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Bible Commentaries

Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

2 Peter 1

Verses 1-9

Grace given and grace growing

2 Peter 1:1-9

2 Peter 1:1. This epistle was written by Simon Peter in his old age, shortly before he was to be martyred. As he put it in 2 Peter 1:14, ‘shortly I must put off this tabernacle.’ First he calls himself a bond-servant of Christ and second, an apostle. He was sent by Christ, had his commission and doctrine directly from the Lord Jesus, and had a power to work miracles (Hebrews 2:3-4).

The epistle is addressed to believers in Christ who have, by the grace of God, obtained like precious faith.

1. It is like (that is, the same) faith as the apostles, for there is but one faith (called the common faith) which is common to all believers. Though not the same in degree, it is the same in its source, its object, and its results.

2. This saving faith in Christ is precious, for it is worth more than ten thousand worlds. Through faith, we are Justified and made heirs of God and Joint-heirs with Christ.

3. This faith comes to us in and through the righteousness of our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Faith is the gift of God, as the righteousness of Christ is the gift of God. Where the righteousness of Christ is imputed, faith is also given to receive it. Abraham was chosen of God, accepted in the Beloved, an object of special grace and revelation. Therefore, he believed God; and this faith was accredited to him as right standing with God. His sheep will hear and will believe (John 10:22-28; Acts 13:48).

2 Peter 1:2. Peter prays for them a multiplication of grace and peace. The grace of God toward us is infinite in Christ, our Lord; and we have perfect peace toward God in Christ. The grace and peace of God know no degrees in themselves, yet the manifestations of grace and peace to us and in us are capable of being increased. Throughout the word of God (as I grow in the knowledge of Christ), there will be new discoveries of the love and favor of God to my soul; there will be a growth in the internal graces of love, joy, humility, and faith; there will be an increase in spiritual peace in believing and a fulness of peace in trials and afflictions (1 Peter 2:1-2).

2 Peter 1:3. By his divine purpose and power, God has given to us all things that are necessary, needful, and suited to spiritual life (1 Corinthians 1:30; Colossians 2:10; Colossians 1:12). Through a knowledge of Christ, who has called us by and to his own glory and excellence, we have all things that pertain to eternal life, all things that give a right to it, and all things that equip us for it.

2 Peter 1:4. By his glory, power, and righteousness Christ has given to us exceeding great and precious promises. The promises of the new and everlasting covenant are forgiveness, sanctification, union with Christ, and eternal life. By these promises, we are made partakers of a new nature, a new man, and a new life (which is Christ formed in us Galatians 2:20; Galatians 4:19). By the presence and ruling power of this new nature, we escape, not the corruption and depravity of human nature (which is present as long as we are in the world), but the corrupt manners, vices, conduct, and principles of this world. Our new nature makes us inwardly seek holiness and outwardly avoid the prevailing corruption of the times.

2 Peter 1:5-7. ‘Beside this,’ or from the consideration of the free grace of God toward us and the precious promises of his gospel, we should seek to grow in the exercise of grace and good works.

‘Add to your faith virtue.’ Faith is the foundation and basis of all good works; however, faith does not and cannot stand alone (James 2:17-20). Virtue here is not just morality but Christian virtue, which is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

‘And to virtue knowledge,’ knowledge of the will of God that we may perform it, knowledge of the Scriptures that we may walk therein, wisdom and intelligence in regard to our conduct and conversation that we might be good witnesses for Christ.

‘And to knowledge temperance,’ avoiding excess in eating and drinking, socializing, materialism, entertainment, and anything that engaged in to excess would hinder spiritual growth and fellowship (Romans 14:14-15; 1 Timothy 4:3-5).

‘And to temperance patience.’ Patience is necessary to a Christian walk; for we are faced with reproach from men, trial from God, and difficulties from within ourselves. A man may be overcome by anger, pride, jealousy, envy, and self-pity, as well as by strong drink.

‘And to patience godliness,’ or ‘the fear of the Lord.’ This includes both inward and outward worship of the Lord an attitude of thanksgiving, submission, praise, active prayer, and hearing of the word.

‘And to godliness brotherly kindness,’ without which godliness or external worship and religious profession would be a vain show. Love and brotherly kindness are evidences of regeneration (John 13:35; Ephesians 4:32).

‘And to brotherly kindness charity’ to all people, even our enemies. Charity is more extensive in its objects and acts than brotherly kindness.

2 Peter 1:8-9. As these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep you from being empty and unfruitful in your spiritual life. He that is without these graces and growth is shortsighted, seeing only what is near him and what concerns him and ignoring what God has done for him (or what he professes that God has done).

Verses 10-21

Make your calling and election sure

2 Peter 1:10-21

2 Peter 1:10. The primary concern of every believer should be to make sure of his calling and election of God. We cannot look into God’s Book of Life nor into his eternal decrees, so how are we to know that we are chosen to life?

1. By our calling. ‘Whom he predestinated, he called.’ If we can find that we have been called to Christ by God’s spirit, we may conclude that we are chosen to salvation. A close examination of ourselves will reveal whether or not we are called of Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 13:5). Have I been called out of the darkness of tradition, ceremony, self-righteousness, and sin to the light of the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:6)? Is Christ my life, my all, my Lord? (1 Corinthians 1:30.)

2. By the presence of the aforementioned graces faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. He that is without these spiritual graces has reason to doubt his election of God.

3. If I seek first the kingdom of God if I am determined to win Christ and be found in him if to be called of God and accepted in the Beloved is my diligent concern if to grow in his grace and the knowledge of Christ is my primary object, I shall never fall not that I shall never sin nor that I shall never fall into sin (for there is no man that lives and sins not), but I shall never totally fall from the mercy and grace of God in Christ.

2 Peter 1:11. These who are diligent and dedicated in the faith of Jesus Christ shall have an abundant supply of grace and strength to carry them through the duties and trials of this life; and when this life is ended, they shall have a triumphant and glorious entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord (Jude 1:24-25; Ecclesiastes 3:14).

2 Peter 1:12-13. If ministers are negligent in their work of preaching, teaching, rebuking, exhorting, and encouraging, it can hardly be expected that the people will be diligent in examination of faith and grace.

1. We need to be taught by our pastors and teachers all that God has been pleased to reveal.

2. We need to be reminded of what we already know (lest we forget) in order to improve our knowledge and to reduce our knowledge to practice.

3. We need to be continually established in the belief of the truth that we be not shaken by every wind of doctrine or false teacher who comes our way. Peter says, ‘As long as I live in this tent of flesh, I will stir you up to faith and godliness by preaching.’

2 Peter 1:14. The body is but the tabernacle of the soul. It is a weak and frail tent and must soon be put off as we take off our clothes at night. The nearness of death makes the apostle diligent in the business of eternal life. The Lord had told Peter of his martyrdom (John 21:18-19).

2 Peter 1:15. Peter’s ambition was that the people to whom he preached continue in the doctrine of Christ after he was taken away from them. We cannot guarantee the steadfastness of any assembly after the present leaders die; but we can be faithful in laying a good foundation, building there on gold, silver, and precious stones and praying that God will keep Christ ever before our children.

2 Peter 1:16-18. The gospel of Christ which the apostle preached to them (the incarnation of Deity Christ, the Messiah, the God-man, the anointed Redeemer of his people) was not some fable or story handed down to the apostle. He says, ‘I was an eyewitness of his majesty. I was with him on the Mount of Transfiguration when the Father spoke and said, ‘This is my beloved Son hear ye him.’ I was there when Moses (the law) and Elijah (the prophets) appeared with him and talked with him about his sacrifice on the cross’ (Matthew 17:1-6; Luke 9:30-31).

2 Peter 1:19. We have a better foundation and a more sure evidence of Christ and the gospel than an eyewitness account of his glory, and that is the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament revelation given by the Holy Spirit in Peter’s day. A man’s testimony is to be received only if it is according to the Scriptures (Isaiah 8:20). The word of God is the final test of every claim or creed (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). You do well to take heed to the Scriptures and weigh every man’s word accordingly (Acts 17:11).

2 Peter 1:20. No scripture prophecy is of a man’s own opinion, but it is a revelation of the mind of God. We search the Scriptures, not to prove what we think is right, but to find out what God says is right.

No scripture can be interpreted in the light of human wisdom, but only in the light of other scripture and by the Holy Spirit who is the Author. The apostles in the New Testament epistles constantly made reference to the Old Testament to prove their doctrine.

2 Peter 1:21. All scripture (Old Testament and New Testament) came into being by the will of God. Men of God wrote as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write. The Bible is verbally inspired or God-breathed! (2 Timothy 3:16-17.)

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Bibliographical Information
Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1". Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. 2013.