1 Peter 1:11
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
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(11) Searching.—This further explains the “inquired and searched” above; it particularises the object of the inquiry. They knew that they spoke “concerning a salvation,” but they did not know the details. The present passage is perhaps the most striking in the whole New Testament in regard to the doctrine of prophetic inspiration. Assuming that the prophets did not speak simply of their own human calculation, but somehow under the influence of the Divine Spirit, we are brought to face the question, how far their utterances were their own, and how far suggested to them from on high. The doctrine of Montanism, which has not altogether died out of the Church yet, asserts that from first to last prophecy is superhuman; that every word and letter is forced upon the man by a power not his own, which leaves him no choice. God, and God alone, is responsible for every syllable. The human will and intelligence need not even concur in the message they deliver, nor even be conscious that they are delivering it. Thus Montanus makes God to say through him: “Lo, man is as a lyre, and I am as that which strikes the chords: the man is unconscious, and I alone wake.” On the other hand, some of the early opponents of Montanism went so far as to say that the inspired writers had a clear and immediate perception, a complete insight into the mysteries which they foretold,—that Isaiah, for instance, saw, as plainly as we do, Mary and Jesus in his prophecy of Immanuel. Our present verses show a doctrine between the two. The prophets find themselves impelled to say words which they are conscious of choosing and using, but which they feel to have a deeper meaning than they themselves were conscious of intending. It is clear to them (1Peter 1:12) that what they meant primarily as applying to present circumstances, was in reality being overruled by the Spirit to apply more fully to the future. But what that future was they struggled, and half in vain, to know. We may apply to them what Keble says of the Greek poets:—

“As little children lisp, and tell of Heaven,

So thoughts beyond their thoughts to those high bards were given.”

What, or what manner of time.—If this be right, it must mean, “what exact or approximate date.” But the simplest translation would be, to whom, or what period, the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing. This would give new significance to the sentence. They were aware that they were speaking of a Messiah; but who the man should be who would hold that office, or at what period of their history he would arise, this was what they longed to know. They foresaw a Christ, but they could not foresee Jesus; they could give to their Christ no definite position in future history. (Comp. Matthew 22:42; Luke 3:15; Luke 23:35; John 3:28; John 7:26; John 7:41; Acts 2:36, and often.)

The Spirit of Christ which was in them.—They are conscious of a power within them which is not themselves, “moving” them. And this power is described as “the Spirit of Christ.” Now, observe that a change has come over St. Peter’s way of speaking. Hitherto, he has always said, “Jesus Christ,” his object being to keep constantly before the eyes of these Hebrews the truth which he was the first man to enunciate, viz., “Thou art the Christ” (Matthew 16:16), that Jesus was the person who fulfilled all that was expected of the Messiah. “Christ” is not once used by St. Peter (as it is often by St. Paul) as a proper name: it always marks the office, not the person. Therefore we may not prove by this expression two doctrines, however true they may be in themselves, which are commonly sought to be supported by it, viz., the preexistence of our Lord, and the procession of the Holy Ghost from Him as well as from the Father. In spite of a well-quoted passage in Barnabas (1 Peter 5), “The prophets had the gift from Him, and prophesied of Him,” it cannot here mean, “the Holy Ghost given them by our Lord Himself.” Besides, it is theologically incorrect to say that Christ as the Anointed had any pre-existence, except as an indefinite hope in the minds of the Hebrews. The Son, the unincarnate Word, pre-existed, but it is Apollinarianism to say that Jesus had any existence before the Incarnation,—still more Christ, since it may be doubted whether the Incarnate Word became “Christ” until His baptism. That, at least, appears to be St. Peter’s doctrine (Acts 10:38). “The Spirit of Messiah,” then, at any rate when applied to the ages before Christ came, must have a different meaning. Probably not exactly “the Spirit that was to anoint and be in the Messiah,” but rather, “the Messiah-spirit” or “the Messianic spirit.” The prophets wondered who the man was, and where he would live, to whom this Messianic inspiration which they felt within was pointing. St. Peter himself, we repeat, was the first person who fully knew the answer.

When it testified beforehand.—A much more solemn word in the original than it looks in the English, and used by no other writer than St. Peter. It does not mean simply, “when it bore witness beforehand;” but “testifying” means an appeal to Heaven to mark and record the words so spoken: “when with a solemn appeal it announced beforehand.” Was he not thinking of the awful appeal in Daniel 12:7?

The sufferings of Christ.—This unduly contracts the fulness of the Greek, which reads, the sufferings for Christ (just as we had before “the grace for you”), i.e., “these sufferings in reserve for Messiah.” The Old Testament passages which may be supposed to be chiefly indicated are Isaiah 53 and (still more) Daniel 9:24-26. If it be asked how St. Peter knew that the prophets had these longings and doubts, we answer, that it was not only a probable guess, but the result of a study of Daniel, who records again and again the prophetic agony of his search into the future. Beware of treating the title “Christ” as a proper name. Eight out of the ten times that St. Peter uses the word by itself, i.e., without “Jesus” or “the Lord,” it is in direct connection with suffering (here, and in 1Peter 1:19; 1Peter 2:21; 1Peter 3:18; 1Peter 4:1; 1Peter 4:13-14; 1Peter 5:1). Conversely, he never speaks of the sufferings of Jesus Christ. That is to say, he loves to dwell upon the Passion of our Lord, not in its personal but its official aspect. The striking point is that the Messiah should have suffered thus. It was especially necessary to show this in any effort to retain the faith of the Hebrews. Comp. Luke 24:26-46 (Peter present); Acts 3:18 (Peter speaking); Acts 17:3 (to Hebrews); Acts 26:23. And we can see a reason for the insistence in St. Peter’s history. The very same day, apparently, when he had announced his belief that Jesus was the Messiah, he took Him to task for speaking of sufferings and shame. He never could forget the reprimand, like a sword-cut, which he received. The whole Epistle may be said to be an expansion of what Jesus said in answer (Matthew 16:23-27). Some commentators include in this phrase of “the sufferings in reserve for Messiah,” the thought of the sufferings of the Church as well; but it seems far-fetched, especially when we see the true meaning of the word “Christ.” Finally, we may add, that some would join very closely together the words for “signify” and “testifying beforehand,” which would give us this sense: “examining, in reserve for whom, or for what period, the Spirit, with its solemn appeal beforehand, was pointing out these sufferings in reserve for Messiah.” This is possible, and keeps the same sense, but it unnecessarily complicates the sentence.

And the glory that should follow.—Literally, and the glories after them. The plural “glories” corresponds to the plural “sufferings,”—the one as multiform as the other; resurrection, ascension, reassumption of the divine glory (John 17:5), triumphs of Church history, restitution of all things. The sufferings and subsequent glories of the Christ form, of course, together the whole of the gospel.

1:10-12 Jesus Christ was the main subject of the prophets' studies. Their inquiry into the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow, would lead to a view of the whole gospel, the sum whereof is, That Christ Jesus was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. God is pleased to answer our necessities rather than our requests. The doctrine of the prophets, and that of the apostles, exactly agree, as coming from the same Spirit of God. The gospel is the ministration of the Spirit; its success depends upon his operation and blessing. Let us then search diligently those Scriptures which contain the doctrines of salvation.Searching what - That is, examining their own predictions with care, to ascertain what they meant. They studied them as we do the predictions which others have made; and though the prophets were the medium through which the truth was made known, yet their own predictions became a subject of careful investigation to themselves. The expression used here in the original, rendered "what," (εἰς τίνα eis tina,) literally, "unto what," may mean, so far as the Greek is concerned, either "what time," or "what people," or "what person;" that is, with reference to what person the prophecies were really uttered. The latter, it seems to me, is the correct interpretation, meaning that they inquired in regard to him, who he would be, what would be his character, and what would be the nature of the work which he would perform. There can be no doubt that they understood that their predictions related to the Messiah; but still it is not improper to suppose that it was with them an interesting inquiry what sort of a person he would be, and what would be the nature of the work which he would perform.

This interpretation of the phrase εἰς τίνα eis tina, (unto what or whom) it should be observed, however, is not that which is commonly given of the passage. Bloomfield, Rosenmuller, Doddridge, Whitby, Benson, and Grotius suppose it to refer to time, meaning that they inquired at what time, or when these things would occur. Macknight thinks it refers "to people," (λαον laon,) meaning that they diligently inquired what people would put him to death. But the most obvious interpretation is that which I have suggested above, meaning that they made particular inquiry to whom their prophecies related - what was his rank and character, and what was to be the nature of his work. What would be a more natural inquiry for them than this? What would be more important? And how interesting is the thought that when Isaiah, for example, had given utterance to the sublime predictions which we now have of the Messiah, in his prophecies, he sat himself down with the spirit of a little child, to learn by prayer and study, what was fully implied in the amazing words which the Spirit had taught him to record! How much of mystery might seem still to hang around the subject And how intent would such a mind be to know what was the full import of those words!

Or what manner of time - This phrase, in Greek, (ποῖον καιρὸν poion kairon,) would properly relate, not to the exact time when these things would occur, but to the character or condition of the age when they would take place; perhaps referring to the state of the world at that period, the preparation to receive the gospel, and the probable manner in which the great message would be received. Perhaps, however, the inquiry in their minds pertained to the time when the predictions would be fulfilled, as well as to the condition of the world when the event takes place. The meaning of the Greek phrase would not exclude this latter sense. There are not unfrequent indications of time in the prophets, (compare Daniel 9:24 ff) and these indications were of so clear a character, that when the Saviour actually appeared there was a general expectation that the event would then occur. See the notes at Matthew 2:9.

The Spirit of Christ which was in them - This does not prove that they knew that this was the Spirit of Christ, but is only a declaration of Peter that it was actually so. It is not probable that the prophets distinctly understood that the Spirit of inspiration, by which they were led to foretell future events, was especially the Spirit of Christ. They understood that they were inspired; but there is no intimation, with which I am acquainted, in their writings, that they regarded themselves as inspired by the Messiah. It was not improper, however, for Peter to say that the Spirit by which they were influenced was in fact the Spirit of Christ, so called because that Spirit which suggested these future events to them was given as the great Medium of all revealed truth to the world. Compare Hebrews 1:3; John 1:9; John 14:16, John 14:26; John 16:7; Isaiah 49:6. It is clear from this passage:

(1) that Christ must have had an existence before his incarnation; and,

(2) that he must have understood then what would occur to him when he should become incarnate; that is, it must have been arranged or determined beforehand,

Did signify - Meant to intimate or manifest to them, ἐδήλου edēlou or what was implied in the communications made to them.

When it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ - As Isaiah, Isaiah 53:1-12; Daniel, Daniel 9:25-27. They saw clearly that the Messiah was to suffer; and doubtless this was the common doctrine of the prophets, and the common expectation of the pious part of the Jewish nation. Yet it is not necessary to suppose that they had clear apprehensions of his sufferings, or were able to reconcile all that was said on that subject with what was said of his glory and his triumphs. There was much about those sufferings which they wished to learn, as there is much still which we desire to know. We have no reason to suppose that there were any views of the sufferings of the Messiah communicated to the prophets except what we now have in the Old Testament; and to see the force of what Peter says, we ought to imagine what would be our views of him if all that we have known of Christ as history were obliterated, and we had only the knowledge which we could derive from the Old Testament. As has been already intimated, it is probable that they studied their own predictions, just as we would study them if we had not the advantage of applying to them the facts which have actually occurred.

And the glory that should follow - That is, they saw that there would be glory which would be the result of his sufferings, but they did not clearly see what it would be. They had some knowledge that he would be raised from the dead, (Psalm 16:8-11; Compare Acts 2:25-28) they knew that he would "see of the travail of his soul, and would be satisfied," Isaiah 53:11 they had some large views of the effects of the gospel on the nations of the earth, Isaiah 11; Isaiah 25:7-8; 60; 66. But there were many things respecting his glorification which it cannot be supposed they clearly understood; and it is reasonable to presume that they made the comparatively few and obscure intimations in their own writings in relation to this, the subject of profound and prayerful inquiry.

11. what—Greek, "In reference to what, or what manner of time." What expresses the time absolutely: what was to be the era of Messiah's coming; what manner of time; what events and features should characterize the time of His coming. The "or" implies that some of the prophets, if they could not as individuals discover the exact time, searched into its characteristic features and events. The Greek for "time" is the season, the epoch, the fit time in God's purposes.

Spirit of Christ … in them—(Ac 16:7, in oldest manuscripts, "the Spirit of Jesus"; Re 19:10). So Justin Martyr says, "Jesus was He who appeared and communed with Moses, Abraham, and the other patriarchs." Clement of Alexandria calls Him "the Prophet of prophets, and Lord of all the prophetical spirit."

did signify—"did give intimation."

of—Greek, "the sufferers (appointed) unto Christ," or foretold in regard to Christ. "Christ," the anointed Mediator, whose sufferings are the price of our "salvation" (1Pe 1:9, 10), and who is the channel of "the grace that should come unto you."

the glory—Greek, "glories," namely, of His resurrection, of His ascension, of His judgment and coming kingdom, the necessary consequence of the sufferings.

that should follow—Greek, "after these (sufferings)," 1Pe 3:18-22; 5:1. Since "the Spirit of Christ" is the Spirit of God, Christ is God. It is only because the Son of God was to become our Christ that He manifested Himself and the Father through Him in the Old Testament, and by the Holy Spirit, eternally proceeding from the Father and Himself, spake in the prophets.

Searching what? Whether near or farther off, or what particular part of time. This may relate particularly to Daniel’s weeks, Daniel 9:1-27.

What manner of time; whether peaceable or troublesome, when the people were free or when in bondage; what were the qualities of the time, or signs by which it might be known, Jacob foretells Christ’s coming, when the sceptre was departed from Judah, Genesis 49:10; Isaiah, in a time of universal peace, Isaiah 2:4 11:6. This diligent inquiring after the time of Christ’s coming showed their earnest longing for it.

The Spirit of Christ; so styled, as being of the Son, no less than of the Father, both by eternal procession and temporal mission, John 14:16,26 15:26. This shows, that not only Christ had a being under the Old Testament before his coming in the flesh, (for if Christ were not, there could be no Spirit of Christ), but likewise that Christ is God, because of his inspiring the prophets with the knowledge of future things, which none but God can do.

When it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ; what the prophets did foretell concerning Christ, was not their own conjecture, but what the Spirit did dictate to them.

And the glory that should follow; Greek, glories, in the plural number, i.e. the manifold glory which was to follow upon his many sufferings, the glory of his resurrection, ascension, sitting at the right hand of God, sending the Spirit, &c. Christ’s suffering and glory are often joined together, Psalm 22:6 110:1-7 Isaiah 53:3,10-12 Lu 24:26 Philippians 2:8,9 Heb 2:9,10; to show that there is the same way (and no other) for the salvation of the members, as for the glory of the Head, viz. by sufferings.

Searching what, or what manner of time,.... The prophets made a very diligent inquiry into the exact time when Christ should come to work out the salvation of his people; to whom it was made known that his coming should be before the sceptre, or tribe of Judah, and all civil government in it, ceased; and before the second temple was destroyed, into which the Messiah, the messenger of the covenant, was to come, as the Lord and proprietor of it; and that it should be seventy weeks, or 490 years, from a date given in Daniel 9:24 as it was revealed to the Prophet Daniel; who particularly inquired, and diligently searched into this matter, and was eminently a man of desires this way, as he is styled, Daniel 9:23 and they not only searched into the exact time, but into the manner and quality of the time when the Saviour should come; and foretold that it would be, with respect to the nations of the world, a time of profound peace; with respect to the Jews, that it would be a time of great blindness, ignorance, unbelief, and hardness of heart; that such would be that generation, or age, for wickedness and barbarity, as could not be declared and expressed; and that few would believe the report of the Gospel; and that the Messiah would be rejected of men, and be wounded, bruised, and put to death; and with respect to the Gentiles, that the Gospel would be preached to them, and that they should seek to Christ, be gathered to him, and hope and trust in him; and that the followers of the Messiah should be persecuted, and greatly distressed, and yet comforted and sustained; and this should be the face of the times, and the state of things, when the salvation should be revealed: and all this, and much more,

the Spirit of Christ in them did signify; or "make manifest": from whence it appears, that Christ then existed, as he did before there were any prophets, and even from everlasting, being the eternal God; and that the Spirit is from him, as well as from the Father; and as here, so he is often by the Jews (a) called , "the Spirit of the Messiah", or "Christ"; and that the Spirit is truly God, since he could declare beforehand the exact time of Christ's coming, and the finality of the age in which he came, as well as bear a previous testimony to his sufferings and glory; as also, that he was in the prophets, and they were inspired by him, and spake as he moved and directed them:

when, it testified before hand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. The "sufferings of Christ" are what the Jews call (b) , "the sorrows of the Messiah". These are particularly testified of in Psalm 22:1. The glory, or "glories", as it may be rendered, design his resurrection from the dead, his ascension to heaven, his session at the right hand of God, and having all power, authority, and judgment committed to him; and which are eminently and distinctly prophesied of in Psalm 16:10.

(a) Zohar in Gen. fol. 19. 3. & passim. (b) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 118. 1. & passim.

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
1 Peter 1:11 stands in close grammatical connection with the preceding, ἐρευνῶντες being conjoined with the verba finita of 1 Peter 1:10; what follows states the object of the ἐρευνᾷν.

εἰς τίνα ἢ ποῖον καιρόν] τίνα refers to the time itself, ποῖον to its character.[70] Steinmeyer (appealing without justification to Romans 4:13) explains incorrectly: vel potius; vel, ut rectius dicam.

ἐδήλου] not: “referred to” (Luth. or significaret, Vulg.), but: “revealed,” as Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 12:17, etc. Vorstius supplies: gratiam illam exstituram, de qua et ipsi vaticinabantur; this is incorrect. εἰςκαιρόν is conjoined rather directly—though not as its real object, but as a secondary determination—with ἐδήλου. An object is not to be supplied (neither ταῦτα nor τὴν χάριν ταύτην, Steiger), as ἐδήλου is in intimate union with the participle προμαρτυρόμενον (de Wette, Brückner, Wiesinger, Schott), by which “at once the act of δηλοῦν and its object are exactly determined” (de Wette).

τὸ ἐν αὐτοῖς πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ] By this the revealing subject is mentioned: the prophets only expressed what the Spirit within them communicated to them; “the τὸ ἐν αὐτοῖς is to be taken as a special act of ἐδήλου” (Wiesinger), cf. besides, Matthew 22:43 and 2 Peter 1:21.[71]

This Spirit is characterized as the ΤῸ ΠΝΕῦΜΑ ΤΟῦ ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ, not in that it bears witness of Christ (Bengel: Spiritus Christi: testans de Christo; thus also Grotius, Augustine, Jachmann), for ΧΡΙΣΤΟῦ is the subjective and not the objective genitive, but because it is the Spirit “which Christ has and gives” (Wiesinger); see Romans 8:8. The expression is to be explained from the apostle’s conviction of the pre-existence of Christ, and is here used in reference strictly to the ΠΡΟΜΑΡΤΥΡΌΜΕΝΟΝ ΤᾺ ΕἸς ΧΡΙΣΤῸΝ ΠΑΘΉΜΑΤΑ Κ.Τ.Λ. directly conjoined with it. Barnabas, chap. 1 Peter 5 : prophetae ab ipso habentes donum in illum prophetarunt.

[70] Bengel: in quod vel quale tempus; quod innuit tempus per se, quasi dicas aeram suis numeris notatam: quale dicit tempus ex eventibus variis noscendum.

[71] Hofmann is indeed not mistaken in saying that τὸ ἐν αὐτοῖς πν. Χρ. is a designation of the Spirit working prophetic knowledge in the prophets, and not of a constant indwelling of it,—only it must be observed that the expression here employed says nothing as to how or in what manner the Spirit dwelt in the prophets.


By far the greater number of the interpreters rightly see in the term here applied to the Spirit a testimony to the real pre-existence of Christ. Not so de Wette, who finds in it merely the expression of the view “that the work of redemption is the same in both the O. and N. T., and that the Spirit of God at work in the former is identical with the Spirit of Christ;” and Weiss (pp. 247–249), who explains the name thus: that the Spirit which was at work in the prophets was the same as “that which Christ received at His baptism, and since then has possessed;” similarly Schmid also (bibl. Theol. p. 163), “the Spirit of God which in after time worked in the person of Christ.”

Weiss seeks to prove, indeed, that “Christ had in the pre-existent Messianic Spirit an ideal, or in a certain sense a real pre-existence,”—but in this way reflex ideas are attributed to the apostles, which certainly lay far from their mind. Besides, Weiss himself admits that in 1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Corinthians 10:9, reference is made to the pre-existent Christ; but it cannot be concluded from Acts 2:36 that Peter did not believe it. Schott, too, in his interpretation, does not abstain from introducing many results of modern thought, when he designates τὸ πν. Χρ. here as the Spirit “of the Mediator continually approaching the consummation of salvation(!), but as yet supernaturally concealed in God.” Steinmeyer does not touch the question of the pre-existence of Christ; he finds an adequate explanation of the expression in the remark of Bengel, although he takes Χριστοῦ as a subject. gen.

προμαρτυρόμενον] This verb. compos. occurs nowhere else in the N. T., and in none of the classical writers; the simplex means properly: “to call to witness;” then, “to swear to, to attest;” προμαρτύρεσθαι is therefore: “to attest beforehand.”[72]

The object of ἐδήλουπρομαρτ. is ΤᾺ ΕἸς ΧΡΙΣΤῸΝ ΠΑΘΉΜΑΤΑ ΚΑῚ ΤᾺς ΜΕΤᾺ ΤΑῦΤΑ ΔΌΞΑς] On this Luther remarks, that it can be understood of both kinds of suffering, of those which Christ Himself bore, as well as of those which we endure. The majority of interpreters conceive the reference to be to the former: Oecumenius, Theophyl., Erasmus, Grotius, Aretius, Piscator (cf. Luke 24:26), Vorstius, Hensler, Stolz, Hottinger, Knapp, Steiger, de Wette, Brückner, Steinmeyer, Wiesinger, Weiss, Luthardt, Schott, Fronmüller, Hofmann, etc.; but not so Calvin: non tractat Petr. quod Christo sit proprium, sed de universali ecclesiae statu disserit; Bolten and Clericus explain it of the sufferings of the Christians; the same position is taken up in the first edition of this commentary. Since the main tendency of the paragraph, 1 Peter 1:10-12, is to give special prominence to the glorious nature of the believers’ ΣΩΤΗΡΊΑ, the latter view is favoured by the connection of thought. But, on the other hand, there is nothing opposed to the assumption, that the apostle here mentions the facts on which the σωτηρία is founded, as the substance of the testimony of the Spirit of God in the prophets. The expression ΤᾺ ΕἸς ΧΡΙΣΤῸΝ ΠΑΘΉΜΑΤΑ too, which must be interpreted on the analogy of Τῆς ΕἸς ὙΜᾶς ΧΆΡΙΤΟς, goes to show that by it are to be understood the sufferings which were ordained or appointed to Christ (Wiesinger).

On the plural τὰςδόξας, Bengel says: Plurale: gloria resurrectionis, gloria ascensionis, gloria judicii extremi et regni coelestis; thus also Grotius, de Wette, Steiger, Wiesinger, Weiss, Schott. But it might be more correct to explain the plural in this way, that as the one suffering of Christ comprehends in it a plurality of sufferings, so does His ΔΌΞΑ a plurality of glories. Hofmann: “by ΠΑΘΉΜΑΤΑ is to be understood the manifold afflictions in which the one suffering of Christ consisted, while the manifold glorifyings which go to make up His glory are included under ΔΌΞΑΙ.”[73] Besides, it must be noted that the suffering of Christ is always designated by the plural παθήματα (with the exception of in Hebrews 2:9, where we have: τὸ πάθημα τοῦ θανάτου), but His glory always by the singular δόξα.

As the παθήματα and δόξαι, of Christ are the object of ἐδήλου προμαρτυρόμενον, so by καιρός, to which the ἐρευνᾷν of the prophets was directed, the time is referred to when this salvation would actually be accomplished. For this reason, then, ἐξηρεύνησαν, 1 Peter 1:10, cannot again be repeated in ἐρευνῶντες (Wiesinger, Schott), as if the εἰς τίνακαιρόν referred directly to the appearance of the σωτηρία; the apostle’s thought is rather this, that in their search as to the time of the sufferings, etc. of Christ, the prophets had before their eyes, as that with respect to which they sought to obtain knowledge, the σωτηρία of which believers were to be made partakers.

[72] Schott justly remarks that δηλοῦν and προμαρτύρεσθαι are not identical with προφητεύειν, but that they denote the “action of the Spirit,” by means of which “He communicated to the prophets the prophecies after which they were to inquire.” But he is evidently mistaken when he asserts that this identification takes place in the above interpretation.—Nor is Schott warranted in supposing that in προμαρ. the apostle emphatically shows that the manner of communication “was a revelation in the form of speech, and not an inward vision.”

[73] Hofmann’s opinion, that Peter had chiefly in his mind the passages in Isaiah 49:6-7; Isaiah 52:15, arises from the fact that he applies ὑμᾶς specially to the Gentiles.


Definite corroboration of the ideas here expressed is to be found in the Book of Daniel, chap. Daniel 12:4; Daniel 12:9-10; Daniel 12:13. The fundamental presupposition is, that the “when” of the fulfilment was unknown to the prophets; according to 1 Peter 1:12, all that was revealed to them was, that it would take place only in the times to come. De Wette asserts too much when he says, that searching as to the time cannot be predicated of the genuine prophets of ancient Judaism, but of Daniel only, who pondered over the seventy years of Jeremiah. But although the words of Daniel may have given occasion for the apostle’s statement, still that statement is not incapable of justification. If the apostles searched as to the time when the promises of Christ would receive accomplishment, why should it not be presupposed that similarly the prophets, too, inquired into that which the πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ testified beforehand to them, more especially as to the καιρός of its fulfilment?

1 Peter 1:11. The construction of εἰς τ. κ. π. καιρόν and of προμαρτ. is doubtful. ἐραυνῶντες takes up ἐξεζήτησαν κ.τ.λ. (10); the run of the sentence seems to naturally connect τὰδόξας with προμαρτ. and εἰςκαιρόν with ἐδήλου. So Vulgate in quod vel quale tempus significare … spiritus … praenuntians … passiones. But if εἰςκαιρὸν be unfit to be a direct object and προμαρτ., perhaps, to have one of this kind. τὰδόξας must be governed by ἐδήλου. It is possible also to dissociate τίνα from καιρὸν and to render in reference to whom and what time the Spirit signified …; cf. Ephesians 5:22, ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω εἰς Χριστόν, Acts 2:25. If τίνα be taken with καιρόν, the two words correspond to the two questions of the disciples, When?… and what shall be the sign? (Mark 13:4). Failing to discover at what time, the prophets asked at what kind of time; their answer received a certain endorsement in the eschatological discourse of Jesus (Mark 13:5 ff. and parallels).—ἐδήλου, cf. Hebrews 9:8, τοῦτο δηλοῦντος τοῦ Πνεύματος. The word implies discernment on the part of the student (Hebrews 12:27, τὸ δὲ ἔτι ἅπαξ δηλοῖ …). What time … did point unto of R.V. is unjustifiable; a simple accusative is required, i.e., either (1.) ποῖον κ. or (2.) τίνα ἢ π. κ. (εἰς being deleted as dittography of -ες) or (3.) τὰδόξας.—τὸ πνεῦμα [Χριστοῦ], the full phrase is a natural one for a Christian to employ—Christ being here the proper name = Jesus Christ and not the title. κύριος in the O.T. was commonly interpreted as referring to Our Lord; and XC. is a frequent v.l. for [144] [145]. Hence Barnabas (v.q.), οἱ προφῆται ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ ἔχον τὴν χάριν εἰς αὐτὸν ἐπροφήτευσαν.—προμαρτυρόμενον only occurs here. If μαρτύρομαι (the proper sense) determine the meaning of the compound render “protesting (calling God to witness) beforehand”. It usage justify confusion with μαρτυρεῖν, be witness [of] render testifying beforehand or (publicly.)—τὰεἰς Χν παθήματα, the doctrine that the Messiah must suffer and so enter into His glory was stated by the prophets (e.g. Isaiah 3.) but neglected by the Jews of the first century (John 12:34). Believers were reminded of it by the risen Lord Himself (Luke 24:26; Luke 24:46) and put it in the forefront of their demonstratio evangelica (Acts 3:18; Acts 17:3; Acts 26:23). The phrase corresponds exactly to the original חבלי של״: εἰς standing for the ל (periphrasis for construct. state).—τὰς μετὰ ταῦτα δόξας, the plural glories implies some comprehension of the later doctrine, e.g., John, which recognised that the glory of Jesus was partially manifested during His earthly life; although the definition subsequent reflects the primitive simplicity and if it be pressed the glories must be explained as referring to the resurrection ascension triumph over angels as well as the glorious session (John 8:21 f.).—οἷς ἀπεκαλύφθη, so St. Peter argues that Joel prophesied the last things (cf. Sir 48:24) and that David foresaw and spoke concerning the resurrection (Acts 2:17; Acts 2:31; cf. Acts 3:24). Compare Daniel 9:2; Daniel 12:4, etc., for examples of partial revelations of this kind proper to apocalyptic writers. Heb. l.c. supr. credits the Patriarchs with the same insight.—οὐχ ἑαυτοῖς ὑμῖν δέ, negative and positive presentation of the past for emphasis is common in this Epistle.—διηκόνουν αὐτά, “they were supplying, conveying the revelations granted to them—primary the prophecy and the revealed solution of it alike,” cf. 1 Peter 4:10, εἰς ἑαυτοὺς αὐτὸ διακονοῦντες. The context shows, if the word διακονεῖν does not itself connote it, that herein they were stewards of God’s manifold grace—channels of communication. For Acc. with διακον. cf, 2 Corinthians 3:3, ἐπιστολὴ Χριστοῦ διακονηθεῖσα ὑφʼ ἡμῶν, 2 Corinthians 8:19, τῇ χάριτι ταύτῃ τῇ διακονουμένῃ ὑφʼ ἡμῶν, from which it may be inferred that δ. connotes what the context here suggests, cf. ἃ νῦν ἀνηγγέλη, have been at the present dispensation declared; . is taken from the great proof text relating to the calling of the Gentiles, οἷς οὐκ ἀνηγγέλη ἀκούουσιν, Isaiah 52:15 cited Romans 15:21. “But St. Peter probably meant more by the word … the phrase includes not only the announcement of the historical facts of the Gospel, but, yet more, their implicit teachings as to the counsels of God and the hopes revealed for men” (Hort).—διὰ τῶν εὐαγγ. ὑμας, God spake through the evangelists (cf. Isaiah 61:1, apud Romans 10:15) as through the prophets, Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15, etc. Both are simply God’s messengers. For accusative after εὐαγγ. cf. use of בשר = gladden with good tidings (Isaiah 61:1). So πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται (Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22) is substituted for the original πτωχοῖς εὐαγγελίζεσθαι (Luke 4:18 = Isaiah 61:1) if the prophecy which Jesus appropriated and which forms the basis of the Christian use of the word.—πνεύματι κ.τ.λ. The evangelists preached by the Spirit, as Stephen spoke (Acts 6:10), τῷ πνεῦματι ᾧ ἐλάλει. In Sir 48:24, if the Greek and Hebrew texts are trustworthy, πνεύματι the simple Dative (πνεύματι μεγάλῳ εἶδεν τὰ ἔσχατα i.e. Isaiah) corresponds to ברוח: cf. insertion of ἐν here in v. l. The visible descent of the Holy Spirit is contrasted with the indwelling Spirit which inspired the prophets. The Holy Spirit was given, when Jesus was glorified, as never before, οὐκ ἐκ μέτρου (John 3:34). Vulgate renders by ablative absolute.—εἰς ἃπαρακύψαι, after expanding the first part of Jesus’ saying (and its context ye see) St. Peter at last reaches the second in its secondary form. He combines with it as its proper Scripture, the prophecy of Enoch (ix. 1) καὶ ἀκούσαντες οἱ τέσσαρες μεγάλοι ἀρχάγγελοιπαρέ κυψαν ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν ἐκ τῶν ἁγίων τοῦ αὐρανοῦ. St. Paul spiritualises the idea “to me … this grace was given to preach to the Gentiles … in order that now might be made known to the principalities and the authorities in heavenly places by means of the Church the very-varied wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:8 ff.). St. Peter reproduces faithfully the simplicity of the original and represents this longing as still unsatisfied since the Church is not yet perfect or complete. It thus becomes part of the sympathetic groaning and travailing of the whole creation (Romans 8:22 f.). In Romans 8:21 St. Peter states on the same authority that Christ preached to the spirits in prison; adding that when he ascended all angels were subjected to Him. The apparent contradiction is due to the discrepancy between the ideal and its gradual realisation and not to an imperfect coordination of these conceptions of the universal sovereignty of God. See 1 Corinthians 15:25 f., Hebrews 2:7 f., not yet do we see …—παρακύψαι has lost its suggestion of peeping through its use in the LXX for שקף look forth though it is not employed by them in the places where God is said to look down from heaven (Psalm 14:2, etc.). The patristic commentators seem to hold by the Evangelist rather than the Apostle in respect to the saying, as they refer exclusively for illustration to the O.T. figures, Moses (Hebrews 11:26), Isaiah (John 12:41). Oecumenius notes that Daniel is called by the angel a man of longings (Daniel 9:25). That the angels of Peter are due to Enoch and secondary seems to be borne out by the Targum of Ecclesiastes 1:8, “In all the words that are prepared (about) to come to pass in the world the ancient prophets wearied themselves and could not find their ends”.

[144] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[145] Codex Ephraemi (sæc. v.), the Paris palimpsest, edited by Tischendorf in 1843.

11. searching what, or what manner of time] The two words have each a distinct force, the first indicating the wish of men to fix the date of the coming of the Lord absolutely, the second to determine the note or character of the season of its approach. Of that craving we find examples in the question “wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” which was met by our Lord with the answer “It is not for you to know the times and the seasons” (Acts 1:6-7), in the over-heated expectations which St Paul checks in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, in the hopes that were met by the mocking scorn which St Peter himself rebukes in 2 Peter 3:3-8.

the Spirit of Christ which was in them] It will hardly be questioned that the name thus given to the Spirit, as compared with Romans 8:9 and Galatians 4:6, primarily suggests the thought of prophets who were living and working in the Christian Church rather than of those of the older Church of Israel.

when it testified beforehand the sufferings] To the English readers these words naturally seem decisive in favour of the current interpretation, and against that which is here suggested. But they seem so only because they are a mistranslation of the original. When St Peter wishes to speak of the “sufferings of Christ,” he uses a different construction (chap. 1 Peter 4:13, 1 Peter 5:1), as St Paul does (2 Corinthians 1:5). Here the phrase, as has been noticed above, is different. St Peter speaks of the sufferings (which pass on) unto Christ. The thought is identical with that of St Paul’s, expressed in terms so analogous that it is a marvel that their bearing on this passage should have escaped the notice of commentators. “As the sufferings of Christ abound toward us,” St Paul says (2 Corinthians 1:5), “so also does our consolation.” He thinks of the communion between Christ and His people as involving their participation in His sufferings. Is it not obvious that St Peter presents in almost identical phraseology the converse of that thought, and that the “sufferings” spoken of are those which the disciples were enduring for Christ, and which he thinks of as shared by Him, flowing over to Him? That predictions of such sufferings, sometimes general, sometimes personal, entered largely into the teaching of the prophets of the New Testament we see from Acts 11:28; Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11; 2 Timothy 2:3; 2 Timothy 2:12. That they dwelt also upon the “glories” that should come after the sufferings lies almost in the very nature of the case. Visions of Paradise and the third heaven, as in 2 Corinthians 12:1-5, of the throne and the rainbow and the sea of glass, and the heavenly Jerusalem, like those of St John, were, we may well believe, as indeed 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 sufficiently indicates, almost the common heritage of the prophets of the Apostolic Church.

1 Peter 1:11. Εἰς τίνα ἢ ποῖον, to what, or what manner of) The disjunctive particle expresses the great eagerness of the prophets: (to know) whether those things were about to happen in their time or afterwards: 1 Peter 1:12. What (τίνα) denotes the time absolutely, so to speak, an era marked out by its own numbers: what manner of (ποῖον) speaks of the time to be known from various events. Daniel 9:2.—Πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ, the Spirit of Christ) testifying of Christ; Revelation 19:10. The Spirit of God, Genesis 1:2, is called the Spirit of Messias in the work entitled Baal Hatturim.—τὰπαθήματα, the sufferings) Hence comes salvation.—τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήματα) the sufferings about to happen to Christ.—μετὰ ταῦτα) after these sufferings.—δόξας, glories) In the plural. The glory of His resurrection; the glory of His ascension; the glory of the last judgment and of the kingdom of heaven.

Verse 11. - Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify; or, as the Revised Version, did point unto. The Authorized Version neglects the preposition εἰς. The apostle says that the Spirit of Christ dwelt in the prophets. The words πνεῦμα Ξριστοῦ cannot mean "the Spirit which bears witness of Christ," as Bengel and others. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (see Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6). He is not only sent from the Father by the Son, but he proceedeth from the Father and the Son. This important statement involves also the pre-existence and the Divinity of Christ (comp. John 8:56, 58; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Jude 1:5, in the best-supported reading). The prophets felt within them the working of the Spirit. They knew that the mysterious voice which filled their souls was his voice. Its utterances were not always clear; they were sometimes obscure and mystical, but the heart of the prophets was stirred to the utmost; they sought with earnest prayer and devout thought into the purposes of God announced in the revelation. Especially they asked, as the apostles asked the Lord on the Mount of Olives, "When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming?" At what time would the Messiah be revealed? What would be the distinctive character, the marks, the signs, of that time? "Prophetae ab ipso habentes donum in ilium prophetarunt" ('Ep. Barnab.,' 100. 5). When it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow; rather, the sufferings for Christ (destined for Christ), and the glories after these. Compare St. Peter's speech (Acts 3:18), "Those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled." So St. Paul, in his speech before King Agrippa (Acts 26:22, 23), asserts that he had said "none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead." The doctrine of a suffering Messiah was a stumbling-block to the Jews. The apostles could not understand it till after the Savior's resurrection; Peter himself had recoiled from it with horror, and had been rebuked by the Lord (Matthew 16:22, 23); now, taught by the Spirit, he understands the foreshadowings of the sufferings of Christ, which the Spirit of Christ had testified to the prophets. The Lord himself had expounded, on the day of his resurrection, the things concerning himself, beginning at Moses and all the prophets: "Ought not Christ," he said, "to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:26). Some think that St. Peter is referring mainly to the prophets of the New Testament, and that the words, "the sufferings of Christ," are to be understood mystically of Christ suffering in his Church, as "the afflictions of Christ" in Colossians 1:24. But the context does not require this explanation, and the parallel passages quoted above seem to preclude it. 1 Peter 1:11Did signify (ἐδήλου)

Imperfect tense: better, was declaring, all along through the prophetic age, in successive prophets. See the same verb in 1 Corinthians 3:13; 2 Peter 1:14 :.

When it testified beforehand (προμαρτυρόμενον)

Only here in New Testament.

Of Christ (εἰς Χριστὸν)

Lit., unto Christ. So Rev., in margin. The sufferings destined for Christ, as in 1 Peter 1:10 he speaks of the grace, εἰς ὑμᾶς, unto you; i.e., destined to come unto you. Peter was especially concerned to show that the sufferings of Christ were in fulfilment of prophecy, because it was a subject of dispute with the Jews whether the Christ was to suffer (Acts 3:18; Acts 26:22, Acts 26:23).

The glory (τὰς δόξας)

Rev., correctly, the glories. The plural is used to indicate the successive steps of his glorification; the glory of his resurrection and ascension, of the last judgment, and of the kingdom of heaven.

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