About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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My Commentary On 2 Peter

ch 1:1-2   ch. 1:3-11    ch. 1:12-21  

 

Introductory Remarks (ch. 1:1 - 2)

 

In his first letter Peter introduces himself as “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ”.  In his second letter he introduces himself as “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ”.  Simon was Peter's real Aramaic name.   Peter, "Petros" in Greek, was the name Jesus gave him. (Matthew 16:8, John 1:42)  "Petros" means "a rock".  Jesus was saying that Peter will turn out to be a real rock, a stability, in the first generation church, even though he may not have looked like that stable believer when Jesus named him Peter.

 

Some people believe that first century people changed their names when they became Christians.  For example, Saul became Paul.  This isn't so.  Saul was his Hebrew name and Paul was his Roman name.  Paul was Jewish, but he was also legally Roman.  There is no Scriptural support that any other disciple of Jesus had a name change, or, that Jesus gave them a new name, other than Peter.       

 

Peter calls himself a "servant", or a "slave" of the Lord Jesus Christ.  All of the early apostles believed that they were bond servants, that is, servants by their own free choice.  This is really important in our day when Christian leaders are often promoted more like a rock star than a servant.  Unless a Christian leader serves, he is not fulfilling his duty as a minister of the gospel of Christ.  In my thinking, he should step down from his position.  When I say "step down" I'm speaking in modern day terms.  A church leader, a pastor, should not have to step down from anywhere because he should be below those he is serving, not above them.  

 

An apostle, that Peter calls Himself, is simply one who is sent, and in this case, Peter was sent to preach the gospel by Jesus Himself.

 

We need to note that when the word "Christ" is attached to Jesus, that means Jesus is the long awaited Messiah of Israel.  Christ in its simplest form means Messiah, or, the anointed One.  The word "Christ" in its original meaning is very much a Jewish word. 

 

I've noticed over the years that many Biblically illiterate people use the word "Christ" as if it is Jesus' last name.  It's not his last name.  It's a title attached to his name.  Jews didn't have last names.    

 

Peter's second letter is addressed to “those who through the righteousness of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ…”  This is a very important verse.  One reason for its importance is that Peter states that righteousness is only found through Jesus.  This is the true gospel.  There is no other way to stand before God as one who is righteous other than to accept the righteousness that He has placed on us.  Even though we are far from righteous, God views us as righteous because Jesus was punished for our unrighteousness. 

 

The other major importance of this verse is that Jesus is called “our God”.  This is one of seven or eight verses in the New Testament that claims Jesus to be God in such a clear way.  The Greek text makes this even more clearer than the English text, although the English text is clear. There is no doubt in Peter’s mind that “Jesus was God in human flesh”.  Christians call this “the Deity of Christ”.  Believing in the Deity of Christ is a must for every Christian. 

 

Peter brings up the subject of God in human flesh here, maybe because of the Gnostics he will refute later on.  Gnostics believed that all flesh was evil and sinful and therefore, there would be no way that God would come to live within a human body.  What Peter says here would have irritated these Gnostics immensely. 

 

Peter also says in verse 2 that through Jesus we have “received a faith as precious as ours”.  As I always say, faith means trust.  The faith that Peter is speaking about here is the trust that we have in Jesus.  Peter actually says here that we have “received” this faith, or this trust.  This is very similar to the thought Paul expresses in Romans 12:3 where he says that “we have been given a measure of faith”.  It is my opinion that our natural tendency to believe, or trust in Jesus, is quite defective because of our fallen condition.  Therefore God needs to help us by actually giving us some ability to trust Him.  This faith grows through trials that Jesus provides for us.

 

Note that Peter uses the word "faith" as a noun here.  A noun is a person, place, or thing.  The predominant way in which the word "faith" is used in the New Testament is in the form of a verb, and action word.  This gives us the idea that "faith" produces some kind of action, and as James says, faith produces work.  Here, Peter uses it as a noun, meaning it's the Christian belief system that we adopt as Christians.  That being said, "The Christian faith" is based on an active relationship with Jesus.  It's more than a simple belief system.      

 

Concerning the word "faith" here, scholars point out that in the later writings of the New Testament the word faith began to take on a secondary meaning.  Faith was still trusting one's life to Jesus, but as it states here, faith was seen as a body of truths for Christians to follow.  In today's Christian world, this second aspect of faith seems more predominant than the first, and in my thinking, this shouldn't be.  Faith should first be seen as trust, then, be seen as a body of Christian doctrine.  Christian doctrine is very important, but it doesn't replace trust in Jesus.  The sad fact of the matter is that in many so-called Christian circles it has.

 

I personally believe that humans have the ability to trust.  I don't think there's much argument about that.  That being said, I also believe that our ability to trust has been negatively affected by the fall as seen in Genesis 3.  This is why I said in the last paragraph that when it comes to trusting Jesus, we need help.  God can help us by helping us trust Jesus as we should.  

 

With all of the above being said about faith, there are some Bible commentators that don't view the word faith as I've just pointed out.   They say the faith written of here is really "trust", as in, "trusting Jesus".  They'd interpret this verse this way. "… Have received a trusting relationship with Jesus as precious as ours".   

 

The term "God and Saviour" that we see in verse 2 was actually a Roman term that was used to denote Caesar as being "God and Saviour".  Peter might well have had this in the back of his mind when he wrote these words.  Maybe this was a bit of a slam against Roman polytheistic paganism. 

 

In verse 2 Peter says that “grace and peace” come through the knowledge of God and of Jesus.  We note again that God and Jesus are linked together.  This is the case throughout the New Testament.  Christians believe in the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We do not believe in any other God.  It is also important to know, especially in our day of unity among religions, that no other religion believes that Jesus is God in human flesh.  For this reason, unity with these religions is impossible.

 

God has extended much grace towards us through Jesus, both in His life and in His death.  Inner peace is a by-product of God's grace.  Christians in Peter’s day had little outward peace due to their conflict with the Roman anti-Christ culture in which they live.  They did however, have access to inner peace.

 

Grace has two definitions in the Bible.  One is God's unmerited favour.  God shows mercy to us even though we don't deserve it.  The other aspect of grace is the ability that God gives us through the Holy Spirit to do His will as we should.

 

When Peter tells his readers, who would have been suffering greatly from an anti-Christ culture, that both grace and peace could be their in abundance, that might be hard to get our heads around.  The simple fact is that the worse we suffer, the more grace and peace there is for us.  If we can trust Jesus in the midst of suffering, then grace and peace will be ours.   

 

Peter ends verse 2 with the words "Jesus our Lord".  This was the confession of the early Christians.  They were being pressured by the Roman culture and government to acknowledge that Caesar was Lord, and when they refused to acknowledge that, they were imprisoned and executed.  So when it comes to the words "Jesus is Lord', they were more than words for these believers.  These words were a matter of life and death.

 

In our day we tend to throw around such words as "Lord".  By this, I mean that we take such important Biblical words for granted.  We don't understand the significance of these words.  The word "Lord" as it was spoken in relation to Jesus, really meant something to the first generation Christians.  As our culture becomes more anti-Christ, the word "Lord" as it is attached to Jesus will mean more to us as well.  When we speak of the Lord Jesus, what we're really saying is that He is Lord over all there is, both spiritual and physical.  The hope is that He is Lord over all aspects of our lives, because in the end, He will have the final word concerning our lives.      

 

 

Making Ones Calling And Election Sure (ch. 1:3 - 11)

In verse 3 Peter says that “He has given us everything we need…” to live a godly life.  Peter is not saying that the Lord gives us everything we need in a material or monetary sense, but in a spiritual sense.  In our hyper faith prosperity Christian world these days, too many of us believe the word "everything" here includes material possessions.  Everything we need to live a good Christian life is available to us through Jesus.  This is not New Testament thinking.

 

Peter couldn't have been thinking in terms of material blessings from God hear since these people were losing jobs, homes, and much of their lives due to persecution.  

 

The words "have given us' are very important here.  The Greek words translated as "has given us" are only used in two books of the Bible and that is here in second Peter and also in the gospel of Mark.  This might tell us something about the gospel of Mark.  Remember, Mark became Peter's helper, and many scholars believe that what Mark writes about in his gospel is actually the recollection of Peter.  You might say then that the gospel of Mark is actually the gospel of Peter, and because this particular Greek word is only used here and in Mark, might confirm this thinking.

 

Note the word "knowledge" in verse 3.  Remember, Peter in his second letter appears to be addressing the false teaching of Gnosticism.  Gnosticism teaches that knowledge is ultimate.  Gnostics only believed that Jesus was a good man, a moral teacher. What Peter says here is that everything we need is in knowing Jesus, not just knowing.

 

The Greek word translated as "knowledge" means "full knowledge" here.  This too puts a damper on the Gnostics.  Full knowledge is in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in any other kind of knowledge.  

 

Peter uses the word “called” in verse 2.  Those who have come to true trust in Jesus came to this trust by His Holy Spirit.  If not for God calling people to Himself, people could never come to Him.  You might say that the Bible says for us to call on the Lord and we will be saved.  So who calls on whom here?  Does God call us, or do we call on Him?  This is a good question.

 

It is my thinking that God calls all people to salvation.  This is a general call that was demonstrated at the cross.  The cross in fact was a call to all mankind to be saved.  Yet beyond this general call, I believe God calls specific people at specific times through His Holy Spirit.  I think Scripture is clear in that we need to have the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts in order for us to reach out or call on Him.  So, God makes the first move by His call, and we respond by our call back. At that moment Jesus helps us trust Him as we should.  At that point salvation comes into our lives.  

 

Like in Peter’s first letter, some of his sentences are long and say a lot.  These verses are no exception. In verse 4 he says that God has given us divine promises.  There are many promises that God has given.  I am sure we could make a long list.

 

One point to be made about God's promises is that they all come with conditions, that is, except for His love.  If we want to receive from God, then we must do what is necessary to receive what we want.  Too often as Christians we quote the promises and leave out the conditions.   Just so you don't get confused; God's love is unconditional.  He loves us despite our sin, but if we want to participate in His salvation, at that point, there are conditions.    

 

Peter says that these promises are given for a reason.  The reason is so that “we can participate in the divine nature”. What does this mean?  Peter is saying that the Christian life is in fact a “participation in the divine life of God”.  God’s divine life has come to us through His Holy Spirit.  The English word “participate” comes from the Greek word “koinonia”.  “Koinonia” means "to have and to hold in common".  Therefore, because of the Holy Spirit we as Christians can all have in common the divine life that is found in God through the Holy Spirit.  This is what being born again is all about.  We have been born into a whole new life of the Spirit.  This new life is very different from the natural earthly life we live.  Therefore, one who is really born again will exhibit the characteristics of this new life of the Spirit of God's divine nature.  Being a Christian is not merely following a belief system.  It's participating in the divine nature of God Himself.  It's my thinking that many so-called Christians are only Christian in believe only.  The apostle Paul in Romans 8:9 says that if one doesn't have the Spirit of God, he doesn't belong to God.  That makes participating in God's divine nature of utmost importance.  

 

Peter is not finished with this thought in verse 4.  He adds that we have “escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desire”.  Once again we see Peter’s attitude towards the world.  We see it in his first letter and in the things he says in the book of Acts.  Peter feels that he is a stranger in this world and that this world is full of corruption.  He feels by being born again, we “escape” the corruption of the world.  He uses the word “escape”.  It is like the world has us trapped in sin and when Jesus comes to us, He rescues us out of a horribly sinful place.  I am not sure that modern Christians really understand this point.  We are too much in love with this world to even realize that we need to be “rescued from it”.

 

When I think of the word "rescue", I think of a fireman rescuing people trapped in a house that's on fire.  This is how the early church viewed the world.  They viewed it as a house on fire, something to be rescued from as soon as possible, before the flames burn them up.  Again, I don't feel Christians today think of the world in this light.

 

We should note that we are rescued from the kingdoms of men and placed in the Kingdom of God , and, that can only happen when the Holy Spirit comes into our lives.  This can only happen when our spirit is joined to the Holy Spirit.  We can never underestimate the importance of the Holy Spirit.  

 

Note the word "evil desires" in verse 4.  It’s not that the world, that is the earth, itself, is evil.  What is evil is humanity.  The word "world" here speaks of lost and evil humanity.   

 

Peter starts verses 5 through 7 with the words “for this reason”.  What reason is he speaking of?  The reason is that we have been rescued from a corrupt world and have been relocated into God’s divine life.  Therefore he says to his readers to add to your faith, or trust in Jesus, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and then love.  The addition of these things to our trust in Jesus tells us that there is growth to be made as a Christian.  We are to mature in all of these areas of life.  Growth in these areas must be seen as a product of our faith, or our trust in Jesus.  That is why Peter says to add these things to your faith.  If these things are not added because you trust your life with Jesus, then growth in these areas are purely humanistic.  One might even question the validity of one's faith if there is no growth in these areas. 

 

We should note that these qualities that Peter listed here were qualities well known to his readers and the Gnostics.  What Peter was saying was that these qualities come through faith in Jesus, not simply through worldly or universal knowledge.

 

Even though the above qualities are listed in order, I don't really believe Peter had in mind that we work on one quality and then move on to the next. All these qualities and more are to be experiencing growth simultaneously.   

 

Verse 8 says, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”.  Note that Peter’s hope is that these qualities are in us in “increasing measure”, that is to say, these qualities are maturing within us.  These qualities shouldn’t be stagnant, they should be growing.

 

The growth of these qualities in our lives will help us be effective and productive in our knowledge of Jesus.  What does this mean?  It means as these qualities mature in our lives, we will come to know Jesus and the way He wants us to live, resulting in us being effective and productive in everything pertaining to Jesus in our lives.  Do we think in terms of being effective and productive in our lives as Christians?  I believe our modern western style church does not think in these terms.  I think many of us think of being a Christian in terms of being a spectator.  For example, we “attend church”, that is, “we sit and watch”.  We should be thinking in terms of participating in the work of the Lord, and being effective and productive in this work.  The church was never meant to produce spectators, but workers in the Kingdom of God .

 

Note the word "possess" in verse 8.  Doing things associated with these qualities is one thing.  Possessing these qualities, or, allowing them to be a part of who we are, is quite another thing altogether.

 

In verse 9 Peter goes on to say that if we do not have these things in our lives, we are blind and have forgotten that we have been cleansed from sin. This paints a picture of a person who has merely gotten saved and has stopped growing in salvation.  This also means that if we have no hint of being effective and productive workers in God’s kingdom, then we also are blind and have forgotten the sinful state we were saved from.  Peter doesn't seem to be suggesting that those in this state have lost their salvation, only that they are still, or have reverted back to, being a baby believer.

 

What Peter is saying here is that there are some Christians who are productive and some who aren't productive.  There are many Christians today who are unproductive.  I believe in that which we call church today, there are more immature Christians than mature Christians.  This should not be.  

 

Peter speaks of unproductive believers forgetting that they've been cleansed from their sins.  This is a sad commentary on those believers.  Forgetting what Jesus has done for them on the cross is probably one of the worst sins a Christian can commit, but I'd suggest this sin marks much of the identity of the modern church.  

 

In verse 10 Peter says that in light of these facts we should make “our calling and election sure”.  What does he mean?  God calls us all.  Those who respond favourably to His call are elected, or chosen by God.  We need to make this sure in our lives.  We need to be sure that God has indeed called and chosen us.  We need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are indeed saved.  For most of my life as a child and a youth I was never sure that I was a real Christian until February 1970.  One day in a moment of time I became sure, and from that assurance came a new life.  We cannot be effective and productive in God’s kingdom if we are not sure of our salvation and if we are full of doubts.

 

The word "election" as seen in the New Testament simply means "chosen".  God chooses us to be saved.  He sends His Holy Spirit to knock on the door of our heart. If we let Him in, we are saved.  We become one of God's chosen people.    

 

When we think of God's chosen people, we often think of the Jews.  They were God's chosen people in Old Testament days.  However, in New Testament days, God's chosen people are those who have given their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ, whether Jew of Gentile.  That being said, there are certain promises to God's Old Testament chosen people, the Jews, that will be fulfilled at the end of this age.  Those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture would say that at the rapture, this present age ends, and, God's New Testament people leave this earth.  God's Old Testament people, the Jews, thus come back into focus when it comes to prophetic history. Part of God's rationale for the Great Tribulation is to bring His Old Testament people back to Himself through suffering in judgment.      

 

Peter also says in verse 10 that if we do these things, that is the things that are added to our faith, we won’t fall.  This is simple.  If we are progressing in the things of the Lord, we won’t fall back into unbelief.  You can’t go forward and backward at the same time.  It's only simple logic.

 

Peter also says that we will “receive a rich welcome in the eternal kingdom”.  When this life is over for us, Jesus will welcome us, and His welcome will be rich.  His arms will be open wide for us as we enter His eternal kingdom.  This rich welcome will make up for any material loss that we have experienced in this life.

 

As Christians we live in the Kingdom of God now.  The problem is that we also live in the kingdoms of men.  This will not always be the case.  As the book of Revelation puts it, "the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord.  (Revelation 11:15)  Until that day comes, their will always be conflict between the two kingdoms.

 

Note that the kingdom spoken of here is the kingdom “of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ”.  Jesus is both Lord and Saviour, or Christ.  As Christ, He offers us salvation.  As Lord, we offer Him our lives.

 

Concerning the Kingdom of God , we should understand that it is an invisible kingdom at present, but when Jesus returns to earth and rules from Jerusalem , the Kingdom of God will be visible to all mankind. 

 

As I said earlier, Peter might have had another reason for saying the kingdom is of our Lord and Saviour.  Caesar wanted to be called Lord and Saviour.  Of course, the Christians could not accept this and that is why they were persecuted as they were.

 

 

Prophecy Of Scripture (ch. 1:12 - 21)

 

In verse 12 Peter tells his readers that he is reminding them of truth that they already know and are very much grounded in.  There is never any problem with refreshing people’s memory when it comes to the things of our Lord.  Really, the one way in which people learn is by repetition.  If people hear something one or two times, they will forget.  Yet if they hear something over and over again, it will sooner or later sink in and become a part of them.  This is one important principle in advertising.  This is why Coca Cola has become a household name. 

 

Many things that we hear, we often don’t retain.  There is a process of integrating knowledge into our lives.  First we need to hear the knowledge.  Then we need to retain the knowledge.  Then we need to understand the knowledge.  Last of all we need to incorporate the knowledge and the understanding into our daily lives. Then as Christians, we need the Holy Spirit's influence when it comes to this knowledge and how we should apply it to our lives. The difficulty is that the knowledge that is presented to us doesn’t always end up at this last step. 

 

In Luke 22:32 Jesus told Peter that once he had returned back to Him, after his denial, he should "strengthen his brothers".  The word "strengthen" is the same Greek word that is translated here as "firmly established".  Peter was doing what he was told. 

 

In verse 13 Peter says that he believes it is right to refresh the memory of his readers “as long as he lives in this tent”.  Note the word “tent”.  He does not use the word “building” or even the word “temple” as Paul does at times.  A tent is different from a building in that it is temporary and moveable.  Peter viewed his existence in his body as temporary.  The tent refers to his physical body. 

 

Our earthly bodies are associated with this world.  We often see the word “world” used in Christian terminology.  This word has a very wide meaning to it in Christian circles.  John says, “Love not the world”. (1 John 2:15)  What is meant by “the world”?  "The world" means anything that has to do with our earthly and sinful existence.  It doesn't mean the earth.

 

In verse 14 Peter says that “he will soon put it aside.  The word "it" refers to his body. Peter then goes on to say, "as the Lord has made clear to me”.  This remark by Peter could easily be an illusion to what Jesus told him in John 21:18.  Jesus said, “when you were younger, you dressed yourself and went where you wanted, but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you, and lead you where you don’t want to go.  Jesus said this to indicate by what kind of death Peter would glorify God.”  If Peter was thinking of Jesus’ remarks, then he must have been led around by others.  Once Peter got to the place of being led around by others, that would have clued him in on what Jesus told him.  He would have realized his time was short.  That being said, it might be possible that Peter heard directly from the Lord.  Maybe the Lord told Peter that his time was short. 

 

Tradition states that Peter died in and around 68 A. D..  If this is the case, then we can date this letter just prior to 68 A. D..

 

In verse 15 Peter says, “I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things”.  Just what preparation Peter meant, is questionable.  The fact that he was writing this letter might well have been one way that he could refresh their memory after he died, or, maybe he might have had his first letter in mind.  It also might be very possible that he had the gospel of Mark in mind.  Remember, most scholars believe that what Mark writes in his gospel is actually recollections from Peter.  It just might be possible that while Peter was writing this letter, he was relating to Mark things that he could put in his gospel account. In this way Peter could leave these people a legacy.

  

In verse 16 Peter tells his readers that he did not “follow cleverly invented stories”.  I like these words, for many today believe that Christians follow such “cleverly invented stories.”  Our faith is not based on such stories. It is based on universal truth that can be proven by many historical facts.  Peter walked the dusty roads of Galilee with Jesus.  He was a first hand witness to all that Jesus said and did. 

 

Concerning the "coming of the Lord Jesus Christ" that we read in verse 16, again, Peter heard of these things directly from the mouth of Jesus.  If the gospel of Mark is really the gospel of Peter as I think it is, then Mark 13 is what Peter heard Jesus say.  Mark 13 concerns the return of Jesus to earth and the lasts days just prior to His return.      

 

In verse 17 Peter could have been speaking of what is called the transfiguration in Luke 9:30 – 37.  This is where Jesus appeared along side Moses and Elijah.  A voice from Heaven was heard to say, as Peter quotes, “this is my Son, whom I love, in Him I am well pleased”.  To me this event represents a revelation from Heaven.  Moses represents the Law, while Elijah represents the prophets.  God. In Old Testament times spoke to His people through the Law and the Prophets, but in New Testament times He speaks to people through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is one very misunderstood thing in Christian circles.  How we view the Old Testament as New Testament Christians really needs to be well understood, but often isn't.

 

The words "honour and glory" are important here.  Both of these words have a great Hebrew tradition in the Old Testament.  On many occasions God showed himself in glory and honour. One example was when God spoke to Moses in the clouds.  Clouds are a symbol of God's glory.  Jesus returning to heaven in the clouds is one such example.

 

Verse 18 in my thinking refers directly to the transfiguration.  When Peter uses the words "sacred mountain" Jews would have thought in terms of the sacred mountain where God gave Moses the commandments, but now he is speaking of an even more sacred mountain, that is, the mountain of the transfiguration.       

 

In verse 19 Peter speaks of the Old Testament prophets.  He is basically saying that these prophets have predicted what he is now talking about.  He says that these prophets have spoken a very certain word, a word of prophecy that can be trusted by all who hear them.  One example of what Peter would have been talking about is Isaiah, chapters 42 to 46.  These chapters predict Jesus as being both Lord and Christ, Jesus is Lord over all there is and He is Christ, the anointed One; the Messiah.  

 

I have said that the prophets spoken of here are the Old Testament prophets.  You will note that the text doesn't refer to them as being the Old Testament prophets.  Some might think they are the New Testament prophets, but I don't think this is the case. It's generally accepted that when the New Testament speaks of "the prophets", it is speaking of the Old Testament prophets.  The term "Law and prophets" is seen many times in the New Testament.  The prophets in this term are clearly the Old Testament prophets.  The simple fact is that when Jews heard the term "the prophets", they understood these prophets to be Old Testament prophets, not New Testament prophets. 

 

Concerning New Testament prophets, I do believe in this ministry.  You can see them throughout the New Testament.  I do not believe they ended with the first generation church as I do not believe the gifts of the Spirit ended with the first generation church either.      

 

In our day there are people who pay a great deal of attention to these prophecies, sometimes to the exclusion of other things.  On the other hand, there are people who don’t feel it necessary to study the Old Testament prophecies as they pertain to the return of Jesus.  They think that looking into the future takes away from the present work of the Lord to be done.  This shouldn’t be.  There should be a balance between the two groups of people.  I suggest that the closer we get to the end, the more we should be thinking about and studying the Scriptures concerning the return of our Lord.  As a matter of fact, if you do pay close attention to these prophecies, you will be “as a light shining in a dark place” as verse 19 states.  Once again, Peter speaks of the world as a dark place, but for those who know the prophecies and keep watch for that day to come, they will indeed be a light in a dark world.  So it is clear that waiting expectantly for Jesus’ return is a good thing, and is also a form of witnessing in the dark world in which we live.

 

The term "the light shining in a dark place" could possibly be a reference to Psalm 119:105 and Proverbs 6:23. 

 

We can be this light, “until the day dawns, and the morning star rises in our hearts”.  The dawn obviously refers to Jesus’ return, while the morning star is Jesus Himself.  Jesus will rise in our hearts.  Some in these days take this verse to mean that Jesus will not literally return to earth, but only figuratively return.  This return will be in the hearts of people, making the world a better place to live.  This is false teaching.  When you read other Scriptures, it is very clear that Jesus will physically return to earth. Acts 1:11 clearly states that in the exact way that Jesus left this earth, and that was through the clouds, in that same way He will return.  Jesus' return is a literal return to earth; and, you cannot interpret the word "clouds" in Acts one symbolically.  That would make no contextual sense.      

 

In verse 20 Peter speaks about the nature of prophecy.  Prophecy was not an invention of man’s own mind.  The prophets of old didn't think these prophecies up on their own.  They didn't prophesy from “their own interpretation”.  Prophets of old were moved upon by the Spirit of God, and they spoke what the Spirit of God told them to say.  Peter says that these prophets were “carried along by the Spirit”.  You get the picture that in a spiritual sense, the Holy Spirit picked these men up out of the world and told them things that could not be found or heard in the world.  This should tell us how important the Old Testament is.  Too often Christians avoid the Old Testament but they do so at their spiritual peril.  

 

Depending on your version of the Bible some translations seem to suggest that the interpretation of these Old Testament prophecies can not be privately interpreted.  It depends on what translation you're reading that will determine how to think about this verse.

 

Whatever way you view this verse, you have to admit that the Holy Spirit is the primary One involved in both the giving of these prophecies and the understanding of these prophecies.   

 

Prophecy is a message that a person gives that is inspired by the Holy Spirit.  Prophecy is God speaking to people through a person.  It can be predictive, or it can be a message of instruction, encouragement or admonishment. 

 

In 1 Corinthians 12 we see the gifts of the Spirit.  One is prophecy.  This would be the New Testament version of prophecy.  I do believe there is a New Testament version of this gift.  That being said, the prophecy spoken must be in line with the Bible or else it is false prophecy. 

 

Peter closes this chapter in verse 21 by saying what I've already said.  The prophets of the Old Testament didn't invent their prophecies.  They were inspired by God.  Besides, no human could ever have predicted the things these prophecies predicted with such exactness without being inspired by God Himself.     

 

 

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