Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
THE SECOND EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER Commentary by A. R. Faussett
Authenticity and genuineness.—If not a gross imposture, its own internal witness is unequivocal in its favor. It has Peter's name and apostleship in its heading: not only his surname, but his original name Simon, or Simeon, he thus, at the close of his life, reminding his readers who he originally was before his call. Again, in 2Pe 1:16-18, he mentions his presence at the Transfiguration, and Christ's prophecy of his death! and in 2Pe 3:15, his brotherhood with Paul. Again, in 2Pe 3:1, the author speaks of himself as author of the former Epistle: it is, moreover, addressed so as to include (but not to be restricted to) the same persons as the first, whom he presupposes to be acquainted with the writings of Paul, by that time recognized as "Scripture" (2Pe 3:15, "the long-suffering of God," compare Ro 2:4). This necessarily implies a late date, when Paul's Epistles (including Romans) already had become generally diffused and accepted as Scripture in the Church. The Church of the fourth century had, besides the testimony which we have of the doubts of the earlier Christians, other external evidence which we have not, and which, doubtless, under God's overruling providence, caused them to accept it. It is hard to understand how a book palpably false (as it would be if Peter be not the author) could have been accepted in the Canon as finally established in the Councils of Laodicea, A.D. 360 (if the fifty-ninth article be genuine), Hippo, and Carthage in the fourth century (393 and 397). The whole tone and spirit of the Epistle disprove its being an imposture. He writes as one not speaking of himself, but moved by the Holy Ghost (2Pe 1:21). An attempt at such a fraud in the first ages would have brought only shame and suffering, alike from Christians and heathen, on the perpetrator: there was then no temptation to pious frauds as in later times. That it must have been written in the earliest age is plain from the wide gulf in style which separates it and the other New Testament Scriptures from even the earliest and best of the post-apostolic period. Daille well says, "God has allowed a fosse to be drawn by human weakness around the sacred canon to protect it from all invasion."
Traces of acquaintance with it appear in the earliest Fathers. Hermas [Similitudes, 6.4] (compare 2Pe 2:13), Greek, "luxury in the day … luxuriating with their own deceivings"; and [Shepherd, Vision 3.7], "They have left their true way" (compare 2Pe 2:15); and [Shepherd, Vision 4.3], "Thou hast escaped this world" (compare 2Pe 2:20). Clement of Rome, [Epistle to the Corinthians, 7.9; 10], as to Noah's preaching and Lot's deliverance, "the Lord making it known that He does not abandon those that trust in Him, but appoints those otherwise inclined to judgment" (compare 2Pe 2:5, 6, 7, 9). Irenæus, A.D. 178 ("the day of the Lord is as a thousand years"), and Justin Martyr seem to allude to 2Pe 3:8. Hippolytus [On Antichrist], seems to refer to 2Pe 1:21, "The prophets spake not of their own private (individual) ability and will, but what was (revealed) to them alone by God." The difficulty is, neither Tertullian, Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria, nor the oldest Syriac (Peschito) version (the later Syriac has it), nor the fragment known as Muratori's Canon, mentions it. The first writer who has expressly named it is Origen, in the third century (Homily on Joshua; also Homily 4 on Leviticus, and Homily 13 on Numbers), who names it "Scripture," quoting 2Pe 1:4; 2:16; however (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 6.25]), he mentions that the Second Epistle was doubted by some. Firmilian, bishop of Cappadocia, in Epistle to Cyrpian speaks of Peter's Epistles as warning us to avoid heretics (a monition which occurs in the Second, not the First Epistle). Now Cappadocia is one of the countries mentioned (compare 1Pe 1:1 with 2Pe 3:1) as addressed; and it is striking, that from Cappadocia we get the earliest decisive testimony. "Internally it claims to be written by Peter, and this claim is confirmed by the Christians of that very region in whose custody it ought to have been found" [Tregelles].
The books disputed (Antilegomena), as distinguished from those universally recognized (Homologoumena), are Epistles Second Peter, James, Second and Third John, Jude, the Apocalypse, Epistle to Hebrews (compare Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.3,25]). The Antilegomena stand in quite a different class from the Spurious; of these there was no dispute, they were universally rejected; for example, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Revelation of Peter, the Epistle of Barnabas. Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D. 348) enumerates seven Catholic Epistles, including Second Peter; so also Gregory Nazianzen (A.D. 389), and Epiphanius (A.D. 367). The oldest Greek manuscripts extant (of the fourth century) contain the Antilegomena. Jerome [On Illustrious Men], conjectured, from a supposed difference of style between the two Epistles, that Peter, being unable to write Greek, employed a different translator of his Hebrew dictation in the Second Epistle, and not the same as translated the First into Greek. Mark is said to have been his translator in the case of the Gospel according to Mark; but this is all gratuitous conjecture. Much of the same views pervade both Epistles. In both alike he looks for the Lord's coming suddenly, and the end of the world (compare 2Pe 3:8-10 with 1Pe 4:5); the inspiration of the prophets (compare 1Pe 1:10-12 with 2Pe 1:19-21; 3:2); the new birth by the divine word a motive to abstinence from worldly lusts (1Pe 1:22; 2:2; compare 2Pe 1:4); also compare 1Pe 2:9 with 2Pe 1:3, both containing in the Greek the rare word "virtue" (1Pe 4:17 with 2Pe 2:3).
It is not strange that distinctive peculiarities of STYLE should mark each Epistle, the design of both not being the same. Thus the sufferings of Christ are more prominent in the First Epistle, the object there being to encourage thereby Christian sufferers; the glory of the exalted Lord is more prominent in the Second, the object being to communicate fuller "knowledge" of Him as the antidote to the false teaching against which Peter warns his readers. Hence His title of redemption, "Christ," is the one employed in the First Epistle; but in the Second Epistle, "the Lord." Hope is characteristic of the First Epistle; full knowledge, of the Second Epistle. In the First Epistle he puts his apostolic authority less prominently forward than in the Second, wherein his design is to warn against false teachers. The same difference is observable in Paul's Epistles. Contrast 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1; Php 1:1, with Ga 1:1; 1Co 1:1. The reference to Paul's writings as already existing in numbers, and as then a recognized part of Scripture (2Pe 3:15, 16), implies that this Epistle was written at a late date, just before Peter's death.
Striking verbal coincidences occur: compare 1Pe 1:19, end, with 2Pe 3:14, end; "His own," Greek, 2Pe 1:3, 2Pe 2:16; 3:17 with 1Pe 3:1, 5. The omission of the Greek article, 1Pe 2:13 with 2Pe 1:21; 2:4, 5, 7. Moreover, two words occur, 2Pe 1:13, "tabernacle," that is, the body, and 2Pe 1:15, "decease," which at once remind us of the transfiguration narrative in the Gospel. Both Epistles refer to the deluge, and to Noah as the eighth that was saved. Though the First Epistle abounds in quotations of the Old Testament, whereas the Second contains none, yet references to the Old Testament occur often (2Pe 1:21; 2:5-8, 15; 3:5, 6, 10, 13). Compare Greek, "putting away," 1Pe 3:21, with 2Pe 1:14; Greek, "pass the time," 1Pe 1:17, with 2Pe 2:18; "walked in," 1Pe 4:3, with 2Pe 2:10; 3:3; "called you," 1Pe 1:15; 2:9; 5:10, with 2Pe 1:3.
Moreover, more verbal coincidences with the speeches of Peter in Acts occur in this Second, than in the First Epistle. Compare Greek, "obtained," 2Pe 1:1 with Ac 1:17; Greek, "godliness," 2Pe 1:6, with Ac 3:12, the only passage where the term occurs, except in the Pastoral Epistles; and 2Pe 2:9 with Ac 10:2, 7; "punished," 2Pe 2:9, with Ac 4:21, the only places where the term occurs; the double genitive, 2Pe 3:2, with Ac 5:32; "the day of the Lord," 2Pe 3:10, with Ac 2:20, where only it occurs, except in 1Th 5:2.
The testimony of Jude, Jude 17, 18, is strong for its genuineness and inspiration, by adopting its very words, and by referring to it as received by the churches to which he, Jude, wrote, "Remember the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts." Jude, therefore, must have written after Second Peter, to which he plainly refers; not before, as Alford thinks. No less than eleven passages of Jude rest on similar statements of Second Peter. Jude 2, compare 2Pe 1:2; Jude 4, compare 2Pe 2:1; Jude 6, compare 2Pe 2:4; Jude 7, compare 2Pe 2:6; Jude 8, compare 2Pe 2:10; Jude 9, compare 2Pe 2:11; Jude 11, compare 2Pe 2:15; Jude 12, compare 2Pe 2:17; Jude 16, compare 2Pe 2:18; Jude 18, compare 2Pe 2:1; 3:3. Just in the same way Micah, Mic 4:1-4, leans on the somewhat earlier prophecy of Isaiah, whose inspiration he thereby confirms. Alford reasons that because Jude, in many of the passages akin to Second Peter, is fuller than Second Peter, he must be prior. This by no means follows. It is at least as likely, if not more so, that the briefer is the earlier, rather than the fuller. The dignity and energy of the style is quite consonant to what we should expect from the prompt and ardent foreman of the apostles. The difference of style between First and Second Peter accords with the distinctness of the subjects and objects.
The date, from what has been said, would be about A.D. 68 or 69, about a year after the first, and shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem, the typical precursor of the world's end, to which 2Pe 3:10-13 so solemnly calls attention, after Paul's ministry had closed (compare Greek aorist tense, "wrote," past time, 2Pe 3:15), just before Peter's own death. It was written to include the same persons, and perhaps in, or about the same place, as the first. Being without salutations of individuals, and entrusted to the care of no one church, or particular churches as the first is, but directed generally "to them that have obtained like precious faith with us" (2Pe 1:1), it took a longer time in being recognized as canonical. Had Rome been the place of its composition or publication, it could hardly have failed to have had an early acceptance—an incidental argument against the tradition of Peter's martyrdom at Rome. The remote scene of its composition in Babylon, or else in some of the contiguous regions beyond the borders of the Roman empire, and of its circulation in Cappadocia, Pontus, &c., will additionally account for its tardy but at last universal acceptance in the catholic Church. The former Epistle, through its more definite address, was earlier in its general acceptance.
Object.—In 2Pe 3:17, 18 the twofold design of the Epistle is set forth; namely, to guard his readers against "the error" of false teachers, and to exhort them to grow in experimental "knowledge of our Lord and Saviour" (2Pe 3:18). The ground on which this knowledge rests is stated, 2Pe 1:12-21, namely, the inspired testimony of apostles and prophets. The danger now, as of old, was about to arise from false teachers, who soon were to come among them, as Paul also (to whom reference is made, 2Pe 3:15, 16) testified in the same region. The grand antidote is "the full knowledge of our Lord and Saviour," through which we know God the Father, partake of His nature, escape from the pollutions of the world, and have entrance into Christ's kingdom. The aspect of Christ presented is not so much that of the past suffering, as of the future reigning, Saviour, His present power, and future new kingdom. This aspect is taken as best fitted to counteract the theories of the false teachers who should "deny" His Lordship and His coming again, the two very points which, as an apostle and eye-witness, Peter attests (His "power" and His "coming"); also, to counteract their evil example in practice, blaspheming the way of truth, despising governments, slaves to covetousness and filthy lusts of the flesh, while boasting of Christian freedom, and, worst of all, apostates from the truth. The knowledge of Christ, as being the knowledge of "the way of righteousness," "the right way," is the antidote of their bad practice. Hence "the preacher" of righteousness, Noah, and "righteous Lot," are instanced as escaping the destruction which overtook the "unjust" or "unrighteous"; and Balaam is instanced as exemplifying the awful result of "unrighteousness" such as characterized the false teachers. Thus the Epistle forms one connected whole, the parts being closely bound together by mutual relation, and the end corresponding with the beginning; compare 2Pe 3:14, 18 with 2Pe 1:2, in both "grace" and "peace" being connected with "the knowledge" of our Saviour; compare also 2Pe 3:17 with 2Pe 1:4, 10, 12; and 2Pe 3:18, "grow in grace and knowledge," with the fuller 2Pe 1:5-8; and 2Pe 2:21; and 2Pe 3:13, "righteousness," with 2Pe 1:1; and 2Pe 3:1 with 2Pe 1:13; and 2Pe 3:2 with 2Pe 1:19.
The germs of Carpocratian and Gnostic heresies already existed, but the actual manifestation of these heresies is spoken of as future (2Pe 2:1, 2, &c.): another proof that this Epistle was written, as it professes, in the apostolic age, before the development of the Gnostic heresies in the end of the first and the beginning of the second centuries. The description is too general to identify the heresies with any particular one of the subsequent forms of heresy, but applies generally to them all.
Though altogether distinct in aim from the First Epistle, yet a connection may be traced. The neglect of the warnings to circumspection in the walk led to the evils foretold in the Second Epistle. Compare the warning against the abuse of Christian freedom, 1Pe 2:16 with 2Pe 2:19, "While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption"; also the caution against pride, 1Pe 5:5, 6 with 2Pe 2:18, "they speak great swelling words of vanity."
2Pe 1:1-21. Address: Exhortation to All Graces, as God Has Given Us, in the Knowledge of Christ, All Things Pertaining to Life: Confirmed by the Testimony of Apostles, and Also Prophets, to the Power and Coming of Christ.
1. Simon—the Greek form: in oldest manuscripts, "Symeon" (Hebrew, that is, "hearing), as in Ac 15:14. His mention of his original name accords with the design of this Second Epistle, which is to warn against the coming false teachers, by setting forth the true "knowledge" of Christ on the testimony of the original apostolic eye-witnesses like himself. This was not required in the First Epistle.
servant—"slave": so Paul, Ro 1:1.
to them, &c.—He addresses a wider range of readers (all believers) than in the First Epistle, 2Pe 1:1, but means to include especially those addressed in the First Epistle, as 2Pe 3:1 proves.
obtained—by grace. Applied by Peter to the receiving of the apostleship, literally, "by allotment": as the Greek is, Lu 1:9; Joh 19:24. They did not acquire it for themselves; the divine election is as independent of man's control, as the lot which is east forth.
Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
2. Grace … peace—(1Pe 1:2).
through—Greek, "in": the sphere IN which alone grace and peace can be multiplied.
knowledge—Greek, "full knowledge."
of God, and of Jesus our Lord—The Father is here meant by "God," but the Son in 2Pe 1:1: marking how entirely one the Father and Son are (Joh 14:7-11). The Vulgate omits "of God and"; but oldest manuscripts support the words. Still the prominent object of Peter's exhortation is "the knowledge of Jesus our Lord" (a phrase only in Ro 4:24), and, only secondarily, of the Father through Him (2Pe 1:8; 2Pe 2:20; 3:18).
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
3. According as, &c.—Seeing that [Alford]. "As He hath given us ALL things (needful) for life and godliness, (so) do you give us ALL diligence," &c. The oil and flame are given wholly of grace by God, and "taken" by believers: their part henceforth is to "trim their lamps" (compare 2Pe 1:3, 4 with 2Pe 1:5, &c.).
life and godliness—Spiritual life must exist first before there can be true godliness. Knowledge of God experimentally is the first step to life (Joh 17:3). The child must have vital breath. first, and then cry to, and walk in the ways of, his father. It is not by godliness that we obtain life, but by life, godliness. To life stands opposed corruption; to godliness, lust (2Pe 1:4).
called us—(2Pe 1:10); "calling" (1Pe 2:9).
to glory and virtue—rather, "through (His) glory." Thus English Version reads as one oldest manuscript. But other oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, "By His own (peculiar) glory and virtue"; being the explanation of "His divine power"; glory and moral excellency (the same attribute is given to God in 1Pe 2:9, "praises," literally, "virtues") characterize God's "power." "Virtue," the standing word in heathen ethics, is found only once in Paul (Php 4:8), and in Peter in a distinct sense from its classic usage; it (in the heathen sense) is a term too low and earthly for expressing the gifts of the Spirit [Trench, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament].
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
4. Whereby, &c.—By His glory and virtue: His glory making the "promises" to be exceeding great; His virtue making them "precious" [Bengel]. Precious promises are the object of precious faith.
given—The promises themselves are a gift: for God's promises are as sure as if they were fulfilled.
by these—promises. They are the object of faith, and even now have a sanctifying effect on the believer, assimilating him to God. Still more so, when they shall be fulfilled.
might, &c.—Greek, "that ye MAY become partakers of the divine nature," even now in part; hereafter perfectly; 1Jo 3:2, "We shall be like Him."
the divine nature—not God's essence, but His holiness, including His "glory" and "virtue," 2Pe 1:3; the opposite to "corruption through lust." Sanctification is the imparting to us of God Himself by the Holy Spirit in the soul. We by faith partake also of the material nature of Jesus (Eph 5:30). The "divine power" enables us to be partakers of "the divine nature."
escaped the corruption—which involves in, and with itself, destruction at last of soul and body; on "escaped" as from a condemned cell, compare 2Pe 2:18-20; Ge 19:17; Col 1:13.
through—Greek, "in." "The corruption in the world" has its seat, not so much in the surrounding elements, as in the "lust" or concupiscence of men's hearts.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
5. And beside this—rather, "And for this very reason," namely, "seeing that His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2Pe 1:3).
giving—literally, "introducing," side by side with God's gift, on your part "diligence." Compare an instance, 2Pe 1:10; 2Pe 3:14; 2Co 7:11.
add—literally, "minister additionally," or, abundantly (compare Greek, 2Co 9:10); said properly of the one who supplied all the equipments of a chorus. So accordingly, "there will be ministered abundantly unto you an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Saviour" (2Pe 1:11).
to—Greek, "in"; "in the possession of your faith, minister virtue. Their faith (answering to "knowledge of Him," 2Pe 1:3) is presupposed as the gift of God (2Pe 1:3; Eph 2:8), and is not required to be ministered by us; in its exercise, virtue is to be, moreover, ministered. Each grace being assumed, becomes the stepping stone to the succeeding grace: and the latter in turn qualifies and completes the former. Faith leads the band; love brings up the rear [Bengel]. The fruits of faith specified are seven, the perfect number.
virtue—moral excellency; manly, strenuous energy, answering to the virtue (energetic excellency) of God.
and to—Greek, "in"; "and in (the exercise of) your virtue knowledge," namely, practical discrimination of good and evil; intelligent appreciation of what is the will of God in each detail of practice.
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
6. Greek, "And in your knowledge self-control." In the exercise of Christian knowledge or discernment of God's will, let there be the practical fruit of self-control as to one's lusts and passions. Incontinence weakens the mind; continence, or self-control, moves weakness and imparts strength And in your self-control patient endurance" amidst sufferings, so much dwelt on in the First Epistle, second, third, and fourth chapters. "And in your patient endurance godliness"; it is not to be mere stoical endurance, but united to [and flowing from] God-trusting [Alford].
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
7. "And in your godliness brotherly kindness"; not suffering your godliness to be moroseness, nor a sullen solitary habit of life, but kind, generous, and courteous [Alford]. Your natural affection and brotherly kindness are to be sanctified by godliness. "And in your brotherly kindness love," namely, to all men, even to enemies, in thought, word, and deed. From brotherly kindness we are to go forward to love. Compare 1Th 3:12, "Love one toward another (brotherly kindness), and toward all men (charity)." So charity completes the choir of graces in Col 3:14. In a retrograde order, he who has love will exercise brotherly kindness; he who has brotherly kindness will feel godliness needful; the godly will mix nothing stoical with his patience; to the patient, temperance is easy; the temperate weighs things well, and so has knowledge; knowledge guards against sudden impulse carrying away its virtue [Bengel].
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
8. be—Greek, "subsist" that is, supposing these things to have an actual subsistence in you; "be" would express the mere matter-of-fact being (Ac 16:20).
abound—more than in others; so the Greek.
make—"render," "constitute you," habitually, by the very fact of possessing these graces.
barren—"inactive," and, as a field lying fallow and unworked (Greek), so barren and useless.
unfruitful in—rather, … in respect to, "The full knowledge (Greek) of Christ" is the goal towards which all these graces tend. As their subsisting in us constitutes us not barren or idle, so their abounding in us constitutes us not unfruitful in respect to it. It is through doing His will, and so becoming like Him, that we grow in knowing Him (Joh 7:17).
But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
9. But—Greek, "For." Confirming the need of these graces (2Pe 1:5-8) by the fatal consequences of the want of them.
he that lacketh—Greek, "he to whom these are not present."
blind—as to the spiritual realities of the unseen world.
and cannot see afar off—explanatory of "blind." He closes his eyes (Greek) as unable to see distant objects (namely, heavenly things), and fixes his gaze on present and earthly things which alone he can see. Perhaps a degree of wilfulness in the blindness is implied in the Greek, "closing the eyes," which constitutes its culpability; hating and rebelling against the light shining around him.
forgotten—Greek, "contracted forgetfulness," wilful and culpable obliviousness.
that he was purged—The continually present sense of one's sins having been once for all forgiven, is the strongest stimulus to every grace (Ps 130:4). This once-for-all accomplished cleansing of unbelievers at their new birth is taught symbolically by Christ, Joh 13:10, Greek, "He that has been bathed (once for all) needeth not save to wash his feet (of the soils contracted in the daily walk), but is clean every whit (in Christ our righteousness)." "Once purged (with Christ's blood), we should have no more consciousness of sin (as condemning us, Heb 10:2, because of God's promise)." Baptism is the sacramental pledge of this.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
10. Wherefore—seeking the blessed consequence of having, and the evil effects of not having, these graces (2Pe 1:8, 9).
the rather—the more earnestly.
brethren—marking that it is affection for them which constrains him so earnestly to urge them. Nowhere else does he so address them, which makes his calling them so here the more emphatical.
give diligence—The Greek aorist implies one lifelong effect [Alford].
to make—Greek middle voice; to make so far as it depends on you; to do your part towards making. "To make" absolutely and finally is God's part, and would be in the active.
your calling and election sure—by ministering additionally in your faith virtue, and in your virtue knowledge, &c. God must work all these graces in us, yet not so that we should be mere machines, but willing instruments in His hands in making His election of us "secure." The ensuring of our election is spoken of not in respect to God, whose counsel is steadfast and everlasting, but in respect to our part. There is no uncertainty on His part, but on ours the only security is our faith in His promise and the fruits of the Spirit (2Pe 1:5-7, 11). Peter subjoins election to calling, because the calling is the effect and proof of God's election, which goes before and is the main thing (Ro 8:28, 30, 33, where God's "elect" are those "predestinated," and election is "His purpose," according to which He "called" them). We know His calling before His election, thereby calling is put first.
fall—Greek, "stumble" and fall finally (Ro 11:11). Metaphor from one stumbling in a race (1Co 9:24).
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
11. an entrance—rather as Greek, "the entrance" which ye look for.
ministered—the same verb as in 2Pe 1:5. Minister in your faith virtue and the other graces, so shall there be ministered to you the entrance into that heaven where these graces shine most brightly. The reward of grace hereafter shall correspond to the work of grace here.
abundantly—Greek, "richly." It answers to "abound," 2Pe 1:8. If these graces abound in you, you shall have your entrance into heaven not merely "scarcely" (as he had said, 1Pe 4:18), nor "so as by fire," like one escaping with life after having lost all his goods, but in triumph without "stumbling and falling."
Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.
12. Wherefore—as these graces are so necessary to your abundant entrance into Christ's kingdom (2Pe 1:10, 11).
I will not be negligent—The oldest manuscripts read, "I will be about always to put you in remembrance" (an accumulated future: I will regard you as always needing to be reminded): compare "I will endeavor," 2Pe 1:15. "I will be sure always to remind you" [Alford]. "Always"; implying the reason why he writes the second Epistle so soon after the first. He feels there is likely to be more and more need of admonition on account of the increasing corruption (2Pe 2:1, 2).
in the present truth—the Gospel truth now present with you: formerly promised to Old Testament believers as about to be, now in the New Testament actually present with, and in, believers, so that they are "established" in it as a "present" reality. Its importance renders frequent monitions never superfluous: compare Paul's similar apology, Ro 15:14, 15.
Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;
13. Yea—Greek, "But"; though "you know" the truth (2Pe 1:12).
this tabernacle—soon to be taken down (2Co 5:1): I therefore need to make the most of my short time for the good of Christ's Church. The zeal of Satan against it, the more intense as his time is short, ought to stimulate Christians on the same ground.
by—Greek, "in" (compare 2Pe 3:1).
Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.
14. shortly I must put off—Greek, "the putting off (as a garment) of my tabernacle is speedy": implying a soon approaching, and also a sudden death (as a violent death is). Christ's words, Joh 21:18, 19, "When thou art old," &c., were the ground of his "knowing," now that he was old, that his foretold martyrdom was near. Compare as to Paul, 2Ti 4:6. Though a violent death, he calls it a "departure" (Greek for "decease," 2Pe 1:15), compare Ac 7:60.
Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
15. endeavour—"use my diligence": the same Greek word as in 2Pe 1:10: this is the field in which my diligence has scope. Peter thus fulfils Christ's charge, "Feed My sheep" (Joh 21:16, 17).
decease—"departure." The very word ("exodus") used in the Transfiguration, Moses and Elias conversing about Christ's decease (found nowhere else in the New Testament, but Heb 11:22, "the departing of Israel" out of Egypt, to which the saints' deliverance from the present bondage of corruption answers). "Tabernacle" is another term found here as well as there (Lu 9:31, 33): an undesigned coincidence confirming Peter's authorship of this Epistle.
that ye may be able—by the help of this written Epistle; and perhaps also of Mark's Gospel, which Peter superintended.
always—Greek, "on each occasion": as often as occasion may require.
to have … in remembrance—Greek, "to exercise remembrance of." Not merely "to remember," as sometimes we do, things we care not about; but "have them in (earnest) remembrance," as momentous and precious truths.
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.
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."
For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
17. received … honour—in the voice that spake to Him.
glory—in the light which shone around Him.
came—Greek, "was borne": the same phrase occurs only in 1Pe 1:13; one of several instances showing that the argument against the authenticity of this Second Epistle, from its dissimilarity of style as compared with First Peter, is not well founded.
such a voice—as he proceeds to describe.
from the excellent glory—rather as Greek, "by (that is, uttered by) the magnificent glory (that is, by God: as His glorious manifested presence is often called by the Hebrews "the Glory," compare "His Excellency," De 33:26; Ps 21:5)."
in whom—Greek, "in regard to whom" (accusative case); but Mt 17:5, "in whom" (dative case) centers and rests My good pleasure. Peter also omits, as not required by his purpose, "hear Him," showing his independence in his inspired testimony.
I am—Greek aorist, past time, "My good pleasure rested from eternity."
And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.
18. which came—rather as Greek, "we heard borne from heaven."
holy mount—as the Transfiguration mount came to be regarded, on account of the manifestation of Christ's divine glory there.
we—emphatical: we, James and John, as well as myself.
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
19. We—all believers.
a more sure—rather as Greek, "we have the word of prophecy more sure (confirmed)." Previously we knew its sureness by faith, but, through that visible specimen of its hereafter entire fulfilment, assurance is made doubly sure. Prophecy assures us that Christ's sufferings, now past, are to be followed by Christ's glory, still future: the Transfiguration gives us a pledge to make our faith still stronger, that "the day" of His glory will "dawn" ere long. He does not mean to say that "the word of prophecy," or Scripture, is surer than the voice of God heard at the Transfiguration, as English Version; for this is plainly not the fact. The fulfilment of prophecy so far in Christ's history makes us the surer of what is yet to be fulfilled, His consummated glory. The word was the "lamp (Greek for 'light') heeded" by Old Testament believers, until a gleam of the "day dawn" was given at Christ's first coming, and especially in His Transfiguration. So the word is a lamp to us still, until "the day" burst forth fully at the second coming of "the Sun of righteousness." The day, when it dawns upon you, makes sure the fact that you saw correctly, though indistinctly, the objects revealed by the lamp.
whereunto—to which word of prophecy, primarily the Old Testament in Peter's day; but now also in our day the New Testament, which, though brighter than the Old Testament (compare 1Jo 2:8, end), is but a lamp even still as compared with the brightness of the eternal day (compare 2Pe 3:2). Oral teachings and traditions of ministers are to be tested by the written word (Ac 17:11).
dark—The Greek implies squalid, having neither water nor light: such spiritually is the world without, and the smaller world (microcosm) within, the heart in its natural state. Compare the "dry places" Lu 11:24 (namely, unwatered by the Spirit), through which the unclean spirit goeth.
dawn—bursting through the darkness.
day star—Greek, the morning star," as Re 22:16. The Lord Jesus.
in your hearts—Christ's arising in the heart by His Spirit giving full assurance, creates spiritually full day in the heart, the means to which is prayerfully giving heed to the word. This is associated with the coming of the day of the Lord, as being the earnest of it. Indeed, even our hearts shall not fully realize Christ in all His unspeakable glory and felt presence, until He shall come (Mal 4:2). Isa 66:14, 15, "When you see this, your heart shall rejoice … For, behold, the Lord will come." However, Tregelles' punctuation is best, "whereunto ye do well to take heed (as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day have dawned and the morning star arisen) in your hearts." For the day has already dawned in the heart of believers; what they wait for is its visible manifestation at Christ's coming.
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
20. "Forasmuch as ye know this" (1Pe 1:18).
first—the foremost consideration in studying the word of prophecy. Laying it down as a first principle never to be lost sight of.
is—Greek, not the simple verb, to be, but to begin to be, "proves to be," "becometh." No prophecy is found to be the result of "private (the mere individual writer's uninspired) interpretation" (solution), and so origination. The Greek noun epilusis, does not mean in itself origination; but that which the sacred writer could not always fully interpret, though being the speaker or writer (as 1Pe 1:10-12 implies), was plainly not of his own, but of God's disclosure, origination, and inspiration, as Peter proceeds to add, "But holy men … spake (and afterwards wrote) … moved by the Holy Ghost": a reason why ye should "give" all "heed" to it. The parallelism to 2Pe 1:16 shows that "private interpretation," contrasted with "moved by the Holy Ghost," here answers to "fables devised by (human) wisdom," contrasted with "we were eye-witnesses of His majesty," as attested by the "voice from God." The words of the prophetical (and so of all) Scripture writers were not mere words of the individuals, and therefore to be interpreted by them, but of "the Holy Ghost" by whom they were "moved." "Private" is explained, 2Pe 1:21, "by the will of man" (namely, the individual writer). In a secondary sense the text teaches also, as the word is the Holy Spirit's, it cannot be interpreted by its readers (any more than by its writers) by their mere private human powers, but by the teaching of the Holy Ghost (Joh 16:14). "He who is the author of Scripture is its supreme interpreter" [Gerhard]. Alford translates, "springs not out of human interpretation," that is, is not a prognostication made by a man knowing what he means when he utters it, but," &c. (Joh 11:49-52). Rightly: except that the verb is rather, doth become, or prove to be. It not being of private interpretation, you must "give heed" to it, looking for the Spirit's illumination "in your hearts" (compare Note, see on 2Pe 1:19).
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
21. came not in old time—rather, "was never at any time borne" (to us).
by the will of man—alone. Jer 23:26, "prophets of the deceit of their own heart." Compare 2Pe 3:5, "willingly."
holy—One oldest manuscript has, "men FROM God": the emissaries from God. "Holy," if read, will mean because they had the Holy Spirit.
moved—Greek, "borne" (along) as by a mighty wind: Ac 2:2, "rushing (the same Greek) wind": rapt out of themselves: still not in fanatical excitement (1Co 14:32). The Hebrew "nabi," "prophet," meant an announcer or interpreter of God: he, as God's spokesman, interpreted not his own "private" will or thought, but God's "Man of the Spirit" (Ho 9:7, Margin). "Thou testifiedst by Thy Spirit in Thy prophets." "Seer," on the other hand, refers to the mode of receiving the communications from God, rather than to the utterance of them to others. "Spake" implies that, both in its original oral announcement, and now even when in writing, it has been always, and is, the living voice of God speaking to us through His inspired servants. Greek, "borne (along)" forms a beautiful antithesis to "was borne." They were passive, rather than active instruments. The Old Testament prophets primarily, but including also all the inspired penmen, whether of the New or Old Testament (2Pe 3:2).