What does 2 Peter 3:17 mean?
ESV: You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.
NIV: Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.
NASB: You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unscrupulous people and lose your own firm commitment,
CSB: Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance, be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stable position.
NLT: You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing.
KJV: 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.
NKJV: 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;
Verse Commentary:
Peter concludes his letter over these next two verses. These provide a clean, concise summary of the whole book of 2 Peter.

Once again, Peter calls his readers "beloved." He has written to them because he cares for them deeply. Peter acknowledges that his readers already know the basic truths he has delivered to them. Now, he writes that this knowledge makes them personally responsible not to be deceived. False teachers are lawless people, meaning they have rebelled against the authority of God and seek to lead others away from the Father.

Christians must sense our responsibility to continually check the content of what our teachers tell us (Acts 17:11). We must compare what others say, or proclaim, against the truth of God's Word. We are responsible not to be carried away or misled by false teaching, no matter how good and reasonable it sounds on the surface (Colossians 2:8).

Otherwise, Peter writes, we will "lose your own stability." This phrase is also translated as "fall from your secure position," or "fall from your own steadfastness." The Greek phrase uses the word ekpesēte, which literally means, "to fall," but this phrase is not indicative of salvation. The potential loss Peter has in mind is not that of eternal damnation, if we allow ourselves to be misled by false teachers. Peter, however, has written in 1 Peter 1:4–5 that a Christian's place in eternity is shielded by God's power and cannot be lost.

Others suggest that this warning applies to those who may consider themselves to be Christians but have never truly trusted in Christ.

The most defensible interpretation is that Peter refers to the confidence and sense of stability which comes from living in the truth. Peter warns against losing our intellectual and spiritual security, not our eternal salvation. There is peace which comes only from trusting God and His Word absolutely.
Verse Context:
2 Peter 3:14–18 concludes Peter’s letter. Because Christians are looking forward to the new heavens and earth, we should be working now to set aside sin and live in peace with God. Peter acknowledges that Paul is a writer of Scripture. False teachers twist the words of God. Since Christians know God’s Word, though, we are responsible not to be misled by the false teachers. Instead, we should continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus and to give Him glory.
Chapter Summary:
Peter dismantles the arguments of false teachers working to mislead Christians in the early church. He counters their idea that since Jesus has not yet returned, He must not be coming. Peter reminds His readers that God created the world. The flood of Noah's day is evidence that He is willing to bring judgment on the earth for sin. God is not late, He is patient and merciful. But the day of the Lord will come eventually. Everything will be destroyed. A new heaven and earth will be established. Christians should live as if that’s true.
Chapter Context:
After thoroughly condemning the false teachers in chapter 2, Peter now dismantles their arguments. These deceivers scoff that Christ has not returned as promised. We should doubt Christ's return, they say, since the world goes along as it always has and always will. Peter reminds his readers that God is the one who made the world. Noah’s flood is evidence of His willingness to alter the course of nature in order to bring judgment on humanity for sin. Christians should be looking forward to the new heavens and earth, rejecting false teaching, and leading holy lives.
Book Summary:
Apparently written shortly before his death in the AD 60s, 2 Peter may have been written to the same audience as 1 Peter, which was Christians scattered by persecution. Peter writes this letter to encourage Christians to live out the purpose of their lives in Christ. He warns readers to beware of teachers who claim to be believers, but present a false version of Christianity. And, Peter calls on all Christians to eagerly watch and wait for the return of the Lord.
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