Monday, November 9, 2020

Confidence in the Word

"And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19)

There are some differences in style and vocabulary between 1 and 2 Peter, and because of this, some liberal critics have asserted that Peter did not write 2 Peter. They say that the letter is pseudepigraphical, which means it is a “false writing” composed by someone else using Peter’s name as a way of gaining circulation for the letter. The early church wrestled briefly with this question and came down decidedly on the side of Petrine authorship, meaning - Peter wrote it as inspired by God! There were many pseudepigraphical writings in circulation, and they were easy to spot, but 2 Peter has the ring of sacred Scripture. It was written several years after 1 Peter and deals with different subjects. Like any other author, Peter’s style changed slightly over the years, and his vocabulary was tailored to his subject.

Chapter 1 of 2 Peter deals generally with two basic points. First, Peter encourages his readers to grow toward personal spiritual maturity. He lists certain priorities and stages of growth in 2 Peter 1:5–7. He tells us that true goodness builds on faith, that right knowledge can only be gained in a context of goodness, and that self-control only comes from true knowledge. He goes on to say that without self-control, we won’t have perseverance and that mature godliness grows out of perseverance through trials and difficulties. He ends by saying that a fullness of brotherly kindness is the fruit of this godlikeness, and that the most mature kind of love grows from brotherly kindness.

Then Peter turns to his second point, which is that all growth must come from our faith-filled confidence in God. He reminds his readers that, unlike them, he was personally present at the transfiguration of Jesus Christ, when the Son of God was revealed for a moment in a blaze of glory (2 Peter 1:16–18). In other words, Peter knows what he is writing about.

We have not had this experience; but, writes Peter, we have an even firmer foundation than the memory of a great experience with God. We have the “more certain” Word of God. God Himself wrote the Bible, says Peter, using the Holy Spirit as His pen. We must pay attention to the words of the Bible in our hearts until “the day dawns and the morning star arises”—until Jesus returns.

Reflect at length on the sequence of maturity described in the second paragraph above. Modern Christianity talks about “love” in a way that implies that we should have a full measure of it from our earliest years as believers. Peter writes of something deeper and richer. Does 1 Peter 1:5–7 mirror your own life and experience?