Lesson 23 – Particular Redemption
In this study we will examine II Peter 3:9 and endeavor to obtain the correct meaning:“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
This scripture is commonly used to teach that God desires the whole human race to be saved. He does not will that any human being should perish, but that they should all come to repentance. He is delaying His Second Coming to give each and every human being an opportunity to repent.
This, as I said, is the commonly-held view of this scripture. The vast majority of people who hold this view admit that not everyone will actually come to repentance even though God wants them to. In fact, most of them teach that the vast majority of the human race will perish even though it is God’s will that they be saved.
This scripture doesn’t even come close to teaching this commonly-held view.
To help us in our study, we will review some of the principles of Biblical Interpretation that were introduced in our last study sheet.
First, we must see who is doing the writing and to whom he is writing. From
II Peter 1:1, we can see that the writer is Simon Peter and that the ones to whom he was writing were “them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Notice the use of the word “us” in verses 3 and 4. Peter also used the words “your” (v. 5), “you” (v. 8), “brethren” (v. 10).
Then, in chapter three, he referred to those to whom he was writing as “beloved” (II Peter 3:1). It is obvious that the “scoffers” of II Peter 3:3 are distinct from the beloved.
All this shows that Peter was writing to children of God. The “beloved” of verse 8 are the same as the “usward” of 3:9. When God is long-suffering (delaying His second coming), His long-suffering is exercised on behalf of His children.
Another rule of Scripture interpretation was that the Bible never contradicts itself. But the commonly held view of II Peter 3:9 involves just such a contradiction. Daniel 4:35 tells us that God “doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.”
Ephesians 1:11 says that He “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.”
Philippians 2:13 plainly states, “for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”
These Scriptures plainly teach that God will do His will and that His will is never disappointed or frustrated. Therefore, if as is said in II Peter 3:9, that He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” it is plain that none of God’s children will perish but that all shall come to repentance.
Repentance is a basic change of mind and is one of the gifts that God gives to His people in the new birth. See Acts 5:31; 11:18. A man can’t repent unless God gives him this ability (which He does give to all His children). See Hebrews 12:17; Revelation 16:9,11.
The text in II Peter 3:9 also says God is “not willing that any should PERISH.” This reminds one of Matthew 18:14 where it is said: “Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” (From the context – Matthew 18:11-13, it is obvious that the “sheep” are under consideration). Christ also said concerning His sheep, “and they shall never perish” (John 10:28). The “sheep” are the ones for whom Christ died (John 10:11).
Therefore, if any of the ones of II Peter 3:9 perished contrary to the will of God, Scripture would again contradict itself.
To sum up in a few words, this is the meaning of II Peter 3:9. The Lord is delaying His Second Coming even though the world is getting increasingly ungodly. He is delaying His coming because of His attribute of long-suffering. He is long-suffering because He is waiting for every one of His children (the “usward”) to be born into the world and then to be brought to repentance (when they are born again).
I will close with this quotation from AN EXPOSITION OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, vol. 6, p. 872, by John Gill: “And upon account of these (the elect) the Lord stays His coming till their number is complete in effectual vocation; and for their sakes he is long-suffering to others, and bears with a wicked world . . . but when the last man that belongs to that number (the elect) is called, He will quickly descend in flames of fire, and burn the world and the wicked in it, and take His chosen ones to Himself.”
We have memorized Matthew 1:21; John 10:11; Matthew 20:28; Hebrews 9:12; I Peter 1:18-19; I Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:28; II Corinthians 5:21; and Galatians 3:13.
Let us memorize I Peter 3:18.