Monday, December 10, 2012

2 Peter 3

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The Day of the Lord Will Come (v. 1-13)

You should remember the prophecies that said that heaven and earth would perish and be replaced by a new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells.

This type of thing I find interesting, I'm not really even sure what to make of it. I remember hearing this as a kid and just being confused, and never really getting a good answer to what it means. Heaven is eternal, so why do we need a new heaven? Is the new earth where we go when we go to "heaven"? Does heaven have it's own sky and that is the new heaven of the new earth? Perhaps the confusion comes from the double use of the word heaven, for the place we go when we die and also for the sky. That's the best explanation I can come up with, but I really don't get this. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Christian commentaries have to say here.

Well, I'm disappointed, Guzik basically says nothing here. Gill just talks about things dissolving away and being replaced with something that isn't corrupted like our earth, but what about heaven? Matthew Henry similarly doesn't really explain this. Maybe I'm just missing something.

Scoffers will come in the last days and ask why Jesus hasn't returned yet. But for the lord 1000 years is like a day.

This is an answer I have seen a few times out in 'the wild' and also it has come up at least once before in the bible itself as well. It is a defense for the fact that the return of Jesus is talked about in the bible as if it was about to happen, and yet it has been 2000 years and nothing. It seems like some pretty obvious patchwork trying to cover up an obvious problem, but apart from that, I would argue that if it is correct it is still a problem.

Think about their claim, the argument is that it was the bible does indeed say that Jesus is going to come back soon, but for the lord a thousand years and a day are basically the same thing, so soon for him might be a long time for us. This demonstrates a pretty huge communication failure. Jesus was trying to tell people that he was coming back in thousands of years, and he gave them the impression that he was returning in their lifetimes. How can we trust anything else that is written in this book if such a basic thing cannot be communicated properly? You might come back at me with "He wasn't trying to tell them he was coming back in thousands of years, he wanted them to think he was coming back sooner", in that case, he was lying to them and my question still stands.

These scoffers also had something else to say that interested me, "For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation"

I'm not completely sure what this means, but I'm guessing the claim is that no miracles happen any more. If that is correct I think it is a very good question. Also, who are those fathers?

Gill says that these fathers are the first men to walk on the earth. If I'm understanding correctly, he is saying that before that time, things were different as God was creating the world, but after that things settled into business as usual which is what we see now.

Final Words (v. 14-18)

As you wait for Jesus, make sure that when he finds you, you will be without blemish and at peace.

I like the idea of being at peace, and always trying to be "without blemish" is good, sort of a catch all "be good all the time" command. Not particularly instructive but good nonetheless.

Consider the fact that he is taking so long to come back as patience on his part to let more people be saved.

I suppose there might be some logic to this idea, still hard to imagine the immense amount of time that has passed for this to still hold.

The letter of Paul, as well as the other scriptures, are sometimes hard to understand, and so the lawless can twist them to their own ends, be careful not to be swept up with those people.

This is a defense mechanism for the religion. I would also argue that it is an admission that the book is not perfect and divinely inspired. If it were, I would expect it to be constructed in such a way that it can't be used for nefarious ends.

For the overview post (If you think I should add or remove stuff from this list please let me know, I think it would make good conversation)


3:14 Be good and at peace at all times

"Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace."


3:8 God can't tell a day from a millenium

"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."


  1. Excellent point on the lack of clear communication/deception angle in reference to the the soon-on-God's-time defense. That's a great way to put it.

    Regarding the whole "new heavens and a new earth" thing, I think this is another case where the OT versus NT understandings are drastically different. The concept of "new heavens and a new earth" first appears in Isaiah 65:17, and is mentioned again in the subsequent chapter in Isaiah 66:22. If you read these two chapters, I think you will find many verses, explicitly and implicitly suggest the earth continuing on much like it had been, only in the aftermath of a great act of judgement by God. So "new earth" appears to be metaphorical, meaning that the people and nations who were in charge will be completely changed.

    I believe that the "new heavens" concept is an allusion of sorts to astrology, and was likely meant metaphorically as well. For the fundamental belief in astrology is that the heavens can reveal the path that mankind will follow, and so they are subject to those celestial bodies in a manner of speaking. So here, God is saying that, not only will there be the new world noted above, but the forces which mold the ways of mankind will also change.

    In that final line of the scoffers, I think the NIV is a better rendering:

    They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” NIV

    So I think all they are saying is effectively "Hey, you said this whole Second-Coming thing was going to happen soon, but the first generation you told that story to is now long dead, and yet life goes on with no sign what-so-ever that JC is showing up anytime soon. WTF? Is it ever going to happen?"

  2. Very interesting. The whole new heaven and new earth as a metaphor makes a hell of a lot more sense. This reads to me much more like he thinks it is literal though, it appears that this is another place that the new testament guys took a metaphor from the old testament and interpreted it as real.


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