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Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

2 Peter 1

Verse 1

Peter and His Readers

Some have said that the use of both names, Simon, which was his own original name ( Mat_4:18 ; Mat_16:17 ), and Peter, which was the name Christ gave him ( Mar_3:16 ; Joh_1:42 ), shows this author is a copycat and is trying doubly hard to convince his readers that he is Peter. This just shows how far liberal scholars will go to discredit inspired writers. A true copycat would have been very careful to use exactly the same introduction as Peter made in his first letter and not draw attention to himself with such a change.

Thayer says a servant is "one who gives himself up wholly to another's will." Peter describes himself as such a servant and an apostle because that was Jesus' will ( Luk_6:13-16 ). Peter is writing to those who, because of God's love and not their own working, have come to have a faith equally as rewarding as the faith of the apostles. Those in Christ obtained their faith through God's righteous, or just, dealing with all men and continue to have it as long as they remain in the right path, which is in Jesus. Observe that Jesus is called God our Savior ( 2Pe_1:1 ).

Verses 2-4

Growing In Grace and Peace In the Knowledge of Christ

As in the first letter (1:2), Peter prays that they may have the great blessings of God's unmerited favor and the peace which it supplies. Grace and peace quickly grow when we continue to grow in our understanding of God and Christ ( 2Pe_1:2 ).

Christ, through his powers as God, to which the word "divine" points, gave the apostles all things that pertain to eternal life and living God-like, which will keep one in the way of that life. Passages such as this one, and others like Joh_16:13 ; 2Ti_3:16-17 and Jud_1:3 , reveal no apostolic thought of future revelations. Instead, they clearly teach the completeness of the revelation delivered in the first century. Life and godliness come through the knowledge of Christ who both called us to glory and purity of deeds and called us by his glory and pure deeds ( 2Pe_1:3 ).

The "things that pertain unto life and godliness" reveal great and priceless promises. When these promises belong to someone, he shares in the divine nature, or becomes partners with God ( Heb_12:10 ). Christians have escaped the corrupt morals of the sinful world. The corruption which comes because of lust ( 2Pe_1:4 ).

Verse 5

Each Christian Must Bring In His Part

The A.S.V. translates this verse, "Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue, and in your virtue knowledge." Because of the promises belonging to those in Christ and the glory in which they share, they will quickly strive to add their part. Woods says the Greek word translated "adding on your part" (A.S.V.) is only used here in the New Testament. It literally means, "Bringing in by the side of." It "indicates the comparative unimportance of man's participation in his salvation by suggesting that his part is merely contributing, 'brought in by the side of what God does', and yet is absolutely essential, since God's part is done only on condition that man complies with his" ( 2Pe_1:5 a).

Faith, Virtue and Knowledge

Of course, one must begin with faith ( Heb_11:6 ). Of the word translated "supply" in the A.S.V., Woods says, "Originally it meant to found and support a chorus, to lead a choir, to keep in tune, and then, to supply or provide. As here used, the graces which adorn the Christian character are to be chorused into a grand symphony to the delight and pleasure of him who fashioned and made us for his own good pleasure." The second of the eight notes on the Christian scale is virtue. The word suggests one developing the courage to stand for what is right. The third note is knowledge which grows out of the courage to stand for the right. Such will cause one to seek out the Lord's will and practice it in daily living, thus growing more sure of the things learned ( 2Pe_1:5 b; Heb_5:12-14 ; Eph_5:15-17 ).

Verse 6

Self-control, Perseverance and Godliness

The fourth note is self-control, or as the King James has it, temperance ( 1Co_9:25-27 ; Act_24:25 ; Gal_5:23 ). As one grows in the knowledge of right and wrong, naturally he should try to control his fleshly appetites and direct them into the right path. The next note up the scale is perseverance, or patient endurance of the wrong. This describes one who faithfully serves the Lord, climbing over every obstacle to reach the heavenly home. "Godliness," the sixth note on the Christians' scale, is the proper respect toward God, the Father of all Christians. Such will lead one to live a godlike life ( 2Pe_1:6 ; Mat_6:9 ; Mar_12:28-31 ; 1Ti_4:7-8 ; 1Ti_6:6 ; 1Ti_6:11 ).

Verse 7

Brotherly Kindness and Love

Immediately following one's respect toward God will be a love for his fellow man. Jesus said that was the second commandment. Particularly, here we have love for the brethren, which is a necessary outgrowth of love for God ( 1Jn_4:19-21 ; 1Jn_5:1 ; Rom_12:10 ; 1Th_4:9 ; Heb_13:1 ). This describes the love which brothers in a family have for one another. Out of respect for God and love for the brethren grows the highest note on the Christian scale, love. This is the word agape, which describes a setting of the mind to do that which is best for another. The object of such love does not have to be desirable or lovely ( 2Pe_1:7 ; Rom_5:8-10 ; 1Co_13:1-7 ; 1Co_13:13 ; Col_3:12-14 ).

Verses 8-11

Avoiding Spiritual Myopia by Developing Eternal Vision

The graces of verses 5-7, must be in the Christian and multiply if he would not become idle (See K.J.V. margin) and without fruit in the knowledge of Christ. Peter uses the word "if" to show the great importance of having these in one's life. He also uses the word "abound" to show Christianity is not half-hearted, but an all-out effort. If one does not do these things, he is blind to things far off, or eternal in nature. Such an one has forgotten the cleansing from sin received at baptism ( Act_2:38 ; Act_22:16 ; 1Pe_3:21 ), as evidenced by the life he leads ( 2Pe_1:8-9 ).

Since verses 8 and 9 are true, Christians want to strive with all their might to make sure their calling and election. They have been called through the gospel ( 2Th_2:13-14 ). The gospel is for all ( Mar_16:15 ; Rom_1:16 ), but not all receive the call with an obedient spirit and thus fail to be of the elect ( Mat_7:21 ; 1Th_1:3-6 ). One can be sure of his calling and election if he does the things Peter has set forth. Peter assures such individuals will never fall. How can one make sure that which has never been unsure? Thus, this passage teaches the possibility of apostasy. The near-sighted will fall, but those whose sight is set on the far goal of heaven will not fall.

Because Christians diligently work to make their call and election sure, they will enter heaven. Christians are already in the kingdom and look forward to being in the eternal kingdom, or heaven ( Col_1:13 ; Heb_12:28 ; Rev_1:9 ; Mat_25:34 ; Act_14:21-22 ; 2Ti_4:18 ). Remember, the A.S.V. said Christians must have a faith which supplies virtue and virtue knowledge, etc. (verses 5-7). If one supplies the graces and abounds in them (verse 8), God will abound ("abundantly") supply ("ministered") heaven, which is the eternal kingdom ( 2Pe_1:10-11 ).

Verses 12-15

Peter's Personal Concern

Because Peter wanted his readers to receive the blessing of heaven, he wrote to remind them of some truths they already knew. It is the job of those proclaiming the truth to encourage their listeners in good works and urge them to constantly test themselves through examining the truth ( 2Ti_4:1-5 ; Jud_1:3-4 ). Truth can slowly fade from one's memory if he is not reminded so that it might be kept fresh. The children of Israel proved this repeatedly in the Old Testament ( 2Pe_1:12 ).

Peter felt obliged to constantly remind them of the truth, even until his death. He calls his fleshly body a tent, much as Paul does ( 2Co_5:1-4 ), evidently to call attention to the temporary nature of that body. To Peter, death was as simple as taking off ones clothes at the end of the day, or taking down a tent, as the words "put off" indicate. Notice that he wanted to stir them up. The word actually suggests waking someone up from sleep ( Mar_4:38 ). Peter knew his death would come "swiftly" (A.S.V.) because of Jesus' prophecy ( Joh_21:18-19 ). Knowing this may have made Peter feel more strongly the urgency of reminding his readers ( 2Pe_1:13-14 ).

He had urged them to "give all diligence" in their service and now says he will "be careful to ensure, or give diligence, endeavor, to give them this inspired message to keep them in memory of the truth. The word "tent" (from verse 13) and "decease" are both found in Luke's record of the transfiguration ( Luk_9:28-36 , esp. 31 and 33). Woods says, "Peter was present and powerfully impressed with the events there occurring, and in the use of these terms he gives an undesigned guarantee of the genuineness of the record and authenticity of the matters recorded" ( 2Pe_1:15 ).

Verses 16-21

Reliable Truths

Peter has been talking about writing this epistle to them so they would remember the important doctrines he, and others, had previously taught them. Now, he tells the reason for wanting to do that as he begins with the word "For". Peter and the other apostles were not following after the artfully designed myths of Greek and Roman mythology when they spoke of Christ's second coming, which would be with power ( 2Th_1:7-10 ; 1Co_15:23-26 ). Instead, they had personally seen Jesus and the greatness he so often displayed ( 2Pe_1:16 ).

Peter isolated on one display of Christ's greatness, the transfiguration ( Mat_17:1-13 ; Mar_9:2-13 ; Luk_9:28-36 ). McGarvey notes that Luke's account says Jesus took Peter, James and John apart with him "to pray." He further notes that Jesus customarily went aside to pray at night ( Mat_14:23 ; Luk_6:12 ; Luk_21:37 ; Luk_22:39-41 ) and concludes this event was at night also. During the transfiguration, Jesus' body radiated light like the sun.

Peter identifies the voice from heaven as that of the Father and says His statement gave honor and glory to Christ. Particularly, it showed Christ's greatness as God's messenger over and above Moses, the lawgiver, and Elijah, the prophet ( Heb_1:1-2 ). Interestingly, the Jews understood the claim of Sonship to be one which made Jesus equal with God ( Joh_5:17-18 ). God's statements clearly show his love for the Son and recognition of that equality ( 2Pe_1:17 ).

The event was not one dreamed up as a myth would be, but Peter, James and John were on the mount and heard the voice. The mount was holy because God was manifested there ( Exo_3:1-6 ; Exo_19:10-13 ; Jos_5:13-15 ).

The transfiguration gave the apostles more confidence in the Old Testament prophets. Peter's readers were advised to pay close attention to those prophets. Their prophecies were like a lamp shining in a sin-darkened world. That light would aid them until the dawn of understanding began to really illuminate their hearts. Jesus is pictured as the "day star", which is Venus, because full acceptance of him truly heralds the morning of the Christians' day of understanding ( 2Pe_1:18-19 ).

To truly understand prophecy, one must first realize that such was not the product of the prophet's own mind, or invention. Instead, they were carried along in their speaking, much as a ship is carried along by the wind, by the Holy Spirit ( 2Pe_1:20-21 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 2 Peter 1". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.