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2 Peter 1:3-7

Context
Believers’ Salvation and the Work of God

1:3 I can pray this because his divine power 1  has bestowed on us everything necessary 2  for life and godliness through the rich knowledge 3  of the one who called 4  us by 5  his own glory and excellence. 1:4 Through these things 6  he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised 7  you may become partakers of the divine nature, 8  after escaping 9  the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire. 10  1:5 For this very reason, 11  make every effort 12  to add to your faith excellence, 13  to excellence, knowledge; 1:6 to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; 14  to perseverance, godliness; 1:7 to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish 15  love. 16 

1 tn The verse in Greek starts out with ὡς (Jws) followed by a genitive absolute construction, dependent on the main verb in v. 2. Together, they form a subordinate causal clause. A more literal rendering would be “because his divine power…” The idea is that the basis or authority for the author’s prayer in v. 2 (that grace and peace would abound to the readers) was that God’s power was manifested in their midst. The author’s sentence structure is cumbersome even in Greek; hence, the translation has broken this up into two sentences.

2 tn The word “necessary” is not in the Greek, but is implied by the preposition πρός (pros).

3 tn See the note on “rich knowledge” in v. 2.

4 sn Called. The term καλέω (kalew), used here in its participial form, in soteriological contexts when God is the subject, always carries the nuance of effectual calling. That is, the one who is called is not just invited to be saved – he is also and always saved (cf. Rom 8:30). Calling takes place at the moment of conversion, while election takes place in eternity past (cf. Eph 1:4).

5 tn The datives ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ (idia doxh kai areth) could be taken either instrumentally (“by [means of] his own glory and excellence”) or advantage (“for [the benefit of] his own glory and excellence”). Both the connection with divine power and the textual variant found in several early and important witnesses (διὰ δόξης καὶ ἀρετῆς in Ì72 B 0209vid) argues for an instrumental meaning. The instrumental notion is also affirmed by the meaning of ἀρετῇ (“excellence”) in contexts that speak of God’s attributes (BDAG 130 s.v. ἀρετή 2 in fact defines it as “manifestation of divine power” in this verse).

6 tn Verse 4 is in Greek a continuation of v. 3, “through which things.”

sn The phrase these things refers to God’s glory and excellence.

7 tn Grk “through them.” The implication is that through inheriting and acting on these promises the believers will increasingly become partakers of the divine nature.

8 sn Although the author has borrowed the expression partakers of the divine nature from paganism, his meaning is clearly Christian. He does not mean apotheosis (man becoming a god) in the pagan sense, but rather that believers have an organic connection with God. Because of such a connection, God can truly be called our Father. Conceptually, this bears the same meaning as Paul’s “in Christ” formula. The author’s statement, though startling at first, is hardly different from Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians that they “may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (3:19).

9 tn The aorist participle ἀποφυγόντες (apofugonte") is often taken as attendant circumstance to the preceding verb γένησθε (genhsqe). As such, the sense is “that you might become partakers…and might escape…” However, it does not follow the contours of the vast majority of attendant circumstance participles (in which the participle precedes the main verb, among other things). Further, attendant circumstance participles are frequently confused with result participles (which do follow the verb). Many who take this as attendant circumstance are probably viewing it semantically as result (“that you might become partakers…and [thereby] escape…”). But this is next to impossible since the participle is aorist: Result participles are categorically present tense.

10 tn Grk “the corruption in the world (in/because of) lust.”

11 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.

12 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.

13 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”).

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

15 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.

16 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).



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