Summary: To know is to obey.

“What we don’t know won’t hurt us.” Have we ever heard or said those words? It’s an idiomatic expression used to justify denying or concealing an issue. “If you do not know about a problem or a misdeed, you will not be able to make yourself unhappy by worrying about it.”[1] Have we said it ourselves? “What we don’t know won’t hurt us.”

So, for example, what if we don’t know we have cancer? Would it help us? Or, would it hurt us? Would it be okay to be ignorant of your medical condition? Of course not! What we don’t know would hurt us. What we know would help us.

I thought of those words when I read our passage, 2 Peter 1:5-7. “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.”[2] Last time, I spoke on adding to our faith virtue or moral excellence. This morning we will look into making every effort to supplement virtue with knowledge. In our spiritual growth, what we don’t know would hurt us. What we know would help us.

The question is, “What knowledge was the Apostle Peter talking about?” How I wish Peter was talking about Bible study! How I hope that it is as simple as attending Sunday school, listening to sermons or reading books! Whether personal or group study, I believe Bible study is important. It has a part in adding knowledge to virtue. But that’s not the whole picture. Even if we know a lot about the Bible, it does not automatically mean that we have already added knowledge to virtue. So, what knowledge was Peter talking about?

In verses 2 to 3 we read, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence”. Then, in verse 5 we read that, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge”. How are those verses connected? Was the “knowledge” in verses 2 to 3 the same as the “knowledge” in verse 5?

Let’s do some digging. “Peter uses two related but distinct Greek words for ‘knowledge’.”[3] The Greek word for “knowledge” [4] used in verses 2 and 3 has a different emphasis from the Greek word for “knowledge” [5] used in verse 5. In verses 2 and 3, “the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” and “the knowledge of him” refer to saving knowledge. According to the Bible Speaks Today commentary, “It has the sense of ‘personal knowledge’, the knowledge of a husband or wife or good friend that goes beyond knowing things about them and actually knows them. Knowing God is so momentous that Peter uses the word almost with the meaning of being converted. This is an essential foundation, for if we don’t know Christ himself, then it is empty to know about him.”[6] Simply put, “knowledge” in verses 2 to 3 talks about knowing our Lord Jesus as Savior. It is about putting our trust in Him for eternal life. Do we really know Christ? Have we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior?

Verses 2 to 3 refer to saving knowledge while verse 5 refers to growing in that knowledge. 2 Peter 3:18 commands us, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” The word “knowledge” here in 3:18 is the same Greek word for the “knowledge” that we add to virtue in 1:5. Saving knowledge is the foundation. Growing in that knowledge is building on that foundation. What Peter was saying is that now that we know our Lord Jesus as Savior, we are to keep on knowing Him or grow in our knowledge of Him. Now that we know Christ, we are to know Him more!

So, how do we know that we are growing in our knowledge of Jesus? How do we add knowledge to virtue? Let’s now dig into the word “knowledge” here in verse 5. According to the Bible Exposition Commentary, “The word used here suggests practical knowledge or discernment. It refers to the ability to handle life successfully… This kind of knowledge does not come automatically. It comes from obedience to the will of God”.[7] Peter was talking about experiential knowledge. That’s why to know is TO OBEY. That’s the reason why I said that knowing a lot about the Bible is not enough. We have to obey what we already know. We don’t really know it until and unless we obey it. Note that it says that the knowledge we add to virtue is “the ability to handle life successfully”. Obedience spells the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful life.

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