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The Promise of the Lord’s Coming


This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you 2that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles. 3First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts 4and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” 5They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, 6through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. 7But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.

8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Final Exhortation and Doxology

14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. 17You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. 18But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

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

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