epignosis : #knowledge: precise and correct knowledge.

PETER’S SECOND LETTER

CHAPTER 1

The keynote of this whole epistle is knowledge (2 Peter 1:2,3,5,6,8; 2 Peter 2:20,21; and 2 Peter 3:18); but it is a very special kind of knowledge which is meant. The Greek word is [@epignosis], that is, precise and correct knowledge.[1] It is the real or genuine knowledge, founded upon the word of God, not the knowledge that is falsely so-called.

This chapter, after the signature, greeting and salutation (2 Peter 1:1), gives the basis, and in a sense, the nature and location of this saving knowledge, contained in the exceeding great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:2-4), the growth of the Christian in this true knowledge (2 Peter 1:5-11), a mention of Peter’s concern for the perpetuation of this priceless knowledge (2 Peter 1:12-15), and the inerrancy of the sources of this wonderful saving knowledge (2 Peter 1:16-21).

Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;

Grace to you and peace … These words are similar, in fact, identical with the greeting used by Paul, upon which frequent comments have been made throughout this series.

In the knowledge of God … This is that special kind of knowledge noted in the chapter heading. Concerning it, Moorehead said:

This is the knowledge that rests on fact, that comes to the believer as something supernatural, as being communicated by the Spirit of God, and therefore is true and complete.[10]
Peter’s introduction of the subject of this accurate and complete knowledge here at the very outset “anticipates the attack that is coming upon the godless speculations of the false teachers in chapter 2.”[11] Some scholars once thought that Peter’s attack against the false knowledge of the Gnostics required a hate dating of the letter; but it is now known that the types of gnosticism refuted by Peter were prevalent in apostolic times, and that there is no reason whatever for dating the epistle outside the lifetime of its author.

seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue;

The true basis of saving knowledge is in God through Christ, who granted to the apostles full and complete knowledge of everything that pertains to life and godliness.

The blessed promise of Christ that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into “all truth” is certainly in the background of the statement here. The significance of this is seen in the fact that all subsequent “revelations” so-called, are relegated to the status of not pertaining to life and godliness. The very fact of the saving knowledge delivered through the apostles being complete (as Paul also said in 2 Timothy 3:17), effectually denies the need of any subsequent information bearing upon life and godliness. In the light of this truth, what must be thought of the claims of a Mary Baker Eddy or Joseph Smith, or of any others claiming to add anything to the word of God?

His divine power … Zerr thought that inasmuch as salvation is the subject matter here, “Divine power refers to the gospel, for Romans 1:16 declares that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation”;[12] and this is certainly true.

Hath granted unto us … “The us here points back to ours of verse 1 and refers to the apostles of Christ.”[13] Also, Macknight’s beautiful paraphrase of the thought here stresses the same idea: “Certainly God’s divine power has gifted to us, the apostles of his Son, all things necessary to bring mankind to a godly life.”[14]

Life and godliness … The “life” here means eternal life, ever the principal concern of New Testament writers. “Godliness” is from a word occurring four times in this letter and also in one of Peter’s speeches (Acts 3:12).[15] It was also used by Paul in the letters of the second imprisonment, being therefore apostolic, and not “a late first century word” as once alleged.

whereby he hath granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.

Whereby … “This refers to the things mentioned in the previous verse, meaning that it was through those arrangements,”[16] of the apostles being guided into all truth, etc., that all Christians have the privilege of partaking of the divine nature.

Partakers of the divine nature … As Strachan put it, “In Christ we are made partakers of the divine nature.”[17] The whole scheme of redemption is beautifully epitomized in this. Through their primary obedience to the gospel of Christ, Christians are added to Christ’s spiritual body, inducted “into Christ,” and “in him” sharing his perfection, his righteousness, his death, and all the glorious benefits of being in him.

Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge; and in your knowledge self-control; and in your self-control patience; and in your patience godliness; and in your godliness brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness love.

In these verses there are two links with the first epistle: (1) virtue is found in 1 Peter 2:9, and (2) brotherly kindness occurs in 1 Peter 1:22,3:8.[18] Also, there is another word of very great interest in the passage, the one here rendered “supply,” which comes from a word suggesting lavish provision, the word [@epichorigeo],[19] and “used in classical Greek to describe the munificence of rich citizens who would finance a theatrical performance or fit out a warship for the state they loved.”[20] It had a special reference to the abundant supplies provided for a chorus, a term which is derived from this word, as is also choreographer. From this, it is suggested that Peter’s list here is a chorus of Christian graces, the manner of his linking each with the others being like their holding hands!

All diligence … The Christian life is a working life, diligence meaning ardent application and industry.

In your faith … This the Christians already had; but “faith alone” was never considered sufficient for salvation by any of the New Testament writers.

Virtue … primarily means courage, a grace particularly needed in the hostile world of the period when Peter wrote.

Knowledge … This is a different word from the full knowledge mentioned above, a possession the Christian already had; and it therefore refers to a faithful continuation of their studies. It is also very likely true, as Plummer pointed out that, “Knowledge here means spiritual discernment as to what is right and what is wrong in all things.”[21]

Self-control … This comes from [@engkrateia], “meaning the ability to take a grip of one’s self.”[22] This is one of the great Christian virtues which might be called perfect temperance.

Patience … In the New Testament, this word carries the thought of endurance and stedfast continuity in faithful service. Jesus said, “In your patience ye shall possess your souls.”

Godliness … (See under 2 Peter 1:3). This is the quality of honoring one’s duties to God, standing in this list even higher than duties to one’s fellow man (listed next). This conforms with the Saviour’s great pronouncement that the first and great commandment is to love God, and the second is to love man (Mark 12:18-30). Important as the love to man assuredly is, it is secondary to the duty of loving God and obeying his commandments. It is amazing that in the culture of the present day, religious duties are relegated to a secondary status, and humanitarian duties have been elevated to the status that really belongs to religious duties.

Brotherly kindness … This is from [@filadelfia], founded on the Greek term [@fileo], meaning the love of brothers, or the affection that even an animal has for its young. There is even a higher type of love; and Peter would crown his list with that in 2 Peter 1:7.

Love … “This love ([Greek: agape]) is the highest type of love; it is more inclusive than [@filadelfia], and is the kind of love God has for sinful, unworthy men.”[23]

Moorehead said of this whole list:

Paul began his list of the fruits of the Spirit with love (Galatians 5:22); Peter ends his with love. It is like a chain; each link holds fast to its fellow and is a part of the whole. It matters little at which end of the chain we begin … to touch one is to touch all. We are to add all diligence to supply these richly.[24]
This great list of virtues is one of the most beautiful and comprehensive passages in the New Testament, reminding one of the procession of the seven deadly sins (by contrast) in Proverbs 6:1ff. Here there is a magnificent procession of the glorious graces of faith.

Before leaving this, it should be noted that there is no mandate in these verses for adding these graces in the particular order of their appearance in the list. As Barnes observed, “The order in which this is to be done is not the point at all.”[25]

[18] B. C. Caffin, op. cit., p. 4.

[19] Eldon R. Fuhrman, op. cit., p. 323.

[20] David H. Wheaton, op. cit., p. 1252.

[21] Alfred Plummer, op. cit., p. 445.

[22] William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 302.

[23] Raymond C. Kelcy, op. cit., p. 123.

[24] William G. Moorehead, op. cit., p. 2357.

[25] Albert Barnes, op. cit., p. 221.

It's Your Turn. Write Something. Say Something.