1
Salutation
1 From Simeon#tc Several witnesses, a few of them very important (Ì72 B Ψ 69 81 614 623 630 1241 1243 2464 al vg co), read Σίμων (Simwn, “Simon”) for Συμεών (Sumewn, “Simeon”). However, this appears to be a motivated reading as it is the more common spelling. Συμεών occurs only here and in Acts 15:14 as a spelling for the apostle’s name. The reading Συμεών enjoys ample and widespread support among the mss, strongly suggesting its authenticity. Further, this Hebraic spelling is a subtle argument for the authenticity of this letter, since a forger would almost surely follow the normal spelling of the name (1 Peter begins only with “Peter” giving no help either way). Peter,#tn Grk “Simeon Peter.” The word “from” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter. a slave#tn Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). At the same time, perhaps “servant” is apt in that the δοῦλος of Jesus Christ took on that role voluntarily, unlike a slave. The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force. sn Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s slave or servant is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For a Jew this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were “servants (or slaves) of the Lord.” and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who through the righteousness of our God#tc A few mss (א Ψ pc vgmss syph sa) read κυρίου (kuriou, “Lord”) for θεοῦ (qeou, “God”) in v. 1, perhaps due to confusion of letters (since both words were nomina sacra), or perhaps because “our God and Savior, Jesus Christ” is an unusual expression (though hardly because of theological objections to θεοῦ). and Savior,#tn The terms “God and Savior” both refer to the same person, Jesus Christ. This is one of the clearest statements in the NT concerning the deity of Christ. The construction in Greek is known as the Granville Sharp rule, named after the English philanthropist-linguist who first clearly articulated the rule in 1798. Sharp pointed out that in the construction article-noun-καί-noun (where καί [kai] = “and”), when two nouns are singular, personal, and common (i.e., not proper names), they always had the same referent. Illustrations such as “the friend and brother,” “the God and Father,” etc. abound in the NT to prove Sharp’s point. In fact, the construction occurs elsewhere in 2 Peter, strongly suggesting that the author’s idiom was the same as the rest of the NT authors’ (cf., e.g., 1:11 [“the Lord and Savior”], 2:20 [“the Lord and Savior”]). The only issue is whether terms such as “God” and “Savior” could be considered common nouns as opposed to proper names. Sharp and others who followed (such as T. F. Middleton in his masterful The Doctrine of the Greek Article) demonstrated that a proper name in Greek was one that could not be pluralized. Since both “God” (θεός, qeos) and “savior” (σωτήρ, swthr) were occasionally found in the plural, they did not constitute proper names, and hence, do fit Sharp’s rule. Although there have been 200 years of attempts to dislodge Sharp’s rule, all attempts have been futile. Sharp’s rule stands vindicated after all the dust has settled. For more information on the application of Sharp’s rule to 2 Pet 1:1, see ExSyn 272, 276-77, 290. See also Titus 2:13 and Jude 4. Jesus Christ, have been granted#tn The verb λαγχάνω (lancanw) means “obtain by lot,” “receive.” A literal translation would put it in the active, but some of the richness of the term would thereby be lost. It is used in collocation with κλῆρος (klhros, “lot”) frequently enough in the LXX to suggest the connotation of reception of a gift, or in the least reception of something that one does not deserve. H. Hanse’s statement (TDNT 4:1) that “Even where there is no casting of lots, the attainment is not by one’s own effort or as a result of one’s own exertions, but is like ripe fruit falling into one’s lap” is apt for this passage. The author’s opening line is a reminder that our position in Christ is not due to merit, but grace. a faith just as precious#tn Grk “equal in value/honor.”sn A faith just as precious. The author’s point is that the Gentile audience has been blessed with a salvation that is in no way inferior to that of the Jews. as ours. 2 May grace and peace be lavished on you#tn Grk “May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” as you grow#tn The words “as you grow” are not in the Greek text, but seem to be implied. in the rich knowledge#tn The word ἐπίγνωσις (epignwsis) could simply mean knowledge, but J. B. Mayor (Jude and Second Peter, 171-74) has suggested that it is often a fuller knowledge, especially in reference to things pertaining to spiritual truth. R. Bauckham (Jude, 2 Peter [WBC], 169-70) argues that it refers to the knowledge of God that is borne of conversion, but this is probably saying too much and is asking questions of the author that are foreign to his way of thinking. The term is used in 1:2, 3, 8; 2:20 (the verb form occurs twice, both in 2:21). In every instance it evidently involves being in the inner circle of those who connect to God, though it does not necessarily imply such a direct and relational knowledge of God for each individual within that circle. An analogy would be Judas Iscariot: Even though he was a disciple of the Lord, he was not converted. of God and of Jesus our Lord!#tn A comma properly belongs at the end of v. 2 instead of a period, since v. 3 is a continuation of the same sentence. With the optative in v. 2, the author has departed from Paul’s normal greeting (in which no verb is used), rendering the greeting a full-blown sentence. Nevertheless, this translation divides the verses up along thematic lines in spite of breaking up the sentence structure. For more explanation, see note on “power” in v. 3.
Believers’ Salvation and the Work of God
3 I can pray this because his divine power#tn The verse in Greek starts out with ὡς (Jws) followed by a genitive absolute construction, dependent on the main verb in v. 2. Together, they form a subordinate causal clause. A more literal rendering would be “because his divine power…” The idea is that the basis or authority for the author’s prayer in v. 2 (that grace and peace would abound to the readers) was that God’s power was manifested in their midst. The author’s sentence structure is cumbersome even in Greek; hence, the translation has broken this up into two sentences. has bestowed on us everything necessary#tn The word “necessary” is not in the Greek, but is implied by the preposition πρός (pros). for life and godliness through the rich knowledge#tn See the note on “rich knowledge” in v. 2. of the one who called#sn Called. The term καλέω (kalew), used here in its participial form, in soteriological contexts when God is the subject, always carries the nuance of effectual calling. That is, the one who is called is not just invited to be saved – he is also and always saved (cf. Rom 8:30). Calling takes place at the moment of conversion, while election takes place in eternity past (cf. Eph 1:4). us by#tn The datives ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ (idia doxh kai areth) could be taken either instrumentally (“by [means of] his own glory and excellence”) or advantage (“for [the benefit of] his own glory and excellence”). Both the connection with divine power and the textual variant found in several early and important witnesses (διὰ δόξης καὶ ἀρετῆς in Ì72 B 0209vid) argues for an instrumental meaning. The instrumental notion is also affirmed by the meaning of ἀρετῇ (“excellence”) in contexts that speak of God’s attributes (BDAG 130 s.v. ἀρετή 2 in fact defines it as “manifestation of divine power” in this verse). his own glory and excellence. 4 Through these things#tn Verse 4 is in Greek a continuation of v. 3, “through which things.”sn The phrase these things refers to God’s glory and excellence. he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised#tn Grk “through them.” The implication is that through inheriting and acting on these promises the believers will increasingly become partakers of the divine nature. you may become partakers of the divine nature,#sn Although the author has borrowed the expression partakers of the divine nature from paganism, his meaning is clearly Christian. He does not mean apotheosis (man becoming a god) in the pagan sense, but rather that believers have an organic connection with God. Because of such a connection, God can truly be called our Father. Conceptually, this bears the same meaning as Paul’s “in Christ” formula. The author’s statement, though startling at first, is hardly different from Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians that they “may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (3:19). after escaping#tn The aorist participle ἀποφυγόντες (apofugonte") is often taken as attendant circumstance to the preceding verb γένησθε (genhsqe). As such, the sense is “that you might become partakers…and might escape…” However, it does not follow the contours of the vast majority of attendant circumstance participles (in which the participle precedes the main verb, among other things). Further, attendant circumstance participles are frequently confused with result participles (which do follow the verb). Many who take this as attendant circumstance are probably viewing it semantically as result (“that you might become partakers…and [thereby] escape…”). But this is next to impossible since the participle is aorist: Result participles are categorically present tense. the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire.#tn Grk “the corruption in the world (in/because of) lust.” 5 For this very reason,#tn The Greek text begins with “and,” a typical Semitism.sn The reason given is all the provisions God has made for the believer, mentioned in vv. 3-4. make every effort#tn The participle is either means (“by making every effort”) or attendant circumstance (“make every effort”). Although it fits the normal contours of attendant circumstance participles, the semantics are different. Normally, attendant circumstance is used of an action that is a necessary prelude to the action of the main verb. But “making every effort” is what energizes the main verb here. Hence it is best taken as means. However, for the sake of smoothness the translation has rendered it as a command with the main verb translated as an infinitive. This is in accord with English idiom. to add to your faith excellence,#tn Or “moral excellence,” “virtue”; this is the same word used in v. 3 (“the one who has called us by his own glory and excellence”). to excellence, knowledge; 6 to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance;#tn Perhaps “steadfastness,” though that is somewhat archaic. A contemporary colloquial rendering would be “stick-to-it-iveness.” to perseverance, godliness; 7 to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish#sn The final virtue or character quality in this list is “love” (ἀγάπη, agaph). The word was not used exclusively of Christian or unselfish love in the NT (e.g., the cognate, ἀγαπάω [agapaw], is used in John 3:19 of the love of darkness), but in a list such as this in which ἀγάπη is obviously the crescendo, unselfish love is evidently in view. R. Bauckham (Jude, 2 Peter [WBC], 187) notes that as the crowning virtue, ἀγάπη encompasses all the previous virtues. love.#tn Each item in Greek begins with “and.” The conjunction is omitted for the sake of good English style, with no change in meaning.sn Add to your faith excellence…love. The list of virtues found in vv. 5-7 stands in tension to the promises given in vv. 2-4. What appears to be a synergism of effort or even a contradiction (God supplies the basis, the promises, the grace, the power, etc., while believers must also provide the faith, excellence, etc.) in reality encapsulates the mystery of sanctification. Each believer is responsible before God for his conduct and spiritual growth, yet that growth could not take place without God’s prior work and constant enabling. We must not neglect our responsibility, yet the enabling and the credit is God’s. Paul says the same thing: “Continue working out your salvation with humility and dependence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort…is God” (Phil 2:12-13). 8 For if#tn The participles are evidently conditional, as most translations render them. these things are really yours#tn The participle ὑπάρχοντα (Juparconta) is stronger than the verb εἰμί (eimi), usually implying a permanent state. Hence, the addition of “really” is implied. and are continually increasing,#sn Continually increasing. There are evidently degrees of ownership of these qualities, implying degrees of productivity in one’s intimacy with Christ. An idiomatic rendering of the first part of v. 8 would be “For if you can claim ownership of these virtues in progressively increasing amounts…” they will keep you from becoming#tn Grk “cause [you] not to become.” ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of#tn Grk “unto,” “toward”; although it is possible to translate the preposition εἰς (eis) as simply “in.” knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately.#tn Grk “the [rich] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 8 in Greek does not make a full stop (period), for v. 9 begins with a subordinate relative pronoun. Contemporary English convention requires a full stop in translation, however. 9 But#tn Grk “for.” The connection, though causal, is also adversative. concerning the one who lacks such things#tn Grk “to the one for whom these things are not present.” – he is blind. That is to say, he is#tn The words “that is to say, he is” are not in Greek. The word order is unusual. One might expect the author to have said “he is nearsighted and blind” (as the NIV has so construed it), but this is not the word order in Greek. Perhaps the author begins with a strong statement followed by a clarification, i.e., that being nearsighted in regard to these virtues is as good as being blind. nearsighted, since he has forgotten about the cleansing of his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers and sisters,#tn Grk “brothers,” but the Greek word may be used for “brothers and sisters” or “fellow Christians” as here (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 1., where considerable nonbiblical evidence for the plural ἀδελφοί [adelfoi] meaning “brothers and sisters” is cited). make every effort to be sure of your calling and election.#tn Grk “make your calling and election sure.” sn Make sure of your calling and election. The author is not saying that virtue and holiness produce salvation, but that virtue and holiness are the evidence of salvation. For by doing this#tn Grk “these things.” you will never#tn In Greek οὐ μή (ou mh) followed by the subjunctive is normally the strongest way to negate an action. Coupled with πότε (pote, “ever”), the statement is even more emphatic. The author is offering sage advice on how to grow in grace. stumble into sin.#tn The words “into sin” are not in the Greek text, but the Greek word πταίω (ptaiw) is used in soteriological contexts for more than a mere hesitation or stumbling. BDAG 894 s.v. 2 suggests that here it means “be ruined, be lost,” referring to loss of salvation, while also acknowledging that the meaning “to make a mistake, go astray, sin” is plausible in this context. Alternatively, the idea of πταίω here could be that of “suffer misfortune” (so K. L. Schmidt, TDNT 6:884), as a result of sinning. 11 For thus an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for you.
Salvation Based on the Word of God
12 Therefore, I intend to remind you constantly#tn Grk “always.” of these things even though you know them and are well established in the truth that you now have. 13 Indeed, as long as I am in this tabernacle,#tn Or “tent.” The author uses this as a metaphor for his physical body.sn The use of the term tabernacle for the human body is reminiscent both of John’s statements about Jesus (“he tabernacled among us” in John 1:14; “the temple of his body” in John 2:21) and Paul’s statements about believers (e.g., “you are God’s building” in 1 Cor 3:9; “you are God’s temple” in 1 Cor 3:16; “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit” in 1 Cor 6:19; “holy temple” in Eph 2:21). It is precisely because the Shekinah glory has been transferred from the OT temple to the person of Jesus Christ and, because he inhabits believers, to them, that the author can speak this way. His life on earth, his physical existence, is a walking tabernacle, a manifestation of the glory of God. I consider it right to stir you up by way of a reminder, 14 since I know that my tabernacle will soon be removed,#tn Grk “since I know that the removal of my tabernacle is [coming] soon.” because#tn Grk “just as.” our Lord Jesus Christ revealed this to me.#sn When the author says our Lord Jesus Christ revealed this to me, he is no doubt referring to the prophecy that is partially recorded in John 21:18-19. 15 Indeed, I will also make every effort that, after my departure, you have a testimony of these things.#sn There are various interpretations of v. 15. For example, the author could be saying simply, “I will make every effort that you remember these things.” But the collocation of σπουδάζω (spoudazw) with μνήνη (mnhnh) suggests a more specific image. R. Bauckham (Jude, 2 Peter [WBC], 201-2) is right when he notes that these two words together suggest a desire to write some sort of letter or testament. Most commentators recognize the difficulty in seeing the future verb σπουδάσω (spoudasw) as referring to 2 Peter itself (the present or aorist would have been expected, i.e., “I have made every effort,” or “I am making every effort”). Some have suggested that Mark’s Gospel is in view. The difficulty with this is threefold: (1) Mark is probably to be dated before 2 Peter, (2) early patristic testimony seems to imply that Peter was the unwitting source behind Mark’s Gospel; and (3) “these things” would seem to refer, in the least, to the prophecy about Peter’s death (absent in Mark). A more plausible suggestion might be that the author was thinking of the ending of John’s Gospel. This is possible because (1) John 21:18-19 is the only other place in the NT that refers to Peter’s death; indeed, it fleshes out the cryptic statement in v. 14 a bit more; (2) both 2 Peter and John were apparently written to Gentiles in and around Asia Minor; (3) both books were probably written after Paul’s death and perhaps even to Paul’s churches (cf. 2 Pet 3:1-2, 15-16); and (4) John 21 gives the appearance of being added to the end of a finished work. There is thus some possibility that this final chapter was added at the author’s request, in part to encourage Gentile Christians to face impending persecution, knowing that the martyrdom of even (Paul and) Peter was within the purview of God’s sovereignty. That 2 Pet 1:15 alludes to John 21 is of course by no means certain, but remains at least the most plausible of the suggestions put forth thus far.
16 For we did not follow cleverly concocted fables when we made known to you the power and return#tn Grk “coming.” of our Lord Jesus Christ;#tn Grk “for we did not make known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ by following cleverly concocted fables.” no,#tn Grk “but, instead.” we were#tn Grk “became.” eyewitnesses of his#tn Grk “that one’s.” That is, “eyewitnesses of the grandeur of that one.” The remote demonstrative pronoun is used perhaps to indicate esteem for Jesus. Along these lines it is interesting to note that “the Pythagoreans called their master after his death simply ἐκεῖνος” as a term of reverence and endearment (BDAG 302 s.v. ἐκεῖνος a.γ). grandeur.#sn The term grandeur was used most frequently of God’s majesty. In the 1st century, it was occasionally used of the divine majesty of the emperor. 2 Pet 1:1 and 1:11 already include hints of a polemic against emperor-worship (in that “God and Savior” and “Lord and Savior” were used of the emperor). 17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father, when that#tn Grk “such a.” The pronoun τοιᾶσδε (toiasde) most likely refers to what follows, connoting something of the uniqueness of the proclamation. voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory: “This is my dear Son, in whom I am delighted.”#tn The verb εὐδόκησα (eudokhsa) in collocation with εἰς ὅν (ei" Jon) could either mean “in whom I am well-pleased, delighted” (in which case the preposition functions like ἐν [en]), or “on whom I have set my favor.”sn This is my beloved Son, in whom I am delighted alludes to the Transfiguration. However, the author’s version is markedly different from the synoptic accounts (in particular his introductory phrase, “when that voice was conveyed to him,” an unusual expression [perhaps used to avoid naming God directly as the one who spoke from heaven]). The most natural explanation for such differences is that he was unaware of the exact wording of the Gospels. This is, of course, easier to explain if 2 Peter is authentic than if it is a late document, written in the 2nd century. 18 When this voice was conveyed from heaven, we ourselves#tn The “we” in v. 18 is evidently exclusive, that is, it refers to Peter and the other apostles. heard it, for we were with him on the holy mountain.#tn 2 Pet 1:17-18 comprise one sentence in Greek, with the main verb “heard” in v. 18. All else is temporally subordinate to that statement. Hence, more literally these verses read as follows: “For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am delighted,’ we ourselves heard this voice when it was conveyed from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain.” 19 Moreover,#tn Grk “and.” The use of καί (kai) is of course quite elastic. Only the context can determine if it is adversative, continuative, transitional, etc. we#sn We in v. 19 is apparently an inclusive “we” (the author and his audience). Such shifts in the first person plural are quite common in epistolary literature (cf., e.g., 2 Cor 10-13, passim). possess the prophetic word as an altogether reliable thing.#tn The comparative adjective βεβαιότερον (bebaioteron) is the complement to the object τὸν προφητικὸν λόγον (ton profhtikon logon). As such, the construction almost surely has the force “The prophetic word is (more certain/altogether certain) – and this is something that we all have.” Many scholars prefer to read the construction as saying “we have the prophetic word made more sure,” but such a nuance is unparalleled in object-complement constructions (when the construction has this force, ποιέω [poiew] is present [as in 2 Pet 1:10]). The meaning, as construed in the translation, is that the Bible (in this case, the OT) that these believers had in their hands was a thoroughly reliable guide. Whether it was more certain than was even Peter’s experience on the Mount of Transfiguration depends on whether the adjective should be taken as a true comparative (“more certain”) or as an elative (“very certain, altogether certain”). Some would categorically object to any experience functioning as a confirmation of the scriptures and hence would tend to give the adjective a comparative force. Yet the author labors to show that his gospel is trustworthy precisely because he was an eyewitness of this great event. Further, to say that the OT scriptures (the most likely meaning of “the prophetic word”) were more trustworthy an authority than an apostle’s own experience of Christ is both to misconstrue how prophecy took place in the OT (did not the prophets have visions or other experiences?) and to deny the final revelation of God in Christ (cf. Heb 1:2). In sum, since syntactically the meaning that “we have confirmed the prophetic word by our experience” is improbable, and since contextually the meaning that “we have something that is a more reliable authority than experience, namely, the Bible” is unlikely, we are left with the meaning “we have a very reliable authority, the Old Testament, as a witness to Christ’s return.” No comparison is thus explicitly made. This fits both the context and normal syntax quite well. The introductory καί (kai) suggests that the author is adding to his argument. He makes the statement that Christ will return, and backs it up with two points: (1) Peter himself (as well as the other apostles) was an eyewitness to the Transfiguration, which is a precursor to the Parousia; and (2) the Gentile believers, who were not on the Mount of Transfiguration, nevertheless have the Old Testament, a wholly reliable authority that also promises the return of Christ. You do well if you pay attention#tn Grk “paying attention” (the adverbial participle is either conditional [“if you pay attention”] or instrumental [“by paying attention”]; though there is difference in translation, there is virtually no difference in application). On a lexical level, “pay attention to” (προσέχω [prosecw]) does not, in a context such as this, mean merely observe or notice, but follow, give heed to, obey. to this#tn “To this” is a relative pronoun in Greek. The second half of v. 19 is thus a relative clause. Literally it reads “to which you do well if you pay attention.” as you would#tn Grk “as”; ὡς (Jws) clauses after imperatives or implied commands (as here) make a comparison of what should be true (imperative) to what is true (indicative). This is the case even when the verb of the ὡς clause is only implied. Cf. Matt 6:10 (“may your will be done on earth as [it is] in heaven”); 10:16 (“be wise as serpents [are], and be as gentle as doves [are]”); 22:39 (“love your neighbor as [you already do] love yourself”). to a light shining in a murky place, until the day dawns and the morning star#sn The reference to the morning star constitutes a double entendre. First, the term was normally used to refer to Venus. But the author of course has a metaphorical meaning in mind, as is obvious from the place where the morning star is to rise – “in your hearts.” Most commentators see an allusion to Num 24:17 (“a star shall rise out of Jacob”) in Peter’s words. Early Christian exegesis saw in that passage a prophecy about Christ’s coming. Hence, in this verse Peter tells his audience to heed the OT scriptures which predict the return of Christ, then alludes to one of the passages that does this very thing, all the while running the theme of light on a parallel track. In addition, it may be significant that Peter’s choice of terms here is not the same as is found in the LXX. He has used a Hellenistic word that was sometimes used of emperors and deities, perhaps as a further polemic against the paganism of his day. rises in your hearts.#sn The phrase in your hearts is sometimes considered an inappropriate image for the parousia, since the coming of Christ will be visible to all. But Peter’s point has to do with full comprehension of the revelation of Christ, something only believers will experience. Further, his use of light imagery is doing double-duty, suggesting two things at once (i.e., internal guidance to truth or illumination, and OT prophecy about Christ’s return) and hence can not be expected to be consistent with every point he wishes to make. 20 Above all, you do well if you recognize#tn Grk “knowing this [to be] foremost.” Τοῦτο πρῶτον (touto prwton) constitute the object and complement of γινώσκοντες (ginwskonte"). The participle is dependent on the main verb in v. 19 (“you do well [if you pay attention]”), probably in a conditional usage. An alternative is to take it imperativally: “Above all, know this.” In this rendering, πρῶτον is functioning adverbially. Only here and 2 Pet 3:3 is τοῦτο πρῶτον found in the NT, making a decision more difficult. this:#tn The ὅτι (Joti) clause is appositional (“know this, that”). English usage can use the colon with the same force. No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination,#tn Verse 20 is variously interpreted. There are three key terms here that help decide both the interpretation and the translation. As well, the relation to v. 21 informs the meaning of this verse. (1) The term “comes about” (γίνεται [ginetai]) is often translated “is a matter” as in “is a matter of one’s own interpretation.” But the progressive force for this verb is far more common. (2) The adjective ἰδίας (idias) has been understood to mean (a) one’s own (i.e., the reader’s own), (b) its own (i.e., the particular prophecy’s own), or (c) the prophet’s own. Catholic scholarship has tended to see the reference to the reader (in the sense that no individual reader can understand scripture, but needs the interpretations handed down by the Church), while older Protestant scholarship has tended to see the reference to the individual passage being prophesied (and hence the Reformation doctrine of analogia fidei [analogy of faith], or scripture interpreting scripture). But neither of these views satisfactorily addresses the relationship of v. 20 to v. 21, nor do they do full justice to the meaning of γίνεται. (3) The meaning of ἐπίλυσις (epilusi") is difficult to determine, since it is a biblical hapax legomenon. Though it is sometimes used in the sense of interpretation in extra-biblical Greek, this is by no means a necessary sense. The basic idea of the word is unfolding, which can either indicate an explanation or a creation. It sometimes has the force of solution or even spell, both of which meanings could easily accommodate a prophetic utterance of some sort. Further, even the meaning explanation or interpretation easily fits a prophetic utterance, for prophets often, if not usually, explained visions and dreams. There is no instance of this word referring to the interpretation of scripture, however, suggesting that if interpretation is the meaning, it is the prophet’s interpretation of his own vision. (4) The γάρ (gar) at the beginning of v. 21 gives the basis for the truth of the proposition in v. 20. The connection that makes the most satisfactory sense is that prophets did not invent their own prophecies (v. 20), for their impulse for prophesying came from God (v. 21).sn No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination. 2 Pet 1:20-21, then, form an inclusio with v. 16: The Christian’s faith and hope are not based on cleverly concocted fables but on the sure Word of God – one which the prophets, prompted by the Spirit of God, spoke. Peter’s point is the same as is found elsewhere in the NT, i.e., that human prophets did not originate the message, but they did convey it, using their own personalities in the process. 21 for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men#tn If, as seems probable, the “prophecy” mentioned here is to be identified with the “prophecy of scripture” mentioned in the previous verse, then the Greek term ἄνθρωποι (anqrwpoi, “men”) would refer specifically to the human authors of scripture, who (as far as we know) were all men. Thus “men” has been used here in the translation. If, on the other hand, the “prophecy” mentioned in the present verse is not limited to scripture but refers to oral prophecy as well, then women would be included, since Joel 2:20 specifically mentions “sons and daughters” as having the ability to prophesy, and the NT clearly mentions prophetesses (Luke 2:36; Acts 21:9). carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
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