How the Apostle Peter Relates to the Age of the Earth Debate

The Apostle Peter and Genesis

When it comes to the discussion over the days of creation and the age of the earth, many people mistakenly think that the issue only involves the interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis. However, it is important to remember that the teachings of the New Testament are also significant to this debate.

Second Peter 3:1–7, for example, says that in the last days scoffers will come scoffing at the belief that Christ will come again. They will base their ideas upon the assumption that the world has not changed, deliberately ignoring two major events in the history of world: God’s supernatural Creation of the world and God’s judgment of the world by the historical, global, catastrophic Flood in the days of Noah.

Peter’s understanding of these two events is key as it helps us see how the apostle read Genesis. This in turn informs our understanding of the issue of the earth’s age. It is important then to consider what these verses say.

Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, ... (2 Peter 3:1–2)

Peter is writing the letter to stir up believers concerning false teaching (2:1), by way of reminder (see 1:13), calling his readers to remember the words previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord Jesus spoken by the apostles. The reason we can trust the prophetic Word over and against the false teachers is that it was given by the Holy Spirit as He moved men to speak from God in the writing of Scripture (1:19–21).

... knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, ... (2 Peter 3:3)

Peter’s priority is to warn his readers to be mindful of the coming false teachers’ attacks. The term “knowing this first” is not referring to the first in the list of things; rather it means the first in priority. The priority for Peter is to alert his readers to the presence of the coming scoffers, which is a sign that the last days have arrived. The “last days” are a reference to the era from Christ’s first coming until His return (Acts 2:17; 2 Timothy 3:1). Peter’s readers should recognize that scoffers will come in the last days, scoffing after their own lusts. What is the motivation of the scoffers? Immorality. Peter uses the Greek word epithumia to encapsulate the scoffers’ ungodly sexual desires (see 2:10, 18).

... 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 creation.” (2 Peter 3:4)

Peter points out that the scoffers come ridiculing the idea of the future coming of Jesus Christ in judgment and salvation. They deny the second coming of Christ not because of their intellect, but because it fits their immorality since they do not want to be held accountable for their sin. Today atheists and agnostics scoff at the belief in the return of Christ; however, atheism and agnosticism have nothing to do with the evidence (see Romans 1:18–20) but are simply tools for sinners to indulge in their own lusts.

Scoffing is argument by ridicule which continues to this day. Those who scoff at Christianity often ridicule believers who accept the idea of divine Creation and God’s judgment by a global Flood by calling them “fundamentalists,” “anti-intellectuals,” and “literalists.” This sort of argument (epithet fallacies) is meant to capitalize on people’s emotions.

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