March 22 - 2 Peter 1:3-11

Sunday, March 23, 2014

2 Peter 1:3-11 – You are Called

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Sometimes I have a very bad habit of skimming over scripture and missing important thoughts because I do that. This is one of those passages. Before we get going too deeply, I want you to have the words from 1 Peter 2:10 clearly anchored:  "make every effort to confirm your calling and election."

Now, let's start at the beginning of the passage. We have everything we need given to us and then the next bit barely makes sense, unless you spend some time with it.  'through our knowledge of him' (NIV) is probably more easily translated to 'through our acknowledgement of him.'  So, as we acknowledge or know Jesus, we have everything we need for life and godliness given to us by His divine power.

The last part of this sentence speaks of our calling.  We don't learn about or gain knowledge or come to acknowledge Jesus on our own, but because Jesus called us.   He took the initiative in this relationship.  And it is by his glory and goodness - that is - it is based on His own honor and excellence, that we are called. Peter makes it very clear that this has nothing to do with an action or activity on our own part.

In 2 Peter 1:4 we find Peter talking about Jesus' very great and precious promises.  What are these promises?  The word (epangelmata) used here for 'promise' is only used in this letter in the New Testament. The other place that it is found is in 2 Peter 3:13.  Peter opens and closes his letter with a rare word and this emphasizes its importance. The Greek word used here focuses on the content of the promise more than on the promise itself.  While Peter doesn't offer us the exact content yet, we will discover more about this in the second usage of the term.

What it does do is point us to the benefits of the calling: participation in the divine nature, which in essence means that we are more like God than like humanity - which reminds us of Peter's declaration that we are aliens and strangers in this world; and escape from the corruption in the world which is an ongoing process as we walk in this world.

2 Peter 1:5-7 begins a list of virtues that we are to build upon as we grow in knowledge of Jesus Christ. There are three other lists of virtues in the New Testament. We know of the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23, but we can also find lists in Romans 5:3-5 and James 1:3-4.  Some of these cross lists, but some are individual to the writer.

What we can't miss here is the way that this list is put together.  In essence, we must spend some faith to gain goodness; we must spend goodness to gain knowledge; we must spend knowledge to gain self-control; we must spend self-control to gain perseverance; we must spend perseverance to gain godliness; we must spend godliness to gain brotherly kindness; and we must spend brotherly kindness to gain love.  There is expense and effort involved in growing virtuously.  It isn't something that God just lays on us. So, by growing in virtue, our lives in Christ will be fruitful.

God has called and chosen us.  He alone can do this, but for those who think that you can simply live without any type of growth in the virtues of the Christian life, Peter wants us to know that we have a responsibility.

Living a virtuous life will stop us from falling (stumbling) into sin.

You are called and chosen. You have a responsibility, but it will take some work - it won't be easy.  The reward? Eternal life in Christ's kingdom.