The Virtues: 1 Peter 1:5-7
1:5 ~ For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge
Virtue. This is word seldom heard in today’s culture. The word virtue means to have principles, fortitude, and respectability. Looking back to the prior verses, Peter wrote of knowledge and the things obtained (sustained) by Christ, which the world cannot give to us—a God-powered nature to be free from the bondage of sin. In verse five, Peter prescribes that for those specific reasons we should make every effort to have some additions to our faith. The Greek word spoude is used only seven times in the Bible (here translated as effort), it means to have an urgency with eagerness, to make every effort possible. With urgency and eagerness, we ought to add to our faith…virtue. The word virtue (arete), has the tendency to express valor, excellence, or praise, of course, all within the context of integrity. Jesus, being of the highest virtue, called the apostles to follow Him (John 15:16); therefore, we ought to always be reminded in our faith that good ethics, worthiness, and nobility should be enmeshed into our daily lifestyle of living the gospel—it should seep out of our pores. Ethics do not save anyone, and we’re saved by grace, but we are called to live ethical lives in the midst of a perverse world. But we’re not only called to respectability and ethical behavior, but they must be attached to knowledge. Believers should “know” that they are called to a higher standard than the world.
1:6 ~ and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness
The apostle adds onto the supplements of our faith, stable self-control. Self-control shows the free-will side of humanity—that God allows us to make decisions and choices. If a man is called to anything, he must be called to self-control. If we can grasp this first attribute then the Christian walk would be much more pleasant. Paul links self-control to the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:23), or an athlete exercising for a race (1 Cor 9:25); and, as those who are lacking it, despisers of good (2 Tim 3:3). Peter links it here with stability (steadfastness), obviously, a great asset to have during the persecution that the early Christians endured. Peter was not a stranger to persecution, being crucified upside down by Nero. But do not stop there, he adds steadfastness to godliness, or as some translations have it, perseverance to godliness. Steadfastness is patience (which most Christians have longed, but since, learned not to pray for—but you will certainly learn it!). If you can possess self-control and patience, then you can oversee godliness, which is walking according to the gospel.
1:7 ~ and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.
Of course, without walking in a godly manner, holy before God, and according to the gospel, a Christian would not be found with brotherly kindness. In Galatians 6:10 we read, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Brotherly kindness in the New Testament is synonymous with the word love, the Greek word is philadelphia. Some people denote the English word love, with sex, marital relationships, and intimacy, but it is so much more than an emotion, attachment, or feeling. Brotherly affection (philadelphia), means that we think less of ourselves and more of others. The Apostle John suggests that if we cannot love others then we lie when we say that we love God because we have not even seen God, yet He made all people in His image (1 John 4:20). And so, brotherly love is unselfish sacrificial affection, which is compounded with true love—that love which comes from knowing God, through Jesus Christ.
- What does virtue mean to you? Do you think of this word as ancient—not applicable to your life? Do ethics matter (living a “good” life)? Certainly, as believers we are called to live a holy life and a good life, and while these things do not bring salvation, they ought not be neglected. Think about your life—rewind it if need be, and ask yourself why you’re not living an ethical life?
- Self-control goes a long way. If you can control your speech, your attitude, and your actions, you are a person who has stability. Without self-control life can seem chaotic—out of control. If you find yourself lacking in this aspect, begin by taming one part first—do not attempt to quit everything ungodly at once—while this is noble, it more than likely is not sustainable. Our walk is a journey with Christ, to become more like Him each day.
Matthew Fretwell is married, has three daughters, loves Jesus, being a dad, people, and coffee. Besides being an author (Denied Desires; Identity Theft, Sanctificagious, 30:1 Manhood), he’s Pastor of a comeback, church planting church (Oak Hall Baptist) in Sandston, Virginia, and is the founder of Job 31 Ministries. Matt’s an advocate board member of Living Bread Ministries, a global comprehensive Church Planting organization. He also writes for Church Planter Magazine. Twitter: @w84harpazo or Facebook