Arlen L. Chitwood
Mockers in the Last Time
But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:
how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.
These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. (Jude 17-19)
Verses seventeen through nineteen conclude Jude’s remarks on the apostasy prophesied to prevail throughout Christendom in the latter days. And the remaining six verses in Jude (vv. 20-25) have to do with exhortations and promises to believers in the face of the existing apostasy.
In these closing remarks on apostasy in verses seventeen through nineteen, we are introduced to “mockers,” who are associated specifically with “the last time.” The apostles had previously spoken of their appearance (cf. 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:2, 3). And their appearance near the close of the dispensation results from the terminal corrupting process of the leaven that the woman placed in the three measures of meal in Matthew 13:33 (“. . . till it was all leavened”), which could only have been placed in the meal very early in the dispensation.
And because of this, one could only expect to see Satan’s most corrupt, most damaging, work occurring near the end of the dispensation when the Church finds itself rapidly moving into a completely leavened state — a state in which Christ’s question in Luke 18:8b, requiring a negative answer, will be true of the Church in a universal respect:
. . . when the Son of man comes [a Messianic title], will He really find faith [lit., ‘the faith,’ an expression having to do peculiarly with the Word of the Kingdom] on the earth?
And the spiritually destitute condition of the Church in the end-time is not really a state into which the Church is yet to move, except for the fact that the leaven is still working, producing an even more corrupt and a deeper spiritually destitute condition. Christians in the world today are living during the time prophesied in Scripture when the leavening process has already worked into the entire mass and is about to complete its deadly work.
This is a time immediately preceding Christ’s return, when the prophesied apostasy of Scripture is rapidly nearing its most intense stage. This is a time depicted by the Laodicean period of Church history seen in Revelation 3:14-21. And the present spiritual condition of the Church, typified by the spiritual condition of the Laodicean church, is described by the words, “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). It is in these days, during the very time in which the Church in the world finds itself, that the “mockers” from Jude appear in all their destructive force.
Jude’s point of termination for his discourse on apostasy is the same point of termination that Peter records in the parallel section of his second epistle. This, of course, is easy to understand, for the Holy Spirit moved both of these men to write about the same thing, revealing the end of the matter through both men (cf. Deuteronomy 17:6; 2 Corinthians 13:1). These are the words of Peter and Jude only insofar as they were the human instruments used to record the words. These passages are, as all Scripture, the very Word of God. God Himself, near the beginning of the present dispensation, revealed through Peter and Jude exactly how conditions would be at the end of the dispensation, immediately preceding His Son’s return.
Second Peter 3:1-13 forms the parallel section to Jude 17-19. In the Authorized Version of Scripture, the word “scoffers” appears in 2 Peter 3 (v. 3) rather than the word “mockers,” as in Jude. However, the same word (empaiktes) appears in both passages in the Greek text; and there can be no difference in the way that these two passages are understood, for both passages refer to the same individuals and their actions.
Empaiktes means “mocker,” or “scoffer.” The only other appearance of this word in the New Testament is in its verb form (empaizo) in the gospel accounts. With two exceptions (Matthew 2:16; Luke 14:29), empaizo is used in these accounts only in passages describing the degradation that Christ endured at the hands of both the Roman soldiers and the religious leaders in Israel during His trial and crucifixion (cf. Matthew 20:19; 27:29, 31, 41; Mark 10:34; 15:20, 31; Luke 18:32; 22:63; 23:11, 36). The same basic thought is in view throughout all these references, including 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 18.
Mockers, in the Word of God, are those who “belittle,” “ridicule,” “scorn,” “make light of” the written Word of God. And making light of the written Word is synonymous with making light of the living Word, for They are inseparably related.
(The reference to “the Word” [John 1:1, 2] “made flesh” [John 1:14] was simply the Old Testament Scriptures [inseparably identified with God] manifested in another form [in the person of the Son, God (“the Word”) manifested in the flesh].)
A cognate form of empaiktes is the word paizo used in 1 Corinthians 10:7 (the only appearance of this word in the New Testament). This word means “amuse” or “play” and is itself closely related to the word pais, meaning “child.” Thus, the thought behind paizo has to do with “acting as a child,” “childlike,” etc. Moving the thought of “acting as a child” into the rationale of the mockers in 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 18 will illustrate one facet of their actions.
Another facet of their actions can be derived from the way paizo is used in 1 Corinthians 10:7. Events in this passage have to do with the time in the wilderness of Sinai when the Israelites reveled in pagan idolatry (Exodus 32:1ff). They, reveling in this pagan idolatry, “sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6). This occurred after Moses had been away from the camp, on the mountain, for many days. The people “saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain,” and their thoughts turned to new leadership and back to the things of Egypt that they had left.
They desired to make a god (an elohim [cf. vv. 1, 4, 8, 23, 31], same Hebrew word used for the one true and living God throughout the Old Testament) who would “go before” them, for they didn’t know what had become of Moses. A “molded calf” was formed to serve as their god (their elohim), sacrifices were offered to this calf, and within the festivities surrounding these sacrifices there were times of eating and drinking. The people rising up to play during the festivities was associated with the gay times of pagan dancing, etc. attendant to such festivities. And all of these things were performed after the manner, customs, and idolatrous practices of the Egyptians.
Moses on the mountain, away from the camp of Israel for a period of time, forms a type of Christ in heaven, away from the Church for a period of time. The Israelites, because of Moses’ lengthy stay on the mountain, not knowing what had become of him, looked toward new leadership and fell into idolatry; and Christians, because of Christ’s lengthy stay in heaven, not knowing what has become of Him, have done exactly the same thing (e.g., note the “scoffers” question from 2 Peter 3:4: “Where is the promise of His coming?”).
Upon Moses’ return, God’s judgment fell upon His people (Exodus 32:15-35); and upon Christ’s return, God’s judgment will, once again, fall upon His people (Jude 14-16).
Thus, putting these things together, the “mockers” in 2 Peter and Jude are seen as individuals who have not only stood away from “the faith” but their actions are associated with both those of a child and those of the world. They, in their oft’times pretense of exhibiting a spiritually mature, superior knowledge, in reality exhibit a carnally immature, inferior knowledge (cf. 2 Peter 2:18; Jude 16). They, as their counterparts in the wilderness of Sinai during Moses’ day, revel, not in the things of God, but in the things of the world. They have rejected the wisdom that comes from above and resorted to that which is base, that which is from below.
The mockers who appear “in the last time” are said to “cause divisions” (Jude 19a). They, by and through their false doctrines, cause schisms among Christians, seeking to overthrow the faith of those to whom Jude’s epistle is addressed. They themselves are no longer earnestly striving with respect to “the faith”; and their efforts are directed toward, not those in the arena that they now occupy, but those in the arena that they left.
The method that they use to produce divisions among Christians, according to 2 Peter 3:4, is questioning the Word of God. They, in essence, sit in judgment on God.
By and through their “great swelling words” they make light of that which God has promised in His Word; and Peter, introducing his message on apostates, stated that many would follow the “destructive ways” of men such as these, “by reason of whom the way of truth” would be “evil spoken of.”
These apostates have defiled their own garments; and, through “destructive heresies,” they seek to lead other Christians to do the same (2 Peter 2:1, 2, 18).
These mockers are further described as being “sensual persons . . . not having the Spirit” (Jude 19). The word “sensual” is a translation of the Greek word psuchikos, meaning “soulical,” “natural.” The “soul” is that part of man associated with the natural life. The soul is the seat of a person’s emotions, feelings, and desires pertaining to his man-conscious existence. Christians possess an unredeemed soul, and Christians resorting to the soulical nature are following the man of flesh rather than the man of spirit.
The thought in this passage is not at all that the Spirit of God does not indwell these individuals, for He indwells every believer; and these are “apostates” — believers who have stood away from “the faith.” The thought centers on the fact that here are individuals who, within their apostasy, now “mock” the things of God. They follow the ways of the man of flesh, and the Spirit of God has nothing to do with the entire matter. The leaven has done its work, everything is alien to the Spirit’s control, and these apostates are completely estranged from the Spirit’s work in their lives.
(An unsaved person, unlike a saved person, is spiritually dead. He is no more in a position to act in the spiritual realm, understand spiritual truth, than a physically dead person is in a position to move about in the physical realm.
A similar situation exists between Christians who have an understanding of the Word of the Kingdom and the apostates existing among these Christians [along with numerous other Christians in the Laodicean church of today who would not be considered true apostates but still have no understanding of, and often have an aversion to, the message concerning the coming kingdom of Christ].
One group is spiritually attuned to the Word of the Kingdom, and they can not only understand the message but they can experience spiritual growth through a continued study of the message. The other group though is completely estranged from the Spirit’s work in this respect. And, relative to the Word of the Kingdom, they find themselves in a similar position, spiritually, to that of the unsaved person. Their spiritual senses either remain or have become so dulled and deadened that they cannot understand any more about the message than an unsaved person can understand about it [cf. Hebrews 5:13, 14].
And this, of course, will explain one aspect of what the working of the leaven has done over time. Christendom, at the end of the dispensation, could not possibly exist after any other fashion. Scripture is quite clear on this matter.)
1) Where Is The Promise Of His Coming?
The pseudo message proclaimed by the mockers who appear during the latter days is given in 2 Peter 3:4. This message involves a naturalistic, uniformitarian outlook that smacks at the very heart of all prophetic Scripture:
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 message, sequentially, appears immediately following Enoch’s prophecy. Enoch prophesied during the days before the Flood — five millennia ago — concerning the very thing that the mockers of the end-time deny. Enoch’s prophecy pertained to a judgment that would come upon the mockers, other apostates, and all other Christians — faithful and unfaithful alike — at the time of Christ’s return. The Lord is going to “judge His people”; and Scripture states, concerning Christians in relation to this judgment:
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:30, 31; cf. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11)
Many Christians deny that such a judgment will occur, but the mockers carry this one step further and deny the very return of Christ to bring about this judgment. They deny Enoch’s prophecy in toto.
God, in His Word, is very specific and clear concerning the fact of His Son’s return. Jesus will return; and insofar as Scripture is concerned, that’s the end of the matter. The subject is not open for discussion.
Jesus’ words, “And if I go . . . I will come again” (John 14:3a), mean exactly what they say. He has gone away to prepare a place for Christians, fulfilling the first part of this verse; and He will come again to receive Christians unto Himself, fulfilling the latter part of this verse.
His departure, as Moses’ departure to the mountain, was fulfilled in a literal manner; and His return, as Moses’ return back to the camp, will, likewise, be fulfilled in a literal manner.
Moses, prior to his departure, promised that he would return, and he did (Exodus 24:15; 32:15ff); Christ, prior to His departure, promised that He would return, and He will (John 14:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
The mockers, however, in spite of all the great prophecies of Scripture, ridicule and belittle the doctrine of Christ’s return. Their reasoning is built around a naturalistic, uniformitarian premise that nothing has changed since the creation of the heavens and the earth, and nothing is going to change. Time, as we know it, will continue on and on, uninterrupted. God is not going to intervene in affairs as they relate to the earth or to man. He has not so done in the past, nor will He so do in the future. This is their reasoning, but this is not at all in accord with that which the Word of God has to say about the matter.
2) Willingly Are Ignorant (KJV: 2 Peter 3:5)
The interesting point that Scripture reveals concerning these mockers and their message is the fact that they are willingly ignorant concerning their false claims of uniformitarian theology. The word “ignorant” in the Greek text is lanthano, which means to “escape notice,” or “be hidden.” They have willingly allowed that which Scripture has to say about the matter to escape their notice, be hidden from them.
They are in a position to understand God’s Word. They possess a saved human spirit into which the Word of God can be received, and they possess the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead them into “all truth.” But they have resorted to the soulical man, rejecting the leadership of the Holy Spirit in their lives (Jude 19). Through this means, they have willingly allowed a veil to be placed over their eyes (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:3-5).
That which the mockers have willingly allowed to be hidden from them is something that would expose the entire pseudo uniformitarian claim upon which their pseudo message rests. They seek to substantiate their question concerning Christ’s return by resorting to that which is itself false (a naturalistic, uniformitarian premise). And the Holy Spirit, through Peter, showing the utter futility of their ways, exposes their pseudo message by destroying the false premise upon which it is built.
The Holy Spirit draws from biblical history to show that all things have not continued “as they were from the beginning of creation.” God has intervened in affairs as they relate to this earth in the past (vv. 5, 6). The Holy Spirit then advances this same thought into the future to show that all things will not continue indefinitely as they presently exist. God will intervene once again in affairs as they relate to this earth (v. 7).
3) The World That Then Existed
Second Peter 3:6 has to do with a destruction of the world following its creation, referred to in verse four. There is some controversy in theological circles concerning whether this pertains to the pre-Adamic destruction in Genesis 1:2a or to the post-Adamic destruction produced by the Flood during Noah’s day (Genesis 6-8). Either of these destructions would serve to expose the mockers’ false uniformitarian ideology in verse four. However, even though this is true, it must be kept in mind that Scripture at this point is only dealing with one of these two destructions; and it is necessary that the correct destruction be ascertained in order to properly understand this section of the Word of God.
As will be shown, “the world that then existed,” refers to the pre-Adamic world, not to the post-Adamic world of Noah’s day. Peter dealt with the Noachian Flood in chapter two (v. 5), but in chapter three he dealt with something entirely different.
First of all, the text has to do with a destruction of the earth following its creation, not a destruction of the earth following its restoration. This destruction came upon a creation which, “by the word of God,” was “of old” (v. 5). These words are a direct allusion to the creation of the heavens and the earth in verse four, referring back to Genesis 1:1. The world of Genesis 1:1 (a cosmos, an orderly arrangement) is the world that was destroyed (became a chaos) in 2 Peter 3:6. Genesis 1:2a, revealing this destruction, forms the Old Testament commentary for 2 Peter 3:6, not the Flood during Noah’s day.
Second, the parallel drawn between past and future destructions in 2 Peter 3:5-7 will show that only the destruction of Genesis 1:2a can possibly be under consideration in verse six. The pre-Adamic destruction was quite different than the post-Adamic destruction during Noah’s day. The destruction of Genesis 1:2a involved not only the earth but the heavens as well. The light of the sun, moon, and stars was blotted out (cf. Genesis 1:2a, 3, 14-19). Nothing comparable to this occurred during the Noachian Flood.
Second Peter 3:7, paralleling the past destruction, reveals a future destruction of the earth that will also include the heavens. Thus, in the sense of parallel counterparts — comparing past and future destructions, revealing a textual parallel — only the destruction of Genesis 1:2a can be considered as the past destruction to which the text refers.
Further, the emphasis, and really the only matter under consideration in the pre-Adamic destruction, was upon the material creation, as in the future destruction. However, the emphasis or main thrust of the matter under consideration in the destruction during Noah’s day was upon a people inhabiting this material creation — upon the people of the earth. The pre-Adamic destruction was of such a nature that God had to restore the heavens and the earth. This He did over the six-day period of Genesis 1:2b-25. God brought into existence order out of disorder. He brought into existence a cosmos out of a chaos. The destruction during Noah’s day, however, was quite different. The heavens were untouched, and the earth itself was not destroyed in the same sense as the destruction in Genesis 1:2a. No restoration of the earth followed the Flood during Noah’s day, as in the pre-Adamic destruction, simply because no restoration per se was necessary.
4) The Heavens And The Earth Which Are Now
The expression, “the heavens and the earth which are now,” refers to the heavens and the earth existing since the restoration of Genesis 1:2b-25. Both the heavens and the earth were destroyed in the previous destruction, and both will be destroyed in the future destruction. This future destruction will occur at the end of the coming Day of the Lord, at the end of the Messianic Era.
At the close of the millennial reign of Christ the present heavens and earth will, through a destructive process, pass out of existence; and a new heavens and earth will, through a creative process, be brought into existence (2 Peter 3:7, 10-13; cf. Isaiah 65:17).
Following “the Day of the Lord,” following the time of the destruction of the present heavens and earth and the creation of a new heavens and earth, “the day of God” will be ushered in (2 Peter 3:12). Immediately prior to this time, at the conclusion of the Day of the Lord, the Son will hand over “the kingdom to God the Father.” All rule, authority, and power will have been “put down,” abolished; “the last enemy,” death, will have been “destroyed”; all things will have been placed under the Son’s “feet,” “made subject to Him.”
Then the kingdom, in this state, will be handed over to God the Father that “God may be all in all [lit., ‘God may be all things in all of these things’]” (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). At this time, at the end of the Day of the Lord and the beginning of the Day of God, the first of the endless ages, comprising eternity, will commence.
Mockers in the last days have willingly allowed both biblical history and biblical prophecy to escape their notice. The leaven in the meal has accomplished its deteriorating work, and this leaven will be allowed to continue working — the mockers will be allowed to continue their pseudo message — until Christ Himself returns and puts a stop to the entire matter.
That is, the mockers will be allowed to continue their pseudo message until the time when the very event that they have been speaking against occurs. They will then be brought into judgment, as unfaithful servants, to render an account.
God has intervened in affairs as they relate to this earth and/or man in the past, and God will intervene yet future. Make no mistake about these matters, for they have been set forth in an unchangeable manner in biblical history and biblical prophecy.
This One Thing
But, beloved, do not forget (KJV: be not ignorant of) this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)
Peter’s summation of the matter concerning “the world that then existed” and “the heavens and the earth which are now” involves a period of time referred to by the expressions “day” and “one thousand years”; and Peter does not want Christians to be ignorant concerning this time.
The word “ignorant” (KJV) is a translation of the Greek word lanthano, the same as in verse five; and the manner in which the prohibition appears in the Greek text of verse eight indicates that those addressed were, as the mockers in verse five, allowing something to escape their notice. Literally, Peter states: “But, beloved, stop allowing this one thing to escape your notice, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
1) One Day, One Thousand Years
The time in verse eight is to be ascertained by reference to the preceding verses. These preceding verses set forth biblical history as it relates to biblical prophecy. This section covers the complete scope of revealed events pertaining to the heavens and the earth — from the point of their creation, through the time of their first destruction, to the time of their second and final destruction.
Time, however, does not come into view until the restoration of the ruined creation following its first destruction. Behind this is a dateless past, wherein time, insofar as the revealed scope of time in Scripture is concerned, is not reckoned. Thus, time in verse eight, within its context, must be reckoned to begin at the point of the restoration of the heavens and the earth (“the heavens and the earth which are now”) in verse seven.
Second Peter 3:5-8 can be outlined under four headings: Creation, Ruin, Restoration, and Rest.
a) Creation (v. 5b): Parallel 2 Peter 3:5b with Genesis 1:1.
. . . by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water [the earth having been placed together out of water and between water]. (2 Peter 3:5b)
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
b) Ruin (v. 6): Parallel 2 Peter 3:6 with Genesis 1:2a
by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
(2 Peter 3:6)
And the earth was [became] without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep [became upon the face of the raging waters]. (Genesis 1:2a)
c) Restoration (v. 7): Parallel 2 Peter 3:7a with Genesis 1:2b-25.
But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word . . . [ref. v. 5]. (2 Peter 3:7a)
And the Spirit of God was hovering over (KJV: moved upon) the face of the waters [beginning the restoration process for “the heavens and the earth which are now’] . . . . (Genesis 1:2b)
d) Rest (v. 8): Parallel 2 Peter 3:8 with the septenary arrangement of time set forth in Genesis 1:2b-2:3.
(God worked six days and rested the seventh in the past restoration; and, following man’s sin, bringing both himself and the material creation under “the bondage of corruption,” God began working to bring about another restoration — that of the creature and the creation.
The latter restoration and rest is patterned after the former. God will, once again, work six days and rest the seventh. In the latter restoration and rest, each day is one thousand years in length. This is the teaching set forth in 2 Peter 3:8.
Note that within the septenary arrangement of time in 2 Peter 3:8 attention can be directed only to the restoration of the heavens and the earth destroyed in Genesis 1:2a. Thus, the destructions of Genesis 1:2a and 2 Peter 3:6 MUST be looked upon as synonymous, for the septenary arrangement of time in verse eight is drawn from its context [vv. 5-7].
Note also that the epistle beginning in chapter one [vv. 15-18; cf. Matthew 16:28-17:5], is seen to be built around the same septenary structure that pervades all Scripture.
Refer to the author’s book, The Study of Scripture, Chapters 2-4 for a detailed discussion of the septenary structure of Scripture.)
2) The Sabbath
According to Exodus 31:13-17, the Sabbath was given to Israel to keep the thought ever before them that the present six- and seven-day (six- and seven-thousand-year) pattern of restoration and rest is based on the original pattern of restoration and rest in Genesis chapters one and two. Just as God rested on the seventh day following six days of restorative work in the Genesis account, He is going to rest for one day following the present six days of restorative work.
The Sabbath was “a sign” established between God and the children of Israel forever. It was a sign that drew from the day of rest in Genesis 2:2, 3 and pointed forward to that coming day of rest yet future.
Every time the Israelites kept the Sabbath they were acknowledging the God-ordained pattern of one day of rest following six days of work. They were acknowledging that the six and seven days of Genesis chapters one and two form a pattern of God’s present restorative work and future rest.
Their failure to keep the Sabbath, on the other hand, was looked upon as a rejection of this truth. Such failure always ultimately resulted in God’s judgment, with dire consequences befalling both individuals and the nation as a whole (cf. Numbers 15:32-36; 2 Chronicles 36:18-21).
The present day counterpart to the Israelites failure to keep the Sabbath, and thereby rejecting that which God had to say concerning a day of rest following six days of work, is Christians who reject that which Scripture has to say concerning the coming Sabbath of rest. These individuals in Christendom today are known as “amillennialists,” a word designating their belief that there will be no Millennium or Sabbath rest following the present six days of work.
And it should come as no surprise that amillennial teaching has become far more prevalent in Christendom than millennial teaching. Why? Simply because of the corrupting process of the leaven over a period of nineteen hundred years. God judged the Israelites in the Old Testament for their failure to recognize the sign of the Sabbath, and God will judge Christians for exhibiting this same attitude today toward that which Scripture teaches.
A Sabbath rest is coming. Hebrews 4:9 states:
There remains therefore a rest [Sabbath keeping, Sabbath rest] for the people of God.
The word translated “rest” is sabbatismos in the Greek text. This is a form of the word for “Sabbath,” referring to “a Sabbath keeping,” which is a seventh-day rest.
The allusion is by no means to a present rest into which Christians enter, for such has nothing to do with the seventh day. The sabbatismos can only be millennial in its scope of fulfillment. This is in keeping with the context (vv. 5-11), the septenary arrangement of the pattern established at the very beginning of Scripture (Genesis 1:1-2:3), the reason why the Sabbath was given to Israel in the Old Testament (Exodus 31:12-17), and the meaning of the word sabbatismos itself.
God answers the mockers in 2 Peter 3:3, 4 by calling attention to a panorama of events that encompasses the entire scope of God’s Revelation to man, written in a septenary structure, in complete keeping with the septenary arrangement of time established in the opening thirty-four verses of the book of Genesis.
All the Scriptures are about Christ (Luke 24:27), and Christ is simply the Old Testament Scriptures in the form of flesh — the Word which became flesh in the person of God’s Son (John 1:1, 2, 14). And His first coming (extensively dealt with in the Old Testament) is incomplete without His second coming (extensively dealt with in both the Old Testament and New Testament).
“Where is the promise of His coming?” It’s in Genesis… Psalms… Malachi… Matthew… Acts… Revelation. The enlightened Christian might well ask,
“Where isn’t the promise of His coming?”