The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Peter 1:2-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 2, 2012

A Summary of 2 Peter 1~The Apostle commences this chapter with the usual form of apostolical salutation (verses 1-2), In the next place, he exhorts the faithful, seeing that God has bestowed on them the most exalted gifts (3-4), to correspond with his gracious designs, by performing, on their part, aided by divine grace, the good works necessary for securing ihe end of salvation, and by practising, in an exalted degree, the Christian virtues, of which he points out, in a beautiful order, a perfect series or gradation. In this chain of virtues, the first link is the virtue offaith; the last, charity (5-7). He points out the good effect of cultivating, in a perfect degree, these exalted virtues (8); and, on the other hand, he shows the great evils which their absence entails on a Christian, who, without them, is blind and groping in the dark (9).

He next exhorts them to insure, by good works, the object of their vocation and election (10). And he points out the end and glorious rewards to which perseverance in good will conduct them (11). He declares his determination to instruct them in these truths; this he considers a matter of duty, during the short time he had to live; that his continuance in life was to be very brief, he knew from revelation (12-14).

He expresses his anxiety to take some steps, whereby they may be enabled, even after his death, to call these truths to mind, probably, by leaving his written Epistles, or, “by commending these things to faithful men,” as did St. Paul (2. Tim 2) No wonder, he should be anxious to impart to them his doctrine; for, he received it not from any false or erroneous source; he only declared concerning Christ’s glory, what he, himself, was an eye-witness of, at the transfiguration, a type of the glory to be displayed at his second coming (16). He refers, also, to the splendid testimony rendered to him by God the Father (17); a testimony which St. Peter, together ivith John and James, heard when they were with him on Mount Thabor (17-18).

He next adduces the testimony of the prophets, which, in the mind of the Jews, carried greater weight with it, than any attestation of the Apostles; and, he commends them for attending to this testimony, until they are firmly established in the faith (19).

He tells them, in attending to the oracles of sacred Scripture, to bear in mind, that the sacred Scriptures are to be interpreted, not by any private exposition; but, to be explained by the same spirit, by which they were originally dictated (20-21).

2Pe 1:2  Grace to you and peace be accomplished in the knowledge of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord.

May the blessings of grace and peace be increased and multiplied for you, along with, or, through your knowledge of God, and of Christ Jesus our Lord, which knowledge is the source of all spiritual blessings.

“Grace” &c.—the apostolical salutation—” be accomplished.” The Greek, πληθυνθειη, means, be multiplied or increased, “in the knowledge,” &c. The particle “in,” is interpreted, with, here, also (vide Paraphrase). Others make “in” the same as by, or through, so as to give the words this meaning: may peace and grace be multiplied for you, through the knowledge you will obtain of God, and of “Jesus Christ” (as man), “our Lord;” for, almost all the fundamental articles of our failh have for object, the divinity and humanity of Christ. “Of Christ Jesus.” The word “Christ” is omitted in the Greek. It is, however, found in the Alexandrian MS. and versions generally.

2Pe 1:3  As all things of his divine power which appertain to life and godliness are given us through the knowledge of him who hath called us by his own proper glory and virtue.

As God has, by his divine power, conferred on us all spiritual life here, and eternal life hereafter, through the knowledge and faith of him, who has called us, by his glorious benignity, or merciful humanity.

Some interpreters connect this verse with the preceding, thus: “may grace and peace be increased for you through the knowledge of God” (verse 2), as it was through the knowledge of him, who called you by his glorious power, that all the gifts of the divine virtue, which conduce to your spiritual and eternal life, were originally conferred on you. According to these, the Apostle prays for an increase of all spiritual blessings, “grace,” and their secure possession, “peace,” through the same medium or channel, through which they were originally imparted, viz., the knowledge of Jesus Christ, “of him who called you, by his own power and virtue.” Others, with greater probability, suspend the sense, until we come to verse 5 (the construction adopted in Paraphrase).

It is to be remarked, that in the Greek, the words, “are given to us,” are read in the past participle passive, agreeing in the genitive case with “of his divine power,” της θειας δυναμεως δεδωρημενης. But in the next verse, the same is rendered actively (“‘he hath given us”—verse 4, in Greek, δεδωρηται), and so it should, most probably, in this also; hence, adhering to the Greek, it ought to run thus: ”as his divine power hath given us all the gifts which appertain to life, &c” “By his own proper glory and virtue;” (“his own” are not in the Greek), “glory and virtue,” means, glorious power. “Virtue,” however, in this latter case, is different in signification from “power,” in the words, “of his divine power” (δυναμεως), where it refers to his attribute of omnipotence; in this (as appears from the Greek, αρετης), “virtue” means, his benignity, goodness, or humanity.

2Pe 1:4  By whom he hath given us most great and precious promises: that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature: flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.

Through whom he has bestowed on us the most exalted and precious gifts, promised in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, so that by these gifts you may become, in a certain sense, partakers of the divine nature by imitation, flying the obstacles to this spiritual existence, viz., the corrupt deeds of concupiscence or lust, which reigns in the world.

“By whom;” in the Greek it is ( δι ων) “by which” gifts of his divine power, conducing to spiritual and eternal life; some, however, of the best copies support our Vulgate, “by whom,” viz., Christ; and this accords best with the sacred Scriptures, which exhibit the Father, as bestowing all blessings on us, through Christ; “that by these you may be made partakers of the divine nature,” refers to sanctifying grace, which is a quality that permanently resides in the soul by way of habit, gives to it a new spiritual essence, a supernatural subsistence; makes it the constant abode of the Holy Ghost; and this spiritual, supernatural subsistence, makes us sharers or partakers of the divine nature by imitation, as nearly as a creature can approach the nature of the Creator in this life, and in the next life, when “we are transformed into him.” “Flying the corruption of that concupiscence which is in the world.” The Greek is, αποφυγοντες της εν τω κοσμω εν επιθυμια φθορας, flying the corruption that is in the world, in, or through, concupiscence. The Apostle points out the obstacles to the preservation of this spiritual existence, viz., mortal sin, with which sanctifying grace can never co-exist in the soul; the corrupt deeds of concupiscence or lust, which reigns in the world, are, in a particular way, opposed to the purity of sanctifying grace; he calls these unclean deeds “corruption,” because indulgence in them corrupts and degrades the rational nature of man, blinds his intellect, and perverts his will.

2Pe 1:5  And you, employing all care, minister in your faith, virtue: And in virtue, knowledge:

(As God, then [verse 3], has, on his part, conferred the greatest blessings on you, by thus raising you to a participation in his divine nature, &c.), so do you, on your part, co-operate with him, by employing all diligence and care, for the permanence and perpetuity of these gifts; with faith supply, or join the moral virtues, and performance of good works; with the performance of good works join prudence, or the practical knowledge of the befitting circumstances of each action.

Here, the sentence commencing at verse 3 is now completed, as, God, on his part, has conferred the greatest blessings (verse 3); so, do you, on your part, co-operate with him. The words, αυτο τουτο for this very reason, are added in the Greek; and mean, for the purpose of permanently enjoying those blessings already conferred on you; “employing all care.” The Greek word for “employing,” παρεισενεγκαντες, expresses the subordinate co-operation of our faculties, aided by God’s grace. The Apostle, in a beautiful gradation, now points out the deeds wherein our free will, aided by divine grace, should co-operate, and manifest our gratitude “for the great and precious promises” (4) gratuitously fulfilled for us by God; for, although our co-operation is the effect of divine grace, he still wishes to remind us of the necessity of this co-operation on our part, just as the husbandman should be reminded of the duty of planting and watering, although the increase be the work of God alone. “Minister” (in Greek, επιχορηγησατε, supply) “in your faith, virtue.” “In” signifies, with, the meaning of the Hebrew, beth; with faith supply virtue, that is, to your faith join the moral virtues or good works; since without them, faith is dead; “and in virtue, knowledge,” to the moral virtues, join the practical knowledge commonly termed prudence, which considers all the circumstances of  any moral work to be performed.

2Pe 1:6  And in knowledge, abstinence: and in abstinence, patience: and in patience, godliness:

With prudence, join the government of your passions, and abstinence from illicit indulgence in carnal and sensual pleasures; with abstinence, join patient and persevering endurance of afflictions and mortification; and with patience, join godliness, making the good will and pleasure of God, the pure motive of your virtuous suffering and endurance.

“And in knowledge, abstinence,” to prudence join temperance, or the governing of the passions, together with abstinence from carnal pleasures; for, nothing so much blinds the mind, or obscures the prudent judgment of the intellect, as the inordinate indulgence in sensual pleasures. “And in abstinence, patience,” since, if a man have not patience to bear up against crosses and adversity, he will not long persevere in abstinence; for, as this very abstinence, this mortification and crucifixion of the carnal man, is itself opposed to our corrupt nature, it will require great patience to hold out; without such patience, we will give up this state of suffering, and fall back for solace on carnal pleasures and enjoyment. “And in patience, godliness,” to patience, join piety. The service and good pleasure of God should be the motive of this self-mortification, and of our sufferings. This will distinguish our virtues from that of the Pagan philosophers, whose motive in suffering was pride and vain glory.

2Pe 1:7  And in godliness, love of brotherhood: and in love of brotherhood, charity.

And with piety towards God, join a due regard and love for your neighbor, and with this love of your neighbor, join the motive of charity or loving him for God, and not from any purely natural motive.

“And with godliness (join) a love of brotherhood.” Many who are severe on themselves, and apparently pious and exact in regard to the duties which they owe God, are frequently wanting in a due love and consideration for their brethren. The Apostle corrects this mistaken idea or neglect of duty. “And in love of brotherhood, charity; ” their love of the neighbour should not be grounded on mere natural feelings, nor on motives of interest—such would be mere Pagan virtue, “do not even the publicans and heathens this?”—(Matthew 5:46-47); he must be loved with the love of “charity,” for God’s sake. It is worthy of remark, that in this chain of virtues the first link is “faith,” without which the moral virtues will rarely or never be practised; and the last, “charity,” the queen of virtues, without which all the rest will not secure our salvation.

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