Our study of 2 Peter 3 has reminded us that the false teachers about which Peter was warning his original audience denied the second coming of Christ in judgment. We observed yesterday that these wicked men scoffed at the notion of Christ’s return and mocked those who confessed a final judgment.
In 3:4 we see that they justified their denial of Jesus’ return by saying “since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” While this verse is difficult, it seems the false teachers taught something like “since history has kept on progressing with little evidence of judgment since the time of the Old Testament patriarchs, we know that judgment is not coming.” It appears as if they embraced something akin to metaphysical naturalism, asserting that the patterns we see in nature and history are in and of themselves stable and free from divine intervention.
However, as today’s passage shows us, such is not the case. In keeping with his call to remember the words of the prophets and the apostles, Peter refers to the book of Genesis, reminding his audience of creation and the flood. These stories remind us that while at times it might seem otherwise, the world is not free from divine intervention. There was a time in fact when the world did not exist, for God had to intervene with His word in order to bring forth the earth (3:6). Furthermore, though it can be hard to discern God’s spectacular judgments and intervention in the course of human history, we know He intervened long ago to judge to the world with water in the days of Noah (v. 6).
The false teachers of Peter’s day, in keeping with their denial of the inspiration of the prophets and the apostles (1:16–21) deliberately forgot these things. Like all unregenerate men, they knew the truth but deliberately suppressed it (Rom. 1:18–32) so that they could deny judgment and live according to their own ungodly desires. However, those who have been born again by the Spirit will remember the Word of God and realize that God’s work in the past is a sure sign that the world will not escape the judgment to come (v. 7).
The false teachers’ denial of the possibility of God’s intervention in the world during Peter’s day is not so different from those today whose naturalistic assumptions deny God’s existence. Many in academia simply wave away any evidence of God’s intervention in history because of their assumptions that do not allow God to be an acting agent in this world. Review the story of Noah’s flood so that you will be reminded of God’s work throughout history.