I've been looking into 2Pe 1.5-7 as part of a home-group study I'm taking part in. If you've read ricoblog for awhile, you know I love these repetitive structures because they drill concepts into my brain. And I think translations that dump this stuff into straight prose miss something. First, here's the English (from ESV):
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. (2Pe 1.5-7, ESV)
Here's the Greek:
Καὶ αὐτὸ τοῦτο δὲ σπουδὴν πᾶσαν παρεισενέγκαντες ἐπιχορηγήσατε
ἐν τῇ πίστει ὑμῶν τὴν ἀρετήν,
ἐν δὲ τῇ ἀρετῇ τὴν γνῶσιν,
ἐν δὲ τῇ γνώσει τὴν ἐγκράτειαν,
ἐν δὲ τῇ ἐγκρατείᾳ τὴν ὑπομονήν,
ἐν δὲ τῇ ὑπομονῇ τὴν εὐσέβειαν,
ἐν δὲ τῇ εὐσεβείᾳ τὴν φιλαδελφίαν,
ἐν δὲ τῇ φιλαδελφίᾳ τὴν ἀγάπην. (2Pe 1.5-7, NA27)
Even when you read this in the English, you get the idea of some sort of process with the next item building on the previous. But is that what is really going on here? Is Peter (or "the author", depending on your view of authorship here) really positing that there is some sort of cascading relationship/progress between all these qualities such that:
-> brotherly affection
That is, is a strict progression/structure in mind? I can't supplement my faith directly with knowledge, but virtue has to intervene? Well ... I really don't think so. I don't think there are six qualities that I need to progress through to get from faith to love. That doesn't seem to jive with 1Co 13 which talks about faith, hope and love (where's hope in the above progression?) Some of these qualities are "fruits of the spirit" as seen in Ga 5.23, and there is no progression stated there, it's just a flat list.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Ga 5.22-24, ESV)
And some things in that list aren't directly reflected in 2Pe 1.5-7. Now, this is just me thinking out loud here; I haven't done any deep study and I haven't read any commentaries. But I think 2Pe 1.5-7 is saying that each of these qualities are things we need to pursue, and that we are not to pursue any to the exclusion of another. They are all to be on the increase.
Look again at how v. 5 starts: "For this very reason". This points back to vv 3-4. The basic conclusion of those verses is that as Christians, we are "partakers of the divine nature" and that we have therefore "escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire". It is because we are partakers of the divine nature and have escaped corruption (in Pauline terms, we are no longer slaves to sin, we are now slaves to righteousness) that we instead pursue these other things. And that's what vv 8-11 reiterate:
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. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2Pe 1.8-11, ESV)
Note the bold text, it marks areas that refer to the above list of qualities (faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love). We're not to have a selection of these qualities, or even one of them (the seemingly ultimate love based on the structure of the list); we're to have them all. And they're all to be increasing.
Is that then what it means that these things are "supplemented" (ἐπιχορηγέω)? This is an important verb because it is the verb that (if you're diagramming this baby) all of the prepositional phrases hang from. The same word occurs later in 2Pe 1.11, with "will be ... provided" its translation in the ESV. In v. 5, ἐπιχορηγέω is a second person plural aorist imperative, hence "supplement". This is addressed to the hearers of the letter; they are to supplement or add to their existing qualities. To their faith, they are to add virtue. To their virtue, they are to add knowledge. And so on. Everything is on the increase. It isn't a recipe -- it is turning up the volume across the board.
Last question, then: What's up with vv 10-11?
Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2Pe 1.10-11, ESV)
Is this saying that "turning up the volume across the board" (as I put it above) results in not falling (πταίω, BDAG p. 894 be ruined, be lost)? I have my thoughts (in a word, "no"), but it is getting late so I'll hold off explaining them (indefinitely; I may never come back to finish this thread). But if you have thoughts, please feel free to leave some comments.