Brief Notes on 2 Peter 1

2 Peter 1  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 5
The First Epistle begins, “Peter an apostle"; here it is “Simon [or, Simeon; Peter.” Is the Apostle taking a lowlier place here than in the former, by thus using the name that recalls all that he was as “Simon"? The subject of the epistles is different. Yet in both it is the government of God; but while everything is referred to God in the First Epistle, here it is to the Lord. So it is appropriate that “Simon” should be used here, as his personal name, because he has in view the life of our Lord when here on earth.
We have “obtained like precious faith” “through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” The words “our God” are associated with “Jesus Christ.” It is not His personal righteousness, nor what we have in Romans 3:21, 2221But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: (Romans 3:21‑22), which is “God's righteousness, by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe,” but what is referred to about Abraham—His faithfulness to His own promises, as in Romans 15:88Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: (Romans 15:8).
The force of the phrase “our God and Savior” is “our Savior who is our God.” But for Him there could be no obtaining by us of “like precious faith.” He is not merely the ground of it all, but its effectuating power—not alone laying a righteous basis, but bringing it all about. There is one Person before the mind, and through Him the word is confirmed to us, and made good in our souls. It is He who is faithful to God and to the word promised to Abraham.
How fervent Peter is! Paul is content with grace and peace, “but Peter desires these multiplied.” If difficulties are multiplied as in ch. 2, so too is grace for the meeting of them.
“Through the knowledge [lit., full knowledge] of God” not a smattering. We ought to be growing in it. We know God and are known of Him. But of the Son it is said, “No one knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any one the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.” The Father reveals the Son. People talk of God's love, but they don't know it till they see it in the cross. You must “see and believe"; believe God's love, and know Christ's work.
The perfectness of Christ's work gives us to rejoice in God's nature. It is not the thought of the Father—that is relationship: but through the perfect work of Christ we have God's nature.
The Old Testament saints knew God; but now we have the work as well as the Person, and we cannot separate the two. We glory, or boast, wonderful to say, in God (not here the Father), in the very One of whose glory we had come short. Yet it almost makes one blush to read the expressions in the Psalms of exultant joy in God, but that joy was not stable. And more, it is the experience of the remnant in a future day. No one can know God now except by the Son.
The “life” in ver. 3 is the new life, that which is “really life,” as Paul calls it in his letter to Timothy.
“Godliness” is a word often misapplied. It is not a person's mere kind or unworldly life, but do they value Christ? or are they going on with that which dishonors Him? If the latter, they are not “godly.”
“Virtue” here means courage. “Glory” is presented as an object, and courage is necessary to pursue it. We are “called by His own glory and excellency.” When you speak of valor, or courage, you apply it to man, as in ver. 5, but you cannot apply it to God. “Excellency” is the better word all round. If a man was cowardly there was no excellency in him in the eyes of the Greeks.
If these things come by the growing knowledge of God, how can we get that knowledge? By feeding on Him, the Living Bread come down from heaven. We got life by having eaten of it, and we must sustain that life by constant feeding on it.
Ver. 4. We are sometimes apt to forget these “exceeding great and precious promises.” What are they? If you have ₤5,000, you don't want to know if it is all in separate pounds or bank notes. “All the promises of God in Him are yea and in Him amen,” and Christ is ours.
The promises belonged to Israel, not to Gentiles. As sinners we do not rest on promises—there are none for us; we rest on the performance as in Romans 4:24, 2524But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. (Romans 4:24‑25). Abraham had a promise and believed it, and this belief was reckoned unto him for righteousness; we believe what God has done—raised Him from the dead who had been delivered up for our offenses.
Ver. 5. Diligence is a point much pressed by Peter. How can you expect to grow, who only read the Bible as a duty, and never expect to get anything from it? The world has got its lures, but “if any will be a friend of the world he is the enemy of God.” The great preventative is our growing in grace and knowledge. “We have escaped” the corruption.
My experience is that if you try to get out of a trouble the Lord sends you, He will send it after you.
We deceive ourselves if we think because we are in a right path we shall have a smooth one.
We shall have all against us. Go to the church of Rome, surrender your conscience to the Pope. Then how happy! No exercise before God! no progress for the soul! but an awful succumbing to the power of evil, and sailing with the stream, with no power to overcome, like a dead fish! But what of the live fish? Look at the salmon leaps! Baffled again and again they try till they overcome every obstacle. What a lesson for us!
He who wrote this was a courageous man naturally, but how sadly he broke down! A man who is naturally courageous, when he comes to know himself is very timid, because he knows it must be God's strength and not his own. “Add in your faith,” etc. It is not something outside you. It is the natural outcome of what you lay hold of. You lay hold on faith, there is confidence in God, and that involves courage. “In your faith, add (or supply) courage; and in courage, knowledge; and in knowledge, self-control; and in self-control, endurance; and in endurance, godliness, and in godliness, brotherly kindness; and” (for we must not stop at brotherly kindness) “in brotherly kindness, love.” For “love” is of God, and goes far beyond love of the brethren, which might even hinder us from carrying out His will if they were the end before our eyes rather than Himself who is supreme. Here then we have divine addition, and how blessed it is! Let us then “give all diligence” to these additions.