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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 Peter 1

Verses 1-25

1 Peter 1:1 . Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ. These are his credentials from him who is Prince of the kings of the earth. To the strangers scattered abroad, of whose tragic dispersion we have spoken on Acts 8:1-5. They travelled everywhere preaching Christ, and every family became the germ of a christian church. Throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. These rich provinces comprised, or nearly so, the seven churches of Asia. Bithynia was on the southern shore of the Black sea. These five districts, five more being understood, included the whole of proconsular Asia, or Peninsula, about seven hundred miles in length, and three hundred and fifty in breadth. The map of Paul’s travels should be studied here.

When Peter says, an apostle of Jesus Christ, he means to consider him as the living stone, the foundation of all the countless churches scattered in the gentile world. The glorious confession of Peter’s faith, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” is followed by the promise: Upon this rock will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. The promise to Mary is to the same effect: That holy thing [One] which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35. As gender, whether male or female, cannot be ascribed to deity, the Greek writers, both heathen and christian, often prefer the neuter form for the sake of reverence.

1 Peter 1:2 . Elect according to the foreknowledge of God. The note from Chrysostom given on Jeremiah 36:3, should be read here. The divine prescience is not influential on the will, and does not in the least interfere with the free agency of man.

“Foreknowledge has no influence on their souls,

Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.”


God had said, the Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head, and shall bless all the families of the earth. Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:3. These are promises which show that the gentiles should be coëqual heirs with the jews. The door is here open to all.

1 Peter 1:3 . Begotten again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Plato, in arguing on the immortality of the soul, did all but uplift the curtain of a future world; that he could not do. But the veil is rent in Christ: he died he lives again. In him we have the promise of eternal life, and the demonstration of the promise in his resurrection from the dead. The proper inference follows, that the regeneration of the heart is effected by the resurrection of the Saviour. Romans 6:4. Colossians 3:1-2. The resurrection of Christ was also the revival of the church. When he died, the hope of his followers was buried with him; but when he revived they revived with him, like men born into a new world.

1 Peter 1:4 . An inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. The Greek is more expressive: αμαραντον , amaranthine, or poetically, “amaranthine bowers,” ever verdant, ever in bloom, ever loaded with fruits.

There everlasting spring abides,

And never withering flowers.

These were gracious words to the exiles driven out of Judea, but who were still kept by the power of God to be the heirs of more than they had lost.

1 Peter 1:7 . That the trial of your faith, when assayed by fire, might be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Eusebius has a beautiful thought of apostolic joy at the final advent of Christ. He imagines Peter, as presenting those of the circumcision to Christ. John, as presenting principally the churches of Asia. Thomas, the Indians, and Paul, the gentile churches at large. Let no man fail of the grace of God.

1 Peter 1:8 . Whom having not seen, ye love. When the jews saw him as a root out of dry ground, they beheld no beauty, no comeliness in him; in his establishment no palaces, no armies, no revenues. But when the gentiles saw the Lord of glory set forth as a victim for their sins, they believed on his name, they loved the unseen Lord, and felt the flame of redeeming love. Unbelief brought burning and ruin to the jews, while faith opened righteousness and joy unspeakable to the gentiles.

1 Peter 1:9 . Receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls. The end of faith is life everlasting, and to be for ever with the Lord. Their eye was single, they embraced christianity in the hope of eternal life, and all their sufferings here prepared them for a brighter crown.

1 Peter 1:10-12 . Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, to decipher all the swelling exuberance of the Holy Spirit, that sinners are not to be saved by the works of the law, but by the faith of Christ. They contemplated the glory before their eyes, they searched at what time this salvation should be revealed, and in what manner the sufferings should presede the glory of Christ. Oh how much those holy men felt an interest in our redemption, and more than language can declare. And not only the prophets, but angels also desire to pry into the ark, and trace the wisdom and love of God in our redemption, which opens a new world of wisdom, and treasures of glory to the celestial powers.

1 Peter 1:13-16 . Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind. Your faith is not in vain, your redemption is the work of heaven. The veil of future things is more uplifted to you than to prophets, and it shall be fully revealed by the consummation of grace in the plenitude of glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Your grand concern is to be holy as he is holy, that you may appear with joy in his presence.

1 Peter 1:18-19 . Ye were not redeemed, like the slaves of men, with corruptible things, with ransoms of gold and silver, but with the precious blood of Christ, shed on the cross for you. A stronger argument for holiness cannot be used. He gave his life a ransom that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love. Oh may the love that died for us on Calvary purify our hearts as flames of fire from the love of sin.

1 Peter 1:20 . Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world. Be not discouraged by the reproaches of the jews and gentiles, that yours is a new religion, Christianity is built on the counsel and love of God before the tractless light of the milky-way, ere suns and orbs began to shine; it has been the study of angels from the first promise that Christ should bruise the serpent’s head, and the cheering theme of prophecy in every succeeding age. This to the saints is a consolatory argument to embrace the truth, and rest on the love of God as revealed in his word. It is an argument of consolation to the whole suffering church, and has no bearing whatever on the excision of any man from salvation: nothing can be farther from the apostle’s design. See on 2Co 5:14 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21.

1 Peter 1:23-25 . Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God preached to you. When you saw the glory of Christ set forth, when you heard of the ransom he had paid for your souls, when you beheld him risen from the tomb, the word entered your heart with renovating power. You were quickened and raised with him, and made to sit together with him in heavenly places. And this is permanent glory, not like the honour that cometh from men, which withers as the grass, and fades like the flower. It is durable as the word of the Lord, which like himself, remains for ever.


The apostle here salutes the church as the elect of God, though scattered and persecuted; and this election was according to his foreknowledge, the prophets having said that the gentiles should be one with the Israel of God; an election connected with the ever-abiding conditions of sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.

St. Peter when writing was filled with all gratitude, and divine goodness. Therefore seeing that the gentiles, born in sin, devoted to death and desponding gloom, were now made the sons of God, he breaks out in the fulness of praise that God had begotten them again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hence, among all the good things which may happen to men in this life, none is to be compared to conversion, and a birth from above. This comprises every good in one, as in the third of St. John.

Inheritance is connected with adoption. The regenerate are heirs of an inheritance, incorruptible and undefiled, which cannot be said of an earthly lot. And it fadeth not away, but is ever verdant, blooming, and laden with eternal good. And if this hope be so consoling to all men, it was doubly so to those scattered saints, many of whom had lost their earthly substance, and were driven from Judea by the rigours of persecution. Nevertheless they had stood the shock, and were kept by faith, unto the salvation ready to be revealed in those last ages of the jewish nation.

Rejoicing in hope of glory, our heaviness is but for a season, and never without a needs be. There is a needs be for affliction for the sanctification of every man, and for making manifest the passive graces of his soul. There was an evangelical needs be that the happy churches in Judea should be dispersed, to diffuse the knowledge of Christ among the poor benighted gentiles. Why should all the good things of heaven be hid in a corner. There was in short a providential needs be for this persecution; for the jewish nation was becoming corrupt as a carcase, and ready for the Roman eagles. Therefore God apparently took part with the infidel, and fought against his own people. The sadducees prospered, and the faithful were dispersed. How deep, how dark are the ways of God. Well, it is enough that they are the ways of God. The clouds of providence will clear up, and discover his righteousness as the sun at noonday. Presently the faithful saw the jews infatuated to rebel against the Romans. Presently they saw the Roman armies enter Judea, and bring upon them destruction to the uttermost. Now, the christians would gratefully excuse the cup of personal affliction, to avoid the last dregs of national disaster. May this most striking catastrophe teach us all to trust for the future.

The faith of good men, when tried as gold in the furnace, is found to the praise and honour of God. They lose nothing in the fire but the dross of self-love, the blindness of their own will, and their reluctance to suffer. This is the work of experience, not of theory. They who have been six times in trouble with Christ, say, that he will deliver in the seventh. They therefore glory in tribulation, because it worketh experience, and experience hope. They love the Saviour whom they have not seen, but whose power and sweetness they have tasted in their hearts, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The mysteries of redemption and providence were the grand subject of prophetic study, as they now are the admiration of angels. Mysteries so profound, exalting God, and abasing reason; mysteries so adorable and sanctifying, cannot fail to augment the pleasure and happiness of the church above. Let us therefore gird up the loins of our mind, renounce sensual desire, and fully close with the redemption and atonement of Christ, as described in Romans 3:24-26. John 1:29.

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Peter 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.