For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. (2 Peter:1:4)

In this one verse there is so much divine mystery present: the promises of God, escape from the corruption of this world, and then finally something truly extraordinary—an invitation to become partakers of the divine nature. It’s a full invitation to embrace the image of God created in us. A fullness that only comes with salvation.

Epaggelma, the word here for promise itself is unique. It only appears here and one other time in Scripture.  It refers to a self-committal promise. In this case, it refers to something God himself will do. From Peter’s other usage of the word, we understand in context this refers to a time where the kingdom of God will be fully realized.[1] It will be a time when “there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”[2]  The promises refer to a period when suffering will end. Amos foretold this time as a time of great prosperity: 13

“The time will come,” says the Lord,

“when the grain and grapes will grow faster

than they can be harvested.

Then the terraced vineyards on the hills of Israel

will drip with sweet wine![3]

While hellfire and brimstone preachers will point to an escape from judgment, there is clearly so much more to these promises. It will be truly and amazing time where humanity’s full potential is reached. A time without suffering or lack or want.

Even more interesting that the path to the divine nature runs through “having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” To understand his principle, it is important to understand the context within the Scripture is given. In Peter’s time, Hebrew thought considered humans to be controlled by desire[4] This desire was neither good or bad. The desire to eat would lead humans to plant fields. The desire for sex would bring forth children. At the same time, these same desires could lead people to embrace evil practices. Rabbis of Peter’s time taught that the purpose of the law was to bridle the desires of the flesh and thus keep them within the boundaries of God’s law to prevent trespass.

Christian thought however knows this to be pointless. As Paul points out in this letter to the Roman church:

For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.[5]

The truth found in Peter’s words goes against every traditional Jewish thought of the day. Life in the Spirit doesn’t require memorization of every detail of the law with the purpose of trying to sin less. Instead, it is a reshaping of desire by the power of the Holy Spirit to its original godly design. This doesn’t come so much from Christian education, training or practice as the Scriptures remind us:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.[6]

In other words, we already have and know everything we need to know to realize the promise.

Lastly, and I believe uniquely to a Pentecostal hermeneutic, the onus on us is to act in the here and now. We should not wait to partake in the divine nature. Jesus didn’t wait until the end of age for the wine to be overflowing. He turned the water into wine in Cana. He didn’t wait until the end of age to heal people. He did it throughout his ministry. He didn’t wait for the dead to be raised at judgment. Instead he shouted at Lazarus to come out of the grave. He didn’t wait to show people compassion at the judgment—He showed compassion when he was on earth.

We can experience the joy of being who were created to be and doing what we are created to do. We don’t have to wait anymore. We have the promise. We have access to the divine nature. Most importantly, we don’t have an excuse.

[1] 2 Peter 3:13

[2] Revelation 21:4

[3] Amos 9:13

[4] See Peter H. Davids, The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2006), 175.

[5] Romans 8:3-5

[6] 2 Peter 1:3

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