by Mike Ratliff
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:19-21 (NASB)
Our Lord warned the Church that after He was taken up into Heaven that ravenous wolves would come to attack and attempt to destroy us and our doctrines and put to doubt the validity of eternal truths given to us by God Himself in His infallible Word. This very ministry came into being in response to those types of attacks. Our enemy is clever and his seed attempts to counter Biblical truths with his errors not by appearing blatantly evil, but by looking very much and sounding very much like shepherds of the flock. They blend some truth with error and lies. They depend upon the lack of Biblical knowledge and spiritual maturity within the visible Church in order to get a following, but our Lord promised that He would continually build His Church and no power could or would ever be able to destroy it. That is why there is always a remnant of true believers within the visible Church who have the discernment to see and understand the lies for what they are and do not fall for them nor do they tolerate them. Yes, we tire at times having to deal with the imposters and the false forms of Christianity they produce, but let us take heart that Jesus keeps His promises. In this post let us look at our primary source for God’s Truth that we have, the Word of God. We aren’t going to look at Biblical history in this post, but rather what the Apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 1:19-21 about the nature of God’s Word in how we are to know the truth and live by it.
Some of those who attack us when we stand firm on God’s Word when we expose their errors claim that the Word of God is not dependable and that God still speaks outside of the Bible and when He does that He may even contradict what the Bible says. I have heard that many times. The logical fallacy within that is incredible. How could anyone believe such nonsense. Of course, the answer is that those who attempt to use that reasoning are not believers. They do not have the Holy Spirit nor are they regenerate.
We depend on the Bible as God’s Truth because we know that it is inspired. This is described for us in the Doctrine of Inspiration, which we get from 2 Peter 1:19.
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19 (NASB)
First, Peter was referring here to the Old Testament when he was speaking of the “prophetic word.” He is saying it is accurate. If we go back a few verses to vv15-18 we read:
15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.
16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 2 Peter 1:15-18 (NASB)
He was writing about witnessing our Lord’s transfiguration. However, when he gets to v19 he says there is something much surer than “personal experience.” How important that is in light of how many Christians today speak of their “experiences!” Peter declares here that he, also, had an experience, but that it cannot compare with the “prophetic word made more sure.” He was referring to the written Word of God.
The phrase above “made more sure” translates the Greek adjective βεβαιότερον (bebaioteron) the accusative singular masculine, comparative case of βέβαιος (bebaios), reliable, firm, valid, certain. Used in a legal sense, it meant “valid and legal.” As one Greek authority writes, “Thus the hope and confidence of man is firmly secured as by an anchor, when the object of the trust is the Word of God, which He has legally confirmed with an oath (Hebrews 6:16, 19).” This word in the New Testament is not used of persons but objects (Hebrews 6:19), that which does not fail or waver, immovable, and on which one may rely. So, as long as we cling to the Word, we will be firm, unshakable, sure and certain. The reason for this “surer proof” is because the Word of God came by inspiration, as Peter goes on to write in vv20-21.
Second, the words “pay attention” teach us that the Word of God is admonitory. The Word of God is challenging and helpful in all things. How we so desperately need to listen! As v19 says, the Word of God is “a lamp shining in a dark place“, and our world today is very dark, indeed. There is, in fact, only one other thing that outshines the light of Scripture: Christ’s Second Coming.
Third, βέβαιος clearly demonstrates that the Word of God is authoritative. Authority lies not in human reason nor in the Church and its traditions, but in Scripture alone. Only it is sure.
20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 2 Peter 1:20 (NASB)
What do those four words, “of one’s own interpretation” mean? These four words translate ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως. The words “of one’s own” translate the Greek adjective ἰδίας (idias) the genitive singular feminine case of ἴδιος (idios), one’s own. It means, “Pertaining to oneself or one’s own.” Think of people today who sit in private and alter God’s Word to suit their purposes. They sit in private and twist the Word of God to fit their lifestyle and justify their actions and attitudes.
Interpretation translates the Greek noun ἐπιλύσεως (epilyseōs) the genitive singular feminine case of ἐπίλυσις (epilysis), interpretation, solve, exposit, resolve, explain. In vv20,21 ἐπιλύσεως indicates that no prophecy comes from any private source, referring to the exposition of the will and purpose of God by the prophets themselves.
So, “interpretation” is not a metaphorical meaning, but rather, it is the meaning itself. The emphasis here is that the prophets themselves did not originate the Scriptures or even interpret the words God gave them to write.
This point is vitally important in light of a common expression we often hear when it comes to the Bible. We have all heard people say after we quote the Bible, “Well, that’s just your interpretation of the Bible; everybody has their own interpretation.” The way to interpret the Bible correctly is to take it as it reads. What matters is not how men interpret God’s words, but what God’s words plainly says.
21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:21 (NASB)
I am convinced that this verse torpedoes the modern day self-proclaimed “prophets.” Also, Holy Scripture did not come by anyone’s experience. It did not come from anyone’s private interpretation. It did not come from the men who wrote it. So, from where did it come? Holy men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit of God.
In v21, the word “moved” translates the Greek verb φερόμενοι (pheromenoi) the present passive participle, nominative plural masculine case of φέρω (pherō), bring, carry, endure, produce. In this usage it portrays motion or to bear with the idea of motion to a place. Luke used this word to describe how a ship is carried along by wind (Acts 27:15, 17) Peter apparently loved this word, for he uses it six times in his two epistles. Men today are moved, motivated, and mastered by many things, but the men whom God used were controlled only by one thing, the Holy Spirit.
This verb structure Peter used here gives us the picture. It is passive, “holy men” were being acted upon by the Spirit, and because it is present, this action was continuous. Those “holy men,” therefore, were bing “continually carried along” by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps Peter was thinking, “It is though the Scripture writers raised their sails and allowed the Holy Spirit’s breath to carry them along, to drive them to their destination.”
This is what is meant by the theological therm verbal, plenary inspiration. “Verbal” means that the Holy Spirit guided the choice of the words, and “plenary” means full or complete. The Bible, therefore, is the full, complete revelation of God. All of this gives us the conclusive definition of inspiration: the activity of God by which He superintended the reception and the communication of His message, even in the specific words used, while still allowing for the style and personality of each writer; with the result being the Word of God.
Soli Deo Gloria!