2 Peter 1:12-21: November 11—Living with truth
Nov 4, 2012

Mark Rathel is a professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
The Apostle Peter wrote his second letter near the end of his life to awaken Christians by reminding them of essential truth (1:13; 3:1). Peter intertwined three themes in his wake up call for Christians: the importance of Christian growth in discipleship, the danger of false teachers, and the certainty of the return of Jesus Christ. The false teachers expressed skepticism regarding the second coming and advocated a lifestyle incongruent with the Gospel. A partial list of the lifestyle of the false teachers contrasts with the godly virtues of discipleship Peter taught in 2 Peter 1:3-11: a life lacking restraint (2:2), greed (2:2), given over to the pollution of fleshly desire (2:10), despisers of authority (2:10), arrogant (2:10), blasphemers (2:12), carousers (2:13), deceivers (2:13), and seducers (2:14). In contrast, the precious truth of the second coming calls Christians to a life of holiness (3:11-12). By denying the second coming, the false teachers undercut a prime motivation for godly living.

Peter highlighted the historical, practical, and prophetic truth of God’s Word as a corrective to the false teachers (chapter 2) and skepticism regarding the second coming (chapter 3). God’s Word is sure—revealing the destiny of the false teachers and guaranteeing the second coming.

First, God’s Word establishes believers in the truth (1:12-13). The word translated “established” refers to inner strengthening. The means by which the believers experienced strengthening is “the truth”—a reference to the total message of God’s Word. Truth entails intellectual understanding as well as practical application. Doctrine, then, serves a vital practical purpose in the lives of God’s people.  Doctrinal truth promotes health among God’s people. God personally and actively strengthens believers (1 Pet. 5:10). Prior to his crucifixion, Jesus commanded Peter to “establish” or “strengthen” the brothers (Lk. 22:32). The Word of God is the means by which God used Peter to strengthen His people. Christians need constant reminder of the absolute veracity of God’s Word.

Second, the Word of God recalls the apostolic testimony (1:14-15). Peter realized that the end of his earthly life was near. He committed to make a strenuous effort to leave a legacy of remembrance for believers. The early church, as well as older commentators, understood 2 Peter 1:15 as a reference to the Gospel of Mark, a record of the preaching of Peter. Peter’s sermon recorded in Acts 10:37-42 functions as an appropriate outline of the second gospel. The New Testament, therefore, sets forth the apostolic testimony to the person of Jesus Christ. The church, then, does not need additional “revelations” beyond the revelation given in this foundational period (Eph. 2:20). 

Third, fulfilled prophecy confirms the divine nature of the Bible (2 Pet. 1:19). My library contains a helpful volume titled Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy by J. Barton Payne. According to Dr. Payne, the earthly ministry of Jesus fulfilled 127 prophecies. The fulfillment of these prophecies related to the first advent give believers assurance of the 52 prophecies that detail the Second Advent of Christ. (I personally think the number of prophecies related to the second coming is more expansive than Payne’s 52.) In other words, fulfilled prophecy provides the believer with assurance regarding the second coming of Christ.

Fourth, the nature of the Bible as a divine-human book highlights the profitability of Scripture (2 Pet. 1:20-21). God’s Word does not arise from the prophet’s own interpretation or from the prophet’s will. Peter utilized a maritime analogy to explain inspiration. The Bible is God’s revelation given through human personalities. The Spirit, however, directed the authors of Scripture as a wind directed a ship. (In Acts 27:15, 17 the wind directed the Paul’s ship.) The resultant message given through human personalities was the message God intended for the church.

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