PMW 2018-104 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

As we ring out the old year and ring in the new, it might be encouraging for us to consider the biblical concept of the new creation. The key passage presenting the consummate new heavens and new earth is found in 2 Peter 3. Unfortunately, this passage creates much confusion among interpreters.

Some dispensationalists hold that it refers to the earthly millennium, while others argue that it speaks of the consummate new creation (e.g., John Walvoord). Some postmillennialists teach that it refers to the present era introduced by Jerusalem’s destruction (e.g., David Chilton), while others apply it to the consummate new heavens and new earth (e.g., Robert Dabney). Many amillennialists refer all new creation references in Scripture solely to the final consummate order, allowing this passage to control all others (e.g., Philip Hughes). Some hyper-preterists see the spiritual new creation occurring after a literal first century rapture at AD 70 (e.g., J. Stuart Russell).

A part of the problem with 2 Peter 3 lies in the fact that the passage employs terminology that sometimes designates the spiritual new creation and at other times the destruction of physical Jerusalem in AD 70. But similarity does not entail identity. This passage does not speak of either the present spiritual new creation (cf. Isa 65:17) or the future Jerusalem conflagration (as does Heb 12:25–29). It points instead to the consummate order which follows the resurrection and the final judgment. Note the following arguments.

The Climax of the Book of Revelation (Rev 19-22)

Six lectures on six DVDs that introduce Revelation as a whole, then focuses on its glorious conclusion. Provides an important, lengthy Introduction to Revelation also.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

(1) Peter’s whole thrust in his second epistle promotes a spiritual perseverance for the historical long run. That is, he writes about a long period in history that finally ends up in the eternal new creation. He is not writing about the spiritual new order arriving shortly after he dies, the new covenant era of the post-AD 70 world.

Peter urges his readers to persevere (2Pe 1:6) and warns against short-sightedness (1:9). He states that Christians may have access to the eternal kingdom of Jesus Christ only through long-term perseverance (1:10–11, 19). He does this by presenting Noah and Lot as examples of saints who persevere through evil times (like the evil times his faithful readers are facing). By persevering against their ungodly cultures, Noah and Lot come out on the other end of God’s judgment still upon the earth (2Pe 2:5, 7, 9). So Peter’s readers should expect to come out on the other end of the chaos surrounding them (2:9a) — still on the earth because of God’s power to deliver. God delivers Noah and Lot so that his name will continue on earth through their witness (2:6b; cp. 1:8) and offspring (2:5b) to live into the distant future. Thus, those first century Christians should expect their offspring to continue into the distant future (cp. 1:15). They must persevere even against false teachers who will arise among them (2:1). He is urging the Christians toward a long term commitment, not a short-term expectation.

As a part of his argument in this context, Peter teaches that ever since those judgments in the Old Testament long ago God has kept unrighteous angels in “pits of darkness, reserved for judgment” (2Pe 2:4) and “the unrighteous [tormentors of Noah and Lot] under punishment for the day of judgment” (2:9). That is, though these evil ones suffered temporal judgment long ago, they are still to this day awaiting a final, eternal judgment in the future. Similarly, Peter will be showing his faithful readers that they too have something reserved for them in the future. After they endure temporal judgments in their own time, they can expect something glorious: “we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (3:13). Thus, he parallels God’s reserving future judgment for those evil characters with his reserving future blessing for his faithful Christians — blessings not just a few years away (AD 70), but at a great distance. Indeed, “the present heavens and earth,” he notes, “are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and the destruction of ungodly men” (3:7).

The Book of Revelation Made Easy
(by Ken Gentry)

Helpful introduction to Revelation presenting keys for interpreting. Also provides studies of basic issues in Revelation’s story-line.|

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com

So then, while contemplating God’s judgment cleansing of the earth in Noah’s day (2Pe 3:6), Peter urges Christians to many “holy livings” and “pieties” (en hagiais anastrophais kai eusebeiais, 2Pe 3:11). These Greek plurals occur only here in Scripture. This suggests many acts of righteousness over the historical long term. Consequently, the epistle also ends with a call to perseverance (3:15, 17), just as it opens with such (1:6, 9). He calls on them to glorify Christ now and until “the day of eternity” (eis hemeran aionos) begins, whenever that may be (3:18).

Continued in next article. Unless the world ends, in which case I renounce my theories. 🙂

Tagged: ,

4 thoughts on “2 PETER 3 AND THE CONSUMMATION (1)

  1. Caique Matheus Ribeiro Calixto June 1, 2020 at 1:01 pm

    My name is Caique. I have learned so much from you. I have a doubt. 1 Peter 4:7 is about segund coming? Or Peter is speaking about destruction of Jerusalem?

  2. Kenneth Gentry June 3, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    1 Peter 4:7 refers to the Second Coming/Final Judgment eschatological complex of events.

    Peter’s point in v. 7 is particularly that the persecuted saints there in Pontus, Galatia, Asia, etc. (1 Pet. 1:1) will be vindicated by God. Their Gentile persecutors will be judged (1 Pet. 4:3–5). He is not referring to Jerusalem saints being vindicated by the destruction of the temple. Or the victory of Rome in AD 70. In the context Peter notes that God will judge all men who ever lived (whether alive at that time or dead, v. 5). Of course, all saints will be vindicated whenever in history they live and wherever in the world they exist. Nevertheless, though Peter’s point is expressly for his audience in Pontus, we too can rejoice in the Judgment’s universal significance and expect the same in our circumstances.

    The word translated “ready” (Gk. etoimos) in v. 5, means “prepared, equipped, readiness”: “they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” Christ is equipped for and able to judge the wicked. Because of the suffering and resurrection of Christ (1 Pet. 1:3–4, 11, 18–21; 3:17–18; 4:1), he is prepared for Judgment Day. This term “ready” is not referring to the timing of the event but the righteous preparation for it.

    In v. 7, the “end” (Gk. telos) does not refer to the temporal conclusion of something, but the goal or purpose that is in view. The last stage of redemption has been entered into because of Jesus’ resurrection, which introduces the “last days” that will lead up to the “last day.”

    Thus, the persecuted saints in Pontus must recognize that their vindication is coming in the judgment of their persecutors. Even if the persecutors die before he comes, they will be judged nevertheless (v. 5).

    The goal (“end”) of all things that is in view here in v. 7 is the final stage of redemption, the final period of the development of God’s plan for history which will bring about the judgment. Therefore, the saints in Pontus need to be of sound judgment and sober spirit (v. 7b).

  3. Ben S July 1, 2021 at 9:47 am

    Dr. Gentry, thank you for your work! Could you engage with Chilton’s/DeMar’s work on these passages? Blessings!

  4. Kenneth Gentry July 6, 2021 at 10:49 am

    I will probably touch on this in my Matthew 21-25 commentary. When I am able to pick up on my research on that commentary again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: