For this they willingly are ignorant of
Namely, what follows; for as these men were such as had professed Christianity, and had the advantage of revelation, and had the opportunity of reading the Scriptures, they might have known that the heavens and the earth were from the beginning; and that they were made by the word of God; and that the earth was originally in such a position and situation as to be overflowed with a flood, and that it did perish by a general inundation; and that the present heavens and earth are kept and reserved for a general burning; and it might be discerned in nature, that there are preparations making for an uersal conflagration; but all this they chose not to know, and affected ignorance of: particularly
that by the word of God the heavens were of old:
not only in the times of Noah, but "from the beginning"; as the Ethiopic version reads, and which agrees with the account in ( Genesis 1:1 ) ; by "the heavens" may be meant both the third heaven, and the starry heavens, and the airy heavens, with all their created inhabitants; and especially the latter, since these were concerned in, and affected with the general deluge; and these were in the beginning of time, out of nothing brought into being, and so were not eternal, and might be destroyed again, or at least undergo a change, even though they were of old, and of long duration: for it was "by the word of God" that they at first existed, and were so long preserved in being; either by the commanding word of God, by his powerful voice, his almighty fiat, who said, Let it be done, and it was done, and who commanded beings to rise up out of nothing, and they did, and stood fast; and so the Arabic version renders it, "by the command of God"; or by his eternal Logos, the essential Word of God, the second Person in the Trinity, who is often in Scripture called the Word, and the Word of God, and, as some think, by the Apostle Peter, ( 1 Peter 1:23 ) , and certain it is that the creation of all things is frequently ascribed to him; see ( John 1:16 ) ( Hebrews 1:2 Hebrews 1:10 ) ( 11:3 ) ; wherefore by the same Word they might be dissolved, and made to pass away, as they will:
and the earth standing out of the water and in the water;
that is, "by the Word of God"; for this phrase, in the original text, is placed after this clause, and last of all; and refers not only to the being of the heavens of old, but to the rise, standing, and subsistence of the earth, which is here particularly described for the sake of the deluge, the apostle afterwards mentions: and it is said to be "standing out of the water", or "consisting out of it"; it consists of it as a part; the globe of the earth is terraqueous, partly land and partly water; and even the dry land itself has its rise and spring out of water; the first matter that was created is called the deep, and waters in which darkness was, and upon which the Spirit of God moved, ( Genesis 1:2 ) ; agreeably to which Thales the Milesian asserted F20, that water was the principle of all things; and the Ethiopic version here renders the words thus, "and the Word of God created also the earth out of water, and confirmed it": the account the Jews give of the first formation of the world is this F21;
``at first the world was (Mymb Mym) , "water in water"; what is the sense (of that passage ( Genesis 1:2 ) ;) "and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters?" he returned, and made it snow; he casteth forth his ice like morsels, ( Psalms 147:17 ) ; he returned and made it earth; "for to the snow he saith, Be thou earth", ( Job 37:6 ) , and the earth stood upon the waters; "to him that stretched out the earth above the waters", ( Psalms 136:6 ) ;''however, certain it is, that the earth was first covered with water, when at the word, and by the command of God, the waters fled and hasted away, and were gathered into one place, and the dry land rose up and appeared; and then it was that it "stood out of the water"; see ( Genesis 1:9 Genesis 1:10 ) ( Psalms 104:6 Psalms 104:7 ) ; moreover, the earth consists, or is kept and held together by water; there is a general humidity or moisture that runs through it, by which it is compacted together, or otherwise it would resolve into dust, and by which it is fit for the production, increase, and preservation of vegetables and other things, which it otherwise would not be: and it is also said to stand "in the water", or by the water; upon it, according to ( Psalms 24:2 ) ; or rather in the midst of it, there being waters above the firmament or expanse; in the airy heavens, in the clouds all around the earth, called the windows of heaven; and water below the firmament or expanse, in the earth itself; besides the great sea, a large body of waters is in the midst of the earth, in the very bowels of it, which feed rivers, and form springs, fountains and wells, called "the fountains of the great deep", ( Genesis 7:11 ) ; and in this position and situation was the earth of old, and so was prepared in nature for a general deluge, and yet was preserved firm and stable by the word of God, for a long series of time; so the Arabic version renders it, "and the earth out of the water, and in the water, stood stable, by the command of God"; but when it was his pleasure, he brought the flood on the world of the ungodly, of which an account follows.
F20 Vid. Laert. l. i. in Vit. Thaletis.
F21 T. Hieros. Chagiga, fol. 77. 1.