I often translate sections of selected Advent readings. This year I chose the daily readings from the Book of Common Prayer Daily Office, year two. Be advised, this is not year two. If I were following strictly, I would be translating different texts. However, it was only about five years ago or so that I did those, mostly from 1 and 2 Thessalonians. This particular schedule is heavy on Peter and Revelation, particularly the seven churches and then finishes with a bit from Galatians.
Commentary will follow below. I will not include much in the way of textual diagnosis, as I am thinking of this as more of a devotional reading.
1. Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Messiah Jesus, to those who have obtained a faith of equal value as the righteous ones of God and the Savior Jesus Messiah.
2. Grace to you and multiplying peace through the knowledge of God and our Lord Jesus.
3. Since all that has been bestowed to you, his divine power, along with life, and godliness, has been by the knowledge you have been called to his glory,
4. through whom the precious and exalted promise has been bestowed to us, now you might become sharers in the divine nature so as to escape the corrupt desires of the world.
5. And with the same zeal you must supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge,
6. knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness,
7. godliness with love of community, and love of community with unconditional love.
8. These things are multiplying in you. They are not useless or fruitless, but mark a knowledge of our Lord Messiah Jesus.
9. For those in whom these qualities are not present are blind, willfully closing their eyes, oblivious to the cleansing of old sins.
10. All the more, then, brothers and sisters, be zealous and steadfast. Make certain of your calling and election. The one who does these things will never stumble.
11. For in so, entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Messiah Jesus will be extravagantly supplied.
The eye catching part of this opening is the notable virtue ladder. It starts with virtue and finishes with agape, unconditional or divine love. Each one leads to the other. Virtue is not enough. A life of virtue is to be celebrated, but if the virtue doesn’t lead on, well, then it has failed. Many virtuous people have failed to reach love.
Peter tells his readers these attributes are multiplying in them — not merely evident — but multiplying. Oh that I would multiply in these and and live to see the people of God set the multiplication of these attributes as the pathway toward discipleship.
Pointedly, he seems to indicate that one can confirm or certify their calling and election in Christ by examining the presence of these virtues in their lives. I can’t divorce verse 10 from previous five verses. Indeed, using these as a test of our spiritual strength seems to be the opposite of the kinds of people who close their eyes and are blind to their own condition.
C.S. Lewis famously wrote of the four loves — eros, storge, philia, and agape. The ladder finishes with two of these, philia, in the form of Philadelphia and agape. I have attempted to differentiate them appropriately. It would have been just as justified to render the last two as, ‘godliness with friendship, and friendship with divine love.’