by Brock Bondurant
2 Peter 1:2-3 – 2May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord. 3His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence
What is eternal life? While I’m sure there are many opinions, I think I’ll go with Jesus’ answer in John 17:3:
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
So, eternal life is knowledge according to Jesus. There’s a lot of knowledge out there in our world today, but I don’t sense a lot of eternal life being experienced given the state of the world – anxiety, greed, and sickness running amuck.
As the United States has shifted from a manufacturing economy to an information economy we’ve experienced an unprecedented accessibility of information. Intellectually we know more than ever before; if we don’t know something it’s just a ‘google’ away. But this can hardly be the knowledge that Jesus was referencing.
Informational knowledge lacks depth. We know a lot of stuff now, but without experience. Experience is required in the type of knowledge that Jesus was referring to. Based on Jesus’ answer in John 17:3, Dallas Willard concludes that knowledge is “interactive relationship”. We might even substitute ‘experiential’ for ‘interactive’ in this definition.
It is through this knowledge, according to Peter, that we have been granted life – eternal life. Furthermore, the qualities that Peter stirs us up to practice in supplement of our faith in Christ (2 Peter 1:5-7) will keep us from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 8). In other words, it is interactive relationship with Christ that leads to life abundant (John 10:10).
When Jesus calls us into relationship with him, he doesn’t say, “read the entirety of the Bible 25 times through, maintain 5 years of sin-free living, and then come follow me”. No, He just says follow me; step into relationship with me. Abide in me, and I in you (John 15:4). This is quite literally what faith in Jesus is about: a relationship with Him. Jesus doesn’t just want us to know a lot about him; he wants us to know him intimately as a husband knows his wife.
If it were knowledge about God that Jesus desired, then he would’ve gotten along much better with the Pharisees. They knew just about as much as it is humanly possible to know about God’s Word, yet they did not know the Word of God when he was right in front of their faces, manifested in flesh. They weren’t interested in an interactive relationship with the beating heart of Christ that came and knocked on their front door. The Pharisees only desired knowledge about God in order to appear righteous, never mind relationship with God.
It is the spirit of religiosity that held the Pharisees back from relationship with Jesus. He alone is what gives purpose to our practice. To know Jesus more is the reason to pray, read Scripture, and go to Church – avenues to relationship.
Eternal life is an on-going, interactive relationship – knowledge.
May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of Jesus our Lord.