16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16–18)
It is an interesting fact that cults and false religions have always sought to construct an elaborate collection of cleverly devised myths. What is true today was also true in Peter’s lifetime and in the life of the early church. In fact, the phrase “cleverly devised myths” originates from the apostle’s own words.
Cleverly devised (σοφίζω; sophizo) means to skillfully create and to possess the capacity to produce what is cleverly or skillfully made. What Peter observed beginning to be cleverly devised, and which he and the other apostles did not follow or pursue, were myths. Myths (μῦθος; mythos) are legendary stories or accounts, normally about supernatural beings, events, or cultural heroes, and in the New Testament always with an unfavorable connotation. Mythos may also be translated as “untrue stories” or “false tales.”
What Peter was contrasting with myths or untrue stories was his account of the power (δύναμις; dynamis) and coming (παρουσία; parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, he states that he, along with James and John, were eyewitness of Jesus’ majesty at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13). Majesty (μεγαλειότης; megaleiotes) means prominence, greatness and importance.
Dr. Don Carson writes, “Majesty is used in the NT only to describe divine glory (Luke 9:43; Acts 19:27). The voice from heaven, speaking both at Jesus’ baptism and transfiguration (Mark 1:11; 9:7) combines the prophecies of Psalm 2:7 (the coronation of the Son of God) and Isaiah 42:1 (the ordination of the Suffering Servant). The mountain was sacred because it was the scene of a divine revelation (as in Exodus 3:5; 19:23).”
Peter did not claim sole authority as to his experiencing the revelation of Jesus’ majesty. James and John were with him when Jesus “received honor and glory from God the Father.” The threesome also heard the words by the Majestic Glory. That phrase, from the Greek words μεγαλοπρεπής δόξα (megaloprepes doxa), means sublime splendor, praise and honor. The Majestic Glory’s words about Jesus were, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
As one commentator writes, “It is rare that one can use a literal rendering of μεγαλοπρεπὴς δόξα as a title for God, since ‘Sublime Glory’ is a quality and not normally a reference to a person or supernatural being. It is also possible, however, to use a descriptive phrase such as ‘the one who is supremely glorious’ or ‘the one who is glorious above all others’ or ‘God who is supremely glorious.’
Peter claims that the three of them not only heard the voice but were also with Jesus on the holy mountain.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Peter’s lofty language may stem from his burning desire to communicate the true majesty of the Savior which he, a member of the inner band of disciples, was uniquely privileged to see. Peter wanted his readers to look beyond Christ’s first coming to the time when He will return with that same honor and glory He demonstrated on the mountain. In Peter’s preaching during the days of the early church he was firmly committed to the doctrine of the Second Coming (Acts 2:32–33, 36; 3:16, 20–21). Interestingly Peter was more profoundly impressed by what he heard than what he saw on that sacred mountain. The voice that came from heaven, the voice of God the Father, called the Majestic Glory (an unusual name for God), spoke approvingly of the Son.”
It is easy for believers today to crave an experience such as the one Peter, James and John encountered on the Mount of Transfiguration. However, what was more important to Peter was what he heard, or what was declared about Jesus Christ. That declaration, and many others like it, are contained in the pages of sacred Scripture. Therefore, take up and read. The Scriptures are not cleverly devised myths, but truth.
Soli deo Gloria!