Verse 3 starts off as mentioning a specific group of people, the "scoffers." In fact, there are three groups involved here:
- The addressees of the letter, who are believers. These are addressed directly in the second person ("you").
- The scoffers, who are unbelievers, the "scoffers." They are addressed indirectly in the third person ("they").
- The apostle, who might have addressed himself in the first person (as "I" or as part of "we" with "you")
The apostle goes on to give two reasons why we have not yet seen the second coming of Christ.
- Because we do not understand God's time rightly. The apostle is speaking here of the Greek καιρός, not χρόνος. We want things to happen right now, on OUR appointed time scale. But just because a thing has not happened in the time frame when we think it should, doesn't mean that it hasn't happened in God's καιρός.
- Because (flowing from the first) God has not seen fit to place all His elect into the time (χρόνος) we might think He should have. God's elect numbers more than the stars in the sky (Gen 15:5). We know that the end has not yet come because God has not yet gathered all His elect. It's sheer presumption to think that all of them should be gathered in by our particular lifetimes.
Given that this is the flow of the passage, whence flows the maxim "God wants everybody to be saved?" The answer should be obvious: not from this passage at all. From where then? Clearly, from our traditions and emotions. It constantly amazes me that people who claim (like Dave Hunt) that they have no traditions are absolutely tradition-bound when "exegeting" passages like 2 Peter 3. They reach conclusions that have absolutely no basis in the text and simply state them; apparently, in their minds, the passage is so obvious that no exegesis is needed. Norm Geisler does a bit better, attempting to give a bit of exegesis on this passage to support his view that it disproves particular redemption. Unfortunately, his skimpy and rather apoplectic exegesis (found on page 249 of Chosen But Free, 3rd edition) demonstrates nothing more than his traditions overcoming his logic.
I have a few other thoughts about this passage, but I'll finish them up in a third installment.