2 Peter 1-11 – LeGrand Baker – Making your calling and election sure

2 Peter 1-11 – LeGrand Baker – Making your calling and election sure

This analysis of 2 Peter 1 was written as a part of:

Alma 38:12 – LeGrand Baker – “that you may be filled with love”

We are still in Alma 38 where uses one short clause to describe a remarkable concept.

12 …see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.

In that verse, the word “that” is a very powerful conjunction. Other ways of saying it (“so that,” “in order that”) are weaker because the word is modified. Simply using “that” creates an unqualified relationship between the cause and the effect. (To see the power of the conjunction, try reading the sacrament prayers without the word “that.” You will find that without the conjunction the prayers become only disconnected ideas.)

Alma said to his son: “see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.”

It is difficult for people in our culture to put those words into their proper perspective because in our vernacular language “passions” are often equated with lewdness, lasciviousness, and sexuality and seem to be the driving power behind much of the music, entertainment, and advertisements that bombard our lives.

A sidenote to Alma’s charge to “bridle all your passions” Paul’s explanation:

15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled (Titus 1:15).

True love is a passion: the way both our bodies and our minds express love through tenderness, affection, and the desire to make another happy and secure.

The best commentary I know on Alma’s meaning is the words of Peter (1 Peter 1:1-19). They begin with an almost poetic description of the intent of the early Christian’s temple drama, followed by step by step instructions about how to make one’s calling and election sure, then conclude with Peter’s testimony about his experience on the Mount of Transfiguration.

As we read closely, verses 1-7 their focus sharpens on the specifics of the path one must follow to ascend to those heights. He presents us with very succinct instructions about how to bridle our passions, “that ye may be filled with love.” He begins,

1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith [pistis] with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1).

Pistis is a powerful Greek word that incorporates the ideas of both making and keeping covenants. Here it is something one receives “through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ .” Righteousness describes the correctness of authority and procedure in priesthood ordinances and covenants. (See the chapter “Meaning of ‘Faith’– pistis” and “Meaning of ‘Righteousness’–zedek and Zadok”in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord).

Is short, Peter has used pistis and righteousness to represent the entire early Christian temple services. Then he gives a beautifully insightful description of what that temple experience meant.

2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2 Peter 1:2-4).

In Peter’s summation, the blessings of the temple are just two promises: “that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” There, “having” calls attention to a condition in the past “Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” has already happened and creates the situation of the present: “that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.”

“Lust” means wanting something to the exclusion of wanting other thins. It, like anger, can become addictive because it produces an adrenalin high. It may be the appetite to possess something or someone. It may be the need of attention, praise, wealth, or power. For example such needs may cause a wealthy man to run for political office or a poor woman to try to use gossip to control the neighborhood. These are different in extent of the power, but not in the quality of the soul.

Then Peter teaches us how to overcome lust and enthrone charity as our dominant personalty characteristic, just as Alma teaches that we must “bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love.”

Peter’s 8 steps to doing that are these:

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith [pistis] virtue.”(2 Peter 1:5)

To many Mormons, “virtue” has come to mean chastity, but it means much more than that. It is the sum of manly perfection: of integrity (no gap between what one says and what one does); of rectitude (doing the right things for the right reasons); of physical, emotional, and intellectual excellence. It is the qualities of manliness that is personified in George Washington.

and to virtue knowledge; (2 Peter 1:5)

Inspired scriptures all teach the same thing because the ideas come from the same source. I think is not a stretch to say that Peter, the first President of the ancient Church of Christ, should mean by “knowledge” the same thing that the Lord taught Joseph Smith.

24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come (D&C 93:24).

That is, truth is knowledge of reality in sacred time, and is the only knowledge that has eternal value.

6 And to knowledge temperance; (2 Peter 1:6)

Temperance is moderation that is a product of self control. It is not doing anything in excess, but moving through life with an even keel, acting according to one’s own will, not being acted upon by excess of any kind.

and to temperance patience (2 Peter 1:6).

Patience is most beautifully described in Psalm 25. Patience with whom? With ourselves, with God, with other people, and with difficult circumstances.

and to patience godliness [reverence](2 Peter 1:6).

The Bible footnote and Strong (# 2150) both say the Greek word means “reverence.” We cannot hurt anyone or anything that we revere. It is recognizing and acknowledging the worth of another. It precludes the possibility of anger, contempt, and prejudice.

7 And to godliness brotherly kindness (2 Peter 1:7).

In this verse, the King James Version uses the phrase “brotherly kindness,” but elsewhere in the New Testament that same Greek word is always translated as “brotherly love” which has a somewhat stronger connotation. Strong: Greek 5360 [first edition, 1890] reads: “philadelphia; fraternal affection: brotherly love (kindness), love of the brethren.” [Emphasis is in the original).

Righteous masculine virtues include extended and focused brotherly love. The Prophet Joseph emphasized this when he said, “Friendship is the grand fundamental principle of Mormonism, to revolution civilize the world.—pour forth love.” {1}

True love and eternal friendships originate and continue in sacred space and sacred time.

and to brotherly kindness charity.(2 Peter 1:7)

While “brotherly love” is a focused love, charity is a universal love. It is as broad as “reverence” and also as focused as philadelphia. It is the maturation and culmination of both. The law of consecration is what one does when charity is what one is. In the New Testament that combination of God’s love and his loving kindness is called “grace.” The Hebrew word hesed is the equivalent and is often translated as “mercy” or “lovingkindness..”

The Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament shows the power of that friendship/relationship:

We may venture the conjecture that even in cases where the context does not suggest such mutuality it is nevertheless implicit, because we are dealing with the closest of human bonds. {2}

An explanation and clarification of the phrase, “dealing with the closest of human bonds,” is found in a new edition of Strong’s Concordance:

hesed, unfailing love, loyal love, devotion. kindness, often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship. {3}

Another definition says: “Hesed has in view right conduct in free kindness within a given relation. … [as in] Psalm 50:5, where Yahweh calls for a gathering of His hesedim [translated ‘saints’] who have made a covenant in sacrifice. It seems that the term hesed has a special place at the conclusion of a covenant.”{4}

The hesed relationship described in Psalm 25 evokes the terms of the premortal covenant between Jehovah and his children in this world. Elsewhere that same hesed relationship also exists as an eternal, fraternal bond among men. Consideration of the this-world continuation of those fraternal relationships brings us brings us back to Peter’s assurance that “brotherly kindness” (philadelphia) and charity are prerequisite to making one’s calling and election sure. Peter continues:

8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:8-11).

And that bring us back to Alma’s instruction to his son Shiblon.

See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love (Alma 38:12).

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – ENDNOTES

{1} Joseph Smith, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], 234.

{2}G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren, eds., trans. Davod E. Green, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, 15 vols. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1986), article about hesed, 5:45-48). The Greek equivalent is Philadelphia, fraternal love, as explained in fn 905, p. 680.

{3} John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson, The Strongest Strong’s, Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001), Hebrew dictionary # 2617.

{4} Gerhard Friedrich, ed. (Translator and editor

Geoffrey w. Bromiley), Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Miciugan,Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1981), 9:386-7.

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