2 Peter 1:12-15 “The Purpose of Remembering”

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you concerning these things, even though you have known them and have been established in the present truth. So, I consider it right, so long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by means of a reminder, knowing that the removal of my tent is swift, just as also our Lord Jesus Christ declared to me. So, I will also always be zealous that after my departure you will be able to call these things to memory.


We have come to something of a bridge in Peter’s letter. The main body of instruction begins in 2:1 and does not end until 3:18a. Peter uses 1:3-11 as a foundation from which to launch into the discussion of false teachers (ch. 2) and the believer’s response (ch. 3). What lies between (1:12-21) is a necessary bridge which contains Peter’s purpose statement for the letter (1:12-15) and an assurance of biblical authority used for this discussion (1:16-21). Structurally, the verses before us form half of the necessary bridge between the letter’s introduction and main argument. Yet there is something more here. The content of 1:12-15 reads like a last will and testament. There is a personal flare here on the part of Peter as he presents his duty and desire from the perspective of a man who is not long for this world. Our explanation of the following verses must be carefully undertaken, for they direct the flow of all that follows.


It is more obvious in the Greek, but even in the English we see a repeated theme of remind/ὑπομιμνῄσκω (v. 12), reminder/ὑπόμνησις (v. 13) and calling to mind/μνήμη (v. 15). We would do well to recognize that Peter’s objective is not to engage the false teachers directly but to remind his readers of the truth. There is always a polemic aspect of ministry but not in the sense of open debate with false teachers. Ministry is directed at the sheep, not the goats. The sheep are warned of error and reminded of the truth. Yet this reminder is not exclusively an intellectual enterprise. The “things” referred to can be summarized as a call for holy living. Peter’s concern is for holiness. His gripe against false teachers lies in the fact that heresy always leads to worldliness. Here, Peter proclaims his purpose and reasons to remind them of “these things.”


The Letter’s Purpose (v. 12)


The initial “Therefore” (διὸ) draws an inference from the entire section that precedes. Peter points to 1:3-11 (Christ’s gracious gift (vv. 3-4), the command to supply the chain of faith (vv. 5-7), and the explanation of the chain’s necessity (vv. 8-11)) as the foundation for this purpose statement. The “things” (τοὺτων) mentioned here are the same “things” (ταῦτα) referred to in vv. 8-11; namely, the virtues listed in vv. 5-7. Peter stands ready to remind his readers (v. 12a) while acknowledging that they are by no means novices (v. 12b).


A Promise to Remind (v. 12a)

Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you concerning these things


This promise is what one would hope for after reading Peter’s argument in vv. 8-11. If “these things” are truly necessary and if they carry the weighty implications already mentioned, then these things must ever be presented before our eyes. Peter’s promise is stated emphatically. The adverb “always” (ἀεὶ) does not indicate that Peter will remind them when he gets an opportunity but constantly and continuously. Peter will make it his life’s ambition to remind them of the necessity of obedient living stemming from a life that has been regenerated and provided for by Jesus Christ. If forgetfulness is indicative of the unregenerate pretender (v. 9), then remembering these things describes the redeemed. A true minister of the gospel will never cease to remind the sheep of the facts and the implications of the gospel. This attitude of Peter is commendable, but is it mostly a symbolic gesture? In the span of a few words, he will acknowledge the nearness of his death. How can he say that he will stand ready always to remind the readers when he will soon be departing this world?


The future tense (μελλήσω) should be taken seriously. Peter is not merely offering a kind gesture but is referring to the impact of the letter being produced.[1] Peter writes this letter, knowing that his hand is guided by God the Holy Spirit and that its contents will be used to encourage and remind the churches until Christ returns to rule and reign. It is in this sense that Peter, through these words, will always be ready to remind them; if they would only read and believe.


Acknowledgement of Faithfulness (v. 12b)

Even though you have known them and have been established in the present truth.


Peter graciously and tenderly acknowledges that his readers are not new to the faith. Two concessive participles, have known (εἰδότας) and have been established (ἐστηριγμένους), explain that this reminder is not an effort to make them understand something new nor to root them in what they have never heard. Peter uses a different term for knowing (οἶδα) than he has used for knowledge (ἐπίγνωσις/γνῶσις). Some pit these two terms against each other by stating that οἶδα refers only to intellectual knowledge while γινώσκω (the verbal cognate of γνῶσις) would include experiential knowledge.


The perfect aspect of these participles indicates a completed action with continuing results. Peter’s audience have already known and been convinced of these things. They currently operate under the conviction that these things are true and necessary. In addition to this knowledge and conviction, they have already been established, rooted, and made firm in the present truth (ἐν τῇ παρούσῃ ἀληθείᾳ). This truth is present in the sense that it is here, it has arrived. This truth is not coming, but is here to know, understand, and believe. Peter’s audience have already been convinced of this truth and have already been established in this truth. Peter does not demean them by calling them ignorant. He affirms their faith but insists upon reminding them of what they are convinced of. This is his promise. From here he presents the reasons why he insists upon always reminding them of what they know and have been established in.


The Apostle’s Rationale (vv. 13-15)


Peter’s urgency is driven by his pending death. In v. 13 he speaks of his duty while he remains alive and the swiftness of his death looms in v. 14. In v. 15, Peter presents his desire for his readers after his death. Peter’s insistence upon always reminding them flows from a rationale that understands he is going to die suddenly. He writes so that these words will remain with the churches long after he is gone.


His Duty While Living (vv. 13-14)

So, I consider it right, so long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by means of a reminder, knowing that the removal of my tent is swift, just as also our Lord Jesus Christ declared to me.


Peter refers to his body as a tent (σκήνωμα), a temporary structure that serves a sojourner or alien well but is no longer necessary when the sojourn is complete, and the alien arrives at his home. By stating that he “considers it right” (δίκαιον δὲ ἡγοῦμαι) Peter is not commenting about the righteousness of his reminder so much as his duty as an apostle of Jesus Christ. It is right and correct, so long as Peter draws breath, that he should endeavor to stir the readers up in order to remind them.


There is a sense of violence in this verb διεγείρω usually translated here as “stir up.” The term means to “wake up” or “arouse.” Mark uses this term to describe Jesus’ being shaken awake by his frightened disciples in the boat (Mk. 4:39) while John uses the term to describe the sea itself beginning to stir as a monster being woken from its peaceful slumber (Jn. 6:18). Peter reminds his readers to keep them from falling into apathetic and lethargic complacency. Peter’s reminder (vv. 3-11) provides the means by which (ἐν) he intends to shake his readers awake and make them alert to the dangers surrounding them. “Peter hoped that his words would stab believers awake so they would reject what the opponents taught. Believers know the gospel, yet they must, in a sense, relearn it every day.[2] This is his apostolic duty while breath remains in his lungs. Peter never considered retiring from the ministry.[3] He endeavors to take this duty seriously, for the day of his demise is not far off.


By stating that his tent will be removed or folded up (ἀπόθεσις), Peter turns to the fact that he will not always be here to provide such reminders. But how should we translate ταχινός (soon/swift) and thus understand Peter’s rationale? There exists a debate whether to understand Peter’s reasons revolving around the swiftness[4] (a sudden and violent death) of his demise or the fact that his demise will occur soon[5] (a death that is imminent and not far off). It seems obvious that Peter’s thoughts turn to the scene described in John 21:18 where Jesus alluded to the fact that Peter would be crucified as an old man. Crucifixion is a swift death in the sense that it abruptly ends one’s life as opposed to sickness or old age that prolongs death for weeks or months. It is in this sense that Peter states that his death is swift. When he will be sentenced to the cross, there will be no chance for appeal or a delay of sentencing. He will receive no further opportunity to write. If he were left on a sickbed, he may be able to dictate additional instruction. But when his death comes, it will come swiftly. He knows this because the Lord Jesus Christ declared these things to him (Jn. 21:18).


Peter again uses the root from οἶδα (εἰδὼς). This knowledge is not merely intellectual for Peter. He is convinced that what the Lord said is true. While he remains alive, Peter will continue to remind them and shake them awake. For when death comes for him, he will no longer be able to write. Yet these words will continue to stand as a reminder long after he has folded up his tent and gone to be with the Lord.


His Desire After Death (v. 15)

So, I will also always be zealous that after my departure you will be able to call these things to memory.


In a sense, Peter repeats his purpose statement from v. 12 while also bringing in his own language from vv. 5 (σπουδὴν) & 10 (σπουδάσατε). The same diligence and zeal that he has demanded of his readers is promised of himself (σπουδάσω). The future tense is used again in the same manner as v. 12. What will follow in this letter contains Peter’s zeal and so long as it is read, understood, and obeyed will always call these things to memory. There is no need to look for an intention to write again or to some other written message that Peter commissioned. His readers have only to read and reread this letter so that Peter will always zealously stir up their memories of these things.


Peter refers to his departure, or death, as his exodus (ἔξοδος), a term only used three times in the New Testament. Paul uses the term to refer to Israel’s exodus from Egypt (Heb. 11:22) and Luke describes Jesus’ death which would be accomplished in Jerusalem (Lk. 9:31). The use in Luke is interesting because the context consists of the conversation between Moses, Elijah, and the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration. It seems that this term serves as a bridge into the context of 1:16-18. Peter does not speak of death as the end, but as a movement from one location to another. Just as Yhwh removed the nation of Israel from Egypt, so too will Peter be swiftly removed from his sojourn. As such, he urgently seeks to arouse his readers to a level of alertness by reminding them of what they already are convinced of and have been established in. What we read as “call these things to memory” translates the third reference to remind/reminder/memory (μνήμη) in this section. “Peter does not put off what he has to say; that would not be right. His readers need only reread these chapters at any time and thus ‘effect for themselves the recollection of these things.’[6] This verse truly is a preamble for what follows.


Conclusion


The key to combating false teaching has very little to do with engaging with false teachers so much as it consists of constant, consistent, and continuous drilling the saints in the truth. While we acknowledge that we will never plumb the depths of God’s Word, and in that sense, it feels like we are always learning something new. Yet the life of a disciple is a life of being reminded of what we already have been convinced of and established in. The duty of the preacher is not to bring something new every Lord’s Day but to open up the Scriptures and remind the sheep of the things they have known and been convinced of ever since the Lord redeemed them and gave them everything for life and godliness. With these constant reminders, false teachers should have a chance. It is when shepherds neglect this sacred duty that wolves enter the fold and wreak havoc. May we be ever diligent and zealous in our calling to remind the sheep. And may the sheep be aroused to alertness by these calls.


How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,

is laid for your faith in His excellent Word.

What more can He say than to you He hath said,

to you, who to Jesus for refuge have fled?


Soli Deo Gloria!

[1] D. Edmond Hiebert, Second Peter and Jude: An Expositional Commentary (Greensville, South Carolina: BJU Press, 1989), p. 64. [2] Thomas Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003), p. 309. [3] Hiebert, p. 65-6. [4] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of The Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), p. 282. [5] Schreiner, p. 309. [6] Lenski, p. 283-4.

37 views