Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord
2 Peter 3:17-18 Some solid advice from the Apostle Peter, and the etymology of the word Amen
Domenico Fetti, ‘St. Peter,’ 1613 (photo: Public Domain)
”You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.“
2 Peter 3:17-18 NASB1995
Recently we’ve seen a lot of the epistles written by Paul, but what about Peter? In this second epistle of Peter to the various churches in Asia Minor (modern day Türkiye for the most part), Peter has one major message — judgment day will come, and it is best to be prepared for it. These two verses are the conclusion to Second Peter, and are a reminder to all who follow Jesus.
To start, Peter states that the early Christians have a belief in judgment and that they await it patiently (“knowing it beforehand”). But he reminds them almost immediately that they must persevere in faith so that they are not swayed by “unprincipled men” and “fall from your own steadfastness”. It takes care and prayer to keep abiding in Jesus!
Steadfastness is not a term that many of us use on a daily basis, so let’s look at what it means. The word in the original Koine Greek is στηριγμός (stērigmós), meaning stability or firm condition, particularly in reference to the mind. The English dictionary definition is very similar:
fixed in direction; steadily directed: a steadfast gaze.
firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., as a person: a steadfast friend.
unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, etc.
Charles Spurgeon1 had this commentary on how Peter said the church could keep from falling away from steadfastness in the Lord:
“In order that they might know how to stand, and to be preserved from falling, he gave them this direction: ‘grow in grace;’ for the way to stand is to grow; the way to be steadfast is to go forward. There is no standing except by progression.”
In other words, to avoid a fall from your own steadfastness, you must continually grow in both grace and in knowledge of Jesus. Grace is the method by which God draws believers to Him, and it’s also the way we stay on that path of steadfastness. Spurgeon continues:
“But you will remark that our text does not say anything about grace growing; it does not say that grace grows. It tells us to ‘grow in grace.’ There is a vast difference between grace growing and our growing in grace. God’s grace never increases; it is always infinite, so it cannot be more; it is always everlasting; it is always bottomless; it is always shoreless. It cannot be more; and, in the nature of God, it could not be less. The text tells us to ‘grow in grace.’ We are in the sea of God’s grace; we cannot be in a deeper sea, but let us grow now we are in it.”
The verse goes on to say that we must also grow in our knowledge of Jesus Christ, both in knowing more about Jesus through study of Scripture and knowing Jesus in a personal relationship.
Image Generated by DALL-E 3
The last line of 2 Peter 3 is a beautiful salutation that would serve as a fine ending to any prayer — “To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” Spurgeon said that these verses ended with “two trumpet blasts”, one being from heaven to earth (“grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”), and the other from earth to heaven (“To Him be the glory both now and forever.”).
We end with the word Amen, which is a somewhat universal word. The Hebrew word אָמֵן ('āmēn) was transliterated into biblical Greek as ἀμήν (amén), and into most human languages with very little change. Its primary meaning at the end of a prayer is “faithful” and “may it be fulfilled”. As an experiment, I put Amen into a translation app and yes, it is pronounced the same and has the same meaning in a variety of languages.
Originally, the only use for Amen was in the Old Testament declaration of the curses (Deuteronomy 27:14-26) by Moses. At the end of each statement of a curse (i.e., “cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother”), the people were to respond “Amen”.
Under the New Covenant, we say “Amen” at the announcement of a great blessing and praise to God. And with that, let’s go on today’s Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
God, I pray that I my knowledge of Jesus — both through study and through my personal relationship with Him — increases each day. Thank you for the continual grace you pour out on me, and I pray that I may grow in grace daily for your glory and honor. I pray this in Jesus’ precious name, AMEN.
Spurgeon, Charles Haddon "The New Park Street Pulpit" Volumes 1-6 and "The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit" Volumes 7-63 (Pasadena, Texas: Pilgrim Publications, 1990)