2 Peter 1:3-8
3 His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. 4 By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, 6 knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, 7 godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
In this passage, Peter uses a writing framework similar to that modeled by Paul in most of his writings. Paul would make a series of statements and then follow them with an exhortation to take action based on the statements.
In 2 Peter, Peter describes what God has provided for the individual believer: “everything pertaining to life and godliness; true knowledge of God; precious promises; sharers in God’s grace; and escaping the corruption of the world.” Peter then issues the exhortation, “Subsequently apply all diligence.” In other words, make an intentional effort to accomplish the behaviors suggested by this list of virtues. Peter develops the construction of these sentences in such a way as to declare the importance of each believer’s discipline in living out these virtues.
Why is discipline so important? In our text, discipline is the result of reflecting on God’s provision in the believer’s life. When one pays careful attention to life’s circumstances, the grace and mercy of God’s provision is evident. I have always been motivated by my awareness of God’s faithful love in the past, knowing it will be the same in the present as well as the future. What does this motivation accomplish in my life? If God is consistent with me, what should I do in return? This is the consistency in discipline.
This list of virtues is a tool for evaluating one’s spiritual journey. Identify the behavior related to the virtue and begin practicing that behavior for a specific time. This provides an ongoing experience of being disciplined. Peter’s clarity about God’s provision and consistency with each of us as believers should provide the motivation and effort to practice. Begin with faith, or choose one of the other virtues and begin there. But the most important thing is to begin.
- Investigate Romans 5:3-5. What are the similarities and differences between these two lists? From your investigation, where can you focus your best disciplined efforts to see change in your life?
- Investigate another list of virtues in Galatians 5:22-23 (also read these verses in Eugene Peterson’s The Message). This list is called the fruit of the Spirit. In other words, these attributes are the product of the Spirit’s work in the life of the believer.
- Notice in the 2 Peter verses and the Galatians verses where the initial action begins. For Peter, the action begins with human effort. (However, the human action is a result of God’s provision, so the action is not void of God’s presence.) The Galatians passage is all the Spirit. Yet discipline is required to live out His fruit, because sustained action in the believer’s life is the result of discipline.
- What are you doing to manifest discipline in your life?