Tonight we will begin our study of 2 Peter. For this week, please read 2 Peter 1:1-11.
Lists of virtues are common throughout human history. In our reading, our epistle likewise gives a list of qualities that should be manifest in any Christian. vv. 5-8. (Paul gives us similar lists in Galatians 5:22-23 and Philippians 4:8 and for the same reason.) And so our writer tells us that we should exhibit faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. These virtues have a cause, they build and reinforce each other, and they have a purposeful end.
First, these virtues are not simply bestowed upon us. Rather, they come about because we (i) have been granted all things that pertain to life (v.3), (ii) are escaping from the corruption of the world and its passions (v.4), and are becoming partakers of the divine nature (v.4). The writer tells us that these virtues necessarily flow from becoming more Christ-like. As we move from non-existence, worldly passions, and a fallen nature into Life itself these virtues become both signposts on our way and tools that help us grow into what we are to become.
Second, we see these virtues build and reinforce one another. We begin with faith and end in love. See, 1 Cor. 13. Faith leads us to moral goodness or excellence (Gk. arete). This leads to a practical knowledge or wisdom (Gk. gnosis) about yourself, the world, and God. This knowledge results in self-control and self-restraint (Gk. egkrateia) which comes from within the believer. Self-control leads to endurance and steadfastness (Gk. hupomone) under pressure or temptation. Steadfastness under temptation brings forth godliness and piety (Gk. eusebia). Piety leads to brotherly love (Gk. philadelphia) for fellow Christians which ends in a benevolent love (Gk. agape) towards all. Each virtue builds upon the prior virtue.
Finally, the writer encourages us to grow more fully into these virtues. These virtues give us three tangible benefits. First, they allow us to overcome our myopia and see more clearly how God is active in our lives. Second, the virtues confirm within us our call and election. We are a chosen priesthood that has been set apart by God to be his salt and light in the world. When we live into these virtues, we perfect this calling. Finally, these virtues provide us with the entrance or doorway into the kingdom of God. The same grace of freedom from corruption and bestowal of the divine nature that allows us to demonstrate these virtue becomes perfected within us through these virtues.
If 2 Peter 1:4 is the heart of the gospel message, then 2 Peter 1:5-8 is the heart of the response to that message.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is BBQ. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here!
(Please do not forget the Visioning Retreat beginning on Friday.)
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Phil. 4:8.