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THE SECOND EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 1 - Verse 21
Verse 21. For the prophecy came not in old time. Marg., "or, at any." The Greek word (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. Comp. 2 Ti 3:16. The Greek phrase here (upo pneumatov agiou feromenoi) 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 travelling 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 splendour, 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 for ever and ever." Comp. Re 21:22-24; 22:5.
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