In writing to the congregations throughout Asia Minor Peter wanted them to be aware of the difficulties they will face in the last days. From our standpoint, some two thousand years later, it is a bit confusing that he is telling his readers way back then about a situation that we understand to be yet future. The early church was convinced that it was living in the twilight of history. The children of Israel had looked forward to a coming Messianic age and the Christian church understood that with the advent of Christ it had arrived. Before long Jesus would return and a state of eternal blessedness would begin. In those last days there were scoffers within the church claiming that Christ would not return, thus freeing themselves to live the immoral life-style so appealing to their old nature.
There have always been scoffers in every society. It is so much easier to deny something than to explain it. Peter notes that they “deliberately forgot” (vs. 4) something that otherwise would have undermined their point of view, that is, that since God stepped into history at creation, it follows that there is no reason he can’t do it again with the return of Christ. The point is that the malcontents had deliberately forgotten what they didn’t want to take into consideration. In context, the Greek lanthano, “to be hidden from someone,” should be taken in the sense of “purposely ignored” (TEV). The willingness to misunderstand is a basic trait of human nature. It allows us to avoid any restriction we choose. It puts us in control of “truth” as we want it to be. But truth has a way of emerging whenever it wants to. The best-laid plans of scoffers will in time prove to be erroneous because that is exactly what they are. God may be slow as we consider time but that alters exactly nothing. It was a long time between the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ child in a Bethlehem stable. But it happened. It may be a long time as we count time before he comes in final triumph, but he will. Deliberately choosing which facts are to be set aside is exegetical blunder of significance.
Peter understood the nature of the last days and identified the scoffers as evidence. As we look around, even within the church (more loosely defined), we see the same disbelief and animosity. With Peter, let us keep a firm grip on the truth revealed in the apostolic message