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2 Peter 1:21

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

For the prophecy came not in old time - That is, in any former time, by the will of man - by a man's own searching, conjecture, or calculation; but holy men of God - persons separated from the world, and devoted to God's service, spake, moved by the Holy Ghost. So far were they from inventing these prophetic declarations concerning Christ, or any future event, that they were φερομενοι, carried away, out of themselves and out of the whole region, as it were, of human knowledge and conjecture, by the Holy Ghost, who, without their knowing any thing of the matter, dictated to them what to speak, and what to write; and so far above their knowledge were the words of the prophecy, that they did not even know the intent of those words, but searched what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. See 1 Peter 1:11, 1 Peter 1:12, and the notes there.

  1. As the writer of this epistle asserts that he was on the holy mount with Christ when he was transfigured, he must be either Peter, James, or John, for there was no other person present on that occasion except Moses and Elijah, in their glorious bodies. The epistle was never attributed to James nor John; but the uninterrupted current, where its Divine inspiration was granted, gave it to Peter alone. See the preface.
  • It is not unfrequent for the writers of the New Testament to draw a comparison between the Mosaic and Christian dispensations; and the comparison generally shows that, glorious as the former was, it had no glory in comparison of the glory that excelleth. St. Peter seems to touch here on the same point; the Mosaic dispensation, with all the light of prophecy by which it was illustrated, was only as a lamp shining in a dark place. There is a propriety and delicacy in this image that are not generally noticed: a lamp in the dark gives but a very small portion of light, and only to those who are very near to it; yet it always gives light enough to make itself visible, even at a great distance; though it enlightens not the space between it and the beholder, it is still literally the lamp shining in a dark place. Such was the Mosaic dispensation; it gave a little light to the Jews, but shone not to the Gentile world, any farther than to make itself visible. This is compared with the Gospel under the emblem of daybreak, and the rising of the sun. When the sun is even eighteen degrees below the horizon daybreak commences, as the rays of light begin then to diffuse themselves in our atmosphere, by which they are reflected upon the earth. By this means a whole hemisphere is enlightened, though but in a partial degree; yet this increasing every moment, as the sun approaches the horizon, prepares for the full manifestation of his resplendent orb: so the ministry of John Baptist, and the initiatory ministry of Christ himself, prepared the primitive believers for his full manifestation on the day of pentecost and afterwards. Here the sun rose in his strength, bringing light, heat, and life to all the inhabitants of the earth. So far, then, as a lantern carried in a dark night differs from and is inferior to the beneficial effects of daybreak, and the full light and heat of a meridian sun; so far was the Mosaic dispensation, in its beneficial effects, inferior to the Christian dispensation.
  • Perhaps there is scarcely any point of view in which we can consider prophecy which is so satisfactory and conclusive as that which is here stated; that is, far from inventing the subject of their own predictions, the ancient prophets did not even know the meaning of what themselves wrote. They were carried beyond themselves by the influence of the Divine Spirit, and after ages were alone to discover the object of the prophecy; and the fulfillment was to be the absolute proof that the prediction was of God, and that it was of no private invention - no discovery made by human sagacity and wisdom, but by the especial revelation of the all-wise God. This is sufficiently evident in all the prophecies which have been already fulfilled, and will be equally so in those yet to be fulfilled; the events will point out the prophecy, and the prophecy will be seen to be fulfilled in that event.
  • Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    For the prophecy came not in old time - Margin, or, “at any.” The Greek word ( ποτὲ pote) will bear either construction. It would be true in either sense, but the reference is particularly to the recorded prophecies in the Old Testament. What was true of them, however, is true of all prophecy, that it is not by the will of man. The word “prophecy” here is without the article, meaning prophecy in general - all that is prophetic in the Old Testament; or, in a more general sense still, all that the prophets taught, whether relating to future events or not.

    By the will of man - It was not of human origin; not discovered by the human mind. The word “will,” here seems to be used in the sense of “prompting” or “suggestion;” men did not speak by their own suggestion, but as truth was brought to them by God.

    But holy men of God - Pious men commissioned by God, or employed by him as his messengers to mankind.

    Spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost - Compare 2 Timothy 3:16. The Greek phrase here ( ὑπὸ Πνεύματος Ἁγίου φερόμενος hupo Pneumatos Hagiou pheromenos) means “borne along, moved, influenced” by the Holy Ghost. The idea is, that in what they spake they were “carried along” by an influence from above. They moved in the case only as they were moved; they spake only as the influence of the Holy Ghost was upon them. They were no more self-moved than a vessel at sea is that is impelled by the wind; and as the progress made by the vessel is to be measured by the impulse bearing upon it, so the statements made by the prophets are to be traced to the impulse which bore upon their minds. They were not, indeed, in all respects like such a vessel, but only in regard to the fact that all they said as prophets was to be traced to the foreign influence that bore upon their minds.

    There could not be, therefore, a more decided declaration than this in proof that the prophets were inspired. If the authority of Peter is admitted, his positive and explicit assertion settles the question. if this be so, also, then the point with reference to which he makes this observation is abundantly confirmed, that the prophecies demand our earnest attention, and that we should give all the heed to them which we would to a light or lamp when traveling in a dangerous way, and in a dark night. In a still more general sense, the remark here made may also be applied to the whole of the Scriptures. We are in a dark world. We see few things clearly; and all around us, on a thousand questions, there is the obscurity of midnight. By nature there is nothing to cast light on those questions, and we are perplexed, bewildered, embarrassed. The Bible is given to us to shed light on our way.

    It is the only light which we have respecting the future, and though it does not give all the information which we might desire in regard to what is to come, yet it gives us sufficient light to guide us to heaven. It teaches us what it is necessary to know about God, about our duty, and about the way of salvation, in order to conduct us safely; and no one who has committed himself to its direction, has been suffered to wander finally away from the paths of salvation. It is, therefore, a duty to attend to the instructions which the Bible imparts, and to commit ourselves to its holy guidance in our journey to a better world: for soon, if we are faithful to its teachings, the light of eternity will dawn upon us, and there, amidst its cloudless splendor, we shall see as we are seen, and know as we are known; then we shall “need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God shall give us light, and we shall reign forever and ever.” Compare Revelation 21:22-24; Revelation 22:5.

    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 Great Controversy, 5-7

    Before the entrance of sin, Adam enjoyed open communion with his Maker; but since man separated himself from God by transgression, the human race has been cut off from this high privilege. By the plan of redemption, however, a way has been opened whereby the inhabitants of the earth may still have connection with heaven. God has communicated with men by His Spirit, and divine light has been imparted to the world by revelations to His chosen servants. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21. GC v.1

    During the first twenty-five hundred years of human history, there was no written revelation. Those who had been taught of God, communicated their knowledge to others, and it was handed down from father to son, through successive generations. The preparation of the written word began in the time of Moses. Inspired revelations were then embodied in an inspired book. This work continued during the long period of sixteen hundred years—from Moses, the historian of creation and the law, to John, the recorder of the most sublime truths of the gospel. GC v.2

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 944-6

    6. Temperance Precedes Patience—“And to temperance patience.” An intemperate man never can be a patient man. Temperance comes first, and then patience (Manuscript 49, 1894). 7BC 944.1

    10 (John 1:12; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20; 1 Peter 1:2, 18-20; see EGW on Romans 11:4-6; Ephesians 1:4, 5, 11; Hebrews 7:25). Election Price Paid for All—There could be no such thing as one not prepared for heaven entering heaven. There is no such thing as a human being sanctified and fitted for the heavenly kingdom not having an election to that kingdom. God elects those who have been working on the plan of addition. The explanation is given in the first chapter of Second Peter. For every human being, Christ has paid the election price. No one need be lost. All have been redeemed. To those who receive Christ as a personal Saviour will be given power to become the sons and daughters of God. An eternal life insurance policy has been provided for all. 7BC 944.2

    Whom God elects, Christ redeems. The Saviour has paid the redemption price for every soul. We are not our own; for we are bought with a price. From the Redeemer, who from the foundation of the world has chosen us, we receive the insurance policy that entitles us to eternal life (Letter 53, 1904). 7BC 944.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Selected Messages Book 2, 112

    According to the light God has given me, this is the work which you, Brother F, have been attempting to do. Your views have found favor with some; but it is because these persons have not discernment to see the true bearing of the arguments you present. They have had but a limited experience in the work of God for this time, and they do not see where your views would lead them, and you do not see yourself where they would lead. They are ready to assent to your statements; they see nothing in them but that which is correct. But they are misled because you have woven together much Scripture in constructing your theory. Your arguments appear conclusive to them. 2SM 112.1

    Not so, however, with those who have an experimental knowledge of the truth that applies in the last period of this earth's history. While they see that you hold some precious truth, they see also that you have misapplied Scripture, placing it in a framework of error where it does not belong, and making it give force to that which is not present truth. Because some accept that which you have written, do not become elated. It is most trying to your brethren who have confidence in you as a Christian and who love you as such, to state to you that the network of argument, which you have thought of so great consequence, is not the theory of truth that God has given His people to proclaim for this time. 2SM 112.2

    The light God has given me is that the Scriptures you have woven together you yourself do not fully understand. If you did, you would discern that your theories tear up the very foundation of our faith. 2SM 112.3

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    Ellen G. White
    Selected Messages Book 3, 30.3

    Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy Have Same Author—The Holy Ghost is the author of the Scriptures and of the Spirit of Prophecy. These are not to be twisted and turned to mean what man may want them to mean, to carry out man's ideas and sentiments, to carry forward man's schemes at all hazards.—Letter 92, 1900. 3SM 30.3

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