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1 Peter 2:1. The first verse of chapter 2 relates to the previous portion. That is to be derived from the commencing words “therefore, putting aside”. Those words sound like a logical result of what was said earlier. What is to be laid aside is all displays of the flesh, the ego, through which you devalue others in favor of yourself. ‘To put aside’ means to radically and immediately break with these things and in no way allow them to control you again. When Peter appeals to lay these things aside it implies that they occur among the readers of his letter and that they can also occur among us. Or don’t you recognize that you can also behave like that at times?
It is also not about a display at times on a certain occasion, but it is about “all malice and “all deceit” and “all slander”.
1. How easy do we feel “malice” arise from ourselves for various reasons,
2. how easy do we make use of “deceit”,
3. do we deceive others in various situations and do we pretend ourselves to be better (“hypocrisy”) or
4. do we begrudge others all kinds of things they possess (“envy”).
5. And let us not forget the “slander”. How easy we make ourselves guilty of that in all kinds of conversations.
Depart from these things inwardly, do not let yourself be tempted and condemn it directly when you notice that one of these things arise in you.
1 Peter 2:2. Besides these things seriously damage the relations among believers, they are also great hindrances for the spiritual growth. That’s the next issue Peter speaks about. When you are born again you have new life. That life longs for food, just like a newborn baby longs for it. You do not have to encourage a baby to drink. He naturally gives a sign for that. The food of a believer is the “pure milk” of the Word of God.
A healthy spiritual growth is extraordinarily important. Even like in natural life, health in spiritual life also depends on the kind of food you consume. Therefore you should lay aside everything that sabotages the brotherly love, which hinders the growth. That refers to 1 Peter 2:1. You should suck up the good Word instead, like a babe searches the mother’s breast, because he senses that there is the life that is needed to grow. That refers to 1 Peter 2:2.
The point here is not the first stage of the spiritual growth, about a person who is newly converted. It is not about a phase in the spiritual growth (like in Hebrews 5:12), but it is about a feature that applies to both babes in faith and spiritually matured believers. It goes for each believer that spiritual undernourishment arises when there is no hunger for it and no consumption. When a believer does not hunger for the Word there is definitely something wrong. A healthy Christian continually hungers for the milk from God’s Word. By nourishing yourself with God’s Word you grow to salvation, meaning to the full salvation.
God’s Word has saving power, not only for the future, but also for the road that brings you there. There are three aspects attached to salvation. The first is that you are saved for eternity. The second is that you are kept safe in all kinds of dangerous situations by obeying the Word. The third is that you will be saved when you are with the Lord.
When you stuff yourself with light or even foolish reading matters you will not grow spiritually and you will grow crooked. Easily readable, cheap novels with a little bit of the gospel do not protect you against the attacks of satan who is seeking to make you sin. When you read such reading matters as a kind of spiritual candy, you will spiritually get sick. It is even more damaging when you consume reading matters that contain poison, for then the end is death. Then nothing will be left of your testimony as a Christian than a corpse.
Recently I read a report on Habakkuk, a digital daily magazine, on the internet, that I would like to pass on to you at the end of this section. It has got everything to do with integrating God’s Word within yourself. The report sounds as follows:
How do you properly transfer knowledge? … the French writer and a former teacher Daniel Pennac … argues: Education needs slowness and a revaluation of work as an activity of the spirit for the long duration. Only by slowness you can integrate something within yourself ….(Trouw, Dutch daily newspaper 15-12-2008)
According to Pennac you do a great favor to your pupils when you help them to develop a ‘mental library’. Pennac managed to make his own students fanatically learn phrases by heart. ‘A mental library’, isn’t that an awesome possession! It’s like always having a piece of Kafka or Marquez at hand. It’s not about learning something by heart which you later forget. No, it is about penetrating in the phrases step by step. And as soon as you have understood the phrase, it is a question of repeating and repeating, like somebody who really knows what he’s talking about. Afterwards you should practice of course and remain repeating, but you will not manage without understanding it.’
Without being conscious of that Pennac proposes a great challenge to Christians … We have the Bible often in snippets in our head … Wouldn’t that be an enormous treasure if you would have complete chapters or even complete books from the Bible in your mental library? That you penetrate through the texts step by step. And as soon as you have the understanding of a phrase, you repeat and repeat again ….
Now read 1 Peter 2:1-2 again.
Reflection: What are you doing, in order to grow spiritually?
A Holy Priesthood
1 Peter 2:3. So it is important that you spiritually grow. To do that properly you should not depend on a good intellect, but on your spiritual taste. The things Peter is speaking about do not address the intellect, but the heart that has “tasted the kindness of the Lord”. It is about the word of the Beloved and love is in the first place related to the heart, with the feelings that are in there for the Beloved. If you have tasted that the Lord is gracious you cannot help but long to know Him better. And how do you manage to know Him better? Through His Word. The more you read in His Word the more you will grow in your knowledge of Him.
Once you have tasted the Word and you have acquired the taste for it, your hunger for more will increase more and more. You may have heard the remark that he or she has ‘a very good taste’, by which people refer to the clothes a person wears or the way a person has decorated his house. Someone’s taste appears in that way. Your taste for God’s Word becomes apparent from the value that God’s Word has for you. Do you read it and do you live up to it? Then you will certainly grow.
1 Peter 2:4. The growth also has a purpose. It is God’s intention that you behave like a priest, that you serve Him as a priest in His house. That is what the following verses are dealing with. Considering the priest service, it is of importance that you do not grow improperly. In the book of Leviticus, the book that is especially about the priest service, there is mention of members of the priestly family that are not allowed to exercise that service because of a defect of the body (Leviticus 21:16-Isaiah :).
When we apply that spiritually, it means that a person cannot exercise a priest service when he hasn’t got a good view on his position as a believer, due to wrong teachings. You may think of a person who has always heard that it is not possible for you to know for sure whether you are saved, or that a believer who surely knows he is saved, thinks that he still can perish.
The priesthood of the believer is therefore directly related to the growth of the believer. These two aspects are related to one another through the Lord Jesus as “a living stone”. You came to Him when you converted and He accepted you. Coming to Him is however not an action that you do only once, after which you can continue to go your own way again. Now you have become a child of God, it is important that you continue to go to Him. He is the living stone. He has risen from the dead. Consider that it applies to you that there is life in Him alone. Therefore you are to be and remain related to Him.
To grow and to be edified you are dependent on Him. You see that Peter changes metaphors. First he speaks about growth and now he speaks about a stone and later about a house. He uses all these metaphors to make clear how your relation to Christ has become.
You come to Him Who “has been rejected by men”. You clearly see that in the gospels. You read there how His people and the Gentiles relegated Him to the cross and chose Barabbas instead of Him. Once you also rejected Him, but now you have come to Him and you continually come to Him. In Him you have discovered the most precious, which He always has been for God already. You read here that He “is choice and precious in the sight of God”. That is much more than what He means to you, but at the same time it is something that you totally agree with. He is chosen by and precious to God and also to you.
1 Peter 2:5. Because He is the living stone and you have come to Him, you now also have become a living stone. That implies that you have His nature. And there is still more. You are not the only one who became a living stone. To build a house you need many stones. That is how Peter also presents it. Together with all other living stones, which means together with each believer, you are being built up “a spiritual house”.
The intention of this house is clear. It is a house wherein God dwells and wherein the believers also may dwell (Ephesians 2:19-Song of Solomon :). This house is built on the Lord Jesus as the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16-Job :). He is the living stone, the rock (petra in Greek), and you and all believers are ‘Peter’ (that means: (rock)stone, a piece of the rock). You see here a beautiful play of words.
Peter however, doesn’t see the believers as housemates of God and of one another, but as priests. Therefore the house here is a dwelling place of priests and their duty is to offer up sacrifices, spiritual sacrifices of course. You are a priest and together with others you form “a holy priesthood”, a generation of priests. Like a living stone together with other living stones form the spiritual house, you are as a priest a priesthood, together with others.
The task of a priest in the Old Testament is to offer up sacrifices. The task of a priest in the New Testament is not different. What is indeed different is the offering service. That does not consist of literal sacrifices, but of spiritual sacrifices (Hebrews 13:15). To God only the sacrifices that refer to His Son and the work He has accomplished, are pleasing. In order to get to this point to offering up sacrifices, you need to understand how precious the Lord Jesus is to God.
The priesthood is a ‘holy’ priesthood. It is a priesthood that is totally for God, but it is also set apart by Him. Human efforts are absolutely excluded. It is one of the many and major deceptions of roman-catholicism to let literal priests, on the ground of a human training, function as a separate group between the church people and God. This mediation is a denial of the general priesthood that God has established for all believers.
You are a priest and each true child of God is a priest. Any appointment, consecration or blessing ceremony by men is completely against what God has established on the ground of the work of His Son. If that’s the way God has established it, then make use of that. Offer up those sacrifices. How do you do that? By telling God Who the Lord Jesus is for you, what He has done for you. Just simply tell God what you have read in His Word about His Son. That is what He loves to hear and He will show you more and more of His Son as a response to that.
1 Peter 2:6. The Scripture testifies on each page of the joy that God finds in the Lord Jesus. Peter quotes from that to confirm what he just said. With the word “behold” he appeals to look at it carefully and to make yourself aware that the initiative was taken by God. He laid “a choice stone, a precious corner [stone]” in Zion (Isaiah 28:16). The intention of the use of the quotation is to make clear to you that God Himself has laid this stone.
In the quotation it is about Zion or Jerusalem, but it also applies to us. It applies to both the earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly Jerusalem that only what is built on Christ, will remain. Because you have put your trust in Him you “will not be disappointed”. That applies to everyone who does that, whatever the circumstances are in which he or she may be.
1 Peter 2:7. This treasure is only for those who acknowledge the Lord Jesus as the Elect of God. Peter presents this preciousness to the remnant of the Jews whom he addresses. And he not only addresses those. It is fully true to everyone who believes.
There are two possible ways how people respond when Christ is presented as that preciousness. The one response is that it makes a person entrust himself to Him in the awareness of Who He is to God. The other response is that one rejects Him in unbelief. Christ is the touchstone for each person. It is either accepting or falling. What is most precious to the believer is the most odious to the unbeliever. Anyone who does not believe, Christ is the stone that causes him to stumble. Again Peter quotes a verse of the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 8:14). God’s Word has prophesied that the unbelieving Jews will fall by stumbling over Him and they indeed fell when they stumbled over Him.
1 Peter 2:8. The fact that they were appointed to stumble over Him and fell, does not mean that God has appointed them to reject the Lord Jesus. God does not appoint anyone to reject His Son. What he indeed appoints, is that he who disobeys Him, will stumble over the word that He has spoken over His Son. The inevitable consequence of disobedience is the rejection of the Word. You may compare it to a fine that a person gets when he for instance has parked his car in the wrong parking lot. He is not appointed to erroneously park his car, but when he parks erroneously, he is appointed to get a parking-fine. This is how a person with a rejecting mind towards the Lord Jesus is appointed to stumble over the Word. But that is not the case with those to whom Peter writes, neither with you. That will be explained in the next portion.
Now read 1 Peter 2:3-8 again.
Reflection: How does your priest service look like?
A Royal Priesthood
1 Peter 2:9. You may know that you belong to a “chosen race”. That’s awesome of course! That race embraces all people that are born of God. In the Old Testament Israel was God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 7:6; Isaiah 43:20). That embraced everyone who was born an Israelite. But the chosen race which you belong to, surpasses all boundaries and goes beyond every nationality. This race is not related to the earth, but to heaven and to Christ Who is there.
You may also know that you belong to “a royal priesthood” (cf. Exodus 19:6). Earlier in 1 Peter 2:5, you saw that you partake of a “holy priesthood”. The important aspect there was the approach to God as a priest in His house, in order to have fellowship with Him about the Lord Jesus. The “royal priesthood” that you now have read about, presents another aspect of the priesthood, which is to the world outside.
You may say that your service as a holy priest in the sanctuary is the source of your service as a royal priest in the world. In the sanctuary you see Christ and you are being transformed into His image. The result will be that you proclaim the virtues or the excellent features or attributes of God in the world. In other words that you reveal His attributes. Also this priest service is for all believers.
So the royal priesthood is focused on the world. The important thing thereby is that you indeed radiate the dignity of a king, but still do not exercise the rights that a king has. A wonderful example is to be found in the Lord Jesus. He is a King when He stands before Pilate (John 18:33-Haggai :). That’s what He also radiates, but He doesn’t exercise that right yet at that moment. The actual exercise of His kingship still has to come and therefore also the actual exercise of our kingship.
But in order to know Who the Lord Jesus is, the world doesn’t need to wait for the time that He comes. We are here to represent Him. We are not kings yet in the sense of ‘ruling kings’, but we are indeed able to behave like kings. We do that by showing the virtues of God, meaning by revealing His features.
Before we take a look at the virtues of God, you see that there are still two more descriptions mentioned, regarding the company you partake of. You belong to “a holy nation” (cf. Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6; Isaiah 62:12). The company you now belong to is completely separated from all nations of the world. As a member of His nation, God has set you apart from all nations on earth, so that you may be for Him alone. That is emphasized by the expression “a people for [God’s] own possession” (Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:18; Malachi 3:17). God has a people of His own, that is the people that He has chosen to be for Himself through the work of the Lord Jesus (Titus 2:14). Through this people He wants to show the world Who He is.
This people now has the responsibility to proclaim His “excellencies”. Proclaiming has not that much to do with ‘speaking’, but more with ‘revealing’, demonstrating by what you as a member of that people, are, what you do and what you say. It is about your whole life, wherein God and the Lord Jesus can be seen. In order to make that possible He has called you out of the darkness of sin to be in His “marvelous light”. That light is ‘marvelous’. In that light you see Who He is. God took away everything that disturbed that and He also took you away from the realm of darkness. What an awesome God He is that He could work like that, whereby in no way He compromised on any, not even one, of His holy demands.
1 Peter 2:10. Therefore you may say that a great transformation has happened in the relation between God and what Peter can now call “the people of God”. Those to whom Peter writes this letter were in literal sense God’s people indeed, but in spiritual sense they were “not a people”. They lost the right to be God’s people.
God metaphorically expressed that in the family situation of the prophet Hosea and in the names that Hosea had to give his children (Hosea 1:6; Hosea 1:9Hosea 2:1; Hosea 2:22). The unfaithfulness of Hosea’s wife is a metaphor of the unfaithfulness of God’s people towards Him. In the names that Hosea had to give his children, God makes clear that He couldn’t call His people His people anymore (Lo-Ammi, Hosea 1:9) and that He could not allow them to partake of mercy anymore (Lo-Ruchama, Hosea 1:6). What applies here to God’s old people we may apply to each man.
By God’s grace there will be a change in this broken relation. He will soon start over again with His people and call them His people again and be merciful to them again. That is what Peter applies to those whom he is addressing and it is also applied to you. Through the work of Christ on the cross and the faith in Him, they have become God’s people and you too have become a member of that people. You can only praise Him for this great grace and mercy and show in your life that you honor Him for that.
1 Peter 2:11. How this will take place, is expanded in the following verses. In the portion of chapter 2:11-3:12 it is actually told how you can be God’s witness in the world. You get instructions there for a more detailed implementation of proclaiming God’s virtues. It is about your walk of life, whereby the differences of territories are made in which your life is taking place. For instance, that you are subjected to the government in society. You are also dealing with your occupation or study and how you behave yourself therein. Also the way of life in the family and the relatives you belong to and your conduct among the believers are being dealt with.
Peter presents these instructions as admonitions or exhortations. In order to make an entry with his admonitions, he addresses his readers as “beloved”. In that way he surrounds his admonitions with the realm and warmth of brotherly love. He is absolutely aware of the fact that believers live in a hostile world which causes them to be exposed to suffering. In the world you are an ‘alien’ and a ‘stranger’. As an alien you live among people who live in a place which is their home, while your home is somewhere else. They have various facilities, while you are not entitled to anything. As a stranger you are on strange ground and you speak another language, while you know that your own homeland is heaven.
By the way of life of the people around you and the environment you live in, you continually are under pressure to adapt yourself to their world of life. Therefore the reminder of the fact that you are an alien and a stranger, is not superfluous. There is still another danger that you may adapt to the world and that has got to do with your “fleshy lusts”. That doesn’t refer to what is around you, but it refers to what is within yourself.
The world you live in and the fleshy lusts within you, form a perfect match together. The fleshy lusts always seek to have control. Therefore Peter admonishes his readers to abstain from those lusts, meaning that they are to be ignored, for otherwise they will bring the soul into bondage again. You shouldn’t pay attention to them (Romans 13:14). The Holy Spirit, Who resists the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:17), is willing to give the strength for that. The fleshy lusts always fight against the soul that through the conversion wants to nourish himself with Christ.
1 Peter 2:12. Therefore you must also do something in reaction to that and that is to clearly say ‘no’ to the lusts of the flesh. Then you can concentrate yourself on a behavior that is “excellent”. This is also something the Holy Spirit is willing to help with (Galatians 5:16). A good conduct “among the Gentiles”, that are the people of the world, underlines the confession that you make with your mouth.
Despite your good conduct the people of the world will speak evil of you. It should not be the case that they have a reason to speak evil of you because of your evil behavior. But even when you do good, the world will speak evil of you. That is what they also did to the Lord Jesus, Who did only good.
The only way to respond to that evil speaking is by good works, not by defensive speaking. Unbelievers will certainly notice those good works. But they do not want to recognize them as such, because they will notice God therein and in no way they want to acknowledge Him.
There comes a day that they will be forced to glorify God on the basis of those good works. That day is “the day of visitation”. It may be that in the life of such evil speaking unbelievers something happens through which God speaks to their conscience. That’s when a visitation comes over them. Then they will discover that Christians have something that they lack. Then they will turn to the God Who they formerly met in the good works of those He owns and Whom they had rejected. Isn’t that a wonderful result of your good works?
Now read 1 Peter 2:9-12 again.
Reflection: Which virtues of God do you know and how can you proclaim them?
1 Peter 2:13. After the general admonitions to have a good conduct, Peter speaks about particular relations in which that good conduct has to become visible. In the first place he draws your attention to your relation towards the government. Peter says that you are to submit yourself to “every human institution”. He also adds a motive to that: it is for the Lord’s sake. That excludes other motives. Therefore it is not the intention that you only obey the government when, according to your calculation, it may deliver you a personal benefit.
1 Peter 2:14. The government is an ordinance that has been established by God (Romans 13:1). Within this government there are different levels. There is a king as supreme government to which believers are to submit themselves. There are also lower levels of governments, such as governors, whom are, however, clothed with the authority of the king. They are representatives of the king, in order to punish evildoers, but also to honor those who do good.
Today we know the national government and also the lower governments, such as the provincial and municipal principalities. The fact that they often do not consider God’s will, is not our business. God will hold them accountable for the way they performed their duty. In a general sense they indeed restrain the evil.
It can be hard to adopt the right attitude towards the government. You are subjected to it, while you do not even have anything to do with their appointment. As an alien and a stranger it is after all not allowed for you to get involved with the politics of the land of your sojourning. Participation in the government or even the exertion of influence on its composition is not fitting for you as a Christian. The Lord Jesus does not rule either publicly yet. The kingdom of God is still a hidden kingdom, because its King is still hidden in heaven.
Therefore we cannot possibly have government duties yet. The Corinthians had forgotten that and Paul had to blame them for that also (1 Corinthians 4:8). God rules the world now by governments, also by those who do not consider Him at all. The Lord Jesus is, such as always, the example. This is why He also did not want to be a judge in a case of an inheritance (Luke 12:13). He was not of the world and neither are we. His time to reign is still to come and therefore ours also.
1 Peter 2:15. It is the will of God that you submit yourself to the government. Therefore it is not a kind request for you with the option to think about it and deal with it differently. This submission is also not to happen by grinding your teeth or by having a passive behavior. The important thing is to do good. The believers whom Peter addresses and also Peter himself have to do with the ungodly and cruel emperor Nero. God even allowed that under the government of this monarch, both Peter and Paul were sentenced to death.
How ungodly a government or ruler may be, it is the responsibility of the believer to submit himself to it or to him and behave himself as a good citizen of that one’s government. Doing good will result in being honored by the government, although that honor will possibly not be expressed. The government will acknowledge that Christians deliver their positive contribution to society, although their life may cause the hatred of the local authorities.
Besides the honor of the government, doing good has another effect. That effect is that you put to silence the “foolish men” whom in their foolish “ignorance” accuse the believers of the most absurd crimes. So it is not about words here, but about deeds wherein the value of the Christian life becomes visible.
1 Peter 2:16. This life in submission is true freedom. Freedom is not doing whatever you want. If you do whatever you want, you only allow yourself to be controlled by your flesh, the sin, and this is bondage. That you are a free man also means that you do not put yourself under a law or that you impose or allow to impose a yoke on yourself. Freedom is that by possessing a new nature you love to do what God wants you to. The Christian freedom implies that you have been freed from the bondage of sin and the law, in order to enter into the sanctuary of God.
This freedom does not mean, however, that you must not do what the government says you should do. As it is already said, it is the will of God that you obey the government. The entire will of God is written in His Word. You are to obey what God orders or prohibits in it. It is foolish to avoid that with an appeal to your freedom. It is most possible – and it is a good thing to recognize that – that you misuse this Christian freedom (Galatians 5:13). You can fool yourself in this view. Therefore hold on to God’s Word as the supreme form of authority.
That indeed brings you to another field of tension and you experience that when the government requests or permits something that is in contrast to God’s Word. Then it is important that you obey God more than men (Acts 5:29). Thereby you can think of the acceptance of unmarried living together or of having a homosexual relationship. Those are reprehensible things. When you approve of such things with an appeal on the Christian liberty, you are using this liberty “as a covering for evil”. It is in contrast to the fact that you are a bondslave of God. As a bondslave of God you are accountable to do God’s will. That is not a hard and difficult thing to do for someone who delights in doing the will of God (1 John 5:3). When you see yourself as a ‘free bondslave’, you will not allow yourself to be misguided to act in a way that is in contradiction to God’s will.
1 Peter 2:17. The fact that you must refuse and condemn sinful practices does not mean that you must despise the people who commit these sins. Peter calls on to honor “all people”. That is because all people are made in the image of God. You honor all people when you do good to all. That’s what the Lord Jesus also did when He was on earth. He for instance, without distinction, healed all who came to Him (Matthew 8:16).
In the midst of those ‘all people’ who are to be honored, is a special company for which we have a special love. That is “the brotherhood”. That is the total of all believers and not only those, whom you are practically in contact with and certainly not only those, whom you can easily get along with. Peter says that we are to love the total of the believers, all who are children of God, without exception. Of the Christians from the first century it is said that they loved one another before they got acquainted to one another. That is a wonderful testimony and that is how it is still supposed to be today, for love has not changed.
The love for the brotherhood will not always reveal itself in the same way. You are to love the brothers, but not the fleshy lusts or the worldly mind. You do not love what seeks the destruction of the brotherhood, for example causing divisions or a false doctrine. That is the reason for the addition that you should fear God.
To fear God means that you have reverence for Him in everything. That is being reflected in your obedience to His Word. It is also reflected in the respect that you show to the king that is appointed by Him, as a representative of His authority. You will not always be able to do what the government expects you to do because you fear God, but that should in no way cause you to cease respecting the government. The recognition of the government should remain, for, as long as the church is on earth, there is no government or authority except from God (Romans 13:1).
You may summarize this section as follows. Peter addresses you as a subject of the kingdom of God. That is not an easy position, because you live in a world that does not know anything about it and does not want to know anything about it. The world is seeking to make you suffer like they did to the Lord Jesus. It is impossible to be a follower of Christ without stirring up the resistance of the world with that.
As His disciple you are subjected to His authority of Whom Peter says that you have to sanctify Him in your heart (1 Peter 3:15). You are dealing with His authority in your life. But He has also placed you in authority relationships. That authority comes from Him. The authority of the governments comes from Him. Regardless of the fact that these powers strongly resist against God, they still are God’s ministers. We subject ourselves to them as if we are directly subjected to God.
Now read 1 Peter 2:13-17 again.
Reflection: In which situations do you have to subject yourself to the government and when do you have to obey God more than men?
Following the Steps of Christ
1 Peter 2:18. After Peter showed you the authority relationship of you as an inhabitant of your land of residence towards the government, he now draws your attention to another authority relationship. He will now talk about the authority relationship between “servants” and “masters”. Likewise the government is an appointed authority, also the authority relationship between ‘servants’ and their ‘masters’ are a result of sin.
There is also a distinction. The government is appointed by God as a judiciary authority (Genesis 9:1-Joshua :). Regarding the relation of a servant towards his master it is different. God never intended to make a man to be a servant of another man. However, God does not take away the consequences of sin, but gives instructions on how men, who confess their sin can live to His honor right in those consequences. Regarding bondage, God gives room for the servant to become free, should he have the opportunity to (1 Corinthians 7:22). For the servant who has no opportunity for that God has something else. That servant gets a special opportunity, especially in his work as a servant, to show what it is to be a Christian.
Although Peter speaks about ‘servants’ and not about slaves, the position of servants is similar to those of slaves. That becomes evident from the word ‘master’ that literally means ‘despot’, which implies that such persons have unlimited power and that they are the absolute ruler of their house. A servant belongs to the house management and he therefore has more contact with his master than other slaves. That only makes the danger to rebel or manipulate greater and greater. Therefore Peter admonishes them here to submit themselves to their masters with all reverence.
In order to prevent them from excuses he says in addition that this does not only apply to the “good and gentle” masters, but also to “those who are unreasonable”. It is not that hard to be submissive to a good and gentle master. But it takes a whole lot more to be submissive to a harsh master. For such masters the servants are nothing more than living tools that they have available for themselves, with whom they can deal according to their wishes. Therefore, when servants have an ‘unreasonable’ master, they are especially well-placed with the opportunity ‘to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior’ (Titus 2:10).
You may apply what is said here about servants and masters to what we call today ‘employees’ and ‘employers’, although this comparison is only partially applicable. As it is already said, in those days of Peter a master was somebody who had absolute power over his servant. He could do with him whatever he wanted, while the servant had no right or any opportunity at all to defend himself against it. Today there are numerous opportunities for an employee to defend himself against certain labor circumstances. He even has the right to strike. Nothing like this was possible in those days.
The circumstances may have changed, but the principles that the Scripture brings forward here are still fully effective today. Therefore the believing employee ought not to use his right to strike. He is not appealed to strike, but to work. The reward that he will receive is not to be expected from the striking treasury, but he is to earn that by labor (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Peter therefore does not speak about the rights of the servant, but about his duties and especially about his attitude towards his master.
1 Peter 2:19. When you are the submissive person in a relationship, while your superior is ‘harsh’ and treats you unjustly, you may take different attitudes. You can resist against it or endure this grief. You read here what God expects from you. It is said here that the injustice that is being done to you, makes you sad. Therefore it is important that the injustice that is being done to you does not make you obstinate. The attitude that adorns you as a Christian is the suffering of the injustice that is being done to you.
You endure it “for the sake of conscience toward God”, which means because you know what God expects from you. When you would respond otherwise, you would be defending your right, but at the same time go against your conscience. ‘Bear up under sorrows’ is foolish in the eye of the world, but God’s Word calls that “favor” and “it is commendable” when you are “suffering unjustly”. In this way you follow the steps of the Lord Jesus Who has endured this in a perfect way.
Isn’t that a great grace to look like Him? When you endure ‘grief’ it is a proof that God’s grace is at work in you. It gives you the opportunity to proclaim the virtues of God as they became visible in Christ.
1 Peter 2:20. In case the servant would rebel, he would also have to face suffering, because his master would be beating him. Then those whips would be his just reward, for rebellion is a sin. Even when a person suffers like that, he may be persistent in his attitude of rebelliousness and he may become even more rebellious than ever. That is not commendable before God. Such an attitude may be right for people who only think of their own rights and want to get their own way, people who have the idea that one should defend oneself.
Such an attitude is absolutely far away from the grace that God has for anyone who is aware that he is totally dependent on God and has no right to anything. It is a joy for God to relate Himself to you when you suffer like that, because it reminds Him of the suffering that His Son has endured. When you have a harsh employer, it is God’s exercising school for you to make you look more and more like the Lord Jesus. Isn’t that what you also eagerly want? That is what God has in mind for you when He brings you in a situation where you suffer because of your conscience.
1 Peter 2:21. This suffering is an inseparable part of your normal life as a Christian. You do not simply accept suffering as an inevitable and most unpleasant incident that you would want to avoid as soon as you possibly could. I heard from a committed Christian whom had once been treated wrongfully, to which he rebelled. He came to a confession of this wrong response when an older sister asked him: ‘Is that all you’ve learned from Golgotha?’ In God’s Word the question approaches us: “Why not rather be wronged? (1 Corinthians 6:7)? To suffer injustice is not something you and I can do naturally. That is something we have to learn. The issue is whether I am willing to and whether you are willing to.
Suffering goes together with your call as a Christian. To know what endurance and suffering mean and how you can learn that, your eye is fixed on Christ. Only when suffering and enduring is related to Him, it is valuable and makes your heart happy, how great your suffering may be. Christ has suffered because He in no way gave in to the evil that is in the world and because He didn’t want anything more than going God’s way. The way He went through the world is an example for us. He did not sin by deeds nor by words, because He was totally in the will of God and put all things in the hand of His Sender, of Whom He knew that He judges righteously.
When it is written here that Christ has “suffered” as an “example” for us to follow, it is of course impossible to have any reference to His reconciling and substitutionary suffering. We absolutely cannot possibly follow that. We read about the reconciling and substitutionary suffering of Christ in 1 Peter 2:24. The suffering wherein He is an example for you to follow, refers to His whole life before the cross. All the time of that life was a ‘suffering’.
He was living in a sinful atmosphere in an unclean world. He was tempted by satan. He was hated by men in return to His love for them. At the same time He went through this suffering “that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest” for you (Hebrews 2:17; Hebrews 4:15), for He knows all trials from His own experience. In His whole way on earth you have an example that you can follow. When you do that, you will be fulfilling your call. That is God’s goal with your life.
If you want to know how to follow the example of Christ, you couldn’t do better than study the gospels diligently. There you see how the Lord has responded to all suffering that was done to Him in whatever way. The word ‘example’ was used as an indication for writing models that children had to copy, in order to learn to write and also for drawings from which they had to trace the lines. That’s how you could look at the Lord as an example, in order to learn how to follow Him.
Do not follow Him at a distance, like Peter once did, which caused him to deny his Lord (Luke 22:54). You are only able to follow the example of Christ by walking right behind Him. Then you will be able to follow His steps. You see, as it were, the trace of His footsteps in the sand and that’s where you put your feet into. The more you get behind, the more the trace of His footsteps fades away. When you walk right behind Him, His example will remain very clear and in that way you go with a firm step in the right direction to the goal.
Now read 1 Peter 2:18-21 again.
Reflection: How can you follow the steps of Christ in your situation?
Live for Righteousness
1 Peter 2:22. With reference to the example that the Lord Jesus has left us to follow, Peter points at what the Lord definitely did not do and what He surely did. What He did not do is related to Himself and to the people around Him. What He indeed did do is related to His Father.
As it is said in the previous section, you see the example of the Lord in an outstanding way in the gospels. These gospels were not available or were only recently in circulation in the days of Peter. What his readers certainly knew, were the scriptures of the Old Testament. To show to them the example of the Lord, Peter quotes from Isaiah 53 (Isaiah 53:9). In that magnificent chapter Isaiah prophetically writes comprehensively and impressively about the Lord Jesus. Just read that chapter (again) yourself. Isaiah takes you by the hand and tells you about the birth, the life, the death, the resurrection and the glory of the Lord Jesus in a way that makes you forget everything around you and see only Him.
The first quotation from the book of Isaiah is related to what the Lord Jesus has not done. He “committed no sin”. He did not commit any sinful deed. Whatever was seen of Him, it was without sin. Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). This shows the essence of sin and the point is that it doesn’t respect any kind of authority. That regards to both the authority of people that are placed above us and the authority of God. With the Lord Jesus there was the full recognition of God’s authority and also of the governments, given by God. He came to do the will of God and fully submitted Himself to that will (Hebrews 10:7).
Therein He is an example for you. He committed no sin, because He fully submitted Himself to the will of God. Likewise you will not sin when you fully submit yourself to God’s will. That is surely possible, for the Lord Jesus is your life.
The best proof that He had committed no sin appears from the next quotation, wherein you read that He never spoke any deceitful word: “Nor was any deceit found in His mouth.” His enemies often tried to catch Him because of a wrong word. They were searching for that, as the word “found”, used by Peter, makes you think of. Their attempts appeared to be fruitless, because He never said anything that was untrue. He only spoke what the Father told Him to speak (John 12:50).
How about you? Can that be said of you too, that no deceit was ever found in you? I know believers who sincerely confess how difficult it is for them not to lie. They say that lying had become a second nature to them. Now they have confessed their sins and really want to live with the Lord, they still sometimes suffer consequences of that and that they regularly have to admit that they have fallen back in their old pattern of lying. The Lord wants also to be an Example for them. When they look upon Him and learn from Him, they will surely be able to follow His footsteps in this too.
1 Peter 2:23. The way His enemies approached Him did not stir up anything in the Lord that can possibly be related to sin. He always replied to His adversaries in a perfectly calm and persuasive way. As a response to that they took their refuge in scolding Him. He did not scold in return. When they ultimately overpowered Him, because it was God’s time for that, and they made Him suffer in the most horrible way, He did not threaten. Instead of scolding and threatening in return, the Lord prayed: “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34).
He surrendered everything in the hands of His Father, Whom He knew as the righteous God. He was fully aware that God was going to judge everything righteously. When you have that awareness, you will surely be able to endure suffering. You can surrender everything, including the unbelievers who mock you, the intolerance you’re facing, the injustice being done to you, to God Who judges righteously. You may totally lay yourself in God’s hand. In His time He will reveal the truth about everything you have done for His sake and for which you have suffered. Do you believe that?
1 Peter 2:24. Your attention is being drawn to the unique suffering of the Lord that He endured from God’s side, because of your sins. In this He is not an example for you. He is absolutely inimitable in this suffering. Nevertheless this aspect of suffering must be mentioned, because the Lord Jesus could have never been an example for you, had He not borne your sins.
His death is the result of the wrath of God over your sins, which He took on Himself. He took these sins away, so that you may be free now from your sins and therefore be able to take His life as an example to follow. When you, in contrast to that, still sin and in that way cause yourself much suffering, you disregard the work of the Lord Jesus. The work of Christ, achieved for sin, is the basis to be able to follow Him. In no way you have to give in to sin.
It is also significant to point out that the Lord did not bear your sins during His life on earth. He did that only on the cross, in the three hours of darkness. The idea that during His life He already was under the wrath of God, is absolutely a misconception. It is possible that this misconception comes out from a wrong transcription of the verse in a certain translation that says that He ‘has brought our sins in His body on the tree.’ Therein lies the suggestion that He already bore the sins during His life and then brought them to the cross. As it is already said, it doesn’t make any sense at all. During His life the Lord Jesus was fully and perfectly pleasing to God, Whom more than once spoke that out too (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 17:5).
So it is clear that the Lord Jesus has borne your sins in the three hours of darkness and received God’s judgment over it. There He died in your place and you have died with Him there. You have died to sin. Sin has no power over you anymore, you do not have to give in to it anymore. That is really an awesome truth! God now sees you in Christ and He accounts to you what He did to the Lord Jesus. By the way, you cannot find anywhere in the Scripture that you have to die to sin. You are dead. If you see yourself like God sees you, sin will in no way get a chance in your life to express itself.
Instead of giving sin the opportunity in your life, through the work of Christ you are able to “live to righteousness”. Your life is not focused anymore on earning righteousness, but on being allowed to show in your life the righteousness that you have received in Christ. You are now able to live in accordance to the right of God. That new life attitude is the result of the “wounds” of the judgment that struck the Lord Jesus by the chastising hand of God.
By ‘His wounds’, you therefore ought not to think of the scourging given to Him by the soldiers of Pilate. It goes without saying that those stripes couldn’t possibly have caused your salvation and redemption. Everything that men have done to the Lord Jesus only made the guilt towards Him and towards God greater. No, only what God has done to the Lord Jesus in the judgment over the sins of everyone who believes, causes everyone who believes “to be healed”. Here it concerns the healing of the spiritual life that has been affected and destructed by sin.
1 Peter 2:25. That you now have been spiritually healthy, appears from the fact that you “have returned to” the Lord Jesus as “the Shepherd and Guardian” of your soul. Like everyone has gone astray from God and has been lost (Psalms 119:176), you also were. You lost the way and couldn’t find it back. Then the good Shepherd came to give His life, that you may find your way back. The sword of God’s judgment was woken up against the Shepherd (Zechariah 13:7), God’s Companion, and it struck Him instead of you. In that way the way to return to the Shepherd had been opened. Now you have returned to Him.
You have found the Shepherd back, which means that the ‘Shepherd’ found you. He wants to lead your further life and does not want you to be in lack of anything (Psalms 23:1). He is also the ‘Guardian’ of your soul. He guards over it. If you stay with the Shepherd, if you remain to follow Him, He will preserve you as the Guardian of your soul in peace and in health.
Now read 1 Peter 2:22-25 again.
Reflection: What is the difference between the suffering of the Lord Jesus from the side of men and from the side of God?
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 1 Peter 2". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
Eve of Ascension