But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ….

2 PETER 3:18

It is possible for a whole generation of professing Christians to be victims of poor teaching, low moral standards and unscriptural or extrascriptural doctrines, resulting in stunted growth and retarded development. It is little less than stark tragedy that an individual Christian may pass from youth to old age in a state of suspended growth and all his life be unaware of it!

Those who would question the truth of this have only to read the First Epistle to the Corinthians and the Epistle to the Hebrews; and church history adds all the further proof that is needed.

In today’s Christianity, we have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone!

The fact is that we are no longer producing saints. We are making converts to an effete type of Christianity that bears little resemblance to that of the New Testament. The average so-called Bible Christian in our times is but a wretched parody on true sainthood!

Clearly, we must begin to produce better Christians! We must insist on New Testament sainthood for our converts, nothing less; and we must lead them into a state of heart purity, fiery love, separation from the world and poured-out devotion to the Person of Christ. Only in this way can the low level of spirituality be raised again to where it should be in the light of the Scriptures and of eternal values![1]

Spiritual Progress

but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (3:18a)

Instead of falling prey to the schemes of false teachers, Peter encouraged his readers to pursue Christlikeness and spiritual growth—a goal that every believer should have. The apostle Paul gave similar instruction to the Ephesians.

We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Eph. 4:14–16)

Grow (auxanō) means “to advance, or increase in the sphere of.”  We are to grow in grace through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because of His grace, God forgives the sins of His children (Rom. 3:25; Eph. 1:7; 2:5, 8; cf. Acts 15:11). They in turn feed on Scripture (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15) and commune with Christ (John 15:1–11), thereby increasing in their knowledge of Him (Eph. 4:13; Col. 1:9–10; 3:10). In his earlier letter, Peter had commented on this very process, exhorting his readers: “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). As their knowledge and maturity increase, Christians are better prepared to fend off destructive doctrines and spiritual deceptions.

It is crucial to note that Peter designated Jesus as both Lord and Savior. Pursuing a deeper understanding of the fullness of Christ’s person, both in His saving work and His lordship (Rom. 5:1–5; Eph. 4:15–16; Phil. 2:12–14; 3:10, 12–14), will provide believers with the doctrinal stability they need to avoid being misled.

Continual Praise

To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (3:18b)

Peter closed the letter with a doxology, calling believers to worship and adore God (cf. Pss. 95:1–6; 105:1–5; 113:1–6; 148; 150; Rom. 11:36; 1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Cor. 1:20; Eph. 1:12; 3:20–21; 1 Tim. 1:17; Jude 25). They are to give Him all the glory, both now, in the present, and in eternity.

Clearly the pronoun Him refers back to Christ and is a sure affirmation of His deity and equality with God. After all, the Old Testament declares that divine glory belongs to God alone: “I am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, nor My praise to graven images” (Isa. 42:8; cf. 48:11; Deut. 5:24; 28:58; Neh. 9:5; Pss. 93:1–2; 104:31; 138:5; Ezek. 11:23). Yet various places in the Gospels attribute that same glory to Jesus Christ: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14; cf. Matt. 16:27; 25:31; John 17:24). The only possible conclusion, then, is that Christ is worthy of the Father’s glory because He Himself is God (cf. John 5:23; Rev. 1:5–6). Peter began this epistle with an affirmation of Christ’s deity in 1:1, and he now ends with the same.

Having reassured his readers of the certainty of Christ’s return (in 3:1–10), Peter concluded with an exhortation to live this life in light of that reality (in vv. 11–18). Accordingly, he echoed one of the New Testament’s foremost themes. In the words of the apostle Paul:

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Col. 3:1–4)[2]

18 Fittingly, the antidote to this possibility is repeated in the letter’s concluding statement, just as it had appeared in the greeting (1:2): the readers are to grow in the “grace and knowledge” of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The epistolary conclusion reveals a double inclusio: “making every effort” (1:5//3:14) and “grace and knowledge” of the Lord (1:2//3:18). The letter ends somewhat abruptly and without the customary epistolary features one might expect to find—personal wishes, greetings, instructions, requests, and so forth. The doxology “to him be glory both now and forever!” is ascribed to Christ alone and is thought unusual when contrasted with other NT doxologies.[3]

3:18 Once again Peter teaches that continued progress in divine things is a great protection against the peril of false teachers. There must be a twofold growth—in grace and in knowledge. Grace is the practical demonstration of the fruit of the Spirit. Growth in grace is not increased head knowledge or tireless activity; it is increasing likeness to the Lord Jesus. Knowledge means acquaintance with the Lord through the word. Growth in knowledge means increasing study of and subjection to His words, works, and ways.

But Peter cannot close his Epistle with an exhortation to the saints. The climax must be glory to the Savior. And so we find the lovely doxology: To Him be the glory, both now and forever. Amen. This, after all, is the ultimate reason for our existence—to glorify Him—and therefore no concluding note to this Epistle could be more fitting.[4]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2005). 2 Peter and Jude (pp. 136–138). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] Charles, D. J. (2006). 2 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 411). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2304). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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