Seven Qualities Added On After Justification According to Peter
2 Peter 1:5-12 presents the believer with a building program in which the faithful apostle lays out, brick by brick, the qualities that all Christians, all disciples of Jesus Christ are to exhibit and express both inwardly and outwardly. We may consider Peter's exhortation a building program, and one that is a never-ending project. Brick by brick, layer upon layer, we are built up to greater heights by the grace and love of our Lord for his good pleasure.
Peter exhorts those who read his letter to make every effort to add unto themselves faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, Godliness, and brotherly kindness. And "The building program Peter urges upon his readers is based upon faith, that is, on the individual's initial response to God's love as revealed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ."* Yet it is Peter's emphasis that saving faith does not rest, it is embodied in action, in the living out of conviction. "Such conversion-faith," Hillyer writes, "is not the be-all and end-all of a Christian life (cf. James 2:20), but only the beginning-as a seed is intended to be the first stage of growth and ultimate maturity."**
Peter presents a list of qualities, each of which is to be supplemented by the next, culminating in the characteristic Christian virtue of Love (1 Cor. 13).
The qualities, abstracted from Hillyer's commentary are:
1) Goodness will be developed-The goodness Peter speaks of is to be considered as a kind of "divine goodness" or quality. This goodness is the believer's response to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and is a reflection of that work in the believer's life.
2) With goodness comes knowledge-This is an ever growing and maturing of what it is to live life in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It is the kind of knowledge that increasingly leads to right responses in thought and deed that truly reflect the image of Christ who dwells within the disciple.
3) With knowledge comes self control-with the increased desire to live a live that is pleasing to God comes the discipline of self-control. This is the kind of discipline that comes through a life seasoned in willful submission to the Lord, confident that his ways lead are better than fleshy desires and that these desire need not be acted upon unless they are pleasing to our Lord in heaven.
4) Through the practice of self-control comes perseverance-This is the confident endurance of the believer that one day the Lord will right all wrongs, that he will endure to the end and that he will fulfill his promises of redemption. Here the disciple of Jesus Christ, carries their cross daily for the hope, love, and joy that is to come.
5) With goodness, knowledge, self-control and perseverance comes brotherly love-This is the inward and outward expression of the love that the Lord has shown to you expressed towards one's fellow brothers and sisters who also dwell in the house of our Lord. In addition, genuine love is also the attitude towards those who do not yet dwell within our Lord's house. Therefore brotherly love is the modeling of Christ's attitude and actions toward all. It is Godliness: to believers first but to the world always.***
Hillyer notes that the development, or the lack of development, of these qualities that the Apostle Peter wrote of will inevitably show up in the disciple's life. Thus if the disciple reflects these qualities, then this is a fruit of the Spirit reflected in their life through their attitudes and their actions. Yet the maturing of these qualities requires the willingness of the disciple and we should take seriously the apostle Peter's warning toward us that if these qualities are not sought after and reflected in the disciple's life, then the disciple's walk has grown stagnate and will come to nothing. This, Peter argues, is because the Christian life is ineffective out of a lack of action and this wayward disciple has become unproductive with no spiritual fruit to offer.
Peter's warning runs deeper for in verse nine he argues that the lacking of these qualities means that the disciple is nearsighted and blind. That such a person has deliberately forgotten that he has been cleansed from his or her past sins and is now able to make a fresh start manifesting the fruit of growing in grace and faith.
Thus Peter exhorts believers in verse ten to be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure-meaning that all disciples should seek to increase upon these qualities. Peter then provides the reason that all believers are to do this, saying, those who do will receive rich reward within the kingdom of heaven.
Peter then finalizes his exhortation and warnings in verse twelve with a pastoral emphasis, saying, "I will always remind you of these things." And here we are reminded that we are to continually remind one another of the desire to ever-increasingly reflect the nature of our Lord in out thoughts and deeds, be they seen or hidden fighting against and resisting the spirit of complacency.
* Norman Hillyer, New International
Biblical Commentary: 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, Peabody, Mass.:Henrickson
Publishers, 1992, p. 165.
*** Ibid., pp. 165-71.
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