Saturday, May 14, 2022

On the Destiny of the Earth


Here are several quotes spanning the centuries concerning the destiny of the earth at the end of the age. Bede is a bit of an outlier thinking that water and fire will be consumed entirely, but all of them assert that the earth will be renovated and changed, not annihilated and/or replaced. The Bible does not teach the annihilation, abandonment, and discarding of the earth, but rather the restoration, purification, and glorification of the earth. As the mortal body of believers will be raised incorruptible, so this earth shall be freed from corruption and made new, the inheritance of those who have been saved through faith in Christ.  

Bede, Commentary on 2 Peter (c. 710):
“That very great fire ... will consume two [elements, i.e. water and fire] entirely, but two [air and earth] in fact it will restore to a better appearance… For he did not say other heavens and another earth, but the old and ancient one to be changed for the better, according to what David said, 'In the beginning, Lord, you founded the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands; they will perish, but you will remain, and they will all grow old as a garment, and you will change them as a piece of clothing, and they shall be changed' [Ps. 102:25-26]. As for the things, therefore that will perish, grow old and be changed, it is definitely clear that once they have been consumed by the fire they resume a more pleasing appearance as soon as the fire goes out. For ‘the shape of this world passes away’ [1 Cor. 7:31] not its substance, just as with our bodies too, the shape will be changed, the substance does not perish when what ‘is sowed as a physical body rises as a spiritual body’ [1 Cor. 15:44].”

John Calvin, Commentary on 2 Peter (1551):
“For he thus reasons, that as heaven and earth are to be purged by fire, that they may correspond with the kingdom of Christ, hence the renovation of men is much more necessary.”
“Of the elements of the world I shall only say this one thing, that they are to be consumed, only that they may be renovated, their substance still remaining the same, as may be easily gathered from Rom. 8:21, and from other passages.”

A.A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology (1860):
“The phrases ‘new heaven,’ and ‘new earth,’ in contrast with ‘first heavens’ and ‘first earth,’ (2 Peter 3:7, 13, Rev. 21:1) refer to some unexplained change which will take place in the final catastrophe, by which God will revolutionize our portion of the physical universe, cleansing it from the stain of sin, and qualifying it to be the abode of blessedness.”

R.L. Dabney, Systematic Theology (1871):
“This planet was fashioned to be man’s heritage; and a part of it, at least, adorned with the beauties of a paradise, for his home. Satan sought to mar the divine plan, by the seduction of our first parents. For long ages he has seemed to triumph, and has filled His usurped dominion with crime and misery. But his insolent invasion is not to be destined to obstruct the Almighty’s beneficent design. The intrusion will be in vain. God’s purpose shall be executed. Messiah will come and reestablish His throne in the midst of His scarred and ravaged realm; He will cleanse away every stain of sin and death, and make this earth bloom forever with more than its pristine splendour; so that the very plan which was initiated when ‘the morning stars sang to gather and the sons of God shouted for joy,’ will stand to everlasting ages.”


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