Where the world comes to study the Bible

II Peter 1

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS*

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Salutation Greeting the Faithful Salutation Introduction Greetings
1:1-2 1:1-4 1:1-2 1:1 1:1-2
      1:2  
The Christian's Call and Election   Exhortations to Holiness God's Call and Election The Generosity of God
1:3-11   1:3-11 1:3-9 1:3-11
  Fruitful Growth in the Faith      
  1:5-11      
  Peter's Approaching Death     The Apostolic Witness
1:12-15 1:12-15 1:12-15 1:12-15 1:12-15
Christ's Glory and the Prophetic Word The Trustworthy Prophetic Word   Eyewitnesses of Christ's Glory  
1:16-21 1:16-21 1:16-18 1:16-18 1:16-18
        The Value of Prophecy
    1:19-21 1:19-21 1:19-21

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

1.  First paragraph

2.  Second paragraph

3.  Third paragraph

4.  Etc.

 

* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions.
  In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspired—readers have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives.
  Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Brief Definitions of Greek Grammatical StructureTextual Criticism, and Glossary.

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS INTO VERSES 1-11

A. Verses 1-11 are one sentence in Greek which combines both aspects of covenant: a sovereign free grace and the mandated Christlike life.

 

B. The outline seems to be

1. traditional introduction (2 Pet. 1:1-2)

a. from whom

b. to whom

c. greeting

2. verses 3-4 — God's part

3. verses 5-7 — believer's part

4. verses 8-9 — positive and negative aspects of faithfulness

5. verses 10-11 — assurance through lifestyle godliness

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 1:1-11
 1Simon 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: 2Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

1:1 "Simon" This is literally "Symeon" (see Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary On the Greek New Testament, p. 699). This is Peter's Hebrew name, and the name of one of the Twelve tribes. This same form appears only in Acts 15:14. If this letter were a pseudonym, the author surely would have used the more common spelling "Simon."

"Peter" This is literally Petros, which is Greek for a large rock or boulder. It was the nickname given to Simon by Jesus in Matt. 16:18 and also John 1:42. In this passage in John the Aramaic term Cephas is mentioned. In daily conversation Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Hebrew nor Greek. Paul often uses Cephas (cf. 1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Gal. 1:18; 2:9,11,14).

There has been much discussion between Catholic and Protestant Bible scholars about the significance of this name change (which has OT significance of Abram, Jacob, etc.). In Matt. 16:18 Peter the rock is said to be the foundation of the church. Protestants have always made it a theological point to note that "Peter" is masculine (i.e., Petros), but "rock" is feminine (i.e., Petra), thereby Peter's confession of faith, not Peter himself, is the bedrock of the church. However, this distinction in Greek grammar would not have been present in Aramaic, where Cephas would have been used in both places.

As a theologian I do not want to deny the obvious leadership of Peter, but I also realize that the other Apostles did not recognize his priority (cf. Mark 9:34; Luke 9:46; 22:24-27; Matt. 20:20-24). Even though Jesus did not conversationally speak in Greek, the inspired text is recorded in Greek, therefore, the grammatical distinction is assumed to be inspired.

"a bondservant" This is the Greek term doulos, which refers to a servant or slave. This is either the OT honorific background of "servant of the Lord" (i.e., Moses, Joshua, David, and Isaiah) or the NT focus on humility in relation to Jesus as Lord (cf. Matt. 10:24-25).

"apostle" This is obviously a literary way for the author of 2 Peter to assert his identity as an eyewitness, follower, and chosen disciple of Jesus.

The term "apostle" comes from the Greek verb "I send" (apostellō). Jesus chose twelve of His disciples to be with Him in a special sense and called them "Apostles" (cf. Luke 6:13). This term was often used of Jesus being sent from the Father (cf. Matt. 10:40; 15:24; Mark 9:37; Luke 9:48; John 4:34; 5:24, 30, 36, 37,38,40,57; 7:29; 8:42; 10:36; 11:42; 17:3,8,18,21, 23,25; 20:21). In Jewish sources it was used of someone sent as an official representative of another, similar to "ambassador" (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20). Peter is asserting his Christ-given authority!

It came to have an expanded usage beyond "The Twelve" (cf. Acts 14:4, 14, Barnabas; Rom. 16:7, Andronicus and Junias; 1 Cor. 4:6, 9; 12:28-29; 15:7, Apollos; Phil. 2:25, Epaphroditus; 1 Thess. 2:6, Silvanus and Timothy). Their exact task is uncertain, but it involves proclamation of the gospel and servant leadership of the church. It is even possible that Rom. 16:7 (KJV "Junia") refers to a feminine apostle!

▣ "Jesus Christ" See notes at 1 Peter 1:1.

NASB, NRSV,
NJB"to those who have received a faith"
NKJV"to those who have obtained like precious faith"
TEV"to those. . .have been given a faith"

This is an aorist active participle from the term (lagchanō), which referred to casting lots

1. as in gambling (cf. John 19:24)

2. as a sense of a duty or obligation (cf. Luke 1:9)

3. as a way of showing divine choice (cf. Acts 1:17)

It can simply mean to "obtain" or "receive," but it can have the added connotation in the LXX usage of "by the will of God." This same theme is in 2 Pet. 1:3 and 4 "granted" (twice) and "called" ; also note 2 Pet. 1:10 "His calling and choosing you."

This ambiguity is exactly the same as the paradox of salvation. Is salvation by the choice of God or the choice of the one receiving it? The answer is surely yes! The Bible is very clear that this is God's world. He is involved in all aspects. He has chosen to deal with conscious creation by covenant. He initiates the contact. He sets the agenda, but He has demanded that we respond (i.e., initially and continually).

These readers received a faith that was God's will for them (and for all).

The term "faith" is from the Greek term pistis, which is translated into English as "faith," "trust," or "believe." Originally in Hebrew this concept referred to a stable stance, but it came to denote someone who was faithful, loyal, trustworthy, or dependable. In the Bible it is not the believer's faith, but God's faithfulness; not the believer's trust, but God's trustworthiness. See Special Topic at Mark 1:15.

NASB"of the same kind as ours"
NKJV"like precious"
NRSV, TEV,
NJB"as precious as"

This is the Greek compound term isotimos, a compound of isos (i.e., equal, like, or corresponding to) and timē (i.e., price, value, or worth with the connotation of precious or costly). The faith given by God was of inestimable value (cf. 1 Pet. 1:7) and all believers share in the same kind of faith. There is not one faith for Apostles and another for Jews and Gentiles or for other believers (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). There are different gifts, but only one faith (cf. Eph. 4:5).

▣ "righteousness" This refers not to our imputed righteousness (cf. Romans 4), but to Christ's (cf. Acts 3:14; 7:52; 22:14; 1 John 2:1,29; 3:7). See SPECIAL TOPIC: RIGHTEOUSNESS at 1 Pet. 3:14. This is the clearest place in the NT where Theos is applied to Jesus.

This Greek root (which reflects the Hebrew root צרק, BDB 841) is used several times in 2 Peter.

1. righteous, just (dikaios) – 2:8, righteous man

2. righteous, justice (dikniosunē)

1:1 – Jesus' righteousness

2:5 – Noah's righteousness (cf. Gen. 7:1)

2:21 – the way of righteousness

3:13 – the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells

3. right (dikaion)

1:13 – right, proper

2:7 – the righteous Lot

2:8 – the righteous man

Jesus is righteous; believers are righteous in Him; therefore, they should live in righteousness, which reflects the new age!

▣ "our God and Savior, Jesus Christ" This phrase refers to Jesus alone.

1. the definite article only before the first noun (Granville Sharp's rule)

2. the grammatical form of all four key terms, "God," "Savior," "Jesus," and "Christ" (genitive masculine singulars)

3. the recurrent grammatical form (except "Lord" instead of "God") in 2 Pet. 1:11; 2:20; and 3:18

4. A. T. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. 6, p. 148, reminds us that in 2 Peter gnōsis and epignōsis are always used of Jesus

5. there are other places in the NT where Jesus' deity is affirmed (cf. John 1:1; 8:57-58; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:6-11; 2 Thess. 1:12; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; and 1 John 5:20), which is shocking in light of OT monotheism

In the OT "Savior" is usually used of YHWH, but occasionally of the Messiah. In the NT it usually refers to God the Father. In Titus the phrase is used three times of the Father (cf. Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4), yet in the same contexts also of Jesus (cf. Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:6). In 2 Peter it is used exclusively and often of Jesus (cf. 2 Pet. 1:1,11; 2:20; 3:2,18).

1:2 "Grace and peace be multiplied to you" This is similar to 1 Pet. 1:2. Paul often used "grace and peace," but followed it with "from God our father" and often added "and the Lord Jesus Christ."

Grace reflects the truth that sinful mankind's salvation and fellowship result from the character and provision of God. This new (i.e., restored) relationship with God results in peace. Humans were created for fellowship with God, in whose image we were created, and with each other. Grace always precedes peace! The verb is an aorist passive optative. This is a prayer. Peter wants God to give both grace and peace.

▣ "in the knowledge of God" The grace and peace are given by God (i.e., passive voice) through an experiential knowledge (epignōsis) of both Himself and His Son.

Knowledge is a recurrent theme in 2 Peter, probably because of the false teachers (i.e., Gnostics), like Colossians and 1 John.

 

1. epignosis (full knowledge); epignōskō (to know fully)
2 Pet. 1:2
2 Pet. 1:3
2 Pet. 1:8
2 Pet. 2:20
2. gnosis (knowledge) 
2 Pet. 1:5
2 Pet. 1:6

 

2 Pet. 2:21 (twice)

ginōskō (to know)
2 Pet. 1:20
2 Pet. 3:3
gnōrizō (to make known)
2 Pet. 1:16

The false teachers of chapter two seem to have the characteristics of what was later called antinomian gnosticism. This developed system of philosophical/theological heresy developed in the second century, but had its roots in the first century. It is characterized by an exclusivism based on secret knowledge. Salvation was related to this knowledge, not to ethics. See Special Topic at 1 Pet. 3:22.

▣ "of God and of Jesus our Lord" I made the following grammatical points in 2 Pet. 1:1 related to a similar phrase referring solely to Jesus.

1. one article

2. all genitive forms

These same grammatical features are found in this phrase also which must add some degree of scepticism about whether 2 Pet. 1:1 refers to Jesus alone or to the Father and the Son. However, the difference involves a complicated Greek manuscript variation. The grammar of 2 Pet. 1:1 has no variation in the Greek manuscripts. For a complete listing of the variations see the footnote of the United Bible Society's fourth edition Greek New Testament, p. 799and Bart Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, p. 85).

1:3-7 This is one long Greek sentence.

1:3 "seeing" The NASB (UPDATED) is rather idiomatic here. The participle "seeing" is not in the Greek text.

▣ "His" This pronoun refers either to God the Father or God the Son. All of the pronouns in these opening verses are similarly ambiguous. This is a characteristic of Peter. It is possible that this is a purposeful ambiguity (i.e., double entendre, as in John's writings). Jesus is identified as "God" in 2 Pet. 1:1; both the Father and the Son are linked grammatically in 2 Pet. 1:2; and the adjective "divine" in 2 Pet. 1:3 refers to both.

▣ "has granted to us" This is a perfect middle (deponent) participle. This form of the Greek word (dōreomai from didōmi) is used only in Mark (cf. Mark 15:45) and Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 1:3,4), which may illustrate Mark's Gospel and 1 Peter's literary relationship.

▣ "everything pertaining to life" Verse three is basically a refutation of the Gnostic false teachers' theological separation of salvation through secret knowledge and daily godly living. Deity provides for eternal life (i.e., zoe) and daily Christlikeness (i.e., eusebeia). True knowledge is faith in Jesus Christ that impacts daily living. Believers have all they need spiritually in Christ! We do not need to seek a deeper truth experience!

▣ "godliness" This compound word (i.e., eusebia) comes from "well" and "worship." It has the connotation of daily living acceptable to God. Peter repeatedly emphasizes the need for godliness because of the false teachers' neglect of personal ethics and morality (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3,6,7; 2:9; 3:11). See fuller note at 2 Pet. 1:6.

NASB"the true knowledge"
NKJV, NRSV,
NJB"the knowledge"
TEV"our knowledge"

This is another slap at the false teacher's emphasis on secret knowledge (cf. 2 Pet. 2:20-21). The gospel, as preached by the Apostles, is the true knowledge and Jesus is the truth (cf. John 14:6). This is the intensified form, epignōsis, which has the connotation of experiential knowledge (cf. 2 Pet. 1:2,3,8; 2:20). The gospel is a person and He must be experienced, not just theologically defined.

▣ "of Him who called us" This verb is used several times in Peter (1 Pet. 1:15; 2:9,21; 3:9; 5:10; 2 Pet. 1:3). It always refers to a call from God. No person comes to God unless the Spirit draws him (cf. John 6:44.65; Eph. 1:4-5).

"by His own glory and excellence" There is a Greek manuscript variation at this point.

1. Manuscripts P72, B, K, L, and most minuscules have dia (through) glory and virtue (cf. NKJV).

2. Manuscripts א, A, C, P, and most ancient translations have idia (His own) glory and virtue (cf. NASB, NRSV, TEV, NJB).

The exegetical question is, "Are believers called (1) by means of deity's (i.e., Father or Son) qualities or (2) to share these qualities?" The UBS4 translation committee gives a "B" (almost certain) rating to option number 1.

1:4 "For by these He has granted us" This is a perfect middle (deponent) indicative matching the participle in 2 Pet. 1:3. Deity's divine power has given and continues to give believers all they need both initially (justification) and continually (sanctification) by means of His promises.

NASB"precious and magnificent promises"
NKJV"exceedingly great and precious promises"
NRSV"precious and very great promises"
TEV"the very great and precious gifts he promised"
NJB"the greatest and precious promises"

These descriptive terms must refer to the gospel, whereby believers become partakers of the divine nature (i.e., the indwelling Holy Spirit). Fallen mankind's hope is the steadfast and gracious character of God, expressed through His promises (i.e., both OT, but especially in Christ, cf. Heb. 6:17-18). The order of these two terms fluctuates in the Greek manuscripts.

The term "precious" was used in 1 Pet. 1:19 for the sacrificial blood of Christ. The term forms the root of the name "Timothy."

▣ "partakers of the divine nature" This refers to (1) the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3), which comes at salvation or (2) another way of referring to the new birth (cf. 1 Pet. 1:3,23). This is so different from the Greek philosophical concept (although the terminology is from the Stoics) of the divine spark in all humans from creation. This does not mean we are gods or will ever be, but we are meant to be like Jesus (cf. I Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:4; John 3:2). Believers are to model the family characteristics of God (i.e., the image of God). The term "divine" used in both 2 Pet. 1:3 and 4 is theios, which means "godly" or "god-like."

▣ "having escaped" This word appears only in 2 Peter in the NT (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4; 2:18,20). This is an aorist active participle, implying a completed act (i.e., salvation, the time of receiving the gospel, cf. 2 Pet. 1:1).

"the corruption that is in the world by lust" The issue in 2 Peter is false teachers who were advocating a special secret knowledge (i.e., Gnosticism), but depreciating daily godly living (cf. 1 Pet. 1:14; 2:11; 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:10,18). Chapter one responds to this error in 2 Pet. 1:3-11!

Believers' lives are evidence of (not the basis of) their true conversion (cf. James and 1 John). No fruit, no root (cf. Mark 4:1-20).

1:5 "Now for this very reason" This refers to believers' response to God's gifts and promises in 2 Pet. 1:3-4 (cf. Phil. 2:12-13). See SPECIAL TOPIC: VICES AND VIRTUES at 1 Pet. 4:3.

NASB"applying all diligence. . .supply"
NKJV"giving all diligence, add"
NRSV"you must make every effort to support"
TEV"do your best to add"
NJB"do your utmost to support"

Literally this is "bringing all diligence, supply. . ." This is an aorist active participle used as an imperative and an aorist active imperative. God has wonderfully provided salvation (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3-4); now believers must walk in it (cf. 2 Pet. 1:5-7). The gospel is absolutely free from (1) the will of God; (2) the finished work of Christ; and (3) the wooing of the Spirit, but oncereceived, becomes a cost-everything daily discipleship. This is the paradox of the gospel. It is a gift (cf. John 4:10; Rom. 3:24; 6:23; Eph. 2:8; Heb. 6:4), but also a covenant with privileges and responsibilities. The true gospel affects the mind, heart, and hand!

▣ "faith" This term may have several distinct connotations.

1. its OT background means "faithfulness" or "trustworthiness"

2. our accepting or receiving God's free offer of forgiveness in Christ

3. faithful, godly living

4. the collective sense of the Christian faith or truth about Jesus (cf. Acts 6:7 and Jude 3,20)

In this context (i.e., 2 Pet. 1:1) it refers to receiving Christ as Savior. Now believers must grow and develop.

This expected Christian growth is also expressed in Rom. 5:3-4; James 1:3-4.

SPECIAL TOPIC: CHRISTIAN GROWTH

▣ "moral excellence" This quality was used of Christ (or God the Father) in 2 Pet. 1:3. This is one of the fruits of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22-23). It is the antonym of "excess" (cf. 2 Pet. 2:3,14). See SPECIAL TOPIC: VICES AND VIRTUES in the NT at 1 Peter. 4:2.

▣ "knowledge" A knowledge (gnōsis) of the gospel that leads to Christlikeness is a wonderful thing. The false teachers were advocating a false knowledge that led to debauchery.

"self-control" This virtue describes someone who is able to control the egocentristic pull of the fallen sin nature (cf. Acts 24:25; Gal. 5:23; Titus 1:8). In some contexts (i.e., 1 Cor. 7:9) it alludes to inappropriate sexual activity and because of the antinomian tendencies of the false teachers, it may include that connotation here.

"perseverance" This term refers to an active, voluntary, steadfast endurance. It is a God-like characteristic of patience with people and circumstances (cf. Rom. 5:3-4; James 1:3).

"godliness" This is such an important term in the Pastoral Letters, as well as 2 Peter (see note at 2 Pet. 1:3), that I want to quote from my commentary, volume 9, 1 Timothy 4:7:

"This is a pivotal term in the Pastoral Letters. It refers to the doctrinal and daily lifestyle implication of the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 3:16). It describes not the exceptional, but the expected. It is a compound term from 'good' (eu) and 'worship' (sebomai). True worship is daily living by means of proper thinking (cf. 1 Tim. 4:16a). Notice the number of times this word is used in the Pastoral Letters:

1.noun (eusebeia), 1 Tim. 2:2; 3:16; 4:7,8; 6:3,5,6,11; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:1

2.adverb (eusebēs), 2 Tim. 3:12; Titus 2:12

3.verb (eusebeō), 1 Tim. 5:4

4.The related term theosebeia, 1 Tim. 2:10

5.The negated term (alpha privative, i.e., asebeia), 2 Tim. 2:16; Titus 2:12" (p. 53).

 

1:7

NASB, NKJV"brotherly kindness, love"
NRSV"mutual affection with love"
TEV"Christian affection and love"
NJB"kindness to brothers with love"

This is the compound Greek term phileō (i.e., love) and adephos (i.e., brother). It also occurs in 1 Pet. 1:22. In this context it refers to covenant brothers and sisters.

It is often said that phileō refers to a lesser love than agapeō (cf. 2 Pet. 1:7), but in Koine Greek these terms are synonymous (cf. John 5:20, which uses phileō for the Father's love for Jesus). However, here and in John 21 there may be an intended distinction.

1:8 "for if" This is not the usual form of a conditional sentence in Greek (cf. NJB, however, in Word Pictures in the New Testament A. T. Robertson identifies this phrase as two present active circumstantial [conditional] participles, cf. vol. 6, p. 151), but the stated evidence necessary for assurance which is based on a changed and changing life of repentance, faith, obedience, service, and perseverance. Eternal life (i.e., the divine nature) has observable characteristics.

1. believers exhibit Christian qualities, 2 Pet. 1:5-7

2. believers have these qualities and they are increasing (both present active participles), 2 Pet. 1:8

3. believers are useful and fruitful to God, 2 Pet. 1:8

4. believers live out the true knowledge of God (i.e., Christlikeness, cf. 2 Pet. 1:8)

 

▣ "neither useless nor unfruitful" This s tragically all too often the spiritual state of believers.

1. useless or unproductive – James 2:20

2. unfruitful – Matt. 7:16-19; 13:22; Mark 4:19; Col. 1:10; Titus 3:14

3. Paul uses the word in the warning "do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness"

Beware of – no fruit, bad fruit! Eternal life has observable characteristics. No fruit – no root!

1:9 As 2 Pet. 1:8 describes the true Christian, 2 Pet. 1:9 describes believers who are being influenced by the false teachers' false dichotomy between knowledge–life, theology–ethics, orthodoxy–orthopraxy!

"short-sighted" This is literally to "blink," "wink," or "squint." It was used metaphorically of one who tries to see clearly, but is unable, possibly willfully turning from the light (cf. The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament: Illustrated from the Papyri and Other Non-literary Sources by James Hope Moulton and George Milligan, p. 420).

NASB"having forgotten his purification from his former sins"
NKJV"has forgotten that he was purged form his old sins"
NRSV"is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins"
TEV"have forgotten that you have been purified from your past sins"
NJB"forgetting how the sins of the past were washed away"

This implies that these are believers, but they have been lured back to a godless pagan lifestyle by the false teachers (cf. 2 Peter 2). What a tragedy.

1. This lifestyle brings no joy, peace, or assurance

2. This lifestyle thwarts evangelism

3. This lifestyle destroys effective ministry

4. This lifestyle brings about an early death

In this phrase Peter is referring to the purification or cleansing from sin that occurs through Christ's vicarious, substitutionary death on our behalf (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18; 2:24; 3:18).

1:10 "be all the more diligent" This is an aorist active imperative. This term (cf. 2 Pet. 1:15; 3:14) can mean

1. to do something quickly (cf. Titus 3:12)

2. to do one's best (cf. Eph. 4:3)

3. to be eager (cf. Acts 20:16; Gal. 2:10)

Option #3 seems best (cf. NRSV).

NASB"to make certain"
NKJV"to make. . .sure"
NRSV"to confirm"
TEV"to make. . .permanent"
NJB"never allow. . .to waver"

This term is used in three ways.

1. certain by being well established (cf. Rom. 4:16)

2. dependable (cf. 2 Pet. 2:19 and Heb. 3:14; 6:19)

3. verifiable (used in koine Greek papyri from Egypt for legal guarantees such as validating a will)

Christians can have assurance (cf. Phil. 2:12-13; 1 John 5:13). See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: ASSURANCE

"His calling" "His" is not in the Greek text, but is implied from 2 Pet. 1:3. Believers' ultimate hope is in the character of the Father, the work of the Son, and the wooing of the Spirit. However, these are confirmed in individual believers by their lives of faith, godliness, etc. (cf. 2 Pet. 1:5-7; Phil. 2:12-13). God deals with humanity in a covenant relationship. He sets the agenda, He initiates the encounter, He draws us to Himself, but we must initially and continually respond in repentance, faith, service, obedience, and perseverance. The gospel is a person to be welcomed, a truth to be believed, and a life to be lived! If any one is left out, mature, biblical salvation is impossible.

SPECIAL TOPIC: CALLED

▣ "and choosing you" The noun eklogē is always used of God's choice.

1. Jacob/Israel – Rom. 9:11

2. the faithful remnant – Rom. 11:5,28

3. NT believers – Rom. 11:7

4. the church – 1 Thess. 1:4; 2 Pet. 1:10

See Special Topics at Mark 13:20 and 1 Peter 1:2.

▣ "as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble" The "these things" refer to 2 Pet. 1:3-7. Eternal life has observable characteristics.

The grammar (i.e., a double negative) and the term pote (i.e., "at any time" or "ever") give great assurance to struggling believers in the midst of suffering and persecution (i.e., 1 Peter) and false teachings (i.e., 2 Peter).

In Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 6, p. 153, A. T. Robertson identifies the verb "practice" (i.e., pioeō) as a present active circumstantial [conditional] participle, like 2 Pet. 1:8. The NASB, NKJV, NRSV, and TEV include the English conditional "if" in their translations (like 2 Pet. 1:8).

▣ "you will never stumble" This is a grammatical structure (double negatives and the subjunctive mood), which is the strongest way to negate a statement. This same truth is expressed in Jude 24.

However, like Hebrews (cf. Heb. 2:1-4; 3:7-4:11; 5:11-6:12; 10:9-39; 12:14-29), 2 Peter has some shocking warnings (cf. 2 Pet. 2:1,20-22; 3:17). Salvation is secure (cf. 1 Pet. 1:4-6), but must be maintained.

SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI)

1:11 "eternal kingdom" This refers to the eternal reign of YHWH and the Messiah (cf. Isa. 9:7; Dan. 7:14,27; Luke 1:33; 1 Tim. 6:16; Rev. 11:15, 22:5). This does not refer to a millennial kingdom nor does any other NT text, except Rev. 20, although some see a veiled allusion in 1 Cor. 15:25-28. I do not.

▣ "Lord and Savior" This same phrase was used of the Emperor. It is a rare title used often in this book (cf. 2 Pet. 1:11; 2:20; 3:2,18).

"will be abundantly supplied to you" This is a future passive indicative. The imperative form was used in 2 Pet. 1:5. God will provide all believers' needs (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3). Believers are commanded to respond appropriately in light of God's provision (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4). Their response was not the way to be accepted by God, but the evidence that they have been accepted.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 1:12-15
 12Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. 13I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.

1:12 "Therefore" Based on the gospel truths of 2 Peter 1.

▣ "I will always be ready to remind you" This is a recurrent theme (cf. 2 Pet. 1:12-13,15; 3:1-2; Phil. 3:1; Jude 5,17). These truths of the gospel need to be repeated again and again for the information of the new believers and the steadfastness of the mature believers.

Verses 12-15 are often identified as a genre called "testimonies." Usually it is related to a person's last words before death (cf. Jos. 23-24; 1 Sam. 12; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; 2 Pet. 1:12-15).

▣ "having been established" This is a perfect passive participle. This may refer to (1) the preaching of the gospel or (2) miraculous manifestations. Notice it is God's power (passive voice) that gives the believer stability (cf. 1 Pet. 5:10). But believers must guard it (cf. 2 Pet. 3:17; 1 Pet. 5:9).

▣ "in the truth" The terms "truth/true/trustworthy" are such important biblical concepts that I would like to share with you two special topics taken from my commentary on John's writings (Vol. 4).

SPECIAL TOPIC: "TRUTH" (THE CONCEPT) IN JOHN'S WRITINGS

SPECIAL TOPIC: "TRUE" (THE TERM) IN JOHN'S WRITINGS

NASB"which is present with you"
NKJV"in the present truth"
NRSV"that has come to you"
TEV"you have received"
NJB  (phrase omitted)

Literally the phrase is "in the present truth." How is the "truth" present? The truth is both (1) the trustworthiness of God's character and word and (2) a description of Jesus and a way of referring to the gospel message (i.e., the Living Word and the Written Word).

The term "present" is the term parousē, used to describe the Second Coming of Christ as His "presence" (cf. 2 Pet. 1:16; 3:4,12).

1:13 "earthly dwelling" Paul also uses this phrase in 2 Cor. 5:1-10 to refer to his physical body. Verses 14 and 15 clearly show that Peter expected to be martyred soon.

1:14 "our Lord Jesus Christ" This title would have implied several theological truths to a first century Jewish/Christian readership.

"Lord" The Greek term Lord (kurios) can be used in a general sense or in a developed theological sense. It can mean "mister," "sir" (cf. John 4:11), "master," "owner," "husband," or "the full God-man" (cf. John 9:36,38). The OT (Hebrew, adon) usage of this term came from the Jews' reluctance to pronounce the covenant name for God, YHWH, from the Hebrew verb "to be" (cf. Exod. 3:14). See Special Topic: Names for Deity at Mark 12:36. They were afraid of breaking the commandment, which said, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (cf. Exod. 20:7; Deut. 5:11). Therefore, they thought if they did not pronounce it, they could not take it in vain. So, they substituted the Hebrew word adon, which had a similar meaning to the Greek word kurios (Lord). The NT authors used this term to describe the full deity of Christ. The phrase "Jesus is Lord" was the public confession of faith and a baptismal formula of the early church (cf. Rom. 10:9-13; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11).

▣ "Jesus" This Hebrew name meant "YHWH saves" or "YHWH brings salvation." It was revealed to his parents by an angel (cf. Matt. 1:21). "Jesus" is derived from the Hebrew word for salvation, hosea, suffixed to the covenant name for God, YHWH. It is the same as the Hebrew name Joshua.

▣ "Christ" This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term messiah, which meant "an anointed one." It implies "one called and equipped by God for a specific task." In the OT three groups of leaders: priests, kings, and prophets were anointed. Jesus fulfills all three of these anointed offices (cf. Heb. 1:2-3).

▣ "has made clear to me" This may refer to Peter's death (cf. John 13:36) or the manner of Peter's death which is revealed by the Lord to Peter in John 21:18-19.

1:15 "after my departure" This is the term "exodus" (cf. Luke 9:31) used in the sense of death (i.e., a euphemism) or return to heaven.

▣ "you will be able to call these things to mind" This could refer to the book of 1 Peter, 2 Peter, or the Gospel Mark (cf. Irenaeus). Peter realized that the Spirit would use his writings after his death. He must have had a sense that the Spirit was speaking through him for Christians to read and use after his death!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 1:16-18
 16For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased" 18and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.

1:16

NASB"cleverly devised tales"
NKJV"cunningly devised fables"
NRSV"cleverly devised myths"
TEV"made-up stories"
NJB"cleverly invented myths"

This is a perfect passive participle, which implies a permanent state of delusion (perfect tense) brought on by an unidentified, outside agent (passive voice) which could be the false teachers themselves or the evil one. We get the English word "myth" from this Greek word, which is found only in

1. 1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7

2. 2 Tim. 4:4

3. Titus 3:9,14

4. 2 Pet. 1:16

Since these false teachers (from the description of 2 Peter 2) were incipient Gnostics with some Jewish tendencies (i.e., #2), these myths could refer to

1. angelic levels between a holy god and lesser spiritual beings (aeons) and their secret names

2. genealogies related to the Messiah as the heavenly man distinct from a truly human Christ

3. the purposeful theological separation of salvation and ethics/morality

For a good discussion of the different ways "myth" is used, see G. B. Caird, The Language and Imagery of the Bible, chapters 12-13, pp. 201-243. 

▣ "coming of our Lord" This is another central theme of the book. The term parousia, defined as "coming" or "presence" (same root in 2 Pet. 1:12), is used in the koine Greek papyri for a royal visit of a king. The term parousia usually refers to the Second Coming (cf. 2 Pet. 3:4,12), but it can refer to the Incarnation. It may refer to that here because of the contextual allusion to the Transfiguration in the next phrase.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE SECOND COMING

▣ "we were eyewitnesses of His majesty" This asserts Peter's authorship by being an eyewitness of Jesus' earthly life. This specifically refers to the Transfiguration (cf. 2 Pet. 1:18 and Mark 9:2-8). This phrase was also used of initiates into the mystery religions experiencing oneness with a god. Peter, like Paul, often used his opponent's phrases as a means of refuting them or giving their proper meaning.

Jesus is described by the term "majesty." In the next verse (2 Pet. 1:17) God the Father is identified by the same term "Majestic Glory." The essence of deity within Jesus was unveiled to the inner circle of disciples (i.e., Peter, James, and John) on the mountain.

▣ 1:17 "honor and glory" This is a possible reference to the "Shekinah Glory" (what the rabbis call the cloud in Exodus and Numbers), the cloud out of which God spoke (cf. Mark 9:2-8). See SPECIAL TOPIC: GLORY (DOXA) at 1 Peter 1:21.

▣ "Father" See Special Topic at Mark 13:32.

▣ "an utterance" The rabbis call this a Bath Kol (i.e., a voice out of heaven), which was a confirmation of God's will during the time from Malachi to John the Baptist in which there was no prophetic voice. The Father affirmed Jesus both at His baptism and His Transfiguration (cf. Mark 1:11; Matt. 17:5-6).

▣ "My beloved Son" This is a Messianic title from Ps. 2:7.

▣ "with whom I am well-pleased" This is an allusion to Isa. 42:1 (cf. Matt. 3:17; 17:5). By linking Psalm 2 and Isaiah 42, Peter emphasizes both the royal and suffering servant aspects of the Messiah. These two aspects also define His two comings: Incarnation = Suffering Servant; Second Coming = King and Judge!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 1:19-21
 19So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

1:19 "the prophetic word" This refers to either (1) OT texts (i.e., 2 Pet. 1:17) or (2) NT Apostolic witness (cf. 2 Pet. 1:12; 1 John 1:1-5).

▣ "made more sure" God's OT revelation is confirmed in the NT revelation. The OT is surely crucial to a full understanding of the NT (cf. Mark 1:1-3).

This whole paragraph is related to the delayed Second Coming, which some began to doubt. Peter wants to assure his readers by

1. his own experience of the new age (i.e., Jesus' transfiguration)

2. the fulfillment of prophecy in the life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus

The new day had arrived and will be consummated (i.e., as a lamp shining, as Venus rising). See. F. F. Bruce, answers to Questions, p. 130.

▣ "a lamp shining in a dark place" This is an allusion to Ps. 119:105 and possibly Pro. 6:23. God has provided fallen humanity all the information they need to respond to Him by faith (i.e., revelation, inspiration, and illumination). God's self-revelation through the OT and supremely through Christ, which is recorded and explained by NT authors, is fully adequate (although not exhaustive). This revelation (OT and NT) is like a light shining in the darkness of human and angelic sin and rebellion. But one day the far better brighter light (i.e., a face-to-face encounter with Christ) will illuminate every believer's heart and mind. The goal of revelation is not information, but salvation (i.e., restored, intimate fellowship).

The false teachers claimed to have a special revelation from deity, but Peter affirms that Jesus is God's full and complete self-revelation.

▣ "the morning star" This is literally "light bearer" or "daystar" (cf. Rev. 2:28; 22:16). From this Greek term we get the English word "phosphorus." This aspect of a light shining has several OT connotations.

1. It is related to the Hebrew term helel, translated "morning star" (Lucifer in Latin, cf. Isa. 14:12), usually referring to the planet Venus.

2. It relates to the coming Messiah in Num. 24:17 (i.e., "a star shall come forth from Jacob") and Mal. 4:2 (i.e., "The sun of righteousness will rise").

3. It relates to resurrected saints in Dan. 12:3 (i.e., "will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven").

4. It relates to the royal incarnated Messiah in Rev. 22:16 (i.e., "the offspring of David the bright morning star").

 

▣ "rises in your hearts" In context this refers to the existential encounter with God brought about by His own self-revelation in Scripture (OT), Jesus (incarnation), and Apostolic writings (NT). At some point fallen humans have an "aha" moment of understanding. God's truth breaks into our consciousness. This process of understanding and conviction is guided by the Holy Spirit (cf. John 6:44,65).

Christianity begins as an individual's encounter and faith response to God in Christ. It issues in a corporate experience of family love and family service (cf. 1 Cor. 12:7). See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART at mark 2:6.

1:20 "Scripture" This is one of several verses in the NT that speak of God's self-revelation in OT and NT writings (i.e., Scripture).

1. Matthew 5:17-19

2. 1 Corinthians 2:9-13

3. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

4. 2 Timothy 3:16

5. 1 Peter 1:23-25

6. 2 Peter 1:20-21

7. 2 Peter 3:15-16

The essence of all of these is that Scripture is from God and of God, not human in origin. God inspired the writers (cf. 2 Pet. 1:20-21) and their writings (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16).

▣ "a matter of one's own interpretation" This phrase surely expresses the existing tension caused by the false teachers in the churches. It is possible that they were quoting Scripture and then putting their own spin on it (which is also common today).

In context it is difficult to know whether this phrase refers to (1) the OT writers or (2) the contemporary false teachers. If the first option, it speaks to the theological concept of inspiration (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16). The following verse seems to confirm this interpretation. If the second option, it speaks of the theological concept of illumination (i.e., that the Spirit guides believers in interpreting the Bible).

It must be stated that the evangelical concept of "the priesthood of the believer " is usually understood as the Spirit-given ability to interpret the Bible for oneself. However, biblically, the phrase refers to the church as the agent of accomplishing the Great Commission, cf. 1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6. Notice in the OT (cf. Exod. 19:6) and the NT the phrase "the priesthood of believers" is plural (i.e., corporate), not individual.

1:21 "men moved by the Holy Spirit" This is literally "carried," which is a present passive participle. This adds emphasis to the truth that the Bible is God's message, not a human message! It is true that the Bible is in human words, but humans were uniquely guided by the Spirit. The Bible is not exhaustive truth, for no human can comprehend that level of reality, but it is trustworthy, adequate truth about God, about sin, about salvation, about godly living, and about eternity.

The exact method of inspiration varies.

1. theophanies

2. Urim and Thummin/lots

3. dreams

4. visions

5. trances

6. angels

7. symbolic acts

8. special events and interpretations

The questions remain (1) does God give the content and the human author the form or (2) does God give both?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Is the Christian life primarily God's doing or ours?

2. What part do humans play in their relationship to God?

3. Can Christian living be separated from salvation?

4. Is salvation conditional?

5. What false teaching was Peter confronting in this letter?

6. What is the significance of the Father's words in 2 Pet. 1:19?

7. What do verses 20-21 say about the Bible?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods