Do you ever think, ‘I wish I had been present at some of the great events of the life of Jesus’? Would it not be so much easier to believe if you had seen for yourself? Sometimes having to rely on the accounts in a book – the Bible – seems second best. Peter, however, was an eyewitness to most of Jesus’ earthly ministry, he was present at the great events of the Saviour’s life and death, yet he says some very striking things about the place of the written record for God’s people. We now consider 2 Peter 1:12-21 The light of revelation.
1. The need for instruction
The survey of the Christian’s salvation that Peter has set out in the opening verses contains many deep truths and sin and weakness cloud our minds. There is therefore a need for constant instruction – ‘So I will always remind you’ (v12). Peter never regards this work as complete, ‘even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have’. They have been well instructed but as long as he lives, Peter will ‘keep stirring up’ (v13, lit) their recollection. This is most important in view of his approaching death. He may even be thinking of a written record (v15). Constant instruction even in the basics of the Christian faith is necessary. We easily forget what we hear, as Israel often did. Repetition gives a firmer grasp and we see new facets of a doctrine when we consider it again. Though he uses human teachers, it is God himself who teaches us (Psalm119:102).
2. The eyewitnesses of majesty
There is a solid foundation for the apostolic witness in historical events, in contrast to ‘cleverly invented stories’ (v16). Christian faith is based on what has actually taken place – the apostles were ‘eyewitnesses of his majesty’ (v16; see also 1 John 1:1). The revelation at the Transfiguration deals with ‘the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’. Three disciples were privileged to see the glory that was normally hidden, the very glory of deity. It was a foretaste of his return in glory at the last day. We have the Father’s authoritative endorsement of the Son in the voice from heaven – ‘We ourselves heard’ (v18). One day his glory would no longer be veiled.
3. The authors of Scripture
The dramatic events on the mountain were confirmed by God’s revelation in the written word: ‘we have the word of the prophets made more certain’ (v19). It is not that there was any doubt about God’s spoken word, but the written word has greater scope and is just as trustworthy. The witness of the spoken word and the written word are a perfect unity, deserving our full trust. True prophecy could not be manufactured by the prophet, but rather ‘men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’ (v21). The Spirit did not abolish the personalities of the writers but used them as he had prepared them. Scripture is given for obedience – ‘you do well to pay attention’ (v19). The Spirit is the perfect interpreter (v20), preparing for the day of Christ’s return (v19).