2 Peter 1:19

2 Peter 1:19  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 12
We next hear of the confirmation given by the vision on the mount to the prophetic word, the light of which, however valuable, is very briefly shown to yield to the superior brightness of a heavenly light for the hearts of saints, not a display to the world.
“And we have the prophetic word firmer, to which ye do well in paying heed, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawn and a (or, the) morning star arise in your hearts” (ver. 19).
The prophetic word of O.T. and of N.T. alike converges on the coming and kingdom of our Lord Jesus; and this, the apostle here declares, was made firmer, or confirmed, by what the witnesses were there given to behold and hear, the glorious anticipation and precursor of that day of power and glory for the universe. The predictions were absolutely true and reliable; but it seemed good to the All-wise at the first coming of Christ and in view of His death of shame (so essential to lay a basis for the ways and purposes of grace), to confirm the truth of His second coming and kingdom by a sight which set on the word another seal more. A vivid though brief realization of its chief elements confirmed the prophetic word in a way beyond aught else. No season was so appropriate for it as when He earnestly charged and enjoined His disciples to tell no man that He was the Christ, saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and the third day be raised up. This was a fact wholly unexpected by all, even by him who had just owned His personal dignity as the Son of the living God. It was the substitution, for the Messianic testimony and hope utterly rejected by the people and their rulers, of the death and resurrection of the Son of man and Son of God. This laid the basis for introducing not only the kingdom of the heavens but the church, which now occupy the place which Israel once had in an earthly way under law, and when they repent shall have under Messiah and the new covenant.
The Christian Jews, as the apostle says, were doing well in paying heed to all that the prophets had announced of those coming days of glory. They did not misapply their words, as Christendom soon began to do, to the different character of the parenthesis which runs on between the first and the second comings of Christ. It is now an unseen victory which faith beholds in Christ raised from among the dead and seated on His Father's throne, and in Christians united to Him on high by the Spirit sent here below, whilst they suffer on the earth as their Master did (His atoning death excepted), not of the world as He was not. It will not be so on that day when Christ will appear and sit on His own throne, and they shall reign with Him, who now suffer with Him, if not also for Him.
Then Israel, instead of being lost in unbelief, shall be saved, and become Jehovah's witness in truth of heart and in power. And all the nations shall bow to His behest, not only having learned righteousness when His judgments are on the earth, but truly subject to His anointed King on Zion, the center of all the world's kingdoms, whence the law goes forth, their idols of silver and gold consigned to the moles and to the bats. For the great invisible organizer of iniquity is shut up in the abyss, whilst this display of righteousness, peace, and glory is enjoyed by all the earth, till the hour strikes for God to sift those who have multiplied when war and want and pestilence are unknown. But those who are on the earth (the risen being above), as many as are not born of God, will fall under Satan's power once more, when he is let loose to tempt, and prove that man's fallen nature is as unimprovable under a dispensation of glory, as of grace, or law, or anything else. Man ever prefers Satan to God that he may have license for his corruption or his violence. Dull as the Jewish Christians were as to our highest privileges, they were not so beguiled as to imagine that the prophetic word, save quite exceptionally, describes the Christian state which is now our portion. Their danger was rather to make the future kingdom to be their hope, instead of reading in the prophets the hope of Israel and of all the peoples who in that day accept Jehovah's word from Jerusalem. It is the delusion of Christendom to appropriate it now by what they call spiritualizing, and relegating to eternity what they cannot thus force. The believer called to heavenly hopes meanwhile does not forget that Jehovah will renew and restore Israel to their place of promise on the earth.
Here accordingly they were told that, however well it was to heed the word of prophecy, it is but “as a lamp shining in a dark place; “for so the earth is and must be till the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings. But he just glances at the higher light of heavenly truth, which they might have as yet but feebly entered into, however truly they had received Christ Jesus as their Lord. The prophetic word did show the ruin of Israel as a whole for its idolatry, and the special further sin of Judah for the rejection of the Messiah. The prophetic word made clear the rise of the four Gentile empires while the Jews are Lo-ammi (not-my-people), and between Daniel and the Apocalypse also the reappearing of the last or Roman empire with the apostate Jews, who set up the Antichrist in Palestine, to be destroyed by the Lord shining out from heaven.
But the prophetic word nowhere reveals those heavenly counsels which the mystery (hid from the ages) made known through Paul. Nor does Peter here do more than allude to it under the strikingly distinct figures of “day” and “morning star.” The lamp is excellent to cast adequate light on this dark world, its evil and its doom; and they did well in paying it heed, “till day dawn and a (or, the) morning star arise in your hearts.” That is to say, till they apprehend with enjoyment the bright heavenly relationship which Christianity fully understood gives us now in Christ, and the heavenly hope of His coming to introduce us into the Father's house. The prophetic lamp is good to help us against the squalid place; but how much more is “daylight” in Christ to lift us above the world in all our associations of faith, and the bright hope, Christ as Morning Star, which He not only is, but has promised to give the overcomer (Rev. 2:28; 22:16, 1728And I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:28)
16I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:16‑17)
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It is a strange perversion to confound this last clause (which contemplates the heart now gaining the twofold heavenly light, far above the lamp of prophecy) with that which prophecy so fully shows, the day of the Lord coming for the world. But it may be well to add that the morning star of prophecy is not Christ, but His enemy, Babylon's last head, who vaunts as his what is true of Christ.
As we are occupied with this verse, it seems a duty to defend the text as it stands in all MSS. and ancient as well as modern versions commonly known. Nevertheless two zealous men now passed away took on themselves to depart from its very structure in their respective but different ways to give it a novel turn, and thus blunt its edge, as it stands. For thus it opposed their prophetic scheme, which merges the Christian hope with that of Israel, at least as far as limiting both to the same time, the day of the Lord or His appearing in glory to every eye. There is no wish to recall names, nor to indicate such writings as might do so; suffice it to state the nature of these mistakes, and to refute them in honor of the word of God to which such violence was done by blind zeal.
The first of these was to make a parenthesis in ver. 19 from “as unto a light” to “day-star arise” inclusively. This would sever “in your hearts” from the “day-star,” and would connect “take heed” with “in your hearts.” But such a dislocation, in my judgment, involves a twofold violation of the truth, in flat opposition to the mind of the Spirit of God. The prophetic word was ever cherished by God's elect in Israel; as now the Christian Jews are told by the apostle that they were doing well in paying heed to it, as a lamp shining in a dark place. For it judged the evil that man did, and especially the Jew, as favored of God to profit by such a lamp in the world's squalor; and it pointed to a Deliverer, who will put down by His power the haughty and rebellious governors who will then stand in flagrant antagonism to Jehovah and His Christ.
Nevertheless the language is studiously moderate as to this lamp for the dark place, the prophetic word. For prophecy indeed is peculiarly liable to monopolize the attention of the mind, and to divert the heart from what is still more profoundly requisite for the saint's edification and for God's glory. Christ Himself, the rejected of and from earth and the glorified in heaven, is an object that far transcends the lamp for a dark place; God's own Son in the highest honor of heaven, and His present exaltation there, expressly because of His emptying and humbling Himself to the uttermost in obedience, love, and suffering, for both God and man. Now here lay the deficiency of the Christian Jews, as we can certainly discern through both Epistles of Peter to those in the East, and yet more through the Epistle of Paul to the Hebrews, obviously addressed as being in Jerusalem, though not confined to such and applicable anywhere. The greatest pains will be found therein to raise their eyes to Christ on high, and make God's object their object as Christ is now and there. This heavenly glory of His is in no way developed in the prophetic word, but it is here glanced at in the words “till day dawn and a morning-star arise in your hearts.” Christendom has so lapsed into that judaizing, which was counteracted while the apostles lived, but prevailed since their departure, that we may readily apprehend why the commentators found a difficulty here insuperable; for they were really tainted by similar views. They could not make out why, if Christians, they should not enjoy the full daylight of the gospel or their hearts lack the bright hope of Christ as morning-star, content with waiting for the appearing when every eye shall see Him, and all evil shall be put down by His mighty hand to the joy of all in heaven and earth in that day.
But the two alluded to, who were keener than most for the general and earthly view, went farther than became sincere believers in manipulating the word to exclude the heavenly light and joy which they ignored and sought to get rid of. Hence their proposals jar with the inspired text, lose the precious aim of the Holy Spirit, bring in confusion, and are unmistakably erroneous. It is untrue that “the day” (i.e., of the Lord) is here meant, or that this, the great burden of prophecy, is intended; it is “daylight” such as the gospel of grace sheds when clearly apprehended, chasing away all legal dimness and anxieties. Still less is “day-star's arising in your hearts” to be confounded with its actual manifestation, any more than the order suits either matter of fact or prophecy. Its import is spiritual.
The lamp of prophecy was excellent for its own place and purpose; and those who do not heed it lose much, as those who misuse it do worse. But those who heed it do well, till day's heavenly light dawn in its distinctive Christian character, and Christ, not yet as Sun of righteousness but as Morning-star, arise in their hearts, separating them to the things above from earthly expectations as well as from occupation with the growing evils that portend the worst, and the divine judgment which will deal destruction. The apostle points to Christ as the hope of those who watch during the dark night before the day; and none thus await Him with joy in their hearts, unless they are filled with that “better thing” which sets them in the liberty of Christ, or His daylight. It is anarthrous, and therefore the character of proper Christian blessing.
The second vagary is of the same school and prompted by similar aims, but almost too insignificant to notice, save as betraying inability to appreciate what is heavenly. It divorces “in your hearts” from what God joined these with, and connects them, absurdly enough and by unwarranted usage, with what follows— “In your hearts knowing this first, that no prophecy,” &c. How could this be a primary object for Christian affection? The effort shows will, not intelligence of God's mind.