In 2 Peter 1:5-11, Peter is explaining the connection between believing the gospel and pursuing a lifestyle of godliness. I argued in the previous podcast that these qualities are NOT the cause of spiritual maturity, rather they RESULT from spiritual maturity. They are the inevitable result of a heart attitude change of coming to faith. In this podcast we’ll define each term in the list and discuss why Peter includes it and how it results from faith.
Peter is writing to churches troubled by false teachers who are distorting the gospel and encouraging others to pursue an immoral lifestyle. Peter begin the letter by reminding them the gospel is meant to lead believers into eternal life and godliness. All of humanity has two great needs: 1) we need to be forgiven for our sinfulness; and 2) we need to be freed from the corruption of our sins. God solves those problems through the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this section Peter is making the connection between belief and lifestyle.
- virtue/moral excellence – A genuine faith will give rise to a pursuit of moral excellence. The purpose of the gospel is to grant us a moral excellence or holiness like God’s. Part of believing the gospel is recognizing that moral excellence is our great call and hope. While we still struggle with sin, we now care deeply about righteousness and so we will not join the false teachers in pursing of ungodliness.
- knowledge – a genuine faith and moral excellence will give rise to a quest for knowledge. The heart touched by God wants to know about God, so we will not join the false teachers in their rejection of the truth.
- Self control – If I have faith, then I now long for what God wants and what God values. When His values and my values conflict, I strive to exercise self-control, saying no to my desires and changing them.
- Perseverance – Genuine saving faith is a gift of God and God has promised to finish what He started. When trials and troubles come, believers stay true to God’s word and continue seeking to follow Him.
- Godliness – While enlightened pagans could applaud the things in this list, Peter is not talking about philosophical ideals. Rather he is describing a heart changed by faith that is striving to be like God. To pursue loving God is to pursue godliness.
None of us have attained these qualities as we should. Faith is a long journey and progress toward a goal. We will not reach perfection in this life. The goal of this life is the maturing of our faith.
If you want to do your own word study, see Bible Study 101: How to do a word study
|G703||virtue, moral goodness, excellence|
|G1466||self-control; master desires|
|G2150||piety, reverence, respect|
|G5360||affection, love of brothers & sisters|
|G26||love, good will|