Sunday, February 19, 2023

Lesson Text:  II Peter 1:3-14; Time of Action:  67 A.D.; Place of Action: Unknown

Golden Text:  “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” (II Peter 1:8).


I. INTRODUCTION. Over and Over again we hear the claim that Christianity takes the fun out of life.  But in reality, that’s not true.  It’s exciting to discover what God can do for us daily when we fully trust Him.  When we lean on our LORD Jesus for all that we need, we can live a godly life of exciting faith.  Our lesson this week shows us that God has not left us alone to somehow find a way to live a godly life.  He has already put all the resources in place for us to succeed.


II. THE LESSON BACKGROUND.  The book of First Peter was written just before the time that the Roman Emperor Nero began his persecution of Christians. Second Peter, from which our lesson comes, was written about three years later, (between 66 and 68 A.D.), after the persecution became more intense.  First Peter was a letter of encouragement to the Christians who suffered, but Second Peter focuses on the church’s internal problems, especially on the false teachers who were causing people to doubt their faith and turn away from Christianity.  In this second letter, Peter argues against the heresies of the false teachers by denouncing their evil motives, and reaffirming Christianity’s truths—the authority of Scripture, the primacy of faith, and the certainty of Jesus’ return.  Unlike First Peter which was addressed to Jewish Christians scattered throughout Asia Minor and to believers everywhere (see I Peter 1:1), Second Peter is not addressed to any particular group, so it is accepted that Peter was writing to Christians everywhere (see II Peter 1:1).  At the time of this letter, Peter knew that his time on earth was limited (see II Peter 1:13-14), so he wrote about what was on his heart warning believers of what would happen when he was gone, especially about the presence of false teachers.  Our lesson comes from the first chapter of II Peter.    


III. DIVINE POWER (II Peter 1:3-4)

          A. Particular privileges (II Peter 1:3).  This verse says According as his (God’s) divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him (Jesus Christ) that hath called us to glory and virtue.”   Here Peter expands on the previous verse 2 by telling his readers how the growth in the knowledge of God takes place.  The word “life” here refers to the eternal spiritual “life” received through trusting Jesus Christ (see John 10:28; 17:2), and “godliness” describes the believers’ attitude and conduct as measured by God’s standard.  “Godliness” is a way of life that properly reverences God.  It was important that these believers knew that God’s “divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.  In other words, God has fully equipped all believers with everything we need concerning eternal “life” and “godliness” or the way we should live as believers.  Peter is talking about spiritual growth.  The power to grow does not come from within us, but from God.  What God has given to us to live godly lives lacks nothing as indicated by the phrase “hath given unto us all things.”  Whatever we need to live “life” to its fullest, and please God has been given to us “through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”  The pronoun “him” here refers to Jesus Christ.  God has given us all we need because of our knowledge of Christ (see Philippians 3:8-10), and has also called us to share in Christ’s “glory and virtue.”  The word “glory” is used in the New Testament to mean “something or someone held in high esteem” and can also be translated as “praise,” “honor,” ‘brightness,” or “splendor.”  Therefore, “glory” refers to all of God’s attributes and characteristics.  The term “virtue” refers to inner moral excellence.  This was demonstrated by Jesus during His earthly ministry.  Since God has “called us (Christians) to glory and virtue,” we are to also show the same inner moral excellence that Jesus showed.  This is a calling to be God’s children, which includes all aspects of “godliness” or living by God’s standard (see Ephesians 1:4-5), as well as Spirit-directed living (see Romans 8:14; I Corinthians 6:19-20).

          B. Precious promises (II Peter 1:4).  In this verse, Peter continues to write Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  The word “Whereby” refers back to the divine power and divinely granted knowledge of God mentioned in the previous verse.  Because we are God’s people we have been given “exceeding great and precious promises.”  To Peter, our “promises” are breathtaking.  Many of God’s great “promises” relate to eternity and the many heavenly rewards that believers anticipate receiving.  However, the “precious promises” that Peter is referring to here are those we enjoy in this present Christian life.  Therefore, God’s “precious promises” for the believer include the forgiveness of sins, answered prayer, the presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s guidance, and eternal life (see I John 2:25), just to name a few.  The phrase “that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature” tells us that the “precious promises” of God are the means by which we share in His “divine nature.”  The word “these” refers to God’s “exceeding great and precious promises.”  Sharing in God’s “divine nature” does not mean we can become gods.  It means that as we commit our lives to Christ and pursue holy living we become more like Him (see II Corinthians 3:18).  As a result, people ought to be able to see something of Jesus in us in our daily lives.  This is possible because we have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”   Simply put, since we belong to God we are no longer in the grip of sin and “corruption” that comes from our “lust.”  The Greek word for “lust” in the New Testament refers to “a strong desire,” usually an evil one.  The three areas in which we can sin all involve “lust” (see I John 2:16).  But through regeneration, or the new birth we have a new nature which produces new desires and helps us overcome sin in our lives (see II Corinthians 5:17).  This does not mean that we cannot be tempted to sin or surrender to the things that draw us to ways of the world.  It does mean that “divine” power is available to help us in overcoming the fascination we have with the world and evil desires.  We have already been delivered from sin’s power (see Romans 6:13-15); one day we will be delivered from sin’s very presence (see Revelation 22:14-15).  The point is that because God’s people, Christians, or believers in Jesus Christ have taken on the “divine nature,” we have “escaped the corruption” of the world and should be growing in godliness (see verse 3).



          A. Add to your faith (II Peter 1:5-7).

               1. (vs. 5).  This verse says And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.”  The phrase And beside this” refers to our standing in Christ mentioned in verse 4.  Peter’s readers were encouraged to give “all diligence” and “add to your faith.”  In other words, we are to make every effort to “add to” our initial “faith” that saved us (see Romans 12:3; Ephesians 2:8-9).  Since we are partakers of God’s divine nature, there is no reason for us to be slack in our efforts to live the Christian life.  Instead, Peter says that “diligence” is required.  The word “diligence” refers to earnestness, zeal, or effort.  In other words, spiritual growth takes effort and should not be seen as optional but as standard equipment for the dedicated disciple of Jesus Christ.  “Faith” is the starting point of Christian character and Peter told his readers to make an effort to “add to your faith.”  Without “faith” we cannot please God (see Hebrews 11:6).  “Faith” itself is a gift of God (see Romans 12:3), so even where “faith” is concerned God’s grace is shown.  We are to exercise this gift of “faith” and add further fruit or character to our “faith” in Jesus Christ.  “Faith” is the root of salvation and is at the very foundation of our Christian commitment (see Hebrews 11:1). But “faith” does not cease when a person comes to Christ.  Our “faith” must grow and develop.  The following list of character traits given by Peter are similar to what Paul called the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).  Peter said that the first quality to “add to” our “faith” is “virtue” which means moral goodness.  When Christians do not demonstrate moral goodness, our failures are quickly seen by unbelievers as a sign of hypocrisy.  Therefore, we need to live as blamelessly as possible.  Not only will this benefit us in our own spiritual growth, but it will also be a wonderful testimony for Christ.  To “virtue” we are to add “knowledge.”  While we may think this refers to the “knowledge” of the Scriptures, Peter was probably thinking more of “knowledge” in the sense of practical wisdom or the ability to know the right path to take.  It is discernment (see I Kings 3:9; Ecclesiastes 8:5; I Corinthians 2:14; Hebrews 5:14).  Of course, gaining “knowledge” or discernment does require Christians to be students of the Scriptures (see Acts 17:11; II Timothy 2:15; 3:16).

               2. (vs. 6).  Peter goes on to say And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness.”  To “knowledge” we are to add “temperance” or self-control.  When demonstrating “temperance” we actually control our desires instead of being controlled by them.  It helps us avoid indulging in sinful desires.  True believers in Christ are to be examples of self-control.  For sure, most of us have to admit that there are many areas in our lives that need restraining.  The Holy Spirit in the believer produces “temperance” as a fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23).  The next quality we are to add to “temperance” is “patience” which is better understood as endurance or perseverance.  The primary idea is steadfastness.  “Patience” is especially important during times of persecution and testing.  To “patience” we are to add “godliness.”   This term refers to reverence or piety or simply living a life that is like God.

               3. (vs. 7).  In this verse Peter continued to add to the list of qualities believers need to have.  He said “And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”  To “godliness” we are to add “brotherly kindness” which translates the Greek word “philadelphia” which literally means “brotherly love.”  This speaks of the affection that should flourish among brethren in Christ; an affection that manifests itself in joyful acts of “kindness” toward one another.  In the family of God, “brotherly” love must be the norm!  To “brotherly kindness” the believer is to add  “charity” which in the Greek is the word “agape” and is often translated “love” (see Matthew 5:44; Romans 13:8-9; Ephesians 2:4; 4:16; 5:25).  This “charity” is self-sacrificing love as demonstrated by God in sending His Son into the world (see John 3:16), and as demonstrated by Jesus on Calvary (see John 10:17-18).  It is what identifies true believers (see John 13:35); and it is the crowning virtue to be added to our faith (see Colossians 3:12-14).  As the Apostle Paul pointed out, we can be extremely gifted, possess great faith, and even make great sacrifices, but without “charity” or self-sacrificing love we are nothing (see I Corinthians 13:1-3).

         B. Abound in your faith (II Peter 1:8-9).

               1. (vs. 8).  Here Peter writes “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.”  The phrase “if these things be in you, and abound” refers to the qualities that are to be added to faith (see verses 5-7).  But Peter says that these qualities must “abound” meaning that they are to increase in measure.  It’s not enough to show these godly qualities every now and then; instead, they must be shown on a regular, daily basis.  The purpose of having these ever increasing qualities added to our faith is so that the believer would “neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our LORD Jesus Christ.”  The word “barren” is often used in Scripture to describe a woman who cannot have children, but here it means “ineffective” or “useless.”  Certainly a follower of Jesus Christ shouldn’t want to be thought of like that.  Jesus wants His servants to be fruitful (see John 15:1-8).  A Christian life that is not actually growing is not producing anything for God’s kingdom and is an “unfruitful” life.  Our goal should be to grow or be fruitful “in the knowledge of our LORD Jesus Christ.”  The word translated “knowledge” here refers to full or complete “knowledge” (see Ephesians 1:17-19), and implies that effective, fruit-bearing believers are to have a deeper “knowledge” of what it means to serve Christ.  This is because we are constantly growing “in the knowledge of our LORD Jesus Christ.”  The heart of our Christian life is a vital experiential “knowledge” of Jesus Christ (see Philippians 3:10).  The reason we want to grow in Christian character is because we want to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

               2. (vs. 9).  This verse says “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”  The words “these things” refer back to the Christian qualities we need to add to our faith.  Peter said that the one who “lacketh” or fails to develop the characteristics of a godly person listed in verses 5-7, is “blind and cannot see afar off.”  This means that the one who is not growing is “blind” to heavenly things which are in the future.  He only sees earthly things which are near, and is only living for the present instead of eternal values (see Matthew 6:19-24).  When we accept Jesus Christ, our spiritual eyes are opened (see Acts 26:16-18).  But if we fail to grow, we reveal that we are spiritually shortsighted, not becoming all that God intended for us to be.  The apostle also says that the one who does not grow in faith is not only “blind” to spiritual things but also he (or she) “hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”  The word “purged” means “to cleanse.”  This is the reason a person receives salvation; to have his or her sins forgiven and having a right relationship with the LORD.  Then the believer becomes a new creature (see II Corinthians 5:17).  He or she has a new way of life, and is to mature in Christian character.  If godly qualities are not present, the believer “hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”  Sadly, the believer who is not growing and bearing much fruit has somehow lost sight of the fact that he or she has been “purged” or cleansed of his or her “old sins.”  Remembering that Jesus saved us is more than enough motivation for spiritual growth (see John 15:4-6; Galatians 5:22-23).  The truth is that the world can produce in the believer a spiritual deadness that causes us to forget that we have been pardoned as well as forget the new life we have decided to follow.



          A. Faith’s evidence (II Peter 1:10).  In light of the Christian qualities we need to add to our faith, Peter said in this verse “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.”  Instead of the believer forgetting that their sins have been purged and forgiven, Peter said “give diligence to make your calling and election sure.”  To “give diligence” means to be “zealous,” or “earnest,” or more simply, “to work hard at something.”  Here, we are told to keep working hard “to make your calling and election sure” because the world always threatens to lure us away from Christ.  The phrase “to make your calling and election sure” does not imply that a saved person can lose their salvation, because they can’t (see John 10:27-29; 17:12).  It simply means that a regenerated or born again person should be giving evidence daily of their salvation and the change Jesus has made in his or her life.  A person’s godly behavior is evidence that Jesus has cleansed him or her from their past sins and their “calling and election” are “sure” or guaranteed.  The words “calling” and “election” describe our salvation.  In our “calling” God gives us the opportunity to hear the gospel message and to either accept it or reject it.  “Election” refers to the foreknowledge of God in that He has always known who will accept or reject the gospel (see I Peter 1:2).  Even though we are the elect according to the foreknowledge of God, we must still repent, believe the gospel (see Mark 1:15), and then live according to the gospel (see Acts 2:41-42; Philippians 1:27).  Peter reminded his readers that if they lived by “these things” or the qualities that he had listed, they “shall never fall” or fail in their faith.  The person who is truly born again will show fruit and persevere to the end.

          B. Faith’s Reward (II Peter 1:11).  For those who persevere in the faith, Peter said in this verse For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ.”  This simply means that if we do the things Peter mentioned in verses 3-7, we will be richly welcomed into the “everlasting kingdom of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ.”  In addition, this “entrance” or entering “into the everlasting kingdom of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ” will be “ministered” or given to us “abundantly.”  The imagery Peter is presenting here is of a victorious Olympic contestant entering his city, not through the gate but through a special “entrance” of honor made in the wall that encircled the city.  Even now, believers are already part of Christ’s “kingdom,” but one day we will be welcomed into the eternal or “everlasting kingdom” (see II Timothy 4:18).



          A. The need for reminders (II Peter 1:12-13).

               1. (vs. 12).  In this verse Peter says Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”  The word “Wherefore” means that what Peter is about to say was based on what he had already said.  As an apostle of Jesus Christ, Simon Peter took his responsibility to teach his fellow Christians seriously.  So he said “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things.”  The apostle wanted his readers to know that he would continue to remind them of the things that make for spiritual growth.  He knew that if he didn’t, he would be “negligent.”  He knew like we do, that people have a tendency to forget, so there is always a need for us to be reminded of Christian truth.  Therefore, he would “always” remind them of “these things” which refer to the godly qualities he mentioned in verses 3-7 that cause spiritual growth in the believer.  Part of Peter’s motivation to put his readers “always in remembrance of these things” or godly living, must have been his commitment to obey Jesus’ command when He told Peter to strengthen other believers spiritually (see Luke 22:32).  Note:  Of course, there are many ways in which we can keep the teachings of Jesus alive in our memories.  Obviously, continued teaching and review of scriptural truths will keep these things before us.  So that believers would not forget His great sacrifice, Jesus ordained a memorial the night before His death.  At the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples, “this do in remembrance of me” (see Luke 22:19).  Peter also recognized that these believers already knew those things when he said “though ye know them.”  Since they already knew about godly living, it should’ve been no problem for them to “be established in the present truth.”  This means that Peter’s readers were to be firm in the “truth” that was already present within them.  There’s one thing about God’s Word that we don’t ever have to worry about; it was the truth yesterday, it’s the truth today and will still be the truth tomorrow!

               2. (vs. 13).  Peter went on to say “Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.”  As long as he was alive in his physical body, or as he put it “in this tabernacle,” he knew it was “meet” or “the right thing to do” to remind his readers of the truths they had been taught.  Peter’s desire was not just to restate facts.  He wanted to “stir” (to arouse from sleep or lethargy) up the believers to get them to see the importance of living according to the truth.

          B. The privilege of martyrdom (II Peter 1:14).  Our final verse says Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our LORD Jesus Christ hath shewed me.”  Peter knew that his life would soon end.  That’s what he meant when he said “shortly I must put off this my tabernacle.”  When he spoke of “this my tabernacle,” Peter was referring to his own body.  The “tabernacle” was a tent, a temporary abode for God (see Deuteronomy 31:15; II Samuel 7:6; Psalms 76:1-2), and so are our bodies (see II Corinthians 5:1, 4).  But one day we will receive new resurrected bodies (see I Corinthians 15:42-58; Philippians 3:20-21).  The apostle said that the knowledge of his death came directly “even as our LORD Jesus Christ hath shewed me.”  In other words, Peter was told of his death by the LORD Himself.  This probably refers to Jesus’ words in John 21:18-19.  Knowing that he would soon leave his fellow Christians was another reason Peter spoke with such urgency.  He wanted these believers whom he felt responsible for to remember vital truths after he was gone.            

VII. Conclusion.  God has already given us all that we need to live godly lives.  It is simply a matter of our using these resources: applying His Word and its promises and acting in God’s power.  Like Peter’s readers, although we may be established in the present truth (see II Peter 1:12), we still need continuous reminders.  Regular instruction including Bible study and Sunday school is also necessary for all believers to keep growing in the faith (see Hebrews 5:12-14; 10:25).




***The Sunday School Lesson; Union Gospel Press Curriculum***