2 Peter 3:3-13 (ESV):
3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. 4 They 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.” 5 For 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, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But 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.
8 But 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. 9 The 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. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
There are several interesting points that Peter raises in this passage:
- He mentions end times scoffers who will point out the delay in the Lord's (second?) coming, to which Peter counterargues with God's perspective on time: with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (v8). This appears to suggest that long delays of thousands of years shouldn't be something to be surprised about.
- He also mentions a day of judgement and destruction of the ungodly (v7).
- He says that the day of the Lord will be sudden and unforeseen, like a thief (v10), followed by cataclysmic events affecting the earth and the heavens (v7, v10, v12).
- These destructive events would be followed by new heavens and a new earth (v13).
To what extent is it possible to interpret these prophetic predictions by Peter as already historically fulfilled?