|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:18-25 Servants in those days generally were slaves, and had heathen masters, who often used them cruelly; yet the apostle directs them to be subject to the masters placed over them by Providence, with a fear to dishonour or offend God. And not only to those pleased with reasonable service, but to the severe, and those angry without cause. The sinful misconduct of one relation, does not justify sinful behaviour in the other; the servant is bound to do his duty, though the master may be sinfully froward and perverse. But masters should be meek and gentle to their servants and inferiors. What glory or distinction could it be, for professed Christians to be patient when corrected for their faults? But if when they behaved well they were ill treated by proud and passionate heathen masters, yet bore it without peevish complaints, or purposes of revenge, and persevered in their duty, this would be acceptable to God as a distinguishing effect of his grace, and would be rewarded by him. Christ's death was designed not only for an example of patience under sufferings, but he bore our sins; he bore the punishment of them, and thereby satisfied Divine justice. Hereby he takes them away from us. The fruits of Christ's sufferings are the death of sin, and a new holy life of righteousness; for both which we have an example, and powerful motives, and ability to perform also, from the death and resurrection of Christ. And our justification; Christ was bruised and crucified as a sacrifice for our sins, and by his stripes the diseases of our souls are cured. Here is man's sin; he goes astray; it is his own act. His misery; he goes astray from the pasture, from the Shepherd, and from the flock, and so exposes himself to dangers without number. Here is the recovery by conversion; they are now returned as the effect of Divine grace. This return is, from all their errors and wanderings, to Christ. Sinners, before their conversion, are always going astray; their life is a continued error.
Verse 21. - For even hereunto were ye called; that is, to do good and to suffer patiently (comp. 1 Thessalonians 3:3). Omit "even," for which there is no authority. St. Peter is speaking of slaves, but what he says of slaves is true in some sense of all Christians (comp. Acts 14:22). Because Christ also suffered for us; rather, for you, with the oldest manuscripts. You do not suffer alone; Christ also suffered, and that for you slaves, on your behalf. "Christ himself," says Bengel, "was treated as a slave; he deigns to exhibit his own conduct as an example to slaves." Leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. The oldest manuscripts have the second person here in both places. Leaving (ὑολιμπάνων), leaving behind; Bengel says, "in abitu ad pattern." The Greek for "example" is ὑπογραμμός ( α word which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means a copy set by a writing or drawing master, which was to be exactly reproduced by his pupils (see 2 Macc. 2:28, in the Greek). The life of Christ is our model. In particular St. Peter urges us to imitate the Lord's patience in suffering undeserved afflictions. In the last clause the figure is changed to that of a guide along a difficult route, so difficult that those who follow must put their feet in his footprints. We should follow his steps, one by one, closely following him, as the word ἐπακολουθήσητε means (comp. Mark 16:20; 1 Timothy 5:10, 24).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For even hereunto were ye called,.... Both to well doing, of which none but those who are called with an holy and effectual calling are capable; and which they are fitted for, and are under obligation to perform, and to suffer for so doing, which they must always expect, and to patience in suffering for it, which highly becomes them. This being then one end of the saints' effectual calling, is made use of as an argument to engage them to the exercise of the grace of patience in suffering for well doing; and another follows:
because Christ also suffered for us; in our room and stead, to fulfil the law, satisfy the justice of God, and make reconciliation for sin; and not only for our good, or merely as a martyr, to confirm the truth of his doctrine, or barely as an example to us, though this also is true: the Alexandrian copy, and some others, read, "for you"; for you servants, as well as others, and therefore should cheerfully and patiently suffer for the sake of Christ, and his Gospel; and the rather, because he suffered,
leaving us, or "you", as the same copies, and the Vulgate Latin version read,
an example that ye should follow his steps: Christ is an example to his people in the exercise of grace, as of faith, love, zeal, meekness, and humility; and in the discharge of duty, in his regard to the commands of the moral law, and positive institutions of religion; in his constancy in prayer; in frequent attendance on public worship; in his submission to the ordinance of baptism, and his celebration of the supper; and likewise in his sufferings; and in his meekness, patience, courage, and resignation to the will of God, which is what is here intended, and in which his people are to fellow and imitate him.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. Christ's example a proof that patient endurance under undeserved sufferings is acceptable with God.
hereunto—to the patient endurance of unmerited suffering (1Pe 3:9). Christ is an example to servants, even as He was once in "the form of a servant."
called—with a heavenly calling, though slaves.
for us—His dying for us is the highest exemplification of "doing well" (1Pe 2:20). Ye must patiently suffer, being innocent, as Christ also innocently suffered (not for Himself, but for us). The oldest manuscripts for "us … us," read, "you … for you." Christ's sufferings, while they are for an example, were also primarily sufferings "for us," a consideration which imposes an everlasting obligation on us to please Him.
leaving—behind: so the Greek: on His departure to the Father, to His glory.
an example—Greek, "a copy," literally, "a writing copy" set by masters for their pupils. Christ's precepts and sermons were the transcript of His life. Peter graphically sets before servants those features especially suited to their case.
follow—close upon: so the Greek.
his steps—footsteps, namely, of His patience combined with innocence.
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