1:17-25 Holy confidence in God as a Father, and awful fear of him as a Judge, agree together; and to regard God always as a Judge, makes him dear to us as a Father. If believers do evil, God will visit them with corrections. Then, let Christians not doubt God's faithfulness to his promises, nor give way to enslaving dread of his wrath, but let them reverence his holiness. The fearless professor is defenceless, and Satan takes him captive at his will; the desponding professor has no heart to avail himself of his advantages, and is easily brought to surrender. The price paid for man's redemption was the precious blood of Christ. Not only openly wicked, but unprofitable conversation is highly dangerous, though it may plead custom. It is folly to resolve, I will live and die in such a way, because my forefathers did so. God had purposes of special favour toward his people, long before he made manifest such grace unto them. But the clearness of light, the supports of faith, the power of ordinances, are all much greater since Christ came upon earth, than they were before. The comfort is, that being by faith made one with Christ, his present glory is an assurance that where he is we shall be also, Joh 14:3. The soul must be purified, before it can give up its own desires and indulgences. And the word of God planted in the heart by the Holy Ghost, is a means of spiritual life, stirring up to our duty, working a total change in the dispositions and affections of the soul, till it brings to eternal life. In contrast with the excellence of the renewed spiritual man, as born again, observe the vanity of the natural man. In his life, and in his fall, he is like grass, the flower of grass, which soon withers and dies away. We should hear, and thus receive and love, the holy, living word, and rather hazard all than lose it; and we must banish all other things from the place due to it. We should lodge it in our hearts as our only treasures here, and the certain pledge of the treasure of glory laid up for believers in heaven.
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].