We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honour and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Peter wants his readers to be fully confident of the Gospel they have heard. He knows his earthly life is almost over (verses 13-14), and before he goes, he is eager that they be “firmly established in the truth” (verse 12). So, he gives them (and us) two strong anchors for the confidence they can have in the message delivered to them. The first is the reporting of eyewitnesses. The second is the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Making it stronger yet, each of these overlaps the other.
Peter includes himself in a circle of eyewitnesses (identified as “we”) who saw firsthand Jesus’ life and ministry, his power and glory. It’s a circle that includes all those designated as “Apostles” (“sent ones”) by Jesus himself, being eyewitnesses of his death and resurrection. But the specific incident Peter references here involved a much smaller circle – indeed, it included only three: Peter himself, together with the two sons of Zebedee, namely James and John. Jesus had taken them up a mountain and, without any warning, was transfigured before them – it was as if the veil was peeled back, and they saw him as he truly is, becoming “eyewitnesses of his majesty.” They heard the Father’s voice declaring Jesus to be his beloved, well-pleasing Son. As John himself would later confirm, “That which … we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim” (1 John 1:1).
All the disciples (minus Judas Iscariot) served as eyewitnesses of Jesus’ broader ministry and teaching, his Person and character, together with his crucifixion and resurrection. This is solid authentication of the Gospel that has been preached.
But it also stretches back to embrace the scriptures already received. Indeed, as eyewitness, Peter says that “we have the word of the prophets made more certain.” What the Apostles had heard and seen and looked at and touched from Jesus himself confirmed the reality of the prophetic words which “God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways” (Hebrews 1:1).
So those prophecies were made “more certain” by the eyewitness accounts, but they certainly were not “uncertain” previously. No, forthey were already solidly grounded in the revelatory work of the Holy Spirit. “Prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit of God himself gave authority to the message.
Which is, in fact, the case for the message of the eyewitnesses also. They spoke what they had seen, but they were directed by the same Spirit who “carried along” the prophets of old. Jesus spoke this truth to his Apostles on the night before he went to the cross: “The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
Eyewitnesses and Holy Spirit revelation. Holy Spirit activity and eyewitness reports. The people of Peter’s day could have confidence through both. So too, can we. God speaks through his word – authoritatively in the New Testament through those eyewitnesses of his Son, and authoritatively throughout the Scriptures by the revelatory work of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, have confidence. Listen. Receive. Follow. All for the sake of Jesus our Lord.
Lord Jesus, I want to hear your voice through those eyewitnesses you have appointed, and through the revelatory work of your Spirit, whom you have given. Keep my ears and heart open. For your glory. Amen.
Take time to commit yourself afresh to embracing the Word. Give thanks for it. Commit your questions and doubts into his hands. Ask for ears to hear. Read. Listen.
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