on 2-peter 1 :16
Cunningly devised fables - Σεσοφισμενοις μυθοις. I think, with Macknight and others, from the apostle's using εποπται, eye witnesses, or rather beholders, in the end of the verse, it is probable that he means those cunningly devised fables among the heathens, concerning the appearance of their gods on earth in human form. And to gain the greater credit to these fables, the priests and statesmen instituted what they called the mysteries of the gods, in which the fabulous appearance of the gods was represented in mystic shows. But one particular show none but the fully initiated were permitted to behold; hence they were entitled εποπται, beholders. This show was probably some resplendent image of the god, imitating life, which, by its glory, dazzled the eyes of the beholders, while their ears were ravished by hymns sung in its praise; to this it was natural enough for St. Peter to allude, when speaking about the transfiguration of Christ. Here the indescribably resplendent majesty of the great God was manifested, as far as it could be, in conjunction with that human body in which the fullness of the Divinity dwelt. And we, says the apostle, were εποπται, beholders, της εκεινου μεγαλειοτητος, of his own majesty. Here was no trick, no feigned show; we saw him in his glory whom thousands saw before and afterwards; and we have made known to you the power and coming, παρουσιαν, the appearance and presence, of our Lord Jesus; and we call you to feel the exceeding greatness of this power in your conversion, and the glory of this appearance in his revelation by the power of his Spirit to your souls. These things we have witnessed, and these things ye have experienced: and therefore we can confidently say that neither you nor we have followed cunningly devised fables, but that blessed Gospel which is the power of God to the salvation of every one that believes.
on 2-peter 1 :16
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables - That is, fictions or stories invented by artful men, and resting on no solid foundation. The doctrines which they held about the coming of the Saviour were not, like many of the opinions of the Greeks, defended by weak and sophistical reasoning, but were based on solid evidence - evidence furnished by the personal observation of competent witnesses. It is true of the gospel, in general, that it is not founded on cunningly devised fables; but the particular point referred to here is the promised coming of the Saviour. The evidence of that fact Peter proposes now to adduce.
When we made known unto you - Probably Peter here refers particularly to statements respecting the coming of the Saviour in his first epistle, 1 Peter 1:5, 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13; but this was a common topic in the preaching, and in the epistles, of the apostles. It may, therefore, have referred to statements made to them at some time in his preaching, as well as to what he said in his former epistle. The apostles laid great stress on the second coming of the Saviour, and often dwelt upon it. Compare 1 Thessalonians 4:16; Notes, Acts 1:11.
The power and coming - These two words refer to the same thing; and the meaning is, his "powerful coming," or his "coming in power." The advent of the Saviour is commonly represented as connected with the exhibition of power. Matthew 24:30, "coming in the clouds of heaven, with power." See the notes at that verse. Compare Luke 22:69; Mark 3:9. The "power" evinced will be by raising the dead; summoning the world to judgment; determining the destiny of men, etc. When the coming of the Saviour, therefore, was referred to by the apostles in their preaching, it was probably always in connection with the declaration that it would be accompanied by exhibitions of great power and glory - as it undoubtedly will be. The fact that the Lord Jesus would thus return, it is clear, had been denied by some among those to whom this epistle was addressed, and it was important to state the evidence on which it was to be believed. The grounds on which they denied it 2 Peter 3:4 were, that there were no appearances of his approach; that the premise had not been fulfilled; that all things continued as they had been; and that the affairs of the world moved on as they always had done. To meet and counteract this error - an error which so prevailed that many were in danger of "falling from their own steadfastness" 2 Peter 3:17 - Peter states the proof on which he believed in the coming of the Saviour.
But were eye-witnesses of his majesty - On the mount of transfiguration, Matthew 17:1-5. See the notes at that passage. That transfiguration was witnessed only by Peter, James, and John. But it may be asked, how the facts there witnessed demonstrate the point under consideration - that the Lord Jesus will come with power? To this it may be replied:
(1) that these apostles had there such a view of the Saviour in his glory as to convince them beyond doubt that he was the Messiah.
(2) that there was a direct attestation given to that fact by a voice from heaven, declaring that he was the beloved Son of God.
(3) that that transfiguration was understood to have an important reference to the coming of the Saviour in his kingdom and his glory, and was designed to be a representation of the manner in which he would then appear. This is referred to distinctly by each one of the three evangelists who have mentioned the transfiguration. Matthew 16:28, "there be some standing here which shall not taste of death until they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom;" Mark 9:1-2; Luke 9:27-28. The transfiguration which occurred soon after these words were spoken was designed to show them what he would be in his glory, and to furnish to them a demonstration which they could never forget, that he would yet set up his kingdom in the world.
(4) they had in fact such a view of him as he would be in his kingdom, that they could entertain no doubt on the point; and the fact, as it impressed their own minds, they made known to others. The evidence as it lay in Peter's mind was, that that transfiguration was designed to furnish proof to them that the Messiah would certainly appear in glory, and to give them a view of him as coming to reign which would never fade from their memory. As that had not yet been accomplished, he maintained that the evidence was clear that it must occur at some future time. As the transfiguration was with reference to his coming in his kingdom, it was proper for Peter to use it with that reference, or as bearing on that point.
on 2-peter 1 :16
1:16 These things are worthy to be always had in remembrance For they are not cunningly devised fables - Like those common among the heathens. While we made known to you the power and coming - That is, the powerful coming of Christ in glory. But if what they advanced of Christ was not true, if it was of their own invention, then to impose such a lie on the world as it was, in the very nature of things, above all human power to defend, and to do this at the expense of life and all things only to enrage the whole world, Jews and gentiles, against them, was no cunning, but was the greatest folly that men could have been guilty of. But were eyewitnesses of his majesty - At his transfiguration, which was a specimen of his glory at the last day.