16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Peter 1:16-21 ESV
Peter begins to make a transition in the content of his letter. He has been encouraging his readers to see to it that they supplement their initial faith in Christ with the characteristics of Christ. Peter had evidently played a part in preaching of the gospel that had led to the salvation of the believers to whom he is writing. And, as a faithful shepherd, he is concerned that their faith increase as they submit their lives to the indwelling presence and power of the Spirit and pursuit the will of God for their lives: Holiness. Now, Peter begins to establish his qualifications as an apostle of Jesus, defending the nature of the gospel he had preached, and establishing his intimate relationship with Jesus Himself. There is a reason Peter is having to do this. As we will see in the very next chapter, Peter is having to deal with a problem that has impacted the churches receiving his letter. In his absence, false teachers have appeared within these churches, causing confusion and attacking the integrity of Peter’s message.
So, Peter wants to remind his readers that the gospel he had preached and which they had believed was not some man-made, cleverly concocted story that had no basis in reality. Peter had not made this stuff up. What he had told them regarding Jesus, including His life, ministry, miracles, messages, death, burial and resurrection, were true. Peter had been there. He had been an eyewitness of each and every thing regarding Jesus’ life, all the way to the bitter end. Peter makes special reference to the special occasion on which he had seen Jesus transfigured on the mountaintop and heard the voice of God. Mark records this event in his gospel.
2 Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed, 3 and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them. 4 Then Elijah and Moses appeared and began talking with Jesus. – Mark 9:2-4 NLT
Mark provides us with further insight into the reaction of the three disciples as they viewed this extraordinary event. As usual, Peter was the first to speak up.
5 Peter exclaimed, “Rabbi, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 6 He said this because he didn’t really know what else to say, for they were all terrified. – Mark 9:5-6 NLT
Peter tells his readers, “we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16 NLT). They had seen His transfiguration. They had watched as Jesus spoke with Elijah and Moses, two long-dead patriarchs of the faith. These two men were especially chosen by God for this occasion, because they represented the prophets and the law respectively. Jesus had come to fulfill both. All that the prophets wrote about in their books was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. And the Old Testament Mosaic Law was also fulfilled in Jesus because He was the only man who had ever kept the law in its entirety. He had not disobeyed a single part of God’s commands, which is what made Him the perfect sacrifice, the sinless lamb who could give His life as a substitute and as an atonement for the sins of mankind.
Mark’s gospel tells us what happened after Peter made his hasty, fear-driven offer to build three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah.
7 Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.” 8 Suddenly, when they looked around, Moses and Elijah were gone, and they saw only Jesus with them. – Mark 9:7-8 NLT
God spoke, and all He expressed to the disciples was His love for His Son and His desire that they listen to Him. And as they walked away from this one-of-a-kind encounter, Jesus had further instructions for Peter and two companions.
9 As they went back down the mountain, he told them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. 10 So they kept it to themselves, but they often asked each other what he meant by “rising from the dead.” – Mark 9:9-10 NLT
As Peter penned the words of his letter, it was long after the events described in Mark’s gospel. Jesus had gone to Jerusalem. He had made His triumphal entry. The disciples had celebrated what would be their last Passover meal with Jesus. They had stood by and watched Him be arrested and dragged off to be tried. Peter had denied Him three times. They had each been forced to watch Jesus crucified, buried and left for dead. But they had also been eye-witnesses to His resurrection, the very thing Jesus had mentioned to Peter, James and John that day as they descended the mountain. These men, along with the other disciples, had see Jesus in His glorified, resurrected state. He had visited with them, ate a meal with them, and commissioned them to take the news of His death, burial and resurrection to the world. And they had.
For Peter, what he had seen on the mountaintop that day and what his post-resurrection encounters with Jesus were more than enough to convince him of the validity of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. He was completely convinced that Jesus was the long-awaited Savior of whom the prophets had written. Which is what prompts him to write:
“Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.” – 2 Peter 1:19 NLT
Peter knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the message he preached was true because it was in fulfillment of all that the prophets had written regarding Jesus. The words of the prophets, written hundreds of years earlier, were “like a lamp shining in a dark place” and they will keep on shining until the day the Lord returns. These men not only predicted the first coming of Jesus, but His second coming. Their words still carry weight and significance. And Peter reaffirms that the writings of the prophets were not their own words, but had been given to them by God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, 21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. – 2 Peter 1:20-21 NLT
The Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles combined to create a God-ordained message of revelation and salvation based on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. He was God incarnate, the Son of God in human flesh. He was the God-Man, who lived a sinless life and performed never-before-seen miracles and spoke God-ordained words of truth. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, cast out demons, controlled the wind and the waves, turned water into wine, and raised the dead. He confounded the religious leaders with His wisdom. He comforted the sinful with His words. Peter and the apostles walked with Him, learned from Him, were astonished by Him, and convinced by the words He spoke to them. Their lives had been radically transformed as a result of their encounter with Him. And Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell on them, as the icing on the cake, a final proof that He was who He claimed to be. That fateful day had brought a new energy and enthusiasm to the disciples as they were filled with the power of the Spirit and began to preach the gospel given to them by Christ. They stood back and watched in awe and thousands of lives were changed at the hearing of the good news regarding Jesus, the Savior. And Peter, writing to believers who found themselves tempted to turn from the gospel by the misleading words of false teachers, pleads with them to keep their eyes focused on the reality of who Jesus was and what He came to do. In essence, Peter is repeating the words of God spoken to he, James and John. He is calling his readers to recall who Jesus is and to hear God say, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.