Peter speaks about the Presence of the Christ in the third chapter of his second letter. He would know more than most about that presence since he was one of only three who saw it represented in a miraculous transfiguration. This refers to the time when Jesus took Peter, James and John with him into the mountain to fulfill the following words found at Mt. 16:28 “Truly I say to YOU that there are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”
He evidently had this event in mind when he penned the third chapter of this second letter, for he refers to the transfiguration in the first chapter of that same letter. (2 Peter 1:16-18) What is interesting and of particular note is that right after referring to that event which prefigures the presence of the Christ, he makes this statement:
(2 Peter 1:20, 21) . . .For YOU know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. 21 For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.
As we examine what Peter has to say about the presence of the Son of man, we must do everything in our power to avoid private interpretation of prophecy. Let us try instead to read the account with an unbiased eye, free from doctrinal preconceptions. Let us allow the scriptures to mean what they say and let us not go beyond the things written. (1 Cor. 4:6)
So, to start, please read for yourself the entire third chapter of 2 Peter. Then, when you are done, come back to this post and let’s review it together.
All done? Good! Did you notice that Peter mentions “the presence” twice in this chapter.
(2 Peter 3:3, 4) 3 For YOU know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires 4 and saying: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep [in death], all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.”
(2 Peter 3:12) . . .awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah [lit. “Day of God”—Kingdom Interlinear], through which [the] heavens being on fire will be dissolved and [the] elements being intensely hot will melt!
Now as you read through this chapter did it strike you that the presence of the Christ referred to in verse 4 was something that would be invisible and would occur 100 years before the presence of the day of Jehovah? Or did it appear that the two mentions of presence were referring to the same event? Given the context, it would be logical to understand the writer is warning us not to be like the scoffers who mock the warnings about the presence only to be caught off-guard when it arrives like a thief in the night. It makes no sense to think that the two mentions of the “presence” refer to two distinct presences separated by a century or more.
Yet that is what we are taught.
(w89 10/1 p. 12 par. 10 Do You Condemn the World Through Your Faith?)
For years, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been telling a modern generation that Jesus’ presence as Messianic King in heaven began in 1914 and runs parallel to “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) Most people scoff at the Kingdom message, but even this was foretold when the apostle Peter wrote: “You know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’”—2 Peter 3:3, 4.
2 Peter, chapter 3 is entirely about the time of the end. He makes three references to the “day” which is the end of the system of things.
He speaks of a “day of judgment and destruction.”
(2 Peter 3:7) . . .But by the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.
This day is the “Lord’s day”.
(2 Peter 3:10) . . .Yet Jehovah’s day [lit. “the day of the Lord”—Kingdom Interlinear], will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be discovered.
And of course, we`ve already quoted 2 Peter 3:12 where the presence of the day of God [Jehovah] is linked to this promised presence of his [Christ] found at 2 Peter 3:4.
It would seem obvious from a straight-forward reading of this chapter that the presence of the Christ is yet to come. Since the presence of Christ is what was prefigured by the transfiguration which Peter refers to in this letter, perhaps a careful reading of that account might help clarify things. Did the presence of Christ come in 1914 or is it linked with the future day of Jehovah?
(Matthew 17:1-13) 17 Six days later Jesus took Peter and James and John his brother along and brought them up into a lofty mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone as the sun, and his outer garments became brilliant as the light. 3 And, look! there appeared to them Moses and E·li?jah, conversing with him. 4 Responsively Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, it is fine for us to be here. If you wish, I will erect three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for E·li?jah.” 5 While he was yet speaking, look! a bright cloud overshadowed them, and, look! a voice out of the cloud, saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved; listen to him.” 6 At hearing this the disciples fell upon their faces and became very much afraid. 7 Then Jesus came near and, touching them, said: “Get up and have no fear.” 8 When they raised their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus himself only. 9 And as they were descending from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying: “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of man is raised up from the dead.” 10 However, the disciples put the question to him: “Why, then, do the scribes say that E·li?jah must come first?” 11 In reply he said: “E·li?jah, indeed, is coming and will restore all things. 12 However, I say to YOU that E·li?jah has already come and they did not recognize him but did with him the things they wanted. In this way also the Son of man is destined to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples perceived that he spoke to them about John the Baptist.
“Elijah, indeed, is coming…” (vs. 11) Now he does state that Elijah had already come in the form of John the Baptist, but that appears to be a minor fulfillment, because he also says that “Elijah…is coming…” What do we say about this?
(w05 1/15 pp. 16-17 par. 8 Foregleams of God’s Kingdom Become a Reality)
8 Why, though, are anointed Christians represented by Moses and Elijah? The reason is that such Christians, while still in the flesh, do a work similar to that performed by Moses and Elijah. For example, they serve as Jehovah’s witnesses, even in the face of persecution. (Isaiah 43:10; Acts 8:1-8; Revelation 11:2-12) Like Moses and Elijah, they courageously expose false religion while exhorting sincere people to give God exclusive devotion. (Exodus 32:19, 20; Deuteronomy 4:22-24; 1 Kings 18:18-40) Has their work borne fruit? Absolutely! Besides helping to gather the full complement of anointed ones, they have helped millions of “other sheep” to show willing submission to Jesus Christ.—John 10:16; Revelation 7:4.
Now what exactly is written? “Elijah must come first…” (vs. 10) and that he “is coming and will restore all things.” (vs. 11) Like John the Baptist did, this modern-day Elijah precedes the coming of the Christ in Kingdom glory. While identifying the modern-day Elijah is more in the realm of interpretive speculation, what is clear from a simple reading of the text is that this Elijah must come before Christ comes. So if we choose to accept the interpretation of the Governing Body—I personally feel that it holds water—we are left with a logical disparity. If the work of the anointed fulfills the role of the modern-day Elijah, then Christ’s presence, depicted by the transfiguration, could not have come in 1914, because the modern-day Elijah had barely begun to fulfill its role and had not yet had time to “restore all things.” Saying that the anointed are Elijah and that Jesus came in 1914—5 years before they were supposedly appointed to “feed the Master’s domestics”—is definitely a case of ‘trying to have one’s cake and eat it too’.
More and more as we read the scriptures with an unbiased eye free from doctrinal preconceptions and the teachings of men do we find that what is written makes simple and logical sense and leads us to exciting conclusions about our future.
We can throw away all our square pegs, because all the holes are round.