‘There’s no Christmas without Christ!’ If only that were so. Sadly, there’s lots of Christmases without Christ, and as Christmas comes and goes again, it’s possible that many fall for the trap of living as though, the trimmings count more than the reality. The Apostle Peter knew little about the Christmas story, but what he did know about Jesus he learned through first hand experience – and in the text of 2 Peter 1:16-21, Peter reflects on his time on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus. It must have been amazing to see and witness. A place where Peter saw the majesty and glory of Jesus. But even then, after having that experience, Peter said there was something even ‘more sure’ than what he’d seen and heard. It was the Scriptures. These testify to the One who came for us to be our Saviour.
Is that all there is? For the Christian there is more and a great hope. While we wait, how is our focus? Fixed on the distance or stuck on foreground? In 2 Peter 3:1-13, Peter warns that there will be scoffers, just as always. Are we waiting like Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 13) or like the other ten?
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life is but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury Signifying nothing.
“It’s the end of the world as we know it” sang REM many years ago, but for many people the idea of the end of the world is little more than a joke. The Bible however has a different perspective. The end of the world is a reality that we all must face. In 2 Peter 3:8-18, Peter raises some very important matters that all mankind should be aware of.
It seems that part of the false teaching that Peter was addressing in 2 Peter 3:1-7 concerned the return of Christ. It appears that the false teachers were denying that this would ever happen. In these verses Peter sought to fan into flame the hope that has always belonged to the people of God.
By writing to his readers about the dangers of false teaching, the Apostle Peter had in mind the health of the church. For not only did he write to encourage his readers in the truth, he also wrote to expose his readers to the false and ungodly lives of those who taught error. It’s these warnings that make his words all the more applicable to today’s church in the world.
In 2 Peter 2:1-10a, the apostle Peter struck hard at the false teachers who were attempting to ruin the faith and understanding of his readers. After encouraging them in the first chapter to build themselves up with the right use of knowledge, this second chapter warns them of those who make the wrong use of knowledge and of course, the need for clear and sharp discernment.
Given the circumstances of those to whom Peter wrote his second letter, it’s not hard to see that in 2 Peter 1:12-21, the apostle wrote as he did. The false teachers were undermining his authority as an appointed apostle of the Lord and also downplaying the divinity of Jesus. In these verses, Peter puts them in their place and highlights something of his own first-hand experience as an eye and earwitness of the glory of Jesus and the certainty of God’s Word.
In the next verses of 2 Peter 1:5-11, Peter builds on his introduction concerning the overwhelming grace of God, to remind his hearers that this grace demands a response. We are to grow in that grace and become more like Christ and do that so that we may be effective in our life and witness as His people.
The text of 2 Peter 1:1-4 gives us a wonderful insight into the life of the church of the first century when the apostles were alive. False teachers were the order of the day and God’s people needed to know what was right and what was wrong. In these first 4 verses, Peter makes it clear that God’s Word can be trusted and that moving away from the solid foundation of the grace of God is a dangerous thing to do.