Let’s next look at the 2 Peter passages.
(2Pe 1:3-4 ESV) 3 His 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, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
“Divine” is the same Greek word in both v. 3 and v. 4. The NET Bible translators explain,
Although the author has borrowed the expression partakers of the divine nature from paganism, his meaning is clearly Christian. He does not mean apotheosis (man becoming a god) in the pagan sense, but rather that believers have an organic connection with God. Because of such a connection, God can truly be called our Father. Conceptually, this bears the same meaning as Paul’s “in Christ” formula. The author’s statement, though startling at first, is hardly different from Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians that they “may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19).
As we studied in the Creation 2.0 series a few months ago, one of God’s goals in saving us is that we become like God. We are to be restored to God’s own image, which is also the image of Christ.
I agree that this doesn’t mean we become gods, but it means more than we become saved. It refers more to a transformation in our character and hearts, so that we share in the heart and passions of God himself. We take on his personality, his likes, and his dislikes. He become like him, as a son becomes like his father.
Thus, we are to be filled with the Spirit, meaning that we yield to God’s Spirit within us so that the Spirit can transform our hearts and minds to become more and more like God’s own heart and mind.
And this brings about (and results from) a closeness, an intimacy with God. Spouses who’ve been married many years become very much like each other due to their time spent together in good and bad times, in working through struggles together, and in accomplishing goals together, producing an intimacy found in few other places. Just so, a Christian will, if he submits to the Spirit and spends time in communion with God, will form a close, intimate bond — an intense personal relationship — with a Being who is with and in him and loves him more than his mate.
And there’s more. We take on a portion of the Divine Nature in this life, but in the life to come, the blessings are realized even more fully.
(2Pe 1:16-18 ESV) 16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
V. 18 makes clear that Peter has reference to the Transfiguration (Jesus was baptized in a valley). It’s hard to make out a case that Jesus only became the Son of God at the transfiguration, as he’d done countless miracles before then and was already the Messiah (e.g., Luke 4:17-21).
The point of the first part of v. 17 is simply that God himself honored Jesus as his own Son at the Transfiguration, not that Jesus was given divinity at that moment. There is no indication in the text at all that Jesus was given a new nature at that moment. Rather, the point of the Transfiguration was to reveal the true nature of Jesus, not to change his nature.
God’s declaration that Jesus is his beloved Son at the Transfiguration was a declaration of an existing truth, not a change in Jesus’ nature. After all, God had said the same thing at Jesus’ baptism — for the same reason. To borrow from 1 John 5:9, it was God’s testimony about Jesus.
[to be continued]