…and to godliness, brotherly kindness and love – 2 Peter 1:7

19 Sep

In a good marriage, the husband and wife are also friends. Philia’s companionship is many things…being reasonably happy to go shopping with her…watching TV together and munching popcorn…feelong lonely when he/she is out of town.

Friendship also means communication. Philia’s communication is many things…sharing something you read in a book or magazine…reminiscing how you had to catch all the mice and remove all the bats before you could move into your apartment…eating breakfast together without the morning paper…agreeing on the design of the new wallpaper for Jane’s room…having the courage to tell you her you don’t that dress she’s trying on.

Philia is also cooperation. While eros is almost always face-to-face relationship, philia is very often a shoulder-to-shoulder relationship. When there is philia, husband and wife are working together on something greater than both of them. They are finding their oneness, not directly in each other, but in their interest in a common cause. In eros, each seeks fulfillment in the other; in philia, they both seek fulfillment in one mutual goal.

“Brotherly kindness” is the love saints should have for one another as fellow-believers. It is a love based in part on what we share in common with the One we love. There is a certain element of reciprocity involved, for ideally we should be a blessing to our brother in Christ, and he should be a blessing to us.

This love, based on a shared relationship with Christ, can be sensed immediately even though two saints may never have met before. This does not mean that brotherly love is a snap, that it is automatic. If it were, Peter would not have found it necessary to command us to pursue it with diligence, not only in his second epistle but also in his first: “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, (1 Peter 1:22, emphasis mine).[1]

Sin not only alienates men from God, it also alienates them from one another. Thus, when men come to faith in Christ, they are united with Him and also with their fellow believers. This union of believers with one another crosses every barrier, racial or social: “Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” [which is] performed in the flesh by human hands—12 [remember] that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both [groups into] one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, [which is] the Law of commandments [contained] in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, [thus] establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity (Ephesians 2:11-16).

While God has removed the barrier between fellow-believers, this is something we must strive to practice and to preserve. It is a humanly impossible task for which God has provided the means to accomplish. As believers, we must diligently strive to practice brotherly kindness by employing these means.

This love is the fraternal or family love one has for his fellow Christians. This love recognizes the difference between the church and the world This love binds us together in a common bond in he family of God (Rom. 8:16-17; 1 Cor. 12:13). Next to the love Christians have for God should be their love for fellow Christians (1 John 4:20). A man who does not love his brethren is not converted to Christ (1 John 3:14-15).

Paul emphasizes love for brother when he speaks of helping others (Gal. 6:10). Throughout the New Testament, Christians are urged to love one another (Rom. 12:10; 1 Thess. 4:9; Heb. 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22; 2:17; 3:8).

In love of the brethren there is to be no partiality. God shows no partiality in loving his children and neither should we? Every Christian is precious to Christ no matter what his station in life may be. Love is the only real body of unity in the church of Christ. Paul says it does not matter what you do, if it is not motivated by love it is worth nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

The unity pleasing to God is not limited to a few essential acts of worship and living.  Love makes service to God pleasing. Agreement among brethren without love is hollow mockery. Brethren can dwell together in total unity in regard to techniques and yet be totally separated before God, because of a lack of love (Gal. 5:15). Since we are human, it is difficult to achieve this unity in love, but God expects us to grow and progress in this respect. The Christian who loves and hates any discord or strife in God’s Family, will do everything possible to correct it.

If we truly love the brethren, we will want to be with them in worship and also during the week. Because of this love, when any part of the Family suffers the whole Family suffers and likewise all will rejoice with each member who rejoices (1 Cor. 12:26). The proof of discipleship is the way we love one another (John 13:34-35). Brotherly love must be demonstrated, not just verbal affirmation (1 John 3:18).

When Christians treat one another with kindness, benevolence, courtesy and consideration, they eloquently declare to the world that they do indeed love one another, and that we are thus true disciples of Christ. There were many examples of brotherly love in the early church (Acts 2:42-44; 4:32, 34, 35). Christ set the example (John 13:34; 13:1; Eph. 5:2).

John makes it very clear that we cannot love God and not love our brethren (1 John 4:20). This is something more people should consider as they put their soul in danger by holding ill feelings against one or more of God’s children. If we can’t love our brethren, we can’t love God – that is serious.

And to brotherly kindness, love.NIV While Christians must exhibit “brotherly kindness” in their dealings with others, their love must also go deeper. To brotherly kindness, they must add love that always puts others first, seeking their highest good. The Greek word agape refers to self-sacrificial love. It is the kind of love God demonstrated in saving us. Such love among believers allows for weaknesses and imperfections, deals with problems, affirms others, and has a strong commitment and loyalty. Such a bond will hold the believers together no matter what persecutions and suffering they may face.

1:8 For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.NRSV The eight qualities mentioned above (these things) ought to be part of every believer’s life, but they are not static. Believers don’t merely “have” these qualities; instead, they are increasing in these qualities. To grow in these qualities, we must practice them in the rough-and-tumble of daily life. As these characteristics increase, they keep believers from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. “Ineffective” means idle and slothful, literally “out of work,” and parallels James 2:20, “Faith without works is dead” (nkjv). “Unfruitful” means barren, unproductive, and refers to the life crowded with pleasures and cares (see Matthew 13:22). The false teachers exemplified these qualities (see chapter 2 and Jude 11).

Believers “know” the Lord Jesus, but their knowledge must bear fruit in such qualities as those mentioned above; otherwise, the believers are “ineffective” and “unfruitful.” This can happen when believers rest on past achievements, stagnate, and cease to grow, or when other priorities dampen our desire and service to Christ. The false teachers sought knowledge for its own sake, but Peter explained that we must go beyond knowledge. Our knowledge must bear fruit.

Our faith must go beyond what we believe; it must become a dynamic part of all we do, resulting in good fruit and spiritual maturity. Salvation does not depend on positive character qualities and good works; rather, it produces those qualities and works. A person who claims to be saved while remaining unchanged does not understand faith or what God has done for him or her. Faith in and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ that leads to growth in these qualities causes believers to make a difference in their world and persevere to the end.

1:9 For anyone who lacks these things is nearsighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins.NRSV In contrast to the believer who is increasing in the positive qualities Peter mentioned above, a believer who lacks these things, who is not growing in these qualities, is nearsighted and blind. Peter had harsh words for believers who refused to grow. The word “nearsighted” is also translated “shortsighted.” Peter may have meant that believers who were not growing could see only as far as the world around them. Their shortsightedness left them blind to the big picture—the promise of eternity and the glory of becoming more like Christ. Thus they remained tied to earthly possessions and transient promises. The word muopazo (shortsighted) can also mean “to blink” or “to shut the eyes.” Thus Peter may also have meant that these believers were intentionally closing their eyes to Christ’s light, thus causing spiritual blindness. This second interpretation is most likely, for the phrase is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins pictures those who deliberately put out of their mind all that Christ had done in erasing the sins they committed before they were saved. The “cleansing” was a reminder of the believer’s vows at baptism—the public show of faith and desire to live for Christ. At baptism, believers professed their cleansing from past sins and their break with old, sinful lifestyles. A believer who is “forgetful” of this and refuses to grow becomes unfruitful for God.

1:10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election.NRSV The word therefore ties this verse with the preceding passage (1:3-9):

  • therefore, because Christ has empowered believers through knowledge of him to live morally excellent lives (1:3),
  • therefore, because he has given believers great and precious promises so that we can participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world (1:4),
  • therefore, because believers desire to increase in godly characteristics so that they do not become ineffective and unfruitful (1:8)—

then believers must be all the more eager to confirm themselves as God’s children. The Greek word translated “all the more eager” (spoudasate) was also used in 1:5, “make every effort.” Peter urgently called upon these believers to determine to live for God, no matter how difficult it might become, and to be growing in the virtues mentioned above. To confirm your call and election is also translated “make your calling and election sure.” On one hand, the calling and election were already “sure” and “confirmed” because they were by God’s initiative. However, the believers’ behavior would “confirm” that call by their good qualities and good works. They were “confirming” their call and election not for God, but for themselves. Peter probably was making no distinction between the words “call” and “election” and was using them to emphasize God’s initiative in salvation.

For if you do this, you will never stumble.NRSV The believers to whom Peter wrote were in danger of turning to the doctrine of false teachers who were teaching that immoral living incurred no judgment. These false teachers said that once people were “saved,” they could live any way they pleased. Peter countered this teaching, explaining that Christians must match their calling and election with holy living. If they did this, they would never stumble (see Colossians 1:22-23; 2 Timothy 2:12-13). The word “stumble” means more than merely to “trip.” It means to come to grief or ruin, referring to the Day of Judgment, when sin takes the unbeliever and rebel into eternal damnation.

1:11 And you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.NIV Those who live fruitful and productive lives for God, who do not disastrously stumble along the path to the eternal kingdom (heaven) will receive a rich welcome. This pictures the type of welcome Stephen experienced as he was martyred, “‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'” (Acts 7:56 niv). All believers will experience a wonderful welcome into their true home, the eternal kingdom of the Lord and Savior. Those who have been called and chosen, but have been unfruitful and have stumbled much along the way, will still reach the kingdom and receive their salvation, but it will be, as Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:15, “only as through fire” (nrsv). Whether this welcome will be any different is unknown; but Peter encouraged his readers to confirm their calling and election (1:10) and to ensure a rich welcome by living to please God during their time on earth. Looking toward our future eternal life provides the motivation for right living now. We must be centered on heaven’s priorities, not those of this world. We can face hardships and still be faithful to God because we know the bright future he has for us. How wonderful it is to contemplate that God wants, expects, and waits for us.

1:12 Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you.NRSV Because of the glories awaiting the believers, Peter intended to keep on reminding them not to allow their salvation to become a license for immoral living, nor to rest content in knowledge of the gospel without obeying it and applying it to their lives. The times were difficult—persecution was increasing from without; false teachers were spewing evil doctrine from within. He encouraged the believers to continue to stand firm on the basics of their faith, to continue to remind themselves of these truths (even though they knew them already), and to reestablish themselves in the truth they had been taught.

Peter explained that he knew these believers were established in the truth. The word “established” translates the perfect passive participle, esterigmenous. Jesus used a form of the word when he told Peter, “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen [sterizo] your brothers” (Luke 22:32 niv). Knowing (being established in) the truth is a source of spiritual strength.

1:13-14 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.NIV Peter would continue to “remind” the believers (1:12) and refresh (literally “wake up” or “arouse”) their memories regarding the basic truths of their faith as long as he lived. The phrase as long as I live in the tent of this body emphasizes the transitoriness of this life on earth (see Paul’s use of the word “tent” in 2 Corinthians 5:1, 4). As nomads pack up their tents in order to move to a new location, so human beings one day will put aside their physical bodies in order to move into eternity—in the case of believers, to new and glorious bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Peter reminds us that the eternal realm matters, not the temporal.

Peter knew that he would die soon. Many years before, Christ had prepared Peter for the kind of death Peter would face, although the only timing Peter knew was that he would be “old” (see John 21:18-19). At the writing of this letter, Peter knew that his death was at hand. Scholars have discussed whether Peter had received some kind of revelation so that he knew his death was coming, or whether Peter simply thought he would die because of the intense persecution in Rome and his being a prominent Christian figure in the church. In any case, Peter was martyred for the faith in about a.d. 68. According to some traditions, he was crucified upside down, at his own request, because he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Master.

1:15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.NIV Christ had told Peter about Peter’s own death, and Peter carried this knowledge through his years of ministry. Now, as an old man, knowing he would soon die, Peter wrote of his coming departure calmly and fearlessly. It would be merely a “departure” (the Greek word is exodos), a moving on to another place. Peter was prepared to leave the “body” (1:13) and move into the “eternal kingdom” (1:11).

Life Application Bible Commentary – Life Application Bible Commentary – 1 & 2 Peter and Jude.

[1] It should be noted that in 1 Peter 1:22, both the noun, Philadelphia, and the verb, Agape, are found. Some seek to make too much of the distinction between “Phileo love” and “Agape love.” These two terms are sometimes interchanged. This is true in John 21:15-17.

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Posted by on September 19, 2022 in Christian graces


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