Green Tree Bible Study 16: Foundation for Spiritual Growth (2 Peter 1:1-4)

By Dr. Robert E. Picirilli

Peter’s epistles don’t always get the same attention as Paul’s. That’s a pity because II Peter is certainly for our age. There has never been a time when Peter’s “false teachers” (2:7) were more prevalent than now.

The theme of II Peter, growing in grace, is well expressed in 3:18. The urgency of this message is made clear in chapter 2. It was needed in order warn to warn Christians of false teachers who would attempt to lead astray the spiritually immature (vv. 1, 18). Spiritual growth is the best way to avoid apostasy (1:8-10). In this article we will look at the foundation for spiritual growth laid out in the first four verses of II Peter.

First, the letter and its subject are introduced. The first two verses contain the customary letter opening of Peter’s day:

1) The writer (v. 1a)

2) The persons addressed (v. 1b)

3) The greeting (v. 2)

Peter then identifies himself as both Christ’s servant and Christ’s apostle. From his first epistle we learn that the persons Peter wrote to were Christians in several provinces of the area now called Asia Minor or Turkey. There they were seen as “strangers.Allbelievers are strangers in this world.

Here they are seen as having obtained justification through faith in the righteous

work of “our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.Allbelievers have that justification. Our “standing” is not in this world’s system but in the community of faith.

Second, God’s provision is shown to be a foundation for spiritual life (7:3a). Before his exhortation about growth, Peter reassures us that God has provided everything necessary for us to prosper spiritually. There are two sides to the issue. On one side we see things from God’s perspective (v. 3a). On the other we see things from our own perspective (vv.3b, 4).

On God’s side we see His grace. The word translated “given” (Greek – doreomai) literally means “freely granted.” God’s provision is a gift of grace. The same word is used in Mark 15:45. Pilate “freely granted” Jesus’ body to Joseph. No compulsion or obligation is involved.

We also see God’s power. “His divine power” apparently refers to Christ as possessing the power of God. Our spiritual lives are not dependent on our own resources or strength.

We see, finally, the breadth of His provision. The “life” here refers to spiritual life, the new birth. “Godliness” is reverence of God and godliness. God has powerfully and graciously provided all that is needed for spiritual development.

Second, becoming a new creation is the beginning of the spiritual life (l:3b, 4). The believer’s side generates change making possible and initiating spiritual growth. At this point, the believer has come to know God (v. 3b). He has become a “partaker of the divine nature” (v. 4a). (Compare this with Hebrews 3:14, 6:4.) He has “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (v. 4b). There is therefore no excuse for any of us to fail to heed the exhortation of the next verses.