1. Introductory comments
ii] Participating in the divine nature rather than the world's corruptionArgument
Peter's opens in typical letter form with a greeting, but given that the letter is going to be read in public, he moves quickly into an exordium, that element of a classical rhetorical composition which seeks to touch on the topic at hand while gaining the attention and favour of the audience. He speaks first to the glorious destiny that awaits his readers, and then goes on to remind them that they have an important part in making that destiny secure.
i] Context: See 1:1-2 The introduction gets underway with a greeting and benediction, v1-2, and then moves into the first element of a classical rhetorical composition known as the Exordium, v3-15. In this part of an address / sermon / rhetorical composition, the writer attempts to engage with the audience, develop a rapport, before launching into the argument proper, the Probatio, which in this letter concerns the day of judgment at the return of Christ, 1:16-3:13. The Exordium presents in two parts. Unlike so many letters in the New Testament, this letter has little of an opening thanksgiving and prayer for the readers, but rather moves into speech-form in what David's calls a "miniature sermon" - a historical-theological section recounting divine acts, v3-4, an ethical exhortation, v5-10, an eschatological conclusion (salvation promised / judgment threatened), v11. Then follows a purpose statement indicating that Peter's intention in writing this letter is to leave a testament, v12-15 (his death is approaching, v14, and he desires to be remembered after his death, v15).
ii] Background: See 1:1-2
iii] Structure: Peter's mini sermon:
A historical-theological section recounting the divine acts, v3-4;
An ethical exhortation, v5-10;
An eschatological conclusion - salvation is promised, v11.
The Covenant Formulary by Baltzer, and translated by Green, argues that this scheme follows a standard Jewish homiletic pattern.
First and foremost, Peter establishes that believers are those who have come into a personal relationship with the living God in Christ. Because they know God, they experience his glory and are being shaped into his image, v3-4. Peter then calls on his readers to confirm the relationship they have with Christ by crowning / supplementing their faith with godliness, v5-7. Those who strive to live an ethically sound life, build on the relationship they have with Jesus, v8, while those who don't, deny that relationship, v9. So, strive to ratify that standing, v10, and eternity is yours, v11.
Knowledge: Central to this passage is the word "knowledge". In second Peter, "knowledge" entails a personal and intimate meeting and communion with God in Christ. The word comes close to how we today would describe our conversion experience, our meeting with Jesus through the gospel, our coming to know Jesus. Through this "knowledge" we experience God's "glory and goodness", and slowly begin to "participate in the divine nature."
Text - 1:3
Peter's mini sermon, v3-11: i] Theology - acknowledgment of Christ brings participation in the divine nature, v3-4. Having acknowledged the call of God in Christ, realised through his divine power, a believer receives "the spiritual armour .... for a continued life of Godly fear", Reicke, v3. Through this divine power a believer receives God's promised blessings and so becomes a partaker of the divine nature, having been set free from the world of sin and death, v4. The idea of participating in "the divine nature" is a very Greek / Hellenistic way of expressing the same thought Paul expresses in Romans 6:5-11, of dying with Christ and rising with Christ and so being "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus", Rom.6:11.
The Greek of v3-4 leading into v5 is somewhat complex. The opening, wJV + a genitive absolute participial construction, serves to introduce a complex causal clause: lit:
"As = because / given thatthe divine power of him having been given to us, everything to/for life and godliness though the knowledge / acknowledgment of the one having called us by/to his own glory and virtue (= divine power) through which things he has given to us the precious and great promises that through these you may become sharers of divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world in/by lust
then / it follows that / therefore (for this reason also) having applied all obedience ......."
So, it does seem that wJV here introduces a conditional construction, the protasis of which covers v3-4 and the apodosis v5; "given that / since everything for life ............ then / it follows that / therefore make every effort to ....." The trouble is that the apodosis in v5 is introduced by auto touto, an adverbial construction, "with respect to this thing (the theological truths supplied in v3-4)." It seems likely that we have an anacoluthon, ie., Peter has lost track of his syntax over a rather long complex sentence covering v3-4, having forgotten his causal introduction. Most translations get around the problem by ignoring the causal introduction, presenting v3-4 as a statement of fact followed by auto touto, v5, "to this end", Reicke; "His divine power has been bestowed upon us ......... This is why you, for your part, must bring the greatest efforts into play ....", Cassirer.
wJV "-" - as. Introducing the protasis of a conditional clause which is causal, "because ...... then ...."; See above.
thV ... dunamewV (iV ewV) gen. "power" - the [divine] power [of him]. Subject of the participle "having been given", genitive in a genitive absolute construction.
dedwrhmenhV (dwreomai) gen. perf. mid./pas. part. "has given" - having been given. Genitive absolute participle, causal.
hJmin dat. pro. "us" - to us. Dative of indirect object.
proV "for" - [all things] toward = for. Here expressing purpose / end view; "with a view to ...."; "leading to ...", Davids.
zwhn kai eusebeian "life and godliness / a godly life" - life and godliness. Accusative direct object of the participle "having been given." "Eternal life" and "sound as opposed to erroneous religion", Kelly. Yet, such pairs in this letter often express a single sense, so "a life of godliness / a godly life", Bauckham, so also Reicke.
dia + gen. "through" - Instrumental, expressing means; "by means of ...."
epignwsewV (iV ewV) gen. "our knowledge" - the knowledge / acknowledgement. See epignwsei v2.
tou kalesantoV (kalew) gen. aor. part. "of him who called" - of the one having called [us]. The participle serves as a substantive. Possibly effectual call, but "invited" should not be discounted, ie., to call to repentance and faith.
doxh/ (a) dat. "by [his own] glory" - in [one's own] glory [and moral excellence, virtue]. The dative is probably instrumental, "by mans of"; "by virtue of his majesty and excellence", Cassirer. Again, the paired words "glory" and "virtue" probably express a single idea, something like "moral virtue", Bauckham, Bigg, Green; "his wonderful goodness", CEV.
di (dia) gen. "through" - by [which]. Instrumental, expressing means, "by which", the "which" being "his own glory and goodness / wonderful goodness."
hJmin dat. pro. "us" - [he has given the precious and great promises] to us. Dative of indirect object. Through our acknowledgment of Christ / faith in Christ, by means of God's grace / his "wonderful goodness", a believer has received the promised blessings of the covenant in full measure.
iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, or better hypothetical result, "so that" - the envisaged outcome; the outcome being participation in the divine nature.
dia + gen. "through" - by [these]. Instrumental, expressing means; "by means of ..." The antecedent of toutwn, "them / these", is obviously "the priceless and magnificent promises", Reicke, ie., the promised blessings of the covenant.
qusewV (iV ewV) gen. "in the [divine] nature" - [you may become partners / sharers] of [divine] nature. The genitive is usually viewed as verbal, objective, as NIV. As noted above, the idea of sharing in the divine nature is a rather Greek / Hellenistic way of expressing what Paul argues in Romans 6:5-11, of becoming a new person in Christ, the old person having been crucified with Christ, the new person having risen to new life in Christ.
apofugonteV (apofeugw) aor. part. "having escaped" - having escaped [the corruption, decay]. The participle is adverbial, probably temporal, with the aorist indicating a particular moment of escape, namely the moment when God in Christ is acknowledged. It is then when a believer escapes from the death-inducing corruption of the world which is the fruit of sinful desires. Kelly, also Reicke, argues that the moment Peter has in mind is baptism, but that is a somewhat sacramental interpretation.
en + dat. "in" - in [the world]. Local, expressing space. The world is subject to corruption by means of the infection of epiqumia, "lust / desire" = "evil"; "the disintegrating power of evil by which the whole created order, according to Paul (Rom.8:21), is enslaved in the present age", Kelly.
en + dat. "caused by" - in = by [lust, desire]. Probably instrumental, expressing means, "by means of" = "caused by lust"; "through the lustful passions which it (the world) cherishes", Cassirer.
ii] Ethics: Since believers share divinity with Christ (are a new person "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus", Rom.6:11), set free from the corrupting power of sin in this world and endowed with divine blessings, THEN / therefore on this theological basis ....... = ethical exhortations, v5-10. Peter encourages his readers to crown their faith / acknowledgment of Christ with right living, v5-7, so that their acknowledgment might not prove to be "ineffective and unfruitful", v8, but rather demonstrate that they have been "cleansed from past sins", v9, so confirming their "call and election", v10.
auto touto acc. "for this very reason" - [and] this thing. The construction is probably adverbial, accusative of respect, "with respect to this thing" = "just for this reason", MHT III, p.45. "With respect to / given the theological truths outlined in v3-4, you must make every effort to ....." This adverbial phrase serves to introduce the apodosis of the conditional clause which commenced in v3; "given that / because ...... then, for this reason, having applied all diligence, supplement your faith with zeal"
pareisenegkanteV (pareisferw) aor. part. "every effort" - having applied, brought to bear [all diligence, zeal]. Idiomatic phrase: "bringing every effort to bear / doing one's very best", cf., Davids Gk. The participle is adverbial, instrumental, expressing means; "by means of every effort, with your faith add virtue."
en + dat. "-" - in = with. Given the sense of supplementing something with something, the preposition here expresses association, "with"; "with your faith add virtue", ESV.
pistei (iV ewV) dat. "faith" - the faith [of you]. Probably not "the faith", in the sense of Christian doctrine, but of commitment to that doctrine, "loyal adhesion to Christian teaching", Kelly, so also Bauckham ("faith in the gospel which is the basis of all Christian life"), or "commitment to Jesus", Neyrey, so also Davids ("faithfulness or commitment to God in Jesus"). Peter may have either of these in mind, or both together. As with "knowledge / acknowledgment", a term virtually parallel with "faith" in this letter, is it an acknowledgment of the truth / gospel, or the person of God in Jesus, or both together? What seems clear is that Peter's readers have this "faith / faithfulness" and to this faith they are to add seven virtues / ethical qualities. There may, or may not be significance in the number seven. The piling up of virtues on a single given is a favoured rhetorical technique.
arethn (h) "goodness" - [add, supplement, supply in addition, provide for in addition] moral goodness, virtue. Accusative direct object of the verb "to supplement, supply in addition." "Moral excellence", Bauckham.
in "knowledge" - [but/and] in = with [the virtue, add knowledge]. Again used to expresses association; "with virtue add knowledge" = "supplement your virtue with knowledge." "Knowledge" here probably here more in the sense of "discernment" rather than "a knowledge of Christ", Davids.
egkrateian (a) "self-control" - [but/and in = with knowledge, add] self-control. Accusative direct object of the assumed verb "to supplement, add in addition." The need "to be self-disciplined and not indulge ones physical desires to excess", Bauckham.
uJpomonhn (h) "perseverance" - [but/and with knowledge, add] endurance. Of the need to "stand firm in one's commitment to Jesus over the long haul in the face of persecution or other hardships", Davids*.
eusebeian (a) "godliness" - [but/and with endurance, add] piety, godliness. "Godly fear", Reicke. Duty to God: one "should first and foremost honour their heavenly patron and pay their dues to God", Neyrey.
filadelfian (a) "mutual affection" - [but/and with godliness, add] brotherly love. "Kinship affection"; "Christians are regularly exhorted to treat each other as kin", Neyrey.
agaphn "love" - [but/and with brotherly love, add] love. Peter grounds his ethical list on "faith" and concludes it with the supreme all-encompassing ethic of "love". "Agaph has a universal scope (as compared with "mutual affection"), for the gospel demands love of our neighbour, whoever they may be", Kelly. Yet, "love" is more often used of love for the brotherhood, of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. If this is the intention here then "kinship affection" is not being used of the Christian family, but ones biological family.
If a believer fosters the qualities listed in v5-7 there will be a result. The result is a negative + a negative = a positive, always difficult to express in English (a litotes); "neither ineffective nor unproductive" = "you will grow actively and effectively", REB. Yet, in what sense do we grow / abound? The answer depends on how we read the preposition eiV. It could express result / end-view, so a growth in the knowledge of the Lord, so Mayor; "if you possess and develop these gifts, you will grow actively and effectively in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ", REB. Most likely it expresses reference / respect, so a growing in the Christian life is in mind, so Kelly, Bigg, Neyrey, Bauckham; "if you keep growing in this way, it will show that what you know about our Lord Jesus Christ has made your lives useful and meaningful", CEV. The "knowledge" in mind is of our knowing Christ at conversion; it is with respect to our engagement with Christ that we grow actively and effectively in the Christian life.
gar "for" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why the list of compounding ethical qualities should be applied, "because" they assist a believer in becoming fruitful in the knowledge of the Lord.
uparconta (uJparcw) pres. part. "if you possess" - [these things] being [in you and abounding]. This participle, as with "abounding", may be adjectival, attributive, limiting "these things", "these things which exist in you and abound in you", although being anarthrous, they are usually treated as adverbial, conditional, as NIV, ESV, etc.
uJmin dat. pro. "you" - in you. Dative of possession; "if these qualities belong to you".
tauta pro. "these things" - The pronoun serves as a substantive which, with the participles "being" and "abounding", stands as the nominative subject of the verb "to make."
ouk .... oude "-" - [makes you] not [unproductive] nor [unfruitful]. Negated comparative construction, here as a litotes, a negated understatement used to state the opposite; lit. "they will render you neither ineffective nor unproductive", Berkeley .
ouk argouV adj. "ineffective" - [makes you] not unproductive [nor unfruitful]. Along with "unfruitful", accusative complement of the assumed direct object "you" of the verb "makes", standing in a double accusative construction.
eiV + acc. "in" - to, into [the knowledge]. Here expressing result, "resulting in a knowledge of the Lord", or reference / respect; "with respect to the knowledge of the Lord"; see above.
tou kuriou (oV) gen. "of [our] Lord" - of the lord [of us]. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, objective, of our knowing the Lord.
Ihsou Cristou gen. "Jesus Christ" - Genitive standing in apposition to "Lord".
The person who fails to foster godliness / to cultivate Christian virtues in their life, denies the redemption that was theirs in Christ. As James would put it, "faith divorced from deeds is a lifeless corpse", Jam.2:26, cf., Phil.2:12f.
gar "but" - because. Introducing a causal clause explaining why a person "with these things" grows in knowledge, namely, because a person without them is blind.
w|/ dat. pro. "whoever" - to the one whom [these things are not present]. The relative clause introduced by this pronoun ("the one who is blind, nearsighted and forgetful of his past sins") serves as a substantive, subject of the negated verb "to not present = lacks", dative of possession; "the person who does not possess these things", Davids
muwpazwn (muwpazw) pres. part. "nearsighted" - [he is blind], nearsighted, poor sighted. The participle serves as a predicate adjective, standing in apposition to the predicate adjective "blind".
labwn (lambanw) aor. part. "forgetting" - taking = having [forgotten]. This periphrastic construction (part. + noun) also serves as a predicate adjective standing in apposition to the predicate adjective "blind"; "he is blind, nearsighted and forgetful of the cleansing" "Whoever lacks them is wilfully blind; he has forgotten that his past sins were washed away", REB.
tou kaqarismou (oV) gen. "that they have been cleansed" - of the cleansing. The genitive is usually taken as verbal, objective; "forgotten the cleansing."
twn .... aJmartiwn (a aV) gen. "from [their past] sins" - of [the old = past] sins. The genitive is ablative, expressing separation, "away from."
autou gen. pro. "their" - of him. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, or verbal, subjective.
Peter's readers are to make every effort to ratify their Christian standing, their calling and election. The leaving of past sins, and growing in the qualities listed in v5-7 provide a practical means of ratifying one's standing in Christ, and so provide the impetus for a renewed dependence on the renewing power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ.
dio "therefore" - therefore [rather brothers]. Inferential; drawing a logical conclusion. The attached comparative adverb mallon, "rather", intensifies the comparison with the negative perspective of the previous verses; "therefore, rather than that, brothers and sisters, ....."
spoudasate (spoudazw) aor. imp. "make every effort" - be diligent, expend effort. Possibly with the sense "make it the highest priority", Moo.
poieisqai (poiew) pres. mid. inf. "to confirm" - to make. Emphatic by position. The infinitive introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech / entreating, expressing the content of the diligence called for. The present tense probably indicates ongoing activity; "give more effort to", Vogtle.
bebaian adj. "confirm" - firm, sure, certain. Accusative direct object of the infinitive "to make"; "to make ... firm" = "to ratify", Moo. "It is all the more essential that you should do your utmost to make God's call to you, and his choice of you, into something that is firmly established", Cassirer.
ekloghn (h) "election" - the election [and calling of you]. With "calling", accusative complement of the direct object "firm", of the infinitive "to make", standing in a double accusative construction. These accusative are likely to be adverbial, reference / respect; the effort to make firm / ratify is to be applied with respect to their calling and election. "Election" is most often used of the election of a people, the chosen people for God, to which elect people (the holy remnant of Israel) God calls, in the sense of invites, the nations / Gentiles to join through faith. God's election is of a people, although many commentators do argue the opposite, namely that God's election is of individuals (predestination).
gar "for" - Introducing a causal clause explaining why every effort should be made "to confirm your calling and election."
poiounteV (poiew) pres. part. "if you do [these things]" - [these things] doing. The participle is adverbial, probably conditional, as NIV. The "these things" refers to the list of qualities in v5-7.
ou mh + subj. "never" - [you will] not not = never [once fall]. Subjunctive of emphatic negation. The presence of the particle pote, "once", intensifies. An ethical sense is possible, "never seriously err", Sidebottom, yet, an eternal fall is surely in mind, given v11. Striving day-by-day with Christ at hand, two steps forward one step back, confirms our eternal standing.
iii] Eschatological conclusion, v11. Salvation / "entry into the eternal kingdom", is promised to the faithful.
outwV adv. "and" - [for] thus, therefore. The inferential demonstrative adverb draws a conclusion from what precedes, possibly from the verb "you will never stumble", v10, or better, the wider ethical package. It could also serve to express manner, "for in this way", Neyrey, ESV, or even comparison, "in the same way", or both, although the context implies an inferential sense, "for then", Barclay, so also CEV; "all this is calculated to provide for you a safe and certain entry into the everlasting kingdom", Junkins.
uJmin dat. pro. "you" - [richly will be provided] for you. Dative of indirect object / interest, advantage. The word order in the Gk. is established by the noun eisodoV, "entrance", serving as the nominative subject of the passive verb "will be provided." "And there will be granted to you", Cassirer.
eiV + acc. "into" - [entrance] into. Spacial, expressing direction toward and arrival at.
hJmwn gen. pro. "our" - [the kingdom of the lord and saviour] of us. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / subordination; "Lord over us." "Our Master and Saviour, Jesus Christ", Peterson.
Ihsou Cristou gen. "Jesus Christ" - Standing in apposition to "Lord and Saviour." The genitive, as with "of Lord" and "of saviour", is adjectival, possessive, "belonging to", but if we view "kingdom" in the terms of Christ's rule, then a classification of verbal, subjective, would be more appropriate.