Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in issue no. 11 (weeks 40-43; October 13—November 3, 2019) of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.
Lesson Aim: Firmly establish yourself in the truth, because there will be false teachers.
By Mark Scott
“Close” works if the game is horseshoes. But for rocket science and neurosurgery close is not good enough. There is another area where close is not good enough. It is the truth of Christian doctrine. Almost every book in the New Testament says something about false teaching or false teachers (Philemon would be an exception). We must persevere to grow in Christ (last week’s lesson), but we must also persevere in truth.
This text follows on the heels of last week’s text. Once Peter reminded his readers of their calling to be partakers of the divine nature, he got down to the main content of his second letter, namely warning the believers of how the truth of God’s message stands opposite the claims of the false teachers and scoffers. The truth would help them not just be close but be spot on.
The Memory of God’s Truth | 2 Peter 1:12-15
So much of life is relearning. If we could just remember half of the things that we are supposed to already know. Christians can sometimes have spiritual amnesia. So three times in these verses Peter called the believers to “remember.” First he wanted to remind them of the true calling they have in Christ (1:3-11). Peter admitted that they already knew (oida is a strong word for “know”) and were established (to stand or set fast) in the truth.
Second, Peter wanted to refresh their memory of the truth while he had opportunity. Peter admitted that he was not long for this world. His tent (tabernacle, body or life; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1) would soon be put aside (John 21:18, 19). Finally, Peter wanted to ensure that after his departure (exodus) they would make every effort (give all diligence) to remember the truth of the gospel. Our memories are muscles that must be exercised regularly to work truth down deep into the fiber of our beings.
The Voice of God’s Truth | 2 Peter 1:16-18
For Peter, God’s truth wasn’t a collection of fairy tales or cleverly devised stories (myths). His perseverance in truth was rooted in a gospel narrative which was a preview of the resurrected glory and majesty of Jesus Christ. Peter referred to the transfiguration (Matthew 17; Mark 9; Luke 9). Jesus “took off his mask” for a brief moment and let Peter, James, and John see who he really was.
In that moment the disciples heard a voice from the Majestic Glory (from Heaven). The Father’s audible voice was only heard three times during Jesus’ earthly ministry (his baptism, the transfiguration, and the week of his death in Jerusalem). So this was clearly a high water mark for Jesus—and Peter. He quoted the specific line, “This is My Son, whom I love (beloved); with him I am well pleased” (v. 17). Mountains seem to bring out the actual voice of God (Exodus 19, 20; 1 Kings 19:9-14; Psalm 29; Isaiah 2:3). The God of truth has a voice.
The Message of God’s Truth | 2 Peter 1:19-21
Peter reminded his readers that the actual voice of God was not ultimately located in the apostle’s memory alone. This prophetic message (word) was mediated through the person of Christ and was written down in the Scriptures. The message was completely reliable (firm, fixed, and certain) and therefore attention must be paid to it. Peter likened the message to a light shining in a dark place, to the dawning of a new day, and to the morning star (eternal day or light bringer, namely Jesus—see Revelation 22:16) existentially rising in the human heart.
This message had its genesis in God himself. The message was not a contrivance of people. No prophecy of Scripture (prophetic voice which is the Bible) sprang up from the prophet speaking for God. Scripture did not originate as a product of the human will. Scripture developed progressively as God spoke through the prophets who were carried along (to bear up with) by the Holy Spirit. The message is uniquely God’s.
The Way of God’s Truth | 2 Peter 2:1-3
In contrast to the inspired prophets there were false prophets (Old Testament?) who were not close to the truth. These false prophets of the old covenant were the same as the false teachers of the new covenant. Peter affirmed three things about them. First, they introduced . . . heresies (Acts 15:5; 1 Corinthians 11:19). These are marked out in the rest of chapter 2. These caused them to deny Jesus and bring destruction on themselves. Second, their followers were depraved and caused the way of truth to come into disrepute (blasphemy). Third, their greed caused them to exploit (trade; commercialize) people through lies.
Peter admitted that these false teachers stood condemned, and their destruction was ongoing. Close sometimes is enough, but it does not help us persevere in truth.
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