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2 Peter 3:5 - "...and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God" (ESV)

Does this verse's text give us any ideas on how to properly interpret this? I have been searching for a while now, and I can not find any clear answers to what this verse is actually saying.

Some claim that this just means that water was instrumental to the creation of the world, and still is compounded with earth and holds things together. But, some also claim that this proves that everything is literal H2O.

What do both the text and the context indicate?

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Let me begin by stating the obvious, that while water is relatively common material on earth, it is not the most common and most of the material on earth cannot be constructed from the chemical, H2O.

The simplest explanation for 2 Peter 3:5 is its reference to Gen 1 where we learn that at the beginning of creation week, before, God created the world (the creation on day #1 begins in gen 1:3 with "And God said ..."), we have this:

Gen 1:2 - Now the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

This suggests that when God began to create our world, planet earth was completely covered in water. Following this we have further references:

  • Day #2 God separates the water above from the water below
  • Day #3 God separates the water from the dry land to create oceans and land masses

Thus, it can be truly said that God created our world out of water, etc. The incident of the flood in Gen 6-9 is told as the undoing of creation where the earth is returned to being covered in water.

The Cambridge commentary has this:

and the earth formed out of water and by means of water. The words carry us back, as before, to the cosmogony of Genesis 1. The earth was brought out of chaos into its present kosmos, by the water being gathered into one place and the dry land appearing (Genesis 1:9). It was kept together by the separation of the waters above the firmament from those that were below the firmament (Genesis 1:6). The Apostle speaks naturally from the standpoint of the physical science of his time and country, and we need not care to reconcile either his words or those of Genesis 1 with the conclusions of modern meteorological science. The equivalent fact in the language of that science would be that the permanence of the existing order of the world is secured by the circulation of water, rising in evaporation, and falling in the form of rain, between the higher and lower regions of the atmosphere, and that there must have been a time when this circulation began to supervene on a previous state of things that depended on different conditions.

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