Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).
1. How does Peter describe an authentic Christian? See 2 Peter 1:1 (printed below)
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received the same faith as us in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:1)
Peter describes an authentic Christian as someone who has “received the same faith as us in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” What Peter is speaking about is a trust and confidence in the righteousness of Christ (which is the very righteousness of God) to make you acceptable before God, as opposed to seeking to manufacture and trust in a righteousness of your own (cp. Philippians 3:7-9).
2. What else does Peter tell us about an authentic Christian? See 2 Peter 1:4b (printed below)
…(together with these things there has been given to us precious and very great promises), so that by these things you may share in the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desire. (2 Peter 1:4)
Peter further describes an authentic Christian as someone who has been called to “share in the divine nature.” That is to say, the purpose of God is not only for Christ to offer unto God His divine righteousness on your behalf, but for you to participate in His divine righteousness. God’s purpose is not only for Christ to represent you before God, but also for you to share in what Christ is, namely, the Holy One of God.
3. What does Peter exhort us as Christians to do? See 2 Peter 1:5-7 (printed below)
Now, for this very reason, giving all your effort, add virtue to your faith, and add knowledge to virtue, (6) and add self-control to knowledge, and add perseverance to self-control, and add godliness to perseverance, (7) and add brotherly affection to godliness, and add love to brotherly affection. (2 Peter 1:5-7)
Peter exhorts us to “give all your effort” to build a life of Christian virtues upon the foundation of our Christian faith. Peter describes the attributes we are to “add” to our faith—the kind of Christian life we are to pursue and develop. To your faith add “virtue” (or, “goodness;”) that is, moral excellence, the character of God—we are called to display the virtues of the God who has saved us (1 Peter 2:9). To virtue we are to add “knowledge;” we are called to increase in our knowledge of God and His ways (cp. Psalm 119:18). Peter then goes on to mention the attributes of self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly affection, and the capstone of them all, love.
4. Why is it essential for the Christian to develop his spiritual life in the manner outlined by Peter? See 2 Peter 1:8 (printed below); note, also, John 15:1-2 (printed below)
If you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will prevent you from being either useless or unfruitful with regard to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:8)
I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. (2) He removes every branch in me that does not bear fruit. But he prunes every branch that does bear fruit, so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2)
If we are building a life of Christian virtue upon the foundation of our Christian faith, then our relationship with Christ is productive and fruitful. Conversely, if this process of Christian character-building is absent from one’s life, it indicates that his relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ is barren, sterile and meaningless—like a dry, lifeless branch on a vine. This is a matter of great importance and concern in the light of Jesus’ own words as recorded in John 15:1-2.
5. Relying upon the divine resources God has placed at our disposal (verse 3 printed below), what are we exhorted to do? See 2 Peter 1:10a (printed below) As we comply with Peter’s exhortation, what assurance is given to us? See 2 Peter 1:10b-11 (printed below)
His divine power has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness by the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and virtue (2 Peter 1:3)
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to authenticate your calling and election; for by doing these things you will never be lost. (11) By following this course the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be made wide open for you. (2 Peter 1:10-11)
By availing ourselves of the divine resources God has placed at our disposal, we are urged to “authenticate our calling and election.” We are to make diligent use of the divine resources in the building of a life of Christian virtue, and thereby demonstrate that the faith we profess is authentic, that it is a genuine, soul-saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter tells us that “by doing these things you will never be lost.” That is to say, we will never fall away from Christ: drifting away from Him, losing interest in Him, being lured away from Him by the enticements and pressures of this present world. On the contrary, “the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be made wide open for you.”