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Bible Commentaries

Caton's Commentary on the Minor Epistles

1 Peter 2

ANALYSIS.

Putting aside all the evils that are opposed to a holy and virtuous life, being therein as newborn babes in Christ, long after the unadul-terated word, that ye may grow thereby. For, in fact, ye can not otherwise grow to the proper stature and strength of God's children. This you will do if you have tasted of the Lord's goodness in what he has already done for you, and will still do, if you walk in his commands. To him you come by your faith as unto a living stone. It is a precious stone, even a stone chosen by God himself, but was rejected by men. Acting as you have and should with regard to this stone, you yourselves are built upon it as a temple, and are made a holy priesthood in that same temple to offer spiritual sacrifices which God has ordained that you should offer to him through his Son. These are acceptable to him. In this you are a peculiar people in being chosen as a priesthood. In fact, you are a holy nation, and were purchased by Christ to be such. You were so purchased that you might show his praise and declare his perfections. In other words, you must let your light shine. In doing this, you are required to put away all evils that war against the soul. They are then exhorted to be good subjects of government, to obey all authorities over them, giving no occasion to have the cause of Christ evil spoken against or you as evil-doers, but that by your good acts not only prevent injury to the cause, but thereby work a conversion of others. Various duties are enjoined to magistrates and those in places of authority. How to act in the relations of life are pointed out. The example of Christ is then mentioned as a model. His patience under unjust suffering is mentioned as an incentive to steadfast devotion to the cause of right, knowing that the reward is as certain as it is great.

Verse 1

Verse 1. Wherefore laying aside all malice.

A necessary conclusion here follows. You have a com-plete view of the magnitude of the great salvation provided for you, and therein the great love of the Father, whose gift it is, and the certainty of the ground upon which your faith and hope rest, and the duties you owe to one another as brethren. All the vices of the alien must cease, namely, malice, guile, hypocrisies, envies, evil speakings. These belong not to the Christian character, and, on the other hand, listen to the following advice.

Verse 2

Verse 2. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word.

What a natural figure. How grand and beautiful it is when fully apprehended and applied. The Savior said, "Except a man be born again, he can not see the kingdom of God," and in that connection added further: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he can not enter the kingdom of God" ( Joh_3:3-5 ). Born again, they are babes in Christ Jesus. I take it the apostle knew that some he addressed had lately been born into the kingdom. Babes, we all know, hunger and thirst for milk. This is their proper and necessary food. On this they grow. So with babes in Christ ; they ought to desire the sincere or unadulterated milk of the Word. Peter says : "That ye may grow thereby." As milk is the proper food for babes in the physical world, so the word of God is the proper and only food in the spiritual realm for babes in Christ to insure their growth. And if in the one case growth will not follow without food, neither will it in the other.

Verse 3

Verse 3. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

The Vulgate uses the word "sweet" in lieu of the word "gracious." I can not see how that expression, even if adopted, throws any additional light on the text. The Lord is gracious because he is good. The word "good" is, therefore, in a sense its equivalent. Whatever word is used, it must be applied to the giver, and "sweet" strikes me as wholly inadmissible, and can be only tolerated because of the figure here used. The sense is that God has been good, has been gracious in providing this great salvation, and permitting his creatures to accept and enjoy it.

Verse 4

Verse 4. To whom coming, as unto a living stone.

Coming to Christ Jesus in the way he has appointed. So coming, we reach what? A living stone. Here is food for thought. In the New Testament Scriptures the term "stone" or "rock" is ever after applied to the savior. He himself, speaking of his divine sonship which had just been confessed, announced : "Upon this rock I will build my church" ( Mat_16:18 ). The Church is not only built upon this foundation, but children of God build their spiritual edifices on the same foundation. It is a living stone. It possesses life and can impart life. Notice the word "living." Study its meaning for a moment, and then turn and read what he says of himself to the lonely prisoner of Patmos: "I am he that liveth and was dead, and, behold, I am alive forevermore" ( Rev_1:18 ). No uncertainty there ; the foun-dation is sure and unceasing.

Disallowed indeed of men.

Peter tells all about this disallowance in his defense before the Jewish high priest, rulers, elders and scribes. "This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner" ( Act_4:11 ).

But chosen of God, and precious.

Rejected by men, yet chosen by God. Isaiah foretells the laying of this foundation stone under the image of a temple, and the apostle Paul, in his Ephesian letter, speaks of the Church of Christ built upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. It is precious, then, for two reasons: First, because it was chosen by God to be the foundation of the spiritual temple to be erected, and, secondly, because of its excellence and entire sufficiency for the purpose intended. All this is apparent.

Verse 5

Verse 5. Ye also, as lively stones.

The Revised Version, Vulgate, Syriac, Macknight and Rotherham have it "living stones." Being born again, the Christian possesses the hope of eternal life. They are, therefore, living stones built into this spiritual temple ; built upon Christ, their living foundation. The spiritual house mentioned in the text is, of course, the Church.

A holy priesthood.

The living stones are all priests. Christ is High Priest, and all these are by him anointed, and their duties made and plainly specified in the succeeding paragraph.

To offer up spiritual sacrifices.

None other than spiritual sacrifices will be acceptable to God. Spiritual sacrifices, by these living stones all made priests by Jesus Christ, are to be offered up to God. These spiritual sacrifices are all plainly designated in the Living Oracles, which may be briefly summed up in this : "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellow-ship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" ( Act_2:42 ).

Verse 6

Verse 6. Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture.

Peter here appeals to the Scripture confirmatory of the truthfulness of his statement in making Christ a living stone and the foundation of the spiritual temple. The quo-tation is from the prophet Isaiah (xxiii. 16). God laid in Zion a chief corner-stone, and of it the prophet says it was "a tried stone, a sure foundation." Peter did not quote the prophetic utterance in full, but says of the chief corner-stone that it was elect, precious. It was elect because God made this choice. It was precious in that it was a sure foundation, and without it the spiritual temple could not have been erected. He that believeth on him.

Here the apostle changes the figure, and shows that he alluded to a person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and faith is the basis of our salvation through him. Faith in Christ is necessary to become living stones to be built into his spir-itual house, and thereby to receive the anointing by Christ that makes us priests.

Verse 7

Verse 7. Unto you, therefore, which believe he is precious.

That is, on the believer is the honor conferred of being built on him, and of not being ashamed, and in that sense precious. Peter here applies the prophecy of Isaiah: But to the disobedient, or those who believe not, he is made the head of the corner. To those who do not believe, but are disobedient, disallow and reject the stone, to them it becomes a cause of stumbling, as seen in the following verse.

Verse 8

Verse 8. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.

Notice that to the believer he is said to be precious, to the disobedient a stone of stumbling and rock of offense ; that is to say, the unbeliever stumbles at the Word, rather, against it, and falls. This is his proper punishment. "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" ( Mat_21:44 ). Thus spake our Lord in relation to this same matter.

'Whereunto also they were appointed.

God having given his Son, and every possible evidence of his love, for his creatures, and the exceeding great and precious promises to induce belief and incite to repentance and acceptance of his Son, those therefore rejecting are the arbiters of their own future. God's appointment is not that man shall stumble and fall, but that the disobedient only, as such, shall stumble and fall. This is their punish-ment. Bro. Johnson, in his notes, I think, makes it clearer. He says: "Whereunto unto stumbling over the stone, and falling. This is God's appointment to the disobedient."

Verse 9

Verse 9. But ye are a chosen generation.

That is, an elected race or people. This was once con-fined to the Jew only ; now to the whole world. See how the apostle piles up the high titles. Not only a chosen genera-tion, or an elect race, but also a royal or kingly priesthood. More yet, ye are a holy nation, a peculiar people. These are all high and mighty honors to be enjoyed by God's children. However, it must not be forgotten that these honors impose corresponding duties.

To show forth the praises of him.

Tell of the excellencies, the goodness and perfections of Him who conferred these honors upon us, and called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. Heathenism is moral darkness. In this dwelt many to whom Peter wrote. By the gospel preached by Paul and others, they were called out of this darkness into the light of Christianity, and by com-parison this latter state is called a marvelous light.

Verse 10

Verse 10. Which in time past were not a people.

All those called out of darkness in the time passed, while in that darkness were not the people of God, but were worshipers of idols.

Which had not obtained mercy.

That is, in the time passed mercy had not been offered and its benefits were not yet received by you, but now the foundation stone is laid, and mercy has been tendered you, and by you accepted. You are now as living stones in the temple. You are God's children and members of the church.

Verse 11

Verse 11. Dearly beloved, I beseech you.

The appeal is urgent and tender I beseech you. Strangers and pilgrims. This the people of God while on earth must continue to be. We are strangers here ; we are traveling, as pilgrims do, to another country, to the heav-enly country. Why appeal to such? Why exhort to abstain from fleshly lusts? Which war against the soul.

The natural disposition is to acquire earthly possessions, amass riches and engage in earth's pleasure. These, the apostle would have them understand, are deadly enemies to the soul, to purity of life, and obstacles to the upbuilding of the Christlikeness. They should abstain from these because they war against the soul. Strangers and pilgrims must leave these all behind when they pass into that heavenly country. Why not, then, abstain?

Verse 12

Verse 12. Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles.

Conversation; that is, your behavior, your conduct. Let that be proper, honest, right and comely.

Speak against you as evil-doers.

This they do. They blaspheme the blessed Master and spread calumnies concerning his cause and people, but if your conduct be such as your profession commends, those that speak against you may, by your good conduct and works, be induced to glorify God in the day of visitation. That is, in the day of persecution, they may acknowledge the truth as to your good conduct. This proved to be the case in the persecution in the days of Pliny. The fortitude exhibited by the persecuted ones attracted his attention, and he was induced to await the emperor's advice. And the patience of these sufferers for their faith made such an impression upon the heathen who witnessed their fidelity that they embraced the gospel.

Verse 13

Verse 13. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man.

Be obedient to the laws of the government where you may sojourn. Christianity does not require any of its devotees to be insurrectionists ; upon the contrary, it is the Lord's will that we as Christians obey human laws.

Whether it be to the king.

The addressed ones were subjects of the emperor at Rome. He is here called king. To him Peter tells them to submit.

As supreme.

The king is placed in authority. He is supreme, so far as the earthly power is concerned, and while living in his territory recognize his authority.

Verse 14

Verse 14. Or unto governors.

These, as rulers, are placed over provinces by the emperor, and as such are sent by him to punish evil-doers, and to praise such as do not break the law.

Verse 15

Verse 15. For so is the will of God.

You will put to silence the calumny that because of your faith you were law-breakers. Their calumny was in conse-quence of their ignorance, and also their wickedness. It is God's will that you silence these slanderers by your good conduct.

Verse 16

Verse 16. As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak.

Christians are free from the law of sin. They are no longer under bondage to it, but you must not use this liberty as a covering for wrong-doing.

But as the servants of God.

You are the Lord's bondmen, and you live as his bonds-men, observing all of his laws. These lead you away from all evil conduct or wrong-doing.

Verse 17

Verse 17. Honor all men.

That is, those to whom honor is due. Have respect to men in every station in life. Some may occupy stations of honor, some stations of profit. Show no disregard to any.

Love the brotherhood.

Our Savior has set us the example. It is his command ; love the brethren.

Fear God.

Not in dread, but in reverence. God is our Father. He loves us. We fear him when we walk before him blameless, doing his will

Honor the king.

This is done when we obey his laws, which are designed to restrain the lawless.

Verse 18

Verse 18. Servants, be subject to your masters.

To such among the addressed believers as are in the station of a servant, I say to you it is your duty to be subject to the orders of those who are for the time being over you as masters. You must be careful not to discrimi-nate. Some masters may be good and gentle ; others, ill-natured and cross, even severe. Render faithful service alike to all. This is their due, considering your relations to each other.

Verse 19

Verse 19. For this is thankworthy.

That is to say, this kind of a service meets the appro-bation of God, whether the master is satisfied or not. Service rendered for conscience' sake, although grief and suffering are endured wrongfully, God will approve.

Verse 20

Verse 20. For what glory is it?

If one is guilty of faults and is punished, the punish-ment is just, and, while the suffering is borne patiently, no credit is due for the patience. But where one renders con-scientious service, and is then buffeted and bears his punish-ment with patience, this is acceptable to God.

Verse 21

Verse 21. For even hereunto were ye called.

Suffering for well-doing, when Peter wrote, seems to have been the experience of all, and it was to be expected. Believers had been warned, and are now warned, that suffer-ing may arise at any time for the cause of Christ. Evil and good are in antagonism. Persecution may arise. Even so Christ suffered, and he is our great example. He has left his example with us, and left it that we should follow in his footsteps. That is, bear patiently suffering, when inflicted for doing right.

Verse 22

Verse 22. Who did no sin.

His conduct was without a fault.

Neither was guile found in his mouth.

No false word was by him uttered, hence he suffered without cause. The sufferings endured by Christ he did not deserve.

Verse 23

Verse 23. Who, when he was reviled.

When reviled by the Jews no words of resentment were by him used. When he was crucified, he did not threaten his persecutors, but meekly committed his cause to God, who judges a righteous judgment.

Verse 24

Verse 24. Who his own self bare our sins.

The apostle is still considering the example left by Christ. He died for our sins. He did not die for his own sins, for he had none, but he bare ours on the cross. Our burden of sin was by him borne. A sacrificial offering was made, and thereby we have an opportunity, by his gracious provisions, to become dead to sin. We believe the gospel. We are baptized into his death, coming forth new creatures. We live new lives. We live and pursue a righteous course marked out by him by whose stripes the means were pro-vided, by which we are healed of the wounds and bruises of sin and of its dominion.

Verse 25

Verse 25. For ye were as sheep going astray.

That is, formerly led astray by the evil, but now are, as it were, found, and have returned from wandering by coming to Christ.

The Shepherd and Bishop.

He is the good Shepherd. This he has proven by his death. A good shepherd careth for his sheep. Of this we are assured, for he said of himself, "I am the good shepherd" ( Joh_10:11-14 ), and Paul calls him "that great Shepherd of the sheep" ( Heb_13:20 ). Bishop, one that watches over the flock, and who will guide and defend it. None other could be depended upon with so much certainty as the one who died for them. No greater proof could be given.

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Bibliographical Information
Caton, Nathan Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Peter 2". Caton's Commentary on the Minor Epistles. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ntc/1-peter-2.html. 1916.