Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 11 November 2018
Page 16

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New Heavens and a New Earth

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis RushmoreThe Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless. ( 2 Peter 3:9-14 NKJV)

The context of 2 Peter 3:9-14 is an end of time passage. This physical earth and the entire universe are only temporary. They will be utterly destroyed; even the basic elements of physical matter will cease to exist—indicated by “pass away,” “the elements will melt” (twice), “burned up” and “dissolved.” This earth, however, is presently mankind’s dwelling place.

After this earth and the universe are destroyed—after man’s present dwelling place no longer exists—mankind will need a replacement dwelling place. Peter described the replacement home for righteous souls—“in which righteousness dwells”—as “new heavens and a new earth.”

This present earth is suited for the physical composition of humans, but we mortals also possess an immortal quality—the possession of our spiritual side—our souls (Hebrews 10:39; James 5:20; 1 Peter 2:11). “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, And the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). At the end of time, our mortal bodies will be converted into immortal bodies, suited for a spiritual, non-earthly existence.

As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:48-53)

Changed over to spiritual bodies, we will no longer have a use for a physical dwelling place. The “new heavens and a new earth” of which the apostle Peter wrote is a figurative reference to a replacement habitation fitted for spiritual bodies. Other Old Testament and New Testament verses likewise use the same expression “new heavens and a new earth” also in a figurative way (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Revelation 21:1).

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