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Bible Commentaries

Gray's Concise Bible Commentary

1 Peter 2

Verses 1-10


“Wherefore” at the beginning of this lesson shows that as the result of what has gone before something is expected. They who have been begotten again to this living hope have obligations arising from it.

The first is Hope (1 Peter 1:13-16 ).

The difference between “hope” in 1 Peter 1:13 and that in 1 Peter 1:3 is, that there it represented the believer’s standing or position before God in Christ, and here his experience and exhibition of it. Having been begotten again unto a living Hope, he is now to hope for it with all sobriety and concentration of mind. As he does so hope it will affect his character and conduct (1 Peter 1:14 ), for no longer will his daily life be run in the mould of his former desires in sin, but will be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16 ).

The second is Fear (1 Peter 1:17-21 )

Godly fear, of course, not the fear of a criminal before a judge, but that of an obedient child in the presence of a loving father. Two motives are given for it, one, the thought of judgment (1 Peter 1:17 ); the other, the cost of our redemption (1 Peter 1:18-19 ). The judgment is not to determine the question of salvation, which is settled for believers as soon as they accept Christ, but to determine their fidelity as disciples and the place of reward awaiting them in glory.

The third is Love (1 Peter 1:22 to 1 Peter 2:3 ).

Believers have “purified their souls,” not in an absolute experimental sense, but in the judicial sense that they now have a right standing before God. This they did “in obeying the truth” of the Gospel, which they were enabled to obey “through the Spirit”; in other words, by the aid of the Holy Spirit. Being in this position they are able to “love one another,” and being able to do it imposes the obligation to do it (1 Peter 1:22 ). The thought is extended in the next verse which reveals that believers are “brethren” in that they have all been “born again” by the one “seed,” which is the incorruptible Word of God. The “love” they are to exercise toward one another is defined in the opening verses of chapter 3, and in order to obtain the strength to exercise it they are to draw on the Word of God. That which instrumentally brought them into life will sustain them in it continually (1 Peter 2:2-3 ).

The fourth is Praise (1 Peter 2:4-10 ).

The Lord Jesus Christ referred to in 1 Peter 1:3 , is “a Living Stone,” Whose life has been communicated to believers, making them “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5 ). They thus form a spiritual temple, and, abruptly changing the figure, they are the “priesthood” in the temple. As such they have spiritual sacrifices to offer (1 Peter 2:5 ), the chief of which is to “show forth the praises of Him Who” redeemed them (1 Peter 2:9-10 ).

These four obligations of The Living Hope are referred to as the “upward” ones in the sense that, with one exception, they are due to God directly. The exception is that of “Love” which is due to God indeed, but exercised indirectly through the brethren. The obligations following in the epistle are for the most part outward toward the world, and inward toward one another as fellow-believers, fellow-members of the family of God or of the Body of Christ.


1. What is the significance of “Wherefore”?

2. Name the four obligations in this lesson.

3. Why are they called upward?

4. What is the difference between “hope” in verse 5 and in verse 13?

5. What are the two motives for godly fear?

6. Expound in your own words 1 Peter 1:22 to 1 Peter 2:3 .

7. Do the same with 1 Peter 2:4-10 .

Verses 11-25


The writer had dropped his pen, but takes it up again at 1 Peter 2:11 . To “abstain from fleshy lusts that war against the soul,” is limited and defined in the next verse. The pagans round about were speaking against the Christians as evildoers. Their increasing numbers were emptying the Pagan temples, and threatening in so doing, not only the Pagan religion but the state itself, for the Romans worshipped the state in the person of the emperor, and at this time Rome controlled the world. The duty of the Christians, therefore, was to have their conduct so seemly and consistent in the eyes of their watchful and jealous neighbors that by their “good works,” those neighbors might in the day of their visitation by divine grace glorify God for them.

There were two ways in which this seemliness was to show itself, or rather two obligations to be borne by the Christians toward the pagans, one was submission (1 Peter 2:13 to 1 Peter 3:7 ), and the other testimony (1 Peter 3:8 to 1 Peter 4:6 ).

The submission was comprehensive in scope, covering the three classes of the social order: governmental (1 Peter 2:13-17 ), industrial (1 Peter 2:18-25 ), conjugal (1 Peter 3:1-7 ).

The testimony was to be marked by four things: readiness, intelligence, meekness and consistency of life (1 Peter 3:15-16 ).

The last point calls for amplification because of some obscurity in the text that follows. It is the writer’s desire all through the epistle to use the example of Christ to enforce his exhortations. For example, in chapter 2 (1 Peter 3:18-22 ), household servants are urged to patience under even unjust treatment by their Pagan masters on the ground that when Christ “was reviled,” He “reviled not again,” “but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.’’ And so here it is said that it is better to “suffer for well-doing than for evil doing” (1 Peter 3:17 ). Why? Because Christ so suffered even unto death (1 Peter 3:18 ), but was quickened and raised from the dead; and even more, has “gone into heaven and is on the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him” (1 Peter 3:22 ). We Christians should arm ourselves with the same mind” that He had (1 Peter 4:1 ).

We, too, should be willing to suffer in the flesh. He who has this purpose in his heart “hath ceased from sin” in the sense indicated in 1 Peter 4:2-4 ; i.e., he will separate himself from all evildoers even if he suffer for it so far as his life in the flesh is concerned. There were some indeed, who had suffered even unto death (1 Peter 4:6 ); but it was to this end that the Gospel had been preached to them while they were alive, that they might know that, though they were thus judged, thus treated according to the will of men as regards the flesh, yet they would live by the will of God as regards the spirit. And, or course, as Christ triumphed over His enemies and entered into glory, the same would be true of them.

A further difficulty appears at 1 Peter 3:19 , where Christ in triumphing over His enemies is represented as preaching “unto the spirits in prison.” “Preaching” here is not the word commonly used for preaching the gospel, but means “to herald” or “to proclaim.” That which Christ heralded or proclaimed was His triumph over His enemies through the Cross (Colossians 2:13-15 ). “Spirits” presumably, does not refer to men but angels, the evil angels who “kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation,” “in the days of Noah.” (See our comments on Genesis 6:8 , and compare also 2 Peter 2:4-5 and Jude 1:6-7 ).


1. Explain 1 Peter 2:11-12 .

2. Name the two “outward” obligations of The Living Hope.

3. Name the three kinds of submission enjoined.

4. In what four ways was the testimony to be marked?

5. Explain 1 Peter 4:1-6 .

6. Explain 1 Peter 3:19-20 .

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Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on 1 Peter 2". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. 1897-1910.