Thursday, 20 February 2020
…by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 2 Peter 3:6
Here, the Greek presents a difficulty. The words “by which” are di hon, or literally “through which things.” The pronoun is plural. This then must cause the reader to ask, “Which things?” Peter has mentioned creation, the word of God, the heavens, the earth, and the waters. Therefore, it could be any or all combined.
It was the word of God which spoke these things into existence, and it is – as Peter will say in the next verse – “the same word” which preserves the heavens and the earth. But Peter has just spoken twice of the waters as well, showing that the earth stood out of them. It is also the waters which are the focus of the flood narrative (see Genesis 7:24). Further, the focus here is on destruction by water, whereas the next destructive cataclysm will be by fire – as Peter will next note. However, it is the earth that was broken up and let forth the waters, and the windows of the heavens which were opened (see Genesis 7:11). A case could be made for any of these.
In the end, nothing happens apart from God. It is His word which spoke all things into existence, and it is His word which holds all things together. He is the principle cause of all things, and through His word comes the instrumental cause of all lesser things – such as the heavens and the earth, or the waters, bringing about destruction.
With this in mind, he says, “the world.” This is speaking of the state of the world before the flood. It speaks of its inhabitants – man, animal, and plant life. It speaks of the state of the world as well – long life, a canopy above, and etc. The word is kosmos, and it speaks of the order or arrangement of the system which existed at that time. That world existed, and then it “perished.”
The Greek word signifies violently and completely perishing. There was a world that existed, and then it was wiped out. Because of this, what the scoffers say is obviously untrue. In verse 4, they had said, “…all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” But that very thought is proven false. There was creation and from it was an ordered system which existed. But then there was a complete end to that ordered system. And so, their logic in denying the coming of Christ is based on a faulty premise.
Peter then says that “the then world” (as the Greek reads) was utterly destroyed, “being flooded with water.” Here, Peter uses a word found only this one time in Scripture, katakluzó. It is a verb which forms the root of our modern “cataclysm.” There was an overwhelming inundation which wiped out the entire planet.
From these words, a few points can be determined. First, Peter speaks of the flood as an absolutely true narrative. To deny a literal reading of the Genesis account of the flood is to then deny the inspiration of Scripture, the words of Peter (which cite the word of God – the heavens, the earth, the water, and the destruction – both in occurrence and scope), and to then deny the accuracy of all of Scripture – because Peter will, in this very chapter, refer to Paul’s letters. Paul is referred to by Luke in Acts, and Luke is referred to by Paul in Colossians. Mark is spoken of by Paul and Peter. Luke’s account refers to the other apostles, including Matthew and John. And all of them cite and refer to the Old Testament Scriptures, and all of them speak of Jesus. And Jesus likewise speaks of a real Noah, a real flood, and the actual consequences of that flood.
On and on, each point brings in another point, unifying the entire body of Scripture as one inspired work of God. Thus, to deny the account of the Flood of Noah leads to an implicit denial of all of Scripture. The word, then, becomes a pick and choose body of words and sentences without any true cohesion, and certainly lacking any divine inspiration.
Secondly, regardless as to the flood narrative – for those who deny the truth of Scripture – there is still the truth that the world has obviously been destroyed before. Whether by a flood, or by an asteroid, the evidence of a previous world that once existed, and which no longer exists, is testified to by all. And so, the failed logic of those who say that everything continues on as it has since creation is completely false. In the end, only the Bible adequately and accurately explains what happened, when it happened, why it came about, what the results of it were, and what it means for the future of man.
Life application: Peter’s point in what is written is that, just as obvious as it is that the world was created, men have no excuse when they deny the truth of God’s written word, even when it says Jesus will return. God spoke the world into existence with a word, and God’s promises in the Bible are just as sound as the very act of creation.
The ancient pre-flood world was destroyed because of its wickedness. Certainly, a lack of faith in the Creator embodies this wickedness. Were they to have had faith in His sovereignty, they would have acknowledged Him and honored Him. Instead, they turned to ever-increasing moral depravity until there was no remedy. Thus, God destroyed the world with water.
The very waters from which the earth stood out became the tool of destruction of the earth. Just as the ancient world was destroyed for its unbelief, so false prophets and scoffers who deny the authority, miraculous working, and promised return of Jesus will likewise be destroyed.
God isn’t a cosmic pushover who can be flagrantly denied and held in contempt. Rather, He is the sovereign Creator who holds in His grasp the fate of all men. If you hear conflicting accounts about the surety of the flood narrative, the lordship of Jesus, the truth of the Gospel, or the promised return of Christ, you would fare well to trust God’s word rather than the naysayers. God. He who assures us of these things cannot lie. So, stand firm in His word and have faith!
Creator God, you gave us breath so that we could and should praise You. Your name is great and matchless, and so may our lives be as a continual offering of praise to You. Also, may our lives shout out to You, and may our mouths sing forth to You – in the greatness of Your marvelous majesty. You are God, and we offer ourselves to You in humble and awestruck adoration. Amen.