2:18-25 Servants in those days generally were slaves, and had heathen masters, who often used them cruelly; yet the apostle directs them to be subject to the masters placed over them by Providence, with a fear to dishonour or offend God. And not only to those pleased with reasonable service, but to the severe, and those angry without cause. The sinful misconduct of one relation, does not justify sinful behaviour in the other; the servant is bound to do his duty, though the master may be sinfully froward and perverse. But masters should be meek and gentle to their servants and inferiors. What glory or distinction could it be, for professed Christians to be patient when corrected for their faults? But if when they behaved well they were ill treated by proud and passionate heathen masters, yet bore it without peevish complaints, or purposes of revenge, and persevered in their duty, this would be acceptable to God as a distinguishing effect of his grace, and would be rewarded by him. Christ's death was designed not only for an example of patience under sufferings, but he bore our sins; he bore the punishment of them, and thereby satisfied Divine justice. Hereby he takes them away from us. The fruits of Christ's sufferings are the death of sin, and a new holy life of righteousness; for both which we have an example, and powerful motives, and ability to perform also, from the death and resurrection of Christ. And our justification; Christ was bruised and crucified as a sacrifice for our sins, and by his stripes the diseases of our souls are cured. Here is man's sin; he goes astray; it is his own act. His misery; he goes astray from the pasture, from the Shepherd, and from the flock, and so exposes himself to dangers without number. Here is the recovery by conversion; they are now returned as the effect of Divine grace. This return is, from all their errors and wanderings, to Christ. Sinners, before their conversion, are always going astray; their life is a continued error.
21. Christ's example a proof that patient endurance under undeserved sufferings is acceptable with God.
hereunto—to the patient endurance of unmerited suffering (1Pe 3:9). Christ is an example to servants, even as He was once in "the form of a servant."
called—with a heavenly calling, though slaves.
for us—His dying for us is the highest exemplification of "doing well" (1Pe 2:20). Ye must patiently suffer, being innocent, as Christ also innocently suffered (not for Himself, but for us). The oldest manuscripts for "us … us," read, "you … for you." Christ's sufferings, while they are for an example, were also primarily sufferings "for us," a consideration which imposes an everlasting obligation on us to please Him.
leaving—behind: so the Greek: on His departure to the Father, to His glory.
an example—Greek, "a copy," literally, "a writing copy" set by masters for their pupils. Christ's precepts and sermons were the transcript of His life. Peter graphically sets before servants those features especially suited to their case.
follow—close upon: so the Greek.
his steps—footsteps, namely, of His patience combined with innocence.