Home » Various Sermons » 2 Peter 1.12-20: The Second Coming is no Myth

2 Peter 1.12-20: The Second Coming is no Myth

“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.  I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.  And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.  And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1.12-21

In the first part of the letter Peter discussed the virtues which we should strive for.  The virtues which we should actively strive to have, and that by having it would truly show who are our master is.  Peter reveals in this portion that he know that his death is soon, that this is likely the last letter of his that he will write.  He therefore stresses that he wishes to make sure that his readers know of the truth of the Gospel.  He stresses that he hopes to not to forget to tell his readers anything.

Moving from that, Peter begins to discuss the ongoing problem which his readers seemed to be having with the false teachers.  Here Peter will appeal to several different factors, to point toward the truth that we can indeed know that that Second Coming of Christ will come as surely as his first coming came.   Peter assures his readers then as now, that Christ will indeed return and therefore we need to live lives pleasing to God.

“Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.  I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.  And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.” – 2 Peter 1.12-15

In this section, Peter appears to be using the common second temple period genre, of a “testament,” that is a farewell address, a testament’s primary purpose was that the author was dying and before his death wanted to pass on his teachings, there are other examples in scripture of testaments such as at Jacob’s and Moses’ death (cf. Genesis 49.1-33; Deuteronomy 33.1-29).[1] Seeing this as testament only highlights, as Peter will also express, that his death was close to the writing of this letter.  Peter intends to “always,” remind his readers, both at time this letter was written, but also in this present age, of the things which God has given him to say.[2] “These qualities,” or things, refers to what Peter had written in the previous section, but also to what he will say in later portions of the letter.[3]

“Though you know them,” He realizes that he’s not just speaking to young believers, but those who are “established in the truth,” however he also realizes that repetition is key to remembering.[4] There would have been other New Testament letters written at this point for the readers to have been taught.[5] After all, likely, Paul being the writer that he was had a great deal to do with a many churches, and perhaps even Peter had already taught them some of what they knew.[6] Still, Peter knew that it was important that they not only know what this truth was, but that they would truly remember it.[7]

As Peter continues he uses a slightly more serious tone as he begins to speak of his impending death.[8] But before his death, Peter feels, thinks it right that he keep his readers to task.[9] That is Peter thought it was dikaios, “righteous.”[10] He was quite certain that it was right for him to remind the readers what they had already been told.  In speaking of his oncoming death, he uses the phrase, “tent of this body,” as well as “put aside,” and by using these terms he reminds us that our time, our lives here are temporary.[11] “Putting off,” is used elsewhere in the New Testament to refer to removing clothing, and in this portion it seems to carry with it the idea of removing a “tent-cover.”[12]

Moreover in speaking of his life as a tent, Peter harkens to the words of Isaiah.[13] (38.12) “My dwelling is plucked up and removed from me like a shepherd’s tent; like a weaver I have rolled up my life; he cuts me off from the loom; from day to night you bring me to an end;” Or even Paul’s “For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling,” (2 Corinthians 5.1-2)

Ultimately Peter is alluding to the prediction given to him and John, as seen in John’s Gospel.[14] “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”  (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”” – (John 21.18-19)

With verse fifteen, Peter repeats basically what he began this section with, though now it is as Schreiner puts “stressed that he would be diligent.”[15] “At anytime recall these things,” Peter sees this letter as a way for him to remain with his readers, even after death.[16] He wanted his readers to know the truth, to know what they ought to know, not they remember him or his death, but instead, what God had taught them.[17]

Peter realizes that his death is soon, right upon him.  Yet instead of shrinking from the fear that his death was about to come, Peter knew that he still had things to do.  Namely to remind his readers of God had revealed to him, to make sure that he hadn’t failed to tell them anything they would need to know.  He wasn’t worried about dying, but he worried that he might forget leaving an important thing for those he left behind.  As Christians we know where we’re going after we die, and therefore we shouldn’t fear death.  Yet, he also know that God has given us certain tasks, has called us to do certain things and we should strive to fulfill those.  Not that we should be afraid that if we don’t do them, God will cast us out.  Because that’s not going to happen.  Instead, we should strive to follow God, because of mercy he has given us and that we would want to show others the great depth of love shown to us.

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” – 2 Peter 1.16-18

Peter Begins to give his major reason for this letter, a defense of sorts against the false teachers who had come about.[18] By denying the Second Coming (and by extension the Judgment), then Peter’s call for his readers to live lives pleasing to God has no real point.[19] There are two different problems which Peter finds he must deal with, firstly he must show that the Second Coming of Christ is real, not just a myth, and secondly that the prophecy of it, is a “true prophecy.”[20]

The false teachers called the Second Coming a “Myth,” yet these were an important part of the theology of other false teachers.[21] “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;” (1 Timothy 4.7) “not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.” (Titus 1.14) And thus the charge that Christ’s return was just a myth is cutting.  Some seemed to have thought of Jesus’ Second Coming merely as a myth whose one purpose was to allow for the “control” of lives.[22] The false teachers, who Peter seems to be contending with, appear to view what the Apostles, in particular about the Second Coming as ridiculous fable with no bit of truth in it.[23] Peter as MacArthur writes, “Flatly denies this.”[24]

“We made known to you,” here Peter refers to Apostles and the actions their teaching and founding of teachers, which had brought about Peter’s audience.[25] But most importantly their teaching concerning the “power and coming,” of Jesus Christ, that is Jesus second coming![26] But instead of being a Myth, Peter claims that this prophecy is based ultimately on eyewitness account, namely the Transfiguration, where God the Father called Jesus his son.[27] Peter (along with John and James) saw Jesus at the Transfiguration as he would appear in the second coming, in his full Glory![28]

Peter does not defend this merely with classy reasoning, but based on something he witnessed.[29] In describing the account the transfiguration, Peter is quite similar to the gospel account.[30] In God calling to his Son, Peter combines two prophecies, that of Psalm 2.7 and Isaiah 42.1.[31] “I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.”  “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.”  The experience which Peter had on the mountain confirmed the prophecies of the Old Testament, making them more than mere myth.[32]

Peter moves from expressing his desire to instill truth, to combating falsehoods.  He appeals to his readers that, yes the second coming is true as is the judgment and does so with eye witnessed fact.  As it seems from even in the early Church, we have always had to deal with those who see the second coming as some myth.  Yet Peter knew from what he saw that Christ would come again and with this letter we a thus a primary document speaking of Christ in his glory.  We may have faith that yes, though certain things of our faith may seem silly, Christ return is not based on myth, but fact.

“And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation.  For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1.19-21

“We have something more sure,” Peter seems to indicate one of two things.  Either that “prophetic word,” is more definite than some voice from heaven or that in Jesus’ first coming a whole slew of prophecy was fulfilled making it that much easier to believe the prophecies surrounding the second.[33] If the former case, Phillips notes that “Many people lightly set aside the Word of God in favor of visions of dubious sorts and voices of unknown origins.  It is a dangerous practice.”[34] Instead of something that may come from a dubious origin we can look to the word of God which is as Peter puts it “more sure.”

The Word is a light in the darkness.  When we ignore God’s word, often we find ourselves stumbling as it were in the darkness, for we have no light to show the correct path.[35] And the word points ultimately to when the “day dawns,” meaning the Day of the Lord, the return of Christ, where “the morning star,” will rise.[36] The morning star may be referring to Numbers 24.17: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.”  Jesus “rises in your hearts,” to Peter, Christ’s return would “bring light and joy to the hearts of his own.”[37]

The False teachers seemed to have been taking prophecies of the Old Testament and twisting it fit what they wanted.[38] Instead of the messed up interpretation of Old Testament Scripture, Peter argued that the prophecies of old, as interpreted by the Apostles who received said interpretation ultimately from God was the correct interpretation.[39] When one gave a true prophecy in the Old Testament, it was not likely to be for peace or prosperity, but toward something the community had done wrong.[40] “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’  when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6.14) “Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, say to those who smear it with whitewash that it shall fall!” (Ezekiel 13.10-11)  The false teachers, who Peter is dealing with, evidently like the false prophets of old, had the same problem of not understanding what God was really saying.[41]

Moreover Peter’s says that his prophecy is not to be subjected to a slew of different interpretations, but is the same prophecy he has always given and interpreted.[42] It was “carried along by the Holy Spirit,” in a sense like how a ship is carried along by the wind, the word was carried along by the Holy Spirit.[43] Though God allowed the various writers of the Bible to write in their style and to show their personality, ultimately they were speaking the “words of God.”[44]

In this last section, Peter continues that we may truly know that the prophecy of the second coming is true.  But also Peter looks at how the false teachers took scriptures and twisted them to fit their own theories.  We cannot not take scripture apart to try and force it into our belief systems and in so doing taking it out context and transform what it is that it is really trying to say.

In Conclusion:

In this portion of Peter’s Epistle we see that he thought it imperative to tell his readers all that they should know.  We need to actively seek God, we who are teachers of God’s word need to remember that what we teach is more important than ourselves.  God’s word is the most important thing.  Peter also showed that belief in the Second Coming is more than mere fable and indeed is something which must be believed.  That of course has repercussion, as expressed earlier that means ultimately that we ought to follow God and live godly lives.  But it also means that we need to seek the lost, since, it means that they are facing the Judgment, Hell.

As we think about this portion of scripture we need be comfortable by the fact that though some would dismiss our faith there is good reasons to believe in it.  Jesus fulfilled many prophecies in his first coming and so we shouldn’t worry about the Second coming.  We also need to reflect that as we read the scripture that we cannot take it out of context, but must interpret faithfully.


[1] Thomas R. Schreiner, the New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 307.

[2] John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 2 Peter & Jude (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2005), 48-9

[3] Schreiner, 308.

[4] H.A. Ironside, Hebrews, James, Peter (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1982), 73.

[5] MacArthur, 50.

[6] John Phillips, Exploring the Epistles of Peter: An Expository Commentary (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2005), 240.

[7] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: James, Peter, John, and Jude (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1949), 225.

[8] R. H. Strachan, “The Second Epistle General of Peter,” in The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll, (Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted 1983), 129.

[9] Barnes, 226.

[10] MacArthur, 50.

[11] David H. Wheaton, “2 Peter,” in New Bible Commentary, ed. G. J. Wenham et al., 21st century ed. (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1391.

[12] Strachan, 129.

[13] Patrick J. Hartin, “The Second Letter of Peter,” in The New Collegeville Bible Commentary: New Testament ed Daniel Durken (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008), 801.

[14] Jerome H. Neyrey, “2 Peter,” in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1990), 1019.

[15] Schreiner, 310.

[16] Hartin, 801.

[17] MacArthur, 52.

[18] Hartin, 801.

[19] Schreiner, 311-12.

[20] Hartin, 801.

[21] Wheaton, 1391.

[22] Neyrey, 1019.

[23] Schreiner, 313.

[24] MacArthur, 58.

[25] Schreiner, 312.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Hartin, 801.

[28] MacArthur, 59.

[29] Barnes, 228.

[30] Neyrey, 1019.

[31] Wheaton, 1391.

[32] Ironside, 75.

[33] Wheaton, 1391.

[34] Phillips, 249.

[35] Ibid., 251.

[36] Schreiner, 321.

[37] Wheaton, 1391.

[38] Schreiner, 321.

[39] Ibid., 323.

[40] Neyrey, 1019.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Wheaton, 1392.

[44] Schreiner, 324.

Advertisements

1 Comment

  1. Ephrem Hagos says:

    In the book of the “God of the living”, the transfiguration was not an isolated event but a vital link in a series dating back to Moses and Elijah (Deut. 34; 2 Ki 2; Luke 9: 28-36), based on Christ’s perfect and transfigurative death on the cross (Matt. 16: 13-28; 17: 1-13; 26: 26-29, 62-64; 27: 50-56) and reaching out to “everyone who believes in him” (John 3: 1-21; 19: 30-37).

    Peter could not be more serious!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 160 other followers