Speaking of his own days in the first century AD (cf. 1Peter 1:19-20; 4:7, 17), Peter mentions that scoffers (G1703) or mockers would arise in the last days (i.e. Peter’s days – 2Peter 3:3), who would deny the coming of the Lord, which Peter claimed would occur in the lifetimes of his first century readers (1Peter 1:5-7). These men would deny the first century coming of Christ by using the premise that everything is exactly as it had always been. That is, the Temple is still standing even though Jesus claimed it would be destroyed (cf. Matthew 23:37-38; 26:64).Where, then, is the promise of his coming (2Peter 3:3-4). If scoffers were come in the first century to deny the Apostles’ message, is it possible to know who they were?
Jude uses the same Greek word that Peter uses for scoffers (G1703), but the translators render it mockers at Jude 1:18. But notice in Jude 1:16 they (murmurers) came, walking after their own lusts, implying that they were the same kind of folks that Peter mentions (2Peter 3:3), whom Peter also mentions in 2Peter 2:10 and identifies them there as false teachers in 2Peter 2:1. However, notice that Jude warns his readers of things occurring in his day (Jude 1:17), saying remember what his readers had heard from the Apostles. The Apostles had specifically told them to beware of mockers (G1703) who would arise in the last days (Jude 1:18). The fact that the mockers or scoffers were already on the scene shows us that both Jude’s and Peter’s readers were living in the last times. Those days had already come during the first century AD.
It is really important to see how Jude describes these men in Jude 1:19. These folks are the people who “separate themselves”! Where else in the New Testament do we find people who separate themselves from the brethren? Paul mentioned in Galatians 2:12 that certain men came down from James. Apparently, they separated themselves from the brethren, because they kept the kosher laws and the tradition of the elders or the Oral Law (cf. Mark 7:3-5). We know that they separated themselves, because Peter, Barnabas and the other Jews in Galatia had to separate themselves from the believing gentiles in order to fellowship with them, the separatists or “men from James” (Galatians 2:12-13).
Moreover, Jude continues in verse-19, saying the mockers were natural (G5591) men as opposed to those who have the Spirit of God. The same Greek word is used in 1Corinthians 2:14 where Paul claims the natural man would not receive the things of the Spirit of God, because such things are foolishness, according to him. Therefore and in the context of the Jewish nation, this is how God separated those who were his (Romans 8:9). It was the Spirit of God that distinguished between the two sons of Abraham, the natural from the spiritual, Ishmael from Isaac (Galatians 4:21-26). It was in receiving of the Spirit of God that distinguished between the two covenants—the Law and Christ, or the natural and the spiritual.
In Galatians Paul asked the believers how they received God’s Spirit. Did they receive it by obeying the Law or through faith in Christ (Galatians 3:1-2)? Obviously, the Spirit of God comes through faith, but Paul then asked if the believers were so foolish to think they could perfect through the flesh what the Spirit had begun. The flesh in Galatians 3:3 is put for the Law in verse-2. In other words, Paul was contrasting the two Covenants, the old, works based, flesh based covenant and the new, faith based, Spirit based covenant. The one was made up of the children of the flesh and bondage, while the other is made up of the children of promise and free (Galatians 4:21-28).
The point is this, Peter’s scoffers (2Peter 3:3-4) were natural Jews who had never received Jesus as their Savior. Rather, they submitted to the Law and looked to obedience to it to save them. Therefore, of course, they denied Jesus’ coming in the first century AD. If they believed he would come, they would have had to have believed that he would also return to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple (Matthew 26:64). Such events didn’t fit into their worldview or things that made sense in their religious paradigm.