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Bible Commentaries
2 Peter 1

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New TestamentZerr's N.T. Commentary

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Verse 1

2Pe 1:1. Peter designates himself both as a servant and an apostle but mentions the servant first. The epistle is addressed to the same kind of people as his first one only it is stated differently. The first calls them the "elect" or chosen of God which was according to His prearranged plan. This epistle is addressed to those of like precious faith with the apostle. This faith was obtained (not born with them at infancy), but the means of obtaining it is clearly stated to have been the righteousness of God. Rom 1:16-17 states that this righteousness is revealed in the Gospel. Hence the conclusion is clear that men receive faith through the Gospel. which agrees with Rom 10:17 which declares that faith comes by hearing the word of God. Note that our verse includes the righteousness of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Verse 2

2Pe 1:2. This virtually repeats the thoughts of the preceding verse. The favor of God is to come through knowledge of God, and the preceding paragraph shows that such knowledge is to be obtained through the word of God in the Gospel.

Verse 3

2Pe 1:3. Inasmuch as salvation is the subject under consideration, the phrase his divine power refers to the Gospel for Rom 1:16 declares that it is the power of God unto salvation. Our verse states that this power (which is the Gospel) hath given all things that pertain unto life and godliness. The negative thought would be therefore that any doctrine or practice that is not authorized by the Gospel does not have anything to do with life and godliness. The terrible conclusion that is unavoidable is that when men practice anything in their religious life that is not authorized by the Gospel, they are guilty of that which will result in death to them because it is classed with ungodliness. The offering of these life-giving items is done through knowledge of the Lord since he is the one who has made the call herein mentioned. Glory means honor and dignity and virtue means excellence or a condition of completeness. The word to is from DIA and its leading meaning is "by means of." The statement about the call should then be worded as follows: "Knowledge of him who 'lath called us by his glory and virtue." Such a rendering is also in line with the connection which shows that the Gospel, in which these qualities are contained, is the means by which men are called into the service of Christ.

Verse 4

2Pe 1:4. Whereby means that by the kind of life that is designated in the preceding verse, we may claim the exceeding great and precious promises. The things promised are great because no one but the Lord can grant such favors, and they are precious because all the wealth of the universe could not purchase them. The antecedent of these is the glory and virtue mentioned in the preceding verse. In addition to enjoying the precious promises offered in the Gospel, we may become partakers of the divine nature. Divine means godlike and nature refers to time qualities that distinguish that which is godlike from that which is not. The man who attains this personality through the Gospel is that much like God. The corruption that is in the world is brought about through lust of sinful men. When one obeys the Gospel he escapes from that corruption in the sense that he has been cleansed therefrom by the "divine power." He is then prepared to proceed with the kind of life that such a person is expected to follow In his service for Christ.

Verse 5

2Pe 1:5. And beside this. It is not enough to obey the commands that cause one to become a Christian, but he must add to his faith the practices and qualities that are to be named in this and other verses following. Diligence is from SPOUDE and the definition of Thayer is. "earnestness, diligence." He explains the word as follows: "Universally earnestness in accomplishing, promoting, or striving after anything." A brief and workable definition of the word would be "thoughtful activity." Peter directs that it be used in the work of adding these necessary things to one's faith. Virtue is the same term that is used in verse 3. The outstanding word in the definition is "excellence," which means the quality of excelling or going beyond one's present attainments. A Christian should never be satisfied with his present growth, but should be determined to increase more and more. Knowledge. The general meaning of this word is "information " and the particular kind of information that is meant in any case must be determined by the connection. Coloss'ans 2:3 states that all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid (contained) in the Lord. Then the verses •in the beginning of our chapter clearly show that such knowledge is to be learned through the Gospel. Thus the instruction of the apostle is for the Christian to study the Gospel (the New Testament) and add such knowledge to the faith he had that caused him to become a servant of Christ.

Verse 6

2Pe 1:6. The lexicon defines the Greek word for teniperance with the single word "self-control." A practical illustration of the subject is shown in Jas 3:2-3. In general the word means for Christians to use moderation in the various things of life. Of course the word applies only to things that are not wrong in themselves, but wrong only when carried to excess. Therefore is has no place in the subject of intoxicating liquor as a beverage, for that is wrong regardless of the degree of indulgence. Patience. The leading idea of this word may be stated by the words "constancy" and "endurance." The first term denotes a steadiness of one's activities for the Lord and the second means that he will continue it to the end. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Rev 2:10). Godliness is from EUSEBEIA which Thayer defines as follows: "Reverence. respect; piety towards God, godliness." The word not only requires that a man will live as he should, but that his motive for such a life will be his respect for God.

Verse 7

2Pe 1:7. The two words brotherly kindness come from the one Greek word PHILADELPHIA. Thayer's definition of the word is, "The love of brothers (or sisters), brotherly love: in the New Testament the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren." The disciples of Christ should feel a nearness for each other that is stronger even than their love for flesh-and-blood relatives. Charity is from AGAPE which is one of the Greek words translated "love" in the New Testament. The principal meaning of the word in the present passage is to have a sincere interest in the welfare of others. The subject of love is often misunderstood by students of the Bible, due partly to the circumstance that the word comes from different Greek originals which have different meanings. There is a complete page devoted to the subject made up from the authoritative quotations from the lexicons of Thayer and Strong. The comments are at Mat 5:43 which I urge the readers to see and study carefully; they are in the first volume of the New Testament Commentary.

Verse 8

2Pe 1:8. In you and abound. Thayer defines the original for the last word, "To superabound; to exist in abundance; to increase, be augmented." It is one of the outstanding principles of the teaching in the Bible that the life of a servant of God should be one of growth. Hence the Christian should determine to make these "seven graces" increase in his life as the days go by. If he will do so it will assure him that he will be neither barren nor unfruitful. These words have about the same meaning and are used together as a matter of emphasis. The first specifically means "idle or inactive," and that condition would necessarily result in absence of fruit-bearing. The particular kind of fruit just here being considered is worded knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. If a tree fails to bear fruit it may be attributed to a lack of moisture and other ingredients necessary to produce fruit, or to the failure of the plant to absorb those materials that are near it. Likewise if a disciple is inactive in the matter of acquiring the kno ledge of Christ that is within his reach in the Gospel (verses 2, 3), it can only result in a life that bears no fruit unto God. Such a state is dangerous for Jesus declares that all such trees will he hewn down and cast into the fire (Mat 7:19).

Verse 9

2Pe 1:9. Blind. Not "stone-blind" for then he could not see at all whereas this person can see a little. The idea is as if a smoke was raised making the vision dim. Cannot see afar off all comes from MUOPAZO which Thayer defines, "To see dimly, see only what is near," and the Englishman's Greek New Testament renders it "short sighted." We have all seen persons who were afflicted with this defect regarding their bodily eyes and can have only pity for them. But in the case of those who are spiritually "near sighted" there is not much reason for pity, since it is a defect that they can help if they will. Hath forgotten. Not that his memory has become a blank, for that would be impossible as long as he maintains his faculties at all. The meaning is that he ceases to hold in grateful remembrance the glorious time when he was washed from his sins by the blood of Christ in baptism.

Verse 10

2Pe 1:10. Wherefore the rather denotes that the disciple should not make the mistake just described, but instead he should do the following. Again the apostle advises the use of diligence which is explained at verse 5. By using this "thoughtful activity" the disciple may accomplish a very desirable result which certainly every person would welcome. Calling and election. When a man hears the Gospel and obeys it he is called into the service, and by a proper walk in life he will be "elected" or chosen of God as one of His own. It is up to the disciple to make that relationship with God permanent or sure. Such a thing is possible else the apostle would not exhort the brethren to do so. He explains how it is done, namely, if ye do these things which means the duties outlined in the preceding verses, and if they do he says ye shall never fall. While this language gives a disciple an assurance of salvation that no man can take from him, yet the condition on which the assurance is given just as clearly shows that it is possible for a man to fall even after having been "purged from his old sins." This is disproof of the Calvinistic heresy that says "once in grace, always in grace." If that notion were taught in the word of God, then a Christian could do nothing that would cause him to fall. Neither could he do anything to assure himself of final salvation were he one of the "non-elect."

Verse 11

2Pe 1:11. An abundant entrance is a phrase of emphasis, meaning that the disciple who is faithful till death will receive all of the glory accompanying the entrance into the delightful place. Everlasting kingdom does not mean the church on earth, for one has to be in that institution first before he can begin to plan for this kingdom. It means the kingdom after Christ has delivered it up to God. (1Co 15:24).

Verse 12

2Pe 1:12. Put you always in remembrance. Much of the writing and preaching of the New Testament times was done on the principle stated in this phrase. (See chapter 3:1.) The human mind is inclined to forget what it has learned; that is, in the sense of the word as explained at verse 9. Paul has such a thought in mind in Heb 2:1. Therefore the teachers of the present day find it necessary to repeat the same warnings and exhortations over and over again. It is not necessarily for the purpose of imparting new information, but in order to jog the memory on information already made known. Peter implies that if he should fail to do this reminding of his brethren he would be guilty of negligence. Let elders and evangelists and all other public workers take a lesson from this and not become impatient in their labors with indifferent disciples. Present truth means the information that they had received up to the present time. The New Testament had not been completed and additional inspired truth was to come as the time went by, but these disciples were pretty well fixed in their belief of the truth already received. Hence another phase of the duty of a teacher is indicated by this. He should constantly exhort his brethren who may actually be somewhat faithful, lest they should later become unmindful and fall into a state of carelessness concerning their duty.

Verse 13

2Pe 1:13. Think it meet or suitable to continue the reminding. Stir you up means to rouse them to further activities by approaching them and appealing to their memory. In this tabernacle means as long as he is in the flesh. Paul refers to the mortal body as a tabernacle in 2Co 5:1-6. The word is from SKENOS and Thayer defines it, "A tabernacle, a tent," and he explains that it is "used figuratively of the human body, in which the soul dwells as in a tent, and which is taken down at death." This is another suggestion of the temporary nature of our stay upon this earth, and of the folly of men in acting as if they expected to live on the earth for ever.

Verse 14

2Pe 1:14. Shortly I must put off, etc. Peter means he was to die before long; it is stated in Smith's Bible Dictionary that Peter wrote this epistle near the close of his life. As our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. This evidently refers to the conversation recorded in Joh 21:18-19 in which Jesus predicts that Peter would (lie a violent death at the hands of his enemies. No definite date is given for the tragic event, only he was told that it would happen when thou shalt be old. At the time of this epistle Peter was an old man and hence he could say knowingly that this death was near, based on the prediction of Christ.

Verse 15

2Pe 1:15. After my decease. There is an interesting item in this phrase. The last word is from EXODUS which Thayer defines, "Exit, i. e. departure; departure from life, decease." We know by the connection that Peter is writing about his death but calls it by a word that means "departure" or going out. The meaning of this word is what gives the second book of the Bible its name, because the "going out" of the children of Israel from Egypt is the main event of that book. But the passage is fatal to the doctrine of soulsleepers and other materialists. They teach that nothing leaves the body at death; that all there is of man goes to the grave at that time. The statement of Peter about his death belies the heresy for we know that his body did not depart when he died. Have these things always in remembrance. By putting the teaching in writing with assurances of its truthfulness, the brethren would have the reminder before them even after the soul of Peter had "put off its tabernacle" and had made its exit from this world.

Verse 16

2Pe 1:16. Cunningly devised fables. Certain speculators among the Jews joined with others in those days in delivering myths (here translated fables) to listeners, and many of them were so tricky in their wording that the uninformed were deceived. The apostles found it necessary to give warnings against heeding such speeches (1Ti 1:4 1Ti 4:7; 2Ti 4:4; Tit 1:14). Peter declares that he was not depending on such stories in his revealing of the things concerning Christ. What a man sees is a matter of positive knowledge and does not require any ingenious wording to make the report acceptable. We is literal and means actually that more than one were witnesses, not just the "editoral I" as is sometimes used for the sake of modesty. If one inspired witness makes a declaration it is as true as if a hundred would say it, yet if more than one witness the same thing it will be strengthened on the basis of corroboration. Power and coming. The last word is elsewhere defined "presence," and since we know Peter has direct reference to the scenes of the transfiguration, the word is used in that sense and applies especially to the majesty (greatness) of Christ. However, the very visible demonstration of His greatness of which Peter and others were witnesses, would give evidence of the reasonableness of the predictions of the second coming of Christ to earth.

Verse 17

2Pe 1:17. He received means Christ when lie received honor and glory in the mount of transfiguration (Mat 17:1-5). Such a voice refers to the voice of God that was heard by Peter, James and John who were taken by Christ up into the mount. The honor and glory consisted in the acknowledgement of Christ as the Son of God, and also the announcement that the Father was well pleased in his Son.

Verse 18

2Pe 1:18. This is called the holy mount because of the sacred things that transpired there, not that any physical change was made in the spot. The first definition of the word for holy is, "worthy of veneration" or great respect. Certainly a place where such an awe-inspiring scene took place as the transfiguration is worthy of the most profound respect and in that sense it was holy.

Verse 19

2Pe 1:19. More sure is from the one Greek word BEBEIOS which Thayer defines, "Stable, fast, firm; sure, trusty." The word more is unnecessary because no comparison is being made, but only some additional information that corroborates the report that Peter just made of his own personal knowledge; nothing could be surer than it. No particular prediction is cited but the fact of there having been such statements made by the prophets of old time is the point Peter is making. The apostle advises his readers to take heed unto those prophecies. He compares them to a light penetrating the dark place meaning the (then) future. Until the day dawn means the day of the fulfillment of those prophecies, at which the day star (morning star) who is Christ (Rev 22:16) will arise in your hearts. The study of the many prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament (too numerous to cite here), will bring one up to the fuller report in the history as given in the New Testament, and it will be like the morning star that announces to the world that a new day has dawned. In the words of the wise king of Israel. such a procedure of the study will be like the "shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day" (Pro 4:18).

Verse 20

2Pe 1:20. Knowing this first is Peter's introduction to a further explanation of why the "word of prophecy" is to be considered "sure" as stated in the preceding verse. No prophecy of the scripture. The last word means the Old Testament because the New Testament had not been completed when Peter was writing. and besides it would not make a prophecy of the kingdom of Christ since that institution already existed while the New Testament was in the making. Private interpretation. The Romish church leaders make much of this phrase because they think it supports their heresy about reading the Bible. The pressure of popular sentiment has indured that institution to relax its restrictions against the reading of the Holy Book by the masses. They are now given certain limited privileges of reading it. but they are forbidden to "interpret" it on the strength of the mentioned phrase. The first definition of the original for interpretation is. "A loosening, unloosing," and for that of private it is. "Pertaining to one's self, one's own." Hence it is clear that Peter is not writing about anyone's interpreting the scripture in the sense of explaining it. He is considering the prophecies in the Old Testament and says that they were not just something that the prophets thought about. It was not their own personal production or something that was their own "brain child." A similar use of langauge is in Joh 11:51 where Caiaphas is making a prediction. The writer explains that Caiaphas did not say it "of himself," but spoke with the inspiration possessed by the high priests.

Verse 21

2Pe 1:21. The thoughts of the preceding verse are continued. Will of man is used in the sense of "private interpretation." meaning that the prophecies --ere not the production of mere human beings. Instead. they spoke as by inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/2-peter-1.html. 1952.
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