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2 Peter 1:16

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Cunningly devised fables - Σεσοφισμενοις μυθοις . I think, with Macknight and others, from the apostle's using εποπται, eye witnesses, or rather beholders, in the end of the verse, it is probable that he means those cunningly devised fables among the heathens, concerning the appearance of their gods on earth in human form. And to gain the greater credit to these fables, the priests and statesmen instituted what they called the mysteries of the gods, in which the fabulous appearance of the gods was represented in mystic shows. But one particular show none but the fully initiated were permitted to behold; hence they were entitled εποπται, beholders. This show was probably some resplendent image of the god, imitating life, which, by its glory, dazzled the eyes of the beholders, while their ears were ravished by hymns sung in its praise; to this it was natural enough for St. Peter to allude, when speaking about the transfiguration of Christ. Here the indescribably resplendent majesty of the great God was manifested, as far as it could be, in conjunction with that human body in which the fullness of the Divinity dwelt. And we, says the apostle, were εποπται, beholders, της εκεινου μεγαλειοτητος, of his own majesty. Here was no trick, no feigned show; we saw him in his glory whom thousands saw before and afterwards; and we have made known to you the power and coming, παρουσιαν, the appearance and presence, of our Lord Jesus; and we call you to feel the exceeding greatness of this power in your conversion, and the glory of this appearance in his revelation by the power of his Spirit to your souls. These things we have witnessed, and these things ye have experienced: and therefore we can confidently say that neither you nor we have followed cunningly devised fables, but that blessed Gospel which is the power of God to the salvation of every one that believes.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables - That is, fictions or stories invented by artful men, and resting on no solid foundation. The doctrines which they held about the coming of the Saviour were not, like many of the opinions of the Greeks, defended by weak and sophistical reasoning, but were based on solid evidence - evidence furnished by the personal observation of competent witnesses. It is true of the gospel, in general, that it is not founded on cunningly devised fables; but the particular point referred to here is the promised coming of the Saviour. The evidence of that fact Peter proposes now to adduce.

When we made known unto you - Probably Peter here refers particularly to statements respecting the coming of the Saviour in his first epistle, 1 Peter 1:5, 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13; but this was a common topic in the preaching, and in the epistles, of the apostles. It may, therefore, have referred to statements made to them at some time in his preaching, as well as to what he said in his former epistle. The apostles laid great stress on the second coming of the Saviour, and often dwelt upon it. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Notes, Acts 1:11.

The power and coming - These two words refer to the same thing; and the meaning is, his “powerful coming,” or his “coming in power.” The advent of the Saviour is commonly represented as connected with the exhibition of power. Matthew 24:30, “coming in the clouds of heaven, with power.” See the notes at that verse. Compare Luke 22:69; Mark 3:9. The “power” evinced will be by raising the dead; summoning the world to judgment; determining the destiny of men, etc. When the coming of the Saviour, therefore, was referred to by the apostles in their preaching, it was probably always in connection with the declaration that it would be accompanied by exhibitions of great power and glory - as it undoubtedly will be. The fact that the Lord Jesus would thus return, it is clear, had been denied by some among those to whom this epistle was addressed, and it was important to state the evidence on which it was to be believed. The grounds on which they denied it 2 Peter 3:4 were, that there were no appearances of his approach; that the premise had not been fulfilled; that all things continued as they had been; and that the affairs of the world moved on as they always had done. To meet and counteract this error - an error which so prevailed that many were in danger of “falling from their own steadfastness” 2 Peter 3:17 - Peter states the proof on which he believed in the coming of the Saviour.

But were eye-witnesses of his majesty - On the mount of transfiguration, Matthew 17:1-5. See the notes at that passage. That transfiguration was witnessed only by Peter, James, and John. But it may be asked, how the facts there witnessed demonstrate the point under consideration - that the Lord Jesus will come with power? To this it may be replied:

(1) that these apostles had there such a view of the Saviour in his glory as to convince them beyond doubt that he was the Messiah.

(2) that there was a direct attestation given to that fact by a voice from heaven, declaring that he was the beloved Son of God.

(3) that that transfiguration was understood to have an important reference to the coming of the Saviour in his kingdom and his glory, and was designed to be a representation of the manner in which he would then appear. This is referred to distinctly by each one of the three evangelists who have mentioned the transfiguration. Matthew 16:28, “there be some standing here which shall not taste of death until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom;” Mark 9:1-2; Luke 9:27-28. The transfiguration which occurred soon after these words were spoken was designed to show them what he would be in his glory, and to furnish to them a demonstration which they could never forget, that he would yet set up his kingdom in the world.

(4) they had in fact such a view of him as he would be in his kingdom, that they could entertain no doubt on the point; and the fact, as it impressed their own minds, they made known to others. The evidence as it lay in Peter‘s mind was, that that transfiguration was designed to furnish proof to them that the Messiah would certainly appear in glory, and to give them a view of him as coming to reign which would never fade from their memory. As that had not yet been accomplished, he maintained that the evidence was clear that it must occur at some future time. As the transfiguration was with reference to his coming in his kingdom, it was proper for Peter to use it with that reference, or as bearing on that point.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The gospel is no weak thing, but comes in power, Ro 1:16. The law sets before us our wretched state by sin, but there it leaves us. It discovers our disease, but does not make known the cure. It is the sight of Jesus crucified, in the gospel, that heals the soul. Try to dissuade the covetous worlding from his greediness, one ounce of gold weighs down all reasons. Offer to stay a furious man from anger by arguments, he has not patience to hear them. Try to detain the licentious, one smile is stronger with him than all reason. But come with the gospel, and urge them with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, shed to save their souls from hell, and to satisfy for their sins, and this is that powerful pleading which makes good men confess that their hearts burn within them, and bad men, even an Agrippa, to say they are almost persuaded to be Christians, Ac 26:28. God is well pleased with Christ, and with us in him. This is the Messiah who was promised, through whom all who believe in him shall be accepted and saved. The truth and reality of the gospel also are foretold by the prophets and penmenof the Old Testament, who spake and wrote under influence, and according to the direction of the Spirit of God. How firm and sure should our faith be, who have such a firm and sure word to rest upon! When the light of the Scripture is darted into the blind mind and dark understanding, by the Holy Spirit of God, it is like the day-break that advances, and diffuses itself through the whole soul, till it makes perfect day. As the Scripture is the revelation of the mind and will of God, every man ought to search it, to understand the sense and meaning. The Christian knows that book to be the word of God, in which he tastes a sweetness, and feels a power, and sees a glory, truly divine. And the prophecies already fulfilled in the person and salvation of Christ, and in the great concerns of the church and the world, form an unanswerable proof of the truth of Christianity. The Holy Ghost inspired holy men to speak and write. He so assisted and directed them in delivering what they had received from him, that they clearly expressed what they made known. So that the Scriptures are to be accounted the words of the Holy Ghost, and all the plainness and simplicity, all the power and all the propriety of the words and expressions, come from God. Mix faith with what you find in the Scriptures, and esteem and reverence the Bible as a book written by holy men, taught by the Holy Ghost.
Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 425

Through being overcome with sleep, the disciples heard little of what passed between Christ and the heavenly messengers. Failing to watch and pray, they had not received that which God desired to give them,—a knowledge of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. They lost the blessing that might have been theirs through sharing His self-sacrifice. Slow of heart to believe were these disciples, little appreciative of the treasure with which Heaven sought to enrich them. DA 425.1

Yet they received great light. They were assured that all heaven knew of the sin of the Jewish nation in rejecting Christ. They were given a clearer insight into the work of the Redeemer. They saw with their eyes and heard with their ears things that were beyond the comprehension of man. They were “eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16), and they realized that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, to whom patriarchs and prophets had witnessed, and that He was recognized as such by the heavenly universe. DA 425.2

While they were still gazing on the scene upon the mount, “a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” As they beheld the cloud of glory, brighter than that which went before the tribes of Israel in the wilderness; as they heard the voice of God speak in awful majesty that caused the mountain to tremble, the disciples fell smitten to the earth. They remained prostrate, their faces hidden, till Jesus came near, and touched them, dispelling their fears with His well-known voice, “Arise, and be not afraid.” Venturing to lift up their eyes, they saw that the heavenly glory had passed away, the forms of Moses and Elijah had disappeared. They were upon the mount, alone with Jesus. DA 425.3

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 194

The Lord calls upon those connected with our sanitariums to reach a higher standard. No lie is of the truth. If we follow cunningly devised fables, we unite with the enemy's forces against God and Christ. God calls upon those who have been wearing a yoke of human manufacture to break this yoke, and no longer be the bond servants of men. 1SM 194.1

The battle is on. Satan and his angels are working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. They are untiring in their efforts to draw souls away from the truth, away from righteousness, to spread ruin throughout the universe. They work with marvelous industry to furnish a multitude of deceptions to take souls captive. Their efforts are unceasing. The enemy is ever seeking to lead souls into infidelity and skepticism. He would do away with God, and with Christ, who was made flesh and dwelt among us to teach us that in obedience to God's will we may be victorious over sin. 1SM 194.2

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Ellen G. White
The Voice in Speech and Song, 226.1

Certainty Born of Heart Conviction—Do not present the truth in a formal manner, but let the heart be vitalized by the Spirit of God, and let your words be spoken with such certainty that those who hear may know that the truth is a reality to you. Your manner may be educated, and your words may be of that character that they will voice the words of Peter: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” With just as much assurance you may declare the message of God's truth. Those who believe sacred, eternal truth, must put their whole soul into their efforts. We must be stirred to the very heart as we behold the fulfilling of prophecy in the closing scenes of this earth's history. As our vision extends still further into the glories of eternity—the coming of Christ with power and great glory, and the scenes of the great day of judgment—we should not remain tame and unmoved. “I saw the dead,” John says, “stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”—Letter 8, 1895. VSS 226.1

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Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 353.2

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). I want to sow for time and eternity. My heart hungers and thirsts after righteousness. I want my life hid in Christ Jesus, that my sowing shall bring me the right kind of a harvest. I feel deeply in regard to my own self, for every day, in words or in actions, I am sowing either tares or wheat. I want to sow for time or eternity. I have lived nearly the period of my allotted time, and what shall the harvest be? I want a quiet and unwavering trust in the Most High. I have experienced His protecting care in a remarkable manner when following the path of duty. I want to go down to the grave as a shock of corn fully ripe. I want no complaining in my heart; only gratitude should abide there. God's mercy and His loving-kindness are to be kept, not as a thing out of mind, but as something so precious as never to be forgotten. As eyewitnesses of His majesty we may exalt and praise His holy name. We are with Him in the holy mount. TMK 353.2

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