Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,The Living Stones of the Temple
1 Peter 2:5
I. Each individual in the Church of God has to submit himself to the Master Builder's hand. For some He designs notable places in His spiritual house on earth, and still more in the house eternal in the heavens. For others here on earth there are obscurer positions—some, indeed, quite hidden away from the notice of men. There is one essential difference between the material stones and the spiritual. The material stones are dead, lifeless. The spiritual stones must be living. There must be energy, power, progress about them.
II. If there is to be the gradual preparing and fitting into the spiritual fabric of the living stones, how is it to be effected? Surely by training and discipline.
III. To belong to a holy priesthood, implies, as the text teaches us, the offering up of spiritual sacrifices. Our sacrifices offered to God must be of ourselves; each in our measure must try to follow Him who offered Himself.
—H. A. Redpath, Church Family Newspaper, vol. XIV. p. 860.
References.—II. 5.—W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. p. 365. J. Keble, Sermons for the Saints' Days, p. 415. H. Woodcock, Sermon Outlines (1st Series), p. 175. J. Keble, Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, p. 316. Expositor (5th Series), vol. iii. p. 127. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Peter, p. 92. II. 5-9.—B. J. Snell, Sermons on Immortality, p. 90. II. 6.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxiv. No. 1429.
Mighty to Save—Mighty to Keep
1 Peter 2:7
Let me point out some of the ways in which our Lord is so precious unto His people.
I. He is Precious unto us in Life.—(1) Because of His cleansing blood. (2) Because of His Divine advocacy. (3) Because of His all-sustaining grace. 'No confidence in the flesh,' full confidence in our King, is the secret of every conquering life.
II. He is also Precious unto us in the Hour of Death.—(1) Because of His supporting promises. Instinctively the mind turns from all other books to the One Book in that dark hour. Sir Walter Scott said, 'Bring me the book'. 'What book?' asked his attendant 'There is only one book for a dying man,' was the substance of the great author's reply. (2) Because of His satisfying presence. It is reasonable to shrink from death. The love of life is a Divine instinct. We can only meet death fearlessly when we realise that 'He is with us,' and that the solitude of death is filled with Jesus.
III. He is also Precious unto us in the Day of Judgment.—Jesus will be precious to His people because of His mantling righteousness. The spotless robe of Christ shall envelop the believer, and God shall look upon him as righteous, even as Christ is righteous. Because of His rich reward. Many shall be the rewards 'to him that overcometh'. To sit on His throne, with golden crown and harp and palm; to rule over 'cities'; to be a 'pillar' in the temple of God—these are some of the blessings awaiting us; but there is a reward far transcending all these; for its height, its depth, we cannot fathom. It is the blessed 'Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord'. How rapturous will be that joy!
IV. Christ shall be Precious unto us Through Eternity.—Heaven is not so much a place as a person. To be 'with Christ,' to be 'at home with the Lord,' was the heaven St. Paul longed for. Wherever Jesus is, there will we find heaven. We might become satiated with the many glorious sights of the celestial city, but never can we have enough of Jesus, our Lord and our God.
—T. J. Madden, Addresses to all Sorts and Conditions of Men, p. 112.
References.—II. 7.—C. A. Berry, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlix. p. 113. J. Bateman, Sermons Preached in Guernsey, p. 101. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v. No. 242; vol. xvi. No. 931; vol. xxxvi. No. 2137, and vol. lii. No. 3014. J. C. Hill, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lii. p. 398. Expositor (5th Series), vol. ix. p. 37.
1 Peter 2:7-8
On the base of the statue erected to Stein by the German nation, the following words, a play on his name, are inscribed: Des guten Grundstein, des bösen Eckstein, der deutschen Edelstein (a cornerstone of goodness, a stumbling-block for evil, a precious stone to Germany).
Reference.—II. 7, 8.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi. No. 1224.
A Royal Priesthood
1 Peter 2:9
I. To whom were these words addressed? To a caste? To the clergy? To ministers of the Word? Certainly not. 'To the strangers scattered abroad throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,' i.e. to disciples of Christ of no note or standing in the Church. This is the priesthood which the great Apostle recognises. It is well worthy of attention that this same Apostle, whose name and authority have been so unwarrantably pressed into the service of priestly assumption and papal usurpation, should be so careful to disclaim anything that would separate him from his brethren. In writing to elders, he calls himself an elder; in writing to these strangers, he says, 'Ye are a royal priesthood'. How has it come to pass then that in this enlightened century and in this Bible-loving England the utterly unscriptural belief in a priestly caste should have advanced by leaps and bounds? May it not be because we who claim to be in all respects loyal to the New Testament keep the true priesthood too much in the background? A priesthood is a necessity to sinful men. If men do not see the genuine priest, they will flock to the false one. We must bring forward the true to take the place of the false; we must exalt our great High Priest, who has passed into the heavens, and show that through Him alone we have access to God, that by His sacrifice alone our sins can be forgiven, and through the merits of His intercession alone can we obtain the Holy Spirit, and with Him all good things. We must assert the rights of the whole people of Christ to the priestly prerogative and privilege, telling them with the same emphasis as the great Apostle himself, 'Ye are a royal priesthood'. What, then, is this high dignity that belongs to the people of Christ? What this is may best be seen by recalling the functions of the priesthood. They were three—sacrifice, intercession, benediction. Our priesthood, like our Saviour's, begins with sacrifice, the yielding up of ourselves to be the Lord's. This gives us access through our great High Priest, by Whom we have received the atonement; with that access comes the privilege of prevailing intercession; and out of these again arises the third prerogative, that of scattering abroad the blessings of the kingdom.
II. Now that we have seen what is meant by the priesthood of believers, let us inquire what would be the practical consequence of making it a reality. Let us exalt the High Priest of our profession in all His priestly acts—in sacrifice, intercession, and benediction; and when men discover that the priestly office is not vacant, that it is filled by One who is a priest for ever in the power of an endless life, no mere minister will dare take this honour to himself, and no Church will dare to sanction the usurpation. Let Christian people not only claim it, but exercise it If we do, where will the caste of the priesthood be? It will be abolished.
—J. Monro Gibson, The Glory of Life, p. 87.
References.—II. 9.—H. W. Webb-Peploe, The Record, vol. xxvii. p. 769. H. Woodcock, Sermon Outlines (1st Series), p. 148. J. M. Gibson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 248. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlviii. No.?765. H. N. Bate, Church Family Newspaper, vol. xv. p. 452. Expositor (5th Series), vol. iii. p. 191; ibid. (6th Series), vol. i. p. 367; ibid. vol. iv. p. 278. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Peter, p. 101. II. 10.—Ibid. vol. v. p. 87.
1 Peter 2:11
In the diary of F. Coillard, of the Zambesi, for 23rd March, 1860, there is the following entry: 'Everything with the Basutos is very simple. An ox-skin covers them by day, and wraps them up by night; some reeds and a little grass suffice to make them a shelter against the changes of the weather. I remember how many remarks were made about my little cottage.... Some one observed that "the white men built as if they were never going to die". How very just and sensible—I might even say Christian —was this remark! Certainly the Basuto style of building is very well designed to remind us that we are only travellers, for when they move they take their houses with them, and if a woman dies they leave her house to fall to ruins.'
1 Peter 2:11
When one is a wanderer, one feels that one fulfils the true condition of humanity.
—Maurice de Guerin.
References.—II. 11.—R. M. Benson, Redemption, p. 351. II. 11-20.—C. Brown, Trial and Triumph, p. 75. II. 12.—R. W. Church, Village Sermons (3rd Series), p. 204. II. 13, 14.—H. H. Henson, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxi. p. 257. II. 15.—Preacher's Magazine, vol. x. p. 135. J. J. Blunt, Plain Sermons, p. 80. II. 15, 16.—Ibid. p. 37.
1 Peter 2:16
The free man is he who is loyal to the Laws of this Universe; who in his heart sees and knows, across all contradictions, that injustice cannot befall him here; that except by sloth and cowardly falsity evil is not possible here. The first symptom of such a man is not that he resists and rebels, but that he obeys.
—Carlyle, Latter-Bay Pamphlets, VI.
Reference.—II. 16.—Bishop Boyd-Carpenter, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 313.
The Common Coronation
1 Peter 2:17
One of the foremost duties of the Church of God is to vindicate the essential greatness of human nature. Let us, then, attempt to show how in the light of certain facts and of the teaching of the Christian faith, human nature is worthy of high honour, despite the existence of so much in human life that is calculated to provoke cynicism and contempt.
I. The triviality of human circumstance obscures man's essential greatness. Looking into history we are startled by the discovery that the very greatest of mankind lived once as mere mortals, having habitually to do with the smallest concerns and the most modest business of human life. Just as the dignity of human life is vindicated by its great men in those intellectual masterpieces which were perfected in monotony and drudgery, so that dignity receives higher and fuller demonstration still in its good men in the splendid moral results which they attain by and through the paltriest circumstances. Give life its true interpretation, and we see the importance and large possibilities of the humblest lot. When the rough screens of beggarly circumstance drop away, the marvellous moral artistry that God has wrought in dark corners will astonish men and angels.
II. The essential greatness of man is obscured by his manifold sufferings and humiliations. It is absurd to think meanly of us because of our painful estate; the truer test of what we are being the temper in which we deal with adverse circumstance. That temper is often heroic. Sackcloth is on the skin, but scarlet is on the soul; battered out of shape by the shocks of doom, men are still gold.
III. The essential greatness of man is obscured by his moral fault. (1) In the most deeply degraded of our fellows we recognise the action of conscience. In the very depths of sin and shame this Divine faculty asserts itself, and indirectly proclaims the grandeur of the sinner. The man of colour confessing, 'I know that I am a man because I feel that I am a sinner,' uttered a great truth. (2) Human nature in its deepest degradation is still the object of Divine, redeeming love.
IV. The essential greatness of man is not questioned by any discoveries of modern science. The vast grasp and magnificent results of modern science bear fresh and powerful testimony to the unique and transcendent eminence of man.
—W. L. Watkinson. The Bane and the Antidote, p. 285.
1 Peter 2:17
In the Church of St. Laurence, Ludlow, there is a memorial to the Salwey family, of Puritan fame, with their motto 'Proverbs rege saepe, pro republica semper' 'for the King often, for the country always'. With this we may compare the words of Robert Atkins, one of the clergy ejected in 1662: 'Let him never be accounted a sound Christian that doth not both fear God and honour the King. I beg that you would not interpret our Nonconformity to be an act of unpeaceableness and disloyalty. We will do anything for His Majesty but sin. We will hazard anything for him but our souls. We hope we could die for him, only we dare not be damned for him. We make no question, however we may be accounted of here, we shall be found loyal and obedient subjects at our appearance before God's tribunal.
1 Peter 2:17
I may say the root of Radicalism is Honour all men, separated from its context, Fear God. I may say also the root of Conservatism is Honour the King, separated from its context, Fear God.
Only in looking heavenward, take it in what sense you may, not in looking earthward, does what we can call union, mutual love, society, begin to be possible.
—Carlyle, Sartor Resartus, bk. III. ch. 11.
'Chaucer,' says Lovell, 'could look to God without abjectness, and on man without contempt.'
References.—II. 17.—H. S. Holland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lviii. pp. 163, 169 and 342. W. F. Shaw, Sermon Sketches for the Christian Year, p. 60. J. Budgen, Parochial Sermons, vol. ii. p. 343. H. R. Heywood, Sermons and Addresses, p. 150. F. W. Farrar, Everyday Christian Life, p. 234. H. S. Holland, Vital Values, p. 82. Bishop Creighton, Christian World Pulpit, vol. li. p. 408. Expositor (5th Series), vol. vii. p. 459. II. 20, 21.—G. Body, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvii. p. 164.
Jesus Our Example—In Suffering
1 Peter 2:21
I. There are two strange mysteries in human life which confront us at every step—the mystery of sin and the mystery of suffering. And they are most closely correlated. Suffering is the penance of sin not only in the sense of punishment, but also as its remedy, for by suffering we are sanctified. Suffering is the penance of sin, and yet not necessarily of our own individual sin, for it is probably true that those who suffer most are those who are most free from sin. And why is this? Surely it is because suffering is the penance for all sin, and those who are living the most holy lives, and are therefore closest to our Lord, have the blessed privilege of fellowship in His Passion, which implies suffering for others. Looked upon in this way, suffering ceases to be an evil. We need, at the outset then, to strive to realise this. Try then, as one of the most important lessons of spiritual life, to realise the privilege of suffering. Do not take the world's warped view of suffering.
II. But let us turn to our Lord's life and see how He is our great Example in suffering. From the cradle to the grave our Blessed Lord's life was one long life of suffering. I shall not therefore attempt to follow it throughout, but shall take three points in it which bring before us the three classes of suffering we have to bear. (1) We suffer in mind. From the point of view of religion there is the suffering of doubt, which comes at times like a cloud between almost every Christian and God. We suffer from perplexity. And we suffer in mind lastly and perhaps most often, in what may be called the 'worries' of life, the irritations, the trifling troubles of every day. We turn to our Lord 'My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?' The words tell of a sorrow of mind, tell of an intensity of mental suffering which was, without doubt, the greatest that any human mind has ever known. And so, in your hour of mental trouble, think of our Lord on the cross. (2) But then we have to suffer in body, through sickness or accident. How is our Lord our Example in pain and sorrow and suffering of body? Not in any sickness which came through His own sin, but in that pain and suffering which came from the sin of the world. When we are called upon to bear pain, then let us look up at the Cross and in our bodily pain unite ourselves with our Lord, offering our pains in union with His sufferings, offering them to God the Father. (3) And then, lastly, there is the third division of suffering, the suffering of the human soul: the suffering in our affections, the keenest, the deepest, the hardest of all to bear. Throughout His life He suffered, 'being grieved at the hardness of men's hearts'.
None can ever know the power of the Resurrection life of Christ who has not first tasted the chalice of His woes.
—A. G. Mortimer, Lenten Preaching, p. 142.
References.—II. 21.—J. C. M. Bellew, Sermons, vol. i. p. 93. W. M. Sinclair, Words from St. Paul's (2nd Series), p. 176. E. W. Attwood, Sermons for Clergy and Laity, p. 138. A. M. Fairbairn, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlv. p. 241. H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Sermonettes for a Year, p. 152. C. M. Betts, Eight Sermons, p. 39. J. J. Blunt, Plain Sermons (2nd Series), p. 95. Expositor (4th Series), vol. v. p. 186; ibid. vol. viii. p. 358; ibid. (5th Series), vol. vi. p. 385; ibid. (6th Series), vol. viii. p. 225. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Peter, p. 107.
1 Peter 2:21
In the deepest sense, the Son of God has left us an example that we should walk in His steps. In the highest path that our spirits are called to tread, that is to say, in our intercourse with the Father of Spirits, the footprints of Jesus are to guide us; our confidence is to be the fellowship of His confidence; our worship, the fellowship of His worship: for sonship is that worship, in spirit and in truth, which the Father seeketh.
References.—II. 21-24.—F. Bourdillon, Plain Sermons for Family Reading, p. 101. II. 21-25.—C. Brown, Trial and Triumph, p. 91. II. 22.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. ii. p. 168.
1 Peter 2:24
In his sixth Epistle to the Florentines, Dante makes a remarkable application of this verse to Henry VII. 'These facts,' he protests, 'remain to be impressed on your minds: that this standard-bearer of the Roman Empire, the Divine and triumphant Henry, thirsting not for his private advantage, but for the public good of the world, undertook each arduous emprise for us, partaking our hardships of his own freewill, so that to him after Christ, the prophet Isaiah pointed the finger of prophecy, when by the revelation of the Holy Spirit he foretold: "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows".'
References.—II. 24.—A. Goodrich, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 170. W. G. Bryan, Seven Sermons on the Sacraments, p. 66. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No. 1143; vol. xlviii. No. 2790; vol. 1. No. 2887. Phillips Brooks, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. No. 245. Expositor (4th Series), vol. iii. p. 275.
1 Peter 2:25
The public signing of the Covenant, probably on 2nd March, by the stern but weeping populace, on a flat stone in the kirkyard of the dispossessed Franciscans, has been duly celebrated in Scottish art and letters. 'What they felt,' says Mr. Gardiner, in the same strain as Rothes, 'was the joy of those who had been long led astray, and had now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls.'
—A. Lang, History of Scotland, vol. III. p. 32.
References.—II. 25.—A. Tucker, Preacher's Magazine, vol. v. p. 366. G. Body, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvii. p. 168. T. F. Crosse, Sermons (2nd Series), p. 144. J. Keble, Sermons for Easter to Ascension Day, p. 303. III. 1.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. x. p. 280. III. 1-12.—C. Brown, Trial and Triumph, p. 107. III. 3.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 212.
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.