Home

Sequence Home

Exegesis Home

Overall Site

Orientation

Exegesis

Theory

Psychology

Assessment

Education

Pathology

Treatment

Projects

Dialogue

Finance

End Notes

This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023

 

Commentators on 'Adding'

02.4.10

As you may probably expect, the use of the word 'adding' in the text calls forth comment that speaks to the issues of predestination and election.  The commentators below seem to come down on both sides of this issue, though most stress the importance of believers 'adding' the Second Peter virtues, as opposed to having them 'added' to us by God's election.

 

Note that my reactions or clarifications to what these commentators have to say are [bracketed] and most are found below each comment, so as to identify them as my reactions and not those of the listed Commentators.  Students seeking the complete references for these quotations are referred to the Reference List and the list of Recommended Links.

 

Comments

 

Barbieri, L. A.  (1977, p. 96).

"The believer has the promise of God regarding his life and future, but Peter stresses the believer also has obligations in this life.  The phrase translated 'and beside this,' in verse 5, would be better translated 'for this very reason.'  God has provided the believer with the necessary power to live the Christian life, but the believer should not sit back and relax.  The grace of God demands 'diligence,' or effort.  The word translated 'giving' here implies 'adding on your part.'  Peter is saying 'because of all that God has done for you in your life, add, on your part, real effort.  The Christian life is like power steering on a car.  The engine provides the power for the steering, but the driver must actually turn the wheel.  So the Lord provides the power to run our lives, but we must 'turn the wheel.'  To a great extent the Christian determines the course of his life."

 

[He seems to come down on the side of 'free will', while also stressing God's provision for the convert.  A nice balance.  It seems close to the text.]

 

 

Bigg, C.  (1902, p. 257).

"The moral and spiritual life is regarded as a germ which is expanded by effort, one step leads on to another, and each step is made by the co-operation of the human will with the divine."

 

[A very brief comment, but it seems to cover all the bases.  Seems a moderated ‘free will’ position.]

 

 

Calvin, J.  (1855, p. 373;  PDF p. 373-374, l. 12).

"It may, however, be here asked, Whether Peter, by assigning to us the work of supplying or adding virtue, thus far extolled the strength and power of free-will?  They who seek to establish free-will in man, indeed concede to God the first place, that is, that he begins to act or work in us;  but they imagine that we at the same time co-operate, and that it is thus owing to us that the movements of God are not rendered void and inefficacious.  But the perpetual doctrine of Scripture is opposed to this delirious notion: for it plainly testifies, that right feelings are formed in us by God, and are rendered by him effectual.  It testifies also that all our progress and perseverance are from God.  Besides, it expressly declares that wisdom, love, patience, are the gifts of God and the Spirit.  When, therefore, the Apostle requires these things, he by no means asserts that they are in our power, but only shews what we ought to have, and what ought to be done.  And as to the godly, when conscious of their own infirmity, they find themselves deficient in their duty, nothing remains for them but to flee to God for aid and help."

 

[As one should expect, Calvin is uncomfortable with any thought that 'we' add anything to our lives spiritually.  After all, his whole theological system rests upon election and predestination.]

 

 

Calvin, J.  (1855, p. 373;  PDF p. 374, Footnote 1).

"The question of free-will does not properly belong to this passage; for the Apostle writes, not to those in their natural state, but to those whom he considered to be new creatures.  The question of free-will ought to be confined to conversion, and not extended to the state of those who have been converted. The tenth Article of the Church of England nearly meets the question, yet not wholly: it ascribes the will to turn most distinctly to God, and says that man cannot tum himself;  but it does not expressly say whether man can resist the good-will given him, which is the very gist of the question.  But it says further, that the grace of God by Christ "worketh with us when we have that good-will," which seems certainly to imply, that the good-will first given is made thereby effectual.  If there be, then, a co-operation, (as no doubt there is,) it is the co-operation, according to this Article, of the good-will first given, and not of any thing in man by nature.-Ed."

 

[Note:  This is NOT a quote from Calvin.  This is a quote from his editor and translator, John Owen.  It's filed under Calvin's name because he is the author of the text where the footnote appears.  Any other entry would be confusing.]

[This comment seems more a defense of Calvin's theology than an effort to exegete the text.  It strikes me as somewhat eisegetical.]

 

 

Cochrane, E. E.  (1965, p. 73 & 74-75).

"In this section the writer states that we must use all our energies to equip ourselves with specific and necessary virtues or Christian qualities."

 

"We do not and cannot earn salvation, but we must at the same time use every energy toward progress in an expanding fullness in the Christian life....God's grace in no way absolves man from the necessity for effort.  Life can only come to its fullest as man's effort cooperates with God's grace."

 

[Cochrane comes down on the side of 'free will', though acknowledges God's provision.  His final sentence seems a preview of the more complete 'comparative advantage' argument voiced by Wuest.]

 

 

Cramer, G. H.  (1967, p. 88).

"This requires active participation by the individual, using all things His divine power has provided, and in this demonstration no place is provided for those of faint heart or slothful spirit.  The Christian, having received salvation as the gift of God, is called upon to 'work out' the spiritual graces of his salvation 'with fear and trembling' (Phil. 2:12)."

 

[Again, a nice balance.  We have God's provision and man's active response.]

 

 

Cramer, G. H.  (1967, p. 89).

"Peter's command that they supplement their faith, giving all diligence to the effort, is not out of keeping with what we know of the apostle."

 

[OK]

 

 

Cranfield, C. E. B.  (1960, p. 177).

"The Christian hope is a compelling reason for strenuous effort now on the part of those who possess it....The word translated 'add' means 'apply besides (or in addition)'.  The idea contained in this 'besides' (Greek: para-) would seem to be that God has acted and now you have to add to his action your response."

 

[As with Cramer, above, a nice balance.  This seems what the text is pointing toward.]

 

 

Deffinbaugh, B.  (3 Jul 2004).  4th point under Observations.

"(4) Verses 5-7 contain a list of character qualities for which God has made provision and for which every Christian should strive. This is not a list of imperatives, duties, or activities. Peter is not writing about “how to,” but about the kind of person the Christian should strive to become."

 

[He's got that wrong.  The entire list in 2 Pet 1:5-7 is driven by the single verb ἐπιιχορηγήσατε [supply] in vs. 5.  Just to check you might want to review the Exegesis → Introductory Verses → Verse 1:5a.  Thus, this IS a list of imperatives!]

 

 

Elliott, J. H.  (1982, p. 137).

"The divine gifts and promises call for corresponding action on the part of their beneficiaries."

 

[Again, another nice, balanced comment.]

 

 

Green, M.  (1976, p. 66).

"AND BESIDES THIS should be 'For this very reason' (RSV).  Because of our new birth and the precious promises and the divine power offered us in Christ we cannot sit back and rest content with 'faith' (cf Jas. ii 20).  The grace of God demands, as it enables, DILIGENCE or 'effort' in man.  We are to bring INTO this relationship ALONGSIDE what God has done (such is the force of the prepositions in PAREISENENKANTES) every ounce of determination we can muster."

 

[Once again a nice balance from a skilled commentator.]

 

 

James, M. R.  (1912, p. 12).

"The best English equivalent here is perhaps 'provide.'  The virtues enumerated immediately afterwards are to be the contribution of man to meet what God gives."

 

[Brief, but right on.]

 

 

Jowett, J. R.  (1970, p. 228-229).

"We are called upon to manifest the same earnestness, the same intensity, the same strenuousness in the realm of spiritual enterprise as we do in the search for daily bread.  And yet how frequent and glaring is the contrast between a man's religious life and his life in the office or upon the exchange.  His life seems to be lived in separate compartments;  the one is suggestive of laxity and a waiting upon happy luck;  the other is characterized by a fiery ardor and keen sagacity.  There is method in the office;  there is disorder in the closet.  But here, I say, is a demand that men should be as businesslike in winning holiness as in seeking material wealth.  We must bring METHOD into our religion.  We must find out the best means of kindling the spirit of praise, and of engaging in quick and ceaseless communion with God, and then we must steadily adhere to these as a business man adheres to well-tested systems in commercial life."

 

[Not as clear and to the point as the one above, but his point is well taken.  Jowett seems intent on teaching.]

 

 

Knox-Little, W. J.  (1900, PDF p. 85, l. 16).

"The pilgrim on his journey of life has ever to remember it that, to a great extent, he is made master of his own destiny, because, to a great extent, the formation of his character is placed in his own hands.  We can, if we will, purify or select among our governing motives;  we can, if we will, to a great extent, guide our acts.  I am not forgetful of our inherent weakness as fallen creatures;  I am not forgetful of the large assistances which we need, and which are supplied to us Christians by the grace of God.  On these we may dwell in their proper places.  But still it remains true that our acts are in our own power.  By repeated acts, all moralists are agreed, habits are formed;  and from the formation of habits comes the formation of character."

 

[In many ways this is an obvious truism.  Still, the predestinarians would disagree.]

 

 

Lumby, J. R.  (1893, p. 246).

"For the boundless ocean of grace asks that there should be mingled with it some drops of human duty.  God will heal the bite of the serpents in the wilderness, but to gain the blessing the wounded ones, even in their suffering, must turn their eyes to the appointed symbol of healing.  Christ's power will cure ten lepers, but He first sends them away to do their little in the path of obedience: 'Go, show yourselves to the priest.'"

 

[Yes, there is balance.  Still, he seems to be leaning toward the Reformed end of the spectrum.]

 

 

Maclaren, A.  (1910, p. 203).

"'On this very account' - because He has given so much - we are to lay 'all diligence' by the side of His gifts, which are useless to the sluggard."

 

[Maclaren seems to be more balanced than Lumby, above.]

 

 

Mayor, J. B.  (1907, p. 89).

"The PARA and EPI serve to show the subordinate nature of human effort (along with and in addition to the grace of God) in giving effect to the DOREMA twice mentioned above."

 

[As with Lumby, above, Mayor seems to be more on the Reformed end of the spectrum.]

 

 

Mounce, R. H.  (1982, p. 108).

"Peter is fully convinced that spiritual growth in the Christian life requires strenuous involvement by the believer.  God has rescued us from a corrupt world and promised us a share in the divine nature.  In fact, it is FOR THIS VERY REASON that we are now to commit ourselves to a life of moral and ethical growth."

 

[Here's a nice balance.  God has rescued us, we are to respond.]

 

 

Plumptre, E. H.  (1881, p. 166).

"The Greek for 'giving' (literally bringing in by the side of) is an unusual word, not found elsewhere in the New Testament, and seems chosen to express the thought that men, though rejoicing in God's gifts, were yet to bring in collaterally, as it were, their own activity (comp. Phil. ii.13)."

 

[A scholarly twist on the theme of balance we've found above.]

 

 

Reicke, B.  (1964, p. 153).

"... vs. 5a continues by urging the believers to strive diligently to be worthy of these wonderful gifts....'Compare for example Philip ii 12f.:  "Work at your salvation with fear and trembling...for it is God who works in you both the willingness and the deed.'"

 

[His position on the 'predestination' question seems unclear.  He quotes the same verse as Calvin did.  It may be that he's following in Calvin's wake.]

 

 

Stauffer, E.  (1964, p. 50, l. 4).

"The goal of the work of divine love is the new man.  But this goal is not attained without man and his work of love.  For all God's work, whether in creation or redemption, presupposes both the possibility and the necessity of human action.  God's will does not exclude human volition.  It includes it, finding its purest fulfilment (sic) in its fullest exercise.  The imperious call of God is a call to freedom.  This basic law, which is most clearly visible in the fact of Jesus and which according to Paul everywhere determines the relationship between divine and human work (cf. also Phil. 2:12 f.), is decisive for an understanding of what the apostle says concerning the relationship between divine and human love."

 

[About as extreme a pro-choice position as one is likely to find.  And look'it where!  Kittle!]

 

 

Vincent, M. R.  (1886, p. 679).

"Giving all diligence (spouden pasan pareisenegkantges) 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."

 

[I think he's understanding the clause correctly.  I don't know where he comes down on the 'predestination' question.]

 

 

Wuest, K. S.  (1973a, p. 22-23).

"In verses two and three we have the divine provision and enablement given the believer in salvation, an inner dynamic, the divine nature which impels to a holy life, giving both the desire and power to do God's will (Phil 2:13).  In verses five to seven, we have human responsibility, that of seeing to it that the various Christian virtues are included in one's life.  The divine nature is not an automatic self-propelling machine that will turn out a Christian life for the believer irrespective of what that believer does or the attitude he takes to the salvation which God has provided.  The divine nature will always produce a change in the life of the sinner who receives the Lord Jesus as Saviour.  But it works at its best efficiency when the believer cooperates with it in not only determining to live a life pleasing to God, but definitely stepping out in faith and living that life pleasing to God, but definitely stepping out in faith and living that life in dependence upon the new life which God has implanted in him.  And this must not be a mere lackadaisical attempt at doing God's will, but an intense effort, as shown by the word 'spoude,' translated 'diligence.'"

 

[Wuest seems to come down on both sides of the argument.  Yet, it only seems so.  He clearly emphasizes man's responsibility, but he also acknowledges the Holy Spirit's role in maturation.  What he really seems to be doing is making a 'comparative advantage' case.  He is arguing that God will improve the life of His converts, but the improvement will be much greater and more pronounced when man cooperates with God's plan.  He argues that one will see greater maturity if one 'adds' his diligent efforts to God's provision.  I rather like this approach.]