Gnosis

Knowledge
Audio MP3 

"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:2-3).

Wade Austin

The theme text exhortation came as Peter recalled his experiences with Jesus. He reminded the saints that these experiences taught him marvelous lessons. They gave him much to draw upon as he taught others, beseeching them to study his lessons and learn from them as well.

The words of Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles are recorded for our learning. We should think about them and keep them fresh in our minds. It is this growing knowledge that stirs us to learn more and to be more faithful to the covenant of sacrifice that we have made.

Peter’s development as a New Creature would counteract all that was base and the result of Adam’s fall. This man of the sea had now developed into the vision Jesus saw when he called Peter and Andrew with the words, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19).

"Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance" (2 Peter 1:13). Peter felt compelled to admonish the brethren even though they might already be firmly grounded in truth. The thought of to stir up is to wake fully or to arouse. Each of us likely possesses both truth and error in our thinking, or if not outright error, some lack of understanding. If we are not aroused, not fully awake, then we will not discern our error nor fill the void of our understanding. We may even lose truth no matter how sincere our intent.

We are to continue to confirm established truths and clarify those that we do not fully understand. In the process, we will find a more correct application of scripture and a further appreciation of the plan of God. As we learn more, our understanding of God will naturally deepen. Will we come to understand some ideas differently? Hopefully we will if we have erred in our understanding.

When one stirs up the mind, whether through study or exhortation, they are merely following Peter’s admonition, "even though you know them, I will still arouse you to put you in remembrance to do these things (2 Peter 1:12- 13, paraphrase). Recalling things we have learned is necessary in one’s Christian walk.

None should feel superior to others because of their knowledge or wisdom. Each has a commission to remind others of the basics, and to arouse them with the example of the noble Bereans who searched the scriptures to prove all things. Every elder, every teacher, must be considerate of his students. Neither should he expect his listeners to necessarily arrive at the same conclusions. Each must learn from personal effort through the direction of the holy Spirit. If listeners think they can learn solely by another’s study or teaching, they need to be reminded of the importance of making knowledge their own.

"Knowing this first that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21). When Peter claimed that no scripture is of private interpretation, we should not infer that it is of group interpretation, either.

The emphasis is on the holy Spirit. It is only through God’s power of the holy Spirit that we possess any truth. If God chooses to use human instrumentalities, whatever their position in the church, then the glory goes to God and not to the persons used. And so it is that if we rely upon the holy Spirit as we search the scriptures, then we will not find ourselves in the position of following the false teaching described by Peter in chapter two of his first epistle. On the other hand, if we are not aroused, but spiritually asleep, we will never come to understand the truths that God can reveal to us.

Among the things that Peter wants us to know are those found in the third chapter. "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour" (2 Peter 3:1, 2).

Peter instructs us to remember scriptures from both the prophets and from the apostles. This suggests that at the time Peter was writing his epistle, writings of Paul and of the other apostles were already being used as the basis for doctrinal teaching. Notice Peter’s reference to the writings of Paul when he wrote: "And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you" (2 Peter 3:15).

Peter’s Admonition

Peter also reminds us that in the last days there would be scoffers, those who would mock or deride the doctrine of Jesus’ return and the setting up of an earthly kingdom. They say "all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (2 Peter 3:4). The word scoffers implies false teachers, as Peter described previously in chapter two. The similarity of the language here with that of Jude 18 is striking enough to connect the two as a common reference. Jude warns us to avoid these men.

Rotherham’s translation continues, "Howbeit the day of the Lord will be here as a thief, In which the heavens with a rushing noise will pass away, while elements becoming intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works therein will be discovered" (2 Peter 3:10). Notice how this translation differs from the KJV, which says "the day of the Lord will come as a thief." Peter suggests that most will not recognize that the hand of God is in the fire of trouble at the end of the Gospel age until the ecclesiastical and social orders pass away before their very eyes. It is during this tribulation on the earth that the saints will be glorified.

"Seeing that all these things are thus to be dissolved what manner of persons ought ye all the while to be in holy ways of behaviour and acts of godliness, expecting and hastening the presence of the day of God, by reason of which, heavens being on fire will be dissolved, and elements becoming intensely hot are to be melted" (2 Peter 3:11, 12 Rotherham).

Should we be happy with the trouble upon the earth? We should only be joyful in the sense that the trouble marks the nearness of the church’s glorification and the preparation of new heavens and the new earth, the Millennial Age. This glorification, or exodus, was one of Peter’s most keen memories from the lessons of Jesus. "Yea, I will give diligence also that at every time ye may be able after my own departure [exodus] to be keeping up the remembrance of these very things" (2 Peter 1:15 Rotherham).

Peter then follows this symbolic presentation of the glorification of the church with the plain statement, "But new heavens and a new earth according to his promise are we expecting, wherein righteousness is to dwell" (2 Peter 3:13 Rotherham). Clearly this is our real hope — that the Church will finally be glorified.

Peter’s Key Points

Peter says that just as those living before the flood were willingly ignorant that they were about to be destroyed, so too, those in our day lack the knowledge of scripture to see that the trouble encompassing the earth will eventually consume it. Peter says that the fire is "kept in store." That literally means that it is "treasured up" in the same sense that treasure is laid up on earth or in heaven. In this case we are told that it is treasured up with fire.

Peter tells us that we should not expect this trouble to necessarily be of short duration. He says, "But this one thing forget not beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some count slackness; but is long-suffering with regard to you, not being minded that any should perish, but that all unto repentance should come" (2 Peter 3:8).

God’s time clock encompasses a much longer period than ours does. Our twenty-four hour day is but an eye blink to God. If we took this literally it would take three hundred sixty-five thousand of our days to make one day for God. Therefore, we should not become impatient and think that God delays his promise concerning the day of the Lord and the glorification of the church.

He will allow the church sufficient time to complete the requirements of its calling. Peter says, "Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation" (2 Peter 3:14, 15).

Peter closes with these words of admonition, "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen" (2 Peter 3:17, 18).

Let us remember the words of the prophets and of our Lord through the apostles just as Peter did. Let us also remember our own individual experiences. In so doing we will become more firmly convinced that the word of the Lord is sure, that God is working in us to perform His good pleasure. As Peter said in his first epistle, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:12).

Indeed brethren, "we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19 NAS).