Memories of Jesus – 2 Peter 1:12-15

This paragraph is like a “last testament” for Peter. He knows he will be executed soon and he wants to encourage the readers to keep what he has said in mind even after he is gone. Some of the language here is “stock language” used in last testaments, both in the Bible and I the literature of the Second Temple period.

The prediction of Peter’s martyrdom at the end of John’s gospel generated a number of extra-biblical legends about
the kind of death Peter would experience, including a legend that Peter met the resurrected Jesus on the road to Rome and Jesus told him he was about to be Caravaggio - Crucifixion of Petercrucified (Acts of Peter). There is nothing historical in these stories since the point of Jesus’ prediction was only to tell Peter that his faith was not weak and that he would persevere all the way to the end.

In 2 Peter, he uses a vivid metaphor for death, he will soon be putting off the “tent of his body.” This phrase is usually associated with Bedouin who pack up their tent when they are ready to move on to a new location.  Peter knows the time is near for him to leave be body and move on to what is next.

Since he knows he is about to die, Peter wants his readers to remember his personal testimony about Jesus. This would include his ethical teaching in the previous chapter he also is looking ahead to the personal testimony in the next few verses, that he was a witness to the transfiguration. For many of his readers, Peter will be a last connection to the life of Jesus. An eyewitness was respected more than a written source by many in the ancient world, so Peter wants his readers to remember what he is about to tell them in the next paragraph.

He wants to “stir up” his readers “by way of a reminder” (ESV). To “stir up” (διεγείρω) is a word used for rousing someone from sleep, to “awaken” a thought in the mind of the readers. The noun (ὑπόμνησις) is a reminder, so the meaning here is to awaken a particular thought. Think of this as a trigger for a flood of memories. Peter’s goal is to provide a trigger in the minds of his readers so they recall what he has taught them about Jesus and living an exemplary life. Alluding to the story of the transfiguration is part of that trigger.

Likewise, the phrase “make remembrance” (μνήμη, v. 15) refers to a memorial, a marker set up to remember someone or a special event.  Some of my students create elaborate mnemonic devices to recall things for quizzes. I know this because they write random letters in the margins to help remember things, although sometimes remember the crazy word or sentence, but forget the thing they were supposed to remember in the first place! Peter’s words are to be like a memorial stone set up to remind people of the ethical teaching in the previous paragraph and the glorious revelation of Jesus in the following.

This “last testament” of Peter is a way of introducing the main goals of the rest of the letter. Peter wants his readers to recall his testimony about Jesus and his return in the face of opponents of the apostolic teaching about the return of Jesus.

10 thoughts on “Memories of Jesus – 2 Peter 1:12-15

  1. It is interesting to me that Peter seems to know of his death. He seems to be expecting it. It is remarkable that his last words, or even the last few memories about him a directed back to Christ. I think of people today living a life so that they can make a name for themselves, but not dying to spread the name of Christ. It would be interesting if Christianity made a turn to live it out (as James brings up) and die to self rather than live for self and die to God.

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  2. I think that the fact that Peter references the transfiguration in his final letter is proof that he did indeed write this letter. Opponents who come against this letter for being pseudonymous I think really overlook the prophetic work of the Holy Spirit. I think that Peter is wise to encourage his readers to “recall”. As human beings, it is in our nature to forget. This is why patterns are such a huge part of Scripture, to help us remember. In the Old Testament, it was the festivals and sacrifices, in the New Testament, it is the remembrance of the Lord’s Supper. Peter, in recording his eyewitness account of Jesus’ transfiguration, is reminding his readers that he knew Jesus and His teachings, and that Peter’s own teachings had that backbone as authority.

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  3. Since Peter’s efforts, his ministry, his life’s work is nearing an end, he is lead to contemplate his impact on those he will leave behind. As an eyewitness of the life of Christ, Peter’s faith is strong, and he wants others to remain “firmly established in the truth” when he is gone (2 Peter 1:12). Peter chooses his words carefully. knowing this is likely his last letter to those under his guidance.
    My dad is a pastor and has been in the ministry since 1952. He still preaches God’s Word every week, and he prays for many people who have been under his care throughout the years. Right around the time he turned 80, my dad seemed to become more intentional in the things he says to each of us. Conversations are more meaningful, prayers are more personal, and each goodbye is given a little more thought… just in case it’s our last. Like Peter, he wants to share what’s most important, encourage us in our faith, and be sure we’ll stay strong after he’s gone.
    Near the end of his life, Peter makes “every effort” to see that after his departure they will “always be able to remember these things” (2 Peter 1:15). He is living and speaking and ministering intentionally, giving thought to the future of those under his care. “His major concern as he writes is to warn his readers about destructive heresies that will enter the church after his demise” (Jobes 369). Remembering Peter’s testimony of Jesus will help them stay strong in their faith in the face of adversity.

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  4. I liked how meticulously analyzed this small passage was. I think it is important to take notice in the verses shortly after that as well. I can only put myself in Peters shoes as he contemplates his own death and then shares his teachings to the churches. As he is thinking about his final days he is also thinking about what he ought to tell the truth. I think that this puts a severity of false teachers in the church at this time. Peter calls them myths in verse 16 and he tells the people how deceitful others can be and how the church has kept away from them (v. 16c). Jobes makes a credible point about this verse by saying that Jesus’ transfiguration was a mere vision of his power at the future second coming (Jobes, 373-374). Peter warns us about false teachers in the later verses and many of them deny Jesus’ transfiguration. This is an interesting book to attempt dissection but a little out of my own league. I find it interesting that these are the final thoughts of Peter before he died considering the setting and audience at the time.

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  5. Legacy is a very important thing, and it is something we do not necessarily think about very often. According to Jobes, 2 Peter was primarily written to keep the truth of Jesus established and avoid the heresies that were starting to spread (pg 369); to prevent the things he had seen from being wasted. Who would have thought that centuries later, people would be reading of his story and his letters? I certainly doubt he would. How much then should we keep in mind what we leave behind? What is it that we have experienced that we want to make sure those who remain know and can tell? While is it not a comfortable thought, I believe it is certainly worth thinking about.

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  6. Peter did not care if people knew all the details about his story. He wanted everyone to know about Christ. He wanted to make sure that Christ’s testimony was clear and not questionable. He wanted to make sure the truth of Jesus lived. Peter was big on making sure that heresies did not exist. It is crazy that he knew his death was underway, but still remained a faithful servant, just like Jesus predicted. Peter wanted to make sure that Jesus’ legacy goes on and not necessarily his own.

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  7. Personal Testimonies should always tell a little something about yourself and your life before Christ but mainly should glorify Christ himself and the power he has to transform ones life. What strikes me the most about Peters attitude during all of this is similar to what Taylor said, that even though he knew deep down that his days in his earthly body were coming to an end, he knew his life’s purpose was still to remain faithful to Christ and that his personal legacy reflected Jesus Christ. It is Peter’s recognition of the Holy Spirit in the production of Scripture that allows Peter to refer to Paul’s writing as he does. (Jobes, 374). It’s God working in Peters life to understand who he is as a person and how his life should be lived out. Jesus Christ is the reflection and image. Jesus truly is the perfect model.

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  8. Peter’s example of dying as a martyr for Christ is amazing. The fact that Peter knew his time was coming, but used his ability to write to stir up those who would read his words was amazing. The objective was to awaken them as if they had fell asleep. Peter of all would know what it was like to sleep on Christ. He denied Christ 3 different times, but we see this come full circle so much so to the point he makes his readers remember Christ through his example of death on the cross. Peter now stirs the heart of millions of believers world-wide because of his actions.

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