2 Peter 3:5
For this they willingly 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:
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(5) For this they willingly are ignorant of.—Literally, For this escapes their notice of their own will. They voluntarily blind their eyes to this fact—at once an explanation of their argument, and first answer to it, drawn from the Mosaic account of the Creation.

The earth standing out of the water and in the water.—The margin is nearer the true meaning with “consisting” for “standing,” and the same word is translated “consist” in Colossians 1:17. The notion is that of coherence, solidarity, and order, as distinct from chaos. “Out of [the] water” indicates the material out of which the earth was made; not, as our version leads us to suppose, that out of which the earth rose, like an island from the ocean. “In the water” is wrong, and again the error is probably derived from Geneva, though Tyndale has it also. We should render rather, by means of [the] water. In both clauses the article should perhaps be omitted—the earth consisting out of water and through water. (Comp. Psalm 24:2; Psalm 136:6.) In the Clementine Homilies (XI. xxiv.) we have the idea of all things being made by water. In the Greek “by the word of God comes last, not first; emphasis is obtained either way. “By the word of God;” not by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, not by spontaneous generation. In the Shepherd of Hermas (I. Vis. I. iii. 4) we read, “Behold, the God of virtues (powers). . . . by His mighty word has fixed the heaven, and laid the foundation of the earth upon the waters.” (See above on ii. 1, 3, 13, 15, 20.) In an Apology of Melito, Bishop of Sardis, addressed to Antoninus Caesar about A.D. 170, there is a passage bearing a considerable amount of resemblance to these verses (2Peter 3:5-7).

3:5-10 Had these scoffers considered the dreadful vengeance with which God swept away a whole world of ungodly men at once, surely they would not have scoffed at his threatening an equally terrible judgment. The heavens and the earth which now are, by the same word, it is declared, will be destroyed by fire. This is as sure to come, as the truth and the power of God can make it. Christians are here taught and established in the truth of the coming of the Lord. Though, in the account of men, there is a vast difference between one day and a thousand years, yet, in the account of God, there is no difference. All things past, present, and future, are ever before him: the delay of a thousand years cannot be so much to him, as putting off any thing for a day or for an hour is to us. If men have no knowledge or belief of the eternal God, they will be very apt to think him such as themselves. How hard is it to form any thoughts of eternity! What men count slackness, is long-suffering, and that to us-ward; it is giving more time to hisown people, to advance in knowledge and holiness, and in the exercise of faith and patience, to abound in good works, doing and suffering what they are called to, that they may bring glory to God. Settle therefore in your hearts that you shall certainly be called to give an account of all things done in the body, whether good or evil. And let a humble and diligent walking before God, and a frequent judging of yourselves, show a firm belief of the future judgment, though many live as if they were never to give any account at all. This day will come, when men are secure, and have no expectation of the day of the Lord. The stately palaces, and all the desirable things wherein wordly-minded men seek and place their happiness, shall be burned up; all sorts of creatures God has made, and all the works of men, must pass through the fire, which shall be a consuming fire to all that sin has brought into the world, though a refining fire to the works of God's hand. What will become of us, if we set our affections on this earth, and make it our portion, seeing all these things shall be burned up? Therefore make sure of happiness beyond this visible world.For this they willingly are ignorant of - Λαιθάνει γὰρ αὐτοὺς τοῦτο θέλοντας Laithanei gar autous touto thelontas. There is some considerable variety in the translation of this passage. In our common version the Greek word (θέλοντας thelontas) is rendered as if it were an adverb, or as if it referred to their "ignorance" in regard to the event; meaning, that while they might have known this fact, they took no pains to do it, or that they preferred to have its recollection far from their minds. So Beza and Luther render it. Others, however, take it as referring to what follows, meaning, "being so minded; being of that opinion; or affirming." So Bloomfield, Robinson (Lexicon), Mede, Rosenmuller, etc. According to this interpretation the sense is, "They who thus will or think; that is, they who hold the opinion that all things will continue to remain as they were, are ignorant of this fact that things have not always thus remained; that there has been a destruction of the world once by water."

The Greek seems rather to demand this interpretation; and then the sense of the passage will be, "It is concealed or hidden from those who hold this opinion, that the earth has been once destroyed." It is implied, whichever interpretation is adopted, that the will was concerned in it; that they were influenced by that rather than by sober judgment and by reason; and whether the word refers to their "ignorance," or to their "holding that opinion," there was obstinacy and perverseness about it. The "will" has usually more to do in the denial and rejection of the doctrines of the Bible than the "understanding" has. The argument which the apostle appeals to in reply to this objection is a simple one. The adversaries of the doctrine affirmed that the laws of nature had always remained the same, and they affirmed that they always would. The apostle denies the fact which they assumed, in the sense in which they affirmed it, and maintains that those laws have not been so stable and uniform that the world has never been destroyed by an overwhelming visitation from God. It has been destroyed by a flood; it may be again by fire. There was the same improbability that the event would occur, so far as the argument from the stability of the laws of nature is concerned, in the one case that there is in the other, and consequently the objection is of no force.

That by the word of God - By the command of God. "He spoke, and it was done." Compare Genesis 1:6, Genesis 1:9; Psalm 33:9. The idea here is, that everything depends on his word or will. As the heavens and the earth were originally made by his command, so by the same command they can be destroyed.

The heavens were of old - The heavens were formerly made, Genesis 1:1. The word "heaven" in the Scriptures sometimes refers to the atmosphere, sometimes to the starry worlds as they appear above us, and sometimes to the exalted place where God dwells. Here it is used, doubtless, in the popular signification, as denoting the heavens as they "appear," embracing the sun, moon, and stars.

And the earth standing out of the water and in the water - Margin, "consisting." Greek, συνεστῶσα sunestōsa. The Greek word, when used in an intransitive sense, means "to stand with," or "together;" then tropically, "to place together," to constitute, place, bring into existence - Robinson. The idea which our translators seem to have had is, that, in the formation of the earth, a part was out of the water, and a part under the water; and that the former, or the inhabited portion, became entirely submerged, and that thus the inhabitants perished. This was not, however, probably the idea of Peter. He doubtless has reference to the account given in Genesis 1:of the creation of the earth, in which water performed so important a part. The thought in his mind seems to have been, that "water" entered materially into the formation of the earth, and that in its very origin there existed the means by which it was destroyed afterward.

The word which is rendered "standing" should rather be rendered "consisting of," or "constituted of;" and the meaning is, that the creation of the earth was the result of the divine agency acting on the mass of elements which in Genesis is called "waters," Genesis 1:2, Genesis 1:6-7, Genesis 1:9. There was at first a vast fluid, an immense unformed collection of materials, called "waters," and from that the earth arose. The point of time, therefore, in which Peter looks at the earth here, is not when the mountains, and continents, and islands, seem to be standing partly out of the water and partly in the water, but when there was a vast mass of materials called "waters" from which the earth was formed. The phrase "out of the water" (ἐξ ὕδατος ex hudatos) refers to the origin of the earth. It was formed "from," or out of, that mass. The phrase "in the water" (δἰ ὕδατος di' hudatos) more properly means "through" or "by." It does not mean that the earth stood in the water in the sense that it was partly submerged; but it means not only that the earth arose "from" that mass that is called "water" in Genesis 1, but that that mass called "water" was in fact the grand material out of which the earth was formed. It was "through" or "by means of" that vast mass of mingled elements that the earth was made as it was. Everything arose out of that chaotic mass; through that, or by means of that, all things were formed, and from the fact that the earth was thus formed out of the water, or that water entered so essentially into its formation, there existed causes which ultimately resulted in the deluge.

5. Refutation of their scoffing from Scripture history.

willingly—wilfully; they do not wish to know. Their ignorance is voluntary.

they … are ignorant of—in contrast to 2Pe 3:8, "Be not ignorant of this." Literally, in both verses, "This escapes THEIR notice (sagacious philosophers though they think themselves)"; "let this not escape YOUR notice." They obstinately shut their eyes to the Scripture record of the creation and the deluge; the latter is the very parallel to the coming judgment by fire, which Jesus mentions, as Peter doubtless remembered.

by the word of God—not by a fortuitous concurrence of atoms [Alford].

of old—Greek, "from of old"; from the first beginning of all things. A confutation of their objection, "all things continue as they were FROM THE BEGINNING OF CREATION." Before the flood, the same objection to the possibility of the flood might have been urged with the same plausibility: The heavens (sky) and earth have been FROM OF OLD, how unlikely then that they should not continue so! But, replies Peter, the flood came in spite of their reasonings; so will the conflagration of the earth come in spite of the "scoffers" of the last days, changing the whole order of things (the present "world," or as Greek means, "order"), and introducing the new heavens and earth (2Pe 3:13).

earth standing out of—Greek, "consisting of," that is, "formed out of the water." The waters under the firmament were at creation gathered together into one place, and the dry land emerged out of and above, them.

in, &c.—rather, "by means of the water," as a great instrument (along with fire) in the changes wrought on the earth's surface to prepare it for man. Held together BY the water. The earth arose out of the water by the efficacy of the water itself [Tittmann].

For this they willingly are ignorant of; they will not know what they ought to know, and, if they would search the Scripture, might know.

That by the word of God; the command of God, or word of his power, as it is called, Hebrews 1:3: see Genesis 1:6,9 Psa 33:6 148:5.

The heavens were; were created, or had a being given them, Genesis 1:6.

Of old; from the beginning of the world.

And the earth; the globe of the earth, which comprehends likewise the seas and rivers, as parts of the whole.

Standing out of the water and in the water: according to our translation, the sense of these words may be plainly this, that the earth, standing partly out of the water, (as all the dry land doth, whose surface is higher than the water), and partly in the water, (as those parts do which are under it), or in the midst of the water, as being covered and encompassed by seas and rivers. But most expositors follow the marginal reading, and render the Greek word by consisting; and then the meaning may be, either:

1. That the earth consisting of water, as the matter out of which it was formed, (Moses calling the chaos which was that matter, waters, Genesis 1:2), and by water, from which it hath its compactness and solidity, and without which it would be wholly dry, mere useless dust, unfit for the generation and production of natural things. If we understand the words thus, the argument lies against the scoffers; for the earth thus consists of and by water, yet God made use of the water for the destroying of the world; and so natural causes are not sufficient for its preservation without the power of God sustaining it in its being; and whenever he withdraws that power, in spite of all inferior causes, it must perish. Or:

2. The words may thus be read, the heavens were of old, and the earth (supply from the former clause) was out of the water, and consisting by, or in, the water; and the meaning is, that the earth did emerge, or appear out of, or above, the water, viz. when God gathered the waters together, and made the dry land appear; and doth consist by, or among, or in, the midst of the waters, as was before explained.

For this they willingly are ignorant of,.... Namely, what follows; for as these men were such as had professed Christianity, and had the advantage of revelation, and had the opportunity of reading the Scriptures, they might have known that the heavens and the earth were from the beginning; and that they were made by the word of God; and that the earth was originally in such a position and situation as to be overflowed with a flood, and that it did perish by a general inundation; and that the present heavens and earth are kept and reserved for a general burning; and it might be discerned in nature, that there are preparations making for an universal conflagration; but all this they chose not to know, and affected ignorance of: particularly

that by the word of God the heavens were of old: not only in the times of Noah, but "from the beginning"; as the Ethiopic version reads, and which agrees with the account in Genesis 1:1; by "the heavens" may be meant both the third heaven, and the starry heavens, and the airy heavens, with all their created inhabitants; and especially the latter, since these were concerned in, and affected with the general deluge; and these were in the beginning of time, out of nothing brought into being, and so were not eternal, and might be destroyed again, or at least undergo a change, even though they were of old, and of long duration: for it was "by the word of God" that they at first existed, and were so long preserved in being; either by the commanding word of God, by his powerful voice, his almighty fiat, who said, Let it be done, and it was done, and who commanded beings to rise up out of nothing, and they did, and stood fast; and so the Arabic version renders it, "by the command of God"; or by his eternal Logos, the essential Word of God, the second Person in the Trinity, who is often in Scripture called the Word, and the Word of God, and, as some think, by the Apostle Peter, 1 Peter 1:23, and certain it is that the creation of all things is frequently ascribed to him; see John 1:16; wherefore by the same Word they might be dissolved, and made to pass away, as they will:

and the earth standing out of the water and in the water; that is, "by the Word of God"; for this phrase, in the original text, is placed after this clause, and last of all; and refers not only to the being of the heavens of old, but to the rise, standing, and subsistence of the earth, which is here particularly described for the sake of the deluge, the apostle afterwards mentions: and it is said to be "standing out of the water", or "consisting out of it"; it consists of it as a part; the globe of the earth is terraqueous, partly land and partly water; and even the dry land itself has its rise and spring out of water; the first matter that was created is called the deep, and waters in which darkness was, and upon which the Spirit of God moved, Genesis 1:2; agreeably to which Thales the Milesian asserted (t), that water was the principle of all things; and the Ethiopic version here renders the words thus, "and the Word of God created also the earth out of water, and confirmed it": the account the Jews give of the first formation of the world is this (u);

"at first the world was , "water in water"; what is the sense (of that passage Genesis 1:2;) "and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters?" he returned, and made it snow; he casteth forth his ice like morsels, Psalm 147:17; he returned and made it earth; "for to the snow he saith, Be thou earth", Job 37:6, and the earth stood upon the waters; "to him that stretched out the earth above the waters", Psalm 136:6;''

however, certain it is, that the earth was first covered with water, when at the word, and by the command of God, the waters fled and hasted away, and were gathered into one place, and the dry land rose up and appeared; and then it was that it "stood out of the water"; see Genesis 1:9; moreover, the earth consists, or is kept and held together by water; there is a general humidity or moisture that runs through it, by which it is compacted together, or otherwise it would resolve into dust, and by which it is fit for the production, increase, and preservation of vegetables and other things, which it otherwise would not be: and it is also said to stand "in the water", or by the water; upon it, according to Psalm 24:2; or rather in the midst of it, there being waters above the firmament or expanse; in the airy heavens, in the clouds all around the earth, called the windows of heaven; and water below the firmament or expanse, in the earth itself; besides the great sea, a large body of waters is in the midst of the earth, in the very bowels of it, which feed rivers, and form springs, fountains and wells, called "the fountains of the great deep", Genesis 7:11; and in this position and situation was the earth of old, and so was prepared in nature for a general deluge, and yet was preserved firm and stable by the word of God, for a long series of time; so the Arabic version renders it, "and the earth out of the water, and in the water, stood stable, by the command of God"; but when it was his pleasure, he brought the flood on the world of the ungodly, of which an account follows.

(t) Vid. Laert. l. i. in Vit. Thaletis. (u) T. Hieros. Chagiga, fol. 77. 1.

{4} For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the {b} earth standing out of the water and in the water:

(4) He sets against them the creation of heaven and earth by the word of God, which these men are willingly ignorant of.

(b) Which appeared, when the waters were gathered together into one place.

2 Peter 3:5. Refutation of the assertion: πάντα οὕτω διαμένει, by the adducing the fact of the flood.[89] λανθάνει γὰρθέλοντας] γάρ is not equivalent to δέ, but designates the thought which follows as the reason for their scoffing: “Thus they speak because;” cf. Winer, p. 423 [E. T. 568].

τοῦτο belongs either to λανθάνει or to θέλοντας; in the first case it refers to what follows: ὅτι κ.τ.λ.; in which case θέλοντας will mean: “willingly, on purpose” (Brückner, Wiesinger, Fronmüller, Hofmann; cf. Winer, p. 436 [E. T. 586]; Buttmann, p. 322. Luther: “but they wilfully will not know”); in the second case τοῦτο refers to the contents of the preceding statement, and θέλειν means “to assert;” “for, whilst they assert this, it is hidden from them that” (Dietlein, Schott). The position both of τοῦτο separated from ὅτι by θέλοντας, and of θέλοντας separated by τοῦτο from λανθάνει, favours the second construction; that θέλειν can be used in the sense of “to assert,” is clear from Herodian, v. 3. 11: εἰκόνα τε ἡλίου ἀνέργαστον εἶναι θέλουσι; the word marks the assertion as one based on self-willed arbitrariness, and as without any certain foundation.

ὅτι οὐρανοὶ ἦσαν ἔκπαλαι] οἱ οὐρανοί, the plural according to the common usage.

ἔκπαλαι; cf. chap. 2 Peter 2:3, not: “of old, formerly,” but: “from of old,” i.e. jam inde a primo rerum omnium initio (Gerhard).

ἦσαν belongs in the first instance to οὐρανοί; yet the subsequent γῆ is to be taken as applying to it also.

καὶ γῆ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ διʼ ὕδατος συνεστῶσα] συνεστῶσα expresses the idea of originating out of a combination; συνίστημι is often employed thus by the Greeks in the intransitive tenses, though the reference contained in συν sometimes disappears almost entirely. The prepositions ἐξ and διά must not be regarded as synonymous; ἐξ refers to the substance, διά to the means. A twofold significance is thus attributed to the water in the formation of the earth, which is also in harmony with the Mosaic account of the creation, where the original substance is distinctly spoken of as ὕδωρ, and in the formation of the earth water is mentioned as the instrumental element (Brückner). There is, accordingly, no foundation for the assertion of de Wette, that the author conceived the origin of the world, according to Indo-Egyptian cosmogony, as a species of chemical product of water. Many interpreters, as Bengel, Wiesinger, Schott, Fronmüller, Hofmann, as also Winer, p. 390 [E. T. 441], explain ἐξ ὕδατος by saying that the earth arose out of the water “in which it lay buried.” But this interpretation is refuted by the meaning of the verbal idea συνεστῶσα, which belongs to ἐξ ὕδατος; thus, too, an element would be introduced which would be of only secondary importance.[90] Although ΣΥΝΕΣΤῶΣΑ belongs grammatically only to Γῆ, yet in thought it has been applied to ΟὐΡΑΝΟΊ also; thus Brückner, Wiesinger, Schott, and in this commentary. This reference may be justified thus far, that ΟὐΡΑΝΟΊ is understood of the second day’s work of creation, the visible heavens; but it is necessary only if ΚΌΣΜΟς, 2 Peter 3:6, is to be taken as meaning the heavens and the earth. De Wette arbitrarily refers the preposition ἘΞ only to the earth, and ΔΙΆ to the heavens; the latter in the sense of: “through the water, between the water.” Τῷ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ΛΌΓῼ] draws emphatic attention to the fact that the active cause of the creation of the world was the Word of God; to this Τῷ ΤΟῦ ΘΕΟῦ ΛΌΓῼ, the Τῷ ΑὐΤΟῦ ΛΌΓῼ, 2 Peter 3:7, corresponds.

[89] Schott disputes this, and maintains that the scoffers appealed to the fact of the flood in support of their opinion, “in as far as it did not form a definite close of the earthly development of the world, by an annihilation of the world,” and that now what the writer wished to bring forward against it was why that judgment of destruction was executed simply by means of a flood, and consequently was not an absolute annihilation, but only a change of form; but how much here must be read between the lines, and to which no allusion is made.

[90] The interpretation of Hornejus shows to what eccentricities commentators sometimes have recourse: dicitur autem terra consistere ἐξ ὕδατος, i.e. ἐκτὸς ὕδατο; seu πρὸς ὕδατι, extra aquam s. ad aquas; διʼ ὕδατος, i.e. μετὰ S. ἐν μέσῳ ὕδατος cum aqua s. in media aqua.—The opinion of Steinfass, too, that “συνεστῶσα is to be limited to the creation and existence of human beings, animals, and vegetables,” finds no justification in the words of the epistle.

2 Peter 3:5-7. The first part of the argument against the scoffers. “It is not true that the course of the world is unchanging. They have wilfully forgotten that the heavens existed originally, and the earth was formed out of water, and by means of water, by the Word of God. By this very water and Word the world, as it then was, was overwhelmed and perished. The present heavens and earth, by the same Word, are treasured up for fire, being reserved for the day when impious men shall meet their doom and destruction.”

5. For this they willingly are ignorant of] More accurately, For this is hid from them by their own will. The English phrase “they ignore” exactly expresses the state of mind of which the Apostle speaks. The ignorance of the scoffers was self-chosen. They closed their eyes to the truth that the law of continuity on which they laid stress was not without exception. There had been a great catastrophe in the past. There might yet be a great catastrophe in the future.

that by the word of God the heavens were of old] The history of the creative work in Genesis 1 furnishes the first example that the order of the universe was not one of unbroken continuity of evolution. In “the word of God” we may see a reference either (1) to the continually recurring formula “God said” in Genesis 1:3; Genesis 1:6; Genesis 1:9, or (2) to the thought that it was by the Eternal Word that the work of Creation was accomplished, as in John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2; and we have no sufficient data for deciding between the two. Hebrews 11:3 (“the worlds were framed by the word of God”) is exactly parallel to St Peter’s language, and is open to the same diversity of interpretation. In any case the words are a protest against the old Epicurean view of a concourse of atoms, and its modern counterpart, the theory of a perpetual evolution.

and the earth standing out of the water and in the water] More accurately, and the earth formed out of water and by means of water. The words carry us back, as before, to the cosmogony of Genesis 1. The earth was brought out of chaos into its present kosmos, by the water being gathered into one place and the dry land appearing (Genesis 1:9). It was kept together by the separation of the waters above the firmament from those that were below the firmament (Genesis 1:6). The Apostle speaks naturally from the standpoint of the physical science of his time and country, and we need not care to reconcile either his words or those of Genesis 1 with the conclusions of modern meteorological science. The equivalent fact in the language of that science would be that the permanence of the existing order of the world is secured by the circulation of water, rising in evaporation, and falling in the form of rain, between the higher and lower regions of the atmosphere, and that there must have been a time when this circulation began to supervene on a previous state of things that depended on different conditions.

2 Peter 3:5. Λανθάνει γὰρ, for it escapes their notice) This is the reason why they thus speak. Antithetical to, let it not escape your notice, 2 Peter 3:8.—τοῦτο, this) The nominative case.—θέλοντας) willing it to be so. Their ignorance is voluntary. They obstinately neglect to consider the deluge.—οὐρανοὶγῆ, the heavensthe earth) The heavens and the earth before the deluge were very different in quality, though not in substance, from their present state.—ἦσαν ἔκπαλαι) had been, of old, just as they are now. The deluge, and the destruction of the world by fire, Peter says, might have appeared equally incredible: and yet the former event has taken place, and the latter will take place. Just as the mockers were arguing against the destruction of the world by fire, so before the deluge men might have argued against the deluge. But as the argument of these last was proved to be groundless by the testimony of the event, so also is the argument of the former. The urgency of the reasoning derived from the deluge destroys the force of the thus, as they were (οὕτω), of the mockers, 2 Peter 3:4. The pluperfect has a backward reference from the time of the deluge to the time of the creation: and the word then, 2 Peter 3:6, has also a reference to that.—ἐξ ὓδατος καὶ διʼ ὓδατος, out of the water and by the water) A gradual process. The water had covered the earth: the earth emerged out of the waters; and the water was serviceable for the stability of the earth, as the Creator formed and placed it. Water is in other cases lighter than earth, and earth seeks the lower parts, to such a degree, that all water in a straight line from the surface to the centre of this globe, or round system, always has earth beneath it: but on the surface itself, the earth everywhere rises above the water in a greater or less degree; and even this place the water yielded and left to the earth, as it were unwillingly, and when compelled by the most powerful command of God, Exodus 20:4; Psalm 24:2; Psalm 104:5-8; Psalm 136:6; Job 38:10-11; 2Es 16:59.—συνεστῶσα, standing together) that is, was. The joining together and lasting duration of the earth is pointed out: and thus standing firmly, answers to the word of old. Thomas Burnet, in his Theory of the Earth, 2 Peter 2:5, applies the participle (which in the English Version is ambiguous, standing), not only to the earth, but also to the heavens. By paying attention to this error, you will avoid many things which Burnet has raised upon it.—τῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγῳ, by the word of God) Genesis 1:6-9. This is constructed with were (ἦσαν), expressed, and was (ἦν), understood. The duration of all things is determined by the Word of God, so that it can be neither longer nor shorter.

Verse 5. - For this they willingly are ignorant of; literally, for this escapes them of their own will. All things have not always been as they are; there have been great changes; there was once a great catastrophe; but this they willfully forget, Huther translates differently, "For, whilst they assert this, it is hidden from them that," etc. But this rendering seems forced and unsatisfactory, and gives a meaning to θέλω which it has nowhere in the New Testament. That by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water. The Revised Version translates, That there were heavens from of old, and an earth compacted out of water and amidst water, by the Word of God. The mockers say that all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation. That creation itself was a great, a stupendous change, a mighty effort of the power of God. St. Peter refers to it in words evidently derived from the Book of Genesis, not from any other sources, whether Greek, Egyptian, or Indian. There were heavens from of old (the word ἔκπαλαι occurs elsewhere only in 2 Peter 2:3). There was an earth formed or standing out of the water. The Greek participle here used is συνεστῶσα, literally, "standing together or consisting" (comp. Colossians 1:17); it may be taken closely with both prepositional Clauses, "earth consisting of water and by means of water." Thales had taught that water was the beginning of things, the original element (πάντα ἐξ ὕδατος συνεστάναι); the narrative in Genesis represents water as originally overspreading all things: "The earth was without form [ἀόρατος, Septuagint], and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." We may therefore understand St. Peter as meaning that the earth was formed or compacted out of water, or out of those substances which the water at first held in solution; and that it is kept together in coherence and solidity by means of water. If, on the other hand, we regard the participle as closely connected with the second preposition only, the meaning will be that the earth, held together and compacted by means of water, rose up out of the water, and appeared above it, when God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear." It is possible, again, to understand the preposition διά locally, and to translate "amidst water." Comp. Psalm 136:6, "He stretched out the earth above the waters;" and Psalm 24:2, "He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods." Of course, neither St. Peter nor Moses is speaking in the language of science; their object was, not to teach scientific truth, but to present the great fact of creation in an aspect suitable to our poor capacities. For the clause, "by the Word of God (τῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγῳ)," comp. Hebrews 11:3, "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God (ῤήματι Θεοῦ)." St. Peter may be referring to the formula, "And God said," so constantly repeated in the account of the creation, or (what is really the same truth) to the fact that "all things were made by him [by God the Word], and without him was not anything made that was made." 2 Peter 3:5This they willingly are ignorant of (λανθάνει αὐτους τοῦτο θέλοντας)

Lit., this escapes them of their own will. Rev., this they wilfully forget.

The heavens were

But the Greek has no article. Render, there were heavens. So, too, not the earth, but an earth, as Rev.

Standing (συνεστῶσα)

Incorrect; for the word is, literally, standing together; i.e., compacted or formed. Compare Colossians 1:17, consist. Rev., compacted.

Out of the water

Again no article. Render out of water; denoting not the position of the earth, but the material or mediating element in the creation; the waters being gathered together in one place, and the dry land appearing. Or, possibly, with reference to the original liquid condition of the earth - without form and void.

In the water (δὶ ὕδατος)

Omit the article. Διά has its usual sense here, not as Rev., amidst, but by means of. Bengel: "The water served that the earth should consist." Expositors are much divided as to the meaning. This is the view of Huther, Salmond, and, substantially, Alford.

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