God's Eternity Considered in Reference to the Suspension of His Promised Purposes
2 Peter 3:5-7
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old…

I. ENDEAVOUR TO ILLUSTRATE THEIR IMPORT, AND ESTABLISH THE TRUTH OF THE PROPOSITION WHICH THEY CONTAIN. These words are designed as an answer to the objections which irreligious scoffers advance against the certainty of the accomplishment of the Divine declarations, founded on its long delay.

1. Every portion of duration is something real, and has a true and proper existence; but the epithets great and small, when applied to this (as well as to anything else), are merely comparative. We should consider fifty years as forming a very large portion of human life; but the same number of years in the history of an empire would be justly considered small. Thus is the same quantity either great or small, as you place it by the side of something much inferior to it in magnitude, or much superior.

2. Hence it results that absolute greatness belongs only to what is infinite; for whatever falls short of this, however great it may appear, its supposed greatness is entirely owing to the incidental absence of another object that is greater.

3. In duration, absolute greatness belongs only to eternity.

4. We must then conceive that He who has subsisted throughout eternal ages; who knows "no beginning of days, nor end of years"; who possesses eternity; to whom all its parts (if we may be allowed so to speak) are continually open, both past and future; must have a very different apprehension of that inconsiderable portion of it we call time, from creatures who are acquainted with no other. Nor let any one object, and say it must appear as it is, and therefore there is no reason to suppose it appears to Him different from what it does to us. No doubt it appears to Him exactly as it is. His apprehensions are, unquestionably, agreeable to the nature of things; but it does not follow from thence that it must appear in the same light as it does to us. That each portion of duration appears to Him real, we admit: we are not contending for its being annihilated in His view. Something it is, and something it appears, unquestionably, in His eyes. The measure by which God estimates time is, consequently, quite different from that which we are compelled to apply in its contemplation. We measure one portion of duration by another; He measures time by eternity. How inconceivably different must be the apprehension arising from these different methods of considering it!


1. It removes the ground of objection against the fulfilment of the Divine declarations, arising from the accomplishment being long delayed.

2. It accounts for the peculiar cast of Scripture language, when employed in announcing the coining of Christ, and the end of all things.

3. Though we cannot immediately change our senses, let us endeavour to conform our ideas and convictions to the dictates of Infallible Wisdom on this subject. Let us consider the whole duration of things here as very short.

(R. Hall.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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:

WEB: For this they willfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth formed out of water and amid water, by the word of God;

God's Estimate of Time
Top of Page
Top of Page