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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges
1 Peter 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

1. ἀποθέμενοι οὖν. In the first three verses of this chapter St Peter shews (a) what must be put away (οὖν) as inconsistent with the strenuous love involved in the new life, (b) the spiritual hunger for divine food by which that life must be maintained and developed, and so in 1 Peter 2:4 reverts once more to the high privileges and corresponding responsibilities of the new Israel of God.

ἀποτίθεσθαι in the middle frequently suggests the idea of stripping off, like clothing, e.g. of the works of darkness to put on the armour of light, Romans 13:12, or of the old self to put on the new, Ephesians 4:22. But in the parallel passage, Colossians 3:8-10, the stripping off (ἀπεκδυσάμενοι) of the old self is coupled with putting away (ἀπόθεσθε) of anger, malice, etc., and in James 1:21 (see Introduction, p. lvi.) and 1 Peter 3:21 ἀποτίθεσθαι and ἀπόθεσις are used of putting away filthiness. So here certain unhealthy humours must be got rid of from the system in order that the spiritual appetite necessary for growth unto salvation may assert itself.

κακία in classical Greek means vice in general as opposed to ἀρετή, virtue, but in the N.T. the word occurs generally as one of a list of vices and means malice. Malice of every kind, whether open or secret, deceit and unreality, envyings of the advantages enjoyed by others, and all varieties of evil-speaking among Christians are utterly inconsistent with unfeigned love of the brethren and fervent love from the heart.


Verses 1-10

1 Peter 2:1-10. GENERAL EXHORTATION CONTINUED

1 If then such sincerity and strenuousness of love is demanded in the new life imparted by the word of the living and abiding God, you must put away everything which is inconsistent with such love, every kind and form of malice whether secret or open, all guile and hypocrisy, all evil-speaking. 2 If, as you profess, you have been born again you must have the spirit of little children, nay of new-born babes at their mothers’ breasts. 3 If (as the Psalmist says) you have once tasted and seen how gracious the Lord is, you must crave for the milk which cannot be adulterated, milk to nourish the rational or spiritual element in your being, in order that thereby you may grow unto full salvation. 4 You Gentiles (are not merely, as I said, the new “Dispersion”), you are brought in as “Proselytes,” joined not only to a holy people but to the manifested Christ who is their Head. He is the stone which men rejected, but which with God is chosen and precious, 5 and moreover a living stone, in union with whom you yourselves also as living stones are gradually being built up (not to form an earthly Temple in which the Most High can never truly dwell), but to form a spiritual shrine intended for a holy work of priesthood to offer up (not material but) spiritual sacrifices, acts of self-oblation to God for the service of the community and as such acceptable to God through Jesus Christ as your Mediator and Head. 6 This is no new idea; it stands thus in writing in the words of Isaiah, “Behold I lay in Zion a stone that is elect, a corner-stone that is held precious, and he that believeth on it shall not be put to shame.” 7 Faith, therefore, is the condition laid down by the prophet for being united with the corner-stone, and having fulfilled that condition it is to you that the “preciousness” of that stone belongs (though it was laid in Zion and you are for the most part Gentiles). 8 But for such as are disbelieving the prophet’s words are also true. The judgment of worldly authorities who claim to be builders has been reversed. Christ, the stone whom they rejected, has become the head of the corner, and for them He is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, for they stumble at the word of God, rebelling against it. Yet even this stumbling, this rebellion, is no thwarting of God’s purpose! It is part of His loving plan (to make room for the inclusion of you Gentiles that ultimately the Jews may be brought back) (cf. Romans 11:11). 9 But all the titles of honour addressed to Israel of old now belong to you Christians. You are a chosen race, a body of priests in the service of the great King, a holy nation, a people whom God has made His own possession (as Malachi said) in order that you may tell forth the excellences of Him who called you out of the darkness of heathenism into His marvellous light. 10 Aforetime you were not a (chosen) people but now you are the people of God. Then you were not (special) recipients of God’s mercy but now that mercy has been extended to you in your conversion.


Verse 2

2. ὡς ἀρτιγέννητα βρέφη, as new-born babes. The words evidently refer to ἀναγεγεννημένοι in 1 Peter 1:23. βρέφη is nowhere else used in this figurative sense, the usual word employed being νήπιοι. ἀρτιγέννητα also occurs nowhere else. The phrase must not however be exaggerated as implying that the readers were very recent converts. Many of them must have been Christians of long standing.

γάλα. In 1 Corinthians 3:2 and Hebrews 5:12 the necessity for a “milk diet” is referred to as a sign of immaturity incapable of digesting the more solid food to which mature (τέλειοι) Christians ought to advance, but no such idea is intended here. There is a true sense in which the Christian should never grow out of infancy. As our Lord said, Matthew 18:3, “Except ye become as little children (παιδία) ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven,” and in 1 Corinthians 14:20 St Paul bids his readers τῇ κακίᾳ νηπιάζετε, cf. Ep. ad Diog. App. 11, Οὗτος ὁ ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, ὁ καινὸς φανεὶς καὶ παλαιὸς εὑρεθείς, καὶ παντότε νέος ἐν ἁγίων καρδίαις γεννώμενος. So here Christians, whatever may be their standing, are to retain the simple innocent cravings of a babe at his mother’s breast who desires no other food.

λογικὸν γάλα can hardly be translated milk of the word as in the A.V. It means milk to feed your reason (λόγον). So R.V. spiritual milk. Λόγος in Greek has a double meaning, [1] word, [2] reason, but there is no instance of the latter use in the Bible. Even the Λόγος doctrine in John 1:1 is probably not the same as that in Philo where it includes both the wisdom of God and God’s utterance of Himself or Word. In St John it probably represents merely the Word of God, i.e. the medium of communication with the world, which was regularly used in the Targums in passages where God is described in the O.T. as speaking or appearing to men. On the other hand λογικός in the sense of “rational,” though not so used in Plato and Aristotle, was a favourite word with the Stoics and passed into common use—e.g. in Philo. In later ecclesiastical writers ἡ λογικὴ ψυχὴ denotes the highest element in the soul—τὸ πνεῦμα.

The only other passage in the N.T. where λογικός occurs is in Romans 12:1, where Christians are bidden to present their bodies as “a living sacrifice to God which is their reasonable service,” λογικὴν λατρείαν, i.e. rational service as contrasted with the offering of an irrational animal. As St Peter also three verses later goes on to speak of Christians “offering up spiritual sacrifices,” it is probable that the passage in Romans was in his mind, and from it he may have borrowed λογικόν in a sense unsupported by any Biblical use of λόγος. At the same time his immediately preceding language about Christians being begotten again by the word of God (λόγου) was probably suggested by St James’ language about the word of truth as the origin of man’s creation followed by an instruction to receive the ἔμφυτον λόγον. St Peter may therefore mean that the λογικόν or spiritual element in man, deriving its new birth as it does from the Λόγος of God, is also fed by the Λόγος, just as a mother feeds her babe at her own breast. So Clement (Paed. i. 6, p. 127) says, “He who regenerated us nourishes us with His own milk, the Word, for everything which gives birth to aught else seems at once to supply nourishment to its own offspring.” In this case, although λογικὸν γάλα cannot be translated “milk of the word” but milk to feed your reason or spirit, at the same time “the Word of God” is the milk by which spiritual life must be nourished if it is to grow unto salvation.

ἄδολον. R.V. which is without guile, or unadulterated. The adj. does not occur again in the N.T. but ἀδόλως is found in Wisdom of Solomon 7:14, and cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2, δολοῦντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ. In one of the Fayyûm Papyri ἄδολον coupled with καθαρόν is used of unadulterated wheat. Just as mother’s milk is by its very nature unadulterated, so the food which God supplies to His children is free from any of the contaminating influences found in the sustenance which heathenism offers to the soul of man. But the special element of adulteration intended here is guile which has been referred to just above (πάντα δόλον).

ἐν αὐτῷ = in virtue of that food.

εἰς σωτηρίαν, cf. 1 Peter 1:5. Christians are already in a state of salvation but must “grow in grace” in order that God’s work in them may be completed.


Verse 3

3. εἰ ἐγεύσασθε ὅτι χρηστὸς ὁ κύριος. The words are doubtless borrowed from Psalms 34:8, “O taste and see that the Lord is gracious,” where χρηστός is merely the LXX. rendering for the Hebrew “good” and has not the special sense in which it is used of wine in Luke 5:39. In the N.T. χρηστός as used of God denotes graciousness, lovingkindness. In Hebrews 6:5 we have a similar expression of “tasting that the word (ῥῆμα) of God is good (καλόν).”

ὁ κύριος in the Psalm means Jehovah whereas in the N.T. it commonly refers to Christ. In this passage St Peter immediately goes on to speak of Christ, but it is not safe to argue that he identifies Jehovah with Christ. But in receiving Christ we do taste of the goodness of the Father.


Verse 4

4. πρὸς ὃν προσερχόμενοι. The words were perhaps suggested by the LXX. of 1 Peter 2:5 of the same Psalms 34 which St Peter has just quoted προσέλθατε πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ φωτίσθητε, where the Hebrew is “they looked unto him.”

In other passages of the LXX. the word προσέρχεσθαι is used of drawing near to God for worship, sacrifice or prayer. In this sense it is used with a dative in Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 12:22, of Christians approaching God through Christ as their High-priest and sacrifice, and this idea may perhaps be included here, as St Peter goes on to describe Christians as having a priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices. But besides this the verb was used, Exodus 12:48-49; Leviticus 19:33; Numbers 9:14; Isaiah 54:15, of a sojourner (προσήλυτος) coming to sojourn as a stranger among the Jews, and Dr Hort suggests that this idea would be quite in accordance with St Peter’s conception. His readers are not merely the new dispersion (διασπορά, 1 Peter 1:1), they are also the new proselytes of the new Israel, but instead of being united merely to a holy people they are united to Christ Himself and are admitted to full priesthood. We have a similar thought in Ephesians 2:11-22, from which passage St Peter goes on to borrow, that those who were once far off are brought nigh in Christ and built up into one temple of which Christ is the corner-stone.

λίθον ζῶντα. The addition of ζῶντα brings out the thought that the union between Christ and His people is not a mere juxtaposition like that of dead objects but a growth in which living stones are incorporated with a living stone.

ἀνθρώπων has a wider reference than “the builders” and includes both Jews and Gentiles.

ἀποδεδοκιμασμένον, refused as unsuitable. λιθόλογοι (see Robinson, Eph. p. 261) were employed to test stones. Those which were rejected were perhaps marked ἀδόκιμος = Latin reprobatus. The language of Psalms 118 may have been suggested by some actual incident in the rebuilding of the Temple. The same verb is used by our Lord of His rejection by the chief priests and elders, Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22.

ἐκλεκτόν. The Hebrew of Isaiah 28:16 is “a tried stone” or “stone of proving,” אֶבֶן בֹּחַן, but the LXX. translators evidently read אֶבֶן בָּחוּר, i.e. a chosen stone. The same change occurs in the LXX. of Proverbs 17:3 and the converse in Proverbs 8:10.

ἔντιμον in Isaiah 28:16 represents a Hebrew word meaning precious, i.e. costly, and the word ἔντιμος is used in the same sense in 1 Samuel 26:21; Psalms 72:14; Isaiah 43:4, but in the N.T., Luke 7:2; Luke 14:8; Philippians 2:29, it means honoured or honourable.


Verse 5

5. οἶκος πνευματικὸς, a spiritual house as opposed to a “house made with hands” like the Jewish temple, in which God could never really dwell, cf. Acts 7:48. For the same idea that the Christian society is God’s true temple, cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:22.

εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον. εἰς is inserted in the R.V. marg. and by W. H., “A spiritual temple for a holy act of priesthood.” The ordinary text omitting εἰς takes ἱεράτευμα as a nominative in apposition to οἶκος apparently in the sense of a body of priests, which is the meaning of the word in 1 Peter 2:9 where it is quoted from the LXX. of Exodus 19:6 and represents the Hebrew word “priests.” Here if εἰς is read with the best MSS. the sense is rather “an act of priesthood” which is explained by the words which follow.

ἀνενέγκαι. ἀναφέρειν used of the priest who actually offers up the sacrifice, whereas προσφέρειν could be used also of the worshipper. Thus ἀναφέρειν is used of Abraham offering up Isaac in James 2:21, of the high-priests in Hebrews 7:27, and of Christians in Hebrews 13:15.

πνευματικὰς θυσίας, spiritual as opposed to material sacrifices, cf. πνεύματι λατρεύοντες, Philippians 3:3; λογικὴ λατρεία, Romans 12:1, of Christians presenting their bodies as a living sacrifice. Just as Christ sacrificed His life for the service of others so His members must give themselves in daily self-oblation for the service of the Christian community.

εὐπροσδέκτους, it is only with such spiritual sacrifices that “God is well pleased.”

διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. All our sacrifices can only be offered to God or be acceptable to Him, when presented through the agency of our ascended High-priest, cf. Hebrews 13:15, διʼ αὐτοῦ ἀναφέρωμεν θυσίαν αἰνέσεως. So in every Eucharist Christ is the true priest, and the earthly priest is only the divinely authorized spokesman of the priestly body of worshippers. Similarly our prayers are offered “through Jesus Christ our Lord.”


Verse 6

6. περιέχει. The substantive περιοχή means [1] the contents of a book, [2] a clause or passage. It is used in Acts 8:32 of the passage which the eunuch was reading. Here the verb is intransitive and impersonal = it stands thus in writing, the best MSS. read γραφῇ without the article. The plural αἱ γραφαί is used of “Scripture” as a whole and ἡ γραφή in the N.T. means a particular passage. Here St Peter appeals to the fact that there is written evidence to support his statements.

λίθον. Three passages from the O.T. all containing the same metaphor of a stone are here combined together.

(a) Psalms 118:22, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head-stone of the corner.” The Psalm was probably written after the return from Babylon, and meant that the kingship of Jehovah, though long ignored by the kings and princes of Judah who claimed to be the builders of the nation, has now at last been recognized as the true bond of union for the restored nation. This passage was applied to Christ at the end of the parable of the wicked husbandmen, Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17, and again by St Peter in his defence after healing the impotent man, Acts 4:11. Here the passage is alluded to in 1 Peter 2:4 and quoted in full in 1 Peter 2:7.

(b) Isaiah 28:16, “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone of sure foundation. He that believeth shall not make haste.” The passage was probably written at the time of Sennacherib’s invasion and meant that the presence of Jehovah is the one and only source of protection for Judah, and that intrigues with Egypt, etc., are utterly useless.

(c) Isaiah 8:14, “(He shall be for a sanctuary;) but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence (to both the houses of Israel).” This passage was written in the reign of Ahaz when Israel and Syria were invading Judah. The meaning is that Jehovah will be a sure refuge to those who trust in Him, but will cause the overthrow of unbelievers.

Neither of the two passages from Isaiah therefore had primarily any direct reference to Messiah, but from the Targums and other Jewish books it seems clear that “the stone” was regarded as a regular title of Messiah, and from the application of Psalms 118:22 to Christ the other passages in which the word λίθος was used in the LXX. came to be similarly applied. So again in 1 Corinthians 3:11 St Paul speaks of Jesus Christ as the foundation (θεμέλιον), and in Ephesians 2:20 as the chief corner-stone, ἀκρογωνιαῖον, and in later Christian writers who traced the fulfilment of prophecy in Christ “the stone” is used as one of His regular titles. St Paul (Romans 9:33) and St Peter both combine the same two passages of Isaiah and both have some common variations from the LXX.:

[1] both read ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν Σιών instead of ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐμβάλλω εἰς τὰ θεμέλια Σιών,

[2] both read πέτρα σκανδάλου instead of πέτρας πτώματι,

[3] both omit εἰς τὰ θεμέλια αὐτῆς,

[4] both insert ἐπʼ αὐτῷ after πιστεύων.

As there are many other coincidences of thought between St Peter and St Paul (especially Romans and Ephesians) the natural inference is that the changes were introduced by St Paul and borrowed by St Peter. But it has been suggested that possibly a collection of O.T. passages, arranged according to their subjects, suitable for proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ, was made at a very early date. Certainly such collections were afterwards used, e.g. the Testimonia of Cyprian, where one of the chapters shews that Jesus was styled “the stone.” If such a collection was already extant when St Peter and St Paul wrote they may have both borrowed independently from it, and the same theory might explain other composite quotations in the N.T.

ἐν Σιὼν, the promise was made for Israel and was first fulfilled in Israel by the Incarnation and so is efficacious for the new Israel which is the expansion and archetype of the old.

ἐκλεκτὸν ἀκρογωνιαῖον. The order of the words in the T.R. is thus reversed in the best MSS. as in the LXX., in which case ἀκρογωνιαῖον is probably a substantive, a stone that is elect a chief corner-stone that is held precious. The corner-stone perhaps means that which unites two walls; so in Ephesians 2:20 where ἀκρογωνιαῖον occurs again the idea is that Jews and Gentiles are united in Christ.

ὁ πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ. πιστεύειν ἐπί with the dative suggests the basis on which faith rests. Except in this passage quoted here and in Romans 9:33; Romans 10:11 this construction only occurs in Luke 24:25 and 1 Timothy 1:16.

οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ. In Isaiah the Hebrew is “shall not make haste,” i.e. flee in panic, לֹא יָחִישׁ, but the LXX. evidently read לֹא יֵבו̇שׁ = shall not be put to shame, i.e. will never find his confidence belied.


Verse 7

7. ὑμῖν. The A.V. renders “unto you that believe He is precious,” i.e. in your eyes. The R.V. marg., “In your sight … is the preciousness,” or “For you … is the honour,” but the R.V. text is For you is the preciousness, i.e. the preciousness implied in the epithet ἔντιμον concerns you Christians; its value in God’s sight is for your benefit and accrues to you.

ἀπιστοῦσιν = for such as disbelieve. This is the reading of B and C, whereas the T.R. reads ἀπειθοῦσι = disobedient, as in 1 Peter 2:8. The dative is probably not governed by ἐγενήθη but is a dative of reference. For such as are disbelieving the Psalmist’s words are true.


Verse 8

8. λίθος προσκόμματος. The stone of stumbling is the loose stone against which the traveller strikes his foot, while πέτρα σκανδάλου, the rock of offence, is rather the native rock rising up through the path, which trips him up. σκάνδαλον is constantly used of Christ as being a stumbling-block to the Jews.

προσκόπτουσινἀπειθοῦντες, probably both words conjointly govern λόγῳwho stumble at the word being disobedient to it.

εἰς ὃ καὶ ἐτέθησαν. (See S. and H. Rom. ix–xi and Hort, 1 Pet. p. 123.) The words must be neither explained away nor exaggerated. The stumbling of the disobedient, according to St Peter, was no accident nor due only to their own conduct, but part of God’s primal purpose. The corner-stone in Zion and the men who should stumble at it were both of God’s appointing. For this use of τίθημι, cf. Acts 13:47; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11; John 15:16. It is of course perfectly true that certain results are the inevitable nemesis attached to certain conduct, and in that sense it might be said that stumbling was appointed by God as the nemesis of disobedience. But this does not exhaust St Peter’s meaning. The stumbling seems to be regarded as not merely a secondary part of God’s purpose, conditional on man’s disobedience, but as part of His primal purpose. On the other hand St Peter does not say that any persons were reprobated to damnation. To the question, “Did they stumble in order that they might fall?” asked by St Paul in Romans 11:11, St Peter would without doubt have given St Paul’s answer, “God forbid, but rather through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles.” St Peter, as we have seen, has throughout been emphasizing the fact that the privileges formerly restricted to Jews have now been extended to Gentiles, and there is little doubt that in quoting the passage about the stone of stumbling, employed by St Paul in discussing the apostasy of Israel, St Peter in these words εἰς ὃ καὶ ἐτέθησαν is briefly summarizing St Paul’s argument, in which he shewed that Israel’s apostasy, guilty though it was, was designed to subserve God’s eternal purpose of love. The stumbling of disobedient Jews made room for the admission of believing Gentiles, that thereby Israel in return might be roused to godly jealousy to value and accept the privileges which once they so madly rejected.


Verse 9

9. St Peter applies to his Gentile readers, as the new Israel of God rescued from the slavery of sin, titles of honour which were used [1] in Exodus 19:5 of Israel as the Covenant people rescued from Egypt, [2] in Isaiah 43:20 of the mission for which God was restoring them from Babylon.

Just as within the nation a special body of priests was chosen to do God’s work for the benefit of the whole nation, so among the nations of the world Israel was to be the “priestly nation” through whom all nations were to be blessed, and this is true also of the Church, the new Israel of God.

γένος ἐκλεκτόν from Isaiah 43:20.

βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα from Exodus 19:5 where the Hebrew is “a kingdom of priests.” The LXX. evidently intended both words as substantives, “a body of kings, a body of priests,” so in Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10, βασιλείαν ἱερεῖς τῷ θεῷ. Here however βασίλειον is almost certainly an adjective and the old Hebrew expression which meant a priestly kingdom or nation is changed into “a royal priesthood or body of priests.” The epithet royal here probably means priests in the service of the king, not as in the Apocalypse that Christians are kings as well as priests.

ἔθνοςλαός. Two different Hebrew words were applied to Israel. ἔθνος describes their position as one of the nations of the world, who were distinguished from others by being consecrated (ἅγιον) to God. λαός describes them as the covenant people of God. In the Epp. ἔθνος is nowhere else used of Israel, but in the Gospels and Acts it is used of Israel in speaking to foreigners like Pilate or Felix, or of the conduct of foreigners towards Israel. In John 11:50 Caiaphas says, “It is expedient that one man should die for the people (λαός) and not that the whole nation (ἔθνος) should perish,” where ἔθνος might mean the population as distinct from the community or the civil organization, that the Romans would deprive them of all national existence.

λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν. The sense though not the actual Greek phrase is borrowed from Exodus 19:5 where the Hebrew is “Ye shall be a peculiar possession,” סְגֻלָּה, but the LXX. rendering is λαὸς περιούσιος, which is the phrase used by St Paul in Titus 2:14, “Christ gave himself on our behalf that he might ransom us from all lawlessness and purify for himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works.” The same Hebrew word סְגֻלָּה is however translated εἰς περιποίησιν in Malachi 3:17, “They shall be to me in the day which I make (i.e. my appointed day) for a special possession” (not as A.V. “they shall be mine in the day that I make up my jewels”). The substitution of εἰς περιποίησιν for the LXX. περιούσιος would be further suggested to St Peter by Isaiah 43:21, a passage from which he has already borrowed the words γένος ἐκλεκτόν. There Israel are described by God as λαόν μου ὃν περιεποιησάμην τὰς ἀρετάς μου διηγεῖσθαι. The same verb περιποιεῖσθαι is used of God purchasing the Church in Acts 20:28 and of men losing their lives in attempting to secure them as their own, Luke 17:33. The substantive περιποίησις is used of God’s rights of possession over the Church in Ephesians 1:14. Elsewhere it is used of winning (a) salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:9, (b) glory, 2 Thessalonians 2:14, (c) life, Hebrews 10:39.

ἀρετάς. In classical Greek ἀρετή originally meant excellence or eminence of any kind, but gradually it came to be used of moral excellence only, i.e. virtue. In the passage which St Peter is quoting, Isaiah 43:21, and in three other passages it represents the Hebrew “praise.” In the two other passages where it occurs in the O.T. it represents the Hebrew “glory” or “majesty.” Here the idea is that Christians are intended to manifest God’s own excellencies by their lives, cf. Matthew 5:16, “that they may see your good works and glorify your Father.” The only other places where ἀρετή occurs in the N.T. are Philippians 4:8 and 2 Peter 1:5.

ἐκ σκότους καλέσαντος. Used of the admission of Gentiles, Acts 26:18; Ephesians 5:8; Colossians 1:13. So here St Peter almost certainly refers to the transition from heathenism.

θαυμαστόν. God’s light is described as “marvellous” because by it our eyes are opened to see “wondrous things.”


Verse 10

10. οὐ λαὸςοὐκ ἠλεημένοι. In Hosea 1:6-7; Hosea 2:23, the faithlessness of Israel to Jehovah her true bridegroom is described under the figure of the prophet’s faithless wife who deserts him for false paramours. The children are therefore called by symbolical names, Lo-ammi = “not my people” and Lo-ruhamah = “not having obtained mercy.” But when their mother is at last restored their names are changed to Ammi and Ruhamah. In Hosea the words refer to Israelites but in Romans 9:25 St Paul applies the passage to the admission of the Gentiles. So here St Peter, probably borrowing from St Paul, is almost certainly referring to the admission of Gentiles to be the new “Israel of God.”

οὐκ ἠλεημένοιἐλεηθέντες. The perfect participle denotes the long-continued state in which they had lived as heathen, while the aorist refers to the crisis of their conversion, though of course the effects of that mercy are still continuous. Neither St Peter nor St Paul mean that the heathen or the unconverted Jew had no share in God’s mercy. The reference is to the special mercy of the gift of the Gospel.

The Second Section of the Epistle, 1 Peter 2:11 to 1 Peter 4:11, contains an exhortation to renounce heathen principles of conduct and adopt Christian principles, which will necessarily transform the various social relationships and duties of life.


Verse 11

11. Having described the high privileges of the new Israel of God, St Peter proceeds in this second section of the Epistle to draw various moral lessons from them. In 1 Peter 2:11-12 he describes the personal duty of the Christian as regards self-conquest, remembering the influence which his life will have upon others.

ἀγαπητοί only occurs again in St Peter in 1 Peter 4:12 at the beginning of the third section of the Epistle, but it is common in other books.

παροίκους καὶ παρεπιδήμους. The same two ideas have already been presented in 1 Peter 1:1 παρεπιδήμοις and in 1 Peter 1:17 παροικίας. In classical Greek πάροικος means “a neighbour” and μέτοικος is the word for a resident alien which is the Biblical sense of πάροικος. In Hebrew two words were used for foreign sojourners.

(a) רגֵּ (Gêr), i.e. one who comes as a guest, is generally translated προσήλυτος, which originally merely meant an immigrant but eventually was used of foreigners who adopted the Jewish faith, “a proselyte,” but eleven times it is translated πάροικος.

(b) תּו̇שָׁב (Tôshav) or settler was generally used of temporary residents. It is always translated πάροικος, except in three passages where גֵּר and תּו̇שָׁב occur together. In two of these it is translated παρεπίδημος, and πάροικος is transferred to רגֵּ.

In Genesis 23:4 Abraham in asking leave to purchase a burial place says, “I am a stranger (πάροικος) and a sojourner (παρεπίδημος) with you,” and in Psalms 39:12 man’s life on earth is described as that of a “stranger and sojourner.” So in Hebrews 11:13 the patriarchs are shewn to have described themselves as “strangers and sojourners,” not with reference to the old home from which they had migrated but because they desired a heavenly fatherland.

σαρκικῶν. The flesh is here used, as in St Paul, in a bad sense as opposed to the spirit. The flesh is not however regarded as being in itself bad. It is “a good servant but a bad master.” Fleshly desires include selfishness, envy, etc., as well as such things as fornication or drunkenness, cf. Galatians 5:19 ff.

αἵτινες =such as by their very nature.

στρατεύονται. These fleshly desires are described as mutineers raising an insurrection against the true self. ψυχή in the N.T. does not mean “soul” in the modern sense of the word, i.e. the highest element in man. Originally it meant “life” and then the “true self” of a man, of which his bodily life is only a transient phase. The same idea of an internal warfare in man is found in Romans 7:23, “I see a different law in my members (ἀντιστρατευόμενον) taking up war against the law of my mind,” and in James 4:1, “your pleasures that war (στρατευομένων) in your members.” (See Introduction, p. lvii.)


Verse 11-12

A. EXHORTATION TO PURITY OF MOTIVE AND CONSEQUENTLY TO PURITY OF LIFE IN THE PRESENCE OF HEATHEN. 1 Peter 2:11-12

11 If you are God’s chosen people, citizens of heaven, your present surroundings are not your home; you are only, as it were, sojourners in a foreign land, living among strangers; I beseech you to remember this. In your own hearts you will find mutinous desires of the flesh which make war against your true self. 12 In your dealings with the Gentiles around you you must take care that your behaviour is deserving of respect so that, in the very matter in which they speak against you as a “pestilent sect,” they may at length (under the pressure of a day of visitation, when God in judgment brings the truth home to them) by the recollection of (ἐκ) your good works have their eyes opened to be beholders indeed and so come to give glory to God.


Verse 12

12. τὴν ἀναστροφὴν ὑμῶνκαλήν. καλήν is the predicate. Your intercourse with the heathen round you must be such as commands their respect. In 1 Peter 3:16 the enemies of the Christians are described as reviling their ἀναστροφὴν ἀγαθήν. ἀγαθός denotes that which is intrinsically good in itself and its results, whether it is recognized as such or not, while καλός is that which commends itself as good.

ἐν ᾧ sometimes means “while” as in Mark 2:19; Luke 5:34; Luke 19:13; John 5:7. But here it means in the very matter in which, cf. 1 Peter 3:16, ἐν ᾧ καταλαλεῖσθε; 1 Peter 4:4, ἐν ᾧ ξενίζονται = wherein.

κακοποιῶν. In Mark 3:4; Luke 6:9 the verb κακοποιεῖν seems to retain its original meaning of “doing an injury,” but in the LXX. it has a wider meaning “evil-doing.” So also in 1 Peter 3:17 it = ποιοῦντας κακά of 1 Peter 3:12. The adjective κακοποιός is used three (or four) times in 1 Pet. (1 Peter 2:14 (1 Peter 3:16, v.l.), 1 Peter 4:15) and seems to have been a favourite term of abuse directed against Christians. Possibly it represents the Latin maleficus by which it is translated in 1 Peter 4:15 by some of the Latin Fathers. Suetonius (Nero 16) speaks of Christians as men of a novel and pestilent (maleficae) superstition, while Tacitus, Ann. xv. 14, describes them as being hated per flagitia, and in the immediate context he includes Christianity among the atrocia aut pudenda which poured into Rome. Gwatkin (Ch. Hist. i. 76) therefore considers that foul charges of immorality, such as were prevalent in the 2nd cent., were brought against Christians even before the Neronian persecution. But κακοποιός is a vague and comprehensive term. It was used of our Lord, John 18:30, v.l., while the two thieves are called κακοῦργοι, Luke 23:32, a term which St Paul applies to his own treatment, 2 Timothy 2:9.

ἐποπτεύοντες. The T.R. reads ἐποπτεύσαντες which might possibly denote coincident action with that of the main verb, but more naturally antecedent action = glorify God having beheld. But the best reading is the present participle which suggests that the “beholding” is coincident with the glorifying. It is therefore doubtful whether τὰ καλὰ ἔργα should be understood as the object of ἐποπτεύοντες as A.V. and R.V.

ἐκ τῶν καλῶν ἔργων ἐποπτεύοντες does not merely mean ἐποπ.… τὰ καλὰ ἔργα. ἐκ denotes the result, the recollection or impression carried away, and ἐποπτεύειν may have a more special meaning than mere “beholding.” It is not used in the LXX. but by Sym. Psalms 10:14; Psalms 33:13 of God as watching over human conduct, and it is so used in Attic poetry; in late Greek prose the verb is used in a general sense of watching or beholding. There was however a technical use of ἐπόπτης to denote one who was initiated in the mysteries and Plato uses the verb in that sense, so Clem. Al. Strom. iv. 152, etc., uses the phrase ἐποπτεύω τὸν θεόν.

In 2 Peter 1:16 the spectators of Christ’s glory in the Transfiguration are described as ἐπόπται, possibly with a trace of this technical meaning.

So here the meaning may be that by the recollection of your good works their eyes may at last be opened and so they will glorify God. ἐποπτεύειν is used again, however, in 1 Peter 3:2 of husbands being converted by beholding the chaste conduct of their wives, but even there the idea of “seeing behind the scenes,” or being “initiated into the secret of” would be quite appropriate.

ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐπισκοπῆς. The following explanations have been given of the phrase [1] the day when Christians are brought to trial, [2] the day when their enemies are themselves judged, [3] the day when God’s mercy “visits” or comes home to them.

In the O.T. God is sometimes described as “visiting” people in mercy, e.g. to deliver them from Egypt or from Babylon, and so our Lord weeping over Jerusalem lamented her misuse of “the time of her visitation” evidently referring to lost opportunities of blessing, cf. Luke 1:78, “The dayspring from on high shall visit (ἐπισκέψεται) us.” But elsewhere God is described as “visiting” sinners with judgment, so ἡμέρα ἐπισκοπῆς in Isaiah 10:3. But frequently God’s judgments are themselves a means of bringing His mercy home to men. So here St Peter seems to anticipate some judgment of God which will open the eyes of heathen opponents and lead them to give glory to God through the memory of His servants’ lives. The whole passage manifestly alludes to our Lord’s words, Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”


Verse 13

13. πάσῃ ἀνθρωπίνῃ κτίσει. This might mean every institution created or ordained by men, so A.V. and R.V. “Every ordinance of man,” and in classical Greek κτίσις is more frequently ascribed to men than to God. But in the LXX. and N.T. κτίζειν and words derived from it are exclusively applied to God’s work. So in Romans St Paul describes “the powers that be” (kings, magistrates, etc.) as “ordained of God,” and here St Peter regards the fundamental institutions of human society, the state, the household, the family as part of God’s plan for the organization of mankind. The words may therefore be translated “every (divine) institution among men.”

διὰ τὸν κύριον for Christ’s sake, imitating His loyal submission to authority.


Verses 13-25

B. SOCIAL DUTIES. 1 Peter 2:13 to 1 Peter 3:12

13 This warfare against heathen principles of living does not mean the subversion of the necessary bonds of society. Rather it deepens and intensifies them. God has instituted various forms of authority among men, and to those you must submit yourselves for His sake.

(a) 14 TO CIVIL RULERS, whether it be to the king as supreme ruler in the Empire or to subordinate magistrates, as officers sent (by God) through the agency of the king to execute vengeance upon evil-doers but to commend well-doers. 15 For this is one of the ways of God’s own working. His will is that by well-doing men should silence the purblind calumnies of the senseless sort of men who attack them. 16 In submitting to such institutions you will not be reverting to the old yoke of slavery from which you were ransomed. You will only be obeying “the law of liberty.” Instead of acting like men who misuse their liberty as a cloak of their malice, you will be acting as the bond-servants of God (“whose service is perfect freedom”). 17 It is your duty in general to honour all men, in particular to love your brethren in Christ, to fear God, to honour the king.

18 The same principle applies to all your social relationships.

(b) HOUSEHOLD SLAVES (despite the fact that in Christ there is neither bond nor free) must, with a full sense of the fear of God, submit themselves to their masters, and that not only to those who are good and considerate but also to those who are unfair or capricious. 19 For if a man recognizes his service as part of God’s discipline for him, and for that reason submits to the hardships of unjust treatment, God will approve (or thank him for) his conduct. 20 I say “unjust treatment” for there is nothing heroic in submitting to be buffeted for actual faults. But if you have to suffer in spite of doing good work and bear it patiently, such conduct does find favour with God (or even His “Well done”), 21 because you will be responding to God’s call which was to follow Christ. He also suffered on your behalf, and in all His sufferings He left you an outline sketch to fill in by following in the track of His footsteps. 22 He was the ideal sufferer described in Isaiah 53, “He did no sin,” “No deceit was found in His mouth.” 23 When I saw Him being reviled He was not reviling in reply. When He was being ill-treated He was not threatening vengeance. No, He was all through committing His cause to God whose verdict is always just (however unjust man’s sentence may be). In His own Person “He bore our sins.” 24 When His Body was offered up upon the Cross our sins “laid upon Him” were included in it. Sins therefore ought to find no place in us. Christ died as our sin-bearer in order that we might regard ourselves as dead to sin and break off all connexion with sins and live (as risen with Him) to righteousness. By His precious scars you Gentiles were healed. For the prophet’s words are true of you. 25 You were straying like lost sheep, but now in your conversion you returned to the good Shepherd, who was all along watching over your souls though you knew it not.


Verse 14

14. βασιλεῖ = here primarily the Emperor. If, as seems probable, the Epistle was written during the later years of Nero, loyalty to such an Emperor would be extremely difficult for Christians unless they regarded him, despite his unworthiness, as the representative of a divine institution.

With St Peter’s language about obedience to civil rulers cf. Romans 13:1-4.

ὑποτάγητεὡς ὑπερέχοντι εἰς ἐκδίκησιν κακοποιῶν ἔπαινον δὲ ἀγαθοποιῶν (see Introd. p. lxii).

ὑποτασσέσθω ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ἔκδικοςτῷ τὸ κακὸν πράσσοντι τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον

ὑπερέχοντι, as supreme, i.e. as compared with subordinate magistrates; cf. 1 Timothy 2:2.

ἡγεμόσιν refers chiefly to provincial governors.

διʼ αὐτοῦ. Such governors are here regarded not as sent by the king, but by God through the king as His agent. Cf. John 19:11, also Romans 13:1-2; Romans 13:4; Romans 13:6.

ἐκδίκησινἔπαινον. The retribution on crime inflicted by the magistrates, and the praise which well-doers receive in consequence of their recognition by the magistrates is only an earthly echo of God’s retribution or approval.


Verse 15

15. οὕτως may refer to the words which follow, viz. silencing ignorance by well-doing. But οὕτως is regularly used retrospectively to sum up some preceding statement. So here St Peter means that by employing civil magistrates for the praise of well-doers God indicates His own method of working. His plan is that His servants should silence (literally “gag”) senseless ignorant calumnies by well-doing, including loyal submission to civil authority.

τῶν ἀφρόνων. The article might mean “those senseless men who have been described as speaking evil of you,” or “men such as are senseless and reckless in their charges.”

ἀγνωσία, purblindness, is a much stronger word than ἀγνοία. It describes the ignorance which cannot and will not recognize the truth. Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:34 only.


Verse 16

16. ὡς ἐλεύθεροι. The nominative connects the verse with 1 Peter 2:13. In submitting yourselves to the institutions of human society you will not be reverting to the old bondage of your heathen life from which you have been ransomed. The service of God is “perfect freedom” (cui servire est regnare), the freedom to do what you ought rather than what you like. Old institutions must be submitted to not as a bondage to men but as ordinances of God.

ἐπικάλυμμα κακίας. Christian liberty affords no pretext for churlish, scornful, contempt towards heathenism and its institutions, rather it requires you to “honour all men.”

ὡς θεοῦ δοῦλοι, cf. Romans 6:22 and 1 Corinthians 7:22.


Verse 17

17. τιμήσατεἀγαπᾶτεφοβεῖσθετιμᾶτε. Here we have an aorist imperative followed by three present imperatives. The usual distinction between aorist and present imperatives is that the present is used in general precepts and the aorist in individual cases, the aorist denoting “point” action and the present “linear,” see J. H. Moulton’s Grammar, p. 129. Sometimes, however, the aorist imperative is used in general precepts to inculcate a new duty not previously recognized. So in Romans 6:13, μηδὲ παριστάνετε τὰ μέλη ὑμῶν ὅπλα ἀδικίας τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ ἀλλὰ παραστήσατε ἑαυτοὺς τῷ θεῷ, the present imperative may mean, do not continue your old practice of presenting your members as instruments of unrighteousness for sin to use, but begin a new practice and present yourselves to God. But another explanation is, do not time after time present … but present yourselves once and for all to God, the aorist denoting something which is to be done to the end as a complete whole. So here some would explain that to “honour all men” is a new duty never realized until now, whereas honour to the king is an old duty which is not to be abandoned, although he can no longer be worshipped as a God. The objection to this view, however, is that love for the brotherhood, for which the present imperative is used, would also be a new duty not possible until they were admitted into God’s family. Possibly the aorist πάντας τιμήσατε states the Christian’s duty as a whole to be fulfilled to the end and the three present imperatives expand it by three general precepts.

But St Peter has a marked preference for aorist imperatives which he uses 22 times (against 9 presents) as being more forcible, but in expanding his injunction he borrows a passage from the O.T. in which the present imperative φοβοῦ occurred and therefore he assimilates the other two imperatives to it.

τὸν θεὸν φοβεῖσθε, τὸν βασιλέα τιμᾶτε. The words are borrowed from Proverbs 24:21, “My son, fear God and the king,” but instead of coupling God and the king together with the same verb φοβεῖσθε St Peter treats “honour the king” as a subordinate form of the reverence due to God, just as “honour to all men” is a subordinate form of that love which can only reach its highest form in the reciprocal love of Christians as brothers.


Verse 18

18. οἰκέται, literally members of a household so domestic servants, including perhaps freedmen as well as slaves, δοῦλοι, which is the word used by St Paul. In the Pentateuch, however, and in Proverbs οἰκέτης is frequently used in the LXX. to translate the same Hebrew word which is rendered δοῦλος in other books. In the N.T. οἰκέτης occurs only in Luke 16:13; Acts 10:7; Romans 14:4.

ὑποτασσόμενοι. Cf. Lightfoot on Colossians 3:16, “The absolute participle being (so far as regards mood) neutral in itself, takes its colour from the general complexion of the sentence.”

Here the participle is a virtual imperative referring back to ὑποτάγητε in 1 Peter 2:13 (see J. H. Moulton Gram. 180 ff.). This is a very common use in 1 Pet. e.g. 1 Peter 3:1 ὑποτασσόμεναι, 1 Peter 3:7 συνοικοῦντες, 1 Peter 3:8-9 where participles and adjectives stand side by side (cf. Romans 12:9-19 with imperatives and infinitives added), 1 Peter 4:8; 1 Peter 4:10 and (?) 1 Peter 2:12 ἔχοντες.

For St Paul cf. Colossians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 9:11; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Ephesians 4:2-3; for papyri see J. H. Moulton, p. 223.

ἐπιεικέσιν (see Mayor on James 3:17). In the LXX. ἐπιεικής occurs only in Psalms 86:5 of God being “ready to forgive,” and this agrees with the definition given in Aristotle (Eth. vi. 11) τὸν ἐπιεικῆ μάλιστα φαμὲν συγγνωμονικόν, and (Eth. 1 Peter 2:14) it is contrasted with strict justice. So (Rhet. i. 13, 17) it is explained in the sense of “merciful consideration” which does not insist upon the strict letter of the law. In Homer it means “seemly,” “decorous” as opposed to ἀεικής. So Plato uses it of respectable, well-behaved people; in Rep. 397 D it is applied to one who had been described as μέτριος—a moderate man, so also Thuc. i. 76. Thus in Plato and Aristotle it was used colloquially in the sense of σπουδαῖος or ἀγαθός.

In the N.T. it is twice joined with ἄμαχος, 1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 3:2, and in James 3:17 with εἰρηνική and εὐπειθής. In Acts 24:4 Tertullus begs Felix to hear him of his clemency (ἐπιεικίᾳ). In 2 Corinthians 10:1 St Paul beseeches his readers by the πραΰτητος καὶ ἐπιεικίας of Christ rather than by the “boldness” of stern magisterial methods. In Philippians 4:5 τὸ ἐπιεικές may mean readiness to forego one’s rights, the special duty urged in chap. 2.

So here it probably means “considerate” masters who do not enforce their rights tyrannically.

Thus, although etymologically ἐπιεικής was connected with εἰκός = what is fit and reasonable, its later meaning seems to have been influenced by a supposed connexion with εἴκω = “I yield.”

σκολιοῖς. In LXX. of crooked paths or perverse persons. In N.T. Luke 3:5 (from Isaiah 40:3); Acts 2:40 and Philippians 2:15 (from Deuteronomy 32:5) “a crooked generation.” Here it means unfair, awkward to deal with.


Verse 19

19. τοῦτο γὰρ χάρις (see Robinson Eph. p. 221 ff.). Besides its special Christian sense of God’s free favour, especially as bestowed upon Gentiles, χάρις in the N.T. retains (a) some of its purely Greek significations, (b) the significations which it acquired in the LXX. as a translation of חֵן = favour.

So here A.V. “this is thankworthy,” something which meets with God’s “Well done, good and faithful servant,” cf. Luke 6:32-34 “What thank have ye?” Luke 17:9, “Doth he thank that servant” (χάριν ἔχει).

R.V. “This is acceptable,” something which finds favour with God, cf. Luke 1:30; Luke 2:52; Acts 2:47; Acts 7:46, etc. This is a very common meaning in the O.T. and is probably intended here.

διὰ συνείδησιν θεοῦ. A.V. and R.V. “conscience towards God,” but when συνεὶδησις is followed by an objective genitive it means rather consciousness of, e.g. conscious sense of sins Hebrews 10:2, a conscious sense of the idol’s existence 1 Corinthians 8:7 T.R. (v.l. συνηθεία). So here it means prompted by a conscious sense of God’s presence and will, cf. Ephesians 6:7; Colossians 3:23 ὡς τῷ θεῷ καὶ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις. Such consciousness of the watchful presence of a just God, who demands submission to authority from them, can enable servants to bear man’s injustice with patience as Christ did.


Verse 20

20. κλέος occurs nowhere else in the N.T. and only once in the LXX., Job 28:22, where it means “fame.” Here it means that there is no credit, nothing which men count heroic in patient submission to punishment which is deserved. κολαφιζόμενοι from κόλαφος a fist, so “to buffet.” Cf. Matthew 26:67; Mark 14:65; 1 Corinthians 4:11; 2 Corinthians 12:7 but it is not found in the LXX. nor in classical Greek.


Verse 21

21. εἰς τοῦτο ἐκλήθητε. The call to follow Christ is not only to imitate Him in well-doing but also to share His sufferings, cf. 1 Peter 5:10; Matthew 16:24; 1 Thessalonians 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:11; Hebrews 2:10.

If the Captain of salvation was made perfect through suffering the same process is employed by God in bringing His other sons to glory.

ὑπολιμπάνων. λιμπάνειν is a late form for λείπειν, leaving behind.

ὑπογραμμός (in classical Greek ὑπογραφή), means a drawing to be traced over, or an outline to be filled in and coloured, cf. ὑποτύπωσις, a rough model, 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:13. Neither ὑπολιμπάνειν nor ὑπογραμμός occur again.

ἐπακολουθεῖν, to follow close upon, like climbers treading in the steps of an Alpine guide. Cf. 1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Timothy 5:24; Mark 16:20.

ἴχνεσιν, cf. Romans 4:12; 2 Corinthians 12:18.


Verse 22

22. ὃς ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἐποίησεν οὐδὲ εὑρέθη δόλος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ. In the LXX. of Isaiah 53:9, the words are ὅτι ἀνομίαν οὐκ ἐποίησεν οὐδὲ δόλον ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ. The description in Isaiah 53 of the ideal servant of Jehovah, suffering as the representative of the people, is quoted by St Peter in these verses (22–24) as being fulfilled in Christ.


Verse 23

23. οὐκ ἀντελοιδόρει. The imperfects ἀντελοιδόρει, ἠπείλει, παρεδίδου are sometimes explained as denoting the habitual attitude of the life of Christ as opposed to the one definite act of the crucifixion ἀνήνεγκεν. But more probably the imperfects describe St Peter’s own recollections of our Lord’s sufferings of which he claims to have been a witness 1 Peter 5:1, “When I saw Him being reviled and threatened, He was all the while using no revilings or threats but was committing His cause to God.” The aorists ἐποίησεν, εὑρέθη, ἀνήνεγκεν on the other hand describe His life and death as a whole.

τῷ κρίνοντι δικαίως. The Vulgate reads “judicanti injuste,” submitted to him that was judging unjustly, i.e. Pilate. But no Greek text reads ἀδίκως, and the real meaning is that Christ could patiently submit to man’s injustice because He committed His cause to the just judgment of God, cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:4.


Verse 24

24. ἀνήνεγκεν is the word used in Isaiah 53:12, “He bare the sins of many,” and the numerous reminiscences of that chapter in this section make it almost certain that St Peter is borrowing the word from it, coupling with it the word ξύλον probably from Deuteronomy 21:23. The same phrase from Isaiah is also borrowed in Hebrews 9:28, ὁ Χριστὸς ἅπαξ προσενεχθεὶς εἰς τὸ πολλῶν ἀνενεγκεῖν ἁμαρτίας. In that passage ἀναφέρειν seems certainly to retain something of its ordinary sacrificial meaning of “offer up” (cf. 1 Peter 2:5; James 2:21 ἐπὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον, Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 13:15). (In the Gospels ἀναφέρειν merely means to “take up” (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 24:51).) So Chrysostom explains the words in Hebrews 9:28 as meaning that, just as when we offer up an offering we present our sins for pardon that God may take them away, so Christ offered up our sins to the Father not for judgment but for removal. Westcott considers that the sacrificial idea is present in the phrase, but explains that Christ carried to the cross the burden of sins (not, primarily or separately from the sins, the punishment of sins) and there did away with sin and sins. So here St Peter may regard our sins laid upon Christ as being included in the sacrificial victim, the Body of Christ “offered up” upon the Altar of the Cross.

Deissmann (Bible Studies, p. 88), while admitting that the word ἀναφέρειν was perhaps suggested to St Peter by the reminiscences of Isaiah 53 which pervade this section, argues that we have no right to assume that St Peter must have used it in the same sense as the LXX. translators of Isaiah 53:12, who may have meant “suffered the punishment of” as representing the Hebrew נשׂא. In that case, says Deissmann, St Peter would have added ἐπὶ τῷ ξύλῳ, whereas ἐπί with the accusative would mean “carry up to.”

(In answer to this it may be argued that in Isaiah 53:11 ἀνοίσει τὰς ἁμαρτίας is the LXX. translation of an entirely different verb סבל (used also in the second clause of Isaiah 53:4, where it is translated ὀδυνᾶται), and this word does mean to “load oneself with a burden,” and that burden might be described as “carried up to the Cross.”)

Deissmann disputes the sacrificial meaning of ἀναφέρειν in this passage on the ground that the sins could hardly be described as offered up. He would explain the words as meaning that, when Christ “bears up to” the cross the sins of men, then men have them no more; the “bearing up” is a “taking away,” without any special idea of substitution or sacrifice. He also quotes a contract, Pap. Flind. Petr. 1. xvi. 12, περὶ δὲ ὧν ἀντιλέγω ἀναφερομεν […] ὀφειλημάτων κριθήσομαι ἐπʼ Ἀσκληπιάδου. The editor supplies the missing portion … ων εἰς ἐμὲ and the sense may be that certain debts of another person have been imposed upon the writer (cf. Aesch. 3. 215; Isoc. 5. 32). If such a forensic meaning was intended by St Peter, the meaning would be that the sins of men are laid upon the Cross, as in a court of law a debt in money is removed from one and laid upon another. We might compare the forensic metaphor in Colossians 2:14 where the χειρόγραθον drawn up against mankind is taken away by being nailed to the Cross.

ἐν τῷ σώματι αὐτοῦ. The body of Christ is the organism through which His life is fulfilled. His earthly body was the instrument of His perfect obedience and self-sacrifice, “A body hast thou prepared Me,” Hebrews 10:5. “By the offering of that body (alike in the perfect service of His life and the voluntary endurance of death) we have been sanctified,” Hebrews 10:10. St Paul in Romans 7:4 says, “Ye were made dead to the law through the body of Christ.” So here it is the sin-bearing victim. But elsewhere in St Paul the body of Christ means the organism by which His life and work are still carried on, viz. the Church in which Jews and Gentiles are made one. Of that body He is still the Head and the source of its life and growth. Into it Christians are incorporated by Baptism, and are sustained by partaking of His life. Each has to contribute in building it up. On its behalf St Paul rejoices in sharing the sufferings of Christ.

In view of St Peter’s apparent use of Romans and Ephesians in so many passages, it is certainly surprising that he shews no trace of this striking Pauline conception of the body of Christ.

ξύλον is used for a gallows tree in Deuteronomy 21:23, “Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree,” quoted in Galatians 3:13. But the only other passages where it is used for the Cross are in St Peter’s speeches, Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39, and by St Paul, Acts 13:29. In Revelation 22:2 etc. it is used for “the tree of life” and in Luke 23:31 of “the green tree.” In Acts 16:24 it means “the stocks,” and in the plural Matthew 26:47, “staves.”

ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ἀπογενόμενοι, breaking off all connexion with sins, being dead to them. The verb occurs nowhere else in the LXX. or N.T. For the dative after compounds of ἀπό, cf. ἀποθνήσκειν τῷ νόμῳ, Galatians 2:19, τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ, Romans 6:2.

The purpose of Christ’s sacrifice, as stated here and generally in the N.T., is not to save man from the punishment of sin so much as from its power, to put an end to the regime of sin. The same idea is suggested in 1 Peter 4:1, ὁ παθὼν σαρκὶ πέπαυται ἁμαρτίαις, Christians are to welcome sufferings as the process by which the ideal “death unto sin,” symbolized by their baptism into Christ’s death, is made real in the persons of His members. The same thought of being dead to sin as living members of the crucified and risen Lord is expressed more fully in Romans 6:1-11; cf. Galatians 5:24; Colossians 2:12; Colossians 3:2.

μώλωψ is the scar or wheal caused by a blow. The phrase is quoted from Isaiah 53:5. The slaves to whom St Peter was writing might find help to be brave and patient, when their bodies were perhaps bruised and bleeding from some cruel blow, by the thought that they were sharing in suffering like that by which their Saviour had won life and healing for them.


Verse 25

25. ἦτε γὰρ ὡς πρόβατα πλανώμενοι (T.R. πλανώμενα). St Peter means, You Gentiles may well apply to yourselves the language of Isaiah 53 about those healed by the suffering Servant of the Lord, for you were indeed wandering like lost sheep, as the speakers in that chapter describe themselves.

ποιμένα καὶ ἐπίσκοπον. The Shepherd and overseer or guardian who was all along watching over your lives. You were all along His sheep though previously “not of this fold,” cf. John 10:16, your conversion may therefore be described as returning to Him.

For ποιμήν applied to Christ, cf. John 10:11; 1 Peter 5:4; Hebrews 13:20; cf. Revelation 7:17 “The Lamb shall be their shepherd.”

ἐπίσκοπος. The verb is used of God “seeking out” His sheep in Ezekiel 34:11. In Acts 20:28 St Paul tells the elders at Miletus that the Holy Spirit has appointed them as ἐπίσκοποι to shepherd (ποιμαίνειν) the Church of God. In the LXX. ἐπίσκοπος is used of overseers, and so it came to be adopted in the N.T. as a title of those who had the oversight of the Church.

 


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 1 Peter 2:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-peter-2.html. 1896.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 15th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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