The Second Epistle of Peter
11 Peter 1:19 "A More Sure Word"
We have here a wonderful example of the authority of Scripture. One would be apt to think that there could be no more important proof of "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" than having an eyewitness of His majesty such as our apostle declares that he was. He reiterates for us some of that amazing experience that he, along with James and John, went through on the occasion of our Lord's transfiguration (Matt. 17: 1-8). And yet he declares otherwise.
In the words "a more sure word of prophecy" we are instructed in the value of the written word over experience. It should help us with our own testimony when we are so prone to tell what has happened to us rather than emphasizing the testimony of the word of God. Not that it is wrong to tell the fact that we were "born again" when we trusted Christ or to share some of the details of that experience, but the confirmation of the truth of regeneration is that the word of God backs it up. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). How do I know its true? Because the Bible says so, not because of what happened when I believed. A study of cults will demonstrate that many converts to false religions can testify of a dramatic change in their lives. Here, I believe, the great testimony song He Lives is wrong. "You ask me how I know He lives - etc". We know because we have a Bible that tells is so! (I still love to sing those words on Easter Sunday).
It is to this great truth that Peter directs our attention in this chapter. Vincent says, "We have the word of prophecy as a surer confirmation of God's truth than what we saw ourselves, i.e., Old Testament testimony is more convincing than even the voice heard at the transfiguration." He quotes two authorities in support of this position and is himself quoted by Wuest. (In the Last Days, p.34 of his exposition of 11 Peter.)
A quick and final comment about the words "private interpretation" that may be helpful. Authorities say that he is here telling us that the meaning or interpretation of the prophet does not come from the writer (O.T.) himself but from the Holy Spirit. This actually allows for interpretation far broader than events within the scope of the individual writers would have permitted. To limit the meaning of what they wrote to their own time would have been "private interpretation." (Wuest)
11 Peter 2:1 False Prophets
Forget this chapter division and follow Peter into this tirade against false prophets. It would seem that his reference to the prophets of the Old Testament mentioned in the latter part of the previous chapter has triggered in his mind that a warning here should be sounded on the subject . What a warning it is!
It is in your very midst, he says, that these false teachers set forth their "damnable heresies" (v.1). The description he gives of these people is about as strong as language will allow. Read these verses by themselves, namely, verse ten, fourteen and then verse seventeen through nineteen. Empty wells, these, to whom the mist of darkness is forever reserved!
The remainder of the chapter is spent primarily demonstrating that these are bringing upon themselves "swift destruction." He reminds us of God's judgement against the fallen angels, the pre-flood world and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as examples.
Three Biblical characters are cited by Peter. The first two are brought to our attention to demonstrate God's marvelous grace in delivering "the godly out of temptations" while He reserves the unjust to their punishment in the day of judgement. We can be especially thankful for this rare glimpse into the heart of Lot who is referred to as "just" meaning righteous and as being vexed in his soul over the deeds of the Sodomites (vss. 8 &9).
Finally, we are warned about the motivation, obviously, of most false prophets, namely, personal gain for they follow the way of Balaam who " loved the wages of unrighteous." And, if there are any skeptics who question whether a dumb ass could speak with a man's voice, we have none other authority than Peter, himself, confirming that he did! What a chapter this!
11 Peter 3:6 Reference to the Flood?
There are several very important subjects in today's chapter. Two are controversial and the third is of great value textually.
The first question concerns verse six and the debate as to whether this is a reference to some earlier catastrophe or does it refer to the Noahic flood. This is a good example of how the interpretation of a verse often differs with the passage of time largely due to the focus of scholarship. If one checks out Schofield or Wuest, both considered as strong fundamental scholars, we find them expounding on what was called the "Gap Theory" which propounded the idea that between Gen.1:1 and 2 a great cataclysm took place in connection with the casting of Satan to earth and had the effect of turning a perfect earth into desolation. Many placed the occurrence of dinosaurs in this period. Earlier scholars like Barnes, Matthew Henry or commentators like Jameson, Fawcett and Brown had held that the verse referred to the Flood. Today, mostly as the result of the work of Creation Research Institute, the "Gap Theory" has been largely repudiated and we are back to square one. How could anything have died before sin entered the world? (Rom.5:12; 1Cor.15:21). Ryrie in his study Bible is an example of an expositor of later vintage who holds to this latter position. Hardly anyone I know still holds to the once popular gap theory, though we still highly respect some of the men who introduced it.
The second problem text has to do with the issue of whether God is willing or not willing that any should perish (v.9). This verse was written by Peter to counteract the accusation of the scoffers (v.4) that a day of judgement is coming. He is telling us that one reason for delaying His judgement is His desire to give men an opportunity to repent. The day God wills His judgement to fall He wills all men not saved at that time to everlastingly perish.
Lastly, Peter's reference to Paul in verses fifteen and sixteen equated Paul's writings with those of the Old Testament Scripture. Peter, being an important apostle, helped to give credence to Paul's epistles in early days of textual criticism.