by Warren Camp
2 Peter 1:3–11 . . .
“Confirming One’s Calling and Election”
After delivering a customary salutation and brief prayer in vv. 1 and 2 of his second letter (highlighted in Warren’s previous commentary), Peter is about to strengthen us for godly living, stating in vv. 3–4 that all the mercies that the believers had enjoyed, pertaining to life and godliness, had been conferred to them by the power of God who’d given them exceedingly extraordinary, precious promises. Then, in vv. 5–9, he’ll exhort readers to be full of Christian virtues, constantly making efforts to attain essential qualities: knowledge and temperance, patience and godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity. He’ll close today’s nine-verse passage by urging is audience to aspire to make their calling and election sure, thereby allowing them to gain abundantly when they enter the Redeemer’s kingdom.
The Lord’s Divine Power and Precious Promises (1:3–4)
God’s promises are precious! Not only do they remind us of his personal interest in our lives, they also provide hope and encouragement during difficult times. In v. 2, Peter stated his desire for grace and peace to be multiplied for us by knowing God and our Lord Jesus. However, not only grace and peace, but also everything that pertains to life and godliness become ours through our knowledge of him. Knowing God is the key to all things that pertain to life and godliness.
Now, v. 3 will present the resources that bring increased grace and peace. God has granted us these resources through our knowing and relating personally to Christ, whom Peter further describes as the one “who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
Confirming One’s Calling and Election
3His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires (2 Pet. 1:3–4 NIV).
The true basis of what we know about salvation comes from God through Christ, who granted to his apostles full and complete knowledge of everything that pertains to life and godliness. God’s “divine power” might refer directly to the gospel, since Romans 1:16 proclaims that the gospel “is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes,” which is unquestionably true.
But, how does God grant us everything pertaining to godly living and goodness? Peter now shows us that it all comes by God’s divine power. The opening verse — His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness — is absolutely breath-taking. Everything, yes, everything we need for life and godliness has already been granted to us by God. His gift of faith is great; but the gift of life and godliness that he gives every follower of Jesus is even greater.
In v. 3, Christ’s divine power is primarily his ability to impart new life to believers at their moment of salvation. We come to know Christ personally when he effectually calls us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9). Christ’s calling us by “his own glory and goodness” means that we become drawn to him the moment he opens our eyes, enabling us to clearly see his majesty and beauty.
Then in v. 4, Peter has his readers look at the Lord’s fully sufficient resources, all of which are made available in his precious and magnificent promises (v. 4a). By them, Peter says, we may become partakers of a divine nature. He’s referring to a future possibility, as well as a present reality. When God provides us with the gift of salvation, he imparts to us his life, eternal life (Colossians 3:3; 1 John 5:11). We become “born again,” as living children of God (John 1:12–13; 3:3; 1 Pet. 1:23). And in v. 4b, Peter assures us that, through God’s promises, we’re set apart from this world’s evil. Thankfully, he has graciously “given us everything” needed for godliness “through our knowledge of him,” Christ Jesus, and through our trust in his “precious promises.”
How to Stop Living an “Ineffective and Unproductive” Life (vv. 5–9)
In the previous two verses, Peter summarized the enormous benefit we’ve received in knowing God through our faith in Christ. God has given us all we need to live like Jesus. But we must work hard using those gifts. Prior to receiving God’s gift of grace, we lacked the ability and desire to live amid Jesus’ glory and goodness. However, now that we’ve been empowered to do so, we must “make every effort to add to [our] faith” several virtues or qualities.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins (2 Pet. 1:5–9).
As a result of our diligently partaking in his divine nature (v. 4), Peter cites what the faithful are to do: they are to enhance their faith by prioritizing good morals, wisdom, patience, and love, with love being the capstone of God’s work in us. Then he intimates that every one of these inseparable qualities must be presented and lived out increasingly so. The scope of Peter’s list demonstrates that God wants us to have a well-rounded Christian life, complete in every fashion. We can’t be content with an incomplete Christian life. These beautiful qualities aren’t things that the Lord simply pours out to us as we passively receive them. Rather, we’ve been called to “make every effort” to increasingly adopt these things as we collaborate with the Spirit of God. [Enlarge photo, right.] In effect, this five-verse passage exhorts us encouragingly to strive ahead so that virtue, prudence, temperance, and such things may be added to our faith.
Self-control For many of us, of the seven virtues that Peter lists, self-control is one that’s especially challenging to diligently supply in our life; we must commit ourselves to certain behaviors while saying no to others. Every situation that tempts us to cross boundaries becomes an opportunity to practice restraint. Anything sinful is obviously off-limits, but many beneficial things also need restraint. For instance, food is good and necessary for life, but overeating leads to a variety of problems. Other areas that require self-control involve the use of money, time, words, and anger.
What keeps us from diligently pursuing self-control is the low priority we often place on it. But when we realize and accept that God has given us all we need for life and godliness through the true knowledge of him (v. 3), we’ll recognize self-control as being within our grasp. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit produces it in us. However, it’s our responsibility to rely on his power as we make the effort to practice self-discipline whenever we’re tempted to do otherwise.
If we lack any or all of these qualities, we wind up being afflicted with “eye trouble.” We become shortsighted, seeing only ourselves while being unable to see our living God. Doing so makes us virtually blind, revealing that we’ve forgotten that our Lord has cleansed us from our every sin.
Apostle Peter encourages us to grow. Since maturity for us means taking on God’s nature (v. 4), we’re called to grow: mentally in our knowledge of Christ, spiritually in traits like goodness, perseverance, and self-control (vv. 5–7), and practically by exploring new ways to love, offer hospitality, and serve others, using the gifts we’ve been given (1 Pet. 4:7–11). Such growth, Peter says, will stop us from living “ineffective and unproductive” lives.
Confirm Your Calling and Election (vv. 10–11)
A believer should never parrot the phrase “once saved, always saved,” continuing to live a lazy spiritual life. God’s election is irreversible and unchangeable. Those whom he has called and elected to be saved will be saved.
10Therefore, my believing brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:10–11).
Peter assumes the fact that a Christian has been divinely chosen and sovereignly called to salvation. He’s talking about something we must do to make election and calling certain for us believers. He assumes the fact of election and calling but wants to deal with how we’re to come to a knowledge or understanding that we’ve been called. So we’re talking about the assurance of election from a professing Christian’s viewpoint. We must be diligent in our efforts to assure ourselves that we’re truly numbered among God’s elect.
Verse 10b’s “these things” refers to moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and Christian love. If by faith we’re progressing in these spiritual graces, if we have a lifestyle characterized by these spiritual qualities, and if we have a readiness or inclination towards moral advancement, then we’ll never stumble. [Enlarge photo, right.]
Peter’s ultimate point: Whoever lacks living evidence of these seven spiritual graces, no matter that person’s professed intelligence, has no reason to believe that he or she belongs to God. Proof is needed! A changed, holy life is the mark of God’s election.
But how can a person be sure that he or she is elect and truly saved? Bible teacher John MacArthur answers that question: “Though God is ‘certain’ who His elect are and has given them an eternally secure salvation, the Christian might not always have assurance of his salvation. Security is the Holy-Spirit-revealed fact that salvation is forever. Assurance is one’s confidence that he possesses that eternal salvation. In other words, the believer who pursues the spiritual qualities mentioned above guarantees to himself, by spiritual fruit, that he was called and chosen by God to salvation.” The simple lesson for us is this: If we want the assurance of salvation, we must practice godliness. The fruit of the Spirit is evidence of the Spirit in your life. It’s that simple!
God looks for progress, not perfection, in our lives. When we fail, we must confess our sins, get back up on our feet, and resume following and serving Christ, being diligent to make our calling and election sure.
- Q. 1 What examples are there of “the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (v. 4)?
- Q. 2 How could you use vv. 9–10 to help a person obtain the assurance of salvation?
- Q. 3 How can a person be sure he or she is elect and truly saved?
Intro Video: “Second Peter”
Warren’s New “Peter Masterpieces” Photo Album
† View several classic paintings of Saint Peter by art world masters: Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Rubens, Goya, El Greco, Raphael, Masaccio, Giotto, Correggio, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Veneziano, Tissot, Duccio, Fra Angelico, Galle, Duccio, Dürer, Palomino, and many more.
2 Peter 1:3–11