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27 August 2019

New Creation and the Coming of Jesus


John sees New Jerusalem Descending
[2 Peter 3:10-13] – “Seeing that all these things are thus to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you all the while to be in holy ways of behavior and acts of godliness, expecting and hastening the coming of the day of God, by reason of which heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and elements are to be melted, becoming intensely hot. But new heavens and a new earth according to his promise are we expecting, wherein righteousness is to dwell.”
Peter begins with a warning: “In the last days there will come scoffers with scoffing, declaring, where is the promise of his coming, for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” This suggests growing weariness and discouragement at an apparent “delay” in the promised coming of Jesus, which deceivers exploit. Instead of all the expected terrestrial and cosmic upheaval, daily life went on as it always had.
The Greek word for “coming” is parousia, a noun meaning “advent, arrival, coming, presence.” It is used several times in the New Testament for the return of Jesus (Matthews 24:27, 24:37, 24:39, 1 Corinthians 5:23, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 4:15-17, 5:23, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2:8-9, James 5:7-8, 1 John 2:28).
Peter reminds his readers of God’s past acts. Not only did He create the earth in the beginning, later, but He also destroyed much of it in the flood. Instead, scoffers choose to remain ignorant of the obvious. Not only so, but they also forget that the “heavens and the earth that now are, by the same word have been stored with fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly men.”
Peter next argues that the apparent “delay” is not a delay at all; rather, it is evidence of God’s mercy. “One day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” God is not bound by man’s expectations and timetables.  He is “not slack concerning his promise but long-suffering, not wanting anyone to perish but that all should come to repentance.” God’s “delay” is for humanity’s sake to give the Gospel time and opportunity to reach all men and women.
Nonetheless, the “Day of the Lord” must come and its arrival will be like that of a thief; unexpected, sudden, its timing unforeseeable (Matthew 24:42-43, Luke 12:39, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, Revelation 3:3, 16:1). When the day arrives, “the heavens with a rushing noise will pass away, while elements becoming intensely hot will be dissolved.” This description parallels others that link terrestrial and celestial disruption with the coming of Jesus and the Day of the Lord (e.g., Matthew 24:29, Revelation 6:12-17). This describes nothing less than the dissolution of the old created order.
This does not mean the destruction of God’s creation but the replacement of the old order with the “new heavens and new earth wherein righteousness is to dwell.” The disruption of the existing order prepares for the new one, and this is “according to promise.” The last clause echoes a promise from Isaiah 65:17, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth” (cp. Isaiah 66:22).
Peter refers to the “coming of the Day of God.” “Coming” is once again parousia. The “day of God” is synonymous with the “Day of the Lord.” Peter, thus, places the coming of the Lord, the Day of the Lord, and the “day of God” at the same time; the arrival of Jesus is the Day of the Lord (cp. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).
To summarize, Peter locates the following events at the time of the Lord’s “coming”:
1.     The judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
2.    The Day of the Lord.
3.    The dissolution of the old creation order.
4.    The inauguration of the New Creation.
This passage is incompatible with Premillennialism, especially the doctrines of the Rapture and the Millennium. According to Peter, the parousia of Jesus ushers in the Day of the Lord, the final judgment, and the New Creation, all of which leaves no room for a tribulation period subsequent to the arrival of Jesus. Regardless of its duration, the tribulation must precede the parousia of Christ.
Likewise, the passage has no room for an interim period of a thousand years following Christ’s return during which sin and death still occur (or any other length). Peter’s explanation simply allows no room for any interim period; in his scenario events reach their conclusion with the “coming” of Jesus and the “Day of the Lord.”
The Apostle concludes with an exhortation for right Christian conduct and holy living, especially in the light of all that is coming. If anything,, doing so may “hasten the arrival of the Day of God.”

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