Updated: Aug 6, 2020
This post is LONG overdue! I have been mulling over this ancient Greek word - hypomone (hoop-om-on-ay) - for a while, yearning to research and write on the topic and yes - admittedly - I could have been more focused and disciplined in my studies to publish something sooner. Hopefully, this brief word study will continue to add to the understanding and freedom that comes with this text, in 2 Peter! 2 Peter 1:5-10, gives us a list of qualities that a Christian should possess, increase, and practice, so that we may NEVER fall. I have been so enthralled by this promise, that I have made it a personal goal to dive through each word, in its original language, in order to understand more clearly, this promise within the Word of God, and share this understanding with those whom I love! What I have been discovering is that as you read through 2 Peter 1:5-10, each quality is added to the previous quality, as if Peter is showing us a blue print of a building, only that this building, is a spiritual building. Peter is reminding us that we are this spiritual building, partakers of these divine qualities, because we are in Christ.
Reviewing the Blue Print
Peter begins by showing us the foundation of this 'building,' which is comprised of God given faith in Jesus Christ. Every noble quality that can be added to the life of a Christian should be firmly rooted in the foundation of this faith. The first quality to be added to our faith is virtue, which is the notion of 'excellence-' but even more so - it is the quality of reaching one's fullest potential. Now, apart from faith, 'excellence' can take on any direction that one desires, but given that Peter has indicated that it is faith that should be made excellent, guidelines are established, to help us qualify the pursuit of excellence. The ancient Greek word for 'virtue' (as it relates to faith) implies a sense of lifestyle devotion throughout the course of one's life, towards maximizing the growth of one's faith to the fullest extent. Peter then tells us to add 'knowledge' to this sense of virtue. If one is to have an excellent faith, it is incumbent to know the boundaries of what is sound doctrine, and what is unorthodox, so as to avoid being lead astray by false teaching. Knowledge is imperative, in maintaining a virtuous and excellent faith, and it is given by the Holy Spirit as He guides the believer into all truth. Next, we are instructed to build upon this knowledge, 'self-control.' This is a very interesting word in the original language, because it is only used 3 times in the New Testament, and it is used to describe one of the nine fruits of the Spirit. The implications for this are huge, because what Peter is communicating, is that we must be filled with the Holy Spirit. It is only with - and through - the Spirit of God, that a believer can add this type of self-control to their knowledge. This self-control is an application of the knowledge that we receive through the Holy Spirit, by faith in Jesus Christ. Next - and our topic and word for today - Peter's instructions are to add 'steadfastness,' to the self-control produced by the Holy Spirit. The ancient Greek word for steadfastness, really helps us to gain a rich understanding of what is meant by this quality. The Spirit of God leads and empowers the believer to reject the flesh, and to remain under, and in, the new nature of the new creation: this is part of who we are, in Christ. The heart of 'steadfastness:' 'to remain under.'
Steadfastness... 'To Remain Under!'
The ancient Greek word for steadfastness is 'hypomone,' (hoop-om-on-ay). This is comprised of 'hypó,' meaning 'under' and 'ménō,' meaning to 'remain,' or 'endure.' Taking into consideration that we are to add this quality to self-control, which is produced by the Holy Spirit, what Peter is saying, is to maintain submission to the Holy Spirit: to keep in step with where the Holy Spirit leads. The Lord is consistently testing our hearts, refining our faith through the trials of life to ensure the genuineness of our faith. At times, the Lord will lead us through very difficult times, which is reminiscent of Jesus's call to 'deny yourself,' 'take up your cross,' and follow Him. A man who takes up his cross, is a man walking a one way path, toward the destruction of his body through his eventual crucifixion. Similarly, we are steadfastly self-controlled in our faith, with our eyes are fixed on Jesus Christ, and how He destroyed the body of sin, through his rejection of the flesh and death on the cross. Steadfastness is quite often a mark of maturation within the believing Christian, since this quality cannot necessarily be fully understood unless it is applied, and the application comes through great difficulty. Strong's concordance defines 'steadfastness,' in the following aspect:
The characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings
James 5:11, reminds us of the depths of this quality, by using Job as an example of a man of steadfastness, who is often used as a flagship example of enduring hardships and maintaining faith in the Lord: "Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful." To recap some of the major trials that Job went through - in order to have the honor of being mentioned in the New Testament as a man who exhibited steadfastness - Job endured:
Being targeted by Satan
Having his animals taken away
Having his servants killed
Learning that all of his sons and daughters were killed
Being made sick
Being afflicted with sores all over his body
His wife turning from her support of Job's faith in God
His friends becoming discouraging and a source of misinformation
Through all of these trials, Job remained steadfast in self-control, which guarded his heart from cursing God. Undoubtedly, this is an incredible quality, yet we are empowered with this quality, when we are born again, of the Spirit of God - through our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Steadfastness is not an optional quality, in the life of a Christian, rather, it is a defining mark of authentic faith in the life of a believer, as we see in the Parable of the Sower.
The Parable of the Sower
Luke 8:4-15, is the parable of the sower, which describes why some people believe in Jesus, and why some people seem to 'fall away.' One of the key points in understanding, is that the condition of the heart, which is compared to soil, is the determining factor as to whether or not a person will believe. In this parable, there are three forms of bad soil (hard, rocky, thorny), which the seed (the word of God) can be planted into and only one good form of soil. A careful examination of the text will lend us to an overlooked insight into the conclusion of this parable, as it relates to steadfastness:
"As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." Luke 8:15 (ESV)
The word 'patience,' in this text is the same word for 'steadfastness:' 'hypomone.' So what this text says, is that fruit (fruit of the spirit/light/etc.) comes with steadfastness in our faith, through the trials that we encounter in this life (unbelief, persecution/tribulation, temptation to seek comfort in the pleasures & cares of this life). Steadfastness, requires a testing of one's faith, in order to demonstrate this quality. James 1:2-3 confirms that '...The testing of our faith produces steadfastness..." In this parable we see that there are some people who have hardened hearts (hard soil) due to unbelief; there are some people (rocky soil) who seem to enjoy the word of God but when trials test their faith, they fall away; there are some people (thorny soil) who let the cares, riches, and pleasures of this life choke them out of maturing in their faith. In each of these examples, there is a lack of steadfastness in the midst of testing. Steadfastness then, is a key ingredient in bearing fruit, as Luke 8:15 indicates. We are first rooted in 'good soil,' we bear fruit, we are tested, and we remain steadfast in our faith, authenticating the genuineness of our faith. There appears to be a correlation between a lack of steadfastness and those who fall away, as indicated by each of the soils in the Parable of the Sower, which is amazingly consistent considering the promise from 2 Peter 1:5-10 which indicates that if we possess, increase, and practice specific qualities (including steadfastness), we will never fall.
2 Peter 1:5-10, gives us a list of qualities which build upon each other, to form a spiritual house that will protect a Christian from ever falling away. One of the key building blocks, is steadfastness. Steadfastness is what we are to add to the self-control that is produced by the Holy Spirit, if we are to take hold of the promise of 'never falling.' Steadfastness comes from a greek word, which translates to "remain under," and in this case, it is the guidance of the Spirit of Christ which we are to remain under, even through the harshest of trials. Trials, and testing, are key elements of steadfastness, because the testing of our faith actually produces steadfastness, and fruit is never far off from steadfastness. James says,
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4
We are to look at times of testing, as opportunities to bear fruit: joy is a fruit of the spirit! Jesus himself, demonstrated this principal of faith, fruit, testing and steadfastness in the midst of his atonement for our sin through His crucifixion:
"looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2
Jesus saw even the trial and testing of his own crucifixion as 'joy.' Jesus didn't run away to save himself from this trial, but he 'endured' the cross: he remained under the trial that he was lead to by our Heavenly Father, which would ultimately save all of mankind from sin and death. The word for 'endured -' in this passage - is the same greek word for 'steadfastness!' Steadfastness is the byproduct of bearing fruit in times of testing, and is a quality that we must possess, increase and practice if we are to never fall.
Grace and peace,