2 Peter 3:3-14
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 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. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless (bold for emphasis).
In this passage there are three different references to His coming: the “promise of His coming” (vv. 4 and 9); the “day of judgment,” or the “day of the Lord” (vv. 7 and 10); and the “day of God” (v. 12). The “promise of His coming” I think is a general reference to His coming, which includes both phases of His coming. Believers will of course embrace the first phase—the rapture; all others will experience His coming in the second phase, when He comes in judgment.
This second phase of His coming is called here the “day of judgment,” and also the “day of the Lord.” This coming of Christ to judge all unbelievers is again in two phases: after the 7 year tribulation, and also immediately after His 1000 year reign.
The third reference, the “day or God,” is that day that we believers are all looking for: the day when He makes all things new, when He gives us a new heaven and a new earth.
Now the teaching of this passage is that in the last days many will be boldly mocking the belief of believers that Christ is coming. They will say that He will not come to save anyone, and He will not come to punish anyone or to bring judgment on the earth. Their argument (in verse 4) is based on the belief that nature has always operated unvaryingly from the beginning without God’s interference, and will continue to do so. They believe that nothing catastrophic has ever happened, that everything in the universe is and will be stable.
But Peter offsets this argument by pointing out that the earth is not a product of a slow, consistent evolutionary process, rather, it was instantaneously and explosively created in six days. Peter also points out the fact of the universal flood, which drastically and divinely altered the original creation.
Hence, Peter points these things out to demonstrate that soon the earth will be likewise destroyed again; but this time by fire when He comes on the day of judgment (vv. 7, 10).
This day of judgment (or the day of the Lord), as I mentioned, will come in two parts: at the ends of the 7 year tribulation, and again at the end of the millennium. Peter, in this passage, seems to be speaking mainly about the second part, when everything is totally destroyed—the earth and the entire universe. The language here (vv. 10, 12) seems to indicate that there will be an atomic reaction, where the atoms, neutron, protons, and electrons will all disintegrate.
Now being a good shepherd, Peter wished to bring not only a warning of judgment, but encouragement. Here are three points of application and encouragement.
- The Lord desires all to repent (vv. 8-9). He promises us that He will come soon, but because of His patience and compassion He is waiting for all who have been elected to salvation to repent.
- In light of the Lord’s coming judgment, we ought to be stirred to holy conduct and godliness (vv. 11, 14).
- As believers we should be encouraged (vv. 13-14). Yes, we should be looking forward to His coming; for He will make all things new for us to enjoy, “in which righteousness dwells” (v. 13).