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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
2 Peter 1

 

 

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Verses 1-8

2 Peter 1:1. Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, Peter was pleased to be able to write those words.

There was a time when he had thrice denied his Master, but now he is glad to call himself “a servant of Jesus Christ.” Once he had said, “I know not the man,” but now he claims that he has been sent out by that glorious Lord to be his apostle,-a sent one,-“a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.” Probably he had ringing in his ears, at that moment, those blessed words, “Feed my sheep; feed my lambs;” and he was going to do that work again in this his second general Epistle.

2 Peter 1:1. To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

These Epistles are not written to everybody. Some readers do not seem to remember this fact. This one is written, says the apostle, “to them that have obtained like precious faith with us.” The faith of the weakest believer in Jesus is the same kind of faith as that which was found in Simon Peter, who stands among the very first of the worthies in the College of Apostles.” Like precious faith with us.” Only think of it, you whose faith is of a very trembling sort, which might be well described as “little faith.” Yet yours is “like precious faith” with that of Peter and the rest of the apostles.

The tiniest diamond is as truly a diamond as the Kohinoor, and the smallest faith, if it be really the work of the Spirit of God, is “like precious faith” with that of the apostles.

2 Peter 1:2. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you-

You have some measure of these choice blessings; may you have a great many times as much! When we go to the multiplication table, we not only multiply by two and by three, but we can multiply by a hundred, we can multiply by ten thousand. Oh, that God would thus multiply to us the grace and the peace that he has already given to us! “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you”-

2 Peter 1:2. Through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

The more we know of God, the more grounds and reasons shall we have for enjoying grace and peace, and the more we know of God and of Jesus our Lord, the more will our enjoyment of grace and peace be multiplied.

2 Peter 1:3. 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:

It is through knowing God that we realize that “his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,” for all these things are in him; and as we know him, trust him, love him, and become like him, we also come to possess all these precious things in him.

2 Peter 1:4. 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.

See what is God’s great object in giving us these “exceeding great and precious promises.” It is that we may become morally and spiritually like himself,-just and true and holy and righteous, even as God himself is. O brothers and sisters, we fall far short of the high example that we find set before us in our gracious God, nevertheless, we press forward towards the goal, strengthened by God himself, who, having begun to make us like himself, will never cease that blessed work until he has fully accomplished it.

2 Peter 1:5. And beside this, giving all diligence,-

For we cannot expect to go to heaven asleep. We are not taken there against our wills. It is not our will that accomplishes our salvation; but still, it is not accomplished without our will. “Giving diligence,” yes, but more than that, “giving all diligence,”-

2 Peter 1:5-6. Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance;

It is ignorance that is intemperate and rash.

2 Peter 1:6-8. And to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness’ brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 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.

What Christian ever wishes to be barren or unfruitful? Is it not the aspiration of every branch in the true vine to bring forth much fruit?


Verses 1-21

2 Peter 1:1. 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 Saviour Jesus Christ:

Peter here uses both his names,-Simon or Simeon, which was his first name, and signifies “hearing with acceptance,” and happy are they who have the hearing ear and the receptive heart; and then there is what I may call his Christian name, the name which Christ gave him, Petros, or Cephas, a rock or stone. Those who learn to hear well, since faith cometh by hearing, may hope to obtain even greater stability of character than Peter had. Observe that Peter calls himself “a servant of Christ.” There is no higher honour than to be a servant of God. “To serve God is to reign.” An ancient philosopher was the author of that maxim, and Christianity fully endorses it. He is a true king who is a servant of God. In this respect, all believers are on a level with Peter, but here is his distinguishing title, “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” a sent one, one who had seen the Lord, and who could bear personal testimony to the fact of his existence, his death, and his resurrection. Hence the apostleship has ceased, since there are no longer any who lived in our Lord’s days upon the earth.

Mark the reason why this Epistle, like the first, is called “the general Epistle of Peter,” since it is addressed, not to any one church, as Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians but to all saints, not to the Hebrews alone, but to the Gentiles as well. It is a general Epistle, addressed to all those who have

“obtained like precious faith.” These words were written by the apostle Peter many centuries ago, yet they come to us as fresh as if he had written them but yesterday, and may God grant us grace to profit from them as they are read by us today! After the apostle’s titles comes the salutation of his Epistle,

2 Peter 1:2-5. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, 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: 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. And beside this,-

“Since it is God who, by his divine energy, has made you partakers of the divine nature, see that you use your grace-given energy; rest not idly upon your oars because the tide of grace carries your ship onward.”

2 Peter 1:5. Giving all diligence,-

It is not man’s effort that saves him; but, on the other hand, grace saves no man to make him like a log of wood or a block of stone; grace makes man active. God has been diligently at work with you; now you must diligently work together with him.

2 Peter 1:5-7. Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

As you have seen the mason take up first one stone, and then another, and then gradually build the house, so are you Christians to take first one virtue, and then another, and then another, and to pile up these stones of grace one upon the other until you have built a palace for the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. Faith, of course, comes first, because faith is the foundation of all the graces, and there can be no true grace where there is no true faith. Then “add to your faith virtue,” which should have been translated “courage.” True courage is a very great blessing to the Christian, indeed, without it how will he be able to face his foes? “And to courage knowledge,” for courage without knowledge would be foolish rashness, which would lead you to the cannon’s mouth when there was nothing to be gained by flinging away your life. “And to knowledge temperance;” for there are some who no sooner get knowledge than they are carried away with the new doctrine which they have learned, and become like men intoxicated, for it is possible to be intoxicated even with truth. Happy is that Christian who has temperance with his knowledge who, while holding one doctrine, does not push that to the extreme, but learns to hold other doctrines in due conformity with it. “And to temperance patience,” or endurance, so that we are able to endure the “trial of cruel mockings” or sharp pains, or fierce persecutions, or the usual afflictions of this life. He is a poor Christian who has no power of endurance, a true Christian must “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” “And to endurance godliness:” having a constant respect to God in all our ways, living to God, and living like God so far as the finite can be like the Infinite. “And to godliness brotherly kindness.” O dear friends, let us be very kind to those who are our brothers in Christ Jesus; let the ties of Christian kinship unite us in true brotherhood to each other. “And to brotherly kindness charity;” let us have love to all men, though specially to the household of faith.

2 Peter 1:8. 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.

I am sure you do not wish to be barren; I cannot imagine that any of you will be content to be unfruitful; so seek after all these virtues, and may God help you to give diligence to the attainment of them.

2 Peter 1:9-10. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

He who is diligent in seeking these graces is kept from falling. Every Christian is safe from a final fall, but he is not safe from a foul fall unless he is kept by grace.

2 Peter 1:11. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

In this life you can enjoy all the privileges of the inheritors of the kingdom of heaven; and in the life to come you shall go into the harbour of eternal peace like a ship with all her sails full, speeding before a favorable wind, and not as one that struggles into harbour, — “Tempest-tossed, and half a wreck.”

2 Peter 1:12. Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of the things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

We are not merely to preach new truths which people do not know, but we are also to preach the old truths with which they are familiar. The doctrines in which they are well established are still to be proclaimed to them. Every wise preacher brings forth from the treasury of truth things both new and old; --new, that the hearers may learn more than they knew before; old, that they may know and practice better that which they do already know in part.

2 Peter 1:13-14. Yea, I think it meet, As long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

In the last chapter of the gospel according to John, it is recorded how Christ prophesied concerning the death of Peter, that when he was old, he should stretch forth his hands, and another should gird him, and carry him whither he would not. The evangelist adds, “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.” The prospect of crucifixion was thus always before Peter’s mind; and knowing what was to happen to him, he was not alarmed, but was rather quickened to greater diligence in stirring up the saints to make their calling and election sure. Hear thou behind thee, O Christian, the chariot wheels of thy Lord; hear thou behind thee the whizzing of the arrow of death, and let this quicken thy pace! Work while it is called today, for the sun even now touches the horizon, and the night cometh when no man can work. If we knew how short a time we have to live, how much more earnest, how much more diligent should we be! Let us be up and doing. “Let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober,” working diligently until the Lord comes, or calls us home to himself.

2 Peter 1:15-18. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. 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 eyewitnesses of his majesty.

For he received from God the Father honour 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. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. Peter and James and John were with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, and Peter here bears his witness that they were not deceived when they bowed down before Christ, and worshipped him as Lord, nor were they deluded in expecting his coming and believing in his power.

2 Peter 1:19-20. 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: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.

Even the prophets themselves did not always know the full meaning of their own prophecies. Many prophecies have never been completely understood until they have been fulfilled. This passage also appears to me to mean that no prophecy is to be restricted to any one event, so as to say, “This prophecy has been entirely fulfilled.”

2 Peter 1:21. 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.

So that they sometimes spoke what they did not themselves understand; the prophecy carried its own key within itself, and the key could not be found until the prophecy was fulfilled. I believe that the prophesies in the Revelation, and in the books of Daniel and Ezekiel are very much of this character, and that, while it is quite right to watch for and expect the coming of the Lord, we shall spend our time more profitably in preaching the doctrines of the gospel than in meditating upon the mysterious prophecies of the Word. They will be understood when they are fulfilled, but we do not think they will be fully understood before that time.


Verses 9-21

2 Peter 1:9. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off,

He is short-sighted; he has some light, and some physical sight, but he cannot see to a distance; spiritually, he is blind.

2 Peter 1:9. And hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

It is a great mercy not merely to see men as trees walking, but to have clear spiritual vision. There is a great deal of dust that gets into our eyes, and there is no way of clearing out that dust, and becoming long-sighted, getting a sight that can see to heaven, except by getting that spiritual life which manifests itself in faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.

2 Peter 1:10. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things ye shall never fall:

This is the second time that Peter writes about giving diligence. We are told not to be slothful in business, and this matter of which Peter writes is the most important of all business. To prosper in this world may bring some advantages, but to prosper in heavenly things is infinitely better.” “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure,”-that you may be sure of it, and that others may be sure of it too. Let it not continue a subject of question with you, “Am I the Lord’s, or am I not? Am I called by grace, am I chosen by God, or am I not?” Make these things sure beyond all doubt.

2 Peter 1:11. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

You shall get far into the kingdom, you shall know the innermost joys of it. You shall get near the King, and you shall become like the King; and when you come to die, you shall not be tugged into the harbor like a dismasted, water-logged vessel, but you shall go in like a full-rigged ship with all sails set, and so you shall have an abundant entrance into the fair haven of eternal felicity. May God grant us this unspeakable blessedness, so that we shall not “be saved, yet so as by fire” but that we shall find our heaven begun below, and go from heaven below to heaven above scarcely knowing any change at all! There have been saints who have found the steam of Christ’s love running so strongly, and carrying them down to the great ocean of eternal life, that they have scarcely known where the river and the ocean have met.

2 Peter 1:12. Therefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things,-

He who exhorts others to be diligent must not himself be negligent, and Peter most appropriately writes, “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things,”-

2 Peter 1:12. Though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

We need to preach the truth continually, for even those who know it need to be reminded of it again and again. Truth unpublished is like seed laid up in a florist’s shop, it does not produce any result. We need to have the truth constantly sown in our hearts, and watered by the Holy Spirit that it may grow, and bring forth fruit.

2 Peter 1:13. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

When people are as they should be, it is worth while to stir them up. You do not want to stir up dirty water, but you may stir that which is pure and sweet as much as ever you like. And a good fire sometimes becomes a better one by a little stirring up.

2 Peter 1:14. Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

The Lord had told Peter how he was to die. He had told him that he would die by crucifixion: “When thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.” He knew that the day of his martyrdom was approaching, and so, being divinely warned, he was the more earnest to preach as a dying man to dying men. I have sometimes heard, as a criticism of that expression of Baxter’s about a dying man preaching to dying men, the remark that it would be better, as living men, to preach to living men. It is quite true that we must throw all our life into our preaching; but, as a rule, living men are never more truly alive than when they are under a due sense that they are also dying men. When we realize that eternity is very near us, and we are consciously drawing near to the great judgment-seat of Christ, than all our faculties are fully aroused, and our whole being is bent on doing the Master’s work with the utmost vigor and earnestness.

2 Peter 1:15. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

When we are gone from the earth, we want the truth that we have spoken to live on after us, we want even from our graves to continue to speak for Christ. Therefore it was that Peter kept on repeating the same truth over and over again. He hit this nail on the head many times, and sought to clinch it, so that, when he was gone, it would not start from its place, but would remain firmly fixed.

2 Peter 1:16. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables,-

He had no retractions to make as he came towards the close of his ministry. He did not have to say that, after all, he had been greatly mistaken; there had been an advance in theology since Jesus Christ had died, and he was sorry to say that he had preached a good deal when he was young which he would like to unsay now that he was old. Oh, no! Peter held fast to what he had previously preached because he knew that it was the very truth of God, and the other apostles had done the same, so that Peter could write, We have not followed cunningly devised fables,”-

2 Peter 1:16. When we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Peter was one of the three who saw the Lord Jesus Christ in his glory upon the Mount of transfiguration, and he recalls this.

2 Peter 1:17-18. For he received from God the Father honour 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. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Peter was not deceived about that matter; at the time, he and his fellow-apostles had been overcome by the too-transporting sight, but they all knew that it was no vision, or dream, or delusion, so Peter here speaks very positively concerning it. Why can we not receive the testimony of true witnesses such as Peter and the other apostles who sealed with their life’s blood the witness which they bore to their Lord and his truth?

2 Peter 1:19. We have also a more sure word of prophecy;

Can anything be more sure than that which an eye-witness sees? Well Peter says that this prophetic Book, in which Holy Scripture is stored up is better to us than if we had even seen Christ himself. If any one thing be more sure than another, it is this blessed book-revelation of the Christ of God.

2 Peter 1:19-20. 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: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

It is not to be kept by any man to himself. God spoke to Jacob at Bethel, and we read concerning it, in Hosea 12:4, “there he spake with us.” With regard to the children of Israel rejoicing at the Red Sea, we read, in the sixty-sixth Psalm, “There did we rejoice in him.” The promises God made to this believing man or that he makes to all believing men. You remember that text, “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” That promise was first of all spoken to Joshua, yet Paul quoted it, in writing the Epistle to the Hebrews, as if it was spoken to every believer, and so indeed it is. No apostle, no prophet, could hedge up a promise, and say, “This was mine and nobody else’s.” It is a common heritage of all the saints. Every promise is within the boundary of the covenant of grace, and all who are in that covenant are heirs of all the promises, to whomsoever they were made.

2 Peter 1:21. 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.

This is the foundation of our faith,-that this Book is divinely inspired. Suffer nobody to make you doubt concerning this matter; for you must give up Christianity itself if you give up the inspiration of this Book. You have nothing else to fall back upon but this Book and your own personal verification of it by the work of the Holy Ghost in your own soul. To tamper with inspiration is to tamper with the heart of true religion. The least doubt upon that matter is fatal. I mean what I say, and I know how desperately this mischief is working in these days in which we live. Men used to say, with the famous Chillingworth, “The Bible and the Bible alone is the religion of Protestants;” and so it was once. Yet now it seems to me that anything but the Bible is coming to be their religion but, as for us, we accept as authoritative nothing that contradicts these truths which are written in this Book. We mean to stand fast by these truths, God helping us; we can do no other, come what may in this evil age. “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”


Verses 16-21

2 Peter 1:16. 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 eyewitnesses of his majesty.

There is need in these perilous times to come back to such an elementary truth as this. The truths taught us in God’s Word are not fables, myths, or merely parables, but they are matters of actual fact. The apostles were eye-witnesses of “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”-“ eyewitnesses of his majesty.” We receive these truths without the slightest question, and base our faith upon them. We should be troubled indeed if we had any doubts whatsoever about these great foundation facts of our holy religion.

2 Peter 1:17-18. For he received from God the Father honour 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. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

They were not deceived,-neither Peter, nor James, nor John. There was “such a voice” from God himself, which they literally heard; it was the Father bearing approving witness to the person and work of his only-begotten and well-beloved Son.

2 Peter 1:19. We have also a more sure word of prophecy;

Surely, nothing could be more sure than the evidence presented to the apostles in the holy mount. Yet Peter thus writes to express his utmost confidence in the Word of God. Surer than the light he saw, which dazzled him; surer than the voice he heard, which he never failed to remember, and to which he ever bore unfaltering witness; surer even than these things is that divine Book which is still preserved to us: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy.”

2 Peter 1:19. 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:

You have already the assurance of the Word itself; you must build upon that, and upon that alone; but you shall have added to that a “day dawn” and a “day star” in your own hearts. We have the witness within us now: “The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God;” and those things which we have received by faith we now have proved to be true by their effect upon our own souls. We know the light now because we walk in it; we know it to be light, for it has enlightened us.

2 Peter 1:20-21. Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 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.

How we do rejoice in this fact! We shall never give it up. It is a disbelief of inspiration, which lies at the bottom of all the modern theories; but with this disbelief we have not the slightest fellowship. In our inmost souls we believe that “holy men of God spake as they were moved (or, “borne along”) by the Holy Ghost.” They spoke not for their own age alone, neither were the prophecies given to a few persons so as to belong privately to them; but the whole inspired Scripture stands fast for all the faithful, and is the truth to us today, even as it was to those to whom it was first spoken.

This exposition consisted of readings from 2 Peter 1:16-21; 2 Peter 2:1-10.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/2-peter-1.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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