2 Peter 1:5
The apostle Peter commands, "add to your faith virtue" (NKJV, 2 Pet. 1:5). The
New American Standard Version translates this Scripture saying, "in your faith
supply moral excellence." "Virtue," in Second Peter 1:5, means "moral
excellence" or "moral goodness." The aim of this article is to explain the
virtuous character that Christians must possess.
Virtue begins with becoming a Christian
Moral excellence begins with diligent faith (2 Pet. 1:5). Since faith demands
hearing and obeying God's word (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:1f), the first step toward
moral excellence is obedience to God in repentance from sin, confession of
Christ, and baptism into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:37-38;
Rom. 6:3). At the time we repent, we turn away from sin to obediently serve God.
Therefore, we are baptized making our appeal to God for a good conscience (1Pet.
3:21). With a good conscience, we begin a morally excellent life. Unbelievers,
on the other hand, are not morally excellent since they do not believe and have
not appealed to God for a good conscience.
God's word sets the standard for morality, virtue. Virtue is moral excellence.
God is absolute virtue (excellence, 2 Pet. 1:3). Therefore, God sets the
standard for virtue. Since God has given us all things that pertain to life and
godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), He has given us the standard for moral excellence in His
word (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Society dictates neither morality nor virtue.
We cannot live by the world's standard of morality and expect to go to heaven
(Is. 55:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:18f). A virtuous life is the result of hearing God's word,
believing God's word, and obeying God's word (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 5:9). When we
live according to the law and doctrine of Christ, we are virtuous (Gal. 6:2;
Col. 3:17; 2 Jn. 9). Christians grow spiritually, in virtue.
As a babe in Christ, we feed upon the pure milk of the word and begin growing
spiritually (1 Pet. 2:2). As growing babes, we thoroughly learn the first
principles and move on to perfection (Heb. 5:12f; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). As we grow in
knowledge (2 Pet. 1:5), we change our lives to live according to all that we
know about God and His will. Every time we change to better serve God, we become
Christians meditate on virtuous things
A Christian's life is a life of virtue (2 Pet. 1:5). Therefore, Paul commands us
to think on things which are virtuous (Phil. 4:8). We cannot allow our minds to
dwell upon evil and expect to live virtuously before God. "Evil
company corrupts good habits" (1 Cor. 15:33). If our mind is in the gutter, we
cannot live a virtuous life. Christians can never escape all of the negative
influences of sin (1 Cor.5:9ff). But, we must work very hard to keep from
dwelling on the sin that surrounds us as we interact with people of the world.
We can never allow ourselves to gleefully entertain the pleasures of
unrighteousness in our minds (2 Th. 2:11-12; 2 Tim. 3:1-4). To do so is sin (cf.
Virtue is more valuable than worldly wealth.
Solomon said, "Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies"
(Pr. 31:10). Solomon's rhetorical question implies that a virtuous woman is
extremely difficult to find. This is not just applicable to women, but virtuous
people in general are difficult to find. In the time of Noah, there were only
eight virtuous people on the earth (1 Pet. 3:20). And Jesus tells us that few
people will be saved (Matt. 7:13-14) denoting that only a few virtuous people
will ever live on earth.
A virtuous wife is worth much more than rubies.
We have an abundance of rubies compared to the number of virtuous women on the
earth. Therefore, a virtuous woman far outweighs the value of rubies. Generally
speaking, virtue is more valuable than worldly wealth. A virtuous life results
in eternal life, but worldly wealth is temporal (cf. Matt. 6:19-21; Ja. 5:1-6).
We will behold God's absolute virtue.
Absolute virtue (excellence) is possessed by God (2 Pet. 1:3). As God's
children, we strive to imitate Him each and every day (cf. Matt. 5:48). One day,
Christians will behold absolute perfection and virtue in heaven while worshiping
before God's throne. Take a moment and think about your life. Are you a virtuous
person? Will you eternally live in the midst of absolute virtue while worshiping
before God's throne? Or, will you only get a brief glimpse of God's virtue as
you stand condemned before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10)?
[Editor's note: The preceding expository article comes from "Bible Insight"
edited by Carey Dillinger and is a part of a series by him and other writers.
Carey contacted me several weeks ago and suggested that we might be interested
in publishing these articles. The series is quite good and Lord willing,
Expository Files will be using these articles in future issues]
By Allan McNabb
From Expository Files 7.6; June 2000