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2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.


L Boettner     Reformed Faith
Arminians insist that in 2 Peter 3:9 the words "any" and "all" refer to all mankind without exception. But it is important first of all to see to whom those words were addressed. In the first verse of chapter 1, we find that the epistle is addressed not to mankind at large, but to Christians: "...to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us." And in the preceding verse (3:1), Peter had addressed those to whom he was writing as "beloved." And when we look at the verse as a whole, and not merely at the last half, we find that it is not primarily a salvation verse at all, but a second coming verse! It begins by saying that "The Lord is not slacking concerning his promise" [singular]. What promise? Verse 4 tells us: "the promise of his coming." The reference is to His second coming, when He will come for judgement, and the wicked will perish in the lake of fire. The verse has reference to a limited group. It says that the Lord is "longsuffering to usward," His elect, many of whom had not yet been regenerated, and who therefore had not yet come to repentance. Hence we may quite properly read verse 9 as follows: "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance."

 

R C Sproul     Chosen by God
Doesn't the bible say that God is not willing that any should perish?

The Apostle Peter clearly states that God is not willing that any should perish.

How can we square this verse with predestination? If it is not the will of God to elect everyone unto salvation, how can the Bible then say that God is not willing that any should perish?

In the first place we must understand that the Bible speaks of the will of God in more than one way. For example, the Bible speaks of what we call God's sovereign efficacious will. The sovereign will of God is that will by which God brings things to pass with absolute certainty. Nothing can resist the will of God in this sense. By his sovereign will he created the world. The light could not have refused to shine.

The second way in which the Bible speaks of the will of God is with respect to what we call his preceptive will. God's preceptive will refers to his commands, his laws. It is God's will that we do the things he mandates. We are capable of disobeying his will. We do in fact break his commandments. We cannot do it with impunity. We do it without his permission or sanction. Yet we do it. We sin.

A third way the Bible speaks of the will of God has reference to God's disposition, to what is pleasing to him. God does not take delight in the death of the wicked. There is a sense in which the punishment of the wicked does not bring joy to God. He chooses to do it because it is good to punish evil. He delights in the righteousness of his judgment but is "sad" that such righteous judgment must be carried out. It is something like a judge sitting on a bench and sentencing his own son to prison.

Let us apply these three possible definitions to the passage in 2 Peter. If we take the blanket statement, "God is not willing that any should perish," and apply the sovereign efficacious will to it, the conclusion is obvious. No one will perish. If God sovereignly decrees that no one should perish, and God is God, then certainly no one will ever perish. This would then be proof not for Arminianism, but for Universalism. The text would then prove too much for Arminianism.

Suppose we apply the definition of the preceptive will of God to this passage? Then the passage would mean that God does not allow anyone to perish. That is, he forbids the perishing of people. It is against his law. If people then went ahead and perished, God would have to punish them for perishing. But how does one engage in more perishing than perishing? This definition will not work in this passage. It makes no sense.

The third alternative is that God takes no delight in the perishing of people. This squares with what the Bible says elsewhere about God's disposition toward the lost. This definition could fit this passage. Peter may simply be saying here that God takes no delight in the perishing of anyone.

Though the third definition is a possible and attractive one to use in resolving this passage with what the Bible teaches about predestination, there is yet another factor to be considered. The text says more than simply that God is not willing that any should perish. The whole clause is important: "but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." 

What is the antecedent of any? It is clearly us. Does us refer to all of us humans? Or does it refer to us Christians, the people of God? Peter is fond of speaking of the elect as a special group of people. I think what he is saying here is that God does not will that any of us (the elect) perish. If that is his meaning, then the text would demand the first definition and would be one more strong passage in favour of predestination.

In two different ways the text may easily be harmonized with predestination. In no way does it support Arminianism. Its only other possible meaning would be universalism, which would then bring it into conflict with everything else the Bible says against universalism.

 

A W Pink     Sovereignty of God
Perhaps the one passage which has presented the greatest difficulty to those who have seen that passage after passage in Holy Writ plainly reaches the election of a limited number unto salvation is 2 Peter 3:9 "… not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance".

The first thing to be said upon the above passage is that, like all other scripture, it must be understood and interpreted in the light of its context. Surely it must be allowed by all that the first half of the verse needs to be taken into consideration. In order to establish what these words are supposed by many to mean, viz., that the words "any" and "all" are to be received without any qualification, it must be shown that the context is referring to the whole human race! If this cannot be shown, if there is no premise to justify this, then the conclusion also must be unwarranted. Let us then ponder the first part of the verse.

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise". Note "promise" in the singular number, not "promises". What promise is in view? The promise of salvation? Where, in all Scripture, has God ever promised to save the whole human race!! Where indeed? No, the "promise" here referred to is not about salvation. What then is it? The context tells us.

"Knowing this... (vv. 3, 4). The context then refers to God's promise to send back His beloved Son. But many long centuries have passed, and this promise has not yet been fulfilled. True, but long as the delay may seem to us, the interval is short in the reckoning of God. As the proof of this we are reminded, "But, beloved.... (v.8) In God's reckoning of time, less than two days have passed since He promised to send back Christ.

But more, the "delay" in the Father sending back His beloved Son is not only due to no "slackness" on His part, but it is also occasioned by His "longsuffering". His longsuffering to whom? The verse we are now considering tells us: "but to longsuffering to usward". And whom are the "usward"? - the human race, or God's own people? In the light of this context this is not an open question upon which each of us is free to form an opinion. The Holy Spirit has defined it. The opening verse of the chapter says, "This second Epistle, beloved, I now write unto you". And, again, the verse immediately preceding declares "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing etc" (v. 8). The "usward" then are the "beloved" of God. They to whom this Epistle is addressed are "them that have obtained (not "exercised", but "obtained" as God's sovereign gift) like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Pe 1:11). Therefore we say there is no room for a doubt, a quibble or an argument - the "usward" are the elect of God.

Let us now quote the verse as a whole: " The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2Pe 3:9) Could anything be clearer? The "any" that God is not willing should perish, are the "usward" to whom God is "longsuffering", the "beloved" of the previous verses. 2 Peter 3:9 means, then, that God will not send back His Son until "the fullness of the Gentiles be come in" (Rom 11:25). God will not send back Christ till that "people" whom He is now "taking out of the Gentiles" (Acts 15:14) are gathered in. God will not send back His Son till the Body of Christ is complete, and that will not be till the ones whom He has elected to be saved in this dispensation shall have been brought to Him. Thank God for His "longsuffering to us-ward". Had Christ come back twenty years ago the writer had been left behind to perish in His sins. But that could not be, so God graciously delayed the Second Coming. For the same reason He is still delaying His Advent. His decreed purpose is that all His elect will come to repentance, and repent they shall. The present interval of grace will not end until the last of the "other sheep" of John 10:16 are safely folded, - then will Christ return.

 

John Owen     Death of Death
2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord....repentance." "The will of God," say some, "for the salvation of all, is here set down both negatively, that he would not have any perish, and positively, that he would have all come to repentance; now, seeing there is no coming to repentance nor escaping destruction, but only by the blood of Christ, it is manifest that that blood was shed for all."

Answer Many words need not be spent in answer to this objection, wrested from the misunderstanding and palpable corrupting of the sense of these words of the apostle. That indefinite and general expressions are to be interpreted in an answerable proportion to the things whereof they are affirmed, is a rule in the opening of the Scripture. See, then, of whom the apostle is here speaking. "The Lord," says he, "is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish." Will not common sense teach us that us is to be repeated in both the following clauses, to make them up complete and full, - namely, "Not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to repentance?" Now, who are these of whom the apostle speaks, to whom he writes? Such as had received "great and precious promises," chap. 1:4, whom he calls "beloved," chap. 3:1; whom he opposes to the "scoffers" of the "last days," verse 3; to whom the Lord hath respect in the disposal of these days; who are said to be "elect," Mat 24:22. Now, truly, to argue that because God would have none of those to perish, but all of them to come to repentance, therefore he hath the same will and mind towards all and every one in the world (even those to whom he never once hear of his way of salvation), comes not much short of extreme madness and folly. Neither is it of any weight to the contrary, that they were not all elect to whom Peter wrote: for in the judgment of charity he esteemed them so, desiring them "to give all diligence to make their calling and election sure," chap. 1:10; even as he expressly calls those to whom he wrote his former epistle, "elect," chap. 1:2, and a "chosen generation," as well as a "purchased people," chap. 2:9. I shall not need add any thing concerning the contradictions and inextricable difficulties wherewith the opposite interpretation is accompanied (as, that God should will such to come to repentance as he cuts off in their infancy out of the covenant, such as he hated from eternity, from whom he hides the means of grace, to whom he will not give repentance, and yet knows that it is utterly impossible they should have it without his bestowing). The text is clear, that it is all and only the elect who he would not have perish. A place supposed parallel to this we have in Eze 18:23,32.

Matthew J Slick
Peter wrote this epistle to the Christians. "Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (2Pe 1:1). Also, "This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you..." (2Pe 3:1).
In the immediate context, verse 8, says, "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

It is very clear that Peter is talking to the believers. It follows, then, that in verse 9 when it says the Lord is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, he again is speaking of the believers. God's patience is here told to be toward the believers, not the unbelievers. God does not want any of them (the believers, the elect) to perish. And they won't, because God's wishes are not thwarted. But again if "any" is every individual then we again have the problem of God's desires being thwarted.

aymon de albatrus
2Pe 3:9: "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."
Peter wrote this epistle to the Christians. "Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (
2 Peter 1:1). Also, "This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you..." (2 Peter 3:1).

In the immediate context, verse 8, says, "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

It is quite obvious that Peter is talking to the believers.

But men do all they can to cavil the point of the much loved "free will" that can be easily compared to - rebellion. They quibble on the phrase "not willing that any should perish" and say: "there is the irrefutable proof". But, wait a minute, to whom this phrase is referred to? Who is the object intended? Here is: "but is longsuffering to us–ward" It is ‘us’ as identified by Peter himself at the very beginning of the letter: "Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:" (2Pe 1:1 AV) The subject ‘US’ are the Elect: to them that have obtained like precious faith with us.

It is not referred to ALL men indistinctly, but specifically to those that have been called by the Lord and have received (obtained) from Him a new heart (Eze 36:26,27), that is the ‘new birth’ and of these He wants none lost but that they will come to repentance (only possible with the new heart) and thus to Salvation, and it will be so, assuredly. We see the same principle spelled out in the first letter of Peter: "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to [the] elect sojourners of [the] dispersion of Pontus, of Galatia, of Cappadocia, of Asia, and of Bithynia," (1Pe 1:1 LIT) Where Peter addresses the letter to the ELECT and not to the whole world. Therefore, clearly, the ‘US’ are the Elect to eternal life, as evidenced in our base verse: ….. and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Act 13:48)

Arminians insist that in 2 Peter 3:9 the words “any” and “all” refer to all mankind without exception. But it is important, first of all, to see to whom those words were addressed. The epistle is addressed not to mankind at large but to Christians: “...to them that have obtained like precious faith with us” (2Pe 1:1). At the beginning of this very chapter Peter addressed those to whom he was writing as “beloved” (3:1). An examination of the verse as a whole, and not merely at the last half, reveals that it is not primarily a salvation verse at all but a second-coming verse! It begins by saying, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise [singular].” What promise? “The promise of his coming” (v. 4). The reference is to Christ’s second coming when He will come for judgment, and the wicked will perish in the lake of fire. The verse has reference to a limited group. It says that the Lord is “longsuffering to us-ward”; that is, to His elect, many of whom had not yet been regenerated and who therefore had not yet come to repentance. Hence verse 9 may quite properly be read as follows: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us, the believers, should come to repentance.”