We have now entered into chapter three of 2 Peter. It’s the final chapter of this potent, compact book! Peter seems to be telling them to put up their guard. He exhorts them to meditate on the true teachings of Jesus, on the prophets, and on the whole program of life proposed by the apostles. But why? Read on.
The Christian tradition describes the “last days” as the era between the Ascension and the visible and tangible coming of the Messiah – the Second Coming. The time in which Peter’s readers were living.
Jesus had said,
Four verses later Jesus says,
“Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place.”
Jesus even gives a “dramatic description of chaos descending upon the world; for the prelude to his coming will be a time of unparalleled deception, persecution, and tribulation” (Catholic Bible Dictionary, Hahn).
It’s understandable then that first generation Christians thought they’d see Christ, “coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” Matt 24:30 before they died.
Sooooo, what happened then? Why didn’t they see Jesus on the clouds coming for them? Was he a liar? Or a lunatic? The only thing that happened was the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, the center of both Jewish and Christian activity, not to mention economic pursuits. Or did he truly come as Lord, BUT in a way unexpected by his followers?
Let’s shed some 20/20 light on the meaning of the Second Coming, also known as the Parousia. What Jesus has promised is the “spiritual coming of Christ in his Kingdom as Judge over the deeds of men Matt 16:27-28 (Catholic Bible Dictionary, Hahn). When Jesus was talking about the ruin of that generation he was first foretelling the Roman invasion of Jerusalem. During this time (70AD) the Romans demolished the Jerusalem Temple and more than a million Jews were either enslaved or murdered. There could have been nothing worse than this to Peter’s readers. No temple = No sacrificial worship = No Hope. And the first generation Christians did indeed live to see such times. It marked a turning point, a breaking of the way of life and the rise of HOPE in Christ’s Church.
The second meaning is precisely what the early Christian community was waiting for: the visible, tangible and glorious coming of Jesus from the Heavens (at the end of time). It also happens to be what all of us are still waiting for. Perhaps in our lifetimes, perhaps not. But this is not the point. Peter points us to live in the here and now.
Hence, the third meaning. We encounter Jesus’ “Second Coming” every day when we attend Mass. It is the Liturgical coming of Jesus in the Eucharist every time a priest celebrates Mass. He truly comes again, here and now. Here and now is where we live out the virtues, standing fast against doubts and skepticism, and growing in ever greater virtue as we await the FINAL coming.
<3 God bless you <3