2 Peter 1:16-19 (NLT)
For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.
V16, The closing verses of chapter 1 deal with the certainty of Christ’s coming in glory. Peter deals first with the certainty of the apostolic witness, then with the certainty of the prophetic word. It is as if Peter joins the NT and the OT, and tells his readers to cling to this united testimony.
He emphasizes that the apostles’ testimony was based on fact, not on myth. They did not follow cleverly devised fables or myths when they made known to the readers the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The specific event to which he refers is the Transfiguration of Christ on the mount. It was witnessed by three of the apostles—Peter, James, and John. The power and coming is a literary way of saying “the coming in power,” or “powerful coming.” The Transfiguration was a preview of Christ’s coming in power to reign over all the earth. This is made clear in Matthew’s account of the event. In Matthew 16:28 Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” The very next verses (17:1–8) describe the Transfiguration. On the mount, Peter, James, and John saw the Lord Jesus in the same glory He will have when He reigns for one thousand years. Before they died, those three apostles saw the Son of Man in the glory of His coming kingdom. Thus the Lord’s words in Matthew 16:28 were fulfilled in 17:1–8.
Now Peter is emphatic that the apostolic account of the Transfiguration was not based on fables (in Greek, myths). This is the word that some modern theologians are using in their attack on the Bible. They are suggesting that we should “demythologize” the Scriptures.
To refute the charge of myths, Peter gives three proofs of the Transfiguration: the testimony of sight; the testimony of hearing; and the testimony of physical presence.
As to sight, the apostles were eyewitnesses of the Lord’s majesty. John testified, “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14).
V17, Then there was the testimony of hearing. The apostles heard the voice of God saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This audible expression of honor for the Lord Jesus came to Him from the Excellent Glory, that is, from the bright, shining glory cloud, called the Shekinah, which symbolized the presence of God.
V18, Speaking of James, John, and himself, Peter emphasizes that they distinctly heard the voice of God when they were with the Lord on the holy mountain. Here is the testimony of three witnesses, which according to Matthew 18:16 is authoritative and competent.
Finally, Peter adds the testimony of physical appearance: we were with Him on the holy mountain. It was a real-life situation; there could be no question about that.
We do not know the mountain on which the Transfiguration took place. If it were identifiable, it would probably be littered with shrines by now. It is called the holy mountain not because it was intrinsically sacred but because it was set apart as the site for this sacred event.
V19, And so we have the prophetic word confirmed. The OT prophets had predicted Christ’s coming in power and great glory. The events on the mount of Transfiguration confirmed those prophecies. What the apostles saw did not set aside the OT prophecies or make them any more certain, but simply added confirmation to the predictions. The apostles were given an advance glimpse of the glory of Christ’s future kingdom.
F. W. Grant’s translation of the rest of verse 19 is helpful. “… to which ye do well in taking heed (as to a lamp that shineth in an obscure place, until the day dawn and the morning star ariseth) in your hearts.” Notice Grant’s use of the parenthesis. According to his translation, we should link heed with in your hearts. In other words, we should pay attention in our hearts. In the NKJV and many other versions, the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, and this presents practical difficulties of interpretation.
The prophetic word is the shining light. The dismal or dark place is the world. The dawning of day signals the end of this present Church Age (Rom. 13:12). The rising of the morning star pictures Christ’s coming for His saints. Thus the sense of the passage is that we should always keep the prophetic word before us, treasuring it in our hearts, for it will serve as a light in this dark world until the age is ended and Christ appears in the clouds to take His waiting people home to heaven.