2 Peter 1:12-21
Why I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though you know them…
I. THE TIME OF PUTTING IN MIND.
1. Putting in mind as long as he was in this tabernacle. "Wherefore I shall be ready always to put you in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and are established in the truth which is with you. And I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle cometh swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ signified unto me." Because of the importance of the things dealt with in the previous verses, Peter declares that he would be ready always, i.e., would take every opportunity, to put them in mind of them. "In matters of such importance reminders can never be superfluous; wherefore they should never be troublesome" (Calvin). In one way there was not need for putting them in mind; for he bears testimony courteously to their knowing these things, and being established, i.e., having a firm standing, in the truth that was with them (not the present-day truth, as is suggested by the old translation). Feeling their importance himself, he thought it right to tell them the same things again and again, thereby to stir them up, i.e., to a due sense of their meaning. It is important to enlarge the circle of human knowledge - to get new thoughts, new facts, new combinations of facts; but it is a thousand times more important to have the complete realization of one or two things that we know. Even with those who knew and were established Peter laboured, by reiteration, to stir them up - to give them a deeper impression of a few simple gospel truths. He was resolved to stir them up by putting them in mind, as long as he was in this tabernacle. This is a familiar designation of the body in relation to the soul (in 2 Corinthians 5:1 it is "tabernacle-house"). The body is a covering to the soul; it keeps it from being exposed to the glare of the world. "Tabernacle" also suggests that which can be quickly taken down (in Isaiah 38:12 there is the association of death with the removal of a shepherd's tent); the connection of the body with the soul is not so close but that it can be quickly removed as a shepherd's tent. Peter was incited to action by the knowledge of what our Lord Jesus Christ had signified unto him. There is unmistakable reference to John 21:18, 19. Our Lord, according to what is recorded there, signified to Peter that he was to die a martyr's death. Let Peter's language here be observed. There was to be not the striking of his tent, but still, not out of keeping with the idea of a tent as a temporary soul-covering, the putting of it off. And swift or sudden was the manner in which it was to be put off. We are not to think of the swiftness of death's approach (unless in the use of the present tense), but of death's swift work when it did come. He was to end his life by a violent death. Our Lord had signified to him that he was not to die soon; it was only when he became old that he was to stretch forth his hands, and another was to gird him, and carry him whither he would not. He was now old, without the assurance he had once had of living long; and as our Lord had signified to him that not much time was to be occupied in the putting off of his tabernacle, so long as he was in it he would let slip no opportunity of putting them in mind. "Teachers who are long sick can still feed others. The cross was not to permit that to Peter. So he sees to doing beforehand what required to be done" (Bengel).
2. Putting in mind as affected by his decease. "Yea, I will give diligence that at every time ye may be able after my decease to call these things to remembrance." "Decease" is literally "departure," which, from the context, we may take to be departure out of the tabernacle of the body. In view of what follows, it is to be remarked that both "tabernacle" and "decease" are words associated with the Transfiguration-scene. How were they to be provided for after his decease? He was to use diligence, that they would then be able, as occasion arose, to call these things to mind. We can think of Peter here reflecting the Divine thoughtfulness. The apostles were not to live alway; so God saw to the important things being put down in a permanent form in the New Testament. Peter, now an old man, was to die swiftly; so, as the servant of God, he was to see to the important things being put down in writing, that, as occasion arose, they might be able to call them clearly to mind.
II. PUTTING IN MIND WITH REFERENCE TO THE SUBJECT OF THE SECOND COMING.
1. The certainty of the coming. "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." There are two important points to be noticed here. In the first place, Peter, writing in the name of the other apostles, declares that they were careful in what they admitted into the historical basis of their religion. They saw the putting forward of cunningly devised fables - stories without foundation in reality, cleverly concocted, so as to impose on the ignorant, and to keep up the influence of the priesthood or the false teachers. They did not follow this lead; but were careful to exclude all mythical elements, and to admit only well-established fact. In the second place, Peter and the other apostles made known unto the persons addressed the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The first exhibition of power was when Christ rose from the dead; its full exhibition was to be at the coming. It is true that in this Epistle there is no direct reference to the weakness and death of Christ; this is to be explained by the circumstances in which Peter wrote. There are times when we need to pass on from the humiliation, and to allow our minds to be occupied with the exaltation.
2. The attesting power of the Transfiguration to the coming.
(1) Eye-testimony. "But we were eye-witnesses of his majesty." The reference, as is seen from what follows, is to the Transfiguration. The three who were admitted as witnesses were Peter and James and John: they were admitted, while others were excluded. What they saw was not his ordinary earthly form, but that form transfigured - what is here called his majesty. "His garments,' according to the graphic account of Mark, "became glistering, exceeding white; so as no fuller on earth can whiten them." This remarkable manifestation, which was out of the ordinary course in Christ's earthly life, which was not for the common gaze, testified to the coming, inasmuch as it was to be regarded as the glorifying of Christ beforehand. It was Christ seen as he was to be after his ascension. It was Christ as he was afterwards seen by the prisoner of Patmos in his actually glorified condition.
(a) What was heard. "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." In the original the verse begins, "for having received," and is interrupted before its close. The honour and glory from God the Father are to be associated with the voice, but with the voice as expressive of the majesty that was seen by the eye. The voice is represented as borne to him, not from, but by, the excellent glory, which is putting for God the excellent glory in which he dwells, so as to raise an impression of the magnificence of the scene. The voice was such as this, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." There is only a slight variation from the words given in Matthew, the effect of which is to present the good pleasure of the Father as on his beloved Son, so as to abide and not to leave him. This was fitted to encourage Christ in prospect of the decease which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem. As testimony to the coming, it is to be taken along with the change presented to sight. In that anticipation of glory was to be read how the good pleasure of God was to find manifestation.
(b) The hearing. "And this voice we ourselves heard come out of heaven, when we were with him in the holy mount." This helps to emphasize the reality of the voice. There was no possibility of deception; the voice was heard borne in upon them, borne in from heaven. There was present the condition of three witnesses, by which it is established as a fact. This also helps to connect the thought distinctly with the Transfiguration. The voice was heard when they, the three, were with him in the holy mount - the mount rendered holy by the association.
3. The attesting power of the prophetic Word to the coming.
(1) The greater attesting power of the prophetic Word. "And we have the Word of prophecy made more sure." The literal translation is preferable, "And we have more sure the prophetic Word." By "the prophetic Word" we are to understand the Bible, with special reference to what it has to say about the future in its connection with Christ. It must be recognized that a comparison is instituted. The comparison is not between the voice from heaven and the prophetic Word, but rather between the Transfiguration (with the accompaniment of the voice) and the prophetic Word in their attesting power to the second coming. The fact was significant; but there is greater satisfaction in having definite statements as to Christ's coming. It is the old prophetic Word that Peter seems to have in his mind; but we may regard it as elucidated and filled up by New Testament statements. From these statements we can have some conception of the scene. The Lord descends from his heavenly throne in majesty. The moment that the Lord descends, the archangel marshals his innumerable host, giving the shout of command with the living voice. Having marshaled his hosts to move in harmony with the descending Lord, he at a subsequent stage gives another shout of command, this time not with the living voice, but with the trump of God. At the trumpet-call the dead arise. The Christian dead, raised with reconstituted bodies, join the Christian living, whose bodies are transformed, making one company, and, caught up in the enveloping, upbearing clouds, they meet their descending Lord with the marshaled army of angels in the air. The Lord descends to earth; before him are gathered all nations, and, as Judge, he separates them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats. The wicked receive their desert; the righteous ascend in the triumphant retinue to heaven, to be for ever with the Lord.
(2) On account of its certainty we are to take heed to it. "Whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts." We do well to take heed to what the Bible says about the issues of life as connected with the coming of Christ. The prophetic Word is here compared to a ]amp, on account of the clear light it sheds. It is true of the Bible as a whole that it is as a lamp. "This lamp from off the everlasting throne mercy took down." The dark place in which it shines is the world. How dark would the world be but for the light it casts upon God and upon the future! It is to continue to shine until the day dawn, and the day-star arise. This bringing in of the full day is to be regarded as Christ's coming. Then the Bible, in its earthly form, will have served its purpose; it will give place to the great Teacher himself. The relation of all to that coming is not to be joyful; to some it will only be the time of exposure, the time of discomfiture and el consignment to darkness. But it is to come with a blessed certainty in the hearts of Christ's people. It is the beginning of a long bright day to them in the presence of their Lord.
(3) The ground of the certainty on account of which we are to take heed to it. "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Ghost." The statement, declared to be of prime importance, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation, was long obscure; and Roman Catholic theologians took advantage of the obscurity to assert that its meaning is that Scripture can only be interpreted by the Church, and not by private Christians. There is now clearness as to its meaning, which is that the prophet did not proceed on his own private interpretation of things. For, it is added, no prophecy ever came by the will of man, i.e. originated in mere human determination. Men indeed spoke (and not always holy men, as in the case of Balsam); there was thus the exercise of the human mind to a certain extent, there was the human form in what they spoke, there were even individual characteristics brought out; but the higher causal account of it was that they spoke from God, and because they were borne along unresistingly by the Holy Ghost. There was thus, which is the point here, secured certainty, infallibility in what they spoke. We do well, then, to take heed to what they say to us, "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith." - R.F.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.