Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:13, NKJV)
The basic meaning of the expression “heavens and the earth” is that of a dwelling place, a habitation. In Genesis 1:1, God created the physical world – “the heavens and the earth” – for humanity to inhabit (Gen. 1:26-28). We later find a similar expression used with a spiritual meaning (Isa. 65:17; 66:22). Isaiah spoke of God creating “new heavens and a new earth” in which people would come to worship before Him (Isa. 65:17; 66:23). Isaiah was speaking of the church – the habitation or dwelling place of God’s people (Isa. 2:1-4). God dwells with His people (the church), and they with Him (2 Cor. 6:16-18). Christians are raised out of the death of sin to sit “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5-6). We become citizens of a new kingdom when we are saved in Christ (Col. 1:13). Christians inhabit a new and spiritual realm, the church (Acts 2:47). Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). When Peter used the expression “new heavens and a new earth” in 2 Peter 3:13, he was looking forward to yet another dwelling place of God’s people – the eternal kingdom, our heavenly home (2 Pet. 1:11). In visionary form, John saw this “new heaven and a new earth” where righteousness dwells (Rev. 21:1). Entrance into it will be abundantly given to faithful Christians (2 Pet. 1:10-11).