As we noted previously, this epistle could very likely have been written to the same group of believers as I Peter. His primary purpose in that epistle was to encourage them as they faced persecution. This epistle seems to be directed more at strengthening the believers against false teachers and their false doctrine. Just as the Christians in that day dealt with heresy, we also see destructive doctrine creep into the church today. We have to constantly be on guard and study to show ourselves approved to God (2 Timothy 2:15). In his salutation to these fellow Christians, Peter gives us a reminder of the reliable source of truth. If we use that truth as the foundation of our convictions we can be sure that we have a solid foundation.
First, in verse two, Peter prays for them to receive spiritual blessings from God. Notice that in verse 2 he prays for “Grace and peace”. The word “grace” translates a Greek word “charis” (5485) which is used frequently through the epistles. Grace is the act of God giving us unmerited favor. Because of His mercy we don’t get what we in fact deserve. By His grace, we get what we don’t deserve. I led a Bible study Sunday night where we discussed the purpose of evil in the world. One of my friends, Ben, made an excellent point that we need to remember who we are in Christ and that anything good that we get is in spite of ourselves. Even as redeemed saints of God we are still sinners. If God were to have given us justice we would split hell wide open. The fact that He doesn’t give us justice demonstrates His mercy. However, He doesn’t leave us in the mire of our own sin. He cleanses us, redeems us, and adopts us into His family. We could never earn that. Through our own efforts, we would never be able to pull ourselves up by the boot straps and have “Our Best Life Now”. God gives us grace by electing us and calling us into a love relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus in spite of our inherent sinful nature and our willful disobedience.
This grace that God shows us is the bedrock for the second thing Peter prays for in this verse. He also prays for “peace” (Greek “eirene” ). The literal meaning of this Greek word is “to join” or to make whole. Something is out of sorts and when it is mended there is “peace”. Jesus promised the disciples He would leave them a supernatural peace that was not the same as the peace offered by the world (John 14:27). The peace we have is rooted in the grace that God has shown us. If God saved us in spite of our sinfulness based solely on our faith in Jesus Christ and our repentance from our sins there is literally nothing in this world that we have to be afraid of. Prior to coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, we were enemies of God (Col 1:21). Now, through the precious blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we have ‘peace”. This peace is permanent and is not dependent on our circumstances. It is not rooted in anything in this world but in fact is heavenly in origin.
Furthermore, observe with me that Peter prays for an abundance of the gift. His prayer is that this grace and peace would be “multiplied” to these believers. According to Robertson’s Word Pictures, this Greek verb (“plethuno”-) is in the first aortist passive opiative. In other words, this is Peter’s wish for the future and he is wishing that God would give this grace and peace to them. When you think about the purpose of this epistle, it kind of makes sense. He is writing to warn them about false teachers and their teaching. He would logically want to pray for God to provide His favor toward them as they stand against these false teachers and peace for them during that conflict. He doesn’t just pray for enough to get them through this period, he prays for an abundance.
Finally, Peter acknowledges the source of the gift. He says the grace and peace will be multiplies “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”. One form of heresy that was present in some form in the early church was Gnosticism. According to this false teaching, there was secret knowledge (gnosis) that one had to learn to achieve a religious experience or be saved. However, Peter here reminds these believers that the root of their unmerited favor from God and the peace they have from Him is rooted in their “knowledge” which translates a Greek word “epignosis’ (1922). The prefix “epi” intensifies the word so it would probably be better to understand it as meaning “full knowledge” or “complete knowledge”. In other words, there are no spiritual truths that exist apart from Jesus Christ. We have the full revelation of God through the Word made flesh just as we have the full revelation of Jesus Christ in the written Word of God. Peter makes the same point when he says that this knowledge is of “God”. Until we understand that there is a sovereign Creator who is holy, perfect, and glorious beyond compare and that there is none like Him we can’t really understand the depth of our sin. Peter says also that the knowledge that provides grace and peace is of “Jesus our Lord (kurios-2962)”. In Christ, we see not only God’s perfect holiness in punishing the sins of all believers on Calvary but also God’s mercy in that He now credits Christ’s righteousness to our account.
With a full knowledge of God and a full knowledge of Christ we certainly do have grace and peace. As we grow in our knowledge and become more conformed to the likeness of our Savior we will experience even more grace and peace. What a wonderful blessing.
Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.