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, Heb_1:3: see Gen_1:6,9 Psa 33:6 148:5.
The heavens were; were created, or had a being given them, Gen_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, Gen_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.