Thoughts on 2 Peter 1:8-11

In this post I want to develop some thoughts regarding 2 Peter 1:8-11. The ESV1 text reads:

[8] For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. [9] For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. [10] Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. [11] For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

For many years, decades even, I had been aware of this list of qualities in Peter’s letter, but hadn’t appreciated the significance he places upon them. In verses 8 through 11 Peter describes what our attitude or experience of these qualities should be and the reasons or benefits that accrue from them.

Firstly, in verse 8 Peter states that these qualities should be yours and increasing. These qualities should be evident in the life and conduct of the believer, and they should be becoming more evident over time. Not only should the believer be exhibiting virtue, knowledge, godliness, self-control and love; but these qualities should be growing and becoming more obvious over the years.This seems to be something many believers overlook in their Christian walk. The reason Peter gives for looking for these qualities to be evident and growing is so that the believer won’t be ineffective or unfruitful in their relationship with Jesus.

Secondly, in verse 9 Peter likens the believer who is lacking these qualities to one who is nearsighted to the point of blindness concerning what they have been redeemed from. If the believer lacks these qualities then it suggests that they have no appreciation or understanding (or have lost their appreciation and understanding) of their sinful condition before a holy God and God’s plan and price paid for the redemption of fallen humanity.

Thirdly, in verse 10 Peter indicates that the believer who practices these qualities will never fall. As I ponder this more deeply there are two conclusions: either Peter is giving way to hyperbole such that believers can fall, or we fail to fully grasp the significance and potential strength in these qualities and in God’s capacity and commitment to uphold believers who pursue these qualities. It reminds me of Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:13, ‘Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.’ I would equate Peter’s ’never fall’ with Paul’s ‘stand firm’. Peter indicates that the benefits of practicing these qualities such that we never fall is to demonstrate diligence in confirming our calling and election to God’s Kingdom.

Peter summarises the benefits of pursuing and these qualities by stating that ’there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’.

  1. Scripture quotations taken from the ESV. Copyright by Crossway. ↩︎