Did the apostle Peter know about the Periodic Table?

The most controversial verse in the Old Testament is, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’  As followers of Jesus, we want to know if that verse is true?   Are there clues in both the Bible and science to support Genesis 1:1?

#  Let’s look at a verse in the letter of the apostle Peter. 

He wrote it about 1,400 years after Moses wrote Genesis 1:1.

  • 2 Peter 3:10 &12, ‘…the day of the Lord will come like a thief.  The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare….  That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will will melt in the heat.’
  • According to this passage, everything in the whole universe that will be destroyed,  is composed of elements.  The word, ‘elements’ is also found in Galatians 4:3; 4:9 and Colossians 2:8, but there it has a different meaning.
  • Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, referred to the minute parts or portions of which things are made.  In Greek the word ‘elements’ means, ‘The constituent atoms from which …things …are composed.’ 1
  • These verses tell us that all the matter in the universe is composed of elements.  We can compare elements to building blocks, like Lego or the 26 letters of the alphabet.  One can arrange them to form thousands of different structures or books, letters, manuals, et cetera.
  • We know from science that all matter, whether rocks, metals, oils, gases and humans are made up of elements (or atoms). 2
  • The Periodic Table has the 92 or 94 naturally occurring elements found in the universe, as well as some other rare ones.

#  The logic of the Lord

Why elements?  This age is the natural age, while the coming age is the new supernatural eternal age.  That means the ‘normal’ elementary composition of matter will not suffice, since matter, made up of elements are under God’s curse.  All things run down and will be renewed.


Most people will be shocked to discover that the Bible talks about things the ancients should know nothing about, like elements.  Yet since Peter was inspired by the omniscient Holy Spirit, God’s people should not be surprised.


  1. S Zodhiates, The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, Baker Book House, 1984,  p 1730
  2. JB Reece et al, Campbell Biology, Pearson, 2011, p 77

Author: Gerard and Alida

As you can see in the photo, there are two of us. We live and work together 24/7, studying and enjoying our grandchildren. Our passion is to know and understand what will happen after death. Is there a way to provide for and invest in that?

3 thoughts on “Did the apostle Peter know about the Periodic Table?”

  1. “Elements in 2 Peter 3

    The Greek word for elements is stoikion . It appears seven times in the New Testament. Two times occur in 2 Peter 3. In context stoikion never refers to the physical world or the elements on the periodic table, but always denotes the elementary principles of the Old Covenant. The Bible is a covenantal book from Genesis to Revelation and 2 Peter 3 is also covenantal. It is using symbolic apocalyptic langauge to describe the transition of the from Old to New Covenant in 70 A.D.



    1. 2 Peter 3 is actually about the second coming of Christ (vs 4, “They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ He promised?’”)

      Peter replies that it has to do with God’s grace. He gives people time to repent. But the second coming will happen.

      The first heaven and earth (created by God, Genesis 1) will be destroyed. It will be done by a massive fire. It will destroy all the elements.

      The new creation will be composed of something very different. It has to be eternal matter, like the body of Jesus. ‘We are looking forward to a new heaven and earth, the home of righteousness’ (vs 13). It will be a physical place, as we see in Revelation 21,22.

      The ‘elements’ of 2 Peter 3:10 differ from Paul’s use in both Galatians and Colossians.


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