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“With God One Day is a Thousand Years”?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

If I had a dollar for each time I heard someone use this phrase to add thousands of years to the biblical, six-day Creation, I finally might be able to purchase that newer model minivan my wife would love to have. It seems as if whenever there is a discussion of the days of Creation, someone mentions how those days may have been long periods of time. After all, the Bible does say, “With God one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day.” Does this phrase really support the Day-Age Theory as many suggest?

First, the Bible does not say, “With God one day is a thousand years and a thousand years is one day.” The apostle Peter actually wrote: “[B]eloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Peter used a figure of speech known as a simile to compare a day to a thousand years. It is not that one day is precisely equivalent to 1,000 years or vice versa. Rather, within the specific context of 2 Peter 3, one could say that they share a likeness.

What is the context of 2 Peter 3? In this passage, Peter reminded Christians that “scoffers” would arise in the last days saying, “Where is the promise of His [Jesus’] coming?” (vss. 3-4). Peter declared: “[T]he heavens and the earth...are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (vs. 7). Regardless of what the scoffers alleged about the Second Coming, Peter wanted the church to know that “the Lord is not slack concerning His promise [of a return], as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (vs. 9). Sandwiched between these thoughts is the fact that the passing of time does not affect God’s promises, specifically the promise of His return. If Jesus promised to return 1,000 or 2,000 years ago, it is as good as if He made the promise yesterday. Indeed, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” With men, the passing of long periods of time generally affects their keeping of promises, but not with God. Time has no bearing on whether He will do what He said He would do: “a thousand years are like a day” (vs. 8, NIV).

Another point to consider is that Peter used the term “day” (Greek hemera) and the phrase “thousand years” (chilia ete). This in itself is proof that God is able to communicate to man the difference between one day and 1,000 years. (For similes to make sense, one first must understand the literal difference between what is being compared. If there were no difference, then it would be meaningless to use such a figure of speech.) What’s more, within Genesis chapter one God used the terms “days” (Hebrew yamim) and “years” (shanim). Many rightly have questioned, “If a day in Genesis is really a thousand years (or some other long period of time), then what are the years mentioned in Genesis chapter one?” Such a definition of “days” makes a reasonable interpretation of Creation impossible. The facts are: (1) God knows the difference between a day and a thousand years; (2) Peter and Moses understood this difference; (3) their original audience comprehended the difference; and (4) any unbiased reader today can do the same.

Finally, even if 2 Peter 3:8 could be tied to the length of the Creation days (logically and biblically it cannot), adding 6,000 years to the age of the Earth would in no way appease evolutionary sympathizers. A person could add 600,000 years or 600 million years and still not come close to the alleged age of the Universe. According to evolutionary calculations, one would still be 13+ billion years away from the Big Bang and four billion years this side of the formation of Earth. Truly, even an abuse of 2 Peter 3:8 will not help Day-Age theorists.




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