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Because Christians are born again by the word of God which lasts forever, they should put off from themselves, or renounce, the sins Peter names. Kelcy says the word translated "laying aside", "(apotithemi) means "put off" and was used of the literal act of taking off clothes." It is good to think of these sins as filthy, stinking clothes that one would take off and throw away. "Malice" is ill will or the desire to injure others, according to Thayer. He says "guile" is "a lure, snare; hence craft, deceit".
"Hypocrisy" is a word describing one who pretends to be something he is not. "Envy" is descriptive of one who does not like to see any good come into anyone else's life. Such a person is still very much self-centered.
When one speaks against others to ruin their reputations or to cause others to think less of someone else, he is involved in "evil speaking". The same Greek word is translated "backbitings" in 2Co_12:20 . The word "all", which Peter uses three times in this verse, means all kinds of the thing described. Of course, all the sins described here work directly against brotherly love (1:22) and are of a worldly, or corruptible seed ( 1Pe_2:1 ).
Drinking the Milk of the Word
Having emptied their lives of the above, Christians should vigorously and repeatedly seek the milk of the word, just as a baby cries for milk which is his only source of food. After all, Christians are babies in the gospel (see 1:23 and its comments). At the end of 1Pe_2:2 , the American Standard Version reads, "that ye may grow thereby unto salvation." Thus, the Christians' longing for and feeding on the word causes them to grow in Christ toward the final purpose of a home in heaven.
Concerning 1Pe_2:3 , Kelcy notes that "if" in the original does not express any doubt, but is a statement of fact. Peter's words come from Psa_34:8 as it appears in the LXX, or Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. The thought is that the milk of the word tastes good and produces good results so Christians will continue to have a strong desire for it.
Christ, "A Living Stone"
In the Christian's constant seeking after the milk of the word, he will be coming again and again to the Lord. Peter described Him as "a living stone." Christ is a living stone in two ways. He is alive from the dead to die no more and he is a source of life to his followers ( Act_2:22-24 ; Joh_14:6 ; Rom_6:23 ). Thayer says this word "stone" describes a building stone. Such a stone would be purposefully cut out for use in a particular work, which would well describe Christ ( 1Ti_1:15 ; Luk_19:10 ).
The last part of 1Pe_2:4 comes from Psa_118:22 , which Jesus applied to himself and his kingdom in Mat_21:42-46 . Peter also used this same passage in his first speech before the council ( Act_4:11 ). While men did not see Jesus as filling their needs and so rejected him, Woods says literally he was "by the side of God...chosen" and precious, or worthy of honor.
A Spiritual Temple of "Living Stones"
The apostle portrays the church as God's spiritual temple ( 1Co_3:9-17 ). Its members are living stones because they are part of the body of the living Lord ( Gal_3:26-27 ; Eph_1:22-23 ; Act_2:47 ). They
are built as a house for God, or his dwelling place, which reminds us of Jesus' words in Mat_16:13-20 . In this spiritual temple Christians serve as priests set apart for the Lord's service. They are dependant upon no other human to offer up sacrifices before God. Instead, all of their sacrifices are acceptable to God because they are offered "through" Jesus Christ. Of course, Christians can only approach God through Christ ( 1Pe_2:5 ; Joh_16:23-24 ; Joh_15:16 ).
As further explanation of the nature of the church, Peter refers to Isa_28:16 . Zion is the hill on which Jerusalem was built ( 1Ki_8:1 ). The doors to the church first swung open on Pentecost in Jerusalem ( Act_2:1-47 ). In his comment on Eph_2:20 , Lipscomb wrote, "The cornerstone is a massive stone in which the two lines of the wall at their foundation meet, by which the true direction of the whole walls depended, since the slightest imperfection in the cornerstone would be indefinitely multiplied along the course of the walls." Isaiah said, "Whoever believes will not act hastily." Peter, by inspiration gives us its full meaning by writing, "And he who believes on him will by no means be put to shame." Those placing their trust in the Lord will not be made ashamed to the point of desiring to flee. Those who trust in and obey Christ become a part of him and his precious nature ( 1Pe_2:6-7 ; see verse 4).
Consequences of Rejecting Christ
Those who reject Jesus and intentionally disobey will discover, like the builders ( Psa_118:22 ), Jesus is the one on whom God had laid the lines of his plan. They have rejected the only road of salvation. The apostle uses a quote from Isa_8:14 to show what happens to those who do not believe in and obey Christ. Jesus coupled the same two quotes Peter uses in verses 7-8 in Luk_20:17-18 . To these unbelievers, Christ is a rock in the road of unbelief over which they stumble (compare Luk_2:34 and 1Co_1:18-25 ). The word "offense" comes from the word in the original which suggests the stick that trips a trap. The disobedient, or those who are outside of Christ, will be crushed by the stone they have rejected ( 1Pe_2:8 ).
Results of Obeying Christ
In contrast, the obedient are an "elect race" (A.S.V.) in Christ ( Rev_14:13 ). They are set free from their sins by Christ's blood and made to be kings and priest in God's service ( Rev_1:5-6 ; Rev_5:10 ). Christians are a nation under Christ the king. They are holy because they are set apart for his service ( Col_1:13 ; Eph_5:25-27 ) As an alternative to "His own special people," the A. S. V. puts "a people for God's own possession." God purchased the members of Christ's body with the blood of his Son and set them apart to His special use ( Rom_5:8-10 ; Act_20:28 ; 1Co_6:19-20 ; 1Co_7:23 ). God's special use for his people is to shine with His glory as those who have been called out of sin's darkness into the light of the gospel ( Mat_5:13-16 ; Joh_3:19-21 ; Rom_13:12 ).
The expressions Peter used in 1Pe_2:9 to describe Christians are reminiscent of descriptions of Israel used in the Old Testament ( Isa_43:20-21 ; Exo_19:6 ; Deu_7:6 ; Deu_14:2 ). That is because Christians are now the Israel of God ( Gal_6:15-16 ; Mat_21:43 ; Rom_9:8 ; Rom_2:28-29 ; Gal_3:16 ; Gal_3:26-29 ; Gal_3:7 ; Php_3:3 ). He follows those with a quotation from Hos_2:23 which applied by Paul to the Gentiles in Rom_9:24-26 (compare Eph_2:11-13 ). It seems likely that the letter was sent to a great number of Gentiles. In Christ, all Christians become God's people and receive mercy in the form of the forgiveness of sins ( 1Pe_2:10 ).
Setting An Example for the World
Because they were a part of God's temple, Peter lovingly appealed to his readers, as those who were not living in their true home and would only stay a short while, to keep themselves back from sinful desires which aggressively fought against the eternal part of their beings.
He urged them to strive to remain pure for the sake of those unconverted (Gentiles) who, though speaking ill against them, would finally glorify God for the good works they had seen Christians do in His name. Evidently these who glorify will be led to obey and thus glorify God either in the day of obedience or judgment ( 1Pe_2:11-12 ).
The Christian and Government
Peter had received some personalized instruction from the Lord as to his attitude toward governments and may have heard what Christ told Pilate ( Mat_17:24-27 ; Joh_19:8-11 ). Evidently, the early church was frequently accused of being an enemy of the Roman empire, as Christ had been ( Act_17:5-9 ; Joh_19:12 ). Peter encouraged the brethren to obey man-made laws "for the Lord's sake." Such was certainly the Lord's will and their actions would show they were not following a Lord who encouraged rebellion. Of course, Peter's own actions and words suggest one should submit only until man's law would cause him to violate God's law ( Act_4:18-20 ; Act_5:28-29 ).
The king, in Peter's time, would have been the emperor of Rome, the supreme civil authority of his day. Governors, like Pilate, Felix and Festus, ruled as he directed. The basic purpose of human government was, and is, to keep order, punish evil doers and praise good works (compare Rom_13:1-7 ).
The apostle indicates it is both God's will that governments keep control and that Christians live lives full of good deeds. Woods notes the word "silence" literally comes from a word that means "to muzzle." Thus, the false accusations raised against Christians by evil men, who were purposefully ignorant as to their conduct, would be muzzled by the good deeds so obvious in their lives. So, Peter said Christians were freed from the law, from the bondage of sin and from death ( Gal_4:21-31 ; Gal_5:1-6 ; Joh_8:32-36 ). They were freed from sin to serve God ( Gal_5:13 ; Rom_6:1-2 ; Rom_6:16-18 ). Their daily dealings with all men should have been designed to show each a personal respect and allow him to maintain his dignity. In addition, their love for the brotherhood should have been readily apparent (compare Gal_6:10 ; Rom_12:10 ; Heb_13:1 ). Christians were to hold God in respect, or awe ( Pro_1:7 ; Ecc_12:13 ). Further, the king was to be afforded the respect due his office ( 1Pe_2:13-17 ).
Patiently Suffering for the Master
Peter knew that in Christ, all men are equal ( Gal_3:28-29 ). However, that did not change the obligation a Christian would have to those over him. Even slaves were instructed to obey good and bad, or crooked, masters ( Eph_6:5-8 ; Col_3:22-25 ; 1Ti_6:1-2 ). These verses teach Christians that service to Christ is a life changing thing. The apostle said they were to strive to give their best to others under all circumstances because they were the Lord's representatives. Servants could subject themselves to bad masters because they knew they were enduring wrongs in order to live a life pleasing to God and be acceptable in His sight ( 1Pe_2:18-19 ).
No particular honor goes to the man who suffers patiently when he is beaten for his mistakes and wrong doing. However, Peter assured his readers that God would accept and honor the man who endured beatings wrongfully administered by a bad master because he wanted to please God ( Mat_5:10 ). Woods says "into such a life as they were experiencing had they been called (by the gospel) to do good and to suffer patiently." Not only did slaves who became Christians suffer, but all Christians must suffer for the sake of their Lord ( 2Ti_3:12 ; Php_1:29 ). After all, He suffered, so his followers must be prepared to suffer. The word "example" presents the idea of a teacher writing the correct letters above and the students trying to copy them below on a page. Peter also portrayed Christ as having left heel prints in sand, or snow. He said Christians should try to place their feet exactly where Christ's were when he walked on earth as the obedient Son of God ( 1Pe_2:20-21 ).
The Lord Suffered Despite Living Sinlessly
Peter, in 2:22, quoted from the LXX rendering of Isa_53:9 . Woods says the word translated "committed no" is from the Greek meaning never even once. Kelcy tells us, "The word translated guile denotes deceit or treachery." Jesus was accused of being a devil ( Mat_12:24 ); a glutton and a winebibber ( Mat_11:19 ); and a blasphemer ( Mat_9:3 ; Joh_10:36 ). They spit on him and slapped him ( Mat_26:67 ); scourged him and placed a scarlet robe on his back, a reed in his hand and crown of thorns on his brow and mocked him as a king ( Mat_27:26-31 ); the people passing by ridiculed him and told him to save himself; and the chief priests, scribes and elders made fun of him by saying he saved others but could not save himself ( Mat_27:39-44 ). Jesus went through all of that without saying a word ( Isa_53:7 ), though he could have called upon twelve legions of angels to defend him ( Mat_26:53 ). Throughout his life, and especially during the extreme suffering of the crucifixion, Jesus placed his trust in God and committed Himself to carrying out His will ( Mat_26:39 ; Mat_26:42 ; Mat_26:54 ). God was worthy of Christ's trust and that of all Christians, as was proven in His resurrection from the dead ( 1Pe_2:23 ).
Woods’ comments prove helpful for those who remember Jesus' strong statements about the scribes and Pharisees on certain occasions and may be confused by this verse.
The pointed words of condemnation which Jesus sometimes hurled at the Pharisees and others ( Mat_7:5 ; Mat_16:3 ; Mat_22:18 ; Mat_23:13 ; Mat_23:25-26 ) were not the bitter taunts of personal malice, nor the retaliatory retorts for insults received, but the probings of one capable of looking into the innermost recesses of the heart and exposing the corruption there, with the design of saving, if possible, the persons so possessed.
The Purpose of Christ's Death
Peter had gone through a time when he did not understand the purpose of Christ's death ( Mat_16:21-23 ). In 1Pe_2:24 , he explains the full meaning of that great event by telling that He bore our sins on the cross. Christ bore the consequences of sins when He died for obedient sinners ( Rom_6:23 ; Mat_20:28 ; Mat_26:28 ; 1Ti_2:5 ; Rom_5:6 ; Rom_5:9-10 ; 1Co_11:24 ; 1Co_15:3 ; 2Co_5:14-15 ; Heb_2:9 ; Heb_9:26 ; Heb_10:10 ). The tree would, of course, be the cross. Jesus died that Christians might die to sin and live to do what is right in the sight of God ( Rom_6:1-18 ; Col_3:1-10 ). God's commandments are righteousness, so those keeping them would be righteous ( Psa_119:172 ). In an obvious reference to Isa_53:5 , Peter spoke of "stripes," which Thayer says means "a bruise, wale, wound that trickles with blood." This would seem to refer to the scourging Jesus experienced on the way to the cross ( Mat_27:26 ).
Perhaps we have read the words "scourged Jesus" without a full understanding for too long. Jesus' sufferings are well explained by Dr. Davis in an article which was first printed in Arizona Medicine and then reprinted in
Great Commission News. Preparations for the scourging was carried out. The prisoner is stripped of his clothing and his hands tied to a post above his head. It is doubtful whether the Romans made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter of scourging. The Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes. The Pharisees, always making sure that the law was strictly kept, insisted that only thirty-nine lashes be given. (in case of miscount, they were sure of remaining within the law.) The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum (or flagellum) in his hand. This is a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the end of each.
The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus' shoulders, back and legs. At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blook (sic. blood) from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles. The small balls of led (sic. lead) first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows.
Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death (sic.), the beating is finally stopped. It was by such stripes that Christians were healed from the dreaded disease of sin.
The figure of sheep wandering away from the fold, confused, in grave danger from wild animals, while traversing potentially dangerous terrain, represents the soul that has wandered from the fold of God by stepping into the path of sin ( Luk_15:3-7 ). Those who are Christians are back in the fold of God and under the watchful eye of Jesus who is the shepherd and bishop, or overseer, of their souls. A shepherd guides his sheep with love and tends to their every need ( 1Pe_2:25 ; Joh_10:1-18 ; Heb_13:20 )
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Peter 2". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent