2 Peter 3:13
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwells righteousness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) Nevertheless we, according to his promise.—“Nevertheless” is too strong, and the emphasis is on “new,” not on “we.” But new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, we look for, according to His promise. (Comp. Revelation 21:1.) On the repetition of “look for,” three times in three verses, see above on 2Peter 2:7. The promise of the new heavens and new earth is given in Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22. There are two words for “new” in Greek; one looks forward, “young” as opposed to “aged;” the other looks back, “fresh” as opposed to “worn out.” It is the latter word that is used. here and in Revelation 21:1-2. Both are used in Matthew 9:17, but the distinction is not marked in our version—“They put new wine into fresh wine-skins.”

Wherein dwelleth righteousness.—Comp. Isaiah 65:25; Revelation 21:27. Righteousness has its home there; is not a wanderer and changeful guest, as on earth, therefore by righteousness must ye make yourselves worthy of entering therein.

With this whole verse compare 1 Peter 1, where (2Peter 3:4) a similar thought is expressed with equal beauty, and where (2Peter 3:13) a similar conclusion is drawn from it. (See next verse.)

2 Peter 3:13. Nevertheless we, according to his promise, &c. — That is, “Though the present frame of things shall be dissolved by fire, yet we look for another, a more durable and perfect state; new heavens and a new earth — New and everlasting abodes, which the divine mercy will then open to our enraptured view, into which it will conduct us, and in which perfect righteousness, holiness, and felicity, shall dwell for ever;” Revelation 21:1-7; Revelation 22:1-5. Some expositors suppose that these lower heavens and this earth, having been melted down by a general conflagration, shall thereby be refined, and that God will form them into new heavens and a new earth for the habitation of the righteous; a supposition which seems to be favoured by St. Peter, Acts 3:21, where he speaks of the restitution of all things, which God hath promised by the mouth of all his holy prophets; by St. Paul, Romans 8:21, where he says, The creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of destruction; and also by the Lord Jesus himself, whose words (Revelation 21:5) are, Behold, I make all things new. As St. Peter had a revelation from Christ that he would create new heavens and a new earth, he might justly call that his promise; but the patriarchs and believing ancients were not without the expectation of such an inheritance. See Genesis 17:7; Daniel 12:2; Hebrews 11:10-16.3:11-18 From the doctrine of Christ's second coming, we are exhorted to purity and godliness. This is the effect of real knowledge. Very exact and universal holiness is enjoined, not resting in any low measure or degree. True Christians look for new heavens and a new earth; freed from the vanity to which things present are subject, and the sin they are polluted with. Those only who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, shall be admitted to dwell in this holy place. He is faithful, who has promised. Those, whose sins are pardoned, and their peace made with God, are the only safe and happy people; therefore follow after peace, and that with all men; follow after holiness as well as peace. Never expect to be found at that day of God in peace, if you are lazy and idle in this your day, in which we must finish the work given us to do. Only the diligent Christian will be the happy Christian in the day of the Lord. Our Lord will suddenly come to us, or shortly call us to him; and shall he find us idle? Learn to make a right use of the patience of our Lord, who as yet delays his coming. Proud, carnal, and corrupt men, seek to wrest some things into a seeming agreement with their wicked doctrines. But this is no reason why St. Paul's epistles, or any other part of the Scriptures, should be laid aside; for men, left to themselves, pervert every gift of God. Then let us seek to have our minds prepared for receiving things hard to be understood, by putting in practice things which are more easy to be understood. But there must be self-denial and suspicion of ourselves, and submission to the authority of Christ Jesus, before we can heartily receive all the truths of the gospel, therefore we are in great danger of rejecting the truth. And whatever opinions and thoughts of men are not according to the law of God, and warranted by it, the believer disclaims and abhors. Those who are led away by error, fall from their own stedfastness. And that we may avoid being led away, we must seek to grow in all grace, in faith, and virtue, and knowledge. Labour to know Christ more clearly, and more fully; to know him so as to be more like him, and to love him better. This is the knowledge of Christ, which the apostle Paul reached after, and desired to attain; and those who taste this effect of the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, will, upon receiving such grace from him, give thanks and praise him, and join in ascribing glory to him now, in the full assurance of doing the same hereafter, for ever.Nevertheless we, according to his promise - The allusion here seems to be, beyond a doubt, to two passages in Isaiah, in which a promise of this kind is found. Isaiah 65:17; "for, behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." Isaiah 66:22; "for as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord," etc. Compare Revelation 21:1, where John says he had a vision of the new heaven and the new earth which was promised: "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea." See the notes at Isaiah 65:17.

Look for new heavens and a new earth - It may not be easy to answer many of the questions which might be asked respecting the "new heaven and earth" here mentioned. One of those which are most naturally asked is, whether the apostle meant to say that this earth, after being purified by fire, would be suited again for the home of the redeemed; but this question it is impossible to answer with certainty. The following remarks may perhaps embrace all that is known, or that can be shown to be probable, on the meaning of the passage before us.

I. The "new heavens and the new earth" referred to will be such as will exist after the world shall have been destroyed by fire; that is, after the general judgment. There is not a word expressed, and not a hint given, of any "new heaven and earth" previous to this, in which the Saviour will reign personally over his saints, in such a renovated world, through a long millennial period. The order of events, as stated by Peter, is:

(a) that the heavens and earth which are now, are "kept in store, reserved unto fire "against the day of judgment," and perdition of ungodly men," 2 Peter 3:7;

(b) that the day of the Lord will come suddenly and unexpectedly, 2 Peter 3:10; that then the heavens and earth will pass away with a great noise, the elements will melt, and the earth with all its works be burned up, 2 Peter 3:10; and,

(c) that after this 2 Peter 3:13 we are to expect the "new heavens and new earth."

Nothing is said of a personal reign of Christ; nothing of the resurrection of the saints to dwell with him on the earth; nothing of the world's being fitted up for their home previous to the final judgment. If Peter had any knowledge of such events, and believed that they would occur, it is remarkable that he did not even allude to them here. The passage before us is one of the very few places in the New Testament where allusion is made to the manner in which the affairs of the world will be closed; and it cannot be explained why, if he looked for such a glorious personal reign of the Saviour, the subject should have been passed over in total silence.

II. The word "new," applied to the heavens and the earth that are to succeed the present, might express one of the following three things - that is, either of these things would correspond with all that is fairly implied in that word:

(a) If a new world was literally created out of nothing after this world is destroyed; for that would be in the strictest sense "new." That such an event is possible no one can doubt, though it is not revealed.

(b) If an inhabitant of the earth should dwell after death In any other of the worlds now existing, it would be to him a "new" abode, and everything would appear new. Let him, for instance, be removed to the planet "Saturn," with its wonderful ring, and its seven moons, and the whole aspect of the heavens, and of the world on which he would then dwell, would be new to him. The same thing would occur if he were to dwell on any other of the heavenly bodies, or if he were to pass from world to world. See this illustrated at length in the works of Thomas Dick, LL. D. - "Celestial Scenery," etc. Compare the notes at 1 Peter 1:12.

(c) If the earth should be renovated, and suited for the home of man after the universal conflagration, it would then be a new abode.

III. This world, thus renovated, may be, from time to time, the temporary abode of the redeemed, after the final judgment. No one can prove that this may not be, though there is no evidence that it will be their permanent and eternal home or that even all the redeemed will at any one time find a home on this globe, for no one can suppose that the earth is spacious enough to furnish a dwelling-place for all the unnumbered millions that are to be saved. But that the earth may again be revisited from time to time by the redeemed; that in a purified and renovated form it may be one of the "many mansions" which are to be fitted up for them John 14:2, may not appear wholly improbable from the following suggestions:

(1) It seems to have been a law of the earth that in its progress it should be "prepared" at one period for the dwelling-place of a higher order of beings at another period. Thus, according to the disclosures of geology, it existed perhaps for countless ages before it was fitted to be an abode for man; and that it was occupied by the monsters of an inferior order of existence, who have now passed away to make room for a nobler race. Who can tell but the present order of thing may pass away to make place for the manifestations of a more exalted mode of being?

(2) there is no certain evidence that any world has been annihilated, though some have disappeared from human view. Indeed, as observed above, (see the notes at 2 Peter 3:10) there is no proof that a single particle of matter ever has been annihilated, or ever will be. It may change its form, but it may still exist.

continued...

13. Nevertheless—"But": in contrast to the destructive effects of the day of God stand its constructive effects. As the flood was the baptism of the earth, eventuating in a renovated earth, partially delivered from "the curse," so the baptism with fire shall purify the earth so as to be the renovated abode of regenerated man, wholly freed from the curse.

his promise—(Isa 65:17; 66:22). The "we" is not emphatical as in English Version.

new heavens—new atmospheric heavens surrounding the renovated earth.

righteousness—dwelleth in that coming world as its essential feature, all pollutions having been removed.

Nevertheless we, according to his promise: see Isaiah 65:17 Isaiah 66:22 Revelation 21:1,27, to which this text seems to refer, speak of a new state of the church here in the world, yet by way of allusion to the renovation of the world, which is ultimately there promised, and the perpetuity of the gospel church till then is thereby assured.

Look for new heavens and a new earth; instead of the present world, which is to be consumed by fire, 2 Peter 3:10,12, or the first heaven and earth, which pass away, Revelation 21:1. These will be new heavens and a new earth, either as to their substance, or as to their qualities, refined and purified from all defilement, and free from all that vanity to which the creature was made subject by the sin of man, Romans 8:20,21.

Wherein dwelleth; i.e. perpetually abideth, and not only for a time, Romans 8:11 2 Corinthians 6:16 2 Timothy 1:14.

Righteousness; either this may be understood of righteousness in the abstract, that together with the destruction of the world the kingdom of sin shall be destroyed, and God’s elect, the inhabitants of the new world, shall be filled with righteousness, whereas before sin had dwelt in them: or else the abstract may be put for the concrete, and by righteousness may be meant righteous persons, who only shall be the inhabitants of the new world, the wicked being turned into hell, Revelation 21:27; and by this way of expressing it may be implied the perfection of the righteousness of such. Not only the new heaven is mentioned, but the new earth, because the whole world will then be the possession and kingdom of the saints, who follow Christ wherever he goes. Nevertheless we, according to his promise,.... Or promises, as the Alexandrian copy, and the Vulgate Latin version; namely those in Isaiah 65:17;

look for new heavens and a new earth; not figuratively, the world to come in distinction from the Jewish world or state; a new church state, the Gospel dispensation, with new ordinances, as baptism and the Lord's supper, all legal ceremonies and ordinances being gone, and everything new; for these things had taken place already, and were not looked for as future: but these phrases are to be understood literally, as the heavens and the earth are in every passage in the context, 2 Peter 3:5; and designs not new heavens and earth for substance, but for qualities; the heavens and elements being melted and dissolved, and so purged and purified by fire, and the earth and its works being burnt up with it, and so cleared of everything noxious, needless, and disagreeable, new heavens and a new earth will appear, refined and purged from everything which the curse brought thereon for man's sin: and such heavens and earth the saints look for by faith and hope, and earnest expectation, and with desire and pleasure; and therefore are not distressed, as they have no reason to be, with the burning of the present heavens and earth, as awful as these things will be; and they expect them not upon their own fancies and imaginations, or the vain conjectures and cunningly devised fables of men, but according to the promises of God recorded in the above passages, and in which they may be confirmed by the words of Christ, and by the vision of John, Revelation 20:1. The Alexandrian copy reads, "and his promises"; as if it respected other promises the saints looked for besides the new heavens and earth; namely, the resurrection of the dead, eternal life, the in corruptible inheritance, the ultimate glory and happiness:

wherein dwelleth righteousness; meaning not the heavenly felicity, called sometimes the crown of righteousness, and the hope of righteousness, to which righteousness gives a right, and where it will be perfect, for the apostle is not speaking of the ultimate glory of the saints; nor the righteousness of Christ, as dwelling in the saints, as if the sense was this, we in whom righteousness dwells, look for new heavens and a new earth; for though the righteousness of Christ is unto and upon them that believe, yet it is not in them; it is in Christ, and dwells in him, and not in them; it is not inherent in them, but imputed to them: by "righteousness" is meant righteous men; such as are so not in and of themselves, or by the deeds of the law, or by works of righteousness done by them, but who are made righteous by the obedience of Christ, and are righteousness itself in him; see Jeremiah 33:16; now these, and these only, will be the inhabitants of the new heavens and the new earth; there will be no unrighteous persons there, as in the present world, which lies in wickedness, and is full of wicked men; and they will be stocked with inhabitants after this manner; all the elect will now be gathered in, and Christ, when he comes, will bring all his saints with him from heaven, and will raise their bodies, and reunite them to their souls; and those that are alive will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, and will make up together the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven; and whereas, upon the coming of Christ, the present heavens and earth will be burnt or purified by fire, and so made new and fit for the spirits of just men made perfect, who being again embodied, will fill the face of them, and shall inherit the earth, and reign with Christ on it for a thousand years, during which time there will not be a wicked man in them; for the wicked that will be alive at Christ's coming will be burnt with the earth, and the wicked dead shall not rise till the thousand years are ended, and who being raised, will, together with the devils, make the Gog and Magog army; wherefore none but righteous persons can look for these new heavens and earth, for to these only are they promised, and such only shall dwell in them; so the Targum on Jeremiah 23:23 paraphrases the words,

"I God have created the world from the beginning, saith the Lord, I God will "renew the world for the righteous":''

and this will be, the Jews say, for the space of a thousand years;

"it is a tradition (they say (l)) of the house of Elias, that the righteous, whom the holy blessed God will raise from the dead shall not return to their dust, as is said, Isaiah 4:3, and it shall come to pass, &c. as the Holy One continues for ever, so they shall continue for ever; and if you should say those years (some editions read, "those thousand years", and so the gloss upon the place) in which the holy blessed God "renews the world": as it is said Isaiah 2:11, and the Lord alone; &c. what shall they do? the holy blessed God will make them wings as eagles, and they shall fly upon the face of the waters:''

and this renovation of the heavens and the earth, they say, will be in the seventh millennium;

"in the seventh thousand year (they assert (m)) there will be found new heavens and a new earth;''

which agree with these words of Peter.

(l) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 92. 1, 2. Ed. Coch. p. 317. (m) Zohar in Gen. fol. 35. 3.

Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, {f} wherein dwelleth righteousness.

(f) In which heavens.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Peter 3:13. καινοὺς δὲ οὐρανοὺς καὶ γῆν καινήν] This verse, which does not depend on διʼ ἥν (Dietlein), but is joined in an independent manner to what goes before, forms the antithesis to the thought last expressed, and serves to strengthen the exhortation contained in 2 Peter 3:11-12.

By καινοὺςκαινήν the heaven and the earth of the future are distinguished as to their character from those of the present, and prominence is given to their glorified condition; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

The same idea of a new heaven and a new earth is expressed in Revelation 21:1.

κατὰ τὸ ἐπάγγελμα αὐτοῦ] cf. Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22.

αὐτοῦ] i.e. Θεοῦ; the O. T. promise, principally at least, is meant. προσδοκῶμεν, which looks back to προσδοκῶντας, 2 Peter 3:12, significantly designates the new heaven and the new earth as the aim of the certain hope of believers.

ἐν οἷς δικαιοσύνη κατοικεῖ] A similar thought is contained in Isaiah 65:25; cf. also Revelation 21:3-27. Erasmus incorrectly refers ἐν οἷς to the subject contained in προσδοκῶμεν; it plainly goes back to καινοὺς οὐρ. κ. γῆν καιν. δικαιοσύνη, not equivalent to gloria et felicitas coelestis, utpote verae justitiae praemium (Vorstius), but the vera justitia itself, i.e. the holy conduct, completely in harmony with the divine will, of those who belong to the new heaven and the new earth.[103] Hofmann widens the idea too much, when he says that “δικαιοσύνη is to be understood not as applying only to the right conduct of men, but in the sense of integrity of nature generally.”

[103] In the Book of Enoch also, similar conceptions are to be found; chap. Psalm 90:17 : “and the former heavens, they shall pass away and be dissolved, and new heavens will appear;” chap. Psalm 54:4-5 : “In that day will I cause mine elect to dwell in their midst, and I will change the heavens,” etc.; “I will also change the earth,” etc.; 1. 5: “the earth shall rejoice, the righteous shall dwell therein, and the elect shall go and walk therein;” x. 17: “The earth shall be purified from all corruption, from all crime, from all punishment, and from all suffering.”2 Peter 3:13. καινοὺς δὲ οὐρανοὺςπροσδοκῶμεν. Cf. Isaiah 65:17. ἔσται γὰρ ὁ οὐρανὸς καινὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ καινή. Enoch xci. 16. See note on 2 Peter 3:7.

οὐρανός might appropriately be translated “sky”. ἐν οἷς δικαιοσύνη κατοικεῖ; “wherein righteousness dwells,” or “has its home”. In the word there is both the sense of permanence and of persuasive influence. Both in the hearts of men, and the new environment, there will be nothing that militates against righteousness. The Parousia is both judgment on the wicked and triumph for the kingdom. Cf. 2 Peter 3:7.13. we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth] The promise of which the Apostle speaks is that of Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22, where we have the very words, “new heavens and a new earth,” the context there connecting it with the restoration of Israel to their own land and the renewed glory of Jerusalem. The same hope shews itself in the visions of the Apocalypse (Revelation 21:1) as connected with the “new Jerusalem” coming down from God, and appears in a fuller and more expanded form in the Apocryphal Book of Enoch. “The former heaven shall pass away and a new heaven shall shew itself” (chap. xcii. 17). “The earth shall be cleansed from all corruption, from every crime, from all punishment” (c. x. 2–7).

wherein dwelleth righteousness] This again reproduces the thought of Isaiah (Isaiah 65:25) that “they shall not hurt (LXX. “act unrighteously”) nor destroy in all my holy mountain,” and St John’s account of the new Jerusalem that “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth” (Revelation 21:27). It is implied in St Paul’s belief that “the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). Earth itself, purified and redeemed, is to be the scene of the blessedness of the saved, as it has been, through the long æons of its existence, of sin and wretchedness.2 Peter 3:13. Καινοὺς, new) A great mystery, new heavens and a new earth. It is something external to God and external to man.[24]—ἐπάγγελμα, promise) 2 Peter 3:4.—ἐν οἷς δικαιοσύνη κατοικεῖ, in which dwelleth righteousness) Therefore they shall not grow old. There will be a complete separation between good and evil, Matthew 3:12; Matthew 13:30. The inhabitants who ought to be righteous, 2 Peter 3:11, compared with 6 and 7. In the new world, which comprises the heaven and the earth, dwelleth righteousness. The new world is one whole: in it (the whole) dwelleth righteousness. That part, which had been polluted by unrighteousness, shall be freed from pollution.

[24] The promise is not merely of some new manifestation of God, or of some change in man, but of something external; not of that which is subjective, but objective.—T.Verse 13. - Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth; rather, but, according to his promise, we look for. The promise is that in Isaiah 65:17, "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth" (see also Isaiah 66:22 and Revelation 21:1). St. John saw in vision the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah and St. Peter: "The first heaven and the first earth were passed away." It may be that, as the water of the Deluge was the baptism of the ancient world into a new life, so the fire of the great day will be the means of purifying and refining the universe, transforming it into new heavens and a new earth, making all things new. Our Lord's use of the word "regeneration," in Matthew 19:28, seems to favour this view. In the regeneration of the individual soul the personality remains, the thoughts, desires, affections, are changed; so, it may be, in the regeneration of the world the substance will remain, the fashion (σχῆμα) of the old world will pass away (1 Corinthians 7:31). But it is impossible to pronounce dogmatically whether the new heavens and earth will be a reproduction of the old in a far more glorious form, through the agency of the refining fire, or an absolutely new creation, as the words of Isaiah seem to imply. St. John, like St. Peter, speaks of a new earth, and tells us that that new earth will be the dwelling-place of the blessed. He saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven; the throne of God and of the Lamb (he tells us) shall be in it: "The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them." The holy city, Jerusalem, which is above, is in heaven now; the commonwealth of which the saints are citizens is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). But heaven will come down to earth; the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be there; there his servants shall serve him. The distinction between earth and heaven will be abolished; for where God is, there is heaven. Wherein dwelleth righteousness (comp. Isaiah 60:21, "Thy people shall be all righteous;" also Isaiah lay. 25; Revelation 21:27; Romans 8:21). We look for

The same verb as in 2 Peter 3:12. It occurs three times in 2 Peter 3:12-14.

New (καινοὺς)

See on Matthew 26:29.

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