As we climb the “Eight Rung Ladder” of virtues in 2 Peter 1:5-7, the third step is supplementing “virtue with knowledge.” The Greek Christians in Peter’s day would have immediately connected this step with their common proverb “virtue is knowledge.” We’ve already seen how growth begins with “faith” – what we believe – and continues with “virtue” – what we do. Now, as we practice our faith, our understanding grows. We truly begin to “get it.”
Let’s look at our text again as the Apostle Peter encourages us to “5 make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love,” (2 Peter 1:5-7).
What is this knowledge Peter is talking about?
Men are funny. When we get together we talk about “guy stuff.” We bat around terms that we have absolutely no idea what they mean. For example, in talking about old cars, guys might talk about “turning the rotors” on the brakes, “adjusting the venturiis” in the carburetor (we’re talking old cars) or “adjusting the bands” in the transmission. I have used those phrases, but I have absolutely no idea what they mean. I’m not alone. You probably do too. Who really knows what the “cloud” is? How broad is “broadband”? Where is the on-ramp to the “information superhighway”? So we may have a great deal of information and facts, but we’re still clueless.
Now let’s return to Peter’s instructions as we climb the eight rung ladder. The third phrase the apostle uses in this text primarily refers to “understanding,” the very word the Contemporary English Version uses in its translation of gnosis. The Greek lexicon defines gnosis as “comprehension or intellectual grasp of something, knowledge.” This meaning is more clearly illustrated later in 2 Peter where the apostle will encourage husbands to “live with your wives in an understanding way,” (2 Peter 3:7).
It will not do for us to just fill our minds with Bible facts. To have true knowledge, to truly understand, we must apply those facts. It is what we do with our knowledge that truly matters!
 Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 203). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.