The Expository Files


 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 more virtuous.

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. Matt. 5:27-30).

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