WRITTEN FROM ROME, A. D. 64.
Certainly his divine power hath gifted to us, all things which are necessary to life and godliness, through the acknowledgment of him who hath called us to glory and courage. By whom the greatest, even precious promises, are gifted to us, that by these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, fleeing away from the corruption which is in the world through lust. And for this very reason indeed, giving all diligence, join to your faith, courage; and to courage, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, the love of the brethren; and to the love of the brethren, love to all men; for these things being in you, and bounding, make you to be neither slothful, nor unfruitful, in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he who hath not these things is blind, shutting his eyes, and taking up a forgetfulness of the purification of his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, earnestly endeavour to make your calling and election sure; for doing these things, ye shall never at any time fall; and thus there shall be richly ministered to you, an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Wherefore, I will not neglect to put you always in remembrance concerning these things, although ye know, and are established in the present truth. Yea, I think it fit, as lkong as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up, by putting you in remembrance, knowing that the putting away of my tabernacle is soon to happen, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. Therefore I will carefully endeavour, that ye may be able after my decease, to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were beholders of his greatness; when indeed he received from God the Father, honour and glory, a voice of this kind being brought to him from the magnificent glory; "This is my Son, the beloved, with whom I am well pleased." And this voice we heard brought from heaven, being with him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word more firm, to which ye do well to take heed, as to a lamp shining in a dark place; until the day dawn, and the morning star arise in your hearts. Knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of private impulse:*[App. No. XCVIII.] for, never at any time, was prophecy brought by the will of man, but the holy men of God spake, being moved by the Holy Spirit.
II. But there were also false prophets among the people, even as among you there will be false teachers, who will privately introduce destructive sects, denying even the Lord who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructions, on account of whom, the way of truth will be evil spoken of. And through covetousness they will make merchandize of you, by fictitious tales. To them the punishment threatened of old lingereth not, and their destruction slumbereth not. For if God did not spare the heavenly messengers who sinned, but with chains of darkness confining them in Tartarus, delivered them over to be kept for judgment; and did not spare the old world, but saved Noah, a proclaimer of righteousness, the eighth who was saved, when he brought the flood upon the world of the ungodly; and having reduced to ashes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, punished them with an overthrow, placing them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and rescued righteous Lot, exceedingly grieved by the lewdness of the behaviour of the lawless; [will he spare them?] for that righteous man dwelling among them, by seeing and hearing, tormented his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful works. The Lord knoweth to rescue the godly out of temptation, and to keep in ward the unrighteous, to the day of judgment to be punished; and especially those who go after the flesh in the lust of pollution, and who despise government: being audacious, self-willed, they do not fear to revile dignities. Whereas heavenly messengers, who ar greater in strength and power, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural irrational animals, made for capture and destruction, speaking evil of matters which they do not understand, shall be utterly destroyed by their own corruptions, receiving the due reward of unrighteousness. They reckon riot which is in the day, pleasure. They are spots and causes of reproach, living in riot by their own deceits, when they feast with you. They have eyes full of an adulteress, and which cease not from sin. They allure unstable souls. They have a heart exercised in covetous practices; children of the curse. Having forsaken the straight way, they have wandered, following in the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the hire of unrighteousness; but received a rebuke for his own transgression, (a dumb beast speaking in man's language, forbade the madness of the prophet.) These teachers are wells without water; clouds driven by a tempest, for whom the blackness of darkness is reserved for ever: because speaking great swelling words of falsehood, they allure by the lusts of the flesh, even by lasciviousness, those who have actually fled away from them who are living in error. They promise them liberty, themselves being slaves of corruption. For by what a man is conquered, by that also he is enslaved. Now if having fled away from the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, being again entangled in these they are overcome, the last pollutions become worse to them than the first. Therefore, it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. But the saying of the true proverb hath happened to them: "The dog is turned again to his own vomit; and the washed hog to its wallowing slough."
III. Beloved, this second epistle I now write to you, in which epistles I stir up your sincere mind to remembrance: to recollect the words before spoken by the holy prophets, and the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour. Knowing this first, that scoffers will come in the last of the days, walking after their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming? for from the time the fathers have fallen asleep, all things continue as at the beginning of the creation.' But this wilfully escapes them, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth subsisting from the water, and by water, whereby the world that then was being deluged with water perished. But the present heavens and the earth, by the same word are treasured up, being kept for fire against the day of judgment, and destruction of ungodly men. But this one thing, let it not escape you, beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord who hath promised, doth not delay in the manner some acount delaying; but he exercises long suffering towars us, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should come to reformation. However, as a thief in the night, the day of the Lord will come, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements burning, shall be dissolved, and the earth, and the works thereon, shall be utterly burned. Seeing then, all these things shall be dissolved, what sort of persons ought ye to be?--Such as by holy behaviour and godliness, are expecting, and earnestly desiring, the coming of the day of God, in which the heavens being set on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements burning, shall be melted.
Nevertheless, according to his promise, we expect new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, expecting these things, diligently endeavour to be found of him spotless, and irreproachable, in peace. And the long suffering of our Lord, reckon to be for salvation, as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him hath written to you. As indeed in all his epistles, speaking in them concerning these things: in which there are some things hard to be understood, which the unteachable and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, foreknowing these things, be on your guard, lest being carried away with others by the deceit of the lawless, ye fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in favour, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and unto the day of eternity. Amen.