Commentary on First Peter
by Dave Brown
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1 Peter 1
1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the elect who are sojourners of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
[Of all the apostles, the one whose authenticity and authority was least questioned was that of Peter. No doubt from the short excerpt that Luke gives us of his evangelical journeys in Acts 9, he was extremely active for the Lord, and also quite blessed with the grace to perform miracles to reveal and confirm the truth to which he was entrusted. The reason that his writings are sparse compared to Paul’s is not something we can determine. However, as we progress in our study we will see his purposes, some of which are revealed in this first verse. Peter, we know, was as much the apostle to the Jews as Paul was to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:6-10). Yet while that might have been their first focus in new areas, neither of them were exclusive. Here Peter, once he identifies himself as being an apostle in the official sense of that word (not merely a messenger), he indicates that he is writing primarily to the “sojourners of the Dispersion.” The list of cities given is not meant to be at all exclusive, but is rather a synecdoche representing all such cities where Jewish Christians might be dispersed for various reasons, not the least of which would be persecution, which will be addressed.]
2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
[Peter is writing to reveal certain things with regard to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and these things were established before the foundations of the world were laid (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:20). In particular, some translators insert the word “elect” at the beginning of this verse to remind us that the clause prior to this is addressing the letter “to the elect”… “according to the foreknowledge of God …” (Revelation 13:8; 17:8). The purpose of their (and our) election is to participate in the sanctification (being set aside from the world) that is brought about as the effect of our receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37; 5:32). As we allow the Holy Spirit to dominate our lives, we become obedient to God’s will in our lives, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from our past sins. These things come through God’s grace, so it is fitting that he should bless them by wishing God’s grace would come to them in even greater measure, and that this would also multiply their peace (Philippians 4:7). Going beyond this is specifying was God’s grace does, Titus 2:11-12 says: “For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world.” It is God’s grace that brings salvation, but for it to do that, we have to allow it to instruct us and respond to that instruction.]
3 Blessed (be) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
[The term “blessed be God” is an acclamation of praise toward God specifically for the great favors bestowed on us for the things that follow. In particular, His begetting us again because of his great mercy toward us. In other words, He has given us the chance to be born anew in the sense that Jesus taught in John 3:1-17. But it is not merely restarting our lives to go back to what we were before. No, we have been born again unto a living hope. Our lives must reflect this hope by means of our living virtuous lives. And thus, the hope is for eternal life that was only made possible by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.]
4 unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
[Jesus was resurrected unto an incorruptible inheritance, both for Him and those who serve Him. This inheritance is persistent, not only incorruptible, but it can in no way be defiled, nor can it fade away, since it is reserved in heaven for those who are faithful.]
5 who by the power of God are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
[The power of God unto salvation is the gospel (Romans 1:16), in which therein is revealed righteousness of God (Romans 1:17). It is this power that guards us through our faith in Jesus, and keeps us for a salvation that will be fully revealed in the last time. However, this does not disallow the fact that it has been described in some detail in the gospel itself, to while it may not be fully realized, it can be understood.]
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, ye have been put to grief in manifold trials,
[Wherein is in salvation, which is, of course, something for which any person who has it should rejoice greatly. But this rejoicing is being tempered for them because of their many and various trials that they are either going through or are about to go through. But Peter gives them hope that these trials will only be for a relatively short time, and they are not without their purpose.]
7 that the proof of your faith, (being) more precious than gold that perishes though it is proved by fire, may be found unto praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ:
[The purpose is to prove their faith, but the analogy given is one of improving their faith. As we are proven through trials and the pain that they bring, so like gold being purified by fire, our faith is “improven” (to coin an appropriate word). This will enable our faith to be worthy of bringing praise, and glory and honor, not to ourselves, but to God, in that day when Jesus comes again.]
8 whom not having seen ye love; on whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 receiving the end of your faith, (even) the salvation of (your) souls.
[They had not (and we have not) seen Jesus Christ, but hopefully we love Him because He first loved us and gave Himself for us (Romans 5). It is obviously not necessary to physically see Jesus to believe in Him and to love Him (John 20:29). Peter ties love to faith here, and no doubt they are intricately connected. Love of God and Jesus Christ (as well as the Holy Spirit) is a condition of salvation: “If any man love not the Lord, let him be anathema” (1 Corinthians 16:22). “Let him be” here infers that the readers understood that such a man would be accursed, and the idea from Paul is that such is a state that is not easily altered; not that we should write such a person off. The connection here is that our love for Jesus is a natural result of our faith, and that this faith will also naturally (inevitably) lead to rejoicing, joy unspeakable, and being full of glory – producing even to the emotional aspects of love. And finally, in verse 9, Peter indicates that these emotional benefits are part of our receiving salvation, which he describes as the end (or end result) of your faith.]
10 Concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that (should come) unto you:
[The necessary inference here is that certain aspects of salvation were not revealed, and this also infers that other aspects were revealed. Enough was revealed to produce curiosity on the part of the Old Testament prophets; after all, who would not be interested in knowing all that there is to know about the most important subject that has ever been presented to mankind. The obvious reason for God not revealing it to them is that it would benefit mankind much more for the details to be withheld until other events were allowed to transpire. The schoolmaster (Old Testament law) needed to accomplish his work first (Galatians 3:24-25). But this was not any shortcoming on the prophets. Note that the word grace is used here to describe something that would come to them and to us. Jesus Christ is the obvious grace as long as we understand that he was not only the Life, but also the Way and the Truth (John 14:6). This involves a body of knowledge, and the word grace is often applied throughout the New Testament to not only unmerited favor, but that this favor brings with it both knowledge and an obligation to use that knowledge in forwarding the gospel.
11 searching what (time) or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them.
[Let us detail the doctrinal points of this verse:
- The Old Testament prophets were commended for the fact that they did all they could to determine the specific time, or what would indicate the time (manner of time) when Christ would come.
- It was the Spirit of Christ that was in them that inspired them to speak the truth and at times enabled them to confirm these truths with miracles.
- The Spirit of Christ in this context is the Holy Spirit, since it is the Holy Spirit who is commended throughout the Old and New testaments as the one who inspired the prophets.
- The Spirit of Christ is not to be confused with the spirit that Jesus had as a human. This is an extremely complex topic of which the scriptures give us no guidance at all, and thus we conclude that it is better for us not to concern with such hypotheticals (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- The Holy Spirit was in Christ from the beginning of His ministry (Luke 4:1).
- It is this Holy Spirit in the prophets that pointed to the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow these sufferings (e.g., see Isaiah 53).
- Despite their search, the time was not revealed to them; times for things to happen seem especially a discretion of the Father (see Matthew 24:36), although the general teaching is that these times are well fixed.
12 To whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did they minister these things, which now have been announced unto you through them that preached the gospel unto you by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven; which things angels desire to look into.
[It here is specifically the timing, for that is what is in question. However, “these things” might involve much more, possibly all of the details of the life, death, resurrection and eternity of Christ. These details are in the gospel, and that gospel was preached to those to whom Peter is addressing. The New Testament prophets spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which was miraculous in revelation and confirmation. However, the teachers who did not have the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit also spoke “by the Holy Spirit” when they spoke the truth in that nothing that they said would deviate from anything that had been revealed (by Jesus, the apostles or the prophets). Jesus is the one who sent the Holy Spirit forth from heaven (John 15:26; Acts 1:2), or identically, it can be said that the Father sent the Holy Spirit in Jesus name (John 14:26). The point being made is that this gospel was not an invention of mankind or angels, it was of God the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven. Thus, we can understand why righteous angelic beings in heaven would, like the Old Testament prophets, have a desire to look into these things. The word “angel” can mean just a messenger in its general sense. However, in this context, the prophets and preachers, who were messengers, have already been mentioned. Thus, we conclude that Peter is talking about angelic beings who generally reside in heaven.
13 Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
[The very common expression of “girding” in the New Testament is one that we today might think of as “tightening our belts.” A sash was used to gather the loose clothing tight to the body so that it would not interfere with the efforts of the soldier or workman. Loins of your mind is an interesting metaphor, or even a meta-metaphor. The idea of the Christian girding for labor or battle is itself a metaphor since it is hard to see how it could occur literally. But taking it one step higher to refer to the mind is quite sublime. But we can understand the figure when we see its results:
- Sobriety – being serious regarding our work in the Lord (not taking it lightly so as, for example, to make the work of the Lord’s church look more like a country club than that of a holy priesthood;
- Set your hope – sometimes today called a mind-set of a paradigm, this is the concept of minding the things of the Holy Spirit that is expressed so well in Romans 8.
- Perfectly – as mature Christians who understand the righteousness of God as revealed in the gospel (Romans 1:17).
- On the grace – in this context, eternal life, for that is what is to be brought to them at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As mentioned above (verse 10), the word grace is not limited to an unmerited gift, but in this context it seems that is what is implied.]
14 as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in (the time of) your ignorance:
[So is it a free gift that requires nothing. The answer is yes, but do not interpret this answer to mean that there are no requirements at all on the part of saved individuals. Indeed there will be good works, but these pay huge dividends and can hardly be considered as payment for something as infinitely valuable as eternal life. The love and faith discussed in the previous verses produces “children of obedience” which can and should be viewed in both of two ways: (1) obedient children – those who lovingly respond to the wishes of their parents; and (2) children conceived out of obedience, i.e., born again in obedience to the command of Jesus (John 3), and as illustrated in detail in Romans 6. That the former way of viewing this is probably what Peter intended is given by the qualifier: “not fashioning yourselves …” However, the “born again” aspect is clear from Romans 6: you should have killed the old man so that there is no longer a desire to go back to the former lusts.]
15 but like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living;
[This gives further meaning as to the practical aspects of being children of obedience, which is the same as being children of God. He who called you is God, which can be viewed as the deity collectively, since all three are involved. In general, a “calling” is to a life-long vocation to which a person’s life is dedicated. But being a Christian is not something that someone elects to do in the vocational sense. It is God who has called everyone, and so those who are called in this sense are those who have responded to that call and have turned their lives around toward doing His will. Since we are children of God, it is only reasonable that we should be like Him in holiness. But this is not by our sheer will; it is by allowing God’s righteousness (as given in the gospel) to control and dominate our lives.
16 because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy.
[This was not a new edict of the gospel; it is found is Leviticus 11:4. God has always wanted His people to be set aside and not of this world.
17 And if ye call on him as Father, who without respect of persons judges according to each man's work, pass the time of your sojourning in fear:
[There is a difference between being saved by our works and being judged by our works. The first of these is clearly stated to be “not what saves us” (Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5). So how is it that the New Testament so often states that we will be judged by our works (Romans 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12-13)? For a detailed article on this subject, please click this line. Is it so strange that we can be saved by one thing (faith) and yet judged by another (works)? Clearly this is the teaching of the New Testament, and it carries with it certain implications:
- That we can be judged by an effect, even though that effect may not be the underlying cause.
- That the underlying cause is our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16), or it is not incorrect to say, faith in Jesus Christ Himself, since He is the one who had made sure that His gospel was delivered to us.
- That the quality of this faith must be sufficient to transform our lives (Romans 12:1-2) to the point that the results are clearly displayed in good works.
- That it is possible for some to believe that they have faith when they are not producing good works, and perhaps not even trying, but such would be evidence that this is a dead faith, and not a faith that can save (James 2:14-26).
- Since it is obvious that God can look directly into the heart of a person and determine if that person has saving faith or not, why does the New Testament say we will be judged by our works? The answer should be quite clear. While God has the capability to do this, we do not; not even to, or for, ourselves. See the bullet above. God wants us to judge ourselves, and since it is impossible for us to examine the quality of our faith directly, He has provided a simple way for us to determine if we are saved or not. Given many places in the New Testament, the one we find to be the clearest is 1 John 2:3-6.
- To illustrate further, we have all known of many, many people who have firm convictions that they are saved, but in many cases their works do not show it. Even more definitive, they teach that works are totally unnecessary. In other words, they teach that you can have saving faith without any works at all, and most of them that teach this state that once you have such a saving-faith experience, there is nothing that you can do to possibly lose your salvation. Such doctrines are not only foreign to and a contradiction of what the Bible teaches on these subjects, they also counter to most people’s good common sense. How could a righteous God set up such a system?]
[We should not neglect the other aspects of this verse. There are four of them, let us consider them in order:
- Call on Him as Father. Of course, we do, and all Christians do. The expression “call on Him” is a Hebraism that first refers to prayer, especially in difficult circumstances. But it also refers to our dependence on Him when it comes to our salvation, as Joel said, quoted by Peter: “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). This is certainly not saying that all one must do is pray; in this context it would include giving ourselves totally to the Lord. Calling on him for our every step in life.
- Without respect of persons. This term is used about five times throughout the New Testament and it should convince us that we come to God today as individuals, not as groups or even as churches. We will be judged by our works and no others’.
- Pass the time of your sojourning. Life on this earth. We are stuck with it and there is no way out before our life here ends. So we need to make the most of it by having the regard for God that will enable us to look forward to a better “city which has the foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
- In fear. In a positive sense, fear of God is essential to wisdom and thus all spiritual growth (Job 28:28; Psalms 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). We need not be afraid, however, if it is our goal to please Him.
18 knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers;
19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, (even the blood) of Christ:
[Redeemed is to be purchased back, as a slave from a master, but in this application, purchased back from the enslavement of sin. Is there any physical thing that can buy this? The answer is comparable to the discussion of works above. No works can suffice, and no corruptible things can be given to redeem us from sin (which he calls your vain manner of life …). The only thing that can redeem us is the blood of the perfect Lamb -- that being a metaphor for the sacrifice made annually for Passover.]
20 who was foreknown indeed before the foundation of the world, but was manifested at the end of times for your sake,
[Christ, from verse 19, was foreknown before the beginning. God chose not to totally reveal Him until these end of times.]
21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead, and gave him glory; so that your faith and hope might be in God.
[We learn here that it is through Jesus that we are believers in God. Certainly there were ample evidences provided under the Old Testament whereby they were expected to believe in God. So this must be talking about a quality of belief that is much greater than could be obtained in any other way. Peter focuses on the resurrection and the fact that it was God who raised Jesus from the dead to give Him (Jesus) glory that should motivate this faith and hope in God.]
22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently:
23 having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and abides.
[“You have purified your souls” is stated accomodatively. It was not ourselves who can receive the credit for our purification; of course, it is the blood of Christ. However, we did our part by being obedient to that which was delivered, i.e., the gospel. So this obedience to the truth is most probably referring to baptism as the start of the new life of obedience to God. It is not only unto salvation (i.e., unto the remission of our sins – Acts 2:27), but also unto unfeigned (totally sincere and uncorrupted) love of the brethren. What you started, be diligent to complete: don’t just love one another, but do it “from the heart fervently.” Begotten again refers to being born anew, something that Jesus commanded in John 3. Our first birth was of corruptible human seed, but this new birth is conceived of incorruptible seed, which Peter identifies as the living and eternal word of God.]
24 For, All flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass.
[Our temporal nature is something that we should recognize and grapple with every day. We dare not hide it away in the recesses of our mind thinking that it is just too terrible a thing to give any thought to. The comparison of human life to grass is common in scripture (Psalms 103:15-16; Isaiah 40:6-8 and James 1:10-11), and for good reason – we experience it on an annual basis; it is an undeniable reality.
The grass withers, and the flower falls:
25 But the word of the Lord abides forever. And this is the word of good tidings which was preached unto you.
[This is something that we can test, and see that it is a reality and is true to at least this day. We all have easy access to the Bible, and it is recognized by all devout people to be the word of God. The word of good tidings is another expression for the gospel, which literally means good news. This was preached to them and it saved their souls; it is the same gospel that can be preached to any of us to save our souls.
1 Peter 2
2:1 Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking,
2 as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation;
3 if ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious:
[This is a complex set of multiple statements within a single sentence. A simple contrast comes first, which proceeds from a logical extension of Chapter 1. (Remember that the chapter and verse subdivisions were not inspired, so we should expect such continuity.) The contrast is from what they were before baptism to what they should be (or have been) immediately after. The example sins given are not comprehensive; collectively they are a synecdoche representative of all sin. The figure is a simile of a newborn child longing for milk; here it is the spiritual milk of the word of God. The following additional points are made:
- Several of the New Testament writers talk about the milk and the meat of the word (e.g., 1 Corinthians 3:2, Hebrews 5:12-13). They all establish that there are different spiritual comprehension levels that are comparable to the human digestive levels. An infant cannot consume and digest meat; and neither can a babe in Christ be expected to understand complex spiritual concepts. (As an example, that given by the writer of Hebrews was the precedent of Melchizedek.) It is critically important for teachers of the word to understand this in their urgency to preach new and different things that they have just discovered. So, Peter indicates the necessity for them to “grow thereby unto salvation.”
- This growth is impossible unless we “have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” Those who cannot see that His revelation to us is an essential part of His grace will not be able to begin to comprehend the meat of the word. We discussed this above (1:1, 10, 13, etc.), and it seems to be an underlying subtheme of the entire letter.
- This spiritual milk, unlike what they have turned from, is totally without guile. This is one of the most convincing evidences of the Bible. When the New Testament speaks of a mystery, it speaks of the previously hidden being revealed, and no longer hidden. There is nothing in the language of the entire Bible that is intended to lead the reader to believe anything except the full truth of God’s revelation. As one preacher said: it is all hanging out there to see, warts and all. This is absolutely not true of cults or anything related to Satanism, which is based on half-truths and total fabrications that have the goal of deceit.]
4 unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious,
5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
[Peter is here speaking of the Lord, from verse 3. Jesus is often referred to as the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) or the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20) of our faith system. It is interesting here that Peter does not claim to be that stone, as the Roman Catholic church has asserted as part of its deception. Peter calls the Lord a “living stone” in the sense that what is built upon Him is a spiritual house (as opposed to a physical structure). Generally Jesus was (and still is even by many who claim to be Christians) rejected of men. Precious indicates that the stone that is forming the base of this metaphor should not be viewed as a huge boulder of the earth, but perhaps as a diamond of this same size. What a privilege for us to be regarded as made out of the same substance as Jesus, which is the implication of our being “living stones.” But then, this is only fitting if we, as a church, are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16), and similarly each one of us individually is to be a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). The spiritual house is one metaphor, while the holy priesthood is another. This will be taken up again in verse 9, but there the priesthood will be described as royal, as opposed to holy, a word we gave consideration to in 1:15. The focus here is on this holy priesthood offering up sacrifices, which was their role in the Old Testament. However, the sacrifices now are spiritual sacrifices. Let us remind you of a passage that describes this better than anything we can say; namely Romans 12: 1-2: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, (which is) your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”]
6 Because it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: And he that believes on him shall not be put to shame.
7 For you therefore that believe is the preciousness: but for such as disbelieve, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner;
8 and, A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; for they stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
[We combine our comments on these three verses, since they all have the same objective: that to show the Old Testament basis for Peter’s arguments in favor of Jesus being the foundational rock of the spiritual kingdom, the church, as well as the faith, which is the gospel that contains revelation of God’s righteousness (Romans 1:16-17), as opposed to that of man. Let us take these in order:
- 6. Isaiah 28:16. God speaking to the prophet of a time when the Christ will come, and it will be our responsibility to believe all that He will teach. Clearly salvation by faith was an Old Testament doctrine, but can you imagine if anyone back then proposed that we can be saved by faith-only? That would have had no meaning back then just like it has no meaning today. Precious: think of precious stones such as diamonds. Recall that some of the gates of the New Jerusalem described in the book of Revelation (21:21) were made completely of one precious stone, a pearl.
- 7. Psalms 118:22. This figurative preciousness is for those who are faithful. But the disbelievers, called the “builders” here, would not accept this precious stone to provide for them the way, the truth and the light. Who are the “builders?” They must be the Jews and especially the Jewish leaders who were supposed to be building the spiritual base for Israel, but were, in fact, corrupting themselves, the priesthood, and the entire Jewish religious establishment for their own worldly advantage. It is no wonder that they rejected Jesus, and it will be no wonder when Jesus rejects them.
- 8. Isaiah 8:14. This precious rock that they have rejected will not just be set aside and remain dormant. No, it will get in the way of their corruption and their evil ways. They may not even realize when they are stumbling over it. It will be offensive to them in standing in direct opposition to everything that they have corrupted the religion of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob into. They will stumble at no less than the truth of the word of Jesus Christ. Why? Because they have a heart to be disobedient to the One that they call their God, but who is the farthest thing from being what they subject themselves to.
9 But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar purchased people, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:
[These are different descriptors for the same saved group of people, with each one of them bringing a different aspect to mind, and thus, no one of them being adequate to fully describe God’s people:
- Elect race. The word “elect” appears 16 times in the New Testament and always refers to those who are saved. The word itself is never given a definition, but is adequately defined by its obvious usage. “Race” has much the same meaning as it does in common usage today. Generally it refers to a group of people all with the same heritage. The use of the word in this context is very significant, for it demonstrates that what people generally regard as racial distinctions are not applicable to the saved. The New Testament is adamant in many places in stating that God is not a respecter of persons, and we have already discussed it in 1 Peter; see 1:17. The fact that Christians are and elect race makes all other racial distinctions not only irrelevant, but stumbling blocks themselves if they are used in any way to divide the Body of Christ. Let us explore the meaning of the Greek word for race, genos, further since this is such an important concept and since many erroneous “Christian” religious groups set themselves apart from others by race. Thayers defined genos to be a) offspring; b) family; c) stock, race; and d) concrete, the aggregate of many individuals of the same nature, kind, sort, species. None of these definitions contrast with our English word “race,” and they are all generally supportive of it. Thus, we feel that it is the best translation for the word genos, and all of the ramifications that we have expressed are valid.
- Royal priesthood. Royal would indicate political status, kingly. Christians only attain that status by their relationship to their King, Jesus Christ. The role of the ordained priesthood was to stand between God and man, and thus to be a type of mediator. This tells us that Christians need no such priesthood because we are the priesthood, and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the only mediators that they need between ourselves as individuals and God the Father. So what is our role as a priesthood? While Christians need no priesthood, clearly non-Christians do, and it would seem that fulfilling the Great Commission given to us by Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20) would satisfy that role. If those of the world are going to learn about the gospel of Jesus it is going to be through the active work of His people.
- Holy nation. The idea of Christians being set aside and holy was discussed in 1:16-17. The emphasis here should be more on the “nation.” Obviously not a physical nation of the world, it is being used metaphorically here to indicate that many of the attributes of a physical nation apply to the spiritual nation that is the body of Christ, His church. This nation is a kingdom, with Jesus Christ being the King, reigning from heaven. It has its laws and its local governments in the various churches that are organized according to the precepts of the New Testament. And it has its subjects, all Christians.
- A peculiar purchased people. This is translated various ways. The two words, peculiar and purchased, come from two related meanings, but one word in Greek, peripoieesin. Our translation reflects that of most standard translations that indicate that the people of God are different, set aside, purchased and for God’s own possession. Translators efforts to avoid the word peculiar is understandable in that it is often associated with something not only different, but oddly or strangely different. We would argue that Christians often fall into this definition because of the way that most people regard someone who is truly and fully dedicated to the Lord. But it is also used to indicate that a possession is uniquely owned by one person, which is also a trait of the people of God, and so we have added “purchased.” Purchased by the blood of Christ from the everlasting ownership of Satan and the destruction caused by sin.
10 who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
[The sentence has now turned from describing God to describing His people. “Were no people” indicates that there was no distinction between those who are now saved, and the people of the world. Peter is not referring to any particular race or people with any particular heritage; he is referring to the people described in verse 9 who having been saved from the world through the new birth are the people of God. They had not obtained mercy previously because the gospel had not been revealed (before the cross), and thus they were destined to eternal destruction; but now they have obtained mercy as children of God.
11 Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
[To beseech is to beg; Peter could have commanded them, but expresses his love toward them in this way. Sojourners was introduced in 1:1 and had some elaboration in 1:17. It would seem that in his address he was talking mainly about Christian Jews who for some reason or another were required to leave their homes in Judea since he calls them sojourners of the dispersion. This dispersion was part of God’s plan and he used the persecution of Christians, and particularly the death of Stephen, to providentially cause it to take place as is recorded in Acts 8. At this point, however, he is appealing to the fact that they should not consider this world their home so as to get comfortable with their ways. Remain as sojourners and pilgrims knowing that your true home is in heaven. As part of this, abstain from fleshly lusts, and gives the reason for that: they war against the soul, and will thus keep you from reaching your heavenly home.
12 having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
[This is part of abstaining from fleshly lust. Among the Gentiles cannot possibly be talking about all Gentiles, since there were some Gentiles who were Christians. And these Christian Gentiles are not who he is talking about since he says that their habit is to “speak against you as evil doers.” It seems clear that Peter is in complete concord with what Paul asserted in Galatians 3:29: “And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise.” So if all Christians, Jew and Gentile, are spiritual Jews, it must also be true that all who are not spiritual Jews are “spiritual Gentiles,” in the figurative sense, whether Jew or Gentile. If all saved people are spiritual Jews, then all lost people are “spiritual gentiles.” These are the ones who speak against the Christians that Peter is writing to, and he commands them to behave seemly so that they may convert them to Christ. Now, in their prejudice they will speak against you as being evil-doers. But, in the Day of Judgment they will recognize their error and glorify God. Peter says this will be in the “day of visitation,” for which we have no other scriptural alternative than to conclude that this will be when Jesus comes for the final judgment.]
13 Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme;
14 or unto governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to them that do well.
[Surely there were power-hungry evil rulers at that time just as there are now. They are to be respected for the role that God has given them (Romans 13), and by God’s wisdom and power, generally they do perform this function fairly well. Think about what the alternative would be, and it would not take long to see that the street gangs of our large cities could easily take over the entire country in the absence of any counter forces. That seems to be what those who parade around screaming for the death of police officers seem to want, since they might be expecting to take their places. Those who stand complacently by or give them monetary or other support will have only themselves to blame if this should ever happen. They will be the first victims (easy pickings). What a just punishment for their absurd rebellion, but by then it will be too late. The only time we should not obey our governmental officials is when they require us to disobey God, and then, as stated in Acts 5:29: “We must obey God rather than men.”]
15 For so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:
16 as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God.
[Christians should be seen as model citizens in our society in order to silence the type of ignorance discussed under the previous verse. How would one use their freedom for a cloak of wickedness? Recognize that Peter is talking about the Jews here being free from the Law of Moses. Some felt they were set free from all of God’s laws. Not so. They are still under law to Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21), which is the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25), and a law of faith (Romans 1:27). We serve in the faith of Jesus Christ just as He served His Father, but with the difference that in place of perfection, we are required to continue to move in the direction of God’s righteousness for our entire lives as bondservants of God, from faith unto faith (Romans 1:17).]
17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
[These are specifics to exemplify our honor that we should show to our governments. This is an synecdoche in that our common practice would be to put and “etc.” after the word king. The list is not exhaustive, and it would probably consume half the page and still not cover all of the specifics. But we are expected to infer them from this list. Let us honor all who should rightfully be honored.]
18 Servants, (be) in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
[Click here for discussion of slavery in general. Recognize that the regulation of an established institution or custom within a culture is not saying that that institution is acceptable or sanctioned by God. Bankers are mentioned in the New Testament, and while they were probably as corrupt (at the highest levels) back then as they are now, there is no attempt in the New Testament to eliminate banking from an entire culture. Other examples can be given, and this is not a sanction of either slavery nor banking; we are just using them as examples of institutions that often get corrupted and fail to satisfy God’s will with regard to our moral responsibilities to each other. It must be noted that in the first century there was a large number and types of “slaves,” ranging from bondservants who had incurred a debt and were working if off for their masters, up to the completely owning a persons that was common in the USA up to the mid-1800s (and is still quite common in many countries today). The extent of illegal slavery, typically called human trafficking is probably more extensive in the USA than the slave trade was in the 1800s, so the laws passed against it have merely moved it underground, and made the crime against these victims that much more hidden and wicked. This coupled with the fact that it is so lucrative had corrupted many law enforcement and politicians into its involvement, which, once begun, moves to greater and greater degrees of depravity to maintain and cover itself. Please do not mistake our goal here – we no more wish to bring slavery back than it would have been wise for those serving God in His church to attempt to eliminate it in the first century. Our statements are rather a plea to our society in general and law enforcement in particular, to enforce all of the law, especially those that are against corrupt politicians and law enforcement officers.]
[The servitude with which most readers are familiar could be considered a light form of slavery. Rather than purchase the entire person for his/her lifetime, the subordinate is purchased by the hour, of in the case of salaried employees, but the month. The big difference, of course, is one of freedom. Commonly in society an employee can quit at any time, although sometimes contracts prevent that as well, which tend to push the relationship more in the direction of traditional slavery. No matter, the commands given by Peter in this verse apply in principle. To make this application, let us adjust Peter’s terminology a bit and just say that the company owner, or his designated supervisor, is the person Peter is calling you masters. Let us call that person the supervisor, and most of us can fill the place of the servant as employees. The principles of subjection given are much the same as those that establish our relationship with our government. The major difference is that while the government is persistent all the time, the supervisor-employee relationship applies only when we are on the job. Peter’s commands are clear: be subject to them even if they are not the most kind or fair people. The word froward in this context literally means crooked, bent, perverse, wicked, unjust, peevish, all of which cover a lot of ground. And while the owned slave would generally have to tolerate such an overseer, we should thank God that we have the freedom to break the relationship if it is too overbearing, and we are obligated to break it if it requires us to break God’s moral laws.]
19 For this is acceptable, if for conscience toward God a man endures griefs, suffering wrongfully.
[Most people do not find this acceptable. They see suffering wrongfully as a violation of their “rights” and will insist on retribution or some form of punishment, sometimes of which they attempt to execute themselves. So what Peter is saying here is quite counterintuitive to most people. The big question is: what benefit will it have to this person or others if I take some action against him? Will anyone be benefited? If so, how? Strong reasons must exist to overthrow this command. The reason is given in the next verse.]
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted (for it), ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer (for it), ye shall take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
[The murderer cannot complain because he is sitting in jail. However, if someone had attempted to save a person’s life and because of that is falsely accused of murder, that would be suffering wrong for doing something that is right. The context here, however, is more in terms of religious persecution, i.e., suffering persecution for trying to save the persecutors’ souls. This verse is not saying that we cannot defend ourselves against unfair treatment, but quite often that is not possible. Recall Paul’s admonition to those who are inclined to take their fellow Christians before a court of sinners: “Nay, already it is altogether a defect in you, that ye have lawsuits one with another. Why not rather take wrong? why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7). This is more along the lines of the application of this principle. Weigh out the pros and cons and then take the proper action realizing that sometimes this might require you to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:38-40).]
21 For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps:
[Was there anything about Jesus’ continuous persecution, His trial and His death that had any justice associated with it whatsoever? We all need to realize that had there been, it would have been each one of us on that cross. Christ suffered wrong for doing right so that we would not have to suffer for our sins throughout eternity. In this, but also in everything else, we have the command to “follow His steps.”]
22 who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered threatened not; but committed (himself) to him that judges righteously:
[Together with the next verse, this initiates a series of phrases that describe characteristics of Jesus. We should meditate on each of these, but not as ends in themselves, but as the motivation for following His steps, and especially when it comes to our being called to suffer for our faith (2 Timothy 3:12). These characteristics emphasize that Jesus was:
- Totally sinless, and the only man for which this can be said;
- Spoke the truth as clear and plain as it could be spoken so that there could be no deception whatsoever in His words;
- Did not return reviling for his being reviled, where reviling is the use of extremely strong contemptuous or abusive language. We know that such speech was used against Him on many occasions in which it might be thought that responding in kind would not be sinful. However, Jesus always gave His adversaries the benefit of the doubt, as an example to us (of course, He knew what was in their hearts). It is interesting and insightful here to see that this absence of reviling is not an absolute statement covering all situations, but rather “when he was reviled). There is no doubt that the language used in Matthew 23 is strong enough to be classified as reviling, but in this and other such cases Jesus was stating the truth in the most definitive and persuasive possible words. This is the example that we should follow.
- The qualifiers on His not threatening are similar to those of not reviling. Clearly Jesus threatened at some appropriate times to send certain people to hell (although at the times He was not claiming to be the agent to do this, again as an example to us, for we know that it is He who will judge the world). But he never threatened as a response to being threatened. His warnings were in the context of using the type of words and language that showed love for those he was rebuking.
- “… but committed (Himself) to Him that judges righteously.” Again, as the perfect example for us, his actions were always under the control of His Father, just as ours should always be controlled by Jesus as we follow his example for us.]
24a who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.
[We must never underestimate the magnitude of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us when he suffered and died, shedding His blood to enable our sins to be washed away. But some have gone to the extent of interpreting this verse to the point of Jesus actually (not figuratively, but actually) becoming a sinner in our place. Neither this verse, nor its complement in 2 Corinthians says any such thing, and so neither should we. Let us verify this by considering 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” In both verses the indication is that Jesus suffered because of our sins. In other words, it was the equivalence of our being convicted in court of being guilty and then someone else sustaining the punishment for us. If such were possible in the courts of man, there would be no implication at all that the one who suffered the punishment suddenly because guilty of the offense. And so it is here. What Jesus did was to pay the price for our sins so as to clear the way of justice enabling us to be free from these sins and saved. He suffered as if he had been guilty, but he never became guilty of these sins in any way. See also Isaiah 53:4, 12.
24b who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.
[The figure of our dying to sins is best seen from Romans 6:3-4: “Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.” It helps that we sort out the figurative from the literal, and the physical from the spiritual. Nicodemus had an obvious problem in this regard in John 3 when Jesus said that if any man would see the kingdom of heaven he would need to be born again. In order to be born again, the original life of sin must be put to death. Of course, this is not literal or physical, it is a spiritual process that can be compared to physical death in the sense that it is absolute and final. So is the meaning of our “having died to sins.” And the subsequent spiritual life unto righteousness is reflected in the figure of our being “raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.” A final figure of this process is taken from Isaiah 53:5, where the stripes of being beaten (as Jesus was) enable us to be healed from the spiritual wounds of sin that afflicts every non-forgiven person.]
25 For ye were going astray like sheep; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
[This goes back to the previous verses. Those who have not given themselves to Christ are wandering sheep, and without His guidance will always be lost. Bishop here means overseer, and it, along with elder and shepherd (pastor) are often used interchangeably to refer to the highest office in local churches. There is no authorized organization greater than the local churches.]
1 Peter 3
3:1 In like manner, ye wives, (be) in subjection to your own husbands; that, even if any obey not the word, they may without the word be gained by the behavior of their wives;
2 beholding your chaste behavior (coupled) with fear.
[Go back and read 2:18 from where the current thought is continuing. Servants are to be in subjection to their masters, and in like manner wives to their husbands. But it is quite obvious that the “like manner” is not an “identical manner.” It is alike in that: (1) it involves the concept of subjection, and (2) it is a command of the Lord. But surely it must be different in the fact that the master is not commanded to love his servant, at least not in the same sense as the husband-wife relationship (Ephesians 5:25). Subjection here does not extend to obedience that would cause one to violate God’s laws – this is a rule in all of our relationships. The fact that the husband is not a Christian is not a reason to abandon this edict. The wife in loving her husband should desire his salvation, and this indicates that her obedience may be the best way to accomplish that.]
3 Whose (adorning) let it not be the outward adorning of braiding the hair, and of wearing jewels of gold, or of putting on apparel;
4 but (let it be) the hidden man of the heart, in the incorruptible (apparel) of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
[Click here for information on the Not-But construct. Much has been made of this passage to prohibit women from certain articles of clothing. However, as if to give us a clue that this is not some fashion checklist, one of the things that would be prevented is “putting on apparel.” It is absurd to think that this is being prohibited. The solution to this potential problem is to recognize that there are dozens of instances of what are called Not-But statements in the New Testament. To summarize the article referenced above, the Not part of a Not-But statement is not binding in many cases, and the purpose of the statement is not to create an edict but to shift attention from the “Not” subject to the “But” subject. In this example, the important things is the heart of the individual that needs to be reflected by a meek and quite spirit. Clothing and all other aspects of the woman with the right heart will reflect these attributes. So, while this is not a prohibition against “outward adorning” and the specific examples of it given, the woman should be very careful in these things to be sure that they do not distract from the virtuous nature of her heart.]
5 For after this manner aforetime the holy women also, who hoped in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands:
6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose children ye now are, if ye do well, and are not put in fear by any terror.
[Exemplified in Genesis 18:12. Was Peter just talking to the Jews as being children of Abraham? No, it seems clear that his understanding was the same as that of Paul given in Galatians 3:29,
“And if ye are Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, heirs according to promise.” A general qualifier is given that indicates how we might be disqualified from this great blessing. “Do well” here means to do as God’s will indicates that we should do. If we do that we should not be put in fear by anyone or anything, so the two qualifiers carry very similar implications.]
7 Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with (your wives) according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.
[This verse has several major principles:
- In like manner – similar to the way in which wives subject themselves to their husbands, and similar to the relationship of servants discussed in 2:18. While most see such service as being a major affront to their rights, the Christian welcomes such opportunities to server, looking forward to that time when we will serve God in heaven eternally.
- Dwell with your wives – the command is given in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; …” Recognize that this command is far more compelling than anything given to wives or slaves. Peter here is not adding to this command, since that would not be possible. Rather, he is presenting some details as to how to implement this.
- According to knowledge – first the knowledge of God’s word and how it relates to the marriage relationship (e.g., Matthew 19). But even deeper than this is the understanding of the husband and wife for each other. While this may not be something that can be mastered, the understanding of each other’s needs is certainly is something that they should strive for.
- Giving honor unto the woman – not because she is the weaker vessel, in many marriage situations she is not. She is to be given honor because God created her to serve in the marriage relationship and a failure to respect that in inexcusable.
- As unto the weaker vessel – this is a simile; it is not stating that she is the weaker vessel. Typically she is not as strong physically as the husband, but not always. Typically she may be given to being weaker emotionally, but it is arguable as to whether this is really a weakness. The thrust here is that the husband is to view his wife as potentially weaker and that is good reason for him to treat her in a very special and highly exalted way.
- As being also joint-heirs of the grace of life – that both are heirs indicates that neither is superior to the other, and that both receive God’s grace directly from God and not through each other.
- “To the end that your prayers be not hindered.” This would especially pertain to their common prayers together. Any animosity or sin against each other would tend to prevent those sins from being open and heard by God. This, of course, is true of any sin, but Peter points is out specifically as being a danger in the marriage relationship.
8 Finally, (be) ye all likeminded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humbleminded:
9 not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling; but contrariwise blessing; for hereunto were ye called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
[The positives. “Likeminded,” see Philippians 2:5-8: “Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men;and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient (even) unto death, yea, the death of the cross.” This is actuated by the previous verse, Philippians 2:4: “… not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.” Not being selfish and just looking out for our “own things” but being “compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humbleminded.]
[“Not rendering evil for evil:” Romans 12:19-21: Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath (of God): for it is written, Vengeance belongs unto me; I will recompense, says the Lord. But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Please consider the possibility that, consistently with the context, “coals of fire” here are not for vengeance but to provide warmth to those who are cold in their attitudes toward their fellow man. The rest of the verse indicates that the Christian is to have the attitude of blessing, that of concern for others. Anything that we can do for their benefit would be included, and why should we not have this attitude? Do we not recognize the blessing that we will inherit if we have such an attitude? This blessing is, of course, our eternal inheritance with God forever in heaven.]
10 For, He that would love life, And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips that they speak no guile:
11 And let him turn away from evil, and do good; Let him seek peace, and pursue it.
[Does not everyone want to love life and see good days? Apparently not. But it is not stupidity or ignorance nearly as much as the problem is a lack of faith in Jesus Christ as the answer to all of this world’s problems. The reference here that reflects truth from the Old Testament is Psalms 34:12, which, given the next verse, is what Peter is reflecting upon here. So the advice to those who have faith in Jesus’ way, the following exhortations are given:
- Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
- And his lips that they speak no guile:
- And let him turn away from evil, and do good;
- Let him seek peace, and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, And his ears unto their supplication: But the face of the Lord is upon them that do evil.
[This is almost directly from Psalms 34:15-16, which indicates to us that this is not strictly a New Testament principle. This is also emphasized in James 5:16: “The supplication of a righteous man avails much in its working.” Recognize when you are praying for others, that they may suffer because your lack of faithfulness makes your prayer ineffectual.]
13 And who is he that will harm you, if ye be zealous of that which is good?
[The protection that Christians have is a spiritual protection as indicated in Revelation 7. This is a rhetorical question and it reflects truth in the absolute sense when it comes to our spiritual welfare. Physically, however, there may be exceptions, and these are discussed in the next verse.
14 But even if ye should suffer for righteousness' sake, blessed (are ye:) and fear not their fear, neither be troubled;
15 but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: (being) ready always to give answer to every man that asks you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear:
16 having a good conscience; that, wherein ye are spoken against, they may be put to shame who revile your good manner to life in Christ.
[We can and will suffer for righteousness sake (2 Timothy 3:12). It is difficult to view this as a blessing, but if we recognize the ultimate blessing to ourselves that was given in verse 9 above, all of these things can be tolerated (1 Corinthians 10:13). “Their fear” is the fear of physical things; Jesus said to fear He who has dominion over your soul (Matthew 10:28). To sanctify is to set apart; so we are commanded to set Christ as Lord apart in our hearts. While the next clause is a separate command, there can be no doubt that obedience to it is greatly assisted by our having Christ as Lord set aside in our hearts.]
[“Ready always to give answer…” We have heard this applied to the need to be able to justify everything that we do from Scripture. In fact, it is impossible for us to give answers to those who ask of us if we do not have a good grasp of the scriptures that apply to the question at hand. But the ultimate answer is that we are pilgrims that are looking toward “the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). This is the reason that we act strange, look strange and say strange things, and we make no apology for it. But we are also warned to do this with meekness and fear, not with arrogance or animosity toward others. They are not the enemy (Ephesians 6:12), and we care for their souls.]
[“Having a good conscience …” According to this verse, a good conscience will help us to be able to put to shame those who are lying against us. If we do not have a good conscience, we need to work on that. Read Romans 8, which tells of our “minding” the Holy Spirit in order to transform our lives. Setting our minds on the things of the Holy Spirit will result in a clear conscience despite that fact that we can never expect to be perfect. What we can attain is the desire to do God’s will and the good works that result. These enable us to test our own selves to see if we are in the faith. 1 John 2:3-6: “And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that says, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoso keeps his word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected. Hereby we know that we are in him: he that says he abides in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked.”]
17 For it is better, if the will of God should so will, that ye suffer for well-doing than for evil-doing.
[Suffering for evil-doing is what those who are of the world have to look forward to. It is here just to provide contrast. Christians know that evil-doing will cause them to suffer both here on this earth, physically and spiritually (in conscience), and in the world to come. The message is to have no fear, do what is right perhaps even expecting the suffering that will follow. This is following Jesus steps, as we see in the next verse.]
18 Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the spirit;
[We break this sentence up so that we can deal with each part of it. It is a passage for which there has been much speculation and false doctrine taught. Let us not miss the value of this first part because we are concentrating on those for which there are issues. Peter is giving the reason that it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. The reason is because that was Jesus’ way of putting the best interests of mankind, and each individual one of us, ahead of His own interests. To this he adds:
- Jesus suffered for sin once – some would teach that Jesus suffers for our sins every time we sin. While he is gravely disappointed when he sees us sin, that type of suffering is not what is under consideration here. What is can be seen in Hebrews 10:10: “By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
- The righteous for the unrighteous – Jesus was the righteous and all of mankind the unrighteous (Romans 3:23). God’s redeemed people are called “righteous” several times in the New Testament, but only because they are cleansed by the blood that was shed for them, to render them fit to be called children of God.
- That he might bring us to God – to reconcile us to God, which was the reason for His suffering on the cross, which will now be referenced …
- “Being put to death in the flesh …” – it was only the flesh that was put to death on the cross.
- “… but made alive by the spirit; …” – According to James 2:26, “… the body apart from the spirit is dead …” physically. Thus, it was by Jesus’ spirit re-uniting with His dead body that brought him back to life. Much has been made of this by endless speculations, but this seems to be a most reasonable and logical interpretation that in no way contradicts any other scripture, and in this context supports the thought of the following verses.
19 in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison,
[This is the clause that is so often subjected to mis-interpretation by those who are intent on finding evidence for their false doctrines (e.g., purgatory). The thrust of the clause is certain: in some way Jesus preached to “the spirits in prison,” i.e., the spirits that are now in prison. The way that it was done was “in the spirit” or “in His spirit” either of which are identical concepts and just alternative ways of saying the same thing. The necessary implication is that Jesus did not go and preach to them in His physical body. Who were the spirits in prison that Peter refers to? This is easily determined from the next verse. They were the spirits of those who had been disobedient in the day or Noah. When did this take place? Again from verse 20, “while the ark was being built.” There is no inference at all that they were preached to at any other time. And clearly, these disobedient individuals were not “in their spirits” but were in their bodies. So, how did Jesus “in the spirit” preach to them? There is no other alternative than that it was through Noah. The fact that Peter recognized Noah to be a preacher of the truth is shown in 2 Peter 2:5: “… and spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; …” So there can be no ambiguity in the meaning of this verse; to paraphrase: Jesus in the spirit went and through Noah preached to those who were disobedient at that time, and who are now spirits in prison, trapped and locked up hopelessly and forever in hell (or in a state of waiting for such). Looking toward the next verse, these are the spirits …]
20 that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water:
[The only thoughts added to the discussion above is that God is longsuffereing – it took several years for Noah to build the ark. We can be sure that God gave them an adequate period of time in which to repent. The fact that only eight souls were saved is well known from Genesis 7:7. We might ask, how were they saved by, or through, water? Most commentators want to say that the water buoyed them up and saved them; but it was the ark that enabled this. Think of how they were doomed to be in a world that was totally anti-God before the flood. It was the flood that saved them from such a world. We cannot say dogmatically that this is what Peter was thinking, but it is worth considering.]
21 which also after a true likeness doth now save you, (even) baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;
[Peter is making an analogy between the water that saved Noah and his family, and the waters of baptism that “wash away our sins” (Acts 22:16) today. He calls this a true likeness. Open your mind a bit and realize what was immersed in the flood. It was the entire earth. It went down into the water totally inhabited by sinful and corrupt men, but it came up out of the water totally sinless. Again, we are not saying that this is what was in Peter’s mind, or even that the Holy Spirit wants us to think this way. However, I find nothing in these possibilities that would be counter to the milk of the word of God. Now Peter, after stating the effect of baptism, goes on to define what it should be. It is not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but rather, it is:
- “the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (ASV);
- “the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (KJV; NKJV);
- “an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (RSV)
22 who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him.
[The event that implemented this is the ascension, which is recorded for us in Acts 1:10. Peter is using this to tie off this basic thought – that Jesus is the answer to our salvation, and that He is in total control. Bad things that happen only happen because they are allowed by God, and they will eventually be turned into good that will be recognized by those who are saved. Have no fear, “angels and authorities and powers” are subject to Him now.]
1 Peter 4
4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ suffered in the flesh, arm ye yourselves also with the same mind; for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2 that ye no longer should live the rest of your time in flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
[We need to be “armed” with the mind of Christ, which was one that was not influenced in any way by the fact that He would suffer. As we have seen, suffering has been a major subtheme of letter to this point. If we have the mind of Christ, this might cause us to suffer, but if such suffering is tolerated (perhaps even welcomed) by the Christian, this will redirect our lives from one of sin to one that has ceased from sin. And, this is the life that has been transformed from being driven by the lusts of the flesh to the will of God. These same ideas are conveyed in 2 Timothy 2:11, Colossians 2:20 and 3:3, where the idea of our crucifying the old man (of Romans 6) and participating in the resurrection of Christ as we arise after baptism to “walk in newness of life.”]
3 For the time past may suffice to have wrought the desire of the Gentiles, and to have walked in lasciviousness, lusts, winebibbings, revellings, carousings, and abominable idolatries:
4 wherein they think it strange that ye run not with (them) into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of (you):
5 who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the living and the dead.
[“The desire of the Gentiles” is not talking about all Gentiles, certainly not those who are Christians. But the term was easily recognized by Jews and by converted Gentiles alike. It is talking about the total lawlessness and depravity of the Gentile nations in general. Some of these sins are listed, and all of these words have their standard dictionary definitions. It is interesting that several are in the plural, which is not typically the way they are expressed in current-day English. The reason for this is that these things are occurring (or recurring) in a variety of forms that are best that we do not even know about. This list is a synecdoche – it can and should be extrapolated to all types of sin. Those of us who have left the dark world of sin and have visited our old friends recognized the feeling of their “thinking it strange that we no longer run with them.” In their mind they think: “doesn’t everyone think this way?” and it is a great surprise to them that the answer is given, not in words, but in the demonstration of a new life. How do they speak evil? They question our sincerity, call us hypocrites, call us self-righteous, tell of what we used to be, etc. We need to be careful that none of the lies that they tell about us become the truth. Those who hate Christians because they are forced to see their own sin will be judged accordingly. The warning here is for us not to fall back to a condition in which we will be similarly judged.]
6 For unto this end was the gospel preached even to the dead, that they might be judged indeed according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
[This verse is often coupled with that of 3:19-20 to create false doctrines that are contrary to the milk of God’s word. First, recognize that there is nothing in this verse that says that the gospel was preached to them when they were dead. They are dead and gone to their final reward now. But the gospel was preached to them while they were alive, could understand it, and could do something about it. Yes, it could be referring back to Noah’s time, but that would just be representative of all people from all times who heard preaching like that of Noah and disregarded it because their lifestyle would not tolerate it. It was preached to them for two reasons: (1) so that righteous judgment could be administered to them, and (2) so that those who repent and obey God can live according to God. “In the spirit” is the only way that we can be acceptable to God, since He wants our heart, soul and spirit. We must be born again to a life dedicated to His service.]
7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind, and be sober unto prayer:
8 above all things being fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covers a multitude of sins:
9 using hospitality one to another without murmuring:
10 according as each has received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God;
[We should always live every day of our life realizing that the end is at hand – it could come any second. This should motivate us to use the brains that God has given us and to keep our minds in a sober way so as to be able to think reasonably. “Love covers a multitude of sins” reflects on Paul’s statements on this subject (e.g., Romans 13:8-10). This is not to say that if you love, your sins are covered (as some who violate God’s truth in teaching). The meaning is that if you are motivated by love you will not have a mind to do any of a multitude of sins. Not only will you not want to do them, in many cases they would not even enter your mind. “According as each has received a gift” would not infer that these would be miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, but any talent or possession that we have that can in any way serve our fellow man, and especially our brothers and sisters in Christ.]
11 if any man speaks, (speaking) as it were oracles of God; if any man ministers, (ministering) as of the strength which God supplies: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen
[This verse is often applied, and rightfully so, to the necessity for us today to never bind anything that is outside of God’s word. The word Greek for “oracles” means utterance, whether spoken or written. Thus, we are not to speak anything except what we find in God’s written word today. The qualification on ministering, which means serving, implies much the same thing. When we serve we should serve according to the will of God. In both cases we should make it clear that what we are doing is not of ourselves, but that it is verifiably from God, thus giving Him all of the glory.]
[This would seem to be a fitting way to close the letter, and it could be that the remainder of the letter was an afterthought. No matter, it is no less important. Peter continues the theme of Christian suffering.]
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial among you, which cometh upon you to prove you, as though a strange thing happened unto you:
13 but insomuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy.
[So, persecution should be viewed as the rule and not the exception (2 Timothy 3:12). In fact, while persecution itself is no proof of truth (many false cults are persecuted), the fact that we are not being persecuted would indicate that we are not providing the good solid examples of following Jesus that we should. There are benefits to any suffering and in this case the benefit is that we are proven. The relationship between “fiery” and “prove” would seem to be one of proving a metal, such as gold, by heating it up beyond its melting point and allowing the impurities to surface so that they can be removed. In this sense the word “improve” might be appropriate in that it is looking to the future rather than determining integrity from the past. But both are implied. While we have great peace of mind in looking forward to the coming of Christ, this is nothing compared to the rejoicing that will be realized when Jesus returns for judgment. There again, Peter is urging us to ignore the sufferings of this present time and look toward the day of Jesus.]
14 If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed (are ye); because the (Spirit) of glory and the Spirit of God rests upon you.
[Some are reproached because they are evil, and obviously their suffering is not a blessing. If our suffering is the result of our own sin, we should see it as a great motivation for our repentance. Being reproached “for the name of Christ” means that we are reproached for recognizing His authority in all phases our lives, including our religious activities. The Greek word translated “name” here is onomati, and it is given by Strong to mean: “a name.” A name is not just a descriptor, although it may start out as such, and most of the names given in the Old Testament did just that. The name of Christ when applied to His followers is Christian. We will pick up this discussion in verse 16.]
[The strict adherence to the authority of Christ-only can cause our being reproached by those who are following after false religious beliefs even more than from alien sinners. Those in the depths of sin quite often recognize that things are not right in their lives, and many have the inclination to respect those who are committed to serving the Lord. But those in false religions see our adherence to nothing other than what the Bible teaches as being an affront to their religious efforts, and rightfully so. Consider Paul when he returned to Jerusalem in Acts 20. Did his persecution come from those who did not believe in God, or from his fellow Jews?]
15 For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evil-doer, or as a meddler in other men's matters:
[Clearly this list is a synecdoche representing all such sins, which society in general punishes, according to God’s will (see 2:13-14 and Romans 13).
16 but if (a man suffer) as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name [behalf].
[This verse should be viewed in close connection with verse 14. There are two Greek sources for the word in the place of “name” in the ASV (and all other American Standard versions, the NIV and many other versions. The Greek word onomatim which is literally “a name” as discussed for verse 14 is repeated here for these versions. The KJV renders it “behalf” and the NKJV renders it “matter,” both of which are from an alternative Greek source that has the Greed word meros in this position. We see no doctrinal issue here, since the matter/behalf has to refer back to the name of Christ and His authority as discussed in verse 14. But we are compelled to ask: “Just what “matter” or “behalf” could Peter have been referring to? Clearly the subject of the clause is the word Christian. We are not to be ashamed to be called Christians. That is clear. But can we glorify God on the behalf of “Christian,” or in the matter of “Christian?” The Christian is the follower, not the authority or the leader. So in all probability these translators were not thinking of Christian, but rather of Christ. We do not glorify God in either the matter or behalf of “Christian.” We glorify God in the name Christian when we wear this name and are not ashamed of it. So, the context dictates which of these Greek sources is the correct one, and this gives the authority for the name Christian, and for our calling ourselves by this name and by no other name. This does not outlaw other descriptors, but these should be recognized as words that describe, not as names.]
17 For the time (is come) for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if (it begin) first at us, what (shall be) the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?
[This verse has several embedded concepts:
- Time (is come). Christians should always expect that the judgment is imminent;
- Judgment to begin at the house of God. 1 Timothy 3:15: “that thou may know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” We often assume that the church are the saved, but this verse indicates that this is not a valid assumption. The heavy implication of the rest of this verse is that some that are recognized by men as “members of the church” will be lost.
- Begin first at us. The implication here is that we should not get complacent and think that just because we are identified with God’s people on this earth, that this is the bus that will of necessity take us to heaven. Hear Paul 1 Corinthians 15:1-2: “the gospel … by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain.” And, of course, there are dozens of scriptures that reflect that a saved person can be subsequently lost.
- What shall be the end? A rhetorical question; obviously they will be lost.
- Obey not the gospel of God. The gospel is not just a document to give us advice. It is a law to be obeyed. We know that we are not saved by law keeping. But this does not mean that we have no law. Romans 3:27: “Where then is the glorying? It is excluded. By what manner of law? of works? Nay: but by a law of faith.” The entire letter to the Christians at Rome explains the difference between laws like the Law of Moses and the gospel, which is a law of faith. The major difference is that you cannot turn the gospel into a checklist. (Try it some time. Some have tried, and the only result is the creation of a creed, such as the “Fundamentalists” have attempted.) The only way to obey the gospel is to give yourself to the life described therein, which is totally dedicated to the service to the Lord. He who does that subjects himself to righteousness of God, and this transforms the person from their past lives in the direction of what God wants us to be.]
18 And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?
[A rhetorical question like that above (what shall be the end …), is repeated for emphasis. The emphasis is amplified by the fact that even those who might seem to be saved will not be.]
19 Wherefore let them also that suffer according to the will of God commit their souls in well-doing unto a faithful Creator.
[Again going back to the subject of suffering, the idea is to let your suffering motivate you further to giving yourself to Christ.]
1 Peter 5
5:1 The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according to (the will of) God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 neither as lording it over the charge allotted to you, but making yourselves ensamples to the flock.
[Exhortations to elders in general. This tells us that Peter was a fellow elder with them, and thus he must have satisfied the family requirements. There are many elders, but few who actually witnessed the sufferings of Christ, i.e., His crucifixion. But he couples this witness to being a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed, which is common to all Christians. The command is that of a pastor, and the use of the word pastor to describe elders is totally appropriate. It limits the elders authority to “the flock of God which is among you,” which limits their reach, disqualifying the Roman Catholic model as well as all other denominations. The other exhortations are easy to understand. The final exhortation is one to lead by example as opposed to mandate.]
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested, ye shall receive the crown of glory that fades not away.
[The responsibilities of elders is as complex and as difficult an assignment that exists in the temporal world. It is not a figurehead position. It requires special wisdom when it comes to dealing with erring Christians, which is inevitable since we are all human. The rewards to faithful elders is also emphasized in Revelation 4:4, 10; 5:5; 6, 8, 11, 14; 7:11, 13; 11:16; 14:3 and 19:4.]
5 Likewise, ye younger, be subject unto the elder. Yea, all of you gird yourselves with humility, to serve one another: for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
[This is not speaking strictly of formal elders, but rather the older Christians. But, of course, this would be especially applicable to formal elders. All Christians are to serve one another and to count the interests of others ahead of their own. Philippians 2:3: “… in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; …” Colossians 3:12-14: “Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: and above all these things (put on) love, which is the bond of perfectness.”]
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time;
7 casting all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.
[This is a further exhortation encouraging them to reject all forms of pride.]
8 Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour,
9 whom withstand steadfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world.
[This is a very serious command that is rarely taken seriously. This world is dominated by satanic forces that totally influence those who are in control of allegedly up to 80% of the world’s money supply. With this unlimited money, they exercise tremendous control over all political institutions (worldwide). This is not to say that Satan has supernatural powers on the earth today. In fact, his power is much more magnified by his not being able to back up his claims with miracles. This is because human imaginations are far more grotesque than are the demonstrations of the limited power that Satan would be allowed to have. They believe that their successes of the past have been given to them by Satan. It is impossible to withstand this influence if we keep ourselves ignorant of all of its many aspects. Ten years ago there may have been an excuse, but now the resources of the Internet can enlighten us. Of course, everything on the Internet is not true, but neither is it all false. For guidance in distinguishing between Internet truth and lies, click here.]
[One thing that enables better understanding today is the belief that many of them have that they can justify their evil as long as they tell us about their evil acts in advance. Some felt that the woman who went out in the crowd and warned people before the slaughter in Las Vegas fits this as an example. If so, it would be an example, but we are not ready to state that as a fact, only to cite it as a potential example.]
[The words of Revelation 2:24 should be studied in their context: “But to you I say, to the rest that are in Thyatira, as many as have not this teaching, who know not the deep things of Satan, as they are wont to say; I cast upon you none other burden.” The implication of this is that for those who have not explored the deep things of Satan should not feel that they are compelled to look into these things. On the other hand, there is nothing here to indicate that some Christians who feel they can handle it are in any way prohibited from it. Let us soberly consider, however, that it is impossible to un-see that which our eyes have taken into our minds and spirits.]
10 And the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you.
11 To him (be) the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
[One last statement on the value of suffering. Comfort should come from knowing that it will only be a little while, and that this suffering will serve to perfect, establish and strengthen us.]
12 By Silvanus, our faithful brother, as I account (him), I have written unto you briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand ye fast therein.
13 She that is in Babylon, elect together with (you), salutes you; and (so doth) Mark my son.
[This is the true grace of God would seem to apply to all that Peter has written. Given that, he exhorts us to stand fast in this grace. There is no way to determine who “she that is in Babylon” is. The Greek words for church and other words do not exist and are just attempts by the translators to make it sound better.
14 Salute one another with a kiss of love. Peace be unto you all that are in Christ.
[This was a common salutation at the time, much like a hand-shake today.]
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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