A Dispensational Approach

II Peter

   I. Introduction   1:1

A. The Author

1. A Servant

2. An Apostle

B. The Addressees

  II. INVOCATION   1:2-3

 III. IDEAL SPIRITUAL LIVING   1:5-7 (continued)

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

The next word in the list of spiritual characteristics is “patience.” Strong defines the word as “constancy, steadfastness; the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.” William Barclay describes it as “the courageous acceptance of everything that life can do to us and the transmuting of even the worst event into another step on the upward way.”

Next, we are to add “godliness” or “God-likeness.” Some versions translate it as “piety.” The word “piety,” however, is often used negatively as something that is hypocritical. The Pharisees had a pseudo-piety. Many Christian groups are “proud of their humility” and fancy themselves to be very pious. The word used by Peter indicates a two-way meaning. It is loyalty to God, first of all, and then loyalty to family and country. We used to sing a chorus in our camps:

Putting God first in my life every day
Taking His Word as my guide on life’s way.
Yielded and living in His blest control;
So shall my life be a blessing to all.

That is Biblical godliness.

Next comes “brotherly kindness” or brotherly love. The Greek word gives us our word “Philadelphia,” “the city of brotherly love.” “Phileo” is family love—love for brother or sister. “Adelphos” is brother. Early in Christian history this word came to be used to describe the loving relationship between brothers and sisters in Christ. A church without this is a church in constant turmoil, with no valid witness.

Finally, there is “charity” from “agape,” God’s kind of love that expects nothing in return. It is love for the unlovely. This is the greatest challenge of all. It is easy to love those who love us, but God’s desire is that we, His redeemed children, love the down and out, unlovely people.

One of the greatest examples of this virtue that I have ever seen was exemplified by a couple who visited our church many years ago. Their lovely young daughter had been brutally assaulted and murdered. When the criminal who did this was apprehended and sentenced to prison, the couple went to great effort to get permission from the state to visit this man. The authorities, expecting their motive to be revenge, were most reluctant to grant permission. They finally received the state’s approval and went to this man’s cell regularly to witness to him—to assure him that they were praying for him and desiring to see him receive Christ as Savior. At first, he was angry, bitter and rude to them, but they kept going. I am not sure that the man ever received Christ, but I am quite sure that this agape love is rare indeed. I am not at all sure that I could do what they did.

(To Be Continued)