Exceeding Great and
Precious Promises

“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. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
—II Peter 1:4,11

THESE ARE SUPERLATIVE expressions—‘exceeding great and precious promises,’ and an entrance ‘abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord.’ Then there are others assuring us that God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” and “is able to make all grace abound” toward us. (Eph. 3:20; II Cor. 9:8) Many similar statements are also frequently recorded in the Scriptures. They are generally in relation to what our Lord and our Heavenly Father will bestow upon those who put their trust in him.

The Apostle Peter’s salutation at the commencement of his letter is, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you,” who “have obtained like precious faith … through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (II Pet. 1:1,2) The Apostle Paul also uses similar expressions to strengthen the statements referring to the attainment of glory.

In contrasting our afflictions with the glory to be received, Paul says, “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”—II Cor. 4:17

We have a wonderful promise of God through the prophet Malachi. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”—Mal. 3:10

It is like our Heavenly Father to give freely. The measure is pressed down, shaken together, running over. His love has no limit; his grace has no measure; his power no boundary known to men. Out of his infinite riches in Jesus, he giveth and giveth and giveth again. Jesus said to the people, God is full of mercy and compassion, “kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” (Luke 6:35) He admonished his followers to be the same, “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.”—Luke 6:36

Peter states that God “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.” (II Pet. 1:3) Nothing has been forgotten, or omitted, to complete the call. ‘Whereby [or for which purpose] 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.’

Many of these promises are conditional. Peter says, If you cultivate the graces of the spirit, you will “neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” If these things be in you and abound, “ye shall never fall.” (II Pet. 1:8,10) And since Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (John 15:8), it behooves all his followers to have fruit-bearing as their great objective so that they might have an entrance ‘abundantly into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.’ And so we wish to reflect on what is really the fruitage our Heavenly Father is looking for in us, and to encourage ourselves in reaching out for that which will glorify and honor him as well as prepare us for an abundant entrance into that heavenly kingdom.

The promises given to us from God and our Lord cover every feature and phase of our spiritual and temporal experiences. It was so with the patriarchs and prophets. We are exhorted to be followers of them who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises given for them.—James 5:10,11

For the comfort and encouragement of the followers of Christ Jesus during the Gospel Age we read, “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That … we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us [in the promises]: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered.”—Heb. 6:17-20

Let us recall a few of the hundreds of these great and precious promises by means of which we become partakers of the Divine nature, changed from human to spiritual, realizing that God himself is the Author of this great change, and is operating within us. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we [begotten ones] should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”—James 1:18

The faithful people of old saw many of these afar off, these great promises we are privileged to see in our day, many of them now in course of fulfillment. Like the patriarchs, we should be “persuaded of them,” and embrace them, confessing that we are strangers and pilgrims upon the earth.—Heb. 11:13

To Abraham, God promised, “In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; … And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:17,18) The apostle, in Galatians, referring to this great promise, reminds us that God said not of “seeds, as of many, but as of one, … which is Christ.” “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”—Gal. 3:16,29

“The Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”—Ps. 84:11

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.”—Isa. 40:31

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”—Ps. 55:22

“My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 4:19

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”—Isa. 26:3

Jesus promised, “He that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”—John 6:35

“I am the living bread … if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.”—John 6:51

“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”—Rev. 2:10

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me. … The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.”—Ps. 138:7,8

“He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”—Ps. 91:11

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go … I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”—John 14:2,3

“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper.”—Heb. 13:5,6

“What he had promised, he was able also to perform.”—Rom. 4:21

“Having therefore these promises, … let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness, … perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”—II Cor. 7:1

Why are we so slow to believe these wonderful words of life, joy, comfort, and peace—these exceeding great and precious promises of present spiritual inheritance? Be assured, dear brethren, these promises are not given to excite a vague hope of some future mirage or prospective phantom, or ever-failing vehicle of anticipation. They are predetermined promises of God himself to you and to me as his children, that we might be satisfied in that lifelong urge of soul to become New Creatures in Christ Jesus. We become a New Creation, not barren nor unfruitful, but complete and ready for an entrance abundantly into the kingdom, the heavenly kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In the first Psalm, the psalmist beautifully illustrates how we can become complete in Christ. The psalm is a commendation of a godly life and what can make a man God-fearing, or spiritually minded. It opens with an expression of admiration for the man who lives a godlike life, which it proceeds to describe in a simple and engaging manner by telling what such a man avoids, what he delights in, and what he resembles. The first verse is how happy, or blessed, “is the man that walketh not …, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”—Ps. 1:1

By such the laws of nature are revered, and the slightest revelation from the Word of his God he will welcome and obey. In this day of enlightenment he will be so happy to know Christ that he will find in him the spirit and source of all love.

Christ Jesus and his Word will be the law of his being, and toward the Word of Christ Jesus his mind and heart will gravitate. In the Lord he will discover his songs of hope, joy, and peace continually. “His delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Such a one comes directly under the care of the great Husbandman. “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, … his leaf [or profession] also shall not wither.”—vss. 2,3

Jesus, using the figure of a well of water, reveals similar expressions and observations of the life of such a one. “Out of his belly,” Jesus said, “shall flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) To the woman of Samaria Jesus declared, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”—John 4:14

A deep well drains its water not from the surface only. It depends on rain and natural streams. Its resources are mighty oceans. And so this man of Psalm 1 draws his supplies of refreshment and life from his Creator, and with David can say, “All my springs are in thee.”—Ps. 87:7

To the Lord’s dear people today come the words of Paul. “[I] cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers,” he wrote, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” (Eph. 1:16,17) As the mind and heart is filled and fed with the things of God and of Christ Jesus our Lord, being aware also of the blessings of life that will presently flow to all mankind, life in the truest sense finds a swelling, springing up within, which finds expression through the tongue.

All the promises, these great and precious promises and assurances from the Word of God, are productive of faith—strong and enduring faith. Peter continues concerning the promises by which one can be partaker of the Divine nature by saying, “Beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith” other virtues—fortitude, knowledge, temperance (self-control), patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. “For,” he adds, “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.” (II Pet. 1:5-8) And “herein is my Father glorified,” said Jesus, “that ye bear much fruit.”—John 15:8

Faith alone is not sufficient to insure an entrance abundantly into the kingdom. Other virtues need to be secured and maintained to the end. For this reason, how necessary it is to accept the apostle’s word and give all diligence to regulate our conduct of life in furnishing faith with these virtues, by making all our contributions of effort and faith answer to the promises that God has so graciously given to assist us in this objective.

The Bible is full of examples of faith for our benefit. Abraham stands out admirably in this respect. “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” (Heb. 11:8) Under hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed. It was as though Abraham said, to sight, ‘Stand back;’ to the laws of nature, ‘Hold your peace;’ and to a misgiving heart, ‘Silence, thou tempter, I still believe God.’ “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: … accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”—Heb. 11:17,19

Having Abraham as our example of faith, let us add to, or intensify, our faith with fortitude. This implies strength of will, the power of resistance, an element of character generally admired. We need it early in our walk of faith, and all along our pilgrim way. It encourages singleness of purpose, firm decisions of acceptance and resistance, whereas “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”—James 1:8

Daniel is a great example of fortitude. He proposed in his heart not to defile himself with the king’s meat or wine. (Dan. 1:8) He knew the writing was signed by the king that “whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days,” save of the king; he was to be cast into the den of lions. (Dan. 6:7) Knowing this, Daniel went into his house, and his windows being open, he kneeled three times a day and prayed, and gave thanks before God, as he did aforetime.—vs. 10

Let us have the same spirit of confidence and restfulness—unmoved, unperturbed, strong and faithful—as did Daniel. Let us emulate these stalwarts of faith and fortitude. “Dare to be a Daniel; dare to stand alone; dare to have a purpose firm; and dare to make it known.” “Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted.”—Isa. 7:4


Peter exhorts us to add to faith, or intensify, our knowledge. Knowledge is always open for growth, and is a gathering of facts. Christian knowledge is knowing God, his Word, his purposes, as they relate to us who have faith in him, and as those recorded purposes relate to the world. To all those who accept the Word of God and the exceeding great and precious promises it means spiritual knowledge, spiritual discernment of what is wise, just, right, true, philosophical, in all the activities of God, especially so in our devotion to God and his Word.—John 7:17; 17:3

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” (I Cor. 14:20) He prayed for all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, “that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment,” or spiritual understanding, discernment. (Phil. 1:9) Knowledge is most certainly a treasured virtue and should be increased and broadened and diffused for the benefit of others; but knowledge misused or misapplied quickly makes shipwreck of its possessor, and finally leads to disaster.

Solomon was a great example of knowledge; that is, in his early days, at his coronation. Listen to his replies. “O Lord, my God, … I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in. … Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord.” (I Kings 3:7-10) Let us maintain this humility and meekness of Solomon.


Peter says to add to knowledge, or intensify, self-control, or “temperance,” that virtue which keeps one moderate, gentle, properly balanced. Paul says, “Let your moderation [gentleness, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott] be known unto all.” (Phil. 4:5) Be gentle, show meekness to all. (Titus 3:2) “Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” (I Cor. 9:25) Paul says also, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.”—I Cor. 9:27

Peter, in his later years, was a wonderful example and pattern for us, in growth of grace and in the virtue of self-control. Naturally, as a man, he was a strange character in many ways. We bring him to your notice for encouragement and comfort. At first he was impetuous, bold, courageous; he was also fearful, slow to perceive, quick to speak, self-thinking; but he was deeply sincere. All these traits are so noticeable in his earlier life.—Matt. 16:16,22; 18:21; 19:27

But from Pentecost onward, when the Holy Spirit of God took possession of his mind and heart, Peter made rapid strides in temperance, self-control, courage, and firmness, manifesting a soberness of faith worthy to copy. He was then an established saint, becoming a pastor of the church, exhorting to traits of character and qualities of mind, many of which he least exemplified prior to Pentecost.

Note his exhortations, “Be ye holy [saith God]; for I am holy.” (I Pet. 1:16) “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober.” (I Pet. 1:13) “Decorate the hidden man of the heart with what is incorruptible—a meek and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” (I Pet. 3:4, WED) Let us take heart that Peter was a mirror of ourselves, and he was enabled by the Spirit and grace of God to triumph. His secret of success was sincere devotion and love for his Lord. If we have similar traits of character, we shall triumph also.


Peter again says, add to self-control, or intensify, the virtue of patience. Patience is that grace which enables one to bear affliction and calamity with calmness and cheerful constancy of mind. Patience is the power of endurance. “Tribulation worketh patience.” (Rom. 5:3) “In your patience possess ye your souls.”—Luke 21:19

Joseph was a beautiful example of patience. James says, “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”—James 5:10,11

Joseph waited many years from the time he was sold to the Ishmaelites until he received his father at the palace of Pharaoh. The many and distressing experiences which he encountered without complaint, and with pity and mercy toward his brethren, will stand out as a beacon light to all the earth throughout the world’s judgment day. The incidents in Joseph’s life indicate he was a lovable boy, a father’s boy, with his mother’s traits of affection for those whom he loved. It would have been easy and natural for him to pine, languish, and to long for parents, home, and homeland, but he remained patient.

It was undoubtedly in his power to have gained leave from Pharaoh’s court to visit home, but there is no record of such a request. He was cruelly and unjustly charged by Potiphar’s wife, submitted to wrongful imprisonment, and waited even when his brethren arrived, and he knew them. He remained silent for two years before disclosing that he was their brother. (Gen. 45:6) Finally, in assuring his brethren with respect to their treachery, his reply was, “God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”—Gen. 45:7


To patience, Peter exhorts to add godliness. This enables one possessing such a valued virtue to view every experience from the Divine standpoint; to take an exalted position for discernment of every experience; to be seated with Christ in the heavenlies. (Eph. 2:6) How often we find our judgment of men and things changed when so seated. How often have our second thoughts disapproved what our first apprehension of things (upon a sudden provocation) has suggested.

When storms arise in our breast, let us wait for the second, surer report which our judgment shall bring in from the still small voice of reason and conscience. Those possessing godliness are inclined to peace, and opposed to strife. They are dignified, just, majestic. If you are with them long, you are impressed with their influence, and the beauty of their minds. “The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself.”—Ps. 4:3

It was so with David, a man after God’s own heart. We read that David behaved himself wisely. (I Sam. 18:5) David’s heart smote him for cutting off part of Saul’s robe, and he said, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed.” (I Sam. 24:6) David’s consideration, love, and keenness of responsibility for his parents is very manifest when he went to the King of Moab and said, “Let my father and my mother … be with you, till I know what God will do for me. … and they dwelt with him [the king] all the while that David was in the hold.” (I Sam. 22:3,4) God was with David in battle, prayer, persecution, and kingship. He was a type of the church, who also are copies at heart of God’s dear Son.


We are to add to godliness, or intensify, brotherly kindness. This is a virtue, or characteristic, that possesses an affinity for others of like mind, in spiritual things it is manifest in affinity of fellowship, assembly, equal sonship, care, concern, as shielder and helper. Paul was one of our examples for such a virtue. Paul’s letters are full of brotherliness—his care for all the churches (II Cor. 11:28); his exhortation to others to be kindly affectioned (Rom. 12:10); his desire that brotherly love should continue (Heb. 13:1)—all prove Paul’s faith and fidelity.


And we cover all the virtues with love; that virtue which emanated originally from God. God is love; a love which possesses no other motive than good; a love that is sacrificial, forbearing, merciful, constraining to assist the good, abhorring that which is evil.

Christ Jesus our Lord is our example, copy and pattern. God, our Heavenly Father, is the Creator and the Potter who shapes our lives. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (II Cor. 8:9) Jesus was prompted by love to do this, as it is written, “The love of Christ, … passeth knowledge.” (Eph. 3:19) “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (I John 4:16) Of Christ Jesus it is said, “Having loved his own …, he loved them unto the end.”—John 13:1

These, brethren, are the furnishings of faith. These virtues make one’s faith complete in Christ. Without these virtues or characteristics, hope of joint-heirship with Christ is vague. Paul urges that we reach the stature of a full-grown man in Christ. (Eph. 4:13) Faith in the exceeding great and precious promises requires growth to maturity in Christlikeness in order to be assured of an entrance abundantly into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith, to be complete, must show its fruit, or works. Faith without works is like an empty house. It is well built on a good foundation, beautifully situated, but for habitation it needs furnishings; and so it is with our faith. Peter assures us if these things—these virtues—be in us and abound, they make us that we shall be neither barren nor unfruitful. These are the virtues of faith that produce fruit; that is, fruitage of character, fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things [add these qualities, or furnishings to faith—which is the fruit gained by embracing the exceeding great and precious promises],ye shall never fall. For so [or because of which] an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”—II Pet. 1:9,10

Dawn Bible Students Association
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