Day-Dawning and the Day-Star Arising

2 Peter 1:19  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Q. Does “day dawning and day-star arising". (2 Peter 1:1919We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (2 Peter 1:19)) refer not to the second advent but to the hope of Christ “in the heart” now? In other words is it meant that we do well to take heed to the more sure word of prophecy; but that we may do better by having the heavenly hope in the heart? I have understood the words to contain a parenthetic insertion, as follows— “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed (as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn and the day star arise) in your hearts.”
When this passage is taken with the context I fail to see how it can teach anything short of, or more than, the fact that the “word of prophecy” is our guide in the midst of the darkness which so rapidly thickens “until the day dawn.” The transfiguration referred to in 2 Peter 1:16-1816For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. (2 Peter 1:16‑18) was intended to place before the disciples the future Kingdom of Christ. The vision was no cunningly devised fable, although but transitory: what then must the surer word of prophecy be to us? Theirs was only a transient witness placed before the eye; ours is a more abiding testimony which we are called upon to take heed “in our hearts”.
If I have misunderstood, I shall be pleased to be corrected; and if what is here expressed is not the teaching of the passage, I shall be thankful to have it expounded more perfectly. R. H.
A. This Epistle is characteristically practical. As a final message to the faithful of the circumcision (1 Peter 1:11Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, (1 Peter 1:1), and 2 Peter 3:11This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: (2 Peter 3:1)), the apostle is earnest that the heart be in unison with the truth. Many were backward, content with elements and not going on fully into grace. So they adhered to old expectations of Messiah, though on fuller ground. This gives occasion to what is in question. “And we have the prophetic word surer [i.e. confirmed by the transfiguration just recounted], to which ye do well that ye take heed, as to a lamp shining in a squalid place, until day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts, knowing this first” &c. He could not but approve of their heeding that prophetic word which was God's gift to His people: no Christian would slight it if guided of Him. Less the apostle does not say, more he would not; for the danger is not slight of misusing the old to leave no room for the still more precious new revelation of Christ already come, and the true light already shining in Him risen, glorified, and about to come in a way special to the heavenly saints as their Bridegroom. All this whether in present communion or in living hope is peculiar to Christianity and might easily be overlooked or neglected unconsciously perhaps, by those he was addressing, occupied as they would naturally be with that enhanced meaning, force, and beauty of the O. T. which the gospel gave it. Here Peter is doing in his last words what Paul habitually and preeminently did—seeking to urge on the saints to lay hold of our “better thing” than the promise. For that heavenly hope was not revealed till Christ spoke of the Father's house, and of His personally coming to take us there.
Hence we may notice that the prophetic word, confirmed as it is by the vision of the divine kingdom on the holy mount, is compared to a lamp shining in a murky place. To this the Jewish or any saints did well to attend; but the fall of Babylon (past or future), the destruction of Edom, the judgment of the nations, or even the deliverance and blessing of Israel, could hardly command the hearts of those who have a rejected Christ as life and righteousness and draw near to Him where He is, yea, who are one with Him on high. Therefore the apostle adds (whatever the value of the lamp in a place dark, sad, and evil) until day (i.e. not the day, but daylight, as descriptive of the superior brightness of Christian truth) dawn, and day-star (Christ in His quality of Day-star, the personal heavenly hope of the Christian) arise in your hearts. This might have been practically most feeble or nil in many believing Jews then, such as the apostle was writing to. Alas! it is now largely the need of crowds of Gentile saints; though they have had the New Testament as a whole before them all their days: so naturally do even saints slip back into Jewish things which they blend with Christian privileges so as to lose all the distinctive power of their own proper blessings. Accordingly the force of “day” as contrasted with “lamp” comes out plainly, as of day-star likewise. Compare Rev. 2:2828And I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:28), and xxii. 16. On the one hand the day-star of the prophetic word is the king of Babylon, typical of his final representative in the last days; on the other hand, Christ is its sun of righteousness bringing in the day of Jehovah in power and glory and judgment. The day-light of the gospel ought to shine through in hearts now, as also the blessed hope of His coming arise therein now. It is not unbelievers getting converted, but saints truly converted going on from an Old Testament measure to enjoy that light of heaven which shines from Him Who is in glory and coming to bring us there. For the proper place of a Christian is to walk in the light (1 John 1:77But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)), as he is already a son of light and of day; and his hope is just as peculiar. This scripture has nothing to say of the day coming on the world, in which case the day-star arising could not follow.
It is true that the opinions of commentators on the passage are vague and often erroneous. Still only two men ever dared, as far as my remembrance goes, to tamper with the passage by the aid of punctuation, and both violently through ignorance of the truth conveyed. One of the two ventured on the parenthesis which has misled “R. H.” The other equally erred by severing “in your hearts” from the only context that suits them (immediately foregoing), and by joining the clause in a union which suits not. Either result is nugatory, instead of real power and propriety. The aim of the enemy in such expedients is plainly to oppose the apostle's (i.e. the Spirit's) object—the hearts of the saints embracing their proper portion in enlightenment and hope. The lamp is good; but there is a better light now in the gospel, and a brighter hope in Christ than any expectation of old, however glorious. These are for the heart's joy rather than prophecy, grand, solemn, and true as it surely is.