2 Peter 1:1-21 . ADDRESS: EXHORTATION TO ALL GRACES, AS GOD HAS GIVEN US, IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST, ALL THINGS PERTAINING TO LIFE: CONFIRMED BY THE TESTIMONY OF APOSTLES, AND ALSO PROPHETS, TO THE POWER AND COMING OF CHRIST.
1. Simon--the Greek form: in oldest manuscripts, "Symeon" (Hebrew, that is, "hearing), as in Acts 15:14 . His mention of his original name accords with the design of this Second Epistle, which is to warn against the coming false teachers, by setting forth the true "knowledge" of Christ on the testimony of the original apostolic eye-witnesses like himself. This was not required in the First Epistle.
servant--"slave": so Paul, Romans 1:1 .
to them, &c.--He addresses a wider range of readers (all believers) than in the First Epistle, 2 Peter 1:1 , but means to include especially those addressed in the First Epistle, as 2 Peter 3:1 proves.
obtained--by grace. Applied by Peter to the receiving of the apostleship, literally, "by allotment": as the Greek is, Luke 1:9 , John 19:24 . They did not acquire it for themselves; the divine election is as independent of man's control, as the lot which is east forth.
like precious--"equally precious" to all: to those who believe, though not having seen Christ, as well as to Peter and those who have seen Him. For it lays hold of the same "exceeding great and precious promises," and the same "righteousness of God our Saviour." "The common salvation . . . the faith once delivered unto the saints" ( Jude 1:3 ).
with us--apostles and eye-witnesses ( 2 Peter 1:18 ). Though putting forward his apostleship to enforce his exhortation, he with true humility puts himself, as to "the faith," on a level with all other believers. The degree of faith varies in different believers; but in respect to its objects, present justification, sanctification, and future glorification, it is common alike to all. Christ is to all believers "made of God wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption."
through--Greek, "in." Translate, as the one article to both nouns requires, "the righteousness of Him who is (at once) our God and (our) Saviour." Peter, confirming Pau;'s testimony to the same churches, adopts Paul's inspired phraseology. The Gospel plan sets forth God's righteousness, which is Christ's righteousness, in the brightest light. Faith has its sphere IN it as its peculiar element: God is in redemption "righteous," and at the same time a "Saviour"; compare Isaiah 45:21 , "a just God and a Saviour.
2. Grace . . . peace--( 1 Peter 1:2 ).
through--Greek, "in": the sphere IN which alone grace and peace can be multiplied.
knowledge--Greek, "full knowledge."
of God, and of Jesus our Lord--The Father is here meant by "God," but the Son in 2 Peter 1:1 : marking how entirely one the Father and Son are ( John 14:7-11 ). The Vulgate omits "of God and"; but oldest manuscripts support the words. Still the prominent object of Peter's exhortation is "the knowledge of Jesus our Lord" (a phrase only in Romans 4:24 ), and, only secondarily, of the Father through Him ( 2 Peter 1:8 , 2 Peter 2:20 , 3:18 ).
3. According as, &c.--Seeing that [ALFORD]. "As He hath given us ALL things (needful) for life and godliness, (so) do you give us ALL diligence," &c. The oil and flame are given wholly of grace by God, and "taken" by believers: their part henceforth is to "trim their lamps" (compare 2 Peter 1:3 2 Peter 1:4 with 2 Peter 1:5 , &c.).
life and godliness--Spiritual life must exist first before there can be true godliness. Knowledge of God experimentally is the first step to life ( John 17:3 ). The child must have vital breath. first, and then cry to, and walk in the ways of, his father. It is not by godliness that we obtain life, but by life, godliness. To life stands opposed corruption; to godliness, lust ( 2 Peter 1:4 ).
called us--( 2 Peter 1:10 ); "calling" ( 1 Peter 2:9 ).
to glory and virtue--rather, "through (His) glory." Thus English Version reads as one oldest manuscript. But other oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, "By His own (peculiar) glory and virtue"; being the explanation of "His divine power"; glory and moral excellency (the same attribute is given to God in 1 Peter 2:9 , "praises," literally, "virtues") characterize God's "power." "Virtue," the standing word in heathen ethics, is found only once in Paul ( Philippians 4:8 ), and in Peter in a distinct sense from its classic usage; it (in the heathen sense) is a term too low and earthly for expressing the gifts of the Spirit [TRENCH, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament].
4. Whereby, &c.--By His glory and virtue: His glory making the "promises" to be exceeding great; His virtue making them "precious" [BENGEL]. Precious promises are the object of precious faith.
given--The promises themselves are a gift: for God's promises are as sure as if they were fulfilled.
by these--promises. They are the object of faith, and even now have a sanctifying effect on the believer, assimilating him to God. Still more so, when they shall be fulfilled.
might, &c.--Greek, "that ye MAY become partakers of the divine nature," even now in part; hereafter perfectly; 1 John 3:2 , "We shall be like Him."
the divine nature--not God's essence, but His holiness, including His "glory" and "virtue," 2 Peter 1:3 ; the opposite to "corruption through lust." Sanctification is the imparting to us of God Himself by the Holy Spirit in the soul. We by faith partake also of the material nature of Jesus ( Ephesians 5:30 ). The "divine power" enables us to be partakers of "the divine nature."
escaped the corruption--which involves in, and with itself, destruction at last of soul and body; on "escaped" as from a condemned cell, compare 2 Peter 2:18-20 , Genesis 19:17 , Colossians 1:13 .
through--Greek, "in." "The corruption in the world" has its seat, not so much in the surrounding elements, as in the "lust" or concupiscence of men's hearts.
5. And beside this--rather, "And for this very reason," namely, "seeing that His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness" ( 2 Peter 1:3 ).
giving--literally, "introducing," side by side with God's gift, on your part "diligence." Compare an instance, 2 Peter 1:10 , 2 Peter 3:14 , 2 Corinthians 7:11 .
add--literally, "minister additionally," or, abundantly (compare Greek, 2 Corinthians 9:10 ); said properly of the one who supplied all the equipments of a chorus. So accordingly, "there will be ministered abundantly unto you an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Saviour" ( 2 Peter 1:11 ).
to--Greek, "in"; "in the possession of your faith, minister virtue. Their faith (answering to "knowledge of Him," 2 Peter 1:3 ) is presupposed as the gift of God ( 2 Peter 1:3 , Ephesians 2:8 ), and is not required to be ministered by us; in its exercise, virtue is to be, moreover, ministered. Each grace being assumed, becomes the stepping stone to the succeeding grace: and the latter in turn qualifies and completes the former. Faith leads the band; love brings up the rear [BENGEL]. The fruits of faith specified are seven, the perfect number.
virtue--moral excellency; manly, strenuous energy, answering to the virtue (energetic excellency) of God.
and to--Greek, "in"; "and in (the exercise of) your virtue knowledge," namely, practical discrimination of good and evil; intelligent appreciation of what is the will of God in each detail of practice.
6. Greek, "And in your knowledge self-control." In the exercise of Christian knowledge or discernment of God's will, let there be the practical fruit of self-control as to one's lusts and passions. Incontinence weakens the mind; continence, or self-control, moves weakness and imparts strength And in your self-control patient endurance" amidst sufferings, so much dwelt on in the First Epistle, second, third, and fourth chapters. "And in your patient endurance godliness"; it is not to be mere stoical endurance, but united to [and flowing from] God-trusting [ALFORD].
7. "And in your godliness brotherly kindness"; not suffering your godliness to be moroseness, nor a sullen solitary habit of life, but kind, generous, and courteous [ALFORD]. Your natural affection and brotherly kindness are to be sanctified by godliness. "And in your brotherly kindness love," namely, to all men, even to enemies, in thought, word, and deed. From brotherly kindness we are to go forward to love. Compare 1 Thessalonians 3:12 , "Love one toward another (brotherly kindness), and toward all men (charity)." So charity completes the choir of graces in Colossians 3:14 . In a retrograde order, he who has love will exercise brotherly kindness; he who has brotherly kindness will feel godliness needful; the godly will mix nothing stoical with his patience; to the patient, temperance is easy; the temperate weighs things well, and so has knowledge; knowledge guards against sudden impulse carrying away its virtue [BENGEL].
8. be--Greek, "subsist" that is, supposing these things to have an actual subsistence in you; "be" would express the mere matter-of-fact being ( Acts 16:20 ).
abound--more than in others; so the Greek.
make--"render," "constitute you," habitually, by the very fact of possessing these graces.
barren--"inactive," and, as a field lying fallow and unworked (Greek), so barren and useless.
unfruitful in--rather, . . . in respect to, "The full knowledge (Greek) of Christ" is the goal towards which all these graces tend. As their subsisting in us constitutes us not barren or idle, so their abounding in us constitutes us not unfruitful in respect to it. It is through doing His will, and so becoming like Him, that we grow in knowing Him ( John 7:17 ).
9. But--Greek, "For." Confirming the need of these graces ( 2 Peter 1:5-8 ) by the fatal consequences of the want of them.
he that lacketh--Greek, "he to whom these are not present."
blind--as to the spiritual realities of the unseen world.
and cannot see afar off--explanatory of "blind." He closes his eyes (Greek) as unable to see distant objects (namely, heavenly things), and fixes his gaze on present and earthly things which alone he can see. Perhaps a degree of wilfulness in the blindness is implied in the Greek, "closing the eyes," which constitutes its culpability; hating and rebelling against the light shining around him.
forgotten--Greek, "contracted forgetfulness," wilful and culpable obliviousness.
that he was purged--The continually present sense of one's sins having been once for all forgiven, is the strongest stimulus to every grace ( Psalms 130:4 ). This once-for-all accomplished cleansing of unbelievers at their new birth is taught symbolically by Christ, John 13:10 , Greek, "He that has been bathed (once for all) needeth not save to wash his feet (of the soils contracted in the daily walk), but is clean every whit (in Christ our righteousness)." "Once purged (with Christ's blood), we should have no more consciousness of sin (as condemning us, Hebrews 10:2 , because of God's promise)." Baptism is the sacramental pledge of this.
10. Wherefore--seeking the blessed consequence of having, and the evil effects of not having, these graces ( 2 Peter 1:8 2 Peter 1:9 ).
the rather--the more earnestly.
brethren--marking that it is affection for them which constrains him so earnestly to urge them. Nowhere else does he so address them, which makes his calling them so here the more emphatical.
give diligence--The Greek aorist implies one lifelong effect [ALFORD].
to make--Greek middle voice; to make so far as it depends on you; to do your part towards making. "To make" absolutely and finally is God's part, and would be in the active.
your calling and election sure--by ministering additionally in your faith virtue, and in your virtue knowledge, &c. God must work all these graces in us, yet not so that we should be mere machines, but willing instruments in His hands in making His election of us "secure." The ensuring of our election is spoken of not in respect to God, whose counsel is steadfast and everlasting, but in respect to our part. There is no uncertainty on His part, but on ours the only security is our faith in His promise and the fruits of the Spirit ( 2 Peter 1:5-7 2 Peter 1:11 ). Peter subjoins election to calling, because the calling is the effect and proof of God's election, which goes before and is the main thing ( Romans 8:28 Romans 8:30 Romans 8:33 , where God's "elect" are those "predestinated," and election is "His purpose," according to which He "called" them). We know His calling before His election, thereby calling is put first.
fall--Greek, "stumble" and fall finally ( Romans 11:11 ). Metaphor from one stumbling in a race ( 1 Corinthians 9:24 ).
11. an entrance--rather as Greek, "the entrance" which ye look for.
ministered--the same verb as in 2 Peter 1:5 . Minister in your faith virtue and the other graces, so shall there be ministered to you the entrance into that heaven where these graces shine most brightly. The reward of grace hereafter shall correspond to the work of grace here.
abundantly--Greek, "richly." It answers to "abound," 2 Peter 1:8 . If these graces abound in you, you shall have your entrance into heaven not merely "scarcely" (as he had said, 1 Peter 4:18 ), nor "so as by fire," like one escaping with life after having lost all his goods, but in triumph without "stumbling and falling."
12. Wherefore--as these graces are so necessary to your abundant entrance into Christ's kingdom ( 2 Peter 1:10 2 Peter 1:11 ).
I will not be negligent--The oldest manuscripts read, "I will be about always to put you in remembrance" (an accumulated future: I will regard you as always needing to be reminded): compare "I will endeavor," 2 Peter 1:15 . "I will be sure always to remind you" [ALFORD]. "Always"; implying the reason why he writes the second Epistle so soon after the first. He feels there is likely to be more and more need of admonition on account of the increasing corruption ( 2 Peter 2:1 2 Peter 2:2 ).
in the present truth--the Gospel truth now present with you: formerly promised to Old Testament believers as about to be, now in the New Testament actually present with, and in, believers, so that they are "established" in it as a "present" reality. Its importance renders frequent monitions never superfluous: compare Paul's similar apology, Romans 15:14 Romans 15:15 .
13. Yea--Greek, "But"; though "you know" the truth ( 2 Peter 1:12 ).
this tabernacle--soon to be taken down ( 2 Corinthians 5:1 ): I therefore need to make the most of my short time for the good of Christ's Church. The zeal of Satan against it, the more intense as his time is short, ought to stimulate Christians on the same ground.
by--Greek, "in" (compare 2 Peter 3:1 ).
14. shortly I must put off--Greek, "the putting off (as a garment) of my tabernacle is speedy": implying a soon approaching, and also a sudden death (as a violent death is). Christ's words, John 21:18 John 21:19 , "When thou art old," &c. were the ground of his "knowing," now that he was old, that his foretold martyrdom was near. Compare as to Paul, 2 Timothy 4:6 . Though a violent death, he calls it a "departure" (Greek for "decease," 2 Peter 1:15 ), compare Acts 7:60 .
15. endeavour--"use my diligence": the same Greek word as in 2 Peter 1:10 :this is the field in which my diligence has scope. Peter thus fulfils Christ's charge, "Feed My sheep" ( John 21:16 John 21:17 ).
decease--"departure." The very word ("exodus") used in the Transfiguration, Moses and Elias conversing about Christ's decease (found nowhere else in the New Testament, but Hebrews 11:22 , "the departing of Israel" out of Egypt, to which the saints' deliverance from the present bondage of corruption answers). "Tabernacle" is another term found here as well as there ( Luke 9:31 Luke 9:33 ): an undesigned coincidence confirming Peter's authorship of this Epistle.
that ye may be able--by the help of this written Epistle; and perhaps also of Mark's Gospel, which Peter superintended.
always--Greek, "on each occasion": as often as occasion may require.
to have . . . in remembrance--Greek, "to exercise remembrance of." Not merely "to remember," as sometimes we do, things we care not about; but "have them in (earnest) remembrance," as momentous and precious truths.
16. For--reason why he is so earnest that the remembrance of these things should be continued after his death.
followed--out in detail.
cunningly devised--Greek, "devised by (man's) wisdom"; as distinguished from what the Holy Ghost teaches (compare 1 Corinthians 3:13 ). But compare also 2 Peter 2:3 , "feigned words."
fables--as the heathen mythologies, and the subsequent Gnostic "fables and genealogies," of which the germs already existed in the junction of Judaism with Oriental philosophy in Asia Minor. A precautionary protest of the Spirit against the rationalistic theory of the Gospel history being myth.
when we made known unto you--not that Peter himself had personally taught the churches in Pontus, Galatia, &c., but he was one of the apostles whose testimony was borne to them, and to the Church in general, to whom this Epistle is addressed ( 2 Peter 1:1 , including, but not restricted, as First Peter, to the churches in Pontus, &c.).
power--the opposite of "fables"; compare the contrast of "word" and "power," 1 Corinthians 4:20 . A specimen of His power was given at the Transfiguration also of His "coming" again, and its attendant glory. The Greek for "coming" is always used of His second advent. A refutation of the scoffers ( 2 Peter 3:4 ): I, James and John, saw with our own eyes a mysterious sample of His coming glory.
were--Greek, "were made."
eye-witnesses--As initiated spectators of mysteries (so the Greek), we were admitted into His innermost secrets, namely, at the Transfiguration.
his--emphatical (compare Greek): "THAT great ONE'S majesty."
17. received . . . honour--in the voice that spake to Him.
glory--in the light which shone around Him. came Greek, "was borne": the same phrase occurs only in 1 Peter 1:13 ; one of several instances showing that the argument against the authenticity of this Second Epistle. from its dissimilarity of style as compared with First Peter, is not well founded.
such a voice--as he proceeds to describe.
from the excellent glory--rather as Greek, "by (that is uttered by) the magnificent glory (that is, by God: as His glorious manifested presence is often called by the Hebrews "the Glory," compare "His Excellency," Deuteronomy 33:26 , Psalms 21:5 )."
in whom--Greek, "in regard to whom" (accusative case); but Matthew 17:5 , "in whom" (dative case) centers and rests My good pleasure. Peter also omits, as not required by his purpose, "hear Him," showing his independence in his inspired testimony.
I am--Greek aorist, past time, "My good pleasure rested from eternity."
18. which came--rather as Greek, "we heard borne from heaven."
holy mount--as the Transfiguration mount came to be regarded, on account of the manifestation of Christ's divine glory there.
we--emphatical: we, James and John, as well as myself.
19. We--all believers.
a more sure--rather as Greek, "we have the word of prophecy more sure (confirmed)." Previously we knew its sureness by faith, but, through that visible specimen of its hereafter entire fulfilment, assurance is made doubly sure. Prophecy assures us that Christ's sufferings, now past, are to be followed by Christ's glory, still future: the Transfiguration gives us a pledge to make our faith still stronger, that "the day" of His glory will "dawn" ere long. He does not mean to say that "the word of prophecy," or Scripture, is surer than the voice of God heard at the Transfiguration, as English Version; for this is plainly not the fact. The fulfilment of prophecy so far in Christ's history makes us the surer of what is yet to be fulfilled, His consummated glory. The word was the "lamp (Greek for 'light') heeded" by Old Testament believers, until a gleam of the "day dawn" was given at Christ's first coming, and especially in His Transfiguration. So the word is a lamp to us still, until "the day" burst forth fully at the second coming of "the Sun of righteousness." The day, when it dawns upon you, makes sure the fact that you saw correctly, though indistinctly, the objects revealed by the lamp.
whereunto--to which word of prophecy, primarily the Old Testament in Peter's day; but now also in our day the New Testament, which, though brighter than the Old Testament (compare 1 John 2:8 , end), is but a lamp even still as compared with the brightness of the eternal day (compare 2 Peter 3:2 ). Oral teachings and traditions of ministers are to be tested by the written word ( Acts 17:11 ).
dark--The Greek implies squalid, having neither water nor light: such spiritually is the world without, and the smaller world (microcosm) within, the heart in its natural state. Compare the "dry places" Luke 11:24 (namely, unwatered by the Spirit), through which the unclean spirit goeth.
dawn--bursting through the darkness.
day star--Greek, the morning star," as Revelation 22:16 . The Lord Jesus.
in your hearts--Christ's arising in the heart by His Spirit giving full assurance, creates spiritually full day in the heart, the means to which is prayerfully giving heed to the word. This is associated with the coming of the day of the Lord, as being the earnest of it. Indeed, even our hearts shall not fully realize Christ in all His unspeakable glory and felt presence, until He shall come ( Malachi 4:2 ). Isaiah 66:14 Isaiah 66:15 , "When you see this, your heart shall rejoice . . . For, behold, the Lord will come." However, TREGELLES' punctuation is best, "whereunto ye do well to take heed (as unto a light shining in a dark place, until the day have dawned and the morning star arisen) in your hearts." For the day has already dawned in the heart of believers; what they wait for is its visible manifestation at Christ's coming.
20. "Forasmuch as ye know this" ( 1 Peter 1:18 ).
first--the foremost consideration in studying the word of prophecy. Laying it down as a first principle never to be lost sight of.
is--Greek, not the simple verb, to be, but to begin to be, "proves to be," "becometh." No prophecy is found to be the result of "private (the mere individual writer's uninspired) interpretation" (solution), and so origination. The Greek noun epilusis, does not mean in itself origination; but that which the sacred writer could not always fully interpret, though being the speaker or writer (as 1 Peter 1:10-12 implies), was plainly not of his own, but of God's disclosure, origination, and inspiration, as Peter proceeds to add, "But holy men . . . spake (and afterwards wrote) . . . moved by the Holy Ghost": a reason why ye should "give" all "heed" to it. The parallelism to 2 Peter 1:16 shows that "private interpretation," contrasted with "moved by the Holy Ghost," here answers to "fables devised by (human) wisdom," contrasted with "we were eye-witnesses of His majesty," as attested by the "voice from God." The words of the prophetical (and so of all) Scripture writers were not mere words of the individuals, and therefore to be interpreted by them, but of "the Holy Ghost" by whom they were "moved." "Private" is explained, 2 Peter 1:21 , "by the will of man" (namely, the individual writer). In a secondary sense the text teaches also, as the word is the Holy Spirit's, it cannot be interpreted by its readers (any more than by its writers) by their mere private human powers, but by the teaching of the Holy Ghost ( John 16:14 ). "He who is the author of Scripture is its supreme interpreter" [GERHARD]. ALFORD translates, "springs not out of human interpretation," that is, is not a prognostication made by a man knowing what he means when he utters it, but," &c. ( John 11:49-52 ). Rightly: except that the verb is rather, doth become, or prove to be. It not being of private interpretation, you must "give heed" to it, looking for the Spirit's illumination "in your hearts" (compare Note,
21. came not in old time--rather, "was never at any time borne" (to us).
by the will of man--alone. Jeremiah 23:26 , "prophets of the deceit of their own heart." Compare 2 Peter 3:5 , "willingly."
holy--One oldest manuscript has, "men FROM God": the emissaries from God. "Holy," if read, will mean because they had the Holy Spirit.
moved--Greek, "borne" (along) as by a mighty wind: Acts 2:2 , "rushing (the same Greek) wind": rapt out of themselves: still not in fanatical excitement ( 1 Corinthians 14:32 ). The Hebrew "nabi," "prophet," meant an announcer or interpreter of God: he, as God's spokesman, interpreted not his own "private" will or thought, but God's "Man of the Spirit" ( Hosea 9:7 , Margin). "Thou testifiedst by Thy Spirit in Thy prophets." "Seer," on the other hand, refers to the mode of receiving the communications from God, rather than to the utterance of them to others. "Spake" implies that, both in its original oral announcement, and now even when in writing, it has been always, and is, the living voice of God speaking to us through His inspired servants. Greek, "borne (along)" forms a beautiful antithesis to "was borne." They were passive, rather than active instruments. The Old Testament prophets primarily, but including also all the inspired penmen, whether of the New or Old Testament ( 2 Peter 3:2 ).