Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

In 2 Peter 3:8 (King James Version) is written:

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

What is the meaning of 1,000 years as one day and one day as 1,000 years?

share|improve this question
    
I don't know of anyone taking this literally, except when attempting to calculate prophecies that have some time element, and those calculations are always questionable. –  david brainerd Jul 24 at 23:37

2 Answers 2

Peter is urging his audience to regard God as 'patient' in regard to bringing about the conclusion of His plan, rather than 'slow', and not to doubt His eventual arrival.

The 'scoffers' of earlier in the chapter are questioning whether God[1] will return at all, given the apparent delay:

3knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” ESV

Firstly, Peter asserts they are wrong about the eventual outcome:

5For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. ESV

Then he argues that they are myopic in their view of time:

8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. ESV

The logic of the specific verse in question is that using merely human standards of the comprehension of the passage of time and applying them to God is inappropriate. The exact timespans chosen ('one day' and 'a thousand years') are immaterial and symbolic of short and long periods in this context, making the point that God transcends time. In other words, He does not experience it in a linear fashion as we do, but is able to interact with time as He chooses.


[1] Peter could be referring to Jesus or to God. 1:16 refers to the earlier "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" and 3:12 to "the coming of the day of God" (a long-standing prophetic theme). My view is that these events are fully correlated in Peters mind and he means both equally.

share|improve this answer

The text says ‘one day is like [or as] a thousand years’—the word ‘like’ (or ‘as’) teach that Lord (κυρίῳ) is outside of time as we know it.

Which means for the heavenly beings there is no distinction between a thousand years and a day, therefore the time is just an illlusion.


Some people teach that the days of Genesis might be 1000 years.

In any case, the meaning of ‘day’ in Genesis 1 is defined by the context there—the Hebrew word for day, yôm יום , is used with the words ‘evening’ and ‘morning’, and the days are numbered (first day, second day, etc.). Whenever yôm is used in such a context, it is always an ordinary day, never a long period of time.

But they forget the fact that the passage is actually contrasting a short and long period can be shown by the fact that Peter is quoting Psalm 90:4 (Peter’s statement ‘do not forget’ implies that his readers were expected to recall something, and this passage has this very teaching). This reads:

"A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." (New International Version)


For further info, please read below commentaries:

God is eternal: his thought is not, like ours, subject to the law of time; and even we can understand that one day, as the day of the Saviour's death, may have far more of intense action compressed into it, and far more influence upon the spiritual destiny of mankind, than any period of a thousand years.

"the six days of the creation (they say (e)) is a sign or intimation of these things: on the sixth day man was created; and on the seventh his work was finished; so the kings of the nations of the world (continue) five millenniums, answering to the five days, in which were created the fowls, and the creeping things of the waters, and other things; and the enjoyment of their kingdom is a little in the sixth, answerable to the creation of the beasts, and living creatures created at this time in the beginning of it; and the kingdom of the house of David is in the sixth millennium, answerable to the creation of man, who knew his Creator, and ruled over them all; and in the end of that millennium will be the day of judgment, answerable to man, who was judged in the end of it; and the seventh is the sabbath, and it is the beginning of the world to come."

one day … thousand years—(Ps 90:4): Moses there says, Thy eternity, knowing no distinction between a thousand years and a day, is the refuge of us creatures of a day. Peter views God's eternity in relation to the last day: that day seems to us, short-lived beings, long in coming, but with the Lord the interval is irrespective of the idea of long or short. His eternity exceeds all measures of time: to His divine knowledge all future things are present: His power requires not long delays for the performance of His work: His long-suffering excludes all impatient expectation and eager haste, such as we men feel. He is equally blessed in one day and in a thousand years. He can do the work of a thousand years in one day: so in 2Pe 3:9 it is said, "He is not slack," that is, "slow": He has always the power to fulfil His "promise."

thousand years as one day—No delay which occurs is long to God: as to a man of countless riches, a thousand guineas are as a single penny. God's oeonologe (eternal-ages measurer) differs wholly from man's horologe (hour-glass). His gnomon (dial-pointer) shows all the hours at once in the greatest activity and in perfect repose. To Him the hours pass away, neither more slowly, nor more quickly, than befits His economy. There is nothing to make Him need either to hasten or delay the end. The words, "with the Lord" (Ps 90:4, "In Thy sight"), silence all man's objections on the ground of his incapability of understanding this [Bengel].

Source: Parallel Commentaries at Bible Hub

Links:

share|improve this answer
    
I didn't know that Peter was quoting Psalm 4 - would you mind if I incorporate that into my answer? (I'll credit you of course). –  Jack Douglas Aug 16 at 18:06
    
Sure, no probs. –  kenorb Aug 18 at 9:06

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.