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What Does it Mean to Grow in Grace and Knowledge?



Ed Jarrett


As Peter closed his second letter, he encouraged his readers to be on their guard and grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus instead of falling into error.


Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen (2 Peter 3:17-18).


But what did he mean by that? How do we grow in grace? And what is meant by growing in the knowledge of Jesus?


Be on Your Guard

Peter began his concluding remarks by telling us to be on our guard. To guard against getting caught up in the error of those proclaiming a different gospel.


As well as those who turn the freedom we have in Christ into a license for immorality. A significant part of this letter is taken up with this warning and the condemnation of those who teach these things (2 Peter 2:1-22). So, we have no excuse if we allow them to lead us astray.


To be carried away is reminiscent of one who falls into a raging river and is carried away by the current.


Knowing the current’s danger and acting accordingly will help keep you from being swept away. It is the one who is unaware of the threat or who ignores it who will easily find themselves falling from their secure position.



Being aware of the dangers of false teaching and practice will help to ensure that we can keep our feet planted firmly on solid ground. If we keep up our guard, we can be sure that our position in Christ is secure.


And the surest way we can guard against falling is to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”



What Is God’s Grace?

When Peter tells us to grow in grace, he refers to God’s grace. When asked to define God’s grace, many people will respond either with the acronym “God’s Righteousness at Christ’s Expense” or with “God’s Unmerited Favor.” While there is truth in both, neither tells the whole story.


One of the primary attributes of God is grace. Several passages in the Old Testament identify God as compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6; Psalm 86:15; 103:8).


The New Testament uses similar language to describe God. In Ephesians 2:4-5, Paul says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.” God’s grace, mercy, and love. All of them are involved in our salvation.


Grace is the Greek word charis, defined as “the state of kindness and favor toward someone, often with a focus on a benefit given to the object.” His gift of salvation reveals God’s kindness and favor toward us (Ephesians 2:8-9).


Our ongoing standing before God is because of his grace (Romans 5:1-2). And the gifts we have been given for service in the kingdom are because of God’s grace (Romans 12:6). All that God does for us is because of grace.



To Grow in Grace

To grow is an activity, not a state of being. Growing relates to increasing, increasing in size, knowledge, maturity, or capability. As believers, we have entered into a state of grace (Romans 5:2). But it should not be a static state. We should be growing in that grace.


In Luke 2:52, we read that Jesus grew “in favor (charis) with God and man.” Jesus grew in grace with both the people he grew up around and with God.


Growing in favor of man would imply that Jesus lived a life commended by those around him. As he grew, he developed as a citizen and productive community member. And the people around him were pleased with what they saw.


To grow in favor with God is very similar to that, except that it is in God’s eyes rather than other people’s. It is maturing as a believer, becoming more productive in the kingdom’s work, and becoming more Christlike in all you do. It should be an ongoing process that comes to an end only when we leave this life.


To grow in grace is not a matter of having God become more gracious to you. It is the believer who is growing stronger in grace. Who allows God’s grace to fill them more and more, transforming them into the image of Christ.


And Grow in Knowledge

As we grow in grace, we are also to grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus. The word translated as knowledge is gnōsis, defined by Vines as “primarily ‘a seeking to know, an inquiry, investigation.’”



This refers to more than the static knowledge a person might have acquired. It carries with it the idea of seeking, like searching for buried treasure.


There are two related aspects of growing in the knowledge of Jesus. The first is an intellectual pursuit, learning more about him. The second is relational. It is coming to know him as a person and developing an ever-deeper relationship with him.


The intellectual part of growing in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus is an active pursuit of knowledge concerning all things related to him. It is seeking not just knowledge but also understanding of that knowledge.


Growing in intellectual knowledge is like putting together a jigsaw. Every piece you find and put into its proper place brings you one step closer to a finished picture. And each piece put into the appropriate place provides attachment points for other pieces.


As I grow in the knowledge of the Lord, I will understand better who he is, what he is doing, and what I should be about.


Every little bit that I learn adds a piece to the puzzle, giving me a better picture. And everything I learn makes it possible to learn even more, connecting what seem to be unrelated pieces together into a more coherent whole.


And the more I know about him, the better I can know him. Having intellectual knowledge does not guarantee relational knowledge. But it does provide a foundation that can be built on. And that should be the end goal of knowing more about Jesus, to know him better.



Growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord are not independent operations. They go together hand in hand. You will not grow in grace without growing in the Lord’s knowledge. And you will not grow in a relational knowledge of the Lord without also growing in grace.


Growing in Grace and Knowledge Will Keep You Secure

Peter warned us against being carried away by the error of lawless men and falling from our secure position.


The best way to guarantee that is to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. We should never be satisfied that we have progressed enough. Always seek to grow ever stronger in the Lord.

Matthias David
Matthias David
Working in His vine, as He does even more at mine.


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