2 Peter 1:12–15
2 Peter Lesson #029
January 30, 2020
“Father, we are so thankful that we can come together this evening to be refreshed by Your Word, to be strengthened and encouraged, be motivated to live and walk with You. Father, we are thankful that we have Your Word that is able to transform our thinking, to renew our minds, to give us that focus on eternity, on Your plan and Your provisions for us.
“Father, we pray for our nation. We pray for the leaders in our nation, we pray that we might have a wise government. We pray that You might open people’s eyes to the truth of what is going on. And Father, we pray this so that we may execute Your plan for our lives in terms of the mission the Lord Jesus Christ has given us, that we may do it without the interference, opposition, and hostility of the government.
“And Father, we pray that parents can rear their children according to the principles of Your Word without government interference, and that we might see a transformation take place in the various education facilities of this nation because so often, the hard work and effort of parents runs into the brick wall of a postmodern culture that brainwashes their children.
“And Father, we need to see a change, we need to see improvements in education and churches, education of parents and training their children so that they can withstand the onslaughts of Satan’s world.
“Father, we pray for us as we study tonight that we can come to understand Your Word and see how it applies to our lives, see the magnificence of what You’ve done in Your plan of salvation, and we pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to 2 Peter; 2 Peter chapter 1. I want to begin with a little current event. I know most of you probably don’t realize there is an impeachment trial going on in Washington, D.C. There have been various talk shows where they’ve asked the audience if anybody has been watching, and nobody’s watching, so I don’t know if you’re watching—maybe not. But I think that you’re a little more informed than most people.
I had several people e-mail me that it was a good idea for me to listen to Alan Dershowitz’s impeachment remarks on Monday before the Senate. So, I took the time yesterday to listen through his remarks and they are profound; they’re brilliant. And for someone who is a lifelong Democrat and someone who is generally progressive, the one thing that I’ve noticed about him is that he has integrity in that he believes the law is the law.
Now we may not like the laws that he likes. We may not want to change the laws that he wants to change, but as long as it’s the law, he does have that integrity. And he has an integrity of methodology, one that I think a lot of people should learn because it’s the same methodology that we use to understand and interpret the Scripture.
If you listen to his opening remarks as he describes how he went back into the dusty archives of various law libraries digging out the original documents dealing with the viewpoints of the framers of the Constitution, the Founding Fathers and how they understood these words and phrases that they used, and also going back to, for example, the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson—I think it was 1866, 1867, somewhere in there—and looking at the arguments that were set forth by the justices, and by the Senate at that particular time. That’s how you do this kind of work; you take time to look at history.
You want to interpret words in light of the times in which they were said and understand how they were used. You want to look at the writings of the authors of documents to find out what they thought and how they understood these things so that you can interpret their documents in light of their original intent.
The Constitution is a dead document. It’s not a living document. By that, I mean it was written and it is not changeable; it is not something that mutates except according to the rules that are set forth and the law, set forth in the Constitution to amend the Constitution according to those processes. Anything else is wrong.
Unfortunately, we have a lot of legislators who have tried to change and attack fundamentals in the Constitution without going through those processes because they know they can’t win. One example today is the assaults on the Second Amendment; another is that they’re segueing very rapidly, especially in Virginia, in terms of attacking the First Amendment.
Once the Second Amendment goes, everything else dominoes. That’s what gives us the ability to defend those things. But the law is king. That was the title of Samuel Rutherford’s treatise on politics, grounded on the Word back in the mid-1600s Lex Rex—The Law is King—and Dershowitz understands that. So, I give him credit for that because he shows an integrity in sticking with it rather than ignoring it, which is what’s going on by a lot of those who are in the House and in the Senate.
About eight minutes and 15 seconds into his impeachment speech the other day, he talked about one of the judges dealing with the impeachment of Johnson, and he was talking about his interpretive principle for defining and understanding the phrase, “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Now most people in our country just look at it and go, “Oh, misdemeanors. That’s like a traffic ticket.” That’s not how you understand it. That violates the basic rule of hermeneutics. So Dershowitz said, “Judge Curtis’s interpretation—that is of the term ‘other high crimes and misdemeanors,’ of the five words, ‘other high crimes and misdemeanors’—is supported. Indeed, in his view, it was compelled by the constitutional text. Judge Curtis said, ‘Treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors are high crimes. Other high crimes and misdemeanors must be akin to treason and bribery.’ ” That statement is a quote from Judge Curtis.
“In other words,” he goes on to say, “Curtis cited the Latin phrase, noscitur a sociis,” which basically means “known from its associates.” “A word that’s meaning is uncertain, questionable, or doubtful can be understood and defined by its association with surrounding words and its context.” This is a definition from TheLaw.com Law Dictionary, an online law dictionary, and Black’s Law Dictionary 2nd ed. “The phrase means a word whose meaning is uncertain, questionable, or doubtful can be understood and defined by its association with surrounding words and its context.”
What have you heard me say over and over and over again ad nauseam for the last 20 years about interpretation? It’s like real estate: location, location, location. But it’s context, context, context. When you take the text out of context, you’re left with a con job. That’s what’s happening in Congress. The dictionary definition goes on to say, “This concept is frequently used in canons of construction or interpreting and understanding the meaning of the words in a legal statute, ordinance, or law.”
It’s interesting that there are a lot of similarities between theology and the law, which is why a lot of lawyers over the years became theologians. C.I. Scofield was a lawyer turned theologian; John Nelson Darby was a lawyer turned theologian; John Calvin was a lawyer turned theologian, and Andy Woods is a lawyer turned theologian. So, there are a lot of similarities between these two disciplines.
Dershowitz states this meaning that when the meaning of a word that is part of a group of words is uncertain, you should look to the other words in that group to provide interpretive context. So, that means that when you have a list: treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors, “misdemeanors” is the ambiguous word, and to define it, you have to go back to the first two words which set the context, treason and bribery. So high crimes and misdemeanors describe those acts which fit as treason and bribery, and this is what led to his conclusion, which is an important conclusion, that to impeach someone they have to be guilty of a crime, which means they violated a legal statute.
He did not argue that in 1998 or 1999 when Clinton was impeached—he took the opposite view—but he said he’s gone back and he’s studied and researched more and more, and read more and more, and it enforced the evidence for him to change his mind. I can appreciate that process; as a pastor, you study, study, study to come to one conclusion. Twenty years later, you’ve studied a whole lot more, and you may change your mind on something because you’ve gotten more information, more evidence, and more data.
Dershowitz gives an example. He said the late Justice Antonin Scalia gave the following current example: “If one speaks of Mickey Mantle, Rocky Marciano, Michael Jordan, and other great competitors, the last noun, that is, “competitors,” does not reasonably refer to Sam Walton ...” Why? What do Mickey Mantle, Rocky Marciano, and Michael Jordan all have in common? They are athletic competitors. So, Sam Walton wouldn’t fit because he’s a great competitor but in business, “or to Napoleon, a great competitor on the battlefield.” So, Dershowitz says, “Applying that rule to the group of words, treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors, the last five words should be interpreted to include only serious criminal behavior akin to treason and bribery.”
That’s how you do exegesis; you go back and you understand authorial intent by looking at the words and how they were used in the original context, and you argue on the basis of context and on the basis of historical context. When I was teaching Bible Study Methods, there are several contexts. You have a historical context: What was going on in the culture at that time in history?
When Moses is writing the Pentateuch, he uses a contractual form that was typical of treaties of that day called … we call it a “suzerain-vassal treaty form,” but you have to understand that structure as we have archaeological evidence in order to see what Moses is doing. That helps you understand the framework, but it’s the culture of the time in which the Pentateuch was written.
Then you have a literary context, and that is when you go in and you look at the Ten Commandments. There is a context because it is part of a section that goes from Exodus 19 to Exodus 40, which has to do with the set up for giving the Law and the Law itself. The Ten Commandments is the prelude and then the various ordinances and judgments.
So, you have a literary context and you have an immediate literary context, which is that which surrounds the sentence of the paragraph or the immediate chapter, and then you have a broader context which may be the argument of the book. So, you have all of these different contexts.
Then there’s a different context, and that is the context of the audience, because when you take something and translate it, you may have an accurate translation, but it may not resonate with the audience.
I remember some years ago, we were translating one of Pastor Thieme’s books, the people over in Belarus who had just gotten over there got some Belarusians to translate The Plan of God into Russian. They did not have any frame of reference for, “The human race has three strikes against them: Strike one is Adam’s original sin, strike two is the imputation of Adam’s original sin, and strike three is personal sin, and you’re out.” If you don’t know baseball, you have to understand the context of the audience; if they don’t understand that, then you haven’t communicated.
That’s a problem. So if you have all these different contexts—historical context, you have the broad literary context, the immediate literary context, and then you have the context of the audience—all of that must go into how a pastor comes to understand what the text means, but then he has to communicate that so that the audience can understand them.
Let’s say you were looking at a fishing manual that was written in the mid-19th century, and you are going to read this to a modern-day audience. And in the fishing manual, it’s talking about going out and capturing bullfrogs, and they are using a pointed instrument to stab the frogs so that they can [gig’em], but if you have an audience made up of Texas Aggies you might not want to say, “so you can gig’em.” Because to an Aggie, “gig’em” has a different connotation than gigging frogs. So, you have to know your audience and be careful how you say certain things.
Let’s look at our passage, which we started last week, 2 Peter 1:12–15, which is the concluding part of the introduction. We went through this, studied it last time and I translated this. “Therefore, I—that is, Peter—will not neglect to remind you constantly about these things, even though you have known”—it’s a perfect tense verb; it’s talking about the present results, so it’s not incorrect to say “you know it” because it’s talking about the present results of the past, completed action.
But that’s not readily apparent in English to a lot of people today. So, if you say, “you know it,” they think it’s a present tense verb if they’re thinking of verbal action at all. It is completed action with the present results that they now know this, “and they have been made stable—so they are stable, but they’re stable because of a past completed action that was, and the instrument of their knowledge, and their stability is the Word of God—by means of the truth that you now have.”
So, they have been taught this in the past; they’ve been taught by Peter in 1 Peter and more immediately in 2 Peter1:1 down through verse 11, so that’s what he’s alluding to here in this context.
In the next three verses, he says, [2 Peter 1:13–15] “Yes, I think it is right, as long as I’m in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover, I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.”
So, what is he talking about here? He’s talking about being reminded; he’s talking about repetition; he’s talking about telling them things over and over again. Last time, I gave you about six or seven different points related to repetition, and tonight I wanted to give you a few more to explain why a pastor needs to engage in repetition, and I always go back with review because you need to hear certain things.
One reason a pastor engages in repetition is to make sure people “get it.” At any given moment, one-third of you are not paying attention to me, and that’s not abnormal; it’s normal. Some of you may not be paying attention to me like yesterday when I was listening intently to Dershowitz’s speech, wanting to catch everything like the sentence I just taught … I woke up after 10 minutes. That happens; we’re tired.
Sometimes pastors look out, and they see people sleeping. One of the things I learned a long time ago as an audience member watching an audience is that you have a lot of folks that get up at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, and they go to work, and they work hard all day long. They get off work. They get a bite to eat, which puts some carbs in their body, and then they go to Bible class, and for the first time, they just get to sit and relax. What’s the natural thing to do when you’ve been awake for a long time? That is to go to sleep. It doesn’t mean you’re not interested. It doesn’t mean you’re bored. It just means you’re tired, and your body is feeding off those carbs, and it puts you right to sleep.
You have to repeat again and again, so that people get it. So that’s important. And if I say it one way this week and in another way next week, then maybe the way I say it the second time or the third time or the eighth time or the ninth time might be when it just suddenly goes off and you say, “Oh, I get it.”
I think I mentioned this a while back, but I had a conversation with somebody who made the comment that they heard me say something, and they had never heard me say it before, and actually, I say it all the time, but they finally heard it. So, you just never know.
A second reason for repetition, and this is a little professional secret that most pastors won’t tell you about: if you’re teaching more than once a week and you’re really trying to do your homework, you’re going to every now and then come to passages that are really difficult, and you may need to read ten journal articles and ten commentaries explaining the intricacies of a very complex grammatical structure in a paragraph. You don’t have time to do that in one week. You may discover something halfway through that opens up a whole new avenue of inquiry, and you just run out of time.
So, one thing that pastors will do is go back and review or talk about something related to it that they’ve already studied before, so that they can buy a little time to study the passage a little more. You’ve probably heard a lot of pastors do that; you just didn’t know it, but that’s a little secret, so don’t tell anybody.
When I was working one time with an intern, I was training him on trying to speed up his preparation process just a little bit and think a little more quickly, so one day I had a plan: he was going to be teaching a Bible class in about a week or so, and he was working on it, and I said, “You’ve got about six hours today to work on that, and so I want to see what you’ve got at the end of six hours; you should have it completed.” Three or three-and-a-half hours later, I came in and I say, “Okay, here’s reality: You have a deacon who’s a close friend and his wife was just killed in an automobile accident. You need to go to be with the family, and you need to go find out where he is, so you can take about 30 minutes to finalize what you’re going to teach tonight. You probably won’t get back to look at it again.” Talk about a deer in the headlights look! That’s reality.
I don’t know how many times something has happened, maybe not that drastic, you know, I’ve got a couple of meetings, maybe somebody’s sick and in the hospital and I do need to leave, or maybe I just get caught in traffic. Instead of getting back to work on things at 2 pm, I don’t get back until 4 pm, so I have a lot less time. So, you have to figure out how to work faster, smarter, whatever, and sometimes repetition covers up a little bit of that, but those kinds of things happen; that’s just part of life.
The third reason is that while you’re writing down my sixth point, I talk about the seventh and the eighth points, and by the time you tune back in, its point number nine, and you panic. But you know that you’re going to hear it again, so you can relax, and the next time, I will repeat it, and you will get it.
Then, my favorite of all the reasons to repeat is after I’ve taught something eight times, and I’m tired of it, too, the person who really needs to hear it comes to Bible class finally, and I have to repeat it for the ninth time because they’re the ones that really needed it to begin with. You don’t know about all those things. You sit out there—every now and then people will say things to me like, “Did you have a bunch of visitors?” Usually somebody that was livestreaming says, “Did you have a bunch of visitors last night?”
I’ll say, “Yes.” So, “Did you know if they were saved?” And I say, “No, so I gave them the gospel. I spent 30 minutes explaining the gospel because three people who I had no knowledge of came in, and I’ve got to make sure they understand the gospel.” There are all kinds of things that go on and that you never know when you’re sitting there in the pew, why I might have suddenly shifted gears halfway through a message to go into something everybody knows pretty well, so those are just some reasons that there needs to be repetition.
2 Peter 1:13 says, “Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you,” that’s in the New King James version. The Holman Christian Standard Bible says, “I consider it right, as long as I am in this bodily tent, to wake you up with a reminder.” Now, when you put those together, that communicates pretty well what Peter is saying here.
The verb here is HEGEOMAI, which is a word that ought to be familiar to some of you. It’s the word that is translated “count” or “consider” it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. It is an accounting term, and it means “to count, to add up, to consider,” it means “to think,” it is also the word that means “to impute value” to something. So that’s the Greek word that lies behind the verb for “impute,” “to impute” righteousness to somebody. It has a range of meanings, but here, it is this idea I think it is right.
“As long as I am in this tent”; this is an interesting word. The form of the word here is SKENOMA, which is usually translated “a tent” or “dwelling place” or “temporary dwelling place.” It is based on various forms of this word SKENE which is a cognate of the Hebrew word shakan; you can hear it’s got the same consonants. The S H K in shakan; SKENE; you have S K N, and this word shows up in Russian; it shows up in Ukrainian; it shows up in Greek.
It is the, the root term for the tabernacle which, if you take a verb like shakan, and you want to turn it into a noun in Hebrew, you put an “m” in front of it, so it’s mishkan. That’s the Hebrew word for the tabernacle; it’s a temporary dwelling place for God until the tabernacle was built. So, this is also the word that is used, and it’s translated “tent” and even the form of the Greek word, that’s translated tent varies. There is another form SKENOS, and that is translated “tent.” That’s the word that we find in 2 Corinthians 5, which we’ll look at in just a minute.
So, Peter says, [ 2 Peter 1:13] “Yes, I think it is right, as long I am as I am in this tent—this temporary dwelling place, and that’s used as a as a metaphor; it’s an idiom for the physical body—to stir you up.” This is a Greek word DIEGEIRO. It means to “raise up”; that’s a word that is related to the resurrection of Christ.
He was raised from the dead. We have been raised together with him in Ephesians 1:5–6. It’s “to raise up; to awaken; to arouse someone from sleep; to stir them up or motivate them.” So, the literal meaning has to do with waking them up or lifting them up or raising them up, and it is used idiomatically to arouse someone mentally, to stir them up, to get them thinking, to get them motivated, to get them focused and to act.
Hold your place in 2 Peter, and let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 5. 2 Corinthians 5 is one of the great chapters in the Bible. The first part of it is also one of my favorite passages to read at a funeral or a graveside. Paul writes [2 Corinthians 5:1], “For we know that if our earthly house,” so that’s the first way he describes it, and it’s on earth. It’s a house for our soul, and it’s earthly because it was made from the chemicals of the soil.
When God made the physical body of Adam, He did it from the dust of the earth, from the soil, so it’s our earthly house, this tent. That’s the word SKENE. [2 Corinthians 5:1] “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building—and he uses the word OIKOS, which means house—from God, a house—and he uses another synonym there—not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” So, we have an earthly house that can be destroyed, but there is a building from God, a permanent house, that is not made with hands, that is eternal in the heavens, an immortal body.
Then, he contrasts the two. He says [2 Corinthians 5:2], “For in this—what? house, this tent—we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation, which is from heaven,”. So, one is earthly from the soil; one is made without hands from Heaven. [2 Corinthians 1:3] “if, indeed, having been clothed—that is when we receive our resurrection body because that’s what it’s talking about—we shall not be found naked.”
What’s interesting, there is that really doesn’t mean naked without clothes; that means that you have a soul without a body. So, the soul is not clothed; the soul cannot interact with anything unless there’s a body. The soul by itself doesn’t see, hear, taste, touch, feel any of those things. So, God designed man, so that the soul has to have a body in order to interact with that which is around it. And how the soul, which is immaterial, interacts with a material brain is something that I look forward to having a few discussions about with the Lord in Heaven.
I think there are a lot of people who wonder how in the world can an immaterial soul run a physical material body. How is that connected? And, what happens if somebody has total amnesia; what happens to that part of the person when they have some dementia or when they have Alzheimer’s?
There is a very well-known Hebrew professor, Charles Feinberg, and he was a professor of Hebrew at Dallas Seminary back in the 1940s and 50s, and he was trained as a rabbi. When he was in his early 20s, he was trained as an Orthodox rabbi, and when he was in his early 20s, he became a believer in the Jewish Messiah. He then went to Dallas Theological Seminary. He had read, over and over and over again, his entire Hebrew Bible, which nobody at Dallas Seminary in the faculty had ever done. He knew more Hebrew than all of them combined, and it wasn’t long before he was teaching Hebrew. When he was in his late 80s or early 90s, he developed Alzheimer’s. Within a year or two, he had forgotten he was a Christian, and he was going back to synagogue. I want to talk to the Lord; how does that happen? That is a really interesting scenario.
So, we have this connection between the immaterial soul and the physical body. 2 Corinthians 5:3–5, “if, indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent—that is this mortal tent. This is the same tent that Peter is talking about—groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed but further clothed—notice this “further clothed” is something that is greater than the current way in which our soul is clothed—that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now he who has prepared us for this very thing is God—God is omniscient, and He has prepared everything just perfectly—who has also given us the Spirit as a guarantee.”
That is the fact that we are branded or sealed by the Spirit. He is our guarantee that guarantees that we will eventually realize our full salvation. So, Paul then goes on [2 Corinthians 5:6–8], “So, we are always confident, because we know that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith and not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” So, those are the options and when we put off this earthly tent, then we get a heavenly one, a heavenly body that is permanent, that is ours throughout all of eternity, and that is our resurrection body.
This is what Peter is talking about. Turn back to 2 Peter 1:13, where Peter says, “as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up.” He is saying, as long as I’m in my earthly body carrying out my earthly ministry and mission, I am to stir you up, to motivate you, to stimulate you by reminding you. So, hearing things over and over again is an important way of getting us motivated in the spiritual life because we forget things.
I remember when I was sitting in Bible class when I was about 40 or 41 years old. I had done my Th.M. work, I had done my doctoral work, I had published the book on Spiritual Warfare, I had learned a few things, and I realized that most of the things that I heard in most of the sermons and messages in Bible classes that I went to, I already knew. I began to think about that.
See, this is what happens when you’re sitting in Bible class; I’ll say something, the pastor will say something, and that gets you started on a line of thinking and a line maybe of application in your own life, and it takes two or three minutes, and you come back and think, “Where am I? What’s going on?” So, you need to hear repetition for that.
I was thinking about this, and I realize that for much of my life I had wanted to know why do I believe, and why do I believe it? That is typical of a young believer, of a young man. John talks about the babies and the young men and the older mature men, and the babies want to know things, they want to learn things, “Well why do I believe this?” Have you ever been around a little kid? They always say why? why? why? They want to learn everything, and so that motivates you. I go to Bible class because I want to learn.
You notice that sometime around the late 40s, late 30s, or into the 40s, people who came all the time sort of begin to fade out. They were hearing things and thinking, “Oh well, I already know that. What happens at that point is you have to shift gears spiritually: you’re not going to Bible class to learn something new; you’re going to Bible class to be reminded of what you know, so you won’t forget it. It will stimulate you to growth, and that is really important, and that’s a step that a lot of people miss, and it’s in the stage of spiritual adolescence where you’re not motivated by learning something new. You’re motivated by being reminded, so that you can continue to press on to maturity. This is what Peter is talking about here.
Then, as he mentions this, “I’m in this tent,” he knows something: he knows that [2 Peter 1:14], “… shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.” Now what he means by putting off his tent is that he will die, and he will be face-to-face with the Lord, and this was what the Lord Jesus Christ showed him.
The word there—it’s translated “know”—is not “that I came to know,” that would be GINOSKO, and here it is OIDA. OIDA has to do with something that you have learned; GINOSKO is “coming to know.” OIDA is when you have learned it, it is part of the makeup of your soul, it is part of your intellectual armor and intellectual ammunition. So, Peter knows this, and he knows that he’s older and he must die, but it’s going to be as the Lord Jesus Christ showed him.
This refers to what the Lord said to him in John 21:18–19, “ ‘Most assuredly, I —Jesus—say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished— that is, you got up, you got dressed, you tightened up your belt, put on your shoes, and you went wherever you wanted to go—but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands—someone is going to put on the handcuffs or tie your wrists together—and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ ” That would indicate that he would be under arrest and probably taken to a place of execution.
John then says in John 21:19, “This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him—that is Jesus said to Peter—‘Follow Me.’ ” The implication is that you’re going to eventually die because you’re following Me, and that’s the challenge.
What we know about Peter’s death and later life is that he traveled—after his time in Jerusalem and being the founder of the church there in the early part of Acts—later he traveled. We have hints of this from some of the Epistles. For example, in Paul’s Epistle to the to the Corinthians, he references the divisions in the congregation: some of them followed Apollos; some of them followed Paul; others of them followed Cephas, which is Peter; others were the holier crowd, they followed Jesus. So that obviously indicated that Peter’s been there.
Later on, in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul references Peter as one of the apostles who took his wife along with him as he traveled. Now that really flies in the face of the whole celibacy argument from the Roman Catholic Church that here’s Peter who, according to them, is the founder of the Roman Church, and he had a wife and traveled with his wife, but he did. And he wasn’t the founder of the church at Rome either.
Then, when we studied 1 Peter, we saw that he had an audience that he was writing to in the central and northern central Turkey in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia—those are the center of Asia minor—Asia and Bithynia. So, he had obviously had a ministry to the Jews in the diaspora in that area, and at the end of 1 Peter, he says that he wrote that from Babylon. There are a lot of people who argue that that is just a code word for Rome, but there’s no indication of any other place’s name ever being used as a code word. Everywhere else, Rome is Rome and Babylon is Babylon. There is a huge Jewish community in Babylon, and he’s the apostle to the Jews, so he would’ve spent a good deal of time there.
There is no indication that Peter went to Rome early at all. In fact, when Paul writes Romans, which is later, Peter has not yet been there and yet there is a church in Rome. The only way we know about his death is from tradition.
In John 21:18, as I just mentioned, the Lord tells him how he is going to die, but not when or where he’s going to die. First Clement, which is written by a pastor in Rome who is known as Clement of Rome, was written near the end of the first century, probably in the late 80s or 90s, and it mentions the martyrdom of both Peter and Paul, among many others. In 1 Clement 5:4, it testifies to the fact, but not the place, of Peter’s martyrdom along with many others when there was a great multitude of martyrdoms, which best fits the time of Nero’s persecution of the church, when many, many Christians were executed in horrible, horrible ways.
Later on, in the early part of the second century, there’s a church father named Ignatius, and he wrote an epistle to the Romans, and he also mentions the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, but he doesn’t mention where. But because he is writing to Rome, it seems to be inferred that the place where their deaths occurred was in Rome, and because they are linked together, he says, “I did not command you as did Peter and Paul.” So, he talks about them as if they were in close contact there in Rome.
There is another, not an apocryphal book, just another extra-biblical work, called the Ascension of Isaiah, and in that—it’s a Jewish-Christian work written in the middle part of the second century—it talks about how Nero martyred one of the 12, and that is believed to be a reference to Peter. Then, late in the second century, Dionysius, who is the Bishop of Corinth, also mentions that Peter and Paul taught together in Italy. And Irenaeus, at the end of that century, says that they preached together in Rome. Later, Tertullian says that Peter was martyred there.
The only person that writes specifically about Peter’s death comes into the third century, which is Eusebius. He is the writer of the first church history, the ecclesiastical history, and he says that Peter was crucified upside down, but that’s from the early third century. So that’s 200 years later. So, where we can’t say for sure that that is how Peter died. But he knew that his time was near, he knew what the Lord had said, and so he wants to leave something for his readers that they can go back and read over and over and over again after he dies.
Slides 15 and 16
The word translated “decease” is exodus, which means “to depart.” [2 Peter 1:15] “Moreover, I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder”—and he uses the word SPOUDAZO, which is where you have “study to show yourself approved unto God.” It doesn’t mean “study;” it means “to be diligent.” The context indicates “diligence” and “study.”
So [2 Peter 1:15], “Moreover, I will be diligent to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.” It has the idea of being diligent, being zealous, laboring over something, and so Peter is taking his responsibility seriously. He’s writing this so that they will have this record, and they can go back and study it over and over again. This is how he ends the introduction. 2 Peter 1:15 introduces this Epistle.
Then he begins to go into the first section, which begins in verse 16, where he is talking about the importance of the Word of God. He begins by talking about the audible Word that he heard from the Father when the Father spoke at the time of the baptism of Jesus, and the Father said [2 Peter 1:17], “ ‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’ ” and he’s going to develop from there the prophetic Word, which is the prophecy of the Old Testament, and in 2 Peter 1:19, the first part, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place,” and then 2 Peter 1:20 and 21 are two of the key verses in understanding the inspiration of Scripture. That just gives you an overview.
In 2 Peter 1:16, 17, and 18, we read, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” In other words, we didn’t get it because we made up intricate detail stories to fool everybody, but because we were actual eyewitnesses, and it wasn’t just one person, there were many persons. So, the multiplicity of witnesses confirmed and agreed with the same testimony.
2 Peter 1:17, “For He—that is, Jesus—received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.’ ” So, there is an announcement that Jesus is His Son, a declaration that Jesus is His Son. Have we talked about that recently? Anybody awake? Sunday morning, Psalm 2; that’s what this goes back to, where He’s declaring the Sonship of Christ. That is what this is alluding to. In 2 Peter 1:18, “And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” So not only did they not make up the stories, they were eyewitnesses and then they heard the voice of God.
So, this is the foundation for what will come [2 Peter 1:16], “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables.” What is the key theme of 2 Peter? It’s a warning not to be deceived by false teachers, and so here Peter begins to introduce this idea that we are eyewitnesses; we are telling you the truth in contrast to those who are making it up, those who have these cunningly devised fables and myths and stories. We are telling you the truth. This is what we saw; this is what we heard. John does the same thing at the beginning of the Epistle of 1 John: What we saw and what we heard we communicated to you. So, he says, 2 Peter 1:16, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His Majesty.”
When you get into this particular section, the word that is translated “cunningly” devised fables is kind of a tricky word. In many places, it has a good meaning it’s the verb SOPHIZO from SOPHOS, meaning “wisdom”. But it is also used to describe “that which is a cunning deception,” and it is used to describe both God’s wisdom, which is true wisdom, and the false wisdom of human viewpoint and the foolishness of man, especially in 1 Corinthians, the second half of chapter 1 and on into chapter 2.
It is the idea of being skilled in formulating something in a very artful manner and a deceptive manner, indicating tremendous cleverness. That’s how it is translated: the idea of something that is cleverly and artfully concocted in order to deceive people. He said, we didn’t do that; we made known to you the power related to the omnipotence of the Lord Jesus Christ and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We were eyewitnesses of His Majesty.
Now, when did that take place? That took place in Matthew, and it is described in Matthew 17:1–5 on the Mount of Transfiguration, and it is at that point that Peter goes on to say [2 Peter 1:17], “For He—that is the Lord Jesus Christ as He went with James and Peter and John up on the on the Mount of Transfiguration—received from God the Father honor and glory,” because the Father announced that He was His beloved son. He declared that audibly; if you had your MP3 recorder there with you or your video camera, you could’ve taken a picture of it, and of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove coming down over Christ.
You could’ve heard the same announcement at Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist: “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” And now that same announcement is made by the Father on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Slides 20 and 21
Let’s look at Matthew 17:1 for just a minute: “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;—we don’t know which high mountain this was; there were a couple of options, but we don’t know. [Matthew 17:2], “and He was transfigured before them—that’s the verb METAMORPHOO; it’s the same word that’s related to being transformed by the renewing of your mind—and his face shone like the sun.”
So the glory of God is breaking forth in light; that’s the same kind of thing that happened when Moses went into the tabernacle and into the Holy Place, and God gave them the Law, God spoke to him, and when he’d come out, he’d put a veil over his face because it still radiated the light from the presence of God. [Matthew 17:2], “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.”
Here is a map. They’ve been up in the area of the northern part of Galilee, north of the Sea of Galilee and headed towards Caesarea Philippi, but we don’t know that they stayed there because six days go by, and six days would take them just about anywhere. So, some people think that it’s up—you can see this on the topographical ridge here— this is Mount Hermon. This is the highest point in Israel. It usually has enough snow in the winter so you can go skiing there. Then down here, just outside of Nazareth, you have another location: Mount Tabor, which is what the weapon was named after—the short bull pup rifle that the IDF uses.
So here is a picture of Mount Hermon.
Then this is the distinctive shape of Mount Tabor. Mount Tabor is not as high over all as Mount Hermon, but because it sits in the middle of a plain, it seems to be quite high in terms of the relative elevation.
So, we’re told in Matthew 17:3, “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” They’re not too interested in talking to Peter, James, and John. They are talking to Jesus the Messiah.
Slides 27 and 28
In the parallel passage in Luke 9:31, it says, they “who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease—or His departure—which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” So that’s what Moses and Elijah are talking to the Lord about. Matthew doesn’t tell us the content of the conversation. And then we’re told in Luke 9:32 that, “Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.”
Now Matthew 17:4, “Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here;—I’ve got a great idea: we can build a tent, a SKENE, for each of you—… one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ ”
Slides 31 and 32
And at that point, he is interrupted. In Matthew 17:5, “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’ ” So, this is the announcement, the declaration of the Lord that Jesus is His Son.
Psalm 2:7, which we studied on Sunday morning where God the Son, here, the Messiah, is speaking; He says, “I will declare the decree: The Lord—that is God the Father—has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.’ ” So, this is the prophecy in Psalm 2 looking forward to that time in the future, but it’s a declaration of the statement in the Davidic Covenant.
The term “declare,” since we talked about HEGEOMAI, the word saphar is the Hebrew equivalent. It is an accounting term. It means “to count; to relate.” I told you the other day it has the idea that the Scribes would count the letters and count the words, and everything had to come to the right number to make sure that the copies were exact, and so it came to mean, “to declare something,” or “to recount something.”
So [Psalm 2:7], “I will declare the decree of the Lord,”—that decree of the Lord was made in 2 Samuel 7:14 when God promised to David, “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.” So, just as David was anointed in 1 Samuel 16:12–13 and he didn’t get the crown until 2 Samuel 2, so the Lord is anointed at the baptism, and He’s not going to be crowned until the Second Coming. At different stages, God announces and declares who He is, that He is His Son.
In the ancient world, this is evidenced also in the Code of Hammurabi that the heir is not necessarily the firstborn; it is the one that the father declares to be his son. There has to be a legal declaration of who the son is, and that’s the one that becomes the heir, the firstborn. So, this is the cultural background for this.
When the Father declares His Sonship, he becomes the heir. That’s what the next verse, Psalm 2:8, is talking about: “I will make the nations of the world Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession.”
The declaration is [Psalm 2:7], “Today I have begotten You,” which is not a term for birth. As I pointed out, it is a word where you’re declaring sonship; there’s a distinct meaning between begotten and made or created.
I’ve got a quote here, and I’m not going to read it again, but it’s that quote I read on Sunday morning from Allen Ross talking about this is why in the Nicene Creed and the other creeds, they talked about how Jesus was begotten, and not made. He is the Second Person of the Trinity and begotten describes His eternal relationship to the Father.
In Acts 13:33 we are told, “God has fulfilled this for us—this declaration—in that He has raised up Jesus.” So, the resurrection of Christ is a declaration of His Sonship. His Sonship is declared at baptism; His Sonship is declared on the Mount of Transfiguration; His Sonship was declared by the resurrection.
This is what Paul refers to in Romans 1:4: He’s “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection of the dead.” That concept of His “begottenness” is what’s alluded to also in Psalm 110:3.
It’s so fascinating to see how these phrases and terms are all interconnected, and you have to follow that in the Scriptures to get that. And of course, I pointed out in our study on Psalm 110:3, the second half of that verse is very poorly translated. Skip that [Slide 39].
We go to Isaiah 42:1 where the Father announces, “Behold! My servant, whom I uphold, My Choice One in whom My soul delights.” This is part of that declaration.
Peter will conclude in 2 Peter 1:18, “And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.”
He goes on to say [2 Peter 1:19], “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed”; the prophetic word was the announcement of Psalm 2 and other messianic prophecies, and it’s confirmed in what was declared at the baptism, what was declared on the Mount of Transfiguration, and what is declared and confirmed in the resurrection. So, they’re not following stories or fables made up by men to deceive, but they were eyewitnesses of what took place.
We’ll come back next time because the last three verses of the chapter focus on the inspiration of the Word under the category of prophecy.
And notice how the structure goes, there is the introduction in 2 Peter 1:19, “so we have the prophetic word confirmed.” Then in 2 Peter 1:20 he says, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.” 2 Peter 1:21, “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
And then, 2 Peter 2:1—forget the chapter; the next verse then says, “but there were also false prophets among the people.” What do these verses all have in common? They all mentioned prophecy or prophets; that’s the key that unites them, is that word, that concept. So, we’ll come back next time and look at how 2 Peter 1:19, 20, 21 and 2:1, are all connected here, laying the foundation for talking about the fact that there were false prophets in the Old Testament and now there will be false teachers in the New Testament. Notice, not false prophets in the New Testament.
“Father, thank You for this time that we have to study this, to be stirred up, to be motivated, to be aroused by being reminded of things in Scripture; that we know that we serve the living God, we serve a risen Savior, and we are here on this earth to be trained to mature, so that we might be prepared for our future destiny ruling and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Father, we pray that as we go through the night, as we go into the next coming days, we will think about and remember the things that we studied tonight. In Christ’s name, amen.”