When we speak of the end of the world, according to what we see in 2Peter 3, what do we mean? What did Peter mean? If Peter meant something different from what we see in the text, which point of view should we retain—ours or Peter’s? Lots of folks seem to believe Peter was wrong to believe the end of the time/space continuum was about to arrive in the first century AD. I could go along with that, with this qualifier—Peter really wasn’t speaking of the end of time or the universe. This came to be a later assumption of the text, and such a thing is not found anywhere in the Bible. In other words, belief that time would come to an end and the universe would be destroyed is a modern assumption not supported in the scriptures.
In his second epistle Peter reminded his readers of what he told them in his first epistle (2Peter 3:1). Peter told his readers that “the end of all things is at hand” (1Peter 4:7), but what did he mean? Peter was speaking of the end of the world, i.e. the end of the way things operated. Notice what the ‘scoffers’ were saying:
And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2 Peter 3:4)
First of all, we need to notice that there isn’t an article before “creation” or before “beginning”. In other words, Peter isn’t speaking of **the** beginning of **the** creation, and we know this, because of the connective **for**. The connective ‘for’ puts the words beginning and creation AFTER the death of the fathers. Genesis 1:1 could not have occurred after anyone or anything. The creation of Genesis 1:1 occurred before all other things. So, what were the ‘scoffers’ referring to?
If it is true that the scoffers in verse-3 were Judaizers, as indicated in a previous study, the fathers would have to be Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What creation, then, came into being since the deaths of Abraham Isaac and Jacob? Let’s consider some contrasts in the Bible:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Notice, if any man is in Christ he is a new creation, suggesting two creations. This couldn’t be a new physical creation. Rather Paul was making a contrast between two covenantal creations. God created for himself a people in Israel (old creation), and in the New Testament he created a new people in Christ, who is the Beginning of the new creation of God (Revelation 3:14). Moses was the beginning of the old, but Christ is the Beginning of the new.
In Romans 5:14 Paul shows us that the old creation, in this context, was begun under Moses, not Adam. He makes a distinction by saying: “death reigned from Adam to Moses” something additional was added to creation at the time of Moses—i.e. 430 years after the promise (made to Abraham) the Law was added. Through the Law, the Lord created a people for himself, and Moses was the beginning of that creation.
Whenever they speak of their origin, Israel’s point of reference had always been Abraham, not Adam. Therefore, since the fathers fell asleep… ALL things have continued as they were from Moses (beginning of creation).
With this in mind, Peter claimed “the end of all things was at hand” (1Peter 4:7). Therefore, if we stay within our context, Peter couldn’t have been speaking of the end of time or the end of physical creation. Rather, he was speaking of the end of the age or the end of what was begun under Moses, i.e. the end of the Jewish nation’s covenant with God. Therefore, if this was the subject of his first epistle, then the ‘scoffers’ of 2Peter 3:3-4 had to have been mocking what Peter taught—i.e. Peter’s eschatology, which was also Stephen’s eschatology (Acts 6:13-14).
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12)
The writer of Hebrews says Christ is the High Priest of the good things ABOUT to come. That is, they are ready to come; the Greek is mello (G3195). Jesus has entered the greater and more perfect Tabernacle. Therefore, a contrast is made. On the one hand we have the tabernacle made by the hands of men, and on the other we have the Tabernacle NOT MADE with hands. That is, NOT of this creation, but what does this mean according to our context? The writer went on to say in verse-12 that the modus operandi of the covenant had been changed. The Old Covenant operated according the blood of goats and calves, while the New Covenant operated according to the blood of Christ. The end of all things was at hand (1Peter 4:7), i.e. the end of the first creation or the end of the first covenant was at hand, at the time of the writing of Hebrews.
In this context, therefore, the scoffers of 2Peter 3:4 were saying the Old Covenant was NOT coming to an end, the Temple was NOT passing away etc. for all things continued as they were from beginning of creation – i.e. all things continued as they were from Moses to that time in the first century AD.