And in this they are willingly ignorant, since [it is] by the word of God that the heavens were [established] since ancient time, and [by which] the earth appeared out of the water and in [relation to] water, which [situation] has been held in place together by the word of God, in terms of which the world as it then was, being inundated by water, perished.
But now [for us] the heavens and the earth, by the self-same word, have been held in store, set aside for fire on a day of judgement and the bringing down of the irreverent. But don't let this one fact fall from sight, my belovéd friends, that with the Lord one day is as a millennium and a millennium as one day.
For the Lord is not slack with respect to [fulfilling] his promises, as some define slackness, but is long-suffering toward you, not having as His purpose the destruction of anyone but [rather] that all should have room to have a change of heart [about their life's] direction.
But it will come, that day, and it will be as a thief, and then the heavens will dissolve with great commotion and the taken-for-granted elements will be melted with the intense heat and the earth with all of its works will [finally] find their place.
So for those posing as the teachers sent from the Lord, says Peter, it is a matter of what has always been, will always be. He takes their teaching, rejects it outright and reminds his readers what it is to believe the Gospel.
It is not just a matter of believe what you will. It does matter what you believe. And those who say so, who peddle this fatalism, are feeding off their own deceptions while they presume to share with you. They have forgotten warnings, the ancient events that now symbolize, for us, the judgement of the Lord, and which we should not forget.
After, the flood, the Lord started again with Noah, whom He had preserved from taking hold of His life before the flood . With the rescue of Lot, from the fiery judgement upon Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord also gave solemn notice of how His judgement by fire will purify His work and all arrogant resistance to His rule will be put down for good.
The Lord Almighty is the Lord of time. So what do you propose to do? Should you stand there and take out some stop-watch and time His activity work just as you would for a racehorse working out at the track? What are you presuming to do? Can you determine whether He will be fit to compete? Can you judge whether He will stay the distance? Can you tell whether He has the "ticker" for negotiating what is but the fate of gods and men? Is that what you are tempted to do? Well, if so, you are forgetting one thing:
with the Lord one day is as a millennium and a millennium as one day.
If this is your approach, says Peter, you are fools who have said in your heart, "There is no god" (Psalm 14). That is a foolishness that says that God can't exist because I can't form an adequate concept of Him. That is pure nonsense. Who do you think created you and allows you to think, to remember? Even the distracted thoughts that arise as a result of such nonsense, can only be put forward because of the Lord's long-suffering with what He has made - He is not willing that any, including those who view things in this way, should perish.
The fire will ensure that the gold He is refining will get through; the good works, the fruit from the tree of life, will indeed be harvested to follow those who are faithful into the City of God (Revelation 14:13). There they will enjoy God's eternal sabbath which He has planned to share with His specially formed image-bearers from the outset. This is what Peter refers to when he says that,
All the taken-for-granted elements will be melted with the intense heat and the earth with all of its works will [finally] find their place.
There has been long-term uncertainty about this final phrase - if the word is "discovered" [εύρεθήσεται] it would surely indicate that something has been completed, and the earth, after being subjected to the fires of judgement in which all things melt, will finally "come through". The entire drift of the letter is consistent with "discovered" in that Peter is reminding his readers that we, whose remains will become dust, have nothing to worry about. Our live and our death and resurrection is surely in His hands. Peter indicates that we, with what He has wrought in us - very often despite us - will finally find our true place in the new heavens and the new earth.