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2 Peter 3:5-8

5. 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:

5. Nam hoe nesciunt volentes. quòd caeli jam olim fuerint, et terra ex aqua, et per aquam consistens, Dei sermone;

6. Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

6. Per quae mundus qui tunc erat, aqua inundatus periit:

7. But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

7. Qui autem nunc sunt coeli et terra, ejusdem sermone repositi sunt, et servantur igni in diem judicii et perditionis impiorum.

8. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

8. Porri, ne hoc unum nos lateat, dilecti, quòd unus dies apud Dominum perinde est ut mille anni, et mille anni ut dies unus.

 

5. For this they willingly are ignorant of. By one argument only he confutes the scoff of the ungodly, even by this, that the world once perished by a deluge of waters, when yet it consisted of waters. (Genesis 1:2.) And as the history of this was well known, he says that they willingly, or of their own accord, erred. For they who infer the perpetuity of the world from its present state, designedly close their eyes, so as not to see so clear a judgment of God. The world no doubt had its origin from waters, for Moses calls the chaos from which the earth emerged, waters; and further, it was sustained by waters; it yet pleased the Lord to use waters for the purpose of destroying it. It hence appears that the power of nature is not sufficient to sustain and preserve the world, but that on the contrary it contains the very element of its own ruin, whenever it may please God to destroy it.

For it ought always to be borne in mind, that the world stands through no other power than that of God's word, and that therefore inferior or secondary causes derive from him their power, and produce different effects as they are directed. Thus through water the world stood, but water could have done nothing of itself, but on the contrary obeyed God's word as an inferior agent or element. As soon then as it pleased God to destroy the earth, the same water obeyed in becoming a ruinous inundation. We now see how egregiously they err, who stop at naked elements, as though there was perpetuity in them, and their nature were not changeable according to the bidding of God.

By these few words the petulance of those is abundantly refuted, who arm themselves with physical reasons to fight against God. For the history of the deluge is an abundantly sufficient witness that the whole order of nature is governed by the sole power of God. (Genesis 7:17.)

It seems, however, strange that he says that the world perished through the deluge, when he had before mentioned the heaven and the earth. To this I answer, that the heaven was then also submerged, that is, the region of the air, which stood open between the two waters. For the division or separation, mentioned by Moses, was then confounded. (Genesis 1:6;) and the word heaven is often taken in this sense. if any wishes for more on this subject, let him read Augustine on the City of God. Lib. 20. 178178     The two verses, the fifth and the sixth, have been differently explained. “The earth,” say some, “subsisting from water and through water,” that is, emerging from water and made firm and solid by means of water; which is true, for through moisture the earth adheres together and becomes a solid mass. Others render the last clause, “in water,” or in the midst of water, that is, surrounded by water; and this is the most suitable meaning.
   The δι ᾿ ὧν at the beginning of the sixth verse, refers, according to Beza, Whitby, and others, to the heavens and the earth in the preceding verse, the deluge being occasioned by “the windows of heaven being opened,” and “the fountains of the great deep being broken up.” (Genesis 7:11.) “By which (or by the means of which) the world at that time, being overflowed with water, was destroyed.”

   The objection to this view is, as justly stated by Macknight, that the correspondence between this verse and the following is thereby lost: the reservation of the world to be destroyed by fire is expressly ascribed, in verse seventh, to God’s word; and to the same ought the destruction of the old world to be ascribed. This is doubtless the meaning required by the passage, but “which” being in the plural, creates a difficulty, and there is no different reading. Macknight solves the difficulty by saying that the plural “which” or whom, refers to “word,” meaning Christ, and “God,” as in the first verse of this chapter, “in both which,” a reference is made to what is implied in “the second Epistle,” that is, the first. He supposes that there is here the same anomalous mode of speaking. But the conjecture which has been made is not improbable, that it is a typographical mistake, ὧν being put for οὗ or for ὃν. Then the meaning would be evident; and the two parts would correspond the one with the other:

   5. “For of this they are wilfully ignorant, that the heavens existed of old and the earth (which subsisted from water and in water,) by
6. the word of God; by which the world at that time, being over-
7. flowed with water, was destroyed. But the present heavens and the earth are by His word reserved, being kept for fire to the day of judgment and of the perdition of ungodly men.”

   By “word” here is meant command, or power, or the fiat by which the world was created; and by the same it was destroyed, and by the same it will be finally destroyed. Instead of αὐτῶ “the same” Griesbach has introduced into his text αὐτοῦ, “His.” — Ed

7. But the heavens and the earth which are now. He does not infer this as the consequence; for his purpose was no other than to dissipate the craftiness of scoffers respecting the perpetual state of nature, and we see many such at this day who being slightly embued with the rudiments of philosophy, only hunt after profane speculations, in order that they may pass themselves off as great philosophers.

But it now appears quite evident from what has been said, that there is nothing unreasonable in the declaration made by the Lord, that the heaven and the earth shall hereafter be consumed by fire, because the reason for the fire is the same as that for the water. For it was a common saying even among the ancients, that from these two chief elements all things have proceeded. But as he had to do with the ungodly, he speaks expressly of their destruction.

8. But be not ignorant of this one thing. He now turns to speak to the godly; and he reminds them that when the coming of Christ is the subject, they were to raise upwards their eyes, for by so doing, they would not limit, by their unreasonable wishes, the time appointed by the Lord. For waiting seems very long on this account, because we have our eyes fixed on the shortness of the present life, and we also increase weariness by computing days, hours, and minutes. But when the eternity of God's kingdom comes to our minds, many ages vanish away like so many moments.

This then is what the Apostle calls our attention to, so that we may know that the day of resurrection does not depend on the present flow of time, but on the hidden purpose of God, as though he had said, “Men wish to anticipate God for this reason, because they measure time according to the judgment of their own flesh; and they are by nature inclined to impatience, so that celerity is even delay to them: do ye then ascend in your minds to heaven, and thus time will be to you neither long nor short.”


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