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2 Peter 1:19-21 (ESV):

19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 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.

What did Peter mean by 'prophetic word' and 'Scripture'? Did he have a specific set of manuscripts in mind? Was he talking about the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible)? What about contemporary manuscripts that were being written by the apostles and other disciples at the time (that later became part of the New Testament)?


Related and/or similar questions:

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  • why is it manuscripts? A prophetic word is usually a divinely inspired speech or vision given to His people by the one in whom He has placed the truth to share.
    – steveowen
    Sep 19 at 22:13
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In the same epistle, 2 Peter 3:

15Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

Peter affirmed that Paul wrote from God.

16 He writes the same way in all his letters,

Peter was aware of more than one letter written by Paul.

speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Peter compared Paul's letters to the Scriptures.

What did Peter mean by 'prophetic word' and 'Scripture'?

It would include some of Paul's letters.

Did he have a specific set of manuscripts in mind?

He probably had in his mind but he didn't explicitly enumerate them.

Was he talking about the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible)?

The accepted Hebrew Scripture was included as Jesus also mentioned in John 5:

39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,

What about contemporary manuscripts that were being written by the apostles and other disciples at the time (that later became part of the New Testament)?

Peter was probably aware of Mark and Luke's writings. He would have these in mind as well.

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  • Yes, this is the simplest answer - you took the words out of my mouth! +1.
    – Dottard
    Sep 19 at 21:59
  • Thanks for the encouragement. That made my day :)
    – Tony Chan
    Sep 20 at 16:12
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Your question can not easily be answered biblically. It could ‘pull out’ supported scriptures, but the answer needs to be started out of scripture.

It’s very clear that the apostles and believers had manuscript sources outside of Torah that built up their worldview, including their understanding of the ‘Old Testament’. And as we study these it’s becoming clearer these were commonly accepted by those living in the times of the second temple.

The recent discoveries of the Dead Sea Scroll have opened our eyes to this. Many are familiar with sources such as Enoch 1 which Peter himself references in his his Letters, but there were far more. The Scrolls include not just Biblical fragments, but also commentary, and also the Patriarchal ‘books’ -

We do see evidence of some of these ‘books’ in the Old Testament, for example, Gad the Seer can arguably be linked to David and Nathan. And the book of Jasper is also quoted.

The point being that Peter would almost certainly have been aware of ‘other’ sources, other than the sacred scriptures, and these would almost have certainly influenced his worldview. The good news is that we are now starting to have access to these, and they can help us, either by reinforcing our current interpretations, or modifying (challenging?) them.

I appreciate this doesn’t specifically answer the question you asked, namely which (exact) manuscripts may? Peter have been referencing, but nevertheless it provided some direction for consideration.

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