Sunday, 16 February 2020
… that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, 2 Peter 3:2
This thought is a continuation from verse 1. Peter wished to stir up the pure mind of his audience so, as he says, “that you may be mindful.” This set of words is translated from a single word in the Greek which simply means “remember” or “call to mind.” It is something that is done actively and purposefully. With this understanding, Peter then says what they are to remember, which is “the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets.”
This means in its most basic sense: “Scripture,” which to them would be – at that time – the Old Testament in particular. The words of the holy prophets are recorded in Scripture, and they had been carefully and meticulously safeguarded by the people of Israel for generations. Peter spoke of this earlier in the epistle, in Chapter 1 –
“And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
The words of these men came through divine inspiration, and they spoke of things which were future, and which would especially direct them to the Person of Jesus Christ, and to the events which surrounded His earthly life. Naturally, these words would also speak of things which would come about after Christ’s ascension and which would comprise the church age, the completion of the time of law (meaning the tribulation), and the millennium.
Peter’s words now focus specifically on the church age and that which will occur there, as well as into the tribulation which will immediately precede Christ’s return. Thus, he then adds in, “and the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior.”
The words in Greek are cumbersome and have to be aligned in a way that the scholar feels Peter is conveying. A literal translation is “and the, the apostles of you, commandment the Lord and Savior.” Charles Ellicott seems to draw out the best sense of this by saying, “the commandment of your Apostles (or rather) of the Lord and Saviour.”
In other words, it is both a commandment of the apostles and of the Lord Jesus. Just as the holy men of God were carried along by the Holy Spirit, so the word of the Lord Jesus is brought forth through the words of the apostles. This will be confirmed as Peter continues on when he refers to Paul’s instructions in verse 3:15.
What was conveyed by the Lord, and what is conveyed by the Lord through the apostles, is given for believers’ edification and instruction. Peter is bringing these things to the collective mind of his audience so that they could have that mind stirred up into constant remembrance. In this, they would be actively mindful of that which is necessary for their walk in this life.
Life application: The sentiment in this verse is similar to that given by Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16 –
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
Both the Old and New Testaments are God’s revealed word to man. It was received by the prophets and the apostles, and its words are given to us to be mindful of what God is telling us; the Bible means just what it says, and the words are our commandments.
When Peter says, “the apostles,” he is indicating that this is a privileged office that came only to the early church. There is no rite of “apostolic succession,” nor are there apostles appointed or designated for the church today. When the canon of the Bible was sealed, the apostolic office ended.
This is important to understand because it is the Bible, and not the ongoing dictates of church leaders (or supposed leaders), that governs our affairs. We have everything we need for holy living and right anticipation of salvation, glorification, and rewards and losses, right in the pages of Scripture. Please remember this and take time, each and every day, to read and meditate on the words of the Bible. God has spoken, His word is sealed, and we have no worry that something has been left out for the knowledge of pleasing Him.
Lord, we shall stand on Your word, knowing that we can trust in what it says to lead us to You, and also to lead us before You all of our days. The Bible tells us of Jesus, and Jesus is the One who allows us to know You personally and intimately. Thank You for the choice food which is the Holy Bible. Amen.