Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ:
May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature. For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. 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. For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
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. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
Maybe you have already found this passage helpful for reflection on your life with God. It might give fresh help again, for living the life of Christ today. Indeed Peter says, ‘I intend to keep on reminding you of these things.’
The first time I studied this passage, years ago, using the Good News Bible, I gained a visual image of a staircase through verses 5-8. Peter was addressing people who had been given faith (v.1): ‘Do your best’ (with God’s grace and power, v.2-3) ‘to add goodness to your faith; to your goodness add knowledge.’
At the time, I was working with fairly new Christians who talked a lot about turning to belief and good ways, and were attending training to increase their knowledge of God’s word and Christian life. ‘To your knowledge add self-control’ in the face of temptation; ‘add endurance’ when facing opposition, or lack of resources; ‘add godliness’ emulating our Lord and role-model. And nearing the top of this progression, ‘add Christian affection’ for those around, and ‘add love’ to become really active and effective in your knowledge of Christ.
Now, in NRSV, the instruction to ‘support with’ (v.5) rather than ‘add to’ suggests strengthening the foundations and buttresses, rather than climbing a staircase to enter the kingdom (v.11). So what image does the original Greek convey? A Greek lexicon says the word means supply or provide, with a root meaning to lead or defray the cost of a dance! So can we picture our Christian life as a developing dance guided by the divine choreographer and impresario?
Peter addresses this to a company of people, not just to us as individuals. So the intricacy of steps and intensity of emotions would develop with interaction between the dancers together becoming participants in the divine nature (v.4).
Lord Jesus, live in us, and help us to live in you; lead us all, wherever we may be. Equip us with your grace and peace to learn from each other’s faith, goodness and knowledge, to support each other’s development of self-control, endurance and godliness, to share mutual affection across all cultures in the church, and to love the world as you do.
The Revd Bernie Collins, retired, member of Avenue St Andrew’s URC, Southampton