1 Peter 2
Matthew Poole's Commentary
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,
1 Peter 2:1-3 The apostle exhorteth the Christian converts to lay

aside all uncharitableness.

1 Peter 2:4-10 He showeth their privileges through Christ, the chief

corner stone.

1 Peter 2:11,12 He beseecheth them to abstain from fleshly lusts, and

by their good conversation to promote God’s glory

among the Gentiles.

1 Peter 2:13-17 He enforceth obedience to magistrates,

1 Peter 2:18-25 and teacheth servants to obey their masters, and to suffer

patiently for well-doing, after the example of Christ.

Having in the former chapter mentioned the new birth, 1 Peter 1:23, and exhorted to brotherly love, as agreeable to it, 1 Peter 1:22, he begins this chapter with a dehortation, wherein he dissuades them from those vices which are contrary to the state of regenerate men in the general, and brotherly love in particular.

Laying aside; or, put off; a metaphor from an old over worn garment, fit only to be thrown away: see Ephesians 4:22 Colossians 3:8,9 Jas 1:21.

All malice; malignity, when men do evil to others voluntarily and industriously, or delight in other men’s harms: see Romans 1:29 Ephesians 4:31.

All guile: all fraudulence and impostures, and circumventing of others in any kind.

Hypocrisies; all flattering, and counterfeiting friendship, and showing love in words and outward carriage, when the heart is otherwise affected. Christ calls them hypocrites that flattered him, Matthew 22:16,18.

Envies; grieving at other men’s welfare.

All evil speakings; all kind of detraction.

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:
Pursuant to his discourse, 1 Peter 1:23, where he speaks of their new birth, he here calls them new-born babes; but that not in opposition to those that are adult, or of fall age, as Hebrews 5:14 1 Corinthians 3:1, but in opposition to their former corrupt and unregenerate state, in which they were destitute of all spiritual life; and so this agrees, not only to young converts, but generally to all regenerate persons.

Desire; being new-born babes, act as such in earnestly desiring and longing for that spiritual nourishment, which is so needlul for you, even as children, as soon as they come into the world, are lingering after the breast.

The sincere milk of the word: the Greek may be rendered (and is by some) reasonable milk, viz. such as is for the soul, not for the body; that whereby the mind is nourished and strengthened; or, wordy milk, the substantive from which it is derived properly and first signifying word, or speech, and being used for the word of God, Hebrews 4:12. But this not being proper English, our translation renders it best, the milk of the word, i.e. the word which is milk. The apostle useth an adjective for a substantive, but that adjective doth not signify the quality of the subject, milk, as the other, sincere, doth, but the subject of itself. The like phrase we have, 1 Peter 3:7; Greek, female, or wifeish, weaker vessel, which we turn by the substantive, wife, who is said there to be the weaker vessel. So that the doctrine of the gospel is here to be understood, as Isaiah 55:1, and believers are to be nourished by the same word, as their food, by which, as the seed, they are said to be begotten, 1 Peter 1:23. This milk of the word is said to be sincere, i.e. pure, without mixture or adulteration, not blended, or diluted, (as vintners do by their wine, to whose practice Paul alludes, when he speaks of men’s corrupting the word, 2 Corinthians 2:17 4:2), with human fictions or traditions. Infants love the sweetness of their mothers’ milk, and desire it pure, as it is: believers should desire the word pure, as it is in itself, not mixed with any thing that may lessen its sweetness and hinder its efficacy.

That ye may grow thereby; that by the word, as your spiritual nourishment, ye may grow more in spiritual life and strength, till ye come to be perfect men, Ephesians 4:13.

If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
If so be; this doth not imply a doubting, but a supposition, as was before observed, 1 Peter 1:17.

Ye have tasted; not lightly tasted by a bare ineffectual knowledge, as Hebrews 6:4; but experienced and perceived by the taste of your spiritual palate; your spiritual sense, and ability to judge of spiritual things, being restored to you, with your new birth. He refers to Psalm 34:8, and possibly to Isaiah 66:11.

The Lord; the Lord Jesus Christ, as appears by the next verse.

Is gracious; good, kind, or rather, sweet: the same word is applied to wine, Luke 5:39. The sense of the whole is: If ye have by faith received the gospel as glad tidings, and worthy of all acceptation, 1 Timothy 1:15, and therein perceived and experienced the sweetness of those consolations which are in Christ Jesus, Philippians 2:1; or, which is the same, how sweet he is, who, in the preaching of the gospel, exhibits himself to your spiritual senses, to be fed upon and tasted by you.

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
To whom; to which Christ.

Coming; by faith: q.d. In whom believing, John 6:35,44,45. The word is in the present tense, the apostle describing here not their first conversion to Christ, but their present state, that they, being in Christ, were daily coming to him in the continued exercise of their faith.

As unto a living; not, only having life in himself, but enlivening those that by faith adhere to him.

Stone; viz. a corner-stone, as 1 Peter 2:6. Being about to set forth the church as a spiritual building, he first mentions Christ as the foundation, and corner-stone.

Disallowed indeed of men; rejected, not only by the unbelieving Jews and their rulers formerly, but still by the unbelieving world.

But chosen of God; either chosen to be the foundation of the building, and then it is the same as foreordained, 1 Peter 1:20; or chosen is the same as choice, excellent.

And precious: a different expression of the same thing. Here seems to be an allusion to those stones which men count precious, and have in great esteem; and Christ’s being precious in the sight of God, is set in opposition to his being disallowed of men, to intimate, that their unbelief, and rejecting Christ, doth not make him less valuable in himself, when his Father so much honours him.

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.
As lively; viz. as being enlivened by Christ. The word here translated lively, and living in the former verse, is the same; but being there spoken of Christ, it is to be understood actively, and here being applied to believers, who receive their spiritual life from Christ, it must be taken passively.

Stones; each particular believer is here called a stone, as all together a house or temple, 2 Corinthians 6:16 Ephesians 2:21, and in respect of their union among themselves, and with their foundation; though elsewhere, in respect of God’s inhabitation, even particular believers are called his temple, 1 Corinthians 3:16,17 6:19.

Are built up; viz. upon Christ the principal Corner-stone, Ephesians 2:20. This may be understood, either:

1. Imperatively. q.d. Be ye built up; and then it is an exhortation, and relates not only to their continuing in Christ, but their being further built up on him by faith, and is of the same import as 1 Peter 2:2, that ye may grow: or rather:

2. Indicatively; the apostle as yet being engaged in showing the dignity and privileges of believers, and not entering upon his exhortation till 1 Peter 2:11. The words being in the present tense, implies the building to be still but going on, and not yet finished.

A spiritual house; in distinction from the material one, relating to those scriptures where the tabernacle or temple is called God’s house, Exodus 23:19 34:26 Deu 23:18. The material house built of dead stones, was but a type of the spiritual house made up of lively stones, and built upon Christ the living Stone; and this he brings (the truth being always more excellent than the type) to heighten the privileges of the gospel church.

An holy priesthood; either the abstract is put for the concrete, an holy priesthood for holy priests; or it may note the whole college or society of evangelical priests, consisting of all particular saints, to whom, in the New Testament, this title is given, but never appropriated to gospel ministers: Christ being a Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec, had no partner with him in his priesthood, but was himself only to offer a propitiatory sacrifice to God for sin.

To offer up spiritual sacrifices; the immediate end of gospel priests, to offer, not bodily, but spiritual sacrifices; in general themselves, whom they are to consecrate to God, Romans 12:1; particularly prayer, thanksgivings, alms, and other duties of religion, Philippians 4:18 Hebrews 13:15,16.

Acceptable to God by Jesus Christ: by, and through whom alone, as the persons, so the performances, of believers (though in themselves imperfect) are pleasing to God, Christ presenting them to his Father by his intercession, and covering their defects by his own most perfect righteousness, Some refer this clause, by Jesus Christ, to the foregoing verb, to offer up; and then the words run thus, to offer up spiritual sacrifices by Jesus Christ, acceptable to God; but the former seems most proper, and includes this latter: we are therefore to offer up spiritual sacrifices to God by Christ, because they are acceptable only by him, Hebrews 13:21, compared with Hebrews 13:15,16.

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.
Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture: the Greek word being of an active form, makes great difference among expositors about these words; not to trouble the reader with variety, the plainest way of understanding them seems to be, either:

1. That God be understood here, and supplied out of the former verse: Wherefore God contains it in the Scripture: or:

2. That the word, though of an active termination, be yet taken in a passive signification, contains, for is contained; so our translators do, and this way of speaking is not unusual with other writers.

Behold, I; I the Lord, not man, Psalm 118:23.

Lay in Sion; viz. by the preaching of the gospel, wherein Christ was declared to be the only foundation of the church, and whereby faith was wrought in the hearts of men, who were thereby actually built on Christ, as their foundation, and so the spiritual house, 1 Peter 2:5, erected.

Sion; either by synecdoche, Jerusalem, (whereof Sion was a part), where by the preaching of Christ first, and the apostles after his ascension, and sending the Spirit, this foundation stone was first laid, and God’s temple begun to be built, Psalm 110:2 Isaiah 2:3 Micah 4:2 Luke 24:47. Or rather, Sion here is to be understood of the gospel church, whereof Sion was a type.

A chief corner-stone; or, Head of the corner, Psalm 118:22; that which both supports the building, and unites the parts; Christ being the foundation not of a part only, but of the whole church; all the parts of which, Gentile, as well as Jew, are jointly built on him, and upheld by him, Ephesians 2:20.

Elect, precious: see 1 Peter 2:5.

And he that believeth on him shall not be confounded; shall not be disappointed of his expected salvation, and so shall have no cause to be ashamed of his hope. This is according to the LXX., the Hebrew hath it, shall not make haste, i.e. he that believes in Christ shall not through haste, or distrust, or unwillingness to wait God’s time and way, seek after any other way of salvation than by Christ; and so (as before) not being disappointed, shall have no cause to be ashamed; whereas they that do not believe, but make haste, coming short of their expectation, are at last filled with confusion. {See Isaiah 28:16 Romans 9:33}

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,
Precious; the margin reads it, according to the Greek, an honour; either the abstract is put for the concrete, an honour, for honourable, or precious, ( as the text hath it), and then the sense is plain, that Christ, as he is precious in himself, and to his Father, so he is to them that believe. Or, honour may be put for the cause of honour, and when it is opposed to shame and confusion before mentioned, and the sense is: Ye that believe, shall be so far from being ashamed, or having your faith frustrated, that ye shall be honoured, and saved by Christ. And this agrees well with what follows in this and 1 Peter 2:8.

Disobedient; unbelievers, who were disobedient to the great command of the gospel concerning faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The builders; the high priests, scribes, Pharisees, and rulers of the Jews, whose duty it was to build up the church, as having not only the name, but the power then residing in them.

Disallowed; rejected him, and would not acknowledge him for the promised Messiah, and the great foundation upon which the church of God was to be built.

The same is made the head of the corner:

Question. How is Christ to be made the Head of the corner to them that reject him?

Answer. Either:

1. Something is here to be understood, viz. this is said, or spoken, which follows, the stone which the builders, &c.: q.d. They despised him, but God hath honoured him; they would allow him no place in the building, but God hath given him the best, made him the Head-stone of the corner. Or:

2. Christ may be said to be made to the disobedient, in spite of their rejecting and opposing him, the Head of the corner; i.e. a King and a Judge to restrain and curb them in, seeing they would not be ruled by him.

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.
And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; i.e. a stone at which they stumble, a rock at which they are offended; and so it implies Christ not to be the cause of their stumbling, but the object of it; they of their own accord, and through the pravity of their nature, without any just occasion given by him, being offended, either because cause they find not that in him which they expected, viz. outward encouragements; or find that in him which they do not like, the holiness of his law, and purity of his doctrine, contrary to their corruptions and lusts, and especially his requiring of them faith in him for the justification of their persons, which was so contrary to the pride of their hearts, and which was one great reason of the Jews stumbling at him, as seeking to establish their own righteousness, and therefore not submitting to the righteousness of God, Romans 9:32,33, compared with Romans 10:3. This stumbling includes not only their falling into sin, but into destruction too, the punishment of sin, Isaiah 8:14,15; whereof Christ can be no more than the inculpable occasion, but their own unbelief the proper cause.

Which stumble at the word, being disobedient; these words may have a double reading: one according to our translation; and then the sense is, that stumble at the word of the gospel, i.e. are disobedient to it, in rejecting Christ therein offered to them: or, that stumble, being disobedient to the word; i.e. stumble at Christ preached to them in the word, and therefore will not obey it; they show that they are offended at Christ, by their not receiving his doctrine, nor accepting his offers.

Whereunto also they were appointed; either this may refer:

1. To 1 Peter 2:6, where Christ is said to be laid (the same word in the (greek with that which is here translated by appointed) in Sion, as a chief corner-stone, elect and precious, on whom whosoever believeth, shall not be confounded. The apostle then adds, that even these unbelievers were appointed (viz. in their external vocation, as being taken into covenant with God) to be built on Christ by faith but they stumbled, by their unbelief, at the word of the gospel, and consequently at this stumbling-stone. And then it is a high aggravating the unbelief of the Jews, that they, being God’s peculiar people, should reject that salvation which was sent to them, and to the first offer of which they were designed, Acts 13:26,46,47. Or:

2. To the words immediately going before, which stumble at the word, being disobedient; and then the sense is, (speaking concerning the reprobate Jews), that God appointed them to this stumbling, in his decreeing not to give them faith in Christ, but to leave them to their unbelief, and to punish them justly for it: see Romans 9:17 1 Thessalonians 5:9 Judges 1:4. The scope of the apostle in this whole verse seems to be, to keep weak Christians from being offended at the multitude of unbelievers, and especially at their seeing Christ rejected by the Jewish rulers and doctors; and this he doth by pointing them to the Scripture, where all this was long since foretold, and therefore not to be wondered at now, nor be any occasion of offence to them: see the like, John 16:1,4.

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:
But ye; ye believers, in opposition to those reprobates that are disobedient to the word. He shows that those dignities and privileges, which were mentioned by Moses as belonging to their forefathers, did much more belong to them; and that they had the real exhibition in Christ, of those good things whereof their fathers had but a taste, and which the rest of the Jews had lost by their unbelief.

Are a chosen generation; a people chosen of God, not only out of the world, but from among the rest of your own nation, and not only to an external adoption, and outward privileges, (as the whole body of the nation was), but to eternal salvation.

A royal priesthood; or, kingdom of priests. He called them an holy priesthood, 1 Peter 2:5, now he calls them a royal priesthood, to show that they were made not only spiritual priests, but spiritual kings; which privilege they had not as Jews, but as believers, who are all of them as priests in respect of God, to whom they are consecrated, and to whom they offer up spiritual sacrifices; so kings in respect both of their enemies, over whom they are victorious, and of the kingdom they are hereafter to inherit.

An holy nation; Moses calls your fathers an holy people, Deu 7:6, in respect of their separation from the impurities of the Gentiles, their dedication to God, and the many laws God gave them, obliging them to external and ceremonial purity, whereby they were admonished of internal and real holiness; but ye are a holy nation in respect of that true and inward holiness itself, whereof that ceremonial holiness was but a signification. He seems particularly to allude to Isaiah 62:12.

A peculiar people: Exodus 19:5, it is a peculiar treasure; so the same word is rendered, a special people, Deu 7:6, and, a peculiar people, Deu 14:2; the word used by the LXX. implying as much; but Malachi 3:17, where we render it jewels, the LXX. use the same word which Peter doth here, which is as much as, a people of acquisition, or which God hath acquired to himself for his peculiar possession or treasure. God had rescued the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage, and taken them to be his peculiar people above all others, and claimed a right to them, and counted them precious, as having redeemed them with a strong hand, and got possession of them at the expense of so much power, and so many miracles. This deliverance of theirs was the type of Christ’s delivering the church from the tyranny of Satan, the spiritual Pharaoh, and the world, the spiritual Egypt, and a state of sin, the worst bondage; upon the account whereof God’s people are called a peculiar people, or a people thus acquired, Titus 2:14, and a purchased possession, Ephesians 1:14, where the same word is likewise used. That ye should show forth, &c.: this notes the end of all these privileges vonchsafed them, viz. that they should glorify God in the enjoyment of them. He seems to refer to Isaiah 43:7,21: This people have I formed for myself, ( or acquired, as the LXX. hath it), they shall show forth my praise.

Show forth; publish and declare, both in words and deeds, that others may be excited to glorify, God in the like manner. The praises of him; or virtues, that wisdom, power, goodness, righteousness, truth &c., which God hath manifested in his vouchsafements to you, and in the acknowledgment of which he may be glorified.

Who hath called you; by an effectual calling, according to his purpose, Romans 8:28.

Out of darkness; the darkness of ignorance, unbelief, sin, and misery. The time before the publication of the gospel, was a time of darkness, Matthew 9:16 Luke 1:79.

Into his marvellous light; the light of knowledge, faith, holiness, comfort: see Ephesians 5:8. It is called marvellous, because men see what they never saw before, wonderful things out of God’s law, Psalm 119:18; and because it is a marvellous thing, that they who sat in so gross darkness should be translated into so glorious a 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.
Which in time past were not a people; either, were not a people, i.e. a formed state, or commonwealth, being dispersed in several countries, among other people, and not worth the name of a people: or, were not the people of God, (supplying God out of the opposite clause), since he had given them a bill of divorce, and said Lo-ammi and Lo-ruhamah to them, Hosea 1:1-11. These were the Jews of the dispersion, and such as had not returned out of the Babylonish captivity, together with many of other tribes mixed with them, who, before their conversion to Christ, seemed cut off from the body of that people, had no solemn worship of God among them, and were tainted with the corruptions of the heathen, with whom they conversed.

But are now the people of God; really God’s people, restored to their old covenant state and church privileges, by their believing in Christ.

Which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy; the mercy of being God’s people, and enjoying their privileges, being justified, at peace with God, &c. Lest they might any way abuse what he had said in the former verse concerning their great dignity and privileges, so as to ascribe any thing to themselves, the apostle intimates here, that all they enjoyed was merely out of God’s mercy.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Strangers and pilgrims; not only strangers in the several countries where ye inhabit, (being out of your own land), but strangers in the world, as all believers are, 1 Chronicles 29:15 Psalm 39:12 Psalm 119:19 Hebrews 11:13,14.

Abstain from fleshly lusts; not only sensual desires, but all the works of the flesh, Galatians 5:19-21, the carnal mind itself being enmity against God, Romans 8:7.

Which war; as enemies, oppose and fight against, Romans 7:23 Jam 4:1.

Against the soul; the inner man, or regenerate part, or Spirit, which is opposed to fleshly lusts: see Galatians 5:17.

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.
Having your conversation honest; irreprehensible, fruitful, such as may gain men’s love, and commend the religion you profess.

Among the Gentiles; who, by reason of their differing from your religion, are the more likely to observe you. This proves this Epistle to be written to the Jews.

They may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God; not only think more favourably of you, but of your religion; acknowledge the grace of God in you, and more readily subject themselves to him, (the best way of glorifying him), it being usual with God to make way for the conversion of sinners by the holy conversation of saints.

In the day of visitation; viz. a gracious visitation, when God calls them by the gospel to the knowledge of Christ, Luke 1:68,78 7:16 Luke 19:44.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
Every ordinance; of all kinds, whether supreme or subordinate.

Ordinance of man; Greek, human creatures, which may be understood either, as Mark 16:15, every human creature for every man, only restraining it to the present subject whereof he treats, viz. magistrates, and the sense is, to every magistrate: or rather, (though to the same effect), to every human ordinance; or, as we translate it,

ordinance of man; the word creature being taken for an ordinance, or constitution, and creating for ordaining, or appointing: so CEcumenius will have the word to signify, Ephesians 2:15, to make of twain one new man. But this creature, or ordinance, here is to be understood of the magistrate; (as appears by the following words), which is called human, not as if magistracy were not an ordinance of God, {for, Romans 13:1, the powers that are are said to be ordained of God} but either because it is only among men, and proper to them; or because it is of man secondarily and instrumentally, though of God primarily and originally, God making use of the ministry of men in bringing them into the magistracy; as, though church offices are God’s ordinance, yet he makes use of men to put them into office.

For the Lord’s sake; for God’s sake, who commands this obedience; and gave them the authority, and is represented by them, and honoured by that obedience which is yielded to them in all things agreeable to his will. The phrase seems to be of the same import with that of being obedient in the Lord, Ephesians 6:1.

To the king; to Caesar, the then supreme magistrate, under whose jurisdiction the Jewish Christians were; and this being a general command extending to all Christians, it follows, that obedience is due from them to those chief magistrates whose subjects respectively they are.

As supreme; not only above the people, but above other magistrates.

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.
Or unto governors; he seems immediately to intend the governors of provinces under the Roman emperors, such as Pilate, Felix, Festus were in Judea, Sergius Paulus in Cyprus, Acts 13:7; and other places; see Luke 3:1; but so as to imply, under the name of governors, all inferior magistrates, as under the name of king he doth all supreme.

As unto them that are sent by him; either:

1. By the king, or supreme magistrate, and then the next words show what should be his end in sending, or appointing officers, or subordinate rulers under him: or rather:

2. Sent by God, from whom all rulers, subordinate as well as supreme, have their authority, and which is the great motive on which they are to be obeyed; and then the following words show what is God’s end in appointing them, and another reason for yielding obedience to them, viz. their being set up for the common good of the societies which they rule.

For the praise of them that do well: praise is a kind of reward, and is here to be taken by a synecdoche for all sorts of rewards given to those that do well, and are obedient to the laws: see Romans 13:3,4.

For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
For so is the will of God; his command.

That with well-doing; all manner of offices of humanity, whereof obedience to magistrates is a principal one.

Ye may put to silence; Greek, muzzle, stop the mouths, Titus 1:11; viz. by taking away all occasion of evil-speaking.

The ignorance; either their ignorance of the state and conversation of believers, which may be the occasion of their speaking evil of them; or their ignorance of God and his ways, to which Christ imputes the fury of persecutors, John 16:3. They that know not God themselves, are most ready to reproach and slander those that do.

Of foolish men; true wisdom consisting in the knowledge of God, they that are destitute of that knowledge, as unbelievers are, are called foolish.

As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
As free; he prevents an objection; they might pretend they were a free people, as Jews, and therefore were not to obey strangers, Deu 17:15 John 8:33; and made free by Christ. He answers: That they were free indeed, but it was from sin, and not from righteousness, not from obedience to God’s law, which requires subjection to magistrates, for they were still the servants of God.

And not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness; not using your liberty to cover or palliate your wickedness, excusing yourselves from obedience to your superiors by a pretence of Christian liberty, when, though ye be free from sin, yet ye are not from duty.

But as the servants of God; and so still bound to obey him, and your rulers in him.

Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
Honour all men; viz. according as honour is due to them, according to their dignity, power, gifts, &c.: see Romans 12:10 Romans 13:7 Philippians 2:3.

Love the brotherhood; though all may challenge suitable respects, yet there is a more special affection owing to believers, 1 Peter 1:22 Galatians 6:10.

Fear God; with a filial fear or reverence. This command is interposed, either to show what is the true spring and fountain from which all the duties we perform to men are to proceed, viz. the fear of God, because where that doth not prevail no duty to men can be rightly performed; (they love the brotherhood best, and honour the king most, that truly fear God); or to show the due bounds of all the offices we perform to men, that nothing is to be done for them which is inconsistent with the fear of God. Honour the king; with that honour which is peculiarly due to him above all others.

Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
Servants; the word is not the same which Paul useth, Colossians 3:22, but may well comprehend the servants he speaks of, as implying not only slaves, but those that were made free, yet continued still in the family; and so signifies servants of whatsoever condition.

Be subject to your masters with all fear; not only reverence of masters, and fear of offending them, is to be understood, but fear of God, as appears by the parallel place, Colossians 3:22: see Ephesians 6:5-7.

Not only to the good and gentle; by good he means not gracious or holy, but, as the next word explains it, gentle, just, equal.

But also to the froward; morose, crabbed, unjust, unmerciful.

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For this is thank-worthy; in the Greek the substantive is put for the adjective: the sense is either, this is acceptable to God, and will be graciously rewarded by him; or, this is praise-worthy, and will be your glory, as 1 Peter 2:20.

For conscience toward God; out of respect to God, and a desire of pleasing him.

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 what glory is it? What praise or glory do you get by it? Or, what great matter do you do? This interrogation hath the force of negation, but is to be understood comparatively; it is worthy of praise to suffer patiently, even when men suffer justly, but worthy of little in comparison of suffering patiently when unjustly.

This is acceptable with God: this shows what is meant by thank-worthy, 1 Peter 2:19; and the apostle adds what kind of thanks or praise he intends, viz. not that which is of man, (which many times may fail, even when men patiently suffer injuries), but that which is of God, to which believers should especially have respect.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
For even hereunto; viz. to patient bearing of sufferings even for well-doing.

Were ye called; viz. to Christ and the fellowship of his kingdom; q.d. Your very calling and profession, as Christians, requires this of you.

Also; there is an emphasis in this particle, it is as much as if he had said: Even Christ our Lord and Head hath suffered for us, and therefore we that are but his servants and members must not think to escape sufferings.

For us; or, as in the margin, for you, which agrees with the beginning and end of the verse, where the second person is used; but most read it as we do, in the first person, and the sense is still the same; only the apostle from a general proposition draws a particular exhortation: Christ suffered for us, (therein he comprehends the saints to whom he writes), and left an example for us all; do ye therefore to whom, as well as to others, he left this example, follow his steps, John 13:15 1Jo 2:6.

Leaving us an example, as of other graces, so especially of patience.

Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
i.e. There was no guile in his mouth; it is a Hebraism; to be found is the same as to be, and not to be found the same as not to be, Genesis 2:20 Isaiah 39:2: see Romans 7:10. This signifies Christ’s absolute perfection, in that he did not offend so much as with his mouth, Jam 3:2. The sense is, Christ was free from all manner of sin, and yet he suffered patiently; and therefore well may ye be content to suffer too, though wrongfully; seeing, though ye may be innocent in your sufferings, yet you come so far short of Christ’s perfection.

Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
By Christ’s being reviled, we are to understand all those injurious words, reproaches, slanders, blasphemies, which his persecutors cast out against him.

Reviled not again; therefore when he told the Jews they were of their father the devil, John 8:44, that was not a reviling them, but a just accusation of them, or reproof of their devilish behaviour.

When he suffered; when he was affected not only with verbal but real injuries, buffeted, spit upon, crowned with thorns, crucified.

He threatened not; he was so far from avenging himself, or recompensing evil for evil, that he did not so much as threaten what he would afterward do to them.

But committed himself; or his cause; neither is in the Greek, but either may be well supplied, and to the same purpose: the sense is, Christ did not retaliate, nor act any thing out of private revenge, but so referred himself, and the judgment of his cause, to his Father’s good pleasure, as rather to desire pardon for his persecutors, than vengeance on them, Luke 23:34.

To him that judgeth righteously: the apostle adds this of God’s judging righteously, for the comfort of servants to whom he speaks, as Ephesians 6:8,9 Col 3:24 4:1, and for the terror of masters, that the former might learn patience, and the latter moderation.

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.
Who his own self; not by offering any other sacrifice, (as the Levitical priests did), but by that of himself.

Bare our sins; or, took up, or lifted up, in allusion to the sacrifices of the Old Testament, the same word being used of them, Hebrews 7:27 Jam 2:21. As the sins of the offerer were typically laid upon the sacrifice, which, being substituted in his place, was likewise slain in his stead; so Christ standing in our room, took upon him the guilt of our sins, and bare their punishment, Isaiah 53:4, &c. The Lord laid on him our iniquities, and he willingly took them up; and by bearing their curse, took away our guilt. Or, it may have respect to the cross, on which Christ being lifted up, {John 3:14,15 Joh 12:32} took up our sins with him, and expiated their guilt by undergoing that death which was due to us for them.

In his own body; this doth not exclude his soul but is rather to be understood, by a synecdoche, of his whole human nature, and we have the sufferings of his soul mentioned, Isaiah 53:10,12Jo 12:27; but mention is made of his body, because the sufferings of that were most visible.

On the tree; on the cross.

That we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; another end of Christ’s death, the mortification of sin, and our being freed from the dominion of it, Romans 6:2,6, and being reformed to a life of holiness.

By whose stripes ye were healed; viz. of the wound made in your souls by sin: this seems to relate to the blows that servants might receive of cruel masters, against which the apostle comforts them, and to the patient bearing of which he exhorts them, because Christ by bearing stripes, (a servile punishment), under which may be comprehended all the sufferings of his death, had healed them of much worse wounds, and spiritual diseases, the guilt of their consciences, and the defilement of their souls.

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

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

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

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

Matthew Poole's Commentary

Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

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