13 June 2006

2 Peter 3.9, The Achilles' Heal of Calvinism?

"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:9 ESV. The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001).

 Recently, James White explained the exegetical meaning of this passage:

 Immediately one sees that unlike such passages as Ephesians 1, Romans 8-9, or John 6, this passage is not speaking about salvation as its topic. The reference to "coming to repentance" in 3:9 is made in passing. The topic is the coming of Christ. In the last days mockers will question the validity of His promise. Peter is explaining the reason why the coming of Christ has been delayed as long as it has. The day of the Lord, he says, will come like a thief, and it will come at Gods own time. This fact needs to be emphasized. The context is clearly eschatological, not primarily soteriological.


 But the next thing that stands out upon the reading of the passage is the identification of the audience to which Peter is speaking. When speaking of the mockers he refers to them in the third person, as 'them." But everywhere else he speaks directly to his audience as the "beloved" and "you." He speaks of how his audience should behave "in holy conduct and godliness," and says that they look for the day of the Lord. He includes himself in this group in verse 13, where "we are looking for a new heavens and a new earth." This is vitally important, for the assumption made by many is that when verse 9 says the Lord is "patient toward you" that this "you" refers to everyone, every person then living, or who has ever lived or ever will live. Likewise, then, when it says "not wishing for any to perish" but "all to come to repentance," it is assumed that the "any" and "all" either has no referent in the context at all, or, that these terms refer to anyone at all of the human race. Yet, the context indicates that the audience is quite specific. In any other passage of Scripture the interpreter would realize that we must decide who the "you" refers to and use this to limit the "any" and "all" of verse 9. But in this case there is a lot of tradition that comes flying through the door, deeply impacting the resultant interpretation.


 The patience of the Lord is displayed toward His elect people (the "you" of verse 9). Therefore, the "not wishing any to perish" is logically and contextually limited to the same group already in view: the elect. In the same way, the "all to come to repentance" must be the very same group. In essence Peter is saying the coming of the Lord has been delayed so that all the elect of God can be gathered in. Any modern Christian lives and knows Christ solely because Gods purpose has been to gather in His elect down through the ages to this present day. There is no reason to expand the context of the passage into a universal proclamation of a desire on Gods part that every single person come to repentance. Instead, it is clearly His plan and His will that all the elect come to repentance, and they most assuredly will do so.

Read the entire article.


  • Another good post bro! Thanks!! I'm really enjoying blogging with you!

    You might be interested in my latest post related to Calvinism on the sound of grace discussion group. Up for a challenge? Can you spot the difference?



    By Blogger Shane Becker, At 9:02 am  

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