2 Peter 1:5 Commentary

2 Peter: True and False Prophecy
Click chart to enlarge
Chart from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission


Cultivation of
Christlike Character
Condemnation of
False Teachers
Confidence in the
Return of Christ
2Pe 1:1-2
2Pe 1:3-14

2Pe 1:15-21

Danger of
2Pe 2:1-3

Demise of
2Pe 2:4-9

"Decor" of
2Pe 2:10-22

Mockers in
the Last Days
2Pe 3:1-7

Day of
the Lord
2Pe 3:8-10

Maturity in light of that
2Pe 3:11-18


Your Scripture



True Prophecy
(True Knowledge)
False Prophets
(False Teachers)
Final Prophecy
(Day of the Lord)
Holiness Heresy Hope
False Teachers
The Future

2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, (NASB: Lockman)

Greek: kai auto touto de spouden pasan pareisenegkantes (AAPMPN) epichoregesate ( 2PAAM) en te pistei humon ten areten, en de te arete ten gnosin,

Amplified: For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence)

Barclay: since all this is so, bend all your energy to the task of equipping your faith with courage, your courage with knowledge (Westminster Press)

KJV -  And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

NLT: So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. (NLT - Tyndale House)

Phillips: For this very reason you must do your utmost from your side, and see that your faith carries with it real goodness of life. Your goodness must be accompanied by knowledge, your knowledge (Phillips: Touchstone)

Wuest: And for this very cause, having added on your part every intense effort, provide lavishly in your faith the aforementioned virtue, and in the virtue experiential knowledge  (Eerdmans)

Young's Literal: And this same also -- all diligence having brought in besides, superadd in your faith the worthiness, and in the worthiness the knowledge,


  • Lk 16:26 24:21

THOUGHT - In light of the grand truth that we have been firmly rooted and grounded in Christ Jesus (2Peter 1:1-4)...now may our great Father by His Spirit of Christ cause us to continually grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to Whom be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (2 Peter 3:18+)!....

Don Anderson sums up this first section (titles in green added to Anderson's titles in blue)...

Here's What You Have (2 Peter 1:1-4)
(God's Part: Power & Promise)
Here's What You Do (2 Peter 1:5-11)
(Our Part: Faith & Diligence)

Francis Chan introduces his message on 2 Peter 1:5-11 with this probing question (one that is applicable to every follower of Christ)...


Peter writes in his letter that we should make every effort to cultivate Christ-like character qualities. Most of us have goals that revolve around what we want to accomplish rather than who we are, but God wants us to develop character.

When we focus on being the person God wants us to be,
then we will accomplish what He wants us to accomplish

We must be diligent in cultivating Christian virtue, self-control and knowledge. We are able to pursue these things because we are partakers in God’s divine nature (2Peter 1:4-note). He makes us a slave to righteousness (Romans 6:19-note). In other words, we have a new Master (1Cor 6:19-note, 1Cor 6:20-note). It all starts with faith (Gal 2:16 = begin; Gal 2:20-note = continue, cp Gal 3:2, 5, 14). He gives us the desire to live a life of integrity (Ed: Note the crucial phrase "He gives...", not "I do..." or "I get..." or "I try...", etc; see Phil 2:13-note, Ezek 36:27+). If we are seeking God and spending time with Him, we will see progress in godliness (Mt 6:33-note). When we spend time with people on a regular basis, we become like them (Pr 13:20, Ps 119:63, Mal 3:16, 1Cor 15:33). When we spend time with our Savior, we become more and more like Him.


Listen to God, and He will shape you into the person that reflects His image. (From Francis Chan's message on 2 Peter 1:5-11 The Holy Spirit's Power and Our Effort)

Comment based on Chan's comments: Reflecting the image of Christ is what this first section of Peter is all about -- Peter is not trying to place you under a set of rules and regulations so that you try and try and try even harder to develop these Christ-like qualities. To the contrary, the necessary action on our part is to learn to relinquish control (even that act energized by the Spirit!), to rest in Christ, to rely on His Spirit, to surrender our will to the will of the Father (in one sense we've actually prayed for this many times when we have prayed Mt 6:10+)...then, and only then, the Spirit will transform you step by step, from glory into glory into the image of God's Son (2Cor 3:18-note).

THOUGHT - Notice also how Peter's "chain" of attributes (moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, love) at first might seem to be just a random, unconnected collection, but in fact they are like the spiritual fruit in Gal 5:22-23+, which is one fruit (karpos singular in the Greek) with manifold supernatural manifestations, ALL initiated and energized by the indwelling power (dunamis) of the Spirit of Christ. In a similar way, Peter's "chain" of Christ-like virtues constitutes an interconnected unit like the spiritual fruit in Gal 5. In other words, you can't have "love" without "knowledge" (cf Php 1:9-10+), etc. One could subtitle the list in 2 Peter 1:5-8 as "The Fruit in a Believer Filled with and Energized by the Holy Spirit." (See related topic The Holy Spirit-Walking Like Jesus Walked!) Stated another way, while we are to make the conscious choice daily (applying is in the active voice = choice of our will) to apply all diligence (OUR RESPONSIBILITY), we, by ourselves, in reliance on our natural strength, CANNOT BEAR even one of these spiritual virtues without reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit (GOD'S PROVISION/POWER). This is not "Let go, let God," but what I like to call "Let God and let's go." (His Part/Our Part). Why do I emphasize the vital role of the Spirit in our manifesting the virtues in Peter's chain? Simply because the inherent danger is ever present that we will attempt to "work out" (Php 2:12+) all of these virtues in reliance on natural rather than supernatural power (Php 2:13+). And the result is that we fall into legalism, thinking things like "Today I must exercise self-control or be godly, etc." "I" can't do it without the enablement of "Him" (the Spirit). My way leads to futility and frustration in the Christian life. God's way leads to joy and peace and victory in the Christian life and brings glory to our Father in Heaven (Mt 5:16+). 

For this very reason is a "term of conclusion" and as all good inductive students (see Inductive Bible Study) know, the natural "reflex" is to stop and ask "what reason?" This is not a pedantic (a pedant is one who makes a show of knowledge) exercise but serves (1) to slow you down and (2) helps you to read the passage with a purpose. Inductive Bible study "immerses" you in the environment of the passage and instead of a bored, listless, apathetic passive reader, you become engaged, and actively involved even anticipating insights your diligence will yield (And you can mark it down - as you hone this skill of "chewing the cud" so to speak, you are practicing the wonderfully spiritual discipline of Meditation, a discipline God promises to greatly bless - see Ps 1:2-note, Ps 1:3-note, Josh 1:8-note if you don't believe me!). In short your Scripture reading instead of being drudgery becomes a delight!

Steven Cole explains that for this very reason "takes us back to 2Pe 1:3, 4, where Peter told us that when we believed in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, God also “granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2Pe 1:3). Through the glory and moral perfection of Christ, “He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” (2Pe 1:4). “Now for this very reason also,” grow in your faith...you cannot begin to grow as a Christian until you have received new life from God through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the life of Christ in you that gives you the motivation and power to change and grow spiritually. The instant you trust in Christ, God graciously gives you the key to the unfathomable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8), which supplies you with everything you need for life and godliness....D. A. Carson explains (Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church [Zondervan], p. 228), “... the dominant biblical pattern is neither ‘let go and let God’ nor ‘God has done his bit, and now it’s all up to you,’ but rather, ‘since God is powerfully at work in you, you yourself must make every effort.’” As Paul said (Phil. 2:12-13), “... work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” In other words, spiritual growth involves God’s resources as the foundation, but also our responsible effort in addition....You won’t grow spiritually if you don’t deliberately work at it. (Growing in Godliness)

In simple terms Peter is saying NOW IT'S YOUR TURN! Yes, God has given us all the necessary spiritual resources, but now we are responsible to use them. Remember, beloved, that spiritual growth occurs when doing follows hearing!

Gil Rugh - Now it is not that I reach down into the resources of myself to pull myself up to accomplish what I should. No! I reach down into the resources of almighty God, who has made me new within, and I draw upon His power, the One who is my sufficiency, and apply myself to the pursuit of the development of His character in every aspect of my life. that is the idea being presented. (Seven Virtues of Christian Growth)

Wuest - Strachan says that the words “and besides this” (for this reason) emphasize the fact of the gifts spoken of in verse four as having their logical outcome in character, and quotes Bunyan as saying, “The soul of religion is the practical part.” (Word Studies - Eerdmans)

UBS Handbook - Having reminded his readers of their great and glorious destiny, he now invites them to demonstrate this in their lives, that is, to lead lives that are morally and ethically acceptable. (The United Bible Societies' New Testament Handbook Series)

Peter is urging his readers to grow in spiritual maturity. The sanctification process is lifelong for every genuine partaker of His "divine nature". Paul might refer to the process as sanctification or a progressive setting apart of the believer from the corruption of this world and unto God to render us useful and fruit for His holy purposes. "NOW" that you've heard these great truths -- now that you have everything necessary for life & godliness, now that you have His precious and magnificent promises, and now that you have been made partakers of His divine nature..."NOW" in view of these incredible resources, work out your salvation. It will take effort but not self effort. It will take "faith" effort (Phil 2:12–13, Col 2:6). So get on with it. Walk forth laying hold of the promises that are yours in Christ for "in Him you have been made complete" (Col 2:10)

John Calvin - As it is a work arduous and of immense labor, to put off the corruption which is in us, he bids us to strive and make every effort for this purpose. He intimates that no place is to be given in this case to sloth, and that we ought to obey God calling us, not slowly or carelessly, but that there is need of alacrity; as though he had said, “Put forth every effort, and make your exertions manifest to all.” (2 Peter 1)

It should be kept in mind that Calvin's allusion to "effort" might conger up the idea of self-effort and self-reliance which is not at all what Peter is calling for in this passage.

Jerry Bridges explains that "Self-reliance toward God is a dependence on our own power, not the power of the Holy Spirit....Self-reliance is the opposite of dependence on the Holy Spirit’s power for sanctification. Just as by nature we assume we earn our salvation by our good works, so by nature we assume we grow spiritually by our own effort and willpower. What’s wrong with this kind of self-reliance? Everything. First of all, it doesn’t work. The Christian life is a spiritual life lived in a spiritual world. Our human strength, be it physical power or willpower, is inadequate. We need divine strength that comes from a divine source—the Spirit of God. When we attempt to live the Christian life in our own strength, we head in the direction of legalism, pride, frustration, or ungodly living. It can even lead to a shipwrecked faith...Furthermore, if we perceive we’ve succeeded on our own, in our arrogance we’ll boast, take the credit, and steal the glory....We need to admit that self-reliance is a subtle and insidious enemy of our souls....With one breath we express awareness that we’re dependent on God for everything, and with the next breath we express self-reliance.


Brian Bell uses a surprising cake analogy (somewhat of a modern "parable") to illustrate Peter's exhortation to all saints to grow in godliness (I have added some words to make full sentences)...

What’s your favorite cake? There are two main parts to a cake: the cake (salvation) and the frosting (our sanctification). Displayed in the Master Bakers bakery one day (soon) will be a vast array of cakes. From plain cakes…to the elaborate wedding cake! (cp Rev 19:9-note) You do have to be a cake to enter, and all “real” cakes will enter! Our Father will receive even plain cakes into his bakery, for He made them! But what blesses Him is to see them beautifully decorated! Frosting, sprinkles, waves, writing, different colors, flowers (made of frosting), ornaments. All you need, He provides in His kitchen.

With regards to the cake itself: The Master Baker is in charge of putting together all the ingredients (flour, eggs, sugar, oil)…then, just add water! So He works regeneration, justification, repentance, “all of the salvation ingredients” into the mix of our lives. We simply need to “just add water”…which is ultimately supplied by Him (His indwelling Holy Spirit! cp John 3:5), we just appropriate it to ourselves, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (Jn.7:38)

Mical (Pastor Bell's daughter) for her birthday last month wanted a chocolate cake with no frosting! Kelly (his wife) on the other hand…once when we were dating I made her a “German Chocolate cake” and she mowed the top one inch…frosting only! Both are analogous to the Christian life – Cake only Christians…those who have faith but don’t build on that faith. And, Frosting only ‘professing’ Christians …those who try to show “works” on the outside without a real cake to build upon. Like those fake cakes you see in the window, where they frost over cardboard (now you see what God tastes when bites into a “name only” Christian!)...Outline of 2Peter 1:1-11: His Part! ("The Cake" - 2Peter 1:1-4); Our Part! ("The Frosting" - 2Peter 1:5-11). (Notes on Sermon entitled "His Part-Our Part! - on 2 Peter 1:1-11)

APPLYING: pareisenegkantes (AAPMPN):

  • 2Pe 1:10 3:14,18 Ps 119:4 Pr 4:23 Isa 55:2 Zec 6:15 Jn 6:27 Php 2:12 Heb 6:11 11:6 12:15)

since all this is so, bend all your energy to the task of equipping your faith. (Westminster Press)

D Edmond Hiebert wisely reminds us that "Human effort must follow the work of God, but the participial construction indicates that such human effort is subordinate to the divine bestowal and flows out of it (cf. Phil 2:12-note, Phil 2:13-note).

God's resources
our requirements

Applying (3923) (pareisphero from pará = from close-beside, alongside+ eisphéro = bring into) means literally "bring deeply into," i.e. from close beside. To bear in alongside or besides (to bring to bear), and so to introduce simultaneously. To contribute besides to something. This verb implies making a strong effort to provide something necessary. In this passage this verb refers to carrying through with personal involvement (energy). It strongly stresses the need of our deep, personal involvement in the faith-life.

Henry Alford (The NT for English Readers) writes pareisphero means "literally, introducing by the side of: i.e., besides those precious promises on God's part, bring in your part."

Pareisphero was at times used of smuggling or of importing along byways. Although Jude uses a different verb (pareisduno) he describes the action of false teachers (Jude 1:4 - "certain persons have crept in unnoticed" = pareisduno from para = at the side of + eisduo = enter in).

As discussed below this verb is used idiomatically here meaning we are to to do our very best in attempting to bring forth the Christian virtues listed. Strachan (Expositor's Greek Testament) says that the words “and besides this” emphasize the fact of the gifts spoken of in verse four as having their logical outcome in character, and quotes Bunyan as saying, “The soul of religion is the practical part.” (Ibid)

Our Father has given each of as His very Own children (1John 3:1-note) everything we need in order to live a supernatural, abundant life, life on "the highest plane" (2Peter 1:3-note). In light of our Father's magnanimous, gracious generosity, we must daily set our mind and will to seek to be diligent to "cultivate the soil" of our soul so as to optimize the growth of the fruit now possible because of our new life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God does not make us holy against our will or without our involvement. There must be desire, determination, and discipline on our part. Peter is calling for maximum effort on our part. The Christian life is not lived to the honor of God without effort. Even though God has poured His divine power into the believer via His indwelling Spirit, the Christian is required to make every disciplined effort alongside of what God has done. The picture of word "applying" (bring in alongside) is paralleled in Paul's exhortation to the church at Philippi to

work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Applying all diligence) for it is God Who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (God's provision of His Spirit) (Phil 2:12-note; Phil 2:12-note).

Jamieson writes that applying means 'literally, “introducing” side by side with God’s gift, on your part “diligence.”

Vincent says that pareisphero means "literally, to bring in by the side of -- adding your diligence to the divine promises. (Ed: And I would add apart from God's divine promises and enablement, our diligence would be impossible!) (2 Peter 1 - Vincent's Word Studies)

The aorist tense of pareisphero calls for effective action on the reader's part. The concern is not with the process of procuring this needed diligence but with the actual operation of diligence by the believer.

John MacArthur explains applying this way - "In view of and parallel to God’s endeavor in providing salvation, believers are compelled to call on all their regenerate faculties to live godly lives (2Pe 3:14-note, Ro 6:22-note, Eph 5:7, 8-note, Eph 5:9-note, Heb 6:10-note, Heb 6:11, 12-note, Gal 6:9) (MacArthur, J: 2 Peter And Jude. Moody)

Spurgeon rightly said "God sends every bird his food (Ed: God's part), but He doesn't throw it into the nest (Ed: Our part).

God has provided everything the believer will ever need for life and godliness (2Pe 1:3) as well as His precious and magnificent promises (2Pe 1:4), and now based on this firm foundation of truth, Peter is charging the believers to exercise effort (Spirit enabled, grace driven) in order to truly experience His gracious provisions for in Christ-likeness (observe that all 7 qualities in the 2Peter 1:5-7 are perfectly depicted in the life of Christ)..

Bill Crowder - It is the Spirit that matures us into the image of Christ so that we can give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 3:1-3). We are called to be submissive to His control in our lives. That is our responsibility. But the Holy Spirit is the One who produces the image and likeness of Christ in us. (The Promise Of The Spirit)

Henrietta Mears speaks of applying all diligence - It is difficult to steer a parked car, so get moving. (Ed: Albeit as explained elsewhere in these notes, that "car" cannot really move without power, and the power is supplied in the believer's life by the Holy Spirit. In short "we work it out" as "He works it in us".)

Paul Apple writes that in chapter 1 we see the juxtaposition of the "Sovereignty of God and human responsibility. We are not called to "Let Go and Let God do everything", but to "Trust God and get going". We are called to exercise faith and apply all diligence to live like God wants us to; not to work hard in order to be saved; but to work hard because we have been saved. Be quick to add these qualities into your life -- idea of eagerness, haste; don’t procrastinate; earnestness; zeal; use of word in 2 Peter 1:10; 15; 3:14 -- important tone. Have to keep applying this same diligence throughout your whole life; you never advance beyond this to some resting point where you don’t need to practice self-denial and discipline and effort - Think of the context of 2 Peter -- What’s the danger if we don’t apply all diligence and add the qualities of Christlikeness to the foundation of our faith? The pressure of persecution and suffering will cause us to quit the Christian race. The attractiveness of false teaching will tickle our ears and promise us an easier life. Those that mock the 2nd coming of Christ will cause us to doubt the reality of God’s promises to us -- which are precious and magnificent. We will sink back into the corruption that is connected with the lusts of the flesh. (2Peter)

ALL DILIGENCE: spouden pasan:

  • 2Pe 1:10, 3:14,18 Ps 119:4 Pr 4:23 Isa 55:2 Zec 6:15, Jn 6:27 Php 2:12 Heb 6:11, 11:6, 12:15 


All diligence - Literally "diligence all." In the original Greek spoude is placed first for emphasis, in context to emphasize the attitude Peter is calling believers to exhibit in order to experience spiritual growth. Barclay paraphrases it "bend all your energy to the task." Phillips says "you must do your utmost from your side." Wuest renders it "having added every intense effort."

In his comments on 1Peter 2:2, Hiebert helps us understand one of the best ways to apply "all diligence" writing that "Grow up" (in 1Pe 2:2) is aorist passive and may be translated "be made to grow." It is an activity that is wrought within us by the nourishment supplied. The aorist tense simply pictures that growth as the essential feature of the Christian life. Spiritual growth is not a direct act of human volition. The Christians responsibility is to diligently appropriate the Word that produces the growth. The verb continues the picture of the readers as "newborn babies." Best remarks, "While the Christian is newborn he is also always in process of growth; it is not his status which requires emphasis but his progress." Hence, "may grow up." Senior notes, "1 Peter conceives of Christian life not as an instant and easily attained experience but as a life-long process of growth toward the full beauty of our [redeemed] humanity." (1 Peter Commentary)

Mark Dever - If we are to grow as individual believers and as churches, we must sit under the Word. We must pray for the Holy Spirit to plant and to weed the gardens of our hearts. This spiritual growth is not optional; it is vital, because spiritual growth indicates life. Things that are truly alive, grow. (Nine Marks of a Healthy Church)

Spurgeon exhorts us to all diligence...

For we cannot expect to go to heaven asleep. We are not taken there against our wills. It is not our will that accomplishes our salvation; but still, it is not accomplished without our will. “Giving diligence,”yes, but more than that, “giving all diligence,”

It is not man’s effort that saves him; but, on the other hand, grace saves no man to make him like a log of wood or a block of stone; grace makes man active. God has been diligently at work with you; now you must diligently work together with Him.

Diligence (4710) (spoude from speudo = move quickly, hasten, make haste) refers to eagerness, earnestness, willingness or zeal. It denotes quick movement or haste accompanying the eagerness, etc, in the interest of a person or cause. Thus spoude can refer to swiftness of movement or action and means haste or speed (like our expression "in a hurry"). It can refer to an earnest commitment in discharge of an obligation or experience of a relationship.

Spoude implies more than mere earnest desire, but includes action as well as desire. Spoude "never takes 20 minutes to do a 10 minute job." (William Hill)

Louw-Nida - Spoudē means "eagerness to do something, with the implication of readiness to expend energy and effort"

Spoude was often used in Greek and Roman literature and found on inscriptions in reference to extraordinary commitment to civic and religious responsibilities, which were frequently intertwined, and also of concern for personal moral excellence or optimum devotion to the interests of others.

For believers, spoudē ("speedy diligence") means quickly obeying what the Lord reveals is His priority. This elevates the better over the good and the more important over the important – with divinely-inspired swiftness.

Wuest, "Spoudē is used in the papyri in such senses as 'do your best, take care, hurry on with doing something.' The verb speaks of intensity of purpose followed by intensity of effort toward the realization of that purpose"  (Word Studies - Eerdmans)

In sum, spoudē refers to zealous diligence which executes decisions (actions) with swiftness and priority. God inspires and empowers this swiftness in believers earnestly living out faith to do what has priority to Him. And remember that delayed obedience is still disobedience . . . and partial obedience is still sin!

Spoude is used 12 times in the NT and is translated in the NASB as: diligence, 4; earnestness, 5; effort, 1; hurry, 2. KJV also translates as business, 1; care, 1; carefulness, 1; diligence, 5; earnest care, 1; forwardness, 1; haste, 2.

Mark 6:25 Immediately she came in a hurry to the king and asked, saying, "I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter."

Luke 1:39 Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah,

Romans 12:8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12:11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

2 Corinthians 7:11 For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. 12 So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God.

2 Corinthians 8:7 But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. 8 I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.

2 Corinthians 8:16 But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus.

Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,

2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,

Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Spoude-17x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (LXX)- Ex 12:11, 33; Deut 16:3; Jdg 5:22; 1 Sam 21:8; Ezra 4:23; Ps 78:33; Jer 8:15; 15:8; Lam 4:6; Ezek 7:11; Dan 2:25; 3:24; 6:19; 10:7; 11:44; Zeph 1:18

A familiar OT passage helps give us a word picture of the meaning of spoude in the - context of the last plague in Egypt (destruction of the first born sons), Jehovah instructed Israel regarding the Passover...

Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste (cp Dt 16:3, Lxx = spoude) —it is the Lord’s Passover. (Ex 12:11)

Spoude is primarily an attitude which leads to an action. Spoude means to do something with intense effort and motivation, with quick movement and is in opposition to the attitude of slothfulness. The individual who is "spoude" who is eager to do something and ready to expend the necessary energy and effort.

Spoude means to do something with intense effort and motivation—‘to work hard, to do one’s best, to endeavor.’ Thus Paul exhorts the Roman saints that "he who leads, with diligence (spoude)" (Ro 12:8-note) There are two ways in which leader can lead —with heart and mind or in the most perfunctory way. The lead may dully and drably lead or he may do it with the joy and thrill of zeal. We need leaders with zeal (spoude) in their hearts.

Henry Alford says spoude "implies more than mere earnest desire; a man’s spoude is necessarily action as well as wish.

Kenneth Wuest adds that the related verb spoudazo conveys "the idea of making haste, being eager, giving diligence, and putting forth effort are in the word. The word speaks of intense effort and determination.  (Word Studies - Eerdmans)

Peter is calling for an attitude of eagerness and zeal, an abandonment of sluggishness and self-indulgence. Note Peter's addition of the modifier all (pas = the whole amount or quantity, no holding back) to underline the comprehensiveness of the effort for which he is calling. Peter (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) says the spiritual growth he describes in the next few passages is so important that our effort must not be half-hearted or selective. The idea is Doing your utmost for His highest as Oswald Chambers might phrase it.

When you are diligent, you are alert, focused, committed to the task at hand, single minded, careful, business like.

The Greek phrase Peter uses here ("spouden pasan pareisphero") according to one source is an idiom which literally means to bring every effort, to do one's very best in attempting to do something, to make every effort to do it, or to try as hard as possible.

Wuest - “Diligence” is spoudē. The verb is spoudazo which means “to make haste, be eager, give diligence, to do one’s best, to take care, to exert one’s self.” In verses two and three we have the divine provision and enablement given the believer in salvation, an inner dynamic, the divine nature which impels to a holy life, giving both the desire and power to do God’s will (Phil. 2:13-note). In 2Pe 1:5-7, we have human responsibility, that of seeing to it that the various Christian virtues are included in one’s life. The divine nature (2Pe 1:4) is not an automatic self-propelling machine that will turn out a Christian life for the believer irrespective of what that believer does or the attitude he takes to the salvation which God has provided. The divine nature will always produce a change in the life of the sinner who receives the Lord Jesus as Saviour. But it works at its best efficiency when the believer cooperates with it in not only determining to live a life pleasing to God, but definitely stepping out in faith and living that life in dependence upon the new life which God has implanted in him. And this must not be a mere lackadaisical attempt at doing God’s will, but an intense effort, as shown by the word spoudē, translated “diligence.”   (Word Studies - Eerdmans)

Webster defines diligence (and I paraphrase) as steady, earnest, attentive and energetic application and effort in a pursuit. This person is not lackadaisical! He or she exhibits the proverbial diligence of a bee ("busy as a bee"). Peter is saying the saint is to put forth zealous persistence in accomplishing the goal.

J. Vernon McGee in his unique style describes "all diligence" reminding us that "The Christian life is a very serious business. However, we have made it sort of an extracurricular activity. The present-day thinking is that it is not something to be taken into the business world or the schoolroom or into social life. Rather, it is something sort of like your Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes which you wear only at certain times. However, Peter said that it is something to which we are to give “all diligence." (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

C. H. Spurgeon has some sage advice on the importance of diligence and faith in regard to the assurance of one's salvation:

If thou wouldest enjoy the eminent grace of the full assurance of faith (2Pe 1:10), under the blessed Spirit's influence, and assistance, do what the Scripture tells thee, "Give diligence." Take care that thy faith is of the right kind-that it is not a mere belief of doctrine, but a simple faith, depending on Christ, and on Christ alone. Give diligent heed to thy courage. Plead with God that he would give thee the face of a lion, that thou mayest, with a consciousness of right, go on boldly.

Study well the Scriptures, and get knowledge; for a knowledge of doctrine will tend very much to confirm faith. Try to understand God's Word; let it dwell in thy heart richly. (Col 3:16-note) When thou hast done this, "Add to thy knowledge temperance." Take heed to thy body: be temperate without. Take heed to thy soul: be temperate within. Get temperance of lip, life, heart, and thought. Add to this, by God's Holy Spirit, patience; ask him to give thee that patience which endureth affliction, which, when it is tried, shall come forth as gold. Array yourself with patience, that you may not murmur nor be depressed in your afflictions. When that grace is won look to godliness. Godliness is something more than religion. Make God's glory your object in life; live in His sight; dwell close to Him; seek for fellowship with Him; and thou hast "godliness"; and to that add brotherly love. Have a love to all the saints: and add to that a charity, which openeth its arms to all men, and loves their souls. When you are adorned with these jewels, and just in proportion as you practice these heavenly virtues, will you come to know by clearest evidence "your calling and election." "Give diligence," if you would get assurance, for lukewarmness and doubting very naturally go hand in hand. (From Morning & Evening 7/26)

Nigel McCullough - There is no point in praying for spiritual growth unless we do our best to live disciplined Christian lives.

Illustration of Diligence - I stood in the cold pre-dawn darkness outside a New York City hotel waiting for the airport bus. The street was deserted. My attention was drawn to one lone man who was cleaning the glass on the doors at the entrance of the hotel. With great care he removed every smudge. He even dusted overhead so that no dirt or cobwebs would collect. What made his work so noteworthy was that no one was inspecting it, and throughout the day many people would go through those doors, smearing the windows with their handprints. Nevertheless, he worked diligently and faithfully with special care to make sure those glass panels were spotless. What a lesson, I thought, for Christians! All of our work should be characterized by such diligence and thoroughness. Even when no human eye looks on and no tongue commends our efforts, we must strive to do our best as to the Lord. Our willingness to work hard should not result from a desire to win the approval of others but from a deep awareness that we are "servants of Christ." —P R Van Gorder

Alexander Maclaren writes that...

We all know what ‘diligence’ means, but it is worth while to point out that the original meaning of the word is not so much diligence as haste. It is employed, for instance, to describe the eager swiftness with which the Virgin went to Elizabeth after the angel’s salutation and annunciation. It is the word employed to describe the murderous hurry with which Herodias came rushing in to the king to demand John the Baptist’s head. It is the word with which the Apostle, left solitary in his prison, besought his sole trusty, companion Timothy to ‘make haste so as to come to him before winter.’ (see notes on 2 Timothy 4:21) (see excellent sermon 2 Timothy 4:21 Come Before Winter) Thus, the first notion in the word is haste, which crowds every moment with continuous effort, and lets no hindrances entangle the feet of the runner. Wise haste has sometimes to be content to go slowly. ‘Raw haste’ is ‘half sister to delay.’ When haste degenerates into hurry, and becomes agitation, it is weakness, not strength; it turns out superficial work, which has usually to be pulled to pieces and done over again, and it is sure to be followed by reaction of languid idleness. But the less we hurry the more should we hasten in running the race set before us.

But with this caution against spurious haste, we cannot too seriously lay to heart the solemn motives to wise and well-directed haste. The moments granted to any of us are too few and precious to let slip unused. The field to be cultivated is too wide and the possible harvest for the toiler too abundant, and the certain crop of weeds in the sluggard’s garden too poisonous, to allow dawdiing to be considered a venial fault. Little progress will be made if we do not work as feeling that ‘the night is far spent, the day is at hand,’ or as feeling the apparently opposite but really identical conviction, ‘I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day. The night cometh when no man can work.’ The day of full salvation, repose, and blessedness is near dawning. The night of weeping, the night of toil, is nearly past. By both aspects of this brief life we should be spurred to haste.

The first element, then, in Christian diligence is economy of time as of most precious treasure, and the avoidance, as of a pestilence, of all procrastination. ‘To-morrow and to-morrow’ is the opiate with which sluggards and cowards set conscience asleep, and as each to-morrow becomes to-day it proves as empty of effort as its predecessors, and, when it has become yesterday, it adds one more to the solemn company of wasted opportunities which wait for a man at the bar of God. ‘All their yesterdays have lighted’ such idlers ‘to dusty death,’ because in each they were saying, ‘to-morrow we will begin the better course,’ instead of beginning it to-day. ‘Now is the accepted time.’ ‘Wherefore, giving all haste, add to your faith.’

Another of the phases of the virtue, which Peter here regards as sovereign, is represented in our translation of the word by ‘earnestness,’ which is the parent of diligence. Earnestness is the sentiment, of which diligence is the expression. So the word is frequently translates. Hence we gather that no Christian growth is possible unless a man gives his mind to it. Dawdlers will do nothing. There must be fervour if there is to be growth. The heated bar of iron will go through the obstacle which the cold one will never penetrate. We must gather ourselves together under the impulse of an all-pervading and noble earnestness, too deep to be demonstrative, and which does not waste itself in noise, but settles down steadily to work. The engine that is giving off its steam in white puffs is not working at its full power. When we are most intent we are most silent. Earnestness is dumb, and therefore it is terrible.

Again we come to the more familiar translation of the word as in the text, ‘Diligence’ is the panacea for all diseases of the Christian life. It is the homely virtue that leads to all success. It is a great thing to be convinced of this, that there are no mysteries about the conditions of healthy Christian living, but that precisely the same qualities which lead to victory in any career to which a man sets himself do so in this; that, on the one hand, we shall never fail if in earnest and saving the crumbs of moments, we give ourselves to the work of Christian growth; and that on the other hand/no fine emotions, no select moments of rapture and communion will ever avail to take the place of the dogged perseverance and prosaic hard work which wins in all other fields; and wins, and is the only thing that does win, in this one too. If you want to be a strong Christian — that is to say, a happy man — you must bend your back to the work and ‘give all diligence.’ Nobody goes to heaven in his sleep. No man becomes a vigorous Christian by any other course than ‘giving all diligence.’ It is a very lowly virtue. It is like some of the old wives’ recipes for curing diseases with some familiar herb that grows at every cottage door. People will not have that, but if you bring them some medicine from far away, very rare and costly, and suggest to them some course out of the beaten rut of ordinary, honest living, they will jump at that. Quackery always deals in mysteries and rare things. The great physician cures diseases with simples that grow everywhere. A pennyworth of some familiar root will cure an illness that nothing else will touch. It is a homely virtue, but if in its homeliness we practised it, this Church and our own souls would wear a different face from what it and they do to-day.

II. Note the wide field of action for this homely grace.

I can do nothing more — nor is it necessary that I should — than put before your mind, in a sentence or two, the various applications of it which our letter gives.

First, note that in our text, ‘giving all diligence, add to your faith.’ That is to say, unless you work with haste, with earnestness, and therefore with much putting forth of strength, your faith will not evolve the graces of character which is in it to bring forth. If, on the other hand, we set ourselves to our tasks, then out of faith will come, as the blossoms mysteriously and miraculously do out of an apparently dead stump, virtue, manliness, and knowledge, and temperance, and patience, and godliness, and brotherly mindedness, and charity. All that galaxy of light and beauty will shine forth on the one condition of diligence, and it will not appear without that. Without it, the faith, though it may be genuine, which lies in a man who is idle in cultivating Christian character, will bear but few and shrivelled fruits. The Apostle uses a very remarkable expression here, which is rendered in our Bible imperfectly ‘giving all diligence.’ He has just been saying that God has ‘given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, and exceeding great and precious promises.’ The Divine gift, then, is everything that will help a man to live a high and godly life. And, says Peter, on this very account, because you have all these requisites for such a life already given you, see that you ‘bring besides into’ the heap of gifts, as it were, that which you and only you can bring, namely, ‘all diligence.’ The phrase implies that diligence is our contribution. And the very reason for exercising it is the completeness of God’s gift. ‘On this very account’ — because He has given so much — we are to lay ‘all diligence’ by the side of His gifts, which are useless to the sluggard.

On the one hand there are all great gifts and boundless possibilities as to life and godliness, and on the other diligence as the condition on which all these shall actually become ours, and, passing into our lives, will there produce all these graces which the Apostle goes on to enumerate. The condition is nothing recondite, nothing hard either to understand or to practise, but it is simply that commonplace, humdrum virtue of diligence. If we will put it forth, then the gifts that God has given, and which are not really ours unless we put it forth, will pass into the very substance of our being, and unfold themselves according to the life that is in them; even the life that is in Jesus Christ Himself, in all forms of beauty and sweetness and power and blessedness. ‘Diligence’ makes faith fruitful. Diligence makes God’s gifts ours.

Then, again, the Apostle gives an even more remarkable view of the possible field for this all-powerful diligence when he bids his readers exercise it in order to ‘make their calling and election sure.’ Peter’s first letter shows that he believed that Christians were ‘chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.’ But for all that he is not a bit afraid of putting the other side of the truth, and saying to us in effect. ‘We cannot read the eternal decrees of God nor know the names written in the Book of Life. These are mysteries above us. But if you want to be sure that you are one of the called and chosen, work and you will get the assurance.’ The confirmation of the ‘call,’ of the ‘election,’ both in fact and in my consciousness depends upon my action. The ‘diligence,’ of which the Apostle thinks such great things, reaches, as it were, a hand up into heaven and binds a man to that great unrevealed, electing purpose of God. If we desire that upon our Christian lives there shall shine the perpetual sunshine of an unclouded confidence that we have the love and the favour of God, and that for us there is no condemnation, but only ‘acceptance in the beloved,’ the short road to it is the well-known and trite path of toil in the Christian life.

Still further, one of the other writers of the New Testament gives us another field in which this virtue may expatiate, when the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews exhorts to diligence, in order to attain ‘the full assurance of hope.’ If we desire that our path should be brightened by the clear vision of our blessed future beyond the grave, and above the stars, and Within the bosom of God, the road to that happy assurance and sunny, cloudless confidence in a future of rest and fellowship with God lies simply here-work! as Christian men should, whilst it is called to-day.

The last of the fields in which this virtue finds exercise is expressed by our letter, when Peter says, ‘Seeing that we look for such things, let us be diligent, that we may be found of Him in peace without spot, and-blameless.’ If we are to be ‘found in peace,’ we must be ‘found spotless,’ and if we are to be ‘found spotless’ we must be ‘diligent.’ ‘If that servant begin to say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and to be slothful, and to eat and drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant will come in an hour when he is not aware.’ On the other hand, ‘who is that faithful servant whom his lord hath set ruler over his household? Blessed is that servant whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing?’ Doing so, and diligently doing it, ‘he shall be found in peace. ‘

What a beautiful ideal of Christian life results from putting together all these items. A fruitful faith, a sure calling, a cloudless hope, a peaceful welcome at last! The Old Testament says, ‘The hand of the diligent maketh rich’; the New Testament promises unchangeable riches to the same hand. The Old Testament says, ‘Seest thou a man diligent in his business, he shall stand before kings.’ The New Testament assures us that the noblest form of that promise shall be fulfilled in the Christian man’s communion with his Lord here, and perfected when the diligent disciple shall ‘be found of Him in (Read the full sermon on 2 Peter 1:5 The Power of Diligence)

IN YOUR FAITH: en te pistei humon:

In (en) - Robertson says the preposition in is probably instrumental dative in this verse and signifies therefore the means by which the Verb's (''supply'') action takes place.

Vincent - The A. V. exhorts to add one virtue to another; but the Greek, to develop one virtue in the exercise of another: “an increase by growth, not by external junction; each new grace springing out of, attempting, and perfecting the other.” Render, therefore, as Rev. In your faith supply virtue, and in your virtue knowledge, etc. (2 Peter 1 - Vincent's Word Studies)

You can hear a kind of surging "Forward! Forward! Forward!" if one renders Peter's words as follows: "as you have obtained faith in Christ and stand in it, now apply yourself diligently to advance in moral excellence, and as you stand in that do not be satisfied but press on to increase your knowledge of God's will, and as you stand in that do not be satisfied but be diligent to enlarge your capacities of self-control and mastery of your passions, and as you stand in that don't be satisfied but cultivate every form of patience and serenity, and in that let devoutness and piety and sweet love to God flourish, and in that strive to kindle your affection for other believers, and in and through it all grow in love to all men." In other words: Forward! Forward! Press On! Advance!

Hiebert explains the phrase in your faith supply writing "The words “in your faith supply” do not ask believers to supply faith, it is accepted that they already have it (2Pe 1:1). Their spiritual life began with this life-bringing faith. “Your faith” marks the faith as personal, but it has an objective content, involving their firm adherence to the divine realities portrayed in 2Pe 1:3,4. But their faith must attain its full potential in spiritual fruitfulness through daily exercise in moral living (Ed: "Moral living" enabled by the indwelling Spirit of Christ). Peter lists seven qualities or traits of character in this moral development. Each new trait is introduced as being “in” (en) or “in connection with” the preceding. Each is inherent in the preceding, which in turn is supplemented and perfected by the new, giving it more abundant fruitage. All are empowered by a living faith which constantly draws on the divinely implanted life. The definite article ("the") is used with each new trait mentioned; the possessive “your” occurs only with faith, which believers already possess. The article ("the") makes each trait specific, not just any trait they may wish to substitute."


John Piper illustrates the deceptive danger of disobeying Peter's clear command (remember God's commandments always include His "enablements")...

Don't Float; Swim Hard -Last week I read a true story to the boys entitled Glenda's Long Swim in "The Incredible Series." Glenda and Robert Lennon were four miles off the coast of Florida fishing alone from their yacht. Glenda decided to take a swim and soon found the current had carried her too far out from the boat. Her husband, hearing her cries, without thinking dove in and swam to her, but then realized they were both being carried out. He was a champion swimmer, but not she. They made a plan. He would swim against the tide to keep the boat in view until the tide ceased and he could reach the boat. She should save her strength and just float with the tide and he would come and get her. He fought the tide for six hours and just as the boat was about to disappear on the horizon the tide turned and his strokes carried him to the boat exhausted. The sun had set. His searching was futile—he could not find his wife. The next day on one last effort of search, the search party found his wife—twenty miles out and still alive. It was an incredible story.

What it illustrates is this: Christians who just float never stay in the same place. Christians who disobey 2Peter 1:5–7 and do not apply themselves with diligence to bear the fruit of faith drift into great peril. We must strive even to stand still, the tide of temptation is so strong.

The effort towards virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly affection, and love is not dispensable icing on the cake of faith. If Robert had not swum with all his might, the yacht would have gone out of sight, and he and his wife would have drowned. I've said before and will say again: we do not judge a person's genuineness by how close he is to heaven but by how hard he is stroking. The evidence that God's power has been given to you by faith is that you are now making every effort (as verse 5 says) to advance in the qualities of Christ (See his full sermon Confirm Your Election)

Martin De Haan II explains the relationship of diligence and faith this way...

Faith = trust, full reliance on God
Diligence = effort to do our part
Trust + Effort = Success

Keep in mind: Peter’s seven steps are based on faith or reliance on God. Yet that reliance is not enough by itself. It is activated only when combined with diligence. And diligence, also inadequate in and of itself, needs to be combined with reliance on God. What this means is that diligence and faith are two sides of a mystery. We don’t know how it all works out. But they both have to be present if we are going to have spiritual success. This combination is often overlooked by those who emphasize the importance of living the “Christ-life.” Too many Christians sit and wait for the Spirit to move them. (Ed: A phrase that you may have heard is just "Let go and let God"-this is not Scriptural!) They never do anything great for God because they never take up the challenge. Yet that personal effort is what Peter said is our part. In behalf of God, he called for diligence, for effort, for zeal, for putting out and not putting off....

Faith doesn’t stand around
with its hands in its pockets.

The issue here is not working for salvation but because of salvation. Because we have been saved by trusting Christ, how determined and diligent we should be to serve with gratitude the God who saved us! (How Do You Live The Christian Life?-this little RBC booklet is excellent and is basically a mini-exposition of 2Peter 1:5-7. It is definitely worth a few minutes of your time).

Illustration of God's part and Man's part - Some years ago, a study was done by an agricultural school in Iowa. It reported that production of a hundred bushels of corn from one acre of land required 4,000,000 lbs. of water, 6,800 lbs. of oxygen, 5,200 lbs. of carbon, 160 lbs. of nitrogen, 125 lbs. of potassium, 75 lbs. of yellow sulphur, and other elements too numerous to list. In addition to these ingredients are required rain and sunshine at the right times. Although many hours of the farmer’s labor are also needed, it was estimated that only 5 percent of the produce of a farm can be attributed to the efforts of man. So it is in spiritual realms: God causes the growth (1Cor 3:6-7). (Green, Michael P Green - Illustrations for Biblical Preaching)

Brian Bell - Faith doesn’t stand alone; real faith in God results in a changed life which can be seen or identified in these ascending virtues. Picture a ladder – Some Christians step up on the bottom rung (faith). Content to be saved & comfortable being the closest to the world from which they came. The more we climb up the ladder of virtues is to come ever nearer to “knowing” Jesus Christ. Also, the further we climb, the further we are able to climb! Moffatt quotes a saying “The Christian life must not be an initial spasm followed by a chronic inertia (inaction).” Giving all diligence – The Christian must be totally dedicated & make a maximum effort to live for God!

Wuest on in your faith supply virtue - The exhortation is that in the faith which the saints exercise in the Lord Jesus, they should provide for virtue. The believer exercises faith in the Lord Jesus to supply his needs, to guide him along life’s way. He should also exercise faith for the generating of virtue in his inner being by the Holy Spirit.  (Word Studies - Eerdmans)

Faith (4102)(pistis) is synonymous with trust or belief and is the conviction of the truth of anything, but in Scripture usually speaks of belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. Note that this discussion of pistis is only an overview and not a detailed treatise of this vitally important subject.

Faith is a firm, strong conviction and is the the root of the Christian life from which the ''sap'' of the Holy Spirit flows Who brings forth the "fruit" of the Christian virtues listed in 2Peter 1:5-7.

Genuine faith is a belief which results in behavior
which is in accord with that which is believed.

Peter uses the definite article here to identify the faith as a very specific "faith". The question is what faith is he referring to? He has told us several verses earlier that we all have a faith that is isotimos or of equal value to that of Peter the great apostle and so Peter does not ask his readers to supply faith. The fruits of faith specified are seven, the perfect number. Faith is not the end of the Christian road but its beginning. One acronym for faith is Forsaking All I Trust Him. That's a good working definition because self reliance is the antithesis of a dependent faith on God. We continually need to "forsake" our self reliance and rely on His complete sufficiency in the supernatural realm.

Lightfoot on faith - The Jews in the Talmud have the saying, 'The whole law was given to Moses at Sinai, in six hundred and thirteen precepts.' David, in the fifteenth Psalm, brings them all within the compass of eleven. Isaiah brings them to six, Isaiah 33:4; Micah to three, Micah 6:8; Isaiah, again, to two, Isaiah 46; Habakkuk to this one, 'The just shall live by faith.' Habakkuk 2:4.

Johann Bengel - Faith is the gift of God - therefore we are not ordered to provide faith, but in our faith those fruits, seven of which are enumerated: faith leading the band, love closing it (Ed: Love "brings up the rear.")

True faith that saves one's soul includes at least three main elements (1) firm persuasion or firm conviction, (2) a surrender to that truth and (3) a conduct emanating from that surrender. In sum, faith shows itself genuine by a changed life. (Click for W E Vine's 3 point definition of faith)

Spurgeon (quoted earlier) exhorts the reader of Peter's words to "Take care that thy faith is of the right kind-that it is not a mere belief of doctrine, but a simple faith, depending on Christ (Ed: And especially the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit of Christ), and on Christ alone."

Vance Havner commenting on faith once said that...

We speak of a "step of faith" but with some of us it never amounts to more than a step. Now a walk (Ed: Christian life and conduct is often pictured by the Bible as a "walk") is a succession of steps and having stepped out by faith we are to keep stepping until the stepping is a steady walk.

We have thought too much of this matter of faith as one definite move
whereas it is a continuous moving onward looking toward Jesus

And some of us just "mark time": there is a sort of activity but it gets nowhere. The faith life takes no vacations. It is not a matter of occasional ventures, excursions now and then from a walk by sight out into side roads of things unseen. It is not a matter of once in a while testing out a certain promise to see whether or not it works...(but) living day by day in the name of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

(Havner added that) One serious malady of the church is infantile paralysis—too many babes who never grow.

Your marks the faith as each individual's personal possession. Faith is the seedbed out of which Christian character is produced as we do our part. Paul amplifies the picture teaching that saints have "been firmly rooted ...in (Christ) and established in (our) faith" (Col 2:7) In the schematic below envision Christ as our "Taproot" (Webster: the central element or position in a line of growth or development) in Whom our faith is firmly fixed. Empowered by His strength (in the diagram out of sight below the ground so to speak) you can begin to see how this supernatural "fruit tree" can bear these 7 Christian virtues which are visible above the ground for all the world to see. Our part then is to exert diligence & faith (human responsibility) while abiding in Christ (God's sovereignty) Who taught

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (Jn 15:5)

Matthew Henry - Spiritual growth consists most in the growth of the root, which is out of sight.

George Sweeting - Dead things cannot grow. Before there can be spiritual growth, there must be spiritual life.

J R Miller's Devotional - Add to your faith virtue. - 2 Peter 1:5

Our lesson presents us with a splendid sum in addition. The graces are to be added, one to another.

Faith comes first; but faith cannot stand-alone, so we add to our faith virtue - that is, manliness, with all the noble qualities that apply to manliness.

Next we are to add knowledge - knowledge, of course, of the true kind, wisdom for life, spiritual knowledge, knowledge of God and of God’s will.

Self-control comes next - this is the key of all noble life. No matter how strong we are, or how much we know, if we have not self-control, something is wanting. He that can rule himself is strong, while he that lacks self-mastery, no matter what other gifts he may have, is pitiably weak.

Self-control produces another element - patience, patience in suffering. Another quality to be added to patience is Godliness - Godlikeness.

Then comes brotherly kindness - affectionateness to those among whom we mingle.

Last of all - love, the crowning gift and blessing.

To have these elements of character is to be ready for life.

SUPPLY: epichoregesate (2 PAAM):


Spurgeon in his exposition of 2 Peter 1:5-7 writes "As you have seen the mason take up first one stone, and then another, and then gradually build the house, so are you Christians to take first one virtue, and then another, and then another, and to pile up these stones of grace one upon the other until you have built a palace for the indwelling of the Holy Ghost."

Faith, of course, comes first, because faith is the foundation of all the graces, and there can be no true grace where there is no true faith.

Then “add to your faith virtue,” which should have been translated “courage.” True courage is a very great blessing to the Christian, indeed, without it how will he be able to face his foes? “And to courage knowledge,” for courage without knowledge would be foolish rashness, which would lead you to the cannon’s mouth when there was nothing to be gained by flinging away your life.

“And to knowledge temperance;” for there are some who no sooner get knowledge than they are carried away with the new doctrine which they have learned, and become like men intoxicated, for it is possible to be intoxicated even with truth.

Happy is that Christian who has temperance with his knowledge who, while holding one doctrine, does not push that to the extreme, but learns to hold other doctrines in due conformity with it.

“And to temperance patience,” or endurance, so that we are able to endure the “trial of cruel mockings” or sharp pains, or fierce persecutions, or the usual afflictions of this life. He is a poor Christian who has no power of endurance, a true Christian must “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

“And to endurance godliness:” having a constant respect to God in all our ways, living to God, and living like God so far as the finite can be like the Infinite.

“And to godliness brotherly kindness.” O dear friends, let us be very kind to those who are our brothers in Christ Jesus; let the ties of Christian kinship unite us in true brotherhood to each other.

“And to brotherly kindness charity;” let us have love to all men, though specially to the household of faith.

Supply describes the work that must be diligently performed. Barclay writes that what Peter is saying here is "that we must bend all our energies to equip ourselves with a series of great qualities." (Daily Study Bible)

THE 100%/100%

Comment: While I would agree that we are 100% responsible to obey this command, we are also 100% dependent on the Holy Spirit Who indwells us to give us the "holy longing" and the "holy power" to obey the command. Jerry Bridges refers to this as the Holy Spirit's...

synergistic work, which refers to occasions that combine our effort with his enabling power. But this isn’t a pure synergism, as if we and the Spirit each contributed equal power to the task. Rather, we work as he enables us to work, so we use the expression qualified synergism. We’re 100 percent dependent on His power in order to participate in the work, as the psalmist illustrated:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalm 127:1).

Two activities are mentioned: building a house and watching over a city. The Lord’s involvement isn’t one of helping but of building the house and watching over the city. At the same time, the builder builds and the watchman watches. The verse’s message is that the Lord doesn’t merely help the builder and the watchman; he’s totally involved with them in this qualified synergism. He supplies all the enabling power, and they do all the tangible work.

There are many such examples in the New Testament. We’re to “put to death the deeds of the body” —the sin that remains in us—yet we do so “by the Spirit” (Romans 8:13-note). We’re to use the spiritual gifts we’ve received to serve God and other people, yet we do so “by the strength that God supplies” (1Peter 4:10, 11-note).

Perhaps we see this qualified synergism most clearly in Philippians 2:12-note, Phil 2:13-note:

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

In this sentence, Paul refers to work three times. We are to work—to apply ourselves with utmost seriousness and vigilance. But we’re to do so with the recognition that God provides us with both the motivation (the will) and the power (the work) to obey.

Toward the end of this letter, after describing how he’d learned to be content in any and every circumstance, Paul summed up the concept of qualified synergism with a sweeping, dramatic statement:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Php 4:11, 12-note, Php 4:13-note).

We’re fully and wholeheartedly engaged in the work as the Spirit’s enabling power works in us. (The Bookends of the Christian Life - read the reviews then buy and digest the Biblical principles elucidated in this book I highly recommend) (E-book)

Remember that the work Christ accomplished for us,
His Spirit now completes in us as we "cooperate" with Him!

Supply (2023) (epichoregeo from epi = upon + choregeo = supply) means to furnish upon. To furnish besides or in addition. To supply further. To add more unto. Epichoregeo then conveys the thought of a generous and lavish provision - give lavishly, give generously.

Even as this picturesque verb meant to richly supply everything an ancient chorus needed so that it might be a grand production, so believers are to richly supply everything needed so that our life might be a "grand production" that bring great glory to the Father (Mt 5:16).


The root verb choregeo gives us our English word choreography which is defined as the sequence of steps and movements in dance, the arrangement of movements that the audience sees on the stage (Beloved of the Father [1Th 1:4-note], ponder that thought a moment - Upon what stage is "the choreography" of our life now visible?) Picture your spiritual life a divinely choreographed production -- God has "written" the music and words and movements of the production even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-note). As followers of Christ (1Jn 2:6) however we must diligently seek to fulfill the parts He has prepared for each of us to carry out in this grand choreography called the Christian life so that the Author of the play receives great honor and glory (Mt 5:16-note). How are your "dance steps" dear brother or sister in Christ?

Epichoregeo is used 5 times in the NT in the NASB...

2 Corinthians 9:10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;

Galatians 3:5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?

Comment: The truth about the Spirit revealed in Paul's question begs the question each of us should ask ourselves -- Is God niggardly (stingy, grudgingly mean) in His supply of His Spirit? How often we fail to live up to the potential He has provided. It's not like the New Agers say "Human Potential" as much as it is "Spirit potential"!

Colossians 2:19-note and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.

2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,

2 Peter 1:11-note for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.


Comment: Do we not see a "divine formula" in Peter's two uses of epichoregeo? As we seek diligently to supply abundantly in this life, we shall reap an abundant supply in the life to come! How much more motivation do we need to seek diligently, zealously to grow in godliness in this one short life we are each allotted? (See God's Word on the brevity of this present life - May God's Spirit help you to slowly ponder the gravity of these passages in light of eternity! - Job 7:6, 7 9:25, 26 14:1, 2 Ps 37:2 39:5, 6 Ps 90:4-5, 6, 9, 10 Ps 102:3, 11, Ps 103:15,16 Ps 144:4 Isa 38:12,13 40:6,7 Jas 1:10, 11 4:14 1Pe 1:24 2Ki 19:26 and then go forth, continually seeking to "Redeem the time!" Ephesians 5:16-note) (See onsite article - Redeem the Time; See John Piper's online PDF book - Don't Waste Your Life!)

There is another interesting use of epichoregeo in the non-canonical apocryphal book Sirach "The man is a slave, in disgrace and shame, when a wife supports her husband." (Sirach 25:21)

Epichoregeo is derived from choregós the name of the wealthy patron who would lavishly pay the wages for singers in his chorus, as well as pay the expenses of grand productions that were put on in cooperation with a poet and the state. The practice in Greece was for the state to establish a chorus but a choirmaster (choregus = director) paid the expenses for training and was responsible for supplying everything needed for choir.

Wuest adds that epichoregeo was "derived from chorus, a chorus, such as was employed in the representation of Greek tragedies. The verb originally meant ‘to bear the expense of a chorus,’ which was done by a person selected by the state, who was obliged to defray all the expense of training and maintenance.” Strachan adds, “It was a duty that prompted to lavishness in execution. Hence choregeo came to mean ‘supplying costs for any purpose,’ a public duty or religious service, with a tending, as here, towards the meaning, ‘providing more than is barely demanded.’ ” Thus, the word means “to supply in copious measure, to provide beyond the need, to supply more than generously.”"(Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Eerdmans)

Epichoregeo came to mean generous, costly cooperation. It never meant to equip sparingly, but to supply lavishly for a noble performance. Here the word describes the kind of generosity believers must have in giving of their own effort and in their cooperation with God in appropriating the characteristics mentioned below.

Barclay gives us his version of the historical background of the verb epichoregeo, writing that...

epichoregeo "is one of the many Greek words which have a pictorial background. The verb epichoregein comes from the noun choregos, which literally means the leader of a chorus. Perhaps the greatest gift that Greece, and especially Athens, gave to the world was the great works of men like Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, which are still among its most cherished possessions.

All these plays needed large choruses and were, therefore, very expensive to produce. In the great days of Athens there were public-spirited citizens who voluntarily took on the duty, at their own expense, of collecting, maintaining, training and equipping such choruses. It was at the great religious festivals that these plays were produced. For instance, at the city of Dionysia there were produced three tragedies, five comedies and five dithyrambs (a passionate choral hymn in honour of Dionysus). Men had to be found to provide the choruses for them all, a duty which could cost as much as 3,000 drachmae (Ed: A drachma was a Greek coin made of silver, roughly equivalent to the Roman denarius, and one denarius was approximately one day's wage, which makes 3000 drachmae equate with a relatively large sum of money, so large that only a very wealthy person could provide...which is an interesting thought when we look at the use in Peter. Certainly all who are in Christ now have access to "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." Col 2:3-note), and have abundant spiritual riches accessible for the "production" of abundant life and godliness as Peter explained in 2Pe 1:3,4-note).

The men who undertook these duties out of their own pocket and out of love for their city were called choregoi, and choregein was the verb used for undertaking such a duty. The word has a certain lavishness in it. It never means to equip in any cheese-paring and miserly way; it means lavishly to pour out everything that is necessary for a noble performance.

Epichoregein (Ed: note the prefix preposition epi which means "upon") went out into a larger world and it grew to mean not only to equip a chorus but to be responsible for any kind of equipment. It can mean to equip an army with all necessary provisions it can mean to equip the soul with all the necessary virtues for life. But always at the back of it there is this idea of a lavish generosity in the equipment. So Peter urges his people to equip their lives with every virtue; and that equipment must not be simply a necessary minimum, but lavish and generous. The very word is an incitement to be content with nothing less than the loveliest and the most splendid life." (Daily Study Bible) (Bolding added)

Supply is in the aorist imperative which is a peremptory command to carry out this "abundant furnishing" with a sense of urgency. Do this now and do not delay! What Peter is commanding by using the aorist imperative is that spiritual growth demands that we make a choice, and that such growth will not come automatically or inevitably. We are to fully supply all that is needed to make the "production" (the virtues in 2Pe 1:5-7) a "success" so to speak. And what God requires of us, God's grace provides for us (copiously, abundantly, amazingly). In other words every divine commandment is based on divine enablement (the indwelling Holy Spirit's empowerment). Let me say it another way -  Every time we encounter a command to obey, (there are over 1500 commands in the New Testament) we have an opportunity (or challenge!) to jettison self-reliance and to yield to the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. Mark it down indelibly in your mind that supernatural commands from our supernatural God can only be carried out with reliance on His supernatural power! The Spirit is called the Helper, but don't let His Name mislead you. To say that we need His help is to imply we have some ability of our own to obey and are in need of a little "push" so to speak. It is better to say that we need Him to enable us to obey divine commands, for the word enable indicates that without His power we cannot obey. Webster says enable means "to supply with power, physical or moral, to furnish with sufficient power or ability!" In Philippians 2:12,13, Paul describes the incomprehensible, mysterious balance between man's free will and God's sovereign provision of His Spirit!

Hiebert explains that "The original imagery (of epichoregeo) was that of a rich patron lavishly supplying every need for the training and staging of a grand chorus for some public celebration. This idea has faded, but the concept of a generous cooperative activity (Ed: Believers "cooperating" with the Spirit!) remains. “The Christian must engage in this sort of cooperation with God in the production of a Christian life which is a credit to Him.”

Michael Green writes that "the Christian must engage in this sort of co-operation with God in the production of a Christian life which is a credit to Him. (Green, M: The Second Epistle General of Peter and the General Epistle of Jude, TNTC, page 67, 1968).

The point is that believers have been granted abundant resources that are adequate to produce life and godliness and should use them with haste and zeal that we might grow in grace. Clearly spiritual growth calls for strenuous involvement of the believer.

Wiersbe helps us understand the picture writing...

Where there is life, there must be growth. The new birth is not the end. It is the beginning. God gives His children all that they need to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3, 4), but His children must apply themselves and be diligent to use the “means of grace” He has provided. Spiritual growth is not automatic. It requires cooperation with God and the application of spiritual diligence and discipline.

Work out y(Ed: A command in present tense = "Make this your lifestyle, your daily practice!" Only possible as we learn to depend on the Holy Spirit!) our salvation with fear and trembling for (Ed: Note this strategic "term of explanation" - cults stop at Phil 2:12 and say "Work!" Biblical Christianity is a "hymn" = Trust [in God's provision to "work out" = everything necessary - 2Pe 1:3, 4 and "God in us" = provision of His Spirit] and Obey [Man's responsibility to be diligent = our daily, yea even moment by moment choice of our will to submit and surrender and trust in the Lord - Pr 3:5,6] for there there is no other way to be happy in Jesus than to Trust and Obey!- play this great old hymn Trust and Obey) is no it is God Who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (see notes Philippians 2:12; 2:13).

Peter listed seven characteristics of the godly life, but we must not think of them as seven beads on a string or even seven stages of development. The word translated “add” really means “to supply generously.” In other words, we develop one quality as we exercise another quality. These graces relate to each other the way the branch relates to the trunk and the twigs to the branch. Like the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-23-note), these qualities grow out of life and out of a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. It is not enough for the Christian to “let go and let God,” as though spiritual growth were God’s work alone. Literally, Peter wrote, “Make every effort to bring alongside.” The Father and the child must work together. (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

The KJV translates this section add to your faith which is not an entirely accurate representation of the action Peter is calling for. This translation would suggest that we are to develop moral excellence first and when that is fully developed we add knowledge, etc, clearly not the intent of Peter's command.

MacDonald agrees that add to your faith can be misunderstood and goes on to explain that "What is necessary is that faith be supplemented by seven elements of holiness, not adding these one after another, but manifesting all the graces all the time." MacDonald goes on to say that "Tom Olson’s father used to read the passage to his sons as follows: Add to your faith the virtue or courage of David; and to the courage of David the knowledge of Solomon; and to the knowledge of Solomon the patience of Job; and to the patience of Job the godliness of Daniel; and to the godliness of Daniel the brotherly kindness of Jonathan; and to the brotherly kindness of Jonathan the love of John." (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer's Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson )

Finally MacDonald quotes the respected Lutheran commentator Lenski who suggests that "The list of seven is arranged with reference to the pseudo-prophets (2Pe 2:1) and to the way in which they live according to their pretended faith. For praise they supply disgrace; for knowledge, blindness; for self-control, libertinistic license; for perseverance in good, perseverance in evil; for godliness, ungodliness; for fraternal friendliness, dislike for God’s children; for genuine love, its terrible absence." (Ibid)


  • 2Pe 1:3 Php 4:8

Excellence - Long-distance runner Paavo Nurmi of Finland was an Olympic champion, winning twelve medals (nine of them gold) in the 1920, 1924, and 1928 Games. Nurmi was famous not only for his achievements, but also for running with a stopwatch in his hand to check his performance. It’s good to know how you’re doing along the way if you want to win a long-distance race. Peter would probably have liked Nurmi’s commitment to excellence. The apostle was determined to win his own race--the Christian race--and help other believers to do the same. Since we’re also in the same race, we need to pay close attention to Peter’s teaching.

Moral excellence (virtue) (703) (arete) refers to any preeminence (moral, intellectual, military). It refers to virtue which is displayed to enrich the lives of others.Arete is a term denoting consummate ‘excellence’ or ‘merit’ within a social context. To the Greek philosophers, it meant “the fulfillment of a thing.” In truth, arete inherently resides only in God (1Pe 2:9), but He channels it through believers as they receive (obey) His inworking of faith.

Arete came to mean quality of life which made someone or something stand out as excellent. Arete never meant cloistered virtue or virtue of attitude, but virtue which is demonstrated in life.

When anything in nature properly fulfills its purpose, that fulfillment was referred to as “virtue' or "moral excellence.” Land that produces crops is “excellent” because it is fulfilling its purpose. The tool that works correctly is “excellent” because it is doing what a tool is supposed to do. A believer demonstrates moral excellence or virtue by living the way He now has the potential to live (possessing everything necessary for life and godliness, His precious and magnificent promises, partaker of His divine nature).

James Rawson Lumby - Here virtue (arete) means the best development of such power as a man possesses. It may be little or great, but in its kind it is to be made excellent. And here it is that the Christian workers in every sphere must surpass others. They work from a higher motive. What they do is a constant attestation of their faith, is done as in God’s sight, and in the confidence that in every act it is possible to give Him glory (Ed: That sentence is worth reading again! Do I believe that is true?). There can be no carelessness in such lives, for they are filled with a sense of responsibility, which is the first fruit of a living faith. And in St. Peter’s figurative word the believer is said to supply each grace in turn because he contributes by his careful walk to wake it into life, to make it active, and let it shine as a light before men. "And in your virtue knowledge," he continues. For, with duty rightly done, there comes illumination over the path of life: men understand more of God’s dealings, and hence bring their lives into closer harmony with His will (Ed: Do you struggle to know God's will - Lumby gives us a very important "clue."). And we have Christ’s own assurance, "If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the teaching". {John 7:17 - Ed: Note the juxtaposition of "doing" and "knowing"! If we are disobeying or backsliding, etc, little wonder that we are having such great difficulty in discerning God's will!)} And the same is true not only of the Lord’s own lessons, but of all the promptings of the Spirit in men’s hearts. If they hearken to the voice which whispers, "This is the way," it (the voice of the Holy Spirit) will become at every stage plainer, and there will be shown to them not only the how, but the wherefore. (2 Peter 1 Expositor's Bible Commentary)

Arete - 5 times in the NT NASB translates it as excellence, 2; excellencies, 1; moral excellence, 2. The KJV translates it as praise, 1; virtue, 4.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

2 Peter 1:5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,

Vine adds that arete "properly denotes whatever procures preeminent estimation for a person or thing; hence, “intrinsic eminence, moral goodness, virtue,” (a) of God, 1 Peter 2:9 , "excellencies" (AV, "praises"); here the original and general sense seems to be blended with the impression made on others, i.e., renown, excellence or praise (Hort); in 2 Peter 1:3 , "(by His own glory and) virtue," RV (instrumental dative), i.e., the manifestation of His Divine power; this significance is frequently illustrated in the papyri and was evidently common in current Greek speech; (b) of any particular moral excellence, Philippians 4:8; 2 Peter 1:5 (twice), where virtue is enjoined as an essential quality in the excercise of faith, RV, "(in your faith supply) virtue." (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary)

Hastings - Arete "was the common heathen term for moral goodness. In this sense it is used in the books of Maccabees. But it was also the Septuagint translation of הוֹד (magnificence, splendour, Habakkuk 3:3 , Zechariah 6:13) and תְּהִלָּה (glory, praise, Isaiah 42:12 ; Isaiah 43:20 ). In Philippians 4:8 (Whatsoever things are true if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things) and in 2 Peter 1:5 (In your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge) the reference is to a human attribute, and the sense is the ordinary classical one of moral excellence possibly colored with its Septuagint meaning of praiseworthiness (The association of παινος with arete in the former passage suggests that this fuller significance is in the writer's mind; cf. the coupling of arete with doxa in 2 Peter 1:2 .) J. B. Lightfoot gives us the meaning of arete in Philippians 4:8 , Whatever value may reside in your old heathen conception of virtue (Philippians , London, 1878, p. 162). In the other two NT passages (2 Peter 1:3 , 1 Peter 2:9 ) the reference is to an attribute of God or Christ, and the Septuagint senses of glory and praise are more appropriate. G. A. Deissmann (Bible Studies , Edinburgh, 1901, p. 95 f.) contends that arete sometimes signifies neither the righteousness nor the praise of God, but the manifestation of His power. He compares 2 Peter 1:3 with an inscription of Stratonicea in Caria belonging to the earliest years of the Imperial period, and considers that in both arete bears the meaning of marvel. Marvelous power would well suit the context in 2Peter 1:3 and 1 Peter 2:9 .(Virtue - Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament)

The English definition of virtue speaks of a particular moral excellence, a beneficial quality or power of a thing, a commendable quality or trait or a capacity to act (potency). Virtue is a disposition or character trait that tends to lead to what is good.

Collins English Dictionary writes that virtue is "the the quality or practice of moral excellence or righteousness"

The Columbia Encyclopedia adds that "virtue [Latin = manliness], in philosophy, quality of good in human conduct." (Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed.)

TDNT (although somewhat difficult to follow) has the following note on the background of arete (in its use outside the NT), writing that arete...

"might be rendered

a. "eminence"... It can refer to excellence of achievement, to mastery in a specific field...The subject of achievement may be lands, animals, objects, parts of the body, but mostly it is man. Just as the ways in which the Greek world reflects on human achievement, on specifically human achievement, and indeed on man, are manifold and distinctive, so are the different contents of the word arete. Already in the time of Homer it is used to denote one particular human achievement, namely,

b. “manliness” or martial valour."

c. “merit,” with reference to rolls of honour. At the time of the Sophists the intellectual aspect of the term on the one side, and the ethical, dating from Socrates and Plato, on the other, achieve a prominence unknown in ancient Greece. It is now that the word (arete) acquires the particular meaning which becomes predominant and which primarily influences our own impression of it. Arete becomes a leading tool in the language of Greek moral philosophy in the sense of

d. “virtue.”... in philosophy “virtue,” which in Hellenistic Judaism...can approximate righteousness" (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans) (Bolding added)

T. M. Dorman explains that arete - "In its original classical usage arete denoted either the quality of excellence (in any sphere) or the renown that such excellence duly receives. In addition, the plural form was used, often with reference to the gods, in the sense of “mighty deeds” or “manifestations of power.” Later, in Greek ethical philosophy the term came to be used in a more specific and restricted sense to represent the most comprehensive category for moral excellence (“virtue”), the general heading under which more specific virtues were arranged. Used in this ethical sense, arete achieved some currency in Hellenistic Judaism, especially in writings with an apologetic bent (notably Philo, Wisdom of Solomon, 4 Maccabees). But probably because it connoted a moral excellence that was the result of human achievement rather than of obedience to God’s Torah, it remained a marginal term in Jewish moral discourse, subordinate to and often qualified by the OT concept of “righteousness” (Bromiley, G. W. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised. Wm. B. Eerdmans) (Bolding added)

When a Christian lives a life which brings glory to God, he is fulfilling his purpose and thus exhibits “excellence”. True virtue in the Christian life is not “polishing” human qualities but producing divine qualities that make the person more like Jesus Christ.

Notice that Peter applies this same word (arete) to Christ in (v3) and here to the growing believer. As an attribute of the incarnate Christ, it is appropriate that arete should be evident in the lives of His disciples as well.

J Vernon McGee explains arete or "virtue" (KJV) this way "The word virtue is not confined to chastity. We use it today when we refer to a woman being virtuous or morally chaste. Actually, virtue as Peter uses it has to do with excellence and courage. It means that you have the courage to excel in life. You don’t have to live a little, mousy Mr. Milquetoast life and be a yes-man to everything that comes along. You can stand on your own two feet, state your position, and be counted for God. We certainly need that kind of “virtue” in this hour in which we are living, and the only way we can get it is through the knowledge of Christ. This is the formula Peter is giving to us here: “through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” (Thru the Bible Commentary) (Bolding added)

Note that each of the 7 traits is modified by the definite article, "the" (ten), which makes each new trait specific. They may not substitute just any trait.

William Barclay commenting on this verse explains that arete is "very rare in the New Testament but it is the supreme Greek word for virtue in every sense of the term. It means excellence. It has two special directions in which its meaning moves. (a) Arete is what we might call operative or efficient, excellence. To take two examples of its usage from widely differing spheres—it can be used of land which is fertile; and it can be used of the mighty deeds of the gods. ( It could describe the excellence of the ground in a field, the excellence of a tool for its purpose, the physical excellence of an animal, the excellence of the courage of a soldier, and the virtue of a man.) Arete is that virtue which makes a man a good citizen and friend; it is that virtue which makes him an expert in the technique of living well. (b) Arete often means courage. Plutarch says that God is a hope of aretē, not an excuse for cowardice. In 2 Maccabees we read of how Eleazar died rather than be false to the laws of God and his fathers; and the story ends by saying that he left his death for an example of noble courage (aretē) and a memorial of virtue, not only to young men, but also to all the nation (2 Maccabees 6:31). In this passage it is not necessary to choose between these two meanings; they are both there. Faith must issue, not in the retirement of the cloister and the cell, but in a life effective in the service of God and man; and it must issue in the courage always to show whose it is and whom it serves." (2 Peter 1 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible) (Bolding added)

Arete is used by Paul exhorting (it is actually a command in the present imperative - therefore it requires supernatural enablement [dependence on the Spirit's filling] to accomplish this habitually!) the saints at Philippi to "let (their) mind dwell on" "whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence (arete) and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things." (Php 4:8-note)

The key to godly living is godly thinking, as Solomon wisely observed: "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Pr 4:23-note)

Vine commenting on (Philippians 4:8) adds that "excellence" - "properly denotes whatever procures preeminent estimation for a person or thing. In heathen usage it meant only the moral excellence of self-reliance and courage. But the New Testament raises its use to a higher meaning. It is used of God in 1 Peter 2:9-note and 2 Peter 1:3. Here and in 2 Peter 1:5, it is used of general moral excellence in the estimation of God." (Collected writings of W. E. Vine)

Peter uses arete to remind his believing readers that they are now "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies (arete) of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1Peter 2:9-note)

The world is in the dark (spiritually), and does not know the “excellencies” of God, but God has chosen believers out of that spiritual darkness and given us the purpose of living in such a way ("now for this very reason applying all diligence in your faith supply moral excellence"!) that the lost and spiritually blind would be able to see the "excellence" or "virtue" of God in our lives. We are citizens of heaven who are to be living advertisements (active ambassadors) for the virtues of God. Our lives should radiate this marvelous light into which God has graciously called us.

APPLICATION: Is your life radiating or repressing the excellencies of God?

Wayne Barber gives an interesting explanation of what it means practically to supply moral excellence asking...

What does moral excellence have to do with us? In 2 Peter 1:4 (see note) we are "partakers of the divine nature" (nature = disposition), i.e., we have the actual disposition of Christ within us! We are virtuous or morally excellent Christians when we start fulfilling the purpose of not just telling the world we have the divine nature, but when the world begins to see that divine nature within us. (Ed note: which is analogous to the example of land that produces crops being referred to as excellent because it fulfills its purpose)

When a Christian fulfills his purpose, he is a virtuous person. But a person who goes around talking about it all the time and yet has no reality to back up his talk is not manifesting a virtuous life. These folks are not living according to what they have. To understand Who lives in them every Christian should read Ian Thomas' The Saving Life of Christ ...(this simple book will help them) to understand Who lives in them...(i.e., that) it is Christ living His life through us. As Wayne decreases and Christ increases the world sees Christ when they look at Wayne...this is the virtuous (morally excellent) person. It is His death that saves us, but His life transforms us because His life lives through us. This is Jn 3:30 where Christ increases and we decrease, so that when the world looks at us they see Christ, not us! Christ-like development is coming out of your faith from the character of Christ that was already there! Faith is energized by the WORD of God.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (see note Romans 10:17)

As I read the Word of God, obeying what I read, something already there is energized and it begins to come out of me--the nature & disposition of Christ Himself! That's when we are virtuous. Then you're not just talking it, but living it! This excellence cannot be produced apart from our faith. The secular world has a certain kind of "excellence or virtue" (the Greek philosophers like Aristotle all use this word), the difference being that they tried to bring in the humanistic virtue and in so doing replaced the divine virtue. E.g., the positive thinking hucksters say if you have a positive attitude about something, you can do it (this is a veiled form of humanism). The "virtue" Peter is describing is not something you do, but something that God does in you, because you possess the faith from which comes the divine character of God." Wayne goes on to help us understand the spiritual dynamic alluding to Gal 5:22-23 which "describes the "fruit", which is that which is already contained within the seed.

The fruit of the Spirit [not the individual but the Spirit] is agape love--you in your own strength simply cannot love like Jesus unless that love comes from Christ in you because this word for love, agape, describes love that is selfless, love that never takes but only gives...It is not me working for God. Yes, there are works, but it's the ''work'' of obedience so that it is Christ working through me. It is not us, but it is Christ living in us and working through us. If you think that you can love like Jesus loves, just try waking up tomorrow morning and telling Him "Lord, I'm going to love like You did." And God will put a brother in your life like you didn't even know existed! God knows who to drop on us to show us the futility of this approach. And then you cry out in frustration "Oh God, I can't!" And He will say ''That's exactly right and now would you like to know a little more about what moral excellence is? Would you like to know a little more about what virtue is? It doesn't come from you. It comes from Me Who lives in you." Just try coming up with that self-less love that never takes but only gives. You simply cannot do it in your own strength. This ability came as part of the complete "package" you received when you believed."

Barber goes on to describe a similar dynamic in the other aspects of the fruit of the Spirit reminding us that

joy does not equate with happiness [happiness is determined by circumstances] but only comes from a conscious relationship with God and you cannot get it anywhere else.

Peace, the absence of strife, only comes from Jesus, Who is our peace.

Kindness, godly sensitivity to one another only comes from God...And all of these aspects of fruit are produced by the divine disposition that is within us that is brought out by our faith. You don't need to go to some ''higher life'' conference. You just ''simply'' with all diligence don't quit until you see God produce this character in your life. Don't worry. He will help you out by using the classroom of "Circumstances 101" and then graduate you up to "Circumstances 203".

In sum arete describes anything that fulfills its purpose or function properly. In this context it means a Christian who fulfills his or her calling

AND IN YOUR MORAL EXCELLENCE KNOWLEDGE: en de te arete ten gnosin:

  • 2Pe 1:2 3:18 1Co 14:20 Eph 1:17,18 5:17 Php 1:9 Col 1:9 1Pe 3:7

Click devotional "Know to Grow" 

Knowledge (1108) (gnosis) refers to experiential knowledge and not merely to a passing acquaintance. Gnosis is understanding, correct insight, truth properly comprehended and applied. Gnosis is functional ("working") knowledge gleaned from first hand (personal) experience, thus connecting "theory" with "application." Gnosis is "application knowledge" and thus it is not surprising that it grows best in the "field" of obedience as shown in Jn 7:17 Jesus declaring that "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know (ginosko) of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself." (Note juxtaposition of doing and knowing!) Jesus clearly associates the obtaining of gnosis or experiential knowledge with a willingness to obey God's will. This virtue involves a diligent study and pursuit of truth in the Word of God. This kind of knowledge does not come automatically but calls for obedience.

One caveat is that gnosis is as accurate as the relationship from which it is derived. For example, the Gnostics boasted of their "applied knowledge" gained by their personal spiritual experiences, but this is hardly the gnosis that Peter is describing! In fact knowledge can be dangerous, if it doesn't lead to godly wisdom.

Bible Knowledge Commentary adds that this knowledge "comes not from intellectual pursuits, but is spiritual knowledge which comes through the Holy Spirit and is focused on the person and Word of God."

Wiersbe adds that this gnosis "suggests practical knowledge or discernment. It refers to the ability to handle life successfully."

Hiebert says this gnosis "speaks of a practical knowledge that admits of expansion and enables its possessor to discern between right and wrong in facing the duties of life. In order to maintain a balance, practical intelligence and moral insight must govern a resolute and aggressive faith. This knowledge stands over against the spurious "knowledge" of the false teachers. The cure for false knowledge is not less knowledge but a knowledge characterized by moral insight. The operation of such knowledge distinguishes the believer's conduct from his former life in spiritual ignorance (see note 1 Peter 1:14)."

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Are you living on the spiritual (FM) band (only you can determine this by your conduct and your actions)? True spiritual gnosis or knowledge is going to govern the way you live. True spiritual gnosis is going to keep your conscience pure and out of your conscience flow your convictions and out of your convictions flow your lifestyle. Peter realizes his time is short and so he is is reminding them that they know something and to get back in on that band that they know and start living like they ought to live." (modified from a lecture by Dr. Wayne Barber)

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Spurgeon had a number of pithy sayings regarding spiritual growth...

He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of Him yet

It is needful to dwell on this head, because many Christians appear to think that if they are just believers, it is enough. We do not in business think it is enough if we barely escape bankruptcy. A man does not say, if his dear child has been ill in bed for years, that it is quite enough so long as the child is alive. We do not think that of our own bodies, that so long as we can breathe it is enough.

Those who are never tried usually possess a poor, tottering faith but trial, especially persecution, is like the rough March wind which goes howling through the forest, and while the young oaks are almost torn up by the roots at first, it loosens the soil for them, and they send out more rootlets, till they get such a firm grip that they defy the hurricane. That which shakes them at first strengthens them afterwards.

Napoleon used to say, “Conquest has made me what I am, and conquest must maintain me.” O Christians, remember that you must advance or backslide; you must build higher and higher, love must become more and more supreme in your souls, or you will decline.

It is one mark of advanced grace that the sublime truths which concern eternity are increasingly valued.

I wish, dear friends, that half the time we spend in trying to better our circumstances were spent in bettering ourselves after the right fashion; and that even a tenth of the trouble we take to fit our circumstances to our desires were used in fitting our desires to our circumstances.

I believe that we make more real advance in the divine life in an hour of prayer than we do in a month of sermon-hearing.

There are some that seem to be born with knowledge—Christians that come to a height in Christ very rapidly. But these are only here and there. Israel did not produce a Samson every day.

Brethren, let us never sit down content with small degrees of sanctification.

From: Exploring the Mind and Heart of the Prince of Preachers: Five-Thousand Illustrations

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Know to Grow - Several years ago I interviewed a student at Santa Monica College for a radio program I was hosting. He told me that he was interested in finding out all he could about religion. But when I asked him why, he explained that he wanted to expand his education. This student was curious about what motivates religious people to do what they do, but he said he was not the kind of person who gets up in the morning with a desire to do God's will.

Is it possible that we as Christians are like that? Do we have a desire to learn more about the Bible for reasons other than to know God better and to live as He wants us to? The apostle Peter said we should be increasing our understanding for one primary purpose--to bring our faith to maturity. He pointed out that knowledge is an indispensable element in the process that leads to self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. This progression toward maturity results in knowing Jesus Christ in a deeply personal way (2 Pet. 1:5-8).

God doesn't ask us to increase our knowledge for the sake of knowledge. He asks us to increase our understanding so that we can grow into God-centered, loving, productive people. That's why we should want to know. —Mart De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Gaining knowledge of God's Word
Can be a worthy goal
If it leads us to the Lord
And nourishes our soul. --Sper

Knowledge can be dangerous
if it doesn't lead to wisdom.


If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you started out with faith in Him. After you recognized your sinfulness and need for a Savior, you asked God to forgive your sins. When you trusted in Christ, you received the gift of eternal life. By grace you’re a child of God and you are promised an eternal home in heaven with Him.

But don’t stop there! No one who has put his or her faith in Christ can afford to let spiritual growth and maturity start and stop with one act of spiritual surrender.

Salvation must be followed by spiritual growth. We must go beyond belief and seek out the truths God provides in the Bible. If we don’t, we’ll fall victim to the dangerous thinking patterns that mark our world.

According to sociologist Wade Clark Roof, in a poll of people who say they’ve trusted in Jesus, 25 percent or more believe in the non-biblical concepts of communication with the dead, reincarnation, and astrology. They have not followed Peter’s call to add knowledge to their faith (2 Peter 1:5). They did not go beyond belief.

Faith in Christ is the starting point, but keep going. Study the Bible and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2Peter 3:18). —Dave Branon

Dear Jesus, take my heart and hand,
And grant me this, I pray:
That I through Your sweet love may grow
More like You day by day.

A steady diet of God's Word will keep you growing.



Manser in his book Zondervan Dictionary of Bible Themes has the following Scriptural summation on the nature of spiritual growth..

Having given spiritual life to his people, God expects them to grow to maturity.

God desires the spiritual growth of his people - Mt 5:48; Heb 6:1 See also 2Co 13:9-11; Eph 1:4; 2:10; 3:17-19; Php 3:12; 1Th 4:1,7; 2Ti 1:9

Christlikeness is the goal of spiritual growth- Ro 8:29 See also Eph 4:13-15; Php 2:5; 1Jn 3:2-3

Aspects of spiritual growth -

Growth in grace -2Pe 3:18 See also Pr 4:18; 1Pe 2:1-3

Growth in faith -2Th 1:3 See also 2Co 10:15

Growth in love -1Th 3:12 See also Ro 5:5; 1Co 14:1; Php 1:9; 1Th 4:9-10; Heb 10:24; 1Jn 4:7-21; 5:1-3

Growth in understanding -Ps 119:27; 1Co 14:20 See also Ps 119:97-99; Ro 12:2; 16:19; 1Co 13:11; Eph 1:17-19; Php 1:9-10; Col 1:9; Heb 5:14

Growth in holiness -2Co 7:1 See also Eph 5:25-26; Heb 2:11; 10:10-14; 12:14; 13:12; 1Pe 1:15-16

Growth in fruitfulness -Jn 15:16 See also Mt 13:23 pp Mk 4:20 pp Lk 8:15; Jn 15:2,8; Php 1:11; Col 1:10

Growth in contentment -Php 4:11-12 See also 1Ti 6:6; Heb 13:5

Examples of spiritual growth In individuals -

1Sa 2:26 Samuel;

Lk 1:80 John the Baptist

Jesus Christ: -Lk 2:40,52

Paul: Ac 9:22; 1Co 9:26-27; Php 3:12-14

Ac 18:26 Apollos;

Phm 11 Onesimus

3Jn 2-3 Gaius



In the way of Thy appointment I am waiting for Thee,

My desire is to Thy Name,

My mind to remembrance of Thee.

I am a sinner, but not insensible of my state.

My iniquities are great and numberless,

but Thou art adequate to my relief, for Thou art rich in mercy;

the blood of Thy Son can cleanse from all sin;

the agency of Thy Spirit can subdue my most powerful lusts.

Give me a tender, wakeful conscience

that can smite and torment me when I sin.

May I be consistent in conversation and conduct,

the same alone as in company,

in prosperity and adversity,

accepting all thy commandments as right,

and hating every false way.

May I never be satisfied with my present spiritual progress,

but to faith add virtue, knowledge, temperance, godliness,

brotherly kindness, charity.

May I never neglect

what is necessary to constitute Christian character,

and needful to complete it.

May I cultivate the expedient,

develop the lovely,

adorn the gospel,

recommend the religion of Jesus,

accommodate myself to thy providence.

Keep me from sinking or sinning in the evil day;

Help me to carry into ordinary life portions of divine truth

and use them on suitable occasions, so that

its doctrines may inform,

its warnings caution,

its rules guide,

its promises comfort me.

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