember that the world was destroyed once by a Flood (v. 5-7)
  • consider that God’s time reckoning is different than ours (v. 8)
  • know that God is patient and He doesn’t want us to perish (v. 9)
  • understand that God’s Coming will be sudden and unexpected and all still on earth will be consumed (v. 10)
  • lead holy, godly lives till then (v.  11)
  • hasten that Day of the Lord (v. 12)
  • look forward to a new heavens and a new earth (v. 13)
  • be diligent, without spot or wrinkle (v. 14)
  • don’t be led astray with the errors of the wicked (v. 15-17)
  • grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord (v. 18)

Next Week: Major Themes in 1 and 2 Peter, Lesson 13

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