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Knowledge of Him

2 Peter 1:3 (ESV) … “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence...”

The word his refers back to God and Jesus Christ (being one person, see 1:1). God’s divine power, or the divine power that Jesus Christ shares with God, is the power well-known to believers, for it raised Christ from the dead. The word us refers to all believers—Peter, the other apostles, and all readers of this letter. Christ’s power manifests itself in the lives of Christians.

Christ has given us everything needed for life and godliness. The power to grow doesn’t come from within us, but from God. Because we don’t have the resources to live as he requires, God gives us everything we need for godly living (to keep us from sin and to help us live for him). “Godliness” means moral uprightness and honoring of God. Peter used the word here and in 1:6–7; 2:9; 3:11. When we were born again, God by his Spirit empowered us with his own moral goodness, enabling us to live for him. See John 3:6; 14:17–23; 2 Corinthians 5:21; and 1 Peter 1:22–23.

We live in an era when religious studies are gaining popularity in universities, sociologists are interested in measuring and understanding religious life, and daily newspapers are expanding coverage of religion. Peter does not refer to those kinds of knowledge.

Peter refers not to information about religion, not cross-cultural seminars about differences between “faith” and “isms,” but to genuine, honest, personal, solid, life-changing, dynamic eye-openness to the true God himself, “the knowledge of him.” Such knowledge is more like opening a gift than attending a lecture. God wraps the gift and offers it; we open it, dazzled by its beauty and warmed by its love.

What’s at the center of this knowledge? That Christ has come to fulfill God’s promises. How do we grow in this knowledge? By a prayer that says, “Of all the important and exciting things to learn in my short life, from baseball statistics to computer protocol, I want most of all, and at the center of all, to know Jesus Christ, God’s Son, my Savior. Dear God, lead me ever to him.”

Not only do believers have grace and peace in the knowledge of God (1:2), but they also receive that divine power to live for God through the knowledge of his Son, Jesus Christ. An intimate knowledge of Christ gives believers power for life and growth. The phrase who called us by his own glory and goodness explains what attracts people to Jesus in the first place. Jesus’ glory (the impact of who he is, his splendor) and his goodness (also translated “moral excellence”) draw sinful, seeking people to him. When they come to Christ, they have access to the knowledge they need in order to live for him. “Called” means that believers are chosen (see 1 Peter 1:2, 15; 2:9, 21; 3:9; 5:10 for more on “chosen”). They are called to salvation and to live for God.[1]

[1] Barton, B. B. (1995). 1 Peter, 2 Peter, Jude (pp. 161–162). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

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