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ver. 2.0.17.11.17
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Bible Commentaries

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
2 Peter 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1-2

Address and Salutation.

v. 1. Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ:

v. 2. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord.

The writer here introduces himself with great solemnity: Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained an equally precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and of the Savior Jesus Christ. The apostle here uses the Hebrew form of his name, found elsewhere only Act_15:14. The name Peter was given him by Jesus at their first meeting in its Aramaic form, Joh_1:42, and in its Greek form after his great confession of the Lord, Mat_16:18. He calls himself, and is proud to be, a servant of Jesus Christ; he was unceasingly active in the service of his Lord and Savior, an inspiring example not only to all pastors, but to everyone that bears the name of Christ. But he was also an apostle of Jesus Christ; he belonged to the small company of disciples whom the Lord had expressly called and commissioned as His delegates and representatives in establishing the preaching of the Gospel throughout the world and in leaving this Gospel to subsequent ages in an infallible form. Peter addresses his letter to the Christians of Asia Minor, to those who have obtained, who have been allotted the same precious faith as the apostles and all other believers. Whether a Christian is an apostle or a child that has just learned the Catechism, whether his faith be strong and powerful or small and weak: faith will still in every case take hold of the same wonderful gift of the grace of God, which in every case has the same priceless worth. For the faith of the Christians rests in the righteousness of our God and of the Savior Jesus Christ. By His fulfillment of the Law, by His atonement for the sins of men, by the reconciliation which He has effected with God, a righteousness has been obtained for all men, a righteousness which is now in the hands of God, kept by Him as a priceless jewel. This righteousness of our Savior Jesus Christ has been gained for us; its purpose is to cover all our unrighteousness and sin, to enable us, that accept it by faith, to stand before God, to be accepted by Him as His dear children.

Since every one that believes is a partaker of all God's blessings in Christ Jesus, the apostle salutes his readers: Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus, our Lord. Of the grace of God, of His free favor and love, we are assured in the Gospel, and we are urged to accept His kind offering without so much as a thought of doubt. The grace is there for all, peace between God and man has been established by the perfect satisfaction gained by Christ; therefore these two gifts should be multiplied in us, should grow rich and powerful in us, should possess our hearts and minds more and more. And this is done if we become ever more intimately and personally acquainted with our heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ as they have been revealed to us in the Gospel. The apostle is not satisfied with a mere head knowledge, but he insists upon an intimate heart knowledge. The more earnestly we search the Scriptures under the guidance of God's Holy Spirit, the more will we grow in the knowledge of our salvation, the more firmly will we cling to the glorious gifts which the Gospel holds out before us: grace and peace in the Savior.


Verses 3-7

The Obligations Imposed upon the Believers by the Rich Promises of God.

God's promises and the Christian virtues:

v. 3. According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue;

v. 4. whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

v. 5. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge;

v. 6. and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness;

v. 7. and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.

Peter assumes from the outset that his readers are, without exception, believers, that they have all become partakers of the grace and peace of God through faith. Upon this fact he bases his entire discussion: Forasmuch as His divine power has given us all things that are necessary for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that called us by His glory and divine virtue, through which He has given to us the precious and greatest promises, that by means of these you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world in lust. The apostle enumerates some of the wonderful gifts of God, as the Christians are enjoying them. It is God, whose divine power, working through the Gospel, has freely given us, donated to us, everything that serves and aids us in the new spiritual life, as it shows itself in godliness. His grace and mercy is so full and complete that there is nothing missing which might serve our spiritual needs. God presented us with all these wonderful gifts by working the saving knowledge of Himself in us, when He called us through the Gospel. The knowledge of God which the natural man possesses is at best one which makes Him fear the almighty power of the great Lord of the universe. But we have learned that God is our kind, merciful, loving Father in Christ Jesus. To this knowledge of faith God has brought us through the glory and virtue that is peculiar to Him, through His majesty as well as through His unassailable perfection, through His goodness, kindness, mercy, and grace, 2Ti_1:9; Rom_3:25-26. At the same time, and through the same perfection of His essence, God has imparted to us another gift, namely, the precious, the immeasurably great and beautiful and incomprehensible promises. His purpose in doing this was and is that He might so strengthen our faith as thereby to make us partakers of His divine nature, to give us the spiritual power to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created us. It is in this way that we are enabled to be consecrated to Him and to flee from the corruption, from the degeneration, decay, and death which is in the world and is brought about by the evil lust, by the natural deceitfulness of the human heart in consequence of sin. Thus all the benefits of conversion and sanctification are here briefly outlined, in order to give a solid foundation to the appeal which the apostle is about to make.

For since these facts are as stated, therefore Peter has every reason to continue: But for this very reason use all your diligence and exhibit in your faith virtue; and in your virtue, knowledge; in knowledge, self-control; in self-control, steadfastness; in steadfastness, godliness; in godliness, brotherly love; and in brotherly love, universal love. The apostle delineates the growth and the expansion of the Christian's life of sanctification as a gradual, but steady progress. Because they are enjoying such wonderful gifts of God in spiritual blessings, therefore the believers will naturally contrive in every possible way, by the application of all zeal and diligence, to give evidence of the divine nature that has been recreated in them. Faith is the root from which all virtues and good works proceed as the rich fruits of spirituality. Faith will bring virtue, manly courage, and strength, that attitude of mind which will seek to please the Lord in all things. This attitude is accompanied by knowledge, understanding of that which pleases the Lord, insight, circumspection, discernment, Christian wisdom. This, in turn, is shown in the proper self-control, not a mere product of fear and slavish submission to authority, but the willing, deliberate ruling of the body and all its members, and of the mind and all its faculties, in accordance with the will of God. This cannot be a matter of mere whim or caprice, of an occasional good thought or deed, but it must be done with patient endurance and steadfastness, in spite of all temptations from within and without. This will next result in godliness, in a life which will at all times and in all conditions be pleasing to the Lord. The chief outward evidence, moreover, of godliness is brotherly love, affection toward the brethren of the same Christian congregation or community. And this love is to extend also beyond the immediate neighborhood and interests and show itself toward all men, even toward the enemies, See 1Th_3:12; Gal_6:10. What a high ideal for the Christians to hold before their eyes at all times!


Verses 8-11

The fruitful diligence of the Christians:

v. 8. For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

v. 9. But he that lacketh these things is blind and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

v. 10. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall;

v. 11. for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Having depicted the way of sanctification, the development of a Christian in holiness, the apostle shows how self-evident is the life of good works: For as these virtues exist and increase to you, they will not set you forth idle or unfruitful toward the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. With the very first beginning of faith the Christian will show, will give evidence of, its presence in good works and deeds. But there is no such thing as standing still in sanctification; a Christian must constantly increase and grow in good works, as the fruits and the outflow of the faith and the disposition and inclination toward all good virtues which live in his heart. Their power is so great as simply to render it impossible for a believer to be barren, like a withered tree, or unfruitful, like one that has foliage, but no fruit. Faith is a living, active power in the heart of the believer, and the more this power gives evidence of its existence in the entire life of the Christian, the more he will grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the blessing which the Lord has laid upon the faithfulness for which He is ready to supply the Christian with new strength day after day. Col_1:10-11.

On the other hand, it is also true: For he with whom these virtues are not present is blind, being short-sighted, having assumed forgetfulness of the former cleansing of his sins. If a person does not possess faith and love toward God in his heart, even if he is a member of a Christian congregation, he is at least partially blind, since he is so short-sighted that he cannot look beyond the temporal things nearest at hand. His mind is engaged only with earthly matters, because he has forgotten what wonderful gifts the Lord imparted to him through the forgiveness of sins applied to him at the time when he came to faith. In other words, his behavior shows that he has lost the faith which was given him at the time of his conversion, he no longer has any eyes for the glories of heavenly things.

The admonition of the apostle, therefore, is altogether timely: So be all the more eager, brethren, to make sure your calling and election; for, doing this, you will never stumble. God has issued to us the call of grace in the Gospel, thus assuring our hearts of His justifying and saving grace, Rom_8:30. And this is in accordance with His election: for to this end God has predestinated and foreordained us, that we should be called, be justified and sanctified through faith, and be given eternal salvation, 1Th_1:4-5. This call and election of God is sure on His part, 1Pe_1:5; Joh_10:27-30. But it would be the height of foolish arrogance for a Christian to argue that he can act and live as he chooses in the world; for, according to the will of God, His elect children are to walk forward to the realization and enjoyment of their hope on the paths of sanctification, 2Th_2:13-14; Eph_1:4. The argument of the true believer, therefore, is this, that he will be happy only on the ways of righteousness, in order that he may be certain and comfort himself with the assurance that he belongs to the elect of God, Eph_4:1 : Php_2:12. Those that foolishly risk their soul's salvation by a life of sin and self-indulgence will soon find that they will stumble and fall, never to arise again. God will not be mocked.

The believers that are in every way conducting themselves as true children of God have the comforting assurance: For thus shall be richly furnished to you the entrance to the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If Christians thus follow the will of their heavenly Father in making their calling and election sure, then God will mercifully reward their faithfulness. He will offer to them, He will open up before them, the way, the entrance to the riches of His mercy, that they may enter into, and enjoy to the fullest extent, the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Note the heaping up in this verse of words suggesting splendor and richness.


Verses 12-18

The Reliability of the Gospel and of the Prophecy.

The apostles as witnesses of Christ's majesty:

v. 12. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them and be established in the present truth.

v. 13. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance,

v. 14. knowing that shortly I must put off this tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me.

v. 15. Moreover, I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

v. 16. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His majesty.

v. 17. For he received from God the Father honor and glory when there came such a voice to Him from the excellent Glory, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

v. 18. And this voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with Him in the holy mount.

That Peter had not forgotten the commission of the Lord given to him on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is shown in the solicitude which he here displays for the spiritual welfare of his readers: Therefore I shall be careful that you be reminded concerning these things, although you do know them and are established in the truth which is present with you. That was the conception which Peter had of his pastoral office, as it should be the idea of every true pastor, to make it his care, his business, ever and again to remind the believers of all these facts concerning their justification and sanctification. It is true, indeed, the Christians have learned these facts, they know them, but it remains true at the same time that they cannot learn them too well and that the eagerness of the true Christian to hear the fundamental truths over and over again will not diminish. They were established in the truth of the Gospel, they were firmly grounded in the fundamental doctrines of Christianity as they concerned their spiritual life, but they needed the strengthening influence of the apostolic admonition from day to day. Note: We need a better realization of these facts in our day, when so many professing Christians are showing the symptoms of spiritual satiety, which almost invariably is the forerunner of spiritual decay.

The apostle now repeats his statement and gives a reason for the urgency of his appeal: But I consider it proper, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by such reminding, knowing that swift is the folding up of my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ has revealed to me. While Peter had life and breath, while the Lord continued to add to the days of his life, he considered it the right and proper thing for him to do to keep right on with his reminding and admonishing, to keep the minds of his readers awake to the wonderful glories of the Gospel and to the obligations which accompanied these privileges. He compares his body to a tent, or tabernacle, giving but a weak and temporary shelter to his soul. He knew that it would not be long before the Lord would cause him to fold up his tent; his body, which had so long housed his soul, would be claimed by death. This the Lord had revealed to him, the reference probably being to the incident on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Joh_21:18-19. Here is an instance of true faithfulness, since Peter did not wait idly for the death which, he knew, was soon to come, was imminent, as he expresses it, but continued his work with unabated vigor and diligence, the care of the souls being his chief concern to the last.

But he is looking forward also beyond the immediate future: But I shall use diligence that you also after my departure may always be able to call these things to mind. Not only for the present, and while his own life lasts, is Peter solicitous for the spiritual welfare of his readers, but he also wants to make it his business to have them keep the truth after his death. That is one of his reasons for writing this letter, to have it serve as a permanent reminder of the doctrine which he taught them. Whenever they were in need of definite, authentic information as to the truth, they had but to consult this letter, have their memory refreshed, and thereafter could be all the surer in their Christian life.

That the Christians should not feel the slightest hesitation about accepting the doctrine which Peter taught them is shown in the next verses: For we did not follow cleverly constructed fables in making known to you the power and appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we mere made eye-witnesses of His majesty. What Peter and the other apostles had taught, also in the congregations of Asia Minor, was not a system of spiritual fables cleverly invented to bring them into subjection, after the manner of many false teachers; he was not writing down any human speculations and philosophies in giving them the proper information concerning the power and advent of Christ the Lord, of His return at the end of time, when He will be clothed with full majesty and power, in order to establish His kingdom forever. What Peter had been teaching with regard to this one fact was the truth, for which he could vouch with all the power at his command because he had been privileged to be an eye-witness of the glorification, of the majesty, of Christ.

The apostle states to which event he has reference: For He received from God the Father honor and glory when a voice was borne to Him of such a kind from the sublime Glory, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. That was the culminating incident in the happening on the Mount of Transfiguration, Mat_17:1-9 : Mar_9:2-8. Jesus, the poor, despised Prophet of Nazareth, who had come into His own and His own received Him not, was invested with honor and glory from His heavenly Father Himself. For while the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, were still lying upon the ground, almost stupefied by the miraculous brightness which surrounded them from heaven, they nevertheless could hear plainly the words which came down out of the cloud, the voice of God Himself, acknowledging Jesus as His true Son, His beloved Son, upon whom His good pleasure rested in full measure. Concerning this Peter testifies: And this voice, borne from heaven, we heard when we were with Him on the holy mountain. Although the mountain was not in itself holy, this wonderful manifestation of the sublime, the splendid glory of God, sanctified and hallowed it for the time being. What Peter means to emphasize in this connection is this, that they, to whom was vouchsafed such a wonderful manifestation of the glory of God, were reliable witnesses, and therefore their Gospel could and should be accepted without question as the truth of the Lord. Mark: This is one of the reasons why we also accept the Gospel as recorded by the apostles as the truth, because God would hardly have revealed Himself in such a manner to men that were hypocrites and swindler,


Verses 19-21

The sure word of prophecy:

v. 19. We have also a more sure Word of Prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn and the Day-Star arise in your hearts;

v. 20. knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.

v. 21 for The prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

One reason for the acceptance of the doctrine as taught by him St. Peter has given. But in this paragraph he speaks with even greater emphasis: And we have the prophetic Word as a more sure one, to which giving heed you do well as to a lamp that shines in a dark place, until day break and the morning-star arise in pour hearts. He is speaking of the Word of Prophecy as it was known to the Christians, as the Jews had for centuries used it in their public worship, the writings of the Old Testament. This Word was not truer, but it was more certain, so far as the readers were concerned, than the doctrine taught by the apostles. There was no question, neither among Jewish Christians nor among converts from the heathen, that the Old Testament prophecies, all the canonical books of the Old Testament, were God's Word. What Peter wants to impress upon them all is this, that the Gospel as taught by him and his fellow apostles was not only confirmed by the testimony of God from heaven, but also by all the prophecies of old. The written Word was like a burning lamp that shed its light far abroad, even in places which were dark and obscure. Therefore the Christians were doing the right and proper thing in giving heed to this light. In comparison with the time when the full glory of God will be revealed, the day at the end of time, the present days and the age in which we are living in the world' are dark indeed. Until the coming of that day, until the true and everlasting Morning Star will arise in eternity, until all our hopes will be fulfill led, me must take heed to the written Word. In yonder world, of course, where we shall walk in the light of God's countenance and see the true Morning Star, Jesus Christ, face to face, we shall no longer need the written Word of the Gospel.

The apostle writes in conclusion: Understanding this at the outset, that no prophecy of Scripture is dependent upon private interpretation; for never was a prophecy brought forth by the will of a man, but, moved by the Holy Ghost, men spoke from God. Here is another reason for calling the written Word sure or certain. We should understand and know from the very beginning, and not permit any wisdom on the part of men to change our persuasion, that not a single prophecy depends upon private interpretation; the words are neither the prophets' own ideas or philosophies, nor can any person take the prophecy and interpret it to suit his own fancy. It is the Word as inspired by the Holy Ghost, and to meddle with it in any manner is a sacrilege, is blasphemy. Never was a real prophecy brought forth by the will of man; not one of the many hundreds of passages in the Old Testament that reveal the future is a mere man's conjecture. The prophets whose recorded sayings are preserved for us in the canonical writings of the Old Testament were inspired by the Holy Ghost. And they did not only receive the incentive to write from the Spirit, the choice of words being left to them, but their words, what they spoke, were from God. The prophets followed the leadership, the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and thus the prophecy of the Old Testament came into being. Incidentally, this was not a mechanical inspiration, but the Holy Ghost accommodated Himself to the intelligence and knowledge, to all the intellectual accomplishments of the writers whom He employed, the result being a book which is as diversified in style as it is interesting and edifying in content. Note: The lesson of this passage, namely, that the Old Testament writings are the inspired Ward of God and that Scripture may be interpreted only by Scripture in order to make any claim for absolute acceptance, must be heeded and followed by all true Christians until the end of time.

After the address and salutation the apostle points out some of the obligations imposed upon the believers by the rich promises of God, and then speaks at length of the reliability of the Gospel-message and of the Old Testament prophecy as the inspired Word of God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1:4". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/2-peter-1.html. 1921-23.


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Friday, November 17th, 2017
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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