Wednesday, August 28, 2013

2nd Peter 1 - Eye Witnesses

"For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased" — and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain."  (2 Peter 1:16-18)
In those days, even as today, there were those who were carefully designing their religious and philosophical systems based on their own powers of understanding and imagination. The Greek word from "cleverly devised" does not carry any negative connotation for intents of the one devising the plan. It is the Greek word from which we get our word for Sophistry and the girls name Sophia and means wisdom. There were those who claimed great wisdom and knowledge of the universe and of God and developed elaborate intellectual models and their corresponding forms of religion worship, all conceived by their own imagination. Often those behind the differing systems would compete with each other, trying to show through their elaborate "systems" that they had the superior knowledge and wisdom and that they deserved to be followed over their peers. However, what made Christianity different was that it was not built upon the imagination of men but was delivered to men through direct revelation by God. Peter did not think these things up, he lived them. He did not devise sophistic teachings, he was taught directly by Jesus. Peter did not just suppose that Jesus was the Son of God, he was there on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured and he heard the voice of God declaring Jesus to be His Son. Peter did not just hope for a resurrection, he actually saw Jesus die and personally handled His resurrected body. Christianity is not based upon man's wisdom but upon God's divine revelation.
"So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19)
This passage from Peter is a bit hard to translate and there are many ideas of exactly what he meant. Personally, I think the English Standard Version (ESV) gives the best translation, "And we have something more sure, the prophetic word." Not only do we have the personal testimonies of the apostles but they are just successors in a long history of divine revelation. God has not been silent. All through history God has been revealing Himself to mankind. God was there in the beginning of His creation, He continued to speak throughout history through His prophets, then He sent His own Son as His living Word, and now, as Peter recounts, was continuing that revelation through His apostles. This is what the writer of Hebrews wrote when he said, "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world." (Hebrews 1:1-2) The roots of Christianity are ancient, they go all the way back through time. Christianity is not some new idea thought up by some of the wizards of smart, it is the natural progression of a divine revelation that started thousands of years ago.
"But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." (2 Peter 1:20-21)
Peter writes of these prophetic scriptures as "a lamp shining in a dark place" and urges us to study and give heed to them. Why? Because they are not just the words of men but the words of God. When we read the scriptures, which in Peter's day were the old Hebrew writings of the Old Testament, we are not just reading the thoughts, ideas, and imaginations of men, we are reading the self-revelation of God. God wants us to know Him, He wants to reveal Himself to us, and He has left behind a written history of His revelation to Mankind for anyone who cares to enlighten themselves. They are not just good stories but divine realities and they are written on our behalf and for our benefit. Do not neglect them for they are God's message to you!

David Robison

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