But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord.
—Or, But grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord
it may mean “the grace of our Lord” as well as “the knowledge of our Lord.” But the Greek is not decisive on this point; and the rendering in our version avoids the awkwardness of coupling a subjective and objective genitive together by “and.” For “the grace of our Lord” must mean the grace of which He is the giver
; while “the knowledge of our Lord” must mean the knowledge of which He is the object. Romans 15:4
and 1Peter 1:2
are not instances of such coupling.
The Apostle ends, as he began, by exhorting them to that sound knowledge which he sets forth as the sure basis of all Christian activity, whether the knowledge be full and mature, as in 2Peter 1:2-3; 2Peter 1:8; 2Peter 2:20 or to be acquired and increased, as in 2Peter 1:5 and here.
DOXOLOGY.—The Epistle comes to a most abrupt conclusion, without any personal remarks or greetings. This is so unlike the First Epistle, so unusual in Apostolic letters generally, that an imitator, and so accomplished an imitator as the writer of this Epistle must have been, would scarcely have omitted so usual and natural an addition. The addition would have been doubly natural here, for the personator (if the writer of the Epistle be such) is personating St. Peter near the end of his life, writing to congregations whom he is not likely either to see or address again. Surely the circumstances would have seemed to him to demand some words of personal greeting and tender farewell; and Acts 20:18-35; 2Timothy 4:6-18, would have supplied him with models. But nothing of the kind is inserted. Assume that St. Peter himself is the writer, and then we can understand how he came to disappoint such natural expectations. His heart is too full of the fatal dangers which threaten the whole Christian community to think of himself and his personal friends. As to his death, which cannot be far off, he knows that it will come swiftly at the last, and his chief fear is lest it should come upon him before he has left on record these words of warning and exhortation (2Peter 1:13-15). Therefore, at the opening he hurries to his subject at once, and presses on, without pause or break, until it is exhausted; and now that he has unburdened his heart he cares to say no more, but ends at once with a tribute of praise to the Master that bought him.
To him be glory.—Better, to Him be the glory—all that His creatures have to render. Whatever may be our view of 2Peter 3:15, there can be no doubt that in this doxology homage is paid to Jesus Christ as true God. It is, perhaps, the earliest example of that “hymn to Christ as God” which Pliny tells Trajan the Christians were accustomed to sing before daybreak.
And for ever.—Literally, and to the day of eternity. The phrase is used by the LXX. in Ecclesiasticus 18:10, but is found nowhere else in the New Testament. It means that day which marks the end of time and the beginning of eternity, the day which not only begins but is eternity. The expression is quite in harmony with the general drift of the chapter. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but” “the day of God” “shall not pass away.”
Amen.—Comp. Jude 1:25. Here the word is of rather doubtful authority. Being usual in doxologies, it would be very likely to be added by a copyist.2 Peter
2 Peter 3:18.
These are the last words of an old man, written down as his legacy to us. He was himself a striking example of his own precept. It would be an interesting study to examine these two letters of the Apostle Peter, in order to construct from them a picture of what he became, and to contrast it with his own earlier self when full of self-confidence, rashness, and instability. It took a lifetime for Simon, the son of Jonas, to grow into Peter; but it was done. And the very faults of the character became strength. What he had proved possible in his own case he commands and commends to us, and from the height to which he has reached, he looks upwards to the infinite ascent which he knows he will attain when he puts off this tabernacle; and then downwards to his brethren, bidding them, too, climb and aspire. His last word is like that of the great Roman Catholic apostle to the East Indies: ‘Forward!’ He is like some trumpeter on the battlefield who spends his last breath in sounding an advance. Immortal hope animates his dying injunction: ‘Grow! grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.’
So I think we may take these words, dear friends, as the starting-point for some very plain remarks about what I am afraid is a neglected duty, the duty of growth in Christian character.
I. I begin, first, with a word or two about the direction which Christian growth ought to take.
Now those of you who use the Revised Version will see in it a very slight, but very valuable alteration. It reads there: ‘Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.’ The effect of that alteration being to bring out more clearly that whilst the direction of the growth is twofold, the process is one. And to bring out more clearly, also, that both the grace and the knowledge have connection with Jesus Christ.
He is the Giver and the Author of the grace. He is the Object of the knowledge. The one is more moral and spiritual; the other, if we may so say, more intellectual; but both are realised by one act of progress, and both inhere in, and refer to, and are occupied with, and are derived from, Jesus Christ Himself.
Let us look a little more closely at this double direction, this bifurcation, as it were, of Christian growth. The tree, like some of our forest trees, in its normal progress, diverges into two main branches at a short distance upwards from the root.
First, we have growth in the ‘grace’ of Christ. Grace, of course, means, first, the undeserved love and favour which God in Jesus Christ bears to us sinful and inferior creatures; and then it means the consequence of that love and favour in the manifold spiritual endowments which in us become ‘graces,’ beauties, and excellences of Christian character. So then, if you are a Christian, you ought to be continually realising a deeper and more blessed consciousness of Christ’s love and favour as yours. You ought to be, if I may so say, nestling every day nearer and nearer to His heart, and getting more and more sure, and more and more happily sure, of more and more of His mercy and love to you.
And if you are a Christian you ought not only thus to be realising daily, with increasing certitude and power, the fact of His love, but you ought to be drinking in and deriving more and more every day of the consequences of that love, of the spiritual gifts of which His hands are full. There is open for each of us in Him an inexhaustible store of abundance. And if our Christian life is real and vigorous there ought to be in us a daily increasing capacity, and therefore a daily increasing possession of the gifts of His grace. There ought to be, in other words, also a daily progressive transformation into His likeness. It is ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus,’ not only in the sense that He is the Author and the Bestower of it to each of us, but also in the sense that He Himself possesses and exemplifies it. So that there is nothing mystical and remote from the experience of daily life in this exhortation: ‘Grow in grace’; and it is not growth in some occult theological virtue, or transcendent experience, but a very plain, practical thing, a daily transformation, with growing completeness and precision of resemblance, into the likeness of Jesus Christ; the grace that was in Him being transferred to me, and my character being growingly irradiated and refined, softened and ennobled by the reflection of the lustre of His.
This it is to ‘grow into the grace of our Lord and Saviour’; a deeper consciousness of His love creeping round the roots of my heart every day, and fuller possession of His gifts placed in my opening hand every day; and a continual approximation to the beauty of His likeness, which never halts nor ceases.
‘Grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.’ The knowledge of a person is not the same as the knowledge of a creed or of a thought or of a book. We are to grow in the knowledge of Christ, which includes but is more than the intellectual apprehension of the truths concerning Him. He might turn the injunction into--’Increase your acquaintance with your Saviour.’ Many Christians never get to be any more intimate with Him than they were when they were first introduced to Him. They are on a kind of bowing acquaintance with their Master, and have little more than that. We sometimes begin an acquaintance which we think promises to ripen into a friendship, but are disappointed. Circumstances or some want of congeniality which is discovered prevent its growth. So with not a few professing Christians. They have got no nearer Jesus Christ than when they first knew Him. Their friendship has not grown. It has never reached the stage where all restraints are laid aside and there is perfect confidence. ‘Grow in the knowledge of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ Get more and more intimate with Him, nearer to Him, and franker and more cordial with Him day by day.
But there is another side to the injunction besides that. We are to grow in the grasp, the intellectual grasp and realisation of the truths which lie wrapped up and enfolded in Him. The first truths that a man learns when he becomes a Christian are the most important. The lesson that the little child learns contains the Omega as well as the Alpha of all truth. There is no word in all the gospel that is an advance on that initial word, the faith of which saves the most ignorant who trusts to it. We begin with the end, if I may say so, and the highest truth is the first truth that we learn. But the aspect which that truth bears to the man when, first of all, it dawns upon him, and he sees in it the end of his fears, the cleansing of his heart, the pardoning of his sins, his acceptance with God, is a very different thing from the aspect that it ought to wear to him, after, say forty years of pondering, of growing up to it, after years of experience have taught him. Life is the best commentary upon the truths of the gospel, and the experience teaches their depths and their power, their far-reaching applications and harmonies. So our growth in the knowledge of Jesus Christ is not a growing away from the earliest lessons, or a leaving them behind, but a growing up to and into them. So as to learn more fully and clearly all their infinite contents of grace and truth. The treasure put into our hands at first is discovered in its true preciousness as life and trial test its metal and its inexhaustibleness. The child’s lesson is the man’s lesson. All our Christian progress in knowledge consists in bringing to light the deep meaning, the far-reaching consequences of the fact of Christ’s incarnation, death, and glory. ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ The same truth which shone at first a star in a far-off sky, through a sinful man’s night of fear and agony, grows in brilliance as we draw nearer to it, until at last it blazes, the central Sun of the Universe, the hearth for all vital warmth, the fountain of all guiding light, the centre of all energy. Christ in His manhood, in His divinity, Christ in His cross, resurrection, and glory, is the object of all knowledge, and we grow in the knowledge of Him by penetrating more deeply into the truths which we have long ago learned, as well as by following them as they lead us into new fields, and disclose unsuspected issues in creed and practice.
That growth will not be one-sided; for grace and knowledge will advance side by side--the moral and spiritual keeping step with the intellectual, the practical with the theoretical. And that growth will have no term. It is growth towards an infinite object of our aspiration, imitation, and affection. So we shall ever approach and never surpass Jesus Christ. Such endless progress is the very salt of life. It keeps us young when physical strength decays. It flames, an immortal hope, to light the darkness of the grave when all other hopes are quenched in night.
II. Now, for a moment, look at another thought, viz., the obligation.
It is a command, that is to say, the will is involved. Growth is to be done by effort, and the fact that it is a command teaches us this, that we are not to take this one metaphor as if it exhausted the whole of the facts of the case in reference to Christian progress.
You would never think of telling a child to grow any more than you would think of telling a plant to grow, but Peter does tell Christian men and women to grow. Why? Because they are not plants, but men with wills, which can resist, and can either further or hinder their progress.
‘Lo! in the middle of the wood,
The folded leaf is wooed from out the bud,
... and there
Grows green and broad, and takes no care.’
But that is not how we grow. ‘In the sweat of thy brow,’ with pain and peril, with effort and toil, and not otherwise, do men grow in everything but stature. And especially is it so in the Christian character. There are other metaphors that need to be taken into consideration as well as this of growth, with all its sweet suggestions of continuous, effortless, spontaneous advance.
The Christian progress is not only growth, it is warfare. The Christian progress is not only growth, it is a race. The Christian progress is not only growth, it is mortifying the old man. The Christian progress is not only growth, it is putting off the old man with his deeds and putting on the new! ‘First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear,’ was never meant for a complete account of how the Christian life is perfected.
We are bidden to grow, and that command points to hindrances and resistance, to the need for effort and the governing action of our own wills.
The command is one sorely needed in the present state of our average Christianity. Our churches are full of monsters, specimens of arrested growth, dwarfs, who have scarcely grown since they were babes, infants all their lives. I come to you with a very plain question: Have you any more of Christ’s beauty in your characters, any more of His grace in your hearts, any more of His truth in your minds than you had a year ago, ten years ago, or at that far-off period when some of you greyheaded men first professed to be Christians? Have you experienced so many things in vain? Have the years taught you nothing? Ah, brethren! for how many of us is it true: ‘When for the time ye ought to be teachers ye have need that one teach you which be the first principles of the oracles of God’? ‘Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour.’
And we need the command because all about us there are hindrances. There is the hindrance of an abuse of the evangelical doctrine of conversion, and the idea that springs up in many hearts that if once a man has ‘passed from death unto life,’ and has managed to get inside the door of the banqueting-hall, that is enough. And there are numbers of people in our Nonconformist communities especially, where that doctrine of conversion is most distinctly preached, whose growth is stopped by the abuse that they make of it in fancying if they have once exercised faith in Jesus Christ they may safely and sinlessly stand still. ‘Conversion’ is turning round. What do we turn round for? Surely, in order that we may travel on in the new direction, not that we may stay where we are. There is also the hindrance of mere indolence, and there is the hindrance arising from absorption in the world and its concerns.
If all your strength is going thither, there is none left to grow with. Many professing Christians take such deep draughts of the intoxicating cup of this world’s pleasures that it stunts their growth. People sometimes give children gin in order to keep them from growing. Some of you do that for your Christian character by the deep draughts that you take of the Circean cup of this world’s pleasures and cares.
And not unfrequently, some one favourite evil, some lust or passion, or weakness, or desire, which you have not the strength to cast out, will kill all aspirations and destroy all possibilities of growth; and will be like an iron band round a little sapling, which will confine it and utterly prevent all expansion. Is that the case with any of us? We all need--and I pray you suffer--the word of exhortation.
III. Now, again, consider the method of growth.
There are two things essential to the growth of animal life. One is food, the other is exercise; and your Christian character will grow by no other means.
Now as to the first. The true means by which we shall grow in Christian grace is by holding continual intercourse and communion with Jesus Christ. It is from Him that all come. He is the Fountain of Life; He gives the life, He nourishes the life, He increases the life. And whilst I have been saying, in an earlier part of this discourse, that we are not to expect an effortless growth, I must here say that we shall very much mistake what Christian progress requires if we suppose that the effort is most profitably directed to the cultivation of specific and single acts of goodness and purity. Our efforts are best when directed to keeping ourselves in union with our Lord. The heart united to Him will certainly be advancing in all things fair and lovely and of good report. Keep yourselves in touch with Christ; and Christ will make you grow. That is to say, occupy heart and mind with Him, let your thoughts go to Him. Do you ever, from morning to night, on a week-day, think about your Master, about His truth, about the principles of His Gospel, about His great love to you? Keep your heart in union with Him, in the midst of the rush and hurry of your daily life. Are your desires turning to Him? Do they go out towards Him and feel after Him? It will take an effort to keep up the union with Him, but without the effort there will be no contact, and without the contact there will be no growth. As soon may you expect a plant, wrenched from the soil and shut out from the sunshine to grow, as expect any Christian progress in the hearts which are disjoined from Jesus Christ. But rooted in that soil, smiled upon by that sun, watered by the perpetual dew from His Heaven, we shall ‘grow like the lily, and cast forth our roots like Lebanon. The secret of real Christian progress and the direction in which the effort of Christian progress can most profitably and effectually be made, is simply in keeping close to our Lord and Master. He is the food of the Spirit. ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.’
Communion with Christ includes prayer. Desire to grow will help our growth. We tend to become what we long to be. Desire which impels to effort will not be in vain if it likewise impels to prayer. We may have the answer to our petition for growth in set ways; we may be but partially conscious of the answer, nor know that our faces shine when we go among men. But certainly if we pray for what is in such accordance with His will as ‘growth in grace’ is, we shall have the petition that we desire. That longing to know Him better and to possess more of His grace, like the tendrils of some climbing plant, will always find the support round which it may twine, and by which it may ascend.
The other condition of growth is exercise. Use the grace which you have, and it increases. Practice the truth which you know, and many things will become clearer. The blacksmith’s muscles are strengthened by wielding the forge-hammer, but unused they waste. The child grows by exercise. To him that hath--truly possesses with that possession which only use secures--shall be given.
Communion with Christ, including prayer, and exercise are the means of growth.
IV. Lastly, observe the solemn alternative to growth.
It is not a question of either growing or not growing, and there an end; but if you will look at the context you will see that the exhortation of my text comes in in a very significant connection. ‘Behold! beware, lest being led away ... ye fall from your own steadfastness.’ ‘But grow in grace.’ That is to say, the only preventive of falling away from steadfastness is continual progress. The alternative of advance is retrogression. There is no standing still upon the inclined plane. If you are not going up, gravity begins to act, and down you go. There must either be continual advance or there will be certain decay and corruption. As soon as growth ceases in this physiology disintegration commences. Just as the graces exercised are strengthened, so the graces unexercised decay. The slothful servant wraps his talent in a napkin, and buries it in the ground. He may try to persuade his Master and himself with ‘There Thou hast that is Thine’; but He will not take up what you buried. Rust and verdigris will have done their work upon the coin; the inscription will be obliterated and the image will be marred. You cannot bury your Christian grace in indolence without diminishing it. It will be like a bit of ice wrapped in a cloth and left in the sun, it will all have gone into water when you come to take it out. And the truth that you do not live by, whose relations and large harmonies and controlling power are not being increasingly realised in your lives; that truth is becoming less and less real, more and more shadowy, and ghostlike to you. Truth which is not growing is becoming fossilized. ‘The things most surely believed’ are often the things which have least power. Unquestioned truth too often lies ‘bedridden in the dormitory of the soul side by side with exploded error.’ The sure way to reduce your knowledge of Jesus Christ to that inert condition is to neglect increasing it and applying it to your daily life. There are men, in all churches, and there are some whole communions whose creeds are the most orthodox, and also utterly useless, and as near as possible nonentities, simply because the creed is accepted and shelved. If your belief is to be of any use to you, or to be held by you in the face of temptations to abandon it, you must keep it fresh, and oxygenated, so to say, by continual fresh apprehension of it and closer application of it to conduct. As soon as the stream stands, it stagnates; and the very manna from God will breed worms and stink. And Christian truth unpractised by those who hold it, corrupts itself and corrupts them.
So Peter tells us that the alternative is growth or apostasy. This decay may be most real and unsuspected. There are many, many professing Christians all ignorant that, like the Jewish giant of old, their strength is gone from them, and the Spirit of God departed. My brother, I beseech you, rouse yourself from your contented slothfulness. Do not be satisfied with merely having come within the Temple. Count nothing as won whilst anything remains to be won. There is a whole ocean of boundless grace and truth rolling shoreless there before you. Do not content yourselves with picking up a few shells on the beach, but launch out into the deep, and learn to know more and more of the grace and truth and beauty of your Saviour and your God.
But remember dead things do not grow. You cannot grow unless you are alive, and you are not alive unless you have Jesus Christ.
Have you given yourselves to Him? have you taken Him as yours? given yourselves to Him as His servants, subjects, soldiers? taken Him for yours as your Saviour, Sacrifice, Pattern, Inspirer, Friend? If you have, then you have life which will grow if you keep it in union with Him. Joined to Him, men are like a ‘tree that is planted by the rivers of water,’ which spreads its foliage and bears its fruit, and year after year flings a wider shadow upon the grass, and lifts a sturdier bole to the heavens. Separated from Him they are like the chaff, which has neither root nor life, and which cannot grow.
Which, my friend, are you?3:11-18 From the doctrine of Christ's second coming, we are exhorted to purity and godliness. This is the effect of real knowledge. Very exact and universal holiness is enjoined, not resting in any low measure or degree. True Christians look for new heavens and a new earth; freed from the vanity to which things present are subject, and the sin they are polluted with. Those only who are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and sanctified by the Holy Ghost, shall be admitted to dwell in this holy place. He is faithful, who has promised. Those, whose sins are pardoned, and their peace made with God, are the only safe and happy people; therefore follow after peace, and that with all men; follow after holiness as well as peace. Never expect to be found at that day of God in peace, if you are lazy and idle in this your day, in which we must finish the work given us to do. Only the diligent Christian will be the happy Christian in the day of the Lord. Our Lord will suddenly come to us, or shortly call us to him; and shall he find us idle? Learn to make a right use of the patience of our Lord, who as yet delays his coming. Proud, carnal, and corrupt men, seek to wrest some things into a seeming agreement with their wicked doctrines. But this is no reason why St. Paul's epistles, or any other part of the Scriptures, should be laid aside; for men, left to themselves, pervert every gift of God. Then let us seek to have our minds prepared for receiving things hard to be understood, by putting in practice things which are more easy to be understood. But there must be self-denial and suspicion of ourselves, and submission to the authority of Christ Jesus, before we can heartily receive all the truths of the gospel, therefore we are in great danger of rejecting the truth. And whatever opinions and thoughts of men are not according to the law of God, and warranted by it, the believer disclaims and abhors. Those who are led away by error, fall from their own stedfastness. And that we may avoid being led away, we must seek to grow in all grace, in faith, and virtue, and knowledge. Labour to know Christ more clearly, and more fully; to know him so as to be more like him, and to love him better. This is the knowledge of Christ, which the apostle Paul reached after, and desired to attain; and those who taste this effect of the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, will, upon receiving such grace from him, give thanks and praise him, and join in ascribing glory to him now, in the full assurance of doing the same hereafter, for ever.But grow in grace - Compare Colossians 1:10. Religion in general is often represented as "grace," since every part of it is the result of grace, or of unmerited favor; and to "grow in grace" is to increase in that which constitutes true religion. Religion is as susceptible of cultivation and of growth as any other virtue of the soul. It is feeble in its beginnings, like the grain of mustard seed, or like the germ or blade of the plant, and it increases as it is cultivated. There is no piety in the world which is not the result of cultivation, and which cannot be measured by the degree of care and attention bestowed upon it. No one becomes eminently pious, any more than one becomes eminently learned or rich, who does not intend to; and ordinarily men in religion are what they design to be. They have about as much religion as they wish, and possess about the character which they intend to possess. When men reach extraordinary elevations in religion, like Baxter, Payson, and Edwards, they have gained only what they meant to gain; and the gay and worldly professors of religion who have little comfort and peace, have in fact the characters which they designed to have. If these things are so, then we may see the propriety of the injunction "to grow in grace;" and then too we may see the reason why so feeble attainments are made in piety by the great mass of those who profess religion.
And in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ - See the notes at John 17:3. Compare the notes at Colossians 1:10. To know the Lord Jesus Christ - to possess just views of his person, character, and work - is the sum and essence of the Christian religion; and with this injunction, therefore, the apostle appropriately closes this epistle. He who has a saving knowledge of Christ, has in tact all that is essential to his welfare in the life that is, and in that which is to come; he who has not this knowledge, though he may be distinguished in the learning of the schools, and may be profoundly skilled in the sciences, has in reality no knowledge that will avail him in the great matters pertaining to his eternal welfare.
To him be glory ... - Compare the Romans 16:27 note; 2 Timothy 4:18 note. With the desire that honor and glory should be rendered to the Redeemer, all the aspirations of true Christians appropriately close. There is no wish more deeply cherished in their hearts than this; there is nothing that will enter more into their worship in heaven. Compare Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 5:12-13. 18. grow—Not only do not "fall from" (2Pe 3:17), but grow onward: the true secret of not going backward. Eph 4:15, "Grow up into Him, the Head, Christ."
grace and … knowledge of … Christ—"the grace and knowledge of Christ" [Alford rightly]: the grace of which Christ is the author, and the knowledge of which Christ is the object.
for ever—Greek, "to the day of eternity": the day that has no end: "the day of the Lord," beginning with the Lord's coming. But grow in grace; in all those spiritual gifts ye have received from Christ, especially sanctifying.
And in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; in faith, whereby ye are sanctified, and made partakers of that grace.
To him be glory both now and for ever; which belongs only to God; and therefore this proves Christ to be God. But grow in grace,.... In the gifts of grace, which, under a divine blessing, may be increased by using them: gifts neglected decrease, but stirred up and used, are improved and increase. And though men are to be thankful for their gifts, and be contented with them, yet they may lawfully desire more, and in the use of means seek an increase of them, which may be a means of preserving themselves, and others, from the error of the wicked. Moreover, by "grace" may be meant internal grace. The work of grace is gradual; it is like a grain of mustard seed, or like seed cast into the earth, which springs up, it is not known how, first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear; saints are first babes, and from children they grow to young men, and from young men to fathers. There is such a thing as growth in grace, in this sense; every grace, as to its act and exercise, is capable of growing and increasing; faith may grow exceedingly, hope abound, love increase, and patience have its perfect work, and saints may grow more humble, holy, and self-denying: this is indeed God's work, to cause them to grow, and it is owing to his grace; yet saint, should show a concern for this, and make use of means which God owns and blesses for this purpose, such as prayer, attending on the word, and looking over the promises of God, for an increase of faith; recollecting past experiences, and looking to the death and resurrection of Christ for the encouragement of hope, and to the love of God and Christ, for the stirring up of love to both, and to the saints; considering the sufferings of Christ, the desert of sin, and the glories of another world, to promote patience and self-denial, and the pattern of Christ, to excite to humility; though "grace" may also intend the Gospel, the knowledge of which is imperfect, and may be increased in the use of means, and which is a special preservative against error, a growth in which saints should be concerned for:
and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; of his person, office, and grace, than which nothing is more valuable, and is to be preferred to everything; it is the principal thing in grace, and is the beginning and pledge of eternal life, and will issue in it; for an increase of which, and a growth in it, the word and ordinances are designed; and nothing can be a greater security against error than an experimental growing knowledge of Christ. The Syriac version adds, "and of God the Father"; and so some copies read:
to him be glory, both now, and for ever; or "to the day of eternity"; that is, to Christ, who is truly God, or otherwise such a doxology would not belong to him, be ascribed the glory of deity, of all divine perfections; the glory of all his offices and work as Mediator; the glory of man's salvation; and the glory of all that grace, and the growth of it, together with the knowledge of himself, which saints have from him; and that both in this world, and that which is to come.
Amen; so be it. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2 Peter 3:18
. ἐν χάριτι καὶ γνώσει τοῦ Κυρίου
. The genitive is to be taken with both words. γνῶσις
here means “spiritual instruction,” a knowledge that has its source in Christ Himself, as distinct from ἐπίγνωσις
, which is personal communion with Christ (see note 2 Peter 1:5
is the privilege of the “friend” of Christ. Cf. John 7:17
; John 15:15
. Note that the doxology is addressed to Christ, and, therefore, κυρίου ἡμῶν
. also refers to Him. εἰς ἡμέραν αἰῶνος
: “in the day of eternity”. The meanings of εἰς
in later Greek are somewhat interchangable (cf.
234 f.). ἡμ
is a very rare phrase not found elsewhere in N.T. It is found in Sir 18:10
, where the phrase is ἐν ἡμέρᾳ αἰῶνος
. The more usual expression is εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων
. “εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας
becomes so immediately the ruling phrase that this Petrine doxology cannot have been written alter liturgical expressions had become in any degree stereotyped” (Bigg).18
. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
] The final thought of the Epistle, like that with which it opened, is the growth of the Christian life. Here, as there (chap. 2 Peter 1:5
), stress is laid on knowledge as an element of growth, partly as essential to completeness in the Christian life, partly also, perhaps, in reference to the “knowledge falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20
) of which the false teachers boasted.
To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen
] The word “glory” in the Greek has the article, which makes it include all the glory which men were wont, in their doxologies, to ascribe to God. The Apostle has learnt the full meaning of the words “that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father” (John 5:23
). The effect of his teaching may be traced in the Churches to which the letter was mainly addressed, in Pliny’s account of the worship of Christians in the Asiatic provinces, as including “a hymn sung to Christ as to God” (Ep. ad Trajan
. 96). The Greek phrase for “for ever” (literally, for the day of the æon
, or eternity
) is a peculiar one, and expresses the thought that “the day” of which the Apostle had spoken in 2 Peter 3:10
; 2 Peter 3:12
would be one which should last through the new æon that would then open, and to which no time-limits could be assigned.
The absence of any salutations, like those with which the First Epistle ended, is, perhaps, in part due to the wider and more encyclical character which marks the Second. The Apostle was content that his last words should be on the one hand an earnest entreaty that men should “grow” to completeness in their spiritual life, and, on the other, the ascription of an eternal glory to the Lord and Master whom he loved.2 Peter 3:18
) the more; the more they decrease [ἐν χάριτι καὶ γνώσει
, in grace and knowledge
) ch. 2 Peter 1:3
; 2 Peter 1:8
.—V. g.]—ἡμέραν αἰῶνος
, the day of eternity
) This title agrees with that sense, in which the apostle employed it, through the whole of this chapter. Eternity
is a day
, without night, unmixed and perpetual.
 Bengel, J. A. (1866). Vol. 5
: Gnomon of the New Testament
(M. E. Bengel & J. C. F. Steudel, Ed.) (W. Fletcher, Trans.) (84–110). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.Verse 18.
- But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Growth is necessary for steadfastness; we cannot persevere unless we continually advance in faith (comp. 1 Peter 1:5-7
; 1 Peter 2:2
). Some, as Alford, take the genitive with "grace" as well as with "knowledge;" but this connection forces us to regard it first as subjective, then as objective - the grace which Christ gives, and the knowledge of which he is the Object - and so seems somewhat forced. St. Peter insists on the knowledge of Christ as essential for growth in grace, at the beginning, as at the end, of this Epistle. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. We notice the doxology addressed to Christ; it reminds us of the hymn which Pliny, in his famous letter to Trajan, says the Christians of Bithynia (one of the provinces mentioned in 1 Peter 1:1
) were wont to address to Christ as to God. To him be (or is) the glory - all the glory which belongs to God, which we ascribe to him. "For ever" is, literally, "for the day of the age or of eternity (εἰς ἡμερὰν αἰῶνος
)." This remarkable expression is found only here, and is variously interpreted. Bengel explains it as, "dies sine nocte, morus et perpetuus;" Huther as, "the day on which eternity begins as contrasted with time, but which day is likewise all eternity itself." Fronmuller quotes St. Augustine: "It is only one day, but an everlasting day, without yesterday to precede it, and without tomorrow to follow it; not brought forth by the natural sun, which shall exist no more, but by Christ, the Sun of Righteousness."
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