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Bible Commentaries

Contending for the Faith

1 Peter 2

Introduction

We begin this second chapter with a discussion of the people of God, their blessings and their privileges, their titles and their honors. The figures of speech and the metaphors are many in this chapter, a fact that will become evident as we go along.

The keynote verse for this chapter is 1 Peter 1:23 when he said: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

This passage assures us that we have a new life in Christ and that we have been redeemed. Peter actually is answering the question, "Who are the people of God?" His answer is that the people of God are those who have been born again of incorruptible seed. This process culminates in one’s heeding the calling of the gospel and completing his obedience in baptism. Peter makes this same point in Acts 2:41 when he says, "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added about three thousand souls."

We do well to remember who the "them" were. This group is the remnant of Israel about which Paul speaks in Romans, and from these came the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 1

Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, all evil speakings,

Wherefore laying aside all malice: The "wherefore" introduces the thought that since we have new life in Christ, since we have been born again, then we are to lay aside certain things. This expression "lay aside" is a once-for-all-time action. Peter says to lay it aside and be done with it. God evidently expects those who have been born again to make a break with the past. Once we recognize wrong feelings and attitudes, we are to eliminate them from our lives.

"Malice" is wickedness that embraces badness in quality; evil (Vine, Vol. 3, 32). Christians are to lay aside every disposition to injure anyone else.

and all guile: The word "guile" suggests, a snare, deceit (Vine, Vol. 11 185). Those born anew are not to be crafty, sly, or underhanded; but rather they are to possess the characteristics of sincerity, fairness and above-board living.

and hypocrisies: "Hypocrisy" is literally "one answering to another" (Vine, Vol. 11 242), referring to someone who is not that person in actuality but is answering for that person. The reference is to a stage actor, speaking out from under a mask. He impersonates or plays a part. So in hypocrisy evil plays the part of good. All such pretension and deception are to be laid aside by the redeemed. They are to be genuine, not pretending to be something or someone they are not.

and envies: "Envies" are feelings of displeasure that rise from within as we hear of the prosperity or advantage of others.

all evil speakings: This word suggests speaking down to another person, slandering, backbiting. Peter says to lay these things aside. "Evil speakings" are slanderous statements about others. Literally such is "speaking down" another. The same Greek word (katalalia) is translated "backbiting" in 11 Corinthians 12:20, the only other passage in which this word is used.

Verse 2

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

As newborn babes: "Babes" (brephe) indicates new or recent; the earliest infancy (Thayer 105-1-1025). So Peter makes reference to those who have only recently obeyed the gospel. Those who are newborn must free themselves of the sins named in verse one as well as partaking of the spiritual nourishment that Peter mentions in this verse.

desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: The newborn ones have an intense hunger. Their desire is emphatic! The Lord gives us a lesson here on how to be hungry. He wants us to have a hunger like a new born babe--an intense, driving desire to know more about the word of God. The suggestion is that until we make a determination to make a clean break with sin in our lives, we are not going to have the desire for the word of God that we ought to have. We will continue to be full of the world and not the word of God. If we fail to make that clean break, we will be like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. He was full on the husks, but he was not satisfied. Husks not only destroy appetite, but they actually pervert taste, causing us to be in danger spiritually. It is only when we eat from God’s word that we can expect the growth that will make us a strong Christian.

The word "sincere" means "guileless or unadulterated" (Thayer 12-2-97). The Greek word for sincere, adolos, is not used in any other place in the New Testament. The word of God is pure and straight-forward, and Christians are to feed upon it.

Verse 3

If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

"If so be" does not indicate doubt but rather a fulfilled condition. The word "taste" means "to perceive the flavor of, partake of, or enjoy" (Thayer 114-1-1089). It is also used in Hebrews 6:5. "Gracious" means that God is "kind, benevolent" (Thayer 671-2-5543). The saints of the Lord had found the Lord to be gracious because their souls had been awakened to His goodness and mercy.

This situation is like watching an infant when he first tastes solid food. There is an amazement that goes across his face because a new sense has been awakened. So it is with Christians who have learned the truth of God, have thrown off the evils mentioned here, and have begun to grow as Christians. They know how wonderful it is to be with the Lord--they know that He is gracious.

Verse 4

To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

In this verse, we have a change in figures.

To whom coming: This coming does not refer to Christians’ first obedience of the gospel, but to their continual coming to Him and to their reliance upon Him as members of His kingdom (Wuest, I Peter 52).

as unto a living stone: Notice the change in figures of speech. We are ever coming unto the Stone of life and energy. The Lord is the raised-never-to-die-again Stone (See Isaiah 28:16). Peter (petros), a fragment, speaks of Christ (lithos) as a tremendous rock shaped and fitted from eternity.

disallowed indeed of men: The figurative language pictures a builder picking up stones, making very quick decisions about which one will go into the building and which will not. The Lord was treated in the same way as he was rejected by the builders, the Jews, as being unworthy of being in the building of God. They tossed Him aside so lightly it was as if one picked up a stone, made a quick decision, and then cast Him aside.

but chosen of God, and precious: Even though Jesus was rejected by men, He was "chosen" (eklektos) by God Himself. He was intrinsically "precious" (timos), that is, "held in honor, prized" (Thayer 218-1-1784).

Verse 5

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.

Ye also, as lively stones: At this point Peter begins a comparison of the temple and the church. Christians are "lively" or living stones in the Lord’s spiritual house. (See also Ephesians 2:20.)

are built up a spiritual house: The spiritual house--a temple, the church--makes up the superstructure. Christians are a temple both individually and collectively (1 Timothy 3:15).

an holy priesthood: The house of God is composed of priests. Individually we are all priests. Under the Old Testament, the spiritual temple was the nation itself with one special group chosen to officiate; under the New Testament all Christians constitute a "priesthood" wherein every worshiper has access to God through Christ (Hebrews 9:11-28). Together, not separately, we constitute a priesthood.

One of the things that seems evident from the apostle is that when he speaks of us as being priests unto God he generally, if not in every case, speaks of us as being in the company of priests. A priesthood is not just a priest by himself. We should never think of ourselves as a priest totally on our own and without all of the others. Together, we constitute a holy priesthood.

In the Old Testament the spiritual temple was the whole nation and they had a group to officiate which was the tribe of Levi. Under the New Testament all christians can engage in the worship and all christians can come before the altar of worship. Together we constitute a company of priest.

to offer up spiritual sacrifices: If we have a spiritual house, we offer up spiritual sacrifices. "Spiritual sacrifices" in a spiritual house contrast vividly with physical sacrifices in a physical house (Hebrews 13:15, Romans 12:1-2).

We can understand then why Paul and I think this will help to understand spiritual sacrifice would say: "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips giving thanks to his name" (Hebrews 13:15).

We should be extremely careful how we stroll into the presence of God and toss off some chatty prayer and act so nonchalant at the house of God. If we really draw that comparison, we would come with a great degree of reservation into the house of God.

acceptable to God by Jesus Christ: Notice that God cannot be approached or propitiated except through Christ (John 14:6). We do indeed have a high priest under this dispensation.

Verse 6

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: Some of these scriptures include Isaiah 28:16; Ezekiel 1:16; 1 Kings 8:1; Romans 9:33.

Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone: The "corner stone" is that which unites and fastens two walls. Christ was sent to unite two very different walls. The Jew and the Gentiles were to be brought together as the one great people of God. This cornerstone would be laid in Zion and, of course, would bring many beautiful pictures to mind. Christ was sent to unite both Jew and Gentile into one great people of God (Ephesians 1:18-22). "Zion" was to be and was indeed the place where the stone was tried and laid (Hebrews 5:8-9). Jerusalem! The great city of God where the Messiah was crucified, where the old law gave way to the new, where Peter and the others were told to tarry, and where on the great day of Pentecost, Peter and the other apostles opened the door of the Faith.

elect: "Elect" (eklektos) literally indicates "picked out, chosen of God." Jesus was fitted and shaped by God Himself to be this cornerstone.

precious: (Entimos) means held in honor, of great value, dear. Not only is He elect but He was also precious. This is the Lord.

and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded: It was important to the apostle Peter, and it is important even today. Though we are not facing persecution as they faced, we have our own particular brand of trials to face. The saints can be calm in soul, calm and unflurried in life. If they are going to manifest Christianity, they must be not confounded: calm and unflurried in soul. They will never be put to shame in trusting Christ.

Verse 7

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,

Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: Christ, the stone, is "precious" to all believers. The preciousness of the foundation becomes a possession of the stones that rest upon it. The scripture wants us to understand that the nature of the foundation and the nature of the superstructure resting upon it should become as one.

but unto them which be disobedient: The word "disobedient" is set against the word "believe." Why does he set disobedient against the word believe rather than against the word obedience? Because faith is more than intellectual assent; faith, or the absence of it, is evidenced in the life.

the stone which the builders disallowed: The Jews rejected Christ as being unworthy. Notice that one cannot reject the building (the church) without rejecting the foundation, (the Christ).

Every generation should know that one cannot reject the church of Jesus Christ and the foundation on which it stands. There are those who go about saying, "Christ is for me" but, at the same time, they are saying no to the church. That is an utter impossibility in the framework of holy scriptures.

the same is made the head of the corner: The fact that the Jews rejected Jesus did not change God’s plan to make Him the Chief Cornerstone. God’s plan was not and will not be thwarted (Psalms 118:22; Matthew 16:18).

Verse 8

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: "Stumbling" literally means "to collide with, to cause hurt or to injure" (Thayer 547-1-4348) Jesus became a stumbling block for the Jews because the salvation He taught was contrary to their ideas about God’s plan. Ruin awaits all those who array themselves against Christ. The little stone (Daniel 2:34; Daniel 2:45) still reduces to nothing those who are disobedient (1 Corinthians 1:21) and who array themselves against Him.

and a rock of offence: The "rock of offence" (skandalon) suggests the utter ruin that overtakes those who choose not to believe. He is either the rock of our salvation or the stone of our breaking; a blessing or an offense (Matthew 16:23). He will be nothing more or nothing less.

even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient:

Disobedience is the natural result of unbelief, and disobedience results in stumbling.

whereunto also they were appointed: In that stumbling is the natural and inevitable result of unbelief, this passage cannot teach disobedience by arbitrary and immutable decree. God did not decree that some would be obedient and that others were going to be disobedient. Their stumbling was neither by elect decree nor was it accidental: they were simply reaping what they had sown. That is the inevitable law of the harvest (Galatians 6:7). One may, in this sense, then elect whether he will believe in Christ or not. One may choose to be among the saved or he may choose to be among the damned (Mark 16:15-16; Romans 6:16-18). The word of God so ordains based on man’s response to its decrees. They stumble at the word God gave; they made the choice and suffer the consequence. They were appointed thus unto disobedience.

Verse 9

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 marvelous light;

But ye are a chosen generation: Vivid contrast is drawn between those who chose the penalty of unbelief and those who chose, through obedience, the way of life in Christ Jesus. They had not been chosen by special election by God. Those who had obeyed were the chosen: they were chosen when they heeded the call of the gospel.

a royal priesthood: The elect (verse 2), the chosen, constitute a royal kingdom of priests who are given the right of officiating in worship (Exodus 19:6).

an holy nation: As children of the King, the chosen ones constitute a dedicated nation.

a peculiar people: The subjects of the dedicated nation are God’s own "peculiar" (peripoyeesis) purchased, acquisitioned people (Deuteronomy 7:6). They, in a unique sense, belong to Him as they could to no other.

that ye should shew forth the praises of him: God’s plan was to redeem to Himself a people, who, willingly choosing to obey, would declare His perfection to the world.

God is very much concerned about being God and someone being His people. Over and over this predominate thought occurs: "I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." God wants a people for Himself, and He has made every provision to effect His plan. Those who show forth His perfection to the world are bringing praise to Him.

who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: The conditions, as well as the transition, aptly describe the states of sin and righteousness. He calls the sinner out of darkness into His marvelous light. The marvelous light of Christianity far exceeds the cloud of glory that guided the Israelites through the wilderness (1 John 1:5; 1 John 1:7; Ephesians 5:8).

Verse 10

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: Although the Jew-Gentile world was the background of these statements (Hosea 2:23), it would appear that "the strangers scattered throughout" (1 Peter 1:1) included all children of God regardless of racial origin. This discussion is about the people of God. Peter is answering the question, who are the people of God? He draws heavily on type and antitype, Israel and the church, and the Jew-Gentile relationship.

but are now the people of God: Those who, before obeying the gospel, were no people now are the people of God though scattered through all the nations. Having partaken of the root and fatness of the olive tree (Romans 11:7) they could now bear fruit to God.

which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy: The former state of the Gentiles, and the unconverted, is described as an "unpitied time" or a time when mercy had not been obtained. Now mercy has been obtained through Christ. From darkness to light, the former objects of wrath, through Christ, became the objects of love and mercy (Romans 11:30-31).

Verse 11

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

Dearly beloved: Those so loved by the Lord are loved by those in the Lord’s family. With these words Peter begins a section of practical admonition on how to live and on how to deal with the unconverted.

I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims: Special people have special expectations placed on them. The Holy Spirit through the apostles gives these instructions. The special people are addressed as "strangers" (paroikos) and "pilgrims" (parepidemo). A stranger is one who lives as a foreigner in a foreign land. A pilgrim is a traveler on a journey, one who remains in a place only for a short time. God’s people are residents, but their real and permanent home is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

abstain from fleshly lusts: Peter told the people of God that while they are on this journey they were to abstain from fleshly lusts. These, he says, will destroy you because they war against the soul. Fleshly lusts are pleasant to the senses but deadly to the soul.

In that the people of God ever move in the midst of a foreign population while representing the Sovereign One, they must abstain or hold back from those things that would destroy them.

which war against the soul: "War" suggests those things that carry on open, active, constant conflict with our souls.

Verse 12

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 among the Gentiles: Notice that instructions are given to those on the pilgrimage, not to those who are the unconverted. Paul is writing the Christian telling the Christian how to function in a world of unconverted. He doesn’t give one word of instruction to the people of the world on how to deal with people on the pilgrimage. He does not address the unconverted.

"Conversation" (anastrophe) refers to behavior. Our behavior is to be honest or beautiful before the unbelievers. We are as obligated to make our lives beautiful to unbelievers as we are to make them pure before God (Matthew 5:16).

that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers: The idea is of "a speaking down to." It is what we would call today as "the great putdown." The unconverted spread bitter lies against the Lord’s people, the Christians, in an attempt to put them down or stigmatize them (1 Peter 2:21). Charges of being politically subversive (Acts 17:6-7), of opposing accepted practices (Acts 19:27), and of abolishing the customs of the people were among those charges leveled against them. Peter then gives valuable instructions on how to deal with false accusations.

they may by your good works: Christians do not return evil for evil. We do not fight fire with fire. Continual obedience to those in authority, and patient continuing in that which is morally right and beautiful is what God expects.

which they shall behold: Pilgrims cannot be ignored! Peter is saying that God’s people, in their Christian living, cannot be ignored. The lives of Christians are under constant, minute scrutiny by people in the world. This constant, continual examination can result in good, even though the unconverted do it with a wrong motive in mind. Those same people may be led to glorify God. Only when His way of life becomes our way of life will others make it their way of life.

glorify God: Herein was the power of the Christ-like life. Patience, fortitude, and the beautiful life made such an impression on many heathen that they were led to embrace Christianity.

in the day of visitation: "Visitation" (episkopes) comes from the same word as bishop or overseer (Acts 20; Acts 28). God oversees His people and looks after their welfare. The day of visitation refers to the day (any day) when God comes in grace. God visits in judgment; he also visits in salvation (Psalms 106:4). It is wonderful to know that these persecuted people know that God watches over them in the day of visitation. Wonderful is the day when a sinner turns to God as the shepherd and overseer of his soul.

Verse 13

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: The word "submit" means to "obey, be subject" to (Thayer, 645-2-5293).

The words "submit yourselves" are the translation of a Greek military term meaning "to arrange in military fashion under the command of a leader." One could translate, "put yourselves in the attitude of submission to." The exhortation is not merely to obey ordinances, but to create and maintain that attitude of heart which will always lead one to obey them. "Ordinances of man" refers to human institutions, such as the laws of the land. Christians are to do this because of their testimony to the Lord Jesus (Wuest, I Peter 60-61).

Christians must obey rulers and rules unless the law of God and man conflict. If and when a conflict occurs, the divine always takes precedence over the human. Peter himself said, "we ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).

Peter’s solution here is "submit" as he continues to develop the theme of the beautiful life the Christian is to live before unbelievers. Peter gives this admonition, even though he knew the civil government sometimes charged Christians falsely about being disobedient. Peter gives instruction on how to refute such charges. He does not tell them to fight, run for office, seek to unseat authorities, get involved, or refuse to obey unjust laws--rather, he says simply to submit.

whether it be to the king, as supreme: Peter here gives divine recognition to civil government. Christians must understand that they live in the kingdoms of men, even though their true citizenship is in heaven. There is an earthly authority called the king, "leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king" (Thayer, 98-1-935). And Christians should recognize that authority. The powers that be (Romans 13:1) included even the infamous Nero of his day.

The word "supreme" is used to distinguish between rulers in higher positions from those in lower places.

Verse 14

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, as unto them that are sent by him: Christians are to submit and obey every ordinance whether it be from the king, or from proconsuls, magistrates, or town clerks; the mandates of the Supreme Court are not the only laws to demand our attention. Delegated authority is authority.

for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well: This is the design of civil government. These authorities "beareth not the sword in vain" (Romans 13:4). If anyone does not believe that, he can get out and drive 80 miles an hour on the freeway. They do not bear the sword in vain! Christians, then, are not to be the active agents in civil powers. Christians are told to put up their sword (Matthew 26:52). The world does not bear the sword in vain, and we as Christians are not to bear the sword at all. In fact the holy nation being discussed in the whole context was to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks and learn war no more (Isaiah 2:1-4).

Verse 15

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: Peter forever sets the record straight about the Christian’s relationship to civil government. What he has taught is God’s will--heaven’s wisdom is that Christians submit. We can have no higher incentive or motive than "so is the will of God."

that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: There has never been an age--and ours is no exception--where Christians have come up against the ignorance of foolish men. These foolish men accuse Christians of not obeying the laws of the land. Peter says to deal with these slanderous accusations by "well doing":--that is, by living right regardless of what others may say.

Verse 16

As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

As free: Having obeyed from the heart, they were free (Romans 16:17-18)--free from the old law, free from fear of death, and free to be the servants of God.

and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness: Living as free people may cause some to regard liberty as license to do what a person wants to (John 8:33). We are free from idolatry and sin, but we are not out of the bounds of the law. We are free, but we are obligated; free, but responsible; free, but bondservants (Romans 1:1). The law of liberty (James 2:12) is indeed the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). But, the law of Christ must never become a veil for wickedness or ungodliness. Thayer comments that "maliciousness" is "wickedness that is not ashamed to break the laws" (320-1-2549). There is no such thing as absolute personal freedom. He who recognizes no restraint is the greatest slave of all.

but as the servants of God: As servants of God, we are free to serve; but we are not free to use our position as a Christian to cover up our sins. Living as freemen, we are bound to the rules of the Christ. The beautiful paradox of Christ!

Verse 17

Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.

Honour all men: In staccato fashion, Peter gives rules of conduct for the servants of God. "Honor all men" requires respect of God and respect for all those made in the image of God, regardless of how marred the image.

Love the brotherhood: The "brotherhood" (adelphotees) denotes a community based on identity or origin of life (1 Peter 5:9). Those of common spiritual parentage, interests, and aims constitute the church, and we are to love each other.

Fear God: Phobeo means fear, and in this case means reverential awe. Let us never get away from the thought that fear means fear. In this case it means a reverential fear of God. The fear of offending God or of causing Him pain because of our sins is the idea (Proverbs 1:7).

Honour the king: The king is honored through both outward respect and obedience to his commands. Please notice that fearing God and honoring the king are not mutually exclusive. Authority is to be respected in so far as it can be done consistently with our duty to God (Acts 4:19).

Verse 18

Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear: Peter begins a section in which he deals with the institution of slavery--an institution that was intact throughout the Empire during the first century. Many were slaves at the time of their conversion to Christ. It is not difficult, then, to understand why many converts would find difficulty in reconciling subjection to masters with newfound liberty in Christ. As they realized their freedom and equality in Christ, there was a grave danger that they would disregard obligations and seek to cast off social relationships. This attitude could be especially true as they came to see slavery as the very opposite of Christianity and yet saw no formal attacks being made it as an institution. The apostles wrote not one word of attack against slavery. Slavery, they learned, was to be tolerated and regulated under the guidelines of Christianity.

Peter gives no slave license to disobey, but he says continue to be in subjection to masters.

not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward: Slaves were at the mercy of their owners, especially if they had heathen masters. But they were to serve and do their duty, even for evil, overbearing masters. Servants were to be subject (hupotasso), "rank under" (same word as "submit yourselves" in verse 13) with all fear (Thayer, 645-2-5293). "All fear" surely includes fear of God and man (Ephesians 6:5). The service of those household slaves was to be the same regardless of the different kinds of masters over them. This teaching comes down to Christians today in that we have employer-employee relationships, and we are to perform our jobs diligently using these same principles. Christians, as good workers, may exert a positive influence, even on an unbelieving employer, if we live an exemplary life before him.

Verse 19

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

For this is thankworthy: "This" refers to the case of servants’ being obedient even to masters who were unreasonable. "Thankworthy" is the translation of a Greek word "referring to an action that is beyond the ordinary course of what might be expected, and is therefore commendably" (Wuest, I Peter 64). By enduring these kinds of hardships, servants would be going beyond what would be expected by the world and would be acceptable to God.

if a man for conscience toward God endure grief: God has established unchangeable principles for living in His word, and those who belong to Him develop a conscience toward being obedient to those principles. They are conscience of God’s approval and consequently are willing to "endure grief" and "suffer wrongfully."

This attitude is one that is not generally found among those of the world.

Slaves of the world resent and rebel against the surly disposition and abusive conduct of their wicked masters; but Christians, in the same relationship, suffer such uncomplainingly because of their consciousness of God;s presence and approval (Woods 77).

When Christians conduct themselves as Peter admonishes here, they are also fulfilling other teachings of Christ and the apostles when they say to return good for evil.

suffering wrongfully: Christians are not only called upon to suffer but even to suffer unjustly without complaint or vindictive response in order to maintain a good reputation among the Gentiles (verse 12). If we suffer with Him, we will be glorified with him (Romans 8:17).

Verse 20

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: The word "glory," found only in this place in the New Testament, indicates rumor, report, or fame that has been earned. In other places where the word "glory" is found, it comes from the Greek word doxa, used in reference to the glory of God; but in this passage, the Greek word is kleos, meaning "fame, praise, glory, good report" (Wuest, I Peter 65).

if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently?: "Buffeted" means "to strike with the fist, give one a blow with the fist" (Thayer 353-1-2852). This is the same word used in reference to Jesus’ being struck repeatedly (Matthew 26:67; Isaiah 52:14). Those who react patiently when they are buffeted for their faults really have nothing to glory about. But those who react patiently after being mistreated for no reason are "acceptable with God."

Patience in this passages literally means "abiding under," and in this case means abiding under great affliction. The affliction may, as indicated by the apostle, be deserved or undeserved. They nonetheless were bearing it.

but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently: True patience is not the dull reluctance of one who cannot avoid punishment: it is patient endurance when one, for the Lord’s sake, endures what is not his; and the one inflicting it may know that it is not (Matthew 5:44).

this is acceptable with God: The Greek word used for "acceptable" is the same as the one used for "thankworthy" in verse 19 (Wuest, I Peter 66). So the word indicates not just ordinary action but action that is beyond what would normally be expected. Going beyond what would be normal human response by being patient when we are "buffeted" causes God to pronounce us "acceptable," and He is the supreme judge of what is acceptable and what is not.

Verse 21

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 were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us: At this point Peter gives a further motive for submitting patiently to whatever our lot in life may be. When an individual obeys the gospel, he adopts a lot in life. We are called by the gospel to do good and suffer with Him (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12) whatever our lot in life may be. Why? Because Christ also suffered for us.

The use of the word "also" creates a close tie between Christians who suffer and the Savior who "also" suffered. He did not expect more of us than He himself was willing to suffer. The bondservant is not greater than his Lord (John 5:30). Christ suffered for us. His sufferings were both expiatory and unjust (Philippians 1:29). The suffering of Christians Peter addresses were simply unjust. And, too, Jesus suffered in a greater way than we are ever going to suffer.

leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Christ left us an "example," meaning "an under-writing" (Vine, Vol. II, 54). The idea for the word came from the practice of a school master’s leaving a tablet or slate for his students to use. At the top of the slate, he has correctly formed the characters, leaving an example for his students to pattern or to copy.

Peter is saying that One has gone before us, and we are to follow in his "steps." "Steps" (ichnos), "a footprint, track, footstep," have been left to guide us (Thayer 309-2-2487). God’s people should never think that no one has ever traveled this road before, whatever their lot in life is. We know the Lord has gone before us because He left his footsteps to guide us. And what a wonderful thing to know that He who has gone before us, awaits us. We will travel no road that He has not.

Verse 22

Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

Who did no sin: No man convicted Jesus of sin because he "did no sin" (Isaiah 53:9; John 8:46).

neither was guile found in his mouth: "Guile," dolos, means "a lure, snare; hence craft, deceit, guile" (Thayer 155-1-1388). Nothing evil or deceitful was found in the Lord’s mouth--He was sinless in every way. The total absence of craftiness or trickery in the Lord stood the test of absolute, relentless scrutiny (Matthew 26:60; John 18:38). Perhaps this teaching is a parting warning to slaves who might be tempted to avoid unjust punishment through deception. As the Master’s life was open to all, so must our lives be open and above-board in every situation.

Verse 23

Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again: "Was reviled" (loidoreo) is "to abuse" (Vine, Vol. III 293), and "reviled" means "to revile back or again" (Vine, Vol. III 294). Our Lord, in taking our place, was reviled. Paul was reviled. In this same manner were the Christians slaves being treated. Peter reminds them that the Lord did not retaliate with railing for railing.

when he suffered, he threatened not: The Lord suffered the most bitter insults that the human mind could conceive, and yet He did not return the same: He did not threaten them.

but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Instead of threatening them, Jesus prayed for His enemies. The word "but" can be translated "yea rather." He committed himself and all those problems to the Judge of all the earth. The Christian slaves are reminded of how to handle their problems. Jesus taught and practiced a timeless principle of non-retaliatory action while He lived on the earth. What an example that set before these early Christian slaves and before us. Our efforts to convince the unconverted will be in vain unless these same principles are found in our lives--in every place and under every circumstance!

Verse 24

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 bare our sins in his own body on the tree: The word "bare" (anaphero) "is used of leading persons up to a higher place (Vine, Vol. I 101).. The idea is of sacrifice, of the bearing of the sacrificial victim by the priest (Isaiah 53:11-12). The Lord not only died in our behalf--His own body became the victim, and the cross was the altar. He was both the priest and the sacrifice! (Hebrews 9:25-28). On the Tree (xulon), that is, literally on a piece of wood, on that fashioned piece of wood, an upright pole or stake, He bore our sins.

that we, being dead to sins: The grand effects of the sacrifice are many, including the fact that we can be freed from sin. "Being dead to sin" literally means "to die, hence to die to anything: i.e. become utterly alienated from our sins" (Thayer 60-1-581). See Romans 6:1-6; Romans 6:17-18.

should live unto righteousness: "Living unto" is set against "dead to." Having been set free through "obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus," we are obligated to be done with a sin-dominated life and to live righteously (Titus 2:10). "Righteousness" is doing righteousness (1 John 3:7; Psalms 119:172).

by whose stripes ye were healed: Isaiah 53 spoke of the "stripes" (molops) that would heal. Those bloody marks, laid across a person so numerous that they appeared as one, should have been ours; by His, though, we are healed. We are not healed of bodily afflictions (2 Corinthians 12:7) but rather of our sins so that salvation may be ours. What sin-wounds must be in souls that it required the death of Christ to heal us.

Verse 25

For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

For ye were as sheep going astray: Although Peter has primarily made reference to slaves, it is again evident, through the titles given to Christ and by the figures employed, that his exhortation is for all the redeemed. The reference to sheep going astray is a common one (1 Kings 22:17; Matthew 9:36) in the scriptures.

but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls: Their prior life is seen as wandering, confused, and bewildered sheep with no shepherd. Now that they are his; they are fed, guided, and cared for; they are safe in the fold.

The word "Shepherd" (poimeen) is the word "pastor" in Ephesians 4:11. It indicates one who tends herds and flocks or one who protects. A bishop (episkopes) is an overseer, one who watches over the flocks (Acts 20:28), indicating the character of the work. Our Lord is indeed watches over us; He is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.

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Contending for the Faith reproduced by permission of Contending for the Faith Publications, 4216 Abigale Drive, Yukon, OK 73099. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 1 Peter 2". "Contending for the Faith". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/1-peter-2.html. 1993-2022.