The apostle Peter wrote, “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16). False teachers can be cunning. Some have vivid imaginations that they use to fabricate elaborate tales. But the imaginations of men are not the source of the account of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. His advent, life, teaching, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension are not fables. They were not made up, but were witnessed by honest men.
The coming in 2 Peter 1:16 is the Lord’s first coming of which the apostles, including Peter, were eyewitnesses. Peter was one of the privileged three (the other two being James and John) to ascend the mountain where Jesus was transfigured, his face shining as the sun, and his clothing becoming white as light (Matthew 17:1-5). Peter goes on to mention the testimony God gave of His Son on that occasion, “For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (2 Peter 1:17-18). Peter saw the transfiguration with his own eyes. He heard the words of the Father with his own ears.
The conclusion Peter draws from witnessing these supernatural events is, “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed,” (2 Peter 1:19). What the Old Testament prophets said concerning Jesus Christ was confirmed by events such as the Transfiguration which the apostles witnessed while accompanying the Lord during His earthly ministry.
Peter goes on to tell us how the Old Testament, and the whole Bible for that matter, was written. He reiterates what he had declared in verse 16 by writing, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,” (2 Peter 1:20). The subject of this verse is not what one does with Scripture in interpreting, but rather how Scripture came about. The words “is of” in 2 Peter 1:10 come from the Greek word ginomai, which means “comes from.” The Scriptures did not come from man’s imagination or private interpretation; the Scriptures are not “cunningly devised fables.” This is even more evident when we read on to the next verse. Peter shows how prophecy, God’s revelation to man in the Scriptures, came about when he writes in verse 21, “for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Peter himself was writing this epistle because he was guided by the Holy Spirit, whose coming Jesus promised (John 16:13).
This confirmed word from God ought to get our attention. Peter noted the proper response to this confirmed word, writing, “which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). Just as we would notice a bright light if we were in the dark, so God’s confirmed word ought to arrest our attention in a world of darkness. As we grow in our appreciation of God’s word, light will fill our minds. The day will dawn and the morning star will arise in our hearts. Take some time this week to appreciate God’s word and let the light in (Psalm 119:130).
Clement was an elder at the congregation of the Lord’s church at Rome. His letter to the Corinthian church, written around AD 95, is widely considered to be the earliest Christian writing outside of the New Testament that we have today. The Bible is inspired of God and gives us all the necessary information to be saved (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3). Letters like Clement’s, though not inspired and authoritative, give us historical glimpses that corroborate the picture of early Christianity before many departures from the ancient order took place. Note this interesting passage:
The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ was sent forth from God. So then Christ is from God, and the Apostles are from Christ. Both therefore came of the will of God in the appointed order. Having therefore received a charge, and having been fully assured through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and confirmed in the word of God with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth with the glad tidings that the kingdom of God should come. So preaching everywhere in country and town, they appointed their first-fruits, when they had proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons unto them that should believe.
The chain of authority is important to consider: God, Jesus, the Apostles, Bishops and Deacons. The New Testament gives details concerning this chain because God wanted His people to follow the proper authority and stay with the pure Gospel He had given. Jesus spoke only what the Father gave. In John 12:50, He said, “And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” The apostles were to be guided by the Holy Spirit into all truth — to recall all that Jesus had said unto them while present with them and to be taught the many things Jesus did not say to them during His earthly ministry because they could not at that time bear them (Jn. 14:25-26; 16:12-15). The apostles were witnesses of the resurrection (Acts 1:22); an event that provided evidence so convincing that even the skeptical Saul, when he saw the Lord, repented of his persecution, was baptized to wash away his sins, and began preaching the resurrection (Acts 22:3-21; 26:12-23; 1 Cor. 9:1; Gal. 1:23). The resurrection gave assurance to the apostles who went forth to preach the gospel to all nations as Christ commanded (Matt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15-16). Just as Jesus said the kingdom was nearby (Mt. 4:17; Lk. 16:16; 22:29), the apostles preached the kingdom (Acts 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23, 31). The first-century converts were in the realm of the kingdom (Col. 1:13), yet there is a sense in which they were preparing to enter the everlasting kingdom of heaven (Acts 14:22; Heb. 12:28; 2 Pet. 1:11). Among those in each city who had received this word and brought forth fruit, the apostles appointed elders and deacons (Acts 14:23; Phil. 1:1). The caliber of men appointed to these works is described in Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-13.
How drastically different is the picture of many churches today. Some churches have their own contemporary “apostles” who have not witnessed the resurrection of our Lord. They look to these men for revelation rather than the complete truth revealed to the true apostles of Christ in the first century, preserved for us in the New Testament. Many churches have an entire hierarchy with directors over multiple congregations and/or have one pastor over each congregation rather than the organization of the first-century church. It is no wonder then that many doctrines are taught today that cannot be found in the once-for-all-delivered faith of the New Testament for which we should earnestly contend (Jude 3). They are not respecting the authoritative message, but looking to different authorities who teach different doctrines. Let us respect the authority of God by following the gospel of the Lord Jesus delivered to all the world in the first century by the apostles and maintained at the local level by men, qualified according to the standard of the Scriptures, who watch for our souls.
 Clement of Rome, Corinthians, 42