1 Peter – Chapter 2 – Chapter 1588
The Living Power — Vv. 1-3
The Apostle shows how the "soil" should be prepared in order that "the seed" may take root, and bring forth "fruit" to the glory of the sower.
"Wherefore" — In view of the foregoing.
"Laying aside" — The new life created by the living word demands a conscious effort on the part of the believer to separate himself from certain habitual sins that may have become part of his character.
"All malice" — The R.V. renders as "wickedness.." All things that offend God should be set aside.
"All guile" — Gr. dolos, from a verb signifying "to catch with bait," and thus "craftiness." Peter, the fisherman, would know what this meant! We are to be open, honest and sincere; not laying bait to catch others.
"Hypocrisies, envies and all evil speaking" — Here is a trinity of evils to avoid ! Hypocrisy is playacting, making out that one is something that he is not! It is the putting on of an external show to hide a hidden wickedness; but God who searcheth the hearts, will cause all such play-acting to be revealed for what it is in due time. Envy is a deadly sin that has destroyed many a good worker in the Truth. "Envy," says the Proverbs (Ch. 14:30) causes "the rottenness of the bones." Let a person labor "as unto the Lord," and avoid attempting to be a "man-pleaser," and there will be no place for envy. The Pharisees, on the other hand, "loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:43), and the envy that this engendered when they saw men following and praising the Lord, caused them to commit the greatest crime in history — the murder of the Prince of life. "Evil speaking" is slander, and slander is a form of relaxation to many ! They cannot help passing on the failings of others, forgetting their own sins. It is one of the things that Yahweh hates, and which, therefore, we need to avoid, sternly disciplining the tongue. The Psalmist lists it as one of the deadly sins that will cause rejection from the Kingdom (Ps. 15:3). Therefore, let us learn to control the tongue — a very difficult thing, as James reminds us (Ch. 3). Often a person does not intend to slander, but as others lend a ready ear, he cannot help himself, and soon the tongue wabbles on until the talker, often to his dismay, finds that he has gone too far. Let us learn to control the tongue.
This trinity of evils draws attention in turn to habit (hypocrisies), emotion (envies), and speech (evil speakings). All three can be used for good or ill, and should be moulded by the Word to act for good.
"As newborn babes" — This expression describes those who have just embraced Christ. In point of years and worldly experience, they may be adults; but in Christ, they are babes, and need the same thoughtful care and supervision to ensure development as does a little child. That is one reason why Paul warns against appointing a novice to a position of responsibility (1 Tim. 3:6). A child is generally trusting (Matt. 18:3), and so should a believer in Christ. Nevertheless, there is a need for such to mature in the Word (see Eph. 4:11-15).
"Desire" — Rotherham renders this as "eagerly crave." Observe the hungry baby seeking its food, and apply the same desire to absorbing the incorruptible Word of God.
"Sincere" — In the Greek there is a play on the word "guile," for here the word is adolos (see note above), and is the opposite of guile. It signifies that which is pure and unadulterated. Peter would have us to desire the purity of Truth unmixed with the philosophies of men. Such theories as evolution, which today are fed to children at an early age, are the very opposite to this and develop a taste for a sophisticated form of mental "food" that can destroy one's desire for the pure, unadulterated milk of the Word.
"Milk of the word" — This will develop us until we are able to absorb the meat of the Word (see Heb. 5:13-6:1). Notice how carefully Peter outlines the development of the new life: 1st, begettal (ch. 1:23); 2nd, laying aside evil (ch. 2:1); 3rd, absorbing the milk; 4th, growing thereby. He would have us develop through the milk, not remain on that diet always.
"That ye may grow thereby" — In Christ, growth is necessary. Childish ways are engaging in an infant, but irritating in an adult. This is true also of those in Christ. Note Paul's exhortation — Heb. 5:12-6:3.
"If so be" — The original suggests a fulfilled condition, as rendered by the Diaglott: "Since you have tasted the kindness of the Lord." Those to whom Peter wrote had experienced the goodness of God. and should have been responding in the way suggested in the earlier verses.
"Gracious" — Gr. chrestos, signifying "able to be used," hence "good, benevolent, kind, well-disposed in spite of ingratitude." These are characteristics of the Father which the Son also revealed, and which we should emulate. The word speaks of the condescending kindness of Yahweh in spite of the unthinking ingratitude of His creatures, and upon this Divine graciousness of character we not only trust, but having experienced it, should reflect it to others. To do so will give God pleasure, and will reveal us as His children indeed.
The Living Stone — Vv. 4-8
It is absolutely necessary to conform to God's requirements, because we must fit into a "building" of living stones, in which places will only be found for those who measure up to the foundation, even the Lord Jesus.
"A living stone" — The Messiah, promised through Isaiah from where Peter is quoting (Isa. 28:16).
"Disallowed of men" — Gr. apodokimazo, signifying "to reject after scrutiny or trial." This is what flesh did to the Lord Jesus, as the Psalm predicted: "The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner" (Ps. 118:22).
"Chosen of God and precious" — The Lord Jesus Christ was especially chosen of Yahweh to approach unto Him (Psa. 65:4), and as such he is extremely precious. Only one who rendered perfect obedience could fill such a place, and there has been only one such!
"Ye also, as lively stones" — This is better rendered as living stones. Christ is the chief corner stone of the spiritual Temple in which Yahweh desires to dwell (2 Cor. 6:16; 1 Cor. 6:19-20). In the terms of that analogy, believers, as living stones, must conform to the pattern presented by the Lord; they must fit into the shape provided by the chief corner stone. A believer is called to a new life in Christ, for before accepting Christ he is accounted as "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). This new life is manifested in action, with Christ as the motivating power of such (Gal. 2:20). This, indeed, is "the hope of glory" to be revealed in the age to come (Col. 1:27).
"Are built up a spiritual house" — Rotherham renders this in the present tense: "Being built up". The process of building this spiritual Temple still continues, and will not be completed until the coming of Christ. The pattern of this is the Temple of Solomon. The stones of that Temple were extracted from the depths of the earth; carefully shaped according to divine specifications, and finally conveyed to the site to be placed in the position for which they were designed. As the record states, not a sound of iron was heard (1 Kings 6:7). The stones that formed the building are described as "great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones" (1 Kings 5:17), expressing both value and care in preparation. But, in spite of these stones and the care lavished upon them, the Temple had no real beauty until the glory of Yahweh entered it. Then it became His dwelling place on earth. Today, those in Christ are selected for that honour. For the present, the glory is mental and moral, but in the age to come it will also be physical. The process begins at baptism, and will be completed at the Judgment Seat. Meanwhile, believers need to build into their lives the divine virtues manifested in the Son of God. This will qualify them, as living stones, to grace the spiritual "house" of the age to come. The "house" will be revealed in its fulness and glory after the debris has been removed at the Judgment Seat (see Rev. 21:2-11). It will then be found that in that "house" are many "abiding places", as said the Lord (Jhn. 14:2; Eph. 2:21; Heb. 3:2).
"An holy priesthood" — Rotherham translates: "For a holy priesthood." As the priests devoted their lives to the work and will of the Father, so the "holy priesthood," constituted in Christ, should do likewise. The saints' full status as priests, however, still awaits the coming age (Rev. 5:9-10), when they will minister on behalf of mortals. Meanwhile, they are in training to that end, and the trials of life provide them with experience that they will then be able to use to advantage (Heb. 5:1-2).
"To offer up" — The word in the Greek signifies "to carry up," and is a reference to the priests ascending the incline to the altar with the sacrifices which they there offered. So our offerings must be borne to the altar, which is Christ Jesus (Heb. 13:10. See also Rom. 12:1).
"Spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ" — The offerings of a believer in Christ are not dead carcases of animals, nor the blood of bulls and of goats, but the sacrifice of self-interest, and the giving up of one's life in dedication to Yahweh. This constitutes a "living sacrifice holy, acceptable unto God which is the service of reason" (see Rom. 12:1; Phil. 4:18). Peter reminds us that it is not sufficient to merely believe; we must be so motivated by belief as to manifest in action the fruits of such knowledge. This will cause us to turn from things of the flesh to serve God (1 Thess. 1:9).
"Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture" — In support of his reasoning, Peter cited the words of Isaiah relating to the foundation stone Yahweh proclaimed He would lay in Zion. Reference to this Scripture has already been made in v. 4.
"Behold I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious" — This Scripture is prophetic of the Lord Jesus Christ, as Peter has already declared. He is both selected and precious, and as the chief corner stone, the whole building must be based on him, conforming to the pattern he presents.
"And he that believeth on him shall not be confounded" — This statement, part of Isaiah 28:16 is also cited by Paul (Rom. 10:11). The word "confounded" is perhaps better rendered put to shame. A believer, having built upon the sure rock foundation provided in Christ, will not be overcome by the storms of life that he must expect as part of his present pilgrimage, and therefore will not be put to shame. To build like that, however, is to both believe and obey, for one without the other is to build on sand (Matt. 7:24-27). Isaiah renders the phrase as: "He that believeth shall not make haste"; that is, he shall be firm and constant in his application of truth, and will not flee, or hastily retire in the face of a challenge. Instead, he will resolutely face up to trouble in faith. The word "believeth" is from the Greek pisteuo, "to be persuaded, rely upon, trust". It suggests complete reliance and trust in Christ in spite of any circumstances that may arise. The believer, manifesting such a faith, will not be confounded, or put to shame. Such a faith is developed through the word (Rom. 10:17).
"Unto you therefore which believe" — As noted above, the word "believe" implies a conviction developed out of knowledge. Without such a faith, it is "impossible to please God" (Heb. 11:6). Conviction will give substance to hope (Heb. 11:1), enabling the believer to acknowledge that "God is and becomes a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Heb. 11:6).
"He is precious" — The margin renders this: "He is an honor." To be associated with Christ was not esteemed an honor by the world in those days, when Christians were looked upon as the offscouring of the earth, and therefore, there was constant need to remind believers of the fact. What of these days ? Do we honor Christ as we should? Remember his exhortation (Luke 12:8). The time is coming when we might wish that we had honoured Christ more !
"Them which be disobedient" — Lit. "the disbelieving," those who "refuse to be persuaded," of the truth, and not merely those who sin in the truth.
"The stone which the builders disallowed" — Peter continues to quote from the O.T. Scriptures (Ps. 118:22 and Isa. 8:14-15). Perhaps his mind reverted to the time when he did not appreciate the significance of these Scriptures himself, and with the other Apostles, remarked, "we had thought it had been he who would have redeemed Israel!" What a revelation when the Lord, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, expounded the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:27). In such use of Scripture as this, Peter was revealing the fruits of Christ's labors in exposition.
"The same is made the head of the corner" — Though the Christ foundation stone is rejected by the mass of humanity, yet Yahweh has made him the corner-stone on which the whole spiritual Temple rests (Acts 4:11-12). There is no hope apart from Christ. As the "corner-stone" he gives stability to the spiritual Temple of which each believer forms a part.
"A stone of stumbling"—The word for stone is lithos, and signifies a loose stone that can be removed. Stumbling is proskommatos, "to cut against," and thus "to strike." The Jews looked upon the Lord Jesus as a loose stone that they could easily kick out of the way, but when they attempted to do this, they found that he was no lithos, but a petra, an immovable rock, which cut them when they attempted to strike it.
"And a rock of offence" — These words, cited from the prophecy of Isaiah 8:14-15, describe what the Lord became to the Jews. The Greek word skandalon was the name given to the part of a trap to which bait was attached, and then the trap or snare itself. Vine declares that it is "always used metaphorically, and ordinarily of anything that arouses prejudice, or becomes a hindrance to others, or causes them to fall by the way. Sometimes the hindrance is in itself good, and those stumbled by it are the wicked'" (See Rom. 9:33; 1 Cor. 1:23; Gal. 5:11 etc.). Christ became such to the Jews because they refused the truth in him. He becomes such to Gentiles for the same reason.
"Which stumble at the word being disobedient" — Here the word is skandalou with the same meaning as above. It describes those who "stumble at the word", and Christ was the "word made flesh" (Jhn. 1:14). Peter describes the Jews as "being disobedient" or "refusing to be persuaded" as the word signifies. Because of their ignorance, Christ became a trap that ensnared them, for they refused to be persuaded by the word which predicted his sacrificial death and resurrection. Paul wrote of Gentiles who are found in the same category: "Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie" (2 Thess. 2:11).
"Whereunto they were appointed" —They were appointed to keep this word, a word that was given exclusively unto the Jewish people. Thus they stumbled at the very oracles of God that were committed into their care (Rom. 3:2).
The Living Priesthood — Vv. 9-10.
Having been called to participation in the living Temple, believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, are inducted into a living priesthood not restricted by the limitations of the Aaronic priesthood.
"But" — In contrast to those who refused to be persuaded. "Ye are a chosen generation"— A chosen generation is a race, or people brought into existence by Divine choice, and not by fleshly birth (cp 1Jn 1:13). "A seed shall serve him," declared the Psalmist (Ps. 22:30), "it shall be accounted to Yahweh for a generation." This generation will comprise the "house of David" which Yahweh promised He would build for David (2 Sam. 7:11). As a part of such, a person embracing the hope of David, becomes "a living stone" in this spiritual temple, and to him are given "the sure mercies of David" (Isa. 55:4). In Hebrew, beith signifies both "house" and "family," so that "house of David" can signify both building and progeny. The word ben signifies a "son," the word bath a "daughter," and the word eben a "stone." The common root of all these words is banah, "he built." Thus a house is made up of abanim, "stones," and a family (Ps. 68:6) is built up of banim, "sons" and banoth, "daughters," so that these offspring become to a family what stones do to a house. They comprise "the chosen generation," or the selected stones of the spiritual Temple. However, Christ warns that "many are called but tew are chosen" (Matt. 20:16). Those "chosen" will constitute Yahweh's "special treasure" (Mal. 3:17), to be incorporated into the spiritual Temple. The rest will be removed as the debris of a house after it is completed. It is not enough to be "called", we must see to it that we are among the "chosen" in that day. And Paul warned: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).
"A royal priesthood"—Melchize-dek was both king and priest (Heb. 7:2), and therefore the founder of a "royal priesthood" which is far superior to the Aaronic. The Melchizedek priesthood is based on selection and faith, and not on blood-relationships or family descent (Heb. 7:3). It is to this priesthood that believers become related (Ps. 110. Rev. 1:6. 5:9-10. 20:6), for they will become both kings and priests, or members of a royal priesthood (cp.Zech. 6:13).
"An holy nation" — As with the expression above, this is derived from Exod. 19:6: "A kingdom of priests and an holy nation". The word "holy" signifies to be separated for a special purpose. Israel, once was regarded as a nation consecrated to God, has now been temporarily cast off because of disobedience, and Gentiles have been called into the relationship once enjoyed by them. The basic principle of holiness is that of separation (2 Cor. 6:17-18), but that does not complete the process: the separation is to be for a purpose; that which God has in mind.
"A peculiar people"—The margin renders: "A purchased people." The Greek is peripoiesis, and signifies something obtained or possessed. The R.V. renders: "God's own possession" (cp. Eph. 1:14). Saints are "God's own possession" because He has purchased them (Acts 20:28. 1 Cor. 6:20. 7:23).
All the expressions of this verse are those that were formerly applied to Israel. Israel was a chosen race (Deut. 7:6), a "kingdom of priests" until the tribe of Levi was selected as the priestly tribe (Exod. 19:6), a holy or separated nation (Exod. 19:6), Yahweh's own possession (Deut. 7:6). God's purpose in calling the nation out of Egypt was that it might be unto Him "for a people, a name, a praise, and a glory." But, as Jeremiah sorrowfully lamented, the people "would not hear" (Jer. 13:11). This came to a climax in their rejection of Jesus, at which point, God set them aside, and turned to the Gentiles to "take out of them a people for His name" (Acts 15:14). That is the status of believers today, so that whatever fleshly nationality they might have originally claimed, they now constitute the true Israel of God.
"To shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you"—This statement can be linked with that of Peter's at the Jerusalem conference: "God did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people..." (Acts 15:14). The purpose was "for His name," or in the terms of the statement before us, "to shew forth His praises." The margin renders "praises" as "virtues." These are the attributes of God which Jesus revealed to perfection, and which saints should aim to build into their lives. When this is done, a common family likeness to Jesus Christ their elder brother, and to Yahweh their Father, will be revealed. As children of God, they must manifest the characteristics of God, or else He will disown them.
"Out of darkness into His marvellous light"—See Acts 26:18. "Marvellous light" is light to be wondered at as a marvel; it is the light shed forth by the Lord Jesus, the "light of the world" (John 8:12).
"Which in time past were not a people"—This is a quotation from Hos. 1:9. 2:23, and there applied to the restoration of Israel. In Romans 9:25, Paul quotes this passage to show that as Yahweh is merciful and just in restoring disobedient Israel, so He is consistent in offering salvation to obedient Gentiles. The purpose of God in calling either Jews or Gentiles remains the same, namely, to reveal His virtues in a changed life, for only such characters are worthy of being perpetuated in immortal bodies.
"But are now the people of God" — As a "purchased people" those "in Christ" belong to God. They are not their own, they have been "bought with a price" (1 Pet. 1:19). Though freed from servitude to the flesh, they are the slaves of Christ, and should manifest obedience to his will (1 Cor. 7:22-23).
"Which had not obtained mercy" — The word "mercy" signifies, in general, to feel sympathy with others in their misery, but, by extension, to manifest such sympathy in a practical way by relieving the sufferer. Those living in ignorance "have no hope", and are "without God in the world" (Eph. 2:12). Those to whom Peter wrote were once in that condition, and should show sympathetic concern for those out of the way of salvation.
"But now have obtained mercy" — In Christ, the sympathetic interest of Yahweh is extended to those who previously were "without God". It is manifested by Him freely, in that He forgives their sins and strengthens them in time of need (Rom. 8:32-39).
Realities of Faith
We see the exquisiteness of the divine wisdom in the finished workmanship of creation around us; we see something of His exhaustless beneficence in the manifest design of all things to confer goodness; but we see these in Christ as they are nowhere else to be seen. They are here brought to a personal focus, and directed towards us in the pledge of unutterable well-being in due time. It is something for us to ponder, to rest on, to be comforted by, to admire. It is a glorious reality — the most glorious reality in creation — made ours in the gospel. It is a great possession now, though by faith only; but what shall it be when we stand before the presence of his glory to receive its healing effulgence in the company of the mustered friends of God of every age, and in the presence of a countless host of angelic spectators?
These things are not "cunning devised fables" though so gorgeous. They are the realities of sober truth, though hidden from the eyes of man for a necessary reason. They will burst upon our delighted vision by and by. It is only a question of time, and of a short time at the longest. The announcement of the Lord's arrival may any day hurry us into their presence, or the fall of death's curtain on our path may at any time, as with the wave of a magician's wand conjure us away in a moment from the horrors of this evil state, and show us the manifold glorious of the divine purpose in the presence of Christ returned.
In this sense, living or dying, our position is a position of constantly imminent hope. Living or dying, we are of the Lord's, and to be his, we are related to the glories of the great salvation which transcend the wildest dreams of the most imaginative of poets, and beggar all human speech to convey an adequate idea of them. They are well named by Paul, "the unsearchable riches of Christ." It is only a sober fact that it hath not entered into the heart of man to conceive of them. God hath revealed them by His spirit, but for all that, the vision of them in great measure lies latent in the words that convey them, and remains invisible to millions who have the words but discern them not. R.R.
The Pilgrim Life and How to Live It (Ch. 2:11-4:11)
Having clearly illustrated the privileged relationship that believers enjoy towards God, in being called out of Gentile darkness into the glorious light of Truth, Peter now lays down principles that should be observed by them during their pilgrimage on earth. As "strangers and pilgrims in the earth," it is necessary that they walk in wisdom towards those who are without, that by so doing they might grace the truth they hold, and reveal the "virtues" of Him who has called them (Ch. 2:9). This must be manifested in practical works that embrace all the normal circumstances of life, and particularly those that relate to the dealings of one person with another. Peter, in his treatment of what is required, touches upon the various classes of people within the Ecclesia, and shows how they should live towards the world, and towards each other.
Towards the World — Vv. 11-17
Peter urges the need for consistency of behaviour before unbelievers. By avoiding wickedness, by doing good, and by manifesting respect for the laws of the land where they do not conflict with those of Cod, the Truth can be most effectively preached by action, and can result in the conversion of some who are drawn to consider it by observing our disciplined lives.
"Dearly beloved" — The Greek word is agapetos. It denotes the state of those for whom Peter was prepared to labour at the expense of his own convenience. He manifested towards them such a love as stemmed from God, for "love is of God".
"I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims"—He writes to them as "strangers and pilgrims" because this defines their true political status in the world. The word for stranger is paroikos, "sojourner," "alien." Bullinger renoers it as "without the rights of citizenship." But Peter associates with this word, that of "pilgrim," implying that whilst a believer has no real rights of citizenship in the world about him, he is, at the same time, a pilgrim looking for a kingdom to come, wherein full rights of citizenship will be granted (cf.Heb. 11: 9-16). In Phil. 3:20, Paul declared (see Diaglott): "Our polity (or citizenship) begins in the heavens..." It begins there because it is vested in the Lord Jesus, "for whom," Paul says, "we wait..." Though it begins there, it will be finally manifested in the earth, for "the kingdoms of this world" shall become those of the Lord Jesus (Rev. 11:15).
"Abstain from fleshly lusts"— Live a life completely different from that lived by those about you, who are governed by fleshly desires and ambitions.
"Which war against the soul"— As soon as one elects to serve Christ rather than the flesh, a warfare commences, and in that battle, the "members of the body" (the attributes of feeling, speech, activity, etc.) can be ranged as weapons on the one side or the other.
Paul uses this analogy in Romans 6:13 where he exhorts: "Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin." His words really signify (see margin), Do not present your members as weapons in the cause of King Sin, but use them in the service of Christ. He acknowledged that the latter involved a battle with the flesh. Peter does likewise in the verse before us.
"Having your conversation honest" — The Diaglott renders: "Having your conduct upright among the Gentiles." We are "honest" or "upright" when we put into practice the principles we profess.
"Whereas they speak against you as evildoers"—The margin renders this, "Wherein." Peter is making reference to the way in which the world misjudges the motives and actions of believers, and accuses them of evil actions. Because true Christians refuse to compromise with other religions, to mix socially with worldly people, or to identify themselves with principles of fleshly patriotism, the world senses that they are condemning it (as, indeed, they are—see Gal 6:14), and is antagonised thereby. This, naturally, incites the world's opposition, and, in the first century, brought down upon the Ecclesias its active persecution, as it sometimes does also in the much more liberal world of today.
"They may by your good works which they behold" — The word "good" is kalos in Greek, and signifies that which is beautiful because it is in harmony with what it was intended to be. An object whose appearance is in perfect accord with that for which it was designed, is "good" in this sense. "Good works" as far as true Christians are concerned are consistent actions. Though the world may speak evil against believers because of their refusal to comply with its demands, it cannot but help commend them for their consistency, if the principles they propound are in accordance with the actions they reveal. Therefore, reasoned Peter, consistency of action is a powerful instrument in preaching the Truth.
"Glorify God in the day of visitation"—The unbelieving world will be forced to glorify God "in the day of visitation" (or judgment), for it will then have to acknowledge the wisdom and righteousness of believers in acting as they have in accordance with Divine instructions, even though, at present, it rejects Christ's teaching. A case in point is the instruction of Christ to his followers to flee Jerusalem when it would become the object of Roman attack (Luke 21:20-21—an outpouring of national judgment, a day of visitation, which believers were even then awaiting). Their attitude as conscientious objectors was doubtless looked upon as being most unpatriotic and cowardly at the time, but ultimately it was recognised as one resulting from sound wisdom, for the predicted destruction of Jerusalem came to pass as the result of Divine judgment, as Christ foretold. This was "a day of visitation" (see Luke 19:44), when national judgment was poured out upon Jewry; and if believers, through fleshly patriotism, had become involved in the defence of the country, they would have perished with the ungodly. That is true also of impending national judgments. The instructions received from Christ require believers to keep separate from the world, lest they perish with it; and whilst the world might decry them as "evildoers" now for so acting, it will ultimately be compelled to acknowledge the wisdom of this teaching in the "day of visitation" when it will see saints escape a destruction that will engulf all nations.
"Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake"—The rules and regulations of the world should be obeyed except when they conflict with those of God. Thus Peter, when commanded not to preach, replied: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). The three faithful Jews, in the time of Daniel, obeyed the ordinance of Nebuchadnezzar to assemble on the plain of Shinar, but refused to bow before the image he had set up (Dan. 3). They obeyed the law of the land as far as it was possible for them to do without breaking God's commands. The latter must ever take precedence over the former, even though man's laws should be respected (see Rom. 13:1).
"Whether it be to the king as supreme" — Peter commands that his readers submit to the supreme authority on earth, whether exercised by the sovereign in person, or by those who are appointed by him. The Government of the land is to be acknowledged as supreme, subject of course to the limitations as expressed by the Apostles: "We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
Peter, writing in the age of Nero, still saw the State as the God-appointed organisation for the maintenance of society, in which Christ's followers should render to Caesar his due. By personal experience, Peter knew what it meant to refuse this when the law of Caesar conflicted with that of God (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29). However, he does not lay em phasis upon that aspect of duty here.
"Governors are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers"—See the similar teaching of Paul (Rom. 13:4). He declared that rulers "bear not the sword in vain." God has ordained the powers that be, and they are permitted to wield the sword in order to preserve peace, limit tyranny, and enable the Truth to be proclaimed. To that end, the Apocalypse represents the "earth" (political opposition to tyranny) as "helping" the remnant of the woman's seed "which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:16-17). See comments in Elpis Israel and Eureka. Believers, therefore, do not stand in judgment upon unbelievers when the latter use the sword, for their attitude of non-resistance to evil is bound up in the terms of their call as a purchased people (1 Pet. 2:9), requiring them to separate "from out of the Gentiles, a people for the name" (Acts 15:14. Rev. 5:9-10). This separation is a very real thing, involving non-participation in politics, worldly religious organisations, or the wars of nations. Paul taught that salvation is bound up in observing it (2 Cor. 6:17-18). Thus, whilst recognising that "Governors are sent by God for the punishment of evildoers," and Rome was God's instrument to inflict judgment on Jerusalem, believers had to stand aside from all participation in such, as a separated people, as "strangers" scattered throughout the nation (1 Pet. 1:1).
"And for the praise of them that do well" — Praise here stands opposed to punishment. It is part of the State's business to commend and protect law-abiding people in their midst, and to acknowledge their righteousness in that regard. See also Rom. 13:3-4.
"For so is the will of God" — In the relationship of believers with the State, the will of God must be acknowledged and obeyed. That sometimes, brings them into conflict with those with whom they would prefer to be at peace. See Ch. 3:17.
"With well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men"—Well doing supplies an eloquent answer to all forms of criticism. The words, "put to silence" are literally, "to muzzle." Good actions muzzle criticism! This is excellent reasoning. What can the voice of criticism effectively say in the face of good works performed? Do not they testify to the power, influence and regard afforded the things believed? The word "foolish" in the Greek signifies "without reason," and therefore indicates unreflecting and unreasonable men. There are many such; people who cannot be convinced by the most reasonable arguments, nor the most logical force of Scripture, but who cannot resist the appeal of good works. How often has a Christadelphian's claim to be recognised as a conscientious objector been decried as "illogical" by men who have never properly considered the full force of the evidence, and yet has been granted because of the consistent attitude manifested by the applicant? After all, does not James say that "faith without works is dead being alone"?
"As free"—A believer is subject to the will of God, and therefore free of the domination of man. That is his real political status at present. Nevertheless, because God requires it, he cheerfully submits to the ordinances of men, even though they may appear tyrannical and unjust. Faithful Israelites had to submit to the tyranny of Nebuchadnezzar because the purpose of God demanded his conquest of the land of Judah, and so Yahweh through Jeremiah declared: "By My outstretched arm, have (I) given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me" (Jer. 27:5). We should not question these matters, nor get upset over whoever is placed in power. It is our duty to submit to whatever Government is in force, and we need to do it without complaining. See the example of Christ in Matt. 17:26-27.
"And not using your liberty" — In Christ, believers have been purchased from out of slavery to sin (Rom. 6:18), and therefore are not under the domination of the flesh. However, in line with the example of Christ, they submit to the requirements of the Government, until they conflict with those of Christ.
"Cloke of maliciousness" — The word maliciousness is rendered "wickedness" in the R.V. It is possible for believers in Christ to misuse the freedom that association with him brings, as a cloke or cover of wickedness. They can claim exemption from the demands of the State because it is convenient for them so to do, and yet live in complete disobedience to Christ, and inconsistently with their claim of liberty from these laws. Such an attitude becomes a "cloke of wickedness."
"The servants of God"—God has purchased those in Christ (1 Cor. 7:22), and in so doing, has freed them from the domination of man. But as they are His slaves, and are required to obey His will, and He has requested that they "submit to every ordinance of man," so they obey the laws of man, except where they conflict with the laws of God.
"Honour all men" — Christ's followers respect authority by obeying its laws wherever possible. See Rom. 13:7.
"Love the brotherhood" — Apart from Ch. 5:9, this is the only place where 'brotherhood" is found in Scripture. It relates to the whole fraternity of believers, which is regarded as a band of brothers. The term love is expressive of a self-sacrificial service rendered to all. Whereas we honour or respect all in authority (the word men is not in the Greek), we love the brotherhood.
"Fear God" — This is a duty everywhere enjoined in the Scriptures (Lev. 25:17; Rom. 3:18; 2 Cor. 7:1). In Prov. 1:7 (Heb.) the "'fear of Yahweh" is classified as "the firstfruits of knowledge " whereas Paul sets forth "love" as the "bond of completeness" (Col. 3:14). "Fear" in this context, is a reverential veneration of God; a fear not so much of punishment as of His disapproval.
"Honour the king" — As King of heaven believers pay Yahweh the supreme honour; and as a token of this, they respect kingly authority on earth.
Towards Masters — vv. 18-25
Among the duties required of those who enjoy the privileges granted those in Christ is the attitude of servants towards their masters. They are called upon to submit to those things laid upon them. Even though the conditions are difficult, and they are called upon to suffer wrongfully, they are exhorted to bear with it, following the example set by Christ. Of course, as Paul remarks, if they can obtain freedom from such servitude, they are advised to do so (1 Cor. 7:21). Certainly they are to avoid agitation, such as is the custom of labourers today; but, in faith, to look to Yahweh to lighten their difficulties, and avenge the wrongs they suffer.
"Servants, be subject to your masters'' — The duty of servants to their masters is outlined by Paul in Eph. 6:5-9. However, the word here rendered "servants" is not the same as there. It is the title oiketes, derived from a root signifying to occupy a house, and hence a domestic. Such a person might have been a bond-slave, or might not. The word would apply to one whether he was hired, or owned as a slave. Nor is the word rendered "masters" the same as that used by Paul. Here it is the plural of despotes, signifying absolute rulers. The context implies that such were unbelievers, exercising absolute dominion over those under them. In spite of their dictatorial attitude, Christ's followers are exhorted to be subject to them with all reverence and respect.
"With all fear" — With proper respect. They are not to despise their masters, or agitate against them, as is often the case today.
"Not only to the good and gentle but also to the froward" — The attitude of subjection must be shown towards both the gentle (epieikes — fair, moderate, forebearing) as well as to the froward (skolios — crooked, curved, thus perverse and unjust). It is difficult to follow this advice unless daily activity is viewed as a service to Christ (see Eph. 6:5). By so doing believers manifest a virtue of Christ's character, and witness to the power of the truth espoused by us.
"This is thankworthy"—Gr. char-is, the same word elsewhere rendered "grace" or that which is expressive of unmerited favor (see Ch. 1:2). It suggests a service which occasions pleasure, or causes favorable regard, and, as in the use of the term, the grace of God, indicates an action beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected. A slave in the performance of his duties would not be normally thanked unless he conducted himself in a most exceptional way. Peter here enjoins them to so conduct themselves that they become the subjects of such commendation.
"If a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully" — If our daily chores can be viewed as a service to God, a "conscience" in such matters will be developed, and the believer will become a conscientious labourer in the things appointed him to do in his daily avocation. Christ endured the contradiction of sinners against himself (Heb. 12:3); he "suffered wrongfully", experiencing injustice and pain. But he was sustained by Yahweh, and rose triumphantly from the grave. His example is one for all believers to follow in the normal pursuits of life.
"For what glory is it?"—Gr. kleos, signifying "fame," "reputation."
"When ye be buffeted for your faults" — The word "buffeted" means to strike with clenched fists, a punishment that slaves might expect from evil, tyrannical masters. The same word is used in Matthew 26:67 of the treatment meted out to the Lord,, who, as Yahweh's suffering servant, set forth an example for all to follow. Peter's memory of that awful night, when he was a witness of the indignities heaped upon the Lord, ,:mst have been very vivid. He reverts to it in this verse, and shows what a wonderful example of patient endurance in suffering the Lord gave under those terrible conditions.
However, Christ was not "buffeted for his faults" but in spite of all that he had done for suffering humanity. The term "for your faults" is literally tor sinning, that is, "if being guilty of an offence, or having done wrong". Under such conditions, punishment would be just.
"Ye take it patiently?" — The word "patiently" is derived from a word signifying to abide under, and therefore to endure. A person might do this whilst deserving the discipline he receives; in that case it is no honour for him to submit to the punishment laid on him. He is deserving of it. However, a believer suffers injustice, and yet patiently submits to whatever indignity may be laid upon him, because he recognises that it is the will of God that he manifests such a characteristic. It is pleasing in the sight of the Father Who will avenge in due time (Rom. 12:19). We attribute no particular credit to one who submits to a just punishment even with a calm temper. We feel that it would be wrong in the highest degree for him to do otherwise. So it is when calamities are brought on a person on account of his sins. If it is seen to be the fruit of intemperance or crime, we do not feel that there is any great virtue exhibited if he bears it with calmness. But when one patiently bears with suffering or criticism that is not justified, and it is seen that this is done in submission to God, a powerful witness to the influence of the Truth is exhibited.
"But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it" — On the other hand, if a person is not deserving of the punishment he receives, it will excite sympathy; and if he accepts it patiently, it will receive praise. An onlooker will recognise that he is motivated by worthy principles, and might be drawn to consider them, and so be attracted to Christ.
"This is acceptable with God" —The Greek for "acceptable" is charts, for which see the notes on the word "thankworthy" (v.19). Here it indicates the pleasure of God in the attitude of His servants who patiently endured ill-treatment meted out to them beyond the normal lot of slaves, because they were Christians.
"For hereunto were ye called" —Believers are called upon to patiently endure trials even as did the Lord Jesus. Peter makes this fact abundantly clear, and endeavours to impress it upon his brethren. These verses should be the subject of constant meditation that the important principles set forth therein should be given practical expression in action. Faith will enable us to rise above trials, suffering and all frustrations, and will provide us with the vision to see beyond these things to the glorious consummation to be revealed at Christ's return.
"Because Christ also suffered for us" — He did so as our representative, not as our substitute. He revealed by his actions what his followers should attempt to manifest, whereas if he suffered instead of us, we should not need to suffer to any degree. True disciples are called upon to "look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of their faith, who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God"(Heb. 12:2).
"Leaving us an example"—Gr. hupograrnmos, lit. "an under-writing," from hupographo "to write under," "to trace letters for copying." The word suggests the old-time copy-book, in which the letters of the alphabet were perfectly formed, and children learned to shape them according to the example given. The slow, clumsy, laborious efforts of young students, unused to the letters, are suggestive of the wavering, difficult efforts of Christians to copy the example of Christ. As with children, however, practice makes perfect; the more Christians try to imitate Christ, the more they will succeed. "Ye should follow his steps"— Follow him as sheep follow the shepherd, in trust, confidence and faith that he will protect and truly guide them.
"Who did no sin" — The Lord's perfect obedience stemmed from his divine begettal, teaching the lesson that a person must be begotten from above in order to develop spiritually as required of God (see John 3:3 mg). Even so, they will fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Christ was unique among the sons of Adam. See The Blood of Christ.
"Neither was guile found in his mouth" — See note on v.l. Christ was open and sincere in all his words. He did not try to evade the suffering to which he was subjected by a cunning use of words.
"Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again" — The natural tendency of flesh is to retaliate when reviled. Christ revealed a "more perfect way". He did not use harsh words in return for those which were directed against him. He was accused of being seditious, deceptive, a blasphemer; but he did not answer in kind. The Lord was forthright in his denunciation of evil, as witness his description of the Jewish leaders recorded in Matthew 23; but he was not personally vindictive, nor did he indulge in false accusations, nor in reviling. On the cross he called for no revenge, but instead sought the good of the nation, praying that the enormity of the action of its leaders might be brought home to the people, that they might be saved from their sins.
"When he suffered, he threatened not" — When he suffered injustice in his trial, and in the form of his death, he did not give way to idle threats, but submitted in accordance with the will of Yahweh.
"He committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously" — Christ gave an example of absolute non-resistance, to evil and complete trust in God. He could have avoided all his trials (Matt. 26:53), but he knew that the path of salvation lay through suffering and death, and like a good shepherd, he led the way. Peter was an uneasy witness of all that he describes in these verses; so that his exhortation was born out of his own experience.
"Who his own self”— The Apostle emphasises the personal identification of the Lord with the nature common to all. Christ himself described it as being the source of all sin (Mark 7:15-23). He came in "the likeness of sin's flesh" (Rom. 8:3), and though he did not succumb to its desires he needed redemption from it by a change of nature. Peter's descriptive terms are similar to those used by Paul: "as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same" (Heb. 2:14). The apostles were insistent upon identifying the nature of Christ with that of those he came to save.
"He bare our sins"—-To "bare" means "to bear up," hence to lift up as a sacrifice to the altar. How did Jesus do this? By submitting to the death of the cross. Paul says that in doing this "he died unto sin once" (Rom. 6:10), even though "he did no sin." What then was "the sin" he died unto? The term is expressive of the "flesh with its affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:24), so that we are called upon to do, what Jesus himself did (see Rom. 6:11). Christ never gave way to the flesh, but submitted to the will of the Father in all things. "Not my will, but Thine be done," was his prayer, and in the performance of this, the flesh was not only suppressed in life, but put to death upon the cross. This is called "dying unto sin," because active sin springs from the promptings of flesh (Rom. 7:17-18. Mark 7:21-22). Christ's death exhibited what his followers must figuratively do: crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts (Gal. 5:24), or subordinate their wills to that of the Father. Christ's perfect example, his complete sin-lessness, emphasises their shortcomings and the extent and reality of active sin, and therefore makes more obvious the need for them to seek the forgiveness that will be granted all who approach God through him to that end (Rom. 3:25).
"In his own body"—The preposition "in" is en in the Greek, and signifies "within." Jesus had a nature identical with that of all mankind, for he was made "in all points like we are," though he sinned not. He had to triumph over the flesh in order to render perfect obedience unto God, and to be a fit sacrifice for the salvation of man. Thus Peter taught that he "suffered in the flesh" (1 Pet. 4:1).
"On the tree" — The same expression is used in Acts 5:30; 10:39; 13:29. The significance of it is explained by Paul in Gal. 3:13: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every on that hangeth on a tree". This is a citation from Deut. 21:23, and it describes the form of execution suffered by criminals (see Josh. 10:26). The public display of Christ's death was designed to illustrate to believers what is required for salvation: to recognise the flesh for what it is and figuratively crucify it (Gal. 5:24). The law cursed Jesus in the mode of his death (Deut. 21:23), a form of death that was a prominent feature of the Atonement (see John 3:14; 8:28; 12:32; Acts 2:23; 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; 1 Pet. 2:24). It illustrated that the flesh is evil, and must be put to death by a figurative crucifixion if humanity is to please God (Gal. 5:24). Christ's death was prominently displayed (Gal. 3:1) that all may understand what is required for salvation. In that way, he represented those whom he died to save. He demonstrated that eternal life is only possible through death. He "died unto sin, once" (Rom. 6:10), and his disciples are to account themselves also as being "dead unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:11).
"That we being dead to sins" — The word "dead" does not appear in the Greek. Instead there is the word apogenomenos, a combination of apo, "off or "removed" and ginomai, "to become", and therefore to become separated or removed from sins. This is effected by the forgiveness, or blotting of them out through the atonement granted in Christ. The word is not elsewhere used in the N.T.
Paul writes (Rom. 6:10-11). "Reckon (take into account) ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God." Paul uses the term "sin" as relating to the lusts of the flesh and shows that we should so live, as to be dead to such desires that run counter to the principles of God. A person that is "dead to sin," does not obey the dictates of the flesh, but instead he "lives unto righteousness," as Peter observes.
"Should live unto righteousness" — Disciples of Christ "die unto sin" when they pass through the waters of baptism; and as they come forth therefrom, it is to "newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). Both death and life are necessary \o salvation. There are both negative and positive aspects to the life in Christ. The one must pave the way for the other. It is not enough merely to die unto sin, there is a need to build into our lives a divine likeness: to reveal those divine characteristics manifested so beautifully in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, though dead in respect to sin's flesh, disciples reveal a real life in another respect. They are made alive unto God, in righteousness, to true holiness. See Rom. 6:11; Gal. 2:20.
"By whose stripes ye were healed" —These words are from Isaiah 53:5, showing that Peter now plainly understood the prophecy of Yahweh's suffering servant, a feature of Christ's ministry that he at one time did not understand (Matt. 16:22). As he wrote these words, his mind must have gone back to that tragic night when he denied the Lord as the latter was suffering. Christ was "buffeted" (v. 20), tormented (v. 21), reviled (v. 23), scourged (v. 24), and yet endured it all without retaliation, providing a wonderful example of patience for the sheep to follow. The sufferings he endured on behalf of humanity were terrible. One writer has written: "In scourging, the Romans used a scourge of cords, or thongs, to which were attached pieces of lead, brass, or small sharp-pointed bones. Criminals were ordinarily scourged before crucifixion. The victim was stripped to the waist, and bound in a stooping position, with the hands behind the back, and tied to a pillar or post. Suffering under the lash was intense. The body was frightfully lacerated. The Christian martyrs at Smyrna about A.D. 155 were so torn by the scourges, that the veins were laid bare, and the inner muscles and sinews, and even the bowels, were exposed." In the case of the Lord Jesus, his face was pummeled by the hard fists of the mob, his back was lacerated through scourging, his heart was torn by the bitter, malevolent words flung at him, and yet he bore it all patiently. What an example of endurance! How far we fall short of what he tolerated!
"For ye were as sheep going astray" — This is likewise an allusion to Isa. 53:6: "All we like sheep have gone astray". Peter, of course, wrote to Jewish believers (Ch. 1:1), who had turned from the truth of God. Christ, in his parable of the good shepherd, described the Jewish people as sheep, and declared: "other sheep I have, which are not of this fold" (John 10:16). Those "other sheep" are Gentile believers. They could not be described as having "gone astray" for until the call came to them they had never been in the fold. But the Jewish people had, so that Peter's comment is correct and apt.
"Returned unto the Shepherd" —They had heard the voice of the Shepherd, and had returned to him.
"Bishop of your souls" — The word "bishop" signifies "overseer" and does not relate to an official position such as "bishops" assume in the "churches" of Christendom. All the spirit-appointed elders of the early Ecclesias were bishops, or overseers, and Christ was the chief Bishop of them all. The same word here rendered "bishop" is translated "visitation" in v. 12, where it relates to the Day when all things will be reviewed, or brought into account.
We need to see the reality of our sin in order to progress towards righteousness
HP Mansfield – 1 Peter
The Diaglott – Bible
John Thomas - Elpis Israel and Eureka.
What is the Milk of the Word?
How are we like sheep that go astray?
How are we called to be priests and what does that really mean?
How do we prevent our brothers and sisters and ourselves from being led astray?