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The "then world" versus the "now heavens and earth" in 2 Peter 3:6-7

The “then world” versus the “now heavens and earth” in 2 Peter 3:6-7:
Is Peter saying that “world” equals “heavens and earth?”

By Jerel Kratt
January 12, 2010


This paper refutes Sam Frost’s position that Peter uses “heavens and earth” and “world” synonymously in 2 Peter 3:6-7. Such a position is critical to Frost’s rebuttal of the basic premise proposed by Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn, authors of “Beyond Creation Science” (BCS), that the Heavens and Earth to be destroyed in AD 70 was the original creation of Genesis 1:1 . Frost’s position is that the “heavens and earth” which were destroyed in AD 70 began at Sinai, and that there existed a previous covenantal “heavens and earth” beginning in Genesis 2:4 and ending with the flood of Noah . According to Frost, neither one of these previous “heavens and earth” had anything to do with the first “heavens and earth” mentioned in Genesis 1:1. That one, he claims, is the physical universe. I have respect for Mr. Frost, and my critique of his position does not mean he is not my brother in Christ and shall not receive my brotherly love. However, the ramifications of my paper are significant, for I believe it will prove that he is wrong on this issue.

please click the link below to read this entire paper:


Views: 282

Comment by Tami on January 15, 2010 at 9:57am
There are many compelling and well-presented arguments in Jerel's paper. Here is just one of them, regarding the parallel context of Hebrews 12:

Notice that the Hebrew writer says that in the past, when the Law was given through Moses, it was the earth that was shaken, but “now” (AD 65 or so) both the Heavens and the Earth were to be shaken. The context here is a comparison of what happened at Sinai with what would happen at the destruction of Jerusalem. The text is clear: then it was the earth that was shaken, but now it will be the heavens and the earth. The pattern is identical to the one Peter uses concerning Noah’s flood. Then it was the “world” that perished, now it is the heavens and the earth. This distinction utterly destroys Frost’s position.

Here is the issue: there had to be a “heavens and earth” already in existence at Sinai in order for the “earth” to be “shaken.” If Frost’s view is correct, that the first heavens and earth of Revelation 21 is the covenant given at Sinai, then how could there have been a “shaking of the earth” at Sinai? If Sinai was the creation of the first heaven and earth, then there wasn’t yet an “earth” to “shake.” And the Hebrew writer’s argument contrasting two “shakings” would make no sense.

I am sure no one would disagree that these are parallel contexts. The "burning" of the heavens and the earth in 2 Peter 3 is indeed describing the *same event* as the "shaking" of the heavens and the earth in Hebrews 12. This is why when someone suggests that we are only allowed to interpret 2 Peter 3 in isolation from other contexts--such as this one in Hebrews 12 which is so clearly a parallel--it just baffles me. It would be paramount to suggesting we have to interpret 1 Corinthians 15 in isolation from parallel New Testament contexts such as 2 Corinthians 3....or in isolation from the Old Testament prophets from which Paul is quoting.

Jerel is correct, the distinction highlighted in Hebrews 12, which brings clarity to Peter's argument in 2 Peter 3, is indeed devastating to Frost's position.
Comment by Larry Siegle on January 16, 2010 at 4:06pm
does the difference of approach actually affect the end result? Others (Max King, Don Preston etc) have argued from the more traditional perspective for years and the difference in protology does not necessarily affect the fact that A.D. 70 was the "shaking" and "removal" of the Old Covenant mode of existence. The issues related to Adamic death and the sin that had entered into the world were taken up under the Mosaic Covenant and worked out through the plan of redemption with the arrival of the Messiah as one "born of a woman (into Adam) and born under the Law (Old Covenant mode of existence). The fulfillment of the promises made to Israel was the manifestation of the power that was worked out in Christ as the One who would come to defeat sin and death through the Cross and the Parousia in A.D. 70. The fact that some have taken a different pathway to arrive at the same conclusion does not necessarily imply that one approach is more consistent than the other--only that it is different. The common interpretation of Preterists has been that II Pet. 3 describes THREE "heavens and earths" and the destruction of two "worlds" (at the time of Noah, and at the end of the Jewish age in A.D. 70). The arrival of the "new heavens and a new earth" was the final fulfillment of God's promises and whether one takes the view of Jerel or Sam the end result remains the same.
Comment by Tami on January 17, 2010 at 10:01am
The difference between covenantal continuity (our framework) and no covenantal continuity (Sam Frost's framework) most definitely does "affect the end result" and has ramifications on our understanding and subsequent application of virtually all Old Testament prophetic texts. See Jerel's paper (linked above) for a thorough explanation of this--my answer to your statements above would merely be a re-wording of what he has already so thoroughly answered.

Furthermore, our view of the nature of Genesis creation will dictate our view of the nature of the new creation in Isaiah 65 (and by extension, all parallel contexts). We cannot avoid this. And we--*we* at NCMI through our articles and podcast discussions--have shown the consequences of this over and over again, maintaining our focus on the text of Scripture, with no exegetically based responses from those who disagree with our conclusions. Lots of name calling, false accusations, certainly lots of intentional distorting of what we've said, but nothing dealing with what we have actually argued from the text. This article is just one of many examples of well-developed arguments which have not been thoughtfully or reasonably countered by those who dismiss them (and I chose this article specifically as it is footnoted in Jerel's paper).
Comment by Brian Maxwell on January 17, 2010 at 3:28pm
Jerel's paper is very sound. It does matter, because creating several "heaven and earths" when there is no scriptural support for it sounds like a desperate attempt to harmonize a physical creation and global flood with a covenant judgment in 70AD. With all due respect, it actually reminds me of dispensationalism. Just create another dispensation (or heaven and earth) when the text doesn't line up with your template. You cannot build on falsehood and expect to arrive at truth. That's why the "how we get there" matters a great deal.

I love how Tim Martin makes it so simple. The "nature" of the end must match the beginning. The scriptures demand it.

Jerel, I really liked the comparison of 2 Peter 3 and Hebrews 12. That is a very powerful argument against the "Sinai" view. The one I've been preaching for years now is the Gal 3:19 argument. If the Law was "added" because of transgression, what was it added to? Your discussion of Hebrews 12 and how the "earth" was shaken at Sinai shows us that Sinai was certainly NOT a new creation of a "heaven and earth" but an adding to or a shaking of an "earth" already in existence. Your paper has helped further clarify the correct covenantal position from Genesis to Revelation.
Comment by jjkratt on January 17, 2010 at 6:38pm
Thanks Brian. I thought that comparison is very powerful too.
Comment by Tami on January 18, 2010 at 7:45am
I thought this point from Jerel's paper was also quite effective and compelling:

It is at this point that I anticipate Frost arguing that “earth” and “world” are sometimes physical and sometimes spiritual or covenantal: “First the physical, then the spiritual,” as he is fond of saying . Many times, he says this in reference to Paul’s usage of natural vs. spiritual in 1 Corinthians 15:44f. In using this argument, he is erroneously redefining Paul’s “natural” to mean “physical,” which in fact it does not mean, as even Frost himself admits in his 1 Corinthians 15 lectures , not to mention that this is ripping Paul’s argument out of the context of resurrection and applying it to Genesis 1. However, if this is the course Frost will pursue, to argue for a physical “earth” or “world” being destroyed in Noah’s flood and a spiritual meaning of “heaven and earth” (which supposedly means “world”) in 2 Peter 3, then Frost would set himself up into a very weak position when arguing with futurists that Peter didn’t have a brand new shiny planet in mind when he wrote. If “world” equals “heavens and earth” for Noah’s flood and the “earth/world” that was destroyed was physical, then how can one argue it is different in 2 Peter 3:7? This line of reasoning would put Frost, if he were to remain consistent, dangerously close to jumping back into Gentry’s and other reformed views of 2 Peter 3 – a physical conflagration of the planet.

This speaks again to the consistency issue, and as Brian pointed out, the cohesive framework encompassing the beginning and the end and the *natural* harmony of both within that framework. Switching back and forth between physical and spiritual/covenantal makes a convoluted mess of things. It really does make nonsense of the text of Scripture when that text is appreciated as a whole, and as *the* whole of *one* story. It is really only by parceling out sections in isolation of that whole that one can even really get away with arbitrarily switching back and forth between a physical and a covenantal understanding of terms which Scripture uses consistently and cohesively, and which in fact form an unbroken thread connecting the beginning to the end. Once you step back from a myopic focus on isolated passages and see the "big picture" it becomes clear just how unworkable that "both/and" approach is. And to Jerel's point, a physical view of "world" (and the presumption that "world" = "heaven and earth" in 2 Peter 3) forces one back into a futurist ("physical conflagration of the planet") position, if one is to remain consistent.
Comment by Brian Maxwell on January 20, 2010 at 12:27am
Wow Cyndi, really intriguing stuff, a lot to chew on here. Thank you!
Comment by jjkratt on January 23, 2010 at 2:08pm
Thanks Cyndi for your response. I'll give it due consideration. I certainly appreciate both encouragement and critique.

My basic position is that Adam was under grace (the whole garden was a scene of grace) but that he, unlike us, had a law (a unilateral covenant) through which the violation of such a law brought "death". The new covenant is not like the old. It does not bring death. Christ's law doesn't bring death, but he is the law and he brings life.

I see the parallel between the old heavens and earth that Adam was in (both pre- and post-fall), the old covenant, law (both "law" and "The Law"), and death, with the New heavens and earth which was the new covenant for a new people, where there is no death from law. The new covenant gives life (Christ), the old covenant gave death (Adam).

Cyndi, you said: The law wasn't given until Moses, and it was given because of transgressions, because of unfaithfulness. You mentioned Gal 3:18-19, which says that the inheritance was given to Abraham by promise. The law was given to Moses after Abraham; so why would Adam be bound by a covenant of law, but Abraham who was bound by that same covenant suddenly be bound by promise and than it reverts back to law with Moses?

The problem with this is you are confusing the Law of Moses with law that brought death, which originated before Moses. The Sin and The Death didn't originate with Moses. And, it wasn't given just "because of their transgressions", but to "increase transgressions" (Rom. 5:20) which existed before they were created as a special covenant people, and not just their transgressions, but to increase transgressions among all God's covenant people since Adam and after Moses until Christ (including Edom, Moab, etc).

The special promise that Abraham was given was something special in addition to the the old covenant of death he was in and under; it was prophetic of Christ. There's no "reverting back" when Moses came. Abraham never left the old heavens and earth, and never left the old covenant of sin and death. According to Hebrews 11, Abraham didn't receive what was promised him. The promise wasn't for him specifically, but for his "seed". Gal. 3:16

Galatians 3:16 NASB Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ.

See, the promise really wasn't for or about Abraham. It was about Christ. Paul's point in Galatians is to show the Galatians that the Law of Moses doesn't annul the promise of Abraham's covenant, which became fulfilled only in Christ. The promise wasn't something that Abraham lived in . His covenant was of circumcision, but the promise didn't get realized until Christ. So the Law doesn't annul the "promise". (interestingly, the covenant with Moses didn't annul the covenant of circumcision nor the promise.) So what you said here didn't make sense to me at all. Sorry.

Galatians 3:21-29 NASB Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. (22) But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (23) But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. (24) Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. (25) But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (26) For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.

I agree that there was promise and faith all the way back to Adam and Abel, that that doesn't mean that they weren't all under the old heavens and earth of sin and death. And it also doesn't mean that the lived in the realization of that promise.

Hebrews 11:8-16 NASB By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. (9) By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; (10) for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (11) By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. (12) Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE. (13) All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. (14) For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. (15) And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. (16) But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:39-40 NASB And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, (40) because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

Therefore, they were all under law and guilt and sin and death, i.e. the old covenant ministration of death, beginning with Adam. At least, that's how I'm seeing it.

Thanks for your thoughts.
Comment by John on June 17, 2010 at 10:17pm
It's sad that after six months opponents of Covenant Creation have yet to offer a reasoned rebuttal to Jerel's paper.

Sam Frost has basically just ducked out of the discussion.Mike Bennett's answer to Jerel's eighteen page response is one paragragh filled with one Logical Fallacy after another.

Bennett "2 Peter 3 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.

"Please note that the SAME water that floods is the SAME water that the earth was formed out of. This means that the water is not SYMBOLIC (for gentiles etc.) if you believe that there was indeed a REAL flood (whether you believe local or global makes no difference). This also means that the "heaven and earth" is a reference to the same "world" in 2 Peter 3. They are not different references. Also, consider what Genesis 1-9 has to say on the subject. It confirms what I am saying. Note that the earth was already destroyed and all life under the heavens ie. heavens and earth."

As Tami stated above "And to Jerel's point, a physical view of "world" (and the presumption that "world" = "heaven and earth" in 2 Peter 3) forces one back into a futurist ("physical conflagration of the planet") position, if one is to remain consistent.

I hope people will take time to read Jerel's paper and the comments here before following Michale's straw man.

Whats next ? The end of pro-creation?
Comment by MoGrace2u on August 5, 2010 at 3:41pm
The heavens and earth that were 'now' was that seen only in the temple. That was the temple that would have greater glory than Solomon's when Messiah came to it. It was also the one that was headed for the shaking which Haggai spoke about when He arrived - which the writer of Hebrews is quoting.


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