PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

2 Peter 1:19-21; Pay Attention to the Prophetic Word

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20091115_2peter1_19-21.mp3

11/15 2 Peter 1:19-21 Pay Attention to the Prophetic Word

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter is writing into a situation where false teachers were denying the future literal coming of Jesus as judge and king to rule and reign. They were advocating a disregard of moral restraint because this talk of a king coming on a white horse with a sword is mere fairy tale, and we are much to sophisticated to believe that sort of thing. They would reject as myth things like 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, where Paul says:

2 Thessalonians 1:7 … when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

That’s just the sort of thing that someone would make up to scare you into listening to them and doing what they tell you to do.

Peter is arguing that a life lived in earnest pursuit of holiness really does matter; and it should be motivated by the expectation of the return of Jesus and the hope of entrance into his eternal kingdom. His first line of argument went like this: ‘No, Jesus really is coming again as judge and king, we can say this with confidence because we were eyewitnesses of the transfiguration; where God the Father installed Jesus as that coming messianic King who will rule and judge the nations. We were at his coronation ceremony. We were there for his inauguration. God himself sealed it with his own words.’

In verses 19-21, Peter lays out his second line of reasoning why we know for sure that Jesus really is coming back and living a life of godliness really does matter. We have the prophetic word – the Old Testament – that all points to Jesus the coming King, and that word is ratified by the installation of Jesus as king on the mount of transfiguration. Peter says that we do well to pay attention to it – it is a lamp to light our way until Jesus comes back. We must pay close heed because the word is not the product of human invention but rather it is divine communication. Peter points us here to our bibles. He wants us to keep our noses in them and to base our lives on them. He gives us great insight into the origin and intention of our bibles. Let’s look at what he has to say.

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The prophetic word; We have clarification on what this phrase means in verse 20, where the ‘prophetic word’ is referred to as ‘prophecy of Scripture’ or ‘prophetic writing’. For Jesus, ‘It is written’ was decisive in any argument. In Judaism, all of Scripture was considered prophetic. The singular refers to all Old Testament writings as a unity pointing to the coming Messiah.

More sure; The NASB has “So we have the prophetic word made more sure” and the NIV has “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain”; The ESV has “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word”. There is a subtle difference in the understanding of the original phrase that is represented by the different translations. What is clear is that the prophetic word is absolutely sure. The question is; does the transfiguration make the prophetic word more certain, or is the prophetic word said to be more certain than even the eyewitness accounts of the transfiguration? If you have a healthy respect for the scriptures you might opt for the second choice and ask ‘how can the scriptures be made more sure by any experience? – they are absolutely sure in themselves’. And I think Peter would agree, but his grammar points to the idea that the prophetic word is made more certain or confirmed by the transfiguration event. Not that scripture cannot stand without external testimony; it can. The scriptures are trustworthy because of what they are and who they come from, as Peter will make explicit in the next verses. But here he is saying that they are demonstrated trustworthy in that we actually saw the fulfillment of the prophecies unfold before our eyes. This is not the first time Peter has used this word ‘made more sure’. In verse 10, he tells us to “be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure” – and in that context it raises some of the same questions.. We cannot change what was done in the hidden councils of God before time began, but we can validate that decision and demonstrate that we are elect by doing what elect people do (and that starts by embracing Jesus). Just as my life demonstrates what (or whose) I am, the unfolding of prophetic events does not make the bible more trustworthy, but it demonstrates and puts on display what it inherently is.

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,

And here Peter gets to his main instruction for us. Pay attention! Pay attention to the prophetic word! Pay attention to your bibles! There is a note of encouragement here – you do well to pay attention – so keep it up! Don’t waylaid by false teachers who would turn you aside from studying and believing and obeying your bibles.

Peter compares the word of God to a lamp shining in a dark place. The word is compared to a light in Psalms and Proverbs:

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Proverbs 6:23 For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,

If you’ve ever been in a really dark place you understand the importance of a reliable light. There was a system of caves a few blocks from our college campus that I and some of my friends enjoyed exploring. I got to be relatively familiar with the small winding passageways. There was a tight entrance that opened into a large room with the ceiling covered in bats. Then there was a low crawl-way that led to another large room with many small tunnels leading in different directions. Once past the crawl-way there was no natural light that filtered in. Turn off your flashlight and there was absolute darkness. We would inch along on our bellies through these tight tunnels. On one expedition, we took some novice classmates in to explore, and half our little group lost interest and decided to turn around and head out while I and a friend wanted to continue. After the novices were out of earshot, I suggested that we hurry and take a turn in the tunnel we were in which I knew led back to the first room, where we would wait in the dark to terrify our novice friends. But in the rush to beat them out, we missed the critical turn and several hours later realized our little joke was on us. We had brought extra lights, but it was still sobering to see our flashlight beams dim as the batteries wore down. I enjoy the challenge of exploration, but the thought of trying to find our way groping in the pitch blackness was somehow not appealing. Our lights held up and we were able to eventually find our way out. But once we climbed out in broad daylight, our trusty lights that had served us so well in the winding little passageways were now completely irrelevant. Their weak beams were drowned out in the overwhelming light of the sun.

Peter tells us ‘pay attention to the prophetic word – it is a lamp shining in a dark place. But Peter has the end firmly in view. He uses that hope-filled word ‘until‘. As Isaiah predicted:

Isaiah 9:2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. (c.f. Matthew 4:16)

We dwell in a land of deep darkness. The word of God lights our path. But one glorious day, the light will dawn.

Isaiah 60:1Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you.

Revelation 21:23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Revelation 22:5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

But until – until that day when we look up from our bibles to see Jesus face to face. Until then ‘your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Ps.119:105); I find my delight in your commandments, which I love (Ps.119:47); Every word of God proves true (Prov.30:5); All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable (2Tim.3:16); whatever was written in former times was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom.15:4). Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture (1Tim.4:13).

19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Peter wants us to know something that is of critical importance. In a day when false teachers are undermining the word of God, it is essential that we understand the nature of the Scriptures. It is somewhat ironic to me that in a verse that says ‘no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation, there is a great variety of interpretation as to what exactly Peter meant by the words he chose. The two main views are represented in these different translations:

20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, (NKJV)

20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. (NIV)

The King James Version represents the standard Roman Catholic interpretation, and the NIV represents the standard Protestant understanding. The Catholic church would say that this verse refers to the interpretation by Christians of the written word. The scriptures are not to be put into the hands of the common people, because they are not authorized to interpret them correctly. The scriptures must be interpreted by the Church, not private individuals.

The historic Protestant response was to say that this verse has nothing to do with modern day biblical interpretation; what this verse is talking about is the process of writing the Scriptures; the prophet’s interpretation of historical events or his dreams or visions was not his own invention.

Some modern day Evangelicals (Schreiner, Piper) have taken the first interpretation that this refers to present day biblical interpretation and taken this to mean not that the scriptures can only be handled correctly by the Pope, but that the scriptures are not open to any personal whim of interpretation. You can’t make a verse mean whatever you want it to mean. It has a definite meaning intended by its Author.

Although there is not a shred of evidence in these verses to point to the church as the official interpreter of Scripture, both of the evangelical views have been defended by good men. And both represent a correct understanding of Scripture. The bible did not originate by the prophet’s own invention, and the bible does not leave its meaning open to every reader to be manipulated into whatever shape they fancy. Words mean things and there is one right and many wrong interpretations. But in the flow of this passage, the focus is on the origin and authenticity of the prophetic word, not on its current interpretation. When the prophets spoke of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, they were not throwing around their own opinions of what their visions and dreams meant. He goes on to explain:

21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Genuine prophecy was never borne along by the human will. This is where false prophecies came from:

Jeremiah 23: 16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.”’ …26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?

Notice there is a moral (or immoral)aspect to prophecy – they say ‘it will be well with you’ to those who despise the word of the Lord. This is exactly what the false teachers were doing in Peter’s day, and this is why Peter highlighted the moral responsibility of genuine believers.

No prophecy was carried along by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. This is why you do well to pay careful attention to the prophetic word – because it has its origin in God. Yes, men spoke – there was a human element to the prophetic word. Moses and Jeremiah and Isaiah and Daniel and David were all unique individuals with distinct personalities and styles that come through in their respective writings, but they spoke from God. And they spoke as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The word ‘carried along’ is also used in Acts of a ship being driven by the wind:

Acts 27: 15 And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. … 17 …Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along.

This is also the word used in verses 17-18 of the voice carried or borne from heaven to bestow honor and glory on the Son.

17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was carried to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice carried from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever carried out by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit blows men along to speak from God in such a way that the author of Hebrews can quote Psalm 95 and say:

Hebrews 3:7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,

And then again quoting the same passage, he can say:

Hebrews 4:7 again he [God] appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”

So the mighty coming of the Lord Jesus Christ was attested by the voice of God the Father himself when he installed Jesus as King on his holy mountain; and his powerful coming is attested by all of Scripture which originated in God as he impelled men to write by his Holy Spirit. So pay attention! Jesus is coming back! Pay attention to the prophetic word! Pay attention so that there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1:11). Pay attention when the prophetic word commands that you make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. You will do well to pay attention to God’s word which is a lamp shining in a very dark place. Pay attention, because the day is ready to break!

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November 15, 2009 - Posted by | 2 Peter, podcast | , , , , , ,

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