Archive for the ‘2 Peter 3:9’ Category


John Davenant (1572–1641) on 2 Peter 3:9

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


[2 Pet. 3:9.]

Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, &c.

This Scripture is not so liable to the exceptions against the former testimony. For it is a negative proposition, and must be taken distributively: and therefore speaks that in plain terms which is contrary to absolute reprobation.1

That which is usually replied, is, that the persons here spoken of, are the elect only, and such as truly believe; God is not willing that any of them should perish.

But the contrary appears in the text. For the persons here mentioned, are those toward whom God exercises much patience and long-suffering, as it is in the words next going before And who are they? Are they the elect? Are they believers only? No, but reprobates rather, who die for their contempt of grace. For it is apparent by Scriptures, that God does patiently expect the conversion even of them that are never changed, but die in their sins: as we may see, 1 Pet 3:19, 20, where we read that the patience of God was exercised towards those, who in the days of Noah despised it, and went to prison, that is to hell for it. Yea, of all men, reprobates are the truest and most proper objects of God’s patience: as we may see, Rom. 2:4, where St. Paul speaking of such as go in sin, that God uses patience towards them, “that he might lead them to repentance.” And, Rom. 9:22, “He endures,” says the text, “with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted with destruction.” In the fifth of Isaiah, vers. 2, and in the 65th chap. vers 2, we may see the same thing. Reprobates therefore as well as others, nay rather than others, does Peter here speak of, and says, that God would have none of them perish: If they do perish, it is their own fault and folly, and not God’s absolute pleasure, who would have no man perish.

John Davenant, Animadversions Written By the Right Reverend Father in God, John, Lord Bishop of Sarisbury, upon a Treatise intitled “God’s love to Mankind,” (London: Printed for Iohn Partridge, 1641), 158-159. [Some spelling modernized; marginal Scripture reference cited inline; italics original; and, footnote mine.]


1[Here Davenant rehearses the objection to election and reprobation.]


1. The Terms “Will” and “All.” 2. The Gospel is for Jews and Gentiles Alike. 3. The Term “World” is Used in Various Senses. 4. General Considerations.


It may be asked, Is not the doctrine of Predestination flatly contradicted by the Scriptures which declare that Christ died for “all men,” or for “the whole world,” and that God wills the salvation of all men? In 1 Tim. 2:3, 4 Paul refers to “God our Saviour, who would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (And the word “all,” we are dogmatically informed by our opponents, must mean every human being.) In Ezek. 33:11 we read, “As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live”; and in II Peter 3:9 we read that God is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The King James Version reads, “Not willing that any should perish. . . .”

These verses simply teach that God is benevolent, and that He does not delight in the sufferings of His creatures any more than a human father delights in the punishment which he must sometimes inflict upon his son. God does not decretively will the salvation of all men, no matter how much He may desire it; and if any verses taught that He decretively willed or intended the salvation of all men, they would contradict those other parts of the Scripture which teach that God sovereignly rules and that it is His purpose to leave some to be punished.

The word “will” is used in different senses in Scripture and in our every day conversation. It is sometimes used in the sense of “decree,” or “purpose,” and sometimes in the sense of “desire,” or “wish.” A righteous judge does not will (desire) that anyone should be hanged or sentenced to prison, yet at the same time he wills (pronounced sentence, or decrees) that the guilty person shall be thus punished. In the same sense and foe sufficient reasons a man may will or decide to have a limb removed, or an eye taken out, even though he certainly does not desire it. The Greek words thelo and boulomai, which are sometimes translated “will,” are also used in the sense of “desire,” or “wish;” e.g., Jesus said to the mother of James and John, “What wouldest thou?” Matt. 20:21; of the scribes it was said they “desire to walk in long robes,” Luke 20:46; certain of the Scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we would see a sign from thee,” Matt. 12:38; Paul said, “I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue,” I Cor. 14:19.

Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, (Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Comp. 1981), 287.


Thomas R. Schrener on 2 Peter 3:9

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


3:9 The first part of v. 9 draws an implication from v. 8. If God does not reckon or indeed experience time as we do, then it follows that he is not slow about keeping his promise (cf. Hab. 2:3). The promise (epangelia), of course, hearkens back to v. 4 and refers to the promise of the Lord’s coming. God, that is, the Father, is not dilatory in fulfilling the promise uttered about his Son’s coming again. The Son will come as promised, but the apparent slowness should not be misunderstood. The phrase "as some understand slowness" could possibly refer to those in the churches wavering under the influence of the false teachers.50 More likely the reference is to the false teachers themselves, referring to them negatively as "some" who lack an understanding of God’s ways.51 The verse may be highly ironic. The false teachers use God’s patience as an argument against God, when it should lead them to repentance.52

Peter explained why the coming is delayed. God is patient with his people. Notice that the verse says "patient with you (eis hymas). The reason for his patience is then explicated. He does not want "anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." The idea that God is patient so that people will repent is common in the Scriptures (Joel 2:12-13; Rom. 2:4). That he is "slow to anger" is a refrain repeated often (Exod 34:6; Num 14:18; Neh 9:17; Psa 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 3:10; 4:2; Nah 1:3), but he will not delay forever (see esp. Sir 35:18). We should note at the outset that perishing (apolesthai) refers to eternal judgment, as is typical with the term. Repentance (metanoia), correspondingly, involves the repentance that is necessary for eternal life. Peter did not merely discuss rewards that some would receive if they lived faithfully. He directed his attention to whether people would be saved from God’s wrath. We must also ask who was in view when he spoke of "anyone" (tinas) perishing and "all" (pantas) coming to repentance. One option is that he considered every person without exception. Some understand 1 Tim 2:4 similarly, "God . . . wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."53 We do not have space to comment on the text is 1 Timothy here, but we should note that debate exists over the meaning of "all men" in 1 Tim 2:4 as well. Or we can think of Ezek 18:32: "For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!" (cf. also 18:23) In this latter instance God’s regret over the perishing of anyone is clear. Nevertheless, we have to ask whether the verse in 2 Peter has the same meaning as the texts in Ezekiel. If it does, how does this fit with the teaching that God has ordained and decreed that only some will be saved? Many scholars, of course, doubt that the Scripture teaches that God ordains that only some will be saved, but in my estimation the Scriptures teach that God ordains that only some will be saved, but in my estimation the Scriptures do clearly teach such an idea (cf. John 6:37, 44-45, 65; 10:16, 26; Acts 13:48; Rom 8:29-30; 9:1-23; Eph 1:4-5, 11, etc.).54 Space does not permit a full answer to this question, but an answer that has a long pedigree in church history suffices. We must distinguish between two different senses in God’s will. There is a decretive will of God and a desired will of God. God desires the salvation of all in one sense, but he does not ultimately ordain that all will be saved. Many think this approach is double-talk and outright nonsense.55 Again, space forbids us from answering this question in detail, but this view has been recently and convincingly argued by J. Piper.56 He demonstrates that such distinctions in God’s will are not the result of philosophical sleight of hand but careful biblical exegesis.

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My friend Tony Byrne (whose most excellent blog, Theological Meditations, I highly recommendrecently posted some criticisms of Dr. James White, which garnered a response from White. The point in dispute is the proper interpretation of 2 Peter 3:9. White has objected to some aspectsof Byrne’s logical analysis of the categories involved, (believers, unbelievers, elect, etc.) and Byrne is well able to defend himself on those points. In this post, I seek to analyze White’s approach to hermeneutics and the proper understanding of the context of the verse.

The Verse in Dspute is 2 Peter 3:9:

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Or as it is translated by the NASB:

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

White advocates the idea that “any” and “all” of 2 Peter 3:9 refers to “any elect person” and “all elect persons.” The process of thought that leads to this conclusion is suspect and most certainly has led many to bad ideas about the verse. I will respond to White’s two main arguments and make a positive case for seeing “any” and “all” as addressed to all men generally, believers and unbelievers, elect and non-elect.

Some Passages Are More Equal Than Others

White’s first argument is that 2 Peter 3:9 occurs in a context that is primarily eschatological, not soteriological. Since the verse is not primarily soteriological, it is "illogical," he says, to "demand deep specificity and great depth of information" about salvation from the verse. That is, White believes it is illogical to make deep inquiries about soteriology in this passage that primarily teaches eschatology. I have always thought this concept to be destructive to good reading. In my opinion, it is illogical to impose restrictions on possible meanings–provided the meanings are legitimately drawn from the text–because of the topic of the context of the statement. Context may be king, but White’s rule makes context a wicked tyrant, depriving statements of their rights.

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Matthew Henry (1662-1714) on 2 Peter 3:9 with Ezekiel 33:11

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


Q. 20. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the state of sin and misery ?

A. God having out of his mere good pleasure from all eternity elected some to eternal life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of a state of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation by a Redeemer.

1. Might not God justly have left all mankind to perish in their fallen state? Yes: for in his sight shall no man living be justified, Ps. cxliii. 2. Would God have been a loser by it, if they had been left to perish? No: for, can a man be profitable to God? Job xxii. 2. But did he leave them to perish ? No: for the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appears, Tit. iii. 4. Was the case of fallen angels helpless and desperate? Yes: for God spared not them, 2 Pet. ii. 4. But is the case of fallen man so ? No: for he is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, 2 Pet. iii. 9. Is God’s patience a token for good ? Yes: the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation, 2 Pet. iii. 15. Does it appear that God has a good will to man’s salvation? Yes: As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that he turn and live, Ezek. xxxiii. 11. Is this an encouragement to us all to hope in his mercy? Yes: for if the Lord had been pleased to kill us, he would not have showed us such things as these, Judg. xiii. 23.

Matthew Henry, “A Scripture Catechism in the Method of the Assembly’s,” in The Complete Works of Matthew Henry, (Grand Rapids Michigan: Baker, 1978), 2:190.