“Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:1-4).
Knowledge for the Battle
Peter is preparing is readers for a battle with false teachers, sexual invasion, persecution, corruption in the church. Peter will get to these battles in chapter 2 and 3. But we first my be armed with the knowledge of God, and what he has done for his people. Right knowledge leads to right living. The church needs courage to face these challenges. A corrupt people, both of mind and life, will not be a courageous people.
Peter: Servant and Apostle (vs. 1)
Peter introduces himself as “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ.” Peter takes on two seemingly contrary titles––servant and apostle. Though he has great authority as an apostle, he identifies himself first as a servant. Wouldn’t Jesus be proud of Peter who jumped up on his chair when Jesus tried to wash his feet (Lk. 22:26).
Peter writes this letter “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Some people would object, “Sure Peter, it’s fine for you to talk about enduring suffering, being holy––you got the faith on an apostle. But not the rest of us.” Peter, however, says that we have all been given a faith of equal standing, “a like precious faith.” There are no “cheap seats” for faith where the apostles get the front row seats and the rest of us are up in the nose bleed section. The faith is all equal, and equally precious, because the faith of all Christians shares the same object––Jesus Christ and his righteousness. John Calvin adds, “He calls it like or equally precious, not that it is equal in all, but because all possess by faith the same Christ with his righteousness, and the same salvation” (Commentary on 2 Peter 1:1). You are saved by Christ’s righteousness plus nothing, and that’s what you believe.
Grace and Peace Multiplied (vs. 2)
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Maybe you’re like me and sometimes skim over the first line or two of an email with the usual pleasantries–– “hope you and the kids are good…” But for Peter, this is not a throw away introduction. Rather, it is his prayer for what his letter will accomplish. “May Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” This knowledge is not limited to facts, tidbits of information. Peter knew Jesus as his God, his Lord, his Savior, his Christ. He didn’t merely know about Jesus. He knew Jesus.
His Knowledge for Life and Godliness (vs. 3)
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” God is the creator and the sustainer of life (Heb. 1:3). This includes the Milky Way galaxy and the Milky-Way candy bar. And God granted to us all things that pertain to life, and godliness.
How can we be like God? This is the question that’s as old as the dirt shaped into a man. You don’t get it by grasping for yourselves––nix Adam and Eve’s attempt. You don’t get by following rules––nix every man-propelled religion. How do you get godliness? You are given it from God. He’s the source. And he gives godliness “through the knowledge of Him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” Knowledge of God shapes you to be like God. No knowledge, then no godliness. But that understanding is not based on our IQ, but on the God who calls by his glory and virtue (1 Peter 1:15, 2:9, 2:21, 3:9, 5:10). Where is glory? Where is virtue? They are found in the Son of the Father (Jn. 1:14,18).
Precious and Exceedingly Great Promises (vs. 4)
“He has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (vs. 4) Through knowledge of Christ, we have received great and precious promises which enable us to partake of the divine nature and “unpartake” of the world’s corruptions. There are two things we need above all––1) to be liberated from our sinful desires that corrupt the world and 2) to return to God. What are God’s promises? 1) He will liberate us from sinful desires and 2) He will make us partakers in his divine nature.
You have escaped the corruption, the punishment, the judgment that is in the world from your sinful desires. Why? Because Christ your Savior was crucified. You share in the divine nature. Why? Because you are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus. Do you know these great and precious promises of God? Then believe them. Then believe Him, and so arm yourself for what’s ahead.