2Pe 1:5-7 “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.”
We now know that we are partakers of like precious faith (2Pe 1:1). We have come into this knowledge by the grace of God. Now we are instructed to operate with eagerness and earnestness (diligence), and add (minister) excellency or valor in our God-given faith (Eph 2:8). In other words, we are to be strong in our faith. Our faith should not be lightly abandoned or hidden away when we encounter persecution or disdain from others because of it. Our faith should be such that we trust our Savior implicitly to care for us and not lose sight of Jesus in our concern for physical well-being. Jesus rebuked His disciples as being of “little faith” (not valiant) for this very reason (Mat 6:30, 8:26, and 16:8). We have obtained a like faith as the apostles, and we should be valiant in our faith and keep our eyes on Him.
When we are excellent in our faith, we are to add to that knowing (see Strong’s). Whereas knowledge meant recognition or acknowledgement of a truth in the early verses, here it carries the idea of the act of knowing. Being excellent in our faith allows us to act and not just acknowledge. Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God on numerous occasions throughout the time he walked with Jesus before His crucifixion. After Peter’s rooftop experience (Act 10:9-15), his faith was made to excel. In the excellence (virtue) of his faith, he obtained knowledge (the act of knowing). He not only acknowledged his Lord, but now he knew that he could and would go and preach the gospel to the household of a Gentile; one he had only shortly before considered beneath him. When our faith is made excellent, we learn that we can bear witness of Him in places and to people that we once would have avoided at all cost.
After coming to knowledge, we must add some self-control (temperance). We find numerous instances in the four Gospels to know that self-control was not initially Peter’s long suit. Peter now had a knowledge that would move him to action, but he did not just go running off on his own. He took certain brethren with him who became witnesses to the power of the Holy Spirit working in Cornelius and his house. When Peter went back to Jerusalem to tell the others of this encounter, the Lord provided him with others to testify to His work among the Gentiles. Then they held their peace and glorified God (Act 11:18). When knowledge comes, we must exercise some self-control and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit in the manner and time of taking action.
To properly exercise self-control, we must add patience. Patience is more than just waiting a situation out. Patience is more than just enduring something until it either comes to an end or you can’t take it anymore. The word here translated as patience means to cheerfully endure and be constant; to bear with a good heart and unshakeable determination. Jesus told us to “be of good cheer (Jn 16:33)” because He has overcome the world. In other words, He is telling us to be patient because He has already overcome all that we may be called on to face. Our self-control is not something to be exercised grudgingly, but we are to use patience; we are to have a cheerful, unshakeable endurance.
Once we have added patience, then we can add godliness. Godliness carries the idea of piety, which Webster defines as “a compound of veneration or reverence of the Supreme Being and love of his character.” We have faith, and to our faith we add excellence, and to excellence the act of knowing, and to the act of knowing, self-control, and to self-control a cheerful endurance. When this is accomplished in us by the will of God, we are then able to both fear (reverence) and love this Triune God who has gone to such great lengths to bring us into a relationship with Him. To be able to approach Him with both reverence and love is a growth process that begins with our like precious faith.
Godliness enables us to have brotherly kindness (love of the brethren). The addition of this brotherly kindness causes us to seek to do good to the household of faith. It brings us into a special affection for all those who love and call upon His name through our like precious faith. We rejoice together in our worship and praise of Him who has called us from death unto life. Why is it necessary, then, to add love to love for the brethren?
It is a wonderful thing to have love for those with whom we share a fraternal affection. As we grow in grace and knowledge, we come to realize that our love should go beyond “brotherly” love. We are expected to love as Jesus loves; without conditions or borders. The disciples no doubt had a fraternal love for each other. They had much in common and had endured much together. But Jesus said that their love was to grow beyond the bounds of needing a reason. Jesus does not love us as a result of anything we might suffer with Him. Jesus loves us…period. He tells us to love one another…period. We should not need a reason to love others, but we can only come to this after we have learned reverence for God and all that He is (as much as we can understand). The progression of our growth in grace will lead us to a love for the masses we have never met who call upon His name. We will love people for no discernable reason, sometimes after only knowing them for a few moments. We love them because the Jesus in us recognizes the Jesus in them.
May we, with great eagerness, add (minister) to our faith, valor; add to valor, knowledgeable action; add to knowledgeable action, self-control; add to self-control, cheerful endurance; add to cheerful endurance, reverence and love for God; add to reverence and love for God, love for our brethren with whom we worship; and add to love for our brethren with whom we worship, love for all of God’s people whether we have a first-hand knowledge of them or not!