Ralph Wardlaw (1779-1853) on 2 Peter 3:9

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in 2 Peter 3:9


2 Pet. iii. 9. There are two ways in which these words may be explained. [1.] The apostle may be considered as

speaking of the elect, of those -whom it is God’s purpose to bring to salvation, and of them as constituting a community of which he was himself a member, “long-suffering to us-ward,” in the same way in which Paul uses the expression: “We who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord.”1 This community is composed of many who are yet to live in the successive generations of mankind. God is “not willing that any” of these, the objects of His gracious purpose of salvation, “should perish,” etc.: the very purpose for which the world is spared being that they may all be brought in due time, and put in possession of the covenant blessings. [2.] Much depends on the sense affixed to the term willing, “not willing that any should perish,” etc. Hence a most general and comprehensive interpretation of the words may be fairly maintained. We have already viewed God as a Sovereign Benefactor, and as a righteous Governor. Under the former character He wills, that is, He absolutely determines, the salvation of a certain member, and secures the accomplishment of His gracious purpose. But it does not follow that in the latter character He wills the perdition of any. I mean, that as a Governor, in awarding punishments, He does not at all act in sovereignty. Sovereignty relates to the bestowment of good, not to the infliction of evil. A sovereign purpose to save we can understand; but a sovereign purpose to destroy is revolting and contradictory. It is not in consequence of any absolute sovereign act of His will that any sinner perishes. In no such sense does He will the death of the sinner. In the rectoral administration of God, salvation is set before all without difference, and is put within their reach, and pressed upon their acceptance. If any perish in these circumstances, they owe their perdition to the free, unconstrained, and uninfluenced choice of their own will rejecting the offer. God is under no obligation to save them; and they willfully destroy themselves. Again: Repentance is obviously in itself right and good. It must be in accordance with the rectoral will of God as the moral Governor of His creatures. All are by the Gospel called to repentance. There must, therefore, be a sense in which He is willing that all should come to repentance. This is His general will, His moral will, His rectoral will. And in this light, it is equally true of all His fallen creatures. It is true of devils as well as of men. If it was wrong for the angels to sin, it must be right for them to repent of their sin. It is impossible that God can ever will any thing else than what is in its own nature right and good; and repentance cannot in any case, where sin has been committed, be denied to be self-evidently right, and in this sense the holy God must will it. He ” commands all men, everywhere, to repent.”2 And if He wills repentance, He cannot will perdition, excepting as the merited consequence of impenitence and perseverance in sin.

Ralph Wardlaw, Systematic Theology, (Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1857), 2:477-479.  [Some spelling modernized, footnote values modified; and underlining mine.]


11 Thess. iv. 15, etc.

2Acts xvii. 30.

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