Verse 5: For this they willingly are ignorant of, that (Gen. 1:6, 9; Ps. 33:6; Heb. 11:3) by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth (Ps. 24:2; 136:6; Col. 1:17) standing (Gr. consisting) out of the water and in the water…
[It escapes notice, etc., λανθάνει γὰρ αὐτοὺς τοῦτο θέλοντας] For that, being willing (or, willingly [Pagnine, Piscator, Erasmus, Vatablus, Estius, Æthiopic], or, because they will [Syriac]) they do not know (Erasmus, Illyricus, Tigurinus), or, it escapes notice (Castalio), or, it escapes them (Beza), it escapes their notice (Pagnine, Piscator). They take pains that they might not know, being unwilling to turn to the Scriptures, out of which they were able to learn the truth (Estius); they are unwilling to know (Menochius, thus Gerhard), what they ought and are able to know (Gerhard). Their ignorance was crass and affected (Estius). There is a certain ignorance deriving much from the will. Therefore, concerning certain ones it is said, they were unwilling to understand. If they read Moses, they are able to understand that this World consists of corruptible things, and consequently it is not strange if it is going to come to pass that the World itself is ruined (Grotius). Others: It escapes the notice of those that will this, that is, who think in this way (Heinsius, similarly Mede, Hammond). For θέλειν to the Greeks, and velle to the Latins, is often the same as to esteem, or to think. Herodianus, σεβίζουσι δὲ ὑπερφυῶς, Ἀπόλλωνα εἶναι ἐθέλοντες, but they exceedingly fear, because they will Apollo to be, that is, they think. Cicero, For the four natures, of which he thinks all things to consist, he wills to be from heaven. And we are wont to say, Those that will this, that is, think. Thus 2 Corinthians 1:17, the things that I will, that is, I teach, or affirm. So here θέλοντας means those affirming, that is, with authority, without any reason beyond Thus I will, etc. (Hammond). The pronoun this points to what follows (Estius).
[That, etc., ὅτι οὐρανοὶ ἦσαν ἔκπαλαι, καὶ γῆ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ δι᾽ ὕδατος συνεστῶσα, τῷ τοῦ Θεοῦ λόγῳ] That συνεστῶσα/standing is referred, either, 1. as much to the heaven as to the earth, by a Zeugma (Grotius, Œcumenius and Lapide and Lessius in Gerhard). The earth out of the water emerged, and the same stands firm δι᾽ ὕδατος, through the water. The heaven also of water consists. For the entire heaven, as much what we call aerial as what we call ethereal, to the Hebrews is called by one name, and is thought to be vapor of waters, as we have shown on Genesis. The same heaven also stands δι᾽ ὕδατος, through the water, on account of the clouds which are in heaven, and partly above heaven, as it is seen in Genesis 1:7; 7:11; Psalm 148:4 (Grotius). Or, 2. to the earth alone (Beza, thus Estius, Gerhard), a description of which is here added, on account of the mention of the flood, which did not touch the heaven (Beza). [Thus they render the words:] That the heavens (he set down heavens in the place of heaven, because the Hebrews do not have the singular number [of this word]: Heaven, namely, the aeriel, and the lowest region of this: for to this point, but not higher, the waters of the flood reached [Estius, similarly Piscator]: Thus it is taken by Augustine, Bede, and nearly all Theologians [Estius]) were (or, existed [Beza, thus Piscator, Gerhard], understanding, created [Piscator, Gerhard]) already of old (that is, in the time of Noah, from a comparison with the following verse, in which it is said, ὁ τότε κόσμος, the world that then was, namely, in the time of Noah [Piscator]: But the destruction of the world by the flood is not yet treated, but rather the primeval creation of the world [Gerhard]: from ancient times [Gerhard out of the Syriac], from the very beginning of the world [Estius, similarly Gerhard, Beza, Hammond]: for ἐκ has the force of intensification, as in 2 Peter 2:3 [Gerhard]; ἐξ ἡμερῶν ἀρχαίων, of ancient days, Isaiah 37:26 [Grotius]), and the earth (that is, ἦν/was, stood forth [Piscator, Vorstius, Gerhard], or, emerged [Grotius]: Here he calls the terrestrial globe, composed of earth and water, the earth, so that the atmosphere might be included under heaven [Mede’s Paraphrase and Exposition of the Prophesie of Saint Peter 758]) of, or out of, the water (as of a part of itself, enclosed in its cavities [Piscator]: out of the water, that is, out of that wet mass, which the Greeks call ὕλην, matter or mud/slime, out of the Books of the Phoenicians [Grotius]; out of that great deep, Genesis 1:1, 2 [Hammond, Mede’s Paraphrase and Exposition of the Prophesie of Saint Peter 755]; out of the immense abundance of waters, which formerl covered the earth, but now is in the Ocean, rivers, and subterranean places [Hammond]; out of the water it emerged, by which in the beginning it was covered [Drusius, thus Beza, James Cappel, Estius, Menochius, Gerhard]: or, outside of the water [Vorstius, thus Gerhard], or, separated from the waters [Gerhard]: In this place he does not understand some material cause, not even an efficient cause; but only the place containing [Vorstius]) and through the water (as through a foundation upon which it leans: See Genesis 7:11; Psalm 24:2 [Piscator]: or, in the water [Pagnine, Beza, Piscator], as floating in that [Piscator]: Δι᾽ ὕδατος, through the water, is in the place of ἐν ὕδατι, in the water [Piscator, Vorstius, Castalio], as in 1 Peter 3:20 [Piscator]; or, among the waters, or in the midst of the waters [Mede, Hammond, thus Beza, Grotius], that is, surrounded by waters, that is, the upper waters, or the clouds overhanding it [Hammond], as if it were διὰ μέσου, through the midst [Mede’s Paraphrase and Exposition of the Prophesie of Saint Peter 755]: Διὰ/through is put in the place of בְּתוֹךְ, in the midst of [Grotius, Mede, Hammond], as in 1 Peter 3:20 [Grotius, Hammond]; and in 1 Corinthians 3:15, διὰ πυρός, by fire, that is, in the midst of fire [Hammond]; and in 2 Timothy 2:2, διὰ πολλῶν μαρτύρων, by many witnesses, that is, among many witnesses: Thus Herodotus, διὰ νήσων, through the islands, that is, among the islands [Mede]: Thus through the mountains to the Latins is the same as in/ among the mountains [Castalio]) consisting (or, subsisting, for by water, as it were, it is aerated [James Cappel], compacted, and stuck together [Menochius, thus Estius], so that one part of it might adhere to the other [Menochius], lest it disintegrate into dust [Estius, thus Menochius]; and so that it might be apt for the production and preservation of mixed bodies [Estius, thus Gerhard], otherwise it is going to be too crumbly, too dusty, and is going to give way to the feet of those walking upon it [James Cappel]: Others: συνεστῶσα, to stand forth or to consist, is put in the place of to be, as constare, to be sure or to consist, is in the works of Cicero, whatsoever things in nature and in the whole world constarent, are or stand forth, are united by friendship, and scattered by discord [Castalio]: Others: συνεστῶσα, that is, having its own σύστασιν (consistency), just as also the Natural Scientiests speak, as we said on Colossians 1:17: Thus you also have σύστασιν κόσμου, the composition of the world, in Wisdom of Solomon 7:17: For the Earth, together with the Water, make up one globe, and under the earth there are vast reservoirs of waters, into which entire seas insinuate themselves, and whence all arise, and often hide themselves again in them: See Psalm 24:2; Ecclesiastes 1:7, and what things were said there [Grotius]) by the word of God (Montanus, Erasmus, Illyricus, etc.). That is, whereby He said, Let there be light, etc. (Hammond). By the commandment of God, who separates the waters from the dry ground (Menochius). By the commandment of God conjoined with His power, since by it the earth, standing in waters, is perpetually preserved (Vorstius). But this is to be referred to the earth and the heavens, as it is evident from a comparision with the following verse and Genesis 1; Psalm 33:9; 148:5 (Gerhard, thus Estius). He here refutes the argument of the mockers brought in the preceding verse. The long-lasting, says he, and unchanging state of the world does not prevent God, who created the world, from being able to destroy it (Gerhard). See what things are on John 1:1. Philo, λόγῳ γὰρ αἱ τροπαὶ καὶ ἐτήσιοι ὧραι τεταγμένῳ καὶ παγίῳ συνίστανται, for by the settled and fixed word the solstices and annual seasons are joined together. He means this, that those waters, which are in heaven and on earth, by the command and power of God both are shut up and are loosed, just as also the Fire (Grotius). This verse is preparatory to the following Atheistical aphorism, that no punishments are reserved for the impious, no rewards for the pious, which he refutes by the example of the flood, verse 6. So that he might prepare the way to this, he here describes the state of the lower world, which was constituted by God in such a way that, when it pleased Him, He was able to flood it. For He set the earth in the waters, etc. (Hammond). The sense of the verse: It escapes their notice that the heavens and earth stand by the word of God, and hence that by the same word of God they are able to perish and be destroyed (Menochius). All things do not always continue in the same manner, as those mockers feign, etc. (Tirinus).
For this they willingly are ignorant of; they will not know what they ought to know, and, if they would search the Scripture, might know. That by the word of God; the command of God, or word of his power, as it is called, Hebrews 1:3: see Genesis 1:6, 9; Psalm 33:6; 148:5. The heavens were; were created, or had a being given them, Genesis 1:6. Of old; from the beginning of the world. And the earth; the globe of the earth, which comprehends likewise the seas and rivers, as parts of the whole. Standing out of the water and in the water: according to our translation, the sense of these words may be plainly this, that the earth, standing partly out of the water, (as all the dry land doth, whose surface is higher than the water,) and partly in the water, (as those parts do which are under it,) or in the midst of the water, as being covered and encompassed by seas and rivers. But most expositors follow the marginal reading, and render the Greek word by consisting; and then the meaning may be, either, 1. That the earth consisting of water, as the matter out of which it was formed, (Moses calling the chaos which was that matter, waters, Genesis 1:2,) and by water, from which it hath its compactness and solidity, and without which it would be wholly dry, mere useless dust, unfit for the generation and production of natural things. If we understand the words thus, the argument lies against the scoffers; for the earth thus consists of and by water, yet God made use of the water for the destroying of the world; and so natural causes are not sufficient for its preservation without the power of God sustaining it in its being; and whenever he withdraws that power, in spite of all inferior causes, it must perish. Or, 2. The words may thus be read, the heavens were of old, and the earth (supply from the former clause) was out of the water, and consisting by, or in, the water; and the meaning is, that the earth did emerge, or appear out of, or above, the water, viz. when God gathered the waters together, and made the dry land appear; and doth consist by, or among, or in, the midst of the waters, as was before explained.
 Daniel Heinsius (1580-1655) was a classical scholar, serving for almost sixty years at the University of Leiden. During the Synod of Dort, he acted as secretary on behalf of the States-General. He contributed to the Elzeviers edition of the New Testament, and wrote Exercitationes ad Novum Testamentum.
 A Zeugma is a figure of speech, in which two subjects are used jointly with the same predicate, although the predicate belongs properly only to one.
 Lenært Lays, or Leonard Lessius (1554-1623), was a Belgian Jesuit theologian.
 2 Peter 3:5b: “…that by the word of God the heavens were of old (ἔκπαλαι)…” Πάλαι signifies of old.
 2 Peter 2:3: “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time (ἔκπαλαι) lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”
 Isaiah 37:26: “Hast thou not heard long ago (לְמֵרָחוֹק; πάλαι, in the Septuagint), how I have done it; and of ancient times (מִ֥ימֵי קֶ֖דֶם; ἐξ ἀρχαίων ἡμερῶν, in the Septuagint, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities into ruinous heaps.”
 1 Peter 3:20b: “…while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water (δι᾽ ὕδατος).”
 Colossians 1:17: “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (συνέστηκε).”
 Wisdom of Solomon 7:17: “For he hath given me certain knowledge of the things that are, namely, to know the composition of the world (σύστασιν κόσμου), and the operation of the elements…”