For a few years now I have heard preached the idea that you (and I) can
bring the event of Jesus' 2nd Coming sooner. This is based on Peter's letter
where he makes mention that holy living can 'speed its coming' (2 Peter 3:11-12
see below). Now I don't know if this interpretation has arisen because we are so
near the end of a millenium, but I do know there is another way to view this
passage which I believe fits in better with the context of the passage and this
is what I wish to share here.
. . . You ought to live holy and godly lives as you
look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. . .
2 Peter 3:11-12 NIV
Can we really make this prophetic day happen earlier in time - 'speed its
coming'; is that what the passage is saying?
In the context of the whole chapter and letter in which we find this verse I
believe the emphasis is upon the perception of the individual believer - how he
feels about things around him. And that in the midst of the world of the first
Christians being a world with evil and persecution always a reality. i.e. one in
which a longing for better things exists. A desire for justice and what is right
as will happen at the Lord's return. So that the passage if shown in such a
context gives a meaning of 'speed its coming [for yourselves]' i.e. in your
Picture yourself involved in a task which takes up all your energy, your
concentration and effort. Maybe the building of something or the organising of
an event. The passage of time in such occasions is said to go quickly. 'Is that
the time?' we might cry or, 'Hasn't it gone quickly?'.
Alternatively, involved in a repetitive job or laborious and monotonous
activity we may find ourselves decrying the fact that the 'time is going so-oo
slo-ow'. This is particularly true if the mental atmosphere - the prevailing
attitude - is significantly 'down'. More so when conscious of difficulties, of
problems being experienced and at hand. Actual time has not changed, but our
perception of it certainly has.
Now Peter in his letter addresses himself to the minds of his readers - to
Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in
both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be
mindful of. . .
2 Peter 3:1-2
This can be seen by the words '. . .I stir your minds by way of
reminder', 'that you may be mindful. . .'. He goes on to address
himself to the perceptions of others by saying:
. . .scoffers will come. . .saying, ''Where is the
promise of his coming? For. . . all things continue as. . .from the beginning.''
For this they wilfully forget. . .
2 Peter 3:3-5
'Where is the Lord's coming since things are no different now to the way
they have always been?' say these scoffers.
Peter then explains how this thinking is not based on truth: it is things
forgotten which have given room for this. He urges the reader to perceive things
differently to these scoffers by being mindful of the truth that judgment upon
evil and wickedness although not immediately apparent now is surely on its way.
It will surely come - it will most certainly happen just as it occurred before
(a thing forgotten). He says how the first time judgment on the world happened
at the occasion of the flood (Vss 5 & 6) and the next time it will be by
fire (Vss 7 &10). But it will happen.
In the midst of this explanation he shares how the Lord perceives time and
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with
the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one
day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but
is long-suffering towards us, not willing that any should perish but that all
should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:8-9
Here, in context, he is saying 'do not forget'. Forget what? 'This one
thing'. Which is, 'that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years,
and a thousand years as one day'. He is alluding to something they already know:
'do not forget' he says. Remember this also which you heard. Do not forget the
Flood and here do not forget this which you already know. And how do we
know this? We know because it is part of their Bible, the Old Testament (in the
form of the Septuagint, until the future occasion [for them] when the New
Testament was to be assembled including Peter's own letter). This is what their
For a thousand years in your sight are like
yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.
In God's perception - in his sight - a thousand years is like yesterday when
it is past. Peter did not say that to God a thousand years is a day and a
day is a thousand years. He said a day is as a thousand years and a thousand
years as a day. In fact the Greek in this verse (in Peter) does not contain the
verb to be, only the adverb of comparison as, like as (which is
why the translator placed 'is' in italics: it shows it has been added).
He is talking of God's perception and that within the immediate context of his
patience: 'The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count
slackness, but is long-suffering towards us, not willing that any should perish.
. .' This is confirmed by the passage he alluded to in that 'a thousand years. .
. are like yesterday when it is past. This is not talk
of God's presence in relation to time, but of his perception of time. There is a
real and important difference. It is when it is past that a thousand
years is like yesterday.
Having introduced his readers to the fact that he wants to address himself
to their thinking, Peter then gives an example of a particular perception of
time and events which is incorrect. That of scoffers who think that things are
no different and the Lord's coming is irrelevant. He then gives the example of
the Lord's perception of time within the context of his patience and his purpose
in waiting (i.e.salvation Vss 9 &15). It is then he
encourages his readers to live holy and godly lives and that with this attitude
permeating they will find that for them the coming of righteousness and justice
as fulfilled in the Day of God will be a speedy one and not long in coming.
Their perceptions will be directly affected by their attitude to life.
In conclusion a longing for justice and for righteousness was prevalent and
sorely desired. 'How long shall we bear with this evil around us' an appropriate
feeling. This can be seen by phrases like: we, look for righteousness - looking
forward to this (Vss 13 &14). Peter is urging patience based on truth. The
Lord is patient and that results in salvation for many (Verse 15). I believe
verses 11 and 12 mean that in our own patience and perseverance in holy and
godly conduct the feeling of waiting will be significantly shortened.
As far as the timing of the Day is concerned Peter himself recognised Jesus
would not return in his own lifetime. Jesus had told Peter how he would die as
an old man (John 21:18-19). It may also be that when he refers to Paul's
writings in 2 Peter 3:15-16 (cA.D.66.) he was mindful of the things Paul
mentioned were to happen prior to the Lord's Return (e.g. 2 Thess. 2:3-4
cA.D.54.). If the reader is interested in this particular topic I have written
HOW SOON IS JESUS' RETURN?: Mainly a look at Matthew 24, then other linked passages, to show up
information remaining of primary things to occur before the Second Coming.