II Peter 2:15-16.
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Peter tells us, in v. 15, to take into account, or reckon up, that God’s patience in putting an end to all things gives the ongoing opportunity for people to turn to Him for salvation. He mentions Paul as teaching that same thing in his own epistles, with which Peter was clearly familiar.
We often mention to other believers that we are eager for the Lord to return and put an end to the ungodliness of this world. We fail to take into account, in the first place, that God is not bound by time. Second, we want Him to be ever patient with us while at the same time we want the unjust to be brought to judgment right now. I freely admit to feeling this way as I watch my beloved country spin out of control. We somehow feel that God ought still to be blessing America, in spite of the fact that we have legislated Him out of so much of civil life; and in spite of the blood of millions of babies being on our hands. This death spiral did not start in this century nor the last, but way before America was even thought of as anything more than a British colony. As a lover of history, I know that there was, and always has been, evil brewing in the hearts of mankind. Satan surely plays on that evil, twisting and turning it to his own advantage in his desperate and fruitless effort to destroy everything God loves.
Some people like to believe that Peter and Paul were at odds with each other. There was only one time that the scripture records in which Paul confronted Peter “to his face” in Galatians 2:11-13. Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers, something he would not have done under the Law, until some Judaizers came and questioned Peter’s practice. He felt awkward then, and refused to eat with the Gentiles again. Paul rebuked him for that hypocrisy because Peter was “clearly in the wrong.” We have no indication that Peter was then angry with Paul, or that these two giants clashed ever again. Peter refers to Paul in our passage today with great respect, saying that he was beloved, and wise.
How refreshing it would be if only we would follow the examples these to great men set for us. Paul confronted Peter openly, and personally. He did not go among the Gentile Christians complaining about Peter and accusing him behind his back. He went directly to Peter with his observation. Maybe he pointed out to Peter that Jesus ate with Gentiles quite often. We don’t know the exact words he used, not the words with which Peter responded. We do know that Peter spoke of Paul, as I said before, with great respect. Because Paul addressed the issue directly, Peter was not left to find out after the fact that Paul had been unhappy with him and had told many others how wrong Peter was.
I have been, more than once, the subject of just the opposite behavior. Someone has disagreed or been unhappy with me, and never come to me face to face. Instead, they have gone to those in authority and told them of my transgression. I never had the opportunity to address the issue with whoever accused me because they were protected by the authority to whom they went. It’s a terrible way to deal with someone who has offended you in some way, never really tying up loose ends or settling anything.
We ought to follow Paul’s example, and the clear teaching for this type of situation in Matthew 18:15-18.
I was going to address v. 16 today as well, but I think it best to wait until tomorrow. This has grown long enough 🙂