“The light that shines in a dark place”-- God invites us to see and know things that can only be known by divine revelation. From the Bible’s first verse, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) to the last chapter, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates” (Revelation 22:14), the most important issues of existence have been set forth by God’s prophets and apostles. Their spoken word eventually became settled into written form. This written form became the canonical Scripture. In the purpose and by the special calling of God these knew that they were stewards of revelation and that their ministries of the word would be given perpetuity as authoritative revelation in Holy Scripture.
The Safety of Repetition
Peter recognized the necessity of repetition in sealing the power of divine truth to dull minds. When he says in verse 12, “I will always be ready to remind you of these things,” Peter indicated that irrespective of the maturity of their present knowledge, he will write to put this reminder in permanent form. He did not want to trust these truths to be mere impressions; nor did he want the impact to be isolated to those who had heard his preaching. Eternal salvation depends on hearing and believing the truth and persevering in it (1:10, 11). For that reason, the witness that he bore and they heard must be given again. The strong language is used about their knowledge and the firm establishment in the truth in order to heighten the intensity of Peter’s conviction that his stewardship demanded repetition. He wanted to insure its perpetuity.
Peter considered it his moral duty to stir them up by reminding them. He wrote, “I think it right,” to emphasize the morally obligatory task before him. “Think” (NKJV translates a word which mean to account, to draw a conclusion that fully accords with a proper perception of all the facts. The NASB used “consider” to catch the emphasis. He has accounted this reminder to be right, just, according to binding moral standards, to spend the remainder of his life assuring that his message cannot be forgotten. As long as he is in the body, his task is to “stir up” those under his charge by reminding them of the coming of the Lord Jesus and the eternal glory that is at stake through the faithful reception of this message.
The Necessity of Perpetuity
In verses 14 and 15, Peter indicates something of the urgency he feels to make sure of the perpetuity of his apostolic witness even after his death. Peter knew that his death would soon come. Christ had made it clear to him a specific way. We all should have the same urgency, however, about our calling for all of Scripture makes it clear in a general way that none of us can boast of tomorrow (James 4:13-16). The burden of this entire passage makes it clear that Peter understood his word was given by inspiration of God. That did not mean, however, that he need not give strong effort in his calling. His witness would benefit the church in centuries to come after his death, so he wrote with a sense of urgency. A clear view of divine purpose gives increased diligence. He was an eyewitness and an inspired apostle so he wanted his readers to be able to recall this witness even when his words from mouth or pen no longer would flow.
The Reality of Witness
Peter was insistent on the reality of his position as a witness—his calling in light of his having seen the Lord during his earthly ministry, seen him, after his resurrection, and seen him taken up in glory. Jesus had told them that they “shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). In the selection of an apostle to replace Judas, Peter concluded that one who “beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He [Jesus] was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection” (Acts 1:22). The witness of the apostles was not a fabrication. It was not a matter of creatively constructed stories. They were not trying to produce morality plays or invent characters and events in order to convey moral insight and themes of hope. They had no cleverly devised agendum to begin a new religion or to co-opt the Jewish longing for the Messiah into a movement seductively contrived.
Their reports came from sober observation. It is a matter of two things. The first is eyewitness. Peter with no hesitation says, “We were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” This is precisely what John, who was at the same event to which Peter is referring (Luke 9:38ff), claimed in 1 John 1:1-3—“That which we have seen and heard we declare to you.” The writer of Hebrews confirms this in Hebrews 2:1-4 in speaking of the “great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.” Note the language that Peter used to describe how impressive this event was. It was no triviality, easily mistaken. No, it was a sensibly discerned majesty, honor, glory from God, an utterance from the Majestic Glory.
The second was ear witness. Not only did they see the glory of Christ and the glory of the Father descend from heaven (an experience of the glory of the kingdom of God even as Jesus had promised in Luke 9:27), but they heard the voice from heaven declaring the sonship of Jesus. Jesus was the incarnate Son of God. He always existed with the Father, eternally generated by the Father, and thus of the same essence with the Father. This heavenly confirmation gave those who observed a glimpse of the transfixing beauty, loveliness, and brightness of the kingdom of God. They were given the insight that the saints there are recognizable—Moses and Elijah--and can carry on conversation. Nothing, however, can preempt the glory of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of his character (Hebrews 1:3). Peter continued his insistence that his readers know that this was an audible and visible confirmation-- “We ourselves heard this very voice, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”
The Progress of Revelation
Revelation unfolds and comes to completion in the providentially controlled history of redemption. In evaluating the nature of this particular event, Peter, wrote, “We have the prophetic word made more sure” (NASB). The New King James Version settled on the word “confirmed” as fitting the meaning. As in 1:10, when this word is used about making one’s calling and, thus, election “sure,” Peter means manifestation by clear evidence of an existing absolute. Election is an eternal certainty by the decree of God but is evidenced as a reality in one’s life by the evidence of godliness, perseverance in faithfulness, and love. Scripture is inspired and all it prophecies concerning Christ could not fail. But how would they be put together in the Messiah? One no longer has to wonder as the prophets did, according to 1 Peter1:10, 11, about the person or the time of the Christ. He was now before them with the glory around him and the voice of the Father from heaven. This is a similar idea to that voiced by John when he wrote, “And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Peter is expressing that the prophetic word has received its clear and certain fulfillment in the person of Christ.
His present testimony clearly fulfilled what had been prophesied before. As Christ was the person to whom all the types, promises, and prophecies of the Old Covenant point and in whom they were created, so the apostolic word is the culmination of the divine revelation. In 1 Peter 1:24, 25, Peter claimed, after citing Isaiah 40:6-8, that his preaching was the “word of the Lord [that] remains forever.” “This is the gospel that was preached to you.” Even so now, when he writes, “to which you will do well to pay attention,” he means “Pay attention to what I am writing to you now.” His testimony is the fulfillment of prophecy in Christ as reported by the apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It is to that culminating word that they, and we, must pay attention.
The Finalization of Scripture
Peter now looks at well-established doctrine concerning the origin of Scripture to justify his admonition that his readers. He invokes an established understanding of the origin of the sacred writings in support of the authoritative nature of his writing to them.
Scripture does not arise from human investigation and interpretation of events (verse 20). Earlier Peter had reminded his readers of this very truth regarding his writing (“we did not follow cleverly devised myths). In the past, the prophets spoke the word of the Lord when it came to them and then recorded their speaking as the Holy Spirit carried them along. In that process, their speaking the audible word became graphe, the written word, that is, Scripture. Even so, the preaching of Peter and the other apostles became Scripture. Peter continued the parallel between the inspired truthfulness of the prophets and the same of the apostles in 2:1: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you.”
Paul’s argument in 2 Timothy 3:10-17 sets forth the same parallel. He reminded Timothy of “my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith” etc. as something that marked him off from the false teachers (13) and demonstrated that he had “kept the faith” (4:7). Timothy, therefore, was to continue in what he had learned because he had learned it from Paul himself (14) as well as from the “sacred writings.” Inspired Scripture includes the witness of Paul.
Peter’s confidence that his written witness held the status of Scripture warranted his admonition that they do well to take heed. Scripture, including this apostolic message about Christ, is a “lamp shining in a dark place.” The world is dark and ignorant. The knowledge of God is repressed because men love darkness rather than light (John 3:19, 20). The Scripture, opening minds and hearts to the redemptive glory of Christ as the image of the invisible God, is the light “shining in a dark place.”
We are to give heed to Scripture until the “day dawns,” until Christ himself returns. “The day” is the day of Christ. This word will be our light until the day of Christ comes in the fullness of his light. “He who began the good work in you will bring it to completion unto the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6). In 2 Timothy 1:12, Paul expressed confidence that the deposit he had received from God would be preserved by God until the return of Christ, “that day.”
That will be the time when “the morning star rises in your hearts” – our complete conformity to Christ. In Revelation 2:28, John recorded Jesus’ promise to give to the faithful “the morning star,” that is, the glorious prize of his appearing for the fulfilled redemption. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus called himself “the bright morning star.” John wrote in 1 John 3:2, “we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” Scripture—the complete canon of the Old and New Testaments—will show us Christ and conform us to Christ until that day when the brightness of his glory completes that process of “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
We cannot expect the blessings of increased spiritual gifts and growth apart from a heart-felt love for the Word. Because proclamation is a God-ordained means of forming his people into a body unified in heart and mind, we cannot expect to grow in spiritual supplies apart from attention to the Word of God in preaching. We also must give heed to the word in personal study and commitment and cannot expect fulness of the knowledge of Christ apart from personal attention to the Word. The word of God in all its blessings in its power to shape us in Christ’s image will be void to us if we do not see Christ as its fulfillment. Not only has he fulfilled Scripture but he will be the fulfillment of all of history when he returns in the grace of transforming glory and the wrath of the righteous judge.