Text: 2 Peter 1:5-9
Main Theme: The importance of perseverance in Christian faith
In our series, we are considering Christian Growth. The Apostle Peter states that we are to add to our faith (2 Peter 1:5). Earlier, Peter proclaimed a remarkable truth about those who have committed their lives to follow Christ:
2 Peter 1:3–4
"as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (emp. added)
The Lord has supplied all we need for life and godliness. He has given great and precious promises through which we may be partakers in the divine nature. In this, we partner with the Lord as we follow Him adding to our faith.
2 Peter 1:5–9
"But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." (emp. added)
As we consider adding to our faith, this lesson considers perseverance.
Many of our translations will translate the Greek word as "perseverance." It is also translated as "patience" or "endurance" in some translations. These translations capture the meaning of bearing up in the face of difficulty or having the capacity to hold out or bear up, endurance, and steadfastness. Each of these are expressions of the original word in Greek. It can also mean patiently waiting for someone or something. Peter points out that Christians should add to their faith endurance or perseverance.
When Bren and I were dating in high school, Bren struggled with math. Her dad was always very good with math. He would come into her room to see how she was doing, sometimes offering help. Other times he would hold his fist in the air and say, "Persevere!" I'm not sure how much help that was, but it has always been something we laugh about and now share and tell our children.
What does Peter want us to learn and understand about the importance of adding perseverance to our faith?
As you may recall, Peter is writing this letter with an understanding that his time to depart and be with the Lord is approaching.
2 Peter 1:12–15
"For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease."
Peter realizes his time to depart and be with the Lord is at hand. Peter, who had earlier denied even knowing the Lord (Matt. 26:69-75), has served Him faithfully as he endured hardships and trials for the gospel message.
Peter, in (Acts 3), heals a man lame from birth. The healing of this man drew the attention of many, and Peter began to teach about Jesus, who was raised from the dead.
“Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.”
Peter and John were threatened and commanded not to speak about Jesus's name. "But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19–20)
As Peter pens this letter to the church, looking back, he knows everything he has endured for the sake of the gospel has been worth it. As a father seasoned with experience and wisdom looks to his children, Peter looks to the church and says add to your faith perseverance. The gospel of Christ is worth it all.
When faced with challenges, it's easy to become discouraged, and it is easy to give up. There were "false teachers" sharing destructive teachings among the church, even those who would deny the Lord (2 Peter 2:1ff). They bring "swift destruction" to themselves, and Peter warns that many will follow their destructive ways.
Peter describes these teachers as wild beasts:
2 Peter 2:12–15
"But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness"
Their words are empty and entrap:
2 Peter 2:18–19
"For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage."
Peter's words for such teachers are severe. Their doctrines threaten the life of the church, and God will judge such (2 Peter 3:1-9).
However, amid the trials of false teaching, Peter encourages the church to persevere or stand fast.
2 Peter 3:17–18
"You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen."
The good news of Christ is worth it! Stand fast in the faith and the truth of Christ that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).
I know today some, perhaps even yourself, are bearing the burden of trials. You feel the weight of oppression and struggles as you are challenged to stand up each morning to face the day. Peter's encouragement is don't give up. Persevere in the faith; it's worth it!
There are any number of doctrines and teachings that drift around in the winds of the current today. Some of these teachings and teachers destroy people and communities of the Lord's church. How do we guard against and stand faithfully in the Lord amid the winds of current today? Peter's instruction is to grow in the Lord, give all diligence to "add to your faith" (2 Peter 1:5).
Questions & Response
a. What does Peter mean by "adding to your faith" and why is perseverance an important aspect of this process?
b. How did Peter's personal experiences, including his denial of Jesus and his subsequent faithful service, shape his understanding of the value of perseverance in the Christian life?
c. In the face of challenges, trials, and false teachings, what practical steps can believers take to guard against spiritual drift and stand faithfully in the truth of Christ?
Share on Social
Resources & Downloads
slides (PDF): perseverance
series image: Increase
Unless otherwise noted: Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.