II Peter 1 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
II Peter 1:16-21 is an important section in the New Testament that teaches the authority of Scripture. Let’s briefly look at this passage and then tease out a few implications for us. Peter needs to make it crystal clear that His words are from God Himself. Peter writes, “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.” When Peter spoke about Christ, God, and the gospel Peter was not making things up on the spot. But the apostles were speaking sober words of truth received from the Holy Spirit. After all, they were eyewitnesses of his majesty not second-handers as Ayn Rand might say. Notice how we moves from a singular “I will make every effort” in v. 15 to “we do not follow” in v. 16. Peter is speaking for the apostles as a group who were carrying on the authoritative teaching of Christ.
Peter is referring to the mount of Tranfiguration in vs. 16-18. The account in Mt. 17:1ff; Mk 9:2ff; Lk 9:28ff. Peter says that Jesus “received honor and glory from God the Father” and Peter should know since he was there. Imagine hearing a voice from heaven simply saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. God unequivocally says Christ is God’s Son and therefore Deity. For God to say I am well pleased in someone that is the highest, best, and most prized compliment anyone could ever receive. We know this event was important to the apostle’s understanding of Christ and therefore their ministry.
Peter says, “we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention . . . .” Peter is stressing the origin, authority, and trustworthiness of Scripture. Peter is also claiming the teaching and writing of the apostles have God’s authority. When the apostles teach and when they wrote Scripture, their words are to be treated as God’s Word. Which is why Peter exhorts us “. . . to pay attention . . .” to this prophetic word. The apostles knew they were writing Scripture (II Peter 3:16 – “the other Scriptures”) and had to defend their authority and fight off detractors.
Verses 20-21 Peter gets to the crux of the issue. Prophecy or writing Scripture is not simply a person writing down religious thoughts, speaking from the heart, or writing comforting words to help people get in touch with their inner feelings. Rather Scripture is not produced by the will of man but men writing Scripture inspired by the Holy Spirit. Rather than use the word inspired, it might be better to use the word Paul used in II Tim 3:16, “breathed out by God” (ESV). Peter claims that the words the apostles used were words breathed out by the Spirit although Peter does not use Paul’s exact words.
Peter has heightened concern for his fellow believers since he writes in the following verses, “2 Peter 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” Peter had to defend the truth of the Bible and encourage believers to trust the authority, as well as the divine origins of Scripture.
Truth is always controverted, argued about, denied, ridiculed, ignored, and deemed unimportant both in Peter’s day and certainly in ours. That also can be said for the truth of the Bible. You should listen to the critics of the Bible. You should engage others who want to ask you questions and even questions you may not know how to handle. You will find a deeper trust in the Bible if you seriously entertain questions that people have. Listening shows respect. Studying to find the answer also respects the person asking. Remember that you are not answering a question; you are answering a person with a question.
Be on your guard to defend the truth but remember to rest in the truth as well. Airlines ask parents to put the oxygen mask on before you help your child. For us to do any good at all, we need to first feed on the Word. Yet, we need to trust the Author of the Bible even before we trust the Bible.