Last night we continued our study through 2 Peter. Here are the notes:
1:1-11 Peter opens by talking about how much Christians have been given by God (v.1-4), and then encourages them to actively pursue growth in the attributes of a Christian (v.5-7), which will lead both to a meaningful life now (v.8-9) and, most importantly, a guaranteed entrance with honor into the kingdom of Christ, in the next life.
“For this reason” – that is, because of this need for diligence and the danger of falling he has hinted at (v.10), Peter says He will remind them of the things they need to know to help them on this journey.
He wants them to “always have a reminder” because there’s dangers of:
- False teaching that claims to represent the true way (see 2:1-3)
- Circumstances that seem to contradict what Christians expect (see 3:1-4)
Peter views his written document as the thing Christians will need to have recourse to, as a reminder of what he and the Apostles actually taught. And notice–he thinks that same way about both the Old Testament (3:2) and Paul’s letters (3:15-16)
Challenge: The written documents of the Bible are our sure guide to truth. They are God’s way of making sure we actually enjoy the benefits of 1:1-4 by attaining to the life envisioned in 1:5-8, and enjoying the eternity promised in 1:9-11.
“For” – the connection: it is important to have a reminder of the things Peter’s writing about, since the Apostles really do know what they’re talking about—they really are the authoritative messengers of Christ. Peter advances two reasons for this:
- They were eyewitnesses of Christ (v.16-18), as opposed to “myth” followers (or inventors)
- The word they preach about Christ is the confirmation of the OT, which was from God (v.19-21)
First, he says, the apostles were eyewitnesses of Christ (v.16-18), as opposed to “myth” followers (or inventors). Notice, specifically, the word “coming”–the issue seems to be stated in 3:3-4. False teachers were questioning if Jesus was really going to come back. So the question Peter’s getting at is: were the Apostles right to preach that Christ was coming back and would judge everyone? (see Mt 24:31-32; Acts 10:42, 17:30-31). His answer? Yes, because they saw it firsthand, and they reported his “power and coming” as they saw it. In other words, Peter says that the vision of the transfiguration which they saw, and the voice of God which they heard (quoting Psalm 2) out of heaven, was God’s way of showing them Christ’s coming glory (and status as Ruler/Judge) before it happened.
Second, he says that the message the apostles preached about Christ is the confirmation of the OT, which was from God (v.19-21)
“prophetic word” is the Old Testament prophecies. It is our light until Christ comes back. It wasn’t simply a man’s interpretation of the visions he saw (1:20), and it wasn’t just made up by a man either (1:21), instead, the prophets were “carried” along by the Spirit in what they wrote.
1. God shows people things, visually (v.16)
2. God speaks to them about what He’s shown them, to interpret (v.17)
3. God works with and in those people so they write what He wants written. (v.20-21)
1. The bible is not based on myths, but eyewitness evidence in history
2. The bible is not just human experience and interpretation, but God’s interpretation
Christ will come back. How we live matters. We have been given evidence of this, and writings to keep us from forgetting it. God Himself has given us the information we need, so we don’t have to walk in darkness.
Thoughts for a non-believer:
This passage totally upends what most people think of when they think about Christianity.
- Current thought, which discounts the Bible, is based on two assumptions: Either 1) there is no God, or 2) There may be a God, but God could not or would not give us reliable information about Himself, ourselves, and our world. But these assumptions need to be discussed.
- Peter says the Bible, and the Christian message it contains, is a historical account based on evidence. We invite historical investigation.
- So, Christian “faith” is never about “just believing when there’s no evidence,” but it is about finding out what God says, and trusting Him, using the evidence He has given us to trust Him.
- Jesus and his followers preached that everyone needed to repent before he comes back, because our lives will be judged by His standards. (Acts 17:30-31)
- If Jesus is who He said He was, and if these records are accurate, we all need to reckon with this.