4 They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” 5 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished.” (2 Peter 3:4-6).
Scoffers always seem to have short memories. The Apostle Peter comments that false teachers indignantly mock the promise of Jesus Christ’s return in power, might and glory. They continually comment that all things in this world continue as they have from the very beginning of creation. What they conveniently forget is an event the Scriptures call the Flood.
Peter states that scoffers “deliberately overlook this fact.” The word deliberately (θέλω; thelo) means, within this context, to presently, purposely and actively have an opinion concerning something. What scoffers have a mind set upon is to overlook (λανθάνω; lanthano), forget, to lose sight of and to not remember a fact (οὗτος; houtos) or a reality. The reality to which the apostle refers is God creating the world out of water, and through water by the word of God (Genesis 1:1-2).
One commentary explains that, “Aristotle and his adherents (the Peripatetics) believed that the universe was eternal. His view caught on even outside Peripatetic circles, and Philo had to address the idea. (Like Plato, Philo believed that God created the world from preexistent matter, but unlike Plato, he believed that God had created that preexistent matter too.) Epicureans denied that God acted in the world; they also believed that matter was indestructible (on the atomic level) and that the universe was infinite. The Stoics believed that fire was eternal, that the universe would periodically be resolved into the primeval fire (see comment on 3:7) and that eternity was a cycle of ages. Whether matter was created out of preexisting substance in chaos (as in most ancient thought) or from nothing (as is most likely in Gen 1) was debated in Diaspora Judaism.In Genesis 1, God created the world through his word (also Ps 33:6–9). Some later Jewish traditions counted ten commands in Genesis 1 and suggested that they represented the Ten Commandments, the word of the law on which God founded the world.”
It was also with water that God deluged the ancient world and destroyed it, and its sin, with the Flood. Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “Peter met the arguments of the scoffers by reviewing some ancient history. Just as water by God’s command played a significant role in the early formation of the earth, so water also was the agent for destruction of the earth at God’s command. The heavens existed refers to the expanse or sky created on the second day of Creation (Gen. 1:6–8); and the earth was formed out of water and with water refers to the land appearing from the water on the third day of Creation (Gen. 1:9–10).
Dr. Walvoord continues by stating, “God the Creator is also God the Judge. In His sovereign will, any change in process can occur at any time for He designed and controls these “natural” processes. The scoffers deliberately (thelontas, “willingly”) forget God’s Creation and the Flood, an interesting contrast with Peter’s constant reminders to his readers to “remember” (2 Peter 1:12–13, 15; 3:1–2, 8). The scoffers deliberately put aside God’s Word and then complained that God was not doing anything. Interestingly Peter was both a creationist and a believer in the universal Flood (cf. his other references to the Flood: 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5).”
I wonder how many scoffers there are in the churches we are members of and where we serve the Lord Jesus. These would be individuals who play church and dismiss the sovereignty of God and His impending judgment upon this fallen world. The judgment to come will be as devastating as the ancient flood but it will not be by water, but rather by fire. More to follow when we meet again.
Soli deo Gloria!