2 Peter 1:4

Monday, 6 January 2020

…by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4

Peter just spoke of “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” He then noted that this was “through the knowledge of Him who called us.” Continuing with that, he says, “by which.” The Greek reads “through which.” He is using the word “through” to continue this idea from verse 3. It is through the knowledge of Him that these promises “have been given to us.”

The knowledge is the medium in which these things are obtained. Without the knowledge, they are not available. This is important, because in the coming verses, he will explain the process of growing in this manner in order to obtain these “exceedingly great and precious promises.”

There is an article which is missing in the translation. It should say, “the exceedingly great and precious,” or maybe “His exceedingly great and precious.” In this, Peter uses a word for “promises” which is only found here, and then once again in verse 3:13. There is a difference between promises which are voluntarily made and promises which are given in response to a petition. The former promises are what Peter is referring to here. These promises focus on the result of God’s promises. Peter says that these are “exceedingly great and precious.”

He is heaping up superlatives because of the greatness of what God has promised His children. The word Peter chooses, translated as “precious,” was used by him in his first epistle to describe the blood of Christ which was shed.

With this understanding, Peter says that these magnificent promises are made “that through these you may be.” He again uses the word “through” to show that it is the medium by which these things come about. One travels through space to reach another planet. One moves through the hope of these promises in order to come to the realization of them.

His words, translated from the Greek verb which is in the subjunctive mood as “may be,” are better translated as “may become.” There is a process of growth which is being highlighted. However, there is no doubt in the end result of the matter. Saying “may become” doesn’t mean it may or may not happen. It is a way of saying that it will, in fact, happen. What Peter is referring to in this process of growth is found in verses 5-8. The end result of this is to be “partakers.”

Here the word Peter uses is defined by HELPS Word Studies. They say it is “properly, a participant who mutually belongs and shares fellowship; a ‘joint-participant.’” What is promised is something that will be realized in the believer in Christ. It is not something they will partake of in the sense of seeing, but in the sense of personally experiencing. And that partaking is “of the divine nature.”

Hebrews 12:10 says that believers will be “partakers of His holiness.” The outcome of what Peter speaks of is geared completely towards this end. Instead of being fleshly and earthly, we will be holy and partake of God’s divine nature. Paul says this also in 1 Corinthians 15:47-49 –

“The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

Peter continues with, “having escaped the corruption.” This is the great hope of the redeemed. We live in a world of corruption, death, pain, sorrow, tears, and so on. God promises us something far better. We shall partake of His divine nature, and in the process, we will cast off this world of corruption. The escape is made possible because of what God has done in Christ. By fleeing to Christ, the soul’s escape is made possible.

To emphasize the state of the world, and what brings that state about, he finishes with, “that is in the world through lust.” The Greek rather reads “in lust.” Lust is where the root of corruption feeds from. The believer anticipates glory and perfection, whereas those in the world feed off of lust and produce corruption.

However, believers are not immune from the effects of this world, and they can be swallowed up by it once again. For this reason, Peter will next begin a set of verses which will instruct on how to avoid this happening.

Life application: According to Paul, the process of what Peter speaks about here comes in different stages as we mature. God predestined us for salvation even before creation. He knew those who would believe in the message of Jesus from eternity past. Those whom He predestined, He called. When we were called, we began a glorious process.

After being called, we were justified. This is where we are declared “not guilty” of the offenses we have committed. Jesus took the punishment that we deserve at the cross. As God judged our sin in Him, it can never be judged again; hence, we are justified before God.

Once justified, we hopefully go through sanctification. It is both an immediate thing in God’s mind (we are sanctified – for example, see 1 Corinthians 6:11), but it is also an ongoing process in this life. As we grow in the wisdom and knowledge of Scripture, learn to live our lives in the Spirit, and are molded into the image of Jesus, we grow in sanctification.

Eventually, we will be glorified. This is the final state of the believer when we will be like Christ. This is what Peter means when he says we will be “partakers in the divine nature.” Although glorification is not something we can attain in this life, Paul speaks of it as already accomplished in the mind of God. We have every assurance that we will be carried through to this state.

If you are struggling in sanctification, ask the Lord to help you grow into His likeness. Make sure to study your Bible regularly and also to pray for guidance and wisdom as a faithful believer. These things will help you grow in Christ and will be added to the list of heavenly rewards you will receive when you face the Lord.

Lord God, sometimes we may not feel as if we are growing into Your likeness. In fact, we often feel we are slipping backwards. We know that You have saved us and that we are eternally Yours, but how unworthy of Your favor we feel! Help us to grow in You, give us wisdom as we study Your word, and may we be filled with Your Spirit as we open ourselves to You through our actions which are directed to You. May we become more and more like You. Amen.



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