Summary: God's Promise
THE GIFT OF GOD’S GREAT PROMISE (2 PETER 1)
The clergyman’s eloquence may have been at fault, still he felt annoyed to find that an old gentleman fell asleep during the sermon on two consecutive Sundays. So, after service on the second week, he told the boy who accompanied the sleeper that he wished to speak to him in the vestry.
“My boy,” said the minister, when they were closeted together, “who is that elderly gentleman you attend church with?”
“Grandpa,” was the reply.
“Well,” said the clergyman, “if you will only keep him awake during my sermon, I’ll give you a nickel each week.”
The boy fell in with the arrangement, and for the next two weeks the old gentleman listened attentively to the sermon. The third week, however, found him soundly asleep.
The vexed clergyman sent for the boy and said: “I am very angry with you. Your grandpa was asleep again today. Didn’t I promise you a nickel a week to keep him awake?”
“Yes,” replied the boy, “but grandpa now gives me a dime not to disturb him.”
(More Toasts, Gertrude Stein)
There is no better passage to teach about God’s promises. First of all, a little background to the epistle. Peter wrote two epistles, which are quite similar in at least three ways, both identically calling himself an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1, 2 Peter 1:1) in his introductions or salutations. The second similarity is that these are the only two letters in the Bible that address Jesus as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:11, 2 Peter 3:18). The third and final unique characteristic of the two epistles is the prayer “Grace and peace be yours in abundance” (v 2), or Grace and peace be multiplied to you in Greek, a blessing or greeting found in these two letters and not others.
What did the apostle Peter teach about God’s promises? Who are the beneficiaries? What is its nature? Why were they given? What has it got to do with us?
Realize God’s Promise in Christ
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. (2 Peter 1:3-9)
After a four year old boy told his father that he had a stomach ache, the father suggested: “That's because it's empty. You'd feel better if you had something in it.” He gave the child a glass of juice.
A couple of days later, the family's pastor came by to visit the family. The pastor mentioned that he had a bad headache. The little boy responded: “That's because it's empty. You'd feel better if you had something in it.”
The first assertion of 2 Peter is not in verse 3, which has two participles – given and called, but in verse 4, in that God has given (doreomai vv 3, 4, NT most, cf. Dorothy) – us exceeding great (megistos) promises (epaggelma). Both words in verse 4 from the phrase exceeding great + promise, occur in this book and no other in the New Testament, the former (exceeding great) once, and the latter (promise) twice (2 Peter 1:4, 3:13) and is plural, which means not only it is uncommon, it is uncountable, unceasing, and unchanging. There is no greater, grander or more glorious passage on God’s promise in the Bible. Except for Hebrews 8:6, all other plural promises in KJV are simple “promises” with no adjectives modifying them.
More important to Peter than answering the how, which is provided by the two participles in verse 3, is addressing the why (hina). Why were great promises given to us? The purpose (hina) of God’s great gift is for believers to be partakers (koinonos) of his divine (theios) nature (phusis). Divine is akin and repeated in verses 3 and 5. What is this participation? Koinonos is from koinos, (common), meaning commonality, sharing in these choicest, communicable, Christ-like attributes, having escaped (exclusive to 2 Peter - 2:18, 2:20) the corruption (4x, 1:4 2:12 2:12 2:19 NT most) in the world caused by evil desires.