From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain Second Peter and Jude             Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018

 

 

List of All Sources Quoted At End of File

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 1:12-21

 

 

 

1:12                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     For this reason I shall always persist in reminding you of these things, although you know them and are stedfast believers in truth which you already possess.

WEB:              Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth.

Young’s:         Wherefore, I will not be careless always to remind you concerning these things, though, having known them, and having been established in the present truth,

Conte (RC):    For this reason, I will always begin

to admonish you about these things, even though,

certainly, you know them and are confirmed in the

present truth.

 

1:12                 Wherefore I will not be negligent [will always remind you, NIV].  That is, in view of the importance of these things.  [31]

                        Because the only way for you to heaven is that above set forth.  [39]

                        Many of the better MSS have the reading “I will proceed to put you in remembrance,” but the Received Text is fairly supported.  The words in either case indicate the anxiety with which the Apostle looked on the threatening dangers of the time.  [38]

to put you always in remembrance of these things.  The truths stated in verse 3-11. [45]

To give you the means of having them always in remembrance; to wit, by his writings.  [31]

to put you always.  Wordsworth supposes that this “always” refers to the constant reading of the Epistle in the Churches to which it was addressed.  [41]  Although this would certainly be true, as far as it goes, the point is far more likely to be “I will never cease teaching  you these things.  No matter how long you are a Christian it will still be useful for you to have periodic reminders of this.”  [rw]

in remembrance of these things.  We have said more than once, and it is a truth never to be lost sight of, that every Epistle of this and of every other Apostle presupposes that those who received it had been instructed orally in the whole body of Christian truth by their first Evangelists or teachers.  Each and every Epistle is written to remind them of truths which they were in danger or forgetting, or of which they failed to see the full application.  [41]

though ye know them.  Unless they constantly called to mind, or were reminded of the truths they knew and took for granted, these truths would have no practical effect on their lives.  [45]

It is the office of the ministry not only to impart to a people truths which they did not know before, but a large part of their work is to bring to recollection well-known truths and to seek that they may exert a proper influence on the life.  Amidst the cares, the business, the amusements, and the temptations of the world, even true Christians are prone to forget them.  [31]

In the addition of “though ye know them” we trace a touch of humility and courtesy, like that of Paul in Romans 1:12.  In assuming previous knowledge, the Apostle finds, as the greatest of Greek orators had found before him (Demosth. p. 74. 7), the surest means of making that knowledge at once clearer and deeper.  [38]

and be established in the present truth.  In the truth of the gospel now made known.  [13]

Or:  That truth which I am now declaring.  [15]

The translation, though quite literal, is for the English reader somewhat misleading, as suggesting the thought that the Apostle is speaking of some special truth, not of the truth as a whole.  Better, therefore, “in the truth which is present with you.” So taken the words furnish a suggestive parallel to 1 Peter 5:12, as a recognition of the previous work of Paul and his fellow-laborers in the Asiatic provinces.  [38]         

The A.V., by adopting the literal translation of the last words, “the present truth,” is apt to suggest an erroneous idea.  What is meant is neither the truth which specially suits the present time, nor the truth which is at present under consideration, nor even (as Bengel puts it) the fulfilled truth of O.T. promise and prophecy, but the truth which is present with you, which has come into their possession through the preaching of the Gospel.  The idea is much the same as that expressed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1. The phrase occurs again in Colossians 1:6, where “the word of the truth of the Gospel” is spoken of as that “which is come unto you.”  [51]

The meaning is, not the truth that we are now discussing, the truth before us, but the truth of the gospel that is come unto you (Colossians 1:5-6), and is present with you: “the faith once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude versed 3).  [46]

 

 

1:13                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     But I think it right, so long as I remain in the body, my present dwelling-place, to arouse you by such reminders.

WEB:              I think it right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you;

Young’s:         and I think right, so long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up in reminding you,

Conte (RC):    But I consider it just, as long as I am

in this tabernacle, to stir you up with admonishments.

 

1:13                 Yea, I think it meet [right, NKJV].  It is my appropriate duty; a duty which is felt the more as the close of life draws near.  [31]

                        Although he gives them credit for knowing these truths already, and being firmly grounded in them, he deems it, nevertheless, a duty not to be silent or regard them as beyond danger.  [51]

as long as I am in this tabernacle [tent, NKJV].  As long as I live; as long as I am in the body.  [31]

tabernacle [tent, NKJV].  A figurative expression for the body, used also by Paul, 2 Corinthians 5:1, 4, though he employs the shorter kindred word [in Greek].  Peter also has the same mixture of metaphors which Paul employs in that passage, viz., building and clothing.  See next verse.  Peter’s use of tabernacle is significant in connection with his words at the transfiguration, “Let us make three tabernacles” (Matthew 17:4).  The word, as well as the entire phrase, carries the idea of brief duration--a frail tent, erected for a night.  Compare verse 14.  [2]

The comparison of the bodies of saints to tabernacles seems not to have been unfrequent.  Thus “the Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us” (John 1:14).  And Paul says, “We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved” (2 Corinthians 5:1).  It emphasizes the transitoriness of this body of ours, and yet its dedication to God, and the fact that it is the precursor of a far more durable structure.  [41] 

Peter here speaks of his body as a building in which his soul dwells, and in the next verse as a garment which is to be put off at his death.  Bengel:  “This word tabernacle implies the immortality of the soul, the briefness of its abode in a mortal body, and ease of departure in the faith.”  [50]

The figure was a somewhat common one in later Classical Greek, particularly in medical writers.  It conveyed the idea that the body is the mere tenement of the man, and a fragile one, erected for a night’s sojourn and quickly taken down.  In the Book of Wisdom (Wisdom 9:15) we have the same figure, with a somewhat different application—“a corruptible body weighs down the soul; and the earthen tent burdens the much-thinking mind.”  The Christian Father Lactantius uses it thus:  “This, which is presented to the eyes, is not man, but is the tabernacle of man; whose quality and figure is seen thoroughly, not from the form of the small vessel in which he is contained, but from his deeds and habits” (2 Peter 3:3, Ramage’s rendering).  [51]

to stir you up.  To excite or arouse you to a diligent performance of your duties; to keep up in your minds a lively sense of Divine things.  [31]

Their danger, on the contrary, is so grave that he must speak to them as long as life lasts (compare Philippians 1:7); and this with the special object of stirring them up, or rousing them (the verb occurs again in 2 Peter 3:1, and elsewhere in the N.T. only in the Gospels, and there always with the literal sense, Mark 4:38-39; Luke 8:24; John 6:18), and keeping them, by continuous reminders, awake to all that spiritually concerns them.  [51]

by putting you in remembrance.  The phrase, which occurs again in 2 Peter 3:1, may be noticed as characteristic of Peter.  He assumes a knowledge not only of the broad outlines of Gospel truth, but of the facts of the Gospel history, including, it is obvious, the history of the Transfiguration, and corresponding therefore to the record found in the first three Gospels.  [38]

 

 

1:14                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     For I know that the time for me to lay aside my body is now rapidly drawing near, even as our Lord Jesus Christ has revealed to me.

WEB:              knowing that the putting off of my tent comes swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.

Young’s:         having known that soon is the laying aside of my tabernacle, even as also our Lord Jesus Christ did shew to me,

Conte (RC):    For it is certain that the laying to rest

of this, my tabernacle, is approaching swiftly, just

as our Lord Jesus Christ has also indicated to me.

 

1:14                 Knowing that shortly.  This he knew, probably, because he was growing old, and was reaching the outer period of human life.  It does not appear that he had any express revelation on the point.  [31]

                        We have of course an account of one occasion on which our Lord spoke of Peter’s death, and predicted that it would be a violent one (possibly even by crucifixion) in John 21:18-19.  It has been usual to interpret our passage as referring to that.  On the other hand, it is urged that the point of the prophecy in John is the violent death, while here the writer seems to say that he has been told that he is to die shortly.  [37]

                        Alternative translation:  Better [translated], “knowing that swift will be the putting off of my tabernacle.”  He speaks not so much of the nearness of his death, as of the suddenness with which it would come upon him, and he is therefore anxious to make all necessary preparations for it.  [38] 

                        Why both translations are reasonable:  There is some doubt as to the precise point intended by the “quick.”  The epithet is a rare form (in Classical Greek purely poetical, and in the N.T. found only here and in 2 Peter 2:1) of the ordinary adjective which means either swift or sudden.  It may indicate either the speediness of the approach of death, or the speediness of the work of death.  In the one case Peter’s motive for stirring them up is his knowledge of the brief interval that had separated him from death.  In the other it is his knowledge of the fact that he is to have a swift and sudden death, a mode of death which admonishes him to leave nothing to be done then which can be done now.  [51]

                        I must put off this my tabernacle [tent, NKJV].  His body is like a tent which his spirit is soon to leave.  [7]

                        There will be no time then for admonitions, therefore he will be diligent now, and will leave his words in writing, that they may help the readers after his decease.  [24]  

even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.  To this he adds, that he knows, that in his case the laying aside of this tabernacle will not take place through sickness or the weaknesses of old age, so that he could make all preparations for his end, but that it will take place suddenly, because it will be caused by a violent death, such as the present state of affairs--he is probably a prisoner in Rome or was in danger from other sources--leads him to expect.  But the Lord Himself had also revealed this to him by His reference to his death as a martyr (cf. John 21:18, 19).  [9] 

This does not mean that he had any new revelation on the subject, showing him that he was soon to die, as many of the ancients supposed; but the idea is, that the time drew near when he was to die “in the manner” in which the Savior had told him that he would.  [31]

 

 

1:15                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     So on every possible occasion I will also do my best to enable you to recall these things after my departure.

WEB:              Yes, I will make every effort that you may always be able to remember these things even after my departure.

Young’s:         and I will be diligent that also at every time ye have, after my outgoing, power to make to yourselves the remembrance of these things.

Conte (RC):    Therefore, I will present a work for

you to have, so that, frequently after my passing,

you may call to mind these things.

 

1:15                 Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things.  I will leave such a permanent record of my views on these subjects that you may not forget them.  He meant not only to declare his sentiments orally, but to record them that they might be perused when he was dead.  He had such a firm conviction of the truth and value of the sentiments which he held, that he would use all the means in his power that the church and the world should not forget them.  [31]

                        To what does this declaration point?  The simplest answer is, to his writing this letter, which they might keep and read whenever they liked.  (Compare 2 Peter 1:13.)  Other suggestions are—to his having copies of this letter distributed; or, writing other letters; or, instructing Mark to write his Gospel; or, commissioning “faithful men” to teach these things.  There seems to be nothing either for or against these conjectures.  It is a coincidence worth noting that, with the Transfiguration in his mind (2 Peter 1:16-18), he uses, in close succession, two words connected in Luke’s account of the Transfiguration (Luke 9:31, 33)—“decease” and “tabernacle.”  [46]

                        endeavour.  The word “endeavour” in the modern sense is perhaps slightly too weak, the Greek verb implying diligent and earnest effort.  [38]

after my decease to have these things.  My “exodus,” (ἔξοδον  exodonmy), journey out; my departure; my exit from life.  This is not the usual word to denote death, but is rather a word denoting that he was going on a journey out of this world.  He speaks of taking down the “tabernacle” or “tent,” the temporary abode of the soul, that his spirit might be removed to another place (2 Peter 1:13); and, hence, he speaks of an “exodus” from the present life--a journey to another world.  [31]

In the Greek word for “decease” (exodos), we meet with another suggestive coincidence with the history of the Transfiguration.  When the Apostle had seen the forms of Moses and Elijah, they had spoken of the “decease” which Christ should accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:31).  It may be noted that this use of the word, as an euphemistic synonym for “death,” is entirely absent from Greek classical writers, and that probably the two passages referred to are the earliest instances of its use in that sense.  It occurs, however, a little later in Josephus (Ant. iv. 8, § 2) and in Wisdom 3:2 (“Their departure was taken for misery”), probably the work of a contemporary.  In the intention thus expressed we may fairly see a confirmation of the tradition which speaks of Mark’s acting as the “interpreter” or amanuensis of Peter, in writing his Gospel, recording, at the request of the Apostle’s disciples, what they had heard orally from him. (Euseb. Hist. ii. 15, iii. 39, Iren. iii. 10, § 6.)  [38]

Is this, at all, intended to be an allusion to the gospel of Mark?  Many commentators suppose that this refers to the publication of Mark’s Gospel, or to its further circulation amongst his converts, but I hardly think that such can be the meaning.  The remarkable feature of Mark’s Gospel is the life-like way in which it describes many incidents in the Life of our Lord, but it was never intended to give a similarly minute account of the Lord’s discourses, so that it must be accompanied by those of Matthew and Luke if the full picture of our Lord’s life is to be in the hands of Christians.  I think that the Apostle alludes rather to the circulation amongst his converts of his two Epistles—the first of which is particularly full of Christian doctrinal truth.  [41] 

An eccentric interpretation:  Another interpretation of the words may be noticed as deserving a place among the curiosities of exegesis.  Roman Catholic commentators, Cornelius a Lapide and others, have connected the words “after my decease” with the verb “I will endeavour,” and have thus construed the Apostle’s words into an argument for his continued watchfulness and superintendence over the development of the Church’s doctrine.  [38]

And more on this “twist” of the text:  It is surprising how Roman Catholic commentators twist the meaning of Scripture.  They interpret, “I will give diligence also after my decease,” etc., and so pervert the sense of the passage, that they not only deduce from it the doctrine that the saints intercede for the believers, but use it in support of the invocation of saints.  [50]

always in remembrance.  By his writings.  [31]

Peter therefore was not of the opinion, that oral tradition was a better way than writing, to preserve the memory of these things; and that without writing they might be able so to do.  Accordingly Ignatius, advising the churches to stand fast in the traditions of the apostles, thought it necessary, “for the greater security, to commit them to writing.”  For, saith Origen, “that which is delivered only by mouth, quickly vanisheth, as having no certainty.”  [4]

“The apostle’s care in this was highly commendable; because the most important truths, if they are not remembered, have no influence on the mind. . . . Wherefore the ministers of the gospel, following Peter’s example, ought to insist most on the things which are of most importance to their people, although they are already well instructed in them, the influence of truth depending not so much upon the knowledge, as upon the frequent recollection of it.” — Macknight.  [47]

And[?]:  It is most probable that the author [is expressing] his intention of continuing for the future also to write to his readers as time and opportunity presented themselves.  [8]

 

 

1:16                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     For when we made known to you the power and Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, we were not eagerly following cleverly devised legends, but we had been eye-witnesses of His majesty.

WEB:              For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Young’s:         For, skilfully devised fables not having followed out, we did make known to you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but eye-witnesses having become of his majesty --

Conte (RC):    For it was not by following fanciful

doctrines that we made known to you the power

and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we

were made eyewitnesses of his greatness.

 

1:16                 For we.  [Because] We, I with others, were eye-witnesses of his glory on Mount Thabor.  [12] 

Not editorial, meaning merely Peter, but including the other apostles, especially John, who was also present at the Transfiguration; James the third witness of that event, died long before the gospel was preached in Asia Minor.  [45]

have not followed cunningly devised fables.  Deceptive fictions.  [6] 

This word, which occurs only here and in the Pastoral Epistles, is transcribed in the word myth.  The reference here may be to the Jewish myths, rabbinical embellishments of Old-Testament history; or to the heathen myths about the descent of the gods to earth, which might be suggested by his remembrance of the transfiguration; or to the Gnostic speculations about aeons or emanations, which rose from the eternal abyss, the source of all spiritual existence, and were named Mind, Wisdom, Power, Truth, etc.  [2]

Does it carry an implication that the charge was being made against Peter himself?  The Pastoral Epistles warn their readers against “fables” (muthoi, “myths”); 1 Timothy 1:4, 4:7, “profane and old wives’ fables;” 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14, “Jewish fables.”  The opposition, so to speak, had tried to turn the tables upon the legitimate authorities of the church, and alleged that their teaching had no better foundation than “fables,” and that these “fables” were not the innocent growth of popular imagination, but had been “cunningly devised,” i.e. deliberately invented as means of obtaining money and influence.  The apostles, according to this charge, had, by sheer falsehood and in their own interests, constructed the doctrines of the power of the risen Christ and his second coming, and had perhaps even concocted the gospel narratives.  [45]

cunningly.  Ingeniously composed with intent to deceive, which Erasmus opposes to the rustic simplicity of truth.  [30]

Curiously enough, the word translated “cunningly devise” (sophizein) only occurs elsewhere in the New Testament in one passage in the sense of “make wise,” 2 Timothy 3:15, “The sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.”  [45]

when we made known unto you.  Probably Peter here refers particularly to statements respecting the coming of the Savior in his first epistle:  1 Peter 1:5, 13; 4:13; but this was a common topic in the preaching, and in the epistles, of the apostles.  It may, therefore, have referred to statements made to them at some time in his preaching, as well as to what he said in his former epistle.  The apostles laid great stress on the second coming of the Savior, and often dwelt upon it.  Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16.  [31]

the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These two words (“power and coming”) refer to the same thing; and the meaning is, his “powerful coming,” or his “coming in power.”  The advent of the Savior is commonly represented as connected with the exhibition of power.  Matthew 24:30:  “coming in the clouds of heaven, with power.”  Compare Luke 22:69; Mark 13:26.  The “power” evinced will be by raising the dead; summoning the world to judgment; determining the destiny of men, etc.  [31]

Or:  A reference to Jesus’ life and ministry?  The reply was that “the power and coming” of Christ were guaranteed by his “majesty;” the manifestation of His greatness, that is to say by the beauty and power of His life and teaching, by His miracles, and above all by the Transfiguration.  The authority of the apostles rested on the fact that they had been eyewitnesses of all these things, especially of the last named.  The word for “majesty” (megaleiotes, “greatness”) only occurs elsewhere in the N.T. in Acts 19:27, the “magnificence” of Diana, and at the close of the narrative of the healing of the demoniac after the Transfiguration, Luke 9:43, “They were all astonished at the majesty of God.”  Possibly the writer in 2 Peter is simply thinking of the Transfiguration, but the principle that the saving power of Christ is guaranteed by what men saw and heard of him, obviously applies to all his earthly life.  [45]

but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  On the mount of transfiguration, Matthew 17:1-5.  That transfiguration was witnessed only by Peter, James, and John.  But it may be asked, how the facts there witnessed demonstrate the point under consideration--that the Lord Jesus will come with power?  The evidence as it lay in Peter’s mind was, that that transfiguration was designed to furnish proof to them that the Messiah would certainly appear in glory, and to give them a view of Him as coming to reign which would never fade from their memory.  As that had not yet been accomplished, he maintained that the evidence was clear that it must occur at some future time.  As the transfiguration was with reference to his coming in his kingdom, it was proper for Peter to use it with that reference, or as bearing on that point.  [31]

eyewitnesses.  Th[e Greek word] for “eye-witnesses” (not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but used of God as the all-seeing in 2 Maccabees 7:35; 3 Maccabees 2:21) was applied in Classical Greek to the highest order of those who were initiated as spectators of the Eleusinian mysteries.  It would, perhaps, be too much to say that that association was definitely present to the Apostle’s mind, but the choice of an unusual and suggestive word at least implies that he looked on himself as having been chosen to a special privilege.  It deserves notice also, as bearing on the authorship of the Epistle, that the verb derived from the noun had been used by the writer of 1 Peter 2:12; 3:2.  [38]

majesty.  The word for “majesty” also has the interest of having been used in the Gospel narrative in close connection with the healing of the demoniac boy which followed the Transfiguration (Luke 9:43), and, as found there, may fairly be taken as including, as far as the three disciples who had seen the vision of glory were concerned, what had preceded that work of healing, as well as the work itself.  The only other passage in the New Testament in which it is found is in Acts 19:27, where it is used of the “magnificence” of the Ephesian Artemis.  [38]

 

                        In depth:  More possibilities of the specific types of myths that might be under consideration [8].  As the author makes no special allusion of the kind, it is at least doubtful            if he refers to any definite myths; either those of the heathen with reference to the appearances of the gods upon earth (Oecumenius, Estius, Bengel, etc.), or to those of the Gnostics as to the emanation of the aeons (Dietlein), or to the Gnostic myth of the Sopohia (Baur), or to the apocryphal legends of the birth and childhood of Christ, especially in the Ev. Infantiae Jesu (Jachmann), or to false myths as to Christ embellished in the spirit of the Jewish Messianic beliefs (Semler), or “apocryphal, didactic, and historical traditions, as these were appended by a later Judaism to the histories of the O.T., especially to the most ancient”  (Schott, similarly Steinfass), or to the practice of heathen lawgivers, who, according to Josephus, appropriated to themselves the fables of popular belief, borrowing from them their accounts of the gods (Hofmann).  The words express, indeed, an antithesis, but this is of an entirely general kind; either in order to bring out that the apostolic preachers are not like those others who seek the support of myths--perhaps with special reference to the false teachers alluded to in chaps. ii and iii--or, what is less probable, in order to meet the reproaches of these teachers (Wiesinger), and the contrast serves to give the more prominence to the positive statement. 

 

                        In depth:  A reliance on Jewish fables might be argued from the type of examples used to refute their teaching [46].  We cannot be sure that any in particular are meant, whether heathen, Jewish, or Christian; the negative makes the statement quite general.  Various things, however, have been suggested as possibly indicated—heathen mythology, Jewish theosophy, Gnostic systems (as yet quite in their infancy in Simon Magus, Peter’s adversary), and Apocryphal Gospels. Probably some elements in the doctrine of the false teachers are alluded to; something analogous to the “feigned words” of 2 Peter 2:3.

There is reason for believing that the particular elements in their teaching thus incidentally condemned were of Jewish origin.  If this conjecture be correct, then Peter is here dealing with errors similar to those condemned by Paul (1 Timothy 1:4; 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14—the only other passages in which the word “fables” occurs).

And in this case much light is thrown on some of the marked peculiarities of this Epistle and that of Jude, viz., the fondness of both writers for the oldest, and sometimes the most obscure, passages of Old Testament history, as well as for some strange portions of uncanonical and apocryphal tradition.  They were fighting these seducers with their own weapons; difficult passages of Scripture and tradition, which these men had worked up into a system of pernicious mysticism, Peter and Jude proved to be altogether of a different meaning, and to tell against the very doctrines that they were employed to support.

 

 

1:17                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     He received honour and glory from God the Father, and out of the wondrous glory words such as these were spoken to Him, "This is My dearly-loved Son, in whom I take delight."

WEB:              For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Young’s:         for having received from God the Father honour and glory, such a voice being borne to him by the excellent glory: 'This is My Son -- the beloved, in whom I was well pleased;'

Conte (RC):    For he received honor and glory

from God the Father, whose voice descended to

him from the magnificent glory: “This is my

beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen

to him.”

 

1:17                 For He received from God the Father.  The title ‘Father’ is appropriately introduced here, as the testimony which Christ received from God was one to His own Sonship.  [51]

honour and glory.  An expression not of two distinct ideas, but of a single idea, emphasized by the use of two synonyms.  [45]

The thing dwelt on is not the splendor of Christ’s own appearance on the occasion, but the tribute which came by the voice.  The two terms, therefore, are generally descriptive either of the magnificence of the scene, or of the majesty of that particular tribute. Compare with this the words of another eye-witness of the same event (John 1:14).  [51]

Or:  The two words are naturally joined together as in Romans 2:7, 10; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 2:7, 9; Revelation 4:9, 4:11, 5:12.  If we are to press the distinctive force of each, the “honour” may be thought of as referring to the attesting voice at the Transfiguration, the “glory” to the light which enveloped the person of the Christ, like the Shechinah cloud of 1 Kings 8:10-11; Isaiah 6:1, 4; Matthew 17:1-5; Mark 9:2-7; Luke 9:28-36.  [38]

And:  Wordsworth:  “Jesus Christ received honor, when the voice said, ‘This is My beloved Son;’ and He received glory, when ‘His face did shine as the sun, and His garments became white as the light’ (Matthew 17:2), and Peter, James and John behold His glory, ‘glory as of the only begotten from the Father’ (John 1:14).”  [50]

Objected to:  Both refer to the voice from heaven.  To make “honour” refer to the voice, and “glory” to the light shining from Christ’s body, about which nothing has been said, is forced and unnatural.  [46]

when there came such a voice to Him.  This voice came out of a bright cloud (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35), but Peter leads us to the very presence of God, to the excellent glory, of which the cloud was only the symbol.  [50]

This voice was heard, and that so as to be understood, by Peter, James, and John.  They not only heard a sound (as the people did, John 12:28, 29), but they understood the sense.  God opens the ears and understandings of His people to receive what they are concerned to know, when others are like Paul’s companions, who only heard a sound of words (Acts 9:7), but understood not the meaning thereof, and therefore are said not to hear the voice of him that spoke.  [5]

from [by, English Standard Version, New American Standard Bible] the excellent [majestic, ESV, NASB] glory.  The margin of R.V. gives us a more exact translation, “when there was brought such a voice to him by the majestic glory.”  [50]  

The word for “excellent” (more literally, magnificent, or majestic, as describing the transcendent brightness of the Shechinah cloud), not found elsewhere in the New Testament, is, perhaps, an echo from the LXX of Deuteronomy 33:26, where God is described as “the excellent (or majestic) One of the firmament.”  The corresponding noun appears in the LXX of Psalm 21:5, where the English version has “majesty.”  The Greek preposition has the force of “by” rather than “from” the glory, the person of the Father being identified with the Glory which was the token of His presence.  [38]

“Excellent glory:  a periphrasis for “God” like the “Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).  “Excellent” (megaloprepes), literally “befitting a great man.”  Thus the phrase includes the ideas of “majesty” and “glory,” and suggests that the “majesty” and “glory” of Christ corresponded to those of the Father, from whom they were derived.  [45]

This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  This demonstrated that he was the Messiah.  Those who heard that voice could not doubt this; they never did afterwards doubt.  [31]

The words are given, with one slight variation not perceptible in the English, as we find them in Matthew 17:5.  It is obvious, assuming the genuineness of the Epistle, that we have here a testimony of great value to the truth of the Gospel records.  As there is no reference to any written record of the words, and, we may add, as Peter omits the words “Hear ye Him,” which Matthew adds, the testimony has distinctly the character of independence.  Had the Epistle been the spurious work of a pseudonymous writer, it is at least probable that they would have been given in the precise form in which they are found in one or other of the Gospels. [38]

             

 

1:18                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And we ourselves heard these words come from Heaven, when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

WEB:              We heard this voice come out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

Young’s:         and this voice we -- we did hear, out of heaven borne, being with him in the holy mount.

Conte (RC):    We also heard this voice conveyed

from heaven, when we were with him on the holy

mountain.

 

1:18                 And this voice which came from heaven.  In the Synoptics, “out of the cloud.”  [45]

                        Emphasizing the fact that Christ received this testimony directly from God the Father.  [50]

we heard.  I, and James, and John.  The apostle avoucheth himself to have been an ear-witness, as well as eye-witness, of Christ’s glory, hereby intimating that there was as much certainty of the gospel, even in a human way, as could possibly be obtained of any thing that is done in the world.  [28]

when we were with Him.  “We” ourselves.  The Revised Version adds “ourselves” to express the marked emphasis which the Greek idiom lays upon the “we.”  “We” is not used loosely of a number of people who might be said to have heard through what actually came to the ears of some of their number.  [45]

in the holy mount.  Of all places to which special sanctity would be ascribed by Christ’s followers, surely that would be the first to be so marked where the most solemn testimony was given to the divinity of Jesus.  To the Jewish Christian this would rank with Sinai, and no name would be more fitly applied to it than that which had so constantly been given to a place on which God first revealed himself in his glory.  The “holy mount of God” (Ezekiel 28:14) would now receive another application, and he would see little of the true continuity of God’s revelation who did not connect readily the old and the new covenants, and give to the place where the glory of Christ was most eminently shown forth the same name which was applied so oft to Sinai  (Lamby).  [2]

He calls it the holy mount, for the same reason that the ground was called holy where God appeared to Moses.  For wherever the Lord comes, as he is the fountain of all holiness, he makes holy all things by his presence.  And by this mode of speaking we are taught, not only to receive God reverently wherever he shows himself, but also to prepare ourselves for holiness, as soon as he comes nigh us, as it was commanded the people when the law was proclaimed on Mount Sinai.  And it is a general truth, “Be ye holy, for I am holy, who dwell in the midst of you” (Leviticus 11:44).  [35]

                        An event other than on the Mount of Transfiguration?  It must not, with Grotius, be concluded that the reference here is to the hill on which the temple stood, and that what is alluded to is not the transfiguration, but the incident recorded in John 12:28.  Without any reason, De Wette asserts that that epithet [holy] betrays a view of the case more highly colored with the belief in miracles than that of the apostles, and belonging to a later period.  [8]

 

                        In depth:  Why is the Transfiguration singled out in particular [51]?  It is interesting to observe how in his old age Peter’s mind is filled with the wonders of the Transfiguration, and how he finds in the glory which he witnessed there a presage of the glory in which Christ was to return.  It may be asked why he singles out this particular event, and only this one, when he feels called to assert the historical basis of his teaching, and to repudiate all suspicion of legendary mixture. 

                        The answer is obvious.  The truths which at present he is pressing on the attention of his readers, are those relating to the Second Coming of Christ, that Coming in power and judgment which was doubted, denied, and scoffed at.  It was natural, therefore, that he should instance the sudden glory which he had witnessed breaking forth from and encircling Christ’s person on the Mount.  In that he recognized an earnest of the power in which Christ was to return.  It is rightly observed, too, that this entire statement, given as it is independently, with variations of its own, and not professing to be quoted from any written narrative, is an important confirmation of the truth of the Gospel narrative of the Transfiguration (so Plumptre, etc.).

 

 

1:19                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     And in the written word of prophecy we have something more permanent; to which you do well to pay attention--as to a lamp shining in a dimly-lighted place--until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

WEB:              We have the more sure word of prophecy; and you do well that you heed it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns, and the morning star arises in your hearts

Young’s:         And we have more firm the prophetic word, to which we do well giving heed, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, till day may dawn, and a morning star may arise -- in your hearts;

Conte (RC):    And so, we have an even firmer

prophetic word, to which you would do well to

listen, as to a light shining within a dark place, until

the day dawns, and the daystar rises, in your hearts.

 

1:19                 We.  “We:  either Christians generally or the eyewitnesses of the Transfiguration.  Cf. verses 1 and 4.  [45]

                        Or:  With emphasis on its inclusion of Peter himself:  All question as to the fulfillment of the prophecies as to the coming of the Messiah in the person of Jesus were removed for Peter by the wonders of which he had been an eye-witness (verses 16-18).  [1]

                        have also a more sure word.  Also see the “in depth” section below.  This Luther understands to mean the “gospel;” Griesbach:  “New Testament prophecies;  Erasmus:  “the heavenly testimony mentioned in verse 18.”  But the connection with what follows shows that it is the Old Testament promises which are here meant.  [8]

Or:  The meaning is “having been witnesses of His majesty and hearers of His voice from heaven, we have the word of prophecy made more firm (as a foundation of our faith) by the fulfilment which it has received.”  [44]

Or:  Translate:  We have (now) the word of prophecy more sure.  In consequence of the first appearing of Christ in glory, (to which what happened on the mount of transfiguration especially belongs,) the prophetic word (of the Old in the first instance, but likewise of the New Testament) respecting His second appearing in glory is the more certain.  We now possess the Old Testament prophecies, as something which are surer to us than they were to the men of a bygone age, for such they have been made by the first coming of Christ.  [6]

of prophecy.  Interpreted of all true prophecy:  He uses the term in its widest sense, embracing the written prophecies of the Old Testament and the spoken or written prophecies of the New.  [38]

Interpreted as of strictly written prophecy from the past:  To appreciate this we must put ourselves somewhat in the place of those for whom Peter wrote.  The New Testament, as we have it, was to them non-existent.  Therefore we can readily understand how the long line of prophetic Scriptures, fulfilled in so many ways in the life of Jesus, would be a mightier form of evidence than the narrative of one single event in Peter’s life”  (Lumby).  [2]

The Authorized Version, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy,” represents an alternative view of the passage, i.e.:  We have also in the written word, the Old Testament, a witness to the truth of our teaching which is even surer than the evidence afforded by the Transfiguration, inasmuch as that event was only witnessed by ourselves, and the Scriptures are open to all, and their authority is universally accepted, especially by the Jews.  [45]  

Peter does not cite any particular passage, but speaks of their entire testimony.  [15]

The Transfiguration, though an earnest of Christ’s future glory, was not so clear a promise of it as the express words of prophecy.  If this latter interpretation be right, we have another mark of authenticity.  A forger would be likely to magnify his own advantage in hearing the voice from heaven over the ordinary proofs open to every one.  In any case, the coincidence with 1 Peter 1:10-12 must not be overlooked.  (Compare also Peter’s speech, Acts 3:20-21).  [46]

whereunto ye do well that ye take heed.  That is, apply our minds to understand the sense, and our hearts to believe the truth, of this sure word, yea, bend ourselves to it, that we may be molded and fashioned by it.  [5]

That is, give attention to the teaching of prophecy with a believing heart, and place more confidence in it.  This will lead to a more careful study of the Old Testament as well as of the New Testament.  [50]

as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.  In this dusk and dimly lighted world, in all its mystery of confusing events, prophecy shines forth as a lamp, the only lamp we have to guide us.  [7]

What is this dark or gloomy place?  It may be the world, or it may be the human heart, and with the latter agrees the most probable interpretation of the next clause.  [41]

The prophecies resemble a candle, lamp, or torch, in a dark room, or in an obscure road at night.  They make objects distinct which were before unseen; they enable us to behold many things which would be otherwise invisible.  The object of the apostle in this representation seems to have been, to state that the prophecies do not give a perfect light, or that they do not remove all obscurity, but that they shed some light on objects which would otherwise be entirely dark, and that the light which they furnished was so valuable that we ought by all means to endeavor to avail ourselves of it.  Until the day shall dawn, and we shall see objects by the clear light of the sun, they are to be our guide.  A lamp is of great value in a dark night, though it may not disclose objects so clearly as the light of the sun.  [31]

dark.  The Greek implies squalid, having neither water nor light: such spiritually is the world without, and the smaller world (microcosm) within, the heart in its natural state.  Compare the “dry places,” Luke 11:24 (namely, unwatered by the Spirit), through which the unclean spirit goeth.  [20]

Dirty, squalid, because places that have no light are usually filthy; the dirt which is not seen is not removed.  [28]

until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts.  We must give heed to it [prophecy] “until the day dawn, and the day star arise.” Thus (according to Tregelles, Schott, and others) it may be best to punctuate this last clause:  “Ye do well that ye take heed, in your hearts, until the day dawn”; that is while the shadows hang so heavily upon the present world you do well to take earnest heed to the light of prophecy, until at last the Lord returns and the shadows flee away:  If, however, we accept the usual punctuation, the meaning may be that we should take heed of prophecy and ponder its statements, until in our hearts there dawns a bright and confident expectation of the coming of Christ.  [7]   

until the day dawn.  The full knowledge of Christ at His appearing.  [6]

The point of comparison is between the necessary obscurity of prophecy, and the clearness of events when they actually occur.  [31]

The [word “dawn”] (which is different from the term in Matthew 28:1; Luke 23:54) means to shine through, and is therefore peculiarly in point where the idea to be expressed is, as here, that of the morning-light as it first breaks through the darkness.  [51]

and the day star.  The morning star announces the approach of day--is its harbinger.  Even the first glimmer of dawn is of worth, (and so in the heart is that of the knowledge of Christ,) much more so the day itself.  [6]

The morning star--the bright star that at certain periods of the year leads on the day, and which is a pledge that the morning is about to dawn.  Compare Revelation 2:28; 22:16.  [31]

Christ promises to give to him “that overcometh and keepeth My works unto the end” “the Morning Star,” i.e., Himself and the brightness of His glory, for He is the Morning Star that heralds the eternal sunrise (Revelation 22:16).  Those who see the Incarnate Word in all His glory will need no longer the prophetic word.  In a certain sense, we may say, the day dawns to every believer at the time of his death, when his soul enters upon the life to come and meets Christ in heaven.  [50]  

arise in your hearts.  That is, sheds its beams on your hearts.  Until you see the indications of that approaching day in which all is light. The period referred to here by the approaching day that is to diffuse this light, is when the Savior shall return in the full revelation of his glory.  Whether this refers, as some suppose, to his reign on earth, either personally or by the principles of his religion universally prevailing, or, as others suppose, to the brighter revelations of heaven when he shall come to receive his people to himself, it is equally clear that a brighter time than any that has yet occurred is to dawn on our race, and equally true that we should regard the prophecies, as we do the morning star, as the cheering harbinger of day.  [31]

                       

In depth:  Alternate explanations of what event is in the mind of Peter in this verse.  Albert Barnes’ survey of possibilities [31]:  There has been considerable diversity of opinion in regard to the meaning of this passage.  Some have supposed that the apostle, when he says, “a more sure word,” did not intend to make any comparison between the miracle of the transfiguration and prophecy, but that he meant to say merely that the word of prophecy was very sure, and could certainly be relied on.

Others have supposed that the meaning is, that the prophecies which foretold his coming into the world having been confirmed by the fact of his advent, are rendered more sure and undoubted than when they were uttered, and may now be confidently appealed to. So Rosenmuller, Benson, Macknight, Clarke, Wetstein, and Grotius.  Luther renders it, “we have a firm prophetic word;” omitting the comparison.

A literal translation of the passage would be, “and we have the prophetic word more firm.”  If a comparison is intended, it may be either that the prophecy was more sure than the fables referred to in 2 Peter 1:16; or than the miracle of the transfiguration; or than the word which was heard in the holy mount; or than the prophecies even in the time when they were first spoken.  If such a comparison was designed, the most obvious of these interpretations would be, that the prophecy was more certain proof than was furnished in the mount of transfiguration.

But it seems probable that no comparison was intended, and that the thing on which Peter intended to fix the eye was not that the prophecy was a better evidence respecting the advent of the Messiah than other evidences, but that it was a strong proof which demanded their particular attention, as being of a firm and decided character.  There can be no doubt that the apostle refers here to what is contained in the Old Testament; for, in 2 Peter 1:21, he speaks of the prophecy as that which was spoken “in old time, by men that were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  The point to which the prophecies related, and to which Peter referred, was the great doctrine respecting the coming of the Messiah, embracing perhaps all that pertained to his work, or all that he designed to do by his advent.

 

                        Scenario:  The text has in mind the time in the future when the impact of traditional Judaism—and its negative impact on believers—is removed at the destruction of the Temple [8]:  The time when the day dawns in the hearts of the Christians, and the morning star arises, and when consequently they can do without the light, has been variously determined.  According to Dorner, it is “a time within the development of the Christian life in the individual; that time, namely, when what is matter of history shall become living knowledge, influencing entirely the whole life.”  But such a separation of the development of the Christian life of his readers into two periods can the less be assumed here, that the author would thus accuse them of still possessing a purely outward Christianity, and it can hardly be supposed that he should have considered the word of prophecy as unnecessary for         the advanced Christian. 

Early commentators already correctly applied the words to the parousia.  It is erroneous, however, to understand them of that event itself, for with the advent the morning passes into the perfect day.  The point of time which Peter has in view is that immediately preceding the second coming, the time when the [sign] of the Son of man appears (Matthew 24:30), when believers are to lift up their hands because their [redemption] draweth nigh (Luke 21:28), when accordingly the morning star which ushers in the day shall arise in their hearts; similarly, Wiesinger and Bruckner.

 

                        Scenario:  The Old Testament was a “more sure word of prophecy” than even the words of the apostles themselves—since everyone knew that its predictions were written long before its fulfillments in the life of Jesus Christ [50]:  Some interpret the language of prophecy becomes more sure and certain than it was before from the fact of its fulfillment.  (So OEcumenius, Grotius, Bengel, Fronmueller, etc.)

                        Others interpret, the prophetic word is made more sure to us now, by what we have seen and heard at the Transfiguration.  (So De Wette, Brueckner, Dietlein, Schott, Huther, etc.)

                        Some, like Wiesinger, combine this last interpretation with the first.

                        But better than either of these is the interpretation, the word of prophecy is more sure in its witness to Christ than even such a vision of glory as the Transfiguration.  (So in substance already Augustine, also Bede, John Gerhard, Wordsworth, etc.)

                        Gerhard:  “The testimony of the prophets is declared to be more sure than that of the Apostles concerning the voice of the Father in heaven and the Transfiguration of Christ.  Not more sure in itself and absolutely, but in respect to the readers of the Epistle.  Among these were converts from Judaism who paid the utmost reverence to the prophetical writings and did not set so high a value on the preaching of the Apostles (Acts 17:11).”

                        Wordsworth:  “Peter calls the word of Prophecy more sure than the voice which he heard from heaven; he calls it more sure, not more true.  And what does he mean by calling it more sure?  He means that it is an evidence by which the hearer is more assured.  And why?  Because it might be alleged by impious men, that the voice and light from heaven were magical illusions; but no such objection can be made against the word of Prophecy.  By the voice from heaven the believing are confirmed, and by the word of Prophecy the unbeliever is convinced.

                        “Here is a strong evidence of the genuineness of the present Epistle.  A forger, [im]personating Peter, would have magnified the importance of the supernatural visions vouchsafed specially to him whose character he assumed.  He would have exalted those revelations above prophecy.”  

 

 

1:20                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     But, above all, remember that no prophecy in Scripture will be found to have come from the prophet's own prompting;

WEB:              knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation.

Young’s:         this first knowing, that no prophecy of the Writing doth come of private exposition,

Conte (RC):    Understand this first: that every

prophecy of Scripture does not result from one’s

own interpretation.

 

1:20                 Knowing this first.  Considering this as a first principle.  [18] 

                        Bearing this steadily in mind as a primary and most important truth.  [31]

that no prophecy of the scripture.  No prophecy contained in the inspired records. The word “scripture” here shows that the apostle referred particularly to the prophecies recorded in the Old Testament.  The remark which he makes about prophecy is general, though it is designed to bear on a particular class of the prophecies.  [31]

is of any private interpretation.  It says nothing about “the church” as empowered to give a public or authorized interpretation of the prophecies.  There is not a hint, or an intimation of any kind, that the church is entrusted with any such power whatever.  The effect of the passage, properly interpreted, should be to lead us to study the Bible with profound reverence, as having a higher than any human origin, not to turn away from it as if it were unintelligible, nor to lead us to suppose that it can be interpreted only by one class of men.  [31]

The noun [“interpretation”] itself does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament nor in the LXX, but in Aquila’s version of Genesis 40:8 it is given as the equivalent of “interpretation.”  The corresponding verb meets us, however, in Mark 4:34 (“he explained all things to his disciples”) and in Acts 19:39 (“it shall be determined”), and this leaves no doubt that “interpretation” or “solution” is the right rendering.  [38]

Theoretical textual variants on this verse and the impact of interpretation if adopted:  Sleight alterations of reading, e.g. epeluseos (approach, origin) for epiluseos (interpretation), have been proposed, in order to obtain the meaning, “No prophecy has its source in an individual, but in God.”  This would be simpler, and would connect more easily with the following verse.  [45]

 

                        In depth:  The “private interpretation” injunction as applicable to both testaments [38]:   Nor again is there much room for doubt as to the meaning of “prophecy of scripture.”  The words can only point to a “prophetic word” embodied in a writing and recognized as Scripture.  We have seen, however (1 Peter 1:10-12), that the gift of prophecy was thought of as belonging to the present as fully as to the past, and 2 Peter 3:16, 1 Timothy 5:18, and possibly Romans 16:26 and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, show that the word Scripture had come to have a wider range of meaning than that which limited its use to the Old Testament writings, and may therefore be taken here in its most comprehensive sense. 

And:  Stress must also be laid on the Greek verb rendered “is,” which might better be translated cometh, or cometh into being.  With these data the true explanation of the passage is not far to seek.  The Apostle calls on men to give heed to the prophetic word on the ground that no prophecy, authenticated as such by being recognized as part of Scripture, whether that Scripture belongs to the Old, or the New Covenant, comes by the prophet’s own interpretation of the facts with which he has to deal, whether those facts concern the outer history of the world, or the unfolding of the eternal truths of God’s Kingdom.  [ - ]

 

In depth:  Interpretations of the intended scope “of private interpretation:  Interpreted as a reference to how our interpretation of prophecy can never properly be a purely subjective one; we must always strive to root it in sound reasoning and other evidence [46]:  Either of the other two explanations may be right.  (1)  If prophecy came “by the will of man,” then it might be interpreted according to man’s fancy.  But it did not so come; consequently the interpretation must be sought elsewhere—viz., at the same source from which the prophecy itself proceeded.

(2) If the prophets spoke just as they pleased, they would be the best exponents of what they meant.  But they spoke under divine influence, and therefore need not know the import of their own words.  Prophecy must be explained by prophecy and by history, not by the individual prophet. 

The whole body of prophecy, “the prophetic word” (2 Peter 1:19), is our lamp in the wilderness, not the private dicta of any one seer.  In modern phraseology, interpretation must be comparative and scientific.  This view is strengthened by comparing 1 Peter 1:10-12, where it is stated that the prophets did not know how or when their own predictions would be fulfilled.  Possibly this passage is meant to refer to 1 Peter 1:10-12, and if so, we have a mark of genuineness; a forger would have made the reference more clear.  If the coincidence is accidental, this also points in the same direction; in any case, the coincidence is worth noting.

 

                        Interpreted as meaning that no one can ever properly interpret the Scriptures without the assistance of the Holy Spirit.  Why should not the literal signification of them be acquiesced in?  For surely no prophecy of Scripture, and hardly any doctrine, precept, or promise thereof, will or can be properly or fully understood by any man, let his natural abilities be what they may, without supernatural light from God, without the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, Ephesians 1:17.  For, as the apostle argues, 1 Corinthians 2:11, 14, as a man could not understand the things that belong to human nature, if he had not a human spirit in him, so the things of God, divine things, knoweth no man, clearly and fully, but by the illumination of the Spirit of God, which must be sought by sincere, fervent, importunate, persevering prayer. 

                        In other words, No man’s private natural reason will enable him to understand the Scriptures, and the truths which they contain, properly and fully, and especially to relish, love, and delight in them, without the guidance of that Spirit which dictated them.  And if this be true respecting the Scriptures in general, it is particularly so with regard to the prophetic writings; for prophecy especially came not of old by the will of man.  [The words came to the prophets] by an extraordinary impulse of the Divine Spirit, whose organs only they were in declaring what he was pleased to suggest to them; and what he moved, and enabled them to communicate, he must enable us to understand and profit by.  [47]  Is this not dangerously close to making the Holy Spirit the cause of our own erroneous interpretations due to its inaction?  For if the Spirit chooses not to assist us, we are, this commentator clearly argues, incapable of working out the intended meaning.  Ironically he rejects the idea that God has individually chosen men and women to salvation and damnation but that they must respond properly to the Divine will . . .  yet insists that for them to understand the Divine will—and respond properly—requires the action of the Divine Spirit!  [rw]   

 

                        Interpreted as a reference to Old Testament prophecy being intended to have an application beyond the then immediate events.  Rather, “is of its own interpretation,” i.e., is its own interpreter.  This seems to denote that no prophecy merely refers to the events of its own time, although it may have such a primal and subordinate reference, but it chiefly refers to the Messiah and His times, for not man but God, whose plan of redemption centers in Christ, is the author of prophecy.  [13]                                                             And:  Dr. Clark and Mr. Baxter have understood this, as if the apostle had said:  Scripture is not to be interpreted merely as speaking of this particular person of whom it literally speaks; but as having a further sense, to which the expressions of the prophets were overruled under the influence of the spirit, in reference to the gospel dispensation; in respect to which they sometimes were carried further than they themselves were aware.  [17] 

 

Interpreted as a reference to the origin of prophecy and its interpretation never being from the mind of the speaker/writer being used by God.   That is, it does not come from the prophets’ own interpretation of the future.  [7]

Along the same line [8]:  Genesis 40:8:  the words in which Joseph predicted to the prisoners what lay before them:  the others expected an interpretation of the dream by Joseph, and of this Joseph says that it belongs to God [“Do not interpretations belong to God?”].  Thus, too, he speaks to Pharaoh:  “the interpretation is not in me,” Genesis 41:15, 16; cf. Daniel chapter 2. 

                        And [5]:  This was the difference between the prophets of the Lord and the false prophets who have been in the world.  The prophets of the Lord did not speak nor do any thing of their own mind, as Moses, the chief of them, says expressly (Numbers 16:28),  I have not done any of the works (nor delivered any of the statutes and ordinances of my own mind.  But false prophets speak a vision of their own heart, not out of the mouth of the Lord, Jeremiah 23:16.  The prophets and penmen of the Scripture spoke and wrote what was the mind of God; and though, when under the influence and guidance of the Spirit, it may well be supposed that they were willing to reveal and record such things, yet it is because God would have them spoken and written.  [5]

                       

                        Overview of interpretive options, with the conclusion that the passage refers to the inspired origin of scripture rather than its later interpretation by future generations [50]:  “That no prophecy of Scripture is of private (special) interpretation.”  This clause has long been famous as the cross of commentators.  The reference is to the prophecies contained in the Old Testament, but what is true of them is also true of the prophetic passages in the New Testament.  The difficulty lies in determining the exact meaning of the phrase “private interpretation.” 

The Greek word for “interpretation” is found only here, but the corresponding verb we meet in Mark 4:34; Acts 19:39, and all are agreed that the right rendering is interpretation, “solution,” “explanation.”  Commentators differ in deciding to what the word “private” (one’s own, its own) refers.

(1)  Some (Dietlein, Brueckner, Weiss, Wordsworth, etc.) refer the word “private” to the prophecy itself, translating literally its own, i.e., no prophecy of Scripture interprets itself.  According to this view all prophecy, prior to its fulfillment, is only bewildering.  The interpretation belongs to God, and to time.  We must receive light from the event or from additional revelations.  But surely this cannot be the meaning of Peter, for the whole context is opposed to it, and this view contradicts the testimony of Scripture itself, and many prophecies of Scripture do interpret themselves (1 Timothy 4:1; Matthew 2:5-6; Micah 5:2).

(2)  Others (Bede, Erasmus, Luther, Gerhard, Steiger, Wiesinger, Hofman, most Protestant commentators and Roman Catholics in general) refer the word “private” to the readers of prophecy, interpreting “private” in the sense of one’s own, no prophecy is to be interpreted according to the private judgment of each individual.  The Roman Catholic would say, you must have the consent of the Church, and the Protestant, private judgment must be enlightened by the Holy Ghost, and guided by the general teaching of Scripture, or, what is the same, by the analogy of faith.  This last Protestant principle of interpretation is indeed a true and safe guide, but the whole context shows that this truth was not in Peter’s mind in this passage.

(3)  Still others (OEcumenius, Knapp, De Wette, etc.) would refer to the prophets themselves in the sense that the prophets were unable to interpret their own prophecies, making this passage parallel to 1 Peter 1:10-12, and De Wette suggests that “the author makes this remark in order to excuse the difficulty of interpretation, and to take away the occasion for unbelief and scoffing (3:3).

But all these views are unsatisfactory.  Stress must be laid on the Greek verb translated “is,” which ought to be rendered cometh into being, or cometh.  The word “private” refers to the prophets, but Peter is not speaking about the explanation of prophecy, but of the origin of prophecy.  The thought is “no prophecy of Scripture arises of the prophet’s own interpretation,” it is not the fruit of his own calculation as to what is going to happen.  (So already in the main Bengel; also Huther, Fronmueller, Alford, Lumby, Sadler, Lillie, Plumptre, etc.).  The text itself and the context favors this meaning and no valid objection can be made against it.

Lumby:  “Prophecy did not arise from the private interpretation of the prophets.  Their words were no mere human exposition, no endeavor on man’s part to point to a solution of the difficulties which beset men’s minds in this life.  The prophets were moved by a Spirit beyond themselves, and spake things deeper than they themselves understood (1:10).”

Sadler:  “If prophecy was the production of the mind of any individual man, then the man himself who uttered it would be the proper man to give it its interpretation, but it is not so.  The prophets were not masters of themselves in uttering their prophecies.  They were borne along by a Higher Power, by the Spirit of God, and so their prophecies are of infinite value.”                                

 

 

1:21                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     for never did any prophecy come by human will, but men sent by God spoke as they were impelled by the Holy Spirit.

WEB:              For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit.

Young’s:         for not by will of man did ever prophecy come, but by the Holy Spirit borne on holy men of God spake.

Conte (RC):    For prophecy was not conveyed by

human will at any time. Instead, holy men were

speaking about God while inspired by the Holy

Spirit.

 

1:21                 For the prophecy.  This explains more fully the meaning of the last verse.  Prophecy has not its origin in the free will of man.  This verse asserts in the fullest sense the inspiration of the prophets.  [50]

The word “prophecy” here is without the article, meaning prophecy in general--all that is prophetic in the Old Testament; or, in a more general sense still, all that the prophets taught, whether relating to future events or not.  [31]

                        came not in old time.  Margin, or, “at any.”  The Greek word (ποτὲ  pote) will bear either construction.  It would be true in either sense, but the reference is particularly to the recorded prophecies in the Old Testament.  What was true of them, however, is true of all prophecy, that it is not by the will of man.  [31]

                        [The Greek translated] old time” is wider in its range than the English words, and takes in the more recent as well as the more distant past, and is therefore applicable to the prophecies of the Christian no less than to those of the Jewish Church.  [38]

by the will of man.  It was not of human origin; not discovered by the human mind. The word “will,” here seems to be used in the sense of “prompting” or “suggestion;” men did not speak by their own suggestion, but as truth was brought to them by God.  [31]

The prophets indeed spoke in the language of men, but the origin of their message was in God.  [50]

As all prophecies have a divine origin, therefore God will attend to their fulfillment.  [48]

but holy men of God spake.  Prophets, called men of God,  1 Samuel 2:27, 9:6; 1 Kings 17:18, and elsewhere.  They are here called holy, not only because of their lives, wherein they were examples to others, but because they were the special instruments of the Holy Ghost, who sanctified them to the work of preaching, and penning what he dictated to them.  [28]

as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.  Directed and inclined by the Holy Ghost.  [14]

The words assert in the fullest sense the inspiration of all true prophets. Their work did not originate in their own will.  They felt impelled by a Spirit mightier than their own.  The mode and degree of inspiration and its relation to the prophet’s cooperating will and previous habits of thought are left undefined.  [38]

Men spoke not out of their own hearts, but as commissioned.  (Compare Peter’s speech at the election of Matthias, and again in Solomon’s Porch, Acts 1:16, 3:18.)  The word for “moved” is a strong one, meaning “borne along,” as a ship before the wind (Acts 27:16-17).  [46]

 

                        In depth:  Is there any relationship between the closing verses of this chapter and ancient Montanism [46]?  Some have fancied that these last three verses (2 Peter 1:19-21) savor of Montanism, and are evidence of the late origin of the Epistle.  But what is said here of the gift of prophecy is not more than we find elsewhere in the New Testament (Matthew 1:22, 2:15; Acts 1:16, 3:18); and in the Old Testament (Numbers 11:17, 25, 29; 1 Samuel 10:6, 10:10, 19:20, 23; Jeremiah 1:5-7).

Montanists used much stronger language, as readers of Tertullian know.  With them prophecy was ecstasy and frenzy; prophets ceased to be men—their reason left them, and they became mere instruments on which the Spirit played.  The wording of these verses points to an age previous to Montanism.  A Montanist would have said more; an opponent of Montanism would have guarded himself against Montanist misconstruction.

 

                        In depth:  The nature of prophetic and apostolic inspiration [49].   “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”  -- 2 Peter 1:21.  Here we have the apostolic definition of the work of inspiration, and by that definition we are taught that there are two distinct elements to be considered, the Divine and the human; the Divine, for the Holy Ghost moved the writers; and the human, for the communication did not come as a direct voice from heaven, but holy men spake as they were moved.  In order therefore fully to investigate the subject, it will be necessary to examine: (1) the Divine element; (2) the human element; and (3) the combination of the two.

 

                        I. The Divine element.—I need scarcely say that this Divine element is the great subject of modern controversy. But I hope we may meet the points more especially agitated, by considering four questions:—

                        (a)  Does it extend over the whole book?  We have no right to pick and choose amongst the various portions of the Word of God.  The whole is arranged as a whole for the accomplishment of God’s great purpose, the whole is included in “the Scriptures,” and the parts are so interwoven one with another, and so beautifully fitted into each other by God’s Divine hand, that there will be found ultimately to be no intermediate path between receiving the whole as the Word of God, or sweeping away the whole and launching forth on a sea of skepticism, without a Bible, without a Savior, and, as the last step, without a God.

                        (b)  Is it equal?  So far as the authorship is concerned, we find no distinction whatever.  All alike is called “Scripture;” all “the Word of God;” all is included in the statement, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scripture might have hope;” and all is stamped by Divine authority in the words, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God.”

                        (c)  Is it verbal?  It is our privilege to regard the whole as one, to receive the whole with equal reverence, and to accept the whole, prediction, psalm, history, facts, thoughts, and words, as the inspired Word of the living God.  But the question of verbal inspiration is not the one really at issue.  For no one believes that, if there be any accuracy, it took place in the words only.  It must have taken place in the thoughts, in the matter, in the facts.  If, e.g., there is a variation between St. Matthew and St. Luke, no one supposes that they meant to convey the same thoughts, but made a mistake in accidentally selecting different words.  The real point of the controversy is the infallible accuracy of the matter.

                        (d)  Is it infallible?  The testimony of our Lord Himself is sufficient. Witness two passages—the one referring to a nice point in a quotation from the Psalms (John 10:35); the other to the whole Word in its sanctifying power (John 17:17).  Now what is His language?  In the one, “The Scripture cannot be broken;” in the other, “Thy word is truth.”  With these statements of our Blessed Lord, I am content to leave the subject.

In the words of Scripture, I believe that God Himself has spoken to man, and therefore, in the midst of all the world’s disappointments, and in all the failures of even the Church of God, we have here that on which the soul may calmly, peacefully, and fearlessly repose.  And whether we look at history or prediction, at promises or judgments, at prophecies understood by those who uttered them, or language veiled in mystery until the Divine purpose is developed in history, we receive the whole as inviolable truth, for all has the stamp of the Spirit Himself, and all is given by inspiration of God.  We receive it, we honor it, we submit to it, we acknowledge its Divine authority, and welcome with heartfelt thanksgiving its infallible promises.

Yes, we receive it not merely with the deepest conviction of our most deliberate judgment, but we welcome it to our soul with all the deep feelings of a thankful heart, and say with the inspired Psalmist, “Thy word is very pure, therefore Thy servant loveth it.”

 

II. The human element.—But there is a human element in the book as well as a Divine. “Holy men spake as they were moved.” The human authorship is as prominent and conspicuous as the Divine, and any theory of inspiration which excludes it is, I cannot but think, opposed to the facts of Scripture.

(a)  There is distinctive character in the different writers.  Compare Paul and John, Peter and James, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and you see the most transparent variety, a variety which renders it impossible to suppose that they were merely pens, machines, or copyists.

(b)  There is the use of natural powers or gifts. Paul was a well-educated, intellectual man, with great reasoning powers, so he supported truth by argument. David was a poet, so he breathed out as the sweet psalmist of Israel the hallowed outpourings of a sanctified heart.  

                        (c)  There is the use of feeling. All the emotions of the human heart may be found in Scripture.

                        (d)  There is the use of memory.  Our Lord’s promise to His Apostles in John 14:26 applies clearly to this point, and shows that the gift of the Holy Ghost, so far from superseding memory, would quicken it, and give it the power of recalling with accuracy the words entrusted to it.  “He shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

                        (e)  There was also the use of personal experience, as, e.g., when St. John said, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory” (John 1:14); and again, “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you” (1 John 1:1, 3).

                       

                        III. The Divine and the human element.How is the union to be explained?

                        (a)  Not by supposing that the writers were mere pens, or machines.  This is sometimes termed the mechanical theory, but it is clearly inconsistent with facts.  Pens never think, argue, remember, weep, or rejoice, and all these things were done by the writers of Scripture.

                        (b) Not by supposing them to be mere copyists or amanuenses employed to write down the words of the Spirit, as Baruch took down the words of Jeremiah.  This may have been the case when they received direct communication, as when Moses wrote out the ten commandments at the dictation of God; but it will not apply to inspiration, as it gives no scope for variety of character. The one dictating mind would be the only one to appear on such a theory.

                        (c) We will not attempt to explain it by constructing any artificial theories as to the action of the Spirit on the mind of men.  Some have endeavored to classify the modes in which they consider the Spirit may have acted, as, e.g., supervision, elevation, direction, and suggestion.  All this may be right, and it may be wrong; for we are taught (Hebrews 1:1) not merely that God spake in divers times, but in divers manners unto the fathers by the prophets.  But all such distinctions are unsupported by Scripture, and therefore we may leave them.

 

 

 

 

 

BOOKS/COMMENTARIES UTILIZED IN THIS STUDY:

 

 

1          [Anonymous].  Teacher’s Testament/Nelson’s Explanatory Testament

            Thomas Nelson & Sons;  New York: 1912

           

2          Marvin R. Vincent, D.D.  Word Studies in the New Testament.  Charles

Scribner’s Sons;  New York:  1887

 

3          Robert Young.  Commentary on the Holy Bible.  A. Fullarton & Co; 

Edinburgh and London; Fullarton, Macnab & Co.,  New York:  18--

 

4          Daniel Whitby, D.D. and Moses Lowman.  A Critical Commentary and

            Paraphrase on the New Testament.  Carey  Hart, Chestnut Street   

Philadelphia; Wiley & Putnam, 163 Broadway, New York:  1846.

 

5          Matthew Henry.  Vol. IV:   Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole           Bible.  New York:  Fleming H. Revell Company; Reprint.

 

6          Rev. Dr C. G. Barth.  The Bible Manual.  London:  James Nisbet and Co.,

1865

 

7          Charles R. Erdman.  The General Epistles.  Philadelphia:  The Westminster

            Press, 1918.

 

8          Joh. Ed. Huther, Th. D., Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the

            General Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude    [Meyer’s Commentary

            on the New Testament].  New York:  Funk & Wagnalls, Publishers, 1887.

 

9          Professor Bernhard Weiss, D.D.  A Commentary of the New Testament             Vol. IV.  New York and London:  Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1906.

 

10        Charles Simeon, M.A.  Horae Homileticae  Vol. XX.  London:      Holdsworth

            and Ball, 1833.

 

11        Rev. S. T. Bloomfield, M.A.  Recensio Symoptica Annotations Sacrae

            [Bloomfield’s Critical Digest  Vol. VIII].  London:  C and J Rivington, 1828.                  

12        George Leo Haydock.  Haydock’s Catholic Family Bible and Commentary

            New York:  Edward Dunigan and Brother, 1859 [Photopraphic Reprint: 

            UTS, Richmond, Virginia:  CB/97/J/1991.  Paperback]

 

13        Howard Crosby, D.D.  New Testament, With Brief Explanatory Notes.  New

York:  Charles Scribner, 1863.

 

14        Anonymous  [Justin Edwards].  The New Testament of Our Lord and      Saviour Jesus Christ.  New York:  American Tract Society, 18--.  [NOTE:

This edition has more notes, but Edwards’ name is attached to     a shorter

edition of the same material at UTS, Richmond, Virginia:  CB/971KE/1851.

 

15        John Wesley, M.A.  Explanatory Notes upon the New Testament.  Cincinnati,

            Ohio:   Carlton & Lanahan; New York:  E. Thomas:  18--.

 

16        Orello Cone, D.D.  International Handbooks to the N.T.  Vol. 3:  The      Epistles.  New York:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons / Knickerbocker Press, 1901.

 

17        Philip Doddridge, D.D.  The Family Expositor (Paraphrase and Version of

the New Testament [American edition]).  Amherst, Ms.:  J. S. & C. Adams,

and L. Boltwood; New York:  J Leavitt, 1834.

 

18        Adam Clarke, LL.D., F.S.A., etc.  The New Testament of our Lord and

            Saviour Jesus Christ  Vol. VI.  New York:  Abingdon Press, [n.d.].          

 

19        Donald Fraser, M.A., D.D.   Synoptical Lectures of the Books of Holy    Scripture  Vol. II.  New York:  Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1885.

 

20        Rev. Robert Jamieson, D.D.     Rev. A. R. Fausset, A.M.     Rev. David Brown             D.D.   A Commentary, Critical and explanatory, on the Old and New          Testaments  Vol. II     The S. S. Scranton Company     Hartford:  1871.

 

21        Martin Luther.  The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude Preached and

Explained (Wittenberg, 1523-1524).  Translated and with notes by E. H.

Gillett.  New York:  Anson D. F. Randolph, 1859.    

 

22        Barton W. Johnson.  People’s New Testament.  Internet Edition.  1891.

 

23        Arno Gaebelein.  Annotated Bible.  Internet Edition.  1920s.

 

24        John R. Dummelow.  Dummelow’s Commentary on the Bible.  Internet   Edition.  1909.

           

25        Robert Hawker.  Poor Man’s Commentary.  Internet Edition.  1828.

           

26        Johann A. Bengel.   Gnomon of the New Testament.  Internet Edition.  1742.

 

27        Alexander MacLaren.  Exposition of the Holy Scriptures.  Internet Edition.

            18--.

 

28        Matthew Poole.  English Annotations on the Holy Bible.  Internet Edition.

            1685.

 

29        John Trapp.  Complete Commentary.  Internet Edition.  Written 1600s;

            1865-1868 edition.

           

30        Joseph Sutcliffe.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  Internet

            Edition.  1835.

 

31        Albert Barnes.  Notes on the New Testament.  Internet Edition.  1870.

 

32        James Gray.  Concise Bible Commentary.  Internet Edition.  1897-1910.

 

33        F. B. Meyer.  Thru The Bible (Commentary).  Internet Edition.  1914 edition.

 

34        John and Jacob Abbott.  Abbott’s Illustrated New Testament.  Internet

            Edition.  1878. 

                       

35        John Calvin.  Commentaries.  Internet Edition.  Written in 1500s.  Printing:

            1840-1857.

                                   

36        William R. Nicoll, editor.  Expositor’s Greek Testament.   Internet

            Edition.1897-1910.

           

37        Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges:  James, 1 Peter, 2         Peter, Jude.  Internet Edition.  Each individual volume:  1896.

           

38        Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:  1 Peter, 2 Peter, Jude. 

E. M. Plumptre.  Internet Edition.  1890.    

 

39        D. D. Whedon.   Commentary on the New Testament; volume 5:  Titus to

Revelation.  Internet Edition.  New York:  Hunt & Eaton, 1880.

           

40        Ariel A. Livermore.  The Epistles to the Hebrews, the Epistles of James,

Peter, John, and Jude and the Revelation of John the Divine[:]  Commentary and Essays.    Internet Edition.  Boston:  Lockwood, Brooks and Company.

1881.

                       

41        M[ichael] F. Sadler.  The General Epistles of SS. James, Peter, John, and

Jude.  Second Edition.  London:  George Bell and Sons.  1895.

 

42        Robert S. Hunt.  The Epistle to the Hebrews and the General Epistles.  In

the Cottage Commentary series.  London:  Joseph Masters, 1865.

 

43        A. T. Robertson.  New Testament Interpretation (Matthew to Revelation): 

            Notes on Lectures.  Taken stenographically.  Revised Edition by William M.

            Fouts and Alice M. Fouts.  Louisville, Kentucky:  1921.  Mimeographed.

 

44        William G. Humphry.  A Commentary on the Revised Version of the New

Testament.  London:  Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Company, 1882. 

 

45        W. H. Bennett.  The General Epistles:  James, Peter, John and Jude.  In the

Century Bible series.  Edinburgh:  T. C. & E. C. Jack, 1901.

 

46        A. J. Mason.  “First Epistle of Peter” in Ellicott’s New Testament

            Commentary for English Readers.  Internet Edition.  1884.  

 

47        Joseph Benson.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  Internet

            Edition.  1811-1815.

           

48        William B. Godbey.  Commentary on the New Testament.  Internet Edition.

            1896-1900.     

           

49        James Nisbett, editor.  Church Pulpit Commentary.  Internet Edition.  1876.

            [Note:  this is not “The Pulpit Commentary.”]

           

50        Revere F. Weidner.  Annotations on the General Epistles of James, Peter,

            John, and Jude.  In the Lutheran Commentary series.  New York:  Christian

            Literature Company, 1897.

           

51        Schaff’s Popular Commentary on the New Testament.  Internet Edition. 

            1879-1890.