To understand the virtues in 2Peter 1:5-11, first we need to know the context. Particularly, 1) Peter is speaking to churches infected by false teachers who are encouraging them to pursue greed and sensuality; and 2) Peter is arguing that believing the gospel includes a change in lifestyle.
The apostle Peter wrote this letter near the end of his life (approximately 65-67 AD) to churches troubled by false teachers. His purpose was to encourage his readers stand firm in the apostolic gospel. He opened the letter by reminding them that as an apostle is his uniquely qualified to speak for Jesus, and that if we abandon the gospel Jesus taught for a false gospel, we lose eternal life
5For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. – 2Peter 1:5-11 ESV
- Remember that authors emphasize different issues based on the situation of their original readers. Part of our goal is to figure out why Peter emphasized what he did.
- False teachers are misleading Peter’s audience into believing they can pursue an immoral lifestyle (2Pet 2:1-3; 2Pet 2:14-15; 2Pet 2:18-19; 2Pet 3:3-4; 2Pet 3:17).
- As we saw in 2Peter 1:1-4, knowledge of God comes through the apostolic message.
- The relationship between knowledge and salvation is not like an instruction manual that tells us exactly what to do. Rather the instructions present an opportunity to reveal the faith God has given us.
- Peter will argue that what the false teachers teach about God cannot be trusted because their lifestyle reveals that they do not understand who God is or what He values.
- In contrast to the lifestyle of the false teachers, a person with genuine saving faith will be marked by the lifestyle described in this section.
- 2Peter 1:5-7 describes the sort of qualities that God is producing in a person with saving faith.
- 2Peter 1:5 “For this very reason” refers backwards to 2Peter 1:1-4. Since the gospel is the way to life and godliness, ask yourself if your lifestyle reflects the virtues that result from saving faith.
- He concludes in 2Peter 2:8-11, if you want to make certain you are in fact chosen by God, consider whether your lifestyle reflects the virtues on this list, as opposed to the lifestyle of the false teachers.
- The list in 2Peter 1:5-7 is not a progression of importance or growth like rungs of ladder but rather an amplification: “not only this, but also that”.
The next podcast will examine the items in the list.