Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved; rather, seeing that all these things are being dissolved. The participle is present, and implies the certainty of the event foretold, and, perhaps, also that the germs of that coming dissolution are already in being, that the forces which are ultimately to bring about the final catastrophe are even now at work. Some of the better manuscripts read, instead of οὖν , then, οὕτως , thus: "seeing that all these things are thus being dissolved." What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness? The Greek word for "what manner of persons" means literally, "of what country;" it seems to point to the great truth that God's people are fellow-citizens of the saints, that the commonwealth of which they are citizens is in heaven. The word for "to be" is the emphatic ὑπάρχειν , which denotes original, essential, continuous being. (On the word for "conversation" ( ἀναστροφαῖς , behaviour, conduct), see note on 1 Peter 1:15 .) Both this noun and the following are plural in the Greek, and therefore mean "in all aspects and forms of holy conduct and godliness." Some commentators connect these last words, "in all holy conversation and godliness," with the next verse: "looking in all holy conversation,'' etc. Some, again, understand this verse as asking a question, which is answered in the next; but the Greek word for "what manner of persons" ( ποταπός ) seems to be used in the New Testament as an exclamation only, not interrogatively.
I. THE DUTY OF PREPARATION .
1 . Christians should look for the city that hath foundations. The cities of this world have no sure foundation, for the earth on which they are built must pass away; it has within itself the element which is to cause its dissolution; the germs of that dissolution are working even now. Then wise men must not lay up for themselves treasures upon earth; they must not live as if this changeful, dying world was to be their home for ever; they must set their affections on things above; they must remember that Christian men are citizens of the heavenly country, fellow-citizens with the saints. Therefore they must adopt the modes of life which are characteristic of that heavenly country; their conduct as they move about among men must be holy in all the relations of life; they must live in the habitual pursuit of godliness in all its aspects. These things are of true, lasting moment. The prizes of this world, even those which seem to us the greatest and most to be desired, are but vanity, vanity of vanities, compared with the great realities of the spiritual life.
2 . They must live in the expectation of the Lord's coming. They must daily look for the presence of the great day, and by thus looking for it, and making ready for it, they must (St. Peter says, in the condescending language which Holy Scripture sometimes uses) hasten its coming. For that day cometh not till the chosen of God are safe. "Haste thee, escape thither," said the destroying angel to Lot; "for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither." So now "the lightnings of the judgment-day pause yet a while," stored in the armoury of God ('Christian Year: All Saints' Day'), till God's elect are numbered, till they are ready, not one of them lost, for their eternal home. Then there is a sense in which, very strange and awful though it may seem, Christians may hasten the coming of the day of God. When the bride hath made herself ready, when the work of repentance is wrought out in the hearts of God's people, when they have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,—then the day of God shall come. Now the long-suffering of God waiteth, as it waited in the days of Noah. It is a holy and a blessed truth—he waits for us in his tender mercy; he is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish; his wrath does not strike at once the sinner in his sin. He is waiting now, giving us time; but that gracious waiting cannot be protracted for ever; the day of the Lord will come. It is our duty to do what lieth in us to hasten its coming, by the preparation of our own hearts, by stirring up others to repentance, and by our prayers. "Thy kingdom come," is our daily prayer, the prayer which the Lord himself puts into our mouths. "The kingdom of God" has more senses than one in Holy Scripture; but certainly one thing to which the Lord directs our prayers in those words is the coming of the day of God, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. This is to be our daily prayer; if we use it in thoughtful faith, it will fix our hearts upon our eternal home. The Church on earth prays, "Thy kingdom come;" in Paradise the souls under the altar cry with a loud voice, "How long, O Lord, holy and true?" ( Revelation 6:9 , Revelation 6:10 ). He will hear the prayer that goeth up to him day and night; he will avenge his own elect; the great day must come.
3 . That day will be a day of terrors. Because of its presence the visible heavens will be on fire; they shall be dissolved. The earth and the heaven, in the vision of judgment that was revealed to St. John, fled away from the face of him who sat on the great white throne, and there was found no place for them. St. Peter, too, saw the awful scene presented to the eye of his mind—he uses the prophetic present—the elements are melting, wasting away, with fervent heat. Those startling words suggest thoughts of exceeding awe and terror: "Take ye heed; watch and pray."
4 . But there will be a new home for the righteous. St. John heard the voice of him that sat on the throne saying, "Behold, I make all things new." God had promised this long ago by the mouth of his prophet Isaiah. He will surely fulfill his word. He will not leave his people desolate and homeless. He provided a city of refuge for Lot, when his old abode was destroyed by the fire of the wrath of God. So, out of the appalling conflagration of the dreadful day there will arise a new and blessed home for his elect. We look for new heavens and a new earth; and they shall abide for ever. As once the promise came to Noah that there should not be any more a flood to destroy the earth, so God hath promised that "the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord." Heaven and earth shall then be very near, the one to the other; for the holy city, new Jerusalem, shall come down from God out of heaven; and the tabernacle of God shall be with men, and he will dwell with them. The commonwealth that is in heaven shall be established (so Holy Scripture seems to teach us) upon the new earth. It shall come down from heaven, having the glory of God; the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; there his servants shall serve him. Heaven will come down to earth; and so the new earth will become a part of heaven, very closely joined with heaven. God will dwell there with men, and they shall see him face to face, and live in that new earth the life of heaven; for it is the unveiled presence of God which makes heaven what it is, the abode of joy, and love, and holiness, and entranced contemplation of the Divine beauty. Into that city entereth nothing that defileth; righteousness dwelleth there. The earth that now is hath been defiled with many sins; it has been stained with blood, devastated by war and cruelty, polluted with sensuality and uncleanness. But the new earth shall be all holy. The refining fires of judgment will work a complete and everlasting change. The Deluge cleansed the old world, but only for a time; sin soon began to reassert itself. The fires of the great day will purely purge away all the dross, and leave only the refined gold. Righteousness shall dwell for ever in that new earth. The people of the holy city shall be all righteous; for they shall abide in the presence of him who is the Sun of Righteousness, and shall be made like unto him, for they shall see him as he is.
5 . The need of earnest diligence. St. Peter has been warning us of the solemn future which lies before us—the most tremendous judgment, the destruction of the present order of things in the fires of the last day, the new heavens and the new earth which will be the eternal home of the blessed. These thoughts, he says, enforce upon us the necessity of diligence in the religious life. Men who really believe that after death cometh the judgment cannot live listlessly and idly. Many professing Christians, alas! live careless lives; but that carelessness evinces a practical unbelief. The momentous issues of the great day must stir the believer to earnest effort. St. Peter had urged the necessity of diligence in the first chapter; he urges it again in the last. Then he appealed to the grace of God, his gifts, his promises; the love of God, the blessed hope set before us, ought to arouse us to love and zeal. Now he appeals to the awful future, the judgment that is coming. Carelessness in the prospect of the judgment is nothing short of madness. Those whose faith is real must be diligent. "That day cometh as a thief:" how will it find us? What will be the state of those who are surprised in sin? Our hearts sicken in shuddering dread at the fearful thought. Then let us give diligence to make our calling and election sure. God's elect must be conformed to the image of his Son. His Son, the holy Lamb of God, was without blemish and without spot; so must his servants be. They must wash their robes, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin;" but it cleanseth only those who "walk in the light." Therefore let us be diligent to walk always in the consciousness of God's presence, in the light that streams from the cross. That light will show each spot and blemish that rests upon the soul; it will bring us to repentance and confession; and then God "is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Those who "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth" are without fault before the throne of God ( Revelation 14:5 ), for every fault has been washed away in the precious blood. Their sins once were like crimson, but now they are whiter than snow; they are clothed with the wedding garment, the white robe of righteousness; therefore they are found in peace. Christ is their Peace; he bath made peace through the blood of his cross. Those who abide in Christ have peace with God now, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment. Such men account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation. They know that life is a sacred trust, that the time of probation is precious; and they will strive by God's gracious help to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, knowing that the night cometh, in which no man can work.
II. THE DUTY OF LISTENING TO THE WARNINGS OF HOLY SCRIPTURE ,
1 . St. Paul had warned them. St. Paul had, by himself or by his companions, founded most of the Churches of Asia Minor. He had written Epistles to the Galatians, Colossians, and Ephesians, the last being probably a circular letter intended to be read in several Churches. At the date of St. Peter's Second Epistle many of St. Paul's writings must have become the common property of the whole Church, and thus the Christians of Asia Minor probably knew and read some of the Epistles which had been addressed to European Churches. St. Peter calls St. Paul his beloved brother; he recognizes the wisdom which had been given unto him. The two holy apostles had once differed from one another; now they were united in one faith and one love. St. Peter had overcome his old impetuosity, his old desire to be first; he had learned that precious grace of humility, which in his First Epistle he so earnestly inculcates. He does not remember that he had once been reproved by St. Paul; he thinks only of St. Paul's holiness and inspired wisdom; he is wholly above petty jealousies and resentments. Christians ought never to take offence, especially at well-intentioned rebukes; they ought to be thankful for them. Christians ought to rejoice at the graces vouchsafed to others—at their zeal, energy, love, at the success of their religious efforts. Envy, especially among Christians, is a hateful vice, a deadly sin. St. Peter, the first of the apostles, appeals to St. Paul, who was called last of all; he is an example of Christian humility. The two holy apostles taught the same great truths. St. Paul and St. Peter both press earnestly upon us the great danger of spiritual sloth; both warn us that the day of the Lord cometh suddenly, like a thief; both urge us to be watchful. Let us listen to those two holy men as they echo the solemn teaching of the great Master.
2 . There are difficulties in St. Paul's writings. Men misrepresented the great apostle even from the beginning; they represented him as teaching, "Let us do evil, that good may come" ( Romans 3:8 ). They distorted his doctrine of justification, and perverted it into antinomianism; though he himself had taught that the faith by which we are saved is "faith which worketh by love," and that faith which could remove mountains is nothing if it be alone, without charity. The false teachers, against whom St. Peter has been warning his readers, were probably among these perverters of the apostle's meaning. It is no wonder: "The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." There will always be in the visible Church men unlearned and unstable, untaught by the Holy Spirit of God who alone can guide us to the truth, and therefore without steadfastness, carried away with every blast of vain doctrine. Such men wrest to their own destruction, not only the "things hard to be understood" in St. Paul's Epistles, but Holy Scripture generally. For it is not the written Word that in the fullest sense saves the soul, but the Word of life, the Word that is living and powerful, the Lord Jesus Christ himself manifested to the believer. We may find him in the thoughtful, devout study of God's holy Word; but to find Christ, to win Christ, we must count all else as loss; we must forsake selfish aims, self-exaltation, self-indulgence, and follow in humility and earnest prayer the leading of the blessed Spirit. The written Word is a most precious gift; but no outward privilege can save us. Nay, awful as it seems, men may wrest it, and do wrest it, to their own destruction. Receive it in simplicity and faith, and it will save the soul. God reveals its deep holy meaning to babes in Christ. But if men with perverse ingenuity will use it as the weapon of party strife, and twist its sacred words to suit their selfish purposes, then it may—alas! that it should be so—increase their condemnation. "The letter killeth." Corruptio optimi pessima.
3 . There is need of thoughtful watchfulness. False teachers distort the meaning of Holy Scripture; they wander far from the truth; they are self-willed, lawless, disobedient to the Law of God written in the heart, revealed in his Word. Therefore Christians must be on their guard; they must "not believe every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." This conflict of opinions sometimes produces painful doubts and uncertainties; it is one of the trials of the Christian life.
4 . And of growth in grace. God will reveal the truth to the babes in Christ. He will not leave the humble, faithful soul in darkness and perplexity. Only let a man earnestly pray for the grace of God; only let him strive daily to draw nearer to Christ, and to gain that inner knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord, in comparison with which all things else are dross; and the light of the presence of Christ will surely dawn upon him, and in that light he will find a Guide to bring him to eternal life. For his is the glory now and to the day of eternity, and he is "able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him."
1 . "The fashion of this world passeth away." What country shall we belong to?—this dying world, or the eternal city?
2 . The great day is at hand; we must look forward to it. We must prepare the way of the Lord; we must pray, "Thy kingdom come."
3 . In the new earth righteousness dwelleth. Let us follow after righteousness; let us be diligent, "that we may be found in peace, blameless in his sight."
4 . Let us study the Scriptures in faith and prayer, that we may grow in grace.
Destiny and duty.
This passage is woven to the preceding by a link so clear and close that there is no need for indicating it. But we proceed to notice—
I. THE CERTAINTY AND YET THE UNCERTAINTY OF THE PASSING AWAY OF THE PRESENT SYSTEM OF THINGS .
1 . What will "pass away"? "Heavens;" i.e., firmament. "Elements;" not the forces we usually so name, because they include "fire," which is here the revolutionary force; but, according to Farrar and others, "the orbs of heaven."
2 . How shall they "pass away"? "Dissolved," not destroyed. Fresh forms. Whether this be literal, as with the Flood, or wider and figurative, so as to include institutions, empires, and all that "the world" is to us, is an open question.
3 . The certainty of all passing away. The fact is certain.
4 . The uncertainty. The date is uncertain. "As a thief;" not as to wrongfulness, but unexpectedness. "At such an hour as ye think not is the true answer to all chronological theories about "the end."
II. THE GLORY OF THE FUTURE AFTER THAT STUPENDOUS EVENT HAS HAPPENED . It is not the catastrophe, or climax, but the prologue and dawn. It leads not to annihilation, but restoration and purification.
1 . A new system of things. "New heavens and new earth." Fresh, in contrast to worn out. Scars and wounds all gone.
2 . The true principle dominant in the new system—" righteousness." Probably not more material grandeur or loveliness than now, but pervaded with rectitude—man right with God, man right with man, man right with himself.
3 . The permanence of this pervasive righteousness. Wherein "dwelleth." Not, as now and here, often an alien, frequently a stronger, at best a visitor; but the new system of things will be its home. That is
4 . All this rests on a Divine "promise." This indicates
The tones of this promise are manifold and harmonious, from Jonah down to Peter - U.R.T.
Duty in view of second coming.
I. REFERENCE TO GOD IN OUR CONDUCT . "Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness?" The catastrophe that is to accompany the second coming is here put down in time present in the original, to raise an impression of its certainty: "Seeing that these things are thus all dissolved." If the conclusions of some scientific men are to be accepted, this is literally true, inasmuch as they say that there are processes going on which must end in the material fabric being worn out. It is in the condition of a clock that, if not wound up, must run out. The catastrophe thus vividly presented is here made a reason for our attending to ourselves. "What manner of persons," Peter exclaims, "ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness?" Holy living is the living of those who are set apart to the service of a holy God. Godliness points to this living as based on our relation to God. By the use of the plural in the original there is brought out the manifold workings and forms of a godly life. There is the feeling of dependence on God and of fear toward him, desire for the blessing from God and trust in him for the blessing, the feeling of love toward God for what he is and of gratitude toward him for his mercies, knowledge of God's will and the resolution to do his will,—all this finding expression in worship, self-command, and sacrifice for others.
II. ATTITUDE TOWARD THE SECOND COMING . "Looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God." This is the only instance of the day being called "the day of God." We must think of the Father ordering the day and its events, that the Son after his mysterious Passion may be magnified. "As the Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son also quickeneth whom he will. For neither doth the Father judge any man, but he hath given all judgment unto the Son; that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father." Our attitude to the day of God is to be that of expectancy. We are to look for its coming or presence. We are to allow it to dwell in our minds, so as to call forth our earnest desire after it. The first Christians looked for it to come in their day. They were nearer the Divine intention than those who, because it may not be for thousands of years, do not think of it at all. But our attitude is also to be that of active preparation. The proper translation is neither "haste unto" nor "earnestly desire," but "hasten on." The idea of hastening on the coming is unusual; but it is remarkable that it is elsewhere expressed by Peter. "Repent ye therefore," he said to the assembly in Solomon's porch, "and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things." It is thus Petrine and scriptural to think of the coming as an event which may be accelerated by our repentance and prayers and efforts for the diffusion of the gospel.
III. WHAT IS NECESSITATED BY THE SECOND COMING OUTWARDLY . "By reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat." It is said that the heavens are not clean in God's sight. The idea here is that even the heavens have been defiled, by reason of those who have lived under them, and upon the earth. Once Christ did not shrink from dwelling on this earth, being on his saving mission; but when he is to come in his judicial character, he is to be a consuming fire, at his approach, even to material things. It is said in Revelation 20:11 , that from the face of him that sat upon the great white throne the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them. So here it is taught that even the heavenly world is to be subjected to fire, not merely to the breaking up of its order, but even to the melting of its elements.
IV. WHAT IS LOOKED FOR AT THE SECOND COMING OUTWARDLY . "But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.'' This is in accordance with Revelation 21:1 , "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away." The most striking promise is in Isaiah 65:17 , "For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered." The newness does not necessarily refer to the materials of which the present heavens and earth are Composed; these may be transformed so as to constitute new heavens and earth, just as our bodies are to be transformed so as to constitute new bodies. The new heavens and new earth are to correspond to newness of character—a correspondence of the outward to the inward never to be disturbed. It is said in Isaiah 66:22 , "For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I shall make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain." The expression of the idea here is, "wherein dwelleth righteousness"—has its permanent abode, from which it will never take flight. It will be a world where there is no superstition or infidelity, where there is a correct, bright conception of what God is, and a due appreciation of the work of Christ. It will be a world where there is nothing to interfere with social well-being, where jealousies and antipathies are unknown. "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord! Is not, then, the institution of this order of things to be much thought of by us, and to be earnestly desired? We may regret that much that is beautiful in the present order of things is to vanish. Shall we never again look upon that beautiful sky, those beautiful landscapes, the beautiful flowers? But there is ample compensation in the higher beauty to which the present is to give place. When we have got the glorious resurrection-body, there will be no regret that we have left the present body behind. So when we see the new heavens and the new earth, there will be no regret that the former things have passed away. In their higher forms they will have a greater power of lifting the soul to God. The teaching of Peter regarding the heavens and earth agrees with what Paul teaches in the eighth of Romans, "For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God." Peter emphasizes fire as the liberating element; Paul simply notes the liberation. Peter, again, thinks of a fit abode for righteousness; Paul thinks of an abode that shadows forth the liberty of the glory of the children of God. There is use in looking forward to new heavens and a new earth. We feel that the present arrangement is not independent of God. He made it, and he can alter it. He can make a world suitable to a probationary state, and a world suitable to a state of attained righteousness, He can make a world suitable for his people in their present imperfect state, and a world suitable to them when he puts glory on them.
V. PERSONAL CONCERNS AT THE SECOND COMING . "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in his sight." We look for a great catastrophe at the end of time as that which has been certainly foretold. We do not look for that alone, but for that as introducing a great reconstruction in the production of new heavens and earth. This is connected with our seeing God on the day formerly referred to. Our personal anxiety must be to be found in peace on that occasion—to have God as our Friend, so that the catastrophe shall not reach us, and so that the new heavens and new earth shall be for our blessed and eternal abode. We can only expect this consummation by our being without spot and blameless. Spots and blemishes attract the fire of Divine judgment. This very earth and even the heavens have to be subjected to fire because they have been connected with man's sin. Let us not think, then, that we can stand in God's sight with hearts defiled. We must give diligence to have all spots and blemishes removed from us, in the use of the means of grace, in a constant recourse to the blood of Christ, in a constant endeavour to conform our life to the Divine will.
VI. INTERPRETATION OF PRESENT DELAY . "And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation." In explanation of the delay of the second coming, it was said formerly that "the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, but is long-suffering." Here long-suffering is asserted of our Lord, apparently the Lord Jesus Christ, as the absolute Manifestation of the disposition of the Father. Here also there is connected with long-suffering its end, viz. salvation. Christ makes to us the offer of salvation; but he does not reject us so soon as we refuse his offer. He would teach us even from our experience of the bitterness of sin, he would disabuse our minds of false ideas of life, he would make us tired of a life of sin, he would make us turn in desire to a life of holiness. He has no quarter for sin; but he has patience for the sinner, he heaps mercies upon him; there is the continual mercy that he is not treated according to his desert. Thus by his continual goodness would he lead us to repentance, by his long-suffering he would compass our salvation, by his gentleness he would make us great. But for patience extended over years, Paul would never have lived to be a preacher of righteousness, and John Bunyan would never have lived to write the 'Pilgrim's Progress.' And so it is with the race as a whole. The offer of salvation has yet to be made to all. And even when the offer has been made, means have to be used to secure the acceptance of salvation. Therefore it is that the coming is delayed. Let us not, then, misinterpret the delay; let us not mistake what is long-suffering for slackness in promising, or indifference to sin.
VII. REFERENCE TO THE WRITINGS OF PAUL . "Even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given to him, wrote unto you; as also in all his Epistles, speaking in them of these things; wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unsteadfast wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." Peter refers to Paul by whom, on one occasion, he had been withstood, as his beloved brother, i.e., not ministerial associate, but brother to the readers and to himself alike, and alike dear to them. He also recognizes him as possessing a wisdom which was not his own. Paul had written to the same circle on the subject of the coming. If we think of the Asiatic circle, we turn to the Epistle to the Ephesians. In it the nearest approach to what Peter has been saying is to be found in Ephesians 5:27 , "That he might present the Church to himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." When Peter passes to other Epistles, we at once think of the Epistles to the Thessalonians. In these Paul expressly treats of delay in the second coming, and points out the attitude to be taken up. And this naturally suggests "some things hard to be understood." What he had in his mind was probably the revelation of the man of sin. Of other things hard to be understood in Paul's Epistles we may particularize the gathering up of all things in Christ, the doctrine of election especially as set forth in the ninth chapter of Romans, and the filling up of that which is lacking in the sufferings of Christ in Colossians. Peter notes the bad use made of these things hard to be understood, in common with other Scriptures, by the ignorant and unsteadfast, i.e., those who had not the essentials of Christian instruction, and did not hold to the Christian position once taken up by them. They "wrested them" as by a hand-screw, i.e., from their natural meaning to their own destruction. There is no support here to the Roman Catholic idea of withholding the Bible from the people. Because Scriptures, especially difficult Scriptures, are abused by the ignorant and unsteadfast, that is no argument against the good use of them by those who are exhorted in this same chapter to "remember the words spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through the apostles." Let us, even when we (in company with Peter) do not thoroughly understand, humbly seek to get profit.
VIII. CAUTION . "Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own steadfastness.'' What they knew beforehand was what Paul and Peter said about the second coming. The conclusion of the verse points especially to the foretold appearance of errorists before the coming. These were condemned by their lawless conduct. Let them not, then, as they valued his love in the gospel, be carried away with their error. They had firm footing; let them not be carried off their feet. Let them not be like Barnabas, the companion of Paul, who, when at the coming of some from James to Antioch, the Jews dissembled with Peter, he also was carried off his feet with their dissimulation ( Galatians 2:13 ).
IX. PARTING COUNSEL . "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." A tree is not a complete reality at once; but from a beginning there is progress toward an end. So we are not complete beings at once; but from a beginning there is a progress intended for us toward the end of our being. There may be growth in a wrong direction: what we are here exhorted to grow in is what of Divine assistance as sinners we need in order to come to the goal of our being. "Grow in grace," which is to be taken as an independent conception. If we are not growing under gracious influence, then we have only a name to live. Our faith grows as it becomes more ample and conquering. Our love grows as it becomes more fervent and diffusive. Our hope grows as it becomes more calm and bright. We are to grow in self-abasement, in power of work, in power of concentrating the mind on the truth, in power to bear hardships and injuries. We are to grow especially in that in which we find ourselves to be deficient. We are further exhorted to grow in "the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." This is in keeping with the great importance which is attached to knowledge in this Epistle. It is that by which we grow. The knowledge which is thus nutritive is knowledge of Christ as opening up and dispensing the treasures of Divine grace, and as showing in his own life what grace would bring out in ours. Let us, then, have a worthy conception of Christ in our minds; it is upon this that our growth in grace depends.
X. DOXOLOGY . "To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen." It is to Christ that the adoration is offered. To him be glory now ; for it is to the knowledge of him that we owe all of grace that we have. To him be glory for ever, literally, "to the day of the age"—the day on which eternity, as contrasted with time, begins, and which is never to be broken up, but is to be one long day. To him we are indebted, as for all that we have now, so for all that we hope to have hereafter. Thus does the Epistle end without the customary salutations, simply with the carrying forward of Christ into our eternal life. It becomes every one who has followed out the thought of the Epistle to add his devout "Amen."—R.F.