Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the 1901 American Standard Version.
2 Peter 3:1-13
1 This is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by putting you in remembrance; 2 that ye should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles: 3 knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts, 4 and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they wilfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God; 6 by which means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 but the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But forget not this one thing, beloved, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to youward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, 12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
We have before us a passage where Peter compares the destruction of the world through the flood with the destruction of the universe. This is another significant passage in our series relating to the Kingdom of Christ, for it again provides no room for a future 1000 year kingdom, as taught by premillennialism. A casual reading of this passage may not reveal that, but a careful and detailed look makes it really clear:
There are six key phrases in this passage that all refer to the same event:
“in the last days” (vs. 3)
“promise of his coming” (vs. 4)
“the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (vs. 7)
“the day of the Lord” (vs 10)
“the day of God” (vs. 12)
“new heavens and a new earth” (vs. 13)
Note: When I refer to “The Judgment,” I’m talking about the Great White Throne Judgment of Rev 20:11-15, the final judgment of mankind.
Before we get into the details of this passage, I will use the phrases above to show you what Peter is talking about here:
In the last days, the day of the Lord, the day of God, when Jesus comes, He will judge the world and destroy the current universe and create a new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells in the Eternal Kingdom of Revelation 21 & 22.
That’s it in a nutshell. That leaves no room for a 1000 year kingdom.
Let’s look at this in detail:
In verses 3 and 4, Peter associates “the last days” with the return of Christ: “the promise of his coming.”
What happens at the time of His coming? The Judgment:
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
5 which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God; to the end that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: 6 if so be that it is a righteous thing with God to recompense affliction to them that afflict you, 7 and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, 8 rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: 9 who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at in all them that believed (because our testimony unto you was believed) in that day.
Here we see that Paul places the timing of The Judgment at the time of Christ’s return. (See also 1 Cor 15:21-26)
In verses 5 and 6 (2 Pe 3:5-6), Peter talks about the judgment of God upon the world when He brought the flood of Noah upon it. The destruction of the world was a judgment of the people of the world. In other words, the destruction of the world was the judgment of the people of the world. These two events are linked together. They are one.
In verse 7 (2 Pe 3:7), Peter compares or associates the destruction/judgment of the world through the flood, with the destruction/judgment of the world through fire. Just as the earth of Noah’s day was storing up water for destruction/judgment, the universe is now storing up fire for a future destruction/judgment.
Again, just as with the flood of Noah’s day is regarded as both the destruction of the world and the judgment of mankind, so is this future event regarded as both the destruction of the universe and of the judgment of mankind. They both occur at the same time. Which is when? At the return of Christ, as Peter tells us in verse 4 — which leaves no room for a millennial kingdom.
This is further confirmed in verse 10:
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
It’s clear in this verse that the “day of the Lord” is the time when God destroys the current heavens and earth, which as we’ve already seen, coincides with the time of The Judgment (Rev 20:11-15), which is at the time of Christ’s return — which leaves no room for a millennial kingdom.
12 looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13 But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Peter refers to “the day of God” as the time when He destroys the current universe, and creates a “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness” — which is what we all as believers “look for.”
Notice also what we don’t “look for” — An earthly, millennial kingdom. It’s reasonable that the reason Peter doesn’t mention it is because there is no such kingdom!
In the “last days” Jesus will return, and at that time He will Judge mankind, destroy the current heavens and earth, and will create a “new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” This is known as the Eternal Kingdom, or the “New Jerusalem” (Rev 21:1-2). These events are all referred to as “the day of the Lord,” or “the day of God.”
Quite obviously, in order for there to be a judgment, there needs to be a resurrection. Thus, The Judgment described here includes the time of The Resurrection, as 1 Corinthians 15:20-26; 50-55 confirms. We’ve already discussed that passage in previous posts.
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to youward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
ESV — 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
“promise” is the “promise of His coming” (vs. 4).
Sam Storms, in his book “Kingdom Come,” provides good insight regarding what Peter says here:
Finally, the premillennialist argues that during the millennial age it will be possible for people to come to saving faith in Christ. But Peter’s argument is that the very reason why Christ has not yet returned is in order that he might patiently extend the opportunity for men to repent. This is meaningful only if it is impossible to repent subsequent to Christ’s return. If souls may be saved after Christ returns, the patience he now displays is unnecessary. The urgency of the moment can be explained only on the supposition that “now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
Storms makes a great point here, because Peter makes this statement in the context of Christ’s return, as he tells us in verse 4, and as we’ve already discussed. Premillennialists place an earthly, millennial kingdom immediately following His return. But if that’s true, then what sense does Peter’s statement make about God’s “patience” toward mankind in regard to salvation?
When Peter refers to God’s “patience,” he’s referring to the time that He’s giving mankind to come to salvation. Peter’s statement is given with the end of that time in view, when there is no more opportunity, when there is no more “patience” left.
Therefore, how can there be a 1000 year kingdom after Christ’s return? For if there is a millennial kingdom following His return, then we still haven’t come to the end of God’s “patience.” We still haven’t come to the end of opportunity for people to obtain salvation.
Within the context of Peter’s statement, we can only conclude that he has the end of all things in view, which begins the Eternal Kingdom, which all takes place at the time of Christ’s return (vs. 4).
What Peter describes here in this passage is in perfect harmony with what we see in the book of Revelation. In chapter 20 we see The Great White Throne Judgment, and immediately following that, in chapter 21, we see the Eternal Kingdom of the new heaven and new earth.
What Peter describes in this passage is also in perfect harmony with all the other passages we studied leading up to this one. It all fits together, and none of them gives any indication of a 1000 year kingdom, and none of them even leave any room for a 1000 kingdom. The New Testament simply doesn’t teach a millennial kingdom between the return of Christ and the Eternal Kingdom. No, when Jesus returns, we go immediately into our eternal dwelling of Rev 21 & 22 (after the judgement of Rev 20:11-15).