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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
2 Peter 1



Other Authors
Verse 1

2 Peter 1:1. Σιμών. This is the reading of the Vatican MS. B, of many cursive MSS. and of the Versions: but an important group including the uncials אAKLP reads Συμεών. This latter form occurs in but one other passage in N.T., Acts 15:14, where James the brother of the Lord says “Symeon hath declared unto us,” etc. It is the Hebrew form of the name, while Σίμων would pass muster among Greeks and Latins: Simo, derived from σιμός simus (snub-nosed), occurs as a slave-name in the plays of Plautus and Terence.

Simon, then, is the commoner form of the name, and, if it were the original reading here, one cannot see why Symeon should have been substituted for it. Westcott and Hort, in deference to the Vatican MS., give Simon a place in the text: but, with Mayor and Bigg, I venture to prefer Symeon. Its presence here is one of the few features which make for the genuineness of the Epistle. It does not occur in the spurious Petrine writings, and may be a true reminiscence of a habit of the Apostle.

δοῦλος καὶ ἀπόστολος. δοῦλος stands alone in Jude and James. ἀπόστολος alone in 1 Pet.: δοῦλ. and ἀπ. together in Rom. Tit.

τοῖς ἰσότιμον ἡμῖν λαχοῦσιν πίστιν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.

No local Church is named.

λαχοῦσιν implies that faith is the gift of God (cf. Romans 12:3, 1 Corinthians 12:9), not due to human merit. The author of the Wisdom of Solomon speaks of Solomon as having been allotted a good soul (Wisdom of Solomon 8:19 ψυχῆς ἔλαχον ἀγαθῆς): not an “orthodox” thought.

ἰσότιμον ἡμῖν. “Conveying the same privileges to you as it does to us (the Apostles).” The word has a civic sense: cf. a passage quoted by Field (and others) from Josephus (Antiquities xii. 3. 1) ἐν αὐτῇ τῇ μητροπόλει Ἀντιοχείᾳ πολιτείας αὐτοὺς ἠξίωσε καὶ τοῖς ἐνοικισθεῖσιν ἰσοτίμους ἀπέδειξε ΄ακεδόσι καὶ Ἕλλησι. Cf. Titus 1:4 κοινὴν πίστιν.

ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ. Best taken with ἰσότιμον. The equality is due to the justice of God, who makes no distinction between the Apostles and the rank and file of the Church.

τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰ. Χ. Are both God the Father and God the Son spoken of here, or is the Son alone intended? Probably the latter: for note that the two substantives θεός and σωτήρ have but the one article: and that in three other places in this Epistle we have the phrase τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰ. Χ., viz. 2 Peter 1:11, 2 Peter 2:20, 2 Peter 3:18 : also in 2 Peter 3:2 τοῦ κυρίου κ. σωτῆρος: in all of which the κύριος and σωτήρ must apply to one person. It would thus be in accordance with our author’s habit to join the θεός and σωτήρ here.

On the other hand, in 2 Peter 1:2, if we accept the reading of most authorities we have a distinction made between the Father and the Son, in the words τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. And the direct connexion of θεός with Ἰησοῦς Χριστός has no certain parallel in N.T.

Yet, in the second century, Ignatius, in the preface to his letter to the Ephesians speaks of Jesus Christ as ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν: and his date is near that which we assign to 2 Peter.

Verse 2

2. χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη. Identical with the salutation in 1 Peter 1:2. χάρις and εἰρήνη without the verb are the rule in the Pauline salutations. See on Judges 1:1. Jude has the verb but differs in the substantives.

ἐν ἐπιγνώσει. For a very full treatment of this word see Dean Robinson’s excursus in his Comm. on Ephesians.

Grace and peace will be increased as the knowledge of God grows.

τοῦ θεοῦ κ. Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν. This is the reading of most MSS.: but the uncial P, some important Latin MSS., and some good cursives omit τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Ἰησοῦ, giving merely τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν or τ. κ. ἡμ. . Χ.

There is some reason for preferring the shorter form, since the phrase is one which was much more likely to be expanded than abbreviated: but the weight of authority is difficult to resist. It is a very odd feature that the Sahidic version leaves out the whole verse.

Verse 3

3. ὡς. It is a question whether we ought to place a comma or a full stop immediately before this word. If a comma, then we must take this sentence with the preceding one and translate, “May grace and peace be multiplied, etc.… (as it surely will) seeing that His divine power has given, etc.” and come to a full stop at the end of 2 Peter 1:4. If a full stop, we must render thus, “Seeing that His divine power has given, etc.… you must give all diligence, etc.” The next full stop will then be at the end of 2 Peter 1:5. It is, however, awkward in this case to give a proper sense to the words καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο δὲ in 2 Peter 1:5. They are better suited to the beginning of a Greek sentence. I think the comma is to be preferred.

This is a case in which the early MSS., devoid of punctuation, do not help us.

θεία δύναμις does not occur elsewhere in N.T., but is very common in philosophical writings. It is also found (along with several other coincidences of language with 2 Peter) in an inscription of Stratonicea in Caria, mentioned in the Introduction (p. xxv, not[18]).

The divine power has supplied us with all that is needed for life and godliness (ζωή is probably life in this world, not in the next) by means of the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. Probably us means the Apostles. Christ called them to Him by showing them His glory (as at the Transfiguration), and His ἀρετή, His inner perfection, in His life and teaching. Thus, if the readers of the Epistle come to know Him, they will be in a position to live soberly and godly in this present world.

διὰ δόξης κ. ἀρετῆς. So BKL and a few other authorities: אACP and most versions read ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ κ. ἀρετῇ. A majority of editors (including the most recent) prefer the latter reading.

ἀρετή is rare in N.T. It only occurs in 1 Peter 2:9 ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος, where it may be rendered by “mighty works” or “praises”: in Philippians 4:8 εἴ τις ἀρετὴ καὶ εἴ τις ἔπαινος, ταῦτα λογίζεσθε: and in 2 Peter 1:5 of this chapter.

Verse 4

4. διʼ ὧν has been taken in three ways: [1] of “us” the Apostles, [2] of τὰ πρὸς ζωὴν καὶ εὐσέβειαν, [3] of δόξα καὶ ἀρετή. This last seems by far the best: Christ calls us by His excellence and gives us (δεδώρηται is active) the promises, which help us to attain likeness to Him.

γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως. Though the author here uses a phrase more characteristic of Greek philosophy than of the Bible, his meaning is really that of John 1:12 ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν τέκνα θεοῦ γενέσθαι. For the phrase compare Plato, Protagoras 322 Α ὁ ἄνθρωπος θείας μετέσχε μοίρας. The condition necessary to this partaking of God’s nature is expressed in the next sentence, ἀποφυγόντες, etc. The corruption consists in lust, and is in “the world.” St James (James 1:21) and St John (1 John 1:10) speak to the same effect.

Verse 5

5. καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο δέ. The two passages usually quoted to exemplify the use of αὐτὸ τοῦτο are [1] Xenophon, Anab. I. 9. 21 καὶ γὰρ αὐτὸ τοῦτο οὗπερ αὐτὸς ἕνεκα φίλων ᾤετο δεῖσθαι, ὡς συνεργοὺς ἔχοι, καὶ αὐτὸς ἐπειρᾶτο συνεργὸς τοῖς φίλοις κράτιστος εἶναι, [2] Plato, Protag. 310 Ε αὐτὰ ταῦτα καὶ νῦν ἥκω παρά σε. In both these passages, as in our text, the phrase means “for this very reason.” God has put within your reach the means of participating in His nature: this fact ought to incite you to exertion on your side.

παρεισενέγκαντες. This compound usually has the force of “smuggling in, bringing in by stealth”: but it does not seem practicable to give it such a meaning here. εἰσφέρεσθαι σπουδήν without the παρά is, as Mayor shows by a number of examples, a common phrase in later Greek.

ἐπιχορηγήσατε. The best English equivalent here is perhaps “provide.” The virtues enumerated immediately afterwards are to be the contribution of man to meet what God gives. We have the verb again in 2 Peter 1:11, and three times in the Pauline Epistles (2 Corinthians 9:10 ὁ ἐπιχορηγῶν σπέρμα τῷ σπείροντιGalatians 3:5 ὁ ἐπιχορηγῶν ὑμῖν τὸ πνεῦμα. Colossians 2:19 πᾶν τὸ σῶμα διὰ τῶν ἁφῶνἐπιχορηγούμενον καὶ συνβιβαζόμενον.

ἐν. The force of the preposition is not clear. It may import that each of the virtues named is to be infused or grafted into that which precedes. But the order in which the virtues are set out does not seem to bear very strict investigation. The base on which all is founded is belief in Christ, and the culmination is love to God and man. The intermediate steps, we feel, might admit of variation or addition.

Eight in all are named: after πίστις comes ἀρετή. We may take this in the general sense of virtue (our list seems to put some words of larger import at the beginning) or give it a more special meaning of strength and bravery in the domain of morals. The former is preferable.

Verse 6

6. γνῶσις. Mayor well compares John 7:17 ἐάν τις θέλῃ τὸ θέλημα αὐτοῦ ποιεῖν, γνώσεται περὶ τῆς διδαχῆς. Only, here, the knowledge that will come of ἀρετή is not only knowledge about God, but knowledge of Him and of His will.

ἐγκράτεια. Control over self in all matters.

ὑπομονή. On this St James lays great stress (2 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Peter 1:12), and so does St John in the Apocalypse (e.g. 2 Peter 1:9, 2 Peter 2:2-3; 2 Peter 2:19, etc.). We may think of it as meaning to the early Christians two things in particular—endurance under persecution, and patient waiting for the Return of the Lord. Perhaps the latter meaning was the one more present to the writer’s mind: he speaks at length about it in the third chapter.

εὐσέβεια, like ἀρετή, is so general a word that it is puzzling. We have it in 1 Timothy 6:11, along with other words of this list: δίωκε δὲ δικαιοσύνην, εὐσέβειαν, πίστιν, ἀγάπην, ὑπομονήν, πραϋπαθίαν. Our author has used it in 2 Peter 1:3, and we shall not be far wrong if we render it in both places as “godly conduct.”

Verse 7

7. φιλαδελφία. It is interesting to see how this word has been transformed in meaning under Christian (and Jewish) influences. To the Greek proper it meant only the affection of a brother for his own actual brother. In a Jewish book (2 Maccabees 15:14) we find the prophet Jeremiah called φιλάδελφος, because he “prays much for the people.” Thus to the Jew, all the nation were beginning to be thought of as brethren. In the N.T. no expression is more familiar to us than “the brethren” applied to those who are united in a common belief. We are reminded of φιλαδελφία and ἀγάπη by the passage 1 John 4:20 ἐάν τις εἴπῃ Ἀγαπῶ τὸν θεόν, καὶ τὸν ἀδελφὸν αὐτοῦ μισῇ, ψεύστης ἐστίν.

With this list of virtues may be compared (besides 1 Tim. already quoted) Galatians 5:22. In the Shepherd of Hermas, written early in the second century, is a genealogical tree of virtues which somewhat resembles ours: Πίστις, Ἐγκράτεια, Ἁπλότης, Ἀκακία, Σεμνότης, Ἐπιστήμη, Ἀγάπη.

Verse 8

8. If these qualities be in you and increase (the idea of growth is in πλεονάζοντα) they will indeed prevent you from being either inactive or unfruitful in what relates to (or in gaining) the knowledge of our Lord. The words οὐκ ἀργοὺς οὐδὲ ἀκάρπους are quoted in the Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons (see p. xviii).

Verse 9

9. On the other hand their absence makes a man spiritually blind, or at least short-sighted.

μυωπάζων (the more natural form of the word would have been μυωπιάζων, cf. μυωπία) means screwing up the eyes in order to see, as a short-sighted man does. It limits the word τυφλός, and does not emphasize it.

λήθην λαβών, etc. He forgets the cleansing of his former sins, which took place when he was baptized. A phrase in Hebrews 1:3 combines two of the words used here “διʼ ἑαυτοῦ καθαρισμὸν ποιησάμενος τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν.” Among other passages quoted by Mayor, one from 1 Corinthians 6:11 is specially apt: καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε ἀλλὰ ἀπελούσασθε, ἀλλὰ ἡγιάσθητε. The man’s forgetfulness of the cleansing he received in baptism paralyses his efforts to put away evil habits.

Verse 10

10. διὸ μᾶλλον. With this blessing and this curse in view, you should be the more eager to do your part—the part which God allows, and indeed requires from you—in making effective the call which has come to you from Him. As Christians you are called and chosen: but that fact does not render exertion on your part unnecessary. You must walk worthily of the calling wherewith you were called (Ephesians 4:1) (where however κλῆσις is not parallel to καλέσαντος of 2 Peter 1:3 here).

ταῦτα refers back to the list of virtues.

οὐ μὴ πταίσητέ ποτε. St James (James 3:2) says πολλὰ γὰρ πταίομεν ἅπαντες. Our author does not mean that his readers will be sinless: he is thinking of such final stumbling as the Psalmist speaks of, “my feet were almost gone, my treadings had well-nigh slipped.” Your progress will be continuous, he says, and your entrance into the (future) kingdom of glory triumphant. Compare the words of Aristides quoted on p. xviii.

Verse 11

11. εἴσοδος would most naturally mean the place of entrance, but here, as in Hebrews 10:19 and elsewhere in N.T., it clearly means the action of entering.

Verse 12

12. Διό. Seeing the great issues which hang upon all this.

μελλήσω ἀεὶ ὑπομιμνήσκειν. “I shall be about to remind you always” is undoubtedly a very awkward phrase. The R.V. gives “I shall be ready always to put you in remembrance,” but from the context one would judge that the writer is speaking of something which he means to do forthwith. The only parallel in N.T. is Matthew 24:6 μελλήσετε ἀκούειν πολέμουςὁρᾶτε, μὴ θροεῖσθε, where the sense seems to be “you must be prepared to hear of wars.” The difficulty was felt by some authorities (the late uncials KL and the late Syriac versions) which give οὐκ ἀμελήσω (adopted by the A.V. “I will not be negligent”): two Latin authorities have the equivalent of οὐ μελλήσω. There is no old authority for the reading which really seems preferable, namely μελήσω, suggested by Dr Field of Norwich: but it is possible that the Greek lexicographer Suidas (or his source) had this passage in mind when he wrote μελήσω, σπουδάσω, φροντίσω. Two other lexicographers, Hesychius and Photius, give the same interpretation of μελλήσω, which is undoubtedly a mistake, whether of their own, or of the scribes who copied out their works.

In other places of the N.T. where ἔμελεν or μέλει occur (John 12:6, 1 Peter 5:7, Matthew 22:16), many MSS. write ἔμελλεν, μέλλει.

ἐστηριγμένους ἐν τῇ παρούσῃ ἀληθείᾳ. παρούσῃ is not easy to interpret satisfactorily. We may render “the truth which has come to you” as in Colossians 1:5-6 τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τοῦ παρόντος εἰς ὑμᾶς: but εἰς ὑμᾶς is needed: or “the truth which is within your reach,” cf. Deut. “The word is very nigh unto thee.” An interesting suggestion is that of Spitta, which would emend the word to παραδοθείσῃ, comparing Judges 1:3 τῇ ἅπαξ παραδοθείσῃ τοῖς ἁγίοις πίστει.

Verse 13-14

13, 14. It is the more necessary for me to remind you, since I shall not be long with you.

ἐν is here used of the instrument.

ταχινή, speedy: we may take it to mean that the change is to come soon, and also that it will be sudden and violent when it comes: certainly the former. ὁ καιρὸς τῆς ἀναλύσεώς μου ἐφέστηκεν says St Paul at a similar time, 2 Timothy 4:6.

ἀπόθεσις τοῦ σκηνώματος. In N.T. the metaphor is employed in 2 Corinthians 5:2-4. The word occurs 1 Peter 3:21 σαρκὸς ἀπόθεσις ῥύπου. The verb is common, e.g. ἀπέθεντο τὰ ἱμάτια, Acts 7:58.

καθὼς καὶ ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ. ἑδήλωσέν μοικαθὼς καὶ ὁ κύριος ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ. ἑδήλωσέν μοι. We have of course an account of one occasion on which our Lord spoke of St Peter’s death, and predicted that it would be a violent one (possibly even by crucifixion) in John 21:18-19. It has been usual to interpret our passage as referring to that. On the other hand, it is urged that the point of the prophecy in John is the violent death, while here the writer seems to say that he has been told that he is to die shortly. There is a famous and ancient legend that St Peter fleeing from the Neronian persecution at the instance of the brethren met our Lord just outside the gates of Rome, and asked whither He was going (Domine, quo vadis?). “I am about to be crucified again” (ἄνωθεν μέλλω σταυρωθῆναι in the oldest form of the story) was the reply: and Peter turned back and fulfilled his destiny. The Lord’s words here have been variously interpreted, (a) Since you flee I am come to be crucified in your stead; (b) more probably: It is ordained that you are to be crucified, and I suffer in the person of all my disciples who suffer; (c) the word ἄνωθεν is not impossibly the origin of the story that Peter was crucified head downwards.

Possibly this legend may have been in the mind of the writer of 2 Peter.

Verse 15

15. σπουδάσω δὲ καὶ ἑκάστοτε “I will take measures (besides reminding you while I am alive) that you shall have the means of reminding yourselves of these truths whenever you please, after my death.” In other words, “I will leave my teaching with you in a permanently accessible form”—in some written work which the writer means to provide. What work is meant? Not the Epistle; the future σπουδάσω excludes that; and, besides, the context shows that the promised work was to be one which would strengthen the reader’s belief in the truth of Christianity: it would contain some narrative of facts (see 2 Peter 1:16).

It has been strongly urged that the Gospel of Mark is here meant. The probably true tradition of its origin, which goes back to a personal disciple of the Lord, John the Presbyter, represents Mark as dependent upon Peter for his information, and Clement of Alexandria adds that Peter’s hearers at Rome begged Mark to put the substance of the Apostle’s discourses into writing, and that the record was subsequently confirmed and authorized by Peter. This relation between Peter and Mark would justify the expressions in our text.

There are other possibilities. If 2 Peter is not the work of the Apostle the reference to St Mark’s Gospel is as likely as ever: but we can also conceive that another pseudo-Petrine work is meant, e.g. the Preaching of Peter (see Introd.) which may very well have contained both religious instruction, and also some narrative portions: or, just possibly, the Apocalypse of Peter, which contained teaching about the παρουσία of Christ (see 2 Peter 1:16).

Verses 16-18

16–18. Remember that we Apostles had ocular evidence for the truth of what we preach to you, for instance at the Transfiguration, when we saw the glory and heard the voice.

μύθοις ἐξακολουθήσαντες is one of the phrases common to this Epistle and to Josephus’ Preface to the Antiquities of the Jews, § 3, οἱ ἄλλοι νομοθέται τοῖς μύθοις ἐξακολουθήσαντες τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων ἁμαρτημάτων εἰς τοὺς θεοὺς τὴν αἰσχύνην μετέθεσαν.

σεσοφισμένοις. Not common in the passive. I think Christian belief is here contrasted with heathen.

δύναμιν καὶ παρουσίαν. The power and (second) coming of the Lord, cf. Matthew 24:30 ἐρχόμενονμετὰ δυνάμεως καὶ δόξης πολλῆς.

The Transfiguration, immediately afterwards described, was an anticipation of the glory of the second coming.

ἐπόπται has here practically the same sense as αὐτόπται in Luke 1:2. It is an interesting word, being that used for those who were admitted to the final stages of initiation at Eleusis. For the verb see 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 3:2.

Verse 17

17. λαβὼν γὰρ There is an anacoluthon here: λαβών has no verb. It is probable that the writer had intended to complete the sentence by writing ἐβεβαίωσεν τὸν προφητικὸν λόγον (in 2 Peter 1:19)—for 2 Peter 1:18 is a parenthesis.

ὑπό. Mayor would read ἀπό, for which the only authorities are the Syriac versions and the Latin Vulgate (delapsa a). μεγαλοπρεποῦς δόξης, a reverential paraphrase, as Dr Bigg calls it, for God. Similar phrases are found in Jewish apocryphal books, e.g. Enoch xiv. 18, 20, a lofty throne … and the Great Glory (ἡ δόξα ἡ μεγάλη) sat thereon. In the Testament of Levi (in the book called the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs) ἡ μεγάλη δόξα abides in the highest heaven of all. Also in the Epistle of Clement of Rome (ix. 2) Let us look steadfastly at those who perfectly served τῇ μεγαλοπρεπεῖ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ.

Ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός μου οὗτός ἐστιν, εἰς ὃν ἐγὼ εὐδόκησα. The words are reported thus in the Gospels:

Matthew 17:5 οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα· ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ.

Mark 9:7 οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπ., ἀκούετε αὐτοῦ.

Luke 9:35 οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἐκλελεγμένος, αὐτοῦ ἀκούετε.

Compare the words at the Baptism:

Matthew 3:17 οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα.

Mark 1:11 σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπ., ἐν σοὶ εὐδόκησα.

Luke 3:21, identical with Mark.

The words of the Epistle agree most closely with the form in Matt., but stand alone in the position they assign to οὗτός ἐστιν, and in giving ἐγώ, and εἰς ὅν.

Verse 18

18. ἐν τῷ ἁγίῳ ὄρει. It was the Transfiguration that made the mountain holy (Bigg), just as the vision of the Burning Bush made that site “holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). The “holy hill” par excellence of the O.T. is Mount Sion.

It is interesting to note that the Acts of Peter (see Introd.) make St Peter select the story of the Transfiguration as the subject of a special discourse, perhaps from a recollection of the passage before us; there, too, the phrase holy mountain is used.

Verse 19

19. καὶ ἔχομεν. It is best to connect this sentence with the preceding. “The vision and the voice confirmed, and still confirm to us the authority of the prophets.” Other commentators make these words the starting-point of a new topic. “We Apostles had the evidence of the vision: you have what is better, because more permanent—the evidence of Scripture.”

It is worth noting that both in Peter’s speeches in the Acts (Acts 2:3) and also in the fragments of the apocryphal but early Preaching of Peter, great stress is laid on the evidence of prophecy; so also in 1 Peter 1:10-12.

ᾧ καλῶς ποιεῖτε προσέχοντες. Josephus Ant. xi. 6. 12 again has the same phrase, οἷς ποιήσετε καλῶς μὴ προσέχοντες.

λύχνῳ φαίνοντι ἐν αὐχμηρῷ τόπῳ. There are two good instances of a similar phrase applied to an individual prophet. Our Lord says of John Baptist (John 5:35), He was ὁ λύχνος ὁ καιόμενος καὶ φαίνων: and in 4 Esdras (2 Esdras of our Apocrypha) 2 Esdras 12:42 the people say to Esdras, “(thou alone hast survived of all the prophets) sicut lucerna in loco obscuro” (we no longer possess the book in Greek).

αὐχμηρῷ. The meaning, dark or dusky, which is undoubted here, is not the original one; the word properly means dry and parched. The Apocalypse of Peter has our phrase, clearly in the sense of dark: “I saw a τόποναὐχμηρότατον, and those in it had their vesture dark, σκοτεινόνκατὰ τὸν ἀέρα τοῦ τόπου.”

ἕως οὗ ἡμέρα διαυγάσῃ, etc. Compare the refrain in the Song of Solomon, “Until the day break and the shadows flee away.”

φωσφόρος ἀνατείλῃ. Malachi 4:2 speaks of the Sun of righteousness arising: in the Benedictus, Luke 1:79, the Christ is ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὔψους: the ancient hymn quoted in Ephesians 5:14 says, ἐπιφαύσει σοι ὁ Χριστός. These passages (except the last) point to the Second Coming as being meant by the dawn of day. But the words in your hearts make us think of the expression of our Lord, “the Kingdom of God is within you.” The writer is addressing people who, though Christians, have not necessarily attained to the fullest understanding of the Gospel. The language should not be so pressed as to imply that it had not even dawned upon them as yet. The study of Scripture will be a help to them until God fully enlightens their hearts.

Verse 20

20. τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες. The same words recur in 2 Peter 3:3.

πᾶσαοὐ. Hebraistic for οὐδεμία.

προφητεία γραφῆς prophecy of Scripture—included, contained in Scripture.

ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως οὐ γίνεται. Words productive of much dispute. The principal meanings assigned to them have been:

(a) Prophecy is not to be interpreted by private individuals apart from the Church.

(b) It is not to be interpreted by man apart from the Holy Spirit.

(c) Does not come from human ingenuity: is not a successful attempt to solve a difficulty, originated by the prophet himself.

(d) It could not be interpreted by the prophet himself. He did not always know the meaning of the vision he saw. Daniel and Zechariah, for example, ask what it is that is shown to them.

(e) Prophecy is not confined, not subject to, a single interpretation; it is capable of many fulfilments besides the immediate and local one.

Something similar is said in 2 Peter 3:16. Unlearned persons wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction. There seems to be in both passages a warning against unauthorized interpretation of prophecy.

The writer goes on here to assign a reason why prophecy is not ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως. “For it was not at any time conveyed by the will of man.” The prophets themselves could not prophesy when and as they pleased. If that was the case, how little can you expect to interpret their prophecies without God’s help! Note that the aid of Christ Himself was required to “open” the Scriptures to the first disciples (Luke 24:25 etc., 44 etc.). Thus the warning against private and unauthorized exposition of prophecy seems to be most prominent; but there may be also contained in the passage the greater truth that prophecy is capable of several and ever-widening fulfilments.

θελήματι ἀνθρώπου is opposed to ἀπὸ θεοῦ.

Theophilus of Antioch, in a passage quoted on p. xviii, seems to paraphrase this verse, as well as to allude to 2 Peter 1:19.

ὑπὸ πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι, cf. θεοφόρητος, θεοφορεῖσθαι, the latter verb being often used of prophets by Philo, Justin, etc., quoted by Mayor. It may be right to emphasize the absence of the article from πνεῦμα, “borne by a holy spirit” of wisdom. Cf. Wisdom of Solomon 7:22.

2. So far we have had but an introduction to the writer’s chief topic. Throughout he has had in view the warning of his readers against a particular danger: so he has begun by insisting on their keeping firm in the right way. Now he begins to enlarge on his special subject, leading up to it by the mention of prophecy. The value of prophecy, he says, cannot be exaggerated, though its use must be guarded. But there was false prophecy in Israel, and false teaching is now coming in upon the new Israel.

It is here also that the writer begins most clearly and continuously to use another source, the Epistle of Jude. There have been, in his first chapter, resemblances to its language (see Introd.), but from the point we have reached the parallels are much closer.

ψευδοπροφῆται. The primary force of ψευδο- in ψευδοπροφῆται and ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι is not that the prophets and teachers utter what is false, but that they are sham prophets and sham teachers—they do not deserve the name. But of course the reason why they are so called is because they teach what is false.

ἐν τῷ λαῷ, Israel, λαόν, Judges 1:5.

παρεισάξουσιν in an evil sense: παρεισφέρω was used in a good sense in 2 Peter 1:5. Cf. παρεισάκτους ψευδαδέλφους in Galatians 2:4.

αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας. αἵρεσις is used in a neutral sense in Acts, of the Sadducees, of the Pharisees, and by an adversary, Tertullus, of the Christians: in Acts 24:14 Paul speaks of τὴν ὁδὸν ἣν λέγουσιν αἵρεσιν, again not necessarily in an abusive sense. In his Epistles the thing is deprecated. 1 Corinthians 11:18-19 couples αἱρέσεις with σχίσματα: Galatians 5:20 with διχοστασίαι, so that it seems equivalent to “schism.” In Titus 3:10 αἱρετικὸν ἄνδραπαραιτοῦ the context shows that what is meant is an opinionated and disputatious person. By the time of Ignatius [110] it is clearly used in our sense of heresy. He warns the Trallians “to abstain from the noxious herbs of heresy,” and says to the Ephesians “Among you no heresy dwells.” Here the general meaning is put out of doubt by the addition of the word ἀπωλείας, so that it is possible to hold that the writer could conceive of αἱρέσεις that were not “destructive.”

ἀπώλεια is a favourite word with our writer, occurring again in this verse and in 2 Peter 2:3, 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:16.

καὶ, emphatic. Even denying.

τὸν ἀγοράσαντα αὐτοὺς δεσπότην ἀρνούμενοι, Judges 1:4. The parallel with Jude forbids us to think that the incident of Peter’s denial of his Master is referred to.

ἀγοράσαντα. 1 Corinthians 6:20 ἠγοράσθητε γὰρ τιμῆς. Revelation 5:9 addressed to the Lamb ἐσφάγης καὶ ἠγόρασας τῷ θεῷ ἐν τῷ αἵματί σου.

In Acts 20:28 this purchasing is ascribed to the Father, to whom the title δεσπότης is applied wherever else it is used in N.T. (e.g. Luke 2:29, Acts 4:24, Revelation 6:10). Accordingly, some understand δεσπότης of the Father here, and some of the Son. The phrase in Jude is τὸν μόνον δεσπότην καὶ κύριον ἡμῶν Ἰ. Χ., which at first sight seems plainly to mean One Person, and that the Son: but there again it is pointed out that κύριος is one of the words which in such a sentence can stand without an article, so that two Persons might be meant. I incline to interpret both passages as referring to the Son.

Note that δεσπότης and ἀγοράζειν give point to the word δοῦλος so often used by the Apostles of themselves.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 2 Peter 1:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2020
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