Notes on the Second Epistle of Peter

Ephraim Venn

Part 4 of 5 of the series Epistles of Peter

HAVING  considered  some of the instructions and  exhortations given in this Epistle, we now turn to its
ENCOURAGEMENTS
When our lives are in agreement with the purpose of God in our salvation, we make our calling and election sure, in our own hearts, and " hereby we know we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him," " who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling : not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ before the world began." (2 Tim. 1. 9).
This is the real safeguard against the " foes and snares around us, and the lusts and fears within." God's purpose is by the death of Christ to deliver us from this present evil world (Gal. 1.4); we are risen with Him above it all, and, when walking in the Spirit, are conscious of being free from the power and influence of the flesh and the world, thus " escaping from the corruption that is in the world through lust." So the assuring words are added : " If ye do these things, ye shall never stumble " (2 Pet. 1. 10). It is not " if ye know these things." Knowing the truth is in itself no safeguard, as we see in chap. 2. 21 :   " For it had been better for them not to have (fully) known the way of righteousness, than after they have (fully) known it to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them." The only knowledge that can deliver from the subtle power and influence of the world and the flesh is the knowledge of Christ (see Ch, 1. 2, 3. 8; 3. 18), for with (rue heart-knowledge there is always growth in grace. There are two words for falling : one meaning to fall oft, or away from ; the other is to stumble or trip. When warning tin; saints to be on their guard against the fleshly course, he uses (he former (ch. 3. 17), but when reassuring them in the course of faith, he. employs the latter (ch. 1. 10). " For if ye. do these things ye shall by no means stumble." Oh to be treading that path where the wicked one toucheth us not, to be one of those who " love thy law." who have " great peace," who shall have " no stumbling-block " (Ps. 119. 165).
There is perfect consistency in all the ways of God with us. " Without respect of persons (He) judgeth according to each man's work " is the statement in 1 Pet. 1. 17, followed by the exhortation to pass the time of our sojourning here in fear, since in the righteous government of God our Father there is a present result of our behaviour, answering perfectly to the character of our ways. " Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." There is a just recompense of reward which we cannot escape, even in this life. " For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God." It is not a matter of eternal life and salvation, of eternal judgment, but of God's present ways with His people, and the practical consequences of their ways before Him. The abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom is almost universally made to refer to the measure of the reward for faithfulness that each one shall receive at the Judgment-Seat of Christ, and no one will deny the bearing of that upon the whole of our life here. Yet Paul. when referring to the result of his own faithful life and service, did not say " Henceforth there is laid up for me an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom," but. " a crown of righteousness," and this lie contemplates for " all who love his appearing " (2 Tim. 4. 8). There will be kingdom rewards too, as we see from the parables of Matt. 25 and Luke 19, but these do not refer to the entrance into the kingdom at all, but are for those who have served in the kingdom during the absence of the King.
When the Kingdom of the Heavens, long promised by the prophets, was announced by John (Matt. 3. 2), proclaimed by Jesus (Matt. 4. 17), and preached by the twelve apostles (Matt 10. 7) as " at hand," both the entrance and possession were characteristic. " Except, your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven " (Matt. 5. 20). Again, " Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven " (7. 21). " Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." This is according to Daniel 7. 18: " The saints of the Most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever." We know how this presentation of the kingdom to Israel was put in abeyance through their rejection of the King. But there was a double picture upon the screen, and as the first dissolved, a second view of the kingdom shone out : a kingdom now being set up in mystery, a spiritual application and fulfilment of Old Testament promises, on a higher platform and on a broader scale, a kingdom of God which no one could see or enter, except by new birth. All thus born from above are now the " little flock," and it is the Father's good pleasure to give them the kingdom (Luke 12. 31, 32).
We have therefore the kingdom entered and possessed in a new and moral sense. " Every scribe instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old " (Matt. 13. 52).
So the everlasting kingdom, here, is not that connected with the land, and the gathering of the outcasts of Israel, but that which applies to those who, though scattered strangers, have become the people of God upon earth, by redemption and new birth. He docs not say " So shall the kingdom be ministered," but " So shall a way (Gk.) into it be ministered abundantly.' We have been told that if we lack the suitable graces for it (ch. 1. 5-7) we " cannot see afar oil " (v. 9).
This expression, which means " eyes shut or uninitiated." occurs only here, but has the same root as "closed" in Mall. 13. 15 : " Their eyes they have closed."
A few verses earlier (in Matt. 12. 49, SO) our Lord disowns the earthly links with Israel, and acknowledges the relationship of those only who do the will of His Father. These are made to see, hear, and understand the mysteries of the kingdom (v. 16), while those who have closed their eyes remain blind and uninitiated, unable to enter into the veiled teaching of the parables : seeing they did not perceive, and hearing they did not understand.
This throws a flood of light upon Peter's meaning. Walking in the ways of God, and doing the will of God, we have an abundant ingoing. As another has said : " The way is open before us ; we see into the distance, and we go forward having no impediments in our way. Nothing turns us aside as we walk in the path that leads to the kingdom, occupied with things suitable to it. God has no controversy with one who walks thus ; the entrance into the kingdom is widely opened to him according to the ways of God in government." An abundant ingoing is thus super-added (Gk.) to those who diligently super-add the characteristic and necessary graces.
In   Matt.   5   the   seven-fold      In 2 Peter 1. 5-7 the suitable
graces in accord with the kingdom were    graces to be super-added are:
1. Blessed  are  the poor in spirit      1.    In your    faith    supply virtue;
2. Blessed   are    they   that mourn     2.    and in virtue, knowledge;
3. Blessed are the meek.       3.    and in knowledge, temperance ;
4. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after right-    4.    and in temperance, patience;
eousness.
5. Blessed are the merciful. 5.    and in patience, godliness;
6. Blessed  are  the  pure  in heart      6.    and in godliness, brotherly love
7. Blessed are the peacemakers for theirs is the kingdom    7.    and in brotherly love, love. "
Of heavenFor so a way into the ever-lasting kingdom shall be superadded to you abundantly. 
 

The Kingdom is yet to be revealed, its glory shortly to be displayed : but we have caught the brightness of that glory upon the way that leads to it, to attract our hearts along, and to reconcile us to treading the path on earth in harmony with it. This is the reason for mentioning the transfiguration scene (ch. 1. 17, 18). In Luke 9, the disciple must follow a suffering Christ. " Let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me." " For who¬soever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall find it; for what is a man advantaged if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away ? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when he shall come in his own glory and in his Father's, and of the holy angels."
And then as if In strengthen the wavering souls of poor weak disciples for such a path, and confirm them in it, He lets them see " the kingdom of God " in miniature upon the mount, the appear¬¨ing of saints " with him in glory," and hear the Father's approval of the One who alone has perfectly walked the only path on earth suitable to that glory :  " This is my beloved Son, hear him."
How this should reconcile us to the present path of true disciple-ship, as strangers and pilgrims, taking joyfully the loss of all things, that we may make a gain of Christ, remembering that if we surfer with Him, we shall reign with Him If we are to have the " eternal weight of glory " then we must have the spirit of glory resting upon us here, in the path that is becoming to that glory.
The world is a dark place ; still the night of increasing darkness is all around. But we have the sure prophetic word to light us safely through, whereunto we do well to take heed, " until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in our hearts." It is a lamp, for each one to carry personally, not a sun to light up a hemisphere, but a light to show each one his path step by step : " Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." May each one be walking in its heavenly brightness. " till the day-star arise " I Peter does not say " till the kingdom is manifested and the abundant entrance is ministered to you." He alludes here to the proper hope of the believer :  the " bright and morning star."