I have been reading about the Bible and saw this passage:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)

But I cannot find when this is supposed to happen. I am assuming that this is referring to some kind of a war. Does the Bible say when this event will occur, or even hint at a period of time when it may occur?

But something tells me that this may not be about war, or at least not about any of our own wars. "But the day of the Lord..." - that makes me think that this is referring to something like Judgement day?

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    – user3961
    Commented Jun 22, 2013 at 8:18
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    You're not supposed to find out when it will happen. That's the point of "as a thief in the night." The thief sneaks into your house without giving you any advance notice of when he'll arrive. Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 16:11

6 Answers 6


The Bible doesn't say exactly when this Day will occur. Furthermore, Jesus said:

Mark 13:32 says, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."

Updated Information: The "Day of the Lord" is not about some kind of war; rather, is is about the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. I suggest you first read Mark's Gospel (or any of the other three Gospels) to aid you in your interpretation of what is written in the Epistles.


See Revelation 21:1. The Day of the Lord (the events of Revelation 6-20, Matthew 24, and elsewhere) will start unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. At the end of it, (Revelation 21:1), the heavens will pass away and the elements will melt, to be replaced by a new Heaven and Earth.

  • @ rguy - For clarification, only the second half of chapter 24 (Matthew) deals with the Day of the Lord/Second Advent., starting at verse 35...which as you say is totally unannounced like a thief. The first half of chapter 24 deals with the Destruction of Judea and the Temple. Note that Jesus began His Olivet Discourse by saying, "See these things?." (First century buildings of the Temple complex). The Peterine passage reaches its climax in Matthew 25:31: Judgment of God on people--and then the universe! [See TIMES, THEY ARE A'CHANGING by Ray Grant and MATTHEW 24 by Marcellus Kik.] Peace
    – ray grant
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 22:19

Andremonity has made the correct answer that every person with knowledge of the Bible would have.

32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Mark 13

The Bible is very clear that no one knows, or even can know, when this event is going to happen.

Now, here is where I think Andremonity has made things a little too simplified.

A very large majority of Christians believe that this event is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which will be when all are judged by God and found worthy or not worthy to enter His Kingdom. The verse you quote is clear that it is going to be one heck of an event. Although I know of no Christian denomination that says it is a war, a good majority say that it ends a war (the battle of Armageddon).

It so happens that there are quite a few details about this exact event. There are details about what happens before and after it, too. They are all detailed in the New Testament's only prophetic book Revelation. The Second Coming of Christ starts at Revelation 19:11. Now, I should warn you that Revelation is the most argued about and most difficult to understand book in the entire Bible. I do encourage you to read through that little section and maybe chapter 20 too, but before you try to understand it, it would benefit you many times over to read and understand the rest of the New Testament first.

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    Don't forget about the "little Apocalypse" in Matthew 24, and its parallels in Mark 13 (from which the above quote is taken) and Luke 21:3-36. Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 19:44

Does the Bible say when this event will occur, and does it go into more detail about this particular event?

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up

The Bible uses the phrase "the day of the Lord" frequently, and it can mean a specific event (such as the rapture), a series of events (such as the rapture and the Great Tribulation period), or a great span of events (such as everything from the rapture through to the millennial kingdom and to the eternal state).

1 Thessalonians 5:2-9 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Zechariah 14:1-9 Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

Joel 3:14-21 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim. Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

I see in Peter's use of the phrase "the day of the Lord" a sort of a short parenthetical description of the entire period. The "thief in the night" phrase would describe the start of this time. The end of the old earth and heaven would describe the end of this time.

There is a parallel in the book of Revelation. After the first three chapters, the letter to the churches, the next two chapters describe a scene in heaven in which Jesus is found worthy to take ownership of the earth. The process of his taking ownership involves the opening of seals on the document that could be seen as a sort of title deed to earth. As this document is opened, various penalties are poured out on the earth. At the start of this process of judgment a war breaks out and together with famine and disease it causes the death of one-out-of-four people on earth. After the judgments are poured out on the inhabitants of earth, an angry army of 200,000,000 gather at Megiddo (an ancient Canaanite city southeast of Mount Carmel at the western approach of the Jezreel Valley in Israel) to fight against God.

Revelation 6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

Revelation 16:16 And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.

After Jesus returns and wipes out the rebellious from the earth, he rules from Jerusalem for 1,000 years (i.e., the Millennial reign of Christ). After this, Satan, who had been bound, is set loose on the world, and he organizes one last war against God. After this war comes the Great White Throne judgment, where the unsaved dead are raised and judged according to their works. After this is the eternal state.

Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

T summarize, I suggest Peter is describing briefly the period of time (at least 1,007 years) which starts after the rapture.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-7 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

Since the time of the apostle Paul there has been someone restraining the evil in the world, and one possibility is the Holy Spirit, who indwells each Christian and is a restrainer of evil through each and every Christian throughout the world. When Christians are taken out of the world, the Holy Spirit would go with them. This might trigger all the events associated with "the day of the Lord."

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Here is the apostle Peter's summary concerning the transient nature of the earth and the heavens. Notice the similarity between it and the apostle John's summary:

2 Peter 3:11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

1 John 2:16-17 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

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    Plus one. Good summary of the "pre-mil" position taken by many Evangelical Christians around the world. I edited your answer simply to clean it up a bit. You can always reject my editing if you feel it does your answer an injustice! Don Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 16:01
  • Pre-mil Summary? Readers should be aware that most Christians believe in the the Final *Day of the Lord" with all its concomitant universal, extraordinary consequences ! However, there is much disagreement as to how this Ending occurs. Many take Jesus's warning "that nobody knows when" to mean that there really are no "Signs of the end-times" that Pre-mil and modern Dispensationalists teach. But we all agree that Christ is returning in tremendous glory!
    – ray grant
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 22:29

The day of the Lord is not just a one-time event but occurs in different dispensations of time. Noah's flood was a day of the Lord where god judged the world with a flood that brought about a first end. The next day of the Lord is when the Lord allowed Jeresulam to be conquered burned with fire and the Jews killed or taken into captivity a second dispensation of time. There is the coming of Jesus the first time and the coming of Jesus the second time for his bride before tribulation followed by the day of the lord for the end of the church age or end of grace. Millennium I believe will also have a catching away of true born-again believers born during the millennium Satan is then released and some are at Least the fallen angels for a short season or type of tribulation but not as long and not as severe to deceive the nations Gog and Magog part 2 to try to destroy Israel but god burns them with fire. Now the day of the lord Peter referring to can not be for the catching away of the church at this is his coming and not return. It also can not be referring to when Gog and Magog attacked Israel at the end of 1000 years so what it is I believe is the time of the great white throne judgement but apparently, somehow this day will also come like a thief not followed by a specific event to be honest I am kind not understanding the logic nor the timing of it.

  • Great insight to the many "Days of the Lord." These words are often used in the Bible to designate God's wrath and judgment on evil--committed by Gentile and Jew! But there is a final judgment day.--- Your confusion about the logic of the Pre-mil and Dispensational teaching about this is justified. Jesus said there were absolutely no signs of the End. All the "signs of the end-times" and multitude of alleged events taught by Pre and Disp.(Darbyism) contradict Jesus's clear teaching. It is logical to simply believe in the Second Coming, and just evangelize and do charity.
    – ray grant
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 22:44

Best Commentary The best commentary on this Peterine passage are chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew's Gospel. It is so good because it is Jesus himself doing the teaching! (our Master Teacher, not a rabbi, not a theologian, not an independent, 19th century sect commentator).

The first half of chapter 24 dealt with the pending Destruction of Judea and eventually, the Temple. (in 70 A.D.) All the things enumerated in vss. 4-34 will be fulfilled in that generation.(vs. 34) And they were fulfilled to the letter! [See TIMES, THEY ARE A'CHANGING by Ray Grant, and MATTHEW TWENTY-FOUR by Marcellus Kik.]

When? Jesus then gave a clear, lucid teaching about the Day of the Lord:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
From 24:35 until 25:46 Jesus taught over and over and over that there are no events nor signs nor harbingers of the Day of the Lord! Along with Peter, Jesus used the example of the thief coming without warning.(24:43-44) Anyone who claims to know when--or claims that we are in the end-times or latter days--is claiming to know more than Jesus--and that is heresy!

Details? Jesus gave no details about events leading up to the Second Coming--that would contradict His statement about "not knowing." But He did give details about what was to occur when He did return. (25:31-46) Judgment of all people who were evil, and rewards for all the righteous! And He revealed the standard by which all will be held accountable for: unselfish charity.

Application Human nature is tantalized by suspense and even violence (look at all the crime/murder shows on TV!) People are easily led astray by their emotional reaction to modern teaching about alleged end-time wars, dictators, apocalyptic horrors, etc. And modern preachers take advantage of this and exploit them. Not being grounded in Matthew through Jude, Christians are led into the quagmire of the symbolic Book of Revelation, and become bogged down. They leave behind the sure-footing of Jesus's plain teaching in Matthew 24-25: no signs, no warning. And unfortunately, they skip over what Jesus warned about: the need to be involved totally in charitable work...which honors the Father who loves people!

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