2 Peter #5 2 Peter 1:16-21 (MSG) Assured of the Second Coming
2 Peter #5 2 Peter 1:16-21 (MSG) Assured of the Second Coming
To guard us from being led astray by false teaching, Peter gives us two ways to protect ourselves. The first deals with the teachings of the Apostles and their handpicked successor. You know that the original Apostles had a very special relationship with Jesus; all were hand-picked, and chosen by Jesus to be part of the inner circle that would carry on his teaching after the resurrection. All except the Apostle Paul observed Jesus first hand, even the one who betrayed him, heard the things he taught, saw the signs and wonders, the miracles he performed to validate his message that the Kingdom of God was at hand. They walked with him, talked with him, ate with him, and stayed with him. They had firsthand knowledge of Jesus. Peter wants to assure us that what the Apostles and those handpicked successors, the ones we call the Patriarchs or the Early Church Fathers teach will be true knowledge of Jesus.
At this time there is no collection of writings that will become the New Testament we have today. The scripture that Peter refers to is those of the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament. Of these Peter assures us that they also contain everything we need to know because they are inspired by the Holy Spirit. This same inspiration will be accredited to the writings of the original Apostles much later.
The teachings of the Apostles and the scripture are sure guides into all truth. Let’s dig in.
2 Peter 1:16-21 (MSG)
We weren't, you know, just wishing on a star when we laid the facts out before you regarding the powerful return of our Master, Jesus Christ. We were there for the preview! We saw it with our own eyes: 17 Jesus resplendent with light from God the Father as the voice of Majestic Glory spoke: "This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of all my delight." 18 We were there on the holy mountain with him. We heard the voice out of heaven with our very own ears.
19 We couldn't be more sure of what we saw and heard—God's glory, God's voice. The prophetic Word was confirmed to us. You'll do well to keep focusing on it. It's the one light you have in a dark time as you wait for daybreak and the rising of the Morning Star in your hearts. 20 The main thing to keep in mind here is that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private opinion. 21 And why? Because it's not something concocted in the human heart. Prophecy resulted when the Holy Spirit prompted men and women to speak God's Word.
It’s safe to assume that the “we” Peter writes of are the Apostles. Definitely, James and John as they were also present at the event we call the Transfiguration.
Matthew 17:1-8 (MSG)
Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light. Then they realized that Moses and Elijah were also there in deep conversation with him.
Peter broke in, "Master, this is a great moment! What would you think if I built three memorials here on the mountain—one for you, one for Moses, one for Elijah?" While he was going on like this, babbling, a light-radiant cloud enveloped them, and sounding from deep in the cloud a voice: "This is my Son, marked by my love, focus of my delight. Listen to him." When the disciples heard it, they fell flat on their faces, scared to death. But Jesus came over and touched them. "Don't be afraid." When they opened their eyes and looked around all they saw was Jesus, only Jesus.
This was an incredible event for Peter, James, and John. This was proof to these three that Jesus was more than just a rabbi, more than a prophet anointed by God. At the time Jewish belief considered the appearance of Moses who was buried by God Himself and Elijah who was carried alive into eternity reappearing on earth as the sign the Kingdom of God had come. Moses represents the Law, Elijah represents the prophets of the Hebrew scripture, our Old Testament, and the voice from Heaven tells the disciples that they are also to listen to Jesus; placing Jesus’ teaching in addition and above the Law and the Prophets.
Peter explains that the disciples were eyewitnesses to this event that further validated Jesus' ministry. Peter argues that it is the claims of the false teachers that are fabricated tales. Peter in effect is saying what do these know? We were there and we saw and we heard. He specifically mentions the second coming. The false teachers were denying such a future event. Peter is convinced that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus announced the coming of the Kingdom, that the Kingdom of God was among them, but more was expected.
Daniel 7:13-14: "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed."
This expectation is referred to as the consummation of the Kingdom. The consummation begins with the second coming of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead in Christ, the transformation of believers at the time of the event, and the rule of God, His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.
The reason that Peter ties the Transfiguration with the Second Coming is that both events emphasize “Jesus' divine nature, His glory, and the transformative power of His presence. The transfiguration provided a glimpse of His glory during His earthly ministry, while the second coming represents His return in full glory to establish God's kingdom” (ChatGPT June 27, 2023).
Hope in the second coming is an affirmation of the divinity of Jesus. The Transfiguration is a testimony to the unique relationship Jesus shares with the One He called the Father. The divinity of Jesus is a foundational teaching of Christianity. The second coming is one of the great hopes of the faith. The truth of both was being twisted with ideas that seemed more sensible that if carried to their logical conclusions resulted in no Christianity at all. Peter writes that we are to align ourselves with the teachings of the Apostles, that truth is communicated in their writings and their lifestyles, instructing and demonstrating how to continue in a life pleasing to God.
Peter goes on to say that the scriptures are also a sure guide to discerning truth from error. This echoes the teaching of the Apostle Paul who wrote: “Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us”
(2 Tim 3:16-17 (MSG).
At the time of this writing, it would be the Old Testament that was considered scripture, the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew Bible is divided into four sections, including the Torah (or Pentateuch), the Historical Books, the Wisdom Literature, and the Prophets.
The Torah consists of the first five writings or books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Read them and you will be introduced to the creation story, the origins of the Jewish people, the guidelines or laws for being a people of God, and the story of these people entering the Promised Land.
The Historical books span the good and bad of God’s people from the time between entering the land of Canaan, the Promised Land through the Babylonian captivity.” Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles contain these accounts. One of the keys to reading history is to know the lay of the land. It is difficult to catch the significance of a place you can’t pronounce let alone heard of. Then there are all the names whose significance is often hidden causing us to miss the connections. This is when the scholars come in handy.
Wisdom literature consists of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon offer insight into human nature, morality, and how best to live life.
The Prophets section includes Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and the only Italian prophet Malachi, no he’s not Italian, the name is pronounced “MAL-uh-kai.” These individuals were chosen by God to deliver warnings, guidance, and hope to the people of Israel.
These writing are considered inspired by God. Maybe the best way to understand inspiration is the idea of being divinely influenced. The authors wrote in the real world, using the words and ideas of the day to address the situations their audiences found themselves in. The informing principles that motivated the writings are timeless, and applicable in every age. There are a variety of explanations of how this divine inspiration occurred, but the most probable is a partnership in which God worked through the author’s unique personalities, experiences, and writing styles to convey His message. Regardless of how exactly God inspired, the Hebrew Bible is considered authoritative and the New Testament contains all a person needs to know to live a life pleasing to God, an exemplary life.
The Hebrew Bible reveals that the Messiah will deliver his people from oppression and elevate the nation of Israel to former prominence. So glorious will this God-anointed leader be that all the nations of the world will recognize his authority. The Apostles were convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah. Since the glorious ending has not yet occurred Jesus having fulfilled prophesies of being the suffering servant will come again to fulfill the prophecies of the conquering King bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth in a glorious liberation.
The Old and New Testaments contain everything we need to know to live righteously, to live as God designed. If some teaching contradicts what is written that teaching is simply wrong. If some teaching condones a behavior that the Bible condemns, that behavior is simply wrong. This is a great oversimplification, yet this is Peter’s litmus test to discern true knowledge of Jesus from misunderstandings.
Peter leaves us with a question. Are we, are you, am I, going to accept the Bible as authoritative in the sense of commanding? Of course, we have to properly interpret the scripture which is a topic for another time. Each of us must determine if we are going to appropriate scripture as our guide to living a devout and holy life. It’s really an all-or-nothing decision, we can’t choose to follow a portion and disregard another to do so will lead to stunted growth or just straying from true knowledge of God in Christ. What have you decided, is the Bible God’s guide to living your life to the full or not? I have chosen to understand the Bible as the word of God revealing to me all I need to know to live an exemplary life such that I am welcomed by Jesus Himself into eternity.
Those that take the Bible seriously may not have to wait to be welcomed into eternity. We’re speaking of death, when we die glorifying grace transitions the mortal and temporal being into the immortal and eternal. The second coming is a great hope of the Apostles. Jesus will return. When things are tough it is good to remember that at any time Jesus can return, this thought motivates you to keep on keeping on, loyal, and carrying out the mission even in the face of overwhelming opposition. The scripture says at the second coming there is a resurrection of the bodies of those who entered eternity before us and that for us who are living there is an instantaneous transformation, we skip the death experience and are ushered into life eternal. Now for some people, this is total nonsense, a fabricated fantasy, and a false hope, exactly what Peter tells us the false teachers were saying. But Peter assures us that it is truth.
The truth Jesus is coming again, and at any time, brings with it urgency. The message is “do it now,” be diligent in your assignment as Kingdom ambassador, and don’t procrastinate when it comes to following Jesus. “Now” is the time for action because in the next now, Jesus may arrive.
The big take-a-way from verses 16-21 is that the Bible, both Old and New Testament, each of the 66 books which comprise the scripture, contain all the truth needed to guide you into eternal life and all the truth you need to live an exemplary life, that devout and holy life which is the desire of everyone who has true knowledge of Jesus. Our task is to indulge ourselves in the Scripture allowing the Holy Spirit to use the words written to guide us into all truth. In doing so we safeguard our hearts from the influence of false teachers.