Peter's second epistle was probably written around 66 A.D./C.E.
The Apostle John placed Polycarp over the Church of God in Smyrna.
Furthermore, in his Letter to the Philippians, Polycarp refers to 2 Peter 2:1-2.
Hence, the Church of God accepted these books from the beginning.
One reason to mention thisis, that about four to six decades later,some Latins came up with something called the Muratorian Canon (c. 175). It was “composed in the Roman Church in the last quarter of the second century” (Reid, Canon of the New Testament. The Catholic Encyclopedia). It did NOT include 1 Peter or 2 Peter, but did include the false Apocalypse of Peter (Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, pp. 164-165).
In Origen of Alexandria's Homologoumena, he mentioned Hebrews, 2 Peter, 1 and 2 John, James, and Jude as “contested writings,” while (c. 250) “St. Cyprian, whose Scriptural Canon certainly reflects the contents of the first Latin Bible, received all the books of the New Testament except Hebrews, II Peter, James, and Jude” (Reid, Canon of the New Testament).
Around 320 A.D., Eusebius writes that Hebrews, James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, and Revelation are disputed (Eusebius. The History of the Church. Book III, Chapter III verse 5 and Chapter XXV, verses 3-4, pp. 44, 59-60).
The Catholic Encyclopedia claims:
As for Protestantism, the Anglicans and Calvinists always kept the entire New Testament But for over a century the followers of Luther excluded Hebrews, James, Jude, and Apocalypse (Reid, George J. Transcribed by Ernie Stefanik Canon of the New Testament. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).
So, the Greco-Roman-Protestant churches had canonical confusion that the Church of God did not have. For more details, see the free online book:Who Gave the World the Bible? The Canon: Why do we have the books we now do in the Bible? Is the Bible complete?
Here is a link to a related sermon: 2 Peter & Jude: Lusts, Prophecy, & 144,000?
1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
We have escapted the world and its corruption so we can be partakers of the divine nature--Christians are to be deified (see also
What is Your Destiny? Deification? Did the Early Church Teach That Christians Would Become God?).
33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV)
Yes, the world can still influence us.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,
The above takes studying the Bible. But also listening to church messages:
17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Additionally, studying and understanding appropriate church literature helps better equip Christians.
6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Yes, it takes effort.
9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Here are some passages from the Apostle Paul about character:
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:1-4)
Notice also that Paul commended Timothy for having proven character:
19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. (Philippians 2:19-22)
Character is built as one strives for perfection and endures to the end.
In the early 2nd century, Ignatius of Antioch taught about love, character, and Christ living His life in Christians:
... the believing have, in love, the character of God the Father by Jesus Christ, by whom, if we are not in readiness to die into His passion, His life is not in us. (Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians, Chapter 5. Roberts & Donaldson, Anti-Nicene Fathers)
So, early Christians valued character and believed that they needed to demonstrate proper character.
For more on character, see our article: Building Character: Going on to Perfection.
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;
We need to be diligent, not half-hearted. If we do we will make it.
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As Jesus said:
12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
12 For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.
The present truth includes the entire word of God, where you are at in your life, and that we are closer to the end of this age.
13 Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you,
Notice that Peter believes Christians need to be reminded.
14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.
Peter suspected he would die and wanted his writing to also be a reminder after his death.
16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
Some falsely claim that Christians were following cunningly devised fables. But Peter is assuring all with ears to hear and eyes to see that he was an actual eyewitness and that Christianity was true.
17 For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
This "well pleased" statement was recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and Peter is confirming it was true and happened.
18 And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
This "voice" statement was recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and Peter is confirming it was true and happened.
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
The KJV words it:
19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: KJV
We in the CCOG have had the prophetic word confirmed as well--see Does the CCOG have the confirmed signs of Acts 2:17-18? Yet, sadly, in modern times, many will not accept how God confirms the prophetic word with His faithful Philadelphians.
20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Despite this, someone in one of the COGs as well as some opposed to the COGs have essentially demanded/challenged me to come up with prophecies on demand.
Many do not understand how God's Holy Spirit really works in these last days.
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;
4 For if God did not spare messengers having sinned, but having cast [them] down to Tartarus with chains of deepest gloom, delivered [them],
having been reserved to judgment, (Literal Standard Version
5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;
Many to not want to hear about why God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah as many moderns promote sodomy and other forms of ungodly lifestyles.
7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) — 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,
How does God do that?
First as far as temptations go, the Bible reveals:
1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:7-8)
What about the day of judgment?
Well, as far as the time of physical judgment on the earth goes, Jesus said:
7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens": 8 "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
This is further discussed later in Revelation:
13 Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. 14 But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. 15 So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. 16 But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17 And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Most Christians will not flee and be protected as they have compromised too much.
10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries,
Many speak out against biblical morality these days. While they often will not totally condemn the Bible, they do not want to hear that it teaches that the lifestyles they live or condone are abominations.
As far as despising goes:
14 'But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments,
15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant,
16 I also will do this to you:
I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart.
And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies.
Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you.
18 'And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.
19 I will break the pride of your power;
I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.
20 And your strength shall be spent in vain;
for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.
12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel:
"Because you despise this word,
And trust in oppression and perversity,
And rely on them,
13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you
Like a breach ready to fall,
A bulge in a high wall,
Whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant.
14 And He shall break it like the breaking of the potter's vessel,
Which is broken in pieces;
He shall not spare.
So there shall not be found among its fragments
A shard to take fire from the hearth,
Or to take water from the cistern."
And then there are former Christians on the internet that regularly and routinely post false statements about the CCOG and leaders in it.
11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.
Modern anti-biblical morality promoters go where even angelic beings seemingly fear to do.
12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption,
Yes, they are corrupt.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. ... 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, ...
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, ...
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you,
Notice that even some who say they are true Christians and wish to fellowship with them are not truly converted.
Furthermore, Daniel wrote that this would specifically happen in the appointed time--which is coming up soon:
32 Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34 Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by intrigue. 35 And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.
14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. 15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness of the prophet.
Those people will NOT walk by faith, but by sight.
They will conclude that since the church is not made up of perfect people and leaders, that they are better off selling out and selling other Christians out.
This time will likely be here within the next 7 years--and could be a couple of years sooner!
17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
It looks like some who betray will be those who commit the unpardonable sin (see What is the Unpardonable Sin?)--darkness forever is referring to anihilation at the second death (see The Second Death).
18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.
This is something we have alread seen with some former WCG members who post all kinds of misinformation and accusations on the internet.
19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.
This happens a lot with Protestantism and other non-truly biblical faiths.
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."
The time will come that, "For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Romans 10:13).
Since God wants all saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and would not want humans to commit the unpardonable sin, this explains why only few are chosen in this age (Matthew 20:16) while nearly all others will be forgiven in the age to come (Matthew 12:32).
This differs greatly from much of what passes for mainstream Christianity as the Greco-Roman Catholics and Protestants normally teach that most who ever lived are such horrible people that God will torture them for all eternity.
1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), 2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."
This is a fulfilled prophecy!
5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
One topic to consider is debt. The American and British-descended nations have a lot of debt--and it has been increasing. But most do not think that matters much as debt has been increasing for decades.
2 And YHWH answers me and says: “Write a vision, and explain on the tablets, || That he may run who is reading it. For yet the vision [is] for a season, || And it breathes for the end, and does not lie, || If it lingers, wait for it, || For surely it comes, it is not late. Behold, a presumptuous one! His soul is not upright within him, || And the righteous lives by his faith. And also, because the wine [is] treacherous, || A man is haughty, and does not remain at home, || Who has enlarged his soul as Sheol, || And is as death that is not satisfied, || And gathers to itself all the nations, || And assembles to itself all the peoples, Are these not—all of them—an allegory taken up against him, || And a moral of acute sayings for him, || And say, Woe [to] him who is multiplying [what is] not his? Until when also is he multiplying to himself heavy pledges? Do your usurers not instantly rise up, || And those shaking you awake, || And you have been a spoil to them? Because you have spoiled many nations, || All the remnant of the peoples spoil you, || Because of man’s blood, and of violence [to] the land, || [To] the city, and [to] all dwelling in it.
The USA, to cite one example, is not going to get away with what it is doing forever. It is the most indebted nation of all time and notice that the above prophecy is for the end time--the time we are in and entering.
While people have thought that Jesus would come in probably every generation, we have never been closer to the end of the 6, years for humans to be under Satan's influence as we are now.
Prophecy is important for Christians. In addition to the Old Testament prophets and books of prophets, prophecies are throughout the scriptures.
While some evangelicals indicate that they only want to hear about Jesus and not prophecy, the last book of the Bible teaches:
the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Jesus, Himself, referring to prophetic matters, said:
37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!
Jesus gave a list of prophetic signs which are recorded as His testimony in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21--plus He referred to something mentioned in a couple of chapters of the Book of Daniel (9 & 11).
Watching for them is something that Christians should do.
Is there any possible numeric clue as to when the end of this age will come?
Now it has been said that "if" is the biggest two-letter word in the English language.
Here are ten points to consider:
It looks like from certain Jewish, biblical, Christian, and Roman Catholic perspectives (and yes others associated with those faiths have other opinions), that the end of the U.S.A. may well happen before 2028, which would be the strart of the Great Tribulation.
Jesus said to look for various signs (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21; see also When Will the Great Tribulation Begin?). Until we see certain of those signs, we will not know when the end of this age will be.
But, if we see certain signs in the next couple of years, that would be consistent with the view the end of the 6,000 years could be no later than the Spring of 2031 and that the Great Tribulation would start no later than the Fall of 2027.
Perhaps it should be mentioned that since traditionally, the old Worldwide Church of God taught that the great tribulation would probably start in the Spring time (similar to the time of the Exodus) a Spring of 2027 or earlier could mark the beginning of the end of the U.S.A.
Before going further, let me add that if the Great Tribulation will instead begin in the Fall, backing off 3 1/2 years from its start and the resurrection of Jesus was in 32 A.D. (not likely) would push it into the Spring--perhaps as late as the Spring of 2028. Under that scenario, the USA would be gone sometime before the end of 2028. More on this can be found in the article Might the U.S.A. Be Gone by 2028?
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Both the Old and New Testaments speak of a day being like a thousand years and a thousand years as a day.
Early Christians believed that the earth would last 6,000 years after Adam & Eve sinned. We are getting closer to that time, probably about ten years for now, and maybe less. For details, see also Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?
9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
1 Timothy 2:1-4
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
God's plan is to maximize all who can be saved and this sometimes makes it look like somethings are taking too long. More on God's plan of salvation can be found in the free online book: Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
The old Radio Church of God wrote about this verse:
In Ecclesiastes 1:4 Solomon said that the earth abides forever. But in II Peter 3:10 we read that the earth will be burned up. I know that the Bible does not contradict itself, but please explain this unclear point.
Wise King Solomon was inspired to tell us: "One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever" (Eccl. 1:4). This is a promise that will not fail! Some have assumed that this scripture contradicts the Apostle Peter's statement in II Peter 3:10 that the "earth... shall be burned up." Is Peter really talking about the total destruction of the earth?
The context of II Peter 3 tells us. "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (II Pet. 3:7). Notice that this fire is the Judgment of ungodly men. This is the Lake of Gehenna Fire which is the second death (Rev. 20:14). This is the unquenchable fire that will burn up the unrepentant (Mat. 3:12).
Peter then goes on to describe the effects of this unquenchable fire: "In the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (II Pet. 3:10). An unquenchable fire is one that cannot be put out. It merely burns until it has consumed all combustible material. Then it dies out for lack of anything else to consume. This is as Peter has said — everything will be burned up.
This fire of Judgment is further explained in the first three verses of Malachi 4. "The day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up... And ye shall tread down the wicked; for THEY SHALL BE ASHES UNDER the soles of YOUR FEET." Notice that there will be ashes left when this unquenchable fire dies out! This globe we call the EARTH WILL STILL EXIST! The saints will still be on this earth. This is exactly what Peter meant.
He used example of Noah's Flood as a type of the future cleansing of the earth by fire. "Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (II Pet. 3:6), Just as the earth continued to exist after the Flood so it will continue to exist after the coming worldwide Gehenna Fire. Continuing with the context of II Peter 3 we find in Verse 13 that: "We... look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."
In Revelation the new heaven and new earth are mentioned immediately after the account of the Lake of Fire. "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away [by fire]; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven... the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them [on the earth]" (Rev. 21:1-3).
Thus we see that the EARTH WILL STILL EXIST FOREVER. The simple explanation of II Peter 3:10 is that the surface of the earth and everything on it, including the incorrigibly wicked, will be destroyed by fire. God will then remake the surface of the earth (with no sea and no sun) for a habitation for Himself and the rest of the God Kingdom (Rev. 21, 22). You need to understand these prophecies of your Bible and then REPENT so that you will live over into the new heaven and new earth. (The Bible Answers Your Questions. Good News, August 1965)
The second death in the lake of fire is also consistent with what the Apostle Peter was inspired to write.
Notice, also, an explanation of the timing of the lake of fire and other comments from the old Worldwide Church of God:
Many wonder about II Peter 3:10. Didn't Peter say this globe would be destroyed? Was Peter really talking about the total destruction of the earth? Notice what the context tells us: " But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (II Pet. 3:7).
This fire represents the final judgment of ungodly' men. This is the Lake of Gehenna Fire which is the second death (Rev. 20:14), the unquenchable fire that will burn up the unrepentant (Matt. 3:12).
Peter goes on to describe the effects of this unquenchable fire: "In the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up " (II Pet. 3:10). An unquenchable fire is one that cannot be put out. It burns until it has consumed all combustible material. Then it dies out for lack of anything else to consume. Everything will be burned up except for spirit beings who are not affected by physical fires.
He used the example of Noah's Flood as a type of the future cleansing of the earth by fire. "Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished" (II Pet. 3:6). Just as the earth continued to exist after the Flood, so it will continue to exist after the coming world wide Gehenna Fire.
Continuing with the context of II Peter 3 we find in verse 13 that: "We, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." In Revelation the new heaven and new earth are mentioned immediately after the account of the Lake of Fire. "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away [by fire]; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven... the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them [on the earth]" (Rev. 21:1-3).
The earth will still exist (Eccl. 1:4). The simple explanation of II Peter 3:10 is that the surface of the earth and everything on it, including the incorrigible wicked, will be destroyed by fire. God will then remake the surface of the earth for a habitation for Himself and the rest of the God Kingdom (Rev. 21, 22). (Is This the End Time? Ambassador College booklet, 1973)
This burning in the lake of fire is related to the second death and comes after the third resurrection. As does the change to immortality of those converted during the 100 year period.
11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
Physical things will NOT last. Do not think anything physical you own will last forever--or that you will unless you truly accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
But it you do:
13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Here is some information about the new heaven and new earth:
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."
6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;
Yes, we are to look forward to have is coming--and live properly.
15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation — as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
Notice the Peter called Paul's writings scripture.
And as Peter wrote, many misunderstand and twist Paul's writings.
Two books that we have freely available about that would be: The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast and Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism.
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
We are to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus.
Weekly Sabbath services, Bible study, church literature, and living as a Christian are all ways that contribute to that.
Jude seems to have been written between 74-80 A.D.
The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther taught the following about it:
Concerning the epistle of St. Jude, no one can deny that it is an extract or copy of St. Peter's second epistle…Therefore, although I value this book, it is an epistle that need not be counted among the chief books which are supposed to lay the foundations of faith (Luther, M. Preface to the Epistles of St. James and St. Jude, 1546).
To me, despite a few very similar passages, Jude does not read like a copy of 2 Peter, but if even it was, should it be discounted?
1 Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
Jude was a half-brother of Jesus, consisstent withthe following:
55 Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?
The old WCG taught Jude was an apostle, based on 1 Corinthians 9:5:
5 Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
WCG taught that Jude was an apostle despite there being any evidence that he, or his apostolic brother James, performed any miracles (Neff L. How Many Apostle Were There? Good News, February 1980)--the same article also stated that one did not need to see Jesus personally in order to be an apostle.
The imperial historian Eusebius wrote the following related to Jude's descendants based on a report from the 2nd century Roman church supporting Hegisippus:
But when this same Domitian had commanded that the descendants of David should be slain, an ancient tradition says that some of the heretics brought accusation against the descendants of Jude (said to have been a brother of the Saviour according to the flesh), on the ground that they were of the lineage of David and were related to Christ himself. Hegesippus relates these facts in the following words.
1. Of the family of the Lord there were still living the grandchildren of Jude, who is said to have been the Lord's brother according to the flesh.
2. Information was given that they belonged to the family of David, and they were brought to the Emperor Domitian by the Evocatus. For Domitian feared the coming of Christ as Herod also had feared it. And he asked them if they were descendants of David, and they confessed that they were.
3. Then he asked them how much property they had, or how much money they owned. And both of them answered that they had only nine thousand denarii, half of which belonged to each of them.
4. And this property did not consist of silver, but of a piece of land which contained only thirty-nine acres, and from which they raised their taxes and supported themselves by their own labor.
5. Then they showed their hands, exhibiting the hardness of their bodies and the callousness produced upon their hands by continuous toil as evidence of their own labor.
6. And when they were asked concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to appear, they answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works.
7. Upon hearing this, Domitian did not pass judgment against them, but, despising them as of no account, he let them go, and by a decree put a stop to the persecution of the Church.
8. But when they were released they ruled the churches because they were witnesses and were also relatives of the Lord. And peace being established, they lived until the time of Trajan.
These things are related by Hegesippus.
So, according to the above, we see that Jude had grandchildren and claimed to be descended from David--which, somewhat like Jude's half-brother Jesus, was (Luke 1:32; 3:23-31).
1 ... To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:
2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
We in the CCOG quote Jude 3 frequently and it is the keynote verse, if you will, of the COGwriter.com website.
Maybe Martin Luther discounted Jude, because he did not do that did (though he did sometimes make some efforts towards that).
4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The old WCG published the following;
Back to the Faith Once Delivered
But what does GOD tell you in his Word? Through Jude, God says: "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares … ungodly men, turning the GRACE of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 3-4).
Yes, even before the New Testament was completely written, ungodly men had crept inside the Church to corrupt it — turning GRACE into LASCIVIOUSNESS. And what is "lasciviousness"? It means "license" — unrestrained liberty — abuse of privilege. In other words, license to do that which seems right in human eyes according to human conscience — though it disobeys God's LAW! And that is exactly what those ungodly men, even in the first century, did — turned GRACE into unrestrained privilege to disobey God's law and turned to human conscience as a guide! And once introduced, the practice has persisted and spread over the whole world until today! This is one of the FABLES the apostle Paul warned us men would turn to.
Paul said: "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived … For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts [lasciviousness — human reasoning] shall they … turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto FABLES" (II Tim. 3:13; 4:3, 4). But, one will argue, Jude said these men would deny the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not the men who teach a "no works" doctrine believe in Christ? Do they deny him? Yes, they DENY him! God says:
"They profess that they know God; but IN WORKS they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every GOOD work reprobate" (Titus 1:16). The way of human reason — that seems RIGHT — is often DISOBEDIENCE to God! (Armstrong HW. False Conversion. Plain Truth, February 1982)
5 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
In Genesis, chapters 18 and 19, is the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Since the word Sodom has been used as a description of all sorts of vile sexual acts, the dictionary makers are not in ignorance of the fact that sodomy is wrong! God accented this point by wiping out all the cities of the valley in a near-nuclear holocaust which He refers to in the New Testament thought the apostle Jude. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7).
Perhaps the book of Romans is also missing from the Bible of these theologians! "Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient." (Romans 1:24-28.)
The last verse, of course, is the essence of the problem! Mankind has steadfastly refused in every generation to accept the knowledge of God! If the rules and laws set down by their Creator are rejected, then, of course, there are no norms or standards which can govern the activity of men! The natural result is a degeneration of society, a total decay of the family, a perversion of every good thing God intended to be enjoyed properly, with ultimate sorrow, pain, suffering, DEATH!
Perhaps when the designers turn their minds to clothe or unclothe the generation they serve, they choose to ignore Deut 22:5: "The woman shall not wear that which pertains unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment; FOR ALL THAT DO SO ARE ABOMINATION UNTO THE LORD THY GOD!" And sad to say, I'm sure that today's careless and restless youth, wanting to be popular, not recognizing the vortex, the maelstrom of evil that they were born into, couldn't care less for the words of God written in I Cor. 11:14 — "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have longhair, it is a shame unto him?"!
Perhaps some few who do recognize that the God of the Bible condemns this society's accepted transverstism, this abject immorality, this pervered used of sex, at the same time do not fear that God and recognize that He lives and that it is in His power to grant life or to remove life. So they are not moved by His statement in I Cor. 6:9-10: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD? BE NOT DECEIVED: NEITHER FORNICATORS, NOR IDOLATERS, NOR ADULTERERS, NOR EFFEMINATE, NOR ABUSERS OF THEMSELVES WITH MANKIND... shall inherit the kingdom of God." (Hill DJ. How Sexy Can You Get? Tomorrow's World, August 1969)
8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.
The last four words of verse 8 are the same as 2 Peter 2:10. These days, many have fantasy dreams that gender is supposed to be fluid, biblical sexual morality is repressive, etc.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"
10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
Now the above is very similar to parts of 2 Peter. But similarities in a few verses do not make Jude a copy. They show that Jude apparently was inspired by God's Spirit to copy and/or expand on some of what Peter wrote on some matters.
14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
Some have claimed that the above proves that only 144,000 will be saved prior to the return of Jesus. They point to "ten rhousands" as proof, although 144,000 is not divisible to a while number by 10,000. Some translators claim that the term "ten thousands" simply means "myriads" in the English sense of the word meaning a lot. The Greek, however, seems to support ten thousands, but it certain does not state 14.4 ten thousands. It seemingly would support perhaps as many 990,000 or more, which perhaps is around the number saved in the age prior to Jesus' return, but that is not certain either.
But what does seem fairly certain is that the number of saved in this age will NOT be tens/hundreds of millions or billions.
As far as the 144,00 go, here is something I have written about it in the past:
The 144,000 Who Are Sealed After the Sixth Seal is Opened
There is a lot of confusion about the 144,000 who are sealed in Revelation 7.
Please notice the timeframe in the Book of Revelation:
12 I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. 13 And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. 14 Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. 15 And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?" (Revelation 6:12-17)
7: 1 After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, 3 saying, "Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads." 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:
5 of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;
6 of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;
7 of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;
8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed. (Revelation 7:1-8)
These people apparently have responded to the preaching of The Two Witnesses and/or otherwise refused to worship the Beast (cf. Revelation 11:3,7; 13:8) and have physical and/or spiritual descendancy from twelve of the tribes of Israel. Various 'European-descended' peoples will respond (see also Anglo - America in Prophecy & the Lost Tribes of Israel).
It may be of interest to point out that Dan is the only one of the tribes NOT prophesied to be represented by the 144, 000 as it is omitted from the list in Revelation 7. It has been speculated that the involvement of the tribe of Dan pushing idolatry so much in the Old Testament (cf. Judges 18:14-31) is the reason, though Revelation 7 does not give an explanation for omitting Dan. The tribe of Dan has been mainly been left out of the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1-9, though it is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 2:2. But, the lack of details in 1 Chronicles 1-9 related to Dan indicates that there was some type of serious difference between it and the other tribes. Some Catholic writers have indicated that Dan was left out because the final Antichrist will be from the tribe of Dan, but scripture does not so state.
Those who claim that the above 144,000 were sealed before the sixth seal was opened seem to have overlooked what the Bible appears to be teaching here (the JWs believe that the 144,000 have all come and gone--see also Similarities and Differences Between the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Continuing Church of God). Some people believe that it is the final remnant of the 144,000 that are sealed then, so that the total reaches 144,000 truly converted people from the time of Abel until then (cf. Jude 14; Exodus 20:5-6; Romans 9:27; 11:5).
Here are the next several verses from Revelation 7:
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" 11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?"
14 And I said to him, "Sir, you know."
So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. (Revelation 7:9-15)
Notice also some of what the old WCG used to teach:
The 144,000 are 12,000 from each of the literal tribes of Israel. (Rev. 7:4). (Armstrong HW. The key to the Book of Revelation. WCG, 1972, p. 10)
The 144,000, as well as the great innumerable multitude from all nations referred to in verse 9, repent of their old sinful ways and turn to Almighty God in personal surrender. God then put their sins under the blood of Jesus Christ-the Passover Lamb (verse 14). "These are they," states one of the elders at God's throne, "which came out of great tribulation." These multitudes will receive eternal life, and serve God day and night in His Temple (verse 15). (Sound the Trumpet. Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. Lesson 28. 1986, page 9)
Some believe that only the 144,000 are saved in this age, whereas the others will be saved after the start of the millennium--but the English translation does not fully point in that direction.
Now, there is also a group of 144,000 mentioned later in the Bible:
1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:1-5)
These are firstfruits, and since the fact that the Bible says they stand on the Mount of Olives, this suggests that these would seem to have returned with Jesus Christ (cf. Zechariah 14:4).
Notice something from the old Radio Church of God:
What else is promised as a reward to the Philadelphia Church era? Rev. 3:12. Is all of this dependent upon being an OVERCOMER? Same verse. Through the work of preaching and publishing the gospel by the Philadelphia era of God's Church will there be a special 144,000 who also repent, endure tribulation and overcome? Compare Rev. 3:12 with Rev. 14:1.
4. What will the Philadelphia era of God's Church DO for eternity? Rev. 3:12. Note the word "pillar." Were Christ's leading disciples called "pillars"? Gal. 2:9.
COMMENT: Responsibility as "pillars" is what God promises to those in God's Church today. Each can qualify to be SPIRITUAL PILLARS OR LEADERS — THE MAIN SUPPORTS IN THE "CHURCH" SYMBOLICALLY CALLED "TEMPLE" IN REV. 3:12 FOR ALL ETERNITY. A PILLAR IS A MAIN SUPPORT IN A TEMPLE!
5. Where will the Philadelphia Church be stationed? Rev. 3:12. Note the words, "temple" and "New Jerusalem."
COMMENT: This Church -- the Philadelphia era -- is to have the name of the headquarters of the world -- the Capital City of the Universe.
The pillars of the Church ought always to be at headquarters so that everyone may appeal to it for decisions.
We, of the Philadelphia Era, are to have the name of God the Father and of the Son. God always places His name where He is. He will be dwelling in the new Jerusalem. So will we! That IS WHY we will have His name!
Notice, too, that Scripture reveals "He shall go no more out" (Rev. 3:12). We are never to be removed from that reward and responsibility.
Think of that!
We are to be at headquarters -- executing Jesus Christ's policies -- teaching those who need to come to headquarters for decisions throughout eternity as God expands the power and scope of His government! At headquarters we will have the opportunity to help with the master-plan for making a NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH! (Lesson 42 - Eternal Life. Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. Lesson 42. 1965, page 9)
The above seems to be tying the Philadelphians in with the 144,000 of Revelation 14:1. Perhaps there were tens of thousands associated with each of the seven eras of the New Testament church.
While the late Herbert W. Armstrong long ago wrote that Revelation 7 and 14 were referring to the same group of 144,000 (Armstrong HW. The key to the Book of Revelation. WCG, 1972, p. 10), some like former WCG vice-president and his advisor Aaron Dean believe that the Bible is referring to two groups of 144,000 and that may be so (watch also CCOG Q&A: 144,000, Cross or Pole, 10 Commandments, and more!).
If so, these could possibly be the pre-Great Tribulation firstfruits only, all saved from Abel until Jesus returned (which Aaron Dean suspects, but is not dogmatic about; cf. Jude 14; Exodus 20:5-6--if this is the case then the 'great multitude' is not sealed or truly converted in Revelation 7, which he also suspects) or the just the Philadelphian Christians (Revelation 3:12). One reason it could be a reference to the Philadelphian Christians is that there have been more than 144,000 who claimed to be part of the old Radio/Worldwide Church of God--but many of them apostatized. However, because of the prophesied coming "short work" (Romans 9:28; see also Preparing for the 'Short Work' and The Famine of the Word) it may be possible that there will end up being 144,000 Philadelphian Christians in total. The Book of Revelation distinguishes between 7 groups of Christians and most of the 4 that it shows will be around at the end have problems.
Thyatira: 20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. (Revelation 2:20-23)
Sardis: 1 I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. (Revelation 3:1-3)
Laodicea: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:15-19)
Consider that the 144,000: "These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes" (Revelation 14:4). Not all the churches did--though some of the negative references could be to those that are not actual Christians. Now based upon the words in Revelation 2 & 3, it may be that some of the Thyatirans (Revelation 2:24-27), repentant Laodiceans (Revelation 3:19-21), parts of Ephesus and Smyrna (Revelation 2:1-19), and a few names in Sardis (Revelation 3:3), will be part of the 144,000, if that is mainly a Philadelphian firstfruits' group.
Therefore, the 144,000 would not seem to necessarily be all the saved as some have insisted upon.
I have spoken with Aaron Dean about this several times over the years. Also on May 1, 2017, he confirmed with me that Herbert W. Armstrong was uncertain about the 144,000 being the same group or two groups in the last couple of months of his life and had changes to his views of the 144,000 when he was alive. He also said basically the same thing to me in 2020 (do not recall the specific date).
16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
There are many grumblers and complainers--including among those claiming to be God's people--Christians are not to be like them:
1 Corinthians 10:8-11
8 Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; 9 nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 10 nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
1 John 2:15-17
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Speaking of pride and lust, notice the following:
12 There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes,
Yet is not washed from its filthiness.
13 There is a generation — oh, how lofty are their eyes!
And their eyelids are lifted up.
We are not to be part of the world and think like that filthy generation. They say they must live the way of sexual immorality and that all society needs to make provisions for them to do so. Notice also something that the Bible says:
11 And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
People can repent and change--despite what many want others to believe. The Bible warns that disaster will come because people refuse to repent (Hosea 11:5; see also Revelation chapters 9 and 16)
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Note that YOU need God's love and mercy to be granted eternal life.
22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
We are to use wisdom when it comes to having compassion. Some try to take advantage of the compassion and concerns of others. Some need strong warnings.
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Yes, Jesus is able to keep you from stumbling.
Put your trust and confidence in God.
Do not rely on lusts of your flesh--or simply how YOU feel.
Do not deny Christ by your works or lack thereof.
Furthermore, prophecy is real.
Watch like Jesus said.
We are getting closer to the end.
And God does have a glorious future awaiting those who will truly rely on Him.
Here is a link to a related sermon: 2 Peter & Jude: Lusts, Prophecy, & 144,000?
COGwriter (c) 2021 Thiel B. 2 Peter & Jude: Scriptures and Commentary. https://www.cogwriter.com/second-peter-jude.htm 2021 0731
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