New Creation and the Return of Jesus

SYNOPSIS - The Coming of Jesus will usher in the Day of the Lord, the final judgment, and the New Creation - 2 Peter 3:3-12.

Cosmos Rocky Mountains - Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash
Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash
In his second epistle, the Apostle Peter warned - “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.” Apparently, some Christian recipients of this letter were growing discouraged at an apparent “delay” in the “coming” of Jesus, an open door for deceivers to exploit. Instead of the expected terrestrial and cosmic upheaval, daily life was continuing as normal - (2 Peter 3:3-4).
  • (2 Peter 3:10-13) – “Howbeit, the day of the Lord will be here as a thief — in which the heavens with a rushing noise, will pass away, while elements becoming intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works therein will be discovered. Seeing that all these things are thus to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye all the while to be, in holy ways of behaviour and acts of godliness — Expecting and hastening the presence of the day of God by reason of which heavens, being on fire, will be dissolved, and elements, becoming intensely hot, are to be melted; But new heavens and a new earth according to his promise are we expecting, wherein, righteousness is to dwell.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
The Greek word used by Peter for “coming” is parousia, a noun that means “advent, arrival, coming, presence.” It is used several times in the New Testament for the return or “coming” of Jesus (e.g., Matthews 24:27, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).

Peter reminded his readers of the past acts of God. Not only did He create the earth, but He also destroyed much of it in the Flood. Yet the scoffers chose to remain ignorant of the obvious. Not only so, but they also forgot 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 then argued that the apparent “delay” was not a delay at all; rather, it was 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” was (and is) for the sake of humanity - 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, and its timing unforeseeable (Matthew 24:42-43, Luke 12:39, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, Revelation 3:3, 16:1).
When the day does arrive, “The heavens with a rushing noise will pass away, while elements becoming intensely hot will be dissolved.” The description parallels others that link terrestrial and celestial disruptions to the coming of Jesus and the “Day of the Lord.” Peter was describing nothing less than the dissolution of the old creation (Matthew 24:29Revelation 6:12-17).

This does not mean the complete annihilation of the created order but its replacement by the “new heavens and new earth wherein righteousness is to dwell.” The disruption of the existing order prepares for the arrival of 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” (Compare - Isaiah 66:22).

Mountains & Cosmos Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash
Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

Peter refers to the “coming of the Day of God.” Once again, “coming” is the translation of the term parousia. The “Day of God” is synonymous with the “Day of the Lord.” Thus, the Apostle places the coming of the Lord, the Day of the Lord, and the “Day of God” at the same time - his "arrival" in glory at the end of the present age (Compare - 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).

To summarize, Peter writes that the following events will occur the “coming” or parousia of Jesus:
  • The judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
  • The Day of the Lord.
  • The dissolution of the old creation.
  • The inauguration of the New Creation.
The parousia will usher in the “Day of the Lord,” which will include the final judgment, the destruction of the old order, and the New Creation. This leaves no room for any subsequent tribulation or another interim period after the return of Jesus.

The Apostle concluded with an exhortation for right Christian conduct and holy living, especially considering all that is coming. Doing so may even “hasten the arrival of the Day of God.”

Moreover, correct Christian practice and belief necessitate a people engaged in proclaiming the gospel to the nations - Jesus himself declared that the “end” cannot come "until this gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed to all nations.” If anything, the apparent “delay” in the return of Jesus proves the church has yet to complete its assigned task (Matthew 24:14).

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