These Things... They Make You
2Peter 1:8-9 kjv
The words "if" and "but" are the two most important words to the consideration of this next section. "If" is a conditional suggesting the possibility that "these things" might not be in us or they do not yet abound. "But" prepares us for the underlying cause behind this lacking condition.
How do we know when these things are not in us nor abound? We know by our idleness and fruitlessness. Peter describes the evidence of this as a barrenness (dict:strongs G692 meaning inactivity/laziness/idleness) and a fruitlessness (dict:strongs G175 ). It is not just any lack of effort, a person might otherwise be the most active person on the face of the earth. It is a very specific idleness that even the busiest person could lack in: "the EpignosisKnowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ".
Why then are we idle and without fruit? Peter says that it is because in one sense or another we are either being blind, short-sighted or acting from our former nature. We are not courageous with our faith, neither knowledgeable, nor temperate, nor enduring, nor pious, nor kind, nor sacrificial. It's a pretty cut and dry case is it not?
Let's speak for a moment about the type of fruit Peter would be looking for.
First and foremost, Peter concludes that it's to be fruit in the EpignosisKnowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (verse 8), who He is, His righteousness with the Father, His grace and peace, His provision of all things, His calling of us to His glory and virtue, His fulfillment of promises made for our escape from our former natures and our partaking of His.
Second, Peter is looking for the fruit of the AgapeLove form of love as a result of this epignosis of Christ. One can say that they recognize Jesus as all that the Apostle has described, they can say that they acknowledge this same Jesus in their daily living, but if there is not His fruit produced from them, there is strong indication that they are not abiding in His influence.
John 15:4-5 kjv
It is worth considering that in verse 8 Peter states this fruit in the negative "neither be barren nor unfruitful". He doesn't say that having these things will make you fruitful; no Jesus alone will make you fruitful. He says that having these things in you will make you so that you are not unfruitful. It is as if fruit is natural and expected to abound on Christ's vine, all that we can do ourselves is keep it from happening. How do we keep it from happening? We don't add the "and besides this" compounds with all diligence.
The New Testament makes extensive use of the concept of fruit over and over. Jesus uses it in His illustrations more than anybody. It is a familiar concept to most people. It is well understood. It explains a difficult spiritual concept in easy to digest form. A seed is planted. The seed sprouts and grows into a plant. The plant buds and becomes fruit laden. The fruit contains seeds of itself. The process replicates itself and is multiplying and self-perpetuating. One seed produces several more of the same seed, each of those individual seeds capable of producing hundreds more.
So when we were asking what this fruit might look like, the answer is more of itself. Add this to the concept that in Christ this is bound to happen as long as we don't do things to stunt it. The seed is not sprouting nor growing itself, growth is a natural response to the design and processes exerted on and in it. The seed knows little or nothing of these processes or this design, but becomes this as designed anyway.
If the seed planted in you and I is from the tree of "like precious faith" obtained through the righteousness of God and Savior, its fruit will be what our fruit looks like, no different. If at our core is the grace and peace spoken of by Peter, so then will our fruit have this. Providence of all things pertaining to life and godliness, calling to glory and virtue, promises fulfilled regarding escape and partaking, our fruit cannot help but be an exact copy. This is because it is not our fruit, it is our Lords, this is His doing, and we are the witness and testimony of it.
If the seed planted in you or I is from another type of tree, its fruit is going to be different. The only other tree that this seed can come from is the tree of self. There are a good many people that are determined to produce a fruit of their own; which in the grand scheme is no fruit at all. Oh, it produces somewhat of a fruit as in a successful career or extravagant lifestyle or the such, carnal fruit in other words. It replicates and spreads it seed, propagates as do weeds. In the grand scheme though it results in no fruit, no fruit of any worth
There are others that seek to produce Christ's good fruit, but produce it in their own way. They'll attempt to do this without the valor or the knowledge or the temperance or the endurance or the godliness or the kind affection; they will love, but it won't be the AgapeLove. In the grand scheme, they have taken an otherwise guaranteed process and rendered it barren and fruitless.
Jesus also explained His good seed as becoming a tender young plant up against the fowls of the air, the dry scorching of the sun, the cares of this world. Notice that He did not pray that these potential harms not come against us. His desire was to pull us through these, to have these things refine and strengthen us. Why? So that we could one day bear the type of fruit that carries forth the very same good seed.
Of Barren and Fruitless
Barren and fruitless in the Greek are two very similar words. Both mean barren, the first meaning inactive or unemployed or idle, the second meaning without fruit. One means not doing anything or that there is nothing he feels he needs to do. The other might be doing something, but is not producing anything. They are similar in output but not exact in method. In order to produce, we have to do. The object of doing is to produce.
What we are not doing and not producing are the few remaining things that have kept Christ's fruit from ripening, to drop, to seed other plants. We are resisting the final surrender of His fruit from our branches by not employing this valor and knowledge and temperance and patience and godliness and kindness leading to sacrificial love to the extent it needs to be. We are clinging tight to His fruit for ourselves, for our own good, for our own self-worth.
In doing so, Peter says that we are being blind and short-sighted. Seems like a harsh way to put it, but if we already know these things and are established in the present truth as he so well put it, why then does it take his constant reminder pushing us onward?
Of Purged but Forgetting
This is the oddest phrase in the sentence. It seems to come out of nowhere. Nowhere else in this discourse has there been a mention of purging, the closest we have come is escape. The Greek word is curious:
Quoted resource: strongs 'G2512'
The definition of most interest is expiation - the act of extinguishing guilt incurred, also known as atonement. So when Peter writes "and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins" we could read it "and hath forgotten that the guilt of his old sins have been extinguished". Guilt has burned through the man's entire abode and landscape like a wildfire but, he of course is the last to know it. If you asked him, he wouldn't know the first thing about his guilt. He sees himself as king of the hill, God sees him as a refugee on a heap of ashes. Christ has expiated, extinguished the guilt incurred by this man's old sins. That old guilt is no longer an ember left smoldering. Does the man realize this? Does he stop to consider before striking the next match what his Lord has so completely done for him?
(note: It is not for certain in this text whether there is expiation made yet for sin. Theologians have wrestled each other over that for ages).
It's an odd phrase because in sequence it comes after blind and short-sighted. Harsh as it is, we can understand how we are being blind. The picture here is of a man closing his eyes tight, refusing to see. Painful as it is to admit, we can understand how this is short-sighted. The picture is of a man holding an object close up and seeing only that object. But in the forgetful man the picture is of a Christian, one already having had his guilt expiated for past sins, yet he acts as if his guilt still rages.
Has not this man been told of the righteousness of God and Savior? Has he not come to a grace and peace that is multiplying? Does he not know of the miraculous power that gives him all things required of the new life and new godliness? Does he not understand that he has been called to glory and virtue, that he is liberated from the corruptions of this world, and can partake in the benefit of Christ's divine nature? If he did know all of this, how then could he forget the expiation of his sin guilt?
I once thought of these three elements of lacking as three separate diagnosis: blind or short-sighted or acting as if not purged. The English translation doesn't say "or", it says "and". Could it be that these three elements are all part of one complete diagnosis? Why would the man close his eyes tight and refuse to see? Why would he only open his eyes enough to see the immediate close up object in front of him? Could it be because he is refusing to see the expiation of the guilt caused by his former sins?
You answer me... is it?
Of These Things - They Make You
Quoted resource: strongs 'G2525'
There is a sense of placement or delegation or constitution to this word that is not conveyed in the English. It is this appointment that I would first like to settle.
It might help us if we were to straighten out the statement into the grammatical positive and add in some of the definition that we have already discovered. Here's my humble attempt:
"For you shall be designated as employed and bear Christ's fruit if these additional things are in you and make for more increase".
It is much easier now to see the appointment behind the word "make". It is the designation of employment being made, and in that employment comes the ability to bear Christ's fruit. Such a designation does not exist if these things are not in you and do not make for increase. It is Christ alone that makes this appointment. He will only appoint those who exhibit an earnest (diligent) effort towards these things.
Now these things are high marks to achieve and maintain. We are not always going to be able to meet these standards in full measure. Some would think that they are a long way from meeting such high standards for employment. But it is not like this appointment cannot be made day one of a man's regeneration, because it is the existence of these things within him and his diligence to make them increase that is the mark determining the appointment.
In kjv@Acts:16:14 Lydia received her designation by Christ to bear His fruit day one unto her entire household. These things must have already been in her to an infant degree and increase sought by her for there to be such an appointment.
Of In the Knowledge of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Peter brings us full circle back to the word "epignosis". We know it well by now I hope; recognition and acknowledgement. He has referred to the epignosis "of God, and of Jesus our Lord" (verse 2), "of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (verse 3), and now "of our Lord Jesus Christ" (verse 8). GnosisKnowledge in verse 6 is more along the lines of deductive reasoning. "Eidō" dict:strongs G1492 (verse 12) is to see or consider. Very different meanings for very different words in the Greek not showing up as strong as they should in the English.
In verse 1 it is the recognition and acknowledgement of "theos - the supreme divinity" and "kurios - the supreme authority". The name of the supreme authority is "Jehoshua Christos - Jesus Anointed Messiah" (verse 8). Jesus Annointed Messiah is who SimonPeter is a servant and apostle of (verse 1). Jesus Anointed Messiah is Peter's and our "sōtēr - deliverer". Our deliverer happens also to be our supreme authority; if you didn't already notice. It is "Him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (verse 3).
Shall we go further?
It is His vine and His fruit. It is His designation whether to employ us or not in His fruit delivery and planting business. He is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the beginning and the end. All things were created through Him and for Him, and all things are being gathered back unto Him. It is His righteousness that is imputed upon us. He is the firstborn from the dead, the first among many brethren. In Him, we have our being and our rest. In Him the Father is well pleased.
Given who we recognize Him to be and all that He has done to put us right with the Father, is it too much to ask that we add just a bit of diligence to have and increase in valor and knowledge and temperance and patience and godliness and kindness? To fully pursue agape as it meant to be? To allow His fruit to be presented to others through us?
What say you?