17 “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)
2 Peter 3:17-18 are the last recorded and biblical words to come from the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter. These verses were the foundation of a radio teaching ministry, Growing in Grace, the Lord allowed me to be a part of for over ten years in the greater northeast Indiana region. I will always look back with fondness when I remember all who were a part of that undertaking.
The word “therefore” again forms the basis of a conclusion (2 Peter 3:14). These two verses form Peter’s concluding thoughts to the believers who likely were the recipients of both of his letters (I Peter 1:1-2). They were believers who encountered persecution but also false teachers. Perhaps, the false teachers were involved in the persecution these believers experienced.
These people were “beloved” by the apostle and by God. The word beloved (ἀγαπητοί; agapetoi) has frequently occurred in 2 Peter 3 (see vs. 1, 8, 14, 15). It means the object of an individual’s affection. This affection not only comes from Peter, but most importantly from God.
Peter wants the beloved believers to know and understand something before it happens. They already know it presently but they are also to prepare their minds for it to occur in the future.
What believers are to know and understand is that they are to take care (φυλάσσεσθε; phylassesthe), guard closely and stay away from false teaching which can carry them away from the truth of God. To be carried away (συναπαχθέντες; synapachtheentes) means to be led astray, to participate in and associate with error (πλάνῃ; plane) which is misleading and deceptive belief, teaching or doctrine.
Misleading and deceptive belief, teaching or doctrine originates from lawless people. Lawless people (ἀθέσμων; athesmon) are those who refuse to submit to law or God. In other words, they reject God’s Word because they reject God (Romans 1:18-32).
The concern Peter has for believers to “take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people” is so that they will lose their own stability. To lose (ἐκπέσητε; ekpesete) means to actively forsake and fall away from stability. Stability (στηριγμοῦ; sterigmou) is a place and position of safety. It is having a firm and stable position. The believer’s stability is upon the Word of God and the teachings from and of false teachers.
As a young Bible college student, I commuted to Detroit Bible College from my home. During my drive time back home from classes, I often had the opportunity to listen to the radio program Through the Bible which featured the Bible teaching ministry of Dr. J. Vernon McGee. What a blessing!
The theme song for the program was the hymn How Firm a Foundation. This classic hymn parallels the Apostle Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:17.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He hath said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.
Soli deo Gloria!