Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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2 PETER - Chapter 1

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2 Peter 1

Supplemental Commentary:

Introduction  1, 1-2

1, 1-2:  Greeting.  The literary form of the salutation is similar to that found in 1 Pet. and many of the Pauline Epistles.    1.  Simon Peter: Jesus and His disciples seem to have continued the use of the name Simon after the events narrated in the Gospel of St. John 1, 42.  A servant and apostle: a combination found also in Rom. 1, 1 and Titus 1, 1.  This fact gave to St. Peter the privilege and right to address his fellow Christians.  An equal privilege of faith: a statement which emphasizes the absolutely gratuitous gift of faith common to both the readers and St. Peter.  Through the justice, etc.: the effective cause of salvation for all men, Jew and Gentile, in Jesus Christ.    2.  May grace and peace: cf. 1 Pet. 1, 2.  Grace is the foundation of Christian peace; it perfects a Christian's knowledge concerning the goodness and will of Christ, our God, which leads to everlasting life (John 17, 3).

I.  CHRISTIAN VIRTUE:  ITS NECESSITY AND MOTIVES  1, 3-21

1, 3-7:  Life of a Christian.    3.  All things pertaining to life and piety: the Apostle reminds his readers that all graces conducive to supernatural life through Christ.  The knowledge of Christ through faith brings within reach of all participation in His glory and power as once witnessed at the Transfiguration and now manifested in heaven.    4.  Through which: i.e., Christ's glory and power.  These assure to men the realization of the very great and precious promises whereby they may overcome their former selves and become partakers of the divine nature through sanctifying grace.  Participation, however, in the divine nature demands immunity from the corruption of that lust which is in the world.    5.  Do you accordingly on your part, etc.: the Greek text reads: "For this very reason, employing all care, supply . . ."  An exhortation to a virtuous life which secures the gift of faith imparted to the readers.  Supply your faith with virtue: faith to be active, to be pleasing to God, must be supplemented by a virtuous life; for, "just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith also without works is dead" (Jas. 2, 19-26).  Next follows a list of virtues which a Christian must acquire and cultivate.    6.  Your knowledge with self-control: a virtuous life begets a true knowledge of God as well as self-knowledge.  Self-knowledge teaches one to differentiate between love of oneself and selfishness; it shows the necessity of moderation and self-discipline.  Patience is the fruit of self-control and thence comes piety.  Patient resignation alone can behold the finger of God in the trials and temptations that beset a Christian life.    7.  Your piety with fraternal love: piety will always express itself in charity, i.e., the love of God and of one's neighbor.  And so faith, the beginning of supernatural life, finds its perfect realization in charity which is the bond of perfection (Col. 3, 14).

1, 8-15:  Necessity of Virtue.    8.  When virtue and knowledge are rooted in and blossom through faith Christians are neither inactive nor unfruitful.    9.  Contrariwise, the Christian who does not walk worthily of God, he who does not bear spiritual fruit, has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins (Col. 1, 10); he has renounced his baptismal vows; he has foresworn his allegiance to God.    10.  Make your calling and election sure: in Baptism our old self has been crucified with Christ that we may no longer be the slaves of sin (Rom. 6, 6); the Spirit, too, testifies that we are the sons of God, heirs indeed of God and joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8, 16 f) provided we strive to secure our position even more by good works.  Many Greek manuscripts lack the phrase, "by good works."    11.  This way: a life in accord with one's baptismal vows, in keeping with the spirit whereby the deeds of the flesh are put to death (Rom. 8, 12 f).    12.  The intrinsic value of the great and precious promises (4) conferred on the Christians through Christ impels the Apostle further to instruct them and to take such precautions as will insure their calling and election (10).    13.  Tabernacle: literally, a tent, a transient shelter, a hut.  The metaphor reminds the readers of the soul's temporary abode in the human body here on earth.    14.  The obligation to rouse his readers becomes more imperative in view of his approaching death foretold by Christ (cf. John 21, 18 f).  Ancient commentators were of the opinion that St. Peter had received a special revelation of his imminent death.  This tradition has been immortalized by Henryk Sienkiewicz in his Quo Vadis?    15.  You may have occasion: in all probability St. Peter refers to the instructions contained in this Epistle which will serve his readers as a guide and reminder of their Christian obligations.

1, 16-21:  Sovereignty of Christ.    16.  Fictitious tales: the doctrine of false teachers centered about the Second Coming of Christ.  The millennium of happiness which Christ's Second Coming will inaugurate was misinterpreted by carnal men.  "Where is the promise or his coming?" they asked (3, 4), forgetful of the fact that "one day with the Lord is as a thousand years" and that "the Lord does not delay in his promises" (3, 8 f).  St. Peter now reaffirms the power and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The proof: his own experience of Christ's power and glory at the Transfiguration.    17 f.  St. Peter not only saw the glory that was Christ's; on the holy mount he himself had heard Christ proclaimed as the Son of God by that majestic voice of God the Father.  Cf. Matt. 17, 1-8.    19.  Furthermore, the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament reassure us of the truth of Christ's Second Coming.  The Scriptures are surer still because infallible.  Many of these prophecies were then accomplished facts; these guarantee the fulfillment of the prophecies yet to come to pass.  These unfulfilled prophecies St. Peter now compares to a lamp shining in a dark place directing Christians until the dawn of their accomplishment.    20 f.  Finally, prophecy comes not by will of man, i.e., by some natural medium whereby man can know the future.  Prophecies, then, which are inspired by God, as Scripture in general, are vouched for by the truth of God Himself; hence, absolutely true.


Confraternity Bible:

Greeting  1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained an equal privilege of faith with ourselves through the justice of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  2 May grace and peace be given you in abundance in the knowledge of our Lord.

Life of a Christian  3 For indeed his divine power has granted us all things pertaining to life and piety through the knowledge of him who has called us by his own glory and power--- 4* through which he has granted us the very great and precious promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption of that lust which is in the world.  5 Do you accordingly on your part strive diligently to supply your faith with virtue, your virtue with knowledge, 6 your knowledge with self-control, your self-control with patience, your patience with piety, 7 your piety with fraternal love, your fraternal love with charity.

Necessity of Virtue  8 For if you possess these virtues and they abound in you, they will render you neither inactive nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9 For he who lacks them is blind, groping his way, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his former sins.  10 Therefore, brethren, strive even more by good works to make your calling and election sure.  For if you do this, you will not fall into sin at any time.  11 Indeed, in this way will be amply provided for you the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore I shall begin to remind you always of these things; although indeed you know them and are well established in the present truth.  13* As long as I am in this tabernacle, I think it right to arouse you by a reminder, 14 knowing as I do that the putting off of my tabernacle is at hand, just as our Lord Jesus Christ signified to me.  15 Moreover I will endeavor that even after my death you may often have occasion to call these things to mind.

Sovereignty of Christ  16* For we were not following fictitious tales when we made know to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his grandeur.  17* For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when from out the majestic glory a voice came down to him, speaking thus:
"This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." 
18* And this voice we ourselves heard borne from heaven when we were with him on the holy mount.

19* And we have the word of prophecy, surer still, to which you do well to attend, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.  20* This, then, you must understand first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is made by private interpretation.  21 For not by will of man was prophecy brought at any time; but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
__________

*

4: Partakers of the divine nature: the adopted sons of God share in a supernatural way in the nature of God.  Grace makes them like Him; and in heaven they will see Him as He is.

13: This tabernacle: the human body.

16: Fictitious tales: reference to false doctrines of lying teachers.

17: Matt. 17, 5.

18: The holy mount: the Mount of Transfiguration.

19: Word of prophecy: the sum of messianic prophecies of the Old Testament which declares the glorious reign of the Messias.

20: Some would render this: ". . . no prophecy is the object of private interpretation."