Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. - 2 Peter 1:2
We did not have Bible Studies this past Sunday, due to inclement weather. However, in preparation for our new series, entitled reminders, I hope that you don’t miss this chance to review the first couple of verses in the book of 2 Peter. Peter greets the believers to whom he writes with a greeting found throughout the New Testament, “Grace and Peace to you….” It is easy to read over this greeting and ignore its significance. However, when you stop to think about what the apostle Peter is really trying to impart with this greeting, it is amazing!
Grace: Unmerited favor
What does it mean for me to impart grace to you with my words? I am telling you that I want you to receive favor that you don’t deserve. No matter what you have done, to me or to others, my desire for you is to receive the grace of God. How difficult is this for us to truly speak this greeting to others. Even when we choose not to take revenge on others who have hurt us or those that we love, our temptation is to hope that they get what they deserve in the end. The apostle Peter, however, provided an example of how Christians ought to impart grace to others through our words.
This is impartation is particularly important given that Jesus gave Peter (Matthew 16:19) and then the Church (Matthew 18:18) the authority to bind and to loose. What if the grace that God wants to bring to others comes through us? What if others did not receive grace because we failed (or refused) to give it to them?
Peace: To set at one again
While we often define peace as absence of war or as quiet and rest, the Greek word that is translated here means essentially to be made whole. Warring parties are divided. However, parties that find peace have been brought together again. Often, the war that causes us the most trouble is the war that is fought within us. Romans 7:22-23 describes this war in vivid detail. Then, in verse 24, Paul asks the question “Who will rescue me…” The answer comes in verse 25: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The answer to the war that is waged inside of us, the war between the will of God and our own will, is the power of Jesus Christ to deliver!
Peter’s greeting imparts the peace that comes from wholeness in Christ to his readers. He wants them to no longer be divided and warring within, but rather to be “set at one again” by the power of Jesus. Not only should we receive Peter’s greeting with the thanksgiving that Paul expressed in Romans 7:25, but we should do our best to impart this same Peace to others.
Peter wrote his second epistle, at least in part, to speak against the heresy of Gnosticism, which exalted human knowledge. The word knowledge here is translated from the Greek word epignosis (not simply gnosis), which means full knowledge or true knowledge. Thus, Peter reminds his readers that the Grace and Peace, which he seeks to impart through his words is one that can only be found through a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ, even an acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord, rather than a promotion of our own superficial knowledge. Jesus is the source of Grace and Peace in our lives. Therefore, even as Peter imparts these in his greeting, he also points his readers to the source, that we may truly receive what he seeks to impart.
Throughout our study of the book of 2 Peter, we will find “Reminders” about what God’s Word really says about the nature of the Christian faith and the power that God imparted to us through Jesus Christ. However, all of this is just superficial knowledge without the “full knowledge” that God brings through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Grace and Peace to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,