- Vs. 19 What is prophecy
When we understand the context of Peter’s 2nd letter, we can see why he wrote this exhortation to combat the “New Diet” on Gnostic teachings. Peter explained that any lack of “spiritual maturity” due to a LACK of INFORMATION but rather from a LACK of APPLICATION!” He wanted them to be assured in their confidence in God’s word in 1:16-21 and he does so first by reminding them that he too had experiences with Jesus but his was as an eyewitness and not “artfully framed stories arranged by human cleverness. Yet with that said in verses 19-21 Peter will remind his readers that as great as that experience was that these believers had something of greater continual impact than “New Experiences” they had “New Encounters” through the Word of God! Peter understood what it was like to fail as even after being an eyewitness of the Glory of Jesus he only a few months later had denied the Lord three times. What had made the difference to Peter hadn’t come from “New Revelations” as the Gnostics pushed but rather from “Truths confirmed in the word of God.” This morning we will examine “the prophetic word confirmed” to do so we will need to follow Peter’s words closely as he defines for us three important points as it relates to a “prophecy” and a “prophet”. Peter’s outline is in the text we are about to study:
- Vs. 19 What is prophecy: “A light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”.
- Vs. 21 Who is a prophet: “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”.
- Vs. 20 How do I mature from it: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.”
To do this we will take Peter’s words out of their original order as it will be easier for us to follow. First let’s remind ourselves of the context and that is to counter the lies of the false teachers that said that these followers of Jesus need new information in order to become more mature in their faith. To counter this Peter will reveal the uniqueness of the inspired word of God and how it will never become outdated or obsolete!
Vs. 19 What is prophecy
Vs. 19 While preparing for this study I was taken by the use of the phrase “prophetic word”. I mean Peter doesn’t say we have great “Bible teaching” instead he says we have the, “prophetic word confirmed”! The Greek makes this phrase: “We have the word of prophecy as a surer confirmation of God’s truth than even what we were eyewitnesses of with regards to Jesus’ majesty”. Think of that declaration a moment as Peter says that the “First Testament” was even more convincing than even the heavenly voice of the Father at Jesus transfiguration. With the New Testament being under construction (which 2 Peter would later become a part of that construction) the Gnostics were attacking the continual reliability and inspiration of the First Testament. Peter counters this by declaring the reliability of the Prophets and their words as they were fulfilled in the Life of Jesus and because they did, they spoke louder to his heart than even the voice of the Father! There was greater evidence and reasons for faith then the “signs and wonders” that he never forgot and that was the very scriptures that these Gnostics wanted to disregard. It was not the miracles of Christ that swayed Peter to follow Jesus to the end, it was the word of God interpreted through the Spirit of God! Furthermore, Peter’s statement in verse 19 is that the “Prophetic word” CONFIRMED any and all experiences! The Greek word for confirmed means sure or trustworthy as it relates to a building it speaks of the stable foundation. It is here that we would need to ask and answer Peter’s question:
- What is prophecy: “A light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”. No doubt part of Peter’s words were to offer a contrast to the false teaching so called prophets that were peddling their lies to hungry Christians. Today’s Christian population has a preoccupation with those who claim to be “Prophets” so it’s important to set the record straight as it relates to what constitutes prophecy so as to determine if a person is indeed a prophet.
- First, Prophecy is NOT synonymous with prediction! So much of what constitutes prophecy today is “forecasting the future” “uncovering the secrets of tomorrow”. While forecasting many not be completely absent it is NOT the primary element according to Peter. A true prophet doesn’t just “forecast events” but instead “proclaims principles”. True prophecy is a declaration and not an anticipation, it is vision but not just PRE-vision!
- Second, Prophecy as described by Peter is: “A light that shines in a dark place”.The abiding characteristic of “prophecy” according to Peter is that it is “illuminating” but primarily it shines the brightest upon “dark places”. The word here in the Greek means “dry and murky”. True prophecy always exposes the unpleasantness of what it shines upon and most often the dirtiness that it exposes is due to our own poverty because of neglect! This is true of every true prophet no matter if your read of Elijah or Amos, John the Baptist, or Paul the Apostle; the light of their words shines upon the rottenness and perversity of that time.
- Third, the purpose of its illumination is until the “day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”. The purpose is for the “removal of the darkness that it exposes”. It is NOT biblical prophecy if all that it does is “reveal darkness” if it doesn’t offer “removal of darkness”!
- Fourth, true prophecy is progressive! Notice that Peter says that it “shines in a dark place” until “the day dawns” and the “morning star rises in your hearts”. The progression can be personal over our own life or progressive in revelation over human history and God’s church. There are prophetic words that shine upon our heart of the church that initially shine light into a dark place that the same prophetic words cause the day to dawn upon our hearts or the church that again intime those same words cause the “morning star rising in our hearts”!
The answers given by Peter as too, “What is prophecy”:
- Prophecy is NOT synonymous with prediction: A true prophet doesn’t just “forecast events” but instead “proclaims principles”.
- Prophecy abiding characteristic is “illuminating”: True prophecy always exposes the unpleasantness of what it shines upon and most often the dirtiness that it exposes is due to our own poverty because of neglect!
- Prophecy is for the “removal of the darkness that it exposes”. It is NOT biblical prophecy if all that it does is “reveal darkness” if it doesn’t offer “removal of darkness”!
- Prophecy is progressive! It “shines in a dark place” until “the day dawns” and the “morning star rises in your hearts”. The progression can be personal over our own life or progressive in revelation over human history and God’s church.
This is a good place to leave our study this week as I have again to much information and too little time to ask and answer based upon Peter’s words the next two parts of his threefold outline of:
- Who is a prophet: “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit”.
- How do I mature from it: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.”
I believe the answers to these questions given by Peter are as important, if not more so, in our time. Paul warned of our time saying in 2 Timothy 4:3-5 that “The time will come when they (the church) will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of and evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”