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Advent 2020: 2 Peter 1:12-21

During the season of Advent, I am translating from Greek to English the weekday epistle readings out of the Daily Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer.

Tuesday, 15 December 2020 2 Peter 1:12-21


The Text

12. It is my intention to remind you always about these things which you have known, and to be steadfast in the arrival of truth. 

13. I consider it proper that as long as I am in this skin, to rouse you with reminders

14. because I know I will lose my skin soon, just as our Lord Jesus Messiah showed me.

15. I will be diligent so that at any time after my exodus you will be able to remember these things.

16. For we do not follow cleverly made myths. Having become spectators of his majesty, we then made known to you the power and presence of the Lord Jesus Messiah.

17. For he received honor and glory from Father God when the voice was carried as it were from majestic glory – “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”

18. We heard this voice from heaven when we had been brought to be with him on the holy mountain.

19. We have the prophetic word, which is even firmer. You would do well to hold onto it as a shining lamp in a gloomy place until the day should dawn and the daystar may rise in your hearts. 

20. First, know this – that all prophetic scripture does not become open to personal interpretation. 

21. No prophecy was brought by a person’s will, but by the Holy Spirit carrying what they spoke from God. 


Commentary

It seems to me Peter views his primary task as that of reminder. He thinks it is proper and right for him to remind them of things, and as long as he lives he will do it. He even goes so far as to say that long after he is gone, he wants what he says to still be a reminder. The word he uses to describe his existence in this world is ‘tent’ or sometimes ‘tabernacle’. Many English renderings use ‘flesh’ but I think ‘skin’, which a tent was a skin of animals, because I think it works well in the parlance of tent making. What’s more, the first four letters in Greek word for ‘tent’ are roughly analogous to the four letters s-k-i-n. I always try to keep cognates if I can.

There is a strong connection in my mind, and if I were preaching this I would pull this out in a very long and probably boring way, with the biblical imagery and metaphors Peter is using. First, he says he is in a tent, and he will soon have an exodus out of that tent. The word exodus means departure, but I chose to keep the transliteration of the Greek here because it should remind the reader of the tents of the Israelites in the desert and also fo the tabernacle for God’s dwelling. Second, later he will reference the Mount of Transfiguration where the glory was revealed. It was there that Peter recommended, according to the Gospels, the erecting of tents for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. Third, Luke tells us that it was on that mountain that Jesus spoke to the two Old Testament heroes about his upcoming exodus, or departure. Fourth, the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle but it was present in Jesus. Peter calls it majestic glory. What a beautiful phrase.

This is the kind of thing Peter is reminding them, and us, about.

As powerful as that memory is for The Fisher Apostle, he puts it behind the prophetic word. The truth of this concept cannot be delineated. Our experiences are interpreted by scripture. We do not interpret scripture by our experiences.


Questions For Application

  1. What thing or things do you continue to keep doing until you ‘lose your skin’?
  2. Once you have your exodus event, what do you want the memory of you to remind people about their own faith journey?
  3. What do you hold on to that is like a lamp in a gloomy place?
  4. What is your favorite part of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)?