2 Peter 3:4 Where is the promise of his coming?
Neal A. Maxwell
"When some people cast their eyes upon human history...they see only the unbroken sweep of the centuries. Divine interventions seem less and less likely. For these individuals there is no special meaning to human existence. Peter prophesied that some would say, 'all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation' (2 Peter 3:4). So what else is new?
"Therefore, in the absence of accepting evidence which is 'spiritually discerned' (1 Corinthians 2:14), the passage of time by itself (which actually brings us closer to the resurrection) is ironically seen as a refutation of the resurrection." (That Ye May Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1992], 172.)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Peter's prophecy about the attitude of latter-day scoffers is thus steadily being fulfilled: 'Where is the promise of [Christ's] coming? ... all things remain as they were from the beginning of the creation' (2 Pet. 3:4). Hence, repetition on the human landscape comes to be viewed by many as the absence of any discernible, divine purpose.
"The resulting indifference adds to iniquity, and iniquity brings its inevitable harvest of bitter despair (see JS-M 1:30; Moro. 10:22; D&C 45:27). Moreover, as the love of many waxes cold, a massive failure occurs with regard to keeping both the first and second great commandments (see Matt. 22:36-40; Matt. 24:12)." ("The Richness of the Restoration," Ensign, Mar. 1998, 8)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Where people fail to comprehend the redemptive designs of God they fall into an enormous error. The pattern of living which then emerges is one in which people tend to get on with the routine of life, which carries its own concerns. Thus the protracted period of human history without prophets is seen by many mortals as a negation of God, or at least as an indication of a God uninvolved with people on this planet.
"How vital, therefore, for us to know the realities: There is a plan of salvation; there was an apostasy; and now there has been a restoration. God has given man moral agency, leaving him free to believe or disbelieve, or to disregard the divine and spiritual evidence. Thus an incredible irony emerges: As people become less believing there are fewer spiritual experiences, and this is twisted by the disbeliever into confirmation of his premises." (Men and Women of Christ [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991], 41.)
2 Peter 3:6 the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished
"Not everyone throughout the modern world...accepts the story of Noah and the Flood. Many totally disbelieve the story, seeing it as a simple myth or fiction. Typical of some modern scholars, one author recently discounted the events of the Flood by using such terms as 'implausible,' 'unacceptable,' and 'impossible'; he stated that believers who would hope to provide geologic or other evidence regarding the historicity of the Flood 'can be given no assurance that their effort, however sustained, will be successful.' Another author titled his book The Noah's Ark Nonsense, revealing his disbelief that the Flood actually took place.
"...For Latter-day Saints, the Flood is a matter of faith and belief. We believe in many events that today we cannot scientifically explain. For example, in a world where change and death are the norm, the scriptures promise immortality and eternal life. Indeed the scriptures teach that this earth will be burned (see 2 Pet. 3:10), receive a resurrection (D&C 88:26), and become a celestial kingdom (D&C 88:17-18). Such future events will make the incident of the Flood look like child's play in comparison." (Donald W. Parry, "The Flood and the Tower of Babel," Ensign, Jan. 1998, 36)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Conditions before Jesus' second coming, we are further told, will resemble those in the days of Noah when there was a misdirected sense of self-sufficiency among the citizenry, a resistance to the words of the Lord's prophet, and a dangerous norm of wickedness as usual. The attitudes among some latter-day scoffers will reflect the same scornful self-sufficiency. Even the unmistakable signs will be discounted, because, said Peter, such people will say 'all things continue as they were.' (2 Peter 3:3-4.) Joseph Smith, in the inspired translation of the Bible, added, significantly, that these same latter-day scoffers would also deny the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, a sad reality that is well advanced even now. G.K. Chesterton has pointed out that when people cease to believe in God, instead of believing in nothing, what is far more dangerous is that they believe in anything." (We Will Prove Them Herewith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 80.)
2 Peter 3:7 the earth is reserved unto fire
True baptism involves baptism by water and by fire. The earth was baptized by water with the Flood and remains to be baptized by fire at the Second Coming. Indeed, much like us, the earth was created in innocence, suffered the effects of the Fall, has been redeemed by the Flood, will yet be sanctified by a baptism by fire, will eventually die and be resurrected, and finally will receive a celestial glory.
2 Peter 3:8 one day is with the Lord as a thousand years
"While some readers of the Bible throughout the world regard that the creation of the earth took six 24-hour days, other readers of the Bible refer to Peter's statement 'that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day' (2 Pet. 3:8) as evidence that the process of creation may have taken six thousand years.
"Latter-day Saints have additional information that allows a third view: that each 'day' of the Creation was of unspecified duration, and that the creation of the earth took place during an unknown length of time. In fact, Abraham stresses that time is synonymous with day. For example, Abraham 4:8 summarizes the second creative period by stating that 'this was the second time that they called night and day.' This usage is completely consistent with the ancient Hebrew. The Hebrew word YOM, often translated 'day,' can also mean 'time' or 'period.' In other words, the term translated 'day' in Genesis could be appropriately read as 'period.'" (Thomas R. Valletta, "I Have a Question," Ensign, Jan. 1994, 53)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Time is measured by the revolutions of whatever planet or other heavenly body is involved. With reference to 'celestial time,' the Lord said to Abraham, 'that Kolob was after the manner of the Lord, according to its times and seasons in the revolutions thereof; that one revolution was a day unto the Lord, after his manner of reckoning, it being one thousand years according to the time appointed unto that whereon thou standest. This is the reckoning of the Lord's time, according to the reckoning of Kolob.' (Abra. 3:4.) Later, with reference to God's decree that in the day Adam partook of the forbidden fruit he should surely die, the record says: 'Now I, Abraham, saw that it was after the Lord's time, which was after the time of Kolob, for as yet the Gods had not appointed unto Adam his reckoning.' (Abra. 5:13.)" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 3: 368.)
2 Peter 3:10 the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night
The analogy that the Lord will come 'as a thief in the night' should be applied to the world at large and should not apply to the membership of the Church. The church is the virgin bride awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom; we are not to be caught unawares. Rather, we are to be waiting patiently with oil in our lamps for the coming of the bridegroom.
"The scriptures speak of the Master returning as 'a thief in the night.' (1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10.) It is true that no mortal has known, does now know, or will yet know the precise day of the Lord's Second Advent. This is true for prophets and apostles as well as the rank and file of society and the Church. On the other hand, the people of God are promised that if they are in tune with the Spirit, they can discern the season. The Apostle Paul chose the descriptive analogy of a pregnant woman about to deliver. She may not know the exact hour or day when the birth is to take place, but one thing she knows for sure: it will be soon. It must be soon! The impressions and feelings and signs within her own body so testify. In that day, surely the members of the body of Christ will be pleading for the Lord to deliver the travailing earth, to bring an end to corruption and degradation, to introduce an era of peace and righteousness. And those who give heed to the words of scripture, and especially to the living oracles, will stand as the 'children of light, and the children of the day,' those who 'are not of the night, nor of darkness.' (1 Thes. 5:2-5.) In the Doctrine and Covenants is found this admonition: 'The coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night-therefore, gird up your loins, that you may be the children of light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief.' (D&C 106:4D&C 106:5D&C 106:4-5; emphasis added.)" (Robert L. Millet, The Mormon Faith: Understanding Restored Christianity [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 162.)
Elder John Longden
"True, the precise time of Christ's coming has not been made known to man. Yet I have no fear in my heart. Neither has anyone with a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. By learning to comprehend the signs of the times, by watching the development of the work of God among the nations, and by noting the rapid fulfillment of significant prophecies, we may perceive the progressive evidence of the approaching event; but the hour or the day, no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven nor shall they know until he comes. His coming will be a surprise to those who have ignored his warnings and who have failed to watch. Watch, therefore for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
"Likewise, Peter predicted the Saints also shall hardly escape. Nevertheless I, the Lord, am with them. (See 1 Pet. 4:18.) This is a great promise to those who will keep their covenants." (Conference Report, April 1964, Third Day-Morning Meeting 117.)
2 Peter 3:10 the earth...and the works that are therein shall be burned up
Prepared as kindling by drought and wickedness, the earth will erupt in flames at the presence of the Lord like a lit match in a dynamite factory, 'for the presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil' (DC 133:41). This is what happens when the wicked are exposed to a glory they cannot endure (DC 88:22-24), for the 'natural man [cannot] abide the presence of God' but must of necessity wither and die in his presence (DC 67:12, Moses 1:11). Elder McConkie noted:
"Not only will the Lord come in flaming fire, but that fire will produce fervent, glowing, intense heat, heat that has not been known in the entire history of the earth, heat that will cause the very elements to melt, the mountains to flow down at his presence, and the very earth itself, as now constituted, to dissolve." (Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 645.)
How else shall the earth be burned? Not only will the glorious presence of the Lord bring a burning fire, but the Lord will send his angels to destroy the wicked. He has declared that already, 'the angels are waiting the great command to reap down the earth, to gather the tares that they may be burned' (DC 38:12), and 'the angels are crying unto the Lord day and night, who are ready and waiting to be sent forth to reap down the fields...and the field remaineth to be burned' (DC 86:7). Reminiscent of the heavenly army seen by the servant of Elisha (2 Kgs. 6:15-17), the prophet Joel saw in vision the very army of angels which is to receive the great command to reap down the earth, 'A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth...behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them...Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array. Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness...And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army' (Joel 2:3-11, see also Isa. 66:15-16). John saw an angel who was symbolic of this great army, 'and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God' (Rev. 16:8).
Ezra Taft Benson
"I realize this is not a pleasant picture. I take no delight in its portrayal, nor do I look forward to the day when calamities shall come upon mankind. But these words are not my own; the Lord has spoken them. Knowing what we know as His servants, can we hesitate to raise a warning voice to all who will listen that they may be prepared for the days ahead?
"Silence in the face of such calamity is sin!
"But, there is a bright side to an otherwise gloomy picture-the coming of our Lord in all His glory. His coming will be both glorious and terrible, depending on the spiritual condition of those who remain." ("Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ," New Era, Dec. 1980, 49)
2 Peter 3:11 what manner of persons ought ye to be?
Neal A. Maxwell
"...let us remember 'what manner of persons [we] ought ... to be' (2 Pet. 3:11; 3 Ne. 27:27). Attributively, we are to become even as Jesus, with His virtues being increasingly replicated in our lives. Even in the midst of our obvious imperfections, a sacred process is to be underway-if slowly, nevertheless resolutely. Whatever one's unfolding agendum, he can be overcoming if he is becoming more like Christ!" ("Overcome ... Even As I Also Overcame," Ensign, May 1987, 72)
"When I contemplate the rapidity with which the great and glorious day of the coming of the Son of Man advances, when he shall come to receive his Saints unto himself, where they shall dwell in his presence and be crowned with glory and immortality, when I consider that soon the heavens are to be shaken and the earth tremble and reel to and fro and that the heavens are to be unfolded as a scroll when it is rolled up, that every mountain and island are to flee away-I cry out in my heart, 'What manner of person ought I to be in all holy conversation and godliness!'" (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 210.)
2 Peter 3:12 the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved
How will the heavens be destroyed? How could they be completely dissolved? In order to correctly understand what is meant, we need to understand that the term heavens in this passage refers to the earth's immediate atmosphere and not the heavens in which God dwells. In the scriptures, the term heaven is used to refer to our immediate atmosphere, 'the fowl...may fly above the earth in the open expanse of heaven' (Abr. 4:20, Gen. 1:20).
Joseph Fielding Smith
"The passing away of the heavens has reference to the heavens which surround the earth, not the sidereal heavens. So we have a key to the meaning of one earth passing away and another coming. As our earth shall pass away and receive its resurrection, so has it been with other earths and so will it be with earths yet to come. They will be re-created, made eternal and find a place perpetually which the Lord has designed for them in the sidereal heavens. These great orbs that we see in the heavens are not 'passing away.' Most of them evidently have attained their state of permanency. They have filled the measure of temporal probation as this earth is now filling its probation of mortality, and when its work is finished as a temporal earth it will be exalted. Likewise will others be exalted as countless earths have been and have attained their state of immortality." (Man, His Origin and Destiny [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 274 - 275.)
2 Peter 3:13 we...look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness
Joseph Fielding Smith
"There is a strange doctrine in the world concerning the resurrection even among those who believe there will be a reuniting of the spirit and body, which is to the effect that only the righteous will come forth to receive rewards of exaltation. This, however, is a misunderstanding. Through the atonement wrought by the Son of God, our Savior, the resurrection is a complete restoration of all things mortal, even of this earth itself on which we stand. The earth is to be purified and become the abode of the righteous. Peter understood this doctrine and in his second epistle made the following statement: (quotes 2 Peter 3:10-13.)
"Let us not misunderstand this expression. The new heaven and new earth will be the same heaven and the same earth on which we now sojourn, for this earth is to receive the resurrection after this day of mortality and be the abode of the righteous in eternity. Without the revelations of the Lord given to men, this truth would not be made known. Neither would we have knowledge of the final glory to which this earth will be assigned." (Conference Report, October 1964, First Day-Morning Meeting 7.)
2 Peter 3:15-16 our beloved brother Paul wrote some things which are hard to understand
The secret to understanding Paul-or for that matter Peter, James, or John-is the same secret that Nephi gave us for understanding Isaiah. For Nephi, understanding Isaiah was easy because his prophecies 'are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy' (2 Ne. 25:4). By this spirit, even Paul is easy to understand. Without it the 'unlearned and unstable wrest' the scriptures 'unto their own destruction.'
Neal A. Maxwell
"President Joseph Fielding Smith once warned:
'It is very evident from a thorough study of the gospel and the plan of salvation that a conclusion that those who accepted the Savior were predestined to be saved no matter what the nature of their lives must be an error. ... Surely Paul never intended to convey such a thought. ... This might have been one of the passages in Paul's teachings which cause Peter to declare that there are in Paul's writings, `some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction` ' (Improvement Era, May 1963, p. 350; see 2 Pet. 3:16).
"Paul stressed running life's race the full distance; he did not intend a casual Christianity in which some had won even before the race started!" ("A More Determined Discipleship," Ensign, Feb. 1979, 70)