The issue of Christ future return is the dominate theological issue of 2 Peter. In 2 Peter 1:16-21, Peter answers this fundamental question: HOW DO WE REALLY KNOW THAT JESUS IS GOING TO RETURN?
The reality is that most of us don’t believe or live as if Jesus is going to return or that He could return at any moment. On most occasions we’ve grown numb to it.
If Satan can get you and I to doubt the reality of the future return of Christ and numb us into living as if Christ return is just some farfetched concocted myth with no real transforming effect in our lives, Satan’s AK47 is locked and loaded at the Kingdom of God. Satan’s aim from Genesis 3 has been dead set on destroying God’s perfect Kingdom –and so in the Garden of Eden he got Adam and Eve to doubt and disobey God’s word – he got them to doubt God’s rule and authority in their lives. It was an attempt to deconstruct God’s Kingdom.
In 2 Peter 1: 16-21 are two evidences that prove the return of Christ and the establishement of His eternal Kingdom.
In verses 16-18 we have evidence #1 for Christ Return: The Transfiguration
In verses 19-21 we have evidence #2 for Christ Return: Prophecy
Evidence #1 of Christ Return: Transfiguration (16-18)
From verse 16 we learn that there were false teachers accusing the apostles of teaching a myth about Jesus return. The false teachers were not the ones promoting the myth. No, the false teachers simply did not believe Jesus was coming back at all. Instead, the apostles were being accused of teaching a myth by the false teachers. And so Peter addresses this head on in verse 16: “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made know to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
So evidence #1 is Peter’s personal eye-witness and ear-witness account of the Transfiguration.
Now at first glance this is seems like an odd piece of evidence to prove the future return of Christ. Why not write about Jesus resurrection from the dead? Why not bring up Jesus ascension into heaven, when an angel promised that He would come back (Acts 1:9-11)? Those two things seem to be stronger evidences for the return of Christ… but not to Peter. When seeking to prove the absolute certainty of Christ return, his mind jumps to the Transfiguration as concrete evidence that Jesus will return. So what must we understand about the Transfiguration that led Peter to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus would return in glory?
As the name suggests, the Transfiguration involved a “transformation”, a change in Jesus appearance, but the transformation that took place revealed Jesus true nature. Jesus glorious and majestic nature is hidden during His earthly life. Jesus was not walking around with huge neon signs above Him with the words MESSIAH. He did not float around like an angel – no His true nature was hidden during His earthly life. However, at the Transfiguration, when Jesus’ faced was changed, shining like the sun and His clothes became dazzling white, the veil of Jesus human flesh was pulled back for Peter, James, and John to see glory and power of the Kingdom of God in the person of Jesus. Right before each of the gospel narrative accounts of the Transfiguration, Jesus strangely says that there will be some standing there who will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God, or the Son of Man coming in power. The best way to understand this is that Peter, James, and John were those who would not die until they saw with their own eyes the power of God’s Kingdom at the Transfiguration. What they saw at the Transfiguration was not just Jesus glowing clothes and sun tanned face but what they saw was THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN THE PERSON OF JESUS. That leads to the second piece of evidence.
Evidence #2 of Christ Return: Prophecy (19-21)
Also testifying to Jesus appearance at the end of history are the Old Testament prophets. The context suggests that most likely Peter is specifically pointing to Old Testament prophecies that speak about the kingdom that is to be established at the end of history when the Messiah returns in glory. According to verses 20-21, the prophecies that were produced about this universal kingdom did not come about by the will of man but they were speaking God’s words as they were being carried along by the Holy Spirit. They were speaking of things that had yet to be fulfilled but their prophecies were not their own concocted myths or legends, they were speaking the very words of God.
The connection then between the Transfiguration and Old Testament prophecy is seen in v. 19 – and we have something more sure, the prophetic word. At the Transfiguration he saw the Messiah. He now connects Jesus to the Old Testament predictions about a future kingdom established by the Messiah. So his personal eyewitness account of the Transfiguration gives to the Old Testament prophecies an even greater certainty than they had before – if they had any doubt in their mind about Old Testament predictions regarding the 2nd coming of Christ, those predictions are now more sure because of Peter’s eyewitness account of the Transfiguration. Although it may appear that Christ is delaying a long time in returning, He will one day return.
Right now we have an enemy, in Satan, who continues to attack God’s kingdom, and he will use whatever dirty tactics he can to get you and I to doubt the evidence regarding the future establishment of His kingdom. We have the same evidence that the readers of this letter did. We have Peter’s eyewitness account of the Transfiguration, proving that Jesus was the Messiah, and we have the prophecies of the Old Testament which explain a universal kingdom established by the Mesiah.
Will we pay attention to the evidence? Or will we ignore it? Even more, what impact does that make on how we live our lives waiting?