“When the Apostle
Paul was being transported as a missionary prisoner to Rome,
his ship docked to the south of Rome in the Italian port
city of Puteoli. This was a holiday resort for fashionable
Roman society, a spa with nearby hot sulfur springs. Many of
the Roman emperors had villas here at this Hot Springs of
laid in the shadow of a great, rugged mountain—Mount
Vesuvius —a volcano actually, although it hadn’t erupted in
nearly a thousand years. Shortly after Paul’s time, Vesuvius
exploded like an atomic bomb!
It erupted for forty hours, and while Puteoli was
spared, another nearby city was flooded by molten lava and
buried before the inhabitants could escape.
They were killed by the gases and the ash, and then
preserved by the molten lava, which rolled over them and
sealed them in a gigantic tomb of pumice.
That city was Pompeii, and for many years it remained
buried under twenty feet of hardened lava.
Excavations have given us a perfectly preserved Roman
city, frozen in time, caught in the act of being itself.
Most of the 20,000 people of Pompeii, it seems,
worshiped two gods: Mercury, the god of commerce and Venus,
the goddess of love.
They worshiped, in other words, money and pleasure.
Their worship of Mercury is evidenced by their
Pompeii was a thriving city, a neat grid-like pattern
of shop-lined streets wrapped in a gated wall.
It pulsed with industry; many of its people working
in a winery—Pompeii was world-famous for its wine.
But they also loved pleasure.
The city walls were filled with advertisements by
Prices indicate that the average call-girl cost about the
same price of a modest dinner at a Pompeian tavern. ... On
the walls of brothels were testimonies by satisfied
Everywhere were models and carving of the phallus, which in
ancient Pompeii was considered the symbol of success.
It was carved on sidewalks and houses, drawn on walls
and posts. The
statues and sculptures of Pompeii, excavated by
archaeologists, were hidden for many years in the “off
limits” rooms of the Italian museum because they were so
obscene. On one
Pompeian wall, someone with knowledge of the Old Testament
had written some graffiti—just three words: Sodom and
like Sodom and Gomorrah, Pompeii perished suddenly by fire.
Judgment came swiftly and without warning, and there
was no escape.
Like Pompeii, our world today is drenched in corruption,
commercialism, and sensuality, waiting the final judgment.
We don’t know when the volcano of God’s judgment and
punishment will erupt,” but the Apostle Peter assures us
that one day it will erupt, and Christ will return (Bayles)!
examine more closely what Peter wrote, let's get a little
background for 2 Peter.
Like 1 Peter, this letter was written to members of
several churches located in northern Asia Minor.
Peter wrote it between 65-68 A.D., and a good two
word summary of this book is “Be aware!”
The words “know” and “knowledge” appear 16 times in
this brief letter (Tenney).
Peter wants his readers to be aware of three
fundamental truths: 1) they have the true knowledge in
Christ and do not need to look elsewhere for further
religious instruction; 2) there are false teachers
infiltrating assemblies only too willing to provide them
further instruction which leads down a wrong path; 3) there
will be the final judgment, despite scoffers who have tried
to create doubts about it.
Peter's defense of Christ's second coming falls under
that last truth and is found in chapter 3, and it consists
of five major arguments.
reading with verse 3: “Knowing this first: that scoffers
will come in the last days, walking according to their own
lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?
For since the fathers fell asleep, all things
continue as they were from the beginning of creation.’”
These scoffers are very likely the false teachers
that Peter has just strongly rebuked in chapter 2.
Since these men are sensuous, egotistical,
headstrong, and independent, they don't want to be
accountable to anyone, so they reject the idea that their
will be separation between the good and evil based on their
behaviors while in this world.
They were familiar with the “promise” of Christ
coming, which they themselves had once believed.
But now they have abandoned the faith and are
ridiculing its truths.
“The last days” is the period between Christ’s first
coming and His second coming.
We continue to live in the last days; this is not
only a time of God's grace but also a time of Satan's
These heretics wanted no absolutes, and certainly not an
absolute end of history brought about by an absolute God.
So, they really deny any promise whatsoever of Jesus'
false teaching goes something like this: “Ever since the
patriarchs' deaths in the Old Testament, life on this earth
has just rocked along the same as it always has from the
always has been always will be!
Let's enjoy our time to the fullest in this world!
We don't need to worry about some final judgment
before Christ because it's never going to happen!”
Well, Peter let's his audience know that these false
teachers are certainly in error!
Let's see the five arguments that Peter presents to
show that Christ's coming and the final judgment will indeed
argument is based on God's power.
Let's read verses 5-7: “For this they willfully
forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and
the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which
the world that then existed perished, being flooded with
water. But the
heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same
word, are reserved for the fire until the day of judgment
and perdition of ungodly men.”
In this passage, Peter underscores the power of
God through His word.
It is His word that created the world and not some
explosion or a lucky unification of certain atoms. That same
word not only created but also it destroyed the earth when
God brought about a universal flood.
The scoffers need to take note: things have NOT
always rocked along the same as it always has from the
fact, shortly after the beginning, Genesis shows us that God
did intervene and bring about His judgment!
Then notice in verse 7 how Peter says that the
heavens and the earth are being preserved by that same word.
Right now God's word is sustaining our universe!
Now that's inexhaustible power; God' keeps the solar
system functioning in balance as it does (Woods)!
But then notice that Peter says our present universe
is not only preserved by God's word but also reserved by
God's word for the fire.
As water destroyed life during the flood, so fire
will destroy the heavens and the earth in the future.
They are reserved for such destruction, and it will
take place on the day of judgment.
If men can destroy large areas of the earth with the
fire of an atomic bomb, just think what destruction God's
unlimited power will bring about!
Notice also how this verse affirms that the ungodly
will be punished.
God’s justice will one day be satisfied against the
atrocious and malicious sins that the wicked have
The apostle Paul says something very similar in 2
Thessalonians 1:6-10: “… since it is a righteous thing
with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,
and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord
Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in
flaming fire [and there the fire mentioned again], taking
vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do
not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction
form the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His
power, when He comes in that day to be glorified in His
saints and to be admired among all who believe, because our
testimony among you was believed.”
As sure as God punished the wicked of Noah’s day
through the flood, so God will punish the ungodly of our
time on the Day when Christ comes again!
Christ's second coming is true because God's power
will make it happen!
argument is based on God's nature.
Let's read verses 8-9: “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 toward us, not
willing that any should perish but that all should come to
First of all, Peter reminds us that God's timing is
different from that of men.
Peter's truth is very similar to what Moses had
written thousands of years earlier in Psalm 90:4: “For a
thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is
past, and like a watch in the night.”
We see a thousand years as being a long time, but it
is short to our eternal God.
God is not bound by time and space concepts, so His
timetable is unlimited!
In God's sight, only two days have passed since
Jesus teaches us that only God knows when the end of time
will come: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not
even the angels of heaven, not the Son, but only the Father”
Secondly, Peter reveals something wonderful about
God’s nature: He is long-suffering, and does not want anyone
to perish eternally.
In fact, that’s why the final judgment has not
He is wanting people to repent before it’s too late!
God is not negligent (as those who scoff may think),
but He is patient.
His desire is for all people to know the truth so
that they can be saved (1 Tim. 2:4).
People will perish because they don’t want to give up
their sinful lifestyles; their condemnation to eternal
suffering will come, not because God has willed it, but
because each person refused to accept God’s provision for
eternal life found in Jesus Christ (Mounce)!
His patience keeps time going and delays the
catastrophic destruction of all things.
Christ’s second coming is true because God’s nature
will make it happen!
argument is based on God’s day.
Let’s read verses 10-12: “But the day of the Lord
will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will
pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt
with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in
it will be burned up.
Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved,
what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and
godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day
of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved,
being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent
First of all, the day of the Lord, the day also of Christ’s
return, will surprise!
Jesus Himself warns us in Matthew 24:42ff: “Watch
therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is
know this, that if the master of the house had known what
hour the thief
would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house
to be broken into.
Therefore, you also be ready for the Son of Man is
coming at an hour you do not expect.”
God’s day will not only surprise but also it will destroy.
Notice Peter’s vivid description.
“The skies will pass away with a great noise!”
There’s the big bang that you can believe in; Peter
says it’s coming to finish things off!
And the planets, stars, comets, asteroids, and all
that other debris in space is going to melt because the heat
will be so fervent.
“On March 5, 1979, nine U.S. satellites
simultaneously radioed back to earth that a gamma radiation
explosion occurred in a nearby galaxy known as N-49.
This explosion lasted for only one-tenth of a second,
but it released more radiation than our sun does in 3,000
Evans, an astrophysicist at the Los Alamos Scientific
Laboratories in New Mexico, noted that if this explosion of
energy had occurred in our galaxy, it would have instantly
vaporized the earth” (Mounce)!
“And the earth and all that’s in it will be burned
commentator states: “Along with the dissolution, there will
be the burning of all that man has accomplished—houses,
cities, monuments, etc.—everything to which he has set his
These, along with all of God’s material creation, are to be
dissolved, consumed in the heat of the mighty catastrophe”
Another commentator noted that the last part of verse 10 is
literally translated “to be found” instead of “to be burned
up,” so that one could translate the last part as a
rhetorical question: “Will the earth and everything in it
even be found?”
And the answer, of course, would be “No!” because the
intense heat has vaporized it and caused it to disappear (Mounce).
Notice again at the end of verse 12 how Peter again
underscores the dissolution of the skies and the melting of
space. Here’s a
question for you: does this sound like anything in the
universal order as we know it is going to be spared and
recreated in some way?
It sure doesn’t sound like there’s going to an
earthly paradise or a peaceful rebuilt Jerusalem on earth
does it? No, it
sounds like God’s noisy, explosive, fire-stormy day is going
to incinerate every material object in all the universe—the
firmament, the galaxies, the earth and all that was on it
are totally gone!
They have all vanished!
The apostle John wrote: “Now I saw a new heaven
and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth
had passed away.
Also there was no more sea.” (Revelation 21:1).
A newer version said, “Then I saw new heaven and a
new earth. The
first heaven and the first earth disappeared, and the sea
Since all is going to be dissolved and vanish, Peter then
asks, “What manner of persons ought you to be in holy
conduct and godliness?”
Yes, we’d better living as our holy God desires in
order to be ready for God’s great surprising and destructive
second coming is true because God’s day will make it happen!
argument is based on God’s promise.
Verse 13 states: “Nevertheless we, according to
His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which
Has God ever promised there would be a new order?
Oh yes, the prophet Isaiah said in 65:17: “For
behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former
shall not be remembered or come to mind.”
God’s new order will be totally different.
Time, corruption, age, decay, pain, and suffering
will no longer exist.
We will dwell with God, Christ, and all the saints
for all eternity in an immortal existence!
And only that which is righteous will fill this new
will be no Devil, no evil, no wickedness, no sensuality, no
war, no killings, no sin!
What a tremendous divine promise!
Christ’s second coming is true because God’s promise
will make it happen!
argument is based on God’s apostles.
Let’s now read from verse 14: “Therefore, beloved,
looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by
Him in peace, without spot and blameless; and consider that
the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our
beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, has
written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in
them of these things, in which are some things hard to
understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to
their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the
beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you
also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with
the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever.
First of all, we see how the apostle Paul wrote also
about God’s long-suffering!
God’s patience in keeping the world from destruction
was not just revealed to Peter alone.
It was the Gospel that Paul preached as well!
In other words, Paul reinforces in his writings
exactly what Peter has just affirmed in his writings!
The writing of James, John, and Matthew say the same
Jesus, God’s ultimate apostle as one sent with a divine
mission, teaches also of His second coming.
He makes this promise and gives this warning in Luke
21:33ff: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words
will by no means pass away.
But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be
weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this
life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.
For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on
the face of the whole earth.
Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be
counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to
pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
This is grace and knowledge from Jesus that we can
not only count on but also stake our lives on!
Christ’s second coming is true because God’s apostles
have said it will happen!
ago, a father and his daughter were walking through the
grass on the Canadian prairie. In the distance, they saw a
prairie fire devouring the field and eventually, they
realized, it would engulf them too.
The father knew there was only one way to escape.
Quickly he started a fire right where they were and burned a
fairly large patch of grass. Then, he took a small tarp and
furiously beat out the flames.
When the huge fire drew near, they then stood on the
section of grass that had already been burned.
When the fire actually did approach them, the girl
was terrified by the raging flames. But her father assured
her, ‘The flames can’t touch us, honey.
We are standing where the fire has already been!’
The same is true of God’s judgment. You see, Jesus
has already gone through the flames before and for us.
And if you’ve put your faith in Jesus Christ, obeyed
His Gospel by being immersed in His name for the forgiveness
of your sins, and tried to live then in accordance with His
will, then you are standing where the fire has already been!
As long as we are in Jesus, we never have to fear the fire
of God’s final judgment” (Bayles).
If you need to make Christ your Lord, or if you need
to rededicate yourself to Him, He and God are waiting
patiently while there is still time.
Please don’t let God’s volcano of judgment catch you
Stand in the safety of the flames where Jesus has been!