Join us as we study through 2 Peter verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
2 Peter 3:1-9 Inductive Bible Study With Discussion Questions – Small Group Teacher Resource
I. Remember the predictions of the prophets (1-2)
II. Scoffers forget the past and mock prophecies of the future (3-7)
III. God patiently waits for His own timeline (8-9)
I. Remember the predictions of the prophets (1-2)
- How did Peter feel about the believers he was writing to?
- How did he show this love in action?
- Is there someone you need to contact to encourage?
- How does chapter 2 show the importance of paying attention to God’s commandments and warnings?
- How can you help others remember God’s commandments?
- Is there something practical you can do to make sure you don’t forget the “predictions of the prophets?”
1 John 4:7 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Psalm 77:11 – I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
Deuteronomy 6:12 – Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
1. Beloved – By using this word, Peter shows clearly how he felt about his brothers and sisters. They were not statistics or numbers, but real people. And he loved them. He felt a close connection to them. It was this love that motivated him to invest so much of his time into their lives.
Application: This is an important reminder for all of us, and especially for those who are actively doing ministry, either pastoring a church, leading a Bible study, or any other kind of Christian work. Ministers should never view people as numbers or quantify their success in numbers. In 2 Peter 2 we were reminded that Noah was a preacher of righteousness. The number of people who responded to his message were few, but his family believed and were saved, and the future of humanity was saved. To be an effective minister, you must love those whom you serve. Love covers over a multitude of sins. It will motivate you to work hard and truly invest your life into theirs. Love will help you respond with patience instead of complaining and compassion instead judgment. Working for the Lord is not about fulfilling a job or a duty (although it is a duty), but is about showing love to God’s sheep. Do you have this love in your heart for others?
2. Peter showed this love in action – Peter called the brothers and sisters, “beloved.” But his love went beyond words. Because he loved them, he wrote two letters to them. He wrote these letters in order to remind them not to forget God’s commands. Real love is not empty words. It is not primarily shown through expressing sentiment. It is shown through service. Peter put in time to help his readers grow spiritually. He followed up with them. Writing and sending letters takes time even now, and much more so then.
Application: Is there someone you can encourage in Christ? Is there a person you can contact to show love in action to? Perhaps an old friend from your school days or a co-worker from a previous job? Maybe a family member? Write down the name of someone you could contact this week to show the love of Jesus to.
3. Remember the predictions of prophets and commands of the Lord – Chapter 2 was filled with examples of judgment that befell upon those who ignored God’s commands. Balaam, Sodom and Gomorrah, the fallen angels, and the world during the time of Noah are all examples of people or groups who faced punishment because they rejected God’s commands. False teachers will experience the same fate if they don’t pay attention to prophecies of their doom, like the ones given by Peter in this letter.
God often tells people ahead of time what He is going to do so that people can be prepared, and even change their ways if necessary. What are some Biblical examples of this?
- Prophecy of the humiliation of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4)
- Prophecy of the fall of Babylon (Daniel 5)
- Prophecy of defeat if the people of Israel launched an attack (Deuteronomy 1)
- Prophecy that Israel would be defeated by Babylon (Jeremiah 20-22)
- Prophecies against Egypt and Pharaoh (Exodus 3-11)
- Prophecy against Nineveh if they don’t repent (Jonah 3-4)
- Prophecy against Ahab and his family tree (1 Kings 21:21-27)
Many of these people ignored prophecies of their coming judgment. They did not repent, nor did they heed God’s commands or change their wicked lifestyles. In each case, God’s judgement came as prophesied. But in a couple of cases (Nineveh and Ahab temporarily), the warnings were heeded. The people repented and thus they were not immediately punished for their sins. History shows us that God is just, and He is also merciful. First, He warns people. Second, He gives time to repent. Every person who is finally judged then is completely culpable for the consequences they face.
Application: We too have no excuse. The following verses will remind us of the prophecy of coming judgment, judgment on the entire world. Only those who trust in Jesus will be saved and avoid it. Jesus said that the wise person hears His words and acts on them, building his house on the rock.
If you remember God’s command the prophesies of judgment, what will you do? How will this affect how you live each day?
II. Scoffers forget the past and mock prophecies of the future (3-7)
- What does “the last days” refer to? Are we in them?
- Give an example of something a scoffer might say.
- From verse 3, what can we learn about why scoffers scoff?
- What prophesy does Peter make in verse 4?
- Do we see this prophesy coming true?
- Who is the “they” in verse 5?
- What do verses 5-6 have to do with what is coming?
- What is the “word” referred to in verse 7?
- What do the “heavens” in verse 7 refer to?
- What is going to happen to the heavens and earth which God created?
- Why is knowing this important? What should you do in light of this?
Proverbs 22:10 – Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.
Jude 1:18 – They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”
Psalm 1:1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.
Genesis 9:13-15 – I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.
Isaiah 66:15-16 – For behold, the Lord will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire will the Lord enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the Lord shall be many.
Micah 1:4 – And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open,
like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Revelation 22:13 – I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
1. The last days – We are in the last days now. John already said in 1 John 2:18 that even then was already the “last hour.”
The last days is a period of time encompassing the whole church age in between Jesus’ first and second coming. Another way to look at it is by examining the seventy weeks Daniel prophesied in Daniel 9. These are seventy periods of seven years each. Jesus was crucified at the end of the sixty-ninth period. Then it was if God blew a heavenly whistle and “stopped the clock.” He stopped dealing primarily with the Jews and started dealing primarily with the Gentiles. At some point in the future the whistle will blow and the final “week” of seven years will begin. We don’t know how long these “last days” will last, but they are typified by increasing evil and rebellion toward God. Because God didn’t set any specific time period for the last days, they could end at any time.
The rapture of the church is imminent, meaning it could happen at any time. Later in this passage, Peter describes Jesus’ second coming as a thief in the night. It will catch many people by surprise. You can imagine that the longer this time period lasts the more scoffers will emerge.
2. Following their own sinful desires – Here we see a key motivation for these people’s scoffing. At heart, it is a rebellion against authority. They don’t want to see Christ return. They don’t want a judgment. They don’t want to be held to account for their actions. Desiring to live their own lives completely free from authority, they scoff the very idea that an authority will come and hold them accountable.
When you dig deep, this is what evolution is really about. Evolution is a fancy way to deny God’s authority. If people randomly evolved then we are the highest creatures in our world. As such, we are the authority. If evolution is true, then each person can live his life how he sees fit and there are no outside standards imposed on him. That idea is very attractive to many people.
From ancient times people have denied the existence of God to assuage their guilt and give themselves freedom to live a lifestyle they know is wrong.
Evolution is a modern way to give supposed legitimacy to this ancient pastime of denying God.
3. Scoffers will come – It is a guarantee that there will be scoffers. One common reason they give is that everything goes on the same everyday. A variation of this we often hear now is, “Where is God? If God exists, why don’t I see Him?”
People point out that Jesus hasn’t returned in 2000 years. They would say, “these two thousand years have one constant: Jesus didn’t return.”
How would you answer this?
Evolutionists base much of their faith on a similar assumption. The assumption is that the processes we see in the world now were uniform, or consistent in the past. This argument is especially pervasive as it relates to geology. For example, they say that the Grand Canyon would have taken millions of years to carve out at present rates and therefore the earth must be old. However, we know that rates which we observe now are not always uniform.
Cataclysmic events have happened in the past (the flood and Creation) and will happen again in the future. Just because things look to be the same today as yesterday does not mean it was always that way in the past or always will be that way.
The flood came very suddenly. Noah preached to people and likely warned them for nearly one hundred twenty years. Throughout that time they would have surely mocked him just as people do now, “Where is God? We don’t see Him.” The scoffers would have kept scoffing until the storm came and then they wouldn’t have been scoffing anymore.
The same is true today. People will continue scoffing until they see Jesus appearing in the heavens and coming with power.
Matthew 24:30 – Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Revelation 1:7 – Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
Here are the last words or nearly the last words of several prominent atheists or unbelievers:
– Thomas Paine (A champion atheist during revolutionary times. He wrote the Age of Reason and challenged the credibility of the Bible.): “O help me! Stay with me, for I am on the edge of hell here alone!”
– Sir Thomas Scott (Atheist chancellor of English until 1594): “Until this moment I thought there was neither a God nor a hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am doomed to perdition by the just judgment of the Almighty.”
– Anton LeVey (author of Satanic Bible): “Oh my, what have I done, there is something very wrong… there is something very wrong.”
– Francis Newport (head of an English Atheist club): “Oh Eternity, forever and forever! Oh, the insufferable pangs of hell!”
– Voltaire: “I am abandoned by God and man! I shall go to hell! O Christ, O Jesus!” His condition was so frightening, everyone was afraid to approach his bedside. His nurse said: “For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die!
Last words of Christians:
– John Lyth: “Can this be death? Why, it is better than living! Tell them I die happy in Jesus!”
– John Pawson: “I know I am dying, but my deathbed is a bed of roses. I have no thorns planted upon my dying pillow. Heaven has already begun!”
– Margaret Prior: “How bright the room! How full of angels!”
– Sir David Brewster: “I will see Jesus; Oh how bright it is! I feel so safe and satisfied!”
– D.L. Moody: “Earth recedes. Heaven opens before me. If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go. This is my triumph. This is my coronation day. It is glorious!”
Application: How should we respond to scoffers? If you are sharing the gospel with a group and there is one scoffer, how should you deal with it? How about if you encounter scoffers online or in social media?
4. They heavens and the earth are being stored up for fire – God judged the world globally through water the first time. The second world judgment will be through fire. Whereas water cleansed the world and allowed for a fresh start, fire will destroy it. Verse 12 says that the earth will be dissolved. Everything is going to melt. This will not take place until after the millennial reign of Christ.
Revelation 21:1 – Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
III. God patiently waits for His own timeline (8-9)
- What do verses 8-9 show us about God’s character?
- What does it mean that “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day?”
- What does this tell us about God’s timing?
- What Biblical examples show us that people may need to wait a long time (by our standards) for God to fulfill His plans?
- How can this principle comfort you?
- How should it affect your prayer life?
- How can waiting help us grow in the Christian life? Can you share an example of something you had to wait for? Looking back, how did grow during that time?
- What virtue do we need to have while we wait (faith)?
- Why is God waiting?
- If God is patient, then what should we be like?
- What is something you need to be patient for?
Habakkuk 2:3 – For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Isaiah 40:31 – But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 – For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven
Psalm 27:14 – Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 37:7 – Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!
Matthew 9:36 – When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Psalm 86:15 – But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
1. A day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day – God exists outside of the dimension of time. Time markers for people were created in Genesis. In Genesis 1 it says, “there was evening and there was morning the first day.” We will never be able to fully comprehend how time exists for God. Does He exist in all times at once? Does He fast forward and rewind time going in both directions rather than only forward? Is it fast? Is it slow?
Even for people, time can be relative. Time seems to crawl so slowly if you are sick in bed at night and can’t go to sleep. One night can seem to last forever. On the other hand, fun or exciting days can seem to be over in an instant. As the saying goes, “time flies when you are having fun.”
To understand how this concept relates to us, we must pay attention to the context of what Peter is saying. People are scoffing the idea of a final judgement because it seems that nothing has changed for a long time and it hasn’t happened yet. In the next verse, Peter reminds the brethren that “God is not slow as some count slowness.”
The statement here in verse 8 means that God is going to accomplish everything in exactly His perfect time. And though it may feel like a delay to us, it is not actually delayed. God has a specific time in His mind when He is going to act and when that time arrives, boom, God’s plan is fulfilled. Nothing can thwart it, slow it, or stop it. And even if is a plan ten thousand years in the future for people, to God it is like the snap of a fingers. On an eternal timeline any finite number is tiny in comparison.
To children, time can pass very slowly as well. My eight year old son was counting down the days to his birthday about two weeks out. Those two weeks passed so slowly for Him. My wife and I kept telling him, “It will be here soon. It’s not long.” To us, the time flew. But waiting was quite difficult for him.
When we wait for God’s plan, we may have the same feeling. From our perspective waiting can be very difficult. One Biblical example is God sending Moses to deliver His people. The people prayed for deliverance from their bondage in Egypt. God heard their prayers and Moses was born. Eighty years later God used Moses to free them! Most of the people who had first been praying had died. And yet God still had His perfect purposes, one of them being causing the Israelites to multiply into a great nation before they entered the Promised Land.
What is an example of someone in the Bible who didn’t want to wait for God’s timing and instead took matters into their own hands? What happened?
Application: We should patiently wait for God’s answer to our prayers. God often answers “wait” when we pray. Waiting requires a lot of faith. And most importantly, we should not take things into our own hands and go outside of His will while waiting. What is something that you are waiting for now? What can you learn while you are waiting?
2. Not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance – Here we get a glimpse into God’s heart. And it shows us that God is loving. He does not take joy in sending people to hell. He does desire to execute judgement on people. He would rather everyone embrace His message of salvation and be saved.
Of course, not everybody does repent. People are responsible for the choices that they make, including the decision to reject Jesus. Throughout the Bible we see that God is sovereign and the people have personal responsibility. Both of these doctrines are taught and held in constant tension.
Application: If God wants all people to be saved, what should be your desire? How can you be involved in this?
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