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2 Peter 1:1-4

1. Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

1. Simeon Petrus, et servus et apostolus Jesu Christi, iis quid aequè pretiosam nobiscum sortiti sunt fidem, per justitiam Dei nostri et Servatoris Jesu Christí,

2. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

2. Gratia vobis et pax multiplicetur per cognitionem (vel, cum cognitione) Dei et Jesu Domini nostri;

3. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

3. Quemadmodum divina ejus potentia omnia nobis quae spectant ad vitam et pietatem dedit per cognitionem ejus qui vocavit nos propria gloria et virtute (vel, per gloriam virtutem):

4. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

4. Quibus et maximae pretiosae promissiones nobis donatae sunt, ut per Haec fieretis divinae consortes naturae, ubi fugeritis corruptionem quae in mundo est in concupiscentia.

 

1. Simon Peter. Prayer takes the first place at the beginning of this Epistle, and then follows thanksgiving, by which he excites the Jews to gratitude, lest they should forget what great benefits they had already received from God's hand. Why he called himself the servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, we have elsewhere stated, even because no one is to be heard in the Church, except he speaks as from the mouth of Christ. But the word servant has a more general meaning, because it includes all the ministers of Christ, who sustain any public office in the Church. There was in the apostleship a higher rank of honor. He then intimates, that he was not one from the rank of ministers, but was made by the Lord an apostle, and therefore superior to them. 144144     Simeon, and not Simon, is the name as here given, though a few copies and the Vulg. have Simon. His name is given both ways elsewhere; see Luke 5:8, and Acts 15:14. Why he called himself Peter in the first Epistle, and Simeon Peter here, does not appear. — Ed.

Like precious faith. This is a commendation of the grace which God had indiscriminately shewed to all his elect people; for it was no common gift, that they had all been called to one and the same faith, since faith is the special and chief good of man. But he calls it like or equally precious, not that it is equal in all, but because all possess by faith the same Christ with his righteousness, and the same salvation. Though then the measure is different, that does not prevent the knowledge of God from being common to all, and the fruit which proceeds from it. Thus we have a real fellowship of faith with Peter and the Apostles.

He adds, through the righteousness of God, in order that they might know that they did not obtain faith through their own efforts or strength, but through God's favor alone. For these things stand opposed the one to the other, the righteousness of God (in the sense in which it is taken here) and the merit of man. For the efficient cause of faith is called God's righteousness for this reason, because no one is capable of conferring it on himself. So the righteousness that is to be understood, is not that which remains in God, but that which he imparts to men, as in Romans 3:22. Besides, he ascribes this righteousness in common to God and to Christ, because it flows from God, and through Christ it flows down to us. 145145     It has been maintained by many, that the rendering of these words ought to be, “of our God and Savior Jesus Christ,” In this case the ἐν before “righteousness” would be rendered “in;” for it is more suitable to say that faith is in than through the righteousness of Christ. Christ is thus called here God as well as Savior; and so he is called “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” in chapter 3:18, the article being used in the same manner. — Ed.

2. Grace and peace. By grace is designated God’s paternal favor towards us. We have indeed been once for all reconciled to God by the death of Christ, and by faith we come to the possession of this so great a benefit; but as we perceive the grace of God according to the measure of our faith, it is said to increase according to our perception when it becomes more fully known to us.

Peace is added; for as the beginning of our happiness is when God receives us into favor; so the more he confirms his love in our hearts, the richer blessing he confers on us, so that we become happy and prosperous in all things,

Through the knowledge, literally, in the knowledge; but the preposition ἐν often means “through” or “with:” yet both senses may suit the context. I am, however, more disposed to adopt the former. For the more any one advances in the knowledge of God, every kind of blessing increases also equally with the sense of divine love. Whosoever then aspires to the full fruition of the blessed life which is mentioned by Peter, must remember to observe the right way. He connects together at the same time the knowledge of God and of Christ; because God cannot be rightly known except in Christ, according to that saying,

“No one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom
the Son will reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)

3. According as his divine power. He refers to the infinite goodness of God which they had already experienced, that they might more fully understand it for the future. For he continues the course of his benevolence perpetually to the end, except when we ourselves break it off by our unbelief; for he possesses exhaustless power and an equal will to do good. Hence the Apostle justly animates the faithful to entertain good hope by the consideration of the former benefits of God. 146146     The connection here is variously regarded. Our version and Calvin seem to connect this verse with the foregoing, in this sense, that the Apostle prays for the increase of grace and peace from the consideration of what God had already done, or in conformity with his previous benefits. Others, perhaps more correctly, view this verse as connected with the 5th, and render ὡς, “Since,” and the beginning of the 5th verse, “Do ye also for this reason, giving all diligence, add,” etc.; that is, “Since God has done so great things for you, ye also for this reason ought to be diligent in adding to your faith virtue, etc.” But ὡς and καὶ may be rendered as and so. See Acts 7:51. “As his divine power... so for this reason, giving all diligence, add,” etc. — Ed. For the same purpose is the amplification which he makes; for he might have spoken more simply, “As he has freely given us all things.” But by mentioning “divine power,” he rises higher, that is, that God has copiously unfolded the immense resources of his power. But the latter clause may be referred to Christ as well as to the Father, but both are suitable. It may however be more fitly applied to Christ, as though he had said, that the grace which is conveyed to us by him, is an evidence of divinity, because it could not have done by humanity.

That pertain to life and godliness, or, as to life and godliness. Some think that the present life is meant here, as godliness follows as the more excellent gift; as though by those two words Peter intended to prove how beneficent and bountiful God is towards the faithful, that he brought them to light, that he supplies them with all things necessary for the preservation of an earthly life, and that he has also renewed them to a spiritual life by adorning them with godliness. But this distinction is foreign to the mind of Peter, for as soon as he mentioned life, he immediately added godliness, which is as it were its soul; for God then truly gives us life, when he renews us unto the obedience of righteousness. So Peter does not speak here of the natural gifts of God, but only mentions those things which he confers peculiarly on his own elect above the common order of nature. 147147     The order is according to what is common in Scripture; the chief thing is mentioned first, and then that which leads to it. — Ed.

That we are born men, that we are endued with reason and knowledge, that our life is supplied with necessary support, — all this is indeed from God. As however men, being perverted in their minds and ungrateful, do not regard these various things, which are called the gifts of nature, among God's benefits, the common condition of human life is not here referred to, but the peculiar endowments of the new and Spiritual life, which derive their origin from the kingdom of Christ. But since everything necessary for godliness and salvation is to be deemed among the supernatural gifts of God, let men learn to arrogate nothing to themselves, but humbly ask of God whatever they see they are wanting in, and to ascribe to him whatever good they may have. For Peter here, by attributing the whole of godliness, and all helps to salvation, to the divine power of Christ, takes them away from the common nature of men, so that he leaves to us not even the least particle of any virtue or merit.

Through the knowledge of him. He now describes the manner in which God makes us partakers of so great blessings, even by making himself known to us by the gospel. For the knowledge of God is the beginning of life and the first entrance into godliness. In short, spiritual gifts cannot be given for salvation, until, being illuminated by the doctrine of the gospel, we are led to know God. But he makes God the author of this knowledge, because we never go to him except when called. Hence the effectual cause of faith is not the perspicacity of our mind, but the calling of God. And he speaks not of the outward calling only, which is in itself ineffectual; but of the inward calling, effected by the hidden power of the Spirit when God not only sounds in our ears by the voice of man, but draws inwardly our hearts to himself by his own Spirit.

To glory and virtue, or, by his own glory and power. Some copies have ἰδία δόξὟ, “by his own glory," and it is so rendered by the old interpreter; and this reading I prefer, because the sentence seems thus to flow better For it was Peter's object expressly to ascribe the whole praise of our salvation to God, so that we may know that we owe every thing to him. And this is more clearly expressed by these words, — that he has called us by his own glory and power. However, the other reading, though more obscure, tends to the same thing; for he teaches us, that we are covered with shame, and are wholly vicious, until God clothes us with glory and adorns us with virtue. He further intimates, that the effect of calling in the elect, is to restore to them the glorious image of God, and to renew them in holiness and righteousness.

4. Whereby are given to us. It is doubtful whether he refers only to glory and power, or to the preceding things also. The whole difficulty arises from this, — that what is here said is not suitable to the glory and virtue which God confers on us; but if we read, “by his own glory and power,” there will be no ambiguity nor perplexity. For what things have been promised to us by God, ought to be properly and justly deemed to be the effects of his power and glory. 148148     The received text no doubt contains the true rending. The word ἀρετὴ never means “power” either in the classics, or in the Sept., or in the New Testament. Beza and also Schleusner, regard διὰ as expressing the final cause, to; it is also used in the sense of “for the sake of,” or, “on account of.” “Glory and virtue” are in a similar order as the previous words, “life and godliness,” and also in the same order with the concluding words of the next verse, “partakers of the divine nature,” and “escaping the corruptions of the world.” So that there is a correspondence as to the order of the words throughout the whole passage.
   With respect to δι ᾿ ὦν, the rendering may be, “for the sake of which,” that is, for the purpose of leading us to “glory and virtue,”“ many and precious promises have been given; and then the conclusion of the verse states the object in other words, that we might by these promises become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the pollutions of the world. Escaping the corruption of the world is “godliness,” is “virtue;” and partaking of the divine nature is “life,” is “glory.” This complete correspondence confirms the meaning which Beza and our version give to the preposition διὰ at the end of the third verse. — Ed.

At the same time the copies vary here also; for some have δι ᾿ ὃν, “on account of whom;” so the reference may be to Christ. Whichsoever of the two readings you choose, still the meaning will be, that first the promises of God ought to be most highly valued; and, secondly, that they are gratuitous, because they are offered to us as gifts. And he then shews the excellency of the promises, that they make us partakers of the divine nature, than which nothing can be conceived better.

For we must consider from whence it is that God raises us up to such a height of honor. We know how abject is the condition of our nature; that God, then, should make himself ours, so that all his things should in a manner become our things, the greatness of his grace cannot be sufficiently conceived by our minds. Therefore this consideration alone ought to be abundantly sufficient to make us to renounce the world and to carry us aloft to heaven. Let us then mark, that the end of the gospel is, to render us eventually conformable to God, and, if we may so speak, to deify us.

But the word nature is not here essence but quality. The Manicheans formerly dreamt that we are a part of God, and that, after having run the race of life we shall at length revert to our original. There are also at this day fanatics who imagine that we thus pass over into the nature of God, so that his swallows up our nature. Thus they explain what Paul says, that God will be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28,) and in the same sense they take this passage. But such a delirium as this never entered the minds of the holy Apostles; they only intended to say that when divested of all the vices of the flesh, we shall be partakers of divine and blessed immortality and glory, so as to be as it were one with God as far as our capacities will allow.

This doctrine was not altogether unknown to Plato, who everywhere defines the chief good of man to be an entire conformity to God; but as he was involved in the mists of errors, he afterwards glided off to his own inventions. But we, disregarding empty speculations, ought to be satisfied with this one thing, — that the image of God in holiness and righteousness is restored to us for this end, that we may at length be partakers of eternal life and glory as far as it will be necessary for our complete felicity.

Having escaped We have already explained that the design of the Apostle was, to set before us the dignity of the glory of heaven, to which God invites us, and thus to draw us away from the vanity of this world. Moreover, he sets the corruption of the world in opposition to the divine nature; but he shews that this corruption is not in the elements which surround us, but in our heart, because there vicious and depraved affections prevail, the fountain and root of which he points out by the word lust. Corruption, then, is thus placed in the world, that we may know that the world is in us.


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