2 Peter 3:1-4 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior: knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 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 creation."
Peter, as he has done throughout this epistle, continues his exposure of, and warning against, false prophets - those preachers and teachers that pervert, alter, and misrepresent the inspired word of God for personal gain. He wants to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance. He wants all Christians to beware, to be alert, to always be on guard, in order to recognize those teaching error, and avoid being taken in, and deceived, by their message of vanity. Peter tells us that his warning is not the first given against false teachers. Prophets of all ages have given us similar warnings. Read Deuteronomy 13:1-5. Here we find this commandment of God regarding the message of a false teacher, Thou shalt not harken unto the words of that prophet. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ warned us: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Mat. 7:15), and again: And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many (Mat. 24:11). Also the apostle John had this warning, Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).
The warning by Peter applies to a specific period of history. He tells us that false teachers shall come in the last days. Without going in to great detail about the last days, we know these to be the days of the Christian dispensation, which began with the Holy Spirit-inspired teaching of the apostles of Christ on the Day of Pentecost, following the ascension of Christ Jesus back into Heaven. It was on this day that His church was established. This was the first day of the perior referred to as the last days.This can be established by many references, however the writer of the Hebrew letter sufficiently does this in the first two verses of this epistle. He writes, God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.
False teachers were called scoffers in the lesson text to identify their method of teaching. In order to win followers, who had believed and obeyed the word of God, false teachers would show their contempt by mocking and taunting righteous teachers, and making derisive remarks designed to cast doubt on their message. Jude warned against false teachers using this same method. He quotes the apostles as saying that there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts (Jude 18). A scoffer and a mocker are used interchangeably and have the same meaning.
In verse four of the lesson text, we find one of the mocking remarks scoffers, or false teachers, made to discredit the word of God: Where is the promise of His coming? One of the basic principles of New Testament Christianity is the second coming of Christ. Jesus told us of this event as recorded in the gospel of John:I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:2b-3). The apostle, Paul, tells us what will take place on that day. The Lord Jesus shall descend from heaven in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power (2 Thes. 8-9). The faithful are promised a home in heaven, while the disobedient are promised everlasting destruction. These promises will be carried out at the second coming of Christ. Such is the foundation on which Christianity rests.
It is this foundation which false teachers attack. With scoffing and mockery, they place doubt in the minds of all that will listen to their message. False teachers say, "If Jesus said 2000 years ago He would come again and judge the world, do you still believe it will take place?" Notice that Peter gave us this inspired message following the lesson text: one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Pet. 3:8). This truth should tell today's scoffers, as well as their followers, that it has only been "2 days" with the Lord since His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. As God counts days, Judgment Day, the promise of His coming, is much nearer than scoffing and mocking false teachers dare admit.