The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to
observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
June 12, 2011
1) 2 Peter 1:1,2 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
2 Peter 1:1,2
by Tom Edwards
This epistle of 2 Peter was written to the same people to whom Peter
addressed his first epistle. Consider, for example, 2 Peter
3:1: "This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you
in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder."
And to whom had Peter written his first epistle? To those
Christians, primarily Gentiles, who had been scattered throughout
"Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia...." (1 Pet.
1:1). All of these places were located in Asia Minor.
Peter wrote this letter about A.D. 65 or 66.
While that first epistle dealt with helping the saints through the
"fiery trials" of persecution, this second letter was to help them
against the dangers of false teachers. So whereas the first epistle
could bring hope and a positive outlook in spite of their adversities,
the second would help fortify them with "the true knowledge" of God to
keep them on the right path (2 Pet. 1:3,4) and to exhort them toward
adding needful virtues to their faith in order to attain to that
ultimate goal of heaven (1:5-11).
Peter begins this epistle by saying, "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"
(2 Pet. 1:1). In 1 Peter 1:1, Peter refers to himself as only
"Peter" (translated from the Greek word "Petros," which corresponds
with "Cephas," the Aramaic name that Jesus gave to him); but now, in
this second epistle, he includes his Jewish name
of "Simon" along with it.
Though Peter was part of that "inner three" (made up of himself, James,
and John -- apostles who had experienced some miraculous events with
Jesus that the other apostles had not), Peter describes himself in
humble fashion as simply being a "bond-servant" of Jesus Christ.
Thayer defines the Greek word ("doulos") as "1) a slave, bondman, man
of servile condition 1a) a slave 1b) metaphorically, one
who gives himself up to another's will, those whose service is used by
Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men 1c) devoted
to another to the disregard of one's own interests 2) a servant,
attendant." Paul also uses this same word in referring to himself
in Titus 1:1 and elsewhere; and so does James in James 1:1, Jude
in Jude 1:1, and John in Rev. 1:1. And this should also be true of
every Christian: For "The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome,
but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged" (2 Tim. 2:24).
This term is even used in referring to Jesus (Phil. 2:5-8), which
corresponds to Matthew 20:25-28, where the Lord expresses an idea that
is contrary to the thinking of many today: Those who wish to become
great are to be servants, and those who desire to be first shall be
slaves. The Lord then likens this to Himself: "just as the Son of
Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a
ransom for many." "Slave" and "Slaves," by far, are the most common
renderings of this Greek word "doulos" in the NT. Together, they
are used at least 97 times.
Peter speaks of those whom he is addressing as having "received a faith
of the same kind as ours...." Here, "faith" is used in the
objective sense. It is not talking about one's personal belief in
God (which would be a subjective faith); but, rather, the gospel
itself. Faith is also used objectively in Jude 1:3 to stand
for the gospel, where Jude exhorts the brethren to "contend earnestly
for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints"; and in
Acts 6:7, where Luke points out that "a great many of the priests were
becoming obedient to the faith." So when the Bible speaks of
there being just "one faith" (Eph. 4:5), we think of the one true
gospel (cf. Gal. 1:6,7), which is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17).
This is what Paul preached: "but only, they kept hearing, 'He who once
persecuted us is now preaching the faith which he once tried to
destroy'" (Gal. 1:23).
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could say concerning the different
religious people today, what Peter had said to those whom he is
addressing? That they had all received the same kind of faith.
Unfortunately, the world today embraces many different kinds of
faiths. For instance, we might think, in addition to
Christianity, of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Bahai'
Faith, Confucianism, Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism, Vodun (a.k.a. Voodoo),
just to name a few. But what about the different "faiths" even in
what many would classify under "Christianity"? For can we really
say that the Catholic faith is the same as the Mormon faith, or that
the Baptist faith is the same as the Jehovah Witness faith, or that the
Seventh Day Adventist faith is the same as the Amish faith, and so
on? As we saw previously, "faith" in the NT is sometimes used to
stand for the NT itself. But instead of accepting just the NT for
what many people believe and practice today in religious matters, a
wide variety of groups have simply come up with their own human creeds
that will distinguish one denomination from another. And that
these different creeds form different "faiths," can be seen in the
meaning of "creed" itself. For "creed" is from the Latin "credo"
and literally means, "I believe." So these different creeds
represent the beliefs of different religious groups -- and, often,
beliefs that wrongly add to and/or leave out parts of God's word, thus
corrupting it; and doing such is clearly shown to be wrong in both the
OT and NT times (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18,19; Gal. 1:6-9). So all
these different creeds are actually different "faiths" -- regardless of
whether the adherents call themselves Christians or not. No
wonder there are probably many people who do not even know what to
believe -- especially when they are looking to men instead of the Bible
to guide them. For there are so many different religious beliefs
today among those who even call themselves "Christians."
Denominationalism abounds with conflicting man-made doctrines, and it
has continued to become even more varied with different religious
bodies, as time goes on.
In contrast to that, denominationalism did not even exist, during the
time of the early church. Peter, therefore, speaks of these
brethren as having "received a faith of the same kind as ours" (2 Pet.
1:1). And that is how it should also be in our day -- rather than
having a multiplicity of religious denominations. For Jesus
prayed that His people would be one the way that He and His Father are
one (Jn. 17:20-23), and the Lord even died a cruel, torturous death so
that kind of unity could be (Eph. 2:13-22). In addition, the NT
commands that Christians be of the same mind when it comes to religious
matters (1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:3; Phil. 1:27; 2:2). So we should
all be content with just God's word for our only creed, instead of
following the religious creeds made by men, which continue to keep
people away from the unity that only God's word can bring. As
someone once indicated about human creeds, "If they don't contain all
the gospel, they don't contain enough. If they contain more than
the gospel, they contain too much. But if they contain the exact
message of the gospel, then who needs them? Let's just live
according to the gospel!"
As we saw in Ephesians 4:5, there is only "one faith"; but let us
consider also the context (vv. 4-6): "There is one body and one Spirit,
just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one
faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and
through all and in all." Is it not inconsistent when people
rightly affirm that there is only one Spirit, one Lord, and one God and
Father; but then try to justify the belief and practice of many
different bodies, many different hopes, many different baptisms, and
many different faiths?
The truth of just "one faith" can also be seen in Titus 1:4, where Paul
refers to Titus as being "my true child in a common faith."
A "common" faith is one that is to be shared -- rather than a different
faith for each person. For there is only one gospel.
Bullinger defines the Greek word for "common" as, "pertaining equally
to all...." It is also seen in Jude 1:3, where Jude speaks of the
"common salvation." He doesn't mean that salvation is just some
"ordinary, everyday thing"; but, rather, that there is just one plan of
salvation for everyone -- whether Jew or Gentile, male or female,
etc. Throughout the entire Gospel Age, everyone has had to do the
same thing to become a Christian: hear the gospel (Rom. 10:17), believe
in the deity of Jesus (Jn. 8:24), repent of sin (Luke 13:5), confess
faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), and be baptized in water
(Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet.
3:21). There is also a common need for the Christian to continue
in the faith in order to reach the goal of heaven (Rev. 2:10; Heb.
10:36-39; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
Therefore, how important it is for us to not only accept, but also to
increase in that common faith. For consider these following
verses on it:
1) We are to "...walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7).
This is expressing the same idea of Galatians 3:11 that we are to
"...live by faith." So the faith of the gospel instills not only
the right beliefs, but also a daily way of life for us.
2) We are also to "...stand firm in the faith..." (1 Cor.
16:13). This, as well as the previous verses, indicates the need
to know the gospel in order to accomplish what is commanded.
(Consider also Colossians 1:23.)
3) This one faith, which we need to work at, is what can bring
every person into unity, if accepted: Philippians 1:27, "...with
one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."
4) Faith also serves as a "shield" (Eph. 6:16) and a
"breastplate" (1 Thess. 5:8) to protect us against the enemy.
5) It's interesting, too, to see that phrase "work of faith" used
in the Scriptures (1 Thess. 1:3 and 2 Thess. 1:11). Though many
today view work and faith as being two separate and incompatible things
that are not to be combined if we want to be saved by faith and grace,
this is not what the Bible shows. Rather, "faith without works is dead"
(James 2:26). And even believing, according to Jesus in John
6:29, is a work that we must do. So having faith involves action;
and without that action, faith will become useless. As we think
about faith coupled with action, how about Paul's exhortation to
Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12 that he "Fight the good fight of
faith...."? From that, we can infer that faith needs to be worked
at, even when striving to maintain it is very challenging. So
rather than faith being a passive thing, it is just the opposite.
6) Faith is to be "pursued," according to 2 Timothy 2:22, along
with righteousness, love, and peace. So we just don't wait for it
to come to us; rather, we must go after it. This is also seen in Romans
10:17. For rather than faith automatically filling our hearts and
minds, if we want that faith, we must hear God's word. And that,
in itself, also involves effort (or work) on our part -- whether we are
studying God's word for ourselves or even in hearing it preached.
Peter shows that this faith was received "...by the righteousness of
our God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (2 Pet. 2:1). We realize that
God is a righteous being. His righteousness has been referred to
as one of His essential attributes. Everything the Lord does is
done by His righteousness; and, therefore, everything He does is always
But there is also another sense in which the phrase "righteousness of
God" is used in the Scriptures and that is with regard to the gospel
itself, which reveals God's righteous plan of salvation.
Consider, for instance, Romans 1:16,17: "For I am not ashamed of
the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who
believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the
righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written,
'BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.'" According to this
passage, the righteousness of God is seen in connection with how men
are to live by faith. It, therefore, is not merely speaking of
God being a righteous God; but, rather, emphasizing His righteous plan
of salvation. This can also be inferred from Romans 10:1-3: "Brethren,
my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their
salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for
God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about
God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not
subject themselves to the righteousness of God." These Jews were
highly religious people. They believed in God and knew that He
was righteous and holy; but what they did not know was His righteous
plan of salvation, which is revealed in the gospel. For
they had rejected that. So since they didn't know of God's
"righteousness," they sought to establish their own. Many in the
NT times had wrongly sought to justify themselves by the OT Law of
Moses, while rejecting God's righteous plan of salvation as set forth
in the gospel.
Peter then says in 2 Peter 1:2, "Grace and peace be multiplied to you
in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." We have
seen previously that this salutation of wishing someone "grace and
peace" was common at that time and used in most of the NT epistles
(Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians,
Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2
Timothy, Titus, Philemon, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 2 John, and Revelation).
The word "knowledge" is not from the Greek word "gnosis"; but, instead,
from "epignosis." Thayer defines it as "precise and correct knowledge
1a) used in the NT of the knowledge of things ethical and
divine." Vine differentiates between these two Greek words by
pointing out that epignosis "...suggests...a more special recognition
of the object 'known' than does 'gnosis.'" Some refer to
epignosis as "full knowledge." Guy N. Woods points out that "It
involves much more than the possession of facts," but that it also
"includes the idea of deep and loving contemplation...."
So taking the time to investigate God's word can not only lead to
acquiring faith and increasing in that faith, but also in developing a
love for God that is manifest in obedience, along with increasing one's
zeal toward carrying out the Lord's commands and developing a good,
spiritual life that is a blessing now -- and that which leads to that
unmatchable blessing to come!
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians continue to remember Danny Holton in our prayers, who has
been diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ
(Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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