Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER Commentary by A. R. Faussett
Its genuineness is attested by 2Pe 3:1. On the authority of Second Peter, see the Introduction. Also by Polycarp (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 4.14]), who, in writing to the Philippians, quotes many passages: in the second chapter he quotes 1Pe 1:13, 21; 3:9; in the fifth chapter, 1Pe 2:11. Eusebius says of Papias [Ecclesiastical History, 3.39] that he, too, quotes Peter's First Epistle. Irenæus [Against Heresies, 4.9.2] expressly mentions it; and in [4.16.5], 1Pe 2:16. Clement of Alexandria [Miscellanies, 1.3, p. 544], quotes 1Pe 2:11, 12, 15, 16; and [p. 562], 1Pe 1:21, 22; and [4, p. 584], 1Pe 3:14-17; and [p. 585], 1Pe 4:12-14. Origen (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 6.25]) mentions this Epistle; in [Homily 7, on Joshua, vol. 2, p. 63], he mentions both Epistles; and [Commentary on Psalm 3 and on John], he mentions 1Pe 3:18-21. Tertullian [Antidote to the Scorpion's Sting, 12], quotes expressly 1Pe 2:20, 21; and [Antidote to the Scorpion's Sting, 14], 1Pe 2:13, 17. Eusebius states it as the opinion of those before him that this was among the universally acknowledged Epistles. The Peschito Syriac Version contains it. The fragment of the canon called Muratori's omits it. Excepting this, and the Paulician heretics, who rejected it, all ancient testimony is on its side. The internal evidence is equally strong. The author calls himself the apostle Peter, 1Pe 1:1, and "a witness of Christ's sufferings," and an "elder," 1Pe 5:1. The energy of the style harmonizes with the warmth of Peter's character; and, as Erasmus says, this Epistle is full of apostolic dignity and authority and is worthy of the leader among the apostles.
Peter's personal history.—Simon, Or Simeon, was a native of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, son of Jonas or John. With his father and his brother Andrew he carried on trade as a fisherman at Capernaum, his subsequent place of abode. He was a married man, and tradition represents his wife's name as Concordia or Perpetua. Clement of Alexandria says that she suffered martyrdom, her husband encouraging her to be faithful unto death, "Remember, dear, our Lord." His wife's mother was restored from a fever by Christ. He was brought to Jesus by his brother Andrew, who had been a disciple of John the Baptist, but was pointed to the Saviour as "the Lamb of God" by his master (Joh 1:29). Jesus, on first beholding him, gave him the name by which chiefly he is known, indicative of his subsequent character and work in the Church, "Peter" (Greek) or "Cephas" (Aramaic), a stone (Mt 4:18). He did not join our Lord finally until a subsequent period. The leading incidents in his apostolic life are well known: his walking on the troubled waters to meet Jesus, but sinking through doubting (Mt 14:30); his bold and clear acknowledgment of the divine person and office of Jesus (Mt 16:16; Mr 8:29; Joh 11:27), notwithstanding the difficulties in the way of such belief, whence he was then also designated as the stone, or rock (Mt 16:18); but his rebuke of his Lord when announcing what was so unpalatable to carnal prejudices, Christ's coming passion and death (Mt 16:22); his passing from one extreme to the opposite, in reference to Christ's offer to wash his feet (Joh 13:8, 9); his self-confident assertion that he would never forsake his Lord, whatever others might do (Mt 26:33), followed by his base denial of Christ thrice with curses (Mt 26:75); his deep penitence; Christ's full forgiveness and prophecy of his faithfulness unto death, after he had received from him a profession of "love" as often repeated as his previous denial (Joh 21:15-17). These incidents illustrate his character as zealous, pious, and ardently attached to the Lord, but at the same time impulsive in feeling, rather than calmly and continuously steadfast. Prompt in action and ready to avow his convictions boldly, he was hasty in judgment, precipitate, and too self-confident in the assertion of his own steadfastness; the result was that, though he abounded in animal courage, his moral courage was too easily overcome by fear of man's opinion. A wonderful change was wrought in him by his restoration after his fall, through the grace of his risen Lord. His zeal and ardor became sanctified, being chastened by a spirit of unaffected humility. His love to the Lord was, if possible, increased, while his mode of manifesting it now was in doing and suffering for His name, rather than in loud protestations. Thus, when imprisoned and tried before the Sanhedrim for preaching Christ, he boldly avowed his determination to continue to do so. He is well called "the mouth of the apostles." His faithfulness led to his apprehension by Herod Agrippa, with a view to his execution, from which, however, he was delivered by the angel of the Lord.
After the ascension he took the lead in the Church; and on the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, he exercised the designed power of "the keys" of Christ's kingdom, by opening the door of the Church, in preaching, for the admission of thousands of Israelites; and still more so in opening (in obedience to a special revelation) an entrance to the "devout" (that is, Jewish proselyte from heathendom) Gentile, Cornelius: the forerunner of the harvest gathered in from idolatrous Gentiles at Antioch. This explains in what sense Christ used as to him the words, "Upon this rock I will build my Church" (Mt 16:18), namely, on the preaching of Christ, the true "Rock," by connection with whom only he was given the designation: a title shared in common on the same grounds by the rest of the apostles, as the first founders of the Church on Christ, "the chief corner-stone" (Eph 2:20). A name is often given in Hebrew, not that the person is actually the thing itself, but has some special relation to it; as Elijah means Mighty Jehovah, so Simon is called Peter "the rock," not that he is so, save by connection with Jesus, the only true Rock (Isa 28:16; 1Co 3:11). As subsequently he identified himself with "Satan," and is therefore called so (Mt 16:23), in the same way, by his clear confession of Christ, the Rock, he became identified with Him, and is accordingly so called (Mt 16:18). It is certain that there is no instance on record of Peter's having ever claimed or exercised supremacy; on the contrary, he is represented as sent by the apostles at Jerusalem to confirm the Samaritans baptized by Philip the deacon; again at the council of Jerusalem, not he, but James the president, or leading bishop in the Church of that city, pronounced the authoritative decision: Ac 15:19, "My sentence is," &c. A kind of primacy, doubtless (though certainly not supremacy), was given him on the ground of his age, and prominent earnestness, and boldness in taking the lead on many important occasions. Hence he is called "first" in enumerating the apostles. Hence, too, arise the phrases, "Peter and the Eleven," "Peter and the rest of the apostles"; and Paul, in going up to Jerusalem after his conversion, went to see Peter in particular.
Once only he again betrayed the same spirit of vacillation through fear of man's reproach which had caused his denial of his Lord. Though at the Jerusalem council he advocated the exemption of Gentile converts from the ceremonial observances of the law, yet he, after having associated in closest intercourse with the Gentiles at Antioch, withdrew from them, through dread of the prejudices of his Jewish brethren who came from James, and timidly dissembled his conviction of the religious equality of Jew and Gentile; for this Paul openly withstood and rebuked him: a plain refutation of his alleged supremacy and infallibility (except where specially inspired, as in writing his Epistles). In all other cases he showed himself to be, indeed, as Paul calls him, "a pillar" (Ga 2:9). Subsequently we find him in "Babylon," whence he wrote this First Epistle to the Israelite believers of the dispersion, and the Gentile Christians united in Christ, in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.
Jerome [On Illustrious Men, 1] states that "Peter, after having been bishop of Antioch, and after having preached to the believers of the circumcision in Pontus, &c. [plainly inferred from 1Pe 1:1], in the second year of Claudius went to Rome to refute Simon Magus, and for twenty-five years there held the episcopal chair, down to the last year of Nero, that is, the fourteenth, by whom he was crucified with his head downwards, declaring himself unworthy to be crucified as his Lord, and was buried in the Vatican, near the triumphal way." Eusebius [Chronicles, Anno 3], also asserts his episcopate at Antioch; his assertion that Peter founded that Church contradicts Ac 11:19-22. His journey to Rome to oppose Simon Magus arose from Justin's story of the statue found at Rome (really the statue of the Sabine god, Semo Sanctus, or Hercules, mistaken as if Simon Magus were worshipped by that name, "Simoni Deo Sancto"; found in the Tiber in 1574, or on an island in the Tiber in 1662), combined with the account in Ac 8:9-24. The twenty-five years' bishopric is chronologically impossible, as it would make Peter, at the interview with Paul at Antioch, to have been then for some years bishop of Rome! His crucifixion is certain from Christ's prophecy, Joh 21:18, 19. Dionysius of Corinth (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 2.25]) asserted in an epistle to the Romans, that Paul and Peter planted both the Roman and Corinthian churches, and endured martyrdom in Italy at the same time. So Tertullian [Against Marcion, 4.5, and The Prescription Against Heretics, 36, 38]. Also Caius, the presbyter of Rome, in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 2.25] asserts that some memorials of their martyrdom were to be seen at Rome on the road to Ostia. So Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 2.25, and Demonstration of the Gospel, 3.116]. So Lactantius [Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died, 2]. Many of the details are palpably false; whether the whole be so or not is dubious, considering the tendency to concentrate at Rome events of interest [Alford]. What is certain is, that Peter was not there before the writing of the Epistle to the Romans (A.D. 58), otherwise he would have been mentioned in it; nor during Paul's first imprisonment at Rome, otherwise he would have been mentioned in some one of Paul's many other Epistles written from Rome; nor during Paul's second imprisonment, at least when he was writing the Second Epistle to Timothy, just before his martyrdom. He may have gone to Rome after Paul's death, and, as common tradition represents, been imprisoned in the Mamertine dungeon, and crucified on the Janiculum, on the eminence of St. Pietro in Montorio, and his remains deposited under the great altar in the center of the famous basilica of St. Peter. Ambrose [Epistles, 33 (Edition Paris, 1586), p. 1022] relates that St. Peter, not long before his death, being overcome by the solicitations of his fellow Christians to save himself, was fleeing from Rome when he was met by our Lord, and on asking, "Lord, whither goest Thou?" received the answer, "I go to be crucified afresh." On this he returned and joyfully went to martyrdom. The church called "Domine quo vadis" on the Appian Way, commemorates the legend. It is not unlikely that the whole tradition is built on the connection which existed between Paul and Peter. As Paul, "the apostle of the uncircumcision," wrote Epistles to Galatia, Ephesus, and Colosse, and to Philemon at Colosse, making the Gentile Christians the persons prominently addressed, and the Jewish Christians subordinately so; so, vice versa, Peter, "the apostle of the circumcision," addressed the same churches, the Jewish Christians in them primarily, and the Gentile Christians also, secondarily.
To whom he addresses this epistle.—The heading, 1Pe 1:1, "to the elect strangers (spiritually pilgrims) of the dispersion" (Greek), clearly marks the Christians of the Jewish dispersion as prominently addressed, but still including also Gentile Christians as grafted into the Christian Jewish stock by adoption and faith, and so being part of the true Israel. 1Pe 1:14; 2:9, 10; 3:6; 4:3 clearly prove this. Thus he, the apostle of the circumcision, sought to unite in one Christ Jew and Gentile, promoting thereby the same work and doctrine as Paul the apostle of the uncircumcision. The provinces are named by Peter in the heading in the order proceeding from northeast to south and west. Pontus was the country of the Christian Jew Aquila. To Galatia Paul paid two visits, founding and confirming churches. Crescens, his companion, went there about the time of Paul's last imprisonment, just before his martyrdom. Ancyra was subsequently its ecclesiastical metropolis. Men of Cappadocia, as well as of "Pontus" and "Asia," were among the hearers of Peter's effective sermon on the Pentecost whereon the Spirit decended on the Church; these probably brought home to their native land the first tidings of the Gospel. Proconsular "Asia" included Mysia, Lydia, Caria, Phrygia, Pisidia, and Lyaconia. In Lycaonia were the churches of Iconium, founded by Paul and Barnabas; of Lystra, Timothy's birthplace, where Paul was stoned at the instigation of the Jews; and of Derbe, the birthplace of Gaius, or Caius. In Pisidia was Antioch, where Paul was the instrument of converting many, but was driven out by the Jews. In Caria was Miletus, containing doubtless a Christian Church. In Phrygia, Paul preached both times when visiting Galatia in its neighborhood, and in it were the churches of Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse, of which last Church Philemon and Onesimus were members, and Archippus and Epaphras leaders. In Lydia was the Philadelphian Church, favorably noticed in Re 3:7, &c.; that of Sardis, the capital, and of Thyatira, and of Ephesus, founded by Paul, and a scene of the labors of Aquila and Priscilla and Apollos, and subsequently of more than two whole years' labor of Paul again, and subsequently censured for falling from its first love in Re 2:4. Smyrna of Ionia was in the same quarter, and as one of the seven churches receives unqualified praise. In Mysia was Pergamos. Troas, too, is known as the scene of Paul's preaching and raising Eutychus to life (Ac 20:6-10), and of his subsequently staying for a time with Carpus (2Ti 4:13). Of "Bithynia," no Church is expressly named in Scripture elsewhere. When Paul at an earlier period "assayed to go into Bithynia" (Ac 16:7), the Spirit suffered him not. But afterwards, we infer from 1Pe 1:1, the Spirit did impart the Gospel to that country, possibly by Peter's ministry, In government, these several churches, it appears from this Epistle (1Pe 5:1, 2, "Feed," &c.), were much in the same states as when Paul addressed the Ephesian "elders" at Miletus (Ac 20:17, 28, "feed") in very similar language; elders or presbyter-bishops ruled, while the apostles exercised the general superintendence. They were exposed to persecutions, though apparently not systematic, but rather annoyances and reproach arising from their not joining their heathen neighbors in riotous living, into which, however, some of them were in danger of falling. The evils which existed among themselves, and which are therefore reproved, were ambition and lucre-seeking on the part of the presbyters (1Pe 5:2, 3), evil thoughts and words among the members in general, and a want of sympathy and generosity towards one another.
His object seems to be, by the prospect of their heavenly portion and by Christ's example, to afford consolation to the persecuted, and prepare them for a greater approaching ordeal, and to exhort all, husbands, wives, servants, presbyters, and people, to a due discharge of relative duties, so as to give no handle to the enemy to reproach Christianity, but rather to win them to it, and so to establish them in "the true grace of God wherein they stand" (1Pe 5:12). However, see on 1Pe 5:12, on the oldest reading. Alford rightly argues that "exhorting and testifying" there, refer to Peter's exhortations throughout the Epistle grounded on testimony which he bears to the Gospel truth, already well known to his readers by the teaching of Paul in those churches. They were already introduced "into" (so the Greek, 1Pe 5:12) this grace of God as their safe standing-ground. Compare 1Co 15:1, "I declare unto you the Gospel wherein ye stand." Therefore he does not, in this Epistle, set forth a complete statement of this Gospel doctrine of grace, but falls back on it as already known. Compare 1Pe 1:8, 18, "ye know"; 1Pe 3:15; 2Pe 3:1. Not that Peter servilely copies the style and mode of teaching of Paul, but as an independent witness in his own style attests the same truths. We may divide the Epistle into: (I) The inscription (1Pe 1:1, 2). (II) The stirring-up of a pure feeling in believers as born again of God. By the motive of hope to which God has regenerated us (1Pe 1:3-12); bringing forth the fruit of faith, considering the costly price paid for our redemption from sin (1Pe 1:14-21). Being purified by the Spirit unto love of the brethren as begotten of God's eternal word, as spiritual priest-kings, to whom alone Christ is precious (1Pe 1:22; 2:10); after Christ's example in suffering, maintaining a good conversation in every relation (1Pe 2:10; 3:14), and a good profession of faith as having in view Christ's once-offered sacrifice, and His future coming to judgment (1Pe 3:15; 4:11); and exhibiting patience in adversity, as looking for future glorification with Christ, (1) in general as Christians, 1Pe 4:12-19; (2) each in his own sphere, 1Pe 5:1-11. "The title "Beloved" marks the separation of the second part from the first, 1Pe 2:11; and of the third part from the second, 1Pe 4:12" [Bengel]. (III). The conclusion.
Time and place of writing.—It was plainly before the open and systematic persecution of the later years of Nero had begun. That this Epistle was written after Paul's Epistles, even those written during his imprisonment at Rome, ending in A.D. 63, appears from the acquaintance which Peter in this Epistle shows he has with them. Compare 1Pe 2:13 with 1Ti 2:2-4; 1Pe 2:18 with Eph 6:5; 1Pe 1:2 with Eph 1:4-7; 1Pe 1:3 with Eph 1:3; 1Pe 1:14 with Ro 12:2; 1Pe 2:6-10 with Ro 9:32, 33; 1Pe 2:13 with Ro 13:1-4; 1Pe 2:16 with Ga 5:13; 1Pe 2:18 with Eph 6:5; 1Pe 3:1 with Eph 5:22; 1Pe 3:9 with Ro 12:17; 1Pe 4:9 with Php 2:14; Ro 12:13 and Heb 13:2; 1Pe 4:10 with Ro 12:6-8; 1Pe 5:1 with Ro 8:18; 1Pe 5:5 with Eph 5:21; Php 2:3, 5-8; 1Pe 5:8 with 1Th 5:6; 1Pe 5:14 with 1Co 16:20. Moreover, in 1Pe 5:13, Mark is mentioned as with Peter in Babylon. This must have been after Col 4:10 (A.D. 61-63), when Mark was with Paul at Rome, but intending to go to Asia Minor. Again, in 2Ti 4:11 (A.D. 67 or 68), Mark was in or near Ephesus, in Asia Minor, and Timothy is told to bring him to Rome. So that it is likely it was after this, namely, after Paul's martyrdom, that Mark joined Peter, and consequently that this Epistle was written. It is not likely that Peter would have entrenched on Paul's field of labor, the churches of Asia Minor, during Paul's lifetime. The death of the apostle of the uncircumcision, and the consequent need of someone to follow up his teachings, probably gave occasion to the testimony given by Peter to the same churches, collectively addressed, in behalf of the same truth. The relation in which the Pauline Gentile churches stood towards the apostles at Jerusalem favors this view. Even the Gentile Christians would naturally look to the spiritual fathers of the Church at Jerusalem, the center whence the Gospel had emanated to them, for counsel wherewith to meet the pretensions of Judaizing Christians and heretics; and Peter, always prominent among the apostles in Jerusalem, would even when elsewhere feel a deep interest in them, especially when they were by death bereft of Paul's guidance. Birks [Horæ Evangelicæ] suggests that false teachers may have appealed from Paul's doctrine to that of James and Peter. Peter then would naturally write to confirm the doctrines of grace and tacitly show there was no difference between his teaching and Paul's. Birks prefers dating the Epistle A.D. 58, after Paul's second visit to Galatia, when Silvanus was with him, and so could not have been with Peter (A.D. 54), and before his imprisonment at Rome, when Mark was with him, and so could not have been with Peter (A.D. 62); perhaps when Paul was detained at Cæsarea, and so debarred from personal intercourse with those churches. I prefer the view previously stated. This sets aside the tradition that Paul and Peter suffered martyrdom together at Rome. Origen's and Eusebius' statement that Peter visited the churches of Asia in person seems very probable.
The PLACE OF WRITING was doubtless Babylon on the Euphrates (1Pe 5:13). It is most improbable that in the midst of writing matter-of-fact communications and salutations in a remarkably plain Epistle, the symbolical language of prophecy (namely, "Babylon" for Rome) should be used. Josephus [Antiquities, 15.2.2; 3.1] states that there was a great multitude of Jews in the Chaldean Babylon; it is therefore likely that "the apostle of the circumcision" (Ga 2:7, 8) would at some time or other visit them. Some have maintained that the Babylon meant was in Egypt because Mark preached in and around Alexandria after Peter's death, and therefore it is likely he did so along with that apostle in the same region previously. But no mention elsewhere in Scripture is made of this Egyptian Babylon, but only of the Chaldean one. And though towards the close of Caligula's reign a persecution drove the Jews thence to Seleucia, and a plague five years after still further thinned their numbers, yet this does not preclude their return and multiplication during the twenty years that elapsed between the plague and the writing of the Epistle. Moreover, the order in which the countries are enumerated, from northeast to south and west, is such as would be adopted by one writing from the Oriental Babylon on the Euphrates, not from Egypt or Rome. Indeed, Cosmas Indicopleustes, in the sixth century, understood the Babylon meant to be outside the Roman empire. Silvanus, Paul's companion, became subsequently Peter's, and was the carrier of this Epistle.
Style.—Fervor and practical truth, rather than logical reasoning, are the characteristics, of this Epistle, as they were of its energetic, warm-hearted writer. His familiarity with Paul's Epistles shown in the language accords with what we should expect from the fact of Paul's having "communicated the Gospel which he preached among the Gentiles" (as revealed specially to him) to Peter among others "of reputation" (Ga 2:2). Individualities occur, such as baptism, "the answer of a good conscience toward God" (1Pe 3:21); "consciousness of God" (Greek), 1Pe 2:19, as a motive for enduring sufferings; "living hope" (1Pe 1:3); "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away" (1Pe 1:4); "kiss of charity" (1Pe 5:14). Christ is viewed less in relation to His past sufferings than as at present exalted and hereafter to be manifested in all His majesty. Glory and hope are prominent features in this Epistle (1Pe 1:8), so much so that Weiss entitles him "the apostle of hope." The realization of future bliss as near causes him to regard believers as but "strangers" and "sojourners" here. Chastened fervor, deep humility, and ardent love appear, just as we should expect from one who had been so graciously restored after his grievous fall. "Being converted," he truly does "strengthen his brethren." His fervor shows itself in often repeating the same thought in similar words.
In some passages he shows familiarity with the Epistle of James, the apostle of special weight with the Jewish legalizing party, whose inspiration he thus confirms (compare 1Pe 1:6, 7 with Jas 1:2, 3; 1Pe 1:24 with Jas 1:10; 1Pe 2:1 with Jas 1:21; 1Pe 4:8 with Jas 5:20, both quoting Pr 10:12; 5:5 with Jas 4:6, both quoting Pr 3:34). In most of these cases Old Testament quotations are the common ground of both. "Strong susceptibility to outward impressions, liveliness of feeling, dexterity in handling subjects, dispose natures like that of Peter to repeat afresh the thoughts of others" [Steiger].
The diction of this Epistle and of his speeches in Acts is very similar: an undesigned coincidence, and so a mark of genuineness (compare 1Pe 2:7 with Ac 4:11; 1Pe 1:12 with Ac 5:32; 1Pe 2:24 with Ac 5:30; 10:39; 1Pe 5:1 with Ac 2:32; 3:15; 1Pe 1:10 with Ac 3:18; 10:43; 1Pe 1:21 with Ac 3:15; 10:40; 1Pe 4:5 with Ac 10:42; 1Pe 2:24 with Ac 3:19, 26).
There is, too, a recurrence to the language of the Lord at the last interview after His resurrection, recorded in Joh 21:15-23. Compare "the Shepherd … of … souls," 1Pe 2:25; "Feed the flock of God," "the chief Shepherd," 1Pe 5:2, 4, with Joh 21:15-17; "Feed My lambs … sheep"; also "Whom … ye love," 1Pe 1:8; 2:7, with Joh 21:15-17; "lovest thou Me?" and 2Pe 1:14, with Joh 21:18, 19. Wiesinger well says, "He who in loving impatience cast himself into the sea to meet the Lord, is also the man who most earnestly testifies to the hope of His return; he who dated his own faith from the sufferings of his Master, is never weary in holding up the suffering form of the Lord before his readers to comfort and stimulate them; he before whom the death of a martyr is in assured expectation, is the man who, in the greatest variety of aspects, sets forth the duty, as well as the consolation, of suffering for Christ; as a rock of the Church he grounds his readers against the storm of present tribulation on the true Rock of ages."
1Pe 1:1-25. Address to the Elected of the Godhead: Thanksgiving for the Living Hope to Which We Are Begotten, Producing Joy Amidst Sufferings: This Salvation an Object of Deepest Interest to Prophets and to Angels: Its Costly Price a Motive to Holiness and Love, as We Are Born Again of the Ever-abiding Word of God.
1. Peter—Greek form of Cephas, man of rock.
an apostle of Jesus Christ—"He who preaches otherwise than as a messenger of Christ, is not to be heard; if he preach as such, then it is all one as if thou didst hear Christ speaking in thy presence" [Luther].
Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
2. foreknowledge—foreordaining love (1Pe 1:20), inseparable from God's foreknowledge, the origin from which, and pattern according to which, election takes place. Ac 2:23, and Ro 11:2, prove "foreknowledge" to be foreordination. God's foreknowledge is not the perception of any ground of action out of Himself; still in it liberty is comprehended, and all absolute constraint debarred [Anselm in Steiger]. For so the Son of God was "foreknown" (so the Greek for "foreordained," 1Pe 1:20) to be the sacrificial Lamb, not against, or without His will, but His will rested in the will of the Father; this includes self-conscious action; nay, even cheerful acquiescense. The Hebrew and Greek "know" include approval and acknowledging as one's own. The Hebrew marks the oneness of loving and choosing, by having one word for both, bachar (Greek, "hairetizo," Septuagint). Peter descends from the eternal "election" of God through the new birth, to the believer's "sanctification," that from this he might again raise them through the consideration of their new birth to a "living hope" of the heavenly "inheritance" [Heidegger]. The divine three are introduced in their respective functions in redemption.
through—Greek, "in"; the element in which we are elected. The "election" of God realized and manifested itself "IN" their sanctification. Believers are "sanctified through the offering of Christ once for all" (Heb 10:10). "Thou must believe and know that thou art holy; not, however, through thine own piety, but through the blood of Christ" [Luther]. This is the true sanctification of the Spirit, to obey the Gospel, to trust in Christ [Bullinger].
sanctification—the Spirit's setting apart of the saint as consecrated to God. The execution of God's choice (Ga 1:4). God the Father gives us salvation by gratuitous election; the Son earns it by His blood-shedding; the Holy Spirit applies the merit of the Son to the soul by the Gospel word [Calvin]. Compare Nu 6:24-26, the Old Testament triple blessing.
unto obedience—the result or end aimed at by God as respects us, the obedience which consists in faith, and that which flows from faith; "obeying the truth through the Spirit" (1Pe 1:22). Ro 1:5, "obedience to the faith," and obedience the fruit of faith.
sprinkling, &c.—not in justification through the atonement once for all, which is expressed in the previous clauses, but (as the order proves) the daily being sprinkled by Christ's blood, and so cleansed from all sin, which is the privilege of one already justified and "walking in the light."
Grace—the source of "peace."
be multiplied—still further than already. Da 4:1, "Ye have now peace and grace, but still not in perfection; therefore, ye must go on increasing until the old Adam be dead" [Luther].
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
3. He begins, like Paul, in opening his Epistles with giving thanks to God for the greatness of the salvation; herein he looks forward (1) into the future (1Pe 1:3-9); (2) backward into the past (1Pe 1:10-12) [Alford].
Blessed—A distinct Greek word (eulogetos, "Blessed BE") is used of God, from that used of man (eulogemenos, "Blessed IS").
Father—This whole Epistle accords with the Lord's prayer; "Father," 1Pe 1:3, 14, 17, 23; 2:2; "Our," 1Pe 1:4, end; "In heaven," 1Pe 1:4; "Hallowed be Thy name," 1Pe 1:15, 16; 3:15; "Thy kingdom come," 1Pe 2:9; "Thy will be done," 1Pe 2:15; 3:17; 4:2, 19; "daily bread," 1Pe 5:7; "forgiveness of sins," 1Pe 4:8, 1; "temptation," 1Pe 4:12; "deliverance," 1Pe 4:18 [Bengel]; Compare 1Pe 3:7; 4:7, for allusions to prayer. "Barak," Hebrew "bless," is literally "kneel." God, as the original source of blessing, must be blessed through all His works.
abundant—Greek, "much," "full." That God's "mercy" should reach us, guilty and enemies, proves its fulness. "Mercy" met our misery; "grace," our guilt.
begotten us again—of the Spirit by the word (1Pe 1:23); whereas we were children of wrath naturally, and dead in sins.
unto—so that we have.
lively—Greek, "living." It has life in itself, gives life, and looks for life as its object [De Wette]. Living is a favorite expression of Peter (1Pe 1:23; 1Pe 2:4, 5). He delights in contemplating life overcoming death in the believer. Faith and love follow hope (1Pe 1:8, 21, 22). "(Unto) a lively hope" is further explained by "(To) an inheritance incorruptible … fadeth not away," and "(unto) salvation … ready to be revealed in the last time." I prefer with Bengel and Steiger to join as in Greek, "Unto a hope living (possessing life and vitality) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Faith, the subjective means of the spiritual resurrection of the soul, is wrought by the same power whereby Christ was raised from the dead. Baptism is an objective means (1Pe 3:21). Its moral fruit is a new life. The connection of our sonship with the resurrection appears also in Lu 20:36; Ac 13:33. Christ's resurrection is the cause of ours, (1) as an efficient cause (1Co 15:22); (2) as an exemplary cause, all the saints being about to rise after the similitude of His resurrection. Our "hope" is, Christ rising from the dead hath ordained the power, and is become the pattern of the believer's resurrection. The soul, born again from its natural state into the life of grace, is after that born again unto the life of glory. Mt 19:28, "regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory"; the resurrection of our bodies is a kind of coming out of the womb of the earth and entering upon immortality, a nativity into another life [Bishop Pearson]. The four causes of our salvation are; (1) the primary cause, God's mercy; (2) the proximate cause, Christ's death and resurrection; (3) the formal cause, our regeneration; (4) the final cause, our eternal bliss. As John is the disciple of love, so Paul of faith, and Peter of hope. Hence, Peter, most of all the apostles, urges the resurrection of Christ; an undesigned coincidence between the history and the Epistle, and so a proof of genuineness. Christ's resurrection was the occasion of his own restoration by Christ after his fall.
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
4. To an inheritance—the object of our "hope" (1Pe 1:3), which is therefore not a dead, but a "living" hope. The inheritance is the believer's already by title, being actually assigned to him; the entrance on its possession is future, and hoped for as a certainty. Being "begotten again" as a "son," he is an "heir," as earthly fathers beget children who shall inherit their goods. The inheritance is "salvation" (1Pe 1:5, 9); "the grace to be brought at the revelation of Christ" (1Pe 1:13); "a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
incorruptible—not having within the germs of death. Negations of the imperfections which meet us on every side here are the chief means of conveying to our minds a conception of the heavenly things which "have not entered into the heart of man," and which we have not faculties now capable of fully knowing. Peter, sanguine, impulsive, and highly susceptible of outward impressions, was the more likely to feel painfully the deep-seated corruption which, lurking under the outward splendor of the loveliest of earthly things, dooms them soon to rottenness and decay.
undefiled—not stained as earthly goods by sin, either in the acquiring, or in the using of them; unsusceptible of any stain. "The rich man is either a dishonest man himself, or the heir of a dishonest man" [Jerome]. Even Israel's inheritance was defiled by the people's sins. Defilement intrudes even on our holy things now, whereas God's service ought to be undefiled.
that fadeth not away—Contrast 1Pe 1:24. Even the most delicate part of the heavenly inheritance, its bloom, continues unfading. "In substance incorruptible; in purity undefiled; in beauty unfading" [Alford].
reserved—kept up (Col 1:5, "laid up for you in heaven," 2Ti 4:8); Greek perfect, expressing a fixed and abiding state, "which has been and is reserved." The inheritance is in security, beyond risk, out of the reach of Satan, though we for whom it is reserved are still in the midst of dangers. Still, if we be believers, we too, as well as the inheritance, are "kept" (the same Greek, Joh 17:12) by Jesus safely (1Pe 1:5).
in heaven—Greek, "in the heavens," where it can neither be destroyed nor plundered. It does not follow that, because it is now laid up in heaven, it shall not hereafter be on earth also.
for you—It is secure not only in itself from all misfortune, but also from all alienation, so that no other can receive it in your stead. He had said us (1Pe 1:3); he now turns his address to the elect in order to encourage and exhort them.
Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
5. kept—Greek, "who are being guarded." He answers the objection, Of what use is it that salvation is "reserved" for us in heaven, as in a calm secure haven, when we are tossed in the world as on a troubled sea in the midst of a thousand wrecks? [Calvin]. As the inheritance is "kept" (1Pe 1:4) safely for the far distant "heirs," so must they be "guarded" in their persons so as to be sure of reaching it. Neither shall it be wanting to them, nor they to it. "We are guarded in the world as our inheritance is kept in heaven." This defines the "you" of 1Pe 1:4. The inheritance, remember, belongs only to those who "endure unto the end," being "guarded" by, or IN "the power of God, through faith." Contrast Lu 8:13. God Himself is our sole guarding power. "It is His power which saves us from our enemies. It is His long-suffering which saves us from ourselves" [Bengel]. Jude 1, "preserved in Christ Jesus"; Php 1:6; 4:7, "keep"; Greek, "guard," as here. This guarding is effected, on the part of God, by His "power," the efficient cause; on the part of man, "through faith," the effective means.
by—Greek, "in." The believer lives spiritually in God, and in virtue of His power, and God lives in him. "In" marks that the cause is inherent in the means, working organically through them with living influence, so that the means, in so far as the cause works organically through them, exist also in the cause. The power of God which guards the believer is no external force working upon him from without with mechanical necessity, but the spiritual power of God in which he lives, and with whose Spirit he is clothed. It comes down on, and then dwells in him, even as he is in it [Steiger]. Let none flatter himself he is being guarded by the power of God unto salvation, if he be not walking by faith. Neither speculative knowledge and reason, nor works of seeming charity, will avail, severed from faith. It is through faith that salvation is both received and kept.
unto salvation—the final end of the new birth. "Salvation," not merely accomplished for us in title by Christ, and made over to us on our believing, but actually manifested, and finally completed.
ready to be revealed—When Christ shall be revealed, it shall be revealed. The preparations for it are being made now, and began when Christ came: "All things are now ready"; the salvation is already accomplished, and only waits the Lord's time to be manifested: He "is ready to judge."
last time—the last day, closing the day of grace; the day of judgment, of redemption, of the restitution of all things, and of perdition of the ungodly.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
6. Wherein—in which prospect of final salvation.
greatly rejoice—"exult with joy": "are exuberantly glad." Salvation is realized by faith (1Pe 1:9) as a thing so actually present as to cause exulting joy in spite of existing afflictions.
for a season—Greek, "for a little time."
if need be—"if it be God's will that it should be so" [Alford], for not all believers are afflicted. One need not invite or lay a cross on himself, but only "take up" the cross which God imposes ("his cross"); 2Ti 3:12 is not to be pressed too far. Not every believer, nor every sinner, is tried with afflictions [Theophylact]. Some falsely think that notwithstanding our forgiveness in Christ, a kind of atonement, or expiation by suffering, is needed.
ye are in heaviness—Greek, "ye were grieved." The "grieved" is regarded as past, the "exulting joy" present. Because the realized joy of the coming salvation makes the present grief seem as a thing of the past. At the first shock of affliction ye were grieved, but now by anticipation ye rejoice, regarding the present grief as past.
through—Greek, "IN": the element in which the grief has place.
manifold—many and of various kinds (1Pe 4:12, 13).
temptations—"trials" testing your faith.
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
7. Aim of the "temptations."
trial—testing, proving. That your faith so proved "may be found (aorist; once for all, as the result of its being proved on the judgment-day) unto (eventuating in) praise," &c., namely, the praise to be bestowed by the Judge.
than that of gold—rather, "than gold."
though—"which perisheth, YET is tried with fire." If gold, though perishing (1Pe 1:18), is yet tried with fire in order to remove dross and test its genuineness, how much more does your faith, which shall never perish, need to pass through a fiery trial to remove whatever is defective, and to test its genuineness and full value?
glory—"Honor" is not so strong as "glory." As "praise" is in words, so "honor" is in deeds: honorary reward.
appearing—Translate as in 1Pe 1:13, "revelation." At Christ's revelation shall take place also the revelation of the sons of God (Ro 8:19, "manifestation," Greek, "revelation"; 1Jo 3:2, Greek, "manifested … manifested," for "appear … appear").
Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
8. not having seen, ye love—though in other cases it is knowledge of the person that produces love to him. They are more "blessed that have not seen and yet have believed," than they who believed because they have seen. On Peter's own love to Jesus, compare Joh 21:15-17. Though the apostles had seen Him, they now ceased to know Him merely after the flesh.
in whom—connected with "believing": the result of which is "ye rejoice" (Greek, "exult").
now—in the present state, as contrasted with the future state when believers "shall see His face."
full of glory—Greek, "glorified." A joy now already encompassed with glory. The "glory" is partly in present possession, through the presence of Christ, "the Lord of glory," in the soul; partly in assured anticipation. "The Christian's joy is bound up with love to Jesus: its ground is faith; it is not therefore either self-seeking or self-sufficient" [Steiger].
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
9. Receiving—in sure anticipation; "the end of your faith," that is, its crowning consummation, finally completed "salvation" (Peter here confirms Paul's teaching as to justification by faith): also receiving now the title to it and the first-fruits of it. In 1Pe 1:10 the "salvation" is represented as already present, whereas "the prophets" had it not as yet present. It must, therefore, in this verse, refer to the present: Deliverance now from a state of wrath: believers even now "receive salvation," though its full "revelation" is future.
of … souls—The immortal soul was what was lost, so "salvation" primarily concerns the soul; the body shall share in redemption hereafter; the soul of the believer is saved already: an additional proof that "receiving … salvation" is here a thing present.
Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
10. The magnitude of this "salvation" is proved by the earnestness with which "prophets" and even "angels" searched into it. Even from the beginning of the world this salvation has been testified to by the Holy Spirit.
prophets—Though there is no Greek article, yet English Version is right, "the prophets" generally (including all the Old Testament inspired authors), as "the angels" similarly refer to them in general.
inquired—perseveringly: so the Greek. Much more is manifested to us than by diligent inquiry and search the prophets attained. Still it is not said, they searched after it, but concerning (so the Greek for "of") it. They were already certain of the redemption being about to come. They did not like us fully see, but they desired to see the one and the same Christ whom we fully see in spirit. "As Simeon was anxiously desiring previously, and tranquil in peace only when he had seen Christ, so all the Old Testament saints saw Christ only hidden, and as it were absent—absent not in power and grace, but inasmuch as He was not yet manifested in the flesh" [Calvin]. The prophets, as private individuals, had to reflect on the hidden and far-reaching sense of their own prophecies; because their words, as prophets, in their public function, were not so much their own as the Spirit's, speaking by and in them: thus Caiaphas. A striking testimony to verbal inspiration; the words which the inspired authors wrote are God's words expressing the mind of the Spirit, which the writers themselves searched into, to fathom the deep and precious meaning, even as the believing readers did. "Searched" implies that they had determinate marks to go by in their search.
the grace that should come unto you—namely, the grace of the New Testament: an earnest of "the grace" of perfected "salvation … to be brought at the (second) revelation of Christ." Old Testament believers also possessed the grace of God; they were children of God, but it was as children in their nonage, so as to be like servants; whereas we enjoy the full privileges of adult sons.
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.
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.
Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
12. Not only was the future revealed to them, but this also, that these revelations of the future were given them not for themselves, but for our good in Gospel times. This, so far from disheartening, only quickened them in unselfishly testifying in the Spirit for the partial good of their own generation (only of believers), and for the full benefit of posterity. Contrast in Gospel times, Re 22:10. Not that their prophecies were unattended with spiritual instruction as to the Redeemer to their own generation, but the full light was not to be given till Messiah should come; it was well that they should have this "revealed" to them, lest they should be disheartened in not clearly discovering with all their inquiry and search the full particulars of the coming "salvation." To Daniel (Da 9:25, 26) the "time" was revealed. Our immense privileges are thus brought forth by contrast with theirs, notwithstanding that they had the great honor of Christ's Spirit speaking in them; and this, as an incentive to still greater earnestness on our part than even they manifested (1Pe 1:13, &c.).
us—The oldest manuscripts read "you," as in 1Pe 1:10. This verse implies that we, Christians, may understand the prophecies by the Spirit's aid in their most important part, namely, so far as they have been already fulfilled.
with the Holy Ghost sent down—on Pentecost. The oldest manuscripts omit Greek preposition en, that is, "in"; then translate, "by." The Evangelists speaking by the Holy Spirit were infallible witnesses. "The Spirit of Christ" was in the prophets also (1Pe 1:11), but not manifestly, as in the case of the Christian Church and its first preachers, "SENT down from heaven." How favored are we in being ministered to, as to "salvation," by prophets and apostles alike, the latter now announcing the same things as actually fulfilled which the former foretold.
which things—"the things now reported unto you" by the evangelistic preachers "Christ's sufferings and the glory that should follow" (1Pe 1:11, 12).
angels—still higher than "the prophets" (1Pe 1:10). Angels do not any more than ourselves possess an INTUITIVE knowledge of redemption. "To look into" in Greek is literally, "to bend over so as to look deeply into and see to the bottom of a thing." See on Jas 1:25, on same word. As the cherubim stood bending over the mercy seat, the emblem of redemption, in the holiest place, so the angels intently gaze upon and desire to fathom the depths of "the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels" (1Ti 3:16). Their "ministry to the heirs of salvation" naturally disposes them to wish to penetrate this mystery as reflecting such glory on the love, justice, wisdom, and power of their and our God and Lord. They can know it only through its manifestation in the Church, as they personally have not the direct share in it that we have. "Angels have only the contrast between good and evil, without the power of conversion from sin to righteousness: witnessing such conversion in the Church, they long to penetrate the knowledge of the means whereby it is brought about" [Hofman in Alford].
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
13. Wherefore—Seeing that the prophets ministered unto you in these high Gospel privileges which they did not themselves fully share in, though "searching" into them, and seeing that even angels "desire to look into" them, how earnest you ought to be and watchful in respect to them!
gird up … loins—referring to Christ's own words, Lu 12:35; an image taken from the way in which the Israelites ate the passover with the loose outer robe girded up about the waist with a girdle, as ready for a journey. Workmen, pilgrims, runners, wrestlers, and warriors (all of whom are types of the Christians), so gird themselves up, both to shorten the garment so as not to impede motion, and to gird up the body itself so as to be braced for action. The believer is to have his mind (mental powers) collected and always ready for Christ's coming. "Gather in the strength of your spirit" [Hensler]. Sobriety, that is, spiritual self-restraint, lest one be overcome by the allurements of the world and of sense, and patient hopeful waiting for Christ's revelation, are the true ways of "girding up the loins of the mind."
to the end—rather, "perfectly," so that there may be nothing deficient in your hope, no casting away of your confidence. Still, there may be an allusion to the "end" mentioned in 1Pe 1:9. Hope so perfectly (Greek, "teleios") as to reach unto the end (telos) of your faith and hope, namely, "the grace that is being brought unto you in (so the Greek) the revelation of Christ." As grace shall then be perfected, so you ought to hope perfectly. "Hope" is repeated from 1Pe 1:3. The two appearances are but different stages of the ONE great revelation of Christ, comprising the New Testament from the beginning to the end.
As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
14. From sobriety of spirit and endurance of hope Peter passes to obedience, holiness, and reverential fear.
As—marking their present actual character as "born again" (1Pe 1:3, 22).
obedient children—Greek, "children of obedience": children to whom obedience is their characteristic and ruling nature, as a child is of the same nature as the mother and father. Contrast Eph 5:6, "the children of disobedience." Compare 1Pe 1:17, "obeying the Father" whose "children" ye are. Having the obedience of faith (compare 1Pe 1:22) and so of practice (compare 1Pe 1:16, 18). "Faith is the highest obedience, because discharged to the highest command" [Luther].
fashioning—The outward fashion (Greek, "schema") is fleeting, and merely on the surface. The "form," or conformation in the New Testament, is something deeper and more perfect and essential.
the former lusts in—which were characteristic of your state of ignorance of God: true of both Jews and Gentiles. The sanctification is first described negatively (1Pe 1:14, "not fashioning yourselves," &c.; the putting off the old man, even in the outward fashion, as well as in the inward conformation), then positively (1Pe 1:15, putting on the new man, compare Eph 4:22, 24). "Lusts" flow from the original birth-sin (inherited from our first parents, who by self-willed desire brought sin into the world), the lust which, ever since man has been alienated from God, seeks to fill up with earthly things the emptiness of his being; the manifold forms which the mother-lust assumes are called in the plural lusts. In the regenerate, as far as the new man is concerned, which constitutes his truest self, "sin" no longer exists; but in the flesh or old man it does. Hence arises the conflict, uninterruptedly maintained through life, wherein the new man in the main prevails, and at last completely. But the natural man knows only the combat of his lusts with one another, or with the law, without power to conquer them.
But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
15. Literally, "But (rather) after the pattern of Him who hath called you (whose characteristic is that He is) holy, be (Greek, 'become') ye yourselves also holy." God is our grand model. God's calling is a frequently urged motive in Peter's Epistles. Every one that begets, begets an offspring resembling himself [Epiphanius]. "Let the acts of the offspring indicate similarity to the Father" [Augustine].
conversation—deportment, course of life: one's way of going about, as distinguished from one's internal nature, to which it must outwardly correspond. Christians are already holy unto God by consecration; they must be so also in their outward walk and behavior in all respects. The outward must correspond to the inward man.
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
16. Scripture is the true source of all authority in questions of doctrine and practice.
Be ye … for I am—It is I with whom ye have to do. Ye are mine. Therefore abstain from Gentile pollutions. We are too prone to have respect unto men [Calvin]. As I am the fountain of holiness, being holy in My essence, be ye therefore zealous to be partakers of holiness, that ye may be as I also am [Didymus]. God is essentially holy: the creature is holy in so far as it is sanctified by God. God, in giving the command, is willing to give also the power to obey it, namely, through the sanctifying of the Spirit (1Pe 1:2).
And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:
17. if ye call on—that is, "seeing that ye call on," for all the regenerate pray as children of God, "Our Father who art in heaven" (Mt 6:9; Lu 11:2).
the Father—rather, "Call upon as Father Him who without acceptance of persons (Ac 10:34; Ro 2:11; Jas 2:1, not accepting the Jew above the Gentile, 2Ch 19:7; Lu 20:21; properly said of a judge not biassed in judgment by respect of persons) judgeth," &c. The Father judgeth by His Son, His Representative, exercising His delegated authority (Joh 5:22). This marks the harmonious and complete unity of the Trinity.
work—Each man's work is one complete whole, whether good or bad. The particular works of each are manifestations of the general character of his lifework, whether it was of faith and love whereby alone we can please God and escape condemnation.
pass—Greek, "conduct yourselves during."
sojourning—The outward state of the Jews in their dispersion is an emblem of the sojourner-like state of all believers in this world, away from our true Fatherland.
fear—reverential, not slavish. He who is your Father, is also your Judge—a thought which may well inspire reverential fear. Theophylact observes, A double fear is mentioned in Scripture: (1) elementary, causing one to become serious; (2) perfective: the latter is here the motive by which Peter urges them as sons of God to be obedient. Fear is not here opposed to assurance, but to carnal security: fear producing vigilant caution lest we offend God and backslide. "Fear and hope flow from the same fountain: fear prevents us from falling away from hope" [Bengel]. Though love has no fear IN it, yet in our present state of imperfect love, it needs to have fear going ALONG WITH It as a subordinate principle. This fear drowns all other fears. The believer fears God, and so has none else to fear. Not to fear God is the greatest baseness and folly. The martyrs' more than mere human courage flowed from this.
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
18. Another motive to reverential, vigilant fear (1Pe 1:17) of displeasing God, the consideration of the costly price of our redemption from sin. Observe, it is we who are bought by the blood of Christ, not heaven. The blood of Christ is not in Scripture said to buy heaven for us: heaven is the "inheritance" (1Pe 1:4) given to us as sons, by the promise of God.
corruptible—Compare 1Pe 1:7, "gold that perisheth," 1Pe 1:23.
silver and gold—Greek, "or." Compare Peter's own words, Ac 3:6: an undesigned coincidence.
redeemed—Gold and silver being liable to corruption themselves, can free no one from spiritual and bodily death; they are therefore of too little value. Contrast 1Pe 1:19, Christ's "precious blood." The Israelites were ransomed with half a shekel each, which went towards purchasing the lamb for the daily sacrifice (Ex 30:12-16; compare Nu 3:44-51). But the Lamb who redeems the spiritual Israelites does so "without money or price." Devoted by sin to the justice of God, the Church of the first-born is redeemed from sin and the curse with Christ's precious blood (Mt 20:28; 1Ti 2:6; Tit 2:14; Re 5:9). In all these passages there is the idea of substitution, the giving of one for another by way of a ransom or equivalent. Man is "sold under sin" as a slave; shut up under condemnation and the curse. The ransom was, therefore, paid to the righteously incensed Judge, and was accepted as a vicarious satisfaction for our sin by God, inasmuch as it was His own love as well as righteousness which appointed it. An Israelite sold as a bond-servant for debt might be redeemed by one of his brethren. As, therefore, we could not redeem ourselves, Christ assumed our nature in order to become our nearest of kin and brother, and so our God or Redeemer. Holiness is the natural fruit of redemption "from our vain conversation"; for He by whom we are redeemed is also He for whom we are redeemed. "Without the righteous abolition of the curse, either there could be found no deliverance, or, what is impossible, the grace and righteousness of God must have come in collision" [Steiger]; but now, Christ having borne the curse of our sin, frees from it those who are made God's children by His Spirit.
vain—self-deceiving, unreal, and unprofitable: promising good which it does not perform. Compare as to the Gentiles, Ac 14:15; Ro 1:21; Eph 4:17; as to human philosophers, 1Co 3:20; as to the disobedient Jews, Jer 4:14.
conversation—course of life. To know what our sin is we must know what it cost.
received by tradition from your fathers—The Jews' traditions. "Human piety is a vain blasphemy, and the greatest sin that a man can commit" [Luther]. There is only one Father to be imitated, 1Pe 1:17; compare Mt 23:9, the same antithesis [Bengel].
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
19. precious—of inestimable value. The Greek order is, "With precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish (in itself) and without spot (contracted by contact with others), (even the blood) of Christ." Though very man, He remained pure in Himself ("without blemish"), and uninfected by any impression of sin from without ("without spot"), which would have unfitted Him for being our atoning Redeemer: so the passover lamb, and every sacrificial victim; so too, the Church, the Bride, by her union with Him. As Israel's redemption from Egypt required the blood of the paschal lamb, so our redemption from sin and the curse required the blood of Christ; "foreordained" (1Pe 1:20) from eternity, as the passover lamb was taken up on the tenth day of the month.
Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
20. God's eternal foreordination of Christ's redeeming sacrifice, and completion of it in these last times for us, are an additional obligation on us to our maintaining a holy walk, considering how great things have been thus done for us. Peter's language in the history corresponds with this here: an undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness. Redemption was no afterthought, or remedy of an unforeseen evil, devised at the time of its arising. God's foreordaining of the Redeemer refutes the slander that, on the Christian theory, there is a period of four thousand years of nothing but an incensed God. God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4).
manifest—in His incarnation in the fulness of the time. He existed from eternity before He was manifested.
in these last times—1Co 10:11, "the ends of the world." This last dispensation, made up of "times" marked by great changes, but still retaining a general unity, stretches from Christ's ascension to His coming to judgment.
Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
21. by him—Compare "the faith which is by Him," Ac 3:16. Through Christ: His Spirit, obtained for us in His resurrection and ascension, enabling us to believe. This verse excludes all who do not "by Him believe in God," and includes all of every age and clime that do. Literally, "are believers in God." "To believe IN (Greek, 'eis') God" expresses an internal trust: "by believing to love God, going INTO Him, and cleaving to Him, incorporated into His members. By this faith the ungodly is justified, so that thenceforth faith itself begins to work by love" [P. Lombard]. To believe ON (Greek, "epi," or dative case) God expresses the confidence, which grounds itself on God, reposing on Him. "Faith IN (Greek, 'en') His blood" (Ro 3:25) implies that His blood is the element IN which faith has its proper and abiding place. Compare with this verse, Ac 20:21, "Repentance toward (Greek, 'eis,' 'into,' turning towards and going into) God and faith toward (Greek, 'eis,' 'into') Christ": where, as there is but one article to both repentance and faith, the two are inseparably joined as together forming one truth; where "repentance" is, there "faith" is; when one knows God the Father spiritually, then he must know the Son by whom alone we can come to the Father. In Christ we have life: if we have not the doctrine of Christ, we have not God. The only living way to God is through Christ and His sacrifice.
that raised him—The raising of Jesus by God is the special ground of our "believing": (1) because by it God declared openly His acceptance of Him as our righteous substitute; (2) because by it and His glorification He received power, namely, the Holy Spirit, to impart to His elect "faith": the same power enabling us to believe as raised Him from the dead. Our faith must not only be IN Christ, but BY and THROUGH Christ. "Since in Christ's resurrection and consequent dominion our safety is grounded, there 'faith' and 'hope' find their stay" [Calvin].
that your faith and hope might be in God—the object and effect of God's raising Christ. He states what was the actual result and fact, not an exhortation, except indirectly. Your faith flows from His resurrection; your hope from God's having "given Him glory" (compare 1Pe 1:11, "glories"). Remember God's having raised and glorified Jesus as the anchor of your faith and hope in God, and so keep alive these graces. Apart from Christ we could have only feared, not believed and hoped in God. Compare 1Pe 1:3, 7-9, 13, on hope in connection with faith; love is introduced in 1Pe 1:22.
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
22. purified … in obeying the truth—Greek, "in your (or 'the') obedience of (that is, 'to') the truth (the Gospel way of salvation)," that is, in the fact of your believing. Faith purifies the heart as giving it the only pure motive, love to God (Ac 15:9; Ro 1:5, "obedience to the faith").
through the Spirit—omitted in the oldest manuscripts. The Holy Spirit is the purifier by bestowing the obedience of faith (1Pe 1:2; 1Co 12:3).
unto—with a view to: the proper result of the purifying of your hearts by faith. "For what end must we lead a chaste life? That we may thereby be saved? No: but for this, that we may serve our neighbor" [Luther].
unfeigned—1Pe 2:1, 2, "laying aside … hypocrisies … sincere."
love of the brethren—that is, of Christians. Brotherly love is distinct from common love. "The Christian loves primarily those in Christ; secondarily, all who might be in Christ, namely, all men, as Christ as man died for all, and as he hopes that they, too, may become his Christian brethren" [Steiger]. Bengel remarks that as here, so in 2Pe 1:5-7, "brotherly love" is preceded by the purifying graces, "faith, knowledge, and godliness," &c. Love to the brethren is the evidence of our regeneration and justification by faith.
love one another—When the purifying by faith into love of the brethren has formed the habit, then the act follows, so that the "love" is at once habit and act.
with a pure heart—The oldest manuscripts read, "(love) from the heart."
fervently—Greek, "intensely": with all the powers on the stretch (1Pe 4:8). "Instantly" (Ac 26:7).
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
23. Christian brotherhood flows from our new birth of an imperishable seed, the abiding word of God. This is the consideration urged here to lead us to exercise brotherly love. As natural relationship gives rise to natural affection, so spiritual relationship gives rise to spiritual, and therefore abiding love, even as the seed from which it springs is abiding, not transitory as earthly things.
of … of … by—"The word of God" is not the material of the spiritual new birth, but its mean or medium. By means of the word the man receives the incorruptible seed of the Holy Spirit, and so becomes one "born again": Joh 3:3-5, "born of water and the Spirit": as there is but one Greek article to the two nouns, the close connection of the sign and the grace, or new birth signified is implied. The word is the remote and anterior instrument; baptism, the proximate and sacramental instrument. The word is the instrument in relation to the individual; baptism, in relation to the Church as a society (Jas 1:18). We are born again of the Spirit, yet not without the use of means, but by the word of God. The word is not the beggeting principle itself, but only that by which it works: the vehicle of the mysterious germinating power [Alford].
which liveth and abideth for ever—It is because the Spirit of God accompanies it that the word carries in it the germ of life. They who are so born again live and abide for ever, in contrast to those who sow to the flesh. "The Gospel bears incorruptible fruits, not dead works, because it is itself incorruptible" [Bengel]. The word is an eternal divine power. For though the voice or speech vanishes, there still remains the kernel, the truth comprehended in the voice. This sinks into the heart and is living; yea, it is God Himself. So God to Moses, Ex 4:12, "I will be with thy mouth" [Luther]. The life is in God, yet it is communicated to us through the word. "The Gospel shall never cease, though its ministry shall" [Calovius]. The abiding resurrection glory is always connected with our regeneration by the Spirit. Regeneration beginning with renewing man's soul at the resurrection, passes on to the body, then to the whole world of nature.
For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
24. Scripture proof that the word of God lives for ever, in contrast to man's natural frailty. If ye were born again of flesh, corruptible seed, ye must also perish again as the grass; but now that from which you have derived life remains eternally, and so also will render you eternal.
flesh—man in his mere earthly nature.
as—omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts.
of man—The oldest manuscripts read, "of it" (that is, of the flesh). "The glory" is the wisdom, strength, riches, learning, honor, beauty, art, virtue, and righteousness of the NATURAL man (expressed by "flesh"), which all are transitory (Joh 3:6), not OF MAN (as English Version reads) absolutely, for the glory of man, in his true ideal realized in the believer, is eternal.
withereth—Greek, aorist: literally, "withered," that is, is withered as a thing of the past. So also the Greek for "falleth" is "fell away," that is, is fallen away: it no sooner is than it is gone.
thereof—omitted in the best manuscripts and versions. "The grass" is the flesh: "the flower" its glory.
But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.
25. (Ps 119:89.)
this is the word … preached unto you—That is eternal which is born of incorruptible seed (1Pe 1:24): but ye have received the incorruptible seed, the word (1Pe 1:25); therefore ye are born for eternity, and so are bound now to live for eternity (1Pe 1:22, 23). Ye have not far to look for the word; it is among you, even the joyful Gospel message which we preach. Doubt not that the Gospel preached to you by our brother Paul, and which ye have embraced, is the eternal truth. Thus the oneness of Paul's and Peter's creed appears. See my Introduction, showing Peter addresses some of the same churches as Paul labored among and wrote to.