A Study of 2 Peter 3:10-13 -- By: R. Larry Overstreet

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 137:548 (Oct 1980)
Article: A Study of 2 Peter 3:10-13
Author: R. Larry Overstreet

A Study of 2 Peter 3:10-13

R. Larry Overstreet

[R. Larry Overstreet, Professor of Homiletics, Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, Indiana]

Second Peter 3:10–13 presents two major problems to the interpreter. The first of these is determining the text in the conclusion of verse 10, that is, whether the text reads that the earth and its works “shall be burned up” or “shall be found.” The second problem is the actual interpretation of the passage. This study will examine each problem in order to seek to gain a solution that will be in harmony with the Word of God as a whole and in harmony with the immediate context of 2 Peter.

The Textual Difficulty

The Greek Text

Interestingly, Robertson makes no definite decision on the textual problem here, but merely says that “the text is corrupt.”1 At the conclusion of 2 Peter 3:10 the United Bible Societies’ Greek text gives the word εὑρεθήσεται, a future passive indicative of the verb εὑρίσκω, meaning, in general terms, “to find.” The verb has various shades of meaning, such as, “to find after seeking,” “to find without seeking,” or “to obtain.”2 However, for the present discussion the meaning “to find” is sufficient. The word in the text would thus be translated “shall be found.”

Although some dissenting opinion can be found, most modern textual critics would regard this reading as having the strongest manuscript support. Metzger comments that this reading is the “oldest reading, and the one which best explains the origin of the others that have been preserved….”3

Several variant readings must be noticed and examined before a conclusion can be drawn regarding the text. One of these is a major variation involving the substitution of another word with a complete change of thought while the others are minor variations in comparison with the first.

The Variant Readings

The major variation is the substitution of κατακαήσεται for εὑρεθήσεται. The translation would then read, “the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up,” as κατακαίω means “to burn up.”4

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