Meditations in 2 Peter : 2 : A Precious Faith
2 Pet 1:1b To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
This is a letter written by Peter for Christians. That is a summary of the second part of this first verse. His first letter had been written to the Christians scattered over the area we callAsia Minor, but this present one has a broader, more general audience. In identifying the recipients he speaks first about the work of God and then, second, about the people who are the result of God’s work.
Sometimes when we see the word ‘righteousness’ in Scripture we get confused and complicated because it is not a word we use in everyday life. In its simplest form it means ‘a right way of living or acting that is in accord with God’s perfect design’. We forget that God is the Creator and that He has designed the world to bless us His creatures. When He finished making it He declared that it was “very good” (Gen 1:31). Because “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8,16) everything God does is an expression of love and is good. The Fall may have spoilt the world but that has not changed God, He is still love and He still works to bring good to the world because He IS love and will always be love because He is unchanging. Righteousness is simply living in accord with God’s design.
Now of course God Himself is perfect and so when Peter speaks about the “righteousness of our God” he is simply saying, “the right actions of our God” because God’s actions are ALWAYS right. But actually Peter isn’t talking about God generally or of the Father; he is referring to Jesus: “God and Savior Jesus Christ”. He is not referring to two persons but two aspects of Jesus. He is both God and he is Saviour. God is his nature and Saviour was his task or role. Of course Peter himself had referred to Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16) Thomas similarly had declared, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28) and the concept of Jesus’ deity often crops up in Paul’s writings, e.g. Col 2:9, but it is worth noting that these early believers were quite clear about who it was they had encountered – God in the flesh.
So it is God, who in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ, has brought about a harvest of believers. Just think about it, if Jesus had never come we would not have had all that revelation about God’s love and there would have been no path of salvation through Jesus. But he has and so as a result there were those with transformed lives who were able to testify to his coming and what he had done.
On the Day of Pentecost the apostle Peter summarised it: “Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:22-24) Jesus himself, recorded by Matthew, had declared what those ‘miracles, wonders and signs’ were: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Mt 11:5) The apostle John put it in more general, almost philosophical terms, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.” (1 Jn 1:1,2) There is this ‘precious faith’ declared: God has come to this earth in human form and done wonderful things and people were blessed.
But for the bigger work, it was John the Baptist who first declared it: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29) Prior to that, some thirty years before that, Joseph had had a dream in which an angel had declared about Jesus, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21) At the Last Supper Jesus had said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:28) Later Peter was to testify to Cornelius, the first Gentile recorded as receiving the Gospel, “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts10:43)
But Peter describes this faith as being ‘precious’. J.R.R.Tolkien stamped this word in our consciousness with his character Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, who spoke of the ring as ‘his precious’. Precious means ‘of great value, held very dear, very special to us’. From the verses we’ve considered above, we can see the value of this ‘precious faith’. It is the truth, it is history declared to us, and it is life changing. It is the Good News about Jesus that brings forgiveness of sins and reconciliation to God for us. It is what has transformed men and women throughout the past two thousand years, some of the earliest of whom were being addressed by Peter in this letter. How wonderful! If you have lost the sense of how this wonderful faith is precious, go back over the above notes and take in the verses quoted there, and then rejoice!