The Gospel and Myths

13 Mar
Transfiguration - 2jpg

from Google Images

At times on the internet discussion boards folks who opposed Christianity tried to tell me the New Testament was a collection of myths. They would immediately add that this didn’t mean the New Testament wasn’t true. It just wasn’t historical. That it, according to them, the New Testament was an invention of men who wished to convey great moral truths to their contemporary audience. For those men who wrote the New Testament, the myth had great religious or spiritual import. In other words, what I have come to believe about Jesus (according to the critics on the internet) was nothing more than a collection of myths that embodied what has become known as the Christian faith or the Christian worldview.

Peter spoke out against this idea in 2Peter 1:16, saying the Gospel that he and the other apostles preached was not myth (fables in the KJV text). That is, the Gospel was not a cunning myth that pointed to a great moral truth. Myths, no matter how profound, are mere stories men invented.

Paul mentions that many Jews went about teaching myths (same Greek word translated fables in the KJV, see Titus 1:14), which many believers would embrace rather than the truth (2Timothy 4:3-4). Peter’s use of the word implies that this very thing was going on in Asia Minor at the time of his second epistle. An example of what concerned Peter and Paul can be found in Matthew 22:23-28. This rabbinical myth denied the resurrection. It was endorsed as a teaching of the Sadducees, who were known to deny that doctrine. However, Jesus pointed out the myth was nothing more than a silly point of view that not only didn’t take all things into consideration (Matthew 22:30), but also denied Scripture (Matthew 22:31-32).

Peter claims to be an eyewitness of the majesty of Jesus (2Peter 1:16). He pointed to Jesus’ coming in power, which the false teachers specifically denied, saying “where was the promise of his coming; all things continue as they had always been?” (2Peter 3:3-4).

In 2Peter 1:16-18 Peter said he witnessed the power and glory of Jesus at what we call the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9; Mark 9:2-10; Luke 9:28-36). Matthew says Jesus was transfigured (G3339) before the three apostles (Matthew 17:2). This same word is used by Paul at Romans 12:2 where believers are transformed by the renewing of our minds. In 2Corinthians 3:18 Paul uses the word again to say we are changed into the image of Christ from glory to glory, i.e. changed into the image of God (2Corinthians 4:3-6). In other words, the Gospel has power to change us into something we are not before we concern ourselves with it by reading and believing the things witnessed there.

Luke tells us (Luke 9:29) that the fashion (G1491) of Jesus’ face was altered (heteros – G2087). The former Greek word (G1491) is used in Luke 3:22 for the shape of the Holy Spirit and in John 5:37 for the shape of the Father, which no man has seen. The latter Greek word used by Luke (G2087) is used by Paul in Galatians 1:6 to indicate another gospel, which wasn’t the real Gospel. In other words, Jesus’ body, at the time he was being changed in some manner before the eyes of the apostles. He began to take on the brightness and the very image (shape) of God, the Father, which was not like Jesus’ own bodily shape in the flesh. This had a profound effect upon Peter in that it was proof of Jesus majestic power as the coming King or Messiah.

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Posted by on March 13, 2017 in Epistles of Peter


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