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Second Peter (new series)

In Full Triumph

2nd Peter 1:1-11

Lesson Audio


    Written at the end of Peter’s life, his second epistle is a solemn warning about the perils of false teachers. But if you are to build a wall against apostasy, the bricks must first be sound.



    2 Peter 1:1-2 NASB 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: (2) Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;


    The writer

    Though modern scholars see some other possibilities, the testimony of the ancient church[1] is that this was written by Peter, the apostle. The “who” of the author is important to us:

  1. He describes himself as a bond-servant (Greek doulos, or slave) of Christ. There is no sense in this of being the high and mighty Pope; rather, just another servant of our Lord.
  2. He then reminds us that it is his privilege to serve as an apostle, appointed by the Lord, an eyewitness of the Resurrection. The point is one of authority – and it takes authority of an apostle to deal with apostasy.
  3. Perhaps more important, he brings with him the personal authority of one who has seen the Transfiguration and the Ascension – an eyewitness to the glory of God.

    The audience

    To whom does Peter address this letter? The phrase is difficult to translate; the King James says it is addressed to those who have received “like precious” faith. We may see two things:

  5. The faith itself is precious, not to be treated lightly. Here is the pearl of great price. Thus, he will argue later, it should not be tampered with.
  6. It’s the same faith for the apostle as for the ordinary Christian. There is no “super faith” for a select few; it is “the faith.” Thus defined, we can tell that there is tolerance in Christian liberty[2] – and there is apostasy.
  7. This is not something Peter invented, as we shall see in later lesson. No, we received this faith by the righteousness of Christ. If he were not completely righteous, the sacrifice on the Cross would have been of no effect. Peter describes Christ in two ways:

  8. Christ our God – the one to be obeyed.
  9. Christ our Savior – the one to be praised and thanked.


    Having thus introduced himself, Peter provides the salutation customary in letters of the time – his good wishes for his readers. Specifically:

  11. Grace and peace. The word for grace (charis) means a gift; the root concept of peace is not the absence of conflict but the resolution of conflict. By God’s gift on the Cross we are given peace with God – we are reconciled.
  12. We have this; he blesses us in that he prays it will be multiplied.[3] We are not given a static blessing, but rather one which grows as we mature in Christ, as we shall see.
  13. How is this multiplication performed? By knowledge! Despite the modern tendency to “check your brain at the door, God wants your heart,” Peter gives us the key to such increase as being knowledge.

    Note, please, that this is not the knowledge of some systematic theology textbook.[4] The knowledge in question is the knowledge of Christ. To know him better each day is to grow in grace and peace.




    2 Peter 1:3-7 NASB 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. (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. (5) Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, (6) and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, (7) and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.


    By divine power

    If you will glance at verse three, you will see that Christ’s divine power is the source of everything pertaining to life and godliness. Life, as given here, means biological life.[5] This is not some vague, gaseous spiritual life of no relevance to us today, but rather the earthy life we live. How are we to live it? In godliness, also translated as piety. That’s right, we are to be pious in this life! Have you ever heard such a thing? Well, you have now.

    A pious life? How could I possibly attain such a thing? I’m not a monk, or a priest, or some sort of super-Christian. But remember – there is no separate kind of faith for the “super-Christian.” It’s the same for all; apostle and ordinary Christian. We attain this (I say again) through the knowledge of Christ. In particular, Peter points out two things about Christ that we should know:

  14. His glory – the Greek is doxa, from which we get our word “doxology.” Glory is that which is praiseworthy in Christ; therefore we are to find the things for which we should praise him. This might be one reason we are to sing hymns and spiritual songs to him.[6]
  15. His excellence – older translations use the word “virtue.” It is a neglected concept, but it should not be. He is our model; the imitation of Christ our rule of life.


    The effect upon the Christian is remarkable. We have been “great and precious” promises, so great, in fact, that they are summed up in the idea that we have become partakers in the divine nature. We share, in some way, not just the attributes of God, but his essence. This is so strong in the true Christian that Peter phrases it “having escaped” – note the tense – the lusts of the world.[7]


    By Diligence Supply

    So, then, what are we to do about this? Get to work, taking what God has done and amplifying it, adding to it what we can. Specifically,

    • Goodness – the same word for virtue used to describe Christ.
    • Knowledge – the Greek is gnosis, meaning the ordinary kind of knowledge acquired by study. “Study, to show yourself approved, …”
    • Self control – Previously translated temperance, it means that moderation in which all things are kept under control so that the lordship of Christ may show in everything you do.
    • Perseverance – there is no good word to translate this; but it means something like “dogged persistence.”[8]
    • Godliness – perhaps better translated piety. No one wants to thought pious these days – it’s not hip, cool and with it. Which says something about what it takes to be a real Christian, doesn’t it?
    • Brotherly kindness – the affection in family relations; sometimes we can forgive anyone but those related to us. Hence the command.
    • Love – the usual use of the word, as in unconditional, forgiving love.


    An old illustration might serve. It is as if Christ has given you a mansion – and tells you to furnish it well. The mansion is our salvation; the fruits above are the furniture and curtains.



    Entrance to the Kingdom

    2 Peter 1:8-11 NASB 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. (9) For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. (10) 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; (11) for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.



    Note the connection, please, in verse 8. It is not just that these qualities make you useful, or fruitful. It is that they make you useful and fruitful in the knowledge of Christ. “I believe, that I may understand.” We all want knowledge to underlie our faith, but we sometimes forget that faith is necessary to understanding. Why? Because God will not reveal himself to one who does not believe, but reveals himself in proportion to our belief.

    And if you don’t? You’ve forgotten your forgiveness, your purification. This takes to make you ungrateful, which makes you less forgiving (forgiven little? Forgiven much?) It gives Satan a handle on your life, especially when you sin again. Worst, you soon cease to praise the Lord – and therefore you do not recognize him for who he really is.

    So work on it! Deliberately seek to grow those virtues.


    In full triumph

    If you do, you receive the kingdom in abundance. Salvation is no longer just a fact but a fact of life. The resurrection of the dead goes from faint doctrine to fervent hope. Eternal life comes near to you; death ceases to hold such terrors.


    If you do, you are assured of a rich welcome into the kingdom of heaven; as John Wesley put it, you will enter the gates of heaven “in full triumph.” Go in like one who has one the crown, not like one who barely escaped.


    First Defense

    This letter is about apostasy and false teaching. It might seem that Peter hasn’t touched that topic yet. But he has. The first defense a Christian has against apostasy is the knowledge of Christ. Knowledge of doctrine? That’s good, but first things first – the knowledge of Christ. If you have it, that fruit in your life will be ever increasing, and this produces triumph in the Christian life.

    P. T. Barnum said that “you cannot cheat an honest man.” In the same sense, you cannot deceive a well trained Christian – one who knows Christ fully. You may not be able to name the heresy, but you’ll be able to smell it.

    [1] With the curious exception of Chyrsostom, who somehow took Symeon Peter as different from Simon Peter.

    [2] See Romans 14.

    [3] The Greek word is the root of our word “plethora.”

    [4] Nor, for that matter, any of these lessons.

    [5] Greek zoe, from which we get our word “zoo.”

    [6] See Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16

    [7] The NIV and other “phrase for phrase” translations, and paraphrases, put this in a future tense. Word for word translations (e.g., NASB, KJV) use this tense. The literal usage is “having escaped.” It does not appear to make a difference at first glance, but the point is important. If you’d like to know why, look up

    “Pelagianism” in any encyclopedia.

    [8] “Like stink on a paper mill – always there” – Montague Hipple II. (Described as the first characteristic of a good salesman.) Greek hupomone.



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