Green Tree Bible Study 18: God’s Word and Spiritual Growth (2 Peter 1:12-21)

By Dr. Robert E. Picirilli

Peter has urged us to “grow in grace” (1:5-11). He has assured God has provided everything we need for that (1:3, 4). Now we are going to find out that we need more than bread to live. We are sustained by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Thus in 1:12-27, Peter will discuss the proper use God’s Word as a means for instruction and spiritual development.

First, Peter speaks of the written instruction he will personally give (vv. 12-18). His intention is seen in verse 12 and his sense of urgency in verses 13-15. His body is a “tent,” a temporary dwelling he must eventually put aside. This is indirect reference to John 2l:18, 19. He means for his readers to have something in writing that will continue to instruct them after he has gone.

Second, Peter discusses the authority behind Peter’s written teaching (vv 16-18). It is the authority of an eyewitness. His testimony about Jesus is not according to some artfully contrived myth, but is anchored in firsthand experience. He cites his eyewitness account of the transfiguration as special confirmation both of the divine identity and future return in glory of Jesus (vv. 17, 18).

In verse 16, Peter says “we…eyewitnesses.” He and other apostles wrote the New Testament record to complete Scripture and to make the Old Testament “more sure” (v. l9). (II Peter 3:15, 16 shows Peter recognized Paul’s divinely inspired authorship as well.)

Third, Peter speaks of all the Scripture as the Word of God (vv. 19-21). He begins with exhortation to heed He who is a light like the coming of dawn into the world (v. 19). He follows this with an explanation of the divine origin of Scripture.

Verses 20, 21a tell how Scripture did notcome about. Verse 20 is generally misunderstood. The “is” means “comes to be.” The term “private interpretation” here refers to the human author’s personal reading of events. Scripture did not come into existence that way.

Verse 21b tells how Scripture didcome to be. The men did the writing, but they were “moved” by the Holy Spirit (the Greek word pheromenoíliterally means “being born along“). They were so influenced, so controlled that every word they spoke was exactly what God wanted to say. They said it all because He said it all.

The combined New Testament and Old Testament, then, is God’s inspired, inerrant Word. It is the means for our growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18).