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THE SECOND EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 1 - Verse 5
Verse 5. And beside this. kai auto touto. Something here is necessary to be understood in order to complete the sense. The reference is to 2 Pe 1:3; and the connexion is, "since (2 Pe 1:3) God has given us these exalted privileges and hopes, in respect to this, (kata or dia being understood,) or as a consequence fairly flowing from this, we ought to give all diligence that we may make good use of these advantages, and secure as high attainments as we possibly can. We should add one virtue to another, that we may reach the highest possible elevation in holiness."
Giving all diligence. Greek, "Bringing in all zeal or effort." The meaning is, that we ought to make this a distinct and definite object, and to apply ourselves to it as a thing to be accomplished.
Add to your faith virtue. It is not meant in this verse and the following that we are to endeavour particularly to add these things one to another in the order in which they are specified, or that we are to seek first to have faith, and then to add to that virtue, and then to add knowledge to virtue rather than to faith, etc. The order in which this is to be done, the relation which one of these things may have to another, is not the point aimed at; nor are we to suppose that any other order of the words would not have answered the purpose of the apostle as well, or that any one of the virtues specified would not sustain as direct a relation to any other, as the one which he has specified. The design of the apostle is to say, in an emphatic manner, that we are to strive to possess and exhibit all these virtues; in other words, we are not to content ourselves with a single grace, but are to cultivate all the virtues, and to endeavour to make our piety complete in all the relations which we sustain. The essential idea in the passage before us seems to be, that in our religion we are not to be satisfied with one virtue, or one class of virtues, but that there is to be
(1.) a diligent CULTIVATION of our virtues, since the graces of religion are as susceptible of cultivation as any other virtues;
(2.) that there is to be PROGRESS made from one virtue to another, seeking to reach the highest possible point in our religion; and,
(3.) that there is to be an ACCUMULATION of virtues and graces-or we are not to be satisfied with one class, or with the attainments which we can make in one class. We are to endeavour to add on one after another until we have become possessed of all. Faith, perhaps, is mentioned first, because that is the foundation of all Christian virtues; and the other virtues are required to be added to that, because, from the place which faith occupies in the plan of justification, many might be in danger of supposing that if they had that they had all that was necessary. Comp. Jas 2:14, seq. In the Greek word rendered "add," (epicorhghsate,) there is an allusion to a chorus-leader among the Greeks, and the sense is well expressed by Doddridge: "Be careful to accompany that belief with all the lovely train of attendant graces." Or, in other words, "let faith lead on as at the head of the choir or the graces, and let all the others follow in their order." The word here rendered virtue is the same which is used in 2 Pe 1:3; and there is included in it, probably, the same general idea which was noticed there. All the things which the apostle specifies, unless knowledge be an exception, are virtues in the sense in which that word is commonly used; and it can hardly be supposed that the apostle here meant to use a general term which would include all of the others. The probability is, therefore, that by the word here he has reference to the common meaning of the Greek word, as referring to manliness, courage, rigour, energy; and the sense is, that he wished them to evince whatever firmness or courage might be necessary in maintaining the principles of their religion, and in enduring the trials to which their faith might be subjected. True virtue is not a tame and passive thing. It requires great energy and boldness, for its very essence is firmness, manliness, and independence.
And to virtue knowledge. The knowledge of God and of the way of salvation through the Redeemer, 2 Pe 2:3. Comp. 2 Pe 3:8. It is the duty of every Christian to make the highest possible attainments in knowledge.
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