Grace, righteousness, faith, peace
“1 Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Peter 2:1-2–ESV)
Verse 1: Faith
All Christians receive the same kind of faith as Peter received. Apostles and the newly converted are not given different categories of faith. The standing one has before God is because of God’s righteousness; it is not different if you are an apostle or a “regular” 1st or 21st century believer.
The way this is stated here in the ESV is not always mirrored in the other versions. The NASB1is like ESV2, but the KJV3goes further including “like” but adding “precious.” The NIV4just uses “precious.” There is a spectrum across these versions. The Greek is Strong’s number #2472 and means “equally precious” or “valuable.” So in the big scheme of it all we see that faith is from God, it is precious and it is of the same kind for all Christians regardless of status in the church. The strength of faith may be different for it is a learned response. That learned dependence grows with use like muscles do, but its shape and strength come from God as a gift of grace.
Is there any value added by saying that the faith is precious? Yes. Of course faith is valuable if you view it in terms of eternal destiny alone: heaven versus hell. That, though, is but a small piece of what it means. The broader context of faith encompasses an acceptance of God as creator, giver of good, one who prepares a place for us, and many other things. The things we know of this life, the way we view them and the context of this life in view of the next are all understood by a God given faith. As one goes through life and learns a Biblical dependence upon God one moves from the intellectual value of faith to a place where it is called precious.
Verse 1: Righteousness
Our efforts unto righteousness are never sufficient. We need to be restored into a right relationship with God, but sins are impossibly installed inside of us. They thoroughly penetrate the mind and heart. No behavior, no activity, no harsh treatment of the body will fix this eternal problem. The good news is that God brought his own righteousness to us. The penalty of sin was addressed by the atonement of Jesus Christ. Through that we can be made righteous before God. That is how the righteousness of God comes to us. Once that righteousness is in place we receive the faith that was mentioned above.
Verse 2: Invocation
Peter launches his letter by an invocation. Grace and peace are not idle introductory words, but a pronouncement, a blessing. They are like a benediction given at the beginning5. They are not idle proclamations. They are not rhetorical or semi-disinterested. They are not “How are you’s?” spoken to a passing friend or stranger.
Peter lived with presumption that grace is not impotent. For Peter, grace was not merely a definition of a trait or a thing. It was not an intellectual description. It, rather, was a real gift of God and a powerful one. Grace was needed for salvation, for faith, for excellence of life and living. Peter’s connection to God was all of grace and that was a thing he embraced.
A result of that grace is peace. Grace was given and peace was the thing that came along as a result. Peace is an experience. Peace is not something you get by thinking about it. In fact, thinking about peace may cause one to semi-lose it. How do you think about and experience peace simultaneously? Peace is a thing known and experienced through the Biblical knowledge of God.
How does one get peace? Aim at knowing God and peace with come. How does one miss peace? Aim at peace and you miss it and miss knowing God. This is similar to the words of Christ where he said that we should seek the kingdom of God first and all the other things will be added. Seek God and obey and along the way we find satisfaction for our souls. There is nothing on earth that one can aim at and gain that type of satisfaction.
Can we see from this context as well that the received faith is precious? Can we see the intertwining of God’s righteousness, faith, grace and peace?
Comments from and around this passage:
- The source of faith
- Imputed righteousness
- Precious faith
- Don’t take righteousness, grace, faith, or peace for granted
- Grace is received
- Peace is an experience