I’m wondering if they couldn’t be considered the poor cousin of the fruit listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Not as many. Not as well known. Have never seen a graphic, or heard even one song about them. While Paul’s list in Galatians are of the Spirit, Peter’s are efforts of the flesh — in a good way! But as I hover over them, I’m wondering if perhaps they don’t deserve a bit more attention. Peter seemed to be think so.
Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.
(2Peter 2:12-14 ESV)
These qualities . . . a translation unique, it seems, to the ESV — though the ESV has a footnote that it could be translated, as in other versions, as these things. But let’s go with it. Let’s chew on these qualities.
Reference to them is found four times in the opening verses of Peter’s letter, the last one he knew he would write, having been told by His Master that he would be “putting off” his body soon. His final words. Things among the last things he wants Jesus followers to remember after his departure.
These qualities — not as cool a ring to them as The Fruit of the Spirit, for sure. Only seven, not nine (though, doesn’t seven have an intriguing ring to it?). Qualities the people of God were to make every effort to supplement their faith with. Unlike the fruit which was evidence of the Spirit’s working.
But Peter makes some pretty serious claims about these qualities.
- The increasing realities of these qualities in a Christian’s life will keep them from “from being ineffective or unfruitful” (1:8).
- To not give attention to these qualities is to be nearsighted, “so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins” (1:9). Pursuit of these qualities seems to come part and parcel with an appropriate appreciation of the gift of salvation.
- As mentioned yesterday, practicing these qualities is a recipe for success — true spiritual-and-not-of-this-world success — in the Christian’s life. For “in this way (aka by these qualities) there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1:10-11). These qualities open the door for an unashamed, victorious entrance into the eternal kingdom. Hmmm . . . not a bad deal. Maybe I should be more familiar with these qualities.
So, while they may not be the better known nine; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, these super seven are probably worth being familiar with, as well — even to the point of making every effort to integrate them with our faith.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2Peter 1:5-8 ESV)
Virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love. These qualities.
Probably worth noodling on more. Definitely worthy pursuing. More could be written on each of them. Interesting to chew on the overlap between Peter’s qualities and the Spirit’s fruit. Maybe someone should come up with a song or graphic or something.
For now, Peter’s reminded me of these qualities. Something he wanted to do. Mission accomplished.
By God’s grace. For God’s glory.