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2 Peter 1:1. Through the righteousness of God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ— Through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ—through which, sinful as we are, if we believe, we obtain acceptance with the Father—even through that atonement which our Divine Redeemer has made for the justification of all that yield to be saved by grace. The order of the original words justifies the translation which I have given above. It is observable, that the order in the next verse is different, and determines it to the translation there used.
2 Peter 1:2. Through the knowledge of God— By the acknowledgment of God. Doddridge. The word Επιγνωσις, doubtless, sometimes signifies acknowledgment; but as it signifies knowledge in the next verse, and in many other texts of the New Testament, it seems most proper so to understand it here.
2 Peter 1:3. According as his divine power— Some would read this verse in a parenthesis, as an incidental thought, and so connect the 2nd and 4th verses. Others would connect this with the foregoing verse;—Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, in or by the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord; according as his divine power hath bestowed upon us all things pertaining, &c. But the salutation being finished in the foregoing verse, the epistle seems to begin here, and the connection to be continued from this to 2 Peter 1:5. &c. For there is no reddition till you come to the beginning of 2 Peter 1:5. "His divine power having given us all things pertaining to life and godliness, do you therefore, giving all diligence to this very thing, add to your faith virtue." Life and godliness are by an usual figure put for a godly life. God had given them all things pertaining to a godly life: it was not owing to any merit in them, but partly to divine grace: it was the gift of God. Whitby supposes the words to be an hendyades, and understands them of "a glorious and powerful effusion of the Spirit."
2 Peter 1:4. Whereby— By means of which; namely, of the illustrious seal of the Spirit set to the declaration of the gospel. By partaking of the divine nature, we are to understand a participation of the divine holiness; or a being holy, as the Lord our God is holy; enjoying such communion with God in his holiness, as, on account of its resemblance of him, derivation from him, tendency towards him, and complacency in him, may be called a divine nature. Thus it will connect with what follows: "That you might be holy as God is holy, having escaped the corruption that is in the world, through lust; that is having renounced, and fled away, with vigour and abhorrence, from all the corrupt principles and practices, which spread and prevail amongthe men of this world, through the power of their depraved inclinations and inordinate affections to carnal things."
2 Peter 1:5. And, beside this,— And for this purpose. The apostle's meaning, says Dr. Heylin, in brief is this:—"Whereas God, by giving you the knowledge of Jesus Christ, has given you the means whereby to acquire all the virtues, you must correspond on your part by exerting your utmost endeavours," &c. Faith is the foundation of all religion, and therefore deservedly mentioned first. The word 'Αρετη here translated virtue, is variously interpreted. In some Greek authors, and more especially among the poets, it signifies fortitude, and is often used for military courage; but in prose authors, and particularly among the philosophers, the word signifies virtue, that is, a right moral conduct. As our apostle wrote in a popular stile, in prose, and as a divine moralist, several have been for interpreting the word 'Αρετη here, of virtue in general, or of a wise and Christian conduct; and some have thought that he mentions the first three general duties, of faith, virtue, and knowledge, and afterwards enumeratessuchparticularvirtuesasweremost important in themselves, or nor suited to the state of the persons to whom he was writing. But the apostle seems to have designed an enumeration of several particular virtues; and therefore, as the word 'Αρετη sometimes signifies fortitude, one would so understand it in this verse. In all times and places, persons who would do their duty, have need of fortitude to encounter a variety of difficulties and discouragements: and as it was now a time of persecution, the Christians, to whom St. Peter wrote, had great occasion to add to their faith in the Christian religion,fortitude in the profession of it, that they might not betray the truth, either in their words or actions, but bravely suffer all manner of evils for the sake of Christ, if called thereto. By the word γνωσις, rendered knowledge, the best commentators understand prudence. See 1 Peter 3:7. Prudence was proper to go along with fortitude, in order to prevent its degenerating into rashness and folly. Heylin renders it discretion. See Ephesians 5:15-49.5.16; Ephesians 6:10. &c. Col 4:5 and Parkhurst on the word 'Αρετη .
2 Peter 1:6. Temperance— The word εγκρατεια sometimes signifies abstinence from some particular vice, and is used more especially for continence or chastity: but it commonlysignifies abstinence or moderation as to the pleasures and possessions of this life in general; and as there is no restriction of the word in this sense, we may understand it in its most extensive signification. Temperance and prudence are very fit to go hand in hand: the intemperate are commonly, if not always, imprudent. The word 'Υπομονη, which we render patience, signifies bearing the assaults of any evil, more especially of an enemy. In the New Testament it implies a meek and composed enduring of evil, in dependance upon God, and resignation to his will. Ευσεβειαν, godliness, when it is joined with other religious virtues, commonly means a reverence of God, or a fear mixed with love. So it is used 1Ti 6:11 and so it signifies here. This reverence for God is to be manifested and supported by frequent worshipping of him, and such worship produces submission and obedience. Godliness differs from superstition, just as a rational and divine love of a Being of the most perfect moral character, and a fear of offending the most wise and amiable Governor of the world, and most gracious Saviour of mankind, differs from that groundless fear, which arises from supposing that a capricious or weak, a tyrannical or malevolent Being governs the universe; an opinion which leads men to do the most ridiculous things to obtain his favour. Godliness implies our duty more immediately towards God, as temperance and patience denote our duty towards ourselves, and love and charity our duty towards other men. As to the two virtues which are here to join hand in hand, no two things could suit better; for nothing promotes patience under the evils of life, like godliness, or a frequent spiritual worshipping of God, and a steady conviction that perfect wisdom governs the world. See the next note.
2 Peter 1:7. And to godliness brotherly-kindness— Or the love of the Christian brotherhood, which is often and earnestly recommended. See 1 Peter 1:22. The connection between these two virtues is inseparable, (comp. 1Jn 3:17; 1 John 4:20-62.4.21.) and indeed what can be more properly connected with the love of God, than the love of real Christians, who are formed after the image of that God who made them? He adds, And to the love of Christians,—the love of all mankind. Our first or superlative love is due to God, as the most holy, most amiable, and most beneficent Being. In the next place, we are to love real Christians, as being the most like to God. But there is also a degree of love due to all mankind, as descending all of them from one common Father: having the same human nature, being liable to the same wants and infirmities, and born for the common good. How well may these two virtues go hand in hand, or what more proper to add to the love of the Christian brethren, than the love of all mankind! The apostle begun with faith, as the foundation of all these virtues; and he ends with love, or benevolence, which is the crown or perfection of all. Brekel has attempted to shew, that here is one continued allusion to military affairs: if that be so, we may then consider the apostle as exhorting them, to their faith, or oath of fidelity, to add courage, to courage prudence, and to prudence temperance; that, being continent, sober, and vigilant, they might be always upon their guard against the enemy. To temperance they were to add patience, so as to endure hardship, like good soldiers of Jesus Christ, cheerfully sustaining all the difficulties and fatigues even of a long campaign in this glorious spiritual warfare. Sustine and abstine, "endure and abstain," were the two words under which the ancient philosophers used to comprize all moral virtue. The faithful soldier of Jesus Christ will endure every evil, and every ignominy, rather than betray the truth, act contrary to his conscience, or give up his hope in God his Saviour.
2 Peter 1:8. For if these things be in you, and abound, &c.— For your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ will not be barren and fruitless, if these virtues take place and improve in you. Heylin. The words make you—neither barren nor fruitless, are, by a meiosis, put for will make you very diligent and fruitful. One grand end of our Christian knowledge andtruth is, that we may be diligent and fruitful, in works of holiness and righteousness. Titus 3:8; Titus 3:14.
2 Peter 1:9. And cannot see afar off,— The word Μυωπαζων signifies literally winking, or closing the eyes against the light. The apostle having represented the professed Christian, who is destitute of the graces and virtues of the Christian life, as blind, immediately informs us what sort of blindness that is, and intimates that it is a voluntary blindness. He does not see his way, because he voluntarily shuts his eyes against the light. The Christian religion does so often and so clearly represent the absolute necessity of a holy life unto all that would be saved, and the light of the Holy Spirit is so far given or offered to every man, that whoever can read the scriptures, and does not perceive the nature of the gospel so far, as to press after acceptance with God through Jesus Christ his Son, and holiness of heart and life in consequence thereof, is indeed blind, but wilfully so: blinded by criminal prejudice, by lust, passion, or a love of vice. They must be wilfully blind, who see not that Christianity requires a holy life as necessary to eternal salvation.
2 Peter 1:10-61.1.11. Wherefore the rather, &c.— The connection seems to be this: "As he who is destitute of the graces and virtues of the Christian life, is voluntarily blind; therefore, my Christian brethren, do you give the more diligence to make your calling and election firm and steadfast, by the exercise and practice of those graces and virtues which I have already enumerated: for, if youperform these things—if you live in the exercise of these graces and virtues, you shall never stumble like the blind man mentioned 2Pe 1:9 but your way shall be made plain, and a wide, smooth, and easy entrance granted you into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Those Jews and Gentiles to whom the gospel was preached, were called to come and embrace it; just as all the Roman citizens were called together when it was proposed to levy an army. Then all who were capable of bearing arms were by a public summons called to the standard, and obliged thereupon to appear. Those Jews or Gentiles who under the blessing of God came with well disposed minds, and embraced the gospel, were chosen out from among the rest; and baptism was like the sacramental ormilitaryoathoffidelity;wherebythey obliged themselves to be faithful soldiers under Jesus Christ, the great Captain of their salvation. As they were not in this sense chosen till after they were called, and had embraced that call, it is evident that this text can have no reference to any decrees of God made from all eternity, concerning those particular persons to whom St. Peter is here writing. It is moreover to be observed, that they were not so called or elected; but that if they did not exercise and perform the graces and virtues here recommended, they would stumble and even fall both from their calling and election, or from the happy consequences of both; and if they had so fallen, the fault would have been their own, and not owing to God, nor to any thing in his decrees. Faith was the condition on which they were called into the Christian church, and elected to be of the number of God's people here upon earth. And they were so called and elected, with a view to their obtaining everlasting salvation: for, as Christians, they had all things pertaining to a godly life, and the best advantages for preparing for everlasting life: but the bestowing that life, even upon such as are called and elected, is suspended, upon the condition that they, according to the measure of grace given them, and the opportunities afforded them, do internally and externally exercise these graces and virtues. Otherwise, both their callingand election will prove in vain, and they will finally miss ofa happy immortality. See on 2 Peter 1:7.
2 Peter 1:12. Wherefore— That is, "Because in this way alone you can have an admittance into Christ's everlasting kingdom." I will not be negligent, by a common figure signifies, "I will make use of the greatest care and diligence." The present truth was, that the practice of the Christian graces and virtues was necessary to make their calling and election firm. They might indeed have said, "We know these things already." St. Peter, therefore, anticipates such an objection, answering it solidly, and by a beautiful gradation declaring that truths, known and firmly believed, should be often called to remembrance, in order to have their proper influences; and that therefore he would put them in remembrance of these things; that he would do it, not once, but always; and that not only during his life, but likewise after his decease; that is, by leaving those two epistles behind him, as their constant monitors. The teachers of the gospel, after St. Peter's example, should often repeat important truths, though well known and firmly believed; that the people may have them continually in remembrance.
2 Peter 1:13. Yea, I think it meet— St. Peter accounted it δικαιον, meet, that is, becoming his character and office, as one of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, and proper for them, as professed Christians in such a situation. With great propriety and beauty, he calls his own body a tabernacle: it was not like a house, a firm fixed building, likely to stand for some ages; but a structure comparatively light and weak, and which was shortly to be taken down: like the travelling tents of the wild Arabs, easily set up and easily removed. St. Peter was then in his tabernacle; but he was going to remove; however, as long as he continued in it, he thought it proper to stir up, or rouse his converts; (διεγειρειν .) Christians should be continually excited to look forward to Christ's second coming, and to press on in all Christian experience and holyduties,bywayofpreparation for that day; since, without being frequently put in remembrance, many are apt to be drowsy, or not duly attentive to such important truths. See ch. 2 Peter 3:1.
2 Peter 1:14. Knowing that shortly I must put off, &c.— Knowing that the laying aside of this my tabernacle approacheth swiftly, in the manner that the Lord Jesus Christ hath made known unto me. Our Lord not only told St. Peter that he was to die a violent death, but also the manner of it: John 21:18-43.21.19. It is inquired, "How did St. Peter know that he was to die shortly?" Now it is generally agreed, that our Lord, in the place above quoted, foretold him that he was to die a violent death; but because there is no express mention of the exact time, some of the ancients say that St. Peter had about this period a vision, declaring to him that the time was now approaching. Others think that our Lord limited the time so far, as that it was to happen before the destruction of Jerusalem; though St. John was to survive that desolation. St. Peter, therefore, hearing, where he now was, of the calamities coming upon the Jewish nation, and learning from those signs and forerunners, that the destruction of that nation was at hand; he from thence concluded, that the time of his own martyrdom must be very speedily. This may be said with certainty,—that the Lord Jesus had told him that he should die a martyr in his old age; and his being now grown old, might help to determine the time of his martyrdom. But I have no doubt that all these evidences were also accompanied with immediate divine intimations. St. Peter wrote by the infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.
2 Peter 1:15. To have these things always in remembrance.— The things which they were to have always in remembrance, were, the necessity of experiencing and practising the graces and virtues of the Christian life, mentioned 2 Peter 1:5. &c. and that if they did so, they should have an abundant entrance into Christ's everlasting kingdom of happiness. More important truths they could not remember; these things St. Peter had preached during his life; and he wrote these two epistles, that the Christians might remember them when he was dead. He thought writing much preferable to oral tradition, for preserving the exact knowledge and remembrance of truths of the last consequence:—and he judged well; for what have we certain from oral tradition? whereas these two epistles of St. Peter's have already continued above 1700 years, and are as able to put us in remembrance of these things, as they were the Christians at that age when they were written, and of all ages since. The note of the Rhemish annotators upon this verse is most curious; for they fancy that St. Peter had intimated to the Christians, "That his care over them should not cease by death; but that by his intercession before God,after his departure, he would do the same thing for them that he had done before in his life by teaching and preaching." Surely it is a sign of a desperate cause, and that men are put to the most wretched shifts to maintain a party or faction, when they make use of such despicable proofs! "I was of opinion, says Dr. Heylin, that probably St. Peter fulfilled this promise, not only by leaving these epistles behind him, but by leaving also some directions with St. Jude, who, in his epistle to the same persons, repeats many things from this, with such a sameness, as I thought difficult to be accounted for any other way, till I saw a more satisfactory solution of the difficulty, in that admirable performance, 'The Use and Intent of Prophesy;' where, in the first dissertation, it is shewn, from some passages quoted from the Apostolical constitutions, that it is highly reasonable to suppose, that the apostles had a meeting upon the extraordinary case of the new false teachers; and that they gave jointly, by common consent and deliberation, precepts proper to the occasion, to be communicated to all churches by their respective apostles and bishops; that accordingly many circular letters were sent for that purpose; and that the second epistle of St. Peter, and St. Jude's epistle, seem to be of this sort, &c."
2 Peter 1:16. Cunningly-devised fables,— Sophistical fables. Benson. For there was nothing fabulous, or artfully invented, in the information that we gave you, of the powerful advent of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we ourselves were eye-witnesses of his majesty. Heylin. This epistle of St. Peter was written to support and maintain the hopes and expectations which he had raised by the first; wherein much weight is laid on the expectation of Christ's coming in all his power and glory.
It is very probable, that the distressed Christians conceived at first great hopes from these assurances given them by the apostle; and expected, as it is natural for men in affliction, that every day would bring them deliverance: but when one year after another passed, and no deliverance came; when the scorners began to ridicule their hopes, and asked in mockery, Where is the promise of his coming? (ch. 2 Peter 3:3-61.3.4.) the hearts of many grew sick; and their hopes, deferred, instead of being any comfort or support to them, became an additional grief, lest they had believed in vain. Many of them, worn out with distress and persecution, began to give way, and willingly listened to the corrupt teachers, who instructed them to keep fair with the world, and to keep their faith to themselves; by means of which wicked doctrine, they were led away, fell from their steadfastness, and denied the Lord who bought them.
2 Peter 1:19. We have also a more sure word of prophesy;— It would swell this note into a very considerable treatise, if we were to give the numerous interpretations and different opinions on this much-controverted passage. We shall therefore content ourselves with three solutions; referring those who desire to enter more deeply into the subject, to the larger discussions of Sherlock, &c. I. By the word of prophesy, says Benson, I understand the same thing with what is called, 2 Peter 1:20, a prophesy of scripture; that is, those predictions, whether in the Old Testament or New, in which was foretold the power of Christ, and especially his second and glorious appearance; and I apprehend with OEcumenius, that St. Peter first mentions Christ's transfiguration, as an emblem of his coming in power and glory, and then says, Hereby we have the word of prophesy rendered more firm; or in other words, "The prophesy of Christ's coming in power and glory, is confirmed by his transfiguration, and the voice from heaven in his favour." Accordingly, the Vulgate hath rendered the passage, And we have the prophetical word more sure. Now, according to this interpretation, here is no such thing intimated, as that prophesy is a stronger argument than miracles (according to the assertion of a writer, who has taken great pains to shew the absurdity of that argument.) Here is no preference of the one to the other, nor any comparison between them, but a very reasonable assertion; namely, that the one is confirmed by the other. II. Mr. Markland, as we learn from Bowyer's Conjectures, would at the end of the former verse place only a colon: that the beginning of this verse may connect with it, and so lead to the true and obvious sense of a passage which of late (says he,) has exercised in vain the pens of many learned writers: namely, This voice saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, (taken from Isaiah 42:1.) we heard in the mount: and we have by that means prophesy, or the words of the prophet; more fully confirmed. Which words, how clear soever a prediction of Christ, were more determinately declared so, when we heard them applied to him by a voice from heaven. The expression in both parts of the sentence is confirmed by the best writers; and the passage of Isaiah is referred to in the margin of some Bibles on Matthew 3:17; Mat 17:5 where the same words occur. But the reference being omitted here, the sense has been overlooked. III. Some, says Dr. Doddridge, are of opinion, that the apostle intended no comparison in this place; but that the comparative is used for the positive, or superlative, as is frequent in the New Testament; so that it only signifies a very sure prophetical word. As I must confess myself, says Parkhurst, to be, after attentive consideration, most inclined to this interpretation, I shall beg leave to support it by the remarks of Wolfius: "For my part, observes that learned writer, I am best pleased with those, who think that the word of the prophets, that is, of the writers of the Old Testament, (comp. 2 Peter 1:20-61.1.21.) is here called firm, or very firm, without respect to that divine voice mentioned 2 Peter 1:17-61.1.18." For St. Peter in this passage is displaying the supports of the apostles in preaching of Christ as our Lord: these supports or arguments are three. The first is, that they saw the majesty of Christ; the second, that they heard the divine testimony from heaven; the third, that they read the prophetic predictions concerning him; predictions above all exception, and of the firmest or surest kind. That the apostle is heaping up arguments of the same sort, is evident from the expression, Και εχομεν, we have also or moreover: but if he had designed to call this last more firm, in respect to the voice of God which they had heard, he would, I believe, have written εχομεν δε . The apostle does not advance these things, that they to whom he was writing might understand on what proofs or supports they themselves ought to rest; but he is recounting by what arguments the apostles were convinced of the truth of their own preaching; and on this footing the divine voice heard from heaven certainly had the same credit with themselves as the predictions of the prophets: and that the apostle is here speaking of himself and the rest of the apostles, appears also from hence, that at the end of this verse he turns his discourse to those to whom he was writing; To which [word of prophesy] ye do well to attend, as unto a light, &c. Bishop Chandler supposes, that prophesy is called a light shining in a dark place, because it grows gradually brighter as it approaches nearer and nearer to its accomplishment. To the word of prophesy, and especially to the predictions concerning Christ's second coming, they were all to attend. Even common Christians were to read the scripture, and it would be as a lamp to them shiningin a dark place. The light of revelation, even the marvellous light of the gospel, is no more than a lamp or candle in the night, compared with that brightness ushered in by the dawn of the day, or the rising of the sun in all its splendor. We are therefore to attend to the scriptures only till the day dawn, and the sun arise in our own hearts; that is, till the morning of the great day dawn, and Jesus Christ, the Day-star, or the Sun of righteousness, shall arise in all his glory, and give us perfect light, and perfect knowledge. See 1 Corinthians 13:9; 1 Corinthians 13:13.
2 Peter 1:20. Knowing this first,— The apostle here assigns an important reason why they were to attend to the word of prophesy as long as they lived; namely, because it was not of human device, but of divine original. Dr. Mill has in few words given the sense of this place: "In writing this, the prophet did not interpret or explain his own mind, but the mind and will of the Holy Spirit with which he was inspired." This interpretation is agreeable to the usual sense of the word επιλυσις, and is greatly confirmed by the next verse; where it is said, that holy men of God (prophets or men inspired by him,) spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Inferences.—It is honour enough for gospel-ministers to be, what the apostles counted themselves, the servants of Jesus Christ; and they, who are truly such, cannot but heartily wish, that grace and peace, inclusive of every blessing, may be multiplied to all that have obtained like precious faith with themselves, through the infinite merit of the righteousness of God their Saviour, and through the knowledge of him who has called them by the gospel to a glorious inheritance, and to a free and holy profession of their faith and hope, till, if faithful, they enter with triumph into his everlasting kingdom. How precious are the promises, by which believers are made partakers of a divine nature, in a holy conformity to God, and departure from all the wickedness of this world, which proceeds from the corruption of men's own hearts! But O, of how great concern is it, to give all diligence, by divine assistance, to add to our faith every Christian grace and lively exercise of it! This will make and prove us to be active believers, whose knowledge of our Lord and Saviour is not a lifeless notion, but will produce substantial and assuring evidences of the divine grace from whence it flows, and will, if persevered in, be the infallible means of preserving us from apostacy and falling short of heaven. But he who is destitute of these things, apostatizing from his God, is wandering in the dark, and has forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. What need therefore have believers themselves of being often put in mind of these important things, though they already know them! And what care should Christ's ministering servants take to repeat them on all occasions, that their dear flocks may remember and practise them when they are dead, and gone to heaven; especially considering, that their souls must soon depart from their bodies, which are the frail tabernacles of their present abode! And with what confidence may they recommend and inculcate such things as are founded on the testimony of God himself by his apostles and holy prophets, relating to Christ, whom he declared, with an audible voice from the excellent glory on the mount, to be his beloved Son, in whom he is well pleased; and relating to the divine majesty and power with which he will gloriously appear at his coming to judge the world! These are not cunningly-devised fables, but unquestionable truths, as contained in the infallible word of God, which was written not according to the private will and fancy of men, but by the inspiration of his Spirit; and ought to be attended to as a light, which he has given us to guide us through all our darkness in this world, till, by the rising of the Sun of righteousness upon our souls, we arrive at the unclouded light and glory of the world to come, O may the blessed Author of the holy scriptures lead us into the knowledge of his mind and will in them, and make us wise to our own salvation!
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The apostle, being about to finish his glorious course, addresses his last epistle to his Hebrew brethren, as well as to those Gentile Christians who were among them. We have,
1. The writer: Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ. In the dignity to which he was advanced, he did not forget, that his office was not so much to rule, as to serve the meanest member of Christ's church.
2. The persons to whom the epistle is addressed,—to them that have obtained like precious faith with us, and feel themselves interested in the same glorious salvation, through the righteousness of God, or of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ,—his righteous obedience unto the death of the cross, which is the sole meritorious cause of every blessing that we can receive, in time or eternity. Note; Divine faith may well be called precious, seeing that the effects of it are so unspeakably glorious.
3. His apostolical benediction, Grace and peace, with all the blessings of the everlasting gospel, be multiplied unto you, in more abundant manifestations and deeper inward experience of them, through the knowledge of God, as your covenant and reconciled God, and of Jesus our Lord, in all the blessed offices and relations which he bears toward his faithful people.
4. The ground on which he built his confidence that his prayers for them would be heard and answered. According as his divine power hath given unto us freely all things that pertain unto life and godliness, bestowing every blessing and means of grace which can conduce to the furtherance of the divine life in our souls, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; our acquaintance with Jesus, and acknowledgment of him as the only Saviour of souls, being sufficient, if duly improved, to engage us in the pursuit of glory as our end, and with fortitude unshaken to walk in all his holy ways. Whereby, even through the grace of these Divine Persons, and especially by the seal of the Holy Spirit, are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, above all our conceptions, as well as all our deserts; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, by the gospel word, and the great and precious promises therein revealed; wherein beholding as in a glass the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, you are transformed into the same image, formed anew after the divine likeness in righteousness and true holiness; having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, flying from out of the world which lieth in wickedness, as from a city infected with the plague, and renouncing all the corrupt principles and practices, which, through the carnal concupiscence that reigns in every unrenewed heart, defiled in time past your whole body, soul, and spirit. Note; (1.) All that is good in us, comes from the divine power and grace. (2.) The knowledge of God, as he is revealed to us in the gospel of his dear Son, is the grand means of engaging our hearts towards him. (3.) Exceeding great indeed and precious are those promises, that reach to the deeper state of human guilt and misery, and extend to an eternity of glory in the highest, in behalf of all the faithful. (4.) They who, by the transforming vision of God in the gospel, are truly made partakers of the divine nature, will shew it by their deadness to the world, and the subdual of every sensual appetite.
2nd, Because they had already received so much from God, they were bound to make their profiting appear. We have,
1. A golden chain of graces, which we are called to put on. And beside this, or for this cause, seeing that you are partakers of the divine nature, giving all diligence to increase with the increase of God, add to your faith virtue, courage, and boldness in the profession of the gospel; and to virtue knowledge, prudently considering the company, place, and time, when your courage in vindicating the cause of Christ may be most successfully exerted; and to knowledge temperance, keeping your passions and appetites under strict government, and using all the creatures with a holy moderation; and to temperance patience under every provocation, bearing with the injuries, reproaches, and perverseness of others, and meekly submissive under every affliction; and to patience godliness, exercising yourselves in every act of devotion and means of grace, from a principle of love to God, and desire of nearer communion with him; and to godliness brotherly kindness, feeling the tenderest sympathy and compassion towards your fellow-Christians, and ready to every good word and work that may be helpful to them; and to brotherly kindness charity, having your hearts enlarged to all mankind, with universal benevolence to every human creature, and a desire to promote their temporal, spiritual, and eternal welfare, not excluding even your greatest and most inveterate enemies.
2. These graces will adorn our profession, as the want of them must necessarily prove us destitute of true Christianity. For if these things be in you and abound, in lively exercise, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; but as trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, you will be full of life, sap, and fruitfulness, which redounds to his glory. While he that lacketh these things, is blind, whatever pretences to wisdom he may make; and cannot see afar off, at best has but a glimmering and notional apprehension of divine truth, being a stranger to that realizing faith which brings near the distant objects of an eternal world; and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins, unfaithful to the grace which he once possessed, and negligent in his application to that Blood which alone can cleanse him from his iniquities.
3. He exhorts all believers to diligence in the Christian course. Wherefore the rather, brethren, considering how many have a name to live who are really dead in trespasses, give diligence to make your calling and election sure, in the lively use of every means of grace, and in the practice of all holy conversation; for, if ye do these things, and perseveringly live in the exercise of the graces above-mentioned, ye shall never fall from Christ and grace, or perish with the world: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; when at the last, triumphant over death and the grave, you shall be admitted into all the glories of the eternal world, and so shall be for ever with the Lord. Note; They shall shortly enter an eternal world of glory, who now perseveringly walk under the influences of a Saviour's grace.
3rdly, The apostle appears careful to discharge his own solemn trust towards them. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, as matters of the last importance, though ye know them in a good measure; and be established in the present truth, fully satisfied in general of the necessity of holiness, in order to an entrance into the kingdom of heaven. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle of clay, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance, that your hearts may be suitably affected, and your practice correspondent with your Christian principles. And hereunto I give the greater diligence, knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle of the body, which will be soon silent in the dust, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. Moreover, I will endeavour, both by my labours among you, and by these epistles, which when I am dead will yet speak, that ye may be able, after my decease, to have these things always in remembrance. Note; (1.) Even the truths that we know, we need be often reminded of, and urged to shew their influence on our conduct. (2.) A minister's work is never done till he closes his eyes: his death-bed must be his farewel sermon. (3.) We live in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust; but, blessed be God, we need not regret the dissolution of this wretched tabernacle, when we are to exchange it for a mansion of glory.
4thly, We have a reason given for the importunity and seriousness with which he pressed the foregoing exhortations. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, like the Gentile legends or Jewish traditions, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, at the last great day of his appearing and glory, to judge the assembled world. But,
1. We were eye-witnesses of his majesty, on the mount of transfiguration, and attest that of which we have had the fullest demonstration; not only seeing his transfigured body shining in all the brightness of the meridian sun, but hearing the voice of God. For he there received from God the Father honour and glory, who bore the fullest testimony to the transcendent dignity of his divine character as his Son Messiah, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, the bright cloud which overshadowed him, the symbol of the divine Presence, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in his person, offices, and all his undertakings. And this voice, which came from heaven, we heard distinctly and clearly, when we were with him in the holy mount. So that they could not be mistaken themselves in the things which they testified.
2. We have also a more sure word of prophecy, wherein a more direct attestation is borne to the power and coming of Jesus to judgment, than might be inferred from what we saw and heard. Or, We have a most sure word of prophecy, wherein this second appearing of the Lord to judgment is most expressly and repeatedly affirmed; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, (and a dark world indeed would this be without the word of God,) until the day, the great and expected day of our final redemption, dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts, to shine thenceforward with unclouded lustre on his faithful saints, when the Lord shall be their ever-lasting light, and their God their glory. Knowing this first, that, till the day of Christ appears, we may surely depend upon his prophetic word as our guide; for no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation, is of human invention or composition, but of celestial origin: for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God, whom he had sanctified to be instruments in his hands to deliver his messages, spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, directing and dictating both the matter and expression. Note; (1.) The scriptures alone are our guide to glory. All our wisdom is comparatively ignorance, and our light darkness, without a divine revelation. (2.) The more diligently we take heed to the word of God, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it, the more surely shall we walk in holiness and happiness. (3.) The scriptures carry their own divine authority along with them, and, through the energy of that Spirit who indited them, impress a full conviction of their truth on the consciences of the sincere. (4.) Though the Bible was written by men, we must say, as of the tables which Moses hewed, that the writing was of God. They were but organs and instruments, and did not themselves often comprehend the full meaning of what they delivered. With what sacred reverence and awe then should we open that holy book, where God himself is heard still speaking!
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany