Saturday, 4 January 2019
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 2 Peter 1:2
After identifying himself and his audience, Peter now sends a personal wish for well-being and growth in the Lord. He begins with, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you.” It is the same words that ended the final clause of 1 Peter 1:2.
Grace is unmerited favor; it cannot be earned. This is a common greeting among the Greek people. Peace, however, is a common greeting among the Hebrew people. In their language, the word is shalom. The idea of shalom is more than a greeting for calm or quiet, but is rather a state of wholeness and completion in all ways.
Peter unites the two terms. The audience, as was seen in 1 Peter, is the same audience now (see 2 Peter 3:1). It is comprised of those of the Dispersion, and they would be fully aware of both terms and how they were applied in the common language spoken where they were. This extending of grace and peace is seen in Paul’s epistles as well. In their words, the common order is “grace” and then “peace.” Grace precedes peace because only after receiving the grace of God can a person experience the peace of God.
Peter then expands on this thought by saying, “in the knowledge of God.” The words “in the knowledge” are often used by Paul in his epistles. It is the sphere in which Peter anticipates that the grace and peace will be multiplied. As they grow in the knowledge of God, the multiplication of the blessing will also grow. It is a sentiment which is more fully fleshed out by him in Chapter 2.
He then adds in “and of Jesus our Lord.” In the previous verse, the two were combined (see commentary to understand this) as “our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Here, Peter separately notes them by saying, “of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Despite separating them, it must be noted that the word translated as “Lord” in this second letter is always used of God specifically, unless the words “Christ” or “Savior” are added.
The change then seems purposeful. God is Lord, and Jesus is God, therefore Jesus is Lord. They are One, and yet Jesus is one member of the Godhead. Each time Peter writes one of the names or titles, he is being careful to make a theological point concerning the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter desires that the sphere of knowledge in which the grace and peace are multiplied is properly understood through his words.
One can grow in the knowledge of God, but it is an incomplete knowledge unless one grows in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God.
Life application: Today we are normally not as formal in our salutations as the writers of the New Testament letters. It is a shame too because there is something lost when we skip over a heartfelt greeting and just jump into the purpose of our notes.
Likewise, when people greet each other, we have gotten to the point where our words have been cut to the absolute minimum… instead of “Good morning Rebecca” we find it difficult to simply utter “Mornin’…” Going back to the book of Ruth, we see how Boaz greeted his employees in the field as they worked –
“Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said to the reapers, ‘The Lord be with you!’
And they answered him, ‘The Lord bless you!’” Ruth 2:4
This wonderful exchange shows us several things.
1) The Lord is on the minds of the people not just on the Sabbath, but as they work during the week.
2) The presence of the Lord should be considered a special blessing for those we greet.
3) The people – both the boss and the employees – took the additional time to recognize each other and not just mumble over a weak greeting.
Imagine especially the workers in the field. They were busy with their reaping. But instead of just raising a hand of acknowledgment, they took due care to recognize Boaz. The encounter is a touching look into the lives of people who have gone before us, but who have something valuable to teach us. Remember this lesson and determine in yourself that you will take time to greet others in a pleasant and heartfelt manner.
Lord, we are often a bit too careless in our greeting of others. But passages in the Bible show us something we really need to work on – tenderly greeting others in Your name. Please remind us of this. Help us be attentive to those around us in a way that makes them realize we truly are concerned about them. By doing so, may they see faithful, caring followers of You in us! Amen.