Precious Promises

Bible Book: 2 Peter  1 : 3-8
Subject: Promises from God; Power of God; Christian Living
Series: Our Precious Faith

Peter begins his teaching by reminding them and us of the basics of authentic Christianity. If we continue to live by the divine power which God has given to us, and if we continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, we will be fruitful. Thus we are challenged to take full advantage of the divine power and promises of God. Peter then gives us the specific steps to follow so that we may be victorious through Jesus Christ (CIT). If we practice these characteristics of the divine nature not only do we grow in Christ-likeness, we also experience the assurance of eternal rewards.


The expectations of becoming Christ-like would be impossible if not for God’s divine enabling. Verse 3 teaches that Christ has provided everything believers need for life and godliness. “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.

The first amazing statement is not in the future tense. [Dōreomai means “to freely give or grant” “to bestow, to endow.” and stresses the freeness and worth of the gift. The perfect tense also stresses the certainty of the fact and possession of this gift.] Peter contends that God has already given us His divine power and through that power He has made everything which pertains to life and godliness available to us. God has provided believers with all the resources necessary to make spiritual growth possible. [“Divine” translates theias, which is from theos -God, used three times in NT (Acts 17:29; 2 Peter 1:4). “Power” (dynameōs) is one of Peter’s favorite words (1 Peter 1:5; 3:22; 2 Peter 1:16; 2:11).]

Peter’s teaching sounds like that of Paul when he declared “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). [Cedar, Paul. The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol. 34: James / 1 & 2 Peter / Jude. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson. 1984, S. 207 ]

How do we grow? ... through the true knowledge of Him who called us. All that believers need for spiritual vitality (life) and godly living (eusebeian, “godliness,” “holiness”) is attainable through our knowledge of Him (Christ). In knowing Jesus believers have freely at their disposal all the resources necessary to enable them to work out the process of sanctification, or growing into the likeness of Jesus.

An intimate “full knowledge” [epignōseōs; see my message on 2 Peter 1:1-2, verse 2] of Christ is the source of spiritual power and growth (Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9-10; 2:2). As we get to know the Lord Jesus through prayer, through the Word, through worship through walking day by day with Him we grow. For the better we know Him, the better we understand how all things that pertain to life and godliness can function within us. [Courson, Jon: Jon Courson's Application Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003, S. 1586.]

Notice that Christ called us to this [intense] life of godliness [eusebeia, from eu, well and sebomai, worship; literally rightly directed worship] by His own glory and goodness [aretē, “moral excellence” or “praise”]. “Glory” expresses the excellence of His being, His attributes and essence. “Goodness” depicts His excellence of deeds or His virtue in action.

Christ attracts people enslaved by sin (2:19) by His own moral excellence and the impact of His glorious Person. [Walvoord, John & Zuck, Roy. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983, S. 864.] Everything that has to do with life or serving God has been freely given so that we lack nothing. Christians are fully equipped to live a life pleasing to God, to overcome any obstacle we face, and to persevere under trial.


Progress in the Christian life is made possible by the power of God (v. 3) and, as we see in verse 4, by the promises of God. “For by these 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.”

Through [by] Christ’s own glory and excellence or character [virtue] (v. 3) He has free given us promises. [The relative pronoun, these, ν is gen. masc. pl.] The promises of God are magnificent and precious. [The word promises (Gk epanggelma) really is not the promise, but the result of the promise or its “fulfillment.”]

The promises are great because they come from a magnificent God and lead to an abundant life. The promises are precious because their value is beyond calculation. [The word “precious”[tímios from timē,] indicates highly valued or costly, [a favorite word of Peter, 1:1, 1 Pet 1:7, 1:19, 2:4, 6, 7].

We have so many magnificent and precious promises in the Word of God. The promise of the forgiveness of sin, rest to the weary, comfort to the sad, hope to the dying, resurrected life to the dead, and answered prayer. The promise of sharing the very nature of God by the gift of the comforting, teaching empowering Holy Spirit. The promise is eternal life in a new heaven and a new earth.

The promises of God are precious for at least two reasons. The first reason is because “by them” we “become partakers of the divine nature.” [“Participate” (genēsthe … koinōnoi) is literally “become partners.”] [What an utterly staggering precious promise that is. Jesus first gave it to His disciples shortly before His Crucifixion when He said, “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).

That is exactly what happened to the disciples who gathered together on Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came upon them, and His divine nature became their own. And that marvelous promise is for us and our children (Acts 2:39).]

A born-again Christian has the divine nature of God so that he is a new man, a new being, a new creation. And so Scripture says, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). The implications of this promise are incredible for us. We have the potential to live by the very power of God. God’s divine nature can replace ours as we follow Jesus as Lord and as we allow the Holy Spirit to possess us.

Second, by the promises of God we can escape “the corruption that is in the world through lust.” The craziness of the world can be traced directly to lust. Whether regarding money, sex, esteem, or approval, lust simply says, “I’ve got to have more.” God wants to deliver us from such a mind-set.

God’s way of escape lies in seizing hold of His promises (such as Jesus gave in Jn. 15:1–18 and Jn. 16) and thereby growing in God’s own nature. Through them means as you apply them to life. That is a major concern. When we walk and live in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are walking in the opposite direction of our natural life. Paul stated that truth in Galatians 5:16, 17: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall never fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another.”


Because Christians have the power and the promises Peter urges the essential goal of growing to be like Jesus and spells out the steps towards it in verses 5-7. Verse 5 begins the steps to becoming fruitful disciples. “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,

“For this reason,” “having escaped the corruption that is in the world” (v. 4) through our "faith" in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we can now grow spiritually. [We mature spiritually by conforming our being [nature] and practice to our Lord’s. This grow happens when we put to use the divine nature we now possess, recognizing that He has provided all the resources we need.]

This beautiful paragraph sounds like the Christian symphony of grace. Its practical advice concerns the basics of the Christian faith. These graces are to be applied to our life with all diligence, or “all zeal” [pareisenenkantes, aor. act. ptc “applying, bringing to bear alongside of”] Peter urges the importance of applying every effort. For it takes every bit of diligence and effort a Christian can muster, along with the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, to “escape the corruption” of the fall so that we might be transformed into the image of Christ.

Spiritual growth does not come without effort. God though has provided all we need, but we must give “all diligence” for the process is much more than simply allowing the Holy Spirit to reside in our hearts we must pursue the character and habits that bring spiritual growth.

All of these virtues are dependent upon our faith. Our Christian life begins by faith and continues in faith. Faith in Jesus Christ is what separates Christians from all other people. Trust [pistis] in the Savior which brings one into the family of God, is the foundation of all other qualities in the Christian life. The Christian life begins with faith and is carried on with “faith” [pistis]. Without faith we cannot please God (Heb. 11:6).

There is a progression both in the text and in practice. It’s important to noted the command to supply [epichorēgḗsate, aor act imper. 2p pl]. Supply or “add to” means it is something that we need to do, supplement or take the initiative. We need to take the initiative to build our faith. We must discipline our life and make the effort. Excellence is on the other side of hard work. [A believer is to support his life with these virtues. He then records seven steps we should follow in building our spiritual lives. Notice that virtue is built upon virtue.]

So Peter instructs us to "add to" our faith by our faith seven character traits. First God honoring faith will have the character of goodness or moral excellence. Each believer should add goodness (aretēn, “moral excellency,” or “virtue”) to his faith. Faith must express itself in good actions.

This means that the darkness of our culture as portrayed on the screen or in print, in song lyrics or in the questionable jokes around the water cooler has no place in our lives. As Christians, we should strive for godly character, eliminating sinful actions and thoughts from our lives, as the Holy Spirit brings conviction.

We are to add knowledge to virtue. Not only is faith not lame [without actions], faith is not blind [without directed actions]. It does not exist in a vacuum. If faith is to be obedient to God, then we must have “knowledge” (epignōsis) of God and of His will for us. This knowledge is in stark contrast to our former ignorance which led us to live in the lusts of the flesh (1 Pet. 1:14).

A commitment to growth in knowledge, first the basics of the faith, then deeper doctrines, enables us to exercise wisdom in life's choices.

[6 “and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,]

3rd in verse 6, add self-control to knowledge. Knowing God will deepen our knowledge of ourselves and where we need to exercise self-control.

To know is vitally important, but it is not enough. We are to do what we know we should do. In many of our lives, though there is a great gulf between our knowledge and our conduct. It was to this problem James spoke when he wrote, “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). The Greek word for “self-control” is egkrteia, which is sometimes translated as temperance. It is one element of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:23. The real sense of the term means more than self being in control. A more descriptive and accurate term would be “God-control.” Only when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit can we be self-controlled.

Fourth, add perseverance to self-control. A self-controlled, disciplined lifestyle must lead to perseverance, strength in the face of adversity. Both James and Peter write a great deal about the virtue of “perseverance” (hupomoné). This word means “enduring, continuance or patience” and comes from the root word hupomnō which can mean “to bear trials, to have fortitude, to abide or to endure.” Literally it means to “remain under.” In our vernacular, we would say “hanging in there.” There are only seconds which separate those who fail from those who succeed in running most races. Too many people drop out of the race just before it is to be won. Those who persevere by “hanging in there” are those who win the prize.

5th, perseverance produces or adds godliness (v. 4). The Greek word for godliness, eusbeia, means “godly, dedicated, or devout.” Godliness cannot be fabricated. We cannot merely pretend to be godly. The quality of godliness comes from God Himself. He must give that quality of life to us. We receive it as we are dead to self and alive to God and as we allow the Spirit to live within us. The fruits of the Spirit are attributes of the character of God. The more we are possessed by God, the more we will act like Him and the more His character will be revealed in our lives.

[7 “and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.]

In verse 7 we find the 6th Christ-like character. Add brotherly kindness to godliness. Brotherly kindness is the wonderful warmhearted affection between fellow believers. “Brotherly kindness” is a special kind of love. The Greek word is familiar to us from our study of 1 Peter. It is philadelphia. Peter uses this word in instructing us regarding the importance of having unfeigned love of the brethren (1 Pet. 1:22); Paul teaches us to be kindly, affectionate to one another in brotherly love (Rom. 12:10). This is one of the amazing qualities of the church of Jesus Christ. We are to love one another as brothers and sisters in Christ—and are members one to another (1 Cor. 12:27). We must live out our faith by having love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln often VISITED HOSPITALS to cheer the wounded. On one occasion he saw a young fellow. who was near death. "Is there anything I can do for you?" asked the compassionate President: "Please write a letter to my mother," came the reply. Unrecognized by the soldier, the-Chief Executive sat down and wrote as he dictated: "My Dearest Mother; I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won't recover. Don't sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and Father. Kiss, Mary and John, for me.”

The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then. added this postscript: "Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln." Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover who had shown him such kindness. "Are you really our President?" he asked. "Yes," was the quiet answer. "Now, is there anything else I can do?" The soldier replied, "Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help to see me through to the end.” Lincoln granted his request; offering warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn.

Kindness is one of the most powerful tools in the believer's kit of virtues. We cannot always do exceptional deeds; but there are thousands of small, generous things we can do that will help others and bring glory to God. Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see. May we seek to serve Christ through deeds of kindness and the sincerity of' our love. [H.G.S. Our Daily Bread. Radio Bible Class.]

Brotherly kindness produces the 7th characteristic, love. There is an even deeper quality of love which knows no limits and has no conditions. It is agápē—the very quality of the love of God. In fact, the most simple and profound definition of agápē in all of literature is simply this: “God is agápē” (1 John 4:8). Agápē is the highest expression of love and the ultimate mark of Christian lifestyle. By it we shall be recognized as the disciples or followers of Christ (John 13:35). Agápē is also a part of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Peter believes in the priority of love. In his first letter he wrote, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’” (Prov. 10:12; 1 Pet. 4:8). Christian faith is the root from which all virtues grow, and Christian love is the crowning virtue to which all the others must contribute.

[This attitude to God facilitates a new openness to our fellow-Christians (brotherly kindness), and this in turn blossoms into unreserved, undeserved, and unrestricted love, the cap-stone of the whole edifice (Col. 3:14).]


Verse 8 gives a marvelous and precious promise to those who increasingly integrate these qualities into every part of their life. “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sharing the life of God should produce and the finest and most godly character for Him. That itself is reward enough, but it also leads to fruitfulness in our walk with the Lord.

Christians face two staggering possibilities. On the one hand, we can work to develop these qualities in increasing measure in our lives, and thus find a deepening experience of the Lord leading to a fruitful Christian life. On the other, we can ignore this opportunity [& provision], but this response is short-sighted, even blind, as it overlooks the wonder of the fact of our salvation.

If we make these things ours and they abound, says Peter, two specific benefits will follow. First, they will keep us from being barren. None of us want to be “barren” [argós] in our Christian lives. To be barren is “to be useless or idle.” The best defense against such a useless life is an active offense. If we are actively following Jesus Christ as Lord and are diligent in adding to our faith, we will never be barren in our Christian life.

Second, they will keep us from being “unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus gave instruction to Peter and to all of us concerning the life of bearing fruit when He said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).

The secret of fruit-bearing is to abide in Christ and to allow Him to abide in us. Peter encourages us to follow Jesus aggressively by adding to our faith with all diligence; then we will never be unfruitful.

At the close of a church service where the topic was world evangelism, a young woman turned to an older believer and admitted, "I just can't get interested in evangelism and missions!” “Well, dear," said the elderly woman, "it's just like getting interested in a bank. You have to put a little something in first or you'll never gain any interest! The more you put in, the more you’ll get out of it. Try it."

That philosophy is simple but true. If you lack interest in something, it is probably because you have put very little into it. You say you can find no pleasure in Bible study, but have you ever sat down with a concordance and looked up the Scripture references on a given subject? Have you ever read the Psalms until you came to some precious promise that comforted you and then meditated on til it brought you to praise? Have you ever read a book of the Bible at one sitting so you could capture its message? If not, no wonder you’re not interested! Peter emphasized that we need to put effort in to the Christian life if we are going to be fruitful.

Perhaps you have little enthusiasm for evangelism or discipling others. Have you ever volunteered for a ministry with others or tried to speak to someone about your faith? If not it's time to invest some effort- then watch your interest grow! [HGB] You gain interest only on what you have invested.


The value of a promise depends on what is promised, who made it and whether or not they will keep the promise. We all have been impacted by promises that have not been kept, but that is not so with God. He being God can keep all He promises and His integrity, His righteousness demands that He keep all His promises.

Let’s search the Scriptures and claim all God’s precious promises to us. These promises are exceedingly great. After you lay hold of them, cherish them for they are His personal pledges to us. Then watch your interest and your fruitfulness grow.