God’s Word for You
2 Peter 1:3-7 Brotherly affection
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Sunday, June 12, 2022
3 His divine power has given us all things we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
In Greek, verses 3-7 are all one sentence. The first part (verses 3-4) establishes certain important facts (this is known as a protasis in grammar) and verses 5-7 draw a conclusion (this is the apodosis).
What is the agent, the means, that God uses to give us his gifts in this life? It is his word, which carries his divine power. This is where our knowledge of him comes from—all of the knowledge that truly makes a difference, because the natural knowledge of God known to all the heathen does not tell them who he truly is or how salvation comes, but only proclaims his power and his wrath over sin. It is only in the revealed knowledge of the Scriptures that God shows us who he is and what he has done for us.
The call here is the call to faith; our conversion from being unbelievers and enemies of God to becoming believers and servants of God. This was done through the gospel in a single moment, to his glory, and displaying God’s infinite goodness or excellence. Goodness here is arétē (ἀρέτη), as Paul says in Philippians: “If anything is excellent (very good) or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8). When a heathen (anyone who does not worship the true God) thinks of his belief, it is based on fear and dread. He fears the god he worships, especially his punishments and curses, and he dreads the idea that he is both wrong about his faith and yet stuck in it; he cannot get out of his position because of the very threats and curses he fears. And so he is caught, and he despises the god he calls to. But from the moment a Christian comes to faith, whether as an adult or as a baptized baby, he is comforted and calmed, and he is confident and trusts that his is the true Triune God, the God of compassion, forgiveness, salvation, and hope. He has all of this through the power of the gospel.
4 Through these he has given us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may partake of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world because of evil passions.
God has given us his gospel, not only to impart knowledge, but to create and sustain faith. It is the created faith that proves his divine work, for he has put this faith and trust into our hearts. This is how we partake of the divine nature. Sinful, mortal man cannot fully partake of this until we emerge from the grave (or, for some, out of the world) and enter into heaven. Then the perishable will have been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, so that the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54; Isaiah 25:8). Then we will live always within the will and blessing of God.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith with goodness; and add to goodness with knowledge; 6 and add to knowledge with self-control; and add to self-control with perseverance; and add to perseverance with godliness; 7 and add to godliness with brotherly affection; and add to brotherly affection with love.
All of these urgings toward Christian living have been described in many other places, and especially by the Apostle in his previous letter: Faith (1 Peter 1:7), goodness (2 Peter 1:3 above), knowledge (2 Peter 1:2), self-control (1 Peter 1:13), brotherly affection (1 Peter 1:22), and love (1 Peter 3:8). “Perseverance” or “patient endurance” considers trials and troubles in life to be something we endure because of their result rather than the way the world thinks of them, which is that they should be fought or just endured because they are inevitable. But God gives us challenges to build us up and to strengthen our faith, and to put our knowledge and our faith in his word to good use. This will lead to brotherly affection between Christians, and of course, love. Love for friends is hardly praiseworthy. Jesus said: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? But I tell you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:46,44). Just as you pray for your family members, pray also for your enemies. God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11), he surely doesn’t want us to do so either, but to hold out the word of life to everyone (Philippians 2:16). This is the life of the Christian, whether preacher, teacher, parent or child.
Pastor Timothy Smith