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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

2 Peter 1


2 Peter 1:1-4 The apostle, saluting the Christians, admonisheth them of the gifts and promises of the gospel, and their tendency to promote a godly life.

2 Peter 1:5-9 He exhorteth them to add to their faith such virtues as would make it fruitful,

2 Peter 1:10,2 Peter 1:11 and thereby to make their calling and election sure,

2 Peter 1:12-15 He is careful to remind them hereof, knowing his dissolution to be near,

2 Peter 1:16-21 and urgeth the evidence of what he had seen and heard in the holy mount in confirmation of Christ's second coming, together with the word of prophecy, which he recommendeth to their regard.

Verse 1

A servant and an apostle; i.e. such a servant as is likewise an apostle. The former agrees to all gospel ministers generally, the latter is a title of a greater eminency; and so he intimates, that he wrote to them not merely as an ordinary minister, but in the authority of an apostle, an officer of the highest degree in the church.

Like precious faith; not in respect of the degree or strength of it, but in respect of the object, Christ, and the benefits that come by it, justification, sanctification, adoption, &c., in which respect the faith of the weakest believer is as precious as that of the strongest.

With us; either with us apostles, or with us Jewish Christians, born or inhabiting in Judea.

Through the righteousness of God; the Greek preposition which we render through, may likewise be rendered with, as 2 Peter 1:5; Acts 7:38, in the church, that is, with the church; and so the sense is either:

1. Through the righteousness, i.e. truth and faithfulness, of Christ in his promises, whereof the faith of the saints was an effect: or:

2. Through the righteousness of Christ, as the meritorious cause of their faith: or:

3. With the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, and made theirs upon their believing. They had obtained like precious faith as the apostles themselves and others had, together with the righteousness of Christ, an interest in which always accompanies faith, Romans 4:22.

And our Saviour Jesus Christ: there being but one article in the Greek, these words are to be understood conjunctly, the particle

and being but an explicative, and the sense is: Through the righteousness of our God, even our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is God: see the like, 2 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 3:18; John 20:28; Titus 2:14.

Verse 2

Through the knowledge of God; or acknowledgment, i.e. faith, whereby we are made partakers of all the saving graces of the Spirit; and whereby being justified, we are at peace with God, Romans 5:1.

And of Jesus our Lord; there being no saving knowledge of God, or faith in him, but by Christ.

Verse 3

According as; this may refer either:

1. To what goes before: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, & c., according as his divine power hath given unto us, &c.; and then in these words the apostle shows what reason there was to hope, that grace and peace should be multiplied to them, and perfected in them, viz. because God hath already given them all things pertaining to life and godliness; q.d. He that hath done thus much for you, will do more, and finish his work in you. Or:

2. To what follows; and then the Greek phrase rendered according as, is not a note of similitude, but of illation, and may be rendered, since, or seeing that, and so the words are not a part of the salutation, but the beginning of the body of the Epistle, and relate to 2 Peter 1:5; Seeing that his Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain, & c., add to your faith virtue, & c.; as God hath done his part, so do you yours in the diligent performance of what he hath enabled you unto.

Divine power may relate either to God, or rather to Christ, immediately going before; and then it tends to the confirming their hope of the multiplication of grace and peace to them, not only from God, but from Christ, in that they had already experienced his Divine power in giving them all things pertaining to life and godliness, i.e. whatever may be helpful to it, the Spirit, faith, repentance, &c., John 7:39; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Timothy 2:25.

Unto life; either:

1. Spiritual life, and then godliness may be added by way of explication, that life which consists in godliness, or a godly life; or, by life may be meant the inward, permanent principle of spiritual acts, and the exercise of them may be called godliness, as the perfection of that principle is called glory. Or:

2. Eternal life, to which we attain through godliness, as the way; and then likewise they are understood distinctly, life as the end, and godliness as the means; and so life in this verse is the same as peace in the former, and godliness the same as grace.

To glory and virtue: according to our translation, glory may be the same as life before, and virtue the same with godliness; and then the words set forth the end of God’s calling us, viz. unto glory or life hereafter, as well as virtue or godliness now. But the Greek preposition δια is no where (as some observe) in the New Testament found to signify to; for in Romans 6:4 (which some allege) it is best rendered by, glory being there put for God’s power; and therefore our margin here reads it by glory and virtue; which may either be, by an hendiadis, for glorious virtue, taking virtue for power, that glorious power of God which is put forth in calling us, Ephesians 1:18,Ephesians 1:19, or his goodness and mercy which appear in the same calling, in which sense the word may be understood; see Titus 3:4,Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 2:9; or, (which comes to the same), glory being often taken for powe John 2:11, by glory and virtue may be meant God’s powe and goodness, or mercy.

Verse 4

Whereby: this word may be rendered, in that, for that, inasmuch as, and then this is an explication of the things that pertain to life and godliness, to glory and virtue, all those things being contained in the promises; or whereby may be understood of the glory and virtue last mentioned, taking them in the latter sense explained, 2 Peter 1:3; q.d. By which glorious goodness and mercy to us.

Are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: by promises we may understand either the matter of the promises, the things promised, Hebrews 10:36, such as redemption by Christ, reconciliation, adoption, &c., and then they are called

exceeding great and precious, in comparison of all temporal and worldly things; or else the promises themselves, which are called great because of the excellency of the things contained in them, and precious in relation to us; great things being not only contained in the promises, but by them secured to us.

That by these ye might be partakers of the Divine nature: we are said to be partakers of the Divine nature, not by any communication of the Divine essence to us, but by God’s impressing upon us, and infusing into us, those divine qualities and dispositions (knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness) which do express and resemble the perfections of God, and are called his image, Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10. And we are said to be made partakers of this Divine nature by the promises of the gospel, because they are the effectual means of our regeneration, (in which that Divine nature is communicated to us), by reason of that quickening Spirit which accompanieth them, 2 Corinthians 3:6, works by them, and forms in us the image of that wisdom, righteousness, and holiness of God, which appear in them; or of that glory of the Lord, which when by faith we behold in the glass of gospel promises, we are changed into the same image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord, 2 Corinthians 3:18. Or,

the Divine nature may be understood of the glory and immortality of the other life, wherein we shall be conformed to God, and whereof by the promises we are made partakers.

Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust; either by

corruption here we are to understand:

1. Destruction, to which the greatest part of the world is obnoxious through lust, and then corruption must be opposed to life and peace before, and lust to virtue and godliness: or rather:

2. All the pravity or wickedness of human nature, which is here said to be, i.e. to reign and prevail, in the world, or worldly men, through lust, or habitual concupiscence, which is the spring and root from which it proceeds; and then the sense is the same as Galatians 5:24. This corruption through lust is opposed to the Divine nature before, and escaping this corruption agrees with being partakers of that Divine nature: see Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9,Colossians 3:10.

Verse 5

And beside this, giving all diligence: here the apostle begins his exhortation, that since God had done so much for them, 2 Peter 1:3,2 Peter 1:4, they would likewise do their duty; and that their care and diligence in improving the grace they had received, might be added to his bounty in giving it them.

Add to; or, minister unto; or it may be a metaphor taken from the ancient way of dancing, in which they joined hands one with another, thereby helping and holding up one another.

Faith is here set forth as the first grace, and which (as it were) leads up, the rest following it, and attending upon it, yet all in conjunction one with another. Faith is set in the first place as the prime grace of a Christian, the foundation and root of all other, as being that without which nothing else can be pleasing to God, Hebrews 11:6. By

virtue he seems to understand universal righteousness, or a complication of all those graces by which faith is wont to work; and this being more general, he proceeds from it to others that are more special.

Knowledge; by this may be meant spiritual prudence, which governs and directs other virtues in their actings; and it is called knowledge, because it consists in the practical knowledge of the will of God: see 2 Corinthians 6:6; 1 Peter 3:7.

Verse 6

Temperance; a grace which represseth, and curbs in, not only sensual lusts, but all inordinate appetites, Galatians 5:22; Titus 1:8.

Patience; that Christian fortitude whereby we hear afflictions and injuries, so as to persevere in our duty without being moved by the evils that attend us in the doing of it.

Godliness; which respects our immediate duty to God, and comprehends all the duties of the first table. This is joined to

patience, as being that which teacheth us, in all we suffer, to acknowledge God’s providence, and promises of deliverance and recompence.

Verse 7

Brotherly kindness; a love to those that are of the household of faith. This is joined to godliness, to show that it is in vain to pretend to true religion and yet be destitute of brotherly love.

Charity; this is more general than the former, and relates to all men, even our enemies themselves.

Verse 8

For if these things be in you, and abound; if ye not only have these graces in you, but abound or grow in them, both as to the inward degree and outward exercise of them.

They make you; either they make you, or declare you, not to be barren, or both; they will be both the causes and evidences of your not being barren.

Barren; or, slothful, idle, unactive.

Nor unfruitful; void of good works, which are frequently compared to fruits, Matthew 3:10; Matthew 7:17-19; Galatians 5:22.

In the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; i.e. the faith of Christ. But more is implied here than expressed; q.d. They will make you be active and fruitful in the knowledge of Christ, and declare you to be so, and thereby make it appear that ye have not in vain learned Christ.

Verse 9

But he that lacketh these things; he that doth not live in the exercise of the forementioned graces.

Is blind; spiritually blind, as being destitute of saving knowledge.

And cannot see afar off: the Greek word is variously translated; the most probable account of it is either:

1. That it signifies to feel the way, or grope, as blind men do; and then the meaning is, he that lacketh these things is blind, and, as a blind man, gropes, not knowing which way to go; he is really destitute of the knowledge he pretends to: or:

2. To be purblind, or short-sighted, so as to see things near hand, but not afar off, as our translation hath it; and then the sense is, That such a one sees only the things of the world, but cannot look so far as heaven to discern things there, which if he did, he would walk in the way that leads thither, viz. in the practice of the duties before prescribed.

And hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins: he is judged in the sight of God to forget a benefit received, that is not effectually mindful of it, in living suitably to it. And so here, he that professeth himself to have been purged from his old sins, in justification and sanctification, by the blood and Spirit of Christ, 1 Corinthians 6:11; Ephesians 5:25-27, and yet still lives in sin, and in the neglect of the duty he is engaged to, practically declares his forgetfulness of the mercy he professeth to have been vouchsafed him; and accordingly may be interpreted to have forgotten it, in that he acts like one that had. Or, if this be understood of one that is really purged from his old sins, yet he may be said to forget that so far as he returns again to them, or lives not up to the ends of his purgation, Luke 1:74,Luke 1:75.

Verse 10

Give diligence; viz. in the exercise of the forementioned graces.

To make your calling, your effectual calling to the faith of Christ,

and election, your eternal election to grace and glory,

sure, not in respect of God, whose counsel is in itself sure and stable, Romans 11:29; 2 Timothy 2:19; but in respect of yourselves, who may best discern the cause by its effects, and so your election by your good works to which you were chosen, Ephesians 1:4, and which prove your calling, (as being the proper genuine fruits of it, Ephesians 4:1,Ephesians 4:2, &c.), as that doth election, from whence it proceeds, Acts 13:48; Romans 8:30.

For if ye do these things, the things prescribed, 2 Peter 1:5-7,

ye shall never fall; not wholly apostatize from God’s ways, nor so fall through temptation into any sin, as not to recover out of it.

Verse 11

Abundantly; or richly: while ye minister, or add one grace to another, one good work to another, 2 Peter 1:5, &c., God likewise will minister, (the same word is here used as 2 Peter 1:5), or add largely or richly, the supplies of the Spirit, in grace, and strength, and consolation, and whatsoever is needful for you in the way, whereby your faith may be increased, your joy promoted, and your perseverance secured, till ye come into the possession of the everlasting kingdom.

Verse 12

I will not be negligent; i.e. I will be diligent and careful.

Though ye know them: he prevents an objection; q.d. Though ye know these things already, yet being things of great moment, and you being beset with temptations, encompassed about with infirmities, and, while you are on the earth, being in a land of forgetfulness, it is necessary to put you in mind of what you know, that ye may remember to do it. See the like, Romans 15:14,Romans 15:15; 1 John 2:21.

The present truth; the truth of the gospel now revealed to you; that which was the great subject of the apostles’ preaching and writings, that Jesus Christ was the Christ; that redemption was wrought by him; that he was risen from the dead; that whosoever believeth on him, should receive remission of sins, &c.; the promise made to the fathers being now fulfilled, Acts 13:32,Acts 13:33, and what was future under the Old Testament being present under the New.

Verse 13

In this tabernacle; in the body; q.d. Having not long to live, I would live to the best purpose, and so as I may do the most good. He calls his body a tabernacle both in respect of its short continuance, its mean structure, and his laborious life in it.

To stir you up; to awaken and rouse you up, as ye have need, the flesh being slothful; and lest ye should by security and slightness lose the benefit of what ye have learned: where knowledge is not wanting, yet admonitions may be useful.

Verse 14

I must put off; a metaphor taken from garments; the soul, while in the body, is clothed with flesh, and death to the godly is but the putting off their clothes, and going to bed, Isaiah 57:2.

This my tabernacle: see 2 Corinthians 5:1.

Even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me: John 21:18,John 21:19, Christ tells Peter of the kind of his death, that it should be violent, but speaks nothing there of the circumstance of the time; and therefore either this apostle had a twofold revelation of his death, the former as to the manner of it, and this latter concerning the time; or, if this here were no other but that, John 21:1-25, it may be said, that, John 21:18,John 21:22 Christ intimates that Peter’s death should be before John’s, who should live till he came, viz. in judgment against Jerusalem to destroy it, which Peter now (observing the affairs of the Jews, and considering his Master’s words, Matthew 24:1-51) perceived to be nigh at hand; and thence infers, that his own death was not far off.

Verse 15

These things; the doctrine before delivered concerning faith in Christ, the practice of good works, and their continuance in both.

Always; this may be joined either to

endeavour, and so relate to the apostle himself; he would always be diligent, and do his part, that they might have these things in remembrance: or rather, (according to our translation), to having

in remembrance, Peter being now near his end; and therefore this always may better refer to them that were to live after him, than to himself that was so soon to die.

In remembrance; or, to commemorate them, viz. to the benefit and edification of the church; and this includes their having them in remembrance, but implies something more.

Verse 16

Cunningly devised fables; human figments artificially contrived, either to please and gratify men’s fancies, or to deceive and pervert their judgment: q.d. The things we have preached unto you (the sum of which is the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ) are the true sayings of God, not the fictions of men: and so he may have respect both to heathenish and Jewish fables. See 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14.

The power; this relates to the Divine nature of Christ with its glorious effects, the efficacy of his doctrine, the miracles whereby he confirmed it, and especially his resurrection from the dead, Romans 1:4.

And coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; this respects his human nature, his coming in the flesh, in which he manifested the power before mentioned; both together contain the sum of the whole gospel, viz. that Christ, the promised Messiah, is come in the flesh, and that he was furnished with power sufficient and ability to save sinners to the utmost. Or, Christ’s coming here may be his second coming, to which the word here used is for the most part applied in the New Testament, and whereof his transfiguration, in the following verse, was a representation and a forerunner; and in the belief of which the apostle would confirm these saints against those that scoffed at it, 2 Peter 3:3,2 Peter 3:4.

But were eye-witnesses of his majesty: by Christ’s majesty may be understood all that glory which did shine out in him during the whole time of his abode upon earth, John 1:14, but especially that more eminent manifestation of it in his transfiguration, in the next verse.

Verse 17

Either honour and glory for glorious honour; or

glory may relate to that lustre which appeared in the body of Christ at his transfiguration, Matthew 17:2, and

honour to the voice which came to him from his Father, and the honourable testimony thereby given him.

From the excellent glory; either from heaven, or from the glorious God, the Father of Christ, who, by this voice, did in a special manner manifest his glorious presence.

This is my beloved Son; i.e. This is the Messiah so often promised, and therefore all that was spoken of the Messiah in the law and the prophets centres in him.

In whom I am well pleased: this implies not only that Christ is peculiarly the Beloved of the Father, but that all they that are adopted to God by faith in Christ, are beloved, and graciously accepted, in and through him, Matthew 3:17; John 17:26; Ephesians 1:6.

Verse 18

We; I, and James, and John.

Heard: the apostle avoucheth himself to have been an ear-witness, as well as eye-witness, of Christ’s glory, hereby intimating that there was as much certainty of the gospel, even in a human way, as could possibly be obtained of any thing that is done in the world, seeing men can be humanly certain of nothing more than of what they perceive by their senses: compare 1 John 1:1,1 John 1:3.

The holy mount; so called, not because of any inherent holiness in it, but because of the extraordinary manifestation of God’s presence there; in the same sense as the ground is called holy where God appeared to Moses and to Joshua, Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15.

Verse 19

Peter having proved the certainty of the evangelical doctrine, by their testimony that had seen Christ’s glory in his transfiguration, and heard the Father’s testimony of him, now proves the same by the testimony of the prophets under the Old Testament, and calls the

word of prophecy a more sure word, comparing it either:

1. With the voice from heaven, than which he calls the word of prophecy more firm or sure, not in respect of truth, (which was equal in both), but in respect of the manner of its revelation; the voice from heaven being transient, and heard only by three apostles; whereas the word of prophecy was not only received by the prophets from God, but by his command committed to writing, confirmed by a succession of their fellow prophets in their several generations, and approved by Christ himself, and by him preferred before miracles themselves, Luke 16:29,Luke 16:31. Or:

2. With the testimony of Peter and the other two apostles concerning that voice which came to Christ, than which testimony the word of prophecy is said to be more sure; not simply and in itself, but in respect of those to whom the apostle wrote; it was more firm in their minds who had received it; or, more sure as to them that were Jews, and had so fully entertained the writings of the prophets, and had them in so great veneration, being confirmed by the consent of so many ages; whereas the testimony of these apostles did not so fully appear to them to be Divine, as not being heretofore expressed in Scripture.

Whereunto ye do well that ye take heed; i.e. that ye search and study it, subject your consciences to the power of it, and order your conversations according to it.

A light; or, lamp, to which the word is often compared, Psalms 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; because, as a lamp or candle lighted dispels the darkness, and gives light to those that are in the house or room where it is; so the word gives light to all that are in God’s house, as the church is called, 1 Timothy 3:15.

A dark place; or, dirty, squalid, because places that have no light are usually filthy; the dirt which is not seen is not removed.

Until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts; either,

1. The last day, called the day by way of excellency, because when it once begins it will never end, and will be all light without any darkness: and then what is said of the word of prophecy is to be understood of the whole Scripture; and the sense is, that whereas the whole time of this life is but a kind of night of error and ignorance, God hath set up his candle, given us the light of the Scripture to guide us and lead us, till we come to the glorious light of the future life, in which we shall have no need of the light of the Scripture to direct us, but shall see God as he is, and face to face, 1 Corinthians 13:12. According to this exposition, the dawning of the day, and the day-star arising, do not signify different parts of the same day, but rather the whole day, as opposed to that darkness which would totally overspread us, were it not for the light the word affords us: our minds of themselves are dark, in them the light of the word shines, and dispels the darkness by degrees, according as the Spirit gives us more understanding of it; but yet the darkness will not be wholly removed, till the day of eternal life dawn upon us, and the day-star of the perfect knowledge of God in the beatifical vision arise in our hearts. Or:

2. By the day dawning, and the day-star arising, may be understood a more full, clear, and explicit knowledge of Christ, and the mysteries of the gospel; and then this relates particularly to the prophecies of The Old Testament; and, as Paul calls the times of the Old Testament a night, Romans 13:12, as being a time of darkness and shadows, in comparison of the light and knowledge of Christ under the New Testament; so Peter here compares the writings of the prophets to a candle, which gives some, but less light, and the preaching of the gospel to the dawning day, and day-star arising; and commends these Christian Jews to whom he wrote, for making use of and attending to even this lesser light, till they attained to greater degrees of illumination, and the day-star of a more full and clear knowledge of Christ, as revealed in the gospel, did arise in their hearts. This exposition is favoured by Acts 17:11; they there, and so the Jewish converts here, did search the Scriptures, to see if the things spoken by the apostles did agree with what was before written by the prophets; and as they there, so these here, are commended for their diligence in so doing, and intimation given them, that they must attend to the light of the Old Testament prophecies, till they were thereby led into a greater knowledge and understanding of the gospel revelation.

Verse 20

Knowing this first; either, principally and above other things, as being most worthy to be known; or, knowing this as the first principle of faith, or the first thing to be believed.

That no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation: the Greek word here used may be rendered, either:

1. As our translators do, interpretation, or explication; and then the meaning is, not that private men are not to interpret the Scripture, only refer all to the church; but that no man nor company of men, no church nor public officers, are to interpret the Scripture of their own heads, according to their own minds, so as to make their private sense be the sense of the Scripture, but to seek the understanding of it from God, who shows them the meaning of the word in the word itself, (the more obscure places being expounded by the more clear), and by his Spirit leads believers, in their searching the Scripture, into the understanding of his mind in it: God himself being the author of the word, as 2 Peter 1:21, is the best interpreter of it. Or:

2. Mission or dismission; a metaphor taken from races, where they that ran were let loose from the stage where the race began, that they might run their course. The prophets in the Old Testament are said to run, as being God’s messengers, Jeremiah 23:21, and God is said to send them, Ezekiel 13:6,Ezekiel 13:7. And then this doth not immediately concern the interpretation of the Scripture, but the first revelation of it, spoken of in the next verse; and the question is not: Who hath authority to interpret the Scripture now written? But: What authority the penmen had to write it? And consequently, what respect is due to it? And why believers are so carefully to take heed to it? And then the meaning is, that it is the first principle of our faith, that the Scripture is not of human invention, but Divine inspiration; that the prophets wrote not their own private sense in it, but the mind of God; and at his command, not their own pleasure.

Verse 21

The prophecy; the prophetical writings, or word of prophecy, 2 Peter 1:19.

Came not in old time by the will of man; the prophets spake not of themselves what and when they pleased.

But holy men of God; prophets, called men of God, 1 Samuel 2:27; 1 Samuel 9:6; 1 Kings 17:18, and elsewhere. They are here called holy, not only because of their lives, wherein they were examples to others, but because they were the special instruments of the Holy Ghost, who sanctified them to the work of preaching, and penning what he dictated to them.

Spake as they were moved; or, carried out, or acted, i.e. elevated above their own natural abilities. This may imply the illumination of their minds with the knowledge of Divine mysteries, the gift of infallibility, that they might not err, of prophecy, to foretell things to come, and a peculiar instinct of

the Holy Ghost, whereby they were moved to preach or write.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Peter 1". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.