1 Peter 2:25
For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
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(25) For ye were as sheep going astray.—The right reading does not attach “going astray” to “sheep,” but as predicate of the sentence, “ye were going astray like sheep.” The “for” introduces an explanation of how they came to be in need of “healing.” “I may well say that ye were healed; for Israelites though you are, your consciences and memories tell you that you were as far gone in wilful error as any Gentiles, and needed as complete a conversion.” (Comp. 1Peter 2:10.) Jew and Gentile take different ways, but both alike fulfil the prophecy, “every man to his own way.” The two metaphors, of healing and going astray, do not match very well, but the fact that both are quotations from Isaiah 53 makes their disagreement less harsh. We must notice how deeply that prophecy (the interpretation of which was probably learned from the Baptist) had sunk into St. Peter’s mind. (See 1Peter 1:19.)

But are now returned.—The tense of the original verb points to the actual historical time at which it took place, rather than the position now occupied, “but now ye returned.” The word “now” is used in the same way in 1Peter 2:10, where literally it is, “but now did obtain mercy.” “Returned” does not in the Greek imply that they had at first been under the Shepherd’s care and had left Him. The word is that which is often rendered “were converted,” and only indicates that they turned round and moved in a contrary direction.

The shepherd and bishop of your souls.—Undoubtedly this means Christ. The first of the two titles is of course suggested by the simile of the sheep. The image is so natural and so frequent, that we can not say for certain that it proves St. Peter’s acquaintance with the parable of the Good Shepherd in John 10. More probably, perhaps, he is thinking of Psalm 23:3, “He converted my soul” (LXX.), where “the Lord,” as usual, may be taken to mean the Son of God rather than the Father; or else of Ezekiel 34:11; Ezekiel 34:16, where the words rendered “seek them out” in our version is represented in the LXX. by that from which the name of a “bishop” is derived. (Comp. Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24; also Isaiah 40:11, which last citation comes from a passage which has been in St. Peter’s mind just before, 1Peter 1:24.) It is hardly necessary to add that to the Hebrew mind the thought of superintendence and ruling, not that of giving food, was uppermost when they spoke of shepherds, and that the pastors spoken of in the Old Testament are not the priests or givers of spiritual nutriment, but the kings and princes. Thus it will here be nearly synonymous with the second title of bishop. This name suggests in the first instance not so much overseeing as visitingi.e., going carefully into the different cases brought under the officer’s notice. (Comp. 1Peter 5:2; 1Peter 5:4, and Acts 20:28.) Both words were already familiar as ecclesiastical words already, and as such were especially appropriate to Christ, the Head of the Church; but as they had not yet become stereotyped in that sense, the writer adds, “of your souls,” to show that it was not an outward sovereignty and protectorate which the Messiah had assumed over them. “Soul” is a word of which St. Peter is fond (1Peter 1:9; 1Peter 1:22; 1Peter 2:11; 1Peter 4:19; 2Peter 2:8), but which is, perhaps, never used by St. Paul in this sense. It is to be remarked how St. Peter works almost every section of the Epistle round, so as to end with some encouragement to the readers to cling to Jesus as the Messiah, and to their Christian state, from which they were in danger of receding into Judaism. He makes even the special exhortations lead up to that which is the main exhortation of the Letter.

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.For ye were as sheep going astray - Here also is an allusion to Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray." See the notes at that verse. The figure is plain. We were like a flock without a shepherd. We had wandered far away from the true fold, and were following our own paths. We were without a protector, and were exposed to every kind of danger. This aptly and forcibly expresses the condition of the whole race before God recovers people by the plan of salvation. A flock thus wandering without a shepherd, conductor, or guide, is in a most pitiable condition; and so was man in his wanderings before he was sought out and brought back to the true fold by the Great Shepherd.

But are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls - To Christ, who thus came to seek and save those who were lost. He is often called a Shepherd. See the notes at John 10:1-16. The word rendered "bishop," (ἐπίσκοπος episkopos,) means "overseer." It may be applied to one who inspects or oversees anything, as public works, or the execution of treaties; to anyone who is an inspector of wares offered for sale; or, in general, to anyone who is a superintendent. It is applied in the New Testament to those who are appointed to watch over the interests of the church, and especially to the officers of the church. Here it is applied to the Lord Jesus as the great Guardian and Superintendent of his church; and the title of universal Bishop belongs to him alone!

Remarks On 1 Peter 2

In the conclusion of this chapter we may remark:

(1) That there is something very beautiful in the expression "Bishop of souls." It implies that the soul is the special care of the Saviour; that it is the object of his special interest; and that it is of great value - so great that it is that which mainly deserves regard. He is the Bishop of the soul in a sense quite distinct from any care which he manifests for the body. That too, in the proper way, is the object of his care; but that has no importance compared with the soul. Our care is principally employed in respect to the body; the care of the Redeemer has special reference to the soul.

(2) it follows that the welfare of the soul may be committed to him with confidence. It is the object of his special guardianship, and he will not be unfaithful to the trust reposed in him. There is nothing more safe than the human soul is when it is committed in faith to the keeping of the Son of God. Compare 2 Timothy 1:12.

(3) as, therefore, he has shown his regard for us in seeking us when we were wandering and lost; as he came on the kind and benevolent errand to find us and bring us back to himself, let us show our gratitude to him by resolving to wander no more. As we regard our own safety and happiness, let us commit ourselves to him as our great Shepherd, to follow where he leads us, and to be ever under his pastoral inspection. We had all wandered away. We had gone where there was no happiness and no protector. We had no one to provide for us, to care for us, to pity us. We were exposed to certain ruin. In that state he pitied us, sought us out, brought us back. If we had remained where we were, or had gone further in our wanderings, we should have gone certainly to destruction. He has sought us out; be has led us back; he has taken us under his own protection and guidance; and we shall be safe as long as we follow where he leads, and no longer. To him then, a Shepherd who never forsakes his flock, let us at all times commit ourselves, following where he leads, feeling that under him our great interests are secure.

(4) we may learn from this chapter, indeed, as we may from every other part of the New Testament, that in doing this we may be called to suffer. We may be reproached and reviled as the great Shepherd himself was. We may become the objects of public scorn on account of our devoted attachment to him. We may suffer in name, in feeling, in property, in our business, by our honest attachment to the principles of his gospel. Many who are his followers may be in circumstances of poverty or oppression. They may be held in bondage; they may be deprived of their rights; they may feel that their lot in life is a hard one, and that the world seems to have conspired against them to do them wrong; but let us in all these circumstances look to Him "who made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," Philippians 2:7-8; and let us remember that it is "enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord," Matthew 10:25. In view of the example of our Master, and of all the promises of support in the Bible, let us bear with patience all the trials of life, whether arising from poverty, an humble condition, or the reproaches of a wicked world. Our trials will soon be ended; and soon, under the direction of the "Shepherd and Bishop of souls," we shall be brought to a world where trials and sorrows are unknown.

(5) in our trials here, let it be our main object so to live that our sufferings shall not be on account of our own faults. See 1 Peter 2:19-22. Our Saviour so lived. He was persecuted, reviled, mocked, condemned to die. But it was for no fault of his. In all his varied and prolonged sufferings, he had the ever-abiding consciousness that he was innocent; he had the firm conviction that it would yet be seen and confessed by all the world that he was "holy, harmless, undefiled," 1 Peter 2:23. His were not the sufferings produced by a guilty conscience, or by the recollection that he had wronged anyone. So, if we must suffer, let our trials come upon us. Be it our first aim to have a conscience void of offence, to wrong no one, to give no occasion for reproaches and revilings, to do our duty faithfully to God and to people. Then, if trials come, we shall feel that we suffer as our Master did; and then we may, as he did, commit our cause "to him that judgeth righteously," assured that in due time "he will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and our judgment as the noon-day," Psalm 37:6.

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."

For ye were, while ye continued in your Judaism, and had not yet received the gospel, as sheep going astray, from Christ the great Shepherd, and the church of believers his flock, and the way of righteousness in which he leads them. Ye were alienated from the life of God, bewildered and lost in the way of sin, Isaiah 53:6.

But are now returned, in your conversion to the faith,

to the Shepherd; Christ the good Shepherd, John 10:11,14,16, that takes care of souls, as a shepherd doth of his sheep.

And Bishop of your souls; superintendent, inspector, or, as the Hebrews phrase it, visitor, i.e. he that with care looks to, inspects, and visits the flock. This he adds for the comfort (as of all believers, so) particularly of servants, that even they, as mean as they were, and as much exposed to injuries, yet were under the care and tuition of Christ.

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.

For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
1 Peter 2:25. ἦτε γὰρ ὡς πρόβατα πλανώμενοι] This explanatory clause (γάρ) points back, as the continuance in it of the direct address (ἰάθητεἦτε) shows, in the first instance, to the statement immediately preceding οὗ τῷ μώλωπι ἰάθητε, but at the same time also to the thought ἵνατῇ δικαιοσύνῃ ζήσωμεν, to which that assertion is subservient. For the foregoing figure a new one is substituted, after Isaiah 53:6 : LXX. πάντες ὡς πρόβατα ἐπλανήθημεν; if πλανώμενοι be the correct reading, then from it the nearer definition of πρόβατα is to be supplied, the sheep are to be thought of as those which have no shepherd (Matthew 9:36 : ὡσεὶ πρόβατα μὴ ἔχοντα ποιμένα; comp. Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17).

For the figure describing the state of man separated in his sin from God, comp. Matthew 18:12-13; Luke 15:4 ff.

ἀλλʼ ἐπεστράφητε νῦν] ἐπεστράφητε is, in harmony with the uniform usage of Scripture, to be taken not in a passive (Wiesinger, Schott), but in a middle sense: “ye have turned yourselves.”[164] Luther translates: “but ye are now turned.” The word ἘΠΙΣΤΡΈΦΕΙΝ means to turn oneself away from (ἈΠΌ, ἘΚ), towards something (ἘΠΊ, ΠΡΌς, ΕἸς), (sometimes equal to: to turn round); but it is not implied in the word itself that the individual has formerly been in that place towards which he has now turned round, and whither he is going (therefore, in Galatians 4:9, ΠΆΛΙΝ is expressly added). Weiss (p. 122) is therefore wrong when from this very word he tries to prove that by ΠΟΙΜΉΝ God, and not Christ, is to be understood, although the term sometimes includes in it the secondary idea of “back;” cf. 2 Peter 2:21-22.

ἘΠῚ ΤῸΝ ΠΟΙΜΈΝΑ ΚΑῚ ἘΠΊΣΚΟΠΟΝ ΤῶΝ ΨΥΧῶΝ ὙΜῶΝ] cf. especially Ezekiel 34:11-12; Ezekiel 34:16, LXX.: ἘΓῺ ἘΚΖΗΤΉΣΩ ΤᾺ ΠΡΌΒΑΤΆ ΜΟΥ ΚΑῚ ἘΠΙΣΚΈΨΟΜΑΙ ΑὐΤΆ, ὭΣΠΕΡ ΖΗΤΕῖ Ὁ ΠΟΙΜῊΝ ΤῸ ΠΟΊΜΝΙΟΝ ΑὐΤΟῦΤῸ ΠΛΑΝΏΜΕΝΟΝ ἈΠΟΣΤΡΈΨΩ; besides, with ΠΟΙΜΉΝ, Psalm 23:1; Isaiah 40:11. From the fact that in these passages God is spoken of as the shepherd, it must not be concluded, with Weiss, that ΠΟΙΜῊΝ ΚΑῚ ἘΠΊΣΚΟΠΟς refers not to Christ, but to God. For not only has God, calling Himself a shepherd, promised a shepherd (Ezekiel 34:24, LXX.: ἀναστήσω ἐπʼ αὐτοὺς ποιμένα ἕνατὸν δοῦλον μου Δαυίδ, Ezekiel 37:24), but Christ, too, speaks of Himself as the good Shepherd; and Peter himself, in chap. 1 Peter 5:4, calls Him ἈΡΧΙΠΟΙΜΉΝ. In comparison with these passages, chap. 1 Peter 5:2 is plainly of no account. All interpreters—except Weiss—rightly understand the expressions here used as applying to Christ. The designation ἘΠΊΣΚΟΠΟς would all the more naturally occur to the apostle, as it was, like ΠΟΙΜΉΝ, the name of the presidents of the churches who were, so to speak, the representatives of the One Shepherd and Bishop, the Head of the whole church.

ΤῶΝ ΨΥΧῶΝ ὙΜῶΝ belongs, as the omission of the article before ἙΠΊΣΚΟΠΟΝ shows, to both words; with the expression, cf. chap. 1 Peter 1:9; 1 Peter 1:22.

[164] Schott’s counter-remark: “The question is not here what they did, but what in Christ was imparted to them,” has all the less weight, that conversion, though the personal act of the Christian, must still be regarded as effected by Christ. Hofmann maintains, without the slightest right to do so, that in this passage the chief emphasis lies on the readers’ own act, though at the same time he correctly understands ἐπεστράφητε in a middle sense.

1 Peter 2:25 = Isaiah 53:6, πάντες ὡς πρόβατα ἐπλανήθημεν combined with Ezekiel 34:6, where this conception of the people and their teachers (the shepherds of Israel) is elaborated and the latter denounced because τὸ πλανώμενον οὐκ ἐπεστρέψατε Further the use of this metaphor in the context presupposes the saying I am the good shepherd.… I lay down my life for the sheep (John 12:15).—ἐπίσκοπον, cf. Ezekiel 34:11, ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐκζητήσω τὰ πρόβατά μου καὶ ἐπισκέψομαι αὐτά. It is to be noted that the command which Jesus laid on Peter, feeding sheep, comes from Ez. I.c.

25. For ye were as sheep going astray] The sequence of thought is suggested by the “all we like sheep have gone astray” of Isaiah 53:6, but the imagery could scarcely fail to recall to the mind of the Apostle the state of Israel “as sheep that had no shepherd” (Matthew 9:36), and the parable of the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-13; Luke 15:4). The image had been a familiar one almost from the earliest times to describe the state of a people plunged into anarchy and confusion by the loss of their true leader (Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17).

but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls] We can scarcely fail to connect the words with those which St Peter had once heard as to the “other sheep” who were not of the “fold” of Galilee and Jerusalem (John 10:16). In the “strangers of the dispersion” he might well recognise some, at least, of those other sheep. In the thought of Christ as the “Shepherd” we have primarily the echo of the teaching of our Lord just referred to, but the name at least suggests a possible reference to the older utterances of prophecy and devotion in Psalm 23:1, Isaiah 40:11, Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24. In the word for “Bishop” (Episcopos) (better perhaps, looking to the later associations that have gathered round the English term) guardian or protector, we may, possibly, find a reference to the use of the cognate verb in the LXX. of Ezekiel 34:11. It deserves to be noted, however, that the Greek noun is often used in the New Testament in special association with the thought of the Shepherd’s work. Comp. Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:4. So in like manner, “Pastors” or “Shepherds” find their place in the classification of Christian Ministers in Ephesians 4:11. There is, perhaps, a special stress laid on Christ being the Shepherd of their souls. Their bodies might be subject to the power and caprices of their masters, but their higher nature, that which was their true self, was subject only to the loving care of the Great Shepherd.

1 Peter 2:25. Οὑ τῷ μώλωπι αὐτοῦ ἰάθητε ἦτε γὰρ ὡς πρόβατα πλανώμενα, by whose stripe ye were healed; for ye were as sheep going astray) Isaiah 53:5-6, Septuagint, τῷ μώλωπι αὐτοῦ ἡμεῖς ἰάθημεν· πάντες ὡς πρόβατα ἐπλανήθημεν. A paradox of the apostle: Ye were healed with a stripe. But μώλωψ, a weal, is common on the person of a slave: Sir 23:10.—ποιμένα καὶ ἐπίσκοπον, shepherd and bishop) whom you are bound to obey. Synonymous words. Comp. ch 1 Peter 5:2.

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.

1 Peter 2:25For ye were as sheep going astray (ἦτε γὰρ ὡς πρόβατα πλανώμενοι);

i.e., as commonly understood, ye were like straying sheep. But the ye were should be construed with the participle going astray, the verb and the participle together denoting habitual action or condition. Render, as Rev., ye were going astray like sheep. See on Mark 12:24.


See on 1 Peter 2:12.

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