“Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” (2 Peter 1:14)
Peter was writing to the scattered believers, persecuted from without and badgered from within by false teachers. He wrote to “put [them] always in remembrance of these things” which they had been taught, and so that they would “be established in the present truth” (v. 12). As he wrote, he viewed his impending “decease” (v. 15, literally “exodus”) as merely putting off his earthly tent and putting on another as one would change clothes (2 Corinthians 5:1-2). But this would, perhaps, be his last opportunity to strengthen the lives of the believers.
Once before, Peter had faced the prospect of death. The church was under attack (Acts 12:1). Of the three who had been in Jesus’ “inner circle,” James had been killed (v. 2), and Peter had been imprisoned and was under heavy guard (vv. 3-6). However, an angel of the Lord (v. 7) escorted him out of prison and out of harm’s way (vv. 8-10). We can only surmise the full impact this made on Peter and his ministry, but we do know he was not afraid to die for his Lord.
Actually, as mentioned in our text, the resurrected Lord Himself had predicted Peter’s brutal death at the hands of the enemy (John 21:19). Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down during the persecution of the church at the hands of Nero, no doubt glorifying God in and through his death.
But his main concerns in this passage were the believers to whom he wrote. He even revealed that he had a plan to “have these things always in remembrance” (2 Peter 1:15). This would be through his diligent teaching, through his letters, and evidently also through the ministry of his own disciple, Mark (1 Peter 5:13), who would carry on after his death.
May God grant each of us a similarly fearless, fruitful, and lasting ministry. JDM