2 Peter 1:21
2 Peter 1:21, NIV: “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
2 Peter 1:21, ESV: “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
2 Peter 1:21, KJV: “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they weremoved by the Holy Ghost.”
2 Peter 1:21, NASB: “for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
2 Peter 1:21, NLT: “or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.”
2 Peter 1:21, CSB: “because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
What does 2 Peter 1:21 mean?
In the previous verses, Peter pointed to his personal witness of the transfiguration of Jesus (2 Peter 1:16–18). For him, this was an absolute confirmation of the prophecies of Scripture which pointed to the Messiah. As a result, Peter not only believed in Christ, but he was assured of the other prophecies, which speak of Jesus’ return as judge and king.
Here, he repeats his statement from the previous verse: These prophecies were not invented by human minds. They were not “cleverly devised” stories (2 Peter 1:16) meant to deceive, and they were not insightful human predictions meant to encourage. Rather, these prophecies came straight from the mind of God. The prophets spoke God’s Words as they were carried along (or “moved”) by the Holy Spirit. This is proven, in part, by the fact that they are confirmed. And, more powerfully, by the fact that they are not simply guesses or speculation. These are specific prophecies, which were specifically fulfilled.
In other words, the prophecies of Scripture are the words of God about the actions of God. And God always accomplishes what He sets out to do.
2 Peter 1:16–21 focuses on fulfilled prophecies about Christ. Peter points to his eyewitness experience of the transfiguration as confirmation those prophecies are true. As a result, Peter knows that those prophecies yet to be fulfilled will happen one day. This includes predictions of the return of Christ as judge and king, a point Peter will support in the coming two chapters.
Peter begins this brief letter to Christians by reminding them they are not missing anything they need to lead the good and godly lives they are called to. They must work, then, to add to their faith the goodness and qualities of Jesus. This requires effort, unlike eternal salvation which is not based on our work. Those who lack these positive attributes will live as unproductive and ineffective servants of God, nearly as blind as unbelievers and forgetting that their sins are forgiven. Peter, near death, insists that his eyewitness testimony about the transfiguration confirms that the prophecies about the Messiah are true. Jesus is coming back.