“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
The first thing that strikes me about this opening benediction in Peter’s second letter is the simple yet profound truth that grace and peace come to us through knowing God and Jesus our Lord. Each attribute is worthy of extended discussion (like an entire volume in a systematic theology series) but for our purpose, “grace” is God’s unmerited favor and “peace” is that sense of benign completness and tranquility. In Dear Friends, This is Paul (p. 10) I translated a similar passage as follows: “May God bless each of you with an awareness of his favor and a fresh experience of the calm delight his presence brings.”
The important thing is that grace and peace are ours “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” They are not qualities inherent in who we are by nature. The condition of the human race in 2016 testifies to that! We receive grace and as a result experience peace. They become ours by knowing God. As the word is used in scripture, personal knowledge is not only knowing something about God but experiencing him. Scripture speaks of a man “knowing” his wife.” To know God is to live always aware that he is present. I’ll always remember the observation of Frank Laubach, the famous Christian mystic, who said that since thinking is a conversation with ourselves – try to think without talking to yourself – why not make God the other person in the dialogue (check out his wonderful little booklet, The Game With Minutes).
Nature and Old Testament revelation teach a lot about God but with the incarnation of the Son we know so much more. From John’s gospel we learn that the Son, who lives in close relationship with the Father has come to “make him known” (1:18). We know from what Jesus taught and from the way he lived what God is really like. That knowledge then becomes experiential when we by faith open our hearts and invite him in. As Peter put it, it is “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” that we receive grace and peace. Apart from him we experience neither. That’s because we were created as a people who would live in relationship with their heavenly Father but sin ruined that relationship. It was restored by the sacrificial death of Christ on Calvary’s cross. God, both Father and Son, stand ready for a long chat with you (that’s grace) but you have to come inside (that’s where you will find “peace.”)