[B-Greek] DIKAIOSUNH in Peter (was: the best Metalanguage to understand the Greek NT?(was "2 Peter 1:1"))

Yancy Smith yancywsmith at sbcglobal.net
Fri Apr 23 16:17:01 EDT 2010


Iver said:
	I am not saying that Peter and Paul have to use the word in the same sense, but if that same sense makes good sense in the context of the letter, one has to show that a difference sense may be intended, and I don't think you have done that.

Yancy: 
What makes me cringe about reading in Paul's understanding of DIKAIOSUNH is that the none of the other uses of DIKAIOSUNH in 2 Peter have anything to do with the Pauline sense of Romans 1:16-17. Rather, the mention of God's righteousness and the righteousness of God's people in 2 Peter suggests a covenant frame in which all the language about promises being kept or not becomes an important slot/theme, and a developing point in the entire epistle. DIKAIOSUNH is the activity of a God who keeps his promises, i.e., he is righteous, faithful to his covenant promises. God actually gives his people freedom (1:4, 11), but the false prophets and teachers promise freedom and can't deliver because they are still slaves of lust. The false teachers call into question God's faithfulness (3:4), but Peter reframes what seems to be "slackness/slowness" to fulfill God's promise as an expression of God's covenant love, giving time for repentance

2PE 1:4		δι᾽ ὧν τὰ τίμια καὶ μέγιστα ἡμῖν ἐπαγγέλματα δεδώρηται,
			DI hWN TA TIMIA KAI MEGISTA hHMIN EPAGGELMATA DEDWRHTAI
2PE 2:19		 ἐλευθερίαν αὐτοῖς ἐπαγγελλόμενοι, αὐτοὶ δοῦλοι ὑπάρχοντες τῆς φθορᾶς· (contrast with 1:3,4)
			ELEUQERIAN AUTOIS EPAGGELOMENOI, AUTOI DOULOI hUPARCONTES THS FQORAS
2PE 3:4		 καὶ λέγοντες, Ποῦ ἐστιν ἡ ἐπαγγελία τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ;
			KAI LEGONTES, POU ESTIN hH EPAGGELIA THS PAROUSIAS AUTOU? 
2PE 3:9		οὐ βραδύνει κύριος τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ὥς τινες βραδύτητα ἡγοῦνται
			OU BRADUNEI KURIOS THS EPAGGELIAS, hWS TINES BRADUTHTA hHGOUNTAI
2PE 3:13		καινοὺς δὲ οὐρανοὺς καὶ γῆν καινὴν κατὰ τὸ ἐπάγγελμα αὐτοῦ προσδοκῶμεν, ἐν οἷς δικαιοσύνη κατοικεῖ.
			KAINOUS DE OURANOUS KAI GHN KAINHN KATA TO EPAGGELMA AUTOU PROSDOKWMEN, EN hOIS DIKAIOSUNH 					KATOIKEI.

I would suggest that the last reference blends both God's divine righteousness (faithfulness to his promises) and human reciprocal righteousness, obedience to the stipulations and expectations of God's commands. 

In addition to the fact that the Pauline understanding you assume doesn't square with the emphasis on promises found in 2 Peter, is the problem that your understanding of DIKAIOSUNH (essentially that represented by the NLT) does not play well with the rest of 2 Peter chapter 1. How does it square with what is actually there?

An important bit of information that is missing in this discussion is the function of letter openings and closings in helping to set the scenario and topics important to the letter. Letters tend to announce a theme at the beginning and the closings tend to restate the central theme toward the end of the letter. I am curious as to how you see the Pauline sense of justification by faith, or would it here be better called "faith by justification" (?) being a theme developed in the rest of the letter?

Conversely, I see the faithfulness of God in providing, in his covenant righteousness, the means (exceedingly precious promises) for believers to be enabled to partake in God's divine nature (through the grace given them as his children, ἵνα διὰ τούτων γένησθε θείας κοινωνοὶ φύσεως hINA DIA TOUTWN GENHSQE QEIAS KOINWNOI FUSEWS), that is, through knowing God in the precious promises of covenant: διὰ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ καλέσαντος ἡμᾶς ἰδίᾳ δόξῃ καὶ ἀρετῇ, δι᾽ ὧν τὰ τίμια καὶ μέγιστα ἡμῖν ἐπαγγέλματα δεδώρηται DIA THS EPIGNWSEWS TOU KALESANTOS hHMAS IDIAi DOXHi KAI ARETHi, DI hWN TA TIMIA KAI MEGISTA hHMIN EPANGGELMATA DEDWRHTAI (1:3-4a).

These promises, confirmed by the revelation of Jesus as Son of God in the transfiguration and by means of the prophets whose message Jesus began to fulfill, point forward to God's continued righteous faithfulness "until the day Christ appears and his brilliant light shines in your hearts," that is, just as Jesus was transformed, a similar transformation awaits those who are faithful to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 3:18). They will "never fall. And you will be given a very great welcome into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, a kingdom that never ends" (2 Pet 1:10, 11). The ultimate transformation of believers awaits the transformation of the cosmos that believers wait for (3:14).
The problem with the false teachers and prophets is that they substitute empty promises for God's promises and their manner of life (chapter 2) arising from their denial of the second coming of Christ (chapter 3) are essentially a denial of God's faithful righteousness. It leads to a lack of peace with God for those who hear them (3:14). The perceived delay in the coming of Christ provided the catalyst for the false teaching. Peter is concerned to counter the denial of God's faithfulness to his covenant promise "The Lord is not being slow in doing what he promised—the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning" (3:9). "But God made a promise to us. And we are waiting for what he promised—a new sky and a new earth. That will be the place where goodness lives."

Blessings,




Yancy Smith
Yancy W. Smith, PhD
World Bible Translation Center
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yancy at wbtc.org

Be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.










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