2 Peter 1:5 Commentary + Memorization Tutorial

Commentary and memorization tutorial for 2 Peter 1:5

Verse of the Day 7.13.17 — 2 Peter 1:5

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge1

καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο δὲ σπουδὴν πᾶσαν παρεισενέγκαντες ἐπιχορηγήσατε ἐν τῇ πίστει ὑμῶν τὴν ἀρετήν, ἐν δὲ τῇ ἀρετῇ τὴν γνῶσιν,2

C4C Translation: And now, for this very thing, applying all diligence, supply in your faith excellence of character, and in excellence of character, knowledge,3




  1. Context
  2. Commentary
  3. Memorization
  4. Application

Context

Please visit the previous post for 2 Peter 1:3 for information regarding this letter’s Authorship and Dating.

Literary Context

Structure: According to Schreiner, paying closer attention to the immediate context of today’s verse, 2 Peter may be outlined as follows:

  • 1:1-2 — Greeting
  • 1:3-11 — God’s Grace the Foundation for a Life of Godliness
    • 1:3-4 — Divine Provision
    • 1:5-7 Pursue a Godly Life Diligently
    • 1:8-11 — Godly Virtues Necessary for Entrance into the Kingdom (1:8-11)
  • 1:12-21 — Peter’s Apostolic Reminder
  • 2:1-22 — The Arrival, Character, and Judgment of False Teachers
  • 3:1-18 — Reminder: The Day of the Lord Will Come4

As Davids further explains, this verse is located in the opening of the letter (1:3-15) that consists of two parts: an opening sermon (2 Pe 1:3-11) and a purpose statement (2 Pe 1:12–15).5

The purpose of 2 Peter is to “remind [his readers] of these things, even though [they] know them and are firmly established in the truth [they] now have” (2 Pe 1:12).6 Peter wants to ensure that, after his impending departure/death, they will remember these things (2 Pe 1:14-15).

And what are these things? These things refers back to the opening sermon in which Peter exhorts his readers to make every effort to confirm their calling and election in order to avoid stumbling and to ensure entrance into the eternal Kingdom of Christ (2 Pe 1:10-11).

We must remember, however, that it is God who has given followers of Christ everything they need to live a godly life (2 Pe 1:3-4). Peter is not advocating that believers should make every effort to live godly in order to save themselves; believers should make every effort to live godly because they have been empowered to do so by God’s salvific, divine power. As Schreiner clarifies, “The indicative of God’s gift precedes and undergirds the imperative that calls for human exertion. Peter did not lapse, therefore, into works righteousness here since he grounded his exhortations in God’s merciful gifts.”7

Thus, because of God’s merciful gifts, Peter exhorts his readers to climb what some call the “ladder of faith” (2 Pe 1:5-7),8 which starts with faith and ends in love. This, of course, does not mean that one must literally progress from faith to goodness to knowledge to self-control to perseverance to godliness, to mutual affection and then to love. Yet, these Peter describes “a rounded description of a Christian character.”9

Commentary

For this very thing (reason): There is no word for reason in the Greek text, only a third-person, neuter, intensive pronoun (hence: for this very thing). However, very thing refers back to that of 2 Pe 1:3-4. Therefore, many modern translations rightly render the text for this very reason. This reason is the fact that, God’s divine power has given Peter’s readers all that is necessary for a godly life, and His promises allows them to participate in the divine nature having escaped the world corrupted by evil desires.

applying all diligence/make every effort: The Greek word spoudē means: eagerness; diligence.10 So, for the aforementioned reason, Peter is saying to eagerly and zealously…

supply in/add to: The Greek verb epichorēgeō means “supply; provide; give.”11 It can also mean “furnish”12, “provide for,” and “add to.”13

In Peter’s context in the first century Roman empire, the word was originally a theatrical term common to Athenian drama festivals.14chorēgos was a theatrical ‘angel’ who generously provided some of the funds necessary to put on a theatrical production. At the time of Peter’s writing, a chorēgos came to mean anyone who was an especially generous benefactor or donor.15 The related verb, as it was used, meant, “to provide at one’s own expense,”16 referring to “generous and costly co-operation.”17 Therefore, Peter is saying that his readers should generously, and with God’s divine power, cooperatively supply…

your faith: “Faith” in this sense, means one’s faithfulness/commitment to Jesus Christ.18

excellence of character/goodness: the word aretē, means “excellence of character”19. This excellence in character refers to, as in 2 Pe 1:3, moral excellence,20 of which Christ is the exemplar par excellence.

and to excellence in character, knowledge/and to goodness knowledge: The word for knowledge, gnōsis, was common in Greek philosophy and ethics. Customarily, it meant, practical wisdom — wisdom “which distinguishes the good from the bad, and shows the way of flight from the bad.”21 This stems, but slightly differs, from the epignōsis, saving knowledge” mentioned in 2 Pe 1:2-3,22. In short, in the words of Davids, “wisdom and discernment come from knowing God/Christ and adopting his character.”23 As William Lane Craig says, “right living presupposes right thinking about God”.24

Summary: Because of God’s divine power and through His gracious promises, we have everything we need to live a godly life. For this very reason, we should, with all eagerness and zeal, supply our commitment to Christ with morally excellent (i.e., Christ-like) character and supply morally excellent character with practical, godly wisdom.

Memorization

Want to memorize 2 Peter 1:5? Below, watch a video tutorial that demonstrates How to Memorize Any Bible Verse in Less Than Five Minutes method for this passage:



Application

How might we apply this verse today? For me, this passage is an antidote to spiritual complacency.

We have been justified by God’s grace through our faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1-2). That is great news! Our spiritual journeys, however, do not begin and end with justification. We are to be conformed into the image of Christ (Rom 8:29) — to become more and more like Jesus. God’s divine Spirit cooperates with our imperfect human effort in this process of transformation (Rom 12:1-2). It is not as though God merely “infused virtue into us intravenously; we need to make plans and expend effort.”25 And though, for this transformation, human effort alone is inadequate, it is still indispensable.26 With all diligence and eagerness we must endeavor to supply our commitment to Christ with Christ-like moral excellence — at all costs.

But this should not cost us rationality or intellect. In my opinion, far too many people, both inside and outside the church, believe that “faith is incompatible with reason.”27 God’s Word does not call for fideism  — believing that matters of faith cannot be argued by reason (i.e., “one must simply believe”)28 or obscurantism — “active opposition, [especially] from supposedly religious motives, to intellectual enlightenment.”29

We are to love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Mat 22:37-38). We are not to be like irrational animals (Jude 4), but to test everything, hold on to what is good, and reject every kind of evil (1 Thess 5:19-21). We are to follow Paul’s example and reason with others (Ac 17:2-3).30

Our love should abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight — so that we may be able to discern what is best (Php 1:9-11). Again, right living presupposes right thinking. And, knowledge of the truth leads to godliness (Ti 1:1).

So why should we turn our brains off when it comes to matters of faith? As Wallace writes, “Certainly, faith involves more than our brains, but it does not involve less.”31 In my view, we should be constantly striving to learn more and more about God — that we may be more and more godly.

Say, after a few months of dating, a person “falls in love” with someone. Would it not make sense for the person to want to know more and more about the someone with whom they are in love? Say the someone wrote a selective autobiography. Say the autobiography is a long, detailed, work of various genres reflecting various social, cultural, and historical contexts, of which the person may be foreign. If the person truly loves the someone, is it not reasonable for the person to try to read, understand, and study this autobiography? For doing so would afford the person so much more knowledge about the one the person loves — plausibly allowing for an even better relationship!

My sisters and brothers, the Bible is God’s selective autobiography. There is a wealth of knowledge and insight in this autobiography that can be studied, which can afford us more and more knowledge of the God we love. And such godly knowledge can lead us to have an even better relationship

So let us not be spiritually complacent; let us strive to add the virtues in the faith ladder to our faith (active trust) in Christ — with help from the Holy Spirit.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pe 1:8)32

Sources

  1. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 2 Pe 1:5.
  2. Michael W. Holmes, The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition (Lexham Press; Society of Biblical Literature, 2011–2013), 2 Pe 1:5.
  3. Keep in mind that I just took my first Greek class earlier this summer; I am far from an expert. My translation does resemble closely that of the New American Standard Bible (1995), however:  “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge” New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 2 Pe 1:5.
  4. Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 282.
  5. Peter H. Davids, The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2006), 166.
  6. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 2 Pe 1:12.
  7. Schreiner, 296–297.
  8. Michael Green, 2 Peter and Jude: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 18, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 75.
  9. R. C. Lucas and Christopher Green, The Message of 2 Peter & Jude: The Promise of His Coming, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 58.
  10. The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Logos Bible Software, 2011).
  11. The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Logos Bible Software, 2011).
  12. Henry George Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), 673.
  13. James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
  14. Green, 86
  15. Lucas and Green, 57
  16. Davids, 179
  17. Green, 86
  18. Davids, 179
  19. The Lexham Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament (Logos Bible Software, 2011).
  20. Davids, 179
  21. Bengel, J. A., Gnomon Novi Testamenti, 1773. Quoted in Michael Green, 2 Peter and Jude: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 18, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 87.
  22. Lucas and Green, 59
  23. Davids, 180
  24. Craig, William Lane. “Foundations of Christian Doctrine (Part 1).” ReasonableFaith.org. Accessed June 11, 2017. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-3-podcast/transcript/t01-01.
  25. Davids, 179.
  26. Green, 86
  27. Wallace, J. Warner. Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith (Kindle Locations 3574-3575). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.
  28. Norman L. Geisler, “Fideism,” Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 246.
  29. F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 1178.
  30. Wallace, J. Warner. Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith (Kindle Locations 3580-3585). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.
  31. Wallace, J. Warner. Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith (Kindle Location 200). David C. Cook. Kindle Edition.
  32. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 2 Pe 1:8.
About @DannyScottonJr 168 Articles
Imperfect servant striving to be an unapologetically apologetic ambassador for Jesus the Christ. Princeton University Alum | Palmer Theological Seminary Student