As Long As I Am In This Tent

2 Peter is one of the more obscure and controversial of the books of the Bible, and likely one of the books that people pay less attention to despite the fact that it is full of verses and passages of great interest.  Our sermonette speaker this morning gave a thoughtful and rather ambitious message on the way in which the Feast of Tabernacles relates to us dwelling in tents, including the temporary dwellings of our body.  One of the verses that was just briefly discussed by the speaker is part of a passage I would like to look at today, 2 Peter 1:12-15:  “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.  Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me.  Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.”  

Among the controversies of this book is the matter of authorship, especially given the fact that 1 Peter has much smoother Greek than 2 Peter, which is far more rough.  If we look at 1 Peter as having the influence of Silas, and 2 Peter as being more reliant on Peter’s Greek skills, we see that the vexing problem of authorship is less vexing when we consider the importance of co-writers in terms of certain stylistic choices that biblical writers make.  It is unlikely, though, that anyone would want to make up a book where the first part of the book talks about the need to guide and instruct believers before one’s death.  Most people do not reflect on their imminent demise, and likely a great deal of the seriousness of 2 Peter relates to its context as being written in the foreknowledge that the author did not have long to live.  Death is a remarkable focus to one’s activities [1], and that was certainly the case for Peter.

How did Peter know that he was going to die?  As it happens, he had been told how he was going to die some time before, as it was recorded by the apostle John in John 21:18-19:  “Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”  This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.””  Peter knew, when he had been restored to the fellowship of the Apostles after his abandonment of Jesus Christ at the time of His crucifixion, by what manner he would glorify God, namely by being crucified.  Legends exist that state that he viewed himself as being unworthy of being crucified right-side up so he was crucified upside-down.  Despite knowing for decades how he would die, and knowing towards the end that his end was near, he wanted to leave believers with something that would confirm them in the faith after he was gone.

One of the qualities of godly leaders is working on the matter of legacy and succession.  Samuel, for example, set up schools of the prophets that ran for hundreds of years, long into the divided kingdom, in various cities where he did his circuit as a judge over Israel.  Moses groomed Joshua for leadership when it was confirmed that he would not be leading Israel into the promised land.  Like these godly leaders, Peter thought it necessary to give instruction and to confirm people in what he had been teaching them for decades so that they would be able to grow as believers and maintain their understanding of God’s ways after he was no longer around to the best of his abilities.  While we would like to be alive at the return of Jesus Christ, in general the tasks that God has called us to accomplish are matters that require multiple generations of refinement and practice, requiring us to think with a much longer span of attention than our life alone.  Peter, to his credit, was able to work towards the future of the believers he taught even as he knew that he was soon to die, and as long as we are in this tent, we should resolve to do the same.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical History, Christianity, Church of God, History, Musings and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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