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Bible Commentaries
1 Peter 3

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-18

21 Following in the footprints left by our Lord while He was on earth is often taken as the ideal of human deportment for believers in Christ. And so it is-for the Circumcision, to whom Peter writes. His path may be copied by them, for they find themselves in similar circumstances and under identical conditions. Not so with the nations in this economy of God's grace. In preparing Paul for his part as the channel through which the truth for today was to be revealed, God kept him from contact with Christ during our Lord's life on earth, both before and after His resurrection. It was only after His ascension into glory that He called Saul, and changed his name to Paul, and made him the medium for the special truth which is in force during the apostasy of Israel. Saul's call might have occurred long before, but it was deliberately deferred so as to conform to the truth with which he was entrusted. He, and we, know Christ only as ascended and glorified. If we were connected with His earthly life, then we, like the Syro-Phoenician woman ( Mar_7:26 ) could get nothing more than a few crumbs from Israel's board. He does not act in glory as He acted on earth. Now He makes no distinction between Jew and gentile, but lavishes unutterably greater grace on both than was possible when He was the Servant of the Circumcision ( Rom_15:8 ). The key to conduct which pleases God is to copy His present attitude toward us in our relations with our fellow men. It is not reasonable to follow in His steps when He came only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and kept Himself from contact with the outside nations. His walk in the land is no model for our conduct outside the land. Hence we are exhorted to be imitators of Paul, as he is of Christ ( 1Co_11:1 ), for he knew Christ ascended and glorified. And we are exhorted to be imitators of God, as beloved children ( Eph_5:1 ). Such a place we, sinners of the gentiles, did not have when Christ confined Himself to the favored nation.

1 The duties of the marital relationship are treated by Peter and Paul with characteristic difference. Paul ( Eph_5:21 ) enjoins submission and love in the light of the relation between Christ and the church; Peter points back to Sarah and Abraham.

9 Like our Lord in His sermon on the mount, the apostle sets a much higher mark than the law for the conduct of those who are candidates for the kingdom. Compare Mat_5:39 , etc., and Luk_6:27 , etc. An eye for an eye, or strict justice, gives place to a forgiving spirit. This is carried even further in connection with the present grace. We are to vanquish evil with good ( Rom_12:21 ), and to heap embers of fire on the heads of our enemies and to bless those who persecute us ( Rom_12:14 ). In a word, we are to be walking in love ( Eph_5:2 ).

10 This quotation from Psa_34:12-16 , without any introductory phrase to show its relation to the subject in hand, clearly indicates that the Psalms as a whole are perfectly in accord with the administration to which Peter and the twelve belonged. Our experience should harmonize with them to a certain point, but should rise far above their highest conceptions of conduct. To "love life and see good days" is a much lower motive than is presented to us.

14-15 In view of the coming storm of persecution Peter quotes and varies a word from Isa_8:12-13 spoken in similar circumstances, but with the significant substitution of "the Lord Christ" for "Jehovah of Hosts". Remembering Jewish reverence for the letter of Scripture and the intense dread of having any God but one, we see how firmly Peter is convinced that Christ is the Jehovah of the Hebrew Scriptures.

18 A grasp of the apostle's argument here will help us through this difficult passage. The subject is suffering for doing good. The Example is Christ and those sufferings which came to Him as they come to His disciples, because of the sin which surrounded Him. The argument is that He, though put to death, has now been exalted, even over the messengers and authorities and powers of the spirit realm (22), therefore those who suffer for doing good will also be exalted in due time. With this in mind, it is evident that it is not the evangel which is proclaimed to the spirits in prison, for that would be entirely out of line with the argument. It would imply that, as a result of their sufferings, their enemies will be evangelized. Such grace is foreign to Peter's epistles. The word here used is not evangelize, but herald or proclaim. It tells us, not that they were blessed, but that He was exalted. And what is more likely than that, after His ascension, He should be proclaimed the universal Suzerain to all creation, obedient or rebellious?

Verses 19-22

19 Who are these imprisoned spirits ? Are they not the same that Peter mentions in his second epistle ( 1Pe_2:4 ) who were thrust down to the gloomy caverns of Tartarus, and the messengers of Jude's epistle (6) , who kept not their own sovereignty and left their own habitation? The fact that they are called spirits, assures us that they are not human. The proclamation was not made to them during our Lord's death, but after He had been made alive. It was a token of His exaltation. In due time all will be subjected to Him, not only Israel on the earth in the kingdom, and all the rest of humanity in the resurrection, but all sovereignty and authority and power in the spirit realm, so that, at the consummation God may become All in all.

21 Baptism, with repentance, are the two essentials for entrance into the kingdom ( Act_2:38 ).

6 This difficult passage depends, for its interpretation, on the force of the interjected "indeed", which is usually omitted in translation. Even when present in the English, its force is not readily perceived. It must be evident to all that there is a turn in the argument, for the evangel is not the precursor of judgment from God, nor is it according to men. This judgment, then, is not God's but man's. Men judged them according to their own standards. They are judged, "indeed", but not in the judgment of the living and the dead just mentioned (5). The next statement, that they should be living according to God, makes it evident that the evangel was not preached to them after they had died. Men could not judge them, in flesh, nor could they live according to God, in spirit, after they had died. They are dead now, but the preaching and judging and living were all apart of their experience before they fell asleep.

8 The human love that covers over the sins of those on whom it is placed is but an intimation of the divine love which is the source of all affection. But human love is limited, both in its ideals and its performances. There is a striking similarity, however, between the expression of divine love under the law, before the sacrifice of Christ, and the love here spoken of. In both cases sin was covered, not put away or pardoned, much less justified. As we hide the misdeeds of our loved ones, so the blood of slain animals served to cover over the sins of Israel. Propitiation is not for us. Paul refers to it but once, and then in reference to the sins of the past ( Rom_3:25 ). It is for the Circumcision and the nations in the day of the Lord ( 1Jn_2:2 ) .

9 All other graces flourish where love is found. It not only stimulates their growth but enhances their quality. To do what is loving is well: to do it In a loving way is better. The manner of hospitality means more than mere hospitality itself. Gracious giving glorifies the gift.

12 Peter is the representative of the suffering saints of the Circumcision, and his ministry is especially intended for such. The persecutions of the first century were foretastes of the terrible time which precedes the coming of the kingdom. Hence these exhortations fit both occasions equally well. Then judgment will begin from the house of God, as detailed in the second and third chapters of the Unveiling.

15 Paradoxical as it may seem, only Jews are Christians in the Scriptures. The term is never applied to the nations, but only to Jews or proselytes. Paul never uses the name in his epistles. It occurs only in Acts, which is concerned with the past rejection of the kingdom, and in Peter, which looked forward to its future realization. It is a notable example of the manner in which Scriptural terms have been utterly perverted from their original use.

2 The beautiful picture of a shepherd with his flock is peculiarly appropriate to God's earthly people. Even In ancient times they alone were the flock of His pasture. In the wllderness He guided them like a flock ( Psa_78:52 ). When the Lord came Israel was as a flock having no shepherd ( Mat_9:36 ). He is the Great Shepherd of the sheep ( Heb_13:20 ; 1Pe_2:25 ). As the Good Shepherd He laid down His soul for the sheep ( Joh_10:11 ). As the Chief Shepherd He will reward the undershepherds for their work when He comes again in the day of His manifestation ( 1Pe_5:4 ). It must be remembered that, in the East. a shepherd does not drive his flock, but leads them. He does not send a dog after them, but calls them each by name. His care and protection is symbolized by his crook and his club, the former for the sheep and the latter for their enemies. The nearest that Paul ever comes to including the nations in this figure is the single occurrence of the word "shepherd" or pastor ( Eph_4:11 ), but its context shows that it is there a faded metaphor and has lost its figurative meaning, just as its Latin equivalent "pastor", which once also meant a shepherd. A pastor is not now a literal shepherd.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Peter 3". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/1-peter-3.html. 1968.
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