2 Peter 1:8
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) For if these things be in you.—First reason for the preceding exhortation—the benefit of having these graces. The original of “be in you” is a strong expression, implying permanent and not mere momentary existence.

And abound.—Strictly, and multiply or increase. (Comp. Romans 5:20, and Note there; Romans 6:1; 2Thessalonians 1:3, where the same inadequate translation occurs in the Authorised version.)

Neither be barren nor unfruitful.—Better, not idle nor yet unfruitful. Cranmer, Tyndale, and Geneva all have “ydle.” The Greek word literally means “without work”—i.e., doing nothing, as” unfruitful” means producing nothing. “That ye shall be” is not in the Greek, and is not needed. The two adjectives “idle” and “unfruitful” exactly correspond to the two verbs “be in you” and “increase.” If these things be in you, you will be morally active; if they increase, you will be morally productive.

In the knowledge.—Rather, unto the knowledge; the fuller, more advanced knowledge of 2Peter 1:2-3, and 2Peter 2:20. This is the goal towards which all these virtues tend, the fruit which they tend to produce—the perfect knowledge of Christ. Those who are the most like Christ in their lives have the fullest knowledge of Him in this world, a knowledge to be perfected in the next world, when, purified from sin, “we shall see Him as He is.” This clause, without the negatives, accurately describes the condition of the false teachers whom the Apostle has in view. They were both “idle and unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” They neither did nor produced anything that in any degree advanced such knowledge either in themselves or others. The list of virtues just commended (2Peter 1:5-7) constitutes a solemn indictment against them. Practical infidelity leading to vicious conduct; a hollow and pretentious philosophy leading to libertinism; an impatience of control leading to utter godlessness; a selfish indifference to the claims of those nearest to them ending in absolute heartlessness towards all men—such is the charge brought against them, by implication here, directly in 2 Peter 2.

2 Peter 1:8. For if these things be in you — This faith, this courage, this knowledge, &c. Not if they be understood and professed by you merely, but if they be in you, experienced in your hearts, and evinced in your lives; and abound — Increase more and more, otherwise you fall short; they make you — They cause; that ye shall neither be barren — Or rather, slothful, as αργους signifies; nor unfruitful — Cumberers of the ground; or taking pains to do good, but without success, your efforts being fruitless through your want of one or other of these graces. But these graces, possessed by you and kept in lively exercise, will neither suffer you to faint in your minds, nor be without fruit in your lives. Observe, reader, if there be in us less faithfulness, less watchfulness and care, less tenderness of conscience, less fervour of spirit, and diligence in working out our salvation: and serving God, and his cause, and people, since we were pardoned, than there was before; less outward obedience to the law of God, and less zeal and conscientiousness in doing his will, and glorifying him in and with our body and spirit, which are his, than when we were seeking remission of sins and regenerating grace, we are both slothful and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ — That is, in the faith, which in that case does not, cannot work by love.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.For if these things be in you, and abound - If they are in you in rich abundance; if you are eminent for these things.

They make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful - They will show that you are not barren or unfruitful. The word rendered "barren," is, in the margin, "idle." The word "idle" more accurately expresses the sense of the original. The meaning is, that if they evinced these things, it would show.

(1) that they were diligent in cultivating the Christian graces, and,

(2) that it was not a vain thing to attempt to grow in knowledge and virtue.

Their efforts would be followed by such happy results as to be an encouragement to exertion. In nothing is there, in fact, more encouragement than in the attempt to become eminent in piety. On no other efforts does God smile more propitiously than on the attempt to secure the salvation of the soul and to do good. A small part of the exertions which men put forth to become rich, or learned, or celebrated for oratory or heroism, would secure the salvation of the soul. In the former, also, men often fail; in the latter, never.

8. be—Greek, "subsist" that is, supposing these things to have an actual subsistence in you; "be" would express the mere matter-of-fact being (Ac 16:20).

abound—more than in others; so the Greek.

make—"render," "constitute you," habitually, by the very fact of possessing these graces.

barren—"inactive," and, as a field lying fallow and unworked (Greek), so barren and useless.

unfruitful in—rather, … in respect to, "The full knowledge (Greek) of Christ" is the goal towards which all these graces tend. As their subsisting in us constitutes us not barren or idle, so their abounding in us constitutes us not unfruitful in respect to it. It is through doing His will, and so becoming like Him, that we grow in knowing Him (Joh 7:17).

For if these things be in you, and abound; if ye not only have these graces in you, but abound or grow in them, both as to the inward degree and outward exercise of them.

They make you; either they make you, or declare you, not to be barren, or both; they will be both the causes and evidences of your not being barren.

Barren; or, slothful, idle, unactive.

Nor unfruitful; void of good works, which are frequently compared to fruits, Matthew 3:10 7:17-19 Galatians 5:22.

In the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; i.e. the faith of Christ. But more is implied here than expressed; q.d. They will make you be active and fruitful in the knowledge of Christ, and declare you to be so, and thereby make it appear that ye have not in vain learned Christ. For if these things be in you,.... Are wrought in you by the Spirit of God, and exercised and performed by his assistance, who works in his people both to will and do:

and abound; increase in their acts and exercises by the frequent performance of them: they make you; both by way of influence and evidence,

that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a knowledge of Christ which is barren and fruitless; and those that have it are so in their conversations, and it will be of no avail to them another day: and this is a mere notional and speculative knowledge, such as is not attended with any inward experience and application of Christ to themselves, or any fruits of righteousness in their lives, and is a bare theory of things relating to his person, offices, and works; but there is a knowledge of him that is spiritual and experimental, by which a soul not only approves of Christ, but places its trust and confidence in him, and appropriates him to himself, and practically observes his commands and ordinances in the faith of him; and in love to him he performs the above duties, and exercises the above graces; from whence it appears, that he is neither barren nor unfruitful himself in the profession of his knowledge of Christ; "or in the acknowledgment of him", as it may be rendered; nor is that a vain, empty, and useless thing: he is not like the barren fig tree, or the earth that bears briers and thorns, and is nigh to cursing and burning, but like a tree planted by a river of water, and is green, flourishing, and fruitful. This is used as an argument to enforce the foregoing exhortation, to add to, that is, to exercise and perform the above graces and duties, in conjunction with each other.

{7} For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(7) As those fruits do spring from the true knowledge of Christ, so in like sort the knowledge itself is fostered and grows by bringing forth such fruits, in so much that he that is unfruitful, did either never know the true light, or has forgotten the gift of sanctification which he has received.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Peter 1:8. Reason for the foregoing exhortation.

ταῦτα] i.e. the virtues above mentioned.

γὰρ ὑμῖν ὑπάρχοντα καὶ πλεονάζοντα] For ὑπάρχειν c. dat. cf. Acts 3:6; πλεονάζοντα intensifies the idea ὑπάρχοντα; for πλεονάζειν, cf. my commentary to 1 Timothy 1:14; it means either: “to be present in abundance,” strictly, to exceed the measure (abundare), or: “to become more, to increase (crescere).” Here the first of these two meanings seems to deserve the preference; though not so in the judgment of Brückner, Wiesinger, Schott, Steinfass, Hofmann. The participles may be resolved into “in that,” “since” (Dietlein), or “if” (Brückner, Wiesinger, Schott); the latter is to be preferred, inasmuch as this verse refers back to the exhortation 2 Peter 1:5, and in “2 Peter 1:9 the opposite is assumed as possible” (Brückner); thus: “for if these virtues exist in you, and that in rich measure;” Luther in his translation has combined the two translations.

οὐκ ἀργοὺς οὐδὲ ἀκάρπους καθίστησιν] ὑμᾶς is to be supplied. Hornejus: λιτότης est, cum ait: non inertes neque infructuosos pro operosos et fructuosos; Dietlein: “the οὐκ and οὐδέ belong to the adjectives, not to καθίστησιν.”

For ἀργός, cf. 1 Timothy 5:13; Titus 1:12; οὐκ ἀργός, equivalent to “active;” ἄκαρπος cannot mean only “without fruit,” but “barren” also; cf. Ephesians 5:11 (as against Schott).

καθίστησι: the present is not put here for the future (Hornejus). According to Dietlein, Wiesinger, and Schott, καθίστημι should mean “to cause to appear, to exhibit,” so that the sense would be: “he who possesses these virtues, he thereby appears as bringing forth fruit with regard to the ἐπιγν. τοῦ κυρίου Ἰ. Χρ.,” by which is meant that his knowledge manifests itself as an active one; this is, however, incorrect, for: (1) A meaning is thereby attributed to καθίστημι which it never has, either in the classics or in the N. T. (not even in Jam 3:6; Jam 4:4, and Romans 5:19); it means “to set up,” but not to set forth, to exhibit, to manifest, etc. (2) It gives a meaning to εἰς such as that word has nowhere else, since the object with which it is to be taken is always to be thought of as the end, and that even in the more loose connection in which εἰς is equal to “with regard, with respect to.” (3) It is a somewhat idle, because a self-evident reflection, that if knowledge produce the above-named virtues, it thereby manifests itself as a knowledge that is not inactive.[35] It is also inaccurate to translate with Luther: “where such is present in abundance in you, it will let you be neither idle nor unfruitful in the knowledge,” etc., for ΕἸς is not equal to ἘΝ. The verb ΚΑΘΊΣΤΗΜΙ denotes in connection with an adjective: reddere, to make into, to set one up as; cf. Pape, s.v.; and the preposition εἰς expresses the direction, so that the thought is: those virtues make you (or more exactly, place you as) active and fruitful with regard to knowledge, i.e. by them you are advanced with regard to knowledge; cf. Colossians 1:10 : ἐν παντὶ ἔργῳ ἀγαθῷ καρποφοροῦντες καὶ αὐξανόμενοι εἰς τὴν ἐπίγνωσιν τοῦ Θεοῦ (cf. Meyer in loc.); de Wette: “The author considers all these virtues only as steps to the knowledge of Jesus Christ; and this knowledge he regards not merely as theoretical, but as one to be obtained practically, a living into Him, and, at the same time, perfect;” thus, too, Brückner, Fronmüller, Steinfass.

[35] This third reason also contradicts Hofmann’s interpretation, which he expresses thus: “The believer possesses the knowledge of Christ. If then, in aiming at it, he be neither inactive nor unfruitful, he makes this aiming the rule of all his actions, but so that they should be its work, its fruit.”2 Peter 1:8-11. Further emphasis on the connexion between faith and morality, and its reward. “If you have these virtues, and are not sparing in your use of them, you will not be ineffective and unfruitful in the direction of deepening your Christian experience. Where these virtues are not present a man is blind, near-sighted as it were, and entirely forgetful of the great fact that he is purified from the sins of the past. With this danger in view, your earnest purpose ought to be to make sure your calling and election. Steadily practise these virtues and you will not stumble; for thus there will be ministered unto you an abundant entrance into the eternal kingdom.”8. if these things be in you] The Greek verb expresses the idea of permanent property or possession, as in Matthew 19:21; 1 Corinthians 13:3. For “abound,” better multiply, as expressing the activity of life in each as reproducing itself in manifold acts.

they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful] The words in italics are not necessary for the meaning and make the structure of the sentence awkward. Better, they make you neither idle nor yet unfruitful. The word for “barren” is found in the “idle” of Matthew 12:36; Matthew 20:3, and elsewhere. The English “barren” introduces a gratuitous tautology.

in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ] Rather, unto or towards, the Greek preposition pointing to “the knowledge …” not as the region in which their activity is to work, but as the goal to which all that activity should be tending. The “knowledge” is the higher epignosis of 2 Peter 1:3, and its position here, as the end and crown of the Christian hope, well illustrates its relation to the gnosis which belongs to an earlier and less perfect state.2 Peter 1:8. Ταῦτα, these things) Virtue, moderation, etc. A condition is involved: If you have these things, then indeed you have true knowledge. Comp. 2 Peter 1:9, for.—ὑμῖν ὑπάρχοντα, if they are in you) in truth. The same phrase occurs, Acts 3:6. The expression, not barren, refers to this.—καὶ πλεονάζοντα, and abound) copiously. Abundance quickly follows truth. The expression, nor unfruitful, refers to this: that is, you shall have the fruit, which the knowledge of Jesus Christ produces, in excellence and abundance: ch. 2 Peter 1:3.—καθίστησιν, they render or establish) at present.—εἰς, in) Comp. εἰς, in, in respect to, Romans 4:20.—ἐπίγνωσιν, the acknowledging) the recognition, united with the cleansing from sins.Verse 8. - For if these things be in you, and abound; literally, for these things belonging to you and abounding make, etc. The word used here (ὑπάρχοντα) implies actual possession; these graces must be made our own; they must be wrought into our characters: then they will increase and multiply, for the grace of God cannot lie still, it must ever he advancing from glory to glory. They make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; literally, they make you not idle nor yet unfruitful towards the full knowledge. The Greek word for "knowledge" is ἐπίγνωσις (on which see verse 2, and note there). Here we know only in part, we see through a glass darkly; but that imperfect knowledge should be ever growing, increasing in fullness and distinctness (see chapter 2 Peter 3:18). The various graces of the Christian character, realized in the heart, will lead us on towards that fuller knowledge of Christ; if they are really ours, they will not allow us to be idle, they must bring forth the fruit of good works; and the life of righteousness by faith draws the Christian onwards in the knowledge of Christ: we learn to knew him by following him (comp. Philippians 3:9, 10; Colossians 1:10). Be in you (ὑπάρχοντα)

Rev., are yours; following the sense of possession which legitimately belongs to the verb; as Matthew 19:21, that thou hast; 1 Corinthians 13:3, goods. In the sense of being the verb is stronger than the simple εἶναι, to be; denoting being which is from the beginning, and therefore attaching to a person as a proper characteristic; something belonging to him, and so running into the idea of rightful possession as above.

Barren (ἀργοὺς)

From ἀ, not, and ἔργον, work. Hence, more correctly, as Rev., idle. Compare "idle word" (Matthew 12:36); "standing idle" (Matthew 20:3, Matthew 20:6); also, 1 Timothy 5:13. The tautology, barren and unfruitful, is thus avoided.

In the knowledge (εἰς)

Rev., more correctly, unto. The idea is not idleness in the knowledge, but idleness in pressing on and developing toward and finally reaching the knowledge. With this agrees the compound ἐπίγνωσιν, the constantly increasing and finally full knowledge.

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