Godís Word Is Essential

Explore the Bible Series

May 13, 2007

 

Lesson: Passage: II Peter 1:12-21

 

Introduction: Our lesson text clearly indicates that Peter anticipated his own death, and, as he contemplated the end of his life, he sought to secure his legacy by strengthening the believers who read this epistle.In essence, Peter used this letter as a farewell address to his readers. Thomas Schreiner, in his useful commentary on II Peter, outlines five elements of the literary device used by the apostle:

(1)   prediction of death (See v. 14): Peter used the Greek word for ďtentĒ to describe the temporary, fragile nature of his body (the NKJV and NIV capture this well).We donít know the circumstances under which Peter wrote II Peter, but the sentence of death may have hovered over him.

(2)   prophecy of a future crisis (See 2:1ff): The crisis, brought on by the infiltration of false teachers, loomed on the horizon for Peterís audience. The old apostle hoped to leave his spiritual ďchildrenĒ with a reminder of sound doctrine, in the face of the false teaching he knew they would encounter.

(3)   exhortations to virtuous living (Peter scattered such admonitions throughout the epistle)

(4)   a commission (See 3:14-18): Thoughts of the Lordís glorious return permeate Peterís writing.Christians, awaiting Christís Second Advent, must not wait in harried frenzy or indolent repose; rather, they must give diligence to be found in Christ without spot or blemish.

(5)   the legacy of the author (See 1:16ff): Peterís effort to secure his legacy, of course, did not focus on the apostleís character or person; instead, he directed all attention to the Lord whom Peter had seen transfigured and whom all Christians anticipate seeing at the end of the age.

 

Peter, it seems, was like many people.As he neared the end of his life, the apostleís thoughts turned to the great issues of life.Proximity to death often reorders oneís priorities.The matters that seem so urgent during oneís youth, give way to the weightier concerns.Thoughtful people want their lives to count for something, to leave behind a lasting heritage that has eternal weight and value.Peter did not want his legacy, granted to him by a gracious Savior, despoiled by unscrupulous false teachers, and he wrote this epistle, in part, to ensure the integrity of his readerís doctrine and conduct.The apostle knew that one critical way to preserve the legacy of the gospel centered on a proper apprehension of the Scriptures.Of course, Peter had the Old Testament in mind when he made these observations, but his claims also have relevance as modern Christians study the New Testament.

 

As a sidelight, please observe that Peter, writing many years after the Lordís Ascension, still regarded the Old Testament as an authoritative book.For the apostles, the Old Testament was the word of God, and it was not some obsolete, irrelevant text. Please exercise caution with any teaching that relegates the Old Testament to a secondary status; indeed, even in our generation, one of the surest marks of dangerous teaching is mishandling the proper relationship between the Old Testament and New.

 

 

Outline of Lesson Passage:

 

I.                    Peterís Concern for His Legacy (vv. 12-15)

A.     The spiritual soundness of the apostleís readers (vv. 12 and 15): Peter did not accuse these Christians of following the false prophets; rather, he affirmed their steadfastness of heir faith and conduct.He simply reminded them of their need to remain steadfast in the things of the Lord.

B.     The apostleís awareness of his impending death (vv. 13-14): Peter referred to his body as a ďtent.Ē This term denotes the frail and temporary nature of the body.Jesus had predicted the circumstances of Peterís death in John 21:18-19.

 

II.                 Peterís Authority for His Claims (vv. 16-18)

A.     Peterís veiled assessment of the teaching of the false prophets (v. 16a): The apostle used the word ďmythĒ to describe false doctrine.This word reflects a common view among the pagan religions.Idolatrous religions had elaborate mythological systems, and they regarded these myths as ďtrueĒ at a certain level.Their stories, while not historically and literally true, nevertheless reflected spiritual realities.Peter claimed that his doctrine was not one of these cleverly devised myths.

B.     The ground of Peterís preaching (vv. 16b-18): The apostleís teaching grew from his eyewitness experience with Christ.Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus to an unnamed mountain (modern scholars have speculated Mount Tabor or Mount Herman), and there they observed the revelation of the Lordís glory (See Matthew 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36).They not only saw this amazing event, but they heard the Father pronounce his approval of the Sonís person and work.

 

III.               Peterís Ground In Scripture (vv. 19-21)

A.     Peterís gratitude for the prophetic testimony of Scripture (v. 19):The apostle realized that his eyewitness experience of the Transfiguration affirmed the prophetic testimony of the Old Testament.The light of the Old Testament testimony to the glory of Christ shines in the darkness of this world.This light will beam until the ďday dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts.ĒThis phrase probably refers to the Second Coming of Christ and is grounded in the promises of Numbers 24:17 and Luke 1:78-79. The return of the Savior, of course, is an external, objective event, but Peter highlighted the profound effect this occurrence will have on the hearts of Godís people.

B.     Peterís warning about the methods of the false teachers (vv. 20-21): apparently, these insidious teachers claimed some special revelation concerning the interpretation of Old Testament prophecies, and the old apostle challenged their errant views.Note that the text affirms the divine origin of both the prophecies and the interpretations of these oracles.Peter did not ground his faith in craftily devised innovations; rather, he trusted in the time-honored interpretations of Old Testament prophecies, handed down from his fathers.The Holy Spirit, according to verse twenty-one, carried these men along as they proclaimed and recorded the revelation of Godís mind.Clearly, Peter held the Scriptures in very high regard.