We have the prophetic word confirmed
(2 Peter 1:19)
How the gospel was verified in the first century by signs, wonders, powers and gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Peter emphasizes in 2 Peter 1:16-21 that God’s word is absolutely
reliable. The prophetic word comes to us as Holy Scripture. Peter
continues: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any
private interpretation, for prophecy1 never came by the will of man, but
holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter
In what sense do we have this prophetic word confirmed? The
Greek word translated confirmed [βεβαιότερον] is a comparative [of
βέβαιος] meaning more firm or more sure. How can something that
is already sure be more sure? If it is authenticated or confirmed.
How has God confirmed His word?
God has authenticated the prophetic word (1) by His own
testimony, (2) by the testimony of His Spirit, (3) by the testimony of
His Son, (4) by the testimony of inspired witnesses, and (5) by His
verification of their testimony through signs, wonders, powers and gifts
of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 2:3, 4).
The prophetic word is confirmed by the testimony of God the Father.
Peter had just written: For we did not follow cunningly devised
fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received
from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him
from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we
were with Him on the holy mountain (2 Peter 1:16-18). We refers to
Peter, James and John: Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them;
and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’ (Matthew 17:5).
The Father also testified when Jesus was baptized: And suddenly
a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I
am well pleased’ (Matthew 3:17).3
God’s testimony is trustworthy: If we receive the witness of men,
the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He
has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the
witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar,
because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His
Son (1 John 5:9, 10). There is no excuse for rejecting the testimony of
God testified through the prophets:5 To Him all the prophets
witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive
remission of sins (Acts 10:43). John the Baptist, the last Old Covenant
prophet, testified: Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of
the world! I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God (John
God testifies through the Scriptures. In Revelation He tells John,
Write, for these words are true and faithful (Revelation 21:5). To
unbelieving Jews, Jesus said: You search the Scriptures, for in them
you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.
But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life (John
The prophetic word is confirmed by the testimony of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told His apostles: But when the Helper comes, whom I shall
send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the
Father, He will testify of Me (John 15:26). It is the Spirit who bears
witness, because the Spirit is truth (1 John 5:6). The sword of the
Spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
The prophetic word is confirmed by the testimony of Jesus.
Jesus is the Logos, the Word of God (Revelation 19:13),6 the
faithful witness (Revelation 1:5), the Faithful and True witness
Pharisees disputed His testimony: You bear witness of Yourself;
Your witness is not true. Jesus replied: Even if I bear witness of
Myself, My witness is true (John 8:13, 14). It is also written in your
law that the testimony of two men is true. I am One who bears witness
of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me (John 8:17,
The works of Jesus confirmed that God had sent Him: But I have
a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given
Me to finish - the very works that I do - bear witness of Me, that the
Father has sent Me. And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified
of Me (John 5:36, 37).
The testimony of Jesus was confirmed by signs. Many believed in
His name when they saw the signs which He did (John 2:23).
Nicodemus said: Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from
God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him
(John 3:2). On Pentecost, Peter said that Jesus was a Man attested by
God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him
in your midst, as you yourselves also know (Acts 2:22).
The prophetic word is confirmed by the testimony of inspired witnesses.
We did not hear Jesus teach, but we know what He taught through
the writings of inspired witnesses. Jesus appointed His apostles as
witnesses.7 Their testimony is reliable because they were inspired by
the Holy Spirit.8
Speaking to His apostles, Jesus said: But the Helper, the Holy
Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all
things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you
(John 14:26). And you also will bear witness, because you have been
with Me from the beginning (John 15:27).9
Peter stated: We are His witnesses to these things, and so also is
the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him (Acts
God confirmed the testimony through signs.
How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at
the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by
those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and
wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to
His own will? (Hebrews 2:3, 4).
The phrase also bearing witness, is one word in Greek
[συνεπιμαρτυρέω] that means co-witnessing, testifying together
with someone else. Thus signs were not independent testimony but
supporting testimony. Signs supported the testimony of those who
Other passages tell us that signs, wonders, powers and gifts of the
Holy Spirit were done through the apostles.11 Many wonders and signs
were done through the apostles (Acts 2:43). And through the hands
of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people
The first non-apostle who did great wonders and signs among the
people was Stephan (Acts 6:8) who was one of the seven upon whom
the apostles had laid their hands (Acts 6:5, 6).
The second non-apostle who performed signs was Philip (Acts 8:6)
who also was one of the seven. Although Philip performed signs to
confirm his message at Samaria, he could not give the Holy Spirit to
others. Apostles had to come from Jerusalem for this (Acts 8:14-17).
Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the
Holy Spirit was given (Acts 8:18). Thus, through the laying on of the
apostles’ hands, the Holy Spirit was given in some way that was not
possible otherwise and is not available now, since the apostles are no
longer with us.
What was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands?
Not the gift of the Holy Spirit received at baptism (Acts 2:38, 39)
because it was promised to all, also subsequent generations, who are
baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.
Remember that it was through the hands of the apostles that
wonders and signs were done (Acts 5:12).12
That miraculous gifts, such as speaking in languages and
prophesying, were given by the laying on of the apostles’ hands is also
shown by an example of Paul. He taught twelve men at Ephesus that
the baptism of John the Baptist was not sufficient: When they heard
this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul
had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they
spoke with tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:5, 6).13
Mark also states that signs were a co-testimony to confirm the
prophetic word: ‘And these signs will follow those who believe: In My
name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;
they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by
no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will
recover.’ And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord
working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying
signs (Mark 16:17, 18, 20).
This prediction pertained to a specific purpose, namely, the
confirmation of the prophetic word. Except for drinking poison, these
signs are all recorded in Acts.14 Once the signs confirming the word were
recorded in Scripture, that written testimony is sufficient to accomplish
The rich man suffering pain in Hades wanted Abraham to send
Lazarus to warn his brothers because he thought, If one goes to them
from the dead, they will repent. But Abraham replied: If they do not
hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though
one rise from the dead (Luke 16:30, 31).
John, who wrote the final books of the New Testament, said: And
truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which
are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may
have life in His name (John 20:30, 31).
The testimony has been preserved as sacred Scripture.
The faith was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
The eyewitnesses are no longer with us, but we have their
testimony in written form, which has the same validity as oral
testimony.15 God commanded that the gospel be made known to all
nations by prophetic Scriptures (Romans 16:25, 26).
The Scriptures equip us thoroughly. All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for
correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be
complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16,
An evil generation seeks a sign.
When Jewish leaders said, Teacher, we want to see a sign from
You, Jesus replied, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a
sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet
Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the
great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the
heart of the earth (Matthew 12:39, 40).
It is wrong to seek signs when sufficient signs have already been
given and recorded! The resurrection is the sign for all times, proving
that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus was declared to be the Son of God
with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from
the dead (Romans 1:4). God has appointed a day on which He will
judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He
has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead (Acts
17:31). We have this assurance through reliable testimony in Holy
Scripture.16 The Lord is risen indeed (Luke 24:34).
In latter times signs are performed by false prophets.
The New Testament describes none other than false prophets
performing signs in latter times.17 The second beast in Revelation (also
called the false prophet) performs great signs (Revelation 13:13-15;
19:20). Spirits of demons perform signs (Revelation 16:14). Jesus said:
False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and
wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect (Matthew 24:24).18 Paul
wrote: The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of
Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
One man asked me why God did not just state that signs would
cease after the time of the apostles. Actually He did. We can know this
truth from what the New Testament says about the purpose of signs.
Why was it not stated more clearly? Since God allows false
teachers to perform great signs in latter times (Revelation 13:14),
maybe it was to test our love for the truth. The lawless one comes with
lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who
perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they
might be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10)
What have we learned?
God has confirmed the prophetic word (2 Peter 1:19). He has
authenticated the word (1) by His own testimony, (2) by the testimony
of His Spirit, (3) by the testimony of His Son, (4) by the testimony of
inspired witnesses, and (5) by His verification of their testimony by
signs, wonders, powers and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 2:3, 4).
These signs were done through the hands of the apostles, either
directly or by laying their hands on others. The signs recorded in
Scripture are sufficient for us to believe and be saved.
Suppose you had a document authenticated by a notary public.
What if you took it back the next day to have it notarized again? He
would tell you that it can be confirmed only once. If you said, But
some have doubted the first notarization! he would reply, Well, that’s
their problem, not mine.
In latter times only false prophets perform signs. Seeking signs
now is evil because sufficient signs have already been given to ratify
the prophetic word and produce faith leading to salvation in those who
love the truth.
Let us be thankful for God’s confirmation of the prophetic word.
The inspired Scriptures are absolutely reliable and furnish us completely
for every good work.19 Amen.
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.