“Add To It” (2 Peter 1: 5-9)

To achieve this [“share in the divine nature.” vs. 4), you will need to add/supply/equip virtue to your faith, and then knowledge to your virtue; to knowledge, add discipline; to discipline, add endurance; to endurance, add godliness; to godliness, add affection for others as sisters and brothers; and to affection, at last, add love.  For if you possess these traits and multiply them, then you will never be ineffective or unproductive in your relationship with and true knowledge of (epigenosis) our Lord Jesus the Anointed;  but if you don’t have these qualities, then you will be nearsighted and blind, forgetting that your past sins have been washed away.[1]

 To [share in the divine nature], you will need to add/supply/equip (epichoregein)…”

Epichoregein comes from a word that means "the leader of a chorus." Greek plays needed ‘choruses’ – groups that gave commentary and filled in the plot line for the audience. This was expensive. Wealthy people would voluntarily fund these choruses at great cost. Epichoregein eventually became associated with other generous and costly things: equipping an army with supplies; equipping a soul with virtues. 

Peter said for Christians to equip their faith in this way: be lavish, be generous, overwhelm your faith with the following gifts that will enable your faith to flourish.Thisadding/supplying/equippinglanguage reminds us that Christians cooperate with the grace of God. 

Work outyour salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at workin you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13).

It’s a sanctifying faith in which our human wills cooperate with the divine will. Think of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (five wise and five foolish) chosen to participate in a wedding. Only the five with oil in their lamps end up going. A German theologian named John Bengal wrote: 

"The flame is that which is imparted to us by God and from God without our own labor; but the oil is that which a man must pour into life by his own study and his own faithful effort, so that the flame may be fed and increased."

The list here is the oil which we pour onto the flame God has given us. These lists were a common literary tool (often for memorization purposes) in the ancient world and the early church. [2]


The list begins with faith: “trusting, holding to, and acting on what one has good reasons to believe is true in the face of difficulties” (Tim McGrew)Maybe think of it this way: Faith is a lifestyle of confident trust. Each step we take in this list moves us into sharing more fully in life in and with Christ.


The word is arete,which is virtue, courage or moral excellence. It was used by the Greeks to describe land which is fertile; it also described what the gods did. It was used to describe people who had the moral backbone not to back down in the face of difficulty.

Our lifestyle of confident trust must be joined with a commitment to moral excellence as seen in the character of God and the person of Jesus, and it must be held tightly in the face of challenges or persecution. 


The word is gnosis, but don’t think Gnosticism like we talked about last week. Their belief system took this perfectly fine word in an awkward direction. Gnosisis just practical knowledge, or practical wisdom. 

Worth noting: this comes after virtue.Knowledge in the hands of non-virtuous people can be disastrous. This is why the phrase “Knowledge is power” always made me uneasy. It was posted everywhere to encourage people to get an education. Well, sure, but if you educate a moral fool, you just give power to a moral fool. Knowledge itself is not enough. It is meant to be given to a virtuous person. 

If you love knowledge, love virtue first.


A person full of virtue and practical wisdom will know the importance of and see the appeal of self-control. The Greek word used here, egkrateia,is what happens when reason fights against passion and prevails. This is a realistic view of life. Being a Christian does not necessarily remove our passions; it tames, orders and directs them.  As we become a duolosof Christ, our passions become a duolosof us. 

For example: I’ve told my boys that the best way to deal with sexual desire isn’t to try to pretend it’s not there or to get rid of it. God made you to have sexual desire. The passion is not a problem; it’s a gift meant to lead toward one of the great pleasures of covenant marriage. The question is this: is your passion directed in the service of God? Is it ordered toward the good? If there is not holy sexual outlet, what does it look like to harness that energy in the service of God and His world? 

Jesus did not come to obliterate our desires; he came to redeem them. 


Cicero defines patientia,its Latin equivalent, as "the voluntary and daily suffering of hard and difficult things, for the sake of honor and usefulness."

Odds are good that if you have faith, virtue, wisdom and self-control, endurance [or steadfastness] will follow. A dude from Alexandria named Didymus wrote of Job (and this combines what we looked at in the self-control section):

“It is not that the righteous man must be without feeling, although he must patiently bear the things which afflict him; but it is true virtue when he deeply feels the things he toils against, but nevertheless despises sorrows for the sake of God.”

The Greek word used here (hupomone) is more than endure, though. It is full of anticipation and hope. Jesus, “for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2).This is what we are talking about.  There is no moment in life that does not contain hope, either for this life or the next. 


The word use here,eusebeia is hard to translate, apparently, but it’s about the closest you get to a word that could be translated as religion, worship, or piety.  Basically, it is simultaneously worshiping God and serving others. It reminds me a little bit of the Hebrew word shalom, which includes peace with God and others.

To the Greeks, Socrates embodied this (for historical context, Socrates died about the time the Old Testament ends). A writer named Xenophon describes as follows:

"He was so pious and devoutly religious that he would take no step apart from the will of heaven; so just and upright that he never did even a trifling injury to any living soul; so self-controlled, so temperate, that he never at any time chose the sweeter instead of the better; so sensible, so wise, and so prudent that in distinguishing the better from the worse he never erred."

Okay, that is definitely an exaggeration, but you get the idea of what the Greeks thought of when they thought of this word. For the Romans, the Latin word is pietas, which captured this ideal (as did Michelangelo’s sculpture of the same name): 

" Pietas is a sense of duty which never left a man, of duty first to the gods, then to father and to family, to son and to daughter, to his people and to his nation."[3]


Philadelphia literally translates as “love of the brethren.”  This challenges all of us who value projects or productivity over people. If piety is in place, we know that true worship of God involves the honoring of those who bear his image.  If people are a nuisance that get in the way of what’s really important to us, something is out of tune. 

Epictetus was Stoic philosopher who would have been a contemporary of Peter. He is famous for saying that he really had an impact on the world because he didn’t get married and produce snotty-nosed children. He once said, "How can he who has to teach mankind run to get something in which to heat the water to give the baby his bath?" 

Peter sees it differently (and these are my words, not his): “How can those who want to teach mankind not run and sacrifice for the sake of others?”


Interesting. If this is list is a progressive movement toward participation in the divine nature, it’s probably instructive that we move into agape love after philadelphia love. Christians must show to all the love which God has shown to him.[4]

Agape love is a deliberate choice to work for the highest good of another, engaging in sacrificial action toward that goal. It comes from our will, not our emotions. It is deliberately loving the unlovable when there is nothing that makes us want to love. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, (Gal. 5:22)a sign that we are sharing in the divine nature.  

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God.The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)

Remember I said last week that there is a profound basis for genuine self-worth in the realization that God calls you to be his duolos, His child? Add to that this: “If God calls you, He will equip you.”Here is the equipment that follows are response to His call. You can participate in the divine nature. You. Can. Participate.

“For if you possess these traits and multiply them, then you will never be ineffective or unproductive in your relationship with and true knowledge (epigenosis) of our Lord Jesus the Anointed.”

No matter who you are or where you are in life, if you are on this path, you life is not useless and unproductive, but fruitful. These spiritual graces can be produced by and added to faith in any circumstance by anyone, and you will never be ineffective or unproductive in our relationship with and true knowledge of Christ. 


[1]I think I got most of my resources for this message from https://www.preceptaustin.org/2_peter_commentaries. I totally forgot to keep track as I was compiling info from online, and when I re-entered phrases into google, Precept Austin kept showing up. It’s an amazing resource, ya’ll. 

[2]You see lists several other places in 1stcentury church writings: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23); righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11);  faith, self-control, simplicity, innocence and reverence, understanding, love (The Shepherd of Hermas) 

 [3]So says historian Warde Fowler

[4]William Barclay commentary