2 Peter 1:5-7: 5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
“Add” is a unique term in that it is not associated with math but with the choregos or the leader of the chorus or choirmaster. Just as some choruses may have sponsors or booster clubs or benefactors to support them. “In the great days of Athens…citizens who voluntarily took on the duty, at their own expense, of collecting, maintaining, training and quipping such choruses. …it means lavishly to pour out everything that is necessary for a noble performance. …it can mean to quip the soul with all the necessary virtues for life” (Barclay 298,299). If the chorus is to function and perform properly they must have certain things before the day of performance. The sponsor must add robes, musical accompaniment, advertisement, venue, etc. Any of these things not provided could result in a poor production.
✚ Add With All Diligence
The necessities which are to be provided to faith must be done with “all diligence.” These must be added with a sense of urgency. A supplier who will not give everything it takes to get the chorus performance off the ground is not a good supplier. A lazy or miserable supplier will construct a poor production for the audience. All of these things added to faith must be operative concurrently.
✚ Add to Faith
The foundation upon which the saints are to build is “faith.” Faith is man’s response to God’s grace. It is a result of him weighing the evidence not seen but heard from the Word (Heb. 11:1; Rom. 10:17). Being a Christian does not involve a static, dead faith but an active, living faith (Js. 2:17-26). It must be more than just belief in a set of facts. Faith must grow and this growth is not automatic. Lists of virtues or moral qualities were common in the Greek culture. Paul gives a list of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22,23 (see 1 Tim. 6:11). These things are added not as steps or rungs up a ladder. Instead, they are like ingredients in a cake. All the right things must go into the mix. Faith is like the bowl. Faith is like a chess board where all the pieces must be brought alongside in their place every time the came is played.
✚ Add Virtue
The first thing that needs to be added with all sense of urgency to one’s faith is “virtue.” It is from the Greek word arete. It means goodness or moral excellence, manliness as in being a real man, courage of a soldier to stand and fight and be heroic regardless of his fear. It is the courage displayed by Peter and John when facing the Jewish leaders who commanded them to stop preaching Jesus (Acts 4:9,20; 5:29). The Greeks would use this term to describe the heroic deeds by the gods. To the Greek philosophers it involves the highest of moral standards which man only would acquire as a noble idea. Plato uses it often as does the New Testament. A sense of efficiency is seen in the term. Land that is able to produce good crops is said to be virtuous. It is the type of good soil which will allow their faith to grow.
✚ Add Knowledge
Knowledge, like faith, is not static. Knowledge is meant to grow and grow. Both faith and knowledge are compatible. Paul mentioned his certain knowledge and absolute trust in Christ in 1 Tim. 1:12b: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” It is not the impersonal collection of facts. In 1 Peter 3:7 it is used in the command for husbands to “know” their wives. Christians need to know the facts and know the Lord personally to wisely deal with day to day life. Knowledge enables the saint to discern between right and wrong. To understand the Lord’s life and desires well enough to know what Jesus would do.
✚ Add Self-Control
Solomon wrote, “he who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov. 16:32) and “whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls” (Prov. 25:28). Also translated “temperance” referring to the mastering of desires. Learning to say “no”‘ to fleshly indulgences even if they are not sinful in and of themselves. Like an athlete in training who gets a grip on his appetites and habits. Paul greatly troubled the Roman Governor Felix when he preached to him about self-control (Acts 24:25). He was living in an adulterous relationship with Drucilla.
✚ Add Perseverance
The word “perseverance” is the idea of bearing up under a heavy load. It can also be translated “patience” or “steadfastness” or “endurance.” With perseverance the Christian will never “give up” or “give in.” James claims that trials produce patience (1:2-8). Fidelity in the face of adversity as when Jesus endured the shame and pain of the cross (12:2).
✚ Add Godliness
The Greeks of the day often used this term for religion. It is reverence or piety expressed in worshiping God correctly (John 4:23,24) The correct attitude toward God and consequently others. As it in the first and second commandments which are to love God and to love one’s neighbor.
✚ Add Brotherly Love
Next, Peter tells them to bring along side self-control, brotherly love. This term is from the Greek philadelphia. It is a compound term with philos meaning an emotional love or feeling of closeness and adelphos meaning “brother” which originally means from out of the same womb. Thus Christians are to love each other because we are born of the same seed, the Word of God. Christ set a higher standard for this love of one another. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34,35). Paul wrote, “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” (Rom. 12:10). Such kindness to fellow-brethren demonstrates that one has indeed been born of God (1 John 4:20,21; 5:1,2).
✚ Add Love
Paul claims that agape love is the highest virtue. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13). “When we have brotherly love, we love because of our likenesses to others; but with agape love, we love in spite of the differences we have” (Wiersbe 439). This love is given to other regardless of the recipient’s feelings or the emotions of the giver. Love does not take into account worthiness (Rom. 5:6-8). This is a love that is willing to die for one’s enemies. It is the love one has for God that motivates them always to obey every command (1 Jn. 5:3).
As the choirmaster of one’s faith the saint creates a melody well pleasing to God and one that will ring throughout eternity.
– Daniel R. Vess