Thousand Years Equals Day

A question came up in conversation with some of the folks in our SS class. Effectively, the question is, “Doesn’t 2 Peter 3:8-9 say that 1000 years is as a day”? So, doesn’t that mean the “day” in Genesis One could be a large amount of time? The passage says:

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. 
(2 Peter 3:8-9, NASB)

First of all, note that the passage says “one day is like a thousand years” AND “a thousand years like one day”. That pretty much rules out creation days, but there is an argument still in there somewhere.

So, second, note that this is not talking about creation. It’s talking about salvation. The emphasis is that God is being patient. Paraphrased, he’s saying, “God will wait however long it takes until every soul that is to be saved has been saved.” Creation required no such patience.

Third, note the word “like” that appears twice in verse 8. “Like” introduces a simile, or figure of speech. He doesn’t say 1000 years IS a day (or vice-versa). He’s says they can be considered alike by the God who is outside of time.

Fourth, it doesn’t work for creation, anyhow. If the days were 1000 years long, then all the plants would have died out during the 500-year night between days three and four.

Finally, the Hebrew word for day in the creation account is “yom”. It is coupled with the words “evening” and “morning”. This always means one calendar day. The word yom can indeed mean other periods of time, such as “in the days of King David”. But, not when it is tied to the words evening and morning.

One other note is of interest here: The use of a cardinal number one in Genesis 1:5, but ordinal numbers for later days, means that God was defining “one day” as being an evening and a morning.