1 - 2 Salutation and Blessings
1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
V1. The letter has been written by Peter. He is its sender. Unlike in his first letter, he calls himself here “Simon Peter”. ‘Simon’ is the name that his parents gave him. It is, you could say, his old name. The Lord Jesus has given him his new name ‘Peter’ (Jn 1:43; Mt 10:2; 16:18). That Peter introduces himself by his double name, is remarkable. It says, I think, a lot of his spiritual mind. He is at the end of his life. He knows who he is in Christ. Still, he has not forgotten his origin.
Further on in verse 9, he reminds his readers that he, who forgets what he was in the past, is blind and shortsighted. The longer a person goes on his way with the Lord, the better he will know the Lord Jesus, but also the more he will understand what he himself is by nature. That will only make his awareness of grace increase. By introducing himself as Simon, he says to his readers that he is not better than they. By introducing himself also as Peter, he indicates that he addresses them as a brother among the brothers.
But he comes on behalf of another, on behalf of “Jesus Christ”. He is His “bond-servant”. What he has to say, he says because the Lord Jesus orders him to. He is completely subjected to His authority. That is not a burden, but a pleasure. He loves to call himself like that. There is absolutely nothing more wonderful than being a bondservant of Him Who has redeemed you from the power of sin and has liberated you from the death and the judgment afterwards (Heb 9:27), right?
Peter, however, is not only a bondservant, he is also an “apostle”. That means that he speaks with authority. He not only comes because he is a bondservant, but he comes also with the authority of the Lord Jesus and speaks in His Name. Therefore, what he has got to say was mandated by the Lord Jesus and he passes that on with the authority of His Sender. Ultimately it is not Peter who addresses you, but the Lord Jesus. That will on the one hand prevent you from reading this letter as a human writing and on the other hand impress you of the power of God that speaks from this letter.
Peter addresses his letter “to those who have received a faith of the same kind of ours”. He mentions thereby that he and they owe that to “the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ”. The faith is precious, it is of special value. Here it is not so much the fact that you believe – thus your personal faith – but more about what you believe, about everything that the faith contains. What faith contains, are all blessings that are given to you in Christ. Those blessings are not only a part of an elite, a special group of privileged believers, but they are the part of all believers.
Peter especially addresses the Jews. They are raised with the thought that their own righteousness, the fulfilment of the law, gives the blessing of everything that God has promised. They have committed themselves to that as a nation at the Mount Sinai (Exo 19:8). But on that basis they lost the blessing and each entitlement to it forever by their disobedience and the rejection of the Lord Jesus. That blessing is now only to be obtained by faith in the rejected and glorified Lord. In what Christ has done, the basis has been laid for God to still give all the promised blessing to everyone who believes.
It is His righteousness, which means His righteous dealings, in response to the work of His Son, to give the opportunity to everyone who believes in the Son to obtain a part of the valuables of all that faith contains. Therefore Peter speaks about the “righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”. When you think about ‘the righteousness’ of our God, you may also consider that He is faithful to the promises that He has made to the fathers of Israel. In His righteousness He will fulfil all His promises.
Because Peter speaks about ‘our God and Savior Jesus Christ’, you see that God and the Savior Jesus Christ are One Person (cf. Tit 2:13). This Name relates this verse with the Old Testament, which those to whom Peter is writing, know so well. God calls Himself ‘Savior’ in Isaiah 45 (Isa 45:15). He does that with a view to the approaching end of Israel. A Savior or Redeemer is needed when the end of the existence of a nation or of a man comes into view. Therefore this Name is fitting in this letter in which we read about the end of everything that has been created (Lk 1:47; 1Tim 2:3; 4:10; Tit 1:3; 2:10; 3:4; Jude 1:25). This Name also shows that the Lord Jesus is both Savior and Yahweh of the Old Testament.
Therefore when He is presented by Peter as the origin of the precious faith, it also reminds them of the faithfulness of the God of Israel, Who has granted this faith to His people. This faith is not related with God’s earthly people anymore, but with God’s heavenly people, wherein we find the things that God gives. In Christendom they have been revealed as truths. It is a great grace to be able to see that.
V2. Peter concludes his introductory words by wishing his readers “grace and peace”. He actually does that in a penetrating way. He is aware, and he therefore wants to make his readers aware of it too, that those who live by faith, will have to face heavy weather. While great dangers are appearing and increasing (Mt 24:12), he is very much aware of the equally increasing grace and peace. Where the threat appears to be that great, grace and peace increase much more (cf. Rom 5:20b).
Therefore Peter speaks about a ‘multiplication’ of grace and peace. He wants you to be more and more aware of the grace that is available to you to enable you to live your life in this end time. You do not need to make it through by your own power and with your own means. You will not be able to manage like that anyhow. Entrust yourself to the grace of God. You have learnt to know Him as “the God of all grace” (1Pet 5:10), haven’t you? Therefore you will also be able to endure the toughest circumstances with an increasing peace in your heart.
Peter relates this blessing to “the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”. Here you have the firm foundation to experience the fulfilment of the wish of Peter. By your personal relationship with God and with the Lord Jesus you will learn to know Them better and better. You gain that knowledge by reading and studying God’s Word. That’s what you are doing now and that is a good thing. God and the Lord Jesus reveal Their plans in the Bible. When you know that, you will not easily be led into confusion and despair. By reading the Word the Holy Spirit will show you everything what God’s plan is with the Lord Jesus. Christ is the center of all God’s thoughts. When your thoughts are focused on the same center, you will find the support and nourishment for your faith there. Your faith will develop itself and expand itself further and further in that knowledge. This is how the multiplication happens that Peter wishes you on behalf of Jesus Christ.
Now read 2 Peter 1:1-2 again.
Reflection: Which encouragements do these verses contain?
3 - 7 Divine Nature and Spiritual Growth
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of [the] divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in [your] moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in [your] knowledge, self-control, and in [your] self-control, perseverance, and in [your] perseverance, godliness, 7 and in [your] godliness, brotherly kindness, and in [your] brotherly kindness, love.
V3. Everything you have received and that has been summarized in the expression “faith” (verse 1), has been granted to you by “divine power”. You have in no way delivered any contribution or even paid the slightest to that. What you have received has been really “given” to you. That is all a gift of God.
What is it that you have received? He has delivered you from the power of sin and has given you the forgiveness of your sins. He has given you free access to the sanctuary, in His presence. You are allowed to come there to worship Him and ask for His help. He has given you the Holy Spirit and His Word. He has provided you with the prospect of an inheritance. These are just some blessings that have become your part, because He has given them to you.
Nobody has been able to keep Him from doing that. Everything that God has given you by His power is fully fitted to enable you to live the life that is only worthy of living. That is a life to His honor, a life in holiness and devotion to Him. It is a life that is entirely focused on God alone, a life that shows true godliness, a life in holy respect for Him, which He values and in which He finds His pleasure.
You can only live to His honor according to the extent of the knowledge you have of Him, Who has called you. Divine power doesn’t become visible in your life by signs and wonders that you could possibly accomplish, but through your actions in accordance with the knowledge that you have of Him. What do you know about Him? You know about Him according to what you have seen of Him. Thereby it is important how you have come to know Him; your first encounter with Him. He called you at the beginning of your life as a believer. You have come to Him, because He has called you.
And how did He call you? It is said here “by His own glory and excellence”. You were living in your sins and you were not able to save yourself. Then God revealed Himself to you in His “glory”. Such a great power came from that, that you as it were, were drawn to Him. Abraham had such an experience. He saw the God of glory and forsook the idolatrous environment where he was dwelling (Jos 24:2-3; Acts 7:2). Also Paul was completely changed from his course by that glory (Acts 22:6-11). It is inevitable that you have seen something of God’s glory, for nothing else could cause you to forsake the world.
“Excellence” here indicates something that exceeds everything. God has a glory and excellence that completely fades every kind of earthly glory and excellence. The power of your call is also related to ‘excellence’. He who sees the glory and excellence of God, if the eyes have been opened for it, experiences an irresistible power of attraction.
V4. By His glory and excellence He “has granted to us His precious … promises”, which are promises of great value. They are also “magnificent” promises. Those promises that are all “yes” and “amen” in Christ (2Cor 1:20). Like that you have received the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of the promise that you will receive the inheritance (Gal 3:14; Eph 1:13-14). Another promise is that you are now already allowed to have eternal life, while the full enjoyment of it will be given to you when you are in the Father’s house (Tit 1:2; 1Jn 2:25; Jn 17:3). Aren’t they “precious and magnificent promises”? First, before you go further, just take a moment to thank the Father for this.
All those promises for which you have just given thanks, show that you are a partaker of the Divine nature. Without the possession of God’s nature, in other words, without life from God, you would neither have possessed those promises nor would you have been able to enjoy them in fellowship with God.
What an enormous contrast the Divine nature and all that you are able to enjoy due to that cause with the life you formerly lived. Everything you formerly longed for was related with the world and with destruction. Your lusts were fed by the world and could only end up in destruction. It was all filthy and unclean and only focused on satisfying your own lusts. You did not care at all about what you did to yourself and others and above all that, even God . You didn’t care about the fact that because of that you were heading for the eternal judgment. Now you have escaped from all that. You have fled from that and by Divine power you have been taken out from that atmosphere. That’s also something you may thank Him for.
V5. Besides a reason to forever thank Him for, it is also an exhortation to make efforts to seek God’s honor in all things. His Divine power should make you to diligently make use of it. If you think that everything is all right, it may prove that you are not a partaker of the Divine nature. For the possession of the Divine nature will make you conscious that you live in a world that seeks to eradicate your testimony. A person who really is a partaker of the Divine nature, which is given to him by Divine power, will desire to do everything that glorifies God, Who has blessed him abundantly. He will exert his best efforts to bring that about.
Then Peter demonstrates the seven phases that activates faith to the highest level. “Faith” is the faith in the Divine power and in the glory of Christ Who will be revealed. That is not a dogma, not a doctrine, but the reality which is the fundamental point. We go our way in that confidence of faith. That confidence of faith has to be deepened.
1. Therefore (“for this very reason”) “moral excellence” must be added to the faith, which is your trust in God, with all diligence. When there is real faith, our confidence of faith will surely be tested. We will then not be scared by that, on the contrary, that will only be an occasion for us to show, especially then, spiritual courage and power. The hardships will be overcome instead of giving in to the pressure of relinquishing the faith.
2. The hardships will drive you to God. You will seek and experience the fellowship with Him and in that way gain more knowledge. Therefore “knowledge” follows after showing spiritual power. When knowledge is not being added, the tests will only turn into emotional events, whereby you run a great risk to show it off. Excellence, or courage and power, can only function well when there is knowledge of God’s intention with the test of faith. By growing in the knowledge of God’s will, you will rightly use the spiritual energy. In that way knowledge will become a guide for your conduct. It leads you to a deeper familiarity with God that works in your heart and that is seen in your conduct. It prevents you from errors.
3. V6. Knowledge must function in the right way. Therefore “self-control” must be added to knowledge. You may grow in the knowledge of God, you may get to know Him and His plans better and better, but then the issue is that you make use of that knowledge in the right way. The intention is not that you should think that with all the knowledge you’ve gained you should serve God unrestrictedly and that wherever you go you see a reason to do that. Real knowledge will focus your heart on Christ. He always perfectly faithfully did the will of God and He did that in perfect rest. He never allowed Himself to be overwhelmed or to be rushed to do something. His life was led by the knowledge of God’s will.
4. When you intend to do the will of God in this way you will surely face resistance from the world. The Lord Jesus also had to do with that, but in no way did He let Himself be drawn away from the path of obedience to His God. He went on with perseverance. That goes also for you. Therefore you should add “perseverance” to self-control. The reason why self-control and perseverance are asked of you, is because you have an old nature and because you live in an environment that seeks to draw you away from God and His matters.
5. It goes without saying that you must persevere in the good things and that you must also bring them into practice in the right way. You could easily persevere in meaningless things. Therefore you should add “godliness” to it. Godliness is the consciousness of living in the presence of God. From there automatically as it were, the next aspect flows out.
6. V7. When there is godliness, when your heart has such fellowship with God, then “brotherly kindness” will not be a difficult task. It will not be difficult to love all who are partakers of the same Divine nature. You will love your brothers and sisters with a love that will only increase the more you are in fellowship with God.
7. Brotherly kindness ultimately leads to “love”, that is the highest love, the Divine love. With brotherly kindness you may find that there are things that make loving one another easy. Divine love goes much further, for God also loves, even when there is nothing worthy of being loved. It is the source, the revelation of love at the highest level. If this is the way you love, then you are in relation to eternity and therefore you are able to resist the spirit of the age.
Now read 2 Peter 1:3-7 again.
Reflection: Make a list of some blessings that Divine power has given to you. What can be expected from you as a result of that?
8 - 15 An Abundant Entrance
8 For if these [qualities] are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these [qualities] is blind [or] short-sighted, having forgotten [his] purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. 12 Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you [already] know [them], and have been established in the truth which is present with [you]. 13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this [earthly] dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 knowing that the laying aside of my [earthly] dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.
V8. In the previous verses you saw the seven steps of the spiritual growth of your faith. You have seen that your faith grows when you add in the right order the following aspects: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and finally love. The one follows the other. You cannot delete or displace one of them, for if you do, the growth will stop right there. When all these aspects in the growth of your faith have the right place, the result will be that you will get to know the Lord Jesus better and better. The more you know of the Lord the more you will love and serve Him.
The presence and efficacy of these ‘nutrients’ are the crucial condition to grow. When they are there and are working, they prove their efficacy in the fruit that they produce. That fruit is a life wherein the characteristics of the Lord Jesus become visible and in that way the Father is being glorified.
V9. When these things are absent, there will be no spiritual activity and no fruit. It proves that you are “blind” and “short-sighted”. I do not think that this applies to you, but still it is important for you to see the danger of it. To be blind means to be without the insight of God’s thoughts about the Lord Jesus. He who is blind has not grown to maturity. He who is shortsighted can only see things that are very close. To be shortsighted means that only the present time is being considered, the here and now, and not the future, the kingdom to come. There is no panoramic view. A person who is blind and shortsighted is therefore blind for the heavenly things and is shortsighted as far as it concerns the earthly things. He does not look any further than the here and now.
The cause of that is that he has “forgotten [his] purification from his former sins”. Indeed he is converted, for otherwise there could be no mention of cleansing. A person who is not converted has never been cleansed from his sin. However, he is not to be distinguished from the people of the world, for although he is converted he lives as somebody of the world. Did not Peter himself have such an experience? Was he not blind for his own weakness in the night that the Lord Jesus was delivered? Was he not shortsighted when he thought of having to defend the Lord? Was he not in the company of the world when he was standing with the foes of his Lord to warm his hands at the same fire? Had he not forgotten his old sins when he betrayed his Lord?
What happened to Peter can also happen to you and me. Fortunately, as far as Peter is concerned, everything has turned out right and he has been recovered. Therefore there is also hope for everyone who has forgotten the cleansing of his old sins.
V10. In order to be kept from such a situation, Peter appeals again to be diligent. Brothers and sisters have a collective origin. They are called and elected by God. This awareness is a positive exhortation to be diligent. When you know for sure that you are being appealed and elected, it will stir you up to be diligent in making your “call and election” sure. The point is that you for yourself unshakably hold on to what has been unshakably fixed with God. God has called you in the time. There is no doubt that God has called you. That He would call you was already fixed in eternity, for He had elected you before the time. Also your election by Him is not to be doubted. God’s call and God’s election are unshakably fixed.
From God’s side everything is fixed, but you still have to implement your position. As far as your responsibility goes, you are to implement your position, you are to hold on to it and you are to live up to it. God wants to see people who recognizes His rights in their lives. Here on earth, where the Lord was rejected, God longs to see people who remind Him of the Lord Jesus. Such a life also prevents you from stumbling. You do not have to be afraid of false teachers who could possibly draw you away from the path of faith, the path that leads to the eternal kingdom.
V11. When you make spiritual progress, it does not only give security, but it goes together with a promise. That promise is “the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. Each believer will enter that kingdom, but not each believer will do that in the same way. Peter speaks about an entrance that is “abundantly” for those who make their call and election sure. The “eternal kingdom” is the kingdom of God in its eternal form. The Lord Jesus will reign a thousand years over the kingdom of God, but also thereafter that kingdom will not cease to be God’s kingdom. As a matter of fact, it will change in form when eternity will begin, whereby there will be a new heaven and a new earth (2Pet 3:13).
The government of the Lord Jesus is an everlasting government (cf. Rev 22:5). Terrestrial kingdoms come and go. That is absolutely not the case with the kingdom of “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. The moment it begins it remains forever (cf. Dan 2:44; 7:14; Lk 1:32-33). When He has established His kingdom He will reign over it with all His own who have accepted Him in the time of His rejection. He will give each of His own a task in His kingdom, according to the faithfulness with which they have served Him in the time of His rejection.
He will abundantly supply entrance to all who have made efforts to get to know Him better (verses 5-8) and who have diligently made their call and election sure (verse 10). In that way He will especially honor those people in contrast to those who have lived after their own insights, though were saved, yet as through fire (1Cor 3:14-15). I hope that you will make your best efforts to gain that abundant entrance.
V12. It was not the intention of Peter to proclaim new things. God has not recorded his letter in His Word in order to reveal something to you that you did not know yet. The importance of this letter and of other subjects that are being dealt with more than once in God’s Word, is that you do not forget them. Repetition is often also intended as a confirmation, to give security (Phil 3:1). To assume something to be familiar, is not a reason not to talk about it. It is important to keep the truth in remembrance (2Tim 2:14; Tit 3:1; Jude 1:17).
The value of repetition is often being underestimated. There are, I believe, not many people whom, by reading or hearing something once, never have forgotten it. Of course there are some particular things you read or hear, that are unforgettably engraved in your memory, but those are exceptions. You need repetition to remember and work out everything that God’s Word is telling you. Therefore you have to read it continually. People who say that they have read through the whole Bible once and therefore know what it says, have no relationship with God and no self-knowledge.
By faith in the Lord Jesus you know “the truth which is present with [you]” (cf. 1Jn 2:20-21). ‘Present truth’ means ‘the truth where there is mention of’. You have been confirmed in the truth that Peter is talking about here, by the teachings that you have already received on that from him.
V13. But Peter doesn’t think that his work is finished yet. He has concluded that it is necessary to go on to remind about that as long as he lives. With “this [earthly] dwelling” or “tent” he means his body, with which he serves the Lord on earth. At the same time ‘tent’ indicates that it is a temporary dwelling place (cf. 2Cor 5:1-8). He faithfully has achieved the task that the Lord has ordered him to do, until the end of his life. ‘Retirement’ and taking it easy are out of the question with him. He wants to continuously exhort his brothers and sisters, the lambs and sheep that were entrusted to him by the Lord, for living a life wherein God is being glorified.
V14. He knows that he has not got much time to live anymore. He knows that, because “our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear” to him. By that Peter refers to what the Lord said in John 21 (Jn 20:18-19). It is not that certain whether he has been given another special revelation about his end of life besides that. In any case, the Lord told him that he would be imprisoned and that he would meet a painful, violent death.
V15. Instead of worrying about that, he is making his best efforts to leave a permanent remembrance with his beloved brothers and sisters, regarding everything that he had shared with them. That’s the reason why he writes this letter. He knows that the truth will survive the death of the servant. Therefore, in view of his death, he reminds them of the truth of the coming glory of Christ and the faith life of the Christian who is looking forward to that. He does that diligently, in spite of his already very advanced age.
His efforts to share these things with them and to permanently draw their attention for it, is a proof that there is no apostolic succession. Everything that God had thought of to be significant for all His own through the ages, He has written down in His Word. There these things are recorded in indelible writing. This is why you can still read, so many ages after Peter’s death, his encouraging words. You should profit from that!
Now read 2 Peter 1:8-15 again.
Reflection: Why is Peter so anxious to remind you of what you know?
16 - 21 The Prophetic Word
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 [So] we have the prophetic word [made] more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
V16. Peter does not allow any room for any misconception that the coming of the Lord in majesty is a reality. He radically suppresses each doubt that could arise about that. That doubt could possibly be spread when his readers would listen to the false teachers who claim that that coming is a fable. There are also today many Christians, also leading scholars, who relegate such a coming of the kingdom to fairy tales. Make sure that you do not allow yourself, in one way or the other, to be fooled by such people who are inspired by the devil. Listen to Peter. Then you listen to a man who is completely rightly minded and who is able to tell you about what he himself has experienced.
He is not a follower of a fata morgana, an illusion. What he has told them about “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”, is not a story that he had made up, but he was one of its “eyewitnesses”. He is not an eloquent fantasist, but a sober realist. He and the other apostles (for he also speaks on their behalf – that is to be derived from the word “we”) were one in their testimony. It is not just the testimony of one single witness, but of several apostles. What they have made known is based on their own observation.
They have seen the Lord Jesus in radiant glory and majesty. That happened, as he says in verse 18, “on the holy mountain”, that is the mountain of transfiguration. There he and James and John were given, as it were, a foretaste of the appearance of Christ in glory and of the power that goes together with it. That glory and power will characterize “our Lord Jesus Christ” during the millennial kingdom of peace, when He will be reigning on earth.
V17-18. After referring to the visible testimony, the testimony that he has seen with his own eyes, Peter then speaks about the audible testimony. He and the two brothers have heard what God the Father testified of His Son. Peter still remembers exactly what God the Father said. In what He said, the Father gave honor and glory to the Son. Peter must certainly have remembered how he proposed to build three tents, one for the Lord Jesus, one for Moses and one for Elijah and how as a response to that, the Father only gave all attention to His Son.
Nobody can stand in His shadow. He alone is worthy of receiving all honor and glory. The Father did that, in order to prevent any misunderstanding that His Son would be possibly put on a par with even the greatest men from His people (Mt 17:4-5). Out of His wonderful dwelling place the Father spoke out His undivided pleasure in His Son. He has granted honor and glory to Christ (Heb 2:9).
In the voice that they heard, the pleasure of God in His Son was echoing. That voice came from “the Majestic Glory”, that is the cloud as the symbol of the dwelling place of God. This cloud was above the tabernacle as the visible sign of God’s presence among His people. That cloud overshadowed the three disciples. Out of the cloud “such a voice” came. The pleasure that came from “the Majestic Glory” in that voice to the Lord Jesus, was the expression of that glory. He was the Object to Whom the Father had given honor and glory.
The whole scene there on that holy mountain was shining of glory. And Peter and John and James were also there. That scene made a permanent impression. They had believed that Christ was the fulfilment of the prophecies.
V19. Through what they had seen and heard on that separated mountain, they had “the prophetic word [made] more sure”. Peter expresses himself in the most forceful words, in order to take away every doubt, concerning the coming of the kingdom. Then he emphasizes on the prophetic word. You “do well to pay attention” to it. You heed it when you consider it, when it determines the direction of your life. The prophetic word is “as to a lamp” (Psa 119:105). In its light you are able to see how everything develops in the direction of the fulfilment.
You need that lamp, because the world is “a dark place”. The world is saying that it is enlightened, but without Christ it is really only darkness (Jn 1:5). The translated word of ‘darkness’ actually means ‘filthy’, ‘dirty’. The world with all its splendor and magnificence is according to God a filthy place and that’s how it is also to the Christian who is taught by God. The only light that shines through this filthiness, is the light of the prophecy.
The people of the world imagine that they are able to transform the world into a kingdom of peace. It is an illusion that they can cherish till the Lord Jesus comes and will judge all unrighteousness. The prophecy foretells His coming in many ways and with His coming the end of the day of man.
When you really heed the prophecy you will surely want to study the prophecies diligently. That will prevent you from the foolishness to cooperate with the world in its search for a world peace. You will separate yourself from the world and point out to the people in the world at the coming of the Judge, so that they may convert from their sins, in order to escape from the judgment. You know that His coming is near, that He will come as “the Sun of righteousness” (Mal 4:2). After exerting the judgment He will establish His kingdom of peace, the eternal kingdom. Then the day of Christ will come, the day of His glory and then the lamp will not be needed anymore. Then the prophetic word will be fully fulfilled.
Peter however, does not speak about the sun, but about the “morning star”. Before the dawning of the day, the morning star rises. With the morning star the Lord Jesus is also meant (cf. Rev 2:28; 22:16) and indeed as the One Who brings light. The morning star appears when it is still dark, but actually at the moment that the day is dawning. The appearance of the morning star announces the rising of the sun.
Therefore Peter says that the morning rises in your heart, which means that, while there is darkness around you, your heart is focused on the nearby coming of the Lord Jesus. In that way you live as if the kingdom has already come and you now already consider the rights of the Lord Jesus, like it will soon happen over the whole earth. You are, to say it with another word of the Scripture, ‘a son of the day’ (1Thes 5:5), that is somebody who now already has that day in his heart.
V20. For a sound study of the prophecy, Peter gives some more significant instructions at the end of this chapter. In the first place (“know this first of all”) you should not see a prophecy separately, but you should see it in relation with other prophecies. In this way Peter passes on the significant rule that you should always compare Scripture with Scripture. If you don’t do that you will manipulate the prophetic word and shape it into your own image. You will then interpret it as it best suits you. But the fulfilment of the prophecies happens in the way it is written in the Word and not according to your own ideas. The key for the right understanding of the prophecies is Christ, His suffering and the glory thereafter. The testimony of Jesus is after all the spirit of the prophecy (Rev 19:10b).
V21. It is of great importance to bear in mind that prophets have not spoken by their own will, but out of God. The origin of God’s Word in its whole, amongst them the prophecies, does not lie in the will of man. It is to be compared with the new birth that also absolutely comes out of God alone, without any contribution of man (Jn 1:13).
God the Holy Spirit has used men to have His Word to be written. Those men were ‘holy’ men, because God had set them apart for this service. They indeed wrote on their own initiative, but at the same time they were “moved” or ‘led’, ‘carried’ by the Holy Spirit (2Tim 3:16). In that way they did not write down their own thoughts, but what God wanted them to. Not the authors were inspired, but what they wrote was inspired. Here you see what inspiration is: the efficacy of the Holy Spirit in the Bible authors at the moment of their writing.
To sum up, you learn from what Peter says here that there are three elements in the inspiration:
1. The Divine authorship of the Bible. God has ‘breathed out’ His Word; it comes from Him, it is not a writing about God, but from God.
2. The human instrument. Men were ‘sanctified’ by God, meaning set apart, in order to write down what was ‘breathed in’ by Him, according to His will (which did not happen at the expense of their own style, for they were not just ‘type writers’).
3. The written result. The product of the ‘breathing’ of God and of ‘being driven’ by the Spirit of the authors is the Word of God as you now may have in your hands.
Now read 2 Peter 1:16-21 again.
Reflection: What is the importance of the prophetic word to you?