“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” (2 Peter 3:17 KJV)
Some are using this verse to refute the eternal security of the believer but is this what Peter is teaching?
Context matters! Look at all 2 Peter 3; not just verse 17 and you will see that is not what Peter is teaching.
Throughout chapter 3 Peter was talking about the day of the Lord, and how scoffers would try to convince us to not believe the Lord will come back (2 Peter 3:3-4). These false teachers deliberately ignore the fact the God does intervene in the affairs of men and also brings judgment (2 Peter 3:5-7). Peter reminded us that Jesus promised us a new heaven and a new earth as believers (2 peter 3:11-13).
Knowing these scoffers are wrong, how should we live? We should make every effort to be found spotless and blameless. We should live Godly lives. We may not be perfect at this but we should strive to do good.
Peter’s warning has nothing to do with eternal security. That is not the context. The context is our blessed hope of Jesus’ return and New Heavens and New Earth where peace will thrive forever.
Peter was speaking of FALSE TEACHERS causing people to doubt their Salvation. They cause confusion. A couple of verses earlier Peter had said that he and Paul were IN AGREEMENT on the matter of salvation.
That being the case, we know that Salvation is a GIFT, an undeserved and unmeritted favor of the grace of God, not by our works in self righteousness. What did Apostle Paul teach? The Gospel of the Grace of God and eternal security of the believer. Here are some verses by Paul proving so:
“For by GRACE are ye saved THROUGH FAITH; and that NOT of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV)
“13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also AFTER THAT YE BELIEVED, YE WERE SEALED with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:13-14 KJV)
“Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also SEALED US, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22 KJV)
“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And BY HIM ALL THAT BELIEVE ARE JUSTIFIED FROM ALL THINGS, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” (Acts13:38-39 KJV)
Peter is saying these scoffers at Jesus return are false teachers who were distorting what Peter and Paul taught. In verse 17, Peter is telling believers that we know the truth they taught and to not let the false teachers cause you to doubt your eternal security in Salvation.
In verse 18 we see Peter encouraging believers to increase our knowledge in our security in Christ. Knowledge is the best defense against error.