WHAT MANNER OF PERSONS?
Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.
“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.”
2 Peter 3: 11
THE APOSTLE Peter is addressing the household of faith in 2 Peter 3, especially those living during our Lord’s Second Advent. He indicates that things will not always continue as they have been, that evil shall not always triumph, that a great change is impending, that a new feature of the Divine Plan is about to be introduced – the establishment of God’s Kingdom upon the earth. In the text, by “holy conversation” the Apostle refers to holy behavior; holy conduct; holy living; separateness from the world; the exercise of gentleness, kindness, consideration and the avoiding of rudeness; and to be a good example to others. And by “godliness” he refers to piety, duty love to God, and that we should not engage in harmful gossip, unclean or unholy conversation, disloyal or rebellious words.
Verse 14 reads, “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” The “such things” in this verse that we are looking for are the overthrow of the existing order and the establishment of the new order. To “be diligent” means to make a good effort, to be prompt or earnest in our endeavors to gain a place in the coming Kingdom. We should abide “in peace,” both peace with God and the higher peace of God, which is our privilege to possess if we are faithfully carrying out our consecration vows. We should be “without spot,” that is, unblemished, keeping our tentative robe of Christ’s righteousness spotless. Finally, we should be “blameness,” that is, unblamable, faultless, ready for the Kingdom.
Verses 15, 16 reads, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” St. Peter indicates that the Apostle Paul wrote in his epistles about “these things,” that is, the things related to the three great dispensations, especially the three heavens – the powers of spiritual control. Although those things were at best only partially understood when written, we now have a much better understanding of them, because God’s due time has come for their understanding by His faithful people.
A Solemn Warning
Verse 17 reads, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” The Apostle in saying “Ye therefore, beloved” is addressing those who had attained stedfastness. In saying, “seeing ye know these things before,” St. Peter states that the brethren are aware of the fact that all the affairs, reforms, etc. of the present order will avail nothing, for the present order is doomed to pass away; and that the end of the Age will be a special time of sifting and testing. In saying, “beware lest ye also,” he is warning the steadfast brethren to be cautious, careful and watchful against all deceptions and dangers, which are sure to come in the “evil day” – especially at the end of the Age.
The Apostle Paul exhorts especially those living in the end of the Age, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6: 13). He then describes the symbolic armor in verses 14-17: (1) “Having your loins girt about with the truth.” The girdle of the soldier’s armor is a symbol of service, and suggests that no one is safe unless he is a consecrated servant of the Truth, always ready to serve it according to his ability and opportunity; (2) “And having on the breastplate of righteousness.” The breastplate was used to cover vital organs of the body, particularly the heart. A proper condition of heart is vital to the Christian. He must adhere to God’s standard of justice, and His arrangement of justification through faith in the blood of Jesus; (3) “And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” The soldier who engages in warfare must keep his feet well, otherwise his attention is directed more to soreness than to his duties. The soldier of the cross must possess the peace of God, and seek to live peaceably with all so far as possible.
(4) “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” The enemy is constantly shooting fiery darts – bitter words, false accusations, misrepresentations, slanders, etc. – at the soldiers of the cross. These darts are liable to stir up in our minds doubts, fears, hatred, discouragement, etc. How necessary it is for us to have the faith that comes from the Word of God; (5) “And take the helmet of salvation.” The helmet is fitted on the head, and represents the intellectual understanding and appreciation of God’s plan of salvation; and (6) “And the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” This is both an offensive and a defensive weapon. We must have it and know how to use it.
Returning to verse 17 we read, “being led away,” which means to be seduced; “with the error,” that is, doctrinal error, which will cause one to lose the spirit of love; “of the wicked” – the Greek word athesmos, translated “wicked,” means unsettled or lawless, a characteristic of sifters; and finally, “fall from your own stedfastness” – indicating that it was possible for steadfast brethren, who had become rooted, grounded and built up in knowledge and love, to fall from their steadfastness.
Growth in Grace and Knowledge Prevents Falling
Verse 18 reads, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” This passage explains what will prevent us from falling. To “grow in grace” is our most important work. We might ask, What does it mean to grow in grace? It means to grow in favor with the Lord through an intimate personal acquaintance and fellowship of spirit with Him. This implies two things: (1) to possess a knowledge and a recognition of our redemption through the precious blood of Jesus, and to exercise a personal faith and dependence upon the promises of God; and (2) to cultivate an intimate communion with Him in prayer, to observe His will, and to be obedient to it. John 14: 23 reads, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
We are also to grow “in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” It is impossible to grow in grace without growing in knowledge. The very object of our communion with the Lord is to build us up in a more perfect knowledge and acquaintance with the Lord, to develop a closer fellowship with the Divine Plan, and to appreciate our privilege of being “workers together with him” (2 Corinthians 6: 1). May His Word be our daily meditation and study. Even those who are established in the faith have an abundant opportunity to grow in knowledge. That does not mean to seek out something new or different, but to continue to develop a greater appreciation of the harmony and beauty of the Divine Plan.
Two Kinds of Knowledge
We learn about the close relationship between knowledge and grace in 2 Peter 1: 5-8. The word “knowledge” in verses 5 and 6 is translated from the Greek word gnosis, which gives the thought of a knowledge of the Biblical doctrines. Verse 8 reads, “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The “knowledge” of this verse comes from the Greek word epignosis, which gives the thought of becoming fully acquainted with the Lord – a higher knowledge.
Verses 9, 10 reads, “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins, Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” St. Peter is here emphasizing the necessity of developing and exercising the seven chief graces of verses 5-7 – faith, hope, self-control, patience, piety, brotherly love and disinterested, unselfish love; and a knowledge of the Scriptural doctrines.
Return to Articles Main Page