Sunday, 5 January 2020
…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 2 Peter 1:3
The words of this verse depend heavily upon the previous verse in order to be understood. Taken together, they read, “ Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”
Peter begins the verse with, “His divine power.” One must ask, “Is this speaking of ‘God?’ or of “Jesus our Lord?” Jesus is the nearest antecedent, but God seems more appropriate. It is God from whom Jesus, the second member of the Godhead, is sent. The coming words, “through the knowledge of Him,” would then speak of Jesus.
It is God’s divine power which Paul refers to in Romans 1:16, 17, which would then be in accord with the word of Peter now –
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.’”
Paul says that the gospel of Christ is the power of God, and it is how the righteousness of God is revealed. Peter, in agreement with that, says that “His divine power has given.” Here the word dóreomai is used. It signifies to give freely or to give as a gift. One might say “bestow.” As a note of authenticity concerning the epistle, Vincent’s Word Studies notes –
“This is the only word which Peter and Mark alone have in common in the New Testament; a somewhat singular fact in view of their intimate relations, and of the impress of Peter upon Mark’s gospel: yet it tells very strongly against the theory of a forgery of this epistle. Compare Mark 15:45.”
From there, Peter says that He “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” This corresponds directly to Paul saying that the gospel “is the power of God to salvation.” As salvation is what both provides life and imparts and instructs in godliness, the two apostles are speaking on the same level. Through acceptance of the gospel by faith, one is granted life. Further, he is brought, in God’s mind, to a state of godliness. The knowledge of how to make that actual in this life is also then available. Peter will speak of this process in verses 5-8.
This word, translated here as “godliness,” is spoken by Peter in Acts 3:12. It is only found elsewhere in the epistles – ten times by Paul and four times by Peter. All of the uses by Paul are in the pastoral epistles, and Peter’s four uses are only in this letter. It is a compound word which signifies “well” and “worship.” The idea is reverence, respect, and piety towards God.
Peter then says that this “life and godliness” is given “through the knowledge of Him.” Again, this is speaking of God, but it is God who has conveyed His knowledge through the giving of Christ Jesus that this is made possible, as noted in the words of Paul. The gospel brings about the understanding of what God has done. It is the giving of this particular knowledge to the people of the world.
This is then seen in Peter’s next words, “who called us.” The word translated as “called” is a common word. But in the context of Peter’s words here, it is used in the same manner by Paul in Romans 8:38-30 –
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
The calling by the gospel is then said by Peter to be “by glory and virtue.” The word translated as “by” is literally translated as “through.” Here, there is a variation in manuscripts. Some say, “by his own glory and virtue,” while others say, “through glory and virtue.” The meaning, especially when rightly translated as “through,” instead of “by,” is much the same.
It is through God’s glory and virtue that the knowledge of Him is made available. The two are inseparable. The glory speaks of the presentation of God in His natural state – how man would perceive Him when beholding Him. The virtue speaks of God in His moral state – how we perceive His workings. Both speak of what God inherently possesses. In understanding this, we then see how those attributes are conveyed to us through the gospel. In the giving of Christ, we can literally behold the magnificence of God and respond to that.
In other words, the calling of God is one which says, “Here is My glory and my virtue. I am calling to you to participate in this by accepting what I have done for you.” In the call, a response is necessary. The response may be a rejection of what is presented, or it may be a step into His revealed light, but the calling anticipates some sort of response. The gospel is forced on no one, but when it is received, it leads to justification and glorification.
Life application: The moment we accept what God has done in Jesus Christ, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who provides and illuminates the Scriptures to us and leads us into the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Despite this, it is not a complete action. Only the ability to receive these things is granted, but it is up to us to pursue the knowledge which is now available. And this is a lifetime pursuit. As we study the Bible and contemplate the work of Jesus, we grow in that which pertains to life and godliness. This is why we have so many denominations and why so many people within Christianity disagree on both the minor and even the major precepts of the Bible.
Believers accept Jesus and are saved at that moment. They are also sealed as a “deposit” or “guarantee” of eternal life. The problem arises, though, when people who are untrained in proper doctrine are appointed (or appoint themselves) as teachers and pastors. When this happens, bad doctrine is inevitable. As they teach that which is incorrect, entire groups of people are raised up believing things not based on sound reasoning or proper interpretation.
Yes, we have been granted all things that pertain to life and godliness through the reception of the gospel, but we must be careful to cultivate these in the proper way as we grow in the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.
Lord God, may You fill us with Your Spirit of wisdom and knowledge. Give us proper understanding in all things which pertain to life and godliness so that we may become acceptable and responsible followers of You. In this, we can then properly instruct others concerning the majesty of Your splendor and grace. Amen.