Will God Transform the Old Earth or Make a New One? (New Earth 2)

Revelation 20:11 states that the old earth and sky “fled away” from the presence of the one seated on the great white throne (ESV, RSV). Good synonyms for “fled away” (Greek: ephugen) are “vanish” and “disappear.” Since “no place was found for them” after they vanished, it could imply that when God makes “all things new” (Rev. 21:5, NKJV) He will build a brand, new earth rather than “recycle” the materials of the old earth into the new one. On the other hand, “new” in Greek (kainos) means something new in quality rather than in origin or time (see 2 Corinthians 5:17, but notice also Mark 2:21, where new in time is also implied).

Which of the two options makes the most sense? Perhaps the original creation story can help us decide. In Genesis 1 the first verse seems to describe the creation of the whole universe (Gen. 1:1). The second verse focuses on the condition of the earth after the original creation (Gen. 1:2). Verse three commences the creation of this world and describes it as more of a recycling project than something built from nothing (Gen. 1:2-31). With the exception of the light on the first day (Gen. 1:3-5), God’s creative work with the planet itself was largely shaping the environment out of pre-existing matter (Gen. 1: 6, 7, 9, 14).

In conclusion, the total evidence related to the new earth falls short of certainty on this matter. But we do know two things. God is not indebted to pre-existing matter, yet He seems rather fond of recycling.

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