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2 Peter 1:3-11 NOTES


CONTEXT:  This morning, we will be moving to Peter's Second Epistle.  The Book begins by ascribing authorship to "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ" (1:1)-with the author claiming to be an eyewitness to Christ's glory, by which he meant Jesus' Transfiguration (1:16-19).  The Book of 2 Peter was  written toward the end of Peter's life.  Since he was known to have been martyred in Rome during the reign of Nero, his death must have occurred prior to A.D. 68.  So, he very likely wrote 2 Peter between A.D. 65 and 67. Peter is writing to encourage Christians to live Godly lives (1:3) that they "may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust" (1:4). He encourages them to live according to a list of virtues that begins with faith, proceeds to moral excellence, and ends in brotherly affection and love (1:5-7).  He assures them that if they will "do these things, (they) will never stumble" and will be "richly supplied with the entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ" (1:10-11).  As we continue our study over the next four weeks, we'll hear Peter address the problem of false teachers who are denying Christ's Second Coming (3:4-7) and are accusing the apostles of generating "cunningly devised fables" (1:16). This heresy would remove an important incentive for Christians to live moral and ethical lives.  If Christ isn't coming again-if there is nothing beyond this life-people would be less motivated to live the kind of life that Christ would have them live. So Peter calls these Christians to look forward to "the day of the Lord, (which) will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (3:10). He calls them to prepare for that day by "holy living and godliness" (3:11).


 v. 1: Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: - The writer could hardly have stated his identity more clearly than he did in this verse. "Simon" was Peter's Hebrew name, and "Peter" is the Greek translation of the nickname Cephas ("Rocky," Mt. 16:18). There is only one Peter mentioned in the NT.

"Double names like 'Simon Peter' were common in the ancient Near East. Many people used both the name they were given in their native language and a Greek name, since Greek was so widely spoken."

This is the only New Testament epistle in which the writer identified himself with a double name. Peter may have done this to suggest the two aspects of his life, before and after discipleship to Jesus Christ. [Note: W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Apostle Peter: Outline Studies in His Life, Character, and Writings, p. 247.] Peter called for discipleship in this letter and referred to the changes that it produces in Christians (e.g., 2 Peter 1:4-11). Peter regarded himself first as a bond-slave (Gr. doulos) of Jesus Christ and secondarily as His apostle (cf. Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1). "Bond-servant of Jesus Christ" is the New Testament equivalent of "servant of the Lord" in the Old Testament. Peter mentioned his apostolic authority in his salutation because in this epistle he dealt with false teachers. His readers needed to remember that what they were reading came from an apostle and was authoritative.

  ▪ Peter referred to his audience in very general terms that could apply to all Christians. This reference does not help us identify exactly who the original recipients were. The faith of all believers is a gift from God. Other non-biblical Greek writers used the unique Greek word translated "same kind" (isotimos) to describe immigrants who received citizenship privileges equal to those of native inhabitants. The word "our" may be an editorial plural, but it is more likely a reference to the other apostles (cf. 2 Peter 3:2; 1 John 1:1-4; et al.). Some of the early Gnostic false teachers claimed a higher level of spiritual experience that they said only Christians who followed their teaching could attain. However, Peter here asserted that every Christian has the same essential faith, including all of its spiritual benefits, as the apostles did.

  ▪ Throughout this chapter St. Peter is thinking of the contrast between the doctrine of the apostles and that of the False Teachers. 'Your faith,' he seems to say, 'is as honourable as ours, though you received yours from us and we received ours from Christ.'" [Note: Bigg, p. 250.]

  ▪ The Christian's faith, in both its subjective and objective aspects, comes to us through Jesus Christ's uprightness. The Greek grammatical construction of the last phrase of this verse indicates that Peter believed Jesus Christ was both God and Savior (Mt. 16:16; John 1:1; John 20:28; Titus 2:13). The single definite article governs both nouns, linking them together. This is one of many verses in the New Testament that explicitly calls Jesus God. Jesus' role as Savior was one that Peter emphasized in this letter because of his readers' need for deliverance (cf. 2 Pet. 1:11; 2 Pet. 2:20; 2 Pet. 3:2; 2 Pet..3:18). Salvation is also a major theme of 1 Peter.

 v. 2: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; - The first half of Peter's benediction on his readers is identical with the one he gave in his first epistle (1 Peter 1:2). Grace and peace were the typical greetings the Greeks and Jews used respectively. This probably suggests that Peter wrote this epistle to a mixed audience of Christians, as he did his former letter. Both grace and peace come to us through the full knowledge (Gr. epignosei) of God and of Jesus (again equal, cf. 2 Peter 1:1). The Greeks, and especially the Gnostics, prided themselves on their knowledge, but Peter noted that knowledge of God and Jesus was the key to grace and peace (cf. 2 Peter 3:18). These blessings become ours as we get to know God intimately by reading His Word and abiding in Him. The false teachers could offer nothing better than this.

  ▪ As used in 2 Peter, epignosis [knowledge] designates the fundamental Christian knowledge received in conversion, whereas gnosis is knowledge which can be acquired and developed in the course of Christian life .

  ▪ In our day we are rightly warned about the danger of a sterile faith, of a 'head' knowledge that never touches the heart. But we need equally to be careful of a 'heart' knowledge that never touches the head! Too many Christians know too little about their faith; we are therefore often unprepared to explain how our 'God' differs from the 'God' of Mormonism or of the Jehovah's Witnesses. 




A. The Believer's Assets 1:3-4

v. 3: seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. - Grace and peace are possible since God has given us (all Christians) everything we need to live godly lives.

  ▪ 'Power' is one of the key-words of the epistle. 

  ▪ It is possible that Peter meant the apostles specifically when he wrote "us" in v. 3. The apostles are evidently in view in 2 Peter 1:1 ("ours"), and they may contrast with the readers ("you") in 2 Peter 1:2; 2 Peter 1:5. If this is what Peter meant, he was probably continuing to stress his apostolic authority, specifically in the teaching that follows. This would have been important since the false teachers were claiming that their teaching was authoritative

  ▪ "Life and godliness" probably means "a godly life." A hendiadys is a figure of speech in which the writer joins two substantives with "and" rather than using an adjective and a substantive.

  ▪ These resources are available to us through "true knowledge" (cf. 2 Peter 1:2) of Jesus Christ, namely, through relationship with Him (cf. Philippians 4:13; Colossians 2:9-10; 2 Timothy 1:7). Lenski rightly, I believe, called epignosis ("true knowledge") the key word of this epistle."

  ▪ Just as a normal baby is born with all the 'equipment' he needs for life and only needs to grow, so the Christian has all that is needed and only needs to grow." [Warren W. Wiersbe]

  ▪ Is what God has given us in His Spirit and His word sufficient for a godly life, or do we also need the insights of other branches of knowledge?

  ▪ Clearly our basic resources as Christians do no equip us for every task in life (e.g., auto maintenance, gardening, orthopedic surgery, etc.). This was not Peter's claim. But how do the resources that he identified and modern psychology interface?  It seems to me that Peter's point was that God's Spirit and His word provide everything that is essential to godly living, not that these are the only resources that we have or should use. 

  ▪ Peter's point was that there is nothing that all believers need in order to become more godly that God has not already made available to us (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Some people, for various reasons, need more specialized help in dealing with the obstacles to godly living that they face, which psychology may provide. 

  ▪ "Excellence (Gr. areten) really means moral excellence or virtue (cf. 2 Peter 1:5). Both Christ's glory and His moral virtue appealed to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

  ▪ In seeking to prepare the readers against the danger from the false teachers, Peter states in chapter 1 that their safety lies in their clear apprehension of the nature of the new life in Christ and their spiritual growth and maturity in the faith as the best antidote against error.

v. 4: For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. - The Lord's promises come to us through Christ's divine power and the true knowledge of Him (2 Peter 1:3). We learn of these promises as we get to know Him better, and the power for fulfilling what He has promised comes from Him. "Granted" translates a Greek word (doreomai), also found in 2 Peter 1:3, that stresses the great worth of what God has given. "Promises" refers to promises that all believers can know about, not secret promises. They are in the Scriptures. The ones Peter referred to in his first epistle deal with our inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-5) and the Lord's return (1 Peter 1:9; 1 Peter 1:13). Here his reference is to all God's promises. They are "precious" (Gr. timia) because of the great worth of the spiritual riches involved (cf. 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 2:7). They are "magnificent" (Gr. megista, lit. greatest) because they are intrinsically excellent.

  ▪ One of the great lessons of 2 Peter is that to maintain a holy life in a world like ours, we must be deeply rooted in the prophetic promises of God's word. Above all, we must hold fast to that 'blessed hope' of the coming again of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ [cf. Matthew 24:48-50]."

  ▪ Here, again, we have an instance of St. Peter's habit of anticipation, and a link between the introduction and the third chapter. Already the author is thinking of the doubts about the Parousia." [Note: Bigg, p. 255.]

  ▪ Christians become partakers of God's very nature by faith in His promises. In our day, as in Peter's, many people are interested in becoming partakers of "the divine nature," though they may conceive of the divine nature in non-Christian ways (Eastern mysticism, new age spirituality, etc.).  Peter evidently used this phrase to capture the interest of his formerly pagan Hellenistic readers, but he proceeded to invest it with distinctively Christian meaning. He was an effective communicator.

  ▪ When God saved us by faith in His promise, He indwelt us, and we therefore possess the nature of God within us (cf. John 16:7; Acts 2:39). God's nature in us manifests the likeness of God and Christ through us. It also gives us power enabling us to overcome the temptations of lust that result in corruption (cf. Galatians 5:16-17). Note that Peter did not say that we have the divine nature (which is true), from which we might infer that we no longer have a sinful human nature and do not sin. He said that we participate in the divine nature, from which we should infer that we experience some of God's qualities but not all of them now.

  ▪ When Peter spoke of our having escaped this corruption, He meant that our justification has assured our escape from this corruption.  Another view is that Peter meant that Christians will become partakers of the divine nature when we die, having escaped the world's corruption through death. Yet we already possess the divine nature through the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit. The temptations that we presently face characterize the world as a whole, so assurance of ultimate victory over this corruption should encourage us to strive to overcome it now.

Note:  Godliness, goodness (lit. virtue), divine nature, and corruption are all concepts that fascinated the philosophical false teachers of Peter's day. Peter reminded his readers that God's provisions for them had made them adequate and in need of nothing the false teachers, said they could provide.

B. The Believer's Needs (Eight Virtues) 1:5-9

v. 5: Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, - Since believers have resources that are adequate for a godly life, we should use them diligently to grow in grace (cf. 2 Peter 3:18). Escaping the corruption of lust takes effort (cf. 1 Timothy 6:11-12; 2 Timothy 2:2). It is possible to frustrate the grace of God by having "faith without works" (James 2:20). Therefore we must apply all "diligence, " which is the most basic requirement for experiencing effective Christian growth (cf. 2 Peter 1:10; 2 Peter 1:15; 2 Peter 3:14).

  ▪ Spiritual growth in the Christian life calls for the strenuous involvement of the believer.  The Christian must engage in this sort of cooperation with God in making a Christian life which is a credit to Him."

  ▪ Therefore, spirituality, then, is a choice. It does not come automatically or inevitably.  Indeed, if the Christian fails to add 'virtue' to his faith, his faith will soon become what James described as 'dead faith.' (James 2:14-26). Its vitality and productivity will disappear.

  ▪ The Christian life is like the power to steer a car:  The engine provides the power for steering, but the driver must actually turn the wheel. So the Lord provides the power to run our lives, but we must 'turn the wheel.' To this extent the Christian determines the course of his life.

Note:  Often children want to grow up faster than they can. They sometimes ask their parents to measure their height again, perhaps only a week or two after their last measuring. The wise parent will tell the child not to be so concerned about constantly measuring his or her growth. Rather the child should give attention to certain basic activities that will insure good growth over time: drink your milk, eat your vegetables, get enough exercise and rest. This is the spirit of Peter's advice.

  ▪ "Moral excellence" (Gr. areten) is virtue or goodness (2 Peter 1:3; cf. 1 Peter 2:9). Moral purity and uprightness of character through obedience to God are in view. This Greek word describes anything that fulfills its purpose or function properly. In this context it means a Christian who fulfills his or her calling (i.e., Matthew 22:37-39; Matthew 28:19-20; et al.).

  ▪ "Knowledge" (Gr. gnosis) refers to acquired information. In particular the Christian needs to know all that God has revealed in His Word, not just the gospel (cf. Matthew 28:19-20).  Gnosis here is the wisdom and discernment which the Christian needs for a virtuous life and which is progressively acquired. It is practical rather than purely speculative wisdom (cf. Philippians 1:9).

  ▪ Having established the believer's basic adequacy through God's power in him and God's promises to him, Peter next reminded his readers of their responsibility to cultivate their own Christian growth. He did so to correct any idea that they needed to do nothing more because they possessed adequate resources.

"In this beautiful paragraph Peter orchestrates a symphony of grace. To the melody line of faith he leads believers to add harmony in a blend of seven Christian virtues which he lists without explanation or description." [Note: Gangel, p. 865.]

v. 6: and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, - "Self-control" (Gr. egkrates) means mastery of self, disciplined moderation, controlling one's desires and passions (cf. Proverbs 16:32; Proverbs 25:28; Acts 24:25; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Galatians 5:23; Philippians 3:12-16; 1 Timothy 4:7-8; James 4:17). Many of the early Christian heresies taught that since the body was evil (some claimed) or unimportant (others claimed) it was not necessary to curb fleshly lusts, only to think correctly. Any religious system which claims that religious knowledge emancipates from the obligations of morality is false.

  ▪ "Perseverance" is the need to keep on keeping on in spite of adversity.  It is patient endurance in holiness when we encounter temptation to give in or to give up.  The Greek word (hypomonen) literally means to remain under something, such as a heavy load.

  ▪ Many folk have the wrong concept of what pereverance really is. They think it means sitting in a traffic jam on the freeway in the morning without worrying about getting to work. Well, that is not pereverance. It just gives you an excuse for being late to work. Patience is being able to endure when trials come."

  ▪ "Godliness" (Gr. eusebeia) refers to behavior that reflects the character of God (cf. 2 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 3:11; et al.). It presupposes a desire to please God in all the relationships of life.

v. 7: and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love - "Brotherly kindness" (Gr. philadelphia) is thoughtful consideration of fellow believers, and overt acts of kindness go further to manifest this characteristic (Galatians 6:10).  "Love" (Gr. agape) is the highest form of love, God's kind, that seeks the welfare of the person loved above the givers own welfare (John 3:16; John 13:35; Galatians 5:22; 1 Peter 4:8; et al.). It reaches out to all people, not just fellow believers.

  ▪ This list of qualities begins with those inside the believer and progresses to those he or she demonstrates outwardly. It moves from private to public qualities. This list begins with faith (2 Peter 1:5) and ends with love. Another shorter virtue list that begins with faith and ends with love is in 2 Corinthians 8:7.

  ▪ Christian faith is the root from which all these virtues must grow, and Christian love is the crowning virtue to which all the others must contribute. In a list of this kind, the last item has a unique significance. It is not just the most important virtue, but also the virtue which encompasses all the others. Love is the overriding ethical principle from which the other virtues gain their meaning and validity.

  ▪ This is a good checklist that helps us evaluate whether we are all that God wants us to be. These are the traits of a maturing Christian whose faith is vital, not dead.

  ▪ Their presentation here seems to observe an order from the more elemental to the more advanced, but they are all of them facets of the Spirit's work in the life of a believer, aspects of the glory of the indwelling Christ, his character shown in the Christian's character.

  ▪ Each child in a family bears some resemblance to his or her parents while at the same time remaining distinctive. So each growing Christian normally manifests similarities to Christ and yet remains different from every other Christians.

v. 8: For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. - We must continue to grow in these qualities as well as possessing them; we must grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18). Failure to do so will make us "useless" (Gr. argous) in God's hands as His tools in the world, and "unfruitful" (Gr. akarpous) as communicators of His life (John 15:2; John 15:4; cf. Mark 12:12-14; Mark 12:20-26). This is so even though we have received everything necessary for godly living through the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 1:3). "Render you neither useless nor unfruitful" is a litotes, a figure of speech that affirms an idea by denying its opposite.

  ▪ When we diligently add these virtues (vv. 5-9) to our lives we will be both useful and fruitful, and we will evidence true knowledge (Gr. epignosis) of our Lord Jesus Christ. True knowledge of Him involves not just intellectual understanding then, but knowledge that comes through obedience. This growth should be the goal of every believer (cf. 2 Peter 3:18).

  ▪ Some of the most effective Christians I have known are people without dramatic talents and special abilities, or even exciting personalities; yet God has used them in a marvelous way. Why? Because they are becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. They have the kind of character and conduct that God can trust with blessing. They are fruitful because they are faithful; they are effective because they are growing in their Christian experience." [Note: Wiersbe, 2:439.]

v. 9: For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. - The absence of these virtues gives evidence of lack of true knowledge. Peter described this condition as spiritual blindness to the realities connected with their relationship with God and, in particular, shortsightedness (lit. myopia, Gr. myopazo). Such people show concern about living for the present with little regard for the future (cf. Esau). James called this dead faith (James 2:17; James 2:26).

  ▪ Many Christians have forgotten how much God has forgiven them, or they have appreciated His forgiveness only superficially.

  ▪ As is usual in the Bible, the idea of 'forgetting' is not a mental process but a practical failure to take into account the true meaning and significance of something.  Often it is both in our lives.

  ▪ Those who "have forgotten" have little motivation to grow in grace and thereby please God. They do not add the seven ingredients to their faith that Peter urged. Peter referred to this omission as forgetting one's purification from his or her former sins. Having forgotten one's escape from the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:4), this person fails to see the importance of present purification through continued Christian growth.

  ▪ This is one of the most practical and helpful passages in the New Testament dealing with spiritual growth. Peter presented both the reason for and the method of this growth clearly and attractively here.

  ▪ Peter was certainly a spiritual realist even if many modern theologians are not. He does not take it for granted that spiritual growth will occur automatically or inevitably.  Indeed, the character development he thinks of cannot occur apart from the believer "giving all diligence" toward that end (2 Peter 1:5). This does not mean, of course, that the believer does all of this on his own.  God supplies the basic resources and provides help along the way. But Christian growth will not occur apart from our diligent participation in the process. If we learn nothing else from this passage, we must learn this. We can't passively experience Christian growth; we must actively pursue it!

C. The Believer's Adequacy 1:10-11

v. 10: Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; - In view of what Peter had just said (2 Peter 1:3-9), it was imperative that his readers make the proper moral response. They would give evidence that they were genuine Christians by doing so. The evidence of divine nature in a person demonstrates his or her salvation. Conversely if a person gives no evidence of having the divine nature his or her salvation is in doubt as others observe that one. By adding the seven virtues, other people could see the divine nature more clearly in the Christian who added them, and would make God's calling and election of him/her clearer to everyone.

  ▪ All Christians have been called and selected, otherwise they would not be Christians, but they must 'work out their own salvation' (Phil. 2:12).  The Christian who progressively develops these virtues in his life will grow steadily. This growth will be obvious proof that he has been elected by God.

  ▪ The Christian life isn't a list of propositions or a tight theological system; it's a vital relationship to a resurrected Lord. The commandments He gave us and the theological systems we devise as an understanding of those propositional truths exist only to help us live in a vital relationship with Christ day by day as we follow Him as Lord.

  ▪ Another reason for adding these virtues is that by doing so we can walk worthy of the Lord without stumbling along the way (cf. Jude 24). "We do not stumble when we are giving attention to where we are stepping.  We stumble when we become preoccupied with other things and do not pay attention to where we are going.

  ▪ Neither is this verse saying that our assurance of salvation rests on our good works. Our assurance of salvation rests on the promise of God that everyone who believes in Jesus Christ as Savior has eternal life. (

v. 11: for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. - Peter concluded this section on the nature of the Christian by assuring his readers that simply practicing what he had just advocated would prepare them adequately for the future. He did this to help them realize that they had no need for the added burdens false teachers sought to impose on them.

  ▪ One of the greatest motivations for pursuing growth in grace is that when we go to be with the Lord forever He will welcome us warmly. The alternative is to get in by the skin of our teeth, saved so as by fire (1 Corinthians 3:15). Every Christian will go to heaven and receive much eternal inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-5). However, our Lord's welcome of those who have sought to express their gratitude for His grace through a life dedicated to cultivating godliness will be especially warm. It will be even warmer than what He extends to other less committed believers (cf. Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 12:21; Luke 12:31; Acts 7:56).

  ▪ This passage agrees with several in the Gospels and Epistles in suggesting that while heaven is entirely a gift of grace, it admits of degrees of happiness, and that these are dependent upon how faithfully we have built a structure of character and service upon the foundation of Christ.

  ▪ One commentator likens the backslidden Christian in the judgment to a sailor who just manages to make shore after shipwreck, or to a man who barely escapes with his life from a burning house, while all his possessions are lost. In contrast, the Christian who has allowed his Lord to influence his conduct will have abundant entrance into the heavenly city, and be welcomed like a triumphant athlete victorious in the Games. This whole paragraph of exhortation is thus set between two poles: what we already are in Christ and what we are to become. The truly Christian reader, unlike the scoffers, will look back to the privileges conferred on him, of partaking in the divine nature, and will seek to live worthily of it. He will also look forward to the day of assessment, and strive to live in the light of it.







1:1:  Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

The letter opens with a very subtle and beautiful allusion for those who have eyes to see it and knowledge enough of the New Testament to grasp it. Peter writes to "those to whom there has been allotted a faith equal in honour and privilege with our own" and he calls himself Simon Peter. Who were these people? There can really be only one answer to that. They must once have been Gentiles in contradistinction to the Jews who were uniquely the chosen people of God. Those who had once been no people are now the chosen people of God ( 1 Peter 2:10); those who were once aliens and strangers to the commonwealth of Israel, and who were once far off, have been brought nigh ( Ephesians 2:11-13).

Peter puts this very vividly, using a word which would at once strike an answering chord in the minds of those who heard it. Their faith is equal in honour and privilege. The Greek is isotimos ( G2472) ; isos ( G2470) means "equal" and time means "honour." This word was particularly used in connection with foreigners who were given equal citizenship in a city with the natives. Josephus, for instance, says that in Antioch the Jews were made isotimoi, equal in honour and privilege, with the Macedonians and the Greeks who lived there. So Peter addresses his letter to those who had once been despised Gentiles but who had been given equal rights of citizenship with the Jews and even with the apostles themselves in the kingdom of God.

Two things have to be noted about this great privilege which had been extended to the Gentiles. (a) It had been allotted to them. That is to say, they had not earned it; it had fallen to them through no merit of their own, as some prize falls to a man by lot. In other words, their new citizenship was all of grace. (b) It came to them through the impartial justice of their God and Saviour Jesus Christ. It came to them because with God there is no "most favoured nation clause"; his grace and favour go out impartially to every nation upon earth.

What has this to do with the name Simon, by which Peter is here called? In the New Testament, he is most often called Peter; he is fairly often called Simon, which was, indeed, his original name before Jesus gave him the name of Cephas ("rock") or Peter ( John 1:41-42); but only once in the rest of the New Testament is he called Simeon. It is in the story of that Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15:1-41 which decided that the door of the Church should be opened wide to the Gentiles. There James says, "Symeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name" ( Acts 15:14). In this letter which begins with greetings to the Gentiles who have been granted by the grace of God privileges of equal citizenship in the kingdom with the Jews and with the apostles Peter is called by the name of Symeon; and the only other time he is called by that name is when he is the principal instrument whereby that privilege is granted.

Symeon has in it the memory that Peter is the man who opened doors. He opened the doors to Cornelius, the Gentile centurion ( Acts 10:1-48); his great authority was thrown on the side of the open door at the Council of Jerusalem ( Acts 15:1-41).

THE GLORIOUS SERVITUDE ( 2 Peter 1:1 continued)

Peter calls himself the servant of Jesus Christ. The word is doulos ( G1401) which really means slave. Strange as it may seem, here is a title, apparently one of humiliation, which the greatest of men took as a title of greatest honour. Moses the great leader and lawgiver was the doulos ( G1401) of God ( Deuteronomy 34:5; Psalms 105:26; Malachi 4:4). Joshua the great commander was the doulos ( G1401) of God ( Joshua 24:29). David the greatest of the kings was the doulos ( G1401) of God ( 2 Samuel 3:18; Psalms 78:70). In the New Testament Paul is the doulos ( G1401) of Jesus Christ ( Romans 1:1; Php_1:1 ; Titus 1:1), a title which James ( James 1:1), and Jude (Jd 1 ) both proudly claim. In the Old Testament the prophets are the douloi ( G1401) of God ( Amos 3:7; Isaiah 20:3). And in the New Testament the Christian man frequently is Christ's doulos ( G1401) ( Acts 2:18; 1 Corinthians 7:22; Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:24). There is deep meaning here.

(i) To call the Christian the doulos (slave) of God means that he is inalienably possessed by God. In the ancient world a master possessed his slaves in the same sense as he possessed his tools. A servant can change his master; but a slave cannot. The Christian inalienably belongs to God.

(ii) To call the Christian the doulos of God means that he is unqualifiedly at the disposal of God. In the ancient world the master could do what he liked with his slave; he had even the power of life and death over him. The Christian has no rights of his own, for all his rights are surrendered to God.

(iii) To call the Christian the doulos of God means that he owes an unquestioning obedience to God. A master's command was a slave's only law in ancient times. In any situation the Christian has but one question to ask: "Lord, what will you have me do?" The command of God is his only law.

(iv) To call the Christian the doulos of God means that he must be constantly in the service of God. In the ancient world the slave had literally no time of his own, no holidays, no leisure. All his time belonged to his master. The Christian cannot, either deliberately or unconsciously, compartmentalize life into the time and activities which belong to God, and the time and activities in which he does what he likes. The Christian is necessarily the man every moment of whose time is spent in the service of God.

We note one further point. Peter speaks of the impartial justice of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. The King James Version translates, "the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ," as if this referred to two persons, God and Jesus; but, as Moffatt and the RSV both show, in the Greek there is only one person involved and the phrase is correctly rendered our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Its great interest is that it does what the New Testament very, very seldom does. It calls Jesus God. The only real parallel to this is the adoring cry of Thomas: "My Lord and my God." ( John 20:28). This is not a matter to argue about; it is not even a matter of theology; for Peter and Thomas to call Jesus God was not a matter of theology but an outrush of adoration. It was simply that they felt human terms could not contain this person they knew as Lord.


1:2:  Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;

Peter puts this in an unusual way. Grace and peace are to come from knowledge, the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Is he turning Christian experience into something dependent on knowledge? Or is there some other meaning here? First, let us look at the word which he uses for "knowledge" (epignosis, G1922) . It can be interpreted in two directions:

(a) It can mean increasing knowledge. Gnosis ( G1108) , the normal Greek word for knowledge, is here preceded by the preposition epi ( G1909) which means towards, in the direction of. Epignosis ( G1922) then could be interpreted as knowledge which is always moving further in the direction of that which it seeks to know. Grace and peace are multiplied to the Christian as he comes to know Jesus Christ better and better. As it has been put: "The more Christians realize the meaning of Jesus Christ, the more they realize the meaning of grace and the experience of peace."

(b) Epignosis ( G1922) has a second meaning. Often in Greek it means full knowledge.  Plutarch, for instance, uses it of the scientific knowledge of music as opposed to the knowledge of the mere amateur. So it may be that the implication here is that knowledge of Jesus Christ is what we might call "the master-science of life." The other sciences may bring new skill, new knowledge, new abilities, but the master-science, the knowledge of Jesus Christ, alone brings the grace men need and the peace for which their hearts crave.

There is still more. Peter has a way of using words which were commonly on the lips of the pagans of his day and charging them with a new meaning. Knowledge was a much used word in pagan religious thought in the days when this letter was written. To take but one example, the Greeks defined sophia, wisdom, as knowledge of things both human and divine. The Greek seekers after God sought that knowledge in two main ways:

(a) They sought it by philosophic speculation. They sought to reach God by the sheer power of human thought. There are obvious troubles there. For one thing, God is infinite; the mind of man is finite; and the finite can never grasp the infinite. Long ago Zophar had asked: "Can you (by searching) find out the deep things of God?" ( Job 11:7). If God is ever to be known, he must be known, not because man's mind discovers him but because he chooses to reveal himself. For another thing, if religion is based on philosophic speculation, at its highest it can be the preserve of only the few, for it is not given to every man to be a philosopher. Whatever Peter meant by knowledge, he did not mean that.

(b) They sought it by mystical experience of the divine, until they could say, "I am thou, and thou art I." This was the way of the Mystery Religions. They were all passion plays; the dramatically acted story of some God who suffered and died and rose again. The initiate was carefully prepared by instruction in the inner meaning of the story, by long fasting and continence, and by the deliberate building up of psychological tension. The play was then played out with a magnificent liturgy, sensuous music, carefully calculated lighting and the burning of incense. The aim was that, as the initiate watched, he should so enter into this experience that he became actually one with the suffering, dying, rising, and eternally triumphant God. Again there are troubles here. For one thing, not every one is capable of mystical experience. For another thing, any such experience is necessarily transient; it may leave an effect, but it cannot be a continual experience. Mystical experience is the privilege of the few.  

If this knowledge of Jesus Christ does not come by philosophic speculation or by mystical experience, what is it and how does it come? In the New Testament 'knowledge' is characteristically personal knowledge. Paul does not say, "I know what I have believed"; he says, "I know whom I have believed" ( 2 Timothy 1:12). Therefore, knowledge of Christ is personal acquaintance with him; it is knowing him as a person and entering day by day into a more intimate relationship with him.   When Peter speaks of grace and peace coming through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, he is not intellectualizing religion; he is saying that Christianity means an ever-deepening personal relationship with Jesus Christ.


1:3-7:   seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

In 2 Peter 1:3-4 there is a tremendous and comprehensive picture of Jesus Christ, to wit:

(i) He is the Christ of power. In him there is the divine power which cannot be ultimately defeated or frustrated. In this world one of the tragedies of life is that love is so often frustrated because it cannot give what it wants to give, cannot do what it wants to do and must so often stand helpless while the loved one meets disaster. But always Christ's love is backed by his power and is, therefore, a victorious love.

(ii) He is the Christ of generosity. He bestows on us all things necessary for true life and true religion. The word Peter uses for religion is eusebeia ( G2150) , the characteristic meaning of which is practical religion. Peter is saying that Jesus Christ tells us what life is and then enables us to live it as it ought to be lived. He gives us a religion which is not withdrawal from life but triumphant involvement in it.

(iii) He is the Christ of the precious and great promises. That does not so much mean that he brings us the great and precious promises as that in him these promises come true. Paul put the same thing in a different way when he said that all the promises of God are Yes and Amen in Christ ( 2 Corinthians 1:20). That is to say Christ says, "Yes. So let it be," to these promises; he confirms and guarantees them. It has been put this way--once we know Jesus Christ, every time we meet a promise in Scripture which begins with the word "Whosoever," we can immediately say to ourselves, "That means me."

(iv) He is the Christ by whom we escape the world's corruption. Peter had to meet the antinomians, the people who used the grace of God as an excuse for sin. They declared that grace was wide enough to cover every sin; therefore, sin does not matter any more, the grace of Christ will win forgiveness for it. For any man to speak like that is simply to show that he wants to sin. But Jesus Christ is the person who can help us overcome the fascination of the world's lust and cleanse us by his presence and his power. So long as we live in this world sin will never completely lose its fascination for us; but in the presence of Christ we have our defence against that fascination.

(v) He is the Christ who makes us sharers in the divine nature. Here again Peter is using an expression which the pagan thinkers well knew. They spoke much about sharing in the divine nature. But there was this difference--they believed that man had a share in the divine nature by virtue of being man. All men had to do was to live in accordance with the divine nature already in them. The trouble about that is that life flatly contradicts it. On every side we see bitterness, hatred, lust, crime; on every side we see moral failure, helplessness and frustration. Christianity says that men are capable of becoming sharers in the divine nature. It realistically faces man's actuality but at the same time sets no limit to his potentiality. "I am come," said Jesus, "that they may have life, and have it abundantly" ( John 10:10). As one of the great early fathers said, "He became what we are to make us what he is." Man has it in him to share the nature of God--but only in Jesus Christ can that potentiality be realized.

EQUIPMENT FOR THE WAY ( 2 Peter 1:3-7 continued)

Peter says that we must bend all our energies to equip ourselves with a series of great qualities. The word he uses for to "equip" is epichoregein ( G2023) which he uses again in 2 Peter 1:11 when he speaks of us being richly gifted with the right of entry into the eternal kingdom.

This is one of the many Greek words which have a pictorial background. The verb epichoregein  comes from the noun choregos ( G5524) , which literally means "the leader of a chorus." Perhaps the greatest gift that Greece, and especially Athens, gave to the world was the great works of men like Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, which are still among its most cherished possessions. All these plays needed large choruses and were, therefore, very expensive to produce. In the great days of Athens there were public-spirited citizens who voluntarily took on the duty, at their own expense, of collecting, maintaining, training and equipping such choruses. It was at the great religious festivals that these plays were produced. For instance, at the city Dionysia there were produced three tragedies, five comedies and five dithyrambs. Men had to be round to provide the choruses for them all, a duty which could cost as much as 3,000 drachmae. The men who undertook these duties out of their own pocket and out of love for their city were called choregoi, and choregein ( G5524) was the verb used for undertaking such a duty. The word has a certain lavishness in it. It never means to equip in any cheese-paring and miserly way; it means lavishly to pour out everything that is necessary for a noble performance. Epichoregein ( G2023) went out into a larger world and it grew to mean not only to equip a chorus but to be responsible for any kind of equipment. It can mean to equip an army with all necessary provisions; it can mean to equip the soul with all the necessary virtues for life. But always at the back of it there is this idea of a lavish generosity in the equipment.

So Peter urges his people to equip their lives with every virtue; and that equipment must not be simply a necessary minimum, but lavish and generous. The very word is an incitement to be content with nothing less than the loveliest and the most splendid life.  But there is something else at the back of this. In 2 Peter 1:5-6 Peter goes on that we must, as the Revised Standard Version has it, add virtue to virtue, until the whole culminates in Christian love. Behind this is a Stoic idea. The Stoics insisted that in life there must continuously be what they called prokope ( G4297) , moral progress. Prokope can be used for the advance of an army towards its objective. In the Christian life there must be steady moral advance. Moffatt quotes a saying that, "the Christian life must not be an initial spasm followed by a chronic inertia." It is very apt to be just that; a moment of enthusiasm, when the wonder of Christianity is realized, and then a failure to work out the Christian life in continuous progress.

That brings us to still another basic idea here. Peter bids his people bend every energy to do this. That is to say, in the Christian life the supreme effort of man must cooperate with the grace of God. As Paul has it: "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work his good pleasure" ( Php_2:12-13 ). It is true that everything is of faith; but a faith which does not issue in life is not faith at all, as Paul would heartily have agreed. Faith is not only commitment to the promises of Christ; it is also commitment to his demands.

Bigg well points out that Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics, says that there are three theories of the source of happiness. (i) It is something which can come by training, by learning and by the formation of right habits. (ii) It is a matter of divine allotment, the gift or God. (iii) It is all a matter of chance.

The truth is that, as the Christian sees it, happiness depends both on God's gift and on our effort. We do not earn salvation but at the same time we have to bend every energy towards the Christian objective of a lovely life. Bengel, in commenting on this passage, asks us to compare the Parable of the Ten Virgins, five of whom were wise and five of whom were foolish. He writes: "The flame is that which is imparted to us by God and from God without our own labour; but the oil is that which a man must pour into life by his own study and his own faithful effort, so that the flame may be fed and increased."

Faith does not exempt a man from works; the generosity of God does not absolve a man from effort. Life is at its noblest and its best when our effort cooperates with God's grace to produce the necessary loveliness.

(1) THE LADDER OF VIRTUES ( 2 Peter 1:3-7 continued)

Let us then look at the list of virtues which have to be added one to another. it is worth noting that in the ancient world such lists were common. It was a world in which books were not nearly so cheap and so readily available as they are today. Instruction, therefore, had for the most part to be carried in the pupil's head; and easily memorized lists were one of the commonest ways of inculcating instruction. One ingenious way of teaching the child the names of the virtues was by means of a game played with counters which could be won or lost, each of which bore the name of one of the virtues. Lists of virtues were common in the early Christian writings. Paul gives us the fruit of the Spirit--love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control ( Galatians 5:22-23). In the Pastoral Epistles the man of God is bidden to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness ( 1 Timothy 6:11). In The Shepherd of Hermas (Visions 3.8.1-7), faith, self-control, simplicity, innocence and reverence, understanding and love are daughters one of another. In the Epistle of Barnabas (2) fear and endurance are the helpers of faith; patience and self-control are our allies; and when these are present a man can develop and possess wisdom, prudence, understanding and knowledge. Let us look one by one at the stages in the list which this letter gives us.

(i) It begins with faith (pistis) ; everything goes back to that. For Peter faith is the conviction that what Jesus Christ says is true and that we can commit ourselves to his promises and launch ourselves on his demands. It is the unquestioning certainty that the way to happiness and peace and strength on earth and in heaven is to accept him at his word.

(ii) To faith must be added what the RSV calls virtue and we have called courage (arête). The word is arete; it is very rare in the New Testament but it is the supreme Greek word for virtue in every sense of the term. It means excellence. It has two special directions in which its meaning moves. (a) Arete is what we might call operative, or efficient excellence. To take two examples of its usage from widely differing spheres--it can be used of land which is fertile; and it can be used of the mighty deeds of the gods. Arete is that virtue which makes a man a good citizen and friend; it is that virtue which makes him an expert in the technique of living well. (b) Arete often means courage. Plutarch says that God is a hope of arete ( G703) , not an excuse for cowardice. In 2 Maccabees we read of how Eleazar died rather than be false to the laws of God and his fathers; and the story ends by saying that he left his death for an example of noble courage (arete, G703) and a memorial of virtue, not only to young men, but also to all the nation ( 2Ma_6:31 ).

In this passage it is not necessary to choose between these two meanings; they are both there. Faith must issue, not in the retirement of the cloister and the cell, but in a life effective in the service of God and man; and it must issue in the courage always to show whose it is and whom it serves.

(iii) To courage [excellence] must be added knowledge (gnosis). The word is gnosis ( G1108) . In ethical Greek language there are two words which have a similar meaning with a very significant difference. Sophia ( G4678) is wisdom, in the sense of "knowledge of things both human and divine, and of their causes." It is knowledge of first causes and of deep and ultimate things. Gnosis is practical knowledge; it is the ability to apply to particular situations the ultimate knowledge which sophia ( G4678) gives. Gnosis ( G1108) is that knowledge which enables a man to decide rightly and to act honourably and efficiently in the day to day circumstances of life. So, then, to faith must be added courage and effectiveness; to courage and effectiveness must be added the practical wisdom to deal with life.


(2) THE LADDER OF VIRTUES ( 2 Peter 1:3-7 continued)


(iv) To this practical knowledge must be added self-control, or self-mastery. The word is egkrateia ( G1466) , and it means literally the ability, to take a grip of oneself. This is a virtue of which the great Greeks spoke and wrote and thought much. In regard to a man and his passions Aristotle distinguishes four states in life. There is sophrosune ( G4997) , in which passion has been entirely subjugated to reason; we might call it perfect temperance. There is akolasia, which is the precise opposite; it is the state in which reason is entirely subjugated to passion--we might call it unbridled lust. In between these two states there is akrasia ( G192) , in which reason fights but passion prevails; we might call it incontinence. There is egkrateia ( G1466) , in which reason fights against passion and prevails; we call it self-control, or self-mastery.

Egkrateia ( G1466) is one of the great Christian virtues; and the place it holds is an example of the realism of the Christian ethic. That ethic does not contemplate a situation in which a man is emasculated of all passion; it envisages a situation in which his passions remain, but are under perfect control and so become his servants, not his tyrants.

(v) To this self-control must be added steadfastness. The word is hupomone ( G5281) . Chrysostom called hupomone ( G5281) "The Queen of the Virtues." In the King James Version it is usually translated patience; but patience is too passive a word. Hupomone ( G5281) , has always a background or courage. Cicero defines patientia, its Latin equivalent, as: "The voluntary and daily suffering of hard and difficult things, for the sake of honour and usefulness." Didymus of Alexandria writes on the temper of Job: "It is not that the righteous man must be without feeling, although he must patiently bear the things which afflict him; but it is true virtue when a man deeply feels the things he toils against, but nevertheless despises sorrows for the sake of God." Hupomone ( G5281) does not simply accept and endure; there is always a forward look in it. It is said of Jesus, by the writer to the Hebrews, that for the joy that was set before him, he endured the Cross, despising the shame ( Hebrews 12:2). That is hupomone ( G5281) , Christian steadfastness. It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can do to us and the transmuting of even the worst event into another step on the upward way.

(vi) To this steadfastness must be added piousness. The word is eusebeia ( G2150) and is quite untranslatable. Even piety is inadequate, carrying as it does a suggestion sometimes of something not altogether attractive. The great characteristic of eusebeia ( G2150) is that it looks in two directions. The man who has eusebeia ( G2150) always correctly worships God and gives him his due; but he always correctly serves his fellow-men and gives them their due. The man who is eusebes ( G2152) (the corresponding adjective) is in a right relationship both with God and his fellow-men. Eusebeia is piety but in its most practical aspect.

We may best see the meaning of this word by looking at the man whom the Greeks held to be its finest example. That man was Socrates whom Xenophon describes as follows: "He was so pious and devoutly religious that he would take no step apart from the will of heaven; so just and upright that he never did even a trifling injury to any living soul; so self-controlled, so temperate, that he never at any time chose the sweeter instead of the better; so sensible, so wise, and so prudent that in distinguishing the better from the worse he never erred" (Xenophon: Memorabilia 1.5.8--11).

In Latin the word is pietas; and Warde Fowler describes the Roman idea of the man who possesses that quality: "He is superior to the enticements of individual passion and of selfish ease; (pietas is) a sense of duty which never left a man, of duty first to the gods, then to father and to family, to son and to daughter, to his people and to his nation."

Eusebeia ( G2150) is the nearest Greek word for religion; and, when we begin to define it, we see the intensely practical character of the Christian religion. When a man becomes a Christian, he acknowledges a double duty, to God and to his fellow-men.

(vii) To this piety must be added brotherly affection. The word is philadelphia ( G5360) , which literally means love of the brethren. The point is this--there is a kind of religious devotion which separates a man from his fellow-men. The claims of his fellow-men become an intrusion on his prayers, his study of God's word and his meditation. The ordinary demands of human relationships become a nuisance. Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher, never married. Half-jestingly he said that he was doing far more for the world by being an unfettered philosopher than if he had produced "two or three dirty-nosed children." "How can he who has to teach mankind run to get something in which to heat the water to give the baby his bath?" What Peter is saying is that there is something wrong with the religion which finds the claims of personal relationships a nuisance.

(viii) The ladder of Christian virtue must end in Christian love. Not even affection for the brethren is enough; the Christian must end with a love which is as wide as that love of God which causes his sun to rise on the just and on the unjust, and sends his rain on the evil and the good. The Christian must show to all men the love which God has shown to him.

ON THE WAY ( 2 Peter 1:8-11 )

1:8-11:   For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

Peter strongly urges his people to keep climbing up this ladder of virtues which he has set before them. The more we know of any subject the more we are fit to know. It is always true that "to him that hath it shall be given." Progress is the way to more progress. Moffatt says of ourselves and Jesus Christ: "We learn him as we live with him and for him."

To keep climbing up the ladder of the virtues is to come ever nearer to knowing Jesus Christ; and the further we climb, the further we are able to climb.

On the other hand, if we refuse to make the effort of the upward climb, certain things happen. (a) We grow blind; we are left without the guiding light that the knowledge of Jesus Christ brings. As Peter sees it, to walk without Christ is to walk in the dark and not to be able to see the way. (b) We grow what Peter calls muopazon ( G3467) . This word can have either of two meanings. It can mean short-sighted. It is easy to become short-sighted in life, to see things only as they appear at the moment and to be unable to take the long view of things, to have our eyes so fixed upon earth that we never think of the things beyond. It can also mean blinking, shutting the eyes. Again, it is easy in life to shut our eyes to what we do not wish to see, and to walk, as it were, in blinkers. To walk without Christ is to be in danger of taking the short-sighted or the blinkered view of life.

Further, to fail to climb the ladder of virtue is to forget that the sins of the old way of life have been cleansed away. Peter is thinking of baptism. At that time baptism was adult baptism; it was a deliberate act of decision to leave the old way and to enter upon the new. The man who, after baptism, does not begin upon the upward climb has forgotten, or never realized, the meaning of the experience through which he has passed. For many of us the parallel to baptism in this sense is entry into the membership of the Christian Church. To make our commitment and then to remain exactly the same, is to fail to understand what church membership means, for our entry into it should be the beginning of a climb upon the upward way.

In view of all this, Peter urges his people to make every effort to confirm their calling by God. Here is a most significant demand. In one way all is of God; it is God's call which gives us entry into the fellowship of his people; without his grace and his mercy we could do nothing and could expect nothing. But that does not absolve us from every possible effort.

Let us take an analogy, which, although not perfect, may help us to understand. Suppose a man who is wealthy and kind picks out a poor lad, who would never otherwise have had the chance, and offers him the privilege of a university education. The benefactor is giving the lad something which he could never have achieved for himself; but the lad cannot make use of that privilege unless he is prepared to work, and the harder he works the more he will enter into the privilege offered to him. The gracious free offer and the personal hard work have to combine before the privilege becomes fully effective.

It is so with us and God. God has called us in his free mercy and his unmerited grace; but at the same time we have to bend every effort to toil upwards and onwards on the way.

If we follow this upward way, Peter says, we shall in the end be richly gifted with the right of entry into his eternal kingdom; and we shall not slip upon the way. By this Peter does not mean that we will never sin. The picture in his mind is of a march and he means that we will never fall out upon the march and be left behind. If we set out upon this upward and onward way, the effort will be great but God's help will also be great; and in spite of all the toil, he will enable us to keep going until we reach our journey's end.





EW Commentary - 2 Peter 1:1-11 -  The Sure Christian Life

A. An encouragement to know God and what He has done for us.

1. (1:1) Introducing a letter from Peter, to believers.

1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

a. Simon Peter: The Apostle here called himself Simon Peter. Perhaps, since he wrote this letter later in life, he didn't want to forget where he came from and that sometimes he was still more like the old Simon than the new Peter.

         i. We remember that Simon was his given name at birth; Peter was the special name given to him by Jesus, to call this man to "rock-like" thinking and behavior.

         ii. Some have said that Peter didn't write this letter because the subject and style is somewhat different than 1 Peter. Yet the purpose of the two letters is quite different. 1 Peter was written to encourage Christians under the threat of violent persecution; 2 Peter was written to warn those same believers of the danger of false teachers and harmful influences.

iii. "Convinced that the best antidote for heresy is a mature knowledge of the truth, Peter exhorts his readers to have a proper appreciation for prophecy, to live holy and godly lives while awaiting Christ's coming and to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord." (Kirby)

b. A bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ: The order of these titles is important. Peter considered himself first a bondservant, and then an apostle. His standing as a bondservant was more important to him than his status as an apostle.

c. To those who have obtained like precious faith: Peter wrote to those who had the same salvation he had experienced, which he called "a like precious faith." This faith was obtained, and not by the efforts of man but by the righteousness of our God.

       i. "He tells us too, that faith is 'precious;' and is it not precious? For it deals with precious things, with precious promises, with precious blood, with a precious redemption, with all the preciousness of the person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (Spurgeon)

   ii. Like precious faith probably speaks to the fact that the Jews and Gentiles enjoyed the same faith, and therefore the same benefits in Jesus. "God having given to you - believing Gentiles, the same faith and salvation which he had give to us - believing Jews." (Clarke)

d. Our God and Savior Jesus Christ: The grammar of the ancient Greek demonstrates that Peter said that Jesus Christ is our God and Savior. Peter clearly thought that Jesus was and is our God and Savior.

         i. "The expression God and our Saviour is in a construction in the Greek text which demands that we translate, our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, the expression thus showing that Jesus Christ is the Christian's God." (Wuest)

         ii. "The grammar leaves little doubt that in these words Peter is calling Jesus Christ both God and Savior." (Blum)

  2. (1:2-4) A greeting expanded into an understanding of the value of the knowledge of God.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust..


a. Grace and peace be multiplied to you: Peter indicated that grace and peace - those two most precious of gifts - are ours in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. As we know God we gain these essentials foundations for salvation and living.

b. His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness: However, not only grace and peace - but also all things that pertain to life and godliness are ours through the knowledge of Him. Knowing God is the key to all things that pertain to life and godliness.

         i. These things come to us through His divine power. "Divine power! What stupendous issues are grasped in that term, divine power! It was this which digged the deep foundations of the earth and sea! Divine power, it is this which guides the marches of the stars of heaven! Divine power! it is this which holds up the pillars of the universe, and which one day shall shake them, and hurry all things back to their native nothingness." (Spurgeon)

        ii. We are willing to try almost anything except the knowledge of Him. We will trust in the schemes and plans of men instead of the knowledge of Him. We will try knowing ourselves instead of the knowledge of Him. We need to come to the same place the Apostle Paul did, when he said that I may know Him (Philippians 3:10).

iii. According to Blum, the ancient Greek word knowledge doesn't refer to a casual acquaintance. It means an exact, complete, and thorough knowledge.

c. Through the knowledge of Him: We come to knowledge of Him as we learn of Him through His Word, through prayer, and through the community of God's people. It is true that we need God alone, but God does not meet us only in our solitude but also in the community of His people.

d. Who called us: This knowledge of God comes to those who are called. It is knowledge, but it is not mere intellectual understanding or intuition. It is the knowledge that comes by experience - the experience God's people have of God Himself.

e. Who called us by glory and virtue: It is Jesus' glory and virtue that motivated Him to call us, and it is His glory and virtue that draw us to Him.

f. By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises: This explains the value of the glory and virtue of God that calls us. By these He gave us exceedingly great and precious promises. This means that the promises of God are based upon His glory and virtue, and therefore perfectly reliable because God can never compromise His glory and virtue.

         i. Psalm 138:2 reminds us that God honors His word even above His name. We never have to doubt any promise of God. Instead we should let God be true but every man a liar (Romans 3:4).

         ii. For these reasons, God's promises are both exceedingly great (in the sense of being large and imposing), and they are precious, in the sense of being valuable. "Many things are great which are not precious, such as great rocks, which are of little value; on the other hand, many things are precious which are not great-such as diamonds and other jewels, which cannot be very great if they be very precious. But here we have promises which are so great, that they are not less than infinite, and so precious, that they are not less than divine." (Spurgeon)

iii. "It was of considerable consequence to the comfort of the Gentiles that these promises were made to them, and that salvation was not exclusively of the Jews." (Clarke)

g. That through these you may be partakers of the divine nature: This explains the value of these great and precious promises. Through these promises, we are partakers of the divine nature. Peter's idea is similar to Paul's idea of our glorious status as adopted sons and daughters of God (Galatians 4:5-7).

       i. This is remarkably generous and loving of God. He could rescue us from hell without even inviting us to be partakers of the divine nature. It shows how deeply God loves us and wants to share His life - indeed, even the divine nature - with His people.

h. Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust: God is above and beyond the corruption of this world. It should also be that way with those who are the partakers of the divine nature. The corruption that is in the world expresses itself through lust - the ungodly desires of this world.

3. (1:5-7) How to live as a partaker of the nature.

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.

a. Giving all diligence: We are partakers of the divine nature, but once we are made spiritual sons and daughters, growth in the Christian life doesn't just happen to us. We are supposed to give all diligence to our walk with the Lord.

b. Add to your faith virtue: We begin our life with God with faith, but faith progresses into virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love - love being the capstone of all God's work in us.

        i. Add to your faith: Literally in the ancient Greek, "Lead up hand in hand; alluding, as most think, to the chorus in the Grecian dance, who danced with joined hands." (Clarke)

         ii. The scope of the list demonstrates that God wants us to have a well-rounded Christian life, complete in every fashion. We can't be content with an incomplete Christian life.

iii. Of the word self-control, the Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest says the Greeks used this word self-control to describe someone who was not ruled by the desire for sex.

c. Giving all diligence: These beautiful qualities are not things that the Lord simply pours into us as we passively receive. Instead, we are called to give all diligence to these things, working in partnership with God to add them.

4. (1:8-9) How to use these qualities to measure our Christian walk.

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

a. If these things are yours and abound: If we have these things, and abound in these things, it is evident to everyone that we are not barren nor unfruitful in our knowledge of Jesus.

       i. The words barren and unfruitful characterize the lives of many Christians, who lack these qualities because they lack in their knowledge of God, that is, knowing Him relationally in an increasingly fuller and deeper sense.

       ii. Abound: Some may feel good that these qualities are seen in us from time to time. But Peter says they should abound in us.

b. He who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness: If we lack these things, it shows we have "eye trouble." We are shortsighted, unable to see God, only ourselves. This makes us virtually blind, showing we have forgotten that we were cleansed from his old sins.

        i. "Such a man sees the things of time, and fails to discern those of eternity ... he sees himself and his fellowmen, but not God. This nearsightedness is destructive of a true Christian experience, and therefore makes advance impossible." (Morgan)

       ii. The reason for this condition is also stated; such a one has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. "That is to say, he has failed to respond to all the enlargement of life and vision which came to him when he received the cleansing of his nature at the very beginning of his Christian life." (Morgan)

iii. Perhaps this one has forgotten how bad he was, and how much he needed this cleansing. Perhaps this one has forgotten the great cost of this purging of sin's dirty stain. Perhaps this one has forgotten how great and complete the cleansing is, making a once guilty sinner now as pure and as white as snow (Isa 1:18).

5. (10-11) Making our call and election sure.

10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

a. Be even more diligent to make your call and election sure: This shows how we can be sure that God called us, and that we are His elect. It is by doing these things spoken of in 2 Peter 1:5-7 (faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love). As we see these things in our life, we know that our lives are becoming more like the nature of Jesus. It shows that we are being conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

         i. It is possible for an unsaved person to do many moral and religious duties. But the "these things" Peter wrote of are matters of the heart, and should be evident in anyone born again. Simply said, if we are called, if we are elect, then we are born again - and if we are born again, it shows in the way that we live.

          ii. "It will be asked however, why is calling here put before election seeing election is eternal, and calling takes place in time? I reply, because calling is first to us. The first thing which you and I can know is our calling: we cannot tell whether we are elect until we feel that we are called. We must, first of all, prove our calling, and then our election is sure most certainly." (Spurgeon)

b. For if you do these things you will never stumble: In pursuing these things we keep from stumbling. Continual growth and progress in the Christian life is the sure way to keep from stumbling.

c. Entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: Peter here reminded his readers of the great reward of a calling and election made sure. They would enter heaven gloriously, not as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:15).

        i. "There are two ways of entering a port. A ship may come in, waterlogged and crazy, just keep afloat by continual working at the pumps; or it may enter with every sail set, her pennon floating at the mast-head. The latter is what the apostle desires for himself and those who addresses. He desired that an entrance abundant should be ministered unto them." (Meyer)

         ii. "Will your entrance into heaven be like that? Will you enter it, save so as by fire, or to receive a reward? Will you come unrecognized and unknown, or be welcomed by scores and hundreds to whom you have been the means of blessing, and who will wait you?" (Meyer)