INTRODUCTION AND THE FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER
- We learned through the study of 1Peter that Christian character is formed in various ways and for various benefits through suffering.
- Introduction to the book of 2Peter
- The author:
- In our Bibles this book is attributed to Peter as the author. There is no other book in the New Testament that has had more controversy over the author of the book than 2Peter. However, finally after all the controversy over the author, today it is generally believed that Peter did in fact write this book.
- Peter is personally facing death at the writing of this book, and yet we see his triumphant attitude.
- The date:
- This book was written shortly after 1Peter around the year 66 AD and just before he was martyred.
- The historical condition of Christianity:
- It is in this time period that Christianity was presented with a growing false doctrine. All the writers of the epistles of the New Testament were aware of this growing false doctrine and at various points in the New Testament they speak against these false teachings even though the name of this movement never appears in the Bible.
- The false doctrine was Gnosticism.
- Paul warned of it in his final book of 2Timothy as a growing apostasy among Christian believers.
- Peter warns of it in this book as a growing apostasy among teachers.
- The value of this book:
- This book is a marvelous defense of the faith against the enemy.
- The theme:
- The theme of 2Peter is: The Coming Apostasy and Faiths Defense
- Outline of the book of 2Peter
- The addition of Christian graces gives assurance (chapter 1:1-14)
- The knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ is the foundation on which Christian character is built.
- The authority of scriptures is proved by fulfilled prophecy (chapter 1:15-21)
- The knowledge of scripture gives light for obedience in dark days.
- The apostasy that is brought by false teachers (chapter 2)
- The attitude toward the return of the Lorda test of apostates (chapter 3:1-4)
- The agenda of God for the world (chapter 3:5-13)
- The past (3:5-6)
- The present (3:7-12)
- The future (3:13)
- The admonition to believers (3:14-18)
- The knowledge of Gods plan is an incentive to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
THE FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER
- Read 2Pet 1:1-9
- Peter tells us to whom he is writing this letter in verse 1.
- He is writing to other people who have the same faith in Jesus Christ that brings us righteousness through the shed blood of Christ.
- Peter puts himself on the same level of other believers and calls himself a “servant” or literally a bond servant of Jesus Christ.
- The bond slave and the love servant (Exo 21:1-6)
- The Old Testament gives us the illustration of a bond slave. He was a person that sold himself into slavery by an act of his will. After seven years he could go free, but if he decided that he loved his master and the style of his life, he could choose to stay and be a love servant for life to that master by identifying himself publically with a mark that all could see.
- The bond slave becomes the love servant and serves his master for life out of love. This is what the New Testament writers like Paul, James, John, and Peter claimed was their relationship to Jesus Christ.
- They renounced the freedom of the world to be a love servant under Jesus Christ for the rest of their lives.
|The Slave||The Love Servant|
|He serves under obligation||He serves under love|
|He is not free||He is free in Christ|
|He is motivated to do the least possible amount of work||He is motivated to do the best he possibly can|
- “Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God ”
- In the Bible, when the words grace and peace appear together, grace comes first because it is by the grace of God that we can obtain the peace of God in our lives.
- Peter says that it is through the knowledge of God and of Christ that we receive grace and peace.
- Peter uses the word, knowledge, 5 times in this section of scripture. This means that the word, knowledge, is very important. Why?
- The false doctrine of the Gnostics said that knowledge was something special and spiritual. The word, Gnostic, means = “Knowledge”. It was a secret entity that all people did not have the capacity to understand. Therefore, if a person desired to possess this secret body of knowledge, he would have to pay a lot of money for a Gnostic teacher to reveal it to him step by step. In this way, he became “enlightened” or an “enlightened one”. Therefore, not everyone has this special knowledge and in that way, Paul said to the Corinthians that knowledge puffs up the pride of man. (1Cor 8:1 1Cor 4:6, 18-19 1Cor 5:2 1Cor 13:4)
- If the Gnostic knowledge is evil and causes man to live in the flesh nature, what kind of knowledge does Peter want the Christian to have?
- Peters word for knowledge is the Greek word, epignosis, which means = super knowledge.
- It is the knowledge that God gives to every person that comes to know Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He receives this knowledge at the moment he is born again.
- How does this happen?
- The moment a person receives Jesus Christ as his personal savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of the believer. The Holy Spirit knows all truth that is in the mind of God (Joh 16:13), and it is this truth that He teaches to the believer in Jesus Christ.
- Notice that it is not knowing “things” or “facts” but it is knowing “Him” that opens the door to everything with God. For example, you can study the Bible backward and forward for years and fill your mind with memorizing its words and still not know God. You must “know” him personally for the Holy Spirit to come and teach you all things.
- Gods divine power exercised in the resurrection of Jesus Christ made it possible to know God in this personal way. (3) Gods divine power not only gives us the knowledge we need to live a successful life, but He gives us the power to live a life of virtue. (3)
- When the believer learns about the righteous nature of Christ in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will give the believer the conviction and the knowledge that helps him to live a righteous life and to become more like Christ. (Joh 16:8)
- God has called the believer to become more like the righteous glory of Christ He has called us to virtue.
- Peters word, “virtue” means = excellence and courage. The Holy Spirit enables the believer to courageously excel in life.
- What does God give the believer?
- Peter tells us that God gives the believer exceedingly great and precious promises. What are they? (This is a partial list).
- =1= “ him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out ” (Joh 6:37). = acceptance.
- =2= “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat 11:28) = the rest of redemption.
- =3= “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Mat 11:29) = the rest of commitment.
- =4= “ I am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh to the Father but by me.” (Joh 14:6)
- =5= “He that hath the Son hath eternal life…” (1Joh 5:12)
- =6= “Being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1Pet 1:23)
- =7= “ partakers of the divine nature ” (4)
- When the believer is born again, he receives a new nature. That new nature is spiritual and it is the nature of God. It gives the believer the potential to be like Christ.
- =8= “ having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (4)
- The world and everything in it is corrupted by sin. This corruption brings with it death for the wages of sin is death.
- Through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross, the believer has escaped from the consequences of eternal death. Instead, he now has eternal life.
(He) hath called us to glory and virtue.” (3)
- The phrase, “And beside this ” means that there is something the believer must do to go beyond the moment of his new birth in Jesus Christ.
- “ giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue .”
- The believer must take his Christian life seriously and continue on to add to his faith.
- We know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. (Rom 10:17).
- Therefore, to add to your faith the believer must study the Word of God. How does faith come by studying the Bible?
- When the believer sees in the Bible how God answered a prayer or met a specific need for some believer thousands of years ago, he can see the possibility that God will do the same thing for him today. As he uses his faith to trust God for little things in his life, the faith muscle is exercised to trust God for bigger things. From grace to grace, from experience to experience, faith grows. (Joh 1:16)
- The formula for the Christian life: (5-7) Faith is the beginning. After a person is saved by grace through his confession of faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, he will begin to grow in his Christian life. This growth occurs gradually over time. It is not one step after another, because our understanding of the characteristics that Peter mentions becomes deeper over time. In other words, the Holy Spirit works in our hearts in various areas and levels of our character all at the same time. For example, if I come to Christ from a life of deep sin, the Holy Spirit will begin to work through conviction to cleanse my life little by little of those sins. If I come to Christ from a life that is not so deep in sin, the Holy Spirit may start working on my pride in being a self-righteous person. Because we are unique and individual, the Lord knows where best to work in our lives. The following characteristics are added to our lives gradually over time and in His perfect timing through the experiences that we go through. God does not give a full supply of one before He starts to add one of the others. There are 7 of these characteristics. The number 7 is Gods number for completion. Therefore, these 7 characteristics make the believer complete or mature.
- Add virtue
- The Biblical word virtue means = strength, bravery, moral goodness, excellence, power that affects change.
- As God adds this characteristic of virtue to your life, you develop strength, goodness, excellence and power that affects the lives of others.
- Add knowledge (epignosis or super knowledge)
- This is the knowledge of God that the Holy Spirit gives the believer. He confirms the Word of God in your heart and your experience with God. This causes spiritual growth to occur.
- Add temperance
- The word temperance means = moderation and under control. As we learn to be under the control of the Holy Spirit, spiritual growth occurs.
- Add patience.
- Patience is endurance through long trials. It is based on courage (virtue), the knowledge of God, and the experience of being under the control of the Holy Spirit.
- Add godliness.
- Godliness is the deep desire in the heart of a believer to be like God. Godliness is achieved with patience.
- Add brotherly kindness
- This is love for our brothers and sisters in the faith.
- Add charity (agape love).
- This is love for non-believers.
- The results:
- “ if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- The believer that permits the Holy Spirit to build all of these characteristics into his heart and character will produce fruit. (Gal 5:22-23)
- It is interesting that the word, barren, means = idle.
- And notice that the believers knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ will grow by these character building experiences. In other words, it is not head knowledge but life-changing heart knowledge. That is the difference between the Gnostic concept of knowledge and the Christian concept of knowledge.
- “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.”
- Peter is talking to believers. Notice he says that if a person has experienced the forgiveness of sin but is not permitting the Holy Spirit to build these characteristics into his life, he is spiritually blind. This kind of spiritual blindness will not produce a changed life, spiritual growth, or spiritual fruit.
- Summary and application:
- What is it that knowledge is supposed to accomplish in the life of the believer?
- The knowledge of the Word of God produces change in the heart of the believer that is obvious to others in the outward expression of his life.
- The knowledge of God is supposed to change us so that we love God more. If it does not cause us to love God more, it puffs up the carnal Christian with pride. (1Cor 4:6, 18-19 1Cor 5:2 1Cor 8:1 1Cor 13:4)
This is a self-study, Please do not send homework answers to the teacher forcorrection.
- Application of 2Pet 1:1-9
- Which of these 7 characteristics does your character need the most: Virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, or charity?
- Preparation for 2Pet 1:10-21
- Read 2Pet 1:10-21
- What things does Peter want believers to remember? (12-13, 15)
- What is “the tabernacle” in verse 14?
- What is the meaning of the end of verse 19?
Memory Verse: 2Pet 1:10