Example of Study Principles from 2 Peter 1:19-21
2 Peter 1:19-21 – “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, unto which you do well that you are heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Context: Peter is writing to many who have believed the Gospel, possibly via Peter’s ministry, as in 1 Peter 1:1. He writes initially about the divine power of God Who has provided great and precious promises (vv. 3,4) which clearly point to Hs Written Word. He goes on to write about living in such a way that each one might have “an abundant entrance..” (v.11)one day, while living on earth according to God’s Word. He also reminds his readers of what he had been told by the Lord Jesus about the manner of death he would experience (see John 21:18,19).
He then writes about an experience that he had, referring to the Transfiguration of Jesus in the Gospel accounts (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:26-38). This is extremely important to what he wants to teach in 2:19-21. Peter had an incredible encounter, a supernatural experience, even a fearful one – yet he will write that there is something even greater than this kind of encounter.
Finally, beginning in chapter 2 he writes about sales teachers and doctrines. Clearly, then, his intent is to show the importance of the written Word of God.
These people lived in very difficult times: economically that were losing because of their stand for Christ; friends and family were shunning them as well; they were in a minority in the places where they lived, giving up the pagan religions and following Christ. It was a dark time humanly speaking, yet a great time spiritually. They needed to be encouraged.
Key Words/Phrases: More sure; word of prophecy; do well to take heed; light shining in a dark place; day dawn and day star arise; v.20: knowing first; Scripture; private interpretation; v.21: not by will of man; moved by the Holy Spirit.
“More sure” This is a current reality, that they had something which, compared even with a tremendous experience (The Transformation), is more trustworthy, better-established. We can be confident that this is still the case.
“Word of prophecy” a message given by the prophets, this to whom God spoke and who wrote down His message. This “prophecy” is not simply a prediction of the future (though sometimes included that), but is the message God had for the people at that time. To God there is no past or future, time does not affect Him. He spoke to certain chosen men (sometimes women as well) so they could write down what He said and preserve it for future generations. The Old Testament contains the Gospel and is about the Lord Jesus Christ – he is the subject of the Word of God.
See Luke 24:27,44
“Do well to take heed” Again a reality for the present, that God’s Written Word is better established than what can be experienced or seen. It is a Word to consider carefully, to be aware of its truths and importance.
“A light shining in a dark place” A comparison that God’s Word can give light in even the “murkiest”, “driest”, “most squalid” places. As Jeremiah wrote in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” A reminder that whether one knows Christ or not, the heart does not change. Everyone still needs the light that comes from the Word of God, Psalm 119:130.
It is a very good thing to “take heed”, that is, consider with great diligence and practice eagerly.
“The day dawn and the day star arise in your hearts” A difficult passage to explain, yet the original readers certainly would have had no problem. So, what would they have understood it to mean?
The “shining” of the previous phrase is a “shining through”, and this phrase is conditional – meaning that something must occur for the day to dawn… This is not a single occurrence, but it realizes that the Word of God accomplishes God’s purposes. When we study and take heed (shining), the “day dawns”, or we are now shown the truth and are changed, transformed. This is a reference to the power of Gods Word, the Light, over darkness. His Word deals with spiritual darkness, sin, and cleanses us so we might continue to be transformed.
The “day star” can be difficult to understand in our modern culture. This word for “day star” is “phosphoros” in the Greek. It simply means “light-bearing” or “the morning star”. Here in 2 Peter the Morning Star , or Day Star refers to the Lord Jesus Christ and His work though the Word. Compare Revelation 22:16.
“ Knowing first” Understanding as a matter of pre-eminence when compared to other matters or other ideas and teachings (such as a supernatural experience, or a new idea). Here Peter cautions people to remember that there is a spiritual war, and that God’s Word is over all other considerations or teachings.
“Scripture” here, the written Word. many people claim to “hear a word” from the Lord, but His written Word is above them all. He will never contradict His written Word. It is better established than any other communication, is more trustworthy that even an eye witness to a supernatural event.
“Private interpretation” literally, “Loosing of the truth”. God’s truth is not simply comprehended by scientific methodology or academic prowess, it must be supernaturally revealed. It is not accomplished by mans ideas or beliefs, but from the very mouth of God. Since He is the One who gives it, only He can open it. Therefore, the Word we have was not written by mans thoughts or plans, but by God’s.
“Not by the will of man” Again, not of mans choosing or designs.
Moved by the Holy Spirit” Here is the main point: Those who wrote did so as the Holy Spirit carried them along. There were not puppets, not under some kind of trance, or any other such thing. The Holy Spirit supernaturally moved in them, carried them along to write what He wanted, yet used their words, vocabularies, personalities. These men did not write of their own ideas, yet they did have a reason for writing. The Holy Spirit put this into them, even though it is not explainable fully. In verse 16, notice that Peter says that what they wrote was not anything made up by the writers.
The idea here is similar to that of the wind filling the sails of a ship, allowing the ship to move. The wind does not direct the ship, but is the power behind the movement.
Truth(s) taught: What truth, or truths, are being taught here by the Holy Spirit through Peter as the writer? I believe there are several we can readily recognize:
1. God has supernaturally given us His written Word. This Word is more sure and better established than any experience or encounter. Even eyewitness accounts are not as sure as God’s Word.
2. God’s Written Word belongs to Him. He has given it for us to study, and for Him to reveal as we study.
3. God’s written Word will endure
4. The Holy Spirit is the Author of the written Word, it is “the sword of the Spirit”, Ephesians 6:17.
Application: The proper study of God’s Word is of utmost importance. We should not simply accept someones explanation or experience without study and confirmation from the written Word.
Faith in God’s Word is necessary but sometimes difficult. We are a people who want to see and feel assurance. Yet, God’s Word needs to be above all of these. There will be times when God’s Word is all we have to cling to. Remember, it is trustworthy because of Who it came from.
The Word of God provides us with “great and precious promises” (1:3) that will uphold all through difficult times, in the darkest places. The day will dawn, the day-star will arise. One day, Christ Himself will appear. until then, the Holy Spirit keeps us through His Word, secures and strengthens.
For the local church, God’s Word must be central in all of its activities and dealings. When the Word is taught well, Christ is exalted. Noting else the church does can equal what God has provided in His written Word. All that is done should conform to the truth in the Word of God.
Finally, this is a brief study of this passage, and is not exhaustive. It is an example of how to study a passage. I trust that God will use this to help many to become adept students of God’s written Word.