Thoughts on 2 Peter 1 (part 3)

I’m intending to cover a little more territory in this post than the previous couple in 2 Peter 1. The verses I want to comment on are 2 Peter 1:5-11. the ESV1 text reads:

[5] For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, [6] and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, [7] and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. [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.

Verses 3 and 4 very much spoke about what God had done and was doing to redeem His people and restore His Kingdom. From verse 5 Peter switches from God’s activity to our response. He begins ‘for this very reason, make every effort’. So the believer is to ‘do things’ in response to God’s offer and our acceptance of divine nature made available through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice.

But it is important to see and understand the sequence of things the believer is to do. It begins with faith. Faith is not something we so much as do as have and receive. We can’t ‘do’ faith, but we can exercise it. If you don’t have faith, you can encourage or foster it. Derek Prince spoke of Romans 10:17 where Paul says, ‘So faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God’.Derek made the point that ‘faith comes’ so if you don’t have it, you can get it. And it comes from hearing the word of God. We can encourage and grow faith by hearing the word of God read, prayed and preached. So our response to God must begin with faith–belief in what Jesus did upon the cross and belief that He sacrificed His life to pay the price for my sin.

Secondly comes virtue. Virtue doesn’t necessarily mean what you think it means. The Greek word translated as ‘virtue’ is arete and can be translated as valour, excellence or virtue. We are to proceed honourably and with the best of intention and effort. It’s not how we look, but how we live.

So we begin with faith–te moral conviction that we are sinful and need a saviour–and we trust that Jesus is our Saviour. Once faith is established we pursue virtue–excellence and honour in our conduct.

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