(2 Pet. 3:11-12) Can we speed up Christ’s coming?

CLAIM: Peter writes, “[We are] looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Pet. 3:12). Open theists argue that God’s knowledge of the future is uncertain, because future events are contingent on human agency—specifically the agency of the Church. For instance, Greg Boyd writes, “So too, it is not clear how Scripture could encourage us to speed up the time of the Lord’s return by how we live if the exact time of his return was eternally set in stone (2 Peter 3:11-12).”[1]

RESPONSE: It’s possible that the spread of the gospel is necessary for Jesus to return (Mt. 24:14). Thus our ability to spread the gospel to all nations would need to be finished before Jesus’ return. Yet this wouldn’t affect God’s foreknowledge. While God knows the ends, he also knows the means to the ends. He knows that the Church will bring about the spread of the gospel, and predicted it as such. Thus from God’s view, the date is set in stone (Mt. 24:36), but from our finite view, we know that we need to spread the gospel to all nations.

On the other hand, this Greek term (speudontos) could also be rendered “striving for” or “zealous for.” The term spoude is often translated zeal. Bauckham writes, “‘Hastening,’ could perhaps mean ‘striving for’ (Reicke), but the Jewish background is decisive in favor of ‘hastening.’”[2] The same word is used in this sense in verse 14 (“be diligent to be found in him”).

[1] Boyd, Greg. Chapter Four: God Limits His Control. In Four Views on Divine Providence. Zondervan Counterpoints Collection. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 2011. 199.

[2] Bauckham, R. J. (1998). 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 50, p. 325). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.