‘‘For this they willing are ignorant of, that by the word of God the Heavens were of old, and the Earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the World That Then Was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the Heavens and Earth, Which Are Now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of the ungodly men.’’ 2 Peter 3:5-7

There are important time divisions in the plan of God which the scriptures refer to as ‘worlds’ or ‘ages’. The word ‘world’ does not necessarily mean this physical planet with its mountains, oceans, rivers, trees, animals etc. This word is often translated from the Greek word ‘KOSMOS’ which means an age, an order, systems or arrangement of things which involves institutions, laws, traditions, customs which have been developed to either control or give motivation to the lives and actions of men. It also means a perpetuity of specific prevailing conditions upon the face of the Earth at a specific point in biblical time. All these put together is what constitute biblical ‘world’’. So, while the Earth is a planet, the world is in the Earth as specific set of conditions at a specific point in time. When the bible therefore talks about the 'End of the world', it refers to the end of a particular age as defined above and not the end of the Earth. With that in mind, let’s look into the above text and understand the world in which we’re in now.

Peter was writing to remind his Jewish audience about the prophecies of the last days spoken by the holy prophet and Jesus. Therefore, was bringing to their minds that they were now in the ‘Last Days’’, encouraging them to hold on to the promises and not be ignorant of the times that they were in. Peter also laid emphasis on the fact that, there will be those who will scoff and question the promise they have received of the ‘Coming of the Christ’’ which was to culminate the end of the old covenant. He then kicks off the conversation from there...

The ‘WORLD THAT THEN WAS’: To further buttress his point, Peter then went back in time to describe how the world in the time of Noah which he also described as the 'heavens and earth of old; the world that then...'' was destroyed by water, washing out all its systems and its entire civilization save for Noah and his family. 

‘And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person...’’ 2Peter 2:5. 
He then said in the same manner will the heavens and earth which are, will be destroyed. But this time with fire and this destruction happened in AD70.

‘...BUT THE HEAVENS AND EARTH, WHICH ARE NOW...,’’ What does Peter mean by the phrase ‘the heavens and earth? Was he talking about the literal heavens and earth being burnt with fire? If not, what did he mean by the phrase, and how did his Jewish audience interpret it?  Here is it: When Peter mentioned the heaven and earth, he wasn’t referring to the literal physical heavens and earth but to something more along the line which they as Jews would understand by such language. Let me digress a little: Every culture has a language. Language is the verbal expression of a culture, and always carry meanings and references beyond itself; in that, the meaning of a particular language represents its culture. Therefore, to understand a language means to do so with the culture as its reference point. While studying scriptures we must seek to understand the language of Jews to be able to give proper interpretation with reference to the Jewish culture and not ours.

With that in mind, the phrase ‘heaven and earth’’ is the Jewish term for the ‘Temple’’ in the city of Jerusalem where the Old Covenant system was practiced. So when Peter talked about the passing of the heavens and earth which are now, he wasn't talking about the literal heavens and earth but about the destruction of the Temple and this happened in AD70 when the Jews revolt against the Romans resulting to the burning down of the temple and Jerusalem with fire.

Jesus also talked about this same thing in his sermon on the mount when he said, 'Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or prophets: but to fulfill it. For verily I say unto you, till HEAVEN and EARTH pass away, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Jesus in this passage was also linking the passing of the law to the passing of Heaven and Earth; saying that the law could not be considered fulfilled until 'heaven and earth passed away', which means the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem were the Old covenant system was being practiced.

Friends, when the world in the time of Noah passed away, Noah and his family began a new world, a new age, a new order in the face of that same earth. The literal heaven and earth in that time didn't disappear all of a sudden but the wicked and their ways were flushed out and out of the flood came forth a new age. In the same way, the Old covenant age (world) of the law has been done away with and we are in the never ending world of the kingdom of God in Christ. 


Grace to you.

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