For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2 Peter 1:16
As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, there are several interpretive disputes in 2 Peter 1:16-21. The first of these is what coming of Jesus Peter is talking about in verse 16 with the phrase, “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Some commentators believe Peter is speaking of his first coming- the incarnation, life and ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. Most, however, see “coming” as a reference to Jesus’ Second Coming. There are multiple reasons to accept the latter interpretation.
First, the word Peter uses for coming is parousia. When this word is used in reference to Jesus it is only used to refer to his Second Coming (Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:9; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1, 8; James 5:7-8, 2 Peter 3:4, 12; 1 John 2:28). The New Testament never uses this term to refer to the first coming of Jesus. That Peter himself uses the term twice in chapter 3 leads to the next observation…
This verse is both preceded and followed with passages that focus on the return of Christ. Take out the personal aside in 1:12-15, Peter mentions the coming of Jesus immediately after speaking of “the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1:11). The letter seems to be a response to the threat of false teachers, and the only real indication of the substance of their false teaching is a denial of the Second Coming (3:1-5). This criticism of the Second Coming even fits best in 1:16…
In writing “we did not follow cleverly devised myths,” Peter certainly seems to be interacting with an accusation made by the false teachers. Conservative scholars agree that this book was likely written in the early 60’s A.D. In other words, within 30 years or so of the life of Jesus on earth. In A.D. 60, which coming of Jesus would more easily be associated with “cleverly devised myths”? Considering that in A.D. 60 there were still many people alive who could give first hand recollection of the life and ministry of Jesus, I would not think teaching concerning the first coming of Jesus could be successfully attacked in such a way. Even to this day, there is very little serious objection to the historical existence of Jesus. It seems far more plausible to me that false teachers could charge the doctrine of the Second Coming as being clever myth. After all, no evidence could be supplied for it; or, certainly not the kind of evidence that could be mustered for the first coming of Jesus. Or could it…
What was the significance of the Transfiguration? It is commonly noted that each of the Synoptic gospels describe the Transfiguration immediately after Jesus concludes teaching about his coming again in glory with the statement “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matt. 16:28; cf. Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27). This poses quite a quandary for conservative commentators on Scripture. How could this statement in any way be true since all of those standing with Jesus have died, yet he has still not returned? Matthew, Mark, and Luke answer that question by immediately transitioning to their accounts of the Transfiguration. As one commentator notes, “The transfiguration scene is not a theophany to, nor an epiphany of, Jesus, but a proleptic vision of the exaltation of Jesus as kingly Son of Man granted to the disciples as eschatological witnesses.” In other words, the Transfiguration was the fulfillment of Jesus’ statement that some of those standing with him would not die until they had seen the kingdom. In the gospels, the Transfiguration is the guarantee of the Second Coming. It is probably less than coincidental that Peter himself follows the same pattern in this letter: from mention of the eternal kingdom in verse 12 to mention of the honor and glory of the Transfiguration.
For these reasons, it is best to see “coming” in 2 Peter 1:16 as a reference to the Second Coming of Jesus.