A Study of Knowledge (epignosis): from 2 Peter 1:2-9
We have been studying the word knowledge (epignosis), which appears 20 times in the New Testament. It is a strengthened form of the word gnosis. It is a deeper, more intimate knowledge of God, which we gain by prayer and by our regular time in the Word. In this post we will look at this word as it appears in 2 Peter 1:2, 3 and 8.
In verse 2, Peter says to his recipients, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” I love this salutation. It suggests to us that the more we get to know God and His Son, the more of His grace and peace we will get. It will just keep coming and coming to us. What a challenge, and what an incentive for us to pray and study the Word to build our relationship with Him.
Now, as to further expand on this grace and truth that we get from God, verse 3 tells us that His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness; and it comes to us through the knowledge of Him. I think what Peter is saying here is that when we take time to get to know Him, His power is put to work in us and allows us to receive all that He wants to give us in our new life; mainly to help us live godly.
Hence, through a deep knowledge of God and Christ, we are assured from Him through “exceedingly great and precious promises” (v. 4) that we have eternal life and that we are “partakers of the divine nature” (v. 4). Then through these promises and by His power in us we are able to live godly, which Peter also describes as “having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Notice that it is in the past tense—“having escaped.” We already have escaped the world’s corruption. We escaped it at the time of our salvation. But now through our knowledge of Him, when we get to know Him, He gives us an assurance of these things through His promises. Hence, as we get to know Him He tells us in our heart that we are really His and that He will give us the power to live godly lives.
The next time knowledge (epignosis) appears is in verse 8. But we must look at it in the context of verses 5-9. After Peter explains to us our wonderful blessings of salvation through our knowledge of God in verses 2-4, now, in verses 5-9, he tells us further how we can go on to remain fruitful in our knowledge of Him. We do this, he says, by diligently adding to our faith all that is needed to live righteously. I like to think of it as putting our faith to work, because in James it says that without works our faith is dead (Ja. 2:26). Peter gives us seven virtues that we are to attach to our faith: (1) goodness (or moral excellence), (2) self control, (4) perseverance, (5) godliness, (6) brotherly kindness, and (7) love.
So, as I have mentioned above, by putting our faith to work by these virtues, we remain fruitful in our knowledge of Him. Actually, it says it this way: “If these things [virtues] are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” What does this mean? Well, it means of course that if we continue in these good works, that is, if we continue to put our faith to work with works, our relationship of love for the Lord Jesus will grow; our relationship will not grow stale; it will continue to blossom and will continue to nourish us.
But, as we see in verse 9, the person who is not diligent to add to his faith works (as in the seven recommended virtues), is “nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” How tragic! I have seen this too often in my counseling with people. They say they have at one point in their life received Christ, but now they doubt their salvation; and they no longer feel that they are a Christian. What went wrong? This right here in this verse is what went wrong. Their faith went dead because they were not diligent to put it to work. And so their relationship with God did not grow and they forgot about Him and what He did for them.
Our next study will be from Colossians—another good study.