Bible Commentaries
2 Peter 1

Vincent's Word StudiesVincent's Studies

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Verse 1

Simon Peter. Note the addition of Simon, and see on 1 Peter 1:1. The best - attested orthography is Symeon, which is the form of his name in Acts 14:14, where the account probably came from him. This also is the Hebraic form of the name found in the Septuagint, Genesis 29:33, and elsewhere. Compare Revelation 7:7; Luke 2:25, Luke 2:34; Luke 3:30; Acts 13:1. The combined name, Simon Peter, is found Luke 5:8; John 13:6; John 20:2; John 21:15, and elsewhere, though in these instances it is given as Simon; Symeon occurring only in Acts 14:14. While his name is given with greater familiarity than in the first epistle, his official title, servant and apostle, is fuller. This combination, servant and apostle, occurs in no other apostolic salutation. The nearest approach to it is Titus 1:1.

Of Jesus Christ. The word Christ never occurs in the second epistle without Jesus; and only in this instance without some predicate, such as Lord, Savior.

To them that have obtained (toiv lacousin). Lit., obtained by lot. So Luke 1:9; John 19:24. In the sense which it has here it is used by Peter (Acts 1:17) of Judas, who had obtained part of this ministry. In this sense it occurs only in that passage and here.

Like precious [ισοτιμον] . Only here in New Testament. The word should be written like - precious. Compare precious in 1 Peter 1:7, 1 Peter 1:19; 1 Peter 2:4, 1 Peter 2:6, 1 Peter 2:7. Not the same in measure to all, but having an equal value and honor to those who receive it, as admitting them to the same Christian privileges. With us. Most probably the Jewish Christians, of whom Peter was one. Professor Salmond remarks, "There is much to show how alien it was to primitive Christian thought to regard Gentile Christians as occupying in grace the self - same platform with Christians gathered out of the ancient church of God." See Acts 11:17; Acts 14:9-11.

Savior. Frequently applied to Christ in this epistle, but never in the first.

Verse 2

In the knowledge [εν επιγνωσει] . The compound expressing full knowledge, and so common in Paul 's writings.

Our Lord [κυριου ημων] . The word Lord in the second epistle is always used of God, unless Christ or Savior is added.

Verse 3

Hath granted [δεδωρημενης] . This is the only word which Peter and Mark alone have in common in the New Testament; a somewhat singular fact in view of their intimate relations, and of the impress of Peter upon Mark's gospel : yet it tells very strongly against the theory of a forgery of this epistle. The word is stronger than the simple didwmi, to give, meaning to grant or bestow as a gift. Compare Mark 14:45.

Godliness [ευσεβειαν] . Used only by Peter (Acts 3:12), and in the Pastoral Epistles. It is from euj, well, and sebomai, to worship, so that the radical idea is worship rightly directed. Worship, however, is to be understood in it etymological sense, worth - ship, or reverence paid to worth, whether in God or man. So Wycliffe's rendering of Matthew 6:2, "that they be worshipped of men;" and "worship thy father and thy mother," Matthew 19:19. In classical Greek the word is not confined to religion, but means also piety in the fulfilment of human relations, like the Latin pietas. Even in classical Greek, however, it is a standing word for piety in the religious sense, showing itself in right reverence; and is opposed to dussebeia, ungodliness, and ajnosiothv, profaneness. "The recognition of dependence upon the gods, the confession of human dependence, the tribute of homage which man renders in the certainty that he needs their favor - all this is eujsebeia, manifest in conduct and conversation, in sacrifice and prayer." (Nagelsbach, cited by Cremer). This definition may be almost literally transferred to the Christian word. It embraces the confession of the one living and true God, and life corresponding to this knowledge. See on ver. 2.

Called [καλεσαντος] . Also used of the divine invitation, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 3:9; 1 Peter 5:10.

To glory and virtue [ιδια δοξη και αρετη] . Lit., and properly, by his own glory and virtue, though some read dia doxhv kai ajrethv, through glory and virtue. Rev. adopts the former. The meaning is much the same in either case.

His own [ιδια] . Of frequent occurrence in Peter, and not necessarily with an emphatic force, since the adjective is sometimes used merely as a possessive pronoun, and mostly so in Peter (1 Peter 3:1, 1 Peter 3:5; 2 Peter 2:16, 2 Peter 2:22, etc.).

Virtue. See on 1 Peter 2:9. Used by Peter only, with the exception of Philippians 4:8. The original classical sense of the word had no special moral import, but denoted excellence of any kind - bravery, rank, nobility; also, excellence of land, animals, things, classes of persons. Paul seems to avoid the term, using it only once.

On glory and virtue Bengel says, "the former indicates his natural, the latter his moral, attributes."

Verse 4

Whereby [δι ων] . Lit., through which; viz., his glory and virtue. Note the three occurrences of dia, through, in vv. 3, 4.

Are given [δεδωρηται] . Middle voice; not passive, as A. V. Hence Rev., correctly, he hath granted. See on ver. 3.

Exceeding great and precious promises. Rev., his exceeding great, etc., by way of rendering the definite article, ta.

Precious [τιμια] . The word occurs fourteen times in the New Testament. In eight instances it is used of material things, as stones, fruit, wood. In Peter it occurs three times : 1 Peter 1:7, of tried faith; 1 Peter 1:19, of the blood of Christ; and here, of God 's promises.

Promises [επαγγελματα] . Only in this epistle. In classical Greek the distinction is made between ejpaggelmata, promises voluntarily or spontaneously made, and uJposceseiv, promises made in response to a petition.

Might be partakers [γενησθε κοινωνοι] . Rev., more correctly, may become, conveying the idea of a growth. See note on koinwnov, partaker, 1 Peter 5:1; and compare Hebrews 12:10.

Having escaped [αποφυγοντες] . Only in this epistle. To escape by flight. Through lust [εν επιθυμια] . Rev. renders by lust, as the instrument of the corruption. Others, in lust, as the sphere of the corruption, or as that in which it is grounded.

Verse 5

Beside this [αυτο τουτο] . Wrong. Render, for this very cause, as Rev. Lit., this very thing. Just as ti, what? has come to mean why? So the strengthened demonstrative acquires the meaning of wherefore, for this very cause.

Giving all diligence [σπουδην πασαν παρεισενεγκαντες] . The verb occurs only here in New Testament, and means, literally, to bring in by the side of : adding your diligence to the divine promises. So Rev., adding on your part.

Add to your faith, etc. The A. V. is entirely wrong. The verb rendered add [επιχορηγησατε] is derived from corov, a chorus, such as was employed in the representation of the Greek tragedies. The verb originally means to bear the expense of a chorus, which was done by a person selected by the state, who was obliged to defray all the expenses of training and maintenance. In the New Testament the word has lost this technical sense, and is used in the general sense of supplying or providing. The verb is used by Paul (2 Corinthians 9:10; Galatians 3:5; Colossians 2:19), and is rendered minister (A. V.), supply (Rev.); and the simple verb corhgew, minister, occurs 1 Peter 4:11; 2 Corinthians 9:10. Here the Rev., properly, renders supply.

To your faith [εν τη πιστει] . The A. V. exhorts to add one virtue to another; but the Greek, to develop one virtue in the exercise of another : "an increase by growth, not by external junction; each new grace springing out of, attempting, and perfecting the other." Render, therefore, as Rev. In your faith supply virtue, and in your virtue knowledge, etc.

Virtue. See on ver. 3, and 1 Peter 2:9. Not in the sense of moral excellence, but of the energy which Christians are to exhibit, as God exerts his energy upon them. As God calls us by his own virtue (ver. 3), so Christians are to exhibit virtue or energy in the exercise of their faith, translating it into vigorous action.

Verse 6

Temperance [εγκρατεια] . Self - control; holding the passions and desires in hand. See 1 Corinthians 9:25.

Patience [υπομονην] . Lit., remaining behind or staying, from menw, to wait. Not merely endurance of the inevitable, for Christ could have relieved himself of his sufferings (Hebrews 12:2, Hebrews 12:3; compare Matthew 26:53); but the heroic, brave patience with which a Christian not only bears but contends. Speaking of Christ 's patience, Barrow remarks, "Neither was it out of a stupid insensibility or stubborn resolution that he did thus behave himself; for he had a most vigorous sense of all those grievances, and a strong (natural) aversation from under going them;... but from a perfect submission to the divine will, and entire command over his passions, an excessive charity toward mankind, this patient and meek behavior did spring." The same writer defines patience as follows : "That virtue which qualifieth us to bear all conditions and all events, by God 's disposal incident to us, with such apprehensions and persuasions of mind, such dispositions and affections of heart, such external deportment and practices of life as God requireth and good reason directeth (Sermon 42," On Patience ").

Godliness. See on ver. 3. The quality is never ascribed to God.

Brotherly kindness [φιλαδελφιαν] . Rev. renders, literally, love of the brethren.

Charity [αγαπην] . There seems at first an infelicity in the rendering of the Rev., in your love of the brethren love. But this is only apparent. In the former word Peter contemplates Christian fellow - believers as naturally and properly holding the first place in our affections (compare Galatians 6:10, "Especially unto them which are of the household of faith "). But he follows this with the broader affection which should characterize Christians, and which Paul lauds in 1 Corinthians 13:0, the love of men as men. It may be remarked here that the entire rejection by the Rev. of charity as the rendering of ajgaph is wholesome and defensible. Charity has acquired two peculiar meanings, both of which are indeed included or implied in love, but neither of which expresses more than a single phase of love - tolerance or beneficence. The A. V. in the great majority of cases translates love; always in the Gospels, and mostly elsewhere. There is no more reason for saying" charity suffereth long, "than for saying," the charity of God is shed abroad in our hearts, "or" God is charity. "

Verse 8

Be in you [υπαρχοντα] . Rev., are yours; following the sense of possession which legitimately belongs to the verb; as Matthew 19:21, that thou hast; 1 Corinthians 13:3, goods. In the sense of being the verb is stronger than the simple einai, to be; denoting being which is from the beginning, and therefore attaching to a person as a proper characteristic; something belonging to him, and so running into the idea of rightful possession as above.

Barren [αργους] . From aj, not, and ergon, work. Hence, more correctly, as Rev., idle. Compare "idle word" (Matthew 12:36); "standing idle" (Matthew 20:3, Matthew 20:6); also, 1 Timothy 5:13. The tautology, barren and unfruitful, is thus avoided.

In the knowledge [εις] . Rev., more correctly, unto. The idea is not idleness in the knowledge, but idleness is pressing on and developing toward and finally reaching the knowledge. With this agrees the compound ejpignwsin, the constantly increasing and finally full knowledge.

Verse 9

But [γαρ] . Wrong. Render as Rev., for.

He that lacketh these things [ω μη παρεστιν ταυτα] . Lit., to whom these things are not present. Note that a different word is used here from that in ver. 8, are yours, to convey the idea of possession. Instead of speaking of the gifts as belonging to the Christian by habitual, settled possession, he denotes them now as merely present with him.

Blind [τυφλος] . Illustrating Peter's emphasis on sight as a medium of instruction. See Introduction.

And cannot see afar off [μυωπαζω] . Only here in New Testament. From muw, to close, and wy, the eye. Closing or contracting the eyes like short - sighted people. Hence, to be short - sighted. The participle being short - sighted is added to the adjective blind, defining it; as if he had said, is blind, that is, short - sighted spiritually; seeing only things present and not heavenly things. Compare John 9:41. Rev. renders, seeing only what is near.

And hath forgotten [ληθην λαβων] . Lit., having taken forgetfulness. A unique expression, the noun occurring only here in the New Testament. Compare a similar phrase, 2 Timothy 1:5, uJpomnhsin labwn, having taken remembrance : A. V., when I call to remembrance : Rev., having been reminded of. Some expositors find in the expression a suggestion of a voluntary acceptance of a darkened condition. This doubtful, however. Lumby thinks that it marks the advanced years of the writer, since he adds to failure of sight the failure of memory, that faculty on which the aged dwell more than on sight.

That he was purged [του καθαρισμου] . Rev., more literally, the cleansing.

Verse 10

The rather [μαλλον] . The adverb belongs rather with the verb give diligence. Render, as Rev., give the more diligence.

Brethren [αδελφοι] . The only instance of this form of address in Peter, who commonly uses beloved.

Fall [πταισητε] . Lit., stumble, and so Rev. Compare James 3:2.

Verse 11

Shall be ministered abundantly [πλουσιως επιχορηγηθησεται] . On the verb see ver. 5. Rev., shall be richly supplied. We are to furnish in our faith : the reward shall be furnished unto us. Richly, indicating the fulness of future blessedness. Professor Salmond observes that it is the reverse of "saved, yet so as by fire" (1 Corinthians 3:15).

Everlasting kingdom [αιωνιον βασιλειαν] . In the first epistle, Peter designated the believer 's future as an inheritance; here he calls it a kingdom. Eternal, as Rev., is better than everlasting, since the word includes more than duration of time.

Verse 12

I will not be negligent. The A. V. follows the reading oujk ajmelhsw, which it renders correctly. The better reading, however, is mellhsw, I intend, or, as often in classical Greek, with a sense of certainty - I shall be sure, which Rev. adopts, rendering I shall be ready. The formula occurs in but one other passage, Matthew 24:6, where it is translated by the simple future, ye shall hear, with an implied sense, as ye surely will hear. Ye know [ειδοτας] . Lit., knowing. Compare 1 Peter 1:18.

Established [εστηριγμενους] . See on 1 Peter 5:10. Perhaps the exhortation, "strengthen thy brethren," may account for his repeated used of this word and its derivatives. Thus, unstable [αστηρικτοι] ; steadfastness [στηριγμου] , 2 Peter 3:16, 2 Peter 3:17.

In the present truth [εν τη παρουση αληθεια] . i e., the truth which is present with you through the instruction of your teachers; not the truth at present under consideration. See on ver. 9; and compare the same phrase in Colossians 1:6, rendered, is come unto you.

Verse 13

Tabernacle [σκηνωματι] . A figurative expression for the body, used also by Paul, 2 Corinthians 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:4, though he employs the shorter kindred word skhnov. Peter also has the same mixture of metaphors which Paul employs in that passage, viz., building and clothing. See next verse. Peter's use of tabernacle is significant in connection with his words at the transfiguration, " Let us make three tabernacles (Matthew 17:4). The word, as well as the entire phrase, carries the idea of brief duration - a frail tent, erected for a night. Compare ver. 14.

To stir you up by putting you in remembrance [διεγειρειν υμας εν υπομνησει] . Lit., to stir you up in reminding. See the same phrase in ch. 3 1.

Verse 14

Shortly I must put off this my tabernacle [ταχινη εστιν η αποθωσις του σκηνωματος μου] . Lit., quick is the putting off of my tabernacle. Rev., the putting off of my tabernacle cometh swiftly. Possibly in allusion to his advanced age. Putting off is a metaphor, from putting off a garment. So Paul, 2 Corinthians 5:3, 2 Corinthians 5:4, being clothed, unclothed, clothed upon. The word occurs, also, 1 Peter 3:21, and is used by Peter only. Cometh swiftly, implying the speedy approach of death; though others understand it of the quick, violent death which Christ prophesied he should die. "Even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me." See John 21:18, John 21:19. Compare, also, John 13:36, and note the word follow in both passages. "Peter had now learnt the full force of Christ 's sayings, and to what end the following of Jesus was to bring him" (Lumby).

Hath shewed [εδηλωσεν] . But the tense is the aorist, pointing back to a definite act at a past time (John 21:18). Hence, shewed me, or, as Rev., signified. Compare 1 Peter 1:11, did signify.

Verse 15

Ye may be able [εχειν υμας] . Lit., that you may have it. A similar use of have, in the sense of to be able, occurs Mark 14:8. The same meaning is also foreshadowed in Matthew 18:25, had not to pay; and John 8:6, have to accuse.

Decease [εξοδον] . Exod. is a literal transcript of the word, and is the term used by Luke in his account of the transfiguration. "They spake of his decease." It occurs only once elsewhere, Hebrews 11:22, in the literal sense, the departing or exodus of the children of Israel. "It is at least remarkable," says Dean Alford, "that, with the recollection of the scene on the mount of transfiguration floating in his mind, the apostle should use so close together the words which were there also associated, tabernacle and decease. The coincidence should not be forgotten in treating of the question of the genuineness of the epistle."

Call to remembrance [μνημνη ποιεισθαι] . The phrase occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. In classical Greek, to make mention of. An analogous expression is found, Romans 1:9, mneian poioumai, I make mention. See, also, Ephesians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Philippians 1:4. Some render it thus here, as expressing Peter's desire to make it possible for his readers to report these things to others. Rev., to call these things to remembrance.

Verse 16

We have not followed [ου εξακολουθησαντες] . A strong compound, used only here and ch. 2 2, 15. The ejx gives the force of following out; in pursuance of; closely.

Cunningly devised [σεσοφισμενοις] . Only here and 2 Timothy 3:15, in which latter passage it has a good sense, to make thee wise. Here, in a bad sense, artfully framed by human cleverness [σοφια] . Compare feigned words, ch. 2 3.

Fables [μυθοις] . This word, which occurs only here and in the Pastoral Epistles, is transcribed in the word myth. The reference here may be to the Jewish myths, rabbinical embellishments of Old - Testament history; or to the heathen myths about the descent of the gods to earth, which might be suggested by his remembrance of the transfiguration; or to the Gnostic speculations about aeons or emanations, which rose from the eternal abyss, the source of all spiritual existence, and were named Mind, Wisdom, Power, Truth, etc.

Coming [παρουσιαν] . Or presence. Compare ch. 3 4. Another word, ajpokaluyiv, revelation, is used in 1 Peter 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13, to describe the appearing of Christ.

Eye - witnesses [εποπται] . See on behold, 1 Peter 2:12. Only here in New Testament. Compare the different word in Luke 1:2, aujtoptai, eye - witnesses.

Majesty [μεγαλειοτητος] . Used in only two passages besides this : Luke 9:43, of the mighty power (Rev., majesty) of God, as manifested in the healing of the epileptic child; and Acts 19:27, of the magnificence of Diana.

Verse 17

When there came [ενεχθεισης] . Lit., having been born. Compare come (Rev., ver. 18); moved (ver. 21); and rushing wind, lit., a wind born along (Acts 2:2).

From [υπο] . Lit., by.

Excellent [μεγαλοπρεπους] . Or sublime. Only here in New Testament. In Septuagint (Deuteronomy 33:26), as an epithet of God, excellency. The phrase excellent glory refers to the bright cloud which overshadowed the company on the transfiguration mount, like the shekinah above the mercy - seat.

Verse 18

Voice [φωνην] . Note the same word in the account of Pentecost (Acts 2:6), where the A. V. obscures the meaning by rendering, when this was noised abroad; whereas it should be when this voice was heard.

Which came [ενεχθεισαν] . Lit., having been born. See on ver. 17. Rev., This voice we ourselves [ημεις, ωε, εμπηατιχ] heard come (better, born) out of heaven.

Holy mount. It is scarcely necessary to notice Davidson's remark that this expression points to a time when superstitious reverence for places had sprung up in Palestine. "Of all places to which special sanctity would be ascribed by Christ 's followers, surely that would be the first to be so marked where the most solemn testimony was given to the divinity of Jesus. To the Jewish Christian this would rank with Sinai, and no name would be more fitly applied to it than that which had so constantly been given to a place on which God first revealed himself in his glory. The 'holy mount of God ' (Ezekiel 28:14) would now receive another application, and he would see little of the true continuity of God 's revelation who did not connect readily the old and the new covenants, and give to the place where the glory of Christ was most eminently shown forth the same name which was applied so oft to Sinai" (Lumby).

Verse 19

We have also a more sure word of prophecy [και εχομεν βεβαιοτερον τον προφητικον λογον] . The A. V. is wrong, since more sure is used predicatively, and word has the definite article. We may explain either (a) as Rev., we have the word of prophecy made more sure, i e., we are better certified than before as to the prophetic word by reason of this voice; or (b) we have the word of prophecy as a surer confirmation of God 's truth than what we ourselves saw, i e., Old - Testament testimony is more convincing than even the voice heard at the transfiguration.

The latter seems to accord better with the words which follow. "To appreciate this we must put ourselves somewhat in the place of those for whom St. Peter wrote. The New Testament, as we have it, was to them non - existent. Therefore we can readily understand how the long line of prophetic scriptures, fulfilled in so many ways in the life of Jesus, would be a mightier form of evidence than the narrative of one single event in Peter's life" (Lumby). "Peter knew a sounder basis for faith than that of signs and wonders. He had seen our Lord Jesus Christ receive honor and glory from God the Father in the holy mount; he had been dazzled and carried out of himself by visions and voices from heaven; but, nevertheless, even when his memory and heart are throbbing with recollections of that sublime scene, he says, 'we have something surer still in the prophetic word. '... It was not the miracles of Christ by which he came to know Jesus, but the word of Christ as interpreted by the spirit of Christ" (Samuel Cox).

Unto a light [λυχνω] . More correctly, as Rev., a lamp.

In a dark place [εν αυχμηρω τοπω] . A peculiar expression. Lit., a dry place. Only here in New Testament. Rev. gives squalid, in margin. Aristotle opposes it to bright or glistering. It is a subtle association of the idea of darkness with squalor, dryness, and general neglect.

Dawn [διαυγαση] . Only here in New Testament. Compare the different word in Matthew 28:1, and Luke 23:54, ejpifwskw. The verb is compounded of dia, through, and aujgh, sunlight, thus carrying the picture of light breaking through the gloom.

The day - star [φωσφορος] . Of which our word phosphorus is a transcript. Lit., light - bearer, like Lucifer, from lux, light, and fero, to bear. See Aeschylus, "Agamemnon," 245.

Verse 20

Is [γινεται] . More literally, arises or originates.

Private [ιδιας] . See on ver. 3. His own. Rev., special, in margin. Interpretation [επιλυσεως] . Only here in New Testament. Compare the cognate verb expounded (Mark 4:34) and determined (Acts 19:39). The usual word is eJrmhneia (1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:26). Literally, it means loosening, untying, as of hard knots of scripture.

Verse 21

Came [ηνεχθη] . Lit., was born or brought. See on vv. 17, 18.

Holy men of God [αγιοι θεου ανθρωποι] . The best texts omit holy, and read ajpo qeou, from God. Render, as Rev., men spake from God.

Moved [φερομενοι] . The same verb as came. Lit., being born along. It seems to be a favorite word with Peter, occurring six times in the two epistles.

Bibliographical Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.