O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
There is a bit of a mess that I want to untangle regarding verse 7 of 2 Peter 3. Here is how it is translated in the NAS:
7 But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Some have argued that when Peter states "the present heavens and earth" that this means that what was destroyed in the flood was the first heavens and earth, and that when Peter was writing, a different heavens and earth existed. This is the only verse in the Bible that would remotely hint at such an idea, but this is not what Peter is saying. Peter maintains only one heavens and earth from Genesis 1 until the new heavens and earth arrives.
First, he doesn't say the heavens and earth were destroyed in the flood. He says the cosmos at that time was destroyed in the flood.
Second, the literal translation of the beginning of the verse is as follows:
7 But by the same word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Which word? The same word that brought the heavens and earth into existence to begin with.
Third, the Greek word "νυν" in this text is translated as "present." It can also mean, "now." This word functions as an adverb or an adjective, depending on the sentence structure.
Here is the way the Greek sentence structure reads:
οι δε νυν ουρανοι – The but now heavens
It is clear that the Greek word for "the" goes with heavens because the case endings match. In Greek, the word, δε, which means but, is always the second word in the sentence, and when translated into English, it becomes the first word.
The question is whether "νυν" is being used as an adverb or an adjective. When "νυν" follows "δε", it can be translated as an adverb, and actually is translated as an adverb in every other case in the New Testament where it immediately follows "δε". For example, consider 2 Timothy 1:10:
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
The exact same sentence structure that Peter uses is also found in Galatians 2:20:
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; but now [ο δε νυν ζω] the life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
Does Paul have a different life in the flesh now? No. What's different is that now he lives his life in the flesh by faith. But he's the same person. This is the exact same construction found in 2 Peter 3:7.
This construction is also found in Romans 16:26 and John 9:21.
It is my contention that Peter is using this same structure as Paul and John so that verse 7 of 2 Peter 3 reads like this in English:
"But now the heavens and the earth by the same word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men."
And this would make the most sense because of the contrast that Peter is drawing between the flood and the destruction of the heavens and the earth:
5 For when they maintain this, they deliberately overlook the fact that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But now the heavens and the earth by the same word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
Peter's contrast is that these scoffers deliberately overlook the fact that it was by the word of God that the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water through which the cosmos at the time of Noah was destroyed. BUT NOW the heavens and the earth by the same word are being reserved for fire.
The heavens and earth were not destroyed in the flood. The cosmos was. But now, the heavens and the earth would be destroyed by the same word of God. And this lines up with Hebrews 1:10-12:
10 And, "YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS; 11 THEY WILL PERISH, BUT YOU REMAIN; AND THEY ALL WILL BECOME OLD LIKE A GARMENT, 12 AND LIKE A MANTLE YOU WILL ROLL THEM UP; LIKE A GARMENT THEY WILL ALSO BE CHANGED. BUT YOU ARE THE SAME, AND YOUR YEARS WILL NOT COME TO AN END."
You see, the same heavens and earth that was created in the beginning is being destroyed. If you want to listen to my sermon on 2 Peter 3, go to newcovenanteyes.com.