2 Peter 3:4
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep…
The principle which actuated these scoffers, leading them to irreligion and self-indulgence upon the ground that the promises and threats professing to emanate from Divine authority were unfulfilled, is the same principle which was embodied in the ancient proverb, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." It must be remembered that what is a promise to the loyal subject is a threat to the rebel. The second coming of Christ will be for the salvation of the righteous, but for the confusion of the impenitent offender.
I. THE MEANING OF THE PROMISE.
1. This is definite enough in itself, and has been and is firmly held by the whole Church. A sincere belief in the first advent of the Son of God leads to a belief in his second advent, as plainly foretold both by our Lord and by his apostles.
2. But, though definite in itself, the promise of Christ's second coming is by no means definite in circumstances or in time. This is apparent from the diversity of view prevailing upon these points in many periods of the Church's history. How and when Christ shall come are matters of secondary interest as compared with the fact that he shall come.
II. THE GIVER OF Tile PROMISE. The value of any promise depends upon the character of him by whom it is given, and not upon his character only, but also upon his ability and resources. Now, the promise in question has been given by a Promiser who is in the highest degree faithful and powerful, even by him who is eternal and unfailing Truth. The voice has been that of the Son, of the inspired prophets and apostles; but the counsel declared has been the counsel of the all-wise God.
III. THE DELAY IN THE FULFILMENT OF THE PROMISE. No doubt there has been a constant coming of the Lord Christ by his Spirit, both in judgment and rebuke, and also in mercy and deliverance. Yet the coming is still in the future. If the primitive Christians were in some instances impatient because their glowing hopes were not fulfilled, what wonder if, now and again - as for example in times of depression and in times of persecution - the hearts of the faithful have called for the appearance of the Redeemer, in fervent prayer, in ardent song! Can we be surprised if it has sometimes been lost sight of, that "with God one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day"?
IV. THE ABUSE OF THIS DELAY BY MOCKERS AND SCOFFERS. From the first such persons have asked," Where is the promise?" Unbelief has taken the form of ridicule. And, even worse, the fear of judgment has been to some extent cast off. Like the servants who, finding that their lord delayed his coming, began to eat, drink, and be drunken, and to abuse their fellow-servants, so the scoffers have flung aside every restraint, have spurned every check, and have abandoned themselves to the indulgence of their carnal lusts.
V. THE POWER AND INSPIRATION OF THE PROMISE. That which to one is the occasion of scoffing is to another the inducement to every Christian virtue. Faith rests upon the first advent; Hope stretches forth her hands towards the second advent. There may be mentioned among the fruits of this blessed promise:
1. Patient endurance of privations and sufferings which are known to be temporary.
2. Faithful fulfillment of the appointed stewardship, in preparation for the approaching account.
3. Quiet disregard of all the scoffs and mockeries of unbelievers. - J.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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 the creation.