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2 Peter 1:5-8

Context
1:5 For this very reason, 1  make every effort 2  to add to your faith excellence, 3  to excellence, knowledge; 1:6 to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; 4  to perseverance, godliness; 1:7 to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish 5  love. 6  1:8 For if 7  these things are really yours 8  and are continually increasing, 9  they will keep you from becoming 10  ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of 11  knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. 12 

1 tn The Greek text begins with “and,” a typical Semitism.

sn The reason given is all the provisions God has made for the believer, mentioned in vv. 3-4.

2 tn The participle is either means (“by making every effort”) or attendant circumstance (“make every effort”). Although it fits the normal contours of attendant circumstance participles, the semantics are different. Normally, attendant circumstance is used of an action that is a necessary prelude to the action of the main verb. But “making every effort” is what energizes the main verb here. Hence it is best taken as means. However, for the sake of smoothness the translation has rendered it as a command with the main verb translated as an infinitive. This is in accord with English idiom.

3 tn Or “moral excellence,” “virtue”; this is the same word used in v. 3 (“the one who has called us by his own glory and excellence”).

4 tn Perhaps “steadfastness,” though that is somewhat archaic. A contemporary colloquial rendering would be “stick-to-it-iveness.”

5 sn The final virtue or character quality in this list is “love” (ἀγάπη, agaph). The word was not used exclusively of Christian or unselfish love in the NT (e.g., the cognate, ἀγαπάω [agapaw], is used in John 3:19 of the love of darkness), but in a list such as this in which ἀγάπη is obviously the crescendo, unselfish love is evidently in view. R. Bauckham (Jude, 2 Peter [WBC], 187) notes that as the crowning virtue, ἀγάπη encompasses all the previous virtues.

6 tn Each item in Greek begins with “and.” The conjunction is omitted for the sake of good English style, with no change in meaning.

sn Add to your faith excellence…love. The list of virtues found in vv. 5-7 stands in tension to the promises given in vv. 2-4. What appears to be a synergism of effort or even a contradiction (God supplies the basis, the promises, the grace, the power, etc., while believers must also provide the faith, excellence, etc.) in reality encapsulates the mystery of sanctification. Each believer is responsible before God for his conduct and spiritual growth, yet that growth could not take place without God’s prior work and constant enabling. We must not neglect our responsibility, yet the enabling and the credit is God’s. Paul says the same thing: “Continue working out your salvation with humility and dependence, for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort…is God” (Phil 2:12-13).

7 tn The participles are evidently conditional, as most translations render them.

8 tn The participle ὑπάρχοντα (Juparconta) is stronger than the verb εἰμί (eimi), usually implying a permanent state. Hence, the addition of “really” is implied.

9 sn Continually increasing. There are evidently degrees of ownership of these qualities, implying degrees of productivity in one’s intimacy with Christ. An idiomatic rendering of the first part of v. 8 would be “For if you can claim ownership of these virtues in progressively increasing amounts…”

10 tn Grk “cause [you] not to become.”

11 tn Grk “unto,” “toward”; although it is possible to translate the preposition εἰς (eis) as simply “in.”

12 tn Grk “the [rich] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Verse 8 in Greek does not make a full stop (period), for v. 9 begins with a subordinate relative pronoun. Contemporary English convention requires a full stop in translation, however.



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