2 Peter 1:16

2 Peter 1:16  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 11
His zeal in furnishing the saints with divine grounds of faith the apostle fortifies, by reminding them of an unique display of glory, into immediate vision of which he had been admitted personally and with adequate witnesses.
“For we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, not following cleverly devised fables, but made eyewitnesses of his majesty” (ver. 16).
A sight more marvelous than any miracle, a scene more impressive and august than every vision on earth, a living miniature of the future kingdom more instructive, vivid, and glorious than any prophecy could present, was there given to saintly eyes and ears, that it might be divinely recorded and strengthen the hearts of the faithful. All the Synoptic Gospels had already recorded it. But manifestly it did not fall within the scope of the fourth Gospel to describe it, though many have conceived it alluded to in the latter clause of John 1:1313Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:13). But here our apostle attests it as one of the chosen three who actually beheld the glory and heard the Father's voice about the Son, by a word in the N. T. peculiar to Peter, capable of a wide application, but going beyond eye-witness and appropriated to those admitted into the highest grade of the mysteries among the Greeks. For ἐπόπται here is not the same as αὐτὀπται in Luke 1:22Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; (Luke 1:2).
Nevertheless, without going into details, we can all perceive that the Epistle omits one most important lesson for the Christian which the Gospels were inspired to convey: “hear Him,” the Christ, the Son of God. It was drawn out by Peter's hasty, shallow, and irreverent proposal to make here three tabernacles, one for the Lord, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. For, as Mark adds, and Luke too, he knew not what to answer, being affrighted as the others also. And their fear could not but be aggravated by the bright cloud (the pavilion of God's presence) that overshadowed them, into which they entered and out of which the Father's voice said in evident rebuke, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I found my delight: hear Him,” Moses and Elijah disappearing.
Yet “hear Him” Peter alone omits, as He alone gives the emphatic personal expression of the Father's complacency (ver. 17). To impute men's shortcoming, for either the omission or the addition, is to betray one's own unbelief in God's perfect word. These differences are as much intended as their concurrent evidence; they are in no real sense discrepancies, but distinct intimations of the truth to carry out the Holy Spirit's special design in each part of holy writ. The Gospels were to initiate and maintain the primary value and authority of Christ's word, not only as spoken but to be communicated permanently in due time in what is commonly called “The New Testament.” Peter is here corroborating the testimony to Christ's kingdom by the magnificent scene witnessed on the holy mount of the Transfiguration. But nobody had such reason as himself in every point of view to remember “Hear Him” in that never to be forgotten incident. His omission is therefore the fruit, not of weakness, but of divine design. He is here, as he says, making known to his believing Hebrew brethren “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” to which that blessed oracle was comparatively as uncalled for here as indeed it was of the utmost moment for God's purpose by the Synoptic evangelists.
Let us then briefly consider the character and teaching of what came to pass on the mountain. What drew out the display of His glory in the kingdom before the time of its establishment was to strengthen His own in taking up the cross and following the Master. For the disciples, like the unbelieving brethren, like Christendom, looked for progress and triumph, and overlooked faith and love put to the proof in suffering with Christ, the pattern of all holy suffering. Hence the Lord told them plainly of His own sufferings and the glories after these. So indeed it must be for sinners to be saved righteously; and for saints that, suffering with Him, they may also be glorified with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign together. “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall the Son of man also be ashamed when he shall come in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. And he said unto them, Verily I say to you, There are some of those standing here that shall in no wise taste death till they see the kingdom of God come in power. And after six days Jesus taketh with [him] Peter and James and John, and bringeth them up on a high mountain by themselves apart. And he was transfigured before them” (Mark 8:33; 9:233But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. (Mark 8:33)
2And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. (Mark 9:2)
). Not only did the fashion of His countenance become different as He prayed, shining as the sun, but His garments were effulgent as the light. Again not angels but Moses and Elias appeared in glory, and spoke of His departure which He was about to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Here then was an anticipative and unparalleled sample of the kingdom, not as it has ever been since in mystery, but in manifestation as when He comes in its power and glory. As there was so much to try the disciples in His yet to be deepened humiliation, what could be more gracious on His part, or more suited to their need, than to grant chosen ones of the twelve who were to be alone with Him in His anguish, to be also with Him beholding so unexampled a foretaste! For here were the great elements of the coming kingdom.
It is not at all a picture of eternity, when the kingdom is given up to Him that is God and Father, after Christ shall have annulled all rule and all authority and power, and the Son Himself shall be subject to Him that put all things in subjection to Him, that God [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] may be all. This we easily recognize in Rev. 21:1-81And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:1‑8). But here it is the exalted Man, made both Lord and Christ after man crucified and slew Him. Here He is seen as He will reign in power that all shall see, with the dead saints raised and the living changed, answering to the two glorified men. There will be also the righteous in their natural bodies, like the three honored disciples made free of the blissful vision.
This may seem to Corinthian minds, that savor the things of men, an abhorrent mixture. But what an utter prejudice! For the kingdom is God's grand scheme and answer to the shame the world puts on the faithful Christians, as before on Christ to the uttermost. If they in their devotedness to Him became a spectacle to the world,, both to angels and men, how righteous in the coming day of glory their exaltation with Christ! It is that the world may know that the Father sent the Son, however low He stooped in grace, and that He loved the saints, however weak and unprofitable they feel themselves to be, as He loved Christ! There will still be “the world” of men not glorified; there will be Israel and the nations on earth to learn this; not indeed in the eternal state, but in the kingdom which Christ will establish and manifest during the “age to come.” When eternity follows the “white throne” judgment, righteousness dwells in the new heavens and a new earth, instead of ruling as in the millennial earth. For the latter the Son of man receives the kingdom and returns (Luke 19:1515And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. (Luke 19:15)) to reign; for the former He gives up the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all after the mediatorial reign and judgment are quite over, and the universe is brought into perfect harmony with God's counsels and ways in grace and in righteousness, and as to good and evil, for His glory forever and ever.
It was reserved for Pope Leo X. to avow without a blush that to the Roman communion and its chief the gospel had turned out a profitable fable; and St. Peter's in Rome stands as the monument, built out of part of the cash paid by benighted souls for indulgences! the base traffic in sins, which brought on the Reformation. What a contrast with the holy man whom they falsely claim as their first pope! Here is the simple and true averment of a true fisherman of souls: “For we followed not cleverly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ but were made eye-witnesses of his majesty.” What the three witnesses saw and heard on the mountain was a glorious display which God alone could accomplish. But it was not merely the manifestation of the highest honor put upon the rejected Christ. It was also a most instructive type of His glory in the coming kingdom in due time to close all suffering, when His church should be complete which began to be gathered on and from the day of Pentecost. Of that kingdom the vision shown was the wondrous pattern and the certain pledge. Hence the apostle expresses its difference from His first coming by the phrase “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” First He came to suffer and to die; “for ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sakes he being rich became poor, that ye by his poverty might be made rich.” Yes, He was crucified out of (or, as we say, in) weakness. But when He appears again, He will come on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, the indisputable Lord of all.
Hence we must avoid the error of godly Puritans who apply the verse to the power of Christ in the preached gospel for saving from the guilt as well as the corruption of sin. So they applied it either exclusively, or including His future advent also. But such vagueness as this last implies is the way to lose the precision of the truth, and at best a makeshift when men are not sure, and seek to cover it by that style of accommodation. For the Transfiguration was significant, not of grace to perishing sinners, but of that glorious kingdom of God to come, which will consist of heavenly things as well as earthly, and the Lord the glorified chief and center of them all. Compare Matt. 6:10; 13:41-43; 19:2810Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:41‑43)
28And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)
, Eph. 1:1010That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: (Ephesians 1:10).