2:11,12 Even the best of men, the chosen generation, the people of God, need to be exhorted to keep from the worst sins. And fleshly lusts are most destructive to man's soul. It is a sore judgment to be given up to them. There is a day of visitation coming, wherein God may call to repentance by his word and his grace; then many will glorify God, and the holy lives of his people will have promoted the happy change.
12. conversation—"behavior"; "conduct." There are two things in which "strangers and pilgrims" ought to bear themselves well: (1) the conversation or conduct, as subjects (1Pe 2:13), servants (1Pe 2:18), wives (1Pe 3:1), husbands (1Pe 3:7), all persons under all circumstances (1Pe 2:8); (2) confession of the faith (1Pe 3:15, 16). Each of the two is derived from the will of God. Our conversation should correspond to our Saviour's condition; this is in heaven, so ought that to be.
honest—honorable, becoming, proper (1Pe 3:16). Contrast "vain conversation," 1Pe 1:18. A good walk does not make us pious, but we must first be pious and believe before we attempt to lead a good course. Faith first receives from God, then love gives to our neighbor [Luther].
whereas they speak against you—now (1Pe 2:15), that they may, nevertheless, at some time or other hereafter glorify God. The Greek may be rendered, "Wherein they speak against you … that (herein) they may, by your good works, which on a closer inspection they shall behold, glorify God." The very works "which on more careful consideration, must move the heathen to praise God, are at first the object of hatred and raillery" [Steiger].
evildoers—Because as Christians they could not conform to heathenish customs, they were accused of disobedience to all legal authority; in order to rebut this charge, they are told to submit to every ordinance of man (not sinful in itself).
they shall behold—Greek, "they shall be eye-witnesses of"; "shall behold on close inspection"; as opposed to their "ignorance" (1Pe 2:15) of the true character of Christians and Christianity, by judging on mere hearsay. The same Greek verb occurs in a similar sense in 1Pe 3:2. "Other men narrowly look at (so the Greek implies) the actions of the righteous" [Bengel]. Tertullian contrasts the early Christians and the heathen: these delighted in the bloody gladiatorial spectacles of the amphitheater, whereas a Christian was excommunicated if he went to it at all. No Christian was found in prison for crime, but only for the faith. The heathen excluded slaves from some of their religious services, whereas Christians had some of their presbyters of the class of slaves. Slavery silently and gradually disappeared by the power of the Christian law of love, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." When the pagans deserted their nearest relatives in a plague, Christians ministered to the sick and dying. When the Gentiles left their dead unburied after a battle and cast their wounded into the streets, the disciples hastened to relieve the suffering.
glorify—forming a high estimate of the God whom Christians worship, from the exemplary conduct of Christians themselves. We must do good, not with a view to our own glory, but to the glory of God.
the day of visitation—of God's grace; when God shall visit them in mercy.