2 Peter #3 2 Peter 1: 5-11 Timeless Virtues to Live By

 2 Peter #3 2 Peter 1: 5-11

One of the ways that we gain true knowledge of Jesus is by cultivating His virtues in our life.  We know that the fruit of the Spirit are all characteristics of Jesus.

Gal 5:22-23 (NIV)

…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

These character qualities naturally grow in us as we mature personally and intimately in our knowledge and experience of Jesus.


Peter enhances this list by advising us that we need to build on the faith that first brought us to God in Christ.  We are going to examine these virtues knowing that true knowledge of Jesus brings about moral behavior, behavior in line with the will of God.

2 Peter 1:5-11 (MSG)

So don't lose a minute in building on what you've been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, 6 alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, 7 warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others. 8 With these qualities active and growing in your lives, no grass will grow under your feet, no day will pass without its reward as you mature in your experience of our Master Jesus. 9 Without these qualities you can't see what's right before you, oblivious that your old sinful life has been wiped off the books.

10 So, friends, confirm God's invitation to you, his choice of you. Don't put it off; do it now. Do this, and you'll have your life on a firm footing, 11 the streets paved and the way wide open into the eternal kingdom of our Master and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Basic faith is what you availed yourself of when you bent your knee to the Lordship of Jesus. You recognized your need for a savior; believed that Jesus is the savior you need; committed yourself to be Jesus' disciple, and asked God to receive you as His slave. Basic faith is the foundation.  Peter tells us we are to build upon that foundation, as we do we gain true knowledge of Jesus as demonstrated by the kind of lives we are living. Disciples of Jesus are determined to grow deep, grow up, and grow fruit so that they live an exemplary life.  They don’t put off the things that help them live life to the full. They earnestly build, and build with an eye on excellence. What you are doing is partnering with the work of God in bringing the salvation that He planted within out into public demonstration. This is expected behavior. Peter informs us that we are to work towards a life that can be described as being a person of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, kindness, and love. Let’s examine each of these.

Good character is moral and ethical behavior.  The kind of behavior we read in the gospels that Jesus demonstrated.  Moral and ethical behavior is doing what is right, what is following God’s will, regardless if it benefits you personally or not.  We are willing to sacrifice our comfort zone for the mission. Taking up our cross is to accept the sacrifice for doing good. (Daniel G. Powers 1&2 Peter Jude, A Commentary in the Wesleyan Tradition, p. 184) 

Spiritual understanding is best characterized as discernment and wisdom that is gradually gained over time through experience. As we follow Jesus daily we should do so determined to do life His way, as we journey along we are given grace to figure out what is right and what is wrong.  Wisdom is putting what we know into practice. (Powers, p. 185)

Alert discipline is another way of saying Self-Control (enkrateian). Self-control was a buzzword for the Greeks.  It meant restraining yourself from overindulgence, especially in the area of physical desires.   Peter uses the word here to inform us we need to develop self-control so that we can resist false teaching and most importantly demonstrate how to live God’s way.

Passionate Patience, what Peter is writing of is Perseverance (hypomomen) the ability to keep on keeping on when the going is tough.  We are talking about exhibiting courageous steadfast endurance when dealing with persecution, difficulty, and suffering. (Powers p. 185) We stay in an attitude of trust that God knows and He will supply us with all we need to keep our testimony.

Reverent wonder is Godliness (eusebeian) which means having the right attitude towards God and others.  When the scripture uses the word fear of the Lord, what is meant is properly revering God, giving God the respect, deference, and obedience that He is due. It is allowing God to be God while recognizing that since you are not, there are things that will remain a mystery to you. Since humanity is created in God’s image we are to be respectful of others. When we are taking all our cues from God, we take the Lordship of Christ seriously, doing so is godliness. (Powers, p. 185).

Warm friendliness is seen in acts of kindness. Kindness and more specifically from that patriarchal society brother kindness (philadelphian or brotherly love), refers to those acts of loving your brothers and sisters in Christ.  You see a need, you do everything you can to meet that need.  This is what is supposed to happen within the Church.  It is within the Church family that we care for and support one another.  We carry our loads and lend a hand when someone is burdened. (Powers, p. 185)

Generous love reaches out beyond the confines of the Church and into the world.  Peter uses the word agape which means: to do for others without expectation of personal gain.  This is the love that is attributed to God who so “agaped” the world. This type of love is a choice that we make to do for others what we would have them do for us.

We have a firm foundation given to us by God because we asked.  Upon that foundation, we are to build the virtues of “good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love.”  This is not a one-and-done job.  Life constantly presents challenges that require you to practice these virtues.  By practicing them you are building them upon your foundational faith.  Neither are they stand-alone virtues, they all fit together creating a whole person who is a devout and holy follower of Jesus. We are to be constantly building these character qualities of Jesus into our life.

Build that good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous life, by doing them. The reward is that you will deepen your knowledge of Jesus which will bring more grace and more peace into your life. The reward is that you won’t get swept away by the fads many congregations get caught up in or worse the false teachings that lead believers astray.  The way you discern, if something is right or wrong, is to ask for God’s guidance and then examine the situation to see if it is keeping with the way of Jesus. That way is demonstrated in living out these virtues, if whatever helps you to do so then it most likely is a good thing, if not avoid it like Covid.  The reward is that you are used by God to further His agenda in this world, you become a little Christ, doing so is a blessing to others, and those blessings are used by the Holy Spirit to awaken spiritual needs. 

If you neglect building these virtues into your life there is a type of blindness that comes, we can call it spiritual naiveté.  You do nothing so you don’t progress in your knowledge of Jesus.  That makes you susceptible to being ineffective, you become a branch that bears no fruit. Jesus told His disciples if they fail to produce fruit, the One He called the Father would cut them off from the Tree of Life.  The result is being discarded, trampled, and fit only for kindling. Fruit comes from doing what Jesus wants you to do and refraining from what He doesn’t.

The old way of life is a life dominated by egoism.  Egoism is just another word for what the Bible calls the sin nature.  Egoism is doing everything that seems to benefit yourself first and foremost.  Proverbs tell us that egoism points us in a direction, but that direction while it looks good at the start, leads to spiritual death, if not physical death (Proverbs 14:12).  Paul wrote that living the old way is like taking a long walk on dead end streets, you’re not going to find the destination you are looking for (Ephesians 4:22). A spiritual schizophrenia occurs in which the spiritual naïve try to live both the old way and the new.  It’s crazy-making to try to do so, one moment living for God, the next indulging in behaviors that the scripture warns are inconsistent with discipleship.  When you bend your knee to Jesus that old way dies.  Why would you live in death? Root out every way of egoism and replace it with the virtues of Christ.

Confirmation that you have entered the narrow gate and are now on the paved path that leads to the eternal kingdom is the witness of the Holy Spirit. The witness of the Spirit has a subjective and objective component.  The subjective component is being convinced that you are a child of God.

"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God." “God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, 'Abba! Father!'" "Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself."

(Romans 8:16,  Galatians 4:6, 1 John 5:10)


Verifying your subjective component of assurance is the objective component. The objective component is that you are living a devout and holy life.  You are doing all you can to build into your life these virtues. That person who knows you well can affirm that you are maturing in your faith.  When your life is filled with acts of love, compassion, and service you know that you are on a path that leads to the eternal kingdom.


Have you confirmed that you are on firm footing with the One who called you into His eternal kingdom? Confirmation comes from the Holy Spirit in being convinced that you are and verified by your righteous behavior.


“So, friends, confirm God's invitation to you, his choice of you. Don't put it off; do it now.”



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