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4Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

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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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