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 26, 2011


1) 2 Peter 1:5-9 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


2 Peter 1:5-9
by Tom Edwards

In 2 Peter 1:5-9, Peter sets forth various qualities, or virtues, that we are to add to our faith.  As we think of each one of these, let us ask ourselves, "What good would my faith be without this specific, additional quality in my life?"  So though we might often use James 2:26 to prove that "faith without works is dead," this passage in 2 Peter 1 also shows that faith must be combined with other things to be effectual and not useless.  

Peter begins in this passage by saying, "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence...."  "Diligence" comes from the Greek word "spoude," which Thayer defines as "1) haste, with haste.  2) earnestness, diligence.  2a) earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything.  2b) to give all diligence, interest one's self most earnestly."  Bullinger defines it as "speed, haste, as manifested in earnestness, diligence, zeal."  We can see this word illustrated in the case of  Mary.  For after she had been informed by an angel that she would give birth to the Son of God, and that her relative Elizabeth (who had been barren and in her old age) was now in her sixth month of pregnancy, "...Mary arose and went with HASTE to the hill country, to a city of Judah" to see Elizabeth (Luke 1:39).  Mary had heard great things from God that had given her motivation, and the same should also be true of us.  Jude uses this same Greek word in Jude 1:3, where he speaks of "making every EFFORT to write you about our common salvation...."  The dictionary defines the English word "diligence" as "constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken" (Random House Webster's College Dictionary).  Peter shows that this diligence is to be used in supplying our faith with certain virtues.  

The first virtue he mentions to add to our faith is "moral excellence," which the KJV renders as "virtue" (2 Pet. 1:5).  The Greek word, "arete," Thayer defines as, "1) a virtuous course of thought, feeling and action.  1a) virtue, moral goodness  2) any particular moral goodness, as modesty, purity."   It is the same Greek word that Paul uses in Philippians 4:8, where he states, "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any EXCELLENCE and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." It is also the same word that Peter had used earlier in verse 3, where he speaks of God's calling "by His own glory and EXCELLENCE"; and in 1 Peter 2:9, where, because the Christians are of a "chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession" that they are to "proclaim the EXCELLENCIES of Him who has called" them "out of darkness into His marvelous light."  Many Bible translations render this as "virtue" in 2 Peter 1:5, which the dictionary primarily defines as "conformity of one's life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; moral excellence; rectitude."  It is also translated in this verse, as "worthiness" (Young's Literal Translation), "noble character" (Weymouth NT), and "goodness" (NIV).  So the Christian is to be good, noble, virtuous, and of moral excellence.  

To "moral excellence," "knowledge" is to be added (2 Pet. 1:5).  For apart from the knowledge of God's word, how could we even totally know what moral excellence is?  The Greek word for knowledge (in this verse) is "gnosis," which is most commonly rendered as "knowledge" in the NT; though it is also translated as "knowing"  in Philippians 3:8, where Paul states, "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of KNOWING Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ."  We have probably all heard of others referring to things that were not worth knowing; but Paul is showing in this passage of that which is worth knowing above anything else -- and that is the "surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus...."   So when we think of Christ, we should realize that our knowledge of Him and His word is, by far, the greatest knowledge we could ever acquire.  The only other place where this Greek word is rendered differently is in 1 Peter 3:7, where, in the NASB, Peter exhorts the husbands to "live with your wives in an UNDERSTANDING WAY..."  (KJV: "according to knowledge").  The idea of knowledge being added to our faith might remind us of Romans 10:17, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Faith comes through the knowledge of God's word, and it is also strengthened by it, as Acts 20:32 shows: "And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified."

Something else to add to our faith is "self-control" (2 Peter. 1:6).  The Greek word is "egkrateia," which has been defined as "the virtue of one who masters his desires and passions, especially his sensual appetites" (Thayer).  The KJV renders it as "temperance."  It is seen as being a "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:23, and is the "opposite of self-indulgence" (Bullinger).  And can we not infer the importance of it from the message to Felix, in which Paul discussed "righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come" (Acts 24:25). We realize how important obtaining righteousness is, since we have all fallen short of it, and the seriousness of the judgment to come, which every accountable person will undergo; and right there in the middle of those two teachings, Paul points out the need for self-control that can help one to be righteous and prepared for the judgment.  It is easy to see, therefore, how important it is for our faith to be govern by self-control. For we need it not only to help us abstain from that which we must, but also to do the things we should.  

Peter then shows that faith needs to also be combined with "perseverance" (2 Pet. 1:6).  The KJV, and some other translations, render this as "patience."  Strong defines the Greek word ("hupomone") as "cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy...."  Thayer also defines it as "endurance" and "constancy," but also as  "steadfastness" and points out that in the NT it is "characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings...."  Especially in view of the early persecutions for simply being a Christian, how important this virtue of perseverance would have been for them, to maintain their commitment to God regardless of the opposition.  It would help them to keep the faith -- rather than to deny it.  Some translations render "hupomone" as "endurance" in 2 Peter 1:6.  The  need for this type of perseverance can also be seen in the words of Jesus in Luke 21:19, "By your ENDURANCE you will gain your lives."  And, going along with that, consider Hebrews 10:36: "For you have need of ENDURANCE, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised."  Though the NASB renders this Greek word several times as "endurance," its most common rendering is simply "perseverance."  The need for it is also seen in Luke 8:15: "And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with PERSEVERANCE."  Compare also Romans 2:7, "to those who by PERSEVERANCE in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life."  Since perseverance is a needful virtue, how can we increase that in our lives?  One way is to keep faithful during trying times.  For Romans 5:3,4 shows that we can "exult" even in tribulation, for "tribulation brings about PERSEVERANCE; and PERSEVERANCE, proven character; and proven character, hope."

In addition to perseverance, Peter next shows that we need to add "godliness" to our faith (2 Pet. 1:6).  We saw in last week's lesson that this term comes from the Greek word "eusebeia," which Thayer defines as "1) reverence, respect 2) piety towards God, godliness."  Bullinger shows that the Greek word "relates to [a] real, true, vital, and spiritual relation with God."  And the dictionary defines the English word "godly" to mean primarily, "obeying and revering God; devout; pious."

Peter then shows the need to add "brotherly kindness" to one's faith (2 Pet. 1:7).  It is from the Greek word "philadelphia," which Thayer defines as "1) love of brothers or sisters, brotherly love.  2) in the NT the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren."  Peter had made reference to this back in 1 Peter 1:22, where he uses the Greek word "philadelphia" that is translated as "LOVE OF THE BRETHREN."  Paul also uses the same Greek word in Romans 12:10, where he exhorts the brethren to "Be devoted to one another in BROTHERLY LOVE; give preference to one another in honor."  And the Hebrew writer begins his last chapter by saying, "Let LOVE OF THE BRETHREN continue" (Heb. 13:1).  

Lastly, Peter exhorts the brethren to add to their faith the highest form of love -- and that being the agape love (2 Pet. 1:7).  This is the same love that caused God to send His only  begotten Son to our world, according to John 3:16, that sinners could be saved through Him.  It's the love we are also to have for even our enemies (Matt. 5:44).  

Note what Peter then says about those who have and have not these virtues: "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. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins" (2 Pet. 1:8,9).  Not only do we need to have these qualities, but we also need to be increasing in them, as Peter mentions in this verse, as well as in the last verse of this epistle: "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen" (2 Pet. 3:18).  We are mindful of the time the apostles asked the Lord to "increase" their faith in Luke 17:5; and Paul's desire for the Thessalonians was that the Lord would cause them to "increase and abound in love for one another, and for all men..." (1 Thess. 3:12).   In other words, no matter how good a person is, who would not be better by increasing in these virtues Peter speaks of in 2 Peter 1:5-7?  Would it not be to our advantage to increase in diligence, in moral excellence, in knowledge, in self-control, in perseverance, in godliness, in brotherly kindness, and in love?  Peter shows that we need these virtues so that we will not become "useless nor unfruitful."   So how important they are!  For Jesus makes it very clear of what will happen to those who do not bear fruit in John 15:1-8; and these verses also refute the misconception that many believe today about fruitfulness (or obedience) being nothing more than an option for "special rewards" in heaven, but not as necessities for salvation.  But if that be true then what did Jesus mean by the unfruitful branch being "thrown away" and "cast... into the fire" (v. 6)?  And what did the Hebrew writer mean in Hebrews 5:9 by saying that Jesus "...became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation"?  Clearly, meeting God's conditions (through obedience) is necessary.  For Jesus says, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). Since this is so, notice Paul's prayer for the Colossians: "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col. 1:9-12).  To not strive to be fruitful would put one in the same category as the non-Christians; and, as Peter shows in 2 Peter 1:6, that would make one "useless."  The only other place where this particular Greek word for "useless" in 2 Peter 1:6 is used is over in James 2:20, which states, "But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?"  So just as faith without works is useless, even so a Christian becomes useless when his life is unfruitful.  This truth is also shown in Titus 1:16, where Paul speaks of those who "...profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed."  So we must always strive to be active and productive in the kingdom of God, as Paul urges, as well, in Titus 3:14: "Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful."

The condition of those who would be running short on these virtues in 2 Peter 1:5-7 isn't a good one.  Peter says, "For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins."  We can infer from this passage that to truly see spiritually, we must be developing these virtues of 2 Peter 1:5-7 in our lives.  For to not do so, will cause us to be spiritually blind or have our spiritual vision impaired.  And not only that, but it can also make us forgetful -- and a forgetfulness of the worst kind -- to have actually forgotten the time when our sins were blotted out by the blood of Christ.  Similarly, we think of the time in which Israel of old is referred to as having forgotten about God -- even after He had done so much for them.  But by their going into transgression, it was as if they had forgotten all about Him.  May that not be the case with us.  Rather, let us always strive to live for the Lord, developing the virtues of 2 Peter 1:5-7, that we might be of good use for our Master in heaven -- and be ever mindful of Him.  


News & Notes

For those of us who are Christians, let us continue praying for the following people:

Danny Holton, who has pancreatic cancer in the 4th stage.  After seeking a second opinion from another doctor, Danny was told the same as the first. They do not recommend chemotherapy.

Anthony Branton, Ken Robertson's nephew, who recently had surgery in New Orleans for Crohn's disease.   Though initially the surgeon's intention was to remove just several inches of the large intestine, during the procedure, the surgeon soon found that Anthony's condition had been much worse than originally thought.  So it turned out that all of his large intestine had to be removed.  Anthony is only 28 years old.  

R.J. Evans, who is now on his third type of antibiotic to try to lower his PSA level (which can be indicative toward prostate cancer).  Though the doctor thinks it is probably just an infection, rather than anything more serious, it is always good to be precautious with prayer.

Cheryl Crews, who has had to miss many services over the last couple months, due to an intestinal infection and other physical problems.

Shirley Young, who often suffers with fibromyalgia.  This had acted up again recently giving her much pain.

Peggy Lefort, who has recently become ill with an infection.

Jean Calloway, who has physical ailments.  She continues to be on oxygen -- and uses the portable type when she can be with us at church.

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; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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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