The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
July 10, 2011


1) 2 Peter 1:14-21 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


2 Peter 1:14-21
by Tom Edwards

The KJV, and some other versions, refer to Peter's body as a "tabernacle" (2 Pet. 1:14).  It is also translated as "tent" in the NKJV, which is literally what a tabernacle is.  The NASB renders it as Peter's "earthly dwelling," and some other versions simply call it Peter's "body."  The idea of referring to a body as a "tent" seems very appropriate for those who live in houses and view tents as more of a temporary structure.  But, actually, in comparing our earthly body to a heavenly one, there is, by far, a much wider extreme of temporary to permanent.  

Paul also referred to the body in this way in 2 Corinthians 5:1-4: "For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life."  

Referring to the body as a "tabernacle" or a "tent" is another way of indicating man's brevity of life, upon this planet -- and why, therefore, man should be more concerned with where the eternal abode for his soul will be.  For concerning the brevity of life, consider the following:

"Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away" (Jms. 4:14).  

"Man, who is born of woman, Is short-lived and full of turmoil.  Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain" (Job 14:1,2).  

"Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath..." (Psa. 39:5).  

This phrase Peter uses in 2 Peter 1:14, "the laying aside of my earthly dwelling," is also interesting.  Though Peter is speaking about his death, he refers to that as if it were like taking down or evacuating a tent.  In other words, man is more than his temporary body.  For Jesus shows the distinction in the body and the soul by saying, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul..." (Matt. 10:28).    Death has been referred to as a time when the body returns to dust, from which it was made (Gen. 3:19); but "the spirit will return to God who gave it" (Eccl. 12:7).  We think, too, of the second to the last thing Stephen said to the Lord, prior to Stephen's death, in Acts 7:59, "...'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!'"  Soon after saying this, Stephen's body then fell to the ground -- and remained there until it was moved -- but his soul (or spirit) had immediately departed to a better realm.  

In like manner, from the cross at Calvary, Jesus' last words, prior to His death, which he cried out "with a loud voice," were, "...'Father, into Thy hands I commit My Spirit.'..." (Luke 23:46).   Clearly, the Lord's Spirit had departed from His body at death. The body did not depart, it remained on the cross until it was taken down and placed for 3 days in a tomb.  Meanwhile, however, the Lord's Spirit, that was committed to God, was in a beautiful place called "Paradise."  That is also what He had promised the penitent thief on the cross in Luke 23:43,  "And He said to him, 'Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'"  So while the Lord's body was in the burial tomb, His soul (or His Spirit) was there in the Hadean realm of Paradise.  

These thoughts are good to keep in mind for refuting the misconception that some believe today that man doesn't have a soul -- man is a soul.  And, therefore, any lost person who dies will simply become no more.  For when his body perishes, his soul also perishes (since they are the same).  This, for instance, is what the Jehovah Witnesses believe; but, though the term "soul" is used to sometimes include the body (cf. Gen. 2:7 KJV), it is also seen as separate or distinct from the body (as we saw earlier in Matthew 10:28). 

What Peter next expresses in 2 Peter 1:16-18 is exactly what the Lord had called him and the other apostles to be -- His witnesses.  Peter declares: "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.  For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased' -- and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain."   Peter shows that what he is teaching is not merely second-hand information -- regardless of how clever it might have been put together.   Rather, he is teaching that which he himself had personally witnessed.  This particular reference pertains to what Peter had seen on the Mount of Transfiguration, which is recorded in Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-9, and Luke 9:28-37.  From Matthew's account, it wasn't Peter alone, but also James and John who witnessed this.  These have sometimes been referred to as the "inner three," due to the closer relationship they appear to have had with the Lord.  Another occasion in which these were the only three apostles the Lord allowed to accompany Him was when Jesus raised the Synagogue official's 12-year old daughter from the dead: "And He allowed no one to accompany Him, except Peter and James and John the brother of James" (Matt. 5:37).  We do read, however, that when they arrived at the home, Jesus allowed the girl's father and mother to also enter the room with them (v. 40).  And though all the apostles -- except Judas -- were with Jesus when He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray on the night of His betrayal, it was only Peter, James, and John who accompanied Him farther into the garden, according to Mark 14:32-36.  When these three apostles heard for themselves the voice of God the Father, at the Mount of Transfiguration, it was similar to what the Father had also declared when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist; but there is now an addition.  While Jesus stood there with Moses (the great Lawgiver) and Elijah (who represents the prophets), He was standing with the two men who symbolized the Jews' religion -- and that being, the Law and the Prophets.  But now the Father is not only expressing how pleased He is with His Son Jesus, but also exhorting Peter, James, and John to "listen to Him!" (Matt. 17:5).  In other words, Jesus and His message would far surpass that of Moses and Elijah.  And this is exactly what the Hebrew writer shows, in various ways.  That in Christ, we have a better covenant, a better sacrifice, a better priesthood, a better hope, a better resurrection, a better many things (which Jesus has made potentially possible for each individual).  We, therefore, must take heed to His message today.  For to not do so would be very foolish, as we can infer from the warning in Hebrews 10:28,29, "Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?"  So what the Father was saying about Jesus on the mount was truly glory and an honor to Him.

According to tradition, the Mount of  Transfiguration was Mount Tabor; but it has also been pointed out that that could not be it, for in the days of Christ and His apostles, there was a fortress on the top of this mount; and it was a populated area; so, since that is so, how could it then be said that the Lord had taken them "apart."  We would assume, instead, that it would be to a deserted area where they went.  Many commentators have suggested Mount Hermon as the possible sight.  It truly was a high mountain.  According to Baker's Bible Atlas, it is 9,232 feet above sea level and covered with snow much of the year.  But, still, the Bible doesn't say where the Mount of Transfiguration actually was.  Mount Tabor, by the way, is just 1,800 feet.  

Peter then goes on to say more about the sureness of his message in 2 Peter 1:19-21: "So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."

Peter speaks of having this prophetic message made "more sure."  This comes from the Greek word "bebaios," which Strong defines as "stable (literally or figuratively): - firm, of force, stedfast, sure."  Throughout the OT are numerous prophecies.  It has been said that there are about 332 pertaining to Jesus.  All of these were "sure" prophecies for it was the Lord who gave them.  We have noted of the past-tense wording in many of them, which seems to also indicate their sureness.  For instance, consider Isaiah 53:3-5, which was written about 700 years before the Lord's crucifixion: "He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed."  

Another Messianic prophecy of the crucifixion is in Psalm 22, which was written about 1,000 years before the time of Christ's sacrifice.  Notice verses 12-18: "Many bulls have surrounded me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled me.  They open wide their mouth at me, As a ravening and a roaring lion.  I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me.  My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death.  For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots."

What could make these OT prophecies "more sure"?  How about the fulfillment of them?  As we have considered, the odds of just 8 prophecies coming about by mere chance or coincidence (and even omitting the one of the virgin birth) are so astronomical (1 in 10 to the 17th power, according to Peter Stoner in "Science Speaks") that mere chance or coincidence must be ruled out.  For the odds of that happening is the equivalent of finding one specially marked silver dollar, blind-folded and on the first try, in a mass of silver dollars two feet deep and covering the entire state of Texas!  Peter Stoner had also calculated the odds of just 48 of these prophecies coming about by mere chance; and he found those odds to be 1 in 10 to the 157th power!  And 10 to the 157th power is 1 with 157 zeros after it!!!  This in itself is something that can strengthen our faith in the divine inspiration of the word of God.  

Also, we think about the faith of those who lived prior to the coming of the Messiah. Many believed -- for hundreds of  years -- that the Messiah would one day come.  And, eventually, "in the fulness of time" (Gal. 4:4), which means "the proper or destined time," He did come.  Now, we today, however, can look back and see that He did come; and the very fact that He came the first time, helps us to believe in His second coming, as well.  

In addition, Peter had just been speaking about what he heard and witnessed on the Mount of Transfiguration: Jesus took on a glorious appearance, the Father referred to Him as not only His Son; but also as one with Whom He was well-pleased.  In other words, just as God's word had been confirmed by the signs that followed; would that not also be the case with this "sure word of prophecy" and the supernatural events Peter witnessed on the mount?  

The greater our faith becomes in the Lord, the more easier we can believe and accept His word.  Would it not seem that everything we have during the NT age, including the prophetic word, is better than before?  For instance, with regard to OT prophecies, now we have the interpretation of those prophecies, as explained in the NT by the apostles or prophets.  Now we can know, for instance, that John the Baptist is that Elijah who was to come (Mal. 4:5; Matt. 17:11-13).  And now we can know that the "fallen booth of David" that the Lord would "raise up" (Amos 9:11) is a prophecy of the church, which would be for not only the Jews; but also the Gentiles (Acts 15:14-19).  Yes, now we can know that "the last days" that Joel prophesied (Joel 2:28- 32) began on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the Lord's death, 10 days after His ascension (Acts 2:16-21).  Now we can understand that Christ's being "begotten" (Psa. 2:7) has reference to His resurrection (Acts 13:28-37) -- rather than to His conception in the womb of Mary.  Now we can see that the "seed" of Abraham, in whom all nations of the world can be blessed (according to Gen. 22:18), is fulfilled in none other, but Jesus Christ (in Gal. 3:16,19).  Much of the NT is a referral back to the OT, in showing a fulfillment and giving an explanation.  With regard to many of these OT prophecies, the old saying is true that "The OT is the NT concealed; and the NT is the OT revealed."  So when we study the NT, the OT  can become clearer to us -- and vice versa.  

According to A.T. Robertson, in his "Word Pictures," "The Transfiguration scene confirmed the Messianic prophecies and made clear the deity of Jesus Christ as God's Beloved Son." "The testimony of these prophets was thus made more sure by that which Peter, James, and John had witnessed in the holy mount, and which Peter was then reciting."

Peter, James, and John had the OT.  They had read about the Messiah; but now He was right there in their midst.  They saw him transfigured right before their eyes.  His face shown like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.  It was a miraculous event, with two great OT characters also present -- Moses and Elijah.  Peter, James, and John also heard the voice of God acknowledging that not only was Jesus His Son, but He was also one in whom the Father was well-pleased and wanted them to listen to.  If Peter, James, and John were reflecting on any of those Messianic prophecies at this time, how much more this event must have made those prophecies even more real to them -- "more sure" -- through what they were witnessing.  

The phrase "pay attention" (2 Pet. 1:19), from "prosecho,"  is rendered in the KJV as "take heed" in this verse; and here we see that it is the "prophetic word," God's word, that we need to give our serious attention to.  

God's word is likened to a "lamp shining in a dark place."  Thayer defines the Greek word for "dark" as "1) squalid, dirty 1a) since dirty things are destitute of brightness."  So Guy N. Woods likens this to "a squalid, filthy, and dark dungeon," which is "a fitting description of the condition which characterizes men without the light of truth."  He goes on to say, "Into such a world the lamp of prophecy sheds its light bringing hope and cheer.  To such a lamp Peter's readers were to look 'until the day' should dawn through the gloom of night and the daystar (Christ) should shed its full brilliance upon them."  Though the Lord's second coming will be a glorious time for the redeemed, Peter appears to be rather focusing on the illumination, the hope, and the good cheer that God's word can bring to a people who had been lost in a dark world of sin.  As the psalmist declares in Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path."

In Revelation 22:16, Jesus refers to himself as being "the bright morning star."  He is also "the light of the world"; and He gives the promise that "...he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life" (Jn. 8:12).  We are, therefore, to "walk in the light" by living according to God's word -- rather than walking in the darkness by rejecting that truth (1 Jn. 1:6,7).

Peter concludes this chapter by pointing out that prophecy did not come about by human will; but, rather, by the Holy Spirit.  This can be seen in the fulfillment of the numerous OT prophecies.  As we considered earlier, how could man have just made lucky guesses for all of these hundreds of prophecies to come true -- when the odds of just a few such prophecies finding fulfillment through mere chance would be so highly astronomical that chance or coincidence must be ruled out.  The only logical conclusion is that God truly did reveal His word.  So these prophecies did not come about through merely the prophet's own  private or personal interpretation.  

In addition, it needs to be pointed out that this passage is not teaching, as some assert, that man does not have the ability to read, understand, and explain the Scriptures.  (For the Bible clearly shows in Ephesians 3:4 that one can.)  Rather, Peter is simply indicating that the prophets were more like writing pens in the hand of God.  For it was He who, by the Holy Spirit, gave them every word to speak, which is the meaning of the "verbal inspiration" of the word of God -- and also exemplified in the apostles speaking in tongues in Acts 2, where they used languages they did not know, but were declaring of the mighty acts of God.  So there was no way that could have been done by their own private or personal interpretation.  Also, sometimes the prophets did not even fully understand everything about the prophecies God gave them, as Peter shows in 1 Peter 1:10-12.

Corresponding to this, Paul writes, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16,17).  The phrase "inspired by God" is from the Greek word "theopneustos," which literally means "God breathed."  So in thinking of the inspiration of the Scriptures, it is as if God breathed out every word of it to form this divine book.  

As we end this chapter, it's interesting to note the test of a true prophet, as shown in the OT  (Deut. 18:20-22).  This passage indicates that anything less than being 100% correct would have resulted in death, for it would then mean that the prophet had spoken presumptuously -- rather than spoken the word of the Lord.

How thankful we should be for God's "prophetic word made more sure," which we have in the gospel, to illuminate with the truth of God's word and dispel the darkness.


News & Notes

For those of us who are Christians, let us continue praying for the following people:

Danny Holton, who has pancreatic cancer in the 4th stage. 

Dottie Newcomb and her 7-year-old grandson Caleb Newcome who were involved in a recent 3-wheeler motorbike accident that put them both in trauma hospitals in Memphis.  They are now back home, but have to take it easy for a while.  Dottie is also experiencing more dizziness than she had before -- which actually began with some type of inner ear infection when she went on an ocean cruise a couple years ago.

Bill Barfield, who has prostate cancer.  He is 85 and doing poorly.  Since his stroke 11 years ago, he has not been able to walk very well and seldom has been out of his house over the last couple months -- and, then, just mainly for doctor appointments. 

Anthony Branton, Ken Robertson's nephew, who recently had surgery in New Orleans for Crohn's disease, which resulted in the removal of his entire large intestine.  He is only 28.

Bill Holt, who has been in the hospital the last couple weeks, due to intense pain, which is thought to be caused by a stone in his pancreas. 

R.J. Evans,
who is being treated with antibiotics to try to lower his PSA level (which can be indicative toward prostate cancer).   Since his PSA level is still high, R.J. will be having a biopsy to better determine the problem.

Cheryl Crews, who has been having various health problems -- and even more so, over the last couple months.  We were glad that she had finally been having a couple good days and was able to be with us at church Sunday morning; but she soon started developing a terrible migraine during the morning service that hindered her from being able to be back for the evening service.  Having serious migraines is one of the re-occurring problems she has been having.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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