A friend was reading my recent paper arguing for creation ex deo, which cough cough to the friendly publishers who read this book and maybe would like to see it, and suggested that ex nihilo is not supported by the author of 2nd Peter. Admittedly, as scholars have argued, ex nihilo is not really prohibited by Scripture, but is not required either. So, I was reading 2nd Peter to find out what my friend was talking about. First, this verse:
and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; (2Pe 2:5 NAU)
Now, this image which is presented here connects to cosmology and eschatology easily enough. First, we know that God didn’t destroy the world with the flood, just you, know, covered it up with fake dinosaur bones or something. Second, we know that when God does destroy the world and will only do so once, we all go to heaven. Right?
Aρχαίου κόσμου, or ancient cosmos, seems to be something Peter focuses on. In the next chapter,
and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. (2Pe 3:4-6 NAU)
Okay, so this is how I read this part… notice that Peter has twice maintained that the world has been destroyed and notes that Creation comes after the destruction of the world. The World, or cosmic order, can be destroyed and recreated, and was not created out of nothing. Creation, then, is something different. Further, the world was formed out of water and by water, which is the image we see in Genesis 1, with water being related to chaos. Further, connecting this back to Noah’s flood, which makes several appearances in 2nd Peter, chaos once again reigned upon the earth until God once again recreated the world. Now, for those who would like to argue that Creation here is related to Adamic accounts, I note that Peter uses the word, ‘fathers’, indicating not Adam (Adam and Steve?) but instead the Patriarchs which Peter connects to Creation. The Patriarchs, are, of course, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For support that the word here points to the Patriarchs, I note that both Paul and the author of Hebrews uses it.
So, boom. Creation is an ordering of God’s plan, a dispensation or economy, where as the world is a cosmic order, neither of which point to the rock floating in space.
Discuss amongst yourselves and help me.
(and HT to a friend, whom, for fear of embarrassment to him, I will let remain nameless, but has my deepest thanks for his responses to my paper.)