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2 Peter 3:9 (NKJV):

The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Does the "any" in this text refer to the previous context of "those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours" or to mankind in general?

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Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. Be sure to properly cite the text you're asking about. The chapter and verse numbers do not always line up between the Hebrew, Greek, and English texts. I added the specific text here, feel free to change it if you prefer another English translation. –  Dan Jun 21 at 20:01
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interesting question, especially because of the "you" in "is patient with you" in that verse, who does that refer to? –  Jack Douglas Jun 21 at 20:49
    
"You" is the reader of the letter. –  JLB Jul 17 at 17:06

2 Answers 2

The Idea in Brief

Peter acknowledges in his introduction of the epistle that the recipients of his letter know about the Lord. That is, he addresses them as "to those who received a faith the same as ours." However, Peter does not assume that they all therefore know the Lord. That is, he states to them in the same first chapter: "Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you" (2 Pet 1:10). Peter is therefore addressing those for whom in fact there is some uncertainty as to whether or not they know the Lord, since the historical pattern of "believers" going astray in the Hebrew Bible (e.g., Balaam) was through false teaching, irreverence (mocking the Word of God), sexual immorality, and/or greed: thus Peter cites the Proverb, "The dog returns to his vomit and the washed sow returns to wallow in the mire." Irrespective, the Lord is patient with all, not wishing that any perish, which would include all those people who may know much about the Lord, but yet who STILL do not know Him (as is apparent by their life of debauchery and irreverence).

Discussion

Peter opens his epistle "to those who have received a faith of the same kind" as ours. The Greek words are τοῖς ἰσότιμον ἡμῖν λαχοῦσιν πίστιν. The literal translation would be "to those who have chanced upon the faith equally valued by us." The participle λαχοῦσιν comes from the verb λαγχάνω, which means to receive by lot or divine appointment.

For example, in the Book of Acts, Peter mentioned that Judas Iscariot had "received his lot," or appointment from the Lord (λαγχάνω in Acts 1:17). Notwithstanding that Judas knew much about Jesus and His teachings, Peter states in the context in the first chapter of Acts that Judas did not know the Lord even though Judas had "received his lot," or appointment from the Lord to be one of the twelve disciples.

Accordingly, in this second epistle of Peter, Peter uses the same verb form (λαχοῦσιν participle) to indicate that his readers "have chanced upon the faith equally valued by us." Peter does not accuse anyone of unbelief, but his choice of words (as was the case with Judas Iscariot in Acts) serves to indicate that there is some uncertainty as to whether or not all his readers know the Lord.

2 Peter 1:10 (NASB)
10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;

From this point forward, Peter then develops in the epistle how "believers" in the past have fallen away through false teaching, irreverence (mocking the Word of God), sexual immorality, and/or greed with specific mention of Balaam (2 Pet 2:15). He summarizes and describes these "believers" with the Proverb, "the dog returns to his vomit and the washed sow returns to wallow in the mire" (2 Pet 2:22).

In conclusion, Peter uses the participle form of the verb λαγχάνω to indicate that his readers have "chanced upon" the faith that we all value equally. That is, by divine appointment we have all received the saving message of faith. However, like Judas Iscariot, who not only received the same message of saving faith, but who also "chanced upon" (received the divine appointment) to being one of the twelve disciples, there was uncertainty. That is, Judas did not know the Lord despite knowing much about Him. Peter therefore admonishes his readers in this Second Epistle, that the Lord is patient that all be saved, which would include those "believers" who have yet to show that they know the Lord through the example of their lives.

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The 'any' in this verse (2 Peter 3:9) surely is related to the 'all' in the same verse (the same 'all' that Jesus speaks of as the ultimate aim of the Cross (John 12:32) and the reason for the preaching of the Cross. It is God's great love for sinners (he died for 'all' sinners) which speaks to us from Calvary and which, in turn, is the cause of his great patience and "longsuffering to us-ward" in that the promise of his coming, as Peter points out, is premised on the same love which desires "all men to come to repentance" and be saved.

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