by Pastor Joseph Kolawole Ola
Good day Blessed GOGOLights!
I welcome you into a short trip through the district of Second Peter in New Testament City. There are quite a few memorable sites with which some of us may already be familiar. But taking a full round-the-district tour helps us to connect those familiar sites together.
Okay, enough of the tour imagery.
But before I go on to share some few bulleted points on Chapter 1 below, let me state the obvious (to some of us) and, thus, offer a sort of overview of the entire epistle.
THE BIG PICTURE
1. In some sense, the emphasis in Peter’s first epistle is on the grace of God (e.g. 1 Peter 5:12), but in this second letter, his emphasis is on the knowledge of God.
2. Peter writes this epistle in light of a few things: first, he has seen a revelation that he will be dying soon so he wants to ensure that the believers he’s leaving behind are GROUNDED IN THE TRUTH; second, at the time, there seem to be an abundance of FALSE TEACHERS, hence a need to ESTABLISH BELIEVERS IN THE TRUTH.
3. So, in Chapter 1, Peter states the framework for a proper knowledge of God; in Chapter 2, he zooms in on false teachers and their teachings; then in Chapter 3, Peter exhorts believers onto true Christianity, sort of.
As I read this chapter, besides knowing what Peter aims to achieve in this letter (namely, to establish his readers in the knowledge of the truth), I see the conversation as a sort of up-close-and-personal look at someone who is truly saved. This is even more evident in the way Peter talks about his imminent death in verses 12-14. For the purposes of this reflection, however, I’m just gonna dwell on some excerpts from the first few verses which I have personally found to be a go-to treasure grove.
Let’s dig in:
1. “the same precious faith” (verse 1)
Verse 1 (VOICE) — “Simon Peter, a servant and emissary of Jesus the Anointed One, TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE SAME PRECIOUS FAITH WE SHARE through the righteousness of our God and Saviour, Jesus the Anointed.”
Right from verse 1, the letter is already sweet! I know many Christians who would have loved to be alive and in Galilee or Nazareth or Jerusalem in the days when the incarnate Christ walked these earth. Imagine how glorious it would have been to be one of the 11 disciples (let’s take Judas out . . . LOL). Or even better, to have been one of the 3 inner circle disciples (Peter, James and John)? You would have been one of only 3 other humans who witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus! You would have been one of the 3 who were invited to go further with Jesus into Gethsemane and pray with Him! You would have been one of the disciples at the foot of Calvary witnessing the crucifixion of the Lamb of God! You would have entered the actual tomb of Jesus and found it empty! You would have touched the risen, glorified Christ! How grand! How sweet! How glorious!
But guess what? Peter is saying, “Yes, I had all of those experiences, but the precious faith — the priceless salvation experience — that came from those experiences is of the same VALUE, POWER, and GLORY as what you have today!”
That’s amazing, right? So you should never entertain the thought that Peter and the rest of Jesus’ disciples had a better deal, no. We have THE SAME DEAL! They were eyewitnesses of Jesus’ majesty (verse 16), yes, but we are — better so — living witnesses of Jesus’ majestic and eternal life!
2. “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (verse 2)
It has been repeatedly pointed out by Pastor Dammy why the duo of “grace and peace” often go together in many of the New Testament epistles — and always in that order. At the risk of sounding repetitive, let me simply remind us that it is because of the grace of God in the gospel that we can have peace with God and lasting peace on earth.
The additional element to emphasise in this verse is the room for that grace and that peace to multiply. In other words, while all true believers have been saved by grace and function/serve by grace, they will neither appreciate the value of that grace nor appropriate that grace in their areas of service to the same extent! The extent to which we can be wowed and energised by the grace of God depends on our (hopefully ever-increasing) knowledge of Jesus. So where are you in this regard? What are you doing as a single brother, engaged sister, or married (wo)man to deepen your knowledge of Jesus? God bless everyone in the GOGO family that are resourcing us in this regard.
3. “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” (verse 3)
Are you also beginning to notice the word “knowledge” again and again? That’s the deal! We enjoy grace and peace based on the quality of our knowledge of God. We enjoy the limitless resources already provided for us to enjoy life and godliness according to the quality of our knowledge of God! At the end of the day, the basic unit of true pleasure is how much of God you know! (And the way it works, the more you know Him, the more you realise how much IGNORANCE of Him still lingers in you!)
4. “exceedingly great and precious promises” (verse 4)
There is a part I love in the second most widely read book in history — The Pilgrim’s Progress. I’m talking of the part where “Christian” and “Hopeful” found their way out of Doubting-Castle which is heavily guarded by Giant Despair. This part of the book chronicles a realistic portrayal of depression, doubt, and despair. How did they do it? Let’s hear from ‘Christian’ himself. He says:
“What a fool I have been, to lie like this in a stinking dungeon, when I could have just as well walked free. In my CHEST POCKET I have A KEY CALLED PROMISE that will, I am thoroughly persuaded, OPEN ANY LOCK IN DOUBTING-CASTLE.” “Then,” said Hopeful, “that is good news. My good brother, do immediately take it out of your chest pocket and try it.” Then Christian took the key from his chest and began to try the lock of the dungeon door; and as he turned the key, the bolt unlocked and the door flew open with ease, so that Christian and Hopeful immediately came out.”
Beautiful passage from a beautiful book. What’s the moral? That every Christian has a key (or, more aptly, a bunch of keys) in their possession — THE EXCEEDINGLY GREAT AND PRECIOUS PROMISES OF GOD! (2 Peter 1:4).
How do we know these promises will come true? Because “all the promises of God find their Yes in [Christ Jesus]” (2 Cor. 1:20).
And did you notice where Bunyan says that the key was all along? In Christian’s “chest pocket.” Many Bible scholars who have studied Bunyan’s book have pointed to the fact that this tiny detail is also significant. They think Bunyan is using this detail in the allegory to point us to Psalm 119:11: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” In other words, there is a promise from God’s Word for EVERY situation you may ever go through, but how much of those promises are in your “chest pocket”, that is, in your CHEST (your heart)? Commit yourself to storing up God’s word in your heart; nothing guarantees the Christian’s victory like this.
5. Other Gems in Chapter 1
Like I earlier mentioned, I’m interested in dwelling on the first few verses, but the whole chapter is definitely very rich!
— I love the “add to your faith” list given in verses 5-7. Of course, this must not be misread as a list of things we have to do to be saved; in fact, they spell out a natural blend of the fruits of a true Christian. You can’t be investing in knowing God more without virtue, knowledge, discipline, endurance, godliness, affection for others as sisters and brothers, and love making a natural effervescence oozing forth from your life!
— In fact, if anyone calls himself or herself a Christian and those fruits are missing from the salad bowl of his/her life, the salvation of such people still carries a question mark, not an exclamation point. That’s the point made in verses 9-11, viz:
“if you don’t have these qualities . . . [it will be difficult] . . . to confirm that God has called you and claimed you.” (verses 9-10)
— Then in verses 12-15, Peter writes about his death in a Christian way. It sounded pretty much like Paul’s line of reasoning in Philippians 1. In both cases, they are aware that death for the believer is a transition to a greater glory. But they also understand that while they are still alive, they need to continually be a blessing to other believers and strengthen them. That’s a template for us as well!
— In the rest of the chapter, Peter restates the sanctity and authority of the gospel. He emphasised the fact that THERE IS NOTHING FABRICATED IN THE GOSPEL; if anything, he was an eyewitness of Christ. He was one of the 12 foundational apostles given the peculiar responsibility of overseeing the birth and flourishing of the ekklesia (the Church). And this they lived for… and died for.
I hope these few thoughts are helpful one way or the other.