2 Peter 1:16
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
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(16-21) The certainty of Christ’s coming again is the basis of these exhortations; and that certainty is proved (1) by the Transfiguration, which was an anticipation of His coming again in glory; (2) by the utterances of the prophets who predicted it.

(16) For we have not followed.—More literally, For we did not follow, or, It was not by following out, &c., that. “For” introduces the reason for “I will endeavour” above. The word for “follow,” or “follow out,” occurs again in 2Peter 2:2; 2Peter 2:15, and nowhere else in the New Testament.

Cunningly devised fables.—We cannot be sure that any in particular are meant, whether heathen, Jewish, or Christian; the negative makes the statement quite general. Various things, however, have been suggested as possibly indicated—heathen mythology, Jewish theosophy, Gnostic systems (as yet quite in their infancy in Simon Magus, St. Peter’s adversary), and Apocryphal Gospels. Probably some elements in the doctrine of the false teachers are alluded to; something analogous to the “feigned words” of 2Peter 2:3. There is reason for believing that the particular elements in their teaching thus incidentally condemned were of Jewish origin. If this conjecture be correct, then St. Peter is here dealing with errors similar to those condemned by St. Paul (1Timothy 1:4; 2Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14—the only other passages in which the word “fables” occurs). And in this case much light is thrown on some of the marked peculiarities of this Epistle and that of St. Jude, viz., the fondness of both writers for the oldest, and sometimes the most obscure, passages of Old Testament history, as well as for some strange portions of uncanonical and apocryphal tradition. They were fighting these seducers with their own weapons; difficult passages of Scripture and tradition, which these men had worked up into a system of pernicious mysticism, St. Peter and St. Jude proved to be altogether of a different meaning, and to tell against the very doctrines that they were employed to support.

When we made known unto you.—It is difficult to determine to what this refers. It is erroneous to suppose that the phrase necessarily implies personal communication by word of mouth. In the First Epistle the Apostle wrote to congregations not personally acquainted with him; and we have no reason for assuming that he had visited them since. “When we made known” may possibly refer to the First Epistle, against which supposition the plural “we” is not conclusive. Or a written Gospel—and, if so, the one with which St. Peter is commonly connected, viz., that of St. Mark—may be in the Apostle’s mind. But the simplest explanation is that he refers to the Apostolic teaching generally.

The power and coming.—The power conferred upon Christ after being glorified in His passion and resurrection, and his coming again to judgment. (Comp. 2Peter 3:4; Matthew 24:3; Matthew 24:27; 1Corinthians 15:23; &c., &c., where the same Greek word is used.) In this power He will come again. His first coming at the Incarnation would neither be the usual meaning of the word nor would suit the context.

But were eyewitnesses.—More literally, but by having been made eye-witnesses. “It was not by following fables that we made known to you His power and coming, but by having been admitted eye-witnesses.” The word for “eye-witness” is sometimes a technical term for one who was admitted to the highest grade of initiation in the Eleusinian mysteries. This meaning would be very applicable here; but it may be doubted whether St. Peter would be familiar with this use of the word. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The kindred verb, “to be an eye-witness,” occurs in 1Peter 2:12; 1Peter 3:2, and nowhere else—a coincidence worth noting. The words of another witness of the Transfiguration,” And we beheld His glory,” &c. (John 1:14), should be compared with the passage before us.

Of his majesty.—At the Transfiguration, which was a foretaste and an earnest of the glory of His second coming. This is St. Peter’s view of it; and that it is the correct one is perhaps shown by the Gospels themselves. All three accounts of the Transfiguration are preceded by the declaration, “Verily I say unto you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom,” or similar words (Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27). Apparently the Transfiguration was regarded by Christ Himself as in some sense the coming of the Son of man.

2 Peter 1:16-18. For — These things are worthy of being always remembered and regarded; for we have not followed cunningly-devised fables — Like those common among the heathen, but things infallibly true and infinitely momentous; when we made known unto you the power — The evidences and demonstrations which we gave of his divine power; (in the miracles which he wrought, whereby he demonstrated himself to be the Son of God;) and coming of our Lord Jesus — Namely, that the promised Messiah was already come, and that Jesus of Nazareth was he. Or his second coming to raise the dead, to judge mankind, and to introduce his people into his eternal kingdom, might be chiefly intended. But it may be observed, if what the apostles have advanced concerning Christ had not been true, if it had been only of their own invention, then, to have imposed such a lie on the world, as it was in the very nature of things above all human power to defend, and to have done this at the expense of life and all things, only to engage the whole world, Jews and Gentiles, against them, would not have been cunning, but the greatest folly that men could have been guilty of. But were eye-witnesses of his majesty — At his transfiguration, which was a specimen of his glory at the last day. For he received from God the Father divine honour and inexpressible glory — Shining from heaven above the brightness of the sun; when there came such a voice from the excellent glory — From the Shechinah, as the Jews termed that glorious appearance which was a symbol of the presence of Jehovah; This is my beloved Son, &c. — See notes on Matthew 17:2-5. This voice we heard — Namely, Peter, James, and John. St. John was still alive when Peter wrote this; when we were with him in the holy mount — The mount made holy by that glorious manifestation, as mount Horeb was of old by the peculiar presence of God, Exodus 3:4-5.

1:16-21 The gospel is no weak thing, but comes in power, Ro 1:16. The law sets before us our wretched state by sin, but there it leaves us. It discovers our disease, but does not make known the cure. It is the sight of Jesus crucified, in the gospel, that heals the soul. Try to dissuade the covetous worlding from his greediness, one ounce of gold weighs down all reasons. Offer to stay a furious man from anger by arguments, he has not patience to hear them. Try to detain the licentious, one smile is stronger with him than all reason. But come with the gospel, and urge them with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, shed to save their souls from hell, and to satisfy for their sins, and this is that powerful pleading which makes good men confess that their hearts burn within them, and bad men, even an Agrippa, to say they are almost persuaded to be Christians, Ac 26:28. God is well pleased with Christ, and with us in him. This is the Messiah who was promised, through whom all who believe in him shall be accepted and saved. The truth and reality of the gospel also are foretold by the prophets and penmenof the Old Testament, who spake and wrote under influence, and according to the direction of the Spirit of God. How firm and sure should our faith be, who have such a firm and sure word to rest upon! When the light of the Scripture is darted into the blind mind and dark understanding, by the Holy Spirit of God, it is like the day-break that advances, and diffuses itself through the whole soul, till it makes perfect day. As the Scripture is the revelation of the mind and will of God, every man ought to search it, to understand the sense and meaning. The Christian knows that book to be the word of God, in which he tastes a sweetness, and feels a power, and sees a glory, truly divine. And the prophecies already fulfilled in the person and salvation of Christ, and in the great concerns of the church and the world, form an unanswerable proof of the truth of Christianity. The Holy Ghost inspired holy men to speak and write. He so assisted and directed them in delivering what they had received from him, that they clearly expressed what they made known. So that the Scriptures are to be accounted the words of the Holy Ghost, and all the plainness and simplicity, all the power and all the propriety of the words and expressions, come from God. Mix faith with what you find in the Scriptures, and esteem and reverence the Bible as a book written by holy men, taught by the Holy Ghost.For we have not followed cunningly devised fables - That is, fictions or stories invented by artful men, and resting on no solid foundation. The doctrines which they held about the coming of the Saviour were not, like many of the opinions of the Greeks, defended by weak and sophistical reasoning, but were based on solid evidence - evidence furnished by the personal observation of competent witnesses. It is true of the gospel, in general, that it is not founded on cunningly devised fables; but the particular point referred to here is the promised coming of the Saviour. The evidence of that fact Peter proposes now to adduce.

When we made known unto you - Probably Peter here refers particularly to statements respecting the coming of the Saviour in his first epistle, 1 Peter 1:5, 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13; but this was a common topic in the preaching, and in the epistles, of the apostles. It may, therefore, have referred to statements made to them at some time in his preaching, as well as to what he said in his former epistle. The apostles laid great stress on the second coming of the Saviour, and often dwelt upon it. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Notes, Acts 1:11.

The power and coming - These two words refer to the same thing; and the meaning is, his "powerful coming," or his "coming in power." The advent of the Saviour is commonly represented as connected with the exhibition of power. Matthew 24:30, "coming in the clouds of heaven, with power." See the notes at that verse. Compare Luke 22:69; Mark 3:9. The "power" evinced will be by raising the dead; summoning the world to judgment; determining the destiny of men, etc. When the coming of the Saviour, therefore, was referred to by the apostles in their preaching, it was probably always in connection with the declaration that it would be accompanied by exhibitions of great power and glory - as it undoubtedly will be. The fact that the Lord Jesus would thus return, it is clear, had been denied by some among those to whom this epistle was addressed, and it was important to state the evidence on which it was to be believed. The grounds on which they denied it 2 Peter 3:4 were, that there were no appearances of his approach; that the premise had not been fulfilled; that all things continued as they had been; and that the affairs of the world moved on as they always had done. To meet and counteract this error - an error which so prevailed that many were in danger of "falling from their own steadfastness" 2 Peter 3:17 - Peter states the proof on which he believed in the coming of the Saviour.

But were eye-witnesses of his majesty - On the mount of transfiguration, Matthew 17:1-5. See the notes at that passage. That transfiguration was witnessed only by Peter, James, and John. But it may be asked, how the facts there witnessed demonstrate the point under consideration - that the Lord Jesus will come with power? To this it may be replied:

(1) that these apostles had there such a view of the Saviour in his glory as to convince them beyond doubt that he was the Messiah.

(2) that there was a direct attestation given to that fact by a voice from heaven, declaring that he was the beloved Son of God.

(3) that that transfiguration was understood to have an important reference to the coming of the Saviour in his kingdom and his glory, and was designed to be a representation of the manner in which he would then appear. This is referred to distinctly by each one of the three evangelists who have mentioned the transfiguration. Matthew 16:28, "there be some standing here which shall not taste of death until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom;" Mark 9:1-2; Luke 9:27-28. The transfiguration which occurred soon after these words were spoken was designed to show them what he would be in his glory, and to furnish to them a demonstration which they could never forget, that he would yet set up his kingdom in the world.

(4) they had in fact such a view of him as he would be in his kingdom, that they could entertain no doubt on the point; and the fact, as it impressed their own minds, they made known to others. The evidence as it lay in Peter's mind was, that that transfiguration was designed to furnish proof to them that the Messiah would certainly appear in glory, and to give them a view of him as coming to reign which would never fade from their memory. As that had not yet been accomplished, he maintained that the evidence was clear that it must occur at some future time. As the transfiguration was with reference to his coming in his kingdom, it was proper for Peter to use it with that reference, or as bearing on that point.

16. For—reason why he is so earnest that the remembrance of these things should be continued after his death.

followed—out in detail.

cunningly devised—Greek, "devised by (man's) wisdom"; as distinguished from what the Holy Ghost teaches (compare 1Co 3:13). But compare also 2Pe 2:3, "feigned words."

fables—as the heathen mythologies, and the subsequent Gnostic "fables and genealogies," of which the germs already existed in the junction of Judaism with Oriental philosophy in Asia Minor. A precautionary protest of the Spirit against the rationalistic theory of the Gospel history being myth.

when we made known unto you—not that Peter himself had personally taught the churches in Pontus, Galatia, &c., but he was one of the apostles whose testimony was borne to them, and to the Church in general, to whom this Epistle is addressed (2Pe 1:1, including, but not restricted, as First Peter, to the churches in Pontus, &c.).

power—the opposite of "fables"; compare the contrast of "word" and "power," 1Co 4:20. A specimen of His power was given at the Transfiguration also of His "coming" again, and its attendant glory. The Greek for "coming" is always used of His second advent. A refutation of the scoffers (2Pe 3:4): I, James and John, saw with our own eyes a mysterious sample of His coming glory.

were—Greek, "were made."

eye-witnesses—As initiated spectators of mysteries (so the Greek), we were admitted into His innermost secrets, namely, at the Transfiguration.

his—emphatical (compare Greek): "THAT great One's majesty."

Cunningly devised fables; human figments artificially contrived, either to please and gratify men’s fancies, or to deceive and pervert their judgment: q.d. The things we have preached unto you (the sum of which is the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ) are the true sayings of God, not the fictions of men: and so he may have respect both to heathenish and Jewish fables. See 1 Timothy 1:4 4:7 2 Timothy 4:4 Titus 1:14.

The power; this relates to the Divine nature of Christ with its glorious effects, the efficacy of his doctrine, the miracles whereby he confirmed it, and especially his resurrection from the dead, Romans 1:4.

And coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; this respects his human nature, his coming in the flesh, in which he manifested the power before mentioned; both together contain the sum of the whole gospel, viz. that Christ, the promised Messiah, is come in the flesh, and that he was furnished with power sufficient and ability to save sinners to the utmost. Or, Christ’s coming here may be his second coming, to which the word here used is for the most part applied in the New Testament, and whereof his transfiguration, in the following verse, was a representation and a forerunner; and in the belief of which the apostle would confirm these saints against those that scoffed at it, 2 Peter 3:3,4.

But were eye-witnesses of his majesty: by Christ’s majesty may be understood all that glory which did shine out in him during the whole time of his abode upon earth, John 1:14, but especially that more eminent manifestation of it in his transfiguration, in the next verse.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables,.... Such as Jewish fables, cautioned against Titus 1:14 which their traditionary and oral law, their Talmud, and other writings, mention; as concerning the temporal kingdom of the Messiah, the sumptuous feast, and carnal pleasures and entertainments, of that state, with many other things; some of which indeed are not very cunningly put together, but weak enough: or Gentile fables concerning the theogony and exploits of their deities; and which may be meant by fables and endless genealogies in 1 Timothy 1:4, and especially reference may be had to the metamorphoses of their gods, and their fables relating to them, devised by Ovid, and others, since the apostle is about to speak of the metamorphosis, or transfiguration of Christ; and also other fables with which their poets and histories abound; and likewise the prophecies of the Sibyls, and the oracles at Delphos, and elsewhere: or the fabulous accounts of the followers of Simon Magus concerning God, angels, the creation of the world, and the several Aeones; or the more artful composures of the false teachers, set off with all the cunning, sophistry, wit, and eloquence they were masters of. Now in order to set forth the nature, excellency, and certainty of the doctrine the apostle taught, especially that part of it which respected the coming of Christ; and to show that it was worth his while to put them in mind of it, and theirs to remember it; he observes, that he and his fellow apostles did not proceed in their account of it on such a foundation, but upon an evidence which they had received, both with their eyes and ears, and also on a word of prophecy surer than that:

when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; not his first coming, though that, and the benefits arising from it, were the subject of their ministry; and that was attended with divine power, which appeared in the incarnation of Christ itself, which was owing to the power of the Highest; and was seen in his doctrine and ministry, which were with great authority; and in the miracles which he wrought, which proved him to have power equal with God, his Father; and in the work of redemption, which he came about and finished; in doing which he made an end of sin, and saved his people from it, redeemed them from the curse of the law, overcame the world, destroyed Satan, and abolished death; and especially in his resurrection from the dead, when he was declared to be the Son of God with power: but notwithstanding his first coming was in great humility, in much meanness and imbecility, he grew up as a tender plant, and was encompassed with infirmities, and at last was crucified through weakness. This therefore was to be understood of an after coming of his, which the apostle had wrote of, and made known in his former epistle, 1 Peter 1:7 and which he puts them in mind of in this, 2 Peter 3:1, nor is the word used of any other coming of Christ, and this will be with power; and it designs his more near coming to take vengeance on the Jewish nation, and deliver his people from the afflictions and persecution they laboured under, and which was with great power; see Matthew 14:3, or more remote, namely, at the last day, when there will be a great display of power in raising the dead, gathering all nations before him, separating them one from another, passing the final sentence on each, and executing the same in the utter destruction of the wicked, and the complete glorification of the saints.

But were eyewitnesses of his majesty; meaning, not of the glory of his divine nature by faith, and with the eyes of their understanding, while others only considered him as a mere man; nor of the miracles he wrought, in which there was a display of his glory and majesty, of all which the apostles were eyewitnesses; but of that glory and greatness which were upon him, when he was transfigured on the mount before them; then his face was as the sun, and such a glory on his whole body, that it darted through his clothes, and made them glitter like light, and as white as snow, and so as no fuller on earth could whiten them; at which time also Moses and Elijah appeared in glorious forms: and now this was a prelude and pledge of his power and coming, of his kingdom coming with power, and of his coming in his own, and his Father's glory, and in the glory of the holy angels. This was a proof that notwithstanding his meanness in his incarnate state, yet he was glorified, and would be glorified again; and this was a confirmation of it to the apostles, and might be to others: see Matthew 16:27.

{10} For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

(10) Another amplification taken from both the great certainty and also the excellency of his doctrine, of which our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God is author, whose glory the apostle both saw and heard.

2 Peter 1:16. οὐ γὰρ σεσοφισμένοις μύθοις ἐξακολουθήσαντες] γάρ shows that this verse, in which allusion is made to the erroneous teachers, gives the reason for the σπουδάσω. The connection of thought is perfectly plain, so soon as it is observed that all that has gone before has been said in close relation to the “promises” (2 Peter 1:4).

σεσοφισμένοις μύθοις, Luther inexactly: “clever fables;” σοφίζειν means in 2 Timothy 3:15 : “to make wise;” this meaning is inappropriate here; in the classics it occurs in the sense: “to contrive cleverly;” thus Aristophanes, Nub. 543: ἀεὶ καινὰς ἰδέας σοφίζομαι; accordingly σεσοφ. μῦθοι are: “cleverly contrived fables;” Pott: fabulae ad decipiendos hominum animos artificiosae excogitate atque exornatae;[48] cf. chap. 2 Peter 2:3, ΠΛΑΣΤΟῚ ΛΌΓΟΙ. The interpretation of Aretius is, on the other hand, incorrect: fabulae falsam habentes sapientiae et veritatis speciem. The expression ΜῦΘΟΙ is to be found in the N. T. only here and in the Pastoral Epistles. As the author makes no special allusion of the kind, it is at least doubtful if he refers to any definite myths; either those of the heathen with reference to the appearances of the gods upon earth (Oecumenius, Estius, Bengel, etc.), or to those of the Gnostics as to the emanation of the aeons (Dietlein), or to the Gnostic myth of the Sophia (Baur), or to the apocryphal legends of the birth and childhood of Christ, especially in the Ev. Infantiae Jesu (Jachmann), or to false myths as to Christ embellished in the spirit of the Jewish Messianic beliefs (Semler), or “apocryphal, didactic, and historical traditions, as these were appended by a later Judaism to the histories of the O. T., especially to the most ancient” (Schott, similarly Steinfass), or to the practice of heathen lawgivers, who, according to Josephus, appropriated to themselves the fables of popular belief, borrowing from them their accounts of the gods (Hofmann). The words express, indeed, an antithesis, but this is of an entirely general kind; either in order to bring out that the apostolic preachers are not like those others who seek the support of myths,—perhaps with special reference to the false teachers alluded to in chap. 2 and 3,—or, what is less probable, in order to meet the reproaches of these teachers (Wiesinger), and the contrast serves to give the more prominence to the positive statement.

ἐξακολουθήσαντες] The verb, besides here, only in chap. 2 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 2:15. The preposition ἘΞ does not precisely indicate the error (Bengel), but only the going forth from a particular point; in common usage, however, this secondary meaning often entirely recedes; cf. the passage below, quoted from Josephus, Ant. prooem. § 4. By this negative statement the author denies not only that his message was based on myths, but that in it he followed a communication received from others (Schott).

ἐγνωρίσαμεν ὑμῖν τὴν τοῦ κυρ. ἡμ. . Χρ. δύναμιν κ. παρουσίαν] Several interpreters understand this of the First Epistle of Peter; in which case the plural is surprising, for the author had already spoken of himself in the singular. Hofmann’s objection to this view is, that although in his former epistle Peter refers to the power and coming of Christ, he did not first make it known to the readers. But the passages 1 Corinthians 15:1 and Galatians 1:11, show that ΓΝΩΡΊΖΕΙΝ may also be used of a proclamation, the substance of which had already been communicated to those to whom it was made. Many commentators take the words as referring to the whole preaching of the apostles, understanding ὙΜῖΝ, not of the readers specially, but of the Gentile-Christians generally; thus Wiesinger, and more decidedly Hofmann. It must be observed, however, in opposition to this, that ΓΕΝΗΘΈΝΤΕς and the subsequent ἩΜΕῖς ἨΚΟΎΣΑΜΕΝ must refer to the same subject as ἘΓΝΩΡΊΣΑΜΕΝ. The most probable explanation is, that the author, remembering that he was not the only witness of the transfiguration, passed from the singular to the plural, and in so doing made use of ὙΜῖΝ in its extended sense.

ΠΑΡΟΥΣΊΑ is not here the nativitas Christi, His human birth (Vatablus, Erasmus, Hornejus, Pott, Jachmann, etc.), nor “His presence during the time He appeared on earth” (Schmid); but, in harmony both with the N. T. usage (chap. 2 Peter 3:4; Matthew 24:3; Matthew 24:27; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, etc.) and the connection of thought (2 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 1:17; 2 Peter 3:4): the return of Christ to judgment (Estius, Semler, Knapp, Dietlein, de Wette-Brückner, Hofmann, and the more modern interpreters generally[49]). ΔΎΝΑΜΙς, however, denotes the fulness of might of the glorified Lord, as it will be more especially revealed in His ΠΑΡΟΥΣΊΑ. It is not correct to combine both ideas into one, and with Hornejus to explain: potens adventus; or with Bengel: majestas praesentissima.

ἈΛΛʼ ἘΠΌΠΤΑΙΜΕΓΑΛΕΙΌΤΗΤΟς] An antithesis, affirmatively stated, to what goes before. ἘΠΌΠΤΗς, ἍΠ. ΛΕΓ. (1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:2 : ἘΠΟΠΤΕΎΩ), is the term, techn. for him who had reached the highest degree of initiation into the Eleusinian mysteries. Keeping to this, Bengel here interprets: ad intima arcana admissi; de Wette, too, thinks that the expression has here the secondary meaning of being initiated, of intimacy. It is no doubt chosen purposely with reference to the fact that the ΜΕΓΑΛΕΙΌΤΗς of Christ, which Peter and the other two disciples beheld, was a mystery hidden from the others. Grotius, Pott, and others take it as synonymous with ΑὐΤΌΠΤΗς, Luke 1:2. The connection demands that ἘΠΌΠΤΑΙ ΓΕΝΗΘΈΝΤΕς should be referred to the fact of the transfiguration (2 Peter 1:17). Hofmann is wrong in supposing that Peter here thought of the appearance of the Risen One and His ascension. The assertion is refuted not only by the close connection in which 2 Peter 1:17 stands to this verse, but by the word ΜΕΓΑΛΕΙΌΤΗς, which in no sense is expressive only of “greatness.” As the form in which Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after His resurrection was the same as that in which they had seen Him before it, they were not then in any way ἐπόπται of his ΜΕΓΑΛΕΙΌΤΗς; nor is there the slightest hint that there is here allusion to any fact other than that mentioned in the following verse.

Τῆς ἘΚΕΊΝΟΥ ΜΕΓΑΛΕΙΌΤΗΤΟς] that is, the glory in which at His transfiguration Christ showed Himself to the three disciples. Incorrectly Calvin: exemplum unum prae aliis eligit memorabile, in quo Christus coelesti gloria ornatus conspicuam divinae magnificentiae speciem tribus discipulis praebuit. The apostle rather regards the transfiguration glory of Christ as the type—and therefore the proof—of the glory of Christ at His ΠΑΡΟΥΣΊΑ.

[48] Dietlein thinks that the expression σεσοφισμένοις contains a double reproach, i.e. not only by the termination ιζειν, but also in as far as the word σοφία means what is bad; however, the termination ιζειν is by no means always used in a bad sense, nor does σοφία in itself mean what is bad, except only in connection with τοῦ κόσμου τούτου (1 Corinthians 1:20), ἀνθρωπίνη (1 Corinthians 2:13), etc. Besides, σοφίζειν is mostly employed so as to contain the secondary meaning of cleverness (see Pape, e.v.); consequently Hofmann is wrong in rendering σεσοφισμένος simply by “conceived,” asserting that the word means nothing else. Cf. with our passage Joseph. Ant. prooem. 4: οἱ μὲν ἄλλοι νομοθέται τοῖς μύθοις ἐξακολουθήσαντες τῶς ἀνθρωπίνων ἁμαρτημάτων εἰς τοὺς θεοὺς τῷ λόγῳ τὴν αἰσχύνην μετέθησαν κ.τ.λ.—

[49] Fronmüller only interprets: “His appearing with miraculous powers in the flesh, along with His expected appearance in glory.”

2 Peter 1:16-18. The fact of the Transfiguration a guarantee of the writer’s truthfulness. “For we are not without facts to rest upon. Our preaching of the power and coming of Jesus Christ was not based on sophistical myths. We were eye-witnesses of His Majesty. For He received from God the Father honour and glory, a voice coming to Him through the splendour of the glory, ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’. This voice we heard, as it was borne from heaven, when we were with Him in the Holy Mount.” (For a comparison of this passage, with the Synoptic account, see Introduction, pp. 94 ff.).

16. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you …] More accurately, For it was not as following cunningly devised fables that we made known—the connexion being one not of time but of causation. The “fables” or “myths” referred to are probably those of which St Paul speaks in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14), which were, as the description there given of them indicates, mainly of Jewish origin. With these there might be mingled the germs of the Gnosticism incipient in the Apostolic age, and developed more fully in the next century. Possibly there may be an allusive reference to the claims of the sorcerer of Samaria, with whom the Apostle had himself come into collision (Acts 8:10). The boast of Simon that he was the “great power of God,” and that his mistress Helena was the incarnation of the Divine Thought or Wisdom by which the worlds were made, would answer, closely enough, to the “cunningly devised fables” of which St Peter speaks. The word for “cunningly devised,” framed, i.e., with fraudulent and sophistical purpose, is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. The question what the Apostle refers to in “we made known to you:” it may refer either to unrecorded teaching addressed to the Asiatic Churches, or to the wider circle of readers defined in 2 Peter 1:1, or, more probably, to the teaching of the First Epistle as to the glory that was to be manifested “at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13). The tone in which the offensive epithet is used suggests the thought that he is defending himself against a charge of having followed “fables.” Is it possible that that charge had been brought against his teaching as to “the spirits in prison,” as something superadded to the received oral traditions of the Church, or to the written records, whether identical with our present Gospels or not, in which that teaching had been embodied?

the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ] The “coming,” here, as in every other passage of the New Testament in which the word occurs, is the Second Advent, not the first. The mind of the Apostle goes back to what he had witnessed in the glory of the Transfiguration, as the pledge and earnest of that which was afterwards to be revealed. The word does not occur in the First Epistle, but the fact is implied in 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13; 1 Peter 5:4.

but were eyewitnesses of his majesty] Both words are significant. That for “eye-witnesses” (not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but used of God as the all-seeing in 2Ma 7:35; 3Ma 2:21) was applied in Classical Greek to the highest order of those who were initiated as spectators of the Eleusinian mysteries. It would, perhaps, be too much to say that that association was definitely present to the Apostle’s mind, but the choice of an unusual and suggestive word at least implies that he looked on himself as having been chosen to a special privilege. It deserves notice also, as bearing on the authorship of the Epistle, that the verb derived from the noun had been used by the writer of 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:2. (See notes there.) The word for “majesty” also has the interest of having been used in the Gospel narrative in close connexion with the healing of the demoniac boy which followed the Transfiguration (Luke 9:43), and, as found there, may fairly be taken as including, as far as the three disciples who had seen the vision of glory were concerned, what had preceded that work of healing, as well as the work itself. The only other passage in the New Testament in which it is found is in Acts 19:27, where it is used of the “magnificence” of the Ephesian Artemis.

2 Peter 1:16. Γὰρ, for) He shows that the subject was one, respecting which it was befitting that he should write, though even on the point of death; alleging the testimony of apostles, and the discourse of prophets.—σεσοφισμένοις) πλαστοῖς, ch. 2 Peter 2:3, cunningly devised.—μύθοις) fables, such as the heathen had respecting their gods.—ἐξακολουθησαντες) The ἐξ denotes error; ch. 2 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 2:15. There is no such error in this matter.—δύναμιν καὶ παρουσίαν, the power and presence) Hendiadys: that is, most present majesty. Δύναμις, power, is opposed to fables. Comp. 1 Corinthians 4:20, where word and power are opposed to each other. The Transfiguration on the Mount is a pattern of the revelation of glory at the last day; and the whole testimony of the apostles looks to this revelation: Acts 10:42.—ἐπόπται, eye-witnesses) Admitted to His innermost secrets; for instance, on the Mount.—ἐκείνου, of Him) Ἐκεῖνος, He, denotes something distant, and wonderful, and great.—μεγαλειότητος, majesty) As the name of the Father and the Son are correlative terms, so are magnificent glory and majesty. Magnificent glory in the text is ascribed to the Father; majesty (magnitudo) or μεγαλειότης (for the Greek word differs somewhat from the Latin), to the Son.

Verse 16. - For we have not followed cunningly devised fables; rather, did not follow. The participle (ἐξακολουθήσαντες) is aorist. This compound verb is used only by St. Peter in the New Testament; we find it again in 2 Peter 2:2 and 15. Bengel and others have thought that the preposition ἐξ, from or out of, implies wandering from the truth after false guides; but probably the word merely means "to follow closely," though in this case the guides were going astray. Perhaps the use of the plural number is accounted for by the fact that St. Peter was not the only witness of the glory of the Transfiguration; he associates in thought his two brother-apostles with himself. The word μῦθοι, fables, with this exception, occurs in the New Testament only in St. Paul's pastoral Epistles. There is a remarkable parallel in the procemium of the 'Antiquities' of Josephus, sect. 4, Οἱ μεν ἄλλοι νομοθέται τοῖς μύθοις ἐξακολουθήσαντες. St. Peter may be referring to the "Jewish fables" mentioned by St. Paul (Titus 1:14), or to the stories about the heathen gods such as those in Hesiod and Ovid, or possibly to some early inventions, such as those ascribed to Simon the Sorcerer, which were afterwards to be developed into the strange fictions of Gnosticism (comp. 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:4). The word rendered "cunningly devised" occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in 2 Timothy 3:15; but there a different part of the verb is used, and in a different sense. When we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Peter can scarcely be referring to St. Paul or other missionaries, as the following words identify the preachers with the witnesses of the Transfiguration; he must be alluding either to his First Epistle (comp. 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 1 Peter 4:13), or to personal teaching of his which has not been recorded, or, just possibly, to the Gospel of St. Mark. St. Peter had seen the power of the Lord Jesus manifested in his miracles; he had heard the announcement of the risen Saviour, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth;" he had, like the rest of the apostles, been "endued with power from on high." By the coming (παρουσία) he must mean the second advent, the invariable meaning of the word in Holy Scripture (see chapter 2 Peter 3:4, Matthew 24:3, 27; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:19, etc.). But were eye-witnesses of his majesty. The word for "eye-witnesses" is not the common one (αὐτόπται, used by St. Luke 1:2), but a technical word (ἐπόπται), which in classical Greek designates the highest class of those who had been initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries. The choice of such a word may possibly imply that St. Peter regarded himself and his brother-apostles as having received the highest initiation into the mysteries of religion. The noun is found only here in the New Testament; but the corresponding verb occurs in 1 Peter 2:12 and 1 Pet 3:2, and in no other of the New Testament writers. Here again we have an undesigned coincidence which points to identity of authorship. The word for "majesty" (μεγαλειότης) occurs in St. Luke's description of the healing of the demoniac boy immediately after the Transfiguration (Luke 9:43), and elsewhere only in Acts 19:27. 2 Peter 1:16We have not followed (οὐ ἐξακολουθησαντες)

A strong compound, used only here and 2 Peter 2:2, 2 Peter 2:15. The ἐξ gives the force of following out; pursuance of; closely.

Cunningly devised (σεσοφισμένοις)

Only here and 2 Timothy 3:15, in which latter passage it has a good sense, to make thee wise. Here, in a bad sense, artfully framed by human cleverness (σοφία). Compare feigned words, 2 Peter 2:3.

Fables (μύθοις)

This word, which occurs only here and in the Pastoral Epistles, is transcribed in the word myth. The reference here may be to the Jewish myths, rabbinical embellishments of Old-Testament history; or to the heathen myths about the descent of the gods to earth, which might be suggested by his remembrance of the transfiguration; or to the Gnostic speculations about aeons or emanations, which rose from the eternal abyss, the source of all spiritual existence, and were named Mind, Wisdom, Power, Truth, etc.

Coming (παρουσίαν)

Or presence. Compare 2 Peter 3:4. Another word, ἀποκάλυψις, revelation, is used in 1 Peter 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13, to describe the appearing of Christ.

Eye-witnesses (ἐπόπται)

See on behold, 1 Peter 2:12. Only here in New Testament. Compare the different word in Luke 1:2, αὐτόπται, eye-witnesses.

Majesty (μεγαλειότητος)

Used in only two passages besides this: Luke 9:43, of the mighty power (Rev., majesty) of God, as manifested in the healing of the epileptic child; and Acts 19:27, of the magnificence of Diana.

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