2Pe 3:15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,
2Pe 3:16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
In Peter’s writings we come across this strange passage. A few things are of note here.
-Paul is teaching something that Peter seems not to be teaching, a teaching unique to Paul.
-Paul has wrote to the very same people before Peter wrote to them.
-Peter refers to this strange teaching being in “all” Paul’s epistles.
-These teachings are hard to understand
-Unlearned individuals “wrest” these teachings to their own destruction (probably he means hell)
So what are these strange teachings? Acts 2 dispensationalists claim that this is Paul’s teachings of Gentile and Jewish equality. But does this fit the bill?
-Does Peter teach it? If not, then why? And how does Peter think the Jewish-Gentile dynamic works?
-Is Paul’s teaching of Jewish-Gentile equality in most or all his epistles?
-Does that teaching cause people to go astray? In what way do they go astray? If destruction refers to damnation, how does a misunderstanding of the Jewish-Gentile dynamic cause one to go to hell?
-If Peter is referring to the Jewish Gentile position, how does that fit with the very next verse:
2Pe 3:17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;
Peter talks about falling from steadfastness. He talks about the “wicked” and being led away. How would a misunderstanding of Paul’s teaching (of Jews and Gentiles being equal) lead people away from the truth?
The verse just prior to this, also deals with works:
2Pe 3:14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;
So, Peter goes from talking about being without spot and blameless, to talking about Paul teaching things that are hard to understand leading some people astray, then he talks about being steadfast and resisting the wicked. It would be odd if Peter just lumps in an unrelated segment about Jewish and Gentile equality, something he does not even address elsewhere in the letter, between two verses on works. But this is what the Acts 2 dispensationalists have to force into the text, they cannot say that late in Peter’s ministry he did not teach and understand salvation by faith alone. They would rather “who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”
Certain Covenant Theologians seem to be closer to the mark. They claim that Paul taught something which people took for lawlessness, salvation by faith alone without needing any works. They claim he was misunderstood, and that individuals do have to do works to be saved after believing. These Covenant Theologians, to their credit, take 2 Peter at face value. It is a shame they do not also take Paul at face value.
The best way to understand 2 Peter is that there was struggle between Paul and the Apostles. Paul taught a new dispensation, one without works and one of individual specific salvation to heaven. The apostles, on the other hand, taught what Jesus taught: a coming salvation on earth through an apocalyptic event. The apostles were still teaching that people should be “in holy conduct and godliness… looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God”. They were looking for “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
When Paul teaches, his focus is on salvation by faith alone. When the apostles teach, their focus is on reforming individual’s lives to prepare for the apocalypse.