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Bible Commentaries

Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

2 Peter 1

Verse 1

1. Peter, as usual, like all of the apostles, in this verse subscribes himself “the slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.” A paradoxical expression to people who have not received the Pentecostal experience, which brings us all into the unutterably sweet love-slavery, in which we think of nothing but to do our Master’s will, which to us is an ineffable delight. Meanwhile we rest in perfect peace, free from every care, as the slave has no concern about what he shall eat or wear, or provide for future emergencies, since all that devolves on his master. As our Master owns millions of worlds, He is infinitely competent to supply all of our wants, and since He loves us so dearly as to die for us, we know it is His incessant delight to secure every possible interest of our immortal being.

Verse 2

2. “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you in the perfect knowledge of Jesus our Lord.” This beautiful verse contains the paradoxical problem of spiritual mathematics. Conversion is addition; sanctification, subtraction; the filling of the Holy Ghost, multiplication; and soul-saving benefaction, division. We do not teach four works of grace in salvation, but only two, as in arithmetic. Multiplication is but a rapid form of addition, while division is simply a wonderfully expeditious method of subtraction. No teacher is tolerated in the public schools who does not understand the elementary rules. Well did Jesus say, “The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” How deplorable to find teachers everywhere in the school of Christ, i. e., the churches, who have never so much as reached subtraction, i. e., sanctification, to say nothing of multiplication and division. Good Lord, have mercy.

Verses 3-11



This is the glorious antithesis of the extremely difficult entrance of the justified man (1 Peter 4:18). This abundant entrance is for the soul who has been not only regenerated and sanctified, but who has added the beautiful, bright, and glorious constellation of Christian graces given in this chapter, constituting the establishing enduements of the Holy Ghost.

3. “Life and godliness.” We receive life in regeneration and godliness in sanctification, which expurgates the heart from all fear, and makes us like God. “Through the knowledge.” Greek epignoosis, i. e., perfect knowledge, sanctification, in contradistinction to gnosis, regeneration.

4. “In order that through these promises you may be partakers of the divine nature,” i. e., regenerated by the Holy Ghost, “having escaped the corruption that is in the world, through lust,” i. e., having all depraved lusts taken out of you, which is precisely the work of sanctification. Hagiazoo from gee, the world, and alpha, not, i. e., to take the world out of you. Hence you see those people here reported by Peter are already regenerated and sanctified.

“The God of all grace, having called you into His own everlasting glory in Christ will make you perfect, having suffered a little while, will establish, strengthen and settle you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

In this wonderful argument Peter specifies the graces by which people who have been regenerated and sanctified are established, strengthened and settled in holiness, so they may never fall, but secure the abundant entrance into heaven.

5. Now we reach that beautiful constellation of establishing graces which has served to fortify His people against apostasy, establish them in holiness to secure to them the abundant entrance. Virtue is first in the constellation. The Greek is aretee, from arees, the Grecian war-god who stirred up all of the battle and led the combatants in deadly conflict, delighting in rivers of blood and mountains of slain. Hence it is the strongest possible revelation of that redoubtable Christian heroism which always seeks the hottest conflict, the front of battle and thickest of the fight. It is real bull-dog courage which never lets go. It makes you brave enough to fight a regiment of devils. Since you have to hew your way every step to the celestial gate, you must have this grace. Without it you will fall soon or late. God help you to add it. “And to heroism, knowledge.” The Greek is gnosis, one of the spiritual gifts imparted by the Holy Ghost to the sanctified to establish and make them efficient soul-savers. You can not keep sanctified and remain ignorant. Salvation is for fools, but you can not keep it and remain fools. You must be an assiduous student in the school of Christ, sitting meek and lowly at the feet of Jesus, taught by the Holy Ghost the deep things of God. The Holy Ghost will use the saints of God and good books to teach you, yet He Himself is the Great Teacher. You in utter abandonment to God, all your creeds, means, enterprises forever abnegated, learn how to be taught by the Holy Ghost. This divine gnosis, knowledge, is insight into divine truth, which none but the Spirit who made the world can give. Without this grace you will never be a preacher of the Word. You may fill the pulpit and preach theology, literature, science, and Biblical history, but you will never preach the Gospel, nor receive the crown of a soul-saver. You should be homo unius libre, a man of one book, and that book the Bible. Of course, you should use all other books which explain the Bible in harmony with the Holy Ghost.

6. “To knowledge, temperance.” The Greek is egkrateian, from ego, I, and kratos , government. Hence it means self-government in harmony with the will of God, i. e., practical holiness. Sanctification gives you experimental holiness, but to this you must add practical holiness, otherwise your experience will prove evanescent. It is temperance in that high sense which absolutely abstains from everything that is not for the glory of God. If we are going up to live in heaven we must learn to live in this world as we will live in heaven. “Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” Thus is practical holiness the life we are to lead. “To temperance, patience.” “Let patience have its perfect work.” Without perfect patience you can not keep your experience. Sanctification takes all the fret and worry out of you. You can not keep your experience and give way to them. All sorts of annoyances and temptations will be a blessing to you, strengthen and confirm your patience, if you do not let the enemy impart impatience.

Perfect patience is not the greatest enduement of patience, but simply patience without impatience. If you can, by the help of God, keep all impatience out of your heart, your patience will grow with marvelous rapidity, reaching up into gianthood, and bidding defiance to all sorts of annoyances, becoming actually imperturbable. “To patience, godliness,” i. e., godlikeness. God has lived and died on this earth, teaching us the entire problem of humanity by precept and example how to live and how to die. Four faithful historians have given us His biography. Oh, what a blessing! By the time we study Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we all learn how to live and how to die, encompassing the entire problem of human probation, responsibility and destiny. Sinners follow Satan, not always willingly, but blinded by him, and led captive at his will. Unsanctified Christians follow Jesus but not with a perfect heart. They very largely follow human leaders. Wholly sanctified people follow Jesus only, with all the heart. For that reason the secular clergy have always opposed the sanctification of their people, lest they will lose their hold on them. If we are going to heaven, we must get saved from human leadership, so we will follow the Lord alone. As all men are fallible, God never purposed that we should follow them. Therefore He came on the earth, lived and died, giving us a perfect example throughout, corroborated by His plain and unmistakable teachings.

7. “To godliness, brotherly kindness.” This word is philadelphia in the Greek. George Fox preached entire sanctification in England a hundred years before John Wesley. Flooded with the Holy Ghost, he quaked as he stood before the people. Hence they called him “The Quaker.” When William Penn was sanctified under his preaching with the sword buckled round him, the insignia of his office in the British Government, he asked Fox, “How long shall I wear this sword?” “Just so long as the Lord will let you,” was the answer. He soon laid it off when sent to America with his sanctified Quaker followers to found a colony. They all came unarmed. Meeting the Indian chiefs under the great elm trees, they were unutterably astonished, for the first time in their lives to see white men unarmed. Penn said, “We are all children of the same loving heavenly Father, who wants us to live together in peace. Now, where shall we found a settlement?” The savages break and weep, saying, “You are the very people we want to live with and teach us how to worship the Great Spirit as we ought. So our land is before you. Settle where you will.” Penn choose that very spot and called it Philadelphia, the very Greek word used by the Holy Ghost in this passage and translated “brotherly love.” It means the mutual love of the white man and the Indian in case of the Pennsylvania metropolis. In our text it means the mutual love of all mankind. You see how it won the hearts of the savages. Amid the dark, bloody massacres of the pioneer ages, not a drop of Quaker blood was shed by an Indian. Experimental sanctification obliterates race, color, and sectarian and national lines, so far as the affections of the heart are concerned. Then we must faithfully live in harmony, with artesian wells of universal philanthropy, springing up in the heart and overflowing the world. Otherwise our experience will evanesce. “And to brotherly kindness, charity,” i. e., the divine agapee, a much stronger word than charity. It is not simply the philia, human love for all the world, but the love which God gives us. He has plenty of it, and will so flood us as to inundate us with an ocean without banks or bottom, so we will have an ample supply, not only for every human being, but for every poor animal that has feeling, and is capable of suffering.

8. “These things are in you, in regeneration and abound” in sanctification. Therefore you will grow in grace and bear an abundance of fruit through knowledge of God. The Greek is epignoosis, i. e., perfect knowledge, peculiar to the sanctified, involving experimental certainty, in contradistinction to the foggy experiences so prevalent in the churches.

9. This verse reveals the sad apostasy of those who do not add these establishing graces to their experience of regeneration and sanctification. This is the great delinquency, filling up the ranks not only of church members, but of holiness people, with backsliders, bring mountains of reproach on the cause of God, laying a stumbling-block before the ignorant.

10. Here we are taught how to “make our calling and election sure,” i. e., get born of the Spirit, and thence sanctified, proceeding with all enthusiasm to add this beautiful constellation of establishing graces. “For doing these things you may never fall.” Here is the true, final perseverance of the saints, so prominent in the Calvinistic creeds. Get regenerated and sanctified; add these establishing graces. While you do these things there is no collapse. So here is a title deed to heaven, free to all who want to make heaven a certainty.

11. “For thus an entrance shall be administered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Oh, what a contrast with “scarcely saved, justified man” (1 Peter 4:18). Do not risk the tight squeeze into heaven, least you be squeezed out instead of in. God flood your heart with aspirations after the abundant entrance, in which there is no conceivable risk. Surely we can not afford to take any risk on heaven. Get regenerated and sanctified, and add these glorious establishing graces and you “will never fall” while you do them. Then rest assured you will have no difficulty, but the abundant entrance. Valentine Cook was a pioneer preacher in Kentucky, under Bishop Asbury. One day while riding along the horse-path through the primeval forest, Satan put his hand on his shoulder. “Valentine Cook, you are a great man, a big preacher,” thus doing his utmost to inflate his vanity and upset his experience. After a number of unsuccessful efforts to expel the adversary, he sees he must go to his knees, turns out the path, hitches his horse, down on his knees he falls and cries to God. Then retorts the wily enemy, “Now you get it. Don’t you see that hunter drawing a bead on you, mistaking your bear skin overcoat for a bear. Run for your life.” “Well, devil, if he shoots me, the bullet will be God’s way to open heaven’s gate and let me in. Glory to God!” Now he pours out his soul in prayer. God floods him from the heavenly ocean. He rises with a great shout and goes on his way, the devil skedaddling. The very night of his death, a venerable comrade-in-arms enjoyed a notable heavenly vision. Enraptured in contemplation of the ineffable celestial glory, gazing upon the effulgent throne, an angel comes flying rapidly from the gate, ringing the news, “Valentine Cook is dying.” Immediately God commands them to ring all the bells of heaven and blow all the trumpets. Forthwith all heaven is in commotion, processions are parading in all directions, moving toward the gate, which is thrown wide open.

Meanwhile myriads of angels sweep out, shouting aloud, “Welcome home, Valentine Cook.” God grant that you and I may have the abundant entrance.

Verses 12-21



12. This letter indicates a higher experience than the former. Here he addresses them as not only knowing but established in these glorious experiences.

13, 14. Peter, like Paul, had a divine presentiment of his martyrdom, which occurred very quickly after this writing.

15. Peter emphasized the great importance of having God’s Word revealed through his instrumentality well circulated and faithfully preached after his departure.

16. “For not having followed cunningly devised fables,” i. e., human creeds and uninspired dogmata and counterfeit religions, “have we made known unto you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but having been eye-witnesses of His majesty.” The Greek parousia, translated “coming,” literally means presence, revealing the fact that our Lord will come to stay. Of course, as in His former presence on the earth, He will appear and disappear ad libitum. Power, in this passage is dynamite, Paul’s definition of “Gospel.” Romans 9:16. Hence the burden of Apostolic preaching was this heavenly dynamite to blow all the sins out of the heart and completely transform the spiritual being and the great culminating fact that our Lord is coming back to this world to conquer and to reign. The scene on the Mount of Transfiguration was a prelude of the Lord’s coming, when His saints will be transfigured like Jesus, Moses and Elijah, when Peter, James and John saw them on the Mount.

17, 18. This transfiguration in which Peter heard the voice of God was not only a perfect confirmation of the redemptive scheme and God’s full and satisfactory approval, but the transfiguration of the saints when the Lord comes to reign on the earth. This testimony is invaluable to Christ’s suffering, expectant Bride.

19. “To which you do well, giving heed as to a light shining in a dark place.” Notwithstanding our Lord has plainly revealed His second coming in multitudinous prophecies, yet it is all dark till the Spirit reveal it to the heart. “Until the day may dawn and the morning star rise in your hearts.” Everything in the plan of salvation is double, corresponding with the human and divine hemispheres of the Christhood. The spiritual Christ comes in regeneration, and comes again in sanctification, so the literal Christ came once and is coming again. Just as that second coming to the world will inaugurate the millennium, so His second coming into your heart gives you the millennium in your heart. Unsanctified people have no true and clear light on the Lord’s second coming. The sanctified experience is the dawn of the millennial day in your heart and the clear light of the morning star. The present holiness movement is the morning star preceding the glorious Sun of Righteousness, destined to rise upon the “world with healing in His wings.” It is wonderful with what rapidity the dawn, of God’s glorious millennial day is increasing, and the morning star rising in the hearts of God’s people.

20. Peter sweeps away the popular heresies of expounding prophecies by silly isolated exegesis.

21. As all prophecies have a divine origin, therefore God will attend to their fulfillment.

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Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".