1 Peter Chapter 03

1 PeterChapter 3 – Chapter 1589

Towards Husbands — Vv. 1-6

The Apostle advises regarding the important duties and position of wives when joined to unbelieving or believing husbands. Sisters can help their husbands in the work of the Truth or hinder them; they can encourage them in their duties or by their conduct drive their husbands away from them. Some of the ordinances Peter laid down may be opposed to what the flesh would desire, but, in fact, the principles set forth really lay down the basis of a successful and happy marriage now. Let wives remember, as they read this section, that Peter had a wife (1 Cor. 9:5).

VERSE 1

"Ye wives, be in subjection to your husbands"—The word "subjection" in the Greek is a military term signifying "to submit to discipline." But why should wives be expected to do this? Because of Divine appointment. See 1 Cor. 11:3-7. But this, like the injunction of Ch. 2:13 is subject to the provision of Acts 5:29. A wife is not expected to submit to her husband in unlawful matters that would lead her from God.

"If any obey not"—Gr. apeitheo, signifying "a refusal to be persuaded" and thus relating to stubborn, obstinate husbands—of which there are many in the world, as wives would undoubtedly agree!

The obvious reference, however, is to husbands who have not embraced the Truth. Special care should be exercised towards them. The reference to "the word" which they refuse to obey, is the Word of God.

"They may without the word be won"—There is no definite article in the Greek, so the phrase can read: "without a word be won." Mere talking, or nagging, will not win over such husbands, though the conduct (conversation, i.e. behaviour) of the wives may well do so.

"By the conversation of the wives" — This is an unfortunate rendition. It is not the "conversation of the wives", as we understand the term, that will win over husbands, but their manner of living. The word "conversation" is anastrophe in the Greek, and is derived from a verb signifying to turn back, return, hence, to move about in a place, and so conduct oneself, indicating a manner of life and character. A husband is more likely to be won over by the pleasant personality and loving assistance of his wife, than by her conversation!

VERSE 2

"They behold your chaste conversation"—The word in Greek for "behold" is an intensive form of the verb, and signifies a very close scrutiny. Peter is advising that the chaste or holy living of wives may well cause a stubborn husband to more closely consider the cause of such an attitude on the part of his spouse, with the result that he may be won over by such practical manifestation of Godliness.

"Coupled with fear"Render as "reverence." The wives not only desist from nagging, they not only reveal a holy way of life, but they pay due respect to their husbands, even though the latter may not have accepted Christ.

VERSE 3

"Whose adorning"—The word is kosmos, the word frequently translated "world" and signifying "arrangement" or "order of things." Here it signifies an harmonious arrangement or order, particularly as relating to the person. The Apostle is exhorting that such external adornment will never bring unbelieving husbands to Christ.

"Let it not be that outward adorning" — A loving, bright, thoughtful spouse is sure to appeal to a husband more than a cantankerous woman who seeks to appeal by mere artificial aids. Such external beauty may merely camouflage a stubborn, sullen or disagreeable character. Inward virtue is far more lasting and appealing than outward, superficial deportment, for external beauty soon fades. Nevertheless, the apostle does not say that a wife should wholly neglect her personal appearance. Neatness, cleanliness, and a proper attention to outward appearance according to one's circumstances in life can lead to a better appreciation within the domestic circle, and even in the proclamation of the Truth. A person maintaining standards of dress and appearance is bound to appeal to those to whom the Truth is preached, than one who is a sloven. Peter's words should not be used to justify sloppiness in personal appearance, nor untidiness and neglect in the home.

"Plaiting the hair"—A reference to the intricate, artificial and elaborate hair-styles of the times. God does not need the appeal of the "lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or “the pride of life" (1 John 2:16) to win people to Christ; and that is Peter's main point in this section of his epistle. He is discussing what a believing sister should do to win over an unbelieving husband. It will not be done by mere external appeal, but it can be done by proper conduct and thoughtful consideration of her partner. (See also 1 Tim. 2:9.)

"Wearing of gold"—The word "wearing" comes from the Greek perithesis, and signifies "a wearing around," i.e. so as to cover the body. Thus Peter is advising against an exaggerated use of jewellery such as Jeremiah makes mention of in Jer. 4:30. In Jer. 2:32, the prophet warns against placing emphasis on such external show to the exclusion of the things of God. Isaiah warns that an overuse of such things can be a cause of condemnation at the Judgment Seat. See Isaiah 3:18-24.

"Putting on of apparel"—Gr. Initiation, "a robe," used especially of an outer cloak or mantle (Vine), and therefore an article of dress the exclusive use of which is for show. Care needs to be exercised less undue emphasis is given to these things. Let women dress neatly, and in good taste, adorning the doctrine they believe, but let them avoid the extremes of fashion that are so evident in the world.

VERSE 4

"The hidden man of the heart" —This is Christ (Eph. 3:17 cp.Rom. 12:2), and he must be found "in the heart," at the seat of affection, and not merely as an outward profession. Christ in the heart is the finest adornment that anybody can have. A scarecrow can be made to look pretty, but it still remains what it is! If one needs to rely upon externals in either face, form or fashions to impress others, the fact shows that such a person lacks those essential personal and spiritual qualities that make one really interesting and attractive. See Col. 3:9-10.

"That which is not corruptible" —Such a character is the result of the incorruptible seed of truth Cl Pet. 1:23), and is incorruptible because it is recorded in Yahweh's Book of Remembrance (Mal. 3:16). Thus Christian wives are to be noted, not for a lavish, gaudy display of jewellery; not for conspicuous, immodest dress, nor elaborate highly artificial hair-do's, but for the manifestation of the Christ-character in gentle, loving service. In choosing her dress, her ornaments, the manner of wearing her hair, she must be guided by the principle that her chief and basic adornment must be the Lord Jesus. External dress and accessories must be in keeping with the sweetness, simplicity, purity, meekness and quietness of spirit of a follower of the Lord. The dress of such a person will be attractive without detracting from Christ whose excellence of example she will reveal. These remarks not only apply to wives in the natural sense, but they also apply to the bride of Christ which is made up of both sexes; so that the admonition of Peter to married sisters, becomes admonition to all who have embraced Christ.

"The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit"—This is something with which we must "adorn" ourselves, not something that is ours by nature. A meek and quiet spirit represents a way of life (2 Cor. 12:18; Gal. 5:16), developed and constantly renewed by the spirit-word (Eph. 4:23; Ezek. 36:26), and manifested by our attitude one towards another (1 Cor. 4:21). The "wearing" of such an ornament will be rewarded by immortality (Rom. 8:6; Gal. 6:8). Notice that it is a "meek" spirit and not a "weak" one that is commended. Jesus was a meek man, but not a weak man (Matt. 11: 29); Moses, also, was "the meekest of men" (Num. 12:3), but he was nevertheless a strong personality. He was "little in his own eyes" and willing to humble himself under the mighty hand of God.

"In the sight of God"—A reminder that we all walk under God's observant eyes Who does discern our inward qualities (Heb. 4:12-13).

"Of great price"—i.e. "of highest cost," the very limit of preciousness.

VERSE 5

"For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God adorned themselves" — The allusion here is particularly to the times of the patriarchs. Several of the matriarchs, such as Sarah and Rebekah, were noted for their attractive appearance; but their true beauty was in their loving and trusting dispositions, the faithful, submissive attitude that they adopted towards God and their husbands. The words "adorned themselves" is from the Greek kosmeo, "to arrange, put in order". The same word is used for "trimming" of lamps (Matt. 25:7). Such adornment was not natural to those women, but became a way of life that they developed in their reverence for God, and their love of their husbands.

"Being in subjection unto their own husbands" — This characteristic stemmed from the standing of husband and wife as established from the very beginning (Gen. 3:16), and endorsed by the Apostles (Eph. 5:22; 1 Tim. 2:9-15).

VERSE 6

"Even as Sara obeyed Abraham" — Sarah submitted to the requests of Abraham, sacrificing her own convenience to do so. She gave up all the amenities of Ur to follow him in his pilgrimage, cheerfully enduring the difficulties of the journey of faith, and sharing with him the loneliness of the way. She was a real help-meet, encouraging her husband in the things that were necessary for their mutual spiritual development.

"Calling him lord" — The reference to this incident is recorded in Gen. 18:12. It is the only time that we learn of Sarah doing this, but it is obvious from Peter's comment, that it was characteristic of her. It is significant she addressed him thus "in her heart", so it was a genuine expression of feelings, and was not openly said merely to impress. Certainly, there was nothing of women's liberation principles in her attitude to her husband; nor do they find endorsement in the instruction of the Apostle in the advice now before us. Sarah's love for Abraham found expression in her reverential care of him, and was repaid in his consideration and affection for her.

"Whose daughters ye are"—A true son of Abraham is one who manifests Abraham's characteristics (John 8:39) and a true daughter of Sarah is one who imitates her virtues. The life of Abraham is recorded as typical of a life of faith in which God takes pleasure (Rom. 4:16-24).

"As long as ye do well" — It is not enough to claim to be a son of Abraham, or a daughter of Sarah: the claim must be manifested in action.

"Are not afraid with any amazement" — Diaglott rendering: "Not fearing any terror," i.e. putting implicit trust in God. Sarah submitted to Abraham's directions in complete trust and without fear, knowing that he, in turn, was obeying God's command. Typically, Abraham was in the place of God, and therefore entitled to respect. So in an age when women had few rights, they who were married to unbelievers (v. 1) had to submit themselves to God's will in the way outlined in these verses, confidently trusting Him at all times. They were to fear Him rather than their husbands.

Towards Wives — The secret of real marriage is mutual consideration, co-operation, and sacrifice. So now Peter addresses the husbands.

VERSE 7

"Ye husbands dwell with them according to knowledge" — The word signifies an understanding developed from enquiry or investigation. A husband should not please himself, but by careful investigation and inquiry ascertain the needs of his wife and so dwell with her in love.

"Giving honor" — Gr. Time, "something of highest value for which a price has been paid." The price that husbands should pay is their liberty of will to please themselves. Christ did not please himself, but paid a high price for his bride, giving his life on her behalf. He has set a high example of loving service for husbands to emulate.

"The weaker"—As such the wife is in need of help and protection, so that in the perfect state, husband and wife are well matched. The beauty and femininity of the bride is matched by the strength of the husband, and each provides what the other needs. This is the purpose of marriage. Eve was provided as "an help meet" for Adam. The Hebrew words are ezer ken-egdo and signify "one as his front," i.e. his counterpart, or one to match him (see Gen. 2:18 margin). In Law of Moses, Robert Roberts writes: "Man is for strength, judgment and achievement. Woman is for grace, sympathy and ministration. Between them they form a beautiful unit — 'heirs together of the grace of life'" (P.220). Husband and wife make one complete unit, and, in the perfect state, blend all the above mentioned attributes together. That perfect state will be seen in the marriage of Christ and his bride, a glorious unity or blending of all these desirable characteristics (cp.Rev. 19:7; John 17:21). Christ manifested in himself the best of both male AND female qualities of character which he revealed to his contemporaries. Marriage in the truth is designed to this end, namely, that husband and wife should reflect the various aspects of Christ's character. (Note, how Peter, after having described Christ's attributes — Ch. 2:23-24 — then demands: "Likewise, ye wives"—Ch. 3:1—, "Likewise, ye husbands"—Ch. 3:7). Unfortunately, like so many other things, marriage often falls far short of the Divine ideal.

"Vessel"—A receptacle designed to hold precious contents, namely God's word and God's glory (cp. 2 Cor. 4:6-7). The same figure of speech is used in Rom. 9:22-24; 2 Tim. 2:21. Peter refers to the wife as the "weaker vessel" in order to indicate her weaker physical constitution, and her greater need of guidance and of help. As a "weaker" vessel she is more easily broken with the result that the "contents" will be lost. Peter does not say that the CONTENTS of the vessel are weaker, i.e. that she has less spiritual qualities, for a weak receptacle can nevertheless be filled with a full measure of precious contents — namely the Spirit word, but he is suggesting that wives are more susceptible to being adversely affected by circumstances which may not affect the more rugged male constitution of their husbands. The wife is the "weaker vessel" in physical strength and mental ability. This, as a rule is undoubtedly true, despite some exceptions to the rule. However, husbands frequently disgrace the position of authority that they, by nature, should hold. Nevertheless, brethren as well as sisters need to remember that what is true of the relationships between husband and wife is illustrative of the position of the Ecclesia towards its Lord and Husband with this exception that he has never disgraced his position of authority,

"And as being heirs together of the grace of life" — In this statement, Peter places the wife on the same level as the husband, each contributing to the other's welfare.

"That your prayers be not hindered"—"Your" is in the plural, and refers to the mutual prayers of husband and wife. Peter's whole treatise is designed to make the home an oasis for the truth. The adage is true that says: "The family that prays together, stays together."

Towards Brethren — Vv. 8-9

An harmonious state should no I only exist in the home but in the Ecclesia which is the home of the Truth, and the training ground of the Bride of Christ. Here, likewise, should be found mutual consideration and understanding one toward another.

VERSE 8

"Finally"—Peter is not concluding his letter at this point, but this specific section of it.

"Be all of one mind"—Be like-minded. This requires that brethren must think as one, viewing life from the same perspective. That is only possible when the mind of Christ dominates each unit. When that is achieved, there will be found a glorious unity, with each member co-operating to the good of the other. Members will not become argumentative for the sake of argument, they will not be lifted up in pride, nor be concerned with personal aggrandisement, but will be concerned with the welfare of others, "rejoicing with them that rejoice, and weeping with them who weep." (Rom. 12:15-17; 1 Cor. 12:25-26.) Happy is the Ecclesia whose members are moved by these considerations.

"Having compassion one of another" — The Greek word sumpatheo is similar to the English word "sympathy". One who truly sympathises with another enters into his feelings, and evinces a regard for his welfare. Therefore, he is prepared to suffer for him, which is the meaning of the expression before us. There should be developed a family atmosphere of mutual consideration in the Ecclesia of God.

"Love as brethren" — Gr. Philadelphos -- "be brethren who are loving." (See margin.)

"Be pitiful" — Diaglott renders: "be compassionate." Be thoughtful and kind to others.

"Be courteous" — Diaglott renders: "be humble." Have a modest opinion of yourself, and meet your brethren clothed in that humility. Do not be overbearing.

VERSE 9

"Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing" — Instead of doing this, we are called to follow the example of Christ. See Matt. 5:39,44; Rom. 12:17; 1 Tim. 6:4; 1 Pet. 2:23.

"But contrariwise blessing" — The appeal is to manifest a spirit contrary to that of retaliation towards another.

"Ye are thereunto called"—This is your calling and business in life. Therefore, to put these things into practice is to your personal benefit. Notice, that the virtues mentioned in this verse are those which Peter says were manifested by Christ (Ch. 2:23), and virtues that he revealed UNDER EXTREME PROVOCATION. If we imitate them, Peter taught, we will receive a blessing. This statement must be accepted in faith, and we must submit to evil in the realisation that God will vindicate us, and, if necessary, He will punish the evil-doer. This demands of us stern discipline of self and iron control of our words and actions.

Though compensation for good deeds may be received now (Luke 6:38), the fulness of blessings will be granted at the resurrection (Luke 14:14). It will be then that the promised blessings enumerated in Matthew 5:3-12 will be inherited.

VERSE 10

"For he that will love life, and see good days" — The Greek text is more direct. It has been rendered: "He that is willing, or that wills to love life, and see good days". The whole passage (vv. 10-12) is taken from Psa. 34:12-16 with minor variations. It implies that there is a need to create this desire for life and good, and to pursue the means that will bring it about. Paul claimed that crowns of righteousness are reserved for "them that love the Lord's appearing" (2 Tim.. 4:8). He also reminded Timothy that the Truth "has promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (1 Tim. 4:8), and whilst Peter's words undoubtedly point to the future, we can even now learn to "love life", and can find "good days" if we "will" to do so. It is a matter of adjusting present circumstances to Christ's requirements. There is such a thing as "more abundant living" now, whilst also "laying hold of eternal life" (1 Tim. 6:12). The section of the Psalm quoted by Peter provides four rules of life that can lead to better life and days. These four rules build one upon another.

1. Negative: "Keep thy tongue from evil"—i.e. do NOT speak evil, but discipline your tongue (V13). In contradistinction to David, Saul did indulge in speaking evil and deceit (1 Sam. 18:22-25).

2. Negative and Positive: "Depart from evil and do good" (V. 11). Do NOT do that which is injurious or morally wrong, but having ceased from evil, fill the vacuum thus created by doing something positive: Do good! (cp. Christ's example Ch. 2:23).

3. Positive: "Seek peace and pursue it." Seek peace, not for selfish reasons, but for the good of others. David did so (1 Sam. 19:4), Christ did likewise (Rom. 5:8-10). This is an action solely positive, a further step towards spiritual perfection and thus towards the goal of eternal life.

4. Positive: A declaration of FAITH: "The eyes of Yahweh are upon the righteous" (V. 15).

Much might be endured by those who heed these four rules, but in faith, this can be done, knowing that vindication will ultimately come, when "the remembrance of evil doers will be cut off from the earth" (V. 16).

"Refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from guile"—(Do as Christ did!—Ch. 2:22-23). Peter doubtless remembered the time when he went out into the darkness of the night, and "wept bitterly" because his tongue had uttered evil, and his lips had spoken guile in denying his Lord. Thus, out of his own experience, he gives heartfelt exhortation.

VERSE 11

"Let him eschew evil, and do good" — In doing this, the believer will follow the pattern of Christ who is described as having "loved righteousness, and hated iniquity" (Heb. 1:9). Both are essential for there are negative and positive principles ill the Christ-like life. To "eschew" is to turn aside from. It is natural for man to do evil, hence the exhortation of Peter for disciples to turn aside from doing that which comes naturally to them, and to seek to do good.

"Let him seek peace and ensue it" — The Greek word eirene describes a state of harmony. It is from a root denoting to be at one. Accordingly, it is similar to the Hebrew word shalom, "to be at one". Such a peace implies fellowship with God. It therefore means much more than the cessation of enmity, for it embraces complete unity of outlook, and fellowship one with the other. Peter is again drawing on his personal experiences to exhort his brethren. He found no peace in the time of the Lord's trial, but was "offended" by the circumstances that led Christ to the cross (Mark 14:72). And yet the Lord had offered him peace (John 14:27). Peter's exhortation is to "seek" peace, that is, to go out of one's way to find it when it is lacking. The word "ensue" is from the Greek dioko, and signifies "to pursue". It is so rendered in the R.V. Disciples are called upon to seek for peace when it cannot be readily found, and to pursue it when it seems to evade one. His words indicate that great effort needs to be spent in securing the desirable peace.

VERSE 12

"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers" — This being portion of the citation of Psa. 34:15, the reference is to Yahweh. Though the righteous sometimes may imagine themselves to be abandoned of Yahweh, it is far from true. His eyes are ever on them, and He will never allow them to be "tempted (tried) beyond what they can endure" (1 Cor. 10:13). He is, in fact, their Protector, and will avenge them in due time (Rom. 12:19-21). When adverse pressures were strong, and opposition was powerful, Noah "walked with God" (Gen. 6:9); that is, he was conscious that the eyes of Yahweh were upon him. Similarly, at a time of trial, Abram was told by God: "Walk before Me, and be thou perfect" (or mature — Gen. 17:1). To do that, is to be conscious of the presence of God. Now Peter quotes the Psalm, to remind his readers that the eyes of Yahweh are upon them, and they should walk accordingly.

"And His ears are open unto their prayers" — Yahweh hears their prayers. In times of stress or difficulty, instant relief can be obtained by turning to God in prayer. Not that the trouble is necessarily removed, or the problem solved, but great comfort and help are derived in sharing trials with God. Strength will be obtained to surmount them, even though they may remain.

"But the face of the Lord is against them that do evil"—Prayer will become powerful when the one exercising the privilege conforms in life to what is required. As the face of Yahweh will be towards the righteous to help; so it will be against the evil, and "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God".

VERSE 13

"Who is he that will harm you?" —God can deliver, as Peter's own experience proved. He was imprisoned but was miraculously released (Acts 12:11). And yet his brethren, who were praying for his release, refused to believe it when it happened (V. 15). How true this is of human nature when faced with Divine omnipotence. Consider Ephesians 3:17-21.

"If ye be followers"—Gr. Min-etes = Imitators. But some texts read Zelotes = "to burn with zeal," "to desire earnestly."

"Of that which is good" — Those who are upright, and who aim to do good to others in imitation of God, are those who usually enjoy tranquility and security in life. See v. 11.

Towards Persecution — Vv. 14-17

Christ taught that his disciples must expect the hatred of the world (John 15:18), and in fulfilment of these words, the world came to hate his followers mainly because of their refusal to conform. Though Rome was generally tolerant of the religious opinions and worship of its subjects, there came a time when the Government encouraged Caesar worship, and once a year every inhabitant of the empire had to burn his pinch of incense to the godhead of Caesar. By so doing he showed that he was a loyal citizen of the Empire, and he received a certificate to indicate this. It was a custom and a law that made all feel they were part of Rome. Apart from this Rome was the essence of toleration, and so long as a man burned his pinch of incense and said "Caesar is lord," he could go away and worship any god he liked, so long as the worship did not affect public decency and order. True Christians refused to comply, however, as they also refused military service. They were then opposed and hailed before the authorities as insurrectionists. They were also haled because their very manner of life was a constant reproach to that of the ungodly. They were different, and men disliked them because of that. Christ's followers are called upon to manifest the faith and courage to be different, and to continue this attitude in the face of the world's opposition, and, if necessary, active and brutal persecution.

VERSE 14

"But"—Gr. Alia. This preposition is more emphatic than De (the usual word for "but"), and marks a sudden interruption to what has gone before (see Bullinger's Lexicon). It is followed by the word "if," and the attached statement is in the optative mood which indicates an uncertainty, implying a possible but unusual eventuality. The construction in the Greek can read: "If you chance to suffer..." Peter is thus stating that active persecution is a possibility, but it is not the usual experience. This has been true of every age, though persecution was more rife in Apostolic times than now.

"And if ye suffer for righteousness' sake" — This is a reminder that even the righteous suffer, so that adversity is not an indication that God has abandoned one.

"Happy are ye"—The word is translated "blessed" in the R.V., and signifies "fortunate" or "prosperous" (see the comments of James 1:12). The man who endures active persecution and comes out of it "approved" will receive a greater reward because of his faithful endurance than those who are not brought unto such trials. So Christ pronounced them to be "blessed" or "happy" because of the ultimate reward that will be paid them by God (Matt. 5:10). No person can be happy under persecution unless he understands its purpose and recognises the ultimate reward for patient endurance (see Acts 5:41; Rom. 5:3).

"Be not afraid of their terror" — This is a citation from Isaiah 8:12-13, and the context describes Whom they should fear: "Sanctify Yahweh of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread". Peter not only drew upon personal experience in order to help and encourage his brethren, but also directed them to the inspired Scriptures. This is an excellent prodecure to adopt.

"Neither be troubled" — Do not be overcome with apprehensions of approaching danger. "Let not your hearts be troubled," exhorted the Lord (John 14:1). Seeing that Yahweh is the Protector of those who are faithful, let such bear in mind the words of Hezekiah in a time of trouble: "Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: with him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles " (2 Chron. 32:7-8).

Faith will enable those motivated thereby to conquer the fear and terror of man. This is stated in the context of Isaiah 8:12, for it follows: "Sanctify Yahweh of hosts Himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread". Christ exhorted his disciples: "Let not your hearts be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me" (Jhn. 14:1). Christ will provide a peace of mind passing the understanding of man if we seek him in faith.

VERSE 15

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts" — To sanctify is "to separate," i.e. to give a place of honor. (Contrast Numb. 20:12). This statement is also a citation from the Immanuel prophecy, and was particularly appropriate to those times, for the circumstances were similar to those existing in the days of Isaiah, when the Assyrian was about to sweep down from the North to destroy and scatter the nation (Isa. 8:12-13). As Israel was called upon to seek and sanctify Yahweh, that He, in turn, might become manifested for them as a place of refuge, a sanctuary, so Peter exhorts his readers to do likewise. Meanwhile, the "sanctuary," the place of refuge, which Isaiah predicted Yahweh would provide had since been made manifest in the Lord Jesus. It is important to notice the three principles of this verse that Peter stresses believers should reveal in times of opposition or persecution:

(1) "Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts": This is done by hearkening to His word and seeking communion with Him by prayer.

(2) "Be ready to give an answer": This requires the study of the Word that we might be able to skilfully divide it, and simply express it.

(3) "With meekness and fear" (reverence—margin): This indicates that deportment is important. It is not enough to be able to express belief or give answer to every question, but the manner of reply is important; it must be expressed in such a way as would be pleasing unto the Father, and reflect honor to His Son whom we elect to follow.

"Always ready to give an answer" —Gr. apologia, a verbal defence as in court. "A reason of the hope that is in you" — The word "reason" is logos, and signifies an account, as well as a reason. The context implies that outsiders observing the deportment of believers may be induced to seek a reason for it, and an account of the hope that motivates them. The manifestation of Christlike characteristics is the most compelling form of preaching the Gospel; it gives power to any witness.

"With meekness"—This requires that we exercise care in the presentation of the Truth, and that we avoid any bumptiousness in so doing. We are to imitate the meekness of Christ, whose attitude before Pilate is set forth by Peter as an example to follow .(cp. Matt. 11:29; James 1:21).

"And fear"—The margin renders this as "reverence." We need to show respect to those to whom we are presenting our case, reverence to God Whose Truth we are expounding, and distrust of self in view of the frailty of the flesh, and its tendency to fall. "Fear" as expressed by Peter is the opposite of highmindedness (Cf. Rom. 11:20).

VERSE 16

"Having a good conscience" — A good conscience is one that does not accuse the possessor of having done wrong. It signifies that whatever may be the accusations of others, a person so lives that he is at all times conscious of uprightness. He has a mind that correctly discerns right from wrong. Therefore, "a good conscience" comes from the mind enlightened as to those principles. There is such a thing as having "a conscience seared as with a hot iron" (1 Tim. 4:2), so cauterised as to be beyond feeling, and therefore impervious to the promptings of righteousness. A person's mind can be so dull to truth as to manifest sincerity in wrong doing. Paul thought he "ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9); Christ warned that the time would come when those who would kill the disciples would think that they were doing God service (John 16:2); Solomon taught, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). The most atrocious crimes have been committed in the name of religion by men who have been sincere but unenlightened in the way of true righteousness.

"That whereas they speak evil of you, as of evil doers" — The tendency of the flesh is to treat the demands of the Truth as wrong, and describe Christ's followers as narrow, bigoted and evil. The profession of the Truth has always been subjected to such criticism. Christ pronounced a blessing upon those who experience such opposition. See Matt. 5:11; Luke 6:26. See also 1 Pet. 2:12.

"That they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation" — Here, again, the word "conversation" means "behaviour." The people of the world do not understand why believers stand aside from man's way, and feel incensed that they should do so. Thus insults are heaped upon true Christians, and false accusations are made against them of cowardice, or other failings. The Greek Epereazo signifies "to spitefully abuse," "to insult," or falsely traduce one. The Jewish leaders did this to Christ, and he, in turn, warned his followers to expect the same treatment, saying: "the disciple is not above his Master." What they did to him, they will do to them (Matt. 10:24-25, John 15:20).

VERSE 17

"It is better, if the will of God be so"—Peter now sets forth the possibility of his readers having to endure active persecution. He sets it forth as a possibility, not a probability. Note the comments on V. 14, and cp. Ch. 2:19-20.

"That ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing" — God may deem it necessary for His servants to suffer in order that they may be disciplined for their future good. There are effects to be accomplished through affliction which can be secured in no other way. Christ "learned obedience from the things that he suffered" (Heb. 5:8). His sufferings taught him what obedience to the will of God can mean, and the lesson educated him in developing a fellow-feeling for those who suffer (see Heb. 4:15). Disciples who suffer for well doing will develop a greater sympathy for others who are afflicted, and so will be equipped to assist them as they are able. To suffer for evil doing confers no merit whatsoever.

Imitating Christ the Pattern—Vv. 18-22

In all the circumstances of life, whether suffering opposition or enduring active persecution, Christ presents a pattern of patient suffering and of ultimate triumph, and if we follow him, as sheep following the shepherd, we too will win through to final victory.

VERSE 18

"Christ suffered for sins"—Christ did not sin (Ch. 2:22), therefore these "sins" relate to the sins of humanity. He suffered by dying upon the cross. But what did that effect, and what did it do for the sins of humanity ? His death was a demonstration as to what is due to sin, but even more, his public crucifixion dramatised what every believer must attempt to do in a figurative sense. Paul declares that "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:24). Only criminals were crucified, and therefore, "they that are Christ's" must treat the flesh as a criminal if they are to follow Paul's exhortation. When the emotions (affections) and lusts of the flesh run counter to God's will, they must be suppressed, or figuratively put to death, and this was very graphically taught when Christ hung upon the cross, for it was a demonstration that only by suppressing the will of the flesh was he able to fulfil the will of God.

Believers are baptised "into his death" (Rom. 6:3). In other words, his sacrifice leads them to sacrifice also, and teaches them to "put to death" the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5; Rom. 6:11). But we do not gain complete victory over the flesh, and so a loving heavenly Father, Who strengthened Jesus to conquer (Ps. 80:17), and Who recognises our weakness (Ps. 103:13-14) extends forgiveness of sins "for Christ's sake." Thus, Christ suffered for our sins, not his own, for he was without sin. He suffered for our sins because they are the sins of all humanity, springing from the flesh (Mark 7:20-23), of which Jesus was a sharer. Jesus obtained redemption from mortal flesh by his own offering (Heb. 9:12. 13:20) and therefore benefited from his own death. To teach otherwise is to teach that God is unjust calling upon the Lord to suffer for something to which he was not related and from which he did not benefit. The tfrue doctrine of the atonement sets out God as just, Jesus as obedient and both motivated by a love of humanity (see Rom. 3:23-26 and read The Blood of Christ by R. Roberts).

"The just for the unjust"—Christ "the Just one" (Acts 3:14. Acts 7:52) was just, or righteous in character, but he was nevertheless a son of Adam, and thus subject to death, as is all flesh. If then that just one so willingly submitted to God's decree to show that only through death of the flesh with its lusts can we attain unto life, how much more should the unjust who deserve to die, acknowledge their utter dependence upon God's mercy and redemption from death, and apply the lessons thus learned. This, according to God's will (Acts 2:23), was the lesson Christ demonstrated to all mankind (Rom. 3:23-26), by being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8-9).

"That he might bring us to God" — Gr. Prosage — '"to lead as a general," (for which see Isaiah 55:4); "to guide as a shepherd" (for which see John 10:14-18). Peter thus teaches that the crucifixion of Christ pointed the way for believers to follow; demonstrating what they must do mentally and morally, if not physically. Prosago, as a technical term, signifies "to gain audience at court for another," and that is the present work of Christ in heaven (see V. 15).

"Being put to death in the flesh" — The Lord Jesus put the flesh to death in a figurative sense during his life, and completed the process on the cross. His actions provide an example for his followers to imitate, for they, too, are called upon to "crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:24). The bread and wine of communion witness to this two-fold aspect of Christ's sacrifice. The former recalls the flesh put to death; the latter, his life of dedication. His disciples must attempt to follow in his footsteps.

"Quickened by the Spirit"—The Diaglott literal translation gives: "Put to death indeed in flesh, being made alive but in spirit." Peter is not referring merely to the resurrection of the Lord, but to the final change in the resurrected body when it was clothed with Divine nature, or spirit. This was complete "newness of life," and Paul exhorts that as we are "baptised into his death," so we should rise therefrom to walk in "newness of life." This demands true conversion, a completely changed life that is no longer governed by the flesh, but by the spirit-word (Rom. 6:4; cp. Rom. 8:11). The death, burial and resurrection of the Lord is thus set before believers as a guide and a pattern of what God requires of them: death and burial of the lusts of the flesh, and a resurrection and walking in newness of spirit (John 3:3-5).

VERSE 19

"By which"—The subject of the verse is the spirit which was granted the Lord Jesus without measure (John 3:34), and by, or in which he preached unto the people.

"He went"—Christ went.

"Preached unto the spirits in prison"—It was predicted of Jesus Christ that he would "lead captivity captive" (Psalm 68:18), and Paul taught that this was fulfilled in him (Eph. 4:8). The people to whom the Lord preached, therefore, were people imprisoned to sin, from which imprisonment he sought to give them freedom. To do so he had to take sin itself captive (See Luke 4:18-19; Isa. 49:8-9).

The orthodox view teaches the doctrine of a second chance, and that Jesus went to hell that he might there preach to those imprisoned, and perhaps save them even at that late stage. But this is contrary to Bible teaching (see e.g. Isa. 38:18). The day of salvation is NOW (2 Cor. 6:2), and Christ's work of preaching ceased at death (John 9:4; 17:4) by which death "he lead captivity captive" (Eph. 4:8; Luke 4:18-19; Isa. 42:6).

But why refer to men as "spirits" imprisoned ? Because "spirit" relates to the sentient element in man by which he perceives, reflects, feels and desires (Mk. 2:8; Luke 1:47-80; Acts 17:16; 2 Cor. 7:1). "Spirit" is also used as a synonym for teaching, and is identified with those who proclaim such teaching (1 John 4:1-2). Thus the Lord preached to "spirits in prison"; He appealed to the thinking part, the mind, of man that was imprisoned to sin, limiting his appeal to those who were capable of responding to it.

VERSE 20

"Which" — The subject is the "spirits in prison" to sin and death. God, through His spirit strove with these at all times, using Noah (Gen. 6:3), the prophets (Neh. 9:30), and Christ (Heb. 1:1-2) in His endeavours to deliver them.

"Sometime were disobedient" — Rotherham renders: "(Spirits) unyielding at one time." Peter is not teaching that Christ preached to these unyielding spirits of Noah's day, but rather that Noah's days were typical of Christ's (see Luke 17:25-26), and even as the people were unyielding at the time of the flood to the warning voice of Noah (2 Pet. 2:5), so they were also at the first advent of the Lord.

"God waited" — Gr. apekdecho-mai = "to eagerly await", and suggesting a reaching out in readiness to receive something. Rotherham renders: "God was holding forth a welcome." The mercy and grace of God was revealed during the centuries before the Flood, but flesh was indifferent to the appeal of God's figuratively outstretched liand and offer of grace.

"When once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah" — God was longsuffering in the days of Noah providing ample opportunity for all who would to accept the invitation to escape the threatened judgment extended to them. He does the same today (2 Pet. 3:15). The delay provides time for those who have accepted Christ "to make their calling and election sure", and for those who have not as yet done this to do so. However, when the period set for the outpouring of judgment came in the days of Noah, the longsuffering came to an end. So it will in regard to the present generation. Meanwhile, Yahweh "waits" (Isa. 30:18). The Greek word in the verse before us is apek-dechomai and denotes "to eagerly await", suggesting a reaching out of the hands in readiness to receive one. Rotherham renders: "God was holding forth a welcome". The mercy and grace of God was revealed in His longsuffering during the years before the Flood, but the majority was indifferent to His appeal, ignoring His figuratively outstretched hand. That also is the case today.

"While the ark was a preparing" — Noah was informed that 120 years would elapse before God's judgments would be poured out upon that evil generation. During portion of that time, at least, the ark was being built, a witness to the world of his day. that he believed in the divine warning. It was not until the ark was completed, and the animals with Noah's family were gathered therein, that the Flood commenced. So it is in the divine economy in relation to the Christ ark. The purpose of God with this epoch will be completed, and all who are to be saved will be gathered in, before the storm will break out upon the world of the ungodly. See 1 Pet. 4:17.

"Eight souls were saved"—Eight is a significant number, pointing back to the rite of circumcision, the token of the Abrahamic covenant of faith (Gen. 17). In 2 Peter 2:5, Noah is styled "the eighth person," though he was not the eighth from Adam. Spiritually, however, he was the eighth, for he observed the significance of circumcision in a figurative sense (cp. Col. 2:11), denying the flesh. The Flood of which he warned, circumcised the world by cutting off all flesh. The word translated saved is diasozo, signifies "to bring safely through." These eight were brought safely through a destructive Flood that wiped out millions.

"By water" — The water saved Noah and his family because it lifted them up above the destruction that swept the world. To the world that water spelt death, but it did not to Noah because of his relationship to the ark. This is true also of our experience with the water of baptism. The water brings us into close contact with death (Rom. 6:3), but because of our relationship to Christ (the Ark) we are brought safely through, even to newness of life. Christ, therefore, can be a savour of life or of death (2 Cor. 2:15-16) as was also the water of the Flood.

VERSE 21

"The like figure"—The Greek is in the neuter gender, relating this statement to the water and not to the ark. Rotherham renders: "Which (water)."

"Baptism doth now save us" — The word for "save" here is sozo (cp. V. 20), and signifies "to save or deliver." Baptism opens the way to salvation, for through it is received forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

"Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh" — Baptism does not change us physically; the prompting of the flesh to do evil still remains as Paul observed in Romans 7:18-25, but in Christ we derive the power to rise above it.

"A good conscience towards God"—(see V. 16; 1 Tim. 1:5). This does not mean complete sin-lessness, but the realisation that past sins are covered (Rom. 4:7-8), that every effort has been made to perform God's will, and, in the face of failure,' that "we have an Advocate with the Father" (1 John 2:1).

"By the resurrection of Jesus Christ"—The resurrection of Jesus was essential to the justification of those he came to save, for without it they would be without hope (Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:17; John 10:17-18). Furthermore it is a token to believers of the "newness of life" in which they are expected to walk after rising from the waters of baptism (Rom. 6:4).

VERSE 22

"Who is on the right hand of God" — The right hand is a position of privilege. It is a position that Christ now holds, and by virtue of which he is able to intercede for his followers. Christ's position fulfills the prophetic words of Psalm 110:1 which relate to the priestly functions of the Lord Jesus (V. 4) and his power to conquer (V. 2). (Notice how the martyr Stephen refers to this fact as a source of comfort for himself, and a warning for his adversaries— Acts 7:56).

VERSE 21

"Angels" — In order to bring to consummation the divine purpose with the earth, the angels of heaven have likewise been placed under the Lord. One such angel was sent to John in Pat-mos to give him The Apocalypse (Rev. 1:1). Other angels assisted in that duty as the Apostle states. The angels are represented as pouring out the vials of judgment upon the nations (Rev. 16:1), so that under the direction of the Lord they are supervising the developments of current history. When Christ returns, it will be in company of the angels of heaven who will assist him in the resurrection and judgment of the household (Matt. 25:31 etc.).

"Authorities being made subject unto him" — A repetition of the statement which Jesus Christ made to his Apostles after his resurrection (Matt. 28:18). These words reveal the extent of power given unto him by his Father, and must have encouraged the Apostles to go forth preaching with the realisation of the hidden source of strength that they could command (see Phil. 4:13). "Authorities" is the Greek Exousia, and signifies "delegated power." It therefore relates particularly to individuals such as magistrates and others who have power delegated to them. (See the comment of the Lord to Pilate who was one such —John 19:11). The same word is translated "powers" in Romans 13:1, and there indicates delegated authority, God having "ordained" these powers. The dominion, authority, or power thus given to the "son of man" fulfils in part the intention of God stated at the epoch of creation (Gen. 1:26), and reaffirmed by David in the Psalm that commemorates his victory over Goliath (Ps. 8:4-8). Christ predicted his triumph and power when going forth to meet his shameful death (Jhn. 16:33. 17:2), and at his resurrection, told his Apostles that "all power" had been granted him (Matt. 28:18). The Lord's present glory will be manifested ultimately by his brethren (see Heb. 2:6-10) that the prophetic decree of Genesis 1:26 might have its complete fulfilment.

"Powers" Gr. Dunamis = indicates inherent right, an authority that stems from within. It relates here to constituted Governments rather than their officials (the "authorities") who exercise their power, and perform their decrees. Peter is teaching that both governments and their officials are subject to the authority vested in the Lord. Therefore, nothing can happen to his elect, without him permitting it.

LESSONS LEARNT

 

  • The Ecclesia is our ark and we do well to stay within it

  • Marriage in the Lord is a partnership to service

     

REFERENCE LIBRARY

 

  • HP Mansfield – 1 Peter

  • Robert Roberts – The Law of Moses

  • Bullinger's Lexicon

  • Rotherham - Bible

 

PARAGRAPH QUESTIONS:

  • Why is it good to suffer for good deeds

  • Why is it bad to suffer for evil deeds

  • Why is our appearance important?

 

ESSAY QUESTIONS:

  • How is Noah’s ark likened to baptism?

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • How do we sanctify God in our hearts?

English files: