Today’s passage is 2 Peter 1:1-11. It is one of my favourite passage in all the Bible and is packed with powerful truths. Let’s walk through it together.
2 Peter 1:1a (NIV) 1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ…
On verse 1a: There is much to be learned from the way Peter identifies himself. Notice that Peter calls himself both “a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ”. In the other words, Peter had both humility and authority. What can we learn from this? The best leaders walk with both humility and authority. As children of God, always remember that we have been given authority to represent God, to speak on His behalf, and to pray in His name. That is great authority. At the same time, let’s carry that authority with humility, knowing that we are given that authority not because we earned it but because of God’s grace.
Reinforcing this point about humility and authority, notice that Peter refers to himself as “Simon Peter” – “Simon” being Peter’s original name, while Peter being the new name Jesus gave to Simon when Jesus said, “And you are Peter (meaning rock) and on this rock I will build my church.” From this I learn: never forget where you came from, and never forget the new creation you have become in Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:1b (NIV)
…To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
On verse 1b: By addressing his letter this way, Peter was basically saying, “This letter is for every Christian out there, for anyone who identifies with the precious faith we have in Jesus Christ and the righteousness that comes from Him.” Even more importantly, notice how Peter describes Jesus Christ – as “God and Saviour”. This is one of many examples in the New Testament where Jesus is described not simply as a good human being, but as God.
2 Peter 1:2 (NIV) 2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
On verse 2: In verse 1 Peter calls Jesus “God”, and then in verse 2 he says, “of God and of Jesus our Lord”, as if God and Jesus are distinct. What’s going on? It’s because Peter is recognizing that Jesus is God and at the same time there is God the Father. In 1 Peter 1:2, Peter recognizes a third Person: the Holy Spirit. Here in Peter’s letters, as well as throughout the rest of the New Testament, we see the concept of the Trinity – one God manifested in three Persons.
2 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV) 3 His 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. 4 Through 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.
On verses 3-4: Verse 3 is one of my favourite verses in the Bible. Whenever I am stressed or getting ready to face a challenge, I will often think of this verse. It reminds me that God’s power has already given me everything I need to live this life He has given me. So I don’t lack a thing. I proclaim this verse in a similar way that I proclaim, “With God all things are possible” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. It’s one of the most encouraging and reassuring promises in the Bible: in God we have everything we need today.
You’ll also notice that there are a lot of “throughs” in verses 3-4. See if you can “follow through” with me (haha…I’m being punny): to paraphrase Peter in verses 3-4, “God’s divine power has given us everything we need to live the godly lives He has called us to live. We access that divine power through our personal experience (“knowledge”) of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through God’s glory and goodness we have received God’s great and precious promises, so that through them – that is, by trusting and relying on God’s great and precious promises – we get access to God’s power (or as Peter says, “participate in the divine nature”) and avoid falling into temptation (“escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires”). What can we learn from all this? We experience God’s power through a personal relationship with Him and specifically through His promises which He has so gloriously and graciously given us. God’s promises are the pathway to experiencing God’s power.
2 Peter 1:5-9 (NIV) 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 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. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
On verses 5-9: Your faith is the foundation on which godly character is built. Once you have faith in Jesus, don’t stop there. As Peter says, “make every effort” (i.e. don’t just passively sit there but be intentional and work hard) to “add to your faith” the Christ-like qualities that we see in Jesus. These qualities “will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v8). In other words, while faith in Jesus will save you, the life God calls you to live on earth requires more than faith in Jesus.God wants you to add to your faith other Christ-like qualities such as goodness (the commitment to do the right thing regardless of how you feel), knowledge (a deepening understanding of God’s Word and God’s perspective on the world), self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love. Having these qualities will protect you for the life and destiny God made you to live. If you don’t make the time and effort to build these qualities into your character, three things will happen: (1) you will not be an effective or fruitful Christian (v8); (2) you will be a slave to short-term thinking and feelings-based living (“near-sighted and blind”) (v9); and (3) you will take for granted the salvation Jesus died to give you (“forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins”) (v9).
2 Peter 1:10 (NIV) 10 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure…
On verse 10: What does Peter mean by “make your calling and election sure”? He means this: the more you focus on building Christ-like character (in particular the qualities Peter describes in verses 5-9), the more sure you will be about two things:
First, the more sure you will be about God’s calling on your life. Isn’t interesting that the way you discover God’s calling for you is not by focusing on building your career as much as it is focusing on building your character?
Second, the more sure you will be about the fact that Jesus has saved you (your “election”). That’s not because we can earn our salvation through our good works, but rather because the more Christ-like we are in our character, the more we don’t take for granted the amazing grace God showed us when He sent Jesus for us. Immature Christians are ungrateful Christians – ungrateful to God and ungrateful to the people God has placed in their lives. Mature Christians are full of gratitude, both to God and to people.
2 Peter 1:10 (NIV) 10 …For if you do these things, you will never fall, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
On verse 11: If you do “these things” – i.e. if you make every effort to add to your Christian faith the Christ-like qualities described in verses 5-9 – heaven takes notice and it will affect the kind of reward and reception you get when you go to heaven.
What a powerful passage. I encourage you to memorize verses 3-11 and get this so deeply rooted into your heart and mind. The truths in these verses are that important.
Heavenly Father, thank You that Your divine power has given me everything I need to live the life You call me to live. Thank You that I do not lack a thing but I am empowered to live this day for You. Thank You also for showing me how important it is to build Christ-like character, how I need to make every effort to do so and not just assume that it will come automatically. May I be intentional about claiming Your promises and building my character in You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!