on 2-peter 1 :4
Whereby are given unto us - By his own glorious power he hath freely given unto us exceeding great and invaluable promises. The Jews were distinguished in a very particular manner by the promises which they received from God; the promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets. God promised to be their God; to protect, support, and save them; to give them what was emphatically called the promised land; and to cause the Messiah to spring from their race. St. Peter intimates to these Gentiles that God had also given unto them exceeding great promises; indeed all that he had given to the Jews, the mere settlement in the promised land excepted; and this also he had given in all its spiritual meaning and force. And besides τα μεγιστα επαγγελματα, these superlatively great promises, which distinguished the Mosaic dispensation, he had given them τα τιμια επαγγελματα; the valuable promises, those which came through the great price; enrolment with the Church of God, redemption in and through the blood of the cross, the continual indwelling influence of the Holy Ghost, the resurrection of the body, and eternal rest at the right hand of God. It was of considerable consequence to the comfort of the Gentiles that these promises were made to them, and that salvation was not exclusively of the Jews.
That by these ye might be partakers - The object of all God's promises and dispensations was to bring fallen man back to the image of God, which he had lost. This, indeed, is the sum and substance of the religion of Christ. We have partaken of an earthly, sensual, and devilish nature; the design of God by Christ is to remove this, and to make us partakers of the Divine nature; and save us from all the corruption in principle and fact which is in the world; the source of which is lust, επιθυμια, irregular, unreasonable, in ordinate, and impure desire; desire to have, to do, and to be, what God has prohibited, and what would be ruinous and destructive to us were the desire to be granted.
Lust, or irregular, impure desire, is the source whence all the corruption which is in the world springs. Lust conceives and brings forth sin; sin is finished or brought into act, and then brings forth death. This destructive principle is to be rooted out; and love to God and man is to be implanted in its place. This is every Christian's privilege; God has promised to purify our hearts by faith; and that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so shall grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life; that here we are to be delivered out of the hands of all our enemies, and have even "the thoughts of our hearts so cleansed by the inspiration of God's Holy Spirit, that we shall perfectly love him, and worthily magnify his holy name." This blessing may be expected by those who are continually escaping, αποφυγοντες, flying from, the corruption that is in the world and in themselves. God purifies no heart in which sin is indulged. Get pardon through the blood of the Lamb; feel your need of being purified in heart; seek that with all your soul; plead the exceeding great and invaluable promises that refer to this point; abhor your inward self; abstain from every appearance of evil; flee from self and sin to God; and the very God of peace will sanctify you through body, soul, and spirit, make you burning and shining lights here below, (a proof that he can save to the uttermost ail that come to him by Christ), and afterwards, having guided you by his counsel through life, will receive you into his eternal glory.
on 2-peter 1 :4
Whereby - Δἰ ὧν Di' hōn. "Through which" - in the plural number, referring either to the "glory" and "virtue" in the previous verse, and meaning that it was by that glorious divine efficiency that these promises were given; or, to all the things mentioned in the previous verse, meaning that it was through those arrangements, and in order to their completion, that these great and glorious promises were made. The promises given are in connection with the plan of securing "life and godliness," and are a part of the gracious arrangements for that object.
Exceeding great and precious promises - A "promise" is an assurance on the part of another of some good for which we are dependent on him. It implies:
(1) that the thing is in his power;
(2) that he may bestow it or not, as he pleases;
(3) that we cannot infer from any process of reasoning that it is his purpose to bestow it on us;
(4) that it is a favor which we can obtain only from him, and not by any independent effort of our own.
The promises here referred to are those which pertain to salvation. Peter had in his eye probably all that then had been revealed which contemplated the salvation of the people of God. They are called "exceeding great and precious," because of their value in supporting and comforting the soul, and of the honor and felicity which they unfold to us. The promises referred to are doubtless those which are made in connection with the plan of salvation revealed in the gospel, for there are no other promises made to man. They refer to the pardon of sin; strength, comfort, and support in trial; a glorious resurrection; and a happy immortality. If we look at the greatness and glory of the objects, we shall see that the promises are in fact exceedingly precious; or if we look at their influence in supporting and elevating the soul, we shall have as distinct a view of their value. The promise goes beyond our reasoning powers; enters a field which we could not otherwise penetrate - the distant future; and relates to what we could not otherwise obtain.
All that we need in trial, is the simple promise of God that he will sustain us; all that we need in the hour of death, is the assurance of our God that we I shall be happy forever. What would this world be without a "promise?" How impossible to penetrate the future! How dark that which is to come would be! How bereft we should be of consolation! The past has gone, and its departed joys and hopes can never be recalled to cheer us again; the present may be an hour of pain, and sadness, and disappointment, and gloom, with perhaps not a ray of comfort; the future only opens fields of happiness to our vision, and everything there depends on the will of God, and all that we can know of it is from his promises. Cut off from these we have no way either of obtaining the blessings which we desire, or of ascertaining that they can be ours. For the promises of God, therefore, we should be in the highest degree grateful, and in the trials of life we should cling to them with unwavering confidence as the only things which can be an anchor to the soul.
That by these - Greek, "through these." That is, these constitute the basis of your hopes of becoming partakers of the divine nature. Compare the notes at 2 Corinthians 7:1.
Partakers of the divine nature - This is a very important and a difficult phrase. An expression somewhat similar occurs in Hebrews 12:10; "That we might be partakers of his holiness." See the notes at that verse. In regard to the language here used, it may be observed:
(1) That it is directly contrary to all the notions of "Pantheism" - or the belief that all things are now God, or a part of God - for it is said that the object of the promise is, that we "may become partakers of the divine nature," not that we are now.
(2) it cannot be taken in so literal a sense as to mean that we can ever partake of the divine "essence," or that we shall be "absorbed" into the divine nature so as to lose our individuality. This idea is held by the Budhists; and the perfection of being is supposed by them to consist in such absorption, or in losing their own individuality, and their ideas of happiness are graduated by the approximation which may be made to that state. But this cannot be the meaning here, because:
(a) It is in the nature of the case" impossible. There must be forever an essential difference between a created and an uncreated mind.
(b) This would argue that the Divine Mind is not perfect. If this absorption was necessary to the completeness of the character and happiness of the Divine Being, then he was imperfect before; if before perfect, he would not be after the absorption of an infinite number of finite and imperfect minds.
on 2-peter 1 :4
1:4 Through which - Glory and fortitude. He hath given us exceeding great, and inconceivably precious promises - Both the promises and the things promised, which follow in their due season, that, sustained and encouraged by the promises, we may obtain all that he has promised. That, having escaped the manifold corruption which is in the world - From that fruitful fountain, evil desire. Ye may become partakers of the divine nature - Being renewed in the image of God, and having communion with them, so as to dwell in God and God in you.