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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

1 Peter 1

Verse 1

1Pe 1:1. The various works of reference discuss the question whether the persons to whom this epistle is addressed were Jews or Gentiles. It is my belief that both were involved to some extent, but that generally speaking they were Gentiles according to the flesh. Chapter 2:9, 10 clearly shows they were not Jews for the writer says they were not formerly a people of God, while we know the Jews were so. Scattered is from a Greek word that originally means Jews who were dispersed among the Gentiles in various parts of the Roman Empire. However, the term has been used in a more figurative way, so that it may include Christians of both races as it does in this epistle. Strangers is from PAREPIDEMOS, which literally means a person from the outside who temporarily lives in a place. The word also may be used figuratively to designate Christians who are regarded as citizens belonging to Heaven (Php 3:20), but who are dwelling on earth for the time being. Thayer defines the word in this passage, "One who sojourns on earth." It is true the epistle specifies certain localities to which it is addressed and the writer's purpose is not revealed, yet that does not conflict with the idea that all Christains as well other servants of God are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth." (Hebrew 11:13.) The places named were provinces of the Roman Empire located in what was known as Asia Minor.

Verse 2

1Pe 1:2. Elect. The first or general definition of this word is "Picked out, chosen." The reason for and manner how the choosing is done must be determined by the connection in which the word is used. Foreknowledge denotes that He knew beforehand the needs of mankind and what it would take to meet those needs; they are indicated by the rest of this verse. Sanctification means consecration to God, and it is said to be accomplished by his Spirit. That is because the Spirit guided the apostles in giving the truth to mankind that would direct them in this consecration. (See Joh 16:13.) Unto obedience denotes that a man will not become sanctified or consecrated except by obedience. This shows that God does not predestinate a person to salvation independent of his proper conduct. Sprinkling of the blood. The meaning of this sprinkling is explained by the comments on Heb 12:24. Grace is the unmerited favor of God and it brings genuine peace to those who obey the Gospel and thus become sanctified or consecrated to the Lord. Multiplied is a figurative term meaning the favor of God toward his faithful servants will be abundant.

Verse 3

1Pe 1:3. Blessed means to be worthy of praise and it is ascribed to God. He is the Father of Christ which contradicts a theory that God and Christ are the same person; no one could be father of himself. Abundant means "much" and it is said of God's mercy for the children of men in that He did so much for their salvation. Begotten us again is equivalent to "born again" as in Joh 3:3. Lively hope or living hope is thus described because it pertains to something that will never die. to be described in the next verse. This hope was made possible by bringing Christ from the dead.

Verse 4

1Pe 1:4. This verse states the hope referred to in the preceding one to which disciples are begotten. An inheritance is something not yet possessed but looked forward to. It also is not that which a person produces for himself but what he receives by inheritance. It is so termed in this case because the preceding verse says they had been begotten of God, which makes them heirs of His eternal estate. Incorruptible means it cannot decay; undefiled denotes that it is pure or unsoiled, and fadeth not away means it will be perpetual. It will be unlike the earthly possessions that are with us today and gone tomorrow. To be reserved has the idea of being held in safe keeping and also that it is to be possessed at some future time. In heaven tells where the inheritance is kept and hence it is in a safe place. (See Mat 6:19-21.) In temporal matters when something is said to be "reserved," it is understood that only certain persons have a right to it. Such is true of the heavenly inheritance and the right persons will be described in the next verse.

Verse 5

1Pe 1:5. Not only is the inheritance safely cared for, but the heirs are also assured that they will "live to see the estate settled" as the expression is often heard concerning an earthly estate. Kept is defined "being guarded" and it is by the power of God. However, the heirs must cooperate by being faithful until the time of the distribution. Revealed in the last time. On the day of judgment all intelligent creatures in the universe will see who are to be given the eternal riches.

Verse 6

1Pe 1:6. Temptations. These disciples were in the midst of heathen people who made things bitter with persecution. They gave the people of God an opportunity to have their faith tested. But they could greatly rejoice in the hope they had of a better life to come, which made the heaviness of their trials seem only for a season.

Verse 7

1Pe 1:7. It was their faith that was more precious than gold, even after the metal has withstood the test of the fire. The reason is that the very best of precious metals or any other like substance of earthly valuables, is subject to destruction when other earthly things shall cease to be. Also even while the earth remaineth, the joys that gold may procure for us are uncertain and often flee like the dew of morning. But the happiness that is obtained by an enduring faith will not pass away. Of course this is all on condition that the faith is found to be steadfast until the appearing of Jesus Christ.

Verse 8

1Pe 1:8. We do not have to see Jesus to love him if we believe the multitude of evidences of His love for us. "We love him because he first loved us" (1Jn 4:19.) His faith in the unseen Christ enables us to have great joy. Unspeakable means it cannot be fully described by human speech. Full of glory means it is a joy that imparts to one a sense of dignity, not a feeling of outward show.

Verse 9

1Pe 1:9. The word receiving means "to provide for," and that is what an abiding faith will do. It provide for the faithful one the salvation of his soul.

Verse 10

1Pe 1:10. The prophets refer to those in Old Testament times who were inspired to speak of the salvation to come through Christ. Enquired and searched diligently has reference to the interest they had in the •predictions they were directed to make. Being Inspired enabled them to make the prophecies accurately. even though they did not personally understand "what it was all about" as they wished to. We recall that Jesus spoke about these persons of old time who wished to know those truths in their final meaning but were not permitted to. (See Mat 13:17; Luk 10:24.)

Verse 11

1Pe 1:11. This repeats the thoughts of the preceding verse, with the addition of predictions concerning the personal sufferings of Christ which were necessary for the salvation of man. (See Psalms 22 and Isaiah 53.)

Verse 12

1Pe 1:12. The only "inside information" that was offered those ancient servants of God, was that their ministry of prophecy was not for their sake, but was for those to come into the service of the Lord in the next age or Christian Dispensation. Those truths are now delivered to us by the preachers of the Gospel (the apostles) in fuller detail. They are enabled to do so by the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) that was sent down from heaven. The angels desire to look into. (See Exo 25:20; Eph 3:10.)

Verse 13

1Pe 1:13. Gird up the loins of your mind. The first two words are from the one Greek word ANAZONNUMI. Thayer gives the historical explanation of the term as follows: "A metaphor [illustration] derived from the practice of the Orientals, who in order to be unimpeded in their movements were accustomed, when about to start on a journey, or engage in any kind of work, to bind their long and flowing garments closely around their bodies and fasten them with a leathern girdle." Robinson gives the same definition and explanation. It explains "loins girded" in Exo 12:11, and "cast thy garment about thee" in Act 12:8. Peter uses the circumstance as an illustration on the use of the mind. The Christian is exhorted to "get himself together" and be unhampered for the service of the Lord. To be sober means to be calm and collected, and not driven to extremes by the difficulties that beset them. Such a frame of mind will enable one to maintain his hope to the end. This hope is looking for the grace or favor of God that will be given through Jesus Christ, to be realized at His revelation which means his appearance at the last day.

Verse 14

1Pe 1:14. As obedient children. One becomes a child of another by having been begotten by him. Being obedient is another matter which depends on the child's own conduct. These disciples had formerly lived after the lusts of the flesh. and now they are admonished not to live any longer after that fashion. At that time it was in their ignorance that they followed such a course of life, but now the Gos-pel has shown them the folly of such a life, so that they cannot plead ignorance any more.

Verse 15

1Pe 1:15. The Lord is the one who has called them into divine service. Such a call would have been fruitless had they not accepted the call, thereby acknowledging it to be a righteous invitation. Hence they should imitate the character of the One who called them, which would require that they live a life that is holy since He is holy, which is another word for righteousness. Conversation means manner of life.

Verse 16

1Pe 1:16. This citation is in Lev 11:44 where God is admonishing the children of Israel to be holy and not like the heathen nations about them.

Verse 17

1Pe 1:17. The Englishman's Greek New Testament renders the beginning of this verse, "And if as Father ye call on him," etc. The meaning is that if they approach God on the ground that He is their Father, they should have due regard for His character and act accordingly. God does not show any respect of persons in His judgments but acts according to their works. Accordingly His children should pass the time of their sojourning (see first verse) in fear or serious regard for the greatness of God and his impartial judgment to come.

Verse 18

1Pe 1:18. What may be justly expected from servants who have been redeemed from bondage, will depend largely on what was exchanged for their freedom. These servants of God had formerly followed a conversation (manner of life) that was handed down by tradition from their heathen fathers. God did not procure their freedom by the use of silver and gold which are corruptible which means perishable.

Verse 19

1Pe 1:19. They were redeemed, instead, with the precious blood of Christ. The reference to a lamb without blemish is from the requirement of that kind of animal sacrifices in former ages. The public life of Christ on earth showed one of spotless righteousness. "He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth" (1Pe 2:22).

Verse 20

1Pe 1:20. World is from [cosmos, which is used 188 times in the Greek New Testament, and in every place except one it is rendered by this word in the King James Version. It is given 8 different definitions in Thay-er's lexicon, and the particular meaning in any given place must be gathered from the connection in which it is used. The definition that will most generally fit in with the passages where it is used is the fifth one as follows: "The inhabitants of the world; the inhabitants of the earth, men, the human race." Before the existence of the human race God (whose foreknowledge is infinite) saw what was going to be needed to save mankind, namely, a sacrifice that would have the redeeming virtue of a spotless victim. He decreed that his Son should be that victim, but did not even tell any person about it until He made the promise to Abraham (Gal 3:16). Nor was the full significance of the promise realized even by him. That great favor was reserved to be made manifest in these last times, meaning the Christian Dispensation.

Verse 21

1Pe 1:21. This verse tells to whom Christ has been manifest, namely, to the believers. Not that any secrecy was kept from the world in general, for the Gospel was preached to every creature in all the world. But the manifestation was realized or recognized only by those who believed in His resurrection from the dead, and the glory that was afterward given Him. The purpose of all this grand scheme of human redemption was to show that all faith and hope has to be in God.

Verse 22

1Pe 1:22. The writer of this epistle is the speaker in Act 15:9 where he declares that the heart is purified by faith. The thought of that passage is equivalent to the one in our verse, the heart and soul being virtually the same, likewise faith being according to the truth. Through the Spirit is stated because the truth which they had obeyed was given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Unto means in order to love the brethren, meaning that was one of the objects to be attained by this purification. Having gone that far, the apostle means for them to carry out that purpose by loving each other with a pure heart. That denotes a heart that is not mixed up with unrighteous sentiments. Fervently means earnestly and denotes a love for the brethren that is warm and sympathetic.

Verse 23

1Pe 1:23. Born again is rendered "begotten again" by the Englishman's Greek New Testament, which is more accurate because it pertains to the father's part of reproduction. Not of corruptible seed denotes that it is not by the fleshly reproductive germ. It is the spiritual new birth and hence the seed is the word of God. This is the same thought expressed in Jas 1:18 which shows that God has begotten the spiritual creatures. For explanation of "born" and "begotten," see the comments at Joh 3:5 in the first volume of the New Testament Commentary. Liveth and abideth for ever is said because the seed is the word of God which can never die.

Verse 24

1Pe 1:24. This verse indicates the temporal nature of man as regards his flesh. It is material and subject to decay, even as the glory of vegetation is destined to pass away. The apostle is not underestimating the importance of man, for even his fleshly body is made in the likeness of God. The point is to impress upon the disciples the truth that their spiritual relation to Him is not subject to decay as the fleshly nature is. Having become a part of the Lord's spiritual race, they should honor• that relationship by a righteous life.

Verse 25

1Pe 1:25. The reader is not left in any uncertainty as to what is meant by the spiritual seed of reproduction. It is the word that was brought into the world by the Gospel, hence the new birth does not consist of some mysterious operation of God upon sinful man. It is the simple matter of believing and obeying the Gospel.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 1 Peter 1". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/1-peter-1.html. 1952.