1:4 Through these things 1 he has bestowed on us his precious and most magnificent promises, so that by means of what was promised 2 you may become partakers of the divine nature, 3 after escaping 4 the worldly corruption that is produced by evil desire. 5 1:5 For this very reason, 6 make every effort 7 to add to your faith excellence, 8 to excellence, knowledge; 1:6 to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; 9 to perseverance, godliness; 1:7 to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish 10 love. 11 1:8 For if 12 these things are really yours 13 and are continually increasing, 14 they will keep you from becoming 15 ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of 16 knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. 17 1:9 But 18 concerning the one who lacks such things 19 – he is blind. That is to say, he is 20 nearsighted, since he has forgotten about the cleansing of his past sins. 1:10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, 21 make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. 22 For by doing this 23 you will never 24 stumble into sin. 25
sn The phrase these things refers to God’s glory and excellence.
2 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.
3 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).
4 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.
5 tn Grk “the corruption in the world (in/because of) lust.”
6 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.
7 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.
9 tn Perhaps “steadfastness,” though that is somewhat archaic. A contemporary colloquial rendering would be “stick-to-it-iveness.”
10 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.
11 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).
12 tn The participles are evidently conditional, as most translations render them.
13 tn The participle ὑπάρχοντα (Juparconta) is stronger than the verb εἰμί (eimi), usually implying a permanent state. Hence, the addition of “really” is implied.
14 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…”
15 tn Grk “cause [you] not to become.”
16 tn Grk “unto,” “toward”; although it is possible to translate the preposition εἰς (eis) as simply “in.”
17 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.
18 tn Grk “for.” The connection, though causal, is also adversative.
19 tn Grk “to the one for whom these things are not present.”
20 tn The words “that is to say, he is” are not in Greek. The word order is unusual. One might expect the author to have said “he is nearsighted and blind” (as the NIV has so construed it), but this is not the word order in Greek. Perhaps the author begins with a strong statement followed by a clarification, i.e., that being nearsighted in regard to these virtues is as good as being blind.
21 tn Grk “brothers,” but the Greek word may be used for “brothers and sisters” or “fellow Christians” as here (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 1., where considerable nonbiblical evidence for the plural ἀδελφοί [adelfoi] meaning “brothers and sisters” is cited).
22 tn Grk “make your calling and election sure.”
sn Make sure of your calling and election. The author is not saying that virtue and holiness produce salvation, but that virtue and holiness are the evidence of salvation.
23 tn Grk “these things.”
24 tn In Greek οὐ μή (ou mh) followed by the subjunctive is normally the strongest way to negate an action. Coupled with πότε (pote, “ever”), the statement is even more emphatic. The author is offering sage advice on how to grow in grace.
25 tn The words “into sin” are not in the Greek text, but the Greek word πταίω (ptaiw) is used in soteriological contexts for more than a mere hesitation or stumbling. BDAG 894 s.v. 2 suggests that here it means “be ruined, be lost,” referring to loss of salvation, while also acknowledging that the meaning “to make a mistake, go astray, sin” is plausible in this context. Alternatively, the idea of πταίω here could be that of “suffer misfortune” (so K. L. Schmidt, TDNT 6:884), as a result of sinning.