2 Peter 1:12-21: Remember!
November 2, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Peter is very concerned about the false teaching that was threatening the churches to whom he wrote his first letter. As he is aware that he is coming towards the end of his life (verse 14) – probably under the growing persecution and distemper of Emperor Nero – he is writing this letter to shore up the faith of the Christians and to remind them of the certainty of that which they have believed. He does so in this passage in three ways.
First, he reminds them, verses 12-15. We greatly underestimate the importance of reminder. We tend to think that if someone has heard something once, agreed with it, believed it, then that settles it. But the human condition is such that we need constant reminders. We tend to stray. Foolish we are, and liable to err. We not only mentally do not always retain that which we once knew, we also – being still sinful while also redeemed – have an inbuilt tendency to turn away from the truth that we actually believe. Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. And so Peter reminds them. Would you seek to remind those that you are discipling about the truths of the gospel? Would you each day remind yourself of those same truths?
Second, he reminds them, in particular, about the certainty of the New Testament witness. Peter, as an apostle and therefore an eyewitness of the majesty of Christ, was not simply making up stories about Jesus. He saw him. He knew him. He lived alongside him. He heard him talk. He ate with him. He slept in the same house as he did and walked along the same roads beside him. Peter was an eyewitness of the Sermon on the Mount, an eyewitness of the remarkable healing of Lazarus, of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. He saw it all! But here in this passage, Peter is focusing on something that, in the Western theological tradition at least, is not so emphasized, namely the transfiguration (verse 17; cf. Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35). Why does Peter particularly emphasize the transfiguration? Probably because this part of the truth about Jesus was especially effective in counteracting the heresy that the Christians were then facing. We do not know exactly what it was. But in some way or other it was downplaying the sovereignty of Jesus and increasing (it seems) the mythical stories about angels and the rest, as well as allowing licentious behavior to have its full reign. But here is Peter and he is saying he saw Jesus’ glory! At the Mount of Transfiguration, he caught a glimpse of the blinding glory of Jesus. All weird mythical stories pale into insignificance – and outright lies – beside the extraordinary majesty of the Lord Jesus! Christian, remember how great your Lord is! Do not make Jesus merely your buddy, your friend, your “mate.” See him as he is: majestic.
Third, he reminds them of the reliability of the Old Testament prophetic witness. In addition to the witness of the New Testament, we also have the reliability of the Old Testament prophets. These writings are not merely made up by men. No, Peter explains — as he gives a mini-theology of the doctrine of inspiration — the Old Testament prophets “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” You can discern their own character and temperament in their writings. But God super-ordains all that to ensure that every part of Scripture is fully God’s Word. Christian, remember that your Bible is reliable. When you read the Bible, you are not merely reading the thoughts of men. You are reading the very words of God.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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