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This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

23 March, 2024

 

Vs 5a - Diligence

02.2.10

“Now for this very reason, also, applying all diligence . . . supply”

             -  2 Peter 1:5a

 

The word 'Now' (καὶ) is a Greek conjunction frequently translated as 'and'.  It indicates that this new discussion is being joined to the preceding text.  The author in verses 1-4 has given us an inspiring overview of the riches we can find growing out of our encounter with the Lord's 'glory and excellence'.  'Now', joined to the first discussion, he turns to consider what we should be doing in response.  What we should do is linked to what He has already done.

 

The clause 'for this very reason' refers to the discussion provided in verses 1-4.  As we come to know and experience/ἐπιγνώσει our Lord's 'glory and excellence', it changes us.  It is because of what He has done that we are motivated to choose to do the things necessary to grow.

 

The English clause cast here as 'applying all diligence . . . supply' appears in the Greek text as 'σπουδὴν πᾶσαν παρεισενέγκαντες' ἐπιχορηγήσατε.  Considering the words separately: παρεισενέγκαντες can be translated as “to contribute besides to something” (Thayer, 1886, p. 487).  The Revised New Testament of 1881 translates this as “adding on your part”.  Both hold the clear understanding that we are to do something.  Vincent (1886, p. 678-679) says: “The verb occurs only here in New Testament, and means, literally, to bring in by the side of: adding your diligence to the divine promises.”

 

The Greek word σπουδὴν can be translated as “to desire earnestly” (Thayer, 1886, p. 584).  This term is an accusative which describes the extent of the 'contribution' described by the nominative παρεισενέγκαντες above.  Thus, the boundaries of our 'contributing' (παρεισενέγκαντες) should be limited only by our earnestness (σπουδὴν).  So, our earnestness should allow few or no limits to our 'contributing'.

 

The Greek word πᾶσαν is commonly translated “all” (Thayer, 1886, p. 491).  As σπουδὴν found immediately above, so πᾶσαν is also an accusative.  This term thus describes the extent of the 'earnest desiring' described above.  The boundaries of our 'earnest desiring' should not be limiting, for we should have 'all' earnestness.  Thus, there should be few or no limits on our 'earnest desiring'.

 

Thus, these terms taken together indicate that we should 'desire with all earnestness to make your contribution' to that which we have been given in verses 3-4.  “. . . literally, to bring in by the side of: adding your diligence to the divine promises” (Vincent, 1886, p, 679, emphasis in text).

 

The final term in the clause above is ἐπιχορηγήσατε.  This single verb is the driving force for the entirety of verses 5-7!.  It is, in fact, the only verb in these three verses!  This is a not uncommon Greek style.  Thus, if we are to understand this very important passage of Scripture, it is crucial that we obtain a firm grasp upon the meaning of this word.  ἐπιχορηγήσατε is frequently translated as “To supply, furnish, present” (Thayer, 1886, p. 246).  It is also translated as “to supply in copious measure, to provide beyond the need, to supply more than generously” (Wuest, 1973a, p. 23).

 

This Greek word, ἐπιχορηγήσατε, is an example of a compound word.  In Greek many words were created by joining multiple words into one.  In this case the root word is χορηγεω which speaks to the process of a person appointed by the state to pay the expenses to support a chorus performing in a tragic Greek play.  This meaning is accentuated by the prefix (επι) which signals that the meaning of the root word should be emphasized.  In ancient Greece, these producers competed with each other for the honor of sponsoring the plays.  They did this by competing with each other in the lavishness with which they equipped the players.  Thus, the term came to mean 'providing more than is barely demanded' (Wuest, 1973a, p. 23).

 

Given this analysis, the Greek word ἐπιχορηγήσατε can be translated: 'to supply or furnish abundantly' (Thayer, 1976, p. 246).  It has also been translated to mean 'to supply in copious measure, to provide beyond the need, to supply more than generously' (Wuest, 1973a, p. 23).  This word is a second person, plural, imperative, aorist, active verb.  As a second person, plural, this verb is speaking to a group of listeners, logically the listeners Peter noted in verse one: “those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours".  In addition, this verb is an imperative, that is, a command.  When Peter wrote these words he was giving a command to his listeners, other Christians.  As we read these words we should see them as a command to us and respond appropriately.  This verb is also in the active voice.  The implication of this is that as we respond to this scriptural command, we need to be active in our responses.  We must do something/be involved.  “The virtues enumerated immediately afterwards are to be the contribution of man to meet what God gives”  (James, 1912, p. 12).  As this single verb drives the action across verses 5-7, it's application implies that we are commanded to abundantly supply the character qualities noted in these verses.

 

In the New Testament, the imperative is most frequently used as a command or directive (Dana & Mantey, 1957, p. 175-176).  While the imperative MAY be read as an entreaty or request, this author holds that the full, classic understanding of the imperative as a command is the correct reading.  Consider that the Apostle Peter, having been given leadership in the Church by Christ Himself, is directing this command to the other disciples seeking to follow Christ.  Given this context, it is reasonable to understand this term as a command.  For example:  Moses did not receive the Ten Suggestions, or the Ten Exhortations, they were the Ten Commandments.  So, exercising the authority Christ had given him, Peter commands the disciples.  “The imperative is the mood of command or entreaty - the mood of volition.  It is the genius of the imperative to express the appeal of will to will.”  (Dana & Mantey, 1957, p. 174)(italics in the original).

 

As an appeal to the 'will', however, there is always the possibility that the listener does not choose to obey the command.  God's revealed law is not like the law of gravity!  One can choose not to obey it.  God commanded “thou shalt not steal”, and yet people steal.  Thus, the sequence of character qualities noted in verses 5-7 must be approached as something we should do, not something we will do.  As we seek to apply this sequence to the realities of Christian spiritual development, we should be prepared to find that disciples may strive to 'add' these qualities out of order, or not to 'add' them at all!  This issue will be dealt with at greater length in the section that presents the Second Peter theory of Christian spiritual development.

 

Many people that have been involved with the Church for some time have encountered the idea that the Lord thru His Spirit will so control us that we need/can do nothing to aid our spiritual growth.  This can spring (1st) from a strong emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians.  While it is true that the Spirit is monumentally important in bringing us to maturity in Christ, it is also clear that we can choose to resist and/or offend the Spirit, hindering His leading.

 

The idea that we need/can do nothing to aid our spiritual growth (2nd) can also come from those with a very strong emphasis on predestination.  These believers may argue that God is so fully in control that 'we' have no choice at all.  EVERYTHING we seem to choose has already been determined by God well in advance, including the details of our sanctification.

 

Another (3rd) approach is much less well developed, but likely much more frequent in appearance.  Some my say that we need/can do nothing to aid our spiritual growth simply because they confuse justification with sanctification.  The classic doctrine of justification clearly teaches that we are saved as a free gift of God that we do not deserve.  Clearly we cannot earn salvation.  For years the Church has stressed the importance of salvation in it's evangelistic efforts to save the lost.  Every Christian knows of the importance of salvation and it's unmerited favor, or they wouldn't be Christian.  Possibly because of this emphasis on justification/salvation, sometimes (frequently?) the doctrine of sanctification has not been as diligently taught.  As a result, many in the laity have a clearer understanding of salvation than they do of maturation.  They know how to get people into the Church, but they may not know what to do with them once they get them there.  (This may be true of some in the clergy, as well!)

 

The clause in verse 5a we are considering roundly disagrees with both of the theological approaches (1st & 2nd) noted above.  It clearly teaches that the 'contribution' discussed is something we do to influence the extent, speed and quality of our Sanctification.  Peter teaches us here that we have a real impact upon our lives in Christ.  For those that aren't as well informed about sanctification as about justification (3rd), Peter clearly has something to teach.  Hopefully this site will aid in developing our understanding of the doctrine of sanctification and the practicalities of Christian spiritual growth.  It is planned to expand this discussion with all the bells and whistles in the Pathology section, specifically the pathology of Virtue.  More about that later.

 

In support of the interpretation above, consider briefly verse 10.  We are told to be 'diligent' to make our calling sure.  Our 'practicing' of the qualities found in vs 5-7 will prevent our stumbling.  Note the Greek verb for 'practicing' is a present, active, participle.  This verb implies that we are to be active on a continuing basis in this process of sanctification.

 

So, the implications of ἐπιχορηγήσατε:  (1) we are expected to be actively involved in the process of our spiritual development, (2) we need to strive diligently in furthering our spiritual development, (3) we can choose to grow spiritually, or not to grow,  and (4) we can choose to go in directions other than those mandated.