Second Coming Delayed?
In his second epistle, Peter addresses the growing weariness of some believers due to the apparent delay in or even the failure of the “arrival” of Jesus to materialize, an open door for false teachers and outside critics to exploit. Instead of the predicted terrestrial and cosmic upheaval, daily life was continuing as it always had. The Apostle’s explanation is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.
As Peter reminded his readers, the Spirit of God warned of this very thing and the rise of deceivers and self-serving false prophets in the Assembly:
- “Scoffers who will come with scoffing and declaring, Where is the promise of his coming, for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” - (2 Peter 3:3-4).
|[Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash]|
Nevertheless, he reassures the Assembly that despite present circumstances, the “Day of the Lord” will come just as promised, and at the appointed time. The promise has not failed. Regardless of the claims of “scoffers,” God is not slack concerning His Word and promises. But He also does not operate according to man’s or the Assembly’s timetables and expectations.
- (2 Peter 3:10-13) – “Howbeit, the day of the Lord will be here as a thief in which the heavens with a rushing noise will pass away, while elements becoming intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works therein will be discovered. Seeing that all these things are thus to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be, all the while in holy ways of behavior and acts of godliness, expecting and hastening the presence of the day of God by reason of which the heavens, being on fire, will be dissolved, and the elements, becoming intensely hot, will be melted. But new heavens and a new earth according to his promise are we expecting in which righteousness will dwell.”
In the passage, the Greek word translated as “coming” is ‘Parousia’, which means “advent, arrival, coming, presence.” It signifies the actual “arrival” of someone or something and not the process of his or its “coming.”
In the ancient Greek language, it often referred to the “arrival” of a royal person at a city. In the New Testament, it is applied several times to the return or “arrival” of Jesus - (Matthews 24:27, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
Peter reminds the Assembly of the past acts of God. Not only did He create the Earth, but He also destroyed much of it with the Great Flood. But in their disparagement of the failure of the ‘Parousia’ to appear, scoffers ignore the past:
- “When the Heavens and the Earth that now are, by the same word have been stored with fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly men.”
The alleged “delay” is, in fact, no delay at all, but evidence of the mercy of God. He is not bound by humanity’s presumptions, nor is He “slack concerning his promise.” Instead, He is “long-suffering, not wanting anyone to perish but that all should come to repentance.” His “delay” is rather His patience, so the Gospel has time and opportunity to reach all men and bring about their repentance and redemption.
DAY OF THE LORD
Nonetheless, the “Day of the Lord” must come, and its “arrival” will be like the home invasion of a thief - Unexpected, sudden, unforeseeable. The homeowner certainly can anticipate attempts by criminals to rob him, but he cannot ascertain when they will strike - (Matthew 24:42-43, Luke 12:39, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, Revelation 3:3, 16:1).
When that day does arrive, “The Heavens with a rushing noise will pass away, while elements becoming intensely hot will be dissolved.” This description parallels other passages that link terrestrial and celestial disruptions to the “arrival” of Jesus and the “Day of the Lord.” Here, Peter refers to nothing less than the dissolution of the old order - (Matthew 24:29, Revelation 6:12-17).
This does not mean its complete annihilation, but instead, its replacement by the “new heavens and the new earth.” The disruption of the old prepares for the arrival of the new, a creation that will be “according to promise.” This last clause echoes the promise found in the Book of Isaiah, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth” - (Isaiah 65:17).
When Peter refers to the “coming of the Day of God,” once again, “coming” represents the Greek term ‘Parousia’. Thus, the “Day of God” is synonymous with the “Day of the Lord,” and in this way, the Apostle connects the “arrival” of Jesus, the “Day of the Lord,” and the “Day of God.” They all refer to the same event - (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).
Thus, Peter places the judgment and destruction of the ungodly, the “Day of the Lord,” the dissolution of the old creation, and the inauguration of the New Creation at the “arrival” of Jesus at the end of the age.
Peter concludes with an exhortation for right conduct and holy living, especially in consideration of all that the future holds. The actions of the Assembly may even “hasten” the final day.
Moreover, said actions must include the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus. He himself declared that the “end” will not come until “this Gospel of the Kingdom is proclaimed to all nations.” If anything, the apparent “delay” in the ‘Parousia’ demonstrates conclusively that the Assembly has not yet completed its primary mission.