Of the apostles, Peter stood forth as the one who was always first in acting. He is frequently criticized for when his faith wavered when he attempted to walk on water (Matt. 14:22-33), but his faith in the Christ was great and remember that he was the only one to even attempt to walk. He also was the one to respond to Christ’s question in Matt. 16:15 “…But who say ye that I am?”, with the marvelous words of: Matt. 16:16 “ And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” What tremendous words of faith and trust in Christ, the son of God. I believe that these words were at least part of the reason the he was entrusted with preaching the first gospel message as recorded in Acts 2.
Peter’s contribution to the writings of the New Testament are that of the two short books of First and Second Peter. As one would expect of one who had such great faith in his friend and Savior, these two books provide a rich treasure trove for the bible student. We frequently study these books, and in particlar the eight items mentioned in 2 Pet. 1:5-7 those of faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance (self control), patience, Godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. These are critical virtues that the Christian must give “all diligence” to incorporate into their lives. However we often stop there, even while the second half of this chapter has a critical message for us also.
Peter recognized that he was nearing his death: 2 Pet. 1:14 “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” and as frequently occurs, when facing one’s demise, one’s focus turns to the important things of life. In order to help the disciples remain faithful, Peter wanted “to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;” 2 Pet. 1:13. and he continued; 2 Pet. 1:“15 Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.” He wanted very much for the church always be the pure and faithful bride of Christ, which would happen if the church would remember and follow every word of God.
The key message of the remainder of this chapter is encapsulated in 2 Pet. 1:16 “16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” The saints needed to be reminded that Christ was sent by God and that His teachings were God inspired. As Paul put this: 2 Tim. 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
There were many in that day and time, and even today, who refuse to follow Christ, and they would make the slanderous accusations that what the Apostles taught about the Christ and the events of His life were something that the Apostles had dreamed up. This accusation was absurd for several reasons. Peter continues by reminding those who 2 Pet. 1:1 …”have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:” that they and the Apostles were 2 Pet. 2:15 “but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” God had at several times given His stamp of approval on the Christ, at His baptism where the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus and God spoke (Matt. 3:16-17), expressing God’s blessing upon Jesus Christ. Also upon the mount in Matt. 17 as Peter references here in 2 Pet. 1:17-18, that Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus and God again spoke giving his blessing; Matt. 17:5 “While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”
It is incomprehensible to think that these men lived their lives with the struggles, persecutions, and poverty that they endured, daily having their lives in danger but still preaching the gospel message, over a lie. From what we can find in history all but one of them were executed because of their beliefs. To say that they did this over a lie, over something that they fabricated, is extremely foolish and shows a mind that is desperate to justify its own foolish stubborn will. No rational unbiased person would ever believe this.
As Peter points out in verse 19, God publicly gave Jesus Christ His affirmation. Christ’s words and those of the New Testament writers were sure, sound and reliable. The scriptures are the solid foundation upon which we can build our faith. We can have the utmost confidence in their reliability. It is upon the words of God that our eternal salvation depends. God’s words are those of our faith, the Jews would not believe, but we must: Jn. 5:38 “And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. 39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” and this faith in God, in Jesus Christ, is essential for the Christian: Heb. 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” As Peter confessed Christ; Matt. 16:16 “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” We also must base our faith on God’s word and through that word – Jesus Christ. There is no other.
The last two verses in this chapter continue in this thought, that the Bible, the revealed testimony of God, is exactly that and not something made up by man. I think the Living Oracles translation (by Alexander Campbell) phrases this in a most understandable way: 2 Pet. 1:20 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy brought by the will of man; 21 but the holy men of God spoke, being moved by the Holy Spirit.” Prophecy, or God’s word in this context, came from God and as Peter earlier stated was not something that they had fabricated. In other words, it is sound, reliable, and trustworthy, and with confidence we can trust it to provide us the directions for eternal life, if we but obey it.
As Peter saw his life coming to a close, he wanted to give us all one last message, trust God, trust His word, serve God and as God told the church in Smyrna: Rev. 2:10 “… be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” We must do likewise and we can with confidence at the end of our lives look unto God for the saving of our souls and an eternal life with Him in heaven.