2 Peter 1
God’s Calling and Election (1:1-15)
1 Peter calls himself Simon Peter. Simon was his Jewish name; and Peter was his Christian name, which Jesus Himself gave to him (Matthew 16:17-18; Mark 3:16).
Peter was both a servant and an APOSTLE of Jesus Christ (see Romans 1:1). He is writing to fellow believers, to those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received FAITH. From this we can understand that faith is a gift. God gives faith to those whom He calls (see John 6:44; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13 and comments). But once we have received faith, we must use it—that is, we must accept Christ; otherwise, we shall receive no benefit from it (John 3:16,18,36).
Peter writes: … our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Here Peter calls Jesus God. And that is who Jesus is, because God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all one triune God (see John 10:30 and comment).
2 Peter here repeats what he has written in 1 Peter 1:2 (see Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:2 and comments). In this greeting, Peter adds the words: through the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. This knowledge that Peter is referring to is the true personal knowledge ofGod and Jesus, from which we receive new life, new strength, and a new mind (see John 17:3; Philippians 3:10). This knowledge is not like the false knowledge of the false teachers, in opposition to whom Peter is writing this letter. To receive the knowledge of Christ is to know Christ; and to know Christ is to obey Him (1 John 2:3). The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:4). To truly know Christ is to gain Christ (Philippians 3:8), and to gain along with Him grace, peace, and all other blessings (Romans 8:32; Ephesians 1:3).
3 Just as Christ called Peter and the other apostles, so He also calls us. We have been called and drawn to Him by his own glory and goodness (see John 1:14). And having called us, Christ by His divine power gives us everything we need to walk according to His calling (see Ephesians 3:20-21; 4:1; Philippians 2:13; 4:13 and comments). He has given us everything we need for life (see John 10:10), and for godliness (see 1 Thes-salonians 4:7).
4 Through these—that is, through Christ’s glory and goodness (verse 3)—Christ has given us promises, promises of grace, forgiveness of sin, the Holy Spirit, new life, and adoption as children of God. We have been given these gifts, so that we might participate in the divine nature (see John 1:12; 1 John 3:2). We participate in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:13); we participate in the glory of Christ (Col-ossians 3:4; 1 Peter 5:1,10); and we also participate in the divine nature of Christ (see Romans 8:9; Galatians 2:20; 1 John 3:9 and comments).
Because we now participate in Christ’s divine nature, we must act as Christ would act. We must leave the corruption of the world with its evil desires and put on the qualities of Christ (see Ephesians 4:2024 and comment).
5-7 If we are children of God and participators in Christ’s nature, then we should be growing more like Christ day by day. We should not remain satisfied with our spiritual state, but should constantly press on (Philippians 3:12-14) until we attain to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
In verses 5-7, Peter describes some of the qualities ofChrist that should be increasing in our lives. The first he mentions is faith. Faith is always the first step of our Christian lives; faith is the foundation of all other Christian virtues. Next comes goodness, which Peter has already mentioned in verse 3 as being one of Christ’s qualities. Next is knowledge, by which we can distinguish between good and evil (Hebrews 5:11-14). Through a knowledge of Christ we obtain grace and peace (verse 2), and everything we need for life and godliness (verse 3). We must constantly grow in our knowledge of God and Christ (Colossians 1:10).
Next, in verse 6, Peter mentions self-control (see Galatians 5:23; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8 and comments). Next comes perseverance, which is the outward proof of our faith (see Mark 13:13; Galatians 5:22; Romans 5:3; Hebrews 12:2; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7 and comments). Next Peter mentions godliness.
Together with godliness, there must be brotherly kindness (verse 7). Anyone who says “I love God,” and mistreats his brother is a liar (1 John 4:20). Brotherly kindness or love is the main sign, the main proof, that we are indeed disciples of Christ (John 13:35). Brotherly love means that we carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), and that we bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2). Before we can love those outside the church, it is necessary to first love our fellow believers within the church (John 13:34; Romans 12:10; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22).
Finally, the greatest of all these virtues is love—love for God and for all people. This love is not only for fellow believers; it is for everyone, even evildoers, even our own enemies (Matthew 5:44; Mark12:30-31; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Colossians 3:14). This love is completely unselfish; it is a spiritual love. This love is not shown to another person according to that person’s worthiness or according to what that person can do for us. This love is freely shown to another person for that other person’s sake alone. This is the kind of love that God first showed to us (John 3:16), and it is this kind of love, therefore, that we should show to others (1 John 3:16).
8-9 The qualities that Peter has mentioned in verses 5-7 must continue to grow in us. If we do not keep growing spiritually, we will die spiritually. A plant either grows or it dies; it cannot remain the same. So it is with Christians. A plant can also be choked by weeds; in the same way, Christians can be spiritually choked by the cares and desires of the world, and thus become unproductive (Mark 4:7,18-19).
Therefore, let us strive to increase these virtues in our lives, so that we might bear much fruit for God. Because we glorify God most by bearing fruit for Him (John 15:8).
The Christian who does not have these qualities is spiritually blind. He is near-sighted; he can see only the nearby things of the world, but not the things of heaven. Such a Christian has forgotten that he is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17); he has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
10-11 Therefore … be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. In the work of our salvation, God has a part and we have a part. God must first choose us and call us (see John 6:44; Romans 8:29-30; 9:18; Ephesians 1:4-5 and comments). But after that, we ourselves must make our calling and election sure. God gives us faith (verse 1); but we must take that faith and place it on Jesus. God calls us; but we must then live a life worthy of that calling (Ephesians 4:1). We must continue to work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13). If we do these things, we shall never fall; that is, we shall not lose our salvation. We may stumble and lose the way from time to time (James 3:2), but we shall not completely fall away. Not only that, if we do these things, we will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord (verse 11). We won’t just barely enter God’s kingdom—like the man Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 3:14-15, whose work was burned up but he himself escaped through the flames. No, we will receive a rich welcome into God’s kingdom; we will enter with praise, glory and honor (1 Peter 1:7).
12-14 Christians need constant reminding of the great truths and doctrines of the Bible. Therefore, as long as he lives, Peter will continue to strengthen his brothers and to remind them of the things of Christ. But, as he writes this letter, Peter’s death is near. He calls his body a tent, which is about to be taken down (see 2 Corinthians 5:1). Even though Jesus told Peter that he would be put to death on a cross just as Jesus had been (John 21:18-19), Peter shows no fear of death. Because for Peter death is the doorway through which he will enter into God’s eternal kingdom.
15 Peter told what he knew about Christ to Mark. Then, according to what he had learned from Peter, Mark wrote the New p>Testament Gospel called Mark’s Gospel. Thus, through Mark’s Gospel (and Peter’s own two letters), Peter provided a means for Christians to always be able to remember these things.
The Glory of Christ (1:16-21)
16 When Peter wrote this letter, false teachers had arisen who were claiming that they had received special knowledge of Christ. But, according to Peter, their “knowledge” consisted of cleverly invented stories. But Peter’s knowledge was not invented; the things Peter spoke about he had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears. Peter had seen Jesus’ majesty when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain (Mark 9:2-8). He had heard God speak from heaven saying that Jesus was His Son.
When Peter mentions here the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, he could be referring either to Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain, or to His second coming at the end of the world, or to both. In Peter’s mind, Jesus would appear at His second coming just as He had appeared transfigured before Peter, James, and John on the mountain. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ second coming is mentioned immediately before Mark’s account of Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:1); thus in the minds of both Peter and Mark, the two events seem to be connected.
17-18 God descended in a cloud onto the mountain, and gave honor and glory to Christ (see Mark 9:7). Peter never forgot what he saw and heard at that time. It was then that Peter gained the certain knowledge that Jesus was indeed the Son ofGod, the King whose kingdom would last forever (Psalm 2:7; Daniel 7:13-14).
19 The Old Testament PROPHETS hadspo-ken many prophecies concerning Christ. During His time on earth, Christ fulfilled all of these prophecies. Thus Christ, through His life, made more certain the word ofthe prophets; that is, He confirmed everything the prophets had written about Him. The prophets had prophesied about the coming of a Messiah,1 a Savior; and Jesus was that Messiah and Savior.
Therefore, we need to pay close attention to both the Old and New Testaments ofthe Bible. We are only aliens and strangers on this dark earth (1 Peter 1:1; 2:11), and the Bible is like a light shining in a dark place (Psalm 119:105). Therefore, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in [our] hearts—that is, until Christ comes again—we must diligently obey what is written in the Bible (see Romans 13:12). In Revelation 2:28 and 22:16, Christ is called the morning star. Christ will “rise in our hearts”; and when this happens, we shall be transformed into His likeness (see 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 3:2).
20-21 We can trust the Old Testament prophets, because they did not write according to their own thoughts and understanding, as the false prophets did. The Old Testament PROPHECIES did not come about by the prophet’s own interpretation. Rather, the prophets wrote down what God spoke to them. The prophets were carried along or moved by God’s HOLY SPIRIT. The Greek word for carried along was commonly used in connection with sailing ships; such ships were “carried along” by the wind (see Acts 27:17). The sailors would put up the sails, and the wind carried the ship along. In the same way, the Old Testament prophets put up their “sails,” and the Holy Spirit carried them along. The prophets opened their mouths, and the Holy Spirit guided their thoughts and their tongues. For this reason, we can have complete confidence that every verse in the Bible is God’s own word, written by the direction of His Holy Spirit (see 2 Timothy 3:16 and comment; General Article: How We Got Our Bible).