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Bible Commentaries

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
1 Peter 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 22

II. THE BLESSINGS AND PRIVILEGES OF ALL BELIEVERS

CHAPTER 1:22-2:10

1. The new birth (1 Peter 1:22-25)

2. Spiritual growth (1 Peter 2:1-3)

3. The privileges of believers as the holy and royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:4-10)

1 Peter 1:22-25

The relationship of those who are thus redeemed, whose faith and hope is in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, whose souls are purified by obedience to the truth, unto unfeigned love of the brethren, is stated first: “Love one another with a pure heart fervently.” All the elect through the foreknowledge of God the Father are covered by the same love, are redeemed by the same Lamb, washed in the same precious blood, have the same Father. They are one; they are brethren and as such love must characterize them. But this love, loving one another out of a pure heart fervently, is the fruit of the new nature which all possess who have believed and are redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” The Word of God, living and abiding, under the operation of the Spirit (the Word is “the water” of which our Lord spoke to Nicodemus) is the agent of the new birth. It is not corruptible seed, but incorruptible, hence the nature is an incorruptible, a holy nature. There are three incorruptible things mentioned in this chapter. An incorruptible inheritance, an incorruptible redemption price, and an incorruptible seed giving an incorruptible nature. And that new nature must love that which is of God, therefore the exhortation of loving one another, which is more fully developed in the great “family Epistle,” the first Epistle of John.

But the new birth carries with it another blessing. “For all flesh is as grass and all the glory of it as the flower of the grass. The grass hath withered and the flower fallen, but the Word of the Lord endureth forever, and this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

The old creation is left behind, the world with all its glory and boastings, is judged. All is as grass and the glory of man as the flower of the grass. Those born again do no longer belong to this world, as He prayed: “They are not of the world, as I am not of the world.” The words concerning the grass and the flower of the grass are a quotation from Isaiah (Isaiah 40:6; Isaiah 40:8). But the quotation is changed a little. In Isaiah we read: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth,” and here it is, “The grass hath withered and the flower fallen,” that is how faith must look upon the world and all its glory, as withered and fallen, with no more attraction for the heart which knows God. But those who are born again are linked with that which abideth for ever, the Word of the Lord, preached in that ever blessed Gospel.

1 Peter 2:1-3

“Wherefore, laying aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisies and envyings and all evil-speakings as new born babes desire earnestly the pure milk of the Word that ye may grow by it unto salvation, if ye have tasted that the Lord is good.”

Those who are born again of incorruptible seed, in possession of a new nature, are still in the world, though they are no longer of it. Evil is on all sides and there is still the old nature, the flesh, in every child of God though believers are reckoned as being no longer in the flesh (Romans 8:9). The old things of the flesh must be put off, completely laid aside. This is the necessary thing for spiritual growth; if there is no putting off of these there can be no progress. Peter speaks of believers as “new-born babes.”

The sense in which this expression is used here differs from the use of it in 1 Corinthians 3:1 : “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” The spiritual growth of the Corinthians had been arrested and dwarfed; they never developed, but remained babes, a spiritual monstrosity. But the meaning here is entirely different. Believers should be at all times like new-born babes hungering for that which the Lord has provided for spiritual growth, the milk in all its purity as found in His Word. The mother by which we are begotten again, that is the living and abiding Word of God, has also the nourishment for the life we have received. In this sense the child of God must always be like a healthy babe, always craving, hungering and thirsting for the pure milk as provided in His Word. All that we need, yea, every need is provided there, and as we go to that fountain which never runs dry, which never fails nor disappoints, we shall grow thereby.

One of the most subtle delusions is found among some Pentecostal sects, who imagine that they are so filled with the Spirit that they can dispense with the reading of and feeding on the Word. In the Authorized Version two words are missing which belong in the text; they are the words “unto salvation”... “that ye may grow thereby unto salvation.” They were omitted in some manuscripts, but belong here. Salvation here has the same meaning as in the first chapter, it looks forward to the end in glory.

And if we have felt that the Lord is gracious, have tasted of His loving kindness, we shall desire more and more of it, crave for still more. Peter surely had tasted that the Lord is gracious. We think of his denial, and when the Lord turned and looked upon him, Peter went out and wept bitterly. He had tasted that the Lord is gracious, and more so, when the Lord dealt so graciously with him at the meal His blessed hands had prepared for His disciples on the lakeshore (John 21:1-25), and His loving voice asked: “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these?” The sentence, “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious,” is a quotation from the Psalms (Psalms 34:8). David, like Peter, had shamefully failed and like Peter he had tasted that the Lord is gracious. All His saints have had the same experience of the graciousness of the Lord.

1 Peter 2:4-10

The testimony of Peter which follows is of great importance. The fisherman of Galilee knew nothing of what would happen centuries later. He did not know that ritualism would exalt him to a position of supremacy, claiming that he was and is the rock upon which the Church is built, that he was a bishop who communicated in Rome his apostolic authority to another, as it is claimed to one by name of Linus, and Linus handed over the same authority to Cletus and Cletus to Clemens, Clemens to Anacletus, Anacletus to Sixtus and so on from one generation to the other, each adding a little more till the harlot system of the mystical Babylon, the papacy became what it is today. But while Peter did not know the future, the Holy Spirit knew and He inspired his pen to write that which is the complete refutation of popery and a man-made priesthood.

Not Peter is the living stone upon which everything rests, but the Lord Jesus Christ is the rock foundation, the Stone upon whom all is built. Not Peter was rejected by men, then chosen of God and precious, but it is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptures had announced this fact beforehand. Isaiah 28:16 is quoted in Verse 6. This is followed by a quotation from Psalms 118:22 and Isaiah 8:14. The Lord Jesus while on earth had made use of these prophecies given by His Spirit (Matthew 21:42). The Holy Spirit after Pentecost reminded the rulers, elders and scribes of the people once more of this great prophecy concerning the rejection of the Messiah by the nation (Acts 4:9-12). And when the Lord Jesus quoted this prophecy from Psalms 118:1-29 He added, what is cited here in 1 Peter 2:8, whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken,” that is what happened to the nation Israel.

The second half of this statement of our Lord in Matthew 21:44 is still unaccomplished-”but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” This will happen at the close of the times of the Gentiles, when the stone strikes the feet of the prophetic image (Daniel 2:1-49). Israel had rejected the Stone and therefore was unfit as a nation to build the spiritual house, as the Lord had likewise announced: “the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof.” They had as a nation a house called “The House of the Lord,” where He delighted to dwell, but it was not a spiritual house, but a house made with hands, a shadow of the better things to come.

When Israel rejected the Messiah and the kingdom He had offered, when they had delivered Him up and He died, after His resurrection from among the dead and His exaltation to the right hand of God, the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit, came to earth for the purpose of building amongst men the habitation of God, a spiritual house, and that house is the church. Thus Peter bears witness to Christ as the Living Stone, the rock upon which the Church “the spiritual house” is being built. He with all other believers, including ourselves, are the living stones. As mentioned in the introduction, Christ is the Petra, the Rock, Peter and every other child of God is a petros, a little rock, a living stone with Himself (Matthew 16:17-18). And His Son whom man dishonored and rejected is precious to God; He is His delight; He is precious to those who have believed; He is our delight. While God says that His delight is in Him, we too confess that all our delight is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, all believers constitute a holy priesthood. Peter does not claim an exclusive priesthood vested in him, but his inspired testimony is that all members of the body of Christ, the living stones, are a priesthood. In the Old Testament the priesthood of Christ was foreshadowed in Aaron and the priesthood of believers by the sons of Aaron. (See annotations in Leviticus.) No longer are needed sacrifices of animals, for He has brought the one sacrifice, by which he has made the new and living way by His blood into the Holiest, so that every believer can draw nigh with a true heart and full assurance of faith, with hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:19-22). This completely disposes of the ritualistic priesthood, vested in “ordained” men, that system which has been and still is and always will be, the corruption of Christianity. It also answers the blasphemous mass, which is an act of idolatry.

The function of the holy priesthood of believers consists in bringing spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. “By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name” (Hebrews 13:15). It is worship in the spirit and truth; it is praise and adoration as well as the ministry of intercession.

Once more Peter mentions the fact of the Christian priesthood. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the excellencies of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (Hosea 2:23). Israel was chosen, Israel was called to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, they were called “to show forth His praises.” They never attained it, because they were not a holy nation, though constituted a separated nation by God’s calling. But these believing Jews through grace in Christ had become a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people. As a remnant of the nation they possessed now what the nation never possessed. Of course that remnant was embodied in the church, and is a part of the body of Christ. Yet the application to them as a remnant must not be lost sight of.

Nor must we forget that there will be a future remnant of the nation, the nation which is now dispersed, which will become a holy nation, a royal priesthood in connection with the other nations. The promises, the gifts and callings of God, will all be accomplished, and those who had not obtained mercy will yet obtain mercy; that will be when He whom they pierced comes again and when they shall look upon Him in that day. Apart from this application to them as believing Jews, to whom the Epistle was addressed, all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, have a royal priesthood. Christ is a holy Priest and a royal Priest; both aspects of His priesthood believers share in Him. We are holy priests to go in to God to represent man before God; we are royal priests to represent God before man, to show forth His excellencies. The royal priesthood of Christ, is the priesthood after the order of Melchisedec. He was the King-Priest who came to Abraham and made known God and His glory to Abraham. Thus in Christ we behold the glory of God and as identified with Christ, indwelt by Him, our royal priesthood is to make Him and His excellencies known among men.


Verse 11

III. CHRIST THE PATTERN FOR HIS SAINTS

CHAPTER 2:11-3:9

1. Abstinence and submission (1 Peter 2:11-17)

2. Christ the pattern for those who suffer (1 Peter 2:18-25)

3. Glorifying Christ in the marriage relation (1 Peter 3:1-7)

4. True Christian character (1 Peter 3:8-9)

1 Peter 2:11-17

The first exhortation is addressed to them as strangers and pilgrims. Such all true believers are. Because we belong to a heavenly home we cannot be at home in a world which lieth in the wicked one, which has cast out the Lord of glory, and which continues to reject Him. And it is only as a stranger here that we can do what we are exhorted to do, “to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” If our heart is where He is, if our affections are set upon the things on high, if we lose sight of the “vain things” which charm the natural man, and we realize in faith the heavenly calling and the heavenly home, then we shall not fight the lusts of the flesh, but willingly and joyfully abstain from them, fleeing them, as Paul exhorted Timothy.

A general exhortation follows. Their conversation is to be honest among the Gentiles who often spoke of them as evil-doers, accusing Christians of their own shameful conduct, as unsaved Gentiles, so that it might bring reproach upon “that worthy Name.” By their godly lives the Gentiles should see their good works and when the day of visitation came, they would then glorify God. Does this mean a visitation in judgment, or the visitation in grace? It means the latter, though a visitation by the chastening hand of God is not excluded. When sorrows come, when earthly hopes are blasted, when sickness makes the enjoyment of the material things impossible, then the unbelievers often turn to the people of God for help and comfort, the grace of God will then be manifested in the day of visitation; this glorifies God.

Exhortation to submission is linked with this. “Submit yourselves therefore to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether unto the king as supreme; or to governors as sent by Him for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well.” We must remember that the kings and rulers mentioned here, under whom these believing Jews lived, were heathen and idolators. Yet they were to obey and to manifest patient submission. The exhortation has a special meaning for them as Jews, for naturally they were a rebellious people. The exhortation given to them before their captivity in Babylon, “to seek the peace of the city” where they would dwell has generally been disobeyed. These believing Jews probably were tempted to resist the powers which ruled. (It is a significant fact that many of the radicals, anarchists, or as they used to be called in Russia, nihilists, are apostate Jews. Many of the persecutions of the Jews, in which the innocent have to suffer with the guilty, are produced by Jews meddling with the politics of the nations among whom they are strangers and trying to overthrow these governments.) Therefore the exhortation to submit for the Lord’s sake, though there are limitations to such submission. Such submission is “the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” Brief, but weighty, exhortations follow.

1 Peter 2:18-25

The exhortation after that is addressed to the servants, that is, to those Jewish believers who were slaves. To such the choicest words are addressed, God knowing that His own beloved Son had been on earth as a servant, that He was here not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give His life as a ransom for many. They were in the blessed position to “follow His steps.” But the exhortation does not mean servants or slaves exclusively, it is written for all believers. “For this is acceptable, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, ye take it patiently? but if, when ye do well and suffer, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” To suffer wrongfully and take it patiently, without murmuring and without strife, is whereunto believers are called. It is then that they can show forth His excellencies and follow after Him. “Because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that ye should follow His steps.” And what an example has He left for us? He was the holy, spotless Son of God. Suffering for His own sins was an impossibility, for He was spotless. He knew no sin, neither could He sin. Yet He suffered. “Who did no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth; who when reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not; but committed Himself to Him who judgeth righteously.”

Such is the pattern. But there is more than that. He knew no sin, did not sin and all His suffering, the shame and the suffering connected with the cross, was on account of our sins. “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” The rendering, or, rather, paraphrase, some have adopted that Christ bore our sins “up to the tree” is erroneous and misleading. Our Lord did not bear our sins in His holy life before the cross, but He bore them on the cross, in His own body. And He bore them that “we, being dead to sins, not as revealed in Romans to sin, but to sins, that is, the practical giving up of our own wills, should live unto righteousness.

The fifty-third chapter of Isaiah is used by Peter in this paragraph. There it is written: “By His stripes we are healed,” and the confession, “all we like sheep have gone astray.” Of late the so-called “divine healers,” men and women who claim gifts of healings, if not gifts to work miracles, speak of the sentence, “By His stripes we are healed,” as meaning the healing of diseases. They claim that Christ died also for our bodily ills and that the stripes laid upon Him were specifically for the healing of our bodies, which Scripture so clearly states are “dead on account of sin.” This is a most dangerous perversion of the truth. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, but nowhere is it written that He died for our bodily diseases.

These believing Jews were in possession of the truth as revealed in Isaiah 53:1-12. They foreshadow that other Jewish remnant of the future which will some day use the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah as their great confession of Him whom they despised and rejected, and by whose stripes they also will be healed. Then Peter speaks of our Lord as Shepherd, the Shepherd who died for the sheep, the great Shepherd brought again from among the dead. He loves His sheep and shepherds them. Bishop means overseer. He is the only Bishop, who watches over all and guards all His blood-bought sheep.

1 Peter 3:1-7

The practical exhortations are now extended to the marriage relation, how wives and husbands should be royal priests, showing forth His excellencies in their divinely sanctioned union, as man and wife. The wife is mentioned first, for her place is the highest, the place of submission, which in God’s eyes is the place of honor. The case of a wife is stated who has an unbelieving husband. Is she to submit to him, who is an unbeliever? Must she be obedient to such a one? How often wives placed in this position have listened to the evil councils of others, and, instead of submitting to the demands of an unbelieving husband, have resisted him, and as a result misery came upon them. Let it be noticed that the Holy Spirit insists on obedience; the fact of the disobedient husband is given as a reason for submission. Then there is a promise. The unbelieving husband is to be won without the Word, that is, without preaching in a public service, by the godly life of meekness and submission of the believing wife. This is the advice of the Holy Spirit, and many times the promise given to the believing wife has been made good.

Furthermore, there is a word concerning dress. The adorning is not to be outwardly in braiding of hair, wearing of gold, or putting on of apparel, but inwardly, “the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which in the sight of God is of great price.” The positive side is emphasized more than the negative. The greatest ornament a woman can wear is “a meek and quiet spirit,” for it shows that in manifesting meekness and quietness, they learned and received from Him, who on earth was “meek and lowly of heart.” This applies to every believer likewise. Wherever a meek and quiet spirit is manifested God is well pleased with it. What a contrast with the conditions in the world today. Women claim equality with men; in every walk of life they clamor to be heard; the female sex is breaking down the barriers set by the Creator and the Redeemer, demanding leadership in every sphere. The result will be disaster. But it must not be overlooked that here is also exhortation for the Christian woman to dress outwardly as becomes a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. There should be a difference between the daughters of the world and those who are Christ’s. On the other hand, shabbiness of dress, an unclean appearance, is no more an honor to the Gospel, than a dress which is after the latest fashion of the world.

And the husband is exhorted next. He is not told to claim submission, or to insist upon it as his peculiar right. He is exhorted to give the wife honor as the weaker vessel, hence he must show to her, as the weaker one, kindness, tenderness, consideration and loving sympathy, as we read in Ephesians: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.” The believing husband and the wife are “heirs together of the grace of life.” Where this is practised there will be sweet companionship and fellowship in the Lord, nothing hindering them from bowing the knees together in His presence, expressing together their praise, their mutual needs and those of others.

1 Peter 3:8-9

General exhortations follow. What is found in these two verses constitutes a true Christian character.

 


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Bibliography Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on 1 Peter 2:4". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/1-peter-2.html. 1913-1922.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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