2 Peter 1:19-21
19 So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
Some have no problem with the facts of the Bible. Their issue is interpretation: How do we know that the Bible got it right? Take the cross for example: Jesus died by crucifixion— fact. Historians outside the Bible tell us this happened. But the apostles insist that Jesus died on the cross so that those who turn to him might be forgiven and reconciled with God. There is no way that anyone observing Jesus dying on the cross or thinking about his death would have understood this. It is an interpretation of the event. How do we know that apostles like Peter got it right?
God-inspired interpretation. Peter’s words in 1:19-21 are important. He wants us to understand that he is not only a reliable eye-witness, but that he is equally dependable in the way that he has interpreted the meaning of Jesus’ life and death: … no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation. God has not left it to us to work out what Jesus did. He gave us prophets, people who interpreted events, who explained what God’s acts mean. So in 1:21 we read, For no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Spirit of God.
Peter’s analogy is that of a sailboat, blown by the wind. The breath of God guided and directed the prophets and the apostles in what they spoke and wrote. This is just what Jesus had promised His Spirit would do (John 14:25-26). When they taught or wrote, they didn’t speak or write on their own authority, they spoke from God. In other words, the Bible is the product of God’s creative breath, blowing through human personalities, producing reliable human interpretations of human events.
Peter is convinced that we must have the prophets and we must have the Bible. God’s acts are not enough. We need a God-inspired interpretation of them if we are to grasp their meaning.
Peter is saying that in one single volume (the Bible) God has brought together the eye-witness testimony of the apostles and the divinely inspired interpretation of the prophets. Further, this has happened in in such a way that Peter can say: You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts (1:19).
In an age when some theologians and church leaders question the uniqueness of the Scriptures, saying it is full of myths, we need to ask what their presuppositions are. We need to ask whether God is capable of speaking to creatures made in his image and, if so, would he want to and would he do so? And more importantly we need to ask whether there is demonstrable evidence that God has spoken. Peter would respond with an emphatic, ‘Yes!’ The myths today are the books written by theologians who deny the historicity and unique authority of Scripture.
Here is God’s answer to those who challenge the credibility of the Christian message. Peter is insistent: it is a message of received truth. Written over two thousand years ago by those who were Jesus’ personal appointees, the New Testament is unchanged and unchanging. It is a message founded upon history, confirmed by eye-witnesses, and a message interpreted, not by mere human theological speculation, but by divine revelation through the inspired words of the prophets. The Bible stands alone to be read as the unique, authoritative self-revelation of God.
You may want to consider:
- the importance of divine interpretation of God’s acts;
- your response to Peter’s insistence the Scriptures are divinely inspired;
- the place of God’s Word in your life.
Let me encourage you to pray
© John G. Mason, Reason for Hope – 40 Days of Bible Readings and Reflections – 2016. All Rights Reserved.