2 Peter 1:12-21
Most of us crave new insights rather than old truths, but Peter makes it clear that our chief need is to be reminded of what we know. Spiritual amnesia is the danger he fears most for them – forgetfulness about the past (cf.1:9, forgetting about forgiveness) and, particularly in this passage, forgetfulness about the future – the sure hope of Christ’s return.
The passage speaks of the reliability of both Old and New Testament (the apostolic and prophetic witness), and implies that for us today this call to remember is an urgent call to keep going back to the Scriptures.
“So” – ie. it is his concern for their sure standing now and their standing on the last day that leads Peter to write with such earnestness and urgency.
“these things” might refer generally to vv.3-11 or it might refer more particularly to the qualities he has been urging them to possess (either way, an excuse for a recap!).
It is striking that being “firmly established in the truth” does not remove the need for constant reminding. Our memories need stirring up to see the truth afresh.
Perhaps a reference to John21:18,19. Peter’s age and the growing persecution under Nero may have suggested the imminence of his death.
Some see in this a possible reference to a permanent written reminder of his teaching (fulfilled in the writing of Mark’s Gospel?), but the key point is again the importance of remembering. And whereas “these things” in v.12 seems to look back to what he has just said, here it might look more forward to what he goes on to speak about – the return of Christ.
The future coming of Christ was something Peter knew was being, and would be, scoffed at (3:3,4). For Peter, crucial confirmation of this promise was provided in the transfiguration of Jesus when he and James and John were given a foretaste, or preview, of Christ’s “majesty” that will be revealed on that Day. God’s voice from the cloud interpreted the significance of what was being revealed to them – that Jesus is indeed the messianic king of Psalm 2, and the suffering servant of Isaiah, who would suffer and be rejected and yet who would one day judge the nations and establish justice on earth.
Peter is particularly establishing his own authority and the reliability of the apostolic testimony – drawing an implicit contrast with the false teachers who “exploit you with stories they have made up” (3:3). The apostles’ testimony can be trusted because they were “eye-witnesses” and God, through his word, authenticated and interpreted the revelation they received.
“more certain” because in Christ the fulfilment has come – not that the OT is of itself an uncertain word, as v.21 makes clear, but we have even more reason to trust it now.
“until the day dawns” – ie the last day when Christ returns. The “morning star” is perhaps a reference to Christ (cf. Rev.22:16), though the sense in which he “rises in your hearts” is then not obvious: it seems to speak of the full revelation that that day will bring as opposed to the partial understanding and knowledge of him that we have now.
These verses speak clearly of then divine origin and inspiration of the OT Scriptures – to which we must therefore “pay attention” (v.19).
“carried along” need not imply that the writers were conscious of being constrained to write as they did, as though they were mere scribes, but that the Spirit sovereignly overruled in all they wrote such that it can most truly be said to be God’s word and not merely the word of man.
Both Old and New Testament witnesses are therefore shown to be reliable, God-authenticated witnesses – not least in all they say about future return of Christ.