“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (NASB).
2 Peter 3:9 is one of the top Arminian default passages to support a universal atonement.
2 Peter 3:9 is one of the top Arminian default passages to support a universal atonement. First, definitive atonement is taught clearly throughout Scripture (Isa. 53:11; Mark 10:45; John 1:13; 6:37-40; Acts 13:48; Rom. 9; 11:5; 2 Thess. 2:13 et al.), and biblical passages cannot be set against other passages.
In opposition to the Arminian understanding of this passage, in brief,
- The context of chapter 3 is the second coming of Christ, not This point is very important as to a correct interpretation of v. 9.
- In vv. 1-2, Peter addresses his specific audience to whom he is writing (, the elect, cf. vv. 1:1ff.): “beloved, the second letter I am writing to YOU [ὑμῖν, SECOND person plural pronoun]. . . . 2 that YOU should remember the words spoken beforehand. . . .”
- However, in vv. 3ff., Peter uses third person plural pronouns and verbal references to refer to a different group —namely, the “scoffing mockers”: “Mockers will come [ἐλεύσονται] with THEIR mocking following after THEIR [αὐτῶν] own lusts” (v. 3), “it escapes THEIR [αὐτοὺς] notice” (v. 5).
- Then in v. 8, Peter refers back to his own reading audience (the elect) using second person plural references: “But do not let this one fact escape YOUR [ὑμᾶς] notice, beloved,”—contra the third person reference group—“them,” the unsaved scoffers.
Therefore, in light of Peter’s own defining context (second coming of Christ) and the clear differentiation he makes between the two groups (scoffers and the elect), we now can simply and appropriately interpret v. 9:
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as SOME [third person plural—the scoffers] count slowness, but is patient toward YOU [ὑμᾶς—second person plural—his audience, the elect], not wishing [βούλομαι, lit., “purposing, intending”] for ANY to perish [“any” of “You”], but for all (i.e., All of ‘you’] to come to repentance.” Hence, God does not purpose or intend any of His elect to perish, but all come to repentance and life in His Son: “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me. . . . 39 [and I will] raise it up on the last day” (John 6:37, 39).
Also note, there is a variant of the pronoun in v. 9 in which the TR contains—ἡμᾶς (“us”), “but is longsuffering to us-ward. . . .” (KJV). However, both variants (“you” or “us”) affirm the same thing.
Lastly, although I see this as a valid interpretation consistent to biblical affirmation of particular redemption, there is another interpretation within the Reformed tradition. It draws emphasis on the two wills of God. In this view, various Scriptures sees God’s desire for the lost would repent and come to Him in order for salvation (cf. Ezek. 18:23, 32; 33:11; Jonah 4:11; etc.); and the call to repentance is given to all men (Luke 24:46-47; Acts 17:30-31).
Thus, in one sense (preferential will) God loves all of humanity, not wanting any to perish, but all come to repentance. But in another sense (decretive will), He sovereignly elects all whom He intends to save. Calvin speaks of this view regarding 2 Peter 3:9: “So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost” (Calvin Commentaries, 419).
Although, this view certainly has merit, I find stronger contextual reasons for the former. However, note, of the two views, non carry the Arminian notion of a universal self-determination ability of the unregenerate.