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Peters Readiness to Remind (2 Peter 1:12-21)

12 Therefore, I shall 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 And 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 may be able to call these things to mind.

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 And 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.

Introduction

I never cease to be amazed at the tabloid headlines each time I pass the check out stands at the grocery store. They are unbelievable. Recent headlines reported that Abraham Lincoln had been resuscitated for nearly a minute. Headlines claiming that Elvis Presley is still alive or a woman had a baby with a monkey’s head rival other sensational headlines. The stories are so ludicrous no one believes them. We know better than to suppose such journalism should be taken seriously.

Biblical revelation is similar but dramatically different from tabloid truth. Biblical revelation may seem similar in that it too may be hard to believe. We read of God’s miraculous intervention in the lives of men, of promises of forgiveness of sins and eternal life in the presence of God—all which seem too good to be true. Yet Biblical truth is radically different from tabloid truth because it is always true—in the past, in the present, and in the future. Biblical truth is the basis for life and godliness; it is meant to be believed and acted upon by faith.

The apostles were convinced of the adequacy and authority of the Scriptures, including the Scriptures which came through their hands under the inspiration and control of the Holy Spirit. As our Lord approached the end of His earthly ministry, He began to emphasize the crucial role of the Scriptures (see John 14:25-26; 15:7; 16:12-14, 25-26; 17:17). As Peter and Paul approached the day of their departure, they too began to emphasize the importance of the Scriptures to those whom they would leave behind (see Acts 20:25-32; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 4:2; 1 Peter 1:22–2:2; 2 Peter 1:12-21).

In our text, Peter writes of his eminent death and his determination to remind them of the things recorded in the Scriptures. He speaks plainly of the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures and their importance as God’s final revelation. Let us remember that the text we are reading is a part of that inspired revelation, given through the apostles, for our edification.

An Overview of 2 Peter 1

Verses 12-21 naturally flow from what Peter has written in verses 1-11. In verses 1-4, Peter has informed us that from His divine nature (power, glory, excellence, righteousness), God has provided all that is necessary for life and godliness (faith, grace, peace, knowledge, His precious promises), enabling us to escape from the corruption that is in the world through lust and to become partakers of the divine nature. In brief, God has provided everything we need for salvation and sanctification.

In verses 5-7, Peter calls for Christians to pursue the path of discipleship. We are to appropriate these divine provisions by diligently and energetically pursuing holiness (faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love). The things for which God has made provision, we are to make our pursuit.

In verses 8-11, Peter speaks of the benefits of the pursuit of holiness, as provided for by God (verses 1-4) and as pursued by the Christian (verses 5-7). As children of God, the pursuit of holiness assures us of avoiding what we should dread—uselessness and unfruitfulness, blindness and short-sightedness, forgetfulness of our former cleansing from sin and stumbling. The pursuit of holiness assures us of attaining what we greatly desire as saints—an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God.

Peter’s Readiness to Remind
(1:12-15)

12 Therefore, I shall 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 And 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 may be able to call these things to mind.

It is clear in verses 12-15 that Peter is intent on reminding his readers. He sets out to remind them of what they already knew and embraced as the truth. It is impossible to “remind” someone of what they never knew. He seeks to remind them of truths which they continue to embrace as the truth, and he reminds them of the things he has already written in verses 1-11.42

Peter’s commitment to remind his readers is not a passing fancy nor a fad. He is committed to “always remind them” (verse 12). It is clear from his words that he intends his reminding to persevere. He will continue to remind them as long as he has breath. He will do so with his dying breath.

In fact, Peter will even seek to remind his readers after he has drawn his last breath. Peter knows the day of his departure is near (verse 14) as our Lord indicated to him (John 21:18-23). As he writes, he seems aware that he is being used of God to pen Scripture and that his words will be used of God until the Lord Jesus returns to remind saints who have not yet been born. Writing this epistle greatly prolongs Peter’s ministry of reminding.

The Reasons for Peter’s
Commitment to Remind His Readers
(1:16-19)

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 And 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.

Peter reminds us of those things vital to our spiritual lives, to our escape from the corruption that is in the world through lust, and to manifesting the evidences of the divine nature in our lives. His reminders are the “truth” (verse 12) which gives us “true knowledge” (verses 3, 8) of God. More importantly, these truths are God’s truth, truth from God (verse 21) and also truth which has been communicated by the Spirit of God (verses 20-21), through the Son of God and witnessed to by the Father (verses 16-19).

This “truth” has not been conjured up in Peter’s mind but is “truth” which has come from God. It is apostolic truth which God communicated through all of His inspired apostles—not just Peter (note the “we”43 in verses 16, 18, 19). It is the “truth” our Lord spoke to the disciples of which the Spirit reminded them:

25 “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:25-26).

3 How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will (Hebrews 2:3-4).

There are “false apostles” (see 2 Corinthians 11:13) who claim to speak for God but who are merely espousing “cleverly devised tales” (2 Peter 1:16). Peter contrasts these tales with the Scriptures God revealed through His apostles. To demonstrate the certainty (“more sure”) of the Scriptures revealed through the apostles, Peter turns to the transfiguration of our Lord which he, along with James and John (see Matthew 17:12), witnessed.

Like the Old Testament prophets, Peter and the other apostles wrote of the “power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 16). The apostles revealed that which was consistent with the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets, but their writings were also “eye witness” accounts. The apostles did write of things they heard from our Lord, but they also wrote as witnesses of what they saw. At the transfiguration, they witnessed the “power and glory of our Lord’s coming.” Jesus Himself indicated they would:

27 “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and WILL THEN RECOMPENSE EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. 28 Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28).

38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” 9:1 And He was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power” (Mark 8:38–9:1).

At the transfiguration of Jesus, this is exactly what Peter and his two fellow-apostles saw:

2 And six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; 3 and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 And Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus (Mark 9:2-4).

It is also what Paul saw:44

6 “And it came about that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, 7 and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who art Thou, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 And those who were with me beheld the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go on into Damascus; and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do’” (Acts 22:6-10; see also Acts 9:1-9; 26:12-18; compare Acts 1:21-22; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 15:1-11).

All of the apostles witnessed the glory and power of the Lord Jesus, the glory we too shall see when He comes to reign on the earth. The apostles were not “whistling in the wind;” they actually witnessed the things of which they write.

And so it is that the apostles, (“we,” verse 19) have a “the prophetic word made more sure.” I used to think the “we” here referred to “we saints,” but this does not seem to be the case. Peter asserts that they, the apostles (in contrast to false teachers), have a more sure word from God, a word to which “we” (“you,” verse 19) do well to heed. These apostles “saw the light,” the light, as it were, of the glory and power of our Lord. When we take heed to the Scriptures God has revealed through them, we have all the “light” we need. And this light will be sufficient for whatever period of time it takes for God’s purposes to be fulfilled and His kingdom to be established on this earth. We need no other “light,” particularly not the false “light” of “cleverly devised tales.” Peter’s words here strongly imply that the canon of Scripture is closed and that no further “prophecies” will be given.

The Danger of Polluting Prophecy
(1:20-21)

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.

The Scriptures are God’s “light” for men. Peter has already warned us about trusting in the “cleverly devised tales” of men, as opposed to the “more sure” prophecies of the Word of God. While some may lead men astray by other “revelations” than the Word of God, it is also possible for men to teach falsehood by distorting the Scriptures. This is the danger Peter addresses in verses 20 and 21. He will again speak of the distortion of prophecy in relation to Paul’s epistles in chapter 3:

14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15 and regard the patience of our Lord [to be] salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16 as also in all [his] letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as [they do] also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:14-16).

The Constitution of the United States of America has been radically “rewritten,” not by the writing of a new constitution per se but by a radical interpretation of the old. The same thing happens to the Scriptures when men with twisted minds try to grapple with the “straight and narrow” of God’s Word. At times, the distortion of divine truth may be unwitting since the unbelieving cannot and will not receive divine truth (see 1 Corinthians 2). But some actually distort the Scriptures deliberately. Peter warns his readers against such twisting of Scripture.

If the Scriptures are to be interpreted correctly, they must be interpreted consistent with their origin and nature. Two essential elements of biblical interpretation are addressed in these verses.

(1) Biblical interpretation is not a “private” matter. That which attracts some people to certain interpretations is the very uniqueness of the interpretation. Peter warns us that uniqueness should serve as a red flag rather than an attraction. Think of it. How was biblical prophecy revealed? It has been revealed through a diverse group of men over a number of centuries. Peter has already indicated (1 Peter 1:10-12) that these prophets did not even fully understand their own writings. If God’s prophetic Word was revealed to a number of men, then how can its interpretation be “private property,” the exclusive possession of one man? Biblical prophecy is “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16; 1 Peter 1:10-12). There are many things over which Bible students disagree. We should be most confident about those matters with which a large number of saints agree, not just the saints of our age but those who have grappled with the Scriptures over the centuries of the history of the church. I would much rather embrace the interpretation for which godly men suffered and died than the new and novel interpretations which give men prominence and prosperity.

(2) Biblical interpretation can only be achieved through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Prophets did not originate prophecy; they were instruments of the Holy Spirit who used them to speak from God. Prophecy does not begin with man’s will but with God’s will. Thus, the interpretation of prophecy must not be subject to man’s will. Conversely, man’s will must be subject to the Scriptures, as the Spirit of God makes their meaning clear.

6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom,] which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 [the wisdom] which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND [which] HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” 10 For to us God revealed [them] through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the [thoughts] of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the [thoughts] of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual [thoughts] with spiritual [words.] 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man (1 Corinthians 2:6-15).

The Holy Spirit is the key to accurate interpretation, and the accuracy of this interpretation will be indicated, in part, by the consensus of many interpreters.

Conclusion

Years ago, Joe Bayly wrote a book on death entitled, The View From A Hearse. In later editions, the title was changed to The Last Thing We Ever Talk About. Frankly, I like the first title best. I believe Bayly’s first title could also serve as the title for this message. Peter is writing from the perspective of his imminent death. This second and final epistle penned by Peter is his “view from a hearse.”

What a different man Peter is here from the Peter of the Gospels. In the Gospels, Peter resisted our Lord’s discussion of His death (see Matthew 16:21-28) and was none too excited about Jesus’ words concerning his own death (see John 21:18-23). Now, his death is not a dreaded possibility but an accepted certainty. Now, Peter views death through the hope of the gospel and the certainty of his future inheritance (see 1 Peter 1:7). In light of the limited time Peter has left, he is all the more intent on fulfilling his calling. He seeks to remind not only those living in his day, but those of us who read his epistle today of the life-transforming truths of the Word of God. When the perspective of the hearse is shaped by the hope of the gospel, we will see that the one thing which matters most is man’s relationship to God through Jesus Christ, and that this relationship must be based on the truths of the Word of God, not on the cleverly devised claims of men.

Just as Peter viewed his life and ministry from the hearse, so should we. We should recognize that the time is short and that only what is done for Christ will last. Paul put it this way:

4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 But since we are of [the] day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another, and build up one another, just as you also are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Peter will close this epistle with these words:

11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:11-13).

As we live out our days, there is no higher calling than to remind one another of the truths of the Word of God. Men do not need our advice nearly so much as they need to heed God’s Word. Men do not need new truth, but to be reminded of God’s truth, the old, old story of God’s redeeming love in Christ.

Peter reminded his readers, including us, by writing this inspired epistle. If we are to be reminded of the only truths which are eternally important, that reminder will come from the Scriptures. And if we are to be reminded constantly, then we must constantly be in the Word ourselves, for this is where God’s reminders are found.

As Peter saw his days of ministry coming to their conclusion, he sought not only to employ his energy in that which would eternally benefit his readers, he sought to employ his efforts in such a way as to outlive him. Peter continues to minister to this day because he wrote this epistle which we are studying. Peter was “laying up treasure in heaven;” he was being a “good steward.” While you and I cannot minister beyond the grave by writing Scripture, there are ways we may invest our time, our gifts, and our resources so that our ministry outlives us. Let us give serious thought to how we may be good stewards of the gospel, as Peter was.

I believe Peter’s words in this text call into question any who would claim to have a “prophetic revelation” for men today. As I understand the Scriptures, God has spoken finally and fully in His Son and through the apostles (see Hebrews 1:1-3; 2:1-4). We need no additional revelation. What we really need is to continually be reminded of what God has already said in His Word. We need to seek to understand and apply these truths more fully.

And as we come to the Scriptures, let us not seek to make them conform to our will and our distorted perspective and desires. Let us come to them looking to the Spirit of God to illuminate our hearts and minds so that God’s truth transforms us into conformity with His divine nature.

The apostles are all gone, but their words are not. They were content to depart knowing they had fulfilled their calling by being used of God to speak for Him through their inspired writings. May you and I by God’s grace take heed to their writings as God’s “more sure word of prophecy.” And, “even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you,” may we be diligent to be in God’s Word so that we “may be able to call these things to mind.”


42 If this is the case, verses 1-11 provide us with a very concise summary of the truth of the gospel, those truths which are essential for salvation and sanctification (or, in Peter’s words, “life and godliness”).

43 It is apparent from 2 Peter 3:14-16 that Peter includes Paul among the apostles (“we”) through whom God has revealed His truth.

44 I have wondered why the account of Saul’s conversion was recorded three times in the Book of Acts. Was one account not enough? The account in chapter 9 (verses 1-9) is in the third person, while the accounts in chapters 22 (verses 4-11) and 26 (verses 12-18) are in the first person. But perhaps the primary reason is to emphasize the fact that Paul is a true apostle, having seen the risen Lord as did the rest of the apostles.

Related Topics: Prophecy/Revelation