I have three passages of scripture written here, that I want to expound on today. I have taken liberty, in 2 Peter 1, and rearranged some of the verses. I believe, that for my purpose in this teaching, it helps to clarify the point that Peter is making. I have left the verse numbering as is, so you can easily spot the change in arrangement. All scripture, presented here, is from the Amplified Bible.
2 Peter 1:1-19 (rearranged)
“1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle (special messenger) of Jesus Christ, to those who have received (obtained an equal privilege of) like precious faith with ourselves in and through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ:
2 May grace (God’s favour) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal,precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
12 So I intend always to remind you about these things, although indeed you know them and are firm in the truth that [you] now [hold].
13 I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle (tent, body), to stir you up by way of remembrance,
14 Since I know that the laying aside of this body of mine will come speedily, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.
15 Moreover, I will diligently endeavour [to see to it] that [even] after my departure (decease) you may be able at all times to call these things to mind.
16 For we were not following cleverly devised stories when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty (grandeur, authority of sovereign power).
17 For when He was invested with honour and glory from God the Father and a voice was borne to Him by the [splendid] Majestic Glory [in the bright cloud that overshadowed Him, saying], This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased and delight,
18 We [actually] heard this voice borne out of heaven, for we were together with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And we have the prophetic word [made] firmer still. You will do well to pay close attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises (comes into being) in your hearts.
3 For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).
4 By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.
5 For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),
6 And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),
7 And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.
8 For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
9 For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins.
10 Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall.
11 Thus there will be richly and abundantly provided for you entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
1 Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to [enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
2 Through Him also we have [our] access (entrance, introduction) by faith into this grace (state of God’s favour) in which we [firmly and safely] stand. And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.
3 Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.
4 And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
5 Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.
6 While we were yet in weakness [powerless to help ourselves], at the fitting time Christ died for (in behalf of) the ungodly.
7 Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and loveable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die.
8 But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.
9 Therefore, since we are now justified (acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God.
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, it is much more [certain], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sin’s dominion) through His [resurrection] life.
11 Not only so, but we also rejoice and exultingly glory in God [in His love and perfection] through our Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom we have now received and enjoy [our] reconciliation.
12 Therefore, as sin came into the world through one man, and death as the result of sin, so death spread to all men, [no one being able to stop it or to escape its power] because all men sinned.
13 [To be sure] sin was in the world before ever the Law was given, but sin is not charged to men’s account where there is no law [to transgress].
14 Yet death held sway from Adam to Moses [the Lawgiver], even over those who did not themselves transgress [a positive command] as Adam did. Adam was a type (prefigure) of the One Who was to come [in reverse, the former destructive, the Latter saving].
15 But God’s free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass [His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man]. For if many died through one man’s falling away (his lapse, his offence), much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favour of the one Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to and for [the benefit of] many.
16 Nor is the free gift at all to be compared to the effect of that one [man’s] sin. For the sentence [following the trespass] of one [man] brought condemnation, whereas the free gift [following] many transgressions brings justification (an act of righteousness).
17 For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offence) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favour) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
18 Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men.
19 For just as by one man’s disobedience (failing to hear, heedlessness, and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man’s obedience the many will be constituted righteous (made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him).
20 But then Law came in, [only] to expand and increase the trespass [making it more apparent and exciting opposition]. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favour) has surpassed it and increased the more and super abounded,
21 So that, [just] as sin has reigned in death, [so] grace (His unearned and undeserved favour) might reign also through righteousness (right standing with God) which issues in eternal life through Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) our Lord.
8 For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honourable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and loveable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].”
I know the scriptures take some time to read through, but God’s Word is never unfruitful when we take it in and meditate on it. I hope after reading what I am about to say, you will meditate on these verses and take them into your heart.
The single verse, above, from Philippians, is the first use of the word “virtue” in the context of it’s meaning in the Greek language, in which it was originally written. The passage here, from 2 Peter, is the only other place in the New Testament where this same Greek word is used and interpreted, virtue. Both passages come from another root word in Greek and I will give you their numbers in the Strong’s Concordance and their meaning.
Virtue is #703 and it’s meaning is “to take on excellence” either intrinsically or attributed. The root is #730, and is the Greek word whose meaning is: “stronger for lifting [from man or male].”
Romans 5: 15 and 17 say, 15:“God’s grace and the free gift [that comes] through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ” and 17: “reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ.”
So the attributed strength that comes from “The Man,” Jesus, is the source of our ability to learn and walk in virtue, or excellence, as the fulness of the word means in the original Greek.
Both passages, from 2 Peter and Romans 5, reveal a process of how we can actually attain, in this life, the ability to love as God loves us and to produce maturity in our emotional and everyday life. Romans 5 uses action words to describe our life in Jesus, after we are saved. Read verses 3 & 4: 3 Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.
4 And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.
Paul is talking to us about how to grow in grace and in our relationship with God and with others. We don’t need to develop godly character and unconditional love to relate to God, He sees us in Christ and as having those attributes already, in His Son. However, we need to develop these characteristics to walk among men and to proclaim the good news.
Here is a verse from 1 Peter 5, that once again shows us that progression to perfection in Christ is our goal. “10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.”
In the world, there are 12 steps to sobriety and those who follow them can attain some measure of deliverance from their addictions. These steps include self examination, effort to overcome, support from a sponsor, and asking forgiveness from those who were hurt by the individuals actions.
Here in 2 Peter 1, we see that God has laid out an 8 step process for us to be free in Him and to develop Christian Love so we can walk as Jesus walked. Eight is also the number of new beginnings in the Bible. So these 8 steps to fulness in God will ensure a new beginning to your born-again life. They will help you to grow up in Him.
Faith, which we know is a gift from God. Verse 5, ”For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue
Virtue, we have defined as putting on His excellence, in His strength. Verse 3, “For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).”
Knowledge, Verse 5, “ and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence).” Going to knowledge from faith, without knowing that our virtue comes from Jesus excellence and not our own, will bring us under the law and lead to judging one another by outward appearances and actions. Outward appearances then replaces God’s work in our hearts as the most important aspect of our faith. Measuring, for ourselves and others, is legalistic and the meaning of grace becomes moot. Without understanding the role of virtue, we become harsh and unloving towards one another in our assessments. This conflicts with the agenda God has created for our personal development as He works on us from the inside out. We must always keep in mind that our righteousness in given to us by Jesus’ actions on the cross and our acceptance of His act on our behalf. We will never be righteous in ourselves. That is the reason Jesus included His the act of washing the disciples feet before He went to the cross. The Word makes us clean, not the water, but we are required to cleanse each other with the washing of the Word. And speaking with all humility that foot washing implies. Not judging, but assisting one another towards His perfection, which is unconditional love towards our fellow man.
Self Control, Verse 6, “And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control.” A knowledge of God’s Word will teach us that we need to not respond emotionally and to wait on God for results. Self indulged will not lead to patience or godliness. Responding as we know Jesus would respond will help us to practice self-control. If someone treats me badly, I am not responsible to that person for how I respond, I am responsible to My Heavenly Father for my response. Remember, every idle word we speak will be judged by fire when we appear before Him, and we will be rewarded for and according to our actions. That is a sobering thought that will help guide us to self control.
Steadfastness, Verse 6, “[develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance).” Our culture does not encourage us to be patient. We want patience and we want it right now! But God’s way is to send trials and tribulation into our lives so that we can learn to overcome by faith. Patience is understanding that God is in control of the outcome of every situation and that He is concerned about what concerns us. IF we are patient we will see God’s resolution of our situations. Our human condition and the world wants us to take matters into our own “capable” hands. “God helps those who help themselves,” is NOT in the Bible. Those who learn to wait upon the Lord are those who succeed God’s way. Isaiah says. “that those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.” And God’s way is our strength and our goal.
Godliness, Verse 6, “[develop] godliness (piety).” Being aware of God’s holiness and how our culture can be an affront to His Holiness is an area where we all need to learn to excel. Piety, or godliness, is not an old fashioned idea, but something we should strive to live from our heart. Contrary to what some church denominations teach, heartfelt holiness is not an outward show that we need to adhere to, to be holy. When our hearts are thinking evil, no matter how others see us on the outside, we are not holy. The good news is, we do not have to think every thought that tries to get our attention. We can choose not to think ugly, unrighteous thoughts when they pop into our heads. It takes effort and asking God to make you aware of what you are thinking but you can replace those thoughts with what we are told by Paul to do in his letter to the Philippians. “Think on whatever is pure, right and just.” Holy Spirit is faithful, and will help you clean-up your thought life. You only have to ask Him, but then you need to make the effort not to run with every thought that trapezes though your mind. What you put in front of your eyes will also influence your thoughts. When Holy Spirit answers your plea for help, it may include changing what you look at. Just sayin’…
Affection, Verse 7, “And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection.” Not everyone is loveable, but God loves everyone and He wants us to be like him. If we hate, the Bible teaches, we have committed murder in our hearts. Only in Him can we ever hope to attain affection for others. This is a struggle in my own heart still and I have been on this path for two thirds of my life. That is twice as long as a christian, than I walked without being aware of the Lord. He is Faithful to help me and He will do the same for you. He does not have favourites. But know this, without brotherly affection, we will never attain our goal of unconditional love for others. The good news is, in all the areas mentioned in Peter’s writing, in this passage under discussion here, repentance still works.
Unconditional Christian Love, Verse 7, “[develop] Christian love.” This is the goal of our life on planet earth. When we have attained, mature and consistent loving responses to all, we have succeeded in life. We will be better than we are, but our whole life is this journey. No matter where we are on this path, we will be shown, by Holy Spirit, where we need to improve. Do not be discouraged. Do not listen to the negative thoughts your mortal enemy, the Devil, will try to implant in your mind. You are not going to fail. You should never give up. You are valuable to Your Heavenly Father and He does have a plan for you success. He needs you to live as well and as joyfully as you are able, right where you are now. (Remember, not one sparrow falls to the ground that He is not aware of, and you are much more valuable than a sparrow. You are a son who will inherit the Kingdom of God.)
Matthew 10: 29 “Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s leave (consent) and notice.”
2 Peter 1:8 “For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins.”
I did not say it, Peter did. When Paul talked about our development to maturity, he concluded his very hard to do passage, in Romans 5, with one of my favourite verses in the New Testament, and here it is.
Romans 5: 20 “But then Law came in, [only] to expand and increase the trespass [making it more apparent and exciting opposition]. But where sin increased and abounded, grace (God’s unmerited favour) has surpassed it and increased the more and super abounded”
Think of the words, super abounded. It reminds me of what Jesus said in John 10:10 “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” Or in other words, until it super abounds. No matter how high sin rises, grace always rises higher and covers it. God’s got you covered!
God wants us to develop His character so that we can experience, in this life, on planet earth, a life that super abounds, and overflows with His blessings. He wants us to enjoy our life here and now, and in the future when we receive the fulness of our inheritance as His children – our eternal life in glorified bodies, just like the one Jesus has now we will walk in joy continually.
The negative whispering of the world and its idols would have us believe that God is trying to take the “fun” out of our life now. Beloved, that is the furthest thing from the Truth. He came that we may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, ‘til it overflows. Don’t let the enemies of God rob you! Remember Peter knew he was about to die and this, in his mind, was the most important information he had to share with us.
“For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honourable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and loveable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].” Philippians 4:8