2 Peter 1:3
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
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(3-11) Exhortation to progress in spiritual graces in order to win eternal life at Christ’s coming. God has given us all we need for salvation; let us profit by it, and show ourselves worthy of it.

(3) According as.—Better, seeing that This must not be made to depend on 2Peter 1:2. In the canonical Epistles the address does not go beyond the blessing. Galatians is the only exception; there a relative clause is added to the blessing; but this is solemnly brought to a close with a doxology, so that the exception is one that almost proves the rule. In Hebrews, James, 1 and 3 John, there is no opening blessing; the remark holds good of all the rest. 2Peter 1:3-4 are a brief introduction to the direct exhortations contained 2Peter 1:5-11. The eagerness with which the writer goes direct to his subject is characteristic of St. Peter’s temper.

His divine power.—The pronoun refers to “Jesus our Lord.” The adjective occurs in the New Testament in these two verses (3 and 4) only; elsewhere we have the genitive case, “of God,” “of the Lord,” “of the Father,” and the like.

All things that pertain unto.—All that are necessary for the attainment of. He does not give life and godliness in maturity, but supplies us with the means of winning them for ourselves. “All” is emphatic; nothing that is requisite is grudged us, and nothing is our own, it is all the gift of God.

Godliness.—The Greek word occurs Acts 3:12, in a speech of St. Peter, and four times in this Epistle; elsewhere only in those to Timothy and Titus. It belongs to the phraseology of the later books of the New Testament. “Godliness” is the realisation of God’s abiding presence, the fruits of which are reverence and trust: “Thou God seest me;” “I have set God always before me, therefore I cannot fall.” It is introduced here, perhaps, in opposition to the godlessness and irreverence of the false teachers. (Comp. 2Timothy 3:5.)

Through the knowledge.—Through learning to know God as One who has called us to salvation. (Comp. 2Peter 1:2.)

To glory and virtue.—Rather, by glory and virtue; or perhaps, by His own glory and virtue, according to another reading. “To” cannot be correct, whichever of the various readings is the right one, Tyndale, Cranmer, and Rheims have “by;” the error comes from Geneva, which has “unto.” “Glory” points to the majesty of God, “virtue” to His activity. “Virtue” as applied to God is unusual, but occurs 1Peter 2:9 (see Note there), a coincidence to be noted. The word is rendered there “praises,” but “virtues” is given in the margin. The whole verse is strikingly parallel to this one, though very differently expressed.

2 Peter


2 Peter 1:3.

‘I knew thee,’ said the idle servant in our Lord’s parable, ‘that thou wert an austere man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou hadst not strewed. I was afraid, and went and hid my talent in the earth.’ Our Lord would teach us all with that pregnant word the great truth that if once a man gets it into his head that God’s principal relation to him is to demand, and to command, you will get no work out of that man; that such a notion will paralyse all activity and cut the nerve of all service. And the converse is as true, namely, that the one thought about God, which is fruitful of all blessing, joy, spontaneous, glad activity, is the thought of Him as giving, and not of demanding, of bestowing, and not of commanding. Teach a man that he is, as the book of James has it,’the giving God,’ and let that thought soak into the man’s heart and mind, and you will get any work out of him. And only when that thought is deep in the spirit will there be true service.

Now that is the connection in which the words of my text come; for they are laid as the broad foundation of the great commandment that follows: ‘Beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to your virtue knowledge,’ and so on, all the round of the ladder by which the Apostle represents us as climbing up to God. The foundation of this injunction is--God has given you everything. You have got it to begin with, and so do you set yourselves to work, and see that you make the thing that is yours your own, and incorporate into your being and into the very substance of your soul, and work out in all the blessed activities of a Christian life, the gifts that His royal and kingly hand has bestowed upon you. Take for granted that God loves you and gives you His whole self, and work on in the fulness of His possessed gift.

That is the connection of the words before us. I take them just as they lie in our passage, dealing first of all with this question--God’s call to you and me; how it is done. Now I do not know if I can venture to indulge any remarks about Biblical criticism, but you will perhaps bear with me just for a moment whilst I say that the people who know a great deal more about such subjects than either you or I, agree with one consent that the proper way of reading this verse of my text is not as our Bible has it; ‘Him that has called us to glory and virtue,’ but ‘Him that hath called us by--by his own glory and virtue.’ Do you see the difference? In one case the language expresses the things in imitation of the Divine nature to which God summons you and me when He calls us. That is how our Bible has taken it; but the deeper thought still is the things in that Divine nature and activity itself which constitute His great summons and invitation of men to His side; and these are the two, whatever they might be, which the Apostle here describes in that rather peculiar and unusual language for Scripture, ‘Who has called us by His own glory and His own virtue.’ I venture to dwell on these two points for a moment or two.

Now, first of all, God’s glory. Threadbare and consequently vague as the expression is in the minds of a great many people who have heard it with their ears ever since they were little children, God’s glory has a very distinct and definite meaning in Scripture, and all starts, as I think, from the Old Testament use of the expression, which was the distinct specific name for the supernatural light that lay between the cherubim, and brooded over the ark on the mercy-seat. The word signifies specifically and originally the glory of God, and irradiation of a material, though supernatural, symbol of His Divine and spiritual presence. Very well, lay hold of that material picture, for God teaches us as we do our children, with pictures. Take the symbol and lift it up into the spiritual region, and it is just this: the glory of God in its deepest meaning is the irradiation and the perpetual pouring out and out and out from Himself, as the rays of the sun stream out from its great orb, pouring out from Himself the light and the perfectness and the beauty of His own self revelation. And I think we may fairly translate and paraphrase the first words of my text into this: God’s great way of summoning men to Himself is by laying out His love upon them and letting the fulness of that ineffable and uncreated light, in which is no darkness at all, stream into the else blinded and hopeless lives and hearts of men. Then the other side of the Apostle’s thought seems to me--if we will only strip it of the threadbare technicalities associated with it--as great and wonderful, God’s glory and God’s virtue. A heathenish kind of smack lingers about that word, both as applied to men and as applied to God, and so seldom found in the New Testament; but meaning here, as I venture to say, without stopping to show it--meaning here substantially the same thing that we mean by that word energy or power. You know old women in country places talk about the virtues of plants. They do not mean by this the goodness of plants, but they mean the occult powers which they suppose them able to put forth. We read in one of the gospels that our Lord Himself said at one singular period of His life that virtue had gone out of Him, meaning thereby not goodness but energy. So I think we get a sufficient equivalent to the Apostle’s meaning if for the second two words of my text we read, ‘He hath called us by the glory, the raying out of his love, and He hath called us by the activity and the energy, the power in action of His great and illustrious Spirit.’ So you see these two things, the light that streams out of an energy which is born of the streaming light. These two things are really at bottom but one, various aspects of one idea. Modern physicists tell us that all the activity in the system comes from the sun, and in the higher region all the activity comes from the sun, and there is no mightier force in the physical universe than the sunlight. Lightnings are vulgar, noisy, and limited in contrast. The all-conquering force is the light that streams out, and so says Peter in his vivid picturesque way--not meaning the mere talk of philosophy or theology--the manifestation of the glory of God is the mightiest force in the whole universe. It is not like the play of the moonbeam upon an iceberg, ineffectual, cold, merely touching the death without melting or warming it, but it rays out like the sun in the heavens, and the work done by the light is mightier than all our work. By His glory, and by the transcendent energies which reside in that illustrious manifestation of the uncreated light, God summons men to Himself. Well, if that is anything like fair exposition of the words before us, let me just ask you before I go further to stop on them for one moment. If I may venture to say so, put off your theological spectacles for a minute, and do not let us harden this thought down with any mere dogma that can be selected in the language of the creeds. Let us try and put it into words a little less hackneyed. Suppose, instead of talking about calling, you were to talk about inviting, summoning, beckoning; or I might use tenderer words still--beseeching, wooing, entreating; for all that lies in the thought. God summoning and calling, in that sense, men to Himself, by the raying out of His own perfect beauty, and the might with which the beams go forth into the darkness. Ah! is not that beautiful, dear brethren; that there is nothing more, indeed, for God to do to draw us to Himself than to let us see what He is? So perfectly fair, so sweet, so tender, so strong, so absolutely corresponding to all the necessities of our beings and the hunger of our hearts, that when we see Him we cannot choose but love Him, and that He can do nothing more to call wandering hearts back to the light and sweetness of His own heart than to show them Himself. And so from all corners of His universe, and in every activity of His hand and heart and spirit, we can hear a voice saying, ‘Son, give me thine heart.’ ‘Oh! taste and see that God is good.’ ‘Acquaint now thyself with Him and be at peace; thereby good shall come unto thee.’

But great and wonderful as such a thought seems to be when we look at it in the freshness which belongs to it, do you suppose that that was all that Peter was thinking about? Do you think that a wide, general, and if you leave it by itself, vague utterance like that which I have been indulging in, would give all the specific precision and fulness of the meaning of the word before us? I think not. I fancy that when this Apostle wrote these words he remembered a time long, long ago, when somebody stood by the little fishing-cobble there, and as the men were up to their knees in slush and dirt, washing their nets, said to them, ‘Follow Me.’ I think that was in Peter’s estimate God’s call to him by God’s glory and by God’s virtue. And so I pause there for a moment to say that all the lustrous pouring out of light, all that transcendent energy of active love, is not diffused nebulous through a universe; it is not even spread in that sense over all the deeds of His hand; but whilst it is everywhere, it has a focus and a centre and a fire. The fire is gathered into the Son, Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ in His manhood and in His Deity; Jesus Christ in His life, passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and kingly reign. The whole creation, as this New Testament proclaims Him to us, is God’s glory and God’s virtue, whereby He draws men to Himself. I cannot stay to dwell on that thought as I should be glad to do. Let me just remind you of the two parts into which it splits itself up; and I commend it, dogmatically as I have to state it in such an audience as this--I commend it to the multitudes of young men here present. The highest form of the Divine glory is Jesus Christ, not the attributes with which men clothe the Divinity, not those abstractions which you find in books of theology. All that is but the fringe of the glory. And I tell you, dear friends, the living white light at the centre and heart of all the radiance of the flame is the light of life which is conveyed into the gentle Christ. As the Apostle John has it, ‘We beheld His glory.’ Yes, and taking and binding together the two words which people have so often treated against each other, ‘We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,’ the highest light in Him that says, ‘I am the light of the world’--very light of very light. As a much maligned document has it,’very light of very light,’ the brightness of His glory, the irradiation of His splendour, and the express image of His person. And as the light so the power. Christ the power; power in its highest, noblest form, the power of patient gentleness and Divine suffering; power in its widest sweep, ‘unto every one that believeth’; power in its most wondrous operation, ‘the power of God unto salvation.’ So I come to you, I hope, with one message on my lips and in my heart. If you want light, look to Christ. If you want to behold that unveiled face, the glory of the Lord, turn to Him, and let His sunshine smite you on the face as the light smote Stephen, and then you can say, ‘He that hath seen Him hath seen the Father.’ My brother, the highest, noblest, perfect, and, as I believe, final form in which all God’s glory, all God’s energy, are gathered together, and make their appeal to you and me, was when a Galilean peasant stood up in a little knot of forgotten Jews and said to them, and through them to you and me, ‘Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ He calls by His glory and by His virtue.

Now still further. Confining myself as before to the words as they lie here in this text, let me ask you to think, and that for a moment or two only, on the great and wondrous purpose which this Divine energy and light had in view in summoning us to itself. His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and all things that pertain to godliness. Look at that! One of the old Psalms says: ‘Gather my saints together unto me, those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice; assemble them all before my throne, and I will judge my people.’ Is that the last and final revelation of God’s purpose of drawing men to Him? Is that why He sends out His heralds and summons through the whole intelligent creation? Nay, something better. Not to judge, not to scourge, not to chastise, not to avenge. To give. This is the meaning of that summons that comes out through the whole earth, ‘Come up hither,’ that when we get there we may be flooded with the richness of His mercy, and that He may pour His whole soul out over us in the greatness of His gifts. This is God, and the perpetual activity summoning men to Himself that there He may bless them. He makes our hearts empty that He may fill them. He shapes us as we are that we may need Him and may recreate ourselves in Him. He says, ‘Bring all your vessels and I will fill them full.’ Now look in this part of my subject at what I may venture to call the magnificent confidence that this Peter has in the--what shall I say?--the encyclopædical--if I may use a long word--and universal character of God. All things that pertain to life, all things that pertain to godliness. And somebody says, ‘Yes, that is tautology, that is saying the same thing twice over in different language.’ Never mind, says Peter, so much the better, it will help to express the exuberant abundance and fulness. He takes a leaf out of his brother Paul’s book. He is often guilty when he speaks of God’s gifts of that same sin of tautology, as for instance, ‘Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding, abundantly, above all’--there are four of them--’all that we can ask or think.’ Yes, in all forms language is but faint and feeble, weak and poor in the presence of that great miracle of a love that passeth knowledge and that we may know the heights and depths. And so says our Apostle, ‘All things that pertain to life, all things that pertain to godliness.’ The whole circle all round, all the 360 degrees of it, God’s love will come down and lie on the top of it as it were, superimposed, so that there should not be a single gift where there is a flaw or a defect. Everything you want of life, everything you want for godliness. Yes, of course, the gift must bear some kind of proportion to the giver. You do not expect a millionaire to put down half a crown to a subscription list if he gives anything at all. And God says to you and me, ‘Come and look at My storehouses, count if you can those golden vases filled with treasure, look at those massive ingots of bullion, gaze into the vanishing distances of the infiniteness of My nature and of My possessions, and then listen to Me. I give thee Myself--Myself, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God. All things that pertain to life, all things that pertain to godliness. But I cannot pass on from this part of my subject without venturing one more remark. It is this: I do not suppose it is too minute, verbal criticism. This great encyclopædiacal gift is represented in my text, not as a thing that you are going to get, Christian men and women, but as a thing that you have gotten. And any of you that are able to test the correctness of my assertion will see I have thought the form of language used in the original is such as to point still more specifically than in our translation, to some one definite act in the past in which all that fulness of glory and virtue of life and godliness was given to us men. Is there any doubt as to what that is? We talk sometimes as if we had to ask God to give us more. God cannot give you any more than He gave you nineteen hundred years ago. It was all in Christ. Get a very vulgar illustration which is altogether inadequate for a great many purposes, but may serve for one. Suppose some man told you that there was a thousand pounds paid to your credit at a London bank, and that you were to get the use of it as you drew cheques against it. Well, the money is there, is it not? The gift is given, and yet for all that you may be dying, and half-dead, a pauper. I was reading a book only the other day which contained a story that comes in here. An Arctic expedition, some years ago, found an ammunition chest that Commander Parry had left fifty years ago, safe under a pile of stones. The wood of the chest had not rotted yet; the provisions inside of it were perfectly sweet, and good, and eatable. There it had lain all those years. Men had died of starvation within arm’s length of it. It was there all the same. And so, if I might venture to vulgarise the great theme that I try to speak about, God has given us His Son, and in Him, all that pertains to life and all that pertains to godliness. My brother, take the things that are freely given to you of God.

And so that leads me to one last word, and it shall only be a word, in regard to what our text tells us of the way by which on our side we can yield to this Divine call, and receive this Divine fulness of gifts, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory. Through the knowledge! Yes, well there are two kinds of knowledge, are there not? There is the knowledge by which you know a book, for instance, on the subject of study, and there is the knowledge by which you know one another; and the kind of thing I mean when I say, ‘I know mathematics,’ is entirely different to what I mean when I say, ‘I know John, Thomas,’ or whoever he may be. And I venture to say that the knowledge, which is the condition of receiving the whole fulness of the glory and the whole fulness of the light, is a great deal more like the thing we mean when we talk of knowing one another than when we talk of knowing a book. That is to say, a man may have all the creeds and confessions of faith clear in his head, and yet none of the life, none of the light, none of the power, and none of the godliness. But if we know Him as our brother, know Him as our friend, our sacrifice, our Redeemer, Lord, all in all; know Him as our heaven, our righteousness, and our strength; if we know Him with the knowledge which is possession; if we know Him with the knowledge which, as the profoundest of the Apostles says, ‘hath the truth in life’; if we know Him, see then, ‘This is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.’

Now, friends, my words are done. God is calling you. No, let us put it a little more definitely than that--God is calling thee. There is no speech nor language where His voice is not heard. His words are gone out to the end of the world, and have reached even thyself. He calls thee, oh! brother, sister, friend, that you and I may turn round to Him and say, ‘When Thou saidst, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.’ Amen.

2 Peter 1:3-4. As his divine power hath given us all things — There is a wonderful cheerfulness in this exordium, which begins with the exhortation itself; that pertain to life and godliness — To the present natural life, and to the continuance and increase of spiritual life, termed here godliness; through the knowledge — The divine and saving knowledge; of him — Christ; that hath called us to glory — Eternal glory hereafter, as the end; and to virtue — Or holiness, as the way leading thereto. Or fortitude, one particular branch of holiness, (frequently meant by the word αρετη,) may be here intended, as it is by the same word, 2 Peter 1:5. The original phrase, however, δια δοξης και αρετης, is literally, by, or through glory and virtue; that is, as some understand it, by his glorious power; or the glorious and powerful effusion of the Spirit, as Whitby understands the words. Whereby — By means of which glorious power, or illustrious seal set to the declaration of the gospel; or, as some would render δι ων, for the sake of which things; that is, that we might attain to this glory and virtue; are given unto us great and precious promises — Namely, the promises of the gospel, which he calls great and precious, because the things promised are the grandest that can be conceived by the human mind, and infinitely more valuable than any present enjoyments or expectations: promises of the pardon of sin, of acceptance with God, of his peculiar favour, adoption into his family, and being treated as his sons and daughters; favoured with liberty of access to him, and intercourse with him; with direction in difficulties, protection in dangers, succour in temptations, comfort in troubles, a supply of all our wants, and an assurance that all things shall work for our good; promises of the Spirit of adoption, of regeneration and sanctification, to be sent into our hearts as a pledge and earnest of our future felicity; and, to crown the whole, the promise of everlasting life, felicity, and glory. Both the promises and the things promised, which follow in their due season, are here intended; that by these — By the consideration of, and faith in, these true and faithful promises, and the great and glorious blessings exhibited in, and ensured to, true and persevering believers thereby, you might be encouraged and induced to renounce the world and sin, with every corrupt inclination and affection, design and desire, and be made partakers of the divine nature — Of a new, holy, and heavenly nature, derived from God, through the influence of his Spirit renewing you in his image, and giving you communion with himself so as to dwell in God, and God in you; having escaped the corruption that is in the world — The corrupt customs and habits, principles and practices, that are found in worldly men, εν επιθυμια, through desire, namely, irregular and inordinate desire, the desire of unlawful things, or the immoderate desire of things lawful, that fruitful source of sin and misery.

1:1-11 Faith unites the weak believer to Christ, as really as it does the strong one, and purifies the heart of one as truly as of another; and every sincere believer is by his faith justified in the sight of God. Faith worketh godliness, and produces effects which no other grace in the soul can do. In Christ all fulness dwells, and pardon, peace, grace, and knowledge, and new principles, are thus given through the Holy Spirit. The promises to those who are partakers of a Divine nature, will cause us to inquire whether we are really renewed in the spirit of our minds; let us turn all these promises into prayers for the transforming and purifying grace of the Holy Spirit. The believer must add knowledge to his virtue, increasing acquaintance with the whole truth and will of God. We must add temperance to knowledge; moderation about worldly things; and add to temperance, patience, or cheerful submission to the will of God. Tribulation worketh patience, whereby we bear all calamities and crosses with silence and submission. To patience we must add godliness: this includes the holy affections and dispositions found in the true worshipper of God; with tender affection to all fellow Christians, who are children of the same Father, servants of the same Master, members of the same family, travellers to the same country, heirs of the same inheritance. Wherefore let Christians labour to attain assurance of their calling, and of their election, by believing and well-doing; and thus carefully to endeavour, is a firm argument of the grace and mercy of God, upholding them so that they shall not utterly fall. Those who are diligent in the work of religion, shall have a triumphant entrance into that everlasting kingdom where Christ reigns, and they shall reign with him for ever and ever; and it is in the practice of every good work that we are to expect entrance to heaven.According as his divine power hath given unto us - All the effects of the gospel on the human heart are, in the Scriptures, traced to the power of God. See the notes at Romans 1:16. There are no moral means which have ever been used that have such power as the gospel; none through which God has done so much in changing the character and affecting the destiny of man.

All things that pertain unto life and godliness - The reference here in the word "life" is undoubtedly to the life of religion; the life of the soul imparted by the gospel. The word "godliness" is synonymous with piety. The phrase "according as" (ὡς hōs) seems to be connected with the sentence in 2 Peter 1:5, "Forasmuch as he has conferred on us these privileges and promises connected with life and godliness, we are bound, in order to obtain all that is implied in these things, to give all diligence to add to our faith, knowledge," etc.

Through the knowledge of him - By a proper acquaintance with him, or by the right kind of knowledge of him. Notes, John 17:3.

That hath called us to glory and virtue - Margin: "by." Greek, "through glory," etc. Doddridge supposes that it means that he has done this "by the strengthening virtue and energy of his spirit." Rosenmuller renders it, "by glorious benignity." Dr. Robinson (Lexicon) renders it, "through a glorious display of his efficiency." The objection which anyone feels to this rendering arises solely from the word "virtue," from the fact that we are not accustomed to apply that word to God. But the original word (ἀρετή aretē) is not as limited in its signification as the English word is, but is rather a word which denotes a good quality or excellence of any kind. In the ancient classics it is used to denote manliness, vigor, courage, valor, fortitude; and the word would rather denote "energy" or "power" of some kind, than what we commonly understand by virtue, and would be, therefore, properly applied to the "energy" or "efficiency" which God has displayed in the work of our salvation. Indeed, when applied to moral excellence at all, as it is in 2 Peter 1:5, of this chapter, and often elsewhere, it is perhaps with a reference to the "energy, boldness, vigor," or "courage" which is evinced in overcoming our evil propensities, and resisting allurements and temptations. According to this interpretation, the passage teaches that it is "by a glorious Divine efficiency" that we are called into the kingdom of God.

3. According as, &c.—Seeing that [Alford]. "As He hath given us ALL things (needful) for life and godliness, (so) do you give us ALL diligence," &c. The oil and flame are given wholly of grace by God, and "taken" by believers: their part henceforth is to "trim their lamps" (compare 2Pe 1:3, 4 with 2Pe 1:5, &c.).

life and godliness—Spiritual life must exist first before there can be true godliness. Knowledge of God experimentally is the first step to life (Joh 17:3). The child must have vital breath. first, and then cry to, and walk in the ways of, his father. It is not by godliness that we obtain life, but by life, godliness. To life stands opposed corruption; to godliness, lust (2Pe 1:4).

called us—(2Pe 1:10); "calling" (1Pe 2:9).

to glory and virtue—rather, "through (His) glory." Thus English Version reads as one oldest manuscript. But other oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, "By His own (peculiar) glory and virtue"; being the explanation of "His divine power"; glory and moral excellency (the same attribute is given to God in 1Pe 2:9, "praises," literally, "virtues") characterize God's "power." "Virtue," the standing word in heathen ethics, is found only once in Paul (Php 4:8), and in Peter in a distinct sense from its classic usage; it (in the heathen sense) is a term too low and earthly for expressing the gifts of the Spirit [Trench, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament].

According as; this may refer either:

1. To what goes before: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, & c., according as his divine power hath given unto us, &c.; and then in these words the apostle shows what reason there was to hope, that grace and peace should be multiplied to them, and perfected in them, viz. because God hath already given them all things pertaining to life and godliness; q.d. He that hath done thus much for you, will do more, and finish his work in you. Or:

2. To what follows; and then the Greek phrase rendered according as, is not a note of similitude, but of illation, and may be rendered, since, or seeing that, and so the words are not a part of the salutation, but the beginning of the body of the Epistle, and relate to 2 Peter 1:5: Seeing that his Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain, & c., add to your faith virtue, & c.; as God hath done his part, so do you yours in the diligent performance of what he hath enabled you unto.

Divine power may relate either to God, or rather to Christ, immediately going before; and then it tends to the confirming their hope of the multiplication of grace and peace to them, not only from God, but from Christ, in that they had already experienced his Divine power in giving them all things pertaining to life and godliness, i.e. whatever may be helpful to it, the Spirit, faith, repentance, &c., John 7:39 2 Corinthians 4:6 2 Timothy 2:25.

Unto life; either:

1. Spiritual life, and then godliness may be added by way of explication, that life which consists in godliness, or a godly life; or, by life may be meant the inward, permanent principle of spiritual acts, and the exercise of them may be called godliness, as the perfection of that principle is called glory. Or:

2. Eternal life, to which we attain through godliness, as the way; and then likewise they are understood distinctly, life as the end, and godliness as the means; and so life in this verse is the same as peace in the former, and godliness the same as grace.

To glory and virtue: according to our translation, glory may be the same as life before, and virtue the same with godliness; and then the words set forth the end of God’s calling us, viz. unto glory or life hereafter, as well as virtue or godliness now. But the Greek preposition dia is no where (as some observe) in the New Testament found to signify to; for in Romans 6:4 (which some allege) it is best rendered by, glory being there put for God’s power; and therefore our margin here reads it by glory and virtue; which may either be, by an hendiadis, for glorious virtue, taking virtue for power, that glorious power of God which is put forth in calling us, Ephesians 1:18,19, or his goodness and mercy which appear in the same calling, in which sense the word may be understood; see Titus 3:4,5 1 Peter 2:9; or, (which comes to the same), glory being often taken for powe John 2:11, by glory and virtue may be meant God’s powe and goodness, or mercy.

According as his divine power,.... Meaning either the power of God the Father, to whom belong eternal power and Godhead; and he is sometimes called by the name of power itself; see Matthew 26:64 being all powerful and mighty; or rather the power of Christ, since he is the next and immediate antecedent to this relative; and who, as he has the fulness of the Godhead in him, is almighty, and can do all things; and is "El-shaddai", God all-sufficient, and can communicate all things whatsoever he pleases, and does, as follows: for he

hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness; referring not so much to a temporal life, though he gives that and preserves it, and furnishes with all the mercies and comforts of it; and which come to us, from him, in a covenant way, as his left hand blessings, and in great love; but rather a spiritual life, which he is the author and maintainer of, all the joys, pleasures, blessings, and supports of it, being given by him; as also eternal life, for that, and everything appertaining to it, are from him; he gives a meetness for it, which is his own grace, and a right unto it, which is his own righteousness; and he has power to give that itself to as many as the Father has given him, and he does give it to them; and likewise all things belonging to "godliness", or internal religion; and which is the means of eternal life, and leads on to it, and is connected with it, and has the promise both of this life, and of that which is to come; and everything relating to it, or is in it, or it consists of, is from Christ: the internal graces of the Spirit, as faith, hope, and love, which, when in exercise, are the principal parts of powerful godliness, are the gifts of Christ, are received out of his fulness, and of which he is the author and finisher; and he is the donor of all the fresh supplies of grace to maintain the inward power of religion, and to assist in the external exercise of it; all which things are given

through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. The call here spoken of is not a bare outward call, by the ministry of the word, but an internal, special, and powerful one, which springs from the grace, and is according to the purpose of God, and is inseparably connected with justification and glorification; and is either of God the Father, who, as the God of all grace, calls to eternal glory by Christ; or rather of Christ himself, who calls by his Spirit and grace; and hence the saints are sometimes styled, the called of Jesus Christ, Romans 1:6 what they are called unto by him is, "glory and virtue"; by the former may be meant, the glorious state of the saints in the other world, and so answers to "life", eternal life, in the preceding clause; and by the latter, grace, and the spiritual blessings of grace here, and which answers to "godliness" in the said clause; for the saints are called both to grace and glory, and to the one, in order to the other. Some render it, "by glory and virtue"; and some copies, as the Alexandrian and others, and so the Vulgate Latin version, read, "by his own glory and virtue"; that is, by his glorious power, which makes the call as effectual, and is as illustrious a specimen of the glory of his power, as was the call of Lazarus out of the grave; unless the Gospel should rather be intended by glory and virtue, which is glorious in itself, and the power of God unto salvation, and is the means by which persons are called to the communion of Christ, and the obtaining of his glory: so then this phrase, "him that hath called us to glory and virtue", is a periphrasis of Christ, through a "knowledge" of whom, and which is not notional and speculative, but spiritual, experimental, fiducial, and practical, or along with such knowledge all the above things are given; for as God, in giving Christ, gives all things along with him, so the Spirit of Christ, which is a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, when he makes him known in the glory of his person, grace, and righteousness, also makes known the several things which are freely given of God and Christ: and this is what, among other things, makes the knowledge of Christ preferable to all other knowledge, or anything else.

{3} According as his {b} divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto {c} life and godliness, through the {d} knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

(3) Christ sets forth himself to us plainly in the Gospel, and that by his only power, and gives us all things which are required both for eternal life, in which he has appointed to glorify us, and also to godliness, in that he furnishes us with true virtue.

(b) He speaks of Christ, whom he makes God and the only Saviour.

(c) To salvation.

(d) This is the sum of true religion, to be led by Christ to the Father, as it were by the hand.

2 Peter 1:3. The first paragraph, extending as far as 2 Peter 1:11, contains exhortations. The first of these is expressed in 2 Peter 1:5-7, and to it 2 Peter 1:3-4 serve as an introduction.

ὡς] Lachmann connects ὡς directly with what precedes, and puts a full stop after φθορᾶς at the end of 2 Peter 1:4; thus also Vulg., Beza, Erasmus, Hornejus, Grotius. This combination, however, is against the analogy of the N. T. epistles, in which the superscription closes with the benediction (in the Epistle to the Galatians alone a relative clause is subjoined, ending, however, with a doxology that marks the conclusion), and is also opposed to the contents of 2 Peter 1:3-4, which serve as the basis for 2 Peter 1:5 (Wiesinger). Gerhard and others consider ὡς as equivalent to καθώς (which Gerhard explains by ἐπεί, i.e. “postquam” vel “siquidem”), and supply οὕτως to 2 Peter 1:5; arbitrarily: ὡς belongs much more to the genitive absolute (not pleonastically, Pott). The objective reason expressed in this phrase for the exhortation contained in 2 Peter 1:5 is by ὡς characterized as a subjective motive; Winer: “convinced (considering) that the divine power,” etc.; Dietlein: “in the consciousness that;” so, too, de Wette, and the more recent commentators generally; the construction in 1 Corinthians 4:18, 2 Corinthians 5:20, is similar; cf. Matthiä, ausf. Gr. 1825, § 568, p. 1120.

πάνταδεδωρημένης] The Vulg. incorrectly: quomodo omnia vobis divinae virtutis sunt, quae ad vitam et pietatem, donata est (another reading is: sunt); and Luther: “since everything of His divine power, that pertains unto life and godliness, is given us;” δεδωρημένης is here not passive, but middle (cf. Genesis 30:20, LXX.; Mark 15:45), and τῆς θ. δυνάμεως: does not depend on πάντα, but is the subject (thus all modern commentators).

According to the position of the words, αὐτοῦ refers back to Ἰησ. τ. κυρίου ἡμῶν (Calvin, Schott, Steinfass), and not to Θεοῦ;[22] if it be applied to Θεοῦ (de Wette-Brückner, Wiesinger), then θείας (which occurs here only and in 2 Peter 1:4; Acts 17:29 : τὸ θεῖον, as subst.) is pleonastic. Dietlein and Fronmüller refer αὐτοῦ to God and Jesus, which linguistically cannot be justified.[23]

τὰ πρὸς ζωὴν καὶ εὐσέβειαν] the ζωὴ καὶ εὐσέβεια are not spoken of as the object, but: τὰ πρὸς ζωὴν κ.τ.λ. For the attainment of the former is conditioned by the Christian’s conduct; but in order that it may be put within his reach, everything is granted him which is serviceable to ζωή and εὐσέβεια (cf. Luke 19:42 : τὰ πρὸς εἰρήνην σου). The difference between the two ideas is in itself clear; ζωή: “blessedness,” indicates the condition; εὐσέβεια: “godliness” (except in Acts 3:12, occurring only in the Pastoral Epistles and Second Peter), the conduct. Grotius incorrectly interprets ζωή as equivalent to vita alterius seculi, and εὐσέβεια as pietas in hoc seculo. Both together they form the antithesis to ἡ ἐν κόσμῳ ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ φθορά. πάντα is by way of emphasis placed first, in order to show distinctly that everything, which is in any way serviceable to ζωή and εὐσέβ., has been given us by the divine power of the Lord. Hofmann is wrong in defining this πάντα as faith, hope, and charity, for this triad does not pertain πρὸς εὐσέβειαν, but is the εὐσέβεια itself.

διὰ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ καλέσαντος ἡμᾶς] states the medium through which the gift is communicated to us; with ἐπίγνωσις, cf. 2 Peter 1:2. God is here designated as ὁ καλέσας ἡμᾶς, since it is only by the knowledge of the God who calls us that the πάντα τὰ πρ. ζ. κ.τ.λ. are appropriated by us,—the calling being the actual proof of His love to us. The subject to καλεῖν is not Christ (Vorstius, Jachmann, Schott, etc.), but God (Aretius, Hemming, de Wette, Hofmann, etc.), as almost always in the N. T.[24] Of course καλεῖν does not mean the mere outward, but the inward, effectual calling,

ἸΔΊᾼ ΔΌΞῌ ΚΑῚ ἈΡΕΤῇ] ΔΌΞΑ denotes the being, ἈΡΕΤΉ the activity; Bengel: ad gloriam referuntur attributa Dei naturalia, ad virtutem ea, quae dicuntur moralia; intime unum sunt utraque. It is arbitrary to understand δόξα as meaning: “that side the nature of the Almighty One that liveth, which is directed outwards,” and by ἈΡΕΤΉ: “the holy loving-kindness of God” (as opposed to Hofmann).

The nature of God represented as the instrumentality, as in Galatians 1:15 : ΚΑΛΈΣΑς ΔΙᾺ Τῆς ΧΆΡΙΤΟς ΑὙΤΟῦ; too, Romans 6:4. A wrong application is given to the words, if they be taken as referring to the miracles of Christ. It must be observed that this ἘΠΊΓΝΩΣΙς itself, too, is to be looked upon as wrought by Christ in us.

[22] Hofmann, indeed, applies it also to Christ, but by passing over ver. 2 to ver. 1, where, as already observed, he considers that it is not God and Christ, but Christ alone who is referred to.

[23] The application to Jesus is also supported by the fact, that otherwise this whole argument would contain no reference to Him; the application to both contains the correct idea, that the gift imparted by Jesus is the gift of God the Father.

[24] De Wette (with whom Brückner agrees) is accordingly wrong in supposing that τοῦ καλέσαντος ἡμ. stands in place of the simple pron. αὐτοῦ, and is inserted because by this circumlocution of the active subject the address gains in matter and range.—Schott’s remarks, in which he attempts to justify his assertion that τοῦ καλέσαντος applies to Christ, are only in so far correct, that καλεῖν might indeed be understood of an activity of Christ; cf. Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; on the other hand, it is certain that ὁ καλέσας is never applied to Christ, but always to God.

2 Peter 1:3-4. The Promises and their Source. “Inasmuch as His Divine Power has granted us all things that are needed for life and piety, by means of the personal knowledge of One who called us by the impression of his own glory and excellency; and through this glory and excellency have been granted promises that are precious to us and glorious, in order that, by means of these, ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world owing to lust.”

Throughout this passage, the contrast between ἡμῖν, ἡμᾶς, and 2 p. plur. in γένησθε (2 Peter 1:4) must be preserved. ἡμῖν implies the apostolic circle, who, by virtue of their own experience of the δόξα and ἀρετή of Christ, are able to transmit to these readers certain promises “precious to us, and glorious.” (So Spitta, Van Soden).

3. According as his divine power] Better, Seeing that.… The Greek word for “divine” is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in 2 Peter 1:4 and Acts 17:29.

life and godliness] The words at first suggest the union of outward and spiritual blessings, the things needful for body and soul. The words that follow shew, however, that “life” must be taken in its higher sense, as extending to the eternal life which “standeth” in the knowledge of God. The word for “godliness” is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in this Epistle (2 Peter 1:6-7, 2 Peter 3:11), and in Acts 3:12, where it is used by St Peter, and in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Timothy 2:2; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Timothy 4:7-8, et al.), and like that for “knowledge” in 2 Peter 1:2 is characteristic of the later period of the Apostolic age. In the LXX. of Proverbs 1:7 a kindred word appears as an equivalent for “the fear of the Lord.” Its strict meaning is that of “true reverence for God,” and so far answers more to “religion” than to “godliness,” the state of one who is “godly” or “like God.”

through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue] The word for “knowledge” is the same as in 2 Peter 1:2, and fixes, as has been said, the meaning of “life” in the previous verse. In the last four words the English text mistranslates the preposition, and we have to read “by (or through) His own glory and virtue.” Some MSS. give the simple dative of the instrument (ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ), and others the preposition with the genitive (διὰ δόξης). For the word “virtue” see note on 1 Peter 2:9. Its recurrence three times in this Epistle (here and in 2 Peter 1:5) and so rarely elsewhere in the New Testament (Php 4:8 only) is, so far as it goes, in favour of identity of authorship. Taking the true rendering, the thought expressed is that the attributes of God manifested by Him are the means by which He calls men to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 1:3. Ὡς πάντα ἡμῖν, as all things to us) There is a wonderful cheerfulness in this exordium, beginning with the exhortation itself, add, etc., 2 Peter 1:5. For this is the object of the Epistle; 2 Peter 1:13; 2 Peter 3:1. All things, in this passage, and all, 2 Peter 1:5, have reference to one another; for as the Protasis is here, so is the Apodosis there. As has the effect of explaining, as 2 Corinthians 5:20. Comp. altogether the parable of the ten virgins, Matthew 25. The flame is that which is imparted to us by God and from God, without any labour on our part: but the oil is that which man ought to add by his own diligence and faithfulness, that the flame may be fed and increased. Thus the matter is set forth without a parable in this passage of Peter: in 2 Peter 1:3-4, we have the flame; but in 2 Peter 1:5-6, and those which follow, we have that which man himself ought to add [lit. to pour upon it], the presence of Divine grace being presupposed.—τῆς θείας δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ, the Divine power of Him) of Him, that is, God: for this is to be repeated from the word divine. From the power of God proceeds all power to life and godliness.—τὰ πρὸς ζωὴν καὶ εὐσέβειαν) those things which pertain unto life from God, and earnestness towards God. Observe, it is plainly not by godliness that we obtain life. The Divine glory imparts life (comp. Romans 6:4, note); His power, godliness. To the one corruption is opposed, to the other lust; 2 Peter 1:4.—δεδωρημένης, has given) Thus δεδώρηται, He hath given: used twice in an active sense. Thus Genesis 30:20, Septuagint, δεδώρηται ὁ Θεός μοι δῶρον καλόν, God hath given me a goodly gift.—τοῦ καλέσαντος, of Him that called us) To this refer the calling in 2 Peter 1:10. The calling and knowledge are correlative terms. It is the knowledge of God which is meant; and to this God calls us.—ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ, by His own glory and virtue) This is an explanation of what His Divine power is: so that the natural attributes of God have reference to His glory; those attributes which are called moral, have reference to His virtue. The two are closely united.

Verse 3. - According as his Divine power; better, seeing that, as in the Revised Version. The construction is the genitive absolute with ὡς. The words are to be closely connected with verse 2: "We need not fear, for God has given us all things that are necessary for our salvation; grace and peace will be multiplied unto us, if only we seek the knowledge of God." This is better than, with Huther and others, to make a full stop after verse 2, and to connect verses 3 and 4 closely with verse 5. The word for "Divine" (θεῖος) is unusual in the Greek Testament; it occurs only in two other places - verse 4 and Acts 17:29. Hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness; rather, as in the Revised Version, hath granted. St. Peter does not here use the ordinary verb for "to give," but one (δωρέομαι) which in the New Testament occurs only in this Epistle and in Mark 15:45. "God hath given us all things for (πρός) life," i.e., all things necessary for life. By "life" St. Peter means the spiritual life of the soul; that life which consists in union with Christ, which is the life of Christ living in us. "Godliness" (εὐσέβεια) is a word of the later apostolic age; besides this Epistle (in which it occurs four times) and a speech of St. Peter's in Acts 3:12, it is found only in St. Paul's pastoral Epistles; it means reverence, true piety towards God. Through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; literally, through the full knowledge (ἐπιγνώσρως) of him that called us (comp. John 17:3, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God. and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent"). The best-supported reading seems to be that followed by the Revised Version, "By his own glory and virtue (ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ)." Bengel says, "Ad gloriam referuntur attributa Dei naturalia, ad virtutem ea quae dicuntur moralia; intime unum sunt utraque." All his glorious attributes make up his glory; ἀρετή, virtue, is the energy, the activity of those attributes. The other reading, also well supported (διὰ δόξης καὶ ἀρετῆς, "through glory and virtue"), would mean nearly the same (comp. Galatians 1:15; καλέσας διὰ τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ). God calls us through his attributes; his glorious perfections invite us, the revelation of those perfections calls us to his service. The word ἀρετή, with one exception (Philippians 4:8), occurs in the New Testament only in St. Peter's Epistles (see 1 Peter 2:9; 2 Peter 1:3 and 5). This is, so far, an argument in favour of identity of authorship. 2 Peter 1:3Hath granted (δεδωρημένης)

This is the only word which Peter and Mark alone have in common in the New Testament; a somewhat singular fact in view of their intimate relations, and of the impress of Peter upon Mark's gospel: yet it tells very strongly against the theory of a forgery of this epistle. The word is stronger than the simple δίδωμι, to give, meaning to grant or bestow as a gift. Compare Mark 15:45.

Godliness (εὐσέβειαν)

Used only by Peter (Acts 3:12), and in the Pastoral Epistles. It is from εὐ, well, and σέβομαι, to worship, so that the radical idea is worship rightly directed. Worship, however, is to be understood in its etymological sense, worth-ship, or reverence paid to worth, whether in God or man. So Wycliffe's rendering of Matthew 6:2, "that they be worshipped of men;" and "worship thy father and thy mother," Matthew 19:19. In classical Greek the word is not confined to religion, but means also piety in the fulfilment of human relations, like the Latin pietas. Even in classical Greek, however, it is a standing word for piety in the religious sense, showing itself in right reverence; and is opposed to δυσσέβεια, ungodliness, and ἀνοσιότης, profaness. "The recognition of dependence upon the gods, the confession of human dependence, the tribute of homage which man renders in the certainty that he needs their favor - all this is εὐσέβεια, manifest in conduct and conversation, in sacrifice and prayer" (Ngelsbach, cited by Cremer). This definition may be almost literally transferred to the Christian word. It embraces the confession of the one living and true God, and life corresponding to this knowledge. See on 2 Peter 1:2.

Called (καλέσαντος)

Also used of the divine invitation, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Peter 3:9; 1 Peter 5:10.

To glory and virtue (ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ)

Lit., and properly, by his own glory and virtue, though some read διὰ δόξης καὶ ἀρετῆς, through glory and virtue. Rev. adopts the former. The meaning is much the same in either case.

His own (ἰδίᾳ)

Of frequent occurrence in Peter, and not necessarily with an emphatic force, since the adjective is sometimes used merely as a possessive pronoun, and mostly so in Peter (1 Peter 3:1, 1 Peter 3:5; 2 Peter 2:16, 2 Peter 2:22, etc.).


See on 1 Peter 2:9. Used by Peter only, with the exception on Philippians 4:8. The original classical sense of the word had no special moral import, but denoted excellence of any kind - bravery, rank, nobility; also, excellence of land, animals, things, classes of persons. Paul seems to avoid the term, using it only once.

On glory and virtue Bengel says, "the former indicates his natural, the latter his moral, attributes."

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