Last night we began our trip through 2 Peter. Here are the notes from the study:
First, we looked at the whole letter to get the context for the first eleven verses, working our way in to the passage we were going to study:
Notice the common terms at the beginning and end of the letter:
1:1-2 “grace and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God”
3:18 sign off : grown in Grace and the knowledge of our Lord. (an experiential, relational connection.) These passages give us the overall point of the letter: Peter wants us to be constantly growing in our knowledge of God, which will make us always growing in our possession of the things God has freely given us.
1:3-4 He wants grace multiplied to us in this knowledge, because it is through this knowledge that His divine power has given to us everything we need! This includes the “promises” of final escape and eternal life. These promises are at the center of the issue Peter addresses here. Which is why he brings up “promises again in 3:13 – We’re waiting for the promises of a new earth: see also 3:4+9.
Now notice 1:10-11 – “you’ll never stumble” and 3:17 – “beware lest you fall.”
Peter wants us to not fall, but instead experience both the fullest life now, and the fullest reward when the promises are fully realized.
So the issue Peter’s addressing in this letter is: We have been given what we need to live out this Christian life, and we have promises to motivate us to keep forward, to live out the kind of life that will be richly rewarded at the return of Christ, but there are pitfalls that could make us miss out:
- Ch 2 pitfall: false teaching that makes us think it doesn’t matter how we live
- Ch 3 pitfall: false belief that Jesus won’t come back (and judge lives)
In 1:1-11 we might boil Peter’s answer for how to avoid these pitfalls down to one word: “diligence.” You’ll find it in both 1:5 (at the beginning of the list of things he wants us to pursue) and 1:7 (at the end of the list). (see also 3:10-14)
Walking through the passage:
v.1-4 God’s Grace: What we have been given, and how we’ve been given it:
what we have:
- A faith on par with the apostles. (v.1)
- The possibility of a constant, growing experience of the benefits of knowing God (v.2)
- Everything we need for life and godliness (v.3)
- Great and precious promises (v.4)
- The experience of being a “partaker of the divine nature” (v.4)
- Escape from the decay of the world (v.4)
how we got it:
v.1 Because of Christ’s righteousness
v.3 because of His divine power.
v.3 by his own glory and virtue. Because He is who He is.
The connection (from what He is, to us) is seen in 1:2 — we get these things through knowing him. That is, an experiential, relational connection.
v.5-7 Our necessary response: to give all diligence (focused, sustained effort) to pursue these qualities:
- “faith” = faith in Christ/in the gospel about Christ, through which He gives us the knowledge by which we have all these things (v.3)…/ “Faithfulness” or commitment to Christ.
- “virtue” = moral excellence
- “knowledge” = wisdom needed for a virtuous life. Practical, rather than theoretical knowledge
- “self-control” = restraint in the area of bodily passions
- “godliness” = appropriate respect towards the deity and those associated with him
- “brotherly kindness” = family affection, extended to all believers
- “love” = the sum of the list, incorporates all the others…
v.8-9 what we avoid by living this way: ineffectiveness and unfruitfulness, and (v.10-11) falling.
Summing it up:
In knowing Jesus, we’ve been given everything we need for life now, and promises for the future. Peter exhorts us to experience the fullest life Christ has to offer, and to ensure that we really will inherit the promises we’ve been given, by pursuing the godliness made possible by our connection to Christ.
- Pursue this personal, relational connection. Cultivate!
- Know what God is for you, and has done for you in Christ.
- Practice defining your situation in life by these things. See everything that comes your way in the context of your relationship to, your union with, Christ.
- Respond to what is already true by pressing forward to pursue these things, so that you would experience constant growth by using God’s power to move forward in your spiritual life.
- Embrace the process, be willing to move at God’s pace, and don’t grow weary.