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1 Peter 1

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary

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Verse 1

Apostolic salutation, 1 Peter 1:1-2.

1. Peter The Greek for Cephas. See Introduction.

An apostle And therefore entitled to a hearing. Unlike St. Paul, his apostleship was never questioned. Here, if anywhere, would be the place for an assertion also of his dignity as prince of the apostles, and head of the Church, had he possessed it; its omission is good proof that this popish pretence was then unknown.

To the strangers scattered Literally, to the elect sojourners of the dispersion. On the dispersion, see notes on James 1:1 and Acts 26:7.

Pontus Among St. Peter’s hearers on the Pentecost, were “dwellers in… Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia,” (Acts 2:9-10;) and this epistle is addressed to about the same regions. One writing at Babylon would naturally take the provinces in the order named.

Pontus In the north-east, on the Black Sea, the country of Aquila. Acts 18:2. To the south-west of Pontus lay Galatia, to whose Churches St. Paul, their founder, addressed an epistle. Further to the south and east was Cappadocia, where, we may believe, the gospel was early planted by converts of the Pentecost. Asia means here the Proconsular Asia of the Romans, including the countries west of those already named, in which were prosperous and well known Churches. See note on Revelation 1:11.

Verse 2

2. Elect Persons selected or chosen out of the multitudes of those countries, leaving large numbers behind. There is no ground for the assumption by expositors that this election is to eternal blessedness. Not only is it without intimation in the passage, but it is distinctly stated to be unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, which belong to this present life. Equally unfounded is the assumption that foreknowledge signifies, or implies, the divine love, or counsel, or purpose. It simply means, knowledge beforehand. See note on Romans 8:29. God’s foreknowledge always precedes election; and our apostle here teaches that the election is grounded upon it.

Father Each person of the blessed Trinity has his share in the work of salvation.

Through sanctification Separation from the world and holy consecration to God, effected by the Holy Spirit, are the means of entering the class of the elect.

Unto obedience This is one of the objects and ends of the divine choosing. Note on Romans 9:13, paragraph 5.

Sprinkling A comparison of Exodus 24:6-8 with Hebrews 9:11-14, shows that the reference is to the blood of Jesus Christ in its purifying, rather than in its expiating power. Walking in all holy obedience, the believer, trusting in the blood of the cross, realizes not only pardon, but the continual cleansing of his soul.

Grace See the forms of salutation in St. Paul. “May your peace be multiplied,” was a form frequent with the rabbies.

Verse 3


1. Hope looking toward the heavenly inheritance, 1 Peter 1:3-5.

3. Blessed With an outburst of joy the apostle directs the thoughts of his suffering brethren toward the much mercy which has prepared for them the heavenly inheritance, so glorious in comparison with their present condition.

God… Father ”God who is the Father of Jesus Christ,” says Steiger; thus distinguishing him from all other gods, and declaring him as known only in his Son.

Begotten us again Once spiritually dead and without hope; now brought into a new life by the Holy Spirit, through whom the merciful God regenerates us.

Lively hope Better, living hope, the result of the new birth. Both Jews and heathen had a belief in a future state, but a new life is given to the hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What before was theory, is now become demonstrated fact. Christ’s resurrection is a pledge to all his people of their own resurrection. Their hope of it, and of the glory that shall follow, is full of life and vigour, and stirs them to ceaseless endeavours to gain the blessed end.

Verse 4

4. An inheritance A second statement of the result of the new birth, showing the corresponding external object of the internal hope. The apostle, himself a Jew, labouring chiefly among the Jews, and writing to Churches largely composed of Jewish Christians, naturally recurs to a Hebrew imagery for the full expression of his thought. The land of Canaan, given to their fathers for an inheritance forever, (Genesis 17:8,) had been lost by transgression; but these dispersed, homeless sojourners are now assured of a heavenly country and an eternal home. The inheritance belongs to the children brought by the new birth into the family of God, for, “if children, then heirs.” Romans 8:17. Heaven is a free gift; yet it is bestowed in strict accordance with law. Three negative but gloriously descriptive words represent the character of the inheritance.

Incorruptible With no spring within of death or evil to induce decay, or corruption, or destruction.

Undefiled Without spot or stain of sin externally.

Fadeth not Unlike the quickly withering flower, it remains in perpetual freshness and beauty.

Reserved Laid up and carefully watched over and guarded.

In heaven Where the God of glory dwells. The earthly inheritance had been invaded by Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romans; its wealth plundered and its holy places ravaged and destroyed; but the heavenly Canaan is so protected by our glorious Lord that it is absolutely and forever secure.

For you The change of person from us to you permits a direct impressive assurance of the certainty of the inheritance to the faithful, and an admonition as well to the elect, to take heed that they do not forfeit their election.

Verse 5

5. Kept A military word implying guarding, as in a fortress. The inheritance is kept in heaven for you; you are kept on earth for the inheritance. Old Testament imagery sets forth God as a shield, refuge, fortress, and tower, showing the perfect security of them who dwell in him. Blessed are they whose guard Omnipotence becomes! Note on John 17:12; Romans 8:35.

By the power Literally, who in the power of God are being guarded through faith. Power is the element in which they live and are kept; but it is the power of the Holy Spirit, abiding with all believers. Carnal professors and Christless backsliders know it not. Only through faith on man’s part, as the means, continually laying hold of the Holy Spirit, does the power of God become efficient.

Unto salvation Showing the end of the being kept; namely, the actual possession of the inheritance. It is complete and final deliverance from the curse of sin, including victory over death in the resurrection; and it is also, on the positive side, entrance into the fulness of eternal glory.

Ready It is fully prepared; but its certain and glorious manifestation will be only at the day of judgment.

Verse 6

2. Joy in the blissful prospect in contrast with severe temporary trial, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

6. Wherein Referring to 1 Peter 1:3-5, generally.

Rejoice With a deep, holy exultation.

In heaviness Better, afflicted, or made sorrowful, and yet exulting. The manifold temptations were the various trials of their Christian integrity to which they were exposed, in which they had suffered and were still to suffer. The path to glory for those early Christians lay through opposition and tribulation. Their religion made no compromise with other beliefs; its friends were subjects of constant social reproach and frequent persecutions. They were tried on every side and in every way. It was good to be reminded that the season was short in any event, and very short as compared with eternity. The need of these troubles was not in God’s imposing them, but in the circumstances in which they were providentially placed, and the malignancy of their Jewish and heathen neighbours.

Verse 7

7. That the trial It is a part of God’s plan that the faith of his people shall be tested and proved. So Abraham was tried, (Hebrews 11:17,) and Jesus himself underwent the terrible ordeal. The troubles and afflictions incident to all earthly conditions fall under this head, as do also the allurements of the world, and whatever would draw us from Christ. As gold, which is destroyed in the using, is so precious in the eyes of men that they nevertheless prove and purify it with fire, so faith, in God’s sight much more precious than gold, must undergo a like fiery ordeal; and the faith that endures the test will be found at the judgment to be pure and genuine, and will receive, as the result, praise, honour, and glory from the Judge.

Verse 8

3. Joy in present blessedness, 1 Peter 1:8-9.

8. Ye love This is the true order: faith in the crucified and risen, but yet unseen, Christ, with the deepest love as its fruit, producing the purest joy. It may be St. Peter’s comment on our Lord’s words to Thomas, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:29. The American people of the present generation have not seen Washington, yet they profoundly love him. But Christ will soon reveal himself to human sight.

Ye rejoice The same Greek as greatly rejoice, in 1 Peter 1:6, meaning exultation expressing itself. Yet the joy cannot be fully told, for it is even now pervaded with the glory which will be complete in heaven.

Verse 9

9. Receiving… salvation A present salvation, testified to by the renewing Holy Spirit. It differs from that in 1 Peter 1:5 only in degree. This saves now that in the day of judgment; this saves from sin, its guilt and power that “from wrath” and hell, (Romans 5:9;) this saves the soul that saves both soul and body; this is salvation begun that is salvation finished forever.

Verse 10

10. Prophets As on the Pentecost, St. Peter here, too, grounds his doctrine on the Old Testament prophecy. He then quoted Joel and David, (Acts 2:16-21; Acts 2:25-31.) Later, after citing Moses, he said, “All the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” Acts 3:24. Their great subject was the grace that God had determined to show the world in the gift of salvation. The full import of their prophecies they did not themselves understand. They therefore inquired earnestly sought and searched diligently comparing prophecy with prophecy, to learn their full depth of meaning.

Verses 10-12

4. The ancient prophets studying their predictions of the coming Christ, 1 Peter 1:10-12.

This doctrine was not then newly heard of, but had been known, foretold, and earnestly studied by God’s prophets of former ages.

Verse 11

11. Searching A special point of inquiry related to the time of the advent; what, referring to the date; and what manner, to events preceding and accompanying it, and characterizing the period. The case of Daniel furnishes a notable illustration. Daniel 7:16-28; Daniel 9:22-27; Daniel 12:8.

The Spirit of Christ The Holy Spirit who inspired them. 2 Peter 1:21. As he is the Spirit of God, it follows that Christ is God. In his office of revealing the truths relating to Christ, he testified to the prophets of the coming redemption.

Sufferings The term includes not only the fact, but the occasion of it as well, as in consequence of sin, and in voluntarily bearing its penalty. See Isaiah 53:4-7. The Jews lost sight of the Messiah as a sufferer in their hope of him as a triumphing king, forgetting that through suffering he was to attain his crown. Yet this was the central point to which the institutions and teachings of the Old Testament converged.

Glory Better, glories; meaning, in his victory over death, in his resurrection, his ascension to heaven, his sending the Holy Spirit, and whatever belongs to him in his glorious exaltation to the mediatorial throne, including the conversion, sanctification, and glorification of believers. These, equally with his sufferings, were distinct subjects of prophecy; and the sufferings are represented as introducing the glories.

Verse 12

5. Angelic interest in the great salvation, 1 Peter 1:12.

Which things Namely, those once predicted and now preached. That the angels of God, of an order of beings different from and higher than men, earnestly desire to look into the work of redemption, marks it as of the highest excellence. The term look into signifies to bend forward in order to look more closely, or to see to the bottom. The facts of the wonderful story, from the promise in Eden to the exaltation to the right hand of God, they are familiar with. That they understand the philosophy of redemption does not admit of question. What they so closely scrutinize is, the practical working of the plan in actually accomplishing what it proposes and promises, in saving from sin and keeping them that believe. In this St. Peter agrees with St. Paul in Ephesians 3:10.

Verse 13

6. General exhortations based upon the excellency of the gospel salvation, 1 Peter 1:13 to 1 Peter 2:8.

a. Exhortation to firm, enduring hope, 1 Peter 1:13 .

13. Wherefore Referring to the entire foregoing description.

Gird up Literally, having girded up, aorist, once for all, showing the completeness of the condition in which the hope is to be exercised. The figure (as in our Lord’s words in Luke 12:35, “Let your loins be girded about”) of the tucking up of the long flowing robe and tightening the girdle implies preparation for work, running, fighting, or other energetic action. The meaning is, Let your whole spiritual nature be so disentangled from earthly things, and intently fixed on the heavenly and eternal, that you will be always ready and on the alert for your business as Christians.

Sober Being sober, self-restrained, and held well in hand against temptation, appetite, cares, pleasures, and spiritual sloth.

Hope The emphatic word. Desire it as of infinite worth; expect it because bought and promised.

To the end Rather, perfectly, entirely, with no doubt, diminution, interruption, or failure.

Grace The inheritance and eternal salvation, named from its source.

Revelation At the visible second advent. St.

Peter uses the word αποκαλυψις , or its verb, five times in this epistle in reference to that day. 1 Peter 1:5; 1 Peter 1:7; 1Pe 1:13 ; 1 Peter 4:13; 1 Peter 5:1.

Verse 14

b. Exhortation to obedience after the pattern of Christ, 1 Peter 1:14-16 .

14. As the preceding verse points to the inward state and action, and this to external conduct, with its own proper ground, it is better, with Tregelles, Alford, and others, to read here as beginning a new paragraph.

Obedient children Literally, children of obedience. See Winer, xxxiv, b. 2. As the child partakes of the nature of the parent, such are they whose moral natures are so imbued with the spirit of obedience that it has become a controlling second nature. See note on Ephesians 2:2. The condition presupposed is in the “begotten again” of 1 Peter 1:3, and the “born again” of 1 Peter 1:23. In such this spirit reigns, and the demand of holiness naturally follows.

Not… lusts Negatively. The sort of conduct to which they led is described in chapter 1 Peter 4:3, and includes whatever is contrary to the holy example of Christ.

Ignorance Before receiving the knowledge of the gospel, or, on the part of the heathen, of the true God.

Verses 15-16

15, 16. The positive side of the holiness is now set forth, with the same idea of fashioning yourself. Translate, but after the example of the Holy One who called you, be ye also yourselves holy in all your conduct. He is the model of all holiness.

Called From the former lusts and life.

Conversation Conduct, behaviour, with the old idea of walking and turning about, and meaning that holiness is to pervade every part of the life.

Written See Leviticus 11:44; Leviticus 19:2; Leviticus 20:7; Leviticus 20:26. The ritual separation from impurity in these passages is typical of the moral sanctification required then as now. St. Peter’s use of the quotation brings out its spiritual significance as freed from the ritualistic, and presents it as the law of the New Testament. God is holy in his very essence, and the fountain of all holiness in men. His holiness is the reason for their holiness, as well as its pattern.

Verse 17

c. Exhortation to fear in view of the judgment, 1 Peter 1:17-21 .

17. If… Father Better, since ye call on him as Father, being children, as they were, of him who is also their Judge.

Without respect Impartially; regarding the work of every man, unerringly read by the all-seeing eye, and not his race, birth, colour, wealth, or social position. The apostle learned this doctrine, and announced it in his speech, at the house of Cornelius. Acts 10:34-35.

Pass The verb corresponds to conversation in 1 Peter 1:15.

Sojourning Away from home, as in a foreign land. The feeling that they were as exiles seems to have been fixed deep in the souls of the early Christians.

In fear The proper complement of hope, 1 Peter 1:13. Hope unguarded becomes careless and baseless; fear without hope is wretched and despairing. True fear, opposed to all carnal security, is reverential, and anxious that nothing shall be found wanting in the day of judgment. For, though a tenderly loving father, God is a sternly just judge.

Verse 18

18. A second argument for fear is based upon the price of redemption.

Know And should bear in mind.

Redeemed By the payment of a ransom to the righteous Lawgiver and Judge, whose curse is upon all transgression. This legally opens the way for the actual deliverance of the ransomed. Both are here meant. Because of the ransom, they had been delivered from the vain, profitless life in which their idolatrous fathers had taught their children.

Verse 19

19. Precious blood The order of the Greek words is, but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even of Christ.

Precious Of great value, in contrast with the corruptible things that for this purpose had no worth.

Blood Shed in expiation.

Lamb The lamb of sacrifice must be without blemish, that is, not blind, maimed, lame, or in any way defective, (Leviticus 22:20-24; Malachi 1:8;) and also without spot, or external defilement. Only such a lamb could be legally offered. Add, now, that this blood which redeems is the blood of Christ, God’s own sinless Son, and the very costliness of redemption becomes a weighty reason for fear lest its benefits be lost.

Verse 20

20. Foreordained Rather, foreknown. In itself the word means nothing else. St. Peter, in his speech on the Pentecost, speaks of Christ as “delivered by the determinate counsel (or decree) and foreknowledge of God,” (Acts 2:23;) but here he speaks only of the foreknowledge. Most assuredly it was the purpose of God, framed before the creation of the world, to save men through Christ’s voluntary sacrifice; but it is not so stated here, nor was there occasion for it. Evidently the apostle is replying to a supposed objection, that this redemption by Christ is a new thing a remedy that, after ages of sin and woe, suddenly came into the mind of God; and, to the confirmation of believers and confusion of sceptics, he meets it by saying that God had known it all along, even from eternity, as he also foreknew man’s fall and wretchedness. Christ was, in the mind of God, foreknown and certain as the lamb of sacrifice, although but lately made manifest to the sight and knowledge of men in his incarnation. This fills out the contrast, and furnishes perfect stability for faith.

Verse 21

21. By him As mediator. Only through him do we believe in God; not in a god, as did the heathen, nor in the true God as the Jew knew him, the deliverer from Egypt, but the God who raised our Lord from the dead, and exalted him to the throne of glory. (See St. Peter’s speech, Acts 2:22-36.)

Faith… hope Not in order that they might, but rather so that they do, as a result of that resurrection and glorification, sweetly rest in God.

Verse 22

d. Exhortation to fervent love to one another, 1 Peter 1:22-25 .

22. Purified In a degree, at least, and by the means that the gospel provides.

By obeying Literally, in obedience, for only so is the faith possible by which purity is wrought. Thus, Mr. Wesley teaches that the sanctifying Spirit is to be looked for, “not in careless indifference, or indolent inactivity, but in vigorous, universal obedience; in denying ourselves, and in taking up our cross daily: as well as in earnest prayer and fasting, and a close attendance on all the ordinances of God.” Works, vol. vi, page 505.

The truth Of the gospel. Yielded to, it subjects to itself those who receive it, and leads them to faith and the Holy Spirit, the Purifier.

Unfeigned Without hypocrisy or pretence.

Love of the brethren Higher and stronger than common love, from which both St. Peter and St. Paul distinguish it.

Fervently Intensely, with all the powers on the stretch, as will be if it truly come out of a purified heart.

Verse 23

23. Born again Mutual brotherly love among Christians has its foundation and reason in the common spiritual birth by which they become sons and daughters together in the family of God.

Not of corruptible seed As in the way of ordinary human generation; but of incorruptible seed, namely, by the power of the Holy Spirit imparting the divine nature, through the medium of the word or doctrine of God, (parallel to truth, in 1 Peter 1:22,) preached and believed. And this word liveth and abideth, for whatever God has said is eternally true.

Verse 24

24. For Confirming the statement that the word of God lives and abides, by Isaiah, Isaiah 40:5-7, probably quoted from memory and accommodated. It beautifully places the frailty and transitoriness of man and his works in contrast with the enduring character of God’s word.

Flesh Man in his earthly, human life.

Glory His best and grandest possessions and productions, in which he prides himself, and which win admiration and honour from others, whether strength, wealth, fame, place, or power. But whatever they promise, like the grass they wither in an hour, and, like the leaves of its faded flower, they quickly fall.

Verse 25

25. And now comes the special application: the gospel, which was preached unto you by the first missionaries, and is now diffused among you, by which you were brought into a new spiritual life, is the very word of God that endureth forever. It surely follows that the faith and hope of the Christian rest upon a secure foundation.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Peter 1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/1-peter-1.html. 1874-1909.
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