Below is a brief exegesis of 2 Peter 3:9, a commonly misunderstood and misused passage of scripture. More times than not, it’s the “go to” verse to disprove the concept of election. Ironically, it’s a passage that DEPENDS on and ASSUMES election, as you’ll see.
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.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise,” to come again, deliver us from this world, and destroy the universe by fire. Jesus isn’t late or tardy, He has a purpose in waiting.
“as some men count slackness;” specifically, the scoffers already predicted by Peter (2 Pe 3:3), who mock the concept of Jesus’ second coming.
“but is longsuffering to us-ward,” Us-ward being the elect. Peter wrote 2 Peter to the same audience (2 Pe 3:1) as his first Epistle, 1 Peter, which was a letter written to elect strangers (1 Pe 1:2), scattered abroad several regions, likely because of persecution. Therefore, the “us” under consideration is the elect.
“not willing that any should perish,” God is unwilling for the elect to perish in the second coming. In fact, not one of them will be lost. All the Father gave to Christ shall come to Him, and in no wise be cast out (Jno 6:37). This doesn’t mean “God doesn’t prefer” but rather, “God will not allow.”
“but that all should come to repentance.” That is, all the elect – the us in the context – shall come to a gracious state. He refers to it as repentance here (a noun), because regeneration brings a marked change in nature. Prior, we are dead in sin. After, we are new creatures in Christ. Our stony hearts are exchanged for hearts of flesh, the laws of God are written on our hearts, and our hearts are circumcised. In the new birth, we receive the “washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” This change is what Peter is referring to in 2 Peter 3:9. Are all regenerated people super-saints who continually grow in holiness to a near sinless perfection in this life? No, a thousand times. But the new birth is the greatest change we experience between conception and death.
The intent of this verse is to express the idea that though it will be at least two thousand years (2 Pe 3:8) between the time of Peter’s writing and the second coming of Christ. Jesus isn’t slack (late, tardy) in His promise to return. He’s waiting (longsuffering) for the last heir of promise to be born again.
To listen to a full length radio program about this verse, click here.
Originally published March 2019