The Evangelical Universalist Forum

2 Peter 3:9

A friend of mine who does not believe in EU, believes that the logic of 2 Peter 3 is against the possibility of repentance after death.

His logic seems to run something like this
1 The Lord wants people to repent
2 He is being patient, not coming in judgement so more people can repent
3 If people are able to repent after He comes back again, then 2 doesn’t make sense.

Any thoughts please to help? Thanks.


All the verse is saying is that God wants people to repent now, and is holding off on judgement. It says nothing that if they can repent later then he doesn’t care if they don’t repent now.

I don’t see the verse are ruling out God’s ability to have mercy on people after the judgement. I simply see him saying if they don’t repent they won’t escape the judgement and God’s granted them time to do so now.

Thanks Auggy.

So it seems your emphasis is on the now aspect. God wants people to repent now, not later on, not after death and judgement. It doesn’t mean they can’t repent later. He wants people to avoid the “destruction of ungodly men” v7 and “perishing” v9 or the “zorching” as Jason calls it, so he wants them to repent now. I think I can see this and agree with you…

If that is so, a question that my friend has not raised but is in my mind…
EU’s often say that God is able to achieve His desires, will or purpose, and not be thwarted by the free will of people. Would it be correct to think that God has desires that are not always achieved (like people repenting now, and not later) in the short term, but that He will eventually achieve them because He continues to be loving and patient and powerful?

I have three children, all of whom I love very much, all of whom are in rebellion against God. This breaks my heart. I am not exaggerating; it is more painful than I could ever tell you. I understand in my small way what Father must be going through. :cry: He wants them to come home NOW. So do I! He would like for all people to be among the elect (imo those who are granted the high calling of God in Christ Jesus – the ministry of reconciliation – being part of the bride of Christ – participating in the wedding feast, etc. So would I!

It’s very, very difficult for me to imagine why anyone would say, “Why would you evangelize then, if they’ll all be saved in the end anyway?” In my mind, this question of your friend’s is in that vein. In the words of a recently popular song, “Still the greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose You now.” Those who come along later will probably miss out on the Messianic age (it would seem – I’m not quite sure how that all fits together – maybe I’m wrong – I hope so!) There is certainly every motivation to get the kids home now. Every moment He (and we) has to wait is PAINFUL.

Of course, if He HAD come back when Paul thought He would, would any of us be here? I suppose you could argue that we are all of us “in Adam” and have been from the beginning of the earth, so perhaps the eons of non-actualized children will somehow be added to the family of God even after the Day of the Lord. I don’t know. It’s a mystery – and not one of the mysteries that Paul was given to pass on to us who are living (I suspect) at the end of the age.

I’ve actually wondered about that verse too, since becoming Kath. It fit well enough when I was Arm; I’m not so sure it goes with Calv though. My instinct is that He desires, as do any of us who have lost friends and loved ones, for as many as WILL come TO come in THIS age.

Since some people clearly do not repent before death, and God wants everyone to be saved, they have to repent afterwards. That to me is obvious.

It’s like a sign I saw at a petrol station a few weeks ago, “Alcohol purchased here may not be consumed inside or outside the premises.” Er, what was that? My house is outside the premises, Mongolia is outside the premises, Proxima Cantauri is outside the premises. The entire universe is divided into points which are inside the premises, and points that are outside. If alcohol cannot be consumed either inside or outside then it cannot be consumed at all anywhere at all, ever, by anybody, and it’s a bit of a nugget for them to charge for booze that you can’t drink. Of course what they really meant was, “If you buy plonk here don’t drink it in the shop or on our forecourt, take it somewhere else.”

However back to my real point. I do believe in totally irresistible grace. When life goes GAME OVER (and it’s looking uncomfortably close as I get older) I shall see God, but without a body that gets tired and cross, and without the emotional baggage of a childhood at a miserable boarding school, where Anglicanism was run in a way that hid its light under not a bushel, but a complete dunghill of meaningless ritual, bad music, worse architecture and creepy clerics. Not only will I see perfectly, but I shall see without the reasons for looking the other way. But what if someone still chooses to reject grace? Will God take away their freedom? I think not, but on the other hand given perfect knowledge and perfect mental equipment to understand it what other decision could anyone make?

That’s not the point. The real killer question is “What decision will we reach now?” Given limited information will we choose for or against God?

Back to the original verse. God will have everyone repent. Not everyone does it in this life, so some must do it in the next. That can’t be what the verse is about. What would happen if God punched the big red switch and stopped the universe now? Specifically what would happen to all the people who would never be born, and hence never have a chance to enter a relationship with God? Heaven would look a bit empty without all the trillions from the first, second and third galactic empires that we haven’t got to yet.

“You guarantee you can cure my cancer?”

“Correct. I will cure you. Now drink the medicine.”

“But if you will cure me sooner or later, if this is an absolute guarantee, it logically cannot matter what I do. Therefore, I have no need of your nasty concoctions!”

“On the contrary. You have every need. I will cure this disease because, untreated, it quickly becomes unbearable, and when it does, you will choose to drink the medicine. But why do it this way? Why put yourself through hell? Come. Be reasonable. Trust me. Drink it now. Today.”

Excellent principle summary Allen!

I’d want to check the grammar more closely, but it certainly seems to contradict the idea of the Calv elect, at least! But since the Calvs can point to places where God promises to save whoever He intends to save and not finally lose them, the two testimonies put together equal we-know-what. :wink:

That being the case, the perishing (which I suspect is in present-tense continuing, although I’m away from my sources and can’t verify that yet) refers to sin and its results: of course we and other people would be better off saved from that sooner than later, but that doesn’t mean the “later” involves a hopeless result.

In other words, regardless of the specific grammar there, we know from other scriptures that we’re already perishing NOW, and yet God can save us from that in any of various ways (even though we’ll all have to perish in at least one way eventually, even if there’s a rapture for some of us at some time–we may not all sleep, but we will all be changed.)

So perishing is not a hopeless situation in itself, immune from the salvation of God. But certainly it’s better to avoid the more extended results.

Thanks everyone for your really helpful comments.

I agree that this passage is awkward for Calvinists- especially 5-pointers. My friend is a sort of 4-pointer, not agreeing with limited atonement. He somehow believes God does sincerely desire everyone to repent v9, while only electing some to salvation and enabling only some to repent.

Something I find interesting about this passage is that it says things are going to happen to the present heaven and earth like "reserved for fire’ v7, “destroyed by fire” v10, “destroyed” v11, “destruction by fire” v12 that sound very similar to the “zorching” of the ungodly -“destruction” v10 .
But we know that the present heaven and earth will not be eternally suffering but will be renewed v13. I don’t understand why people think that the same could not happen to the “ungodly” of v7.

Sorry to hear that your three children have not yet come home to Father. I pray with you that this might happen soon.

I love your illustration. Thanks.

I thought about mentioning that, too, but I wanted to check my sources here at work first; you beat me to it! :sunglasses:

Reporting: the grammar doesn’t seem to involve an ongoing state of perishing, so refers to an event in the future at 3:9. Not that this makes much difference, as we know from other verses that sinners are already in the state of perishing – the mode ramps up eventually for anyone impenitent of their sins, but all sides agree with that.

Since we are talking about 2 Peter 3, though, how about verses 15-18?–where Peter warns that although St. Paul speaks things difficult to understand, there are those who twist his words and the rest of the scriptures to their own destruction.

Naturally we get this quoted against us on occasion, but that’s ironic because the topic is explicitly about deeming the {makrothemia} of the Lord as salvation in agreement with what Paul writes to us concerning these things. But Peter has just previously said that God in His patience intends all to come to salvation! Arminians quote that verse 3:9 to show the scope of God’s salvation; Calvinists quote 3:15 as a warning not to regard the {makrothemia} of the Lord as resulting in less than salvation from sin. Universalists, believing both testimony, do not then turn around to find ways to twist verse 9 to mean less than full scope, nor to twist verse 15 to mean less than full assurance of success!–it is the Calvinists and Arminians (respectively) who do that, as well as in regard to the things said by St. Paul about God’s scope and persistence in salvation. :wink:

Updated to add: now a contributing thread in my Exegetical Compliation series. :sunglasses:

I’m a preterist, so my explanations of ‘threatening’ Bible passages are going to be different than most folks’.

I think the verse is about the impending calamity God would bring upon Israel via the Romans. Followers of Christ would know what signs to look for and how they should act to avoid perishing in the conflict.

Luke 21 (CLNT)
20 "Now whenever you may be perceiving Jerusalem surrounded by encampments, then know that her desolation is near.
21 Then let those in Judea flee into the mountains, and let those in her midst be coming out into the country, and let not those in the country be entering into her,
22 for days of vengeance are these, to fulfill all that is written.