2nd Peter: Episode 1

Beth's Notes

From “Come Away My Beloved” by Frances J. Roberts:  “Wait upon Me.  Let your life be as a deep, quiet pool.  Let your heart rest in My hand as a bird in a nest.  Let your eyes be still.  Let your hands be free.  For then I shall fill all your vision, and then I shall take your hands into Mine and My power shall flow forth into you….Only be still before Me.  Never let the toils and cares of the day rob you of this sweet fellowship with Me….I am actively engaged in working for you in ways you cannot see, to make your path clear, and to bring about things you could never accomplish, and which would otherwise absorb your energies and wear out your patience….O Lord, what shame that You should need to beg us thus!  Better that others might find us unavailable because of our occupation with You, rather than for us to be so slow to come, so dull to hear, so cold of heart, so indolent of soul….Grant this one prayer more, O Lord, that You would give us all that is lacking in us; intensify our hunger and fire our devotion; take the indifference from our spirits; and have within us Your wonderful way and perfect will, O God, we pray.  Amen.” 

1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: 2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  2 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV)       

The author of 2 Peter is plainly identified as Simon Peter. This name is not generally used of the apostle (elsewhere only in Acts 15:14) yet as a Semite, it was natural for Peter to use the original form of his name – Symeon or Simon, given to him at birth.   Jesus had given him the name “Peter” meaning “Rock”.  Simon, the man of weakness, and Peter, the man of strength.  How oxymoronic but how true not only for Peter but for us all!  In our flesh we are weak, yet in Christ’s power we are strong.  This marvelous little epistle is the “swan song” of the apostle, that is, it is his final word to believers before his death by crucifixion.  Final words are so heart spoken are they not? Indeed. He is diligent in Chapter One to refresh the memories of his readers with the Truth.

Peter warns his readers of the oncoming flood of error and apostasy that was to sweep over Christendom, particularly of the heresy among teachers, and he seeks to anchor their faith on the Scriptures as the only defense against the coming storm.  This would necessitate a real confidence in God and His Word on the part of those who were to be called upon to meet such disturbing conditions.  How true this is for us today as well.  

In a very blessed way the Spirit of God first puts before us the blessings that are ours as Christians, and the importance of growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ that we may have strength to stand against the evils which threaten both us and the church.    

Peter next adds the term “servant” (doulos, lit., “bond slave) to his title of apostle of Jesus Christ.  Near the close of his life, at the apex of his apostolic authority, he was Christ’s servant first, and His apostle second.  He does not take an exalted position in the church like the Pharisees did in his day.  Rather in humility he stoops, and God exalts.  Just as Jesus did.  We too are Christ’s servants here to do His bidding – however He desires for that to flesh out in us.

He writes to those who have obtained faith as “precious” as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior.  “Precious” is one of Peter’s favorite words.  Indeed, our faith is precious.  As Paul stated  in Ephesians 2, we once were aliens of the promise but now we have been made partakers of it:

11  Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)-- 12  remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13  But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14  For he himself is our peace. Ephesians 2:11-14 (NIV) 

We are foreigners who have been granted the privileges of citizenship which are equal to those of the native born. The faith given them and us by God was of equal honor or privilege with that of the apostles’ faith.  Here Peter foreshadowed his purpose by stressing that the faith of the apostles was no different from the faith of any believer. This contrasted with the pre-Gnostic doctrines of the false teachers who spoke of an inner circle of special knowledge attainable by and available only to a privileged few.

Remember, Christ died for all men.  God, in His righteousness, has opened the door of faith to everyone who desires to enter.  Yet, all are called but not all accept.  It would be unrighteous of God to refuse to save anyone who desired to avail themselves of the result of the work of the cross.  The very righteousness of God demands that faith be extended to all men.  Any time someone turns to Him, God is ready to save them.  It is not God’s will that any should perish but all to come to repentance.

16  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16 (NIV) 

Peter next states that grace and peace be ours in abundance.  There is no peace without grace.  God saves us by grace as we place our trust in Christ with no merit of our own and once we have experienced God’s grace we can experience His perfect peace.  Scripture tells us:

22  “There is no peace,” says the LORD, “for the wicked.”   Isaiah 48:22 (NIV) 

And we are all wicked apart from Christ: 10  As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:10 (NIV) 

21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24 (NIV) 

Peter stresses a sincere and prayerful wish of God’s grace and peace in abundance to his readers.  Also, this blessing of grace and peace is more than a mere formula of greeting. These virtues come through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  “Knowledge”  implies an intimate and personal relationship. It is the means by which God's grace and peace may be received and experienced. Christians are urged to take advantage of the “full knowledge” available to them through Christ Jesus.   In this way they could combat false teachers who claimed to have special knowledge (gnōsis) but who openly practiced immorality. 

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   2 Peter 1:3-11 (NIV)

In this section of Chapter One Peter challenges believers to take full advantage of the divine power and promises of God which make it possible to participate in the divine nature and thus overcome the corruption caused by our evil desires.  We cannot become Christlike in our own strength – we will be miserable failures.  Based on this promised power, Peter further challenged Christians to practice the characteristics of the divine nature so that they would experience the assurance of eternal rewards.   Not only that, God desires for all His children to be conformed into the image of His Son that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.  After salvation comes sanctification.  Scripture states:

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.  30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.   Romans 8:29-30 (NIV) 

Peter tells us Christ’s divine power has provided everything believers need for life and godliness.  All that believers need for spiritual vitality - effervescent life - and godly living is attainable through our knowledge of Him.  Also, an intimate “full knowledge” of Christ is the source of spiritual power and growth.  BTW, we can never come to the end of growing in the knowledge of Him – He is infinite - limitless.  All of eternity will find us still in a position of further still in our knowledge of Christ.  Paul tells us in Philippians and Colossians:

9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ--to the glory and praise of God.  Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV)

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV) 

2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.   Colossians 2:2-5 (NIV) 

Of himself Paul writes:

7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.   Philippians 3:7-14 (NIV)

He is worthy of emulation.  Growing in the knowledge of God is to be the believer’s reasonable act of service for our Master Who calls us to grow up in Him.  Christ called us to this life of godliness by His own glory and goodness.  Christ attracts people enslaved by sin by His own moral excellence and the total impact of His glorious Person.

Through these, that is, Christ’s “glory and goodness”, He has given believers His very great and precious promises.  The Greek verb translated “has given” means “to bestow, to endow.” Not the usual word for “give” as it carries with it the idea of the worth of the gift.  This is also the word that was used to describe Pilate’s “giving” of Jesus’ body to Joseph of Arimathea.

The word for “promises” implies an emphatic public announcement. The promises are appropriately described as “very great and precious” – “valuable”. Peter used “precious” to describe a Christian's faith, Christ’s blood, and here, Christ’s promises.  Scripture is replete with the “precious” promises of God for the child of the King not the least of which is that He  saved our scrawny necks from certain doom and that we will live forever with Him throughout all eternity.  We do ourselves a great disservice by not being familiar with the promises of Scripture which, as Peter states are VERY great and precious.  

Also, these promises enable Christians to participate in the divine nature.  Because we are partakers of God’s nature, Christians can share in His moral victory over sin in this life and share in His glorious victory over death in eternal life.  Because of the promise of the new birth, the promise of God’s protecting power, and the promise of God’s enabling power, believers can “participate in the divine nature,” that is, become more like Christ.  Paul tells us in Romans and Galatians:

9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. 12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation--but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.   Romans 8:9-14 (NIV) 

20  I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

In addition, believers can escape the corruption – moral decay - in the world caused by evil desires – lust.  

Next Peter states the function of the divine nature.  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. A carnal Christian has spiritual myopia (nearsighted) (V. 9), but a spiritual Christian is both effective and productive (V. 8) in his understanding of the Lord Jesus and his application of biblical principles to his daily life.

Peter referred back to the divine nature by beginning this new paragraph with the words for this very reason. The words translated “make every effort” literally mean “apply all zeal”, “apply all diligence” used only here in the New Testament.  As Paul states in Romans 12:11, we are never to be lacking in zeal but keep our spiritual fervor serving the Lord.  The reason is that it is easy to be decaying instead of growing.  It takes every bit of diligence and effort a Christian can muster, along with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to “escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” and to bring in alongside of his faith a complement of virtue.  Can I have an “Amen” to that?!?!   We should work hard at cultivating these seven qualities Peter lists in Verses 5-7.  As a Christian does so, he becomes more like Christ, participating more fully in God's divine nature.  This is how we make a difference in our world.  When we leave the aroma of Christ by our actions, people take notice that we have been with Jesus:

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.   Acts 4:13 (NIV)

The word “add” used in Verse 5 means the believer is to “furnish, supply, or support” their lives with these marvelous virtues:

Faith in Jesus Christ is what separates Christians from all other people.  To trust in the Savior  brings one into the family of God, and it is the foundation of all other qualities in the Christian life.

To his faith each believer should add goodness which is literally “moral excellency” or “virtue”.   

Knowledge comes not from intellectual pursuits, but is spiritual knowledge which comes through the Holy Spirit and is focused on the person and Word of God.  God’s wisdom is supreme.  Psalms 119 states:

1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. 2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. 3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.  Psalm 119:1-3 (NIV) 

9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.10I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.    Psalm 119:9-11 (NIV) 

89 Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.  Psalm 119:89 (NIV) 

13  Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, 14  for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. 15  She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 16  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. 17  Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. 18  She is a tree of life to those who embrace her; those who lay hold of her will be blessed. Proverbs 3:13-18 (NIV)

Adding to faith, goodness, and spiritual knowledge for the Christian’s walk Peter states we must also make every effort to practice self-control.  This means to have one’s passions under control. It contrasts sharply with the anarchy and lack of control on the part of the false teachers whom Peter exposed.  In an increasingly self-indulgent society Christians do well to let the music of self-control be played in their ears and have wisdom to show restraint in their lives.  Solomon tells us:

18 The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.   Ecclesiastes 7:18 (NIV) 

And Paul adds:

12 “Everything is permissible for me”--but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”--but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV)

We become a slave to whatever has mastered us.  We are to practice self-control through the power of the Spirit Who will show us the door of escape in any temptation. Believers living in the latter days, especially when surrounded by scoffers and false teachers, also need perseverance.   This is staying power.  Perseverance is frequently used in the New Testament to refer to constancy or steadfast endurance under adversity, without giving in or giving up.  Boy it is easy to flee is it not?  That’s why we see so many broken relationships etc. – God tells us to stand firm not flee.  We would do well to remember Peter’s words which hits it right on target when he states:

67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”  John 6:67-69 (NIV)

Godliness refers to piety, man’s obligation of reverence toward God. The fourth-century church historian Eusebius was named for this lovely Greek word.  It is unfortunate that the words “piety” and “pious” have fallen on hard times in their current usage.

The first five virtues pertain to one's inner life and his relationship to God. The last two relate to others.  Brotherly kindness means a fervent practical caring for others.   Peter already urged this attitude on his readers in his First Peter.  John tells us:

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.  1 John 4:19-21 (NIV) 

Whereas brotherly kindness is concern for others’ needs, love is desiring the highest good for others. This is the kind of love God exhibits toward sinners. 

Interestingly this “symphony” begins with faith and ends with love. Building on the foundation of faith in Christ, believers are to exhibit Christlikeness by supplying these seven qualities that climax in love toward others.

Christian growth is to result in spiritual effectiveness and productivity. The word “possess” emphasizes that these spiritual qualities “belong to” Christians. However, Christians are to do more than merely possess these virtues. Effective and productive spirituality comes as these qualities are held in increasing measure. There is to be a growth in grace. A believer who does not progress in these seven areas is ineffective (“idle” or “useless”) and unproductive (“unfruitful”) in his knowledge (“full personal knowledge”) of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Christian life is a very serious business.  However, we have made it sort of an extracurricular activity.  Yet Peter tells us it is something to which we are to give “all diligence”.  It is our life.  Unfortunately, many Christians know the Lord in salvation but lack the manifestation of fruit and are not advancing spiritually. They remain “infants in Christ” as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:1, still in need of spiritual “milk” instead of “meat”.  The writer of Hebrews tells us we are to grow up:

11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.  Hebrews 5:11-14 (NIV) 

But as Peter urged, believers should “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”  (2 Peter 3:18).

In contrast with a growing Christian, a believer who is not growing is blind and nearsighted.  Remember ladies, vegetation that is living is growing, and vegetation that is dead is decaying. If you are a child of the King you are to be growing.  Peter is not talking here about the externals of religion.  He is not speaking of rituals or religious liturgy.  He is speaking of that which is inside the Christian.  God works from the inside out.  The Heart is deceitful beyond all cure – we must diligently tend to our hearts.  Believers have escaped the corruption of this world because we are partakers of the divine nature.  We are not to wallow in it.  We are to be different.  A believer with spiritual myopia is not magnifying the grace of Christ.  Since his life is not evidencing the qualities cited in Verses 5-7, he appears to be just like a spiritually blind or unsaved person.  Such a person has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past (pre-conversion) sins.   Some commentators say this refers to unbelievers. But it seems preferable to say that Peter wrote of Christians who are spiritually immature. After all, they had been cleansed from their sins,  but had not grown spiritually.

We cannot produce the work of the Spirit in our own flesh, we are to yield ourselves to Him, presenting our bodies to Him and drawing from the Vine.  We are merely branches.  God does not want us to be barren.  

In order to be an effective and productive Christian avoiding spiritual myopia, one must be sure that he is genuinely saved.  Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians to examine ourselves:

5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.  2 Corinthians 13:5-6 (NIV) 

The new life in Christ of the believer should provide evidence that he will reach his eternal home.  

We are to be eager (“make every effort”) to make our calling and election sure – meaning sure to himself.  This focuses on the confidence a Christian has about his standing with God.  If you claim faith yet not live in sincerity and truth you are bound to lie on your bed at night and wonder if you really have been born again.  If one does not hate the sin - be distraught over the sin (not merely its consequences) then one must question if they have truly been born again.  It is not that the believer does not sin, rather they are torn up over the action.  One’s godly behavior is a sign for himself that Jesus Christ has cleansed him from his past sins and therefore that he was in fact a child of the King. 

A believer shows by his godly life and his growth in the virtues mentioned that he is one of God’s chosen. Such a believer will not fall (“stumble”).  This word “stumble” does not suggest that a believer loses his salvation, for salvation does not depend on one’s spiritual growth. The Greek word for stumble means “to trip up” or “to experience a reversal.” Certainly one who is maturing in Christ will not trip up in his spiritual life as readily as one who is immature and nearsighted.

The ultimate reward of a growing, Christ-honoring life is the personal “welcome” by the Savior into His kingdom.  Stephen experienced it; Paul also knew when it was imminent for him; and every believer will experience such a welcome when he enters the Lord’s presence in heaven. You will receive a rich welcome is, literally, “the entrance will be supplied richly for you.”  The entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be supplied with richness; it will be a wonderful “welcome home.”  

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

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