Friday, August 31, 2012

Jude XI: Introduction to Peter's warning of apostasy

The epistle of 2 Peter is the apostle Peter's address of apostasy. We will not go through the whole epistle for practical purposes, although someday if I feel led by the Lord, I may write an exposition of the Peter's second epistle. For now though, Lord willing, we will look at 2 Peter 1:19-3:7. 

2 Peter 1:19-21
"We have a more sure word of prophecy to which 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 arises in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake under the power of the Holy Spirit."

The theme of these three verses is the reliability of the prophetic word in the holy scriptures. The King James Version of verse 19, does not do justice to the text. The reason why is thus: the prophetic word is inspired and infallible, and nothing can ever make it more dependable or trustworthy. F.W. Grant's translation of this verse may make the verse 19 easier to understand: "We have also the prophetic word confirmed, to which ye do well to take heed as to a lamp that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the morning star ariseth in your hearts."1 Peter goes on to give a detailed description of false teachers and apostates that will rise up in the last days, and they will deny the second coming of the Lord. 

There are several reasons why God has designed His inspired word to have "spoiler alerts" about certain events. Two of these reasons would be: 1. To show that He is faithful. and 2. To warn believers and exhort them to live according to His promises. The prophetic word in scripture would fall into two categories-- fulfilled prophecy, and unfulfilled prophecy. You can guess which events would fall into which category, so I won't waste time explaining that. In Peter's day, Christ's first coming fulfilled over 300 prophecies. Peter points out that the prophetic word confirmed, that which is unfulfilled prophecy will come to fruition. We are exhorted to take heed to this prophetic word, namely the Lord's coming for His Church, for it is a lamp that lights our path in this dark world. When Christ returns, a new day will dawn, and we shall see Him face to face. This is what the morning star would be in reference to, the rapture. In Revelation 22:16, the Lord says: "I am the root and offspring of David, and the bright and morning star."

Next, in verse 20, Peter gives one of the states one of the most fundamental principles in hermeneutics: that the interpretation of prophecy is not based on an isolated method for each individual passage. All of scripture is to be interpreted to the rest of scripture, for this is the only way to make scripture most consistent. 

The reason why no scripture is of its own interpretation is given in verse 21. No prophecy ever came by man's will, but by the eternal Spirit of God who moved holy men of God. If prophecy did come by the will of man, imagine the results! Man has a hard enough time communicating earthly messages to one another that good communication skills is considered to be a precious commodity in today's work place. Even the holiest men if not moved by God's Spirit would come to their own conclusions and we would not have such glorious gospel verses such as John 3:16, or Romans 5:6-8 because they would probably disagree as people tend to do. But the Holy Spirit, who is eternal and all-wise, brings the writing styles of both apostles, John and Paul, and brings the message of both into uniformity. 

2 Peter 2:1-3
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 

Now, Peter reminds his audience that there were false prophets in Israel's past just like there were false prophets in Peter's day and there are false prophets in our day. These false prophets draw a sharp contrast between the holy men of God who were moved by the Spirit, and were true prophets. Jeremiah 14:13-15 says of the false prophets in OT times: "Then said I, ah, Lord God! Behold, the prophets say unto themm, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine, but I will give you assured peace in this place. Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name. I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spoke unto them; they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. Therefore, thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that prophesy in my name, and I sent them not, yet they say Sword and famine shall not be in this land; By sword and famine shall those prophets be consumed." The false prophets in Jeremiah's day claimed to represent God. They claimed to have a message from the Lord who they claimed sent them. Yet they spoke lies in the name of God. It is an awful thing to claim representation of the Eternal One and speak lies on behalf of Him. There lies a sense of poetic justice for those who falsely prophesy in the name of God. Christendom has many pastors who profess to speak for God today and only speak lies. Rob Bell is one such example. His latest book, "Love Wins" presents a universalist gospel that eventually, all of humanity will go to heaven. 

1. F.W. Grant's Numerical Bible cited in II Peter & Jude: The Christian and Apostasy by William Macdonald (Kansas City, KA Walterick Publishers, 1972) pg. 25  

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