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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
2 Peter 1



Other Authors
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 15:14, where the account probably came from him. This also is the Hebraic form of the name found in the Septuagint, Revelation href="/desk/?q=re+7:7&sr=1">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 15:14. 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, Saviour.

To them that have obtained ( τοῖς λαχοῦσιν )

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 ( ἰσότιμον )

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 15:9-11.


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

Verse 2

In the knowledge ( ἐν ἐπιγνώσει )

The compound expressing full knowledge, and so common in Paul's writings.

Our Lord ( κυρίου ἡμῶν )

Thee word Lord in the second epistle is always used of God, unless Christ or Saviour is added.

Verse 3

Hath granted ( δεδωρημένης )

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 δίδωμι , to give, meaning to grant or bestow as a gift. Compare Mark 15:45.

Godliness ( εὐσέβειαν )

Used only by Peter (Acts 3:12), and in the Pastoral Epistles. It is from εὐ , well, and σέβομαι , to worship, so that the radical idea is worship rightly directed. Worship, however, is to be understood in its 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 Latinpietas. 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 δυσσέβεια , ungodliness, and ἀνοσιότης , profaness. “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 εὐσέβεια , manifest in conduct and conversation, in sacrifice and prayer” (Nägelsbach, 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 2 Peter 1:2.

Called ( καλέσαντος )

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 ( ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ )

Lit., and properly, by his own glory and virtue, though some read διὰ δόξης καὶ ἀρετῆς , through glory and virtue. Rev. adopts the former. The meaning is much the same in either case.

His own ( ἰδίᾳ )

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.).


See on 1 Peter 2:9. Used by Peter only, with the exception on Philemon 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 ( δἰ ὧν )

Lit., through which; viz., his glory and virtue. Note the three occurrences of διά , through, in 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Peter 1:4.

Are given ( δεδώρηται )

Middle voice; not passive, as A. V. Hence Rev., correctly, he hath granted. See on 2 Peter 1:3.

Exceeding great and precious promises

Rev., his exceeding great, etc., by way of rendering the definite article, τὰ .

Precious ( τίμια )

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 ( ἐπαγγέλματα )

Only in this epistle. In classical Greek the distinction is made between ἐπαγγέλματα , promises voluntarily or spontaneously made, and ὑποσχέσεις , promises made in response to a petition.

Might be partakers ( γένησθε κοινωνοὶ )

Rev., more correctly, may become, conveying the idea of a growth. See note on κοινωνὸς , partaker, 1 Peter 5:1; and compare Hebrews 12:10.

Having escaped ( ἀποφυγόντες )

Only in this epistle. To escape by flight.

Through lust ( ἐμ ἐπιθυμίᾳ )

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 ( αὐτὸ τοῦτο )

Wrong. Renderfor this very cause, as Rev. Lit., this very thing. Just as τί , what? has come to mean why? So the strengthened demonstrative acquires the meaning of wherefore, for this very cause.

Giving all diligence ( σπουδὴν πᾶσαν παρεισενέγκαντες )

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 ( ἐπιχορηγήσατε ) is derived from χορός 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 χορηγέω , minister, occurs 1 Peter 4:11; 2 Corinthians 9:10. Here the Rev., properly, renders supply.

To your faith ( ἐν τῇ πίστει )

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.


See on 2 Peter 1:3, 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 (2 Peter 1:3), so Christians are to exhibit virtue or energy in the exercise of their faith, translating it into vigorous action.

Verse 6

Temperance ( ἐγκρατεία )

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

Patience ( ὑπομονήν )

Lit., remaining behind or staying, from μένω , 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 XLII., “On Patience”).


See on 2 Peter 1:3. The quality is never ascribed to God.

Brotherly kindness ( φιλαδελφίαν )

Rev. renders, literally,love of the brethren.

Charity ( ἀγάπην )

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 13:1-13, the love of men as men. It may be remarked here that the entire rejection by the Rev. of charity as the rendering of ἀγάπη 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 and 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 ( ὑπάρχοντα )

Rev., are yours; following the sense ofpossession 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 εἶναι , 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 ( ἀργοὺς )

From ἀ , not, and ἔργον , 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 ( εἰς )

Rev., more correctly, unto. The idea is not idleness in the knowledge, but idleness in pressing on and developing toward and finally reaching the knowledge. With this agrees the compound ἐπίγνωσιν , the constantly increasing and finallyfull knowledge.

Verse 9

But ( γὰρ )

Wrong. Render as Rev., for.

He that lacketh these things ( ᾧ μὴ πάρεστιν ταῦτα )

Lit., to whom these things are not present. Note that a different word is used here from that in 2 Peter 1:8, 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 ( τυφλός )

Illustrating Peter's emphasis on sight as a medium of instruction. See Introduction.

And cannot see afar off ( μυωπάζων )

Only here in New Testament. From μύω , to close, and ὤψ , 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 ( λήθην λαβὼν )

Lit., having taken forgetfulness. A unique expression, the noun occurring only here in the New Testament. Compare a similar phrase, 2 Timothy 1:5, ὑπόμνησιν λαβὼν , 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 is 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 ( τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ )

Rev., more literally, the cleansing.

Verse 10

The rather ( μᾶλλον )

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

Brethren ( ἀδελφοί )

The only instance of this form of address in Peter, who commonly uses beloved.

Fall ( πταίσητε )

Lit., stumble, and so Rev. Compare James 3:2.

Verse 11

Shall be ministered abundantly ( πλουσίως ἐπιχορηγηθήσεται )

On the verb see 2 Peter 1:5. 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 ( αἰώνιον βασιλείαν )

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 οὐκ ἀμελήσω , which it renders correctly. The better reading, however, is μελλήσω 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 ( εἰδότας )

Lit., knowing. Compare 1 Peter 1:18.

Established ( ἐτηριγμένους )

See on 1 Peter 5:10. Perhaps the exhortation, “strengthen thy brethren,” may account for his repeated use of this word and its derivatives. Thus, unstable ( ἀστήρικτοι ); steadfastness ( στηριγμοῦ ) 2 Peter 3:16, 2 Peter 3:17.

In the present truth ( ἐν τῇ παρούσῃ ἀληθείᾳ )

i.e., the truth which is present with you through the instruction of your teachers; not the truth at present under consideration. See on 2 Peter 1:9; and compare the same phrase in Colossians 1:6, rendered, is come unto you.

Verse 13

Tabernacle ( σκηνώματι )

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 σκῆνος . 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 tabernacle (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 2 Peter 1:14.

To stir you up by putting you in remembrance ( διεγείρειν ὑμᾶς ἐν ὑπομνήσει )

Lit., to stir you up in reminding. See the same phrase in 2 Peter 3:1.

Verse 14

Shortly I must put off this my tabernacle ( ταχινή ἐστιν ἡ ἀπόθεσις τοῦ σκηνώματός 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 ( ἐδήλωσεν )

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 1:11did signify.

Verse 15

Ye may be able ( ἔχειν ὑμᾶς )

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 ( ἔξοδον )

Exodus 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 ( μνήμην ποιεῖσθαι )

The phrase occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. In classical Greek, to make mention of. An analogous expression is found, Romans 1:9, μνείαν ποιοῦμαι , I make mention. See, also, Ephesians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:2; Philemon 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 ( οὐ ἐξακολουθησαντες )

A strong compound, used only here and 2 Peter 2:2, 2 Peter 2:15. The ἐξ gives the force of following out; pursuance of; closely.

Cunningly devised ( σεσοφισμένοις )

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 ( σοφία )Compare feigned words, 2 Peter 2:3.

Fables ( μύθοις )

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 ( παρουσίαν )

Or presence. Compare 2 Peter 3:4. Another word, ἀποκάλυψις , revelation, is used in 1 Peter 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13; 1 Peter 4:13, to describe the appearing of Christ.

Eye-witnesses ( ἐπόπται )

See on behold, 1 Peter 2:12. Only here in New Testament. Compare the different word in Luke 1:2, αὐτόπται , eye-witnesses.

Majesty ( μεγαλειότητος )

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 ( ἐνεχθείσης )

Lit., having been borne. Compare come (Rev., 2 Peter 1:18); moved (2 Peter 1:21); and rushing wind, lit., a wind borne along (Acts 2:2).

From ( ὑπὸ )

Lit., by.

Excellent ( μεγαλοπρεποῦς )

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 ( φωνὴν )

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 ( ἐνεχθεῖσαν )

Lit., having been borne. See on 2 Peter 1:17. Rev., This voice we ourselves ( ἡμεῖς , we, emphatic) heard come (better, borne )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 ( καὶ ἔχομεν βεβαιότερον τὸν προφητικὸν λόγον )

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).

Onto a light ( λύχνῳ )

More correctly, as Rev., a lamp.

In a dark place ( ἐν αὐχμηρῷ τόπῳ )

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 ( διαυγάσῃ )

Only here in New Testament. Compare the different word in Matthew 28:1, and Luke 23:54, ἐπιφώσκω . The verb is compounded of διά , through, and αὐγή , sunlight, thus carrying the picture of light breaking through the gloom.

The day-star ( φωσφόρος )

Of which our word phosphorus is a transcript. Lit.,light-bearer, like Lucifer, front lux, light, and fero, to bear. See Aeschylus, “Agamemnon, 245.

Verse 20

Is ( γίνεται )

More literally, arises or originates.

Private ( ἰδίας )

See on 2 Peter 1:3. His own. Rev., special, in margin.

Interpretation ( ἐπιλύσεως )

Only here in New Testament. Compare the cognate verb expounded (Mark 4:34:) and determined (Acts 19:39). The usual word is ἑρμηνεία (1 Corinthians 12:10; 1 Corinthians 14:26). Literally, it means loosening, untying, as of hard knots of scripture.

Verse 21

Came ( ἠνέχθη )

Lit., was borne or brought. See on 2 Peter 1:17, 2 Peter 1:18.

Holy men of God ( ἅγιοι θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι )

The best texts omit holy, and read ἀπὸ θεοῦ , from God. Render, as Rev., men spake from God.

Moved ( φερόμενοι )

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


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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