2nd Peter 1:1-4
The epistles authored by Peter the apostle, were sent to churches in the northern part of Asia Minor. They were probably written at about the time that Nero’s persecution was ramping up in Rome. Peter could see that times were going to get tough with persecution from the outside and subversion from within.
This correspondence then is all about faithful Christian living. It’s about what to do when you face death and deprivation for your faith. The call is to faithfulness no matter what. Peter wrote to fortify their faith and to assure them that God’s word was trustworthy.
He begins with the most encouraging words possible, writing:
“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”
It is clear that Peter has faith in Jesus as do the rest of the Lord’s apostles. Having been with him through his ministry, they served as eye witnesses who never doubted or backed down. It is so very important then to see that Peter dared to write to Christians in north-Asia Minor and ascribe to them the same kind of faith that the apostles had. An apostolic like faith was not and is not limited to the apostles. It is God’s will, that our faith has equal standing with theirs.
Now the noun, faith appears without the definite article. It is not ‘the faith’ delivered once for all to the saints”. It is not a body of revealed truth. It is the other kind of faith. It is trust in God based on belief in him. It is our response to Jesus and to the truth about him. As the apostles believed in Jesus and entrusted their souls to his keeping, we may do the same.
How is it then that we have obtained this standing before God? It is ours in or by the righteousness of our God and saviour Jesus Christ. In other words, God is fair. He does not offer faith to one and withhold it from another. God is righteous and no respecter of persons. Therefore you and I can have the same kind of faith that the apostles had along with a righteousness before God that is equal to theirs.
Peter’s description of Jesus is twofold. He is our saviour and our God. Jesus did not stop being God when he became a man.
As the Hebrew writer puts it in Hebrews 2:14-17
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
Our Lord did not become an angel to save angels, he became a descendant of Abraham. He participated fully in our humanity and died for our sins. It seems that God could not save what God had not become. Therefore he took upon himself our flesh and blood. He became a man to save men and women whom he now represents in the presence of God as our advocate and high priest.
Jesus is both God and Saviour making possible the blessing conferred by Peter upon his readers:
“May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”
There is a sense in which every Christian enjoys grace and peace. If you are a Christian, then God has saved you by his grace. You have accepted his gift and become the object of his love. You are now on peaceful terms with him. But there is a way for grace and peace to grow. Peter says, that knowledge is what makes them grow. God has designed us for knowledge. He has built into us a need to know, a thirst for understanding. Our minds not only need food, they need the right food.
On our own, we don’t know what the right questions are or how to ask them. God knows. It is so very important then that we let him frame the questions and supply the answers. Knowledge from God is the key. The more we know about God, the more we understand about grace. And as we experience God’s grace in our lives, we grow in peace.
This world makes sense to God. He knows why he made it. He understands where history is going. There is a divine economy at work, both in the world out there and in our lives. The good news is that God wants the world to make sense to us as well. He wants us to understand who he is so we might understand his ways. He also wants us to know our place in his divine plan, allowing him to carry out his will in our lives.
God knows that we cannot survive in an absurd world. We need a world-view that makes sense and that measures up to the world of our senses. This is so because, the God who has made the world has also designed our minds to function in that world. Yet there is more to it than that. He has fashioned us into composite beings. We have a twofold nature comprised of both body and soul or body and spirit. There is a part of us that corresponds to another realm, a spiritual realm. Yet our minds are designed to conceive of both realities at one and the same time.
It’s not enough to understand the mechanics of a physical world. No scientific discovery can satisfy the spiritual longings of the human soul. We need more because God has made us so that we must have more. God has made us for another place that is beyond time. He has made us for himself and we can not find rest until we find him.
Peter knew that knowledge is front and center. It satisfies our need to know and brings us to the one who makes us whole. God invites us to think his thoughts, to ponder his world from the perspective of divine purpose and to comprehend and experience his grace. He invites us to live at peace with him and allow the blessings of that peace to permeate our lives. He ministers to the whole person. As the anchor and author of truth He is the God of our minds. So it is, that as we grow in our knowledge of God and of our saviour Jesus Christ, that grace and peace are replicated. God’s knowledge enables grace & peace to fill every corner of our lives
Now Peter wants us to understand that there is a difference between true knowledge and the kind that is only pretending. True knowledge is the kind that comes from God.
But It’s fair to ask: “how has it come to us – from God?”
Peter answers that in verse three when he says:
…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.
The ‘us’ in verse three refers back to the word ‘ours’ in verse one. “Our faith” in verse one is the apostles faith. The ‘us’ in verse two then also refers to the apostles. It was to the apostles that Jesus granted divine assistance along with a special measure of knowledge. He promised to send the Holy Spirit who would give them total recall and lead them into all the truth. They would remember all of the things that he had ever taught them, and God’s Spirit would teach them everything that Jesus had not had time to reveal during his stay on earth. At the end of that process, Peter could say that we (the apostles) now know everything that we need to know. We know how to enter into eternal life. We know how to live godly lives and we know all of that because God has revealed it
God revealed it and Jesus made it possible by his own glory & excellence. These two terms sum up how Jesus did it.
The glory of Jesus is his deity. When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan, God identified him as his divine son. When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, his divine glory became visible to human eyes. Jesus was God on earth and the glory of God was his glory. Since His life is of infinite value, his sacrifice is able to save the whole world. Thus Jesus called us by his own glory.
He also called us by his excellence. He remained both sinless and pure. His life was filled with the positive righteousness of perfect obedience and this qualified him to die for our sins. God demanded nothing less than ‘glory and excellence together. A person of infinite value, whose life was sinless & obedient. It was glory and excellence all wrapped up in one man who was also God
All of this was done with a single outcome in mind; that you and I might become partakers of God’s divine nature. That is what the promises of God are all about and Peter tells us that God has kept those promises in Christ.
Or as the apostle Paul puts it in II Cor. 1:20
For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (Jesus) they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.
The good news is, that we have escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. God has lifted us out of that life and has given us a new one. The result is, that we no long stare death in the face. In Christ, we have come alive, having been granted the kind of life to which there need never be an end.
This is all God’s doing. He’s expunged our sins and we are no longer guilty. He’s broken us out of the prison of our own making and cleaned us up from the inside out. But perhaps more importantly, God has infused us with his own nature, having joined us to himself. He has made us holy. That is who we now are.
It is precisely because we do partake of God’s nature, that from now on, God expects the very best. He demands that we grow up into the nature that he has put inside of us. He calls to keep on believing, for life in Christ is not possible any other way.
May God then who dwells in each of us have his way. May we see and believe that in Him we are new and righteous and holy. From moment to moment, may we choose to be in life what God has made us to be by his grace