From: Jason Hood
We're leading up to Lent, and to be honest, I don't always like Lent. Perhaps you could say I'm more American than Anglican, struggling with self-denial and patience and delayed gratification. I also struggle with the tension between a supernatural world and the physical world, and I don't much like it when the former doesn't have much to do with the latter.
Thankfully, 2 Peter 3 addresses both of these problems. Peter reminds us that people have struggled with patience and delayed gratification for a long time. He offers the certain hope of judgment and resolution and conclusion, for "the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise"; he hasn't ended the world out of mercy, giving more time for repentance.
Moreover, in verse 11 we see that our godliness and holiness—our participation in God's mission—is somehow "hastening the day of God" (ESV; "speed its coming," NIV). If you're not really into delayed gratification, then you need some pretty strong enticement. And having the future new creation speeding toward us like an Elon Musk dream is some pretty strong motivation.
What is that future world, and is it connected at all to this world? These verses have often been taken as a denial of the present physical world, i.e., it will burn up and go away. But a better way to translate and interpret this section is to take Peter not as describing the burning and destruction of the world, but the burning and purification of the world and its discovery. (For nerds only, and there are many of you, http://allofliferedeemed.co.uk/Wolters/AMW2Peter3.pdf is a helpful explanation of some of the issues in play.) As with the image of the Noah's flood, the future fires of judgment will cleanse this physical world and lead to renewal. Just as surely as gold is purified in fire, we'll find "new heaven and a new earth, wherein righteousness dwells."
So the vision for our future isn't the destruction of all things, but the renewal of all things. "The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our God and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever."
I am Assistant Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Boston Campus in Roxbury. Me and my wife Emily and our four hoodlums live in Roslindale.