By Donald P. Ames
One cardinal point of Jehovah Witness’ doctrine is that the earth will remain forever and will become the eternal dwelling place of those righteous persons who do not compose the 144,000 who, they say, are the only ones who will get to go to heaven (True Peace And Security, pp. 38-39, etc.). That such teaching is not so ought to be evident to anyone who has taken the ‘time to read 2 Peter 3. Here the writer affirms, “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (v. 10). Jehovah Witnesses often try to escape the force of this passage by arguing that even though the Scriptures said that the world was destroyed by water in the days of Noah, they did not mean the destruction of the planet. However, a careful reading of the passage shows two different terms are under consideration: world and earth. The “heavens and earth” (v. 5) were originally created, and the “heavens and earth” are what will be destroyed (v. 10). Whatever constituted the original creation is what is going to be destroyed when the Lord returns (and, by the way, in such a fashion that no one will assume man has done it himself): Thayer defines the Greek term gae (earth) here as “The earth as a whole, the world; the earth as opposed to the heavens” (Lexicon, p. 114). If this planet then is what is under consideration, and it is, then there will be no place for any righteous person to dwell on this earth, because it will cease to be. It will not be “purged” by fire, but will be destroyed with fire. The second term, world, comes from the Greek term kosmos, and refers to those living on the earth (Thayer, p. 357). Those who were destroyed in the days of Noah by water were the “world” (v. 6)-the same dnes loved by God in John 3:16. When this distinction in the words is pointed out to Jehovah Witnesses, their entire case crumbles.
But sometimes they counter with the argument that 2 Peter 3 must be interpreted figuratively, not literally, and that we err in so doing, especially in light of a similar statement in Isa. 65:17 and 66:22. However it must be kept in mind that Isaiah was writing in figurative language, but there is nothing to indicate that Peter had any such view in mind. In fact, his literal application of the creation and the flood are strong evidence he was not speaking figuratively at all.
Secondly, the context of the passages in Isaiah shows the term means a “new relationship” with the Lord and is to be understood figuratively by its specific New Testament application. Thirdly, neither passage in Isaiah speaks of the destruction of this present earth and heavens as does 2 Pet. 3. Thus, they are in no way parallel.
But, if the earth is to be destroyed (and it is), there is no place for a Premillennial kingdom nor the kingdom of the Watchtower Society to continue to exist after the return of the Lord. Their case is lost in the smoke and ashes of a destroyed universe-along with the rest of their false teachings. My friends, do not be deceived into thinking God will not destroy this planet, the heavens, etc. The Bible too clearly teaches otherwise! “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Pet. 3:11-12).
Truth Magazine XIX: 26, p. 402
May 8, 1975