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the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
2 Peter 1

Caton's Commentary on the Minor EpistlesCaton's Commentary

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Introduction

ANALYSIS.

This letter is written to those who have obtained a like precious faith with the writer, and that they may be assured of the correctness of the gospel and its God-given source, and thereby the more strongly intrenched in its belief and not easily moved therefrom by false teachers, he assures them of the divine power of the gospel; that by it everything is given that pertains to right-doing in this life, and all that is necessary to secure acceptance in the world to come.

He exhorts them to add to their faith all the other virtues and graces he enumerates; assures them that by so doing a perfect Christian character will be produced; that they will not be either blind or unfruitful in the divine life, but that they would be both blind and unfruitful should they so neglect. He then assures them, by making these additions, that their entrance into the everlasting kingdom will be certain and richly rewarded. He tells them that he will not be neglectful, so long as he lives, to keep these things before their minds, although they know them; that Christ assures him that his end is near, and that he writes these admonitions that after his death they may have them to consult. He then assures them that the subject of his preaching and of his letters, namely, salvation by the gospel of Christ, is not a fable, and was not cunningly devised, but is the truth of God, and appeals to the confirmation given by the Father himself, which the writer himself and his companions saw and heard, and by this statement from the Father the prophetic word wherein all these things were foretold is made firm, which prophetic word shone as a light in a dark place, until Christ came, who is the day star. He gives them further to understand that the words of the prophets were not of their own invention, but that they were authorized and empowered to declare what they did by God's Holy Spirit.

Verse 1

Verse 1. Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle.

In the former Epistle the writer names himself Peter. The Master said to him, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona," and subsequently said to him : "Thou art Peter" (Matt. xvi, 17, 18). Peter here uses both names, and calls himself both a servant and an apostle.

To them that have obtained like precious faith.

Here we are informed to whom the letter was written. To the saints ; to the brethren in the Lord. "Like precious faith" is a very significant expression. Faith of God's elect the faith entertained, embraced, loved and lived by every true child of God. Faith in-God's Son, and living as he directs and hoping for the reward of eternal life, which he has promised, is the precious faith.

Verse 2

Verse 2. Grace and peace be multiplied.

Paul quite frequently used this benediction. May these graces increase.

Through the knowledge of him.

Knowledge of God. The more we know of his word the more we know of him and of his Son. To know God aright is eternal life. Hence, the more knowledge we possess, the stronger we become in the divine life.

Verse 3

Verse 3. According as his divine power.

From God everything relating to the Christian system, the plan by which man is reconciled and brought back to God, is derived. It is according to his plan. It is divine, and by divine power given. It includes everything pertaining to life and godliness. It is perfect, wanting nothing. To us it is given. By it we are called, and by it we may attain glory and virtue.

Verse 4

Verse 4. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great.

By his divine power God expressed his will to men, and in that will God made promises to us. The Holy Spirit, through the pen of the apostle Peter, attempts to convey to and bring within the comprehension of our weak minds the moral grandeur, superlative excellence and priceless value of these promises by the words "exceeding great and precious."

That by these

Meaning the promises. Keeping these promises ever in view and God's infinite love, by whom they are bestowed, gathering knowledge of him as we struggle to know and do his will, we become more like him, more godlike, and are thereby made partakers of the divine nature. Being in Christ Jesus, we are new creatures, and have escaped from the corruption that is in the world. This escape took place when we were translated out of and from the kingdom of Satan. That kingdom and the sin that is in it no longer have dominion over us. We are freed from any allegiance to it ; have absolutely escaped from it, and the bondage we there endured. We have, and can have, if we are true to our allegiance to God, no further affection for it.

Verse 5

Verse 5. Besides this.

Now, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by being translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son, accomplished by your faith carried out by obedience, the Holy Spirit points out your way step by step.

Giving all diligence.

The progress proposed to you in the divine life requires diligence. Your efforts must not be slothful, but industrious. Call up to your aid this disposition. No effort must be spared. God has done his part in your behalf, and this devolves upon you.

Add to your faith virtue.

The process is addition. Your faith made you a child of God. To this faith many additions are to be made. First, virtue ; that is, courage. This is essentially necessary as an aid to your faith in your struggles in well-doing, as you will be most painfully apprised. This excellence of virtue cour-age ought to be, and is, a natural outgrowth of your faith. To this courage also add knowledge, knowledge of God ; what he desires you to do ; how you shall conduct yourself toward him, toward your brethren in the faith and toward the world. Your courage is heroism moral heroism and if this is controlled and governed by a knowledge from on high, it redounds to your good, and is pleasing and acceptable to your Father in heaven.

Verse 6

Verse 6. And to knowledge, temperance.

Temperance. This virtue consists in an ability to control yourself in all your conduct. This may be, and no doubt is, difficult, but the Christian is admonished to make this addition to his other virtues.

And to temperance, patience.

To your temperance you must add an unwavering and unflinching endurance of ail wrongs, evils and afflictions that come upon you for the truth's sake. A denial of the faith to escape suffering not only shows the absence of courage, but also of patience. So also bearing the wrong complainingly. Meekness shows patience.

And to patience, godliness.

Godliness. All your speech and all your deeds must conform to the requirements of God in relation thereto. So doing, you reach nearer and nearer the divine model.

Verse 7

Verse 7. And to your godliness, brotherly kindness.

Brotherly kindness is love of the brethren, love of the saints, members of Christ's body the Church. This love is active, showing itself in kind acts continually, without questioning and without hesitation, as to cost or labor.

And to brotherly kindness, charity.

Charity is something more over and beyond brotherly kindness, otherwise addition could not take place, and would here be broken off. We have but to remember that brotherly kindness is love to the brethren, and is thus confined, while the charity or love we are enjoined to add to it extends beyond these limits, and includes all men. The difficulty at once vanishes. The distinction is plain. Love for the brethren is the most natural, and therefore the easier of accomplish-ment. Love for all men includes our enemies. This is not so easy. Yet Peter only follows the injunction of the Master: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies" ( Mat_5:44 ). If I were permitted to express an idea of the difference in the love we have for the brethren and for the rest of the world, I would say the one was a love of delight, and the other simply that of good will. I am, however, uncertain as to whether this distinction exists or not. Taken as a whole, all these virtues present with the follower of Christ makes a well-rounded, complete and perfect Christian character. Pos-sessing all these as God intended constitutes holiness, with-out which no man shall see the Lord. Of them Macknight observes : "This chain of virtues the apostle begins with faith, because it is the root from which they must all spring, and ends with love, because it is the point to which they all tend. Dr. Wessel, of Groningen, one of the reformers, observed on this passage that the Spirit of God by Peter established this the only bull of indulgence whereby an entrance into the kingdom of God is obtained." The remarks of Meyer may be of service, and are here given : "Although the different virtues here are not arranged according to definite logical order, yet the way in which they here belong to each other is not to be mistaken. Each of the virtues to be shown forth forms the complement of that which pre-cedes, and thus gives rise to a firmly linked chain of thought."

Verse 8

Verse 8. For if these things be in you and abound.

The qualities heretofore enumerated forming the per fect Christian character being in possesed by the saints to their fulness can not make the possessor barren of results for good, but, contrariwise, such a one is industrious, and achieves success for the cause of Christ.

Verse 9

Verse 9. But he that lacketh these things is blind.

The one that does not possess the qualities named is blind, morally blind. As natural blindness prevents the see-ing of objects, so one morally blind can not see afar off, so far as spiritual matters are concerned. His moral vision is so defective that he has even forgotten that he was pardoned, that he was once purged from his old sins.

Verse 10

Verse 10. Wherefore the rather, brethren.

For the reason that, by adding the qualities named, you are fruitful, and for the further reason that, if you are wanting in these qualities, you are rendered morally blind, deficient in vision, and even faulty in memory, earnestly endeavor to make your calling and election to eternal life sure.

For if ye do these things.

Observing and doing the things named, which I have been careful to enumerate, you shall never fall. No danger of defective vision or of filing memory.

Verse 11

Verse 11. For so an entrance shall be ministered.

Here, again, the apostle, in few words, says much. The entrance will be abundant. You will be fully, richly prepared for an entrance into the everlasting kingdom. That is, the heavenly kingdom ; the mansions of God, where the Master has prepared a place for his children.

Verse 12

Verse 12. Wherefore I will not be negligent.

Peter here speaks of his own duty to the brotherhood, and tells them he will not neglect to remind them of these things, although he assumes that they all know them as the truth in Christ.

Verse 13

Verse 13. Yea, I think it meet.

Yet he feels it a duty he owes to the brotherhood, and the, obligations he is under to the Master, to keep the saints stirred up to the necessity of perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Hence his many and earnest exhortations to the performance of Christian duties.

As long as I am in this tabernacle.

That is, as long as I live ; as long as I am in the body.

Verse 14

Verse 14. Knowing that shortly I must put off this tabernacle.

Peter here alludes to his own death. Of this he felt assured, for the Lord Jesus Christ had shown him that he must suffer, and he here states that the time for his death was not far distant : "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself and walkest whither thou wouldest, but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he signifying by what death he should glorify God" ( Joh_21:18-19 ). No doubt Peter here refers to this prediction of the Master.

Verse 15

Verse 15. Moreover I will endeavor.

A determination is here expressed of leaving behind him after his death the means by which these exhortations to, and reminder of, duties to be performed by the saints, shall always be kept in memory.

Verse 16

Verse 16. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables.

The gospel of Christ is no fable. About it there is no myth. There is no mistake or room for doubt.

When we made known.

That is, when we apostles proclaimed the power and coming of the Lord, we made no mistake. We were eye-witnesses. Being eye-witnesses, we were qualified to testify, and our qualifications are unquestioned by all enlightened jurisprudence.

Verse 17

Verse 17. For he received from God the Father.

A such qualified eye-witness, and as a man shortly to die, I again assert the fact to be that Jesus Christ whom we preach was recognized by the Father with his own voice from on high to be his beloved Son, and that with him he was well pleased.

Verse 18

Verse 18. And this voice which came from heaven.

And I further assert that the voice which we heard came from heaven, and that it occurred while we were with Jesus Christ in the holy mount. As witnesses, our senses of seeing and of hearing were called into requisition. I give you the place where what we saw and heard occurred, and the precise words spoken. This is our testimony. We heard God speak it.

Verse 19

Verse 19. And we have a more sure word.

The language of the Common Version is in this place ambiguous. The thought is more clearly expressed either in the Revised Version or by Rotherham. The latter has it: "And we have more firm the prophetic word." The idea is that at least some of the brethren addressed have the prophecies that foretold the coming of Messiah, and our testimony makes that prophetic word more firm. It con-firms it.

Do well that you take heed.

That is, to what the prophecies say on this matter, for those prophecies are as a shining in a dark place, and as such light-bearers they continued to shine until the perfect day of revelation was ushered in by the arising of the day star ; that is, until Christ came.

Verse 20

Verse 20. Knowing this first.

While taking heed to the prophetic word, I desire you to know one thing in relation to prophecies ; that is, that no prophecy is an interpretation of the feelings and sentiments of the prophets who uttered them. They are expressions of God's will. They are therefore not self-solving.

Verse 21

Verse 21. For the prophecy came not in old time.

I give you the reason now why the prophecies were not self-solving: because they came not as the will of man. But the prophet the holy man of God spake as he was moved by the Holy Ghost. Hence the prophecy is not an expression of man's words, but is in fact the words of God. The application is now easy of my former remark that our testimony in regard to Jesus Christ conveying to you a statement from heaven coming from God the Father, is nothing but a confirmation of what God heretofore spoke by the prophets.

Bibliographical Information
Caton, Nathan Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1". Caton's Commentary on the Minor Epistles. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ntc/2-peter-1.html. 1916.
 
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