2 Peter 1:1 – A Conversation among Members of the Society of Evangelical Arminians

, posted by drwayman

Here at SEA we have members only discussion page.  Let me share with you a recent discussion:

One of our members asked, “‘I’m curious how most Arminians understand 2 Peter 1:1, which speaks of persons “who have received a faith of the same kind as ours” (NRSV, NASB, NIV, MOUNCE, all use “receive” here).

I didn’t see any articles on SEA addressing this verse, and when looking at various commentators, many C’s were saying how this supports the notion that it is God, not the individual, who produces the faith; hence, persons only ‘receive’ faith, they don’t produce it.

Of course, this says nothing of if this reception is irresistible or not, but it does, at face value, possibly given evidence to the idea that faith is a gift.

Any thoughts here?


First response“Arminians see faith as a gift. Our receiving a gift does not earn the gift.
If I send you a birthday gift and you open and use it does that mean it is no longer a gift. Of course not!

The Calvinist notion that freely receiving a gift is a work is just nonsense.”


Second response – “I think most Arminians would vouch that we receive faith. But it isn’t irresistably produced in us in such a way that we must embrace it.

Arminius himself used an example of a beggar recieving alms to compare to us receiving faith from the Lord.”


Third response – The active tense-form of λαχοῦσιν (“receive, obtain”) could suggest a sense of active reception of something that we originally did not have. If one takes the preposition ἐν (“in”) as instrumental, then the passage could read as follows:

“…to the ones who have obtained faith/belief/the faith by the righteousness of our God and deliverer Jesus Christ.”


Fourth response – “I generally agree with commentator Peter Davids’ explanation:

“Their common faith is honorable, it is worth paying a price in terms of discipline and conflict to maintain, for honor is a primary social value. This faith has been “received” by them. 2 Peter again uses a rare word, found elsewhere in the NT only in John 19:24. It means “to receive by divine lot or divine will,” and thus indicates that faith is something that God has given them, a favor from their heavenly patron. It is not entirely clear in our context whether “faith” refers to the ability to commit oneself (so Bauckham) or to a belief system/version of the good news. The former is faith’s more general meaning in Paul, but the latter is not absent from his writings either (see Gal 1:23). It seems to me that the latter meaning fits better here, that is, a version of the the good news they have received from God. However, this good news that demanded commitment (faith) should not be made into a credal formula or system. Such a system would appear only later in church history. In his usage, however, 2 Peter is in general closer to the Pastorals, and their usage of “faith” as a shorthand for the good news, than to the earlier Pauline letters.

This faith is granted “through the righteousness of our God.” Again a significant theme of the letter is being introduced. The false teachers do not know “the way of righteousness? (2 Pet 2:21; in contrast to Noah,2 Pet 2:5) and thus will not inherit the coming world where “righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13). That God’s action in granting faith is marked by righteousness means that it is something quite different from that which the false teachers proclaim. This “righteousness” does not mean Christ’s redemptive work (so Spicq), but ethical righteousness, as the other uses in 2 Peter show. This ethical quality would be better translated “justice” in that the divine patron granting faith acts justly — with fairness and lack of favoritism — in making his grant.”

I would add that the gospel is seen by Paul as the revelation of the righteousness of God (Rom 1:17), and that basic thought should be explored for how it relates to this verse. It could be that this would lead to an even better explanation of God’s righteousness here than merely thinking of it as God being just/fair in the sense of impartial. E.g., the text says that we have received faith by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. If the gospel manifests the righteousness of God, and we receive faith by the righteousness of God manifested in the gospel, that seems to argue for “faith” here in the sense of “that which is believed” (an objective meaning) rather than in the sense of “believing” (a subjective meaning). But it could go along with believing as well; it just seems to me it goes better with the objective meaning. 

Having said all of that, the typical A position is that faith is a gift, one that has to be received as is normally true of gifts. So there is no problem with taking the act of believing as a gift, which is a way of saying that we are enabled to believe. I just don’t think that is what 2 Pet 1:1 is referring to.”


Fifth response – “The Arminian position is not that we produce faith. But one does have to make sure the language one is using reflects biblical thought. Scripture does not seem to really concern itself too much with who produces faith. It is not a thing that gets produced. It would make more sense to talk of who inspires faith. God inspires faith within us. We don’t inspire it within ourselves. God influences us to believe. But everyone agrees he does not believe for us. WE believe. He enables that belief, inspires it, moves us toward it, calls us to it, makes it possible, etc. The whole line of thought about who produces faith seems off target.”

Dec 27, 2017