2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be dissolved in the fire, and the earth and its works will not be found.
Elements that Will Enhance the Final ConflagrationScientific Illustrations2 Peter 3:10
Man's External Universe as Awaiting a Tremendous CrisisD. Thomas, D. D.2 Peter 3:10
On the Dissolution of the WorldH. Blair, D. D.2 Peter 3:10
Preparation for Dearth and JudgmentEssex Remembrancer2 Peter 3:10
The Day of the LordJ. Thompson Smith.2 Peter 3:10
The Heavens Shall Pass Away with a Great NoiseJ. Saurin.2 Peter 3:10
The World on FireC. H. Spurgeon.2 Peter 3:10
Fact of Second Coming, Especially in its AccompanimentsR. Finlayson 2 Peter 3:1-10
Destiny and DutyU.R. Thomas 2 Peter 3:10-13

This passage is woven to the preceding by a link so clear and close that there is no need for indicating it. But we proceed to notice -


1. What will "pass away"? "Heavens;" i.e., firmament. "Elements;" not the forces we usually so name, because they include "fire," which is here the revolutionary force; but, according to Farrar and others, "the orbs of heaven."

2. How shall they "pass away"? "Dissolved," not destroyed. Fresh forms. Whether this be literal, as with the Flood, or wider and figurative, so as to include institutions, empires, and all that "the world" is to us, is an open question.

3. The certainty of all passing away. The fact is certain.

4. The uncertainty. The date is uncertain. "As a thief;" not as to wrongfulness, but unexpectedness. "At such an hour as ye think not is the true answer to all chronological theories about "the end."

II. THE GLORY OF THE FUTURE AFTER THAT STUPENDOUS EVENT HAS HAPPENED. It is not the catastrophe, or climax, but the prologue and dawn. It leads not to annihilation, but restoration and purification.

1. A new system of things. "New heavens and new earth." Fresh, in contrast to worn out. Scars and wounds all gone.

2. The true principle dominant in the new system - " righteousness." Probably not more material grandeur or loveliness than now, but pervaded with rectitude - man right with God, man right with man, man right with himself.

3. The permanence of this pervasive righteousness. Wherein "dwelleth." Not, as now and here, often an alien, frequently a stronger, at best a visitor; but the new system of things will be its home. That is

(1) its fitting,

(2) its happy,

(3) its permanent abode.

4. All this rests on a Divine "promise." This indicates

(1) God's pity;

(2) God's prescience;

(3) God's power.

The tones of this promise are manifold and harmonious, from Jonah down to Peter. - U.R.T.

The day of the Lord will come as a thief.
I. The text first points us to a period advancing rapidly upon us, in the future; and as such DIFFERS FROM ANY OTHER WHICH MAY HAVE MARKED AN EPOCH IN THE SUCCESSION OF AGES SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN.

1. The bright display of the Lord's attributes which will then be made.

2. The affairs of the mediatorial kingdom of grace, the reign of Christ, as such, will then be completed.

3. The exhibition of His equity, which will then be made in the regular dispensations of His providence among men.

4. The Lord will then receive in and from His people glory and renown.


1. The certainty of it.

2. The sudden and unexpected manner of its approach.

(1)To excite men to watch for the event.

(2)The knowledge of the exact time might alarm men, and prevent attendance to the present duties of life.


(J. Thompson Smith.)

Essex Remembrancer.
I. THE PERIOD REFERRED TO. There have been memorable days in the history of the world and in the histories of nations.

1. On that day the dispensation of mercy will close.

2. It will be the day of the second coming of the Lord Jesus. Believer, it will be the consummation of thy bliss to have a perfect sight of Christ "without a veil between," and to bear an exact conformity to His likeness. But O sinner! how wilt thou meet His frown?

3. It will be the day of the Lord's especial honour.

4. It is the day on which all His declarations will be fulfilled and verified — His declarations of mercy to His people and His threatenings of destruction to the impenitent and unbelieving.


1. We should watch against a spirit of slothfulness and indifference.

2. We should anxiously desire to be found ready whenever that day may come.

(1)Reconciliation with God is necessary.

(2)A close and humble walk with God is requisite.

(3)Frequent meditation on the consequences of that day will prepare us for its coming.


1. The uncertainty of the time when this day shall come.

2. The danger and ruin resulting from the want of preparation for its coming.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

The heavens shall pass away with a great noise
1. The destruction of the universe affords us a picture of the power of our Judge. How powerful is this Judge! Who can resist His will?

2. The conflagration of the universe affords us a picture of the horrors of vice. Behold how far God carries His resentment against sin. Heavens, earth, elements, are ye guilty? But, if ye be treated with so much rigour for having been the unconscious instruments of the crime, what must the condition of the criminal be?

3. In the burning of the universe we find a representation-of the vanity of the present world. What is this world which fascinates our eyes? It is a funeral pile that already begins to burn, and will soon be entirely consumed. The hope of an imaginary immortality hath been able to support some men against the fear of a real death. The idea of existing in the minds of those who exist after them hath, in some sort, comforted them under the miserable thought of being no more. Hence pompous buildings, hence rich monuments, and vainglorious titles inscribed on marble and brass. But behold the dissolution of all those bonds, and the memory of all that is fastened to the world will vanish with the world.

4. The conflagration of the universe furnisheth a description of the world to come. Ye often hear us declaim on the nothingness of earthly things. How is it that God, who hath resolved to render us one day happy, doth not allow us to continue in this world, and content Himself with uniting all happy circumstances in our favour? Ah! a life formed on this plan might indeed answer the ideas of happiness which finite geniuses form, but such a plan cannot even approach the designs of an infinite God. A life formed on this plan might indeed exhaust a terrestrial love, but it could never reach the love of an infinite God. To accomplish this love there must be another world; there must be new heavens and a new earth; there must be objects far more grand.

5. Finally, the destruction of the universe displays the excellence of piety. Oh that I could represent the believer amidst fires, winds, tempests, the confusion of all nature, content, peaceable, unalterable!

(J. Saurin.)

The earth also... shall be burned up
I. THE LAST GENERAL CONFLAGRATION. In this Epistle there is one truth very plainly taught, namely, that this present world is to be consumed by fire. We learn also that this conflagration will take place in connection with the judgment, for "the heavens and the earth which now are, are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." We gather also from our text that this fire will burn up all the works existing upon the earth — everything which man has constructed shall perish. Chemists tell us that the great noise which Peter speaks of would certainly accompany such a combustion. The whole world shall become one molten mass again, and this terrestrial firmament shall cease to be. We may here note that the prophecy that the earth will thus be consumed with fervent heat is readily to be believed, not only because God says it, but because there are evidently the means at hand for the accomplishment of the prophecy. Pliny was wont to say that it was a miracle that the world escaped burning for a single day, and I do not wonder at the remark, considering the character of the district in which he spent much of his time. In visiting the country around Naples the same thought constantly occurred to me. Yonder is Vesuvius ready at any moment to vomit fire, and continually sending up clouds of smoke. Then go across to the Solfatara on the other side of Naples, stand at the vent of that ancient volcano and listen to the terrific rumblings which attend the rush of steam and sulphur; then stamp your foot or dash a stone upon the ground, and hear how the earth resounds; it is evident that you are standing over a vast cavern. Look around you and remark how the earth steams with sulphureous exhalations. Observe, also, how the earth in some places has risen and fallen, again and again. Yet this volcanic region around Naples is but one of the many ventholes of the great fires which are in the bowels of the earth; three hundred or more burning mountains have already vomited flame. According to the belief of many geologists, the whole centre of the earth is a mass of molten matter, and we live upon a thin crust which has cooled down, and is probably not so much as one hundred miles thick. The probabilites are that the whole internal mass is in a liquid, and, perhaps, in a gaseous state. Astronomers tell us that within the last two hundred or three hundred years some thirteen fixed stars have disappeared, and according to their belief they have been burned up. If such things happen in other worlds, is there anything improbable in the belief that the like will occur to us? But if there were no internal sea of fire, and no instance of other worlds being consumed by fire, who can guess the power which lurks in electricity, and other subtle forces? God's dreadful armies lie in ambush everywhere. He has but to speak the word, and the servants of His omnipotence will rise, terrible in their destructive power. Earth is as a pile of wood, and the torch-bearers .stand ready to kindle it at any moment. Although we read of the world being burned by fire, we are not told that it will be annihilated thereby. We believe from various things which are hinted at in Scripture, though we would not dogmatize, that this world will be refitted and renovated; and in that sense we expect new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Luther used to say that the world is now in its working clothes, and that by and by it will be arrayed in its Easter garments of joy. One likes to think that the trail of the old serpent will not always remain upon the globe, and it is a cheering thought that where sin has abounded God's glory should yet more abound.

II. The apostle has drawn PRACTICAL INFERENCES. "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?" What connection can there be between the burning of the globe and holy conversation and godliness? The first connection is this. Our position as Christians is at this moment like that of Noah before the destruction of the world by water. What manner of person ought Noah to have been? I should suppose such a man, daily expecting the rain to descend and the flood to burst up from beneath, would lead a life very free from worldliness, a life the very reverse of the rest of his fellow-men. Now our life ought to be like that of Noah. Look around on the beauties of nature, and when you enjoy them say to yourself, "All these are to be dissolved and to melt with fervent heat." You understand that the things which are seen are but a dream, that the things unseen are alone substantial. Therefore sit loose by all things below the moon, and clutch as with the grasp of a dying man the things eternal which God has revealed to you. Such conduct will separate you from your fellow-men. As there is down deep in your heart an object different from theirs, and as you set a different estimate on all things, your conduct will be wide apart from theirs; being swayed by different motives, your life will diverge from theirs, and they will misunderstand you, they will impute ill motives to you. I remark further, that the nearness of the Lord as suggested by the fact that the world is to be destroyed, according to His word, suggests holiness. The sinner finds a reason for sin when he says, "God is not here: everything goes on in the ordinary way: God does not care what men do." "No," says the apostle, "He is not away, He is here, holding back the fire forces; He is reserving this world a little while, and by and by He will let the fires loose and the world will be destroyed. He is not far off: He is even at the door." How can ye sin against One who is so close at hand? The apostle says, "What manner of persons ought ye to be?" Remember he was talking to saints, and he teaches us that even saints ought to be more saintly than they are. We have not attained to what we ought to be, and I may say to the best child of God here this morning, "There is a yet beyond." And then he goes on to specify two branches of holy life. "In all holy conversation," that is to say, all holy behaviour towards men; "and godliness," that is, all pious dealing towards God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)


II. Let us contemplate THE DISSOLUTION OF THE WORLD AS THE END OF ALL HUMAN GLORY. This earth has been the theatre of many a great spectacle, and many a high achievement.

III. CONTEMPLATE THE SOUL OF MAN AS REMAINING UNHURT IN THE MIDST OF THIS GENERAL DESOLATION, when the whole animal creation perishes, and the whole frame of nature falls into ruins. Here, then, let us behold what is the true honour and excellence of man.

IV. WE CONTEMPLATE THE DISSOLUTION OF THE WORLD AS THE INTRODUCTION TO A GREATER AND NOBLER SYSTEM IN THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

(H. Blair, D. D.)

There is a spiritual conflagration now going on. Christ came "to send fire on the earth." His word like a fire consumes the false and the corrupt. But the conflagration in the text is a material one.


1. The agent by which it will be accomplished, "fire," is terrible. Fire, when not in its latent but active state, is the most terrible force in the world. There is agony in its touch. Forms the most beautiful it turns to ashes. Water, which destroyed the old world, is in some of its forms a terrible power, but life can subsist in it. You can touch it without pain, you can float on its surface, you can construct a vessel to bear you over its surging floods and seas. But not so with "fire." No ark will bear you over a fiery deluge.

2. The extensiveness of its scene makes it terrible. "The heavens shall pass away." "The earth also and all the works that are therein."

3. The tumult with which it will be attended is terrible. "A great noise." There are some sounds that shake one's very soul with horror. The howl of the wind rising into the tempest, the rumble of the approaching thunderbolt, the wild and dismal roar of the ocean when lashed into fury — these are all sounds more or less of terror. But there are animal sounds still more so. The groans of the dying, the moanings of bereaved love, the shrieks of an agonised heart — these are fearful sounds. What a noise is produced by a little bonfire, what a noise, too, by a little steam from the engine; but what must be the noise of burning forests, and boiling oceans, of falling cities and rocking mountains! This "great noise" will be very terrible.

4. The unexpectedness with which it will come is another element of terror. "It will come as a thief in the night." It will not come as a thief in some respects.

(1)A thief comes without warning.

(2)A thief has no right to come.

(3)A thief may be resisted. There is a possibility of turning him back; but not so with this crisis. It must come.


1. It is certain that there is a point in the future that will terminate men's present connection with this earth.

2. There is conclusive evidence that this period will be attended with a conflagration.

III. THAT THE PROSPECT OF THIS CRISIS SHOULD EXERT ON MANKIND A HALLOWING INFLUENCE. The apostle states two effects which the prospect ought to produce upon us —

1. Practical holiness in every part of our life — "Holy conversation and godliness." If all our material interests are thus to pass away, with what earnestness ought we to cultivate those principles of character, those dispositions of mind, and those habits of life which will abide for ever?

2. An earnest longing of the soul for the future. "Looking for and hasting," etc.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Scientific Illustrations.
Since the noblest attribute of water is its blandness, who would be prepared to find that, chemically speaking, it is remarkable for its fiery composition? When its two constituents are burned in the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe, they produce a flame of extraordinary ferocity. Such is the violence with which they combine that it is necessary to keep them from mingling, except in small quantities, unless they are just at the point of ignition. Dr. Clarke placed a brick screen between himself and the dangerous gases when he first experimented on their power, but was nearly killed by an explosion. Perhaps, when the world and all the works that are therein shall be burned up, the ocean may really be the magazine from which fuel may be drawn to support the great conflagration. But let this be as it may in God's good counsel, is it not a startling thought that water, the uncompromising adversary of fire, should be compounded of two elements whose conjunction is accompanied by a passionate burst of flame and a terrible eruption of caloric?

(Scientific Illustrations.)

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