b) 2 Pet 3:8: In these verses, the author of 2 Peter addressed the turmoil within the Christian community resulting from the mockers’ question (2 Pet 3:3–4).[1]

He feared the confusion spread by the false teachers might undermine their faith.[2] Even steadfast believers can experience doubts regarding the delay in Jesus’s return.[3]

Those who remain committed to Jesus can be swayed by scoffers, who deliberately choose to forget the truth (2 Pet 2:1–3; 2 Pet 3:5).[4]

We need reminders concerning what Scripture teaches about the return of Christ to prevent us from discounting the notion of his imminent return.[5]

This issue grabbed the attention of the original audience. In the previous letter attributed to Peter, the apostle had written, “The end of all [things] is near” (1 Pet 4:7).

Furthermore, these believers may have experienced intense persecution, which dramatically increased their desire for Christ to return and set everything right. Had God forgotten his promise?[6]

The author gave two reasons for the long wait.[7]

First, in order to reassure them, he alluded to Ps 90:4.[8] This verse occurs in a song ascribed to Moses. It depicts the Lord’s reliability throughout our ephemeral lives (Ps 90:1–17).[9]

He wrote, “But you, do not let this one [thing] escape your notice, beloved, that one day with the Lord [is] like a thousand years and a thousand years [is] like one day.”

Our perception of time differs vastly from God’s. What seems like an age to us consists of a brief moment for him.[10]

Some Jewish and early Christian scholars took Ps 90:4 quite literally,[11] using the verse to predict world history.[12]

By replacing the word “day” with “one-thousand years,” they concocted some interesting theories.[13]

For example, they concluded that Adam lived for roughly a thousand years after his exile from Eden because that was still the same day in the Lord’s sight (Gen 2:16–17; Gen 5:3–5).[14]

Others viewed the six days of creation in Gen 1 a template for human history (Gen 1:31).[15]

They theorized that after six thousand years, a one thousand-year millennium would arrive (Rev 20:4–6).[16] This messianic age—called The Day of the Lord—would correspond to the seventh day, the first Sabbath (Gen 2:1–3).[17]

Consequently, Irenaeus (ca. 125–202 AD) wrote:

For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded. And for this reason the Scripture says, “Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all their adornment. And God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works that He had made; and God rested upon the seventh day from all His works.”

This is an account of the things formerly created, as also it is a prophecy of what is to come. For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.[18]

Such interpretations have a fatal flaw.[19]

Neither the author of 2 Peter nor Moses wrote, “One day is a thousand years.”[20]

Instead, they wrote, “One day is like (hōs) a thousand years.”[21] They made an analogy, rather than a literal assertion.[22]

The creation of the sun and moon on “a fourth day” highlights the difficulty of a precise definition for the term “day,” as light had been present since “a first day” (Gen 1:1–5, 14–19).”

In addition, the Hebrew word “yom” often loses the specific meaning “day,” [23] becoming a vague term for “time” or “moment.”[24]

On each of the first five days, no definite article occurs before the number of each day (e.g. “a second day”). In Hebrew grammar, authors employed the word “the” (ha) to denote a particular person or thing.[25]

Consequently, the syntax of Gen 1 permits a range of ideas in the length of time during which God created.[26]

The lack of a definite article also permitted Moses to depict the events of days one through five in a sequence other than their chronological order for literary purposes.[27]

Presenting the process in a series of “days” accommodates the finite thinking of human minds.[28]

God sees the passage of time much differently than we do.[29]

Psalm 90:4 simply compares the Lord’s infinitude and steadfastness to humanity’s ephemeral nature. One cannot use that song to deduce the length of a day in creation while remaining faithful to the meaning of the text.[30]

Since God transcends time, the delay in Christ’s return should not disturb us.

When discussing this topic, Jesus told a parable which warned his disciples to prepare for his arrival at any moment (Matt 24:36–43). He immediately followed that story with another which taught them to expect a long wait (Matt 25:1–13).[31]

However, the author of this letter did not chide his readers for assuming that Jesus would return soon.[32]

He and Paul both expected Christ to come back to earth in their lifetimes (2 Pet 3:12–15; 1 Thess 2:19; 1 Thess 4:13–18).[33]

God allows millennia to pass as he achieves his aims.[34] Christ’s decision not to return before now does not mean that he never will.[35]

Therefore, we must develop patience.[36] What appears to take an eternity to us remains but a moment for God.[37]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Read 2 Pet 3:8. How does God view time? What impact does this have upon you as you wait for Christ’s return?





Go to The Lord has Patience

[Related posts include The World Destroyed by Water (2 Pet 3:5–6); Reserved for Fire (2 Pet 3:7); The Lord has Patience (2 Pet 3:9); The Day of the Lord Will Come (2 Pet 3:10); Hastening the Day of God (2 Pet 3:11–12); In the Beginning of God’s Creating (Gen 1:1–2); Let There Be Light (Gen 1:3–5); Greater and Lesser Lights (Gen 1:14–19); God Evaluates His Creation (Gen 1:31); God Completes the Heavens and the Earth (Gen 2:1–2); The Lord Blesses the Seventh Day (Gen 2:3); Forbidden Fruit (Gen 2:16–17); In Adam’s Likeness and Image (Gen 5:3–5); Not Knowing the Day or the Hour (Matt 24:36); As in the Days of Noah (Matt 24:37–39); One Will Be Left (Matt 24:40–41); Continually Watch! (Matt 24:42–44); Ancient Literature; Author and Date of Genesis; and Hebrew Poetry]

[Click here to go to Chapter 9: A Covenant with Noah (Genesis 8:20–9:17)]


[1]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 185. Whether the apostle or someone writing in Peter’s name wrote this letter remains in dispute, even among evangelical scholars.

[2]Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 378–9.

[3]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 185.

[4]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 185–6.

[5]Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 379.

[6]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 186.

[7]Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 379. We will address the second one in the next post.

[8]Bauckham, 2 Peter, Jude, 306.

[9]Carson, “2 Peter,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1058.

[10]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 186.

[11]Bauckham, 2 Peter, Jude, 306.

[12]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 186.

[13]Bauckham, 2 Peter, Jude, 306.

[14]Carson, “2 Peter,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1059.

[15]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 186.

[16]Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 380.

[17]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 186.

[18]Irenaeus, “Against Heresies,” 5.28.3, 557, https://archive.org/stream/antenicenefather01robe#page/556.

[19]Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 380.

[20]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 186.

[21]Arndt, Danker, and Bauer, “ὡς” (hōs), BDAG, 1103–6, 1104.

[22]Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 380.

[23] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “יֹום” (yom), BDB, 398–401, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/398/mode/2up.

[24]Holladay, “יֹום” (yom), CHALOT, 529.

[25]Gesenius, GKC, 407, https://archive.org/stream/geseniushebrewgr00geseuoft#page/406/mode/2up.

[26]Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall: A Theological Exposition of Genesis 1–3, 49.

[27]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 77.

[28]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 61.

[29]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 186.

[30]Carson, “2 Peter,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1059.

[31]Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 379.

[32]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 186–7.

[33]Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 379–80.

[34]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 186.

[35]Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 380.

[36]Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, 186–7.

[37]Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, 380.