In this passage from 2 Peter 1:16-19, Peter addresses the problem of false teachers who are denying Christ’s Second Coming and are accusing the apostles of making stories up. This heresy would remove an important incentive for Christians to live moral and ethical lives. If Christ isn’t coming again-if there is nothing beyond this life-people will be less motivated to live the kind of life that Christ would have them live. Peter calls these Christians to look forward to the return of Christ. In 2 Peter 3:10-11, Peter says that Christ’s return will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with extreme heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Peter calls on them to prepare for that day by living lives that are holy and godly.
The doctrines the disciples held about Jesus were not defended by weak reasoning, but were based on solid eyewitness testimony. Peter, James and John were eyewitnesses to the Transfiguration. When the coming of the Saviour was referred to by the disciples in their preaching, it was always accompanied by a declaration that it would be accompanied by a show of great power and glory.
Peter wrote these verses to counter accusations that he made up stories about Jesus to obtain followers, wealth, power and prestige. Peter provided evidence that the truth of God is inspired. Peter did not boast in the knowledge Jesus provided. He shared it. Peter didn’t gloat-he gave. Peter revealed the secrets of eternity.
Peter did not promote a list of religious rules. He did not push any ideology. He didn’t try to gain power. He talked about a person who was unique in all human history. He was talking about someone he saw with his own eyes-Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That’s the story of the Christian faith. It’s a relationship with Jesus Christ. Being a Christian is first and foremost about receiving God’s life for us as a gift by grace. Just think about how that good news can change our lives!
Today, the Christian faith is still subject to plenty of false rumours. The worst false rumour is that Christianity is a system of rules, regulations and negativity formed by humans to restrain people’s lives, drain the joy out of people’s lives and turn out haters. The rumour makes the Christian life about politics, prejudice, power and profit.
The Christian faith is not the result of cunningly devised fables, as the false teachers claimed. Peter knew that Jesus was God’s Son, because as an eyewitness to His transfiguration, Peter had seen and heard God the Father bestow glory on Him.
The transfiguration was a brief glimpse of the future glory we will see when Christ returns and sets up His kingdom here on earth. The prophecies about Jesus shed some light on a topic that would otherwise be dark. These prophecies shed a light that is so valuable that we should avail ourselves of it by any means possible that are moral, ethical and legal.
We need God to reveal the truth to us through the prophets in the same way in which He revealed truth to them originally when He inspired and motivated them to write the words of prophecy. We can rely on the Word of God because the prophecies of Scripture have come from God. The Holy Spirit reveals the truth to us from God’s Word in the same way the Holy Spirt revealed the prophecy of Scripture to the prophets. Prophecy is the light that cuts through the darkness with the hope of Christ’s return.
When we are tempted to worry about the decline of the church, we would be wise to remember the light of prophecy in Scripture that still shines today. The same word that captured the attention of first century people is still relevant today.
If anyone denies the teachings and historical record of the New Testament, they must attack the credibility of the apostles as witnesses. That can’t be done successfully. The apostles saw and heard God bless Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.
The morning star is Jesus. Until He returns, Christians have the Bible as a witness to His divinity and as their guide in this dark world. Those of us who doubt our faith or are losing confidence have hope. Peter is our ally. He spoke up to explain that the myth is false. He went on record to separate truth from fiction, no matter the cost.
Jesus sacrificed everything for us. His gift of life and salvation changed everything for everyone. He sacrificed everything for us, including His life. He loves us. He formed new lives for us when He died for us and rose from the dead. In return, we will do well to heed Scripture, especially Scripture passages that speak of Christ’s return. These promises are like a lamp shining in a dark place. They make it possible to walk with Jesus without stumbling.
The expectation of Christ’s return makes a difference in our everyday lives, especially if we are expecting His return. That difference is in how we run our lives. Our lives should be characterized by faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection and love. The expectation of judgment should provoke us to live lives that are characterized by godliness and holiness.
- Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013, pp. 52-53)
- Cedar, P.A. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 34: James/1&2 Peter/Jude (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1984; pp. 214-217)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson; 2010)
- Dr. David Jeremiah, “Be Very Sure.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Dr. David Jeremiah, “God’s Work, Today’s World: Prophecy.” Retrieved from email@example.com
- Rev. Gregory Seltz, “God’s Reality Check.” Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org
- Richard Niell Donovan, “Exegesis for 2 Peter 1:16-21.” Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
- Dwight Peterson, “Commentary on 2 Peter 1:16-21.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org