2 Peter 3:11-12 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
Realization that Jesus will come again, that the earth will be destroyed and people will be judged ought to be a strong motivation for how we live. In the New Testament there is always an ethical imperative connected with Jesus’ second coming. Peter indicates this with a rhetorical question with a strong answer. He is returning to the theme he started this letter with about living godly lives. Why should we seek to do this? The simple reason is that judgment is coming. We do not want to be found lacking. Peter may be remembering the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 24-25 that speak of his coming again and how his followers should be involved in the mission of reaching the world, caring for the poor, and sharing love. Verse 12 puts this in both a positive and negative way. In a positive way, we look forward to the day of God when Jesus returns as victorious Lord. This is when our battle will be over and God’s plan is completed. In a negative way, it will be a time of suffering and judgment as the heavens and earth are burned up and melted. The key idea is the question Peter asks: “What kind of people ought you to be?” This letter contains many challenges for interpretation. It seems harsh in many places. But Peter wants his readers to wake up and realize the seriousness of following the truth, believing the right teaching about Jesus, living in expectation of his return, and knowing God in Jesus leading to holy living. This is a letter that needs to be read as a whole and not in part. We have to keep the whole message in mind.
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