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This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023


Vs. 8 - Neither Useless or Unfruitful


“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” -  2 Pet 1:8


'These qualities' that verse 8 is referring to are the character qualities noted in verses 5-7.  Peter notes two possibilities for how the follower of Christ may relate to these qualities.  These qualities may be 'yours' or present in one's lives, and they may be 'increasing'.  It would seem obvious that Peter would have all of these virtues to be present in the lives of Christians.  Not just present, however, but growing and increasing.  The Christian needs to be continually stretching and striving to have these character qualities expand in his or her life.


IF these qualities are present and growing THEN there will be a result.  This result Peter first describes negatively.  He says that the growing Christian will not be useless.  In Matt 25:24-30, Jesus gives us the parable of the talents.  At the end of this discourse, He describes the fate of the 'useless' servant.  “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  (Matt 25:29).  Yes, yes, I know the underlying Greek words differ.  Still, the application of the parable is relevant.  If the 2nd Peter qualities are ours and growing then we will not be thrown into the 'outer darkness' described.


Recall also the Parable of the Salt (Luke 14:34-35).  Remember that tasteless salt is described as 'useless' and is thrown out.  We don't want to be tasteless or 'useless' because we don't want to be thrown out.


In the same way the concept of being 'unfruitful' is referenced in John 15:1-8 as Jesus describes the Father as the vine dresser.  In that passage Jesus tells us:  "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; . . ” (John 15:2a).  Recall also the Parable of the fruit tree.  “For every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt 7:19).  Again, Peter notes that if the virtues in verses 5-7 are growing in you, you will not be 'unfruitful' and thus will not be trimmed away from Christ or 'thrown into the fire'.


“. . . neither useless nor unfruitful . . .”?  Notice that this is a double-negative.  Grammatically double-negatives cancel one another out.  Thus, we are left with the reading that 'if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you useful and fruitful.'  What qualities are being discussed?  The qualities in verses 5-7!


How is it that we have these qualities?  We have them “in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  What does this 'true knowledge' mean?  The Greek word used for this term is ἐπίγνωσιν often translated as 'knowledge'.  This is the same word for knowledge found in 2 Pet 1:2. Greek has several terms for knowledge.  This term speaks of a more in-depth or experiential knowledge.  Thus, this passage does not just say that we need to know something of Jesus superficially, but that we need to get to know Him and experience Him in some depth.  Thus, the knowledge of Jesus that saves us is the knowledge of Jesus that changes us and changes us deeply.  After all, it's not just that we superficially know some 'facts' about God, for: “You believe that God is one.  You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19).  There's no salvation for the demons with that kind of 'knowledge'.  Instead, this passage speaks of something deeper, an experiential knowledge of Christ that changes us deeply.