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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
1 Peter 2

 

 

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Verse 1-2

1 Peter 2:1-2. Wherefore, laying aside all malice, &c.— Wherefore renouncing all ill-nature, all fraud, dissimulation, envy, and detraction, (1 Peter 2:2.) thirst as new-born children for the pure milk of the word, that thereby you may thrive, and grow up to salvation. Heylin; who observes, that this refers to 1 Peter 2:22-23 of the preceding chapter, as thus: "Since your generation, from the same divine principle, obliges you to mutual love, as brethren,—therefore renounce all that is incompatible with it, and as new-born children thirst, &c."—A new chapter should certainly not have begun in this place.


Verse 3

1 Peter 2:3. If ye be ye have tasted "And I am satisfied that ye will do so, seeing you have already tasted how sweet and pleasant the Gospel is, or know by experience that the Lord is gracious." This is an evident allusion to Psalms 34:8. The word ειπερ is properly rendered seeing or since; for the apostle did not intend to express any doubt about them, but encouraged them to desire the sincere milk of the word, the sweetness of which they had already tasted. In the same manner he exhorted them to mutual love, ch. 1 Peter 1:22 from their having already loved one another. Grotius has observed, that the verb γευεσθαι signifies not to taste lightly, but to have the experience of any thing. Dr. Heylin connects this verse with what follows: Since you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, (1 Peter 2:4.) apply yourselves to Him; who is the living stone, &c.


Verse 4-5

1 Peter 2:4-5. To whom coming, as unto a Living Stone, &c.— By coming unto Christ is meant the joining oneself to him as a part of this spiritual building, or embracing his religion with the heart unto righteousness. The reason why St. Peter compares Jesus Christ to a stone was, because he had, under the Spirit of God, his eye upon those passages of the Old Testament which he quotes in the following verses. Plants and animals are alive, as long as there is a proper communication of nourishment through their several vessels; so likewise rocks and stones are said to be alive, as long as they are not cut out of the quarry, but continue to partake of that nourishment which circulates from vein to vein; so long as they grow to it, and have the most close and firm union. Milton, however, has an image, which may further illustrate this of St. Peter's:

"Anon out of the earth a fabric huge "Rose, like an exhalation; with the sound "Of dulcet symphonies, and voices sweet; "Built like a temple; where pilasters round "Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid "With golden architrave." PAR. LOST, b. 1 : 50: 710, &c.

For though the stone here spoken of is supposed to be now in the building, or at the foundation of it, yet it is represented as still alive, and therefore, in much the same way with the image in Milton, St. Peter intended to signify, that from a living stone at the foundation, a temple grows, and that it all partakes of such common nourishment as circulates through the living rock. By such means it has the most intimate union, and is rendered one firm and compact building. See Ephesians 2:20; Ephesians 2:22. The image, Daniel 2:34-35; Daniel 2:45 is somewhat different; but so far it agrees with this, as that the stone cut out of the mountains without the hands of men, is there supposed to be still a living stone, and to grow up itself into a great mountain. Disallowed of men, means "rejected of the chief priests, scribes, and elders, the rulers of the Jews, who were looked upon as master-builders in Israel." Instead of lively stones, 1 Peter 2:5 we should certainly read living stones, as 1 Peter 2:4 the word being the same. The Jews used to call themselves the temple of the Lord, because they worshipped at that temple. The Christian church is here called a spiritual house, not as deriving that title from their worshipping in the temple at Jerusalem, in which the Jews so much boasted: that was indeed called the house of God; but it was a lifeless building, compared with this spiritual house, of which Jesus Christ is the foundation, and Christians themselves the superstructure, 1 Timothy 3:15. Grotius has observed, that among the Hebrews the Levites used to be called the stones to the temple; but this appellation is here applied to all Christians. When all Christ's disciples are represented as living stones, which ought to be united into one spiritual house or temple, it may put us in mind of that harmony and concord which is requisite to fit Christians into one well-united and complete society. Having, in the foregoing sentence, compared them to the house or temple of God, in the next sentencethe apostle rises somewhat higher, and compares them to the priests of the family of Aaron, who were appointed to minister in the temple. The Jews gloried in such a holy and magnificent building as the temple, and in their chief priests and other sacred persons of the tribe of Levi, who were appointed to perform the temple service; but Christians have among them what is superior to both. In Israel there was only a part of one tribe appointed to be priests, and it was unlawful for the rest of the tribe, or for any person of any other of the tribes, to exercise the priest's office; nor could the priests offer sacrifices in any place but the temple: but under the Gospel, not the ministers of the gospel only, but all Christians, are represented as a holy priesthood, who are obliged to offer up the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise, and who may offer them as acceptably in one place as another. See 1 Peter 2:9. The sanctity of this priesthood does not arise from their being anointed with oil, or any solemn instalment; neither does it consist in robes and vestments, or in their observation of rites and ceremonies; but in faith and love, in their holy and righteous lives, in their piety towards God, good-will to men, and wise government of themselves, particularly of their passions and appetites. This is the true sanctity wherewith all Christians should be clothed, as Aaron and his sons were with the holy garments, which were for glory and for beauty. Exodus 28:2. Hebrews 13:15. The allusion to the temple led the apostle of course to speak of the priests; and from the priests it was an easy transition to the sacrifices which they offered in the temple; and so to the spiritual sacrifices of prayer, praise, and obedience, which are all acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, who is the great High-priest over the house of God, and whose intercession alone can recommend to the Father such imperfect services as ours. See Ephesians 5:2.


Verse 6

1 Peter 2:6. Wherefore—it is contained, &c.— St. Peter has given us the sense of Isaiah 28:16 but not exactly the words, either according to the Hebrew or the LXX.; which was a common way of quoting among the ancients. See the notes on Isa


Verse 7

1 Peter 2:7. He is precious Is this honour, — η Τιμη, That is, "of being built upon that sure foundation, for which you willhave no reason to be ashamed." In using the word τιμη, St. Peter seems to have alluded to the word εντιμος, precious or honourable, Which he had made use of, 1 Peter 2:4; 1 Peter 2:6. But to those who reject it, belongs the reproach of the Psalmist, The stone, &c. This passage is also quoted Matthew 21:42 and Acts 4:11. The plain meaning of it, as applied to Christ, must be, that though the leading men of the Jewish nation rejected and slew him; yet God raised him from the dead, and exalted him to universal dominion. When important practical truths are revealed with sufficient evidence, to believe and obey them through divine grace, is faith and faithfulness; to reject them is infidelity and disobedie


Verse 8

1 Peter 2:8. And a stone of stumbling, &c.— We render this verse as if it were one continued sentence; but thus violence is done to the text, and the apostle's sense is thrown into obscurity and disorder; which is restored by putting a full stop after offence, and beginning a new sentence thus: They stumble at the word. For, observe, the apostle runs a double antithesis between believers and unbelievers: To you who believe, says he, it is precious; to them who believe not, and are disobedient, the stone which the builders rejected, &c. 1 Peter 2:7. They stumble at the word; (1 Peter 2:8.)—but you are a chosen people, &c. 1 Peter 2:9. The passage before us is taken from Isaiah 8:14-15 and is quoted by St. Paul, Romans 9:33. This is a quite different image from the last; for Christ is not here compared to a foundation or corner-stone, but to a hard stone or rock in the course or highway, against which men are apt to stumble and fall; and the swifter they move, or the more heedless they are, the more is the danger of hurting or destroying themselves. We are not to understand the last clause of this verse, as if these persons were appointed of God to reject or obey the Gospel; for how then could it be said that God would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth? 1 Timothy 2:4. If God appointed the unbelief of the Jewish nation, or of any particular persons, then their unbelief and rejection of the Gospel was complying with the will and appointment of God; and consequently could not be sin, or deserve punishment. From these and the like considerations it is evident, that St. Peter is not here speaking of their being appointeduntounbeliefordisobedience,butuntothepunishmentwhichtheirunbelief and disobedience deserved. They were unbelievers of whom he was speaking; persons, who voluntarily and wickedly rejected the gospel, and refused to obey its laws; and therefore it was appointed, that Christ should be to them a stumbling-block, or a rock, against which they should dash themselves to their own destruction. Dr. Heylin translates these two verses: To you, therefore, who believe, he is precious; but with regard to those who are disobedient, this same stone, (which the builders had rejected, and which is made the head of the corner) 1 Peter 2:8 becomes a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to those who resist the word by their disobedience; to which also they were abandoned. "The public translation, says he, has whereunto they were appointed; which does not imply any absolute decree, with regard to those persons, but only the general one against all that are disobedient: for, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 we read, God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation; and yet they might incur wrath, as the tenor of that epistle, and indeed of all the Scriptures, demonstrates."


Verse 9

1 Peter 2:9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, This imports them to be of one stock through their new birth; as the Israelites, who were by outward calling the chosen of God, were all the seed of Abraham according to the flesh: so theythat truly believe in the Lord Jesus, are all of them, by regeneration, one people. They are of one nation, belonging to the same blessed land of promise, all citizens of the new Jerusalem, yea, all children of the same family, whereof Jesus Christ, the root of Jesse, is the stock, who is the great King, and the great High-Priest. And thus they are a royal priesthood. There is no devolving of his royalty or priesthood on any other, as it is in himself; for his proper dignity is supreme and incommunicable, and there is no succession in his order; but they who are descended from him, do derive from him by that new original this double dignity, in that way in which they are capable of it, to be likewise kings and priests, as he is both.

An holy nation, &c.— "Ye are also a holy society formed into one spiritual body, like a nation collected together under Christ your Lord and King, sanctified by his Spirit, governed by his laws, and embarked in the same common cause and interest: and ye are a peculiar people, that, suitably to your dignities, privileges, blessings, and obligations, ye might both really and intentionally display the glory of divinevirtues and perfections; and might shew forth, in word and deed, his honour and praise, who has called you by his grace, and delivered you from the darkness of ignorance and error, sin and misery, in which you were formerly involved; and has brought you into the most wonderful and affecting lightof truth and grace, holiness and comfort, which he has caused to shine into your hearts: (2 Corinthians 4:6.)"


Verse 10

1 Peter 2:10. Which in time past, &c.— "Who, for ages past, were divorced from the visible church; (Jeremiah 3:8 and Hosea 1:6; Hosea 1:9.) but now, by the grace of the gospel, through Jesus Christ, are brought into the sweet and precious relation of a covenant people to him; and have foundmercy with him, unto the forgiveness of your sins, and the renovation of your natures, according to Hosea's prophecy, ch. 1 Peter 2:23. And this, in a higher sense, may be said of those Gentiles among you, who are now brought to the faith of Christ."


Verse 11

1 Peter 2:11. I beseech you, as strangers, &c.— "In consideration therefore of these distinguished favours which God has bestowed upon you, I earnestly entreat and exhort you, my dear brethren, to look upon yourselves as strangers and pilgrims upon earth, who are travelling onward to a better country: and I beseech you, as such, to renounce and keep clear of all those inward workings of sensual inclinations, inordinate affections, and desires after earthly things, which arise from the corruption of nature, and exert themselves by the body; and are contrary to the liberty, peace and honour, purity and holiness of your renewed souls; and are engaged in a perpetual war against them, and do their utmost to defile, disturb, ensnare, and destroy them."


Verse 12

1 Peter 2:12. Having your conversation honest, The word Καλην does not signify barely being honest, or doing justice between man and man; but good, virtuous, or amiable; and refers to men's whole behaviour. These Christians lived among the Gentiles, or in heathen countries, and were more narrowly watched and observed, because of their differencein matters of religion. Many were the calumnies which the Heathens raised against the Christians. St. Peter, therefore, for this reason among many others of infinite importance, exhorted them to behave well, that they might give no ground for the enemy to reproach them, and at the same time might recommend their holy religion by their exemplary and holy lives. The Jews did not behave well among the Gentiles, but were almost every where detested; the Christians were hitherto commonly reputed a sect of the Jews: There was, therefore, great reason to exhort the Christians to distinguishthemselves; that their lives, upon the most narrow scrutiny, might appear to be formed by other rules, and might turn the detraction of their enemies into esteem and praise. By the day of visitation, some understand that signal time, when God designed to visit the nation of the Jews for their many and great sins,—particularly for murdering our Lord, and persecuting his disciples; and when, the Jews perishing with such an exemplary destruction, the persevering Christians should escape in so remarkable a manner, as to lead attentive Heathens to glorifyGodfordeliveringpersonswhoselivesupona careful examination were found so very much to excel. But others, with more propriety, understand it of that season in which the gospel was preached among them; whereby they were visited with the offers of pardon and salvation.


Verse 13

1 Peter 2:13-14. Submit yourselves to every ordinance, &c.— See Romans 13:1; Romans 13:14. This epistle, we may recollect, is directed to the strangers scattered throughout divers countries; for in the ninth year of the emperor Claudius, the Jews (under which name the Christians were comprehended, as isplain from Acts 18.) were banished (from) Rome for tumults and seditions occasioned by their disputes. This banishment is mentioned by Suetonius, and the inspired writer of the Acts. St. Peter, therefore, in this epistle, was necessarily to mention and press obedience, the want of which in the Jews had occasioned the present distress of so many Christians. Thus, then, he exhorts his scattered flock, 1 Peter 2:11-12. Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that whereas they speak against you as evil doers; that is, particularly as disobedient subjects; they may, by your good works which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Then follows the general precept: Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king, or to governors, &c. How St. Peter's original words came to be rendered every ordinance of man, is not easy to be understood. The word Κτισις, rendered ordinance, signifies sometimes a creature, and the adjective αιθρωπινη joined with it, signifies human, which we have rendered of man: accordingly St. Peter's doctrine is plain; "Submit yourselves to every human creature; or to every man, for the Lord's sake." And that this is St. Peter's true meaning, will appear from the whole tenor of his discourse. It is usual with the best writers to set down the doctrine in general words, and then to reduce particulars: this is St. Peter's method in the place before us: "Submit, says he, yourselves to every human creature." This is the general point. He immediately descends to particulars: he begins with the king, as supreme; goes from him to governors appointed by him: 1 Peter 2:18 he comes to servants; when he has done with them, he goes to wives. All these particulars are included in the general rule. The expression of doing well is appropriated both by St. Paul and St. Peter, to denote the good of obedience, in opposition to the evil spirit which sets all government at nought. The promise made to obedience is in these words, Thou shalt have praise of the same. What is meant by praise, may be understood by considering, that as it is opposed to punishment, it must denote protection and encouragement, which are the only proper rewards that good subjects in general can expect from their governors; and so it signifies in the place before us. The Roman governors had the power of life and death in such provinces as those mentioned, ch. 1 Peter 1:1 and therefore there is the exactest propriety in the stile. If we further compare St. Peter and St. Paul together, and consider the subject they were upon, we shall find it necessary to take the expression of doing well in the restrained sense above mentioned: for what other good could they mean, consistently with their argument and subject? For the evil thing which they had then to contend with, was an opposition to all government in general; the good, therefore, theywould recommend, was necessarily submission in general. In the same restrained sense St. Peter uses these expressions, 1 Peter 2:12; 1 Peter 2:15; 1 Peter 2:20. We meet with the same word again, ch. 1 Peter 3:15 where St. Peter having mentioned the duty of submission which Sarah paid to Abraham, exhorts wives to follow her example, whose daughters they were; which he explains, by being in subjection to their own husbands: so that there can be no doubt of the use of the word in this place.


Verse 15

1 Peter 2:15. Ye may put to silence Ye may bridle-in. The original φιμουν, is used for putting on a muzzle, as the ancients used to do upon oxen, horses, and mules, as well as upon dogs. Fierce calumniators and zealous prosecutors, who were unacquainted with the Christian doctrine, and not possessed of the meek and benign Spirit of Christ, were not improperly considered as animals, which upon some occasions required to be muzzled. By the foolish men here spoken of, Whitby understands the Heathen; who might be ready foolishly to judge of Christians by the behaviour of the turbulent Jews; and so might represent them as a people naturally averse from subjection to kings, as Josephus says of his own nation.


Verse 16

1 Peter 2:16. As free The Gentiles, by becoming Christians, were freed from the bondage of sin; they were likewise free from subjection to the Mosaic law: they were become the Lord's people, and freemen. Such privileges might possibly have exalted their minds, so as to have made them look upon it as an indignity to obey Heathen magistrates. St. Peter, therefore, recommends a due subjection to the Heathen emperor, and such as ruled under him; notwithstanding they were the Lord's people and freemen, and ought to behave as such. The word Κακια generally signifies malice, sometimes wickedness in general; but here it seems to be understood more particularly of sedition or rebellion. The word ' Επικαλυμμα does not signify a cloak, but any covering. Beza thinks that it is here an allusion to the ancient custom of slaves who had been manumitted, walking about with a cap upon their heads. These Gentiles, by becoming Christians, had been lately made the Lord's freemen; but they were not to make the cap of freedom a pretence for sedition and rebellion. Josephus has in many places taken notice of the Jews rebelling against the Romans under this very pretence, that they were a free people. See John 8:33. It was their attempt to throw off subjection to the Romans, which brought on their destruction; and that war, it is probable, was now actually begun. The Christians were free; but it was not inconsistent with their Christian liberty to obey civil magistrates, whether supreme or subordinate. They were not free from the law of nations, any more than from the law of Christ;—though, in this respect, the servants of God. That the freedom of Christians was such as was consistent with their being the servants of God, is intimated, also, Romans 6:16-22. 1 Corinthians 7:22. When, upon embracing the Gospel, they were blessed with Christian liberty, they were thereby laid under stricter obligations to render honour and tribute to whom they were due; though to whom they were due the Gospel determines not absolutely, but leaves that to be determined by circumstances, and the law of nations. Dr. Heylin observes, upon this and the preceding verse, "It is wrong not to stop the mouth of calumny, when that can be done by a prudent innocence. I suppose, therefore, the meaning of 1 Peter 2:16 to be, Free as you are from human regards, and under no restraint upon what men say of you,—for you know they are ignorant and foolish,—yet you must not make this notion of Christian liberty a cloak or pretence for neglecting to obviate, as far as you can, their perverse censures by a discreet behaviour: free as you are from men, yet you are the servants of God; and his service obliges you to give no needless office."


Verse 17

1 Peter 2:17. Fear God See Proverbs 24:21. Perhaps no finer or stronger instances of the laconic stile are to be found, than in this place. It is remarkable, that they are required to honour the emperor, though so great a persecutor, and of so abandoned a character as Nero himself. But St. Peter did not mean that they should obey any of his wicked and unlawful injunctions; (Acts 5:29.) that they should betray their country, or give up any of their just rights and privileges, when they could preserve them. He only intimated, that being Christians altered nothing in their civil rights or duties; and therefore, under that pretence of their being the Lord's people, and the disciples of Jesus, they were not to presume that they had any new civil rights or immunities granted them.


Verse 18

1 Peter 2:18.— To the poor the Gospel was preached; and many of the inferior sort, who were free from the incumbrance of riches, and the prejudices of the learned and mighty, embraced Christianity. Among the rest many servants or slaves became the disciples of Jesus; for the Gospel was calculated for an universal blessing. The behaviour of those servants or slaves toward their masters was very likely to give a good or bad idea of Christianity. St. Peter was anxious for their behaving well, and earnestly recommends to them a prudent conduct, as St. Paul had often done with the like view. 1 Peter 2:18-25.

Servants The word Οικεται signifies domestic servants in general, whether hired servants or slaves; but the apostle seems to restrict it to slaves, (and to mean those, whom St. Paul has called by the term Δουλοι, Ephesians 6:5. Colossians 3:22. 1 Timothy 6:1.) by his using the word Δεσποται for masters; that is, such masters as had an absolute right and property in their servants. Some would understand the words with all fear, of the fear of God; but it seems rather to mean that fear and respect which was due to their masters. The like admonition is thus expressed in the Epistle of Barnabas, 100: 19. "Be ye subject unto the Lord, and unto inferior masters, as the representatives of God, with reverence and fear."


Verse 19

1 Peter 2:19. For this is thankworthy Graceful.


Verse 20

1 Peter 2:20. For what glory is it, &c.— It may be said, "Is it no glory for a man who has done a fault to take his punishment patiently?—Would not resistance or clamour, nay, even murmuring or impatience, in such a case, be wrong? And consequently must not patience and submission be a virtue? When God punishes us for our sins, is not our patience unto Him a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour through Christ! And in proportion, the patience of a slave, when justly punished by his master, must have been preferable to the contrary behaviour, and in some degree praise-worthy." The true solution is, that St. Peter is not here speaking absolutely, but comparatively; that is, "There is very little praise in a guilty man's suffering patiently the duereward of his deed; in comparison of an innocent person's suffering patiently, and out of a conscientious regard tothe will of God, such injurious treatment as he may meet with among men." The Syriac version renders the last clause of this verse, Then shall your reward or praise with God excel or abound: intimating that it is in some degree praiseworthy, to suffer with patience such punishment as men have deserved; but not to be compared with the much greater virtue, of suffering patiently such injuries as they have not deserved. The emperor Antonius quotes it as an excellent saying of Antisthenes, "That it is truly royal to do good, and to be reproached."


Verse 21

1 Peter 2:21. For even hereunto were ye called That is, "You were called to suffer for righteousness' sake, when ye became the disciples of Jesus." See Matthew 5:10; Matthew 5:48; Matthew 16:24; Matthew 16:28. Because Christ also suffered for us; that is, for us Christians in general, Jews or Gentiles, bond or free. It is observable, that upon the mention of the name of Christ, the apostle falls into anoble and animated digression to the end of the chapter; afterwards he continues to pursue his exhortation to relative duties. The word ' Υπογραμμον, rendered example, signifies "the exact model of any curious or regular work;" here it signifies that exact pattern of holiness which Christ hath set his disciples, that they may copy after it. The example of our Lord is recommended John 13:15. Philippians 2:5. 1 John 2:6. But in what are we to imitate him? Not in all his actions; not in walking upon the water, commanding the winds and waves, miraculouslycuring all manner of diseases, or raising the dead; no, nor in making new laws for his Church, drawing up new doctrines or new articles of faith, or laying down new rules of worship, new terms of ministerial or Christian communion, or precepts concerning practice. This seems to be the clue whereby we may be led to distinguish between what is imitable in the example of Christ, and what is not so: namely, "What the rules of Christianity, of Scripture and right reason have made our duty, in such things the example of our Lord ought to excite us to the practice thereof." For the example of Christ alone has not made any thing our duty, which is not so upon some other account; or, in other words, his example is not so properly a rule of duty, as an alluring motive to the practice of what is our duty. Piety, benevolence, and self-government are the three grand branches of our duty; and in all these we ought to set our Lord's pattern before us, and copy after it. And in no particular have we more occasion for such an example, than in a patient suffering for righteousness' sake; the virtue here particularly recommended. The phrase that you might tread in his steps, is a very strong and lively figure, to denote how closely and carefully Christians should imitate the example of their Lord. See Romans 4:12. 2 Corinthians 12:18.


Verse 22

1 Peter 2:22. Neither was guile, &c.— In the Eastern languages, righteousness and truth are put one for another; and so are wickedness and falsehood, or deceit. By guile therefore we may here understand wickedness in general, but more especially in this connexion, lying and deceit. If Christ's example have its genuine influence upon us, there will be no guile found in our mouths.


Verse 23

1 Peter 2:23. Who, when he was reviled, &c.— Our Lord, during the course of his teaching and ministry, pronounced dreadful woes and denunciations against the wicked and hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees: but when he came to suffer, he forbore, lest his denunciations should be thought to proceed, not from a love of truth and righteousness, but from anger and hatred, and resentment of the cruel usage which he met with. Amidst all the barbarous treatment which he suffered, he never uttered one impatient or threatening word.


Verse 24

1 Peter 2:24. Who his own self bare our sins, &c.— That which is deepest in the heart is generally most in the mouth; that which abounds within, runs over most by the tongue or pen. When men light upon the speaking of that subject which possesses the affection, they can hardly be taken off, or drawn from it again. Thus the apostles in their writings, when they make mention any way of Christ suffering for us, love to dwell on it, as that which they take most delight to speak of; such delicacy and sweetness is in it to a spiritual taste, that they like to keep it in their mouth, and are never out of their theme, when they insist on Jesus Christ, though they have but named him by occasion of some other doctrine; for He is the great subject of all they have to say.

Thus here the apostle had spoke of Christ in the fore-going words very fitly to this present subject, setting him before Christian servants, and all suffering Christians, as theircomplete example, both in point of much suffering, and of perfect innocence and patience in suffering. And he had expressed their engagement to study and follow that example; yet he cannot leave it so, but having said that all those his sufferings, wherein he was so exemplary, were for us, as achief consideration, for which we should study to be like him, he returns to that again, and enlarges upon it in words partly the same, partly very near those of that Evangelist among the prophets, Isaiah 53:4.

And it suits very well with his main scope to press this point, as giving both very much strength and sweetness to the exhortation; for surely it is most reasonable, that we willingly conform to Him in suffering,who had never been an example of suffering, nor subject at all to sufferings, nor in any degree capable of them, but for us; and it is most comfortable, in these light sufferings of this present moment, to consider, that hehasfreedus,iffaithful, from the sufferings of eternity, by himself suffering in our stead in the fulness of time.

That Jesus Christ is, in doing and suffering, our supreme and matchless example, and that he came to be so, is a truth: but that he is nothing further, and came for no other end, is, you see, a high point of falsehood; for how should man be enabled to learn and follow that example of obedience, unless there were more in Christ; and what would become of that great reckoning of disobedience which man stands guilty of? No, these are too narrow; he came to bear our sins in his own body on the tree, and for this purpose had a body fitted for him and given him to bear this burden; to do this as the will of his Father; to stand for us instead of all offerings and sacrifices; and by that will, says the apostle, we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, Hebrews 10:10.

This was his business, not only to rectify sinful man by his example, but to redeem him by his blood. He was a teacher come from God. As a prophet he teaches us the way of life, and, as the best and greatest of prophets, is perfectly like his doctrine; and his actions, (which in all teachers is the liveliest part of doctrine,) his carriage in life and death, is our great pattern and instruction: but what is said of his forerunner, is more eminently true of Christ; he is a Prophet, and more than a prophet, a Priest satisfying justice for us, and a King conquering sin and death in us; an example indeed, but more than an example, our sacrifice, and our life, and all in all. It is our duty to walk as he walked, to make him the pattern of our steps, 1 John 2:6.: but our comfort and salvation lies in this, that he is the propitiation for our sins, 1 Peter 2:2. So in the first chapter of that epistle, 1 Peter 2:7 we are to walk in the light, as he is in the light: but for all our walking, we have need of that which follows; that bears the great weight, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.


Verse 25

1 Peter 2:25. Bishop of your souls. The word ' Επισκοπος, here translated bishop, signifies "an overseer or inspector of any person or business;" and it is added to the word shepherd, to strengthen the expression concerning Christ's fidelity and watchfulness over his people. See Isaiah 1:11; Isaiah 53:6. Luke 15:4.

Inferences.—Let us examine our own hearts seriously and impartially, with respect to those branches of the Christian temper, and those views of the Christian life, which are exhibited in this excellent portion of holy writ. Let us especially inquire, in what manner, and to what purposes, we receive the word of God. Is it with the simplicity of babes, or children? do we desire it, as they desire the breast? do we lay aside those evil affections of mind, which would incapacitate us for receiving it in a becoming manner? And does it conduce to our spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace? have we indeed tasted that the Lord is gracious? do we experimentally know, that to the true believer the Redeemer is inestimably precious? have we indeed come to him, as to a living stone; and, notwithstanding all the neglect and contempt with which he may be treated by many infatuated and miserable men, by wretches who are bent on their own destruction, do we regard, and build on him as our great and only foundation? and do we feel that spiritual life diffused through our souls, which is the genuine consequence of a real and vital union with him?—If these be our happy circumstances, we shall not be ashamed or confounded.

Are we conscious of our high dignity, as we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people? are our hearts suitably affected with a sense of the divine goodness, in calling us to be a people, who once were not a people; and us beloved, who were comparatively not beloved; in leading us from the deplorable darkness of ignorance and vice, in which our ancestors were involved, into the marvellous light of his gospel; yea, in dissipating those thick clouds of prejudice and error, which once vailed this sacred light from our eyes, that its enlivening beams might break in upon our souls? And are we now shewing forth his praises? are we now offering to him spiritual sacrifices, in humble dependance on Christ, our great High-priest, who continually intercedes for our acceptance with God? Then shall we indeed make our calling and our election sure, and shall ere long appear in his heavenly temple, both as kings and priests unto God, to participate of our Redeemer's glory, to reign with him, and minister to him for ever.

Let us be careful, in the mean time, to remember, that we are strangers and sojourners on earth, as all our fathers were; and that our days in this transitory life are but as a shadow that declineth; and let us learn to regard the appetites of our animal nature, and the interests of this mortal life, with a noble superiority, reflecting, for how little a space of time they will solicit our attention. And as for fleshly lusts, let us consider them as making war against the soul; arming ourselves with that resolution and fortitude which are necessary to prevent their gaining a victory over us; which would be, at once, our disgrace and our ruin. There is an additional argument to be derived, for a strenuous opposition to them, from our circumstances and situation in the present world; where there are so many enemies to our holy religion, who cannot be more effectually silenced than by our good conversation. Let it be, therefore, our principal care to cut off from them the occasion of speaking against us as evil doers; and by exhibiting a clear and unexceptionable pattern of good words in our daily conversation, let us invite and allure them to improve the day of their visitation, and, glorify their Father who is in heaven.

Again. As the honour of God is eminently concerned in the regard shewn by his people to the relative duties, let us, out of a due respect to that, pay a very careful and diligent attention to them; that the ignorance of foolish men, of those who reproach our good conversation in Christ, may be utterly silenced. Let magistrates especially be reverenced, and, in all things lawful, obeyed. And if they desire to secure reverence to their persons and authority, let them remember the end and design of their office, namely, to be a terror to evil-doers, and a praise and encouragement to the regular and virtuous. And let us, who rejoice in our liberty, that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, be very careful, that it be not abused as a cloke of licentiousness; but as we would manifest our fear and reverence of God, let us remember to honour the king; yea, to render to every man, and every station and character, the esteem and respect which it justly claims; feeling, at the same time, the constraints of a peculiar affection to all those who are united to us by the endearing character of our brethren in the Lord.—Should men who fill superior stations and relations in life, not be so regular, and without exception, in their private and public deportment as they ought, let us perform our duty, not only to the gentle and obliging, but to the perverse and froward; remembering our Lord's example, which was set before us that we might follow his steps. And let his marvellous love, in bearing our sins in his own sacred body on the tree, endear both his example and his precepts to our souls, and constrain us to a holy conformity to him.

Since he, who is the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, came on the most gracious and condescending errand of seeking and saving that which was lost, of gathering us into his fold, who were wandering in the way to perdition; let us shew so much gratitude and wisdom, as not to wander any more; but as we regard our security and our very life, let us keep our Shepherd in our eye, submit ourselves to his pastoral inspection, and cheerfully follow him in whatsoever path he shall condescend to conduct us.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The apostle proceeds,

1. To exhort the Hebrews to shew a temper suitable to their profession. Wherefore laying aside all malice, every thing spiteful, envious, and revengeful; and all guile, every thing deceitful in word or behaviour; and hypocrisies, whether in the profession of religion towards God, or in pretences of respect and friendship towards men; and envies, repining at the prosperity of others; and all evil speakings, which proceed from those vile tempers in the heart; in opposition to all these things, as new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, the pure unadulterated gospel, that ye may grow thereby in every divine and holy temper, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: if so be, or forasmuch as ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious, experimentally proving the riches of his mercy, and having begun to enjoy a sweet favour of that grace, which, though but a taste compared with what it shall be to the faithful, is yet so precious and reviving. Note; (1.) All malice, guile, hypocrisy, and slander, are direct contradictions to the Christian character. (2.) By nature, all evil cleaves to us closer than our garments; but it must be put off as filthy rags, if we mean with comfort to appear in the presence of God. (3.) The word of God supplies milk for babes, and strong meat for men; and they who feel an appetite for it, verily shall be fed and nourished up in the words of sound doctrine. (4.) The grace which is in Jesus Christ, is rich and free to the poorest and most miserable sinner; and to those who have tasted of it, he will indeed be precious.

2. He described that blessed Jesus, the true foundation of the sinner's hope, of whose grace they had been made partakers. To whom coming by faith, as unto a living stone, even Christ, who is the only foundation, everlastingly durable, and never to be shaken; a living stone, the head of vital influence, and communicating to all his members life and strength; disallowed indeed of men, rejected and slighted by the Jewish rulers, and all unbelievers, who will not come to him that they may have life; but chosen of God, and precious, appointed by him to bear the massy structure of his church, as most excellent in himself, and most able to exalt the glory of God, and to secure the salvation of his faithful saints.—Coming therefore to him, ye also, as lively stones, animated by virtue of union with him, are built up a spiritual house, in which God the Spirit is pleased to take up his blest abode; an holy priesthood, consecrated for God's immediate service, and devoted to his glory; not to offer up the blood of beasts, but the better spiritual sacrifices of your bodies, souls, and spirits, in prayer and praise, which are acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Note; (1.) Every child of God is the temple of the Trinity, where he abidingly dwells. (2.) They who reject Christ as their foundation, must build on the sand, and be swept away by the deluge of wrath. (3.) All Christians are consecrated as priests to God, and must approve their peculiar relation to him by their unreserved devotedness to his service.

3. He supports what he had advanced by the testimony of Isaiah. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, with wonder, love, and praise, behold, I lay in Sion, in my holy mountain, a chief corner-stone, the great Messiah, on whom all his believing people's hopes are built; elect and chosen for this blessed purpose, to unite Jews and Gentiles, and the whole body of the faithful, in one glorious church; precious in my sight, and who is also above all things dear to those who are grounded on him as their foundation: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded, having confidence through a Redeemer's blood to approach a throne of grace. Unto you therefore which believe, he is precious; Jesus is inexpressibly amiable in your eyes; you count your relation to him the highest honour, and firmly trust your everlasting hopes upon him: but unto them which be disobedient and unbelieving, as another scripture observes, the stone which the builders, the Jewish priests and rulers, disallowed and rejected, the same, as was foretold, is made the head of the corner, exalted to the greatest honour, and setting up his gospel church in defiance of their enmity and opposition. And, as Isaiah in another place prophesies, he is become a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, and through pride and prejudice will not bear the humbling manner in which the Messiah appeared, and the doctrines which he taught, being disobedient and infidel, having rejected him as the promised hope of Israel, and split upon this rock; whereunto also they were appointed: because they would obstinately and wilfully stand out against the gospel, they were appointed by God to stumble and fall at that Stone, to be bruised and ruined by that means, to be destroyed among the crucifiers of the Messiah, and condemned with them hereafter; it being just with God, that they who wilfully reject the gospel, and of course receive no benefit from it, should, for their obstinacy, be condemned, and so be the worse for it. Note; (1.) Christ is indeed precious to the believer, so precious, that, compared with the excellency of the knowledge of him, he counts all things beside but dung and dross. (2.) They who disbelieve the gospel, and disobey God's word, rush on their own ruin, and must suffer shipwreck in eternity.

4. He reminds them of the rich and invaluable blessings and privileges which in the Redeemer they had obtained. But ye are a chosen generation, elect, called, invited to infinitely greater privileges than those which the visible church of Israel enjoyed; a royal priesthood having an unction from the Holy One, and made kings and priests unto God, Revelation 1:6 victorious over your spiritual foes, and separated for God; an holy nation, consecrated to the Lord, and in spirit and temper conformed to his image; a peculiar people, in a nobler sense than ever Israel was of old, called to the highest dignity, and enriched with the most distinguishing blessings; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who, by his grace, hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light of gospel truth, brought from the cloudy dispensation of legal institutions, or from the still darker dispensation of Gentilism, into that bright day, which the Sun of righteousness makes, arising with healing in his wings. Which in time past were not a people,, having been disowned and divorced from God, in a national sense, (see Hosea 1:9-10; Hosea 2:23 and the Annotations,) but are now the people of God, through Jesus admitted experimentally into the gospel church, and acknowledged as the Lord's: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy; even pardon, grace, and all the privileges of the gospel.

2nd, While they are in the flesh, the best of men have need to be warned and exhorted to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling. The apostle therefore admonishes them,

1. To guard against all worldly and carnal affections. Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as becomes strangers and pilgrims, for such you profess yourselves to be upon the earth, abstain from fleshly lusts, subduing every inordinate appetite and every covetous desire, which war against the soul, and threaten its defilement and destruction; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles, adorning your profession by every thing commendable and excellent; that, whereas they speak against you as evil-doers, and misrepresent you as a wicked, refractory, and lawless people, they may be confuted by your good works which they shall behold, be ashamed of their unjust aspersions, and compelled to glorify God in the day of visitation, either when in the day of judgment he shall punish them for their ill usage of you; or, when their hearts are turned by his grace to the wisdom of the just, and he leads them to approve and imitate your good conversation.

2. To be obedient to magistrates. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, under whatever form of government you live, or whoever they be whom the divine Providence sets over you; whether it be to the king as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him, and bear his commission, for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well; from whom faithful and obedient subjects having nothing to fear, have every thing to hope for. For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, by your loyalty and cheerful submission to the civil government, confuting the calumnies of those who would brand you as seditious; but as free indeed from the tyranny of sin, Satan, and the curse of the law, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, to cover any treasonable design, or other malignant evil; but as the servants of God, conscientiously observant of his holy will in all things, and obedient to magistrates not only for wrath, but also for conscience' sake.

3. He adds four short but important precepts. Honour all men according to their rank and station. Love the brotherhood, high or low, rich or poor; bear them an unfeigned regard as members of Christ, shew it in every act of kindness to their bodies and their souls. Fear God with all reverence, and filial awe of offending. Honour the king, the sovereign power of your country, by whatever name distinguished, as God's representative, and governing under him.

3rdly, As the Jews very hardly bore a foreign yoke as a nation, they were also unwilling to submit to any Gentile masters; and many of those of them who believed in Christ, were persuaded by their Judaizing teachers, to think that they owed no obedience to unbelieving masters. To correct so dangerous an imagination, the apostle,

1. Inculcates the duty of servants. Be subject to your masters with all fear and reverence, and be obedient to all their lawful commands; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward, if such be your lot to be placed under their power. For this is thank-worthy, a matter of real commendation, and a gracious gift of God, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully, and bearing patiently the ill usage of a cruel master, to whom he has given no just cause of provocation. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? this can bring no credit to your religion; you receive but the just reward of your deeds. But if, when ye do well, faithful to your trust, and true to your profession, and suffer for it, that is, for your conscientious regard to God and his service, ye take it patiently, with all meekness, and without murmuring, this is acceptable with God, and a sure proof of his grace in your hearts. Note; (1.) The spirit of independence, which is in men, hardly brooks subjection, and correction still less. (2.) Patient suffering for well-doing, is our distinguished honour. (3.) Though the duty of servants is submission, yet their guilt is not the less who abuse their authority over them; and they will find a Master shortly, who will call them to account, with whom there is no respect of persons.

2. He enforces what he had enjoined with the most powerful arguments. For even hereunto were ye called,—the cross which the Christian must be content to bear: and we should the more readily take it up, because Christ also suffered for us as our substitute, and to make atonement for us, for the meanest servant as well as for the highest of the sons of men; leaving us an example of patience and long-suffering under all the most cruel and unjust treatment which he met with, that ye should follow his steps, and be conformed to his blessed pattern; who, grievously as he suffered, yet did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; his bitterest enemies could not so much as fix upon him the shadow of a crime; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again, but observed an admirable silence, as the sheep before her shearers is dumb: when he suffered, he threatened not, nor discovered the least anger at his tormentors; but committed himself and his cause to him that judgeth righteously, and to whom vengeance belongeth: who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, submitting, as our surety, with his own blood to pay the penalty due to our iniquities; that we, being dead to sin, as crucified with him, should live unto righteousness, quickened by his Spirit unto newness of life: by whose stripes ye were healed; and the deadly wounds of your souls, far worse than those which the most cruel masters can make in your bodies, were cured by the sovereign balm of that Blood which streamed from his scourgings and flowed from his side. For ye were as sheep going astray, foolish, disobedient, deceived, in time past; but are now by grace recovered, and returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls, the blessed and adored Jesus. Note; (1.) Christ's example should animate us with cheerfulness to take up every cross which in his providence he is pleased to lay upon us. (2.) Our sufferings, however cruel and unjust, will never be an excuse for our impatience under them, or for any anger toward the instruments of them, however wicked and unreasonable they may be. By nature, by practice, we have all gone astray. Reader, art thou then returning by faith in the atoning blood to the great Shepherd of our souls? art thou under his government, and dost thou tread in the footsteps of his flock?

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Peter 2:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-peter-2.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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