1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
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(15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.—The tense of this and the two preceding imperatives shows that St. Peter meant this for advice to be acted upon at the moment of being called on to suffer. The passage, as it stands in Isaiah, runs literally, “Jehovah Sabaoth, Him shall ye sanctify, and He (shall be) your fear, and He your dread.” It becomes, therefore, very striking when we find that, without a shadow of doubt, the right reading here is, But sanctify the Lord the Christ in your hearts. How is it possible, except on the supposition that the Catholic doctrine is really a statement of fact, that a Jew like St. Peter should ever have come to apply to a Man whom he had known familiarly, a Man who had served him at table and had washed his feet, the words which Isaiah had said about the “Lord of Hosts?” This passage immediately precedes that which was quoted in 1Peter 2:8, and (like that) is not caught up at random, but as coming in the great Immanuel passage. That presence of God which was the palladium of Israel in the days of Hezekiah has found fulfilment in “the Christ” now given. But what is meant by “sanctifying” Him? The phrase is not elsewhere used in the New Testament, except in the Lord’s Prayer; but in the Old Testament see Leviticus 10:3; Isaiah 29:23; Ezekiel 38:23. As to “glorify” God means (in word and deed) to recognise His glorious perfections; as to “magnify” Him means to recognise His greatness; as to “justify” Him means to recognise His inherent justice; so to “sanctify” Him means to recognise, in word and deed, His full holiness, and therefore to treat Him with due awe. This not only substitutes the fear of God for the fear of man (since they mutually exclude each other), but enforces purity of life, thus catching up again “that which is good” and “for righteousness’ sake.” This, adds St. Peter, is to be done “in your hearts.” This does not mean simply “with your hearts,” or “from your hearts” (i.e., inwardly, or, with all sincerity and devotion), but it signifies the local habitation where the Christ is to be thus recognised. That is to say: St. Peter, like St. Paul (Ephesians 3:17), acknowledges an indwelling of Christ in the hearts of the faithful; and this indwelling not merely subjective, consisting of their constant recollection of him, but real and objective: there He is, as in a shrine, and they must pay due reverence to His presence. The Apostle does, in fact, in those words “in your hearts,” purposely call attention to the difference between Isaiah’s use of the name Immanuel and the Christian meaning of it. To Isaiah, God dwelt in the midst of a people in its corporate capacity; St. Peter knew that, through the Incarnation, each individual Christian has God in him, united with him.

And be.—The better reading omits the connecting particle, so that we should put “being” instead of “and be.”

Ready always to give an answer.—This is the consequence of sanctifying Christ within by the worship of a pure life, that no moment, no questioner finds us unprepared to speak with freedom of our hope in Him. The word for “answer” here is apologia, an apology; not, of course, in the modern sense of an excuse, but a defence, the reply of an accused person, like the well-known Apologia Socratis, or the great modern Apologia pro Vita Sua, or the works from which Tertullian, Athenagoras, St. Justin, and others are called “The Apologists.” It does not mean that every person is bound to be able to state intellectually the nature and grounds of the Christian creed, though such a duty may, perhaps, be fairly deduced from the text. It does not say that every Christian ought to know why he is a Christian, but that every Christians own life ought to be so free from taint, so conscious of Christ enshrined within, as to cause him no misgiving in defending the faith from the calumnies (see 1Peter 2:12) brought against it. The constant readiness, or freedom from encumbrance of sin, is the main point, “which intimates,” says Leighton, “it was not always to be done to every one, but we, being ready to do, are to consider when, and to whom, and how far.” Consciousness of impurity of life shuts a man’s mouth from defending Christian morality.

That asketh you a reason.—Rather, that demandeth of you an account. It does not mean inquirers about Christian doctrine, but those who call Christians to account for their profession of the Gospel hopes. Though it must not be exclusively so taken, St. Peter evidently means chiefly the being called into the law court to give account. Probably he is thinking of our Lord’s charge to himself and his co-apostles, in St. Luke 12:11. (Comp. Matthew 10:5; Matthew 10:16; Matthew 10:19.)

Of the hope that is in you.—More literally, with regard to the hope that is in you: i.e., with regard to the Christianity in which you share. It is, of course, quite a modern application to the text to see in this anything of the individual assurance of salvation. However fairly it may be argued that a Christian ought to know why he, personally, expects to be saved, it is not the thought of St. Peter here. Christianity is here called a hope, rather than a faith, as in Acts 28:20, Colossians 1:23, because, especially in times of persecution, so much of our creed has a future tinge.

With meekness and fear.—There ought certainly to be added a warning But before these words. The readiness of the Christian’s defence of himself and the Church from all moral aspersions is not to be marred by any self-exaltation or improper confidence. Archbishop Leighton says, “Not, therefore, blustering and flying out into invectives because he hath the better on it against any man that questions him touching this hope, as some think themselves certainly authorised to use rough speech because they plead for truth. On the contrary, so much the rather study meekness, for the glory and advantage of the truth.” The “fear” will be, in large measure, a dread of overstepping the bounds of truth or modesty in speaking of the Christian morals. The Acts of the Martyrs, with all their splendour, too often show how St. Peter’s cautious But was needed.

3:14-22 We sanctify God before others, when our conduct invites and encourages them to glorify and honour him. What was the ground and reason of their hope? We should be able to defend our religion with meekness, in the fear of God. There is no room for any other fears where this great fear is; it disturbs not. The conscience is good, when it does its office well. That person is in a sad condition on whom sin and suffering meet: sin makes suffering extreme, comfortless, and destructive. Surely it is better to suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing, whatever our natural impatience at times may suggest. The example of Christ is an argument for patience under sufferings. In the case of our Lord's suffering, he that knew no sin, suffered instead of those who knew no righteousness. The blessed end and design of our Lord's sufferings were, to reconcile us to God, and to bring us to eternal glory. He was put to death in respect of his human nature, but was quickened and raised by the power of the Holy Spirit. If Christ could not be freed from sufferings, why should Christians think to be so? God takes exact notice of the means and advantages people in all ages have had. As to the old world, Christ sent his Spirit; gave warning by Noah. But though the patience of God waits long, it will cease at last. And the spirits of disobedient sinners, as soon as they are out of their bodies, are committed to the prison of hell, where those that despised Noah's warning now are, and from whence there is no redemption. Noah's salvation in the ark upon the water, which carried him above the floods, set forth the salvation of all true believers. That temporal salvation by the ark was a type of the eternal salvation of believers by baptism of the Holy Spirit. To prevent mistakes, the apostle declares what he means by saving baptism; not the outward ceremony of washing with water, which, in itself, does no more than put away the filth of the flesh, but that baptism, of which the baptismal water formed the sign. Not the outward ordinance, but when a man, by the regeneration of the Spirit, was enabled to repent and profess faith, and purpose a new life, uprightly, and as in the presence of God. Let us beware that we rest not upon outward forms. Let us learn to look on the ordinances of God spiritually, and to inquire after the spiritual effect and working of them on our consciences. We would willingly have all religion reduced to outward things. But many who were baptized, and constantly attended the ordinances, have remained without Christ, died in their sins, and are now past recovery. Rest not then till thou art cleansed by the Spirit of Christ and the blood of Christ. His resurrection from the dead is that whereby we are assured of purifying and peace.But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts - In Isaiah Isa 8:13 this is, "sanctify the Lord of hosts himself;" that is, in that connection, regard him as your Protector, and be afraid of him, and not of what man can do. The sense in the passage before us is, "In your hearts, or in the affections of the soul, regard the Lord God as holy, and act toward him with that confidence which a proper respect for one so great and so holy demands. In the midst of dangers, be not intimidated; dread not what man can do, but evince proper reliance on a holy God, and flee to him with the confidence which is due to one so glorious." This contains, however, a more general direction, applicable to Christians at all times. It is, that in our hearts we are to esteem God as a holy being, and in all our deportment to act toward him as such. The object of Peter in quoting the passage from Isaiah, was to lull the fears of those whom he addressed, and preserve them from any alarms in view of the persecutions to which they might be exposed; the trials which would be brought upon them by people. Thus, in entire accordance with the sentiment as employed by Isaiah, he says, "Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts." That is, "in order to keep the mind calm in trials, sanctify the Lord in your hearts; regard him as your holy God and Saviour; make him your refuge. This will allay all your fears, and secure you from all that you dread." The sentiment of the passage then is, that the sanctifying of the Lord God in our hearts, or proper confidence in him as a holy and righteous God, will deliver us from fear. As this is a very important sentiment for Christians, it may be proper, in order to a just exposition of the passage, to dwell a moment on it:

I. What is meant by our sanctifying the Lord God? It cannot mean to make him holy, for he is perfectly holy, whatever may be our estimate of him; and our views of him evidently can make no change in his character. The meaning therefore must be, that we should regard him as holy in our estimate of him, or in the feelings which we have toward him. This may include the following things:

(1) To esteem or regard him as a holy being, in contradistinction from all those feelings which rise up in the heart against him - the feelings of complaining and murmuring under his dispensations, as if he were severe and harsh; the feelings of dissatisfaction with his government, as if it were partial and unequal; the feelings of rebellion, as if his claims were unfounded or unjust.

(2) to desire that he may be regarded by others as holy, in accordance with the petition in the Lord's prayer, Matthew 6:9, "hallowed be thy name;" that is, "let thy name be esteemed to be holy everywhere;" a feeling in opposition to that which is regardless of the honor which he may receive in the world. When we esteem a friend, we desire that all due respect should be shown him by others; we wish that all who know him should have the same views that we have; we are sensitive to his honor, just in proportion as we love him.

(3) to act toward him as holy: that is, to obey his laws, and acquiesce in all his requirements, as if they were just and good. This implies:

(a) that we are to speak of him as holy, in opposition to the language of disrespect and irreverence so common among mankind;

(b) that we are to flee to him in trouble, in contradistinction from withholding our hearts from him, and flying to other sources of consolation and support.

II. What is it to do this in the heart? Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; that is, in contradistinction from a mere external service. This may imply the following things:

(1) In contradistinction from a mere intellectual assent to the proposition that he is holy. Many admit the doctrine that God is holy into their creeds, who never suffer the sentiment to find its way to the heart. All is right on this subject in the articles of their faith; all in their hearts may be murmuring and complaining. In their creeds he is spoken of as just and good; in their hearts they regard him as partial and unjust, as severe and stern, as unamiable and cruel.

(2) in contradistinction From a mere outward form of devotion. In our prayers, and in our hymns, we, of course, "ascribe holiness to our Maker." But how much of this is the mere language of form! How little does the heart accompany it! And even in the most solemn and sublime ascriptions of praise, how often are the feelings of the heart entirely at variance with what is expressed by the lips! What would more justly offend us, than for a professed friend to approach us with the language of friendship, when every feeling of his heart belied his expressions, and we knew that his honeyed words were false and hollow!

III. Such a sanctifying of the Lord in our hearts will save us from fear. We dread danger, we dread sickness, we dread death, we dread the eternal world. We are alarmed when our affairs are tending to bankruptcy; we are alarmed when a friend is sick and ready to die; we are alarmed if our country is invaded by a foe, and the enemy already approaches our dwelling. The sentiment in the passage before us is, that if we sanctify the Lord God with proper affections, we shall be delivered from these alarms, and the mind will be calm:

(1) The fear of the Lord, as Leighton (in loc.) expresses it, "as greatest, overtops and nullifies all lesser fears: the heart possessed with this fear hath no room for the other." It is an absorbing emotion; making everything else comparatively of no importance. If we fear God, we have nothing else to fear. The highest emotion which there can be in the soul is the fear of God; and when that exists, the soul will be calm amidst all that might tend otherwise to disturb it. "What time I am afraid," says David, "I will trust in thee," Psalm 56:3. "We are not, careful," said Daniel and his friends, "to answer thee, O king. Our God can deliver us; but if not, we will not worship the image," Daniel 3:16.

(2) if we sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, there will be a belief that he will do all things well, and the mind will be calm. However dark his dispensations may be, we shall be assured that everything is ordered aright. In a storm at sea, a child may be calm when he feels that his father is at the helm, and assures him that there is no danger. In a battle, the mind of a soldier may be calm, if he has confidence in his commander, and he assures him that all is safe. So in anything, if we have the assurance that the best thing is done that can be, that the issues will all be right, the mind will be calm. But in this respect the highest confidence that can exist, is that which is reposed in God.

(3) there will be the assurance that all is safe. "Though I walk," says David, "through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me," Psalm 23:4. "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble: therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof," Psalm 46:1-3. Let us ever then regard the Lord as holy, just, and good. Let us flee to him in all the trials of the present life, and in the hour of death repose on his arm. Every other source of trust will fail; and whatever else may be our reliance, when the hour of anguish approaches, that reliance will fail, and that which we dreaded will overwhelm us. Nor riches, nor honors, nor earthly friends, can save us from those alarms, or be a security for our souls when "the rains descend, and the floods come, and the winds blow" upon us.


15. sanctify—hallow; honor as holy, enshrining Him in your hearts. So in the Lord's Prayer, Mt 6:9. God's holiness is thus glorified in our hearts as the dwelling-place of His Spirit.

the Lord God—The oldest manuscripts read "Christ." Translate, "Sanctify Christ as Lord."

and—Greek, "but," or "moreover." Besides this inward sanctification of God in the heart, be also ready always to give, &c.

answer—an apologetic answer defending your faith.

to every man that asketh you—The last words limit the universality of the "always"; not to a roller, but to everyone among the heathen who inquires honestly.

a reason—a reasonable account. This refutes Rome's dogma, "I believe it, because the Church believes it." Credulity is believing without evidence; faith is believing on evidence. There is no repose for reason itself but in faith. This verse does not impose an obligation to bring forward a learned proof and logical defense of revelation. But as believers deny themselves, crucify the world, and brave persecution, they must be buoyed up by some strong "hope"; men of the world, having no such hope themselves, are moved by curiosity to ask the secret of this hope; the believer must be ready to give an experimental account "how this hope arose in him, what it contains, and on what it rests" [Steiger].

with—The oldest manuscripts read, "but with." Be ready, but with "meekness." Not pertly and arrogantly.

meekness—(1Pe 3:4). The most effective way; not self-sufficient impetuosity.

fear—due respect towards man, and reverence towards God, remembering His cause does not need man's hot temper to uphold it.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts; exalt him in your hearts, and give him the honour of all his glorious perfections, power, wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, &c., by believing them, and depending upon his promises for defence and assistance against all the evils your enemies may threaten you with.

And be ready always; prepared to answer when duly called to it.

To give an answer; or, to make an apology or defence, viz. of the faith ye profess; the word is used, Acts 22:1 1 Corinthians 9:3.

To every man that asketh you; either that hath authority to examine you, and take an account of your religion; or, that asks with modesty, and a desire to be satisfied, and learn of you.

A reason of the hope that is in you; i.e. faith, for which hope is frequently used in Scipture, which is built upon faith: the sense is: Whereas unbelievers, your persecutors especially, may scoff at your hope of future glory, as vain and groundless, and at yourselves, as mad or foolish, for venturing the loss of all in this world, and exposing yourselves to so many sufferings, in expectation of ye know not what uncertainties in the other; do ye therefore be always ready to defend and justify your faith against all objectors, and to show how reasonable your hope of salvation is, and on how sure a foundation it is built.

With meekness and fear; either with meekness in relation to men, in opposition to passion and intemperate zeal, (your confession of the faith must be with courage, but yet with a spirit of meekness and modesty), and fear or reverence in relation to God, which, where it prevails, overcomes the fierceness of men’s spirits, and makes them speak modestly of the things of God, and give due respect to men; or, fear may be set in opposition to pride, and presumption of a man’s own wisdom or strength; q.d. Make confession of your faith humbly, with fear and trembling, not in confidence of your own strength, or gifts, or abilities.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts,.... Still referring to Isaiah 8:13 not by making him holy, which need not, nor cannot be, he being essentially, infinitely, and perfectly holy; but by declaring and proclaiming his holiness, as the seraphim in Isaiah's prophecy, and the four living creatures in the Revelation did; and by glorifying of him, praising and applauding all his perfections, and among the rest, this of his holiness, and giving thanks at the remembrance of it; which he has so much displayed in the works of creation, providence, redemption, and grace; hence the Arabic version renders it, bless the Lord God in your hearts: the Lord God is sanctified by his people externally, when they regard his commands, attend his ordinances, and call upon his name, and praise him; but here an internal sanctification of him, a sanctification of him in their hearts, is intended, and what is opposed to the fear of men, and unbelief, and lies in the exercise of the grace of fear upon him; see Isaiah 8:13 and which has for its object his goodness, and is a fruit of the covenant of his grace, and is a child like and godly fear; and in the exercise of faith upon him, upon his covenant and promises, his faithfulness, and power to help, assist, and preserve; whereby glory is given to him, a witness borne to his truth, and he is sanctified: some copies, as the Alexandrian, and one of Stephens's, read, sanctify the Lord Christ; and so read the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions; and certain it is that he is intended in Isaiah 8:13 as appears from 1 Peter 3:14 compared with Romans 9:33.

and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear; by the hope that is in the saints, is not designed the grace of hope itself, which is given to them, and implanted in them in regeneration; the reason, ground, and foundation of which are, the love, grace, and mercy of God, through Christ, and his person, blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and redemption; but the Gospel, the whole Christian doctrine, the doctrine of faith, and which the Syriac version here calls the "hope of faith"; and the profession of Christianity, called in Hebrews 10:23, the profession of hope; in which persons profess their hope of eternal life and happiness through Christ, as doctrine of the Gospel directs them to. Now, a "reason" of this is to be given; not that they are to account for the Gospel, upon the foot of carnal reason; for that is not of men, nor according to the carnal reason of men; nor is it to be thought that every Christian should be capable of defending the Gospel, either in whole, or in part, by arguments and reasons, in a disputatious way, or to give a reason and argument for every particular truth; but that he should be well acquainted with the ground and foundation of the Christian religion; at least, with the first principles of the oracles of God, and be conversant with the Scriptures, and be able to point out that in them, which is the reason of his holding this and the other truth, though he is not able to give a gainsayer satisfaction, or to stop his mouth: and this is to be done with meekness and fear; with meekness, before men; in an humble modest way; not with an haughty air, and in a morose and surly manner, which serves only to irritate and provoke: and with fear; either of God, and so the Ethiopic Version renders it, with the fear of the Lord; considering the subject of the argument, and the importance of it, and how much the honour of God is concerned in it; and taking care lest the answer should be delivered in a light, trifling, and negligent manner, and that no part of truth be dropped or concealed, in order to please men, and be screened from their resentments; or with all due reverence of, and respect to men, to superiors, to the civil magistrates, who may ask the reason; for they are to be treated with honour and esteem, and to be answered in an handsome and becoming manner, suitable to the dignity of their persons and office; as the sanhedrim was by Stephen; and as Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, by the Apostle Paul: and this answer, or reason, is to be given to every man; that has authority to ask, and that asks in a modest manner, and with a reverence suitable to the subject; for the phrases, "with meekness and fear", may respect him that asks the reason, as well as him that gives the answer; for that which is holy is not to be given to dogs, to impudent persons, mockers and scoffers, nor are pearls to be cast before swine, filthy and irreverent persons; see Matthew 7:6 the Alexandrian copy, and some others, and so the Vulgate Latin version, read, "but with meekness and fear"; for if it is not asked in such a way, there is no obligation to give an answer: and this is to be given "always"; whenever it is asked in such a manner, and by proper persons; when there is a necessity of it, and as opportunity offers: and saints should be always "ready to" give and therefore it becomes them daily and diligently to search the Scriptures, meditate on them, and get all the help and assistance they can, to lead them into an acquaintance with them, that they may be so; for though the apostles had extraordinary assistance promised them, and therefore were bid not to consider beforehand what they should say, when brought before kings and princes; yet this is not to be expected by ordinary persons, nor in ordinary cases. Agreeably to this is the advice of R. Eleazar (z),

"be diligent to learn the law, and know what thou shouldest answer to an Epicure,

or heretic: says R. Jochanan (a),

"in every place where the Sadducees object, their answer is at their side,

or ready; that is, in the same Scriptures on which they form their objections,

(z) Pirke Abot, c. 2. sect. 14. (a) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 38. 2.

But {l} sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: {16} and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

(l) Give him all prayers and glory, and hang only on him.

(16) He will have us, when we are afflicted for righteousness sake, to be careful not for redeeming of our life, either with denying or renouncing the truth, or with like violence, or any such means: but rather to give an account of our faith boldly, and yet with a meek spirit, and full of godly reverence, that the enemies may not have anything justly to object, but may rather be ashamed of themselves.

1 Peter 3:15. κύριον δὲ τὸν Χριστόν] κύριον, in Isaiah equivalent to τὸν Θεόν; a substitution of this kind is frequently found in the N. T., where reference is made to passages in the O. T., and can be easily explained on the principle that a consciousness distinctively Christian was asserting itself; “κύριον is placed first, as antithesis to αὐτῶν” (Wiesinger). Schott denies that κύριον stands in apposition to τὸν Χριστόν, holding that κύριον is to be taken rather as a predicate of the object, equivalent to, “as Lord;” for this reason, that κύριος stands here without the article, and that the simple conjunction of κύριος and Χριστός does not occur. But against the first objection the expression κύριος ὁ Θεός may be urged, and against the second the verse Luke 2:11. It is more natural, and at the same time more in harmony with the passage in the O. T., to connect κύριος directly with τὸν Χριστόν: “but … the Lord, the Messiah.”

ἁγιάσατε] in antithesis to φοβηθῆτε and ταραχθῆτε; “hold, i.e. honour, fear as holy” (de Wette); the sanctifying comprehends within it the fear of God; cf. Isaiah 8:18; Isaiah 29:23; it thus forms the contrast to the fear of man; where the former is, the latter must give way.

ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν] added by the apostle in order to mark the inward nature of the ἁγιάζειν.

ἕτοιμοι] Whether δέ be the original reading or not, this clause is undoubtedly intimately connected in thought with that which precedes it. Without δέ this being ready is conceived as a proof of the ἁγιάζειν Χρ.; with δέ the thought is this, that the ἁγιάζειν Χρ. κ.τ.λ., which banishes all fear of man, should not exclude the ἀπολογία before men (de Wette, Wiesinger). Hofmann takes the particle here as equal to “rather;” but against this is the fact that here κύριονὑμῶν would have to be taken as a simple parenthesis, inasmuch as δέ would refer only to what precedes, and a second antithesis would then be added to the already antithetical κύριον δὲ κ.τ.λ.

ἀεὶ πρὸς ἀπολογίαν παντὶ τῷ κ.τ.λ.] ἕτοιμος πρός, cf. Titus 3 :.—“The injunction exempts neither time (ἀεί) nor person (παντί)” (Steiger).

To limit its application to a judicial examination is arbitrary, and militates against παντί.

ἀπολογία not equal to satisfactio (Vulg.), but here rather quaevis responsio, qua ratio fidei (more correctly spei) nostrae redditur (Vorstius; Php 1:7; Php 1:16; Acts 26:2).

παντὶ τῷ αἰτοῦντι κ.τ.λ.] The dative depending on ἀπολογίαν, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:3; for αἰτέω with double accusative, cf. Winer, p. 212 f. [E. T. 281]. λόγον αἰτεῖν: “to demand account of,” only here, cf. chap. 1 Peter 4:5; Romans 14:12.

περὶ τῆς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐλπίδος] περί: as to its nature and ground.

ἐλπίς, not equivalent to πίστις (Calvin: spes hic per synecdochen pro fide capitur), but the hope of the Christian looking, on the ground of faith, into the future salvation.[190]

ἀλλὰ μετὰ πραΰτητος καὶ φόβου] If ἀλλά be the true reading, as there can hardly be any doubt it is, it will serve to make more sharply prominent the way and manner, in which the ἀπολογία should be conducted; de Wette: “as it were: but remember.”

μετά, to be connected not with ἕτοιμοι, but with ἀπολογίαν; πραΰτητος opposed to passionate zeal. φόβου is to be applied directly neither to God (Aretius: reverentia et timor Dei; thus Weiss also, p. 169), nor to men before whom testimony is to be borne (according to some: the civil authorities); but it denotes the being afraid—based, of course, on the fear of God—of every unseemly kind of ἀπολογία, and stands especially opposed to all arrogant self-confidence (Wiesinger).

[190] That this “account” had special reference to the removal of the suspicion that the kingdom of Christ was of this world, is nowhere alluded to in the context (de “Wette, Schott). And Schott is hardly justified in giving the apostle’s exhortations special application “to the divinely ordained ordinances of natural social life.”

15. but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts] The better MSS. give the Lord Christ. The original text was probably altered by transcribers to bring it into conformity with the LXX. text of Isaiah. To “sanctify Christ” or “God” was to count His Name as holy above all other names, His fear, as the only fear which men ought to cherish, and therefore as the safeguard against all undue fear of men. The words “in your hearts” are added by the Apostle to the text of Isaiah as shewing that the “hallowing” of which he speaks should work in the root and centre of their spiritual being.

be ready always to give an answer] The words imply that the disciples of Christ were not to take refuge in the silence to which fear might prompt. They were to be ready with a defence, a vindication, an apologia, for their faith and hope. And this answer was to be given not in a tone of threatening defiance, but “in meekness” as regards the interrogator, whether the questions were put officially or in private, and “in fear,” partly lest the truth should suffer through any infirmities in its defenders, partly because the spirit of reverential awe towards God was the best safeguard against such infirmities.

1 Peter 3:15. Ἕτοιμοι δὲ, but prepared) The word prepared gives the idea of boldness; δὲ has force. Not only ought the conversation to be good, on which point see ch. 1 Peter 2:12, note, but every one also ought to be prepared to make confession.—τῷ αἰτοῦντι, to him that asketh) Among the Gentiles some were openly wicked, 1 Peter 3:16; others were in doubt. To these latter believers are ordered to give a kind answer.—ἐλπίδος, of the hope) which they confess, who say that they are strangers in the world, and avoid its lusts, ch. 1 Peter 2:11. Comp. Hebrews 11:13, and following verses. The hope of Christians has often excited others to inquiry.—μετὰ, with) Twells, P. I. p. 125, joins this with every man that asketh; but it depends upon prepared to give an answer. There is need of meekness with regard to ourselves; of fear, with respect to others; of a good conscience towards God.—φόβου, fear) In common language, respect. They who have a good conscience, when accused, are more easily provoked, and less easily preserve meekness and fear, than the guilty. Therefore they are here admonished, to unite with a good conscience, meekness and fear, and thus to gain a complete victory. Meekness avails especially, when we have to do with inferiors; fear, when we have to do with superiors.

Verse 15. - But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. From Isaiah 8:13. The reading of the best and oldest manuscripts here is Κύριον δὲ τὸν Ξριστόν, "Sanctify the Lord Christ," or, "Sanctify the Christ as Lord." The absence of the article with Κύριον ισ in favor of the second translation; but the first seems more natural, more in accordance with the original passage in Isaiah, and the common expression, Κύριος ὁ Θεός, is in its favor. Whichever translation is adopted, St. Peter here substitutes the Savior's Name where the prophet wrote, "the Lord of hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth" - a change which would be nothing less than impious if the Lord Jesus Christ were not truly God. "Sanctify him," the apostle says (as the Lord himself teaches us to say, in the first words of the Lord's Prayer); that is, regard him as most holy, awful in sanctity; serve him with reverence and godly fear; so you will not "be afraid of their terror." The holy fear of God will lift you above the fear of man. "Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread" (Isaiah 8:13; see also Leviticus 10:3; Isaiah 29:23; Ezekiel 38:23). St. Peter adds the words, "in your hearts," to teach us that this reverence, this hallowing of the Name of God, must be inward and spiritual, in our inmost being. And be ready always to give an answer to every man; literally, ready always for an apology to every man. The word ἀπολογία is often used of a formal answer before a magistrate, or of a written defense of the faith; but here the addition, "to every man," shows that St. Peter is thinking of informal answers on any suitable occasion. That asketh you a reason of the here that is in you; literally, an account concerning the hope. Hope is the grace on which St. Peter lays most stress; it lives in the hearts of Christians. Christians ought to be able to give an account of their hope when asked, both for the defense of the truth and for the good of the asker. That account may be very simple; it may be the mere recital of personal experience - often the most convincing of arguments; it may be, in the case of instructed Christians, profound and closely reasoned. Some answer every Christian ought to be able to give. With meekness and fear. The best manuscripts read, "but with meekness and fear." The word "but" (ἀλλά) is emphatic; argument always involves danger of weakening the spiritual life through pride or bitterness. We must sometimes "contend earnestly for the faith;" but it must be with gentleness and awe. We should fear lest we injure our own souls by arrogant and angry controversy; we should seek the spiritual good of our opponents; and we should entertain a solemn awe of the presence of God, with a trembling anxiety to think and to say only what is acceptable unto him. 1 Peter 3:15Sanctify the Lord God

The A. V. follows the Tex. Rec., reading τὸν Θεὸν, God, instead of τὸν Χριστὸν, Christ, which is the reading of the best texts. The article with Christ shows that κύριον, Lord, is to be taken predicatively. Render, therefore, as Rev., sanctify Christ (the Christ) as Lord.

Ready to give an answer (ἕτοιμοι πρὸς ἀπολογίαν)

Lit., ready for an answer. Answer is our word apology, not in the popular sense of excuse, but in the more radical sense of defence. So it is translated Acts 22:1; Philippians 1:7, Philippians 1:16. Clearing of yourselves, 2 Corinthians 7:11.


See on Matthew 5:5.

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