The Pulpit Commentary

2 Peter 1:5 (2 Peter 1:5)

And beside this, giving all diligence; rather, but for this very cause also. αὐτὸ τοῦτο is frequently used in this sense in classical Greek, but in the New Testament only here. It refers back to the last verse. God's precious gifts and promises should stimulate us to earnest effort. The verb rendered "giving" means literally "bringing in by the side;" it is one of those graphic and picturesque expressions which are characteristic of St. Peter's style. God worketh within us both to will and to do; this (both St. Paul and St. Peter teach us) is a reason, not for remissness, but for increased exertion. God's grace is sufficient for us; without that we can do nothing; but by the side (so to speak) of that grace, along with it, we must bring into play all earnestness, we must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. The word seems to imply that the work is God's work; we can do very little indeed, but that very little we must do, and for the very reason that God is working in us. The word ( παρεισενέγκαντες ) occurs only here in the New Testament. Add to your faith virtue; literally, supply in your faith. He does not say, "supply faith;" he assumes the existence of faith. "He that cometh unto God must believe." The Greek word ( ἐπιχορήγησατε ) means properly to "contribute to the expenses of a chorus;" it is used three times by St. Paul, and, in its simple form, by St. Peter in his First Epistle ( 1 Peter 4:11 ). In usage it came to mean simply to "supply or provide," the thought of the chorus being dropped. So we cannot be sure that the idea of faith as leading the mystic dance in the chorus of Christian graces was present to St. Peter's mind, especially as the word occurs again in 2 Peter 1:11 , where no such allusion is possible. The fruits of faith are in the faith which produces them, as a tree is in its seed; they must be developed out of faith, as faith expands and energizes; in the exercise of each grace a fresh grace must issue forth. Virtue is well described by Bengel as "strenuus animi tonus et vigor;" it is Christian manliness and active courage in the good fight of faith. The word "virtue" ( ἀρετή ), with the exception of Philippians 4:8 , occurs in the New Testament only in St. Peter—in this chapter three times, and in 1 Peter 2:9 , thus forming one of the kinks between the two Epistles. And to virtue knowledge. St. Peter here uses the simple word γνῶσις , discretion, a right understanding, "quae malam a bono secernit, et mali fugam docet" (Bengel). This practical knowledge is gained in the manly self-denying activities of the Christian life, and leads on to the fuller knowledge ( ἐπίγνωσις ) of Christ ( 1 Peter 2:8 ).

- The Pulpit Commentary

2 Peter 1:5-11 (2 Peter 1:5-11)

Exhortation to earnest effort.

I. OUR DUTY .

1 . To use all diligence. God's Divine power is with us; he has granted us all necessary helps. But this, says the apostle, is the very reason why we should work all the more strenuously. It would be heartless work, if we had not the great power of God to help us; but he hath endued his Church with power from on high. This gift of power is the very ground on which the apostle bases his exhortations; the great argument, not for remissness and security, but for persevering, self-denying labour. God's power is fighting for us; we are told to bring in by the side of that almighty aid all our earnestness. It may seem strange to be bidden to put our weak trembling endeavours by the side of the strength of God; the two things are incommensurate: how can the Infinite and finite work together? But it is the teaching of Holy Scripture; the saints have proved its value in their daily lives. The work is God's work; he hath begum it; he will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ; but just on that very ground we must work too, with fear and trembling indeed, but in trustful faith, out of love and adoring gratitude.

2 . To go on from grace to grace. The first great gift of God is faith, that precious faith of which St. Peter speaks so warmly. Faith, St. Augustine says, is the root and mother of all virtues; St. Peter says the same. He tells us that in the life of faith, in the active energy of faith, we must furnish the attendant chorus of graces. The word which he uses implies that we must spare no effort, no expense; the Christian must be willing to spend and to be spent in order to provide that fair train of graces which is the meet adornment of the temple of the Holy Ghost. Faith, the first gift of God, cannot remain alone; it must work, and out of its active energies must issue virtue.

II. REASONS URGING US TO THE ZEALOUS PERFORMANCE OF OUR DUTY .

1 . The positive reason. If only we give all diligence, we must succeed, for the Divine power is with us; and when, by the help of that power working in and with us, those precious graces are made our own, they will not let us be idle or unfruitful. Love, the crown of all the rest, is not a mere sentiment; it is a force, an energy; it will not allow the Christian to be idle; it must work, and in its working it will bring us ever nearer to the full blessed knowledge of Christ, that knowledge which is eternal life, in comparison with which all the good things of this world are as dross, as very dung.

2 . The negative reason. Without those graces men are blind; for faith, the first of them, out of which all the others spring, is the eye of the soul. He that hath not faith is spiritually blind; he is not blind to the outward objects which lie close around him,—those he can see; but the things that belong to his peace are hidden from his eyes. He cannot discern the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; he cannot see the awful realities of the eternal world; he cannot discern the spiritual powers that are working even now in the Church—the Lord's body that is offered to the faithful in the Holy Communion ( 1 Corinthians 11:29 ), the grace of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of baptism ( 1 Corinthians 12:13 ). Through that spiritual blindness he has incurred forgetfulness of the cleansing from his old sins; and it is not the outward washing of baptism that saves us, but the inquiry of a good conscience after God. He will not inquire after God who has received the grace of God in vain; his baptism will not profit him, for he is fallen from grace. Then let us give all diligence not to be idle or unfruitful, but to seek earnestly after those special graces which by the mighty working of the Divine power we may obtain of God.

III. FURTHER ENFORCEMENT OF THAT DUTY .

1 . For present safety. St. Peter again urges us to earnest diligence, to the active use of the blessed means of grace. He uses the language of entreaty: "brethren," he says, in tones of affectionate appeal. He knows how hard it is to persevere, how much need we all have of encouragement and exhortation. God's exceeding great gifts, the danger of misusing them, the profit to be gained by faithfully using them,—all this, he says, should urge us on to continually increasing diligence. Such diligence, brought in by the side of the Divine power ( 2 Peter 1:5 ), working with that Divine power which alone is the source of our salvation, will tend to make our calling and election sure. While we are diligent in working out our own salvation, we feel God's working in us; doubts arise if we relax our energies. Satan suggests from time to time that miserable doubt, "If thou be a child of God."

If we listen to him and cease to trust in our Father's care, labouring more for the meat that perisheth than for that which endureth to everlasting life; or if we indulge visions of spiritual pride, and tempt God by putting ourselves into perilous positions to which he has not called us,—then the doubts increase and vex the soul. But humble, earnest work for God deepens the Christian's assurance of God's love and choice. "I follow after," said the holy apostle St. Paul, "if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus;" and again, "I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should he a castaway." Therefore give diligence; that very diligence is a sign of God's election. "No man can come to me," said the Lord, "except the Father which hath sent me draw him;" and it continually deepens our trustfulness in that electing grace. If we are bringing forth the sevenfold fruit which issues out of the root of faith, we may be sure that our faith is true and living. And we must try to live as men called of God and chosen unto everlasting life should live, in trustfulness and thankfulness, in the abiding sense of God's presence, in the persevering effort to please him in all things. The life of obedience and spiritual diligence tends to deepen continually the consciousness that the Divine power is with us, giving us all things needful for life and godliness, and so to make our calling and election sure. While we live thus we shall not stumble; for the godly consideration of our election in Christ doth not only "greatly establish and confirm the faith of eternal salvation to be enjoyed through Christ," hut doth also "fervently kindle love towards God;" therefore Christian men, while by God's grace they are enabled to keep the faith of their election in Christ steadfastly before their eyes, must walk religiously in good works, and will not fall unto sin. "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." So long as we abide in the grace of that heavenly birth, in the faith of our election unto everlasting life, so long we cannot sin. It is when we are off our guard, when we are not "as men waiting for their Lord," that we fall away. Then all the more we ought to "give diligence to make our calling and election sure."

2 . For future blessedness. The entrance into Christ's eternal kingdom shall be richly furnished to those who use all diligence to make their election sure. While we are preparing our hearts by his gracious help, while we are striving to furnish the fair train of Christian graces to make that heart ready for him, we know that he is preparing a place for us in heaven, interceding for us, praying that where he is there we may also be. That entrance shall be richly furnished; with glory and with triumph shall the Christian soul enter into the golden city; there are the true riches—riches of blessedness beyond the reach of human thought, riches of knowledge, riches of holiness and joy and love in the unveiled presence of God, who is rich in mercy, rich in power and glory and majesty, rich in tender and holy and unspeakable love for his elect.

LESSONS.

1 . God's bounty should stir us to show our thankfulness in our lives. His gifts are great, so ought our diligence to be great.

2 . Our hearts are the chosen temple of God; we must furnish that temple richly with Christian graces—its proper decorations.

3 . By that holy diligence we are bidden to make our calling and election sure.

4 . Let us earnestly strive to do so, looking forward in faith to the great reward.

- The Pulpit Commentary

2 Peter 1:5-11 (2 Peter 1:5-11)

Personal diligence needed for sanctification.

The former verses say that God gives the knowledge of himself in the Word of promise, as the means by which grace and peace are to be multiplied; these verses say, to that must be added by you "all diligence."

I. WE HAVE HERE AN ENUMERATION OF CERTAIN GRACES OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE . It begins with "faith" and ends with "love," and between these are two or three words which need attention. Next to "faith," "virtue" is mentioned; but "virtue" includes the whole group of graces, whereas Peter is thinking of something distinct. The classical meaning of the word is "manliness"—courage; so if we paraphrase it thus, we shall probably have the right idea. So with "knowledge," which is a different word to that rendered "knowledge" in the eighth verse, and here refers to "practical knowledge" or "prudence.'' "Temperance" is literally "self-control," and "godly reverence" is the idea in the word "godliness." "Faith, courage, prudence, self-control, patience, godly reverence, love of the brethren, love,"—that is the list.

1 . These are all subsequent to faith. Faith is supposed. The Epistle is addressed to those who "have obtained like precious faith through the righteousness of God and our Saviour;" and these excellences come after faith, and in the Christian have a character of their own, which nature cannot produce, and are, indeed, as much above nature as Jesus was above the sons of men.

3 . Many try to be holy without saving faith; it is a useless effort; only from faith can those spiritual graces spring whose crown is love to all.

2 . Every grace needs to be supplemented by another. No grace can stand alone; the text seems to urge that. The word "add" is the same as in the eleventh verse, where it is translated "minister." Each grace needs to be ministered to by another. There is not one which, if it be alone, will not speedily become an evil. One grace is to wait on, to supplement, to protect, to perfect another. For instance, to faith ministers courage—courage to confess the Christ believed in; to courage ministers prudence, for if courage be not discreet, it is destructive. Beware of being men of one grace.

3 . The believer is not to be contented till he has acquired all the graces. What a list this is! The leading features of a perfect character; and Scripture gives a plain command to the Christian to acquire these. And nothing can be more assuring than this command, for God does not call us to impossibilities; and he is prepared to supply what is needed for its attainment.

II. WE HAVE HERE A DEMAND FOR DILIGENCE TO POSSESS THESE GRACES . Diligence is the burden of the passage: "Giving all diligence, add;" and in the tenth verse, "Give diligence."

1 . Diligence implies that spiritual increase requires personal effort. Speedy and spontaneous sanctification is what we should prefer, but that idea is not encouraged in Scripture. It is true growth is the law of life—life naturally increases to maturity, as Peter says, "Grow in grace;" but he also says, "Giving all diligence, add." If we cherish the idea that sanctification is given immediately, as pardon is given, by one surrender of the will, as it is said, this passage ought to disabuse us; it clearly affirms that sanctification is progressive, and demands constant endeavour.

2 . Diligence is encouraged by the fact that God hath given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness. The previous verses are, "His Divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness … whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises," etc.; when the next clause reads, "And for this very cause "(as the Revised Version has it), "giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue," and so on, we see what lies behind the diligence, what spurs it on, what sustains it. Sanctification is not human work, as it is sometimes supposed to be, when the need of effort is enforced, as though, redeemed by Christ, we have to sanctify ourselves—it is of God; yet it is through us, into our effort he will inspire his own Divine and victorious energy.

3 . Diligence also involves that the increase of Christian graces comes from the personal culture of each. If the text were not in Scripture, but simply part of a sermon, it would be said to be mechanical and formal. It is to be feared the prominent features of our Christian character are often merely the result of natural disposition, or early training, or of circumstances beyond our control. Now, this passage claims that we do not leave it to accident what graces we shall have; it lays down a list of what is required of us, and bids us give all diligence to culture each. This is a discriminating, hourly, lifelong work.

III. WE HAVE HERE STRONG REASONS FOR THE PUTTING FORTH OF THIS DILIGENCE . Three reasons urged from the eighth verse to the eleventh, and they refer to past, present, and future.

1 . The graces ( which are the result of diligence ) are the necessary means to spiritual wealth. The particular meaning in the eighth verse of the word "in"—"in the knowledge"—is shown in the Revised Version, where it reads, "unto the knowledge," and thus throws great light on the expression. The graces which come from a knowledge of Christ lead to a still greater knowledge of him—that is it. All the care we give to the culture of Christian graces leads, not only to the wealth of possessing them, but to the greater wealth of knowing Christ better.

2 . The graces ( which are the result of diligence ) are the least that can be expected from one who is purged from his old sins. "He that lacketh these things is blind.… having forgotten that he hath been delivered from his old sins." That takes us back to the cross. It pleads our obligation to Christ, who laid down his life that we might be holy. The assurance of pardoned sin is the strongest stimulus to piety.

3 . These graces are the only ground of assurance of entrance into heaven. Without them we may well doubt our election of God. Where calling and election are sure, ye shall never fall; but how can we be sure that we are among the called? Only by the fact that that to which they are called is being wrought in us. If we have a title to heaven, the spirit of heaven is already begun - C.N.

- The Pulpit Commentary

2 Peter 1:5-7 (2 Peter 1:5-7)

True Christian character.

This notable passage, growing very evidently out of what precedes and into what follows, has a wealth of instruction.

I. True Christian character CONSISTS OF MANIFOLD ELEMENTS . Here is a chain no link of which may be omitted, a structure no stone in which may be lacking, a body no member of which may be wanting.

1 . Whether the general order is to be insisted on or not, it is certain that faith is the primary essential of the whole character. It is the root out of which all grows, the foundation on which all rests. To aim at the rest first, and this afterwards, is to stand a pyramid on its apex instead of its base. Belief is great, is life-giving.

2 . E ach of the other elements of character demands careful contemplation. "Virtue,"—manly vigour, making it impossible for the charge to be sustained that the devotional man is not necessarily a virtuous man. It is an element of character that will save a man from being a chameleon, catching the hue of every surrounding, or a moral mollusk with no backbone. "Knowledge,"—discernment, intelligence. "Thou shalt love … with thy … mind." "Temperance,"—all self-restraint; as Jeremy Taylor says, "reason's girdle as well as passion's bridle: "Patience,"—the silver side of the shield whose iron side is temperance,—endurance, meekness, continuance in well-doing. "Godliness,"—not the whole of piety, but fellowship with God, walking with God, being the "friend of God." "Brotherly kindness,"—the duty of equals to equals—simple, constant kindness. "Charity,"—better the great king-word, the dear home-word, "love;" the sunshine on the whole landscape of character, the Shechinah in the temple of character.

II. THE CULTIVATION of these manifold elements of character is AN URGENT CHRISTIAN DUTY . "Giving all diligence … add," etc.

1 . They will not come as a matter of course.

2 . They may be attained.

3 . The methods of attaining them.

- The Pulpit Commentary