Welcome to Becomning Closer! 

Second Peter (old series)

Make Every Effort

2nd Peter 1:1-11

It is customary to omit the salutation in the study of the epistles. But we should not be so anxious to run from these; after all, they are the first things the Apostles have to say. So we shall begin at the beginning.


1Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

2Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

2 Peter 1:1 through 2 Peter 1:2 (NIV)



There is quite a contrast between the two letters of Peter. Peter is not particularly fluent in the Greek, but he has a clear grasp of what needs to be said. In the first letter, he dealt with the problem of hope during times of oppression. In this later, the subject is quite different: it is false teaching, or, as we might call it, heresy.

Heresy has a bad name as of late. The idea that anyone could be a heretic seems impossible to our generation. After all, don’t we know that “it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you’re sincere?”[1]

Peter presents his credentials thusly:

  • He is an Apostle. He is an eyewitness to the events given in the Gospels, one who knew Jesus the Christ in the flesh. What he has to say comes “from the horse’s mouth.”
  • He is also the servant of Christ. The word is also translated slave. Here is a man whose lifetime of work is a credential like no others.


To whom

The letter is addressed to those who share the faith. Note, please, there is no distinction made here about the kind of faith. There exists no minor league faith, suitable for the ordinary. Every one who names the name of Jesus has all the tools of faith that Peter did. How?

  • This faith comes through righteousness – but not our righteousness. It comes through the perfect righteousness of Christ.
  • It has been received – note the past tense. It is not something we shall someday come up to; it is done. It’s a gift.
  • It is precious. If you want to know whether or not you have this faith, ask yourself if it is the pearl of great price.


Salutation: Grace and Peace

Somewhat like our “Dear Sir,” Peter salutes his readers with grace and peace. The words in the Greek here are difficult to render into English; a little translation assistance might help here:

  • Grace is the Greek word charis, meaning “a gift.” It is the gift of God.
  • Peace (Greek eirene) comes from a root that means “set at one again.” Peace is the reuniting of the children of God with their heavenly Father.
  • It is to be “multiplied” to us, in the King James. The word is the one from which we get our word, “plethora.”
  • All this is through the knowledge of Christ. The word for knowledge here is epignosis, meaning a full and complete knowledge.



The Gifts of God to the Christian


3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2 Peter 1:3 through 2 Peter 1:4 (NIV)



Let me ask you a couple of questions:

  • Do you really believe that God is willing to use his power on our behalf? That he is not just a historical footnote, but an active participant in our lives today?
  • Do you believe that God supplies all our needs for his purposes? Peter tells us here that God has given us everything we need.

Well, everything we need for two purposes:

  • First, is life itself (Greek zoe, from which we get “zoo”).
  • Then there is godliness (often translated, “piety.”)

You can see the principle: God’s provision for God’s purposes. So Peter tells us. The real question: do we believe it? So many of us act as if Christianity were human powered flight. So how do we go about doing this?



Peter lines it out for us:

  • It is through the knowledge of Christ. How do I gain that? First, there is the study of the Scriptures. If I could change but one thing in each of my students, this would be it – daily reading and meditation upon the Scriptures. Next would come prayer, the conversation with God. How do you get to know someone unless you talk with them? Finally, there is fellowship. His disciples are Christians – “little Christs.” Perhaps you will see the Master’s hand at work in his children.
  • You are called to it. He wants you to come; he wants you to know him better. How does he call you? First, by his glory. The word, doxa, is the root of our word, “doxology.” It means a prayer or hymn devoted to praising God. He calls you, then, to praise him. You do this because of what he has done on the Cross for you.
  • He also calls you by his goodness – his virtue. In the original, this can also be translated, “manliness.” It is the character of one who will stand up for the truth.



Not only does he provide for you in the world, but also in the world to come. Peter talks about his promises; he calls them great (a word from which we get the prefix “mega”) and precious. Precious – like the pearl of great price.

But what is that he promises us? There is a positive and a negative promise here:

  • The positive promise is that we will participate in the divine nature. We will do that in this world – by becoming more like him. We will also see this at our entrance to the next, at the resurrection of the dead. As Christ was raised, so we shall be raised.
  • The negative promise is that we shall escape the corruption of this world. Two thousand years later, such corruption is still with us. It has the same cause. The phrase translated “evil desires” here is actually the Greek for “lust.”


This is wonderful; but what shall we do about it?



“Make every effort…”

5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8For 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. 9But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.

10Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:5 through 2 Peter 1:11 (NIV)


It’s interesting to see Peter’s use of the Greek here. He’s chosen a word that does not really imply “try all the things you can think of” but one which says, “do it as fast as you can.” Peter is in a hurry for his readers. So what is it that he wants us to hurry up and obtain?


  • Goodness. It is the sad mark of our time that someone could write The Book of Virtues and see it be treated as a novelty item. We have lost the idea that one should be virtuous; we’ve exchanged it for the idea that one should express oneself.
  • Knowledge. The word means full knowledge. There are those who think themselves wise because they believe with all their hearts – after checking their brain at the door. How then does one fully know Christ?
  • Self Control. The King James translated this as “temperance,” meaning moderation. It is the mastery of the desires that is intended.
  • Perseverance. The Greek word is also translated patience – but it’s more than that. “Dogged determination” is as close as I can get it into English.
  • Brotherly Love. The word is actually “Philadelphia,” and it does mean brotherly love. Perhaps the reason the Apostle separated it was to make sure that we didn’t love all mankind except for our relatives.
  • Love. The word is agape, and it is the kind of love Christ showed for us on the Cross.


A picture might help us here. Suppose someone gives you a house. Let’s make it a very nice house – but a bare one. You are most grateful, of course; but then you set out to turn that house into home. You pick the curtains and the carpets, the furniture and appliances.

Christ has told us that he is preparing a place for us. We need to bring along these virtues to make that mansion a home.


So the question is, are you doing this?


If you are

You will not show these symptoms:

  • Ineffectiveness. The Greek word is taken from another one which means “lazy.” If you won’t work at being a Christian, you’re lazy.
  • Fruitfulness. Both in the sense of producing other disciples and in the sense of the fruit of the Spirit, you’re not producing.


On the other hand

Suppose you know that you’re supposed to be doing all this – and you’re not. What does that mean?

  • He says you’re near-sighted. To put it more simply, you are looking only at yourself.
  • He says that you are blind. Blind, as in “the blind leading the blind.” You don’t know where you’re going, let alone how to get there.


How did you get into such a mess? Simple: you forgot your forgiveness.

  • Sin gives Satan a handle on your life – even sin that has been forgiven, if you allow it to continue to have a hold on you.
  • You’ve forgotten that you were cleansed by Christ – and therefore should be praising and thanking him. Loop back to the first of the lesson; see where godliness starts.



Let us take the happier case; suppose you are doing as he commands. The results are both now and forever:

  • Now you will stand firm, never falling. As long as you stay in him, he will care for you.
  • Eternally you will receive a rich welcome at the coming of our Lord.


The choice is always before us.

 Home     Next     New Series