What does 2 Peter 3:5 mean?
ESV: For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,
NIV: But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.
NASB: 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,
CSB: They deliberately overlook this: By the word of God the heavens came into being long ago and the earth was brought about from water and through water.
NLT: They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.
KJV: For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:
NKJV: For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
Verse Commentary:
In the previous verse, Peter described the mockery of the false teachers. These men are trying to deceive Christians in the early church by asking, "Where is Jesus? He promised to return, but it's been too long. If He were really coming back to judge the world, He would have been here by now."

This claim is both short-sighted and incomplete. It also leads to a very wrong conclusion: that God does not intervene in the physical world. It assumes that He always lets the world run along without interference. So, the thought goes, Jesus isn't coming in glory to disrupt the status quo. There will not be a judgment. We are free to do whatever we want without ever having to worry about God judging us for sin.

Now Peter reveals the flaw in their deceptive argument: They are deliberately forgetting some huge details. First, they forget the origin of the very world they say will just keep going the way it always has. God made it in the first place. He intervened right from the beginning by creating it. He designed all the laws and processes by which the world continues to run. He can disrupt or override those processes any time He likes.

The heavens came into being by God's Word, Peter writes. That same powerful Word is what the false teachers now mock when they dismiss the return of Christ and God's judgment for sin. False teachers suggest that the consistency of the physical world is evidence of God's unwillingness to act, which is simply foolish. God will do as He will with His creation, and judgment is coming.

The view of the mockers and false teachers is also contradicted by history. In the next verse, Peter will refer to Noah's flood. This is a crystal clear example of God intervening in the physical world to judge the sins of humanity. The earth was formed out water and by water, Peter writes, and then God used water to destroy nearly all the life He had created on the earth.
Verse Context:
2 Peter 3:1–13 includes Peter’s dismantling of the arguments of the false teachers. They will scoff because Christ’s promised return has not yet happened, and the world continues on as if nothing will ever change. Peter reminds Christians that God made the world and Noah’s flood is evidence that He is willing to alter it in order to bring judgment on the sins of humanity. In the coming judgment, everything will be destroyed and laid bare with fire. Christians look forward to the new heavens and earth which will come after.
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.
Accessed 5/18/2024 6:13:39 PM
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