Book of 2 Peter Chapter 1 Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Know The Lord
This letter is essentially the Apostle Peter's last will and testament, written to believers he knew and for the rest of us, to and including this present time. It was written before his death in 67 or 68 AD by execution on a cross, which he had anticipated since the Lord Himself intimated it, following His own resurrection from the dead (John 21:18).
Verse 1: "Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ." The writer is "Simon Peter," the uneducated fisherman who responded when Jesus said, "Follow Me" (Matthew 4:19), then became an "apostle" (a "sent one"), walked on water, encountered miracles, and subsequently denied the Lord, but was forgiven. A "bond-servant" was someone who either sold themselves into slavery, or perhaps was sold to satisfy a debt. Slaves in that day could win freedom, but Peter knew his "God and Savior, Jesus Christ," loved Him, and did not want the so-called "freedom" of this world. He had faith, true, simple, honest faith in his Master like we all should have, and notice that his faith is "the same kind as ours." Nothing has changed. The relationship Peter had with God's Holy Spirit through faith in the Lord is ours right now through faith in Jesus Christ. What he felt and knew, can also be ours.
Have you experienced the "grace and peace" Peter speaks of in Verse 2? "Grace" is "unmerited favor"... the salvation we don't deserve is freely given to us in Christ Jesus. And this "peace" is more than peace with other people. Jesus said, in John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." We are given—peace with God. The greeting of the Early Church was: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (Verse 2). And Peter continues in Verse 3, "seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence." We who are "called" are given—everything. We can know God! And there IS peace with others who know Him like we do because Jesus Christ already forgave their sins and ours through His death on the cross. Forgiveness leads to peace.
We are amazingly privileged because what we are reading about was a mystery hidden from almost everyone throughout history. Paul put it this way: "The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Colossians 1:26-27). And Peter makes it very personal in Verse 4—"For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." God is revealing Himself and offering us His Son. When we say "Yes" to His offer, we start to be changed for the good...no longer ruled by the "lust" of this world.
When we trust in Jesus Christ, something of God is placed within us, much like a seed is planted in a garden. God plants it in just the right location and waters it, providing all the nutrients necessary for proper growth. And as you read the following verses, note the similarity to Paul's "fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:22-23. Here are Verses 5-7: "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love." Now, "faith," by the way," is a God-given conviction, obtainable through a personal surrender to the Lord—and if your faith is true, it will lead to certain characteristics that define the godly life. Look at the original meanings of the New Testament Greek words that follow. We find in Verse 5, "diligence," which can be defined as a "focused zeal." Whatever absorbed us previously will begin to be replaced by a focus on and delight in—the things of God.
Sometimes rendered as "virtue," "moral excellence" is the right translation, and it should be the way we think, talk and walk in this world. Remember, it's not us that does it—the Holy Spirit shares these attributes with us. "Knowledge" is actually the gift of an investigative heart and mind—someone who hungers to learn the things of God. In "self-control," we are offered an ever-increasing ability to fight against temptation. "Perseverance" or "patience" is literally "to bear up courageously under suffering." "Godliness" in the Greek meant devoted to God...to worship Him. "Brotherly kindness" is from the Greek word "phileo"...brotherly love. And finally, the word "love" is a form of the Greek "agape," God's love expressed through a human being.
Sometimes a seed planted will spring up quickly, and other times, the first growth will be slow to emerge. But if you are in Christ, at some point, godly actions, thoughts and words will begin to be yours. As Peter put it in Verse 8, "For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." On the other hand, as in Verse 9, "he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins." Without the emergence of such qualities, it's reasonable to conclude that something is wrong. Paul encouraged us in 2 Corinthians 13:5—"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you are disqualified." Prayerfully and fearlessly look at who you are. If you don't like what you find, go to the Lord and He will make things right.
That's what Peter said in Verses 10-11—"Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you." If you're uncertain about anything, take your concern to the Lord. He won the battle... our part is to receive what He did. He continues, "Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder" (Verses 12-13). You might wonder, how can Peter remind us of anything, considering he's been gone for 2000 years? He answers us in Verses 14-15: "knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind." Peter knew he soon would die, and that the words of the Holy Spirit through him would live on and reach you and me—millennia in the future.
Have you ever sat in a courtroom or attended a deposition hearing and listened to the testimony? It's interesting to do so, and after you've listened to a lot of them, you begin to know who is telling the truth. Most of the Bible consists of eyewitness testimony by people who were actually present and wrote about what they saw and heard. That's what the Apostle Peter says in Verse 16: "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty." He saw the Lord Jesus Christ reveal the power and majesty of God, represented in human form. The specific reference in Verses 17-18 is to what has been called "The Transfiguration" (Matthew 17:1-7). Here are Peter's words: "For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased'—and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain." The words he quoted came from above, from "out of the cloud" (Matthew 18:5). And then he had to bottle up what he saw and heard for an agonizingly long time because Jesus said to "tell...no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead" (Matthew 17:9). It's not known if he succeeded in keeping quiet at that time or not. He probably did.
Jesus is the fulfillment of prophesy, and the miracles that surrounded Him authenticated the Old Testament, as seen in places like Isaiah 53: "He has borne our griefs...carried our sorrows...He was wounded for our transgressions...bruised for our iniquities...by His stripes we are healed...the Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all...He was led as a lamb to the slaughter...He shall bear their iniquities...He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." That's what Scripture said Jesus would do for you and me, and Peter continues in Verse 19, "So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts." But note that none of this is for us to judge through mere logic or somebody's bright idea. "Know this first of all," Peter continues in Verses 20-21, "that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." The Bible is infinitely more than the words of men—It is the Word of God expressed through them.
Father, we want to know You, and so we confess our sin, trust in Christ, receive Your Holy Spirit, and study Your Word. In these actions we KNOW You. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus Name. Amen.