The Apostle Peter concluded his final message to believers with some instructions and a word of encouragement about the second coming of Christ. He started out by saying, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after 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” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Peter’s second epistle is believed to have been written around 65-68 A.D., so it had been approximately 35 years since Jesus’ resurrection. Everyone that was alive when Jesus died thought he was going to come back before the end of their lives, especially the twelve apostles. Peter was probably thinking of his own imminent death and wanted believers to understand that death was still going to be a part of their lives.
Peter compared the return of Christ with the flood that killed everyone on planet Earth except Noah and his family. He said, “Long ago the earth was covered with water and it was destroyed. But the heaven we see now and the earth we live on now have been kept by His word. They will be kept until they are to be destroyed by fire. They will be kept until the day men stand before God and sinners will be destroyed.” (2 Peter 3:6-7, NLV). Peter associated Christ’s return with a type of purification that would rid the earth of all ungodliness, but he also let people know that Jesus’ second coming was not something they should be getting excited about because it still might be a long way in the future. He said, “Dear friends, remember this one thing, with the Lord one day is as 1,000 years, and 1,000 years are as one day” (2 Peter 3:8, NLV).
Peter went on to explain that the reason Jesus had not yet returned and might not return for quite some time was that he was letting as many people get saved as he possibly could. He said, “The Lord is not slow about keeping His promise as some people think. He is waiting for you. The Lord does not want any person to be punished forever. He wants all people to be sorry for their sins and turn from them” (2 Peter 3:9, NLV). Peter noted that even though Jesus might not come back for a long time, his return would happen suddenly and expectantly like “a thief in the night” (2 Peter 3:10) and he instructed believers to be “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:12, NKJV). In other words, Peter was saying that believers should expect Jesus to return at any moment and be diligent to share their faith with others because they will be held accountable for their work for Christ’s kingdom (2 Peter 3:14).