|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 25. - For ye were as sheep going astray; rather, with the best manuscripts, for ye were going astray like sheep. The apostle is probably still thinking of the great prophecy of Isaiah, and here almost reproduces the words of the sixth verse, "All we like sheep have gone astray." He who had been thrice charged to feed the sheep and the lambs of Christ would think also of the parable of the lost sheep, and of the people of Israel who were "as sheep having no shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). But are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls; literally, but ye returned (the verb is aorist); that is, at the time of their conversion. The aorist passive, ἐπεστράφην, is so frequently used in a middle sense that the translation, "ye were converted," cannot be insisted on (comp. Mark 5:30; Matthew 9:22; Matthew 10:13). Christ is the Shepherd of our souls. The quotation from Isaiah doubtless brought before St. Peter's thoughts the sweet and holy allegory of the good Shepherd, which he had heard from the Savior's lips (comp. also Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24; also Psalm 22.). The word "bishop" (ἐπίσκοπος) is used in a similar connection in Acts 20:28, "Take heed... to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (ἐπισκόπους);" comp. also Ezekiel 34:11, "I will both search my sheep, and seek them out," where the Greek word for "seek them out" is ἐπισκέψομαι. The Lord Jesus Christ is the chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). He is also the chief Bishop or Overseer of those souls which he has bought to be his own with his most precious blood.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For ye were as sheep going astray,.... This is a proof of their being healed, namely, their conversion; in which an application of the blood of Christ, and pardon, and so healing by it, was made to their souls. The apostle has still in view the prophecy of Isaiah 53:6. God's elect are sheep before conversion; not that they have the agreeable properties of sheep, as to be meek, harmless, innocent, clean, and profitable, for they are the reverse of all this; nor can some things be said of them before conversion, as may be after, as that they hear Christ's voice, and follow him; nor are they so called, because unprejudiced against, and predisposed unto the Gospel, for the contrary is true of them; but they are so in electing grace, and were so considered in the Father's gift of them to Christ, and when made his care and charge, and hence they are called the sheep of his hand; and when Christ laid down his life, and rose again, which he did for the sheep, and as the great Shepherd of them; and when called by grace, for their being sheep, and Christ's own sheep by the Father's gift, and his own purpose, is the reason why he looks them up, calls them by name, and returns them: but then they are not yet of his fold; they are lost sheep, lost in Adam, and by his fall, and by their own actual transgressions; they are as sheep going astray from the shepherd, and from the flock, going out of the right way, and in their own ways; and are, like sheep, stupid and insensible of their danger; and as they never return of themselves, until they are sought for, and brought back: hence it follows,
but are now returned; not returned themselves, but were returned by powerful and efficacious grace: saints are passive, and not active in first conversion; they are turned, not by the power of their own free will, but by the power of God's free grace; they are returned under the illuminations and quickenings of the blessed Spirit, and through the efficacious drawings of the Father's love, unto Christ:
unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls; by whom Christ is meant, who bears the office of a Shepherd, and fully performs it by feeding his sheep, providing a good fold and pasture for them; by gathering the lambs in his arms, and gently leading those that are with young; by healing their diseases, and preserving them from beasts of prey; hence he is called the good, the great, and chief Shepherd: and he is the "Bishop" or "Overseer" of the souls of his people, though not to the exclusion of their bodies: he has took the oversight of them willingly, and looks well to his flock, inspects into their cases, and often visits them, and never forsakes them; nor will he leave them till they receive the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls; which he has undertook and effected by his obedience, sufferings and death. Philo the Jew (l) observes, that "to be a shepherd is so good a work, that it is not only a title given to kings and wise men, and souls perfectly purified, but to God the governor of all---who, as a Shepherd and King, leads according to justice and law, setting over them his right Logos, "the first begotten Son", who has taken the care of this holy flock, as does the deputy of a great king.
(l) De Agricultura, p. 194, 195.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
25. (Isa 53:6.)
For—Assigning their natural need of healing (1Pe 2:24).
now—Now that the atonement for all has been made, the foundation is laid for individual conversion: so "ye are returned," or "have become converted to," &c.
Shepherd and Bishop—The designation of the pastors and elders of the Church belongs in its fullest sense to the great Head of the Church, "the good Shepherd." As the "bishop" oversees (as the Greek term means), so "the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous" (1Pe 3:12). He gives us His spirit and feeds and guides us by His word. "Shepherd," Hebrew, "Parnas," is often applied to kings, and enters into the composition of names, as "Pharnabazus."
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