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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
1 Peter 2

 

 

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Verse 1

e. Exhortation to growth in spiritual life, 1 Peter 2:1-8.

1. Wherefore—Because in the new birth (1 Peter 1:23) you have begun a new life, to which the things named are antagonistic.

Laying aside—Aorist, having laid aside, once for all, at conversion, these deadly foes of love. Malice is disposed to injure another, or to rejoice in his harm; guile is deceitful and insincere; hypocrisies counterfeit and put forth the seeming for the being; envies are displeased at and depreciate the ability, prosperity, performance, or reputation of others; evil-speakings insinuate, defame, backbite, and carry injurious tales. Each of this horrid family springs out of those before it. They are, as a foul garment, put off.


Verse 2

2. As new-born babes—Born of the word of God, 1 Peter 1:23. The members of these churches were not recent converts, as some suppose; for, through the labors of St. Paul and others, many churches in those countries had been founded nearly a score of years previously. If they were, we must not only take babes as in opposition to men, but milk as in opposition to strong meat, as in 1 Corinthians 3:2, and Hebrews 5:12. But no such contrast is intimated, and the whole tone of the epistle indicates vigour and large experience. The contrast is rather of babes and believers, and in a single respect: as babes, even the newly born, having once tasted the mother’s milk afterward desire it and are nourished by it, so the spiritually born, whether just now or long ago, having once tasted of the spiritual milk of the gospel, desire it as the food of their souls. Milk is simply the food, and not the kind of food: the kind is indicated in the adjective λογικον, translated here of the word, and sincere, that is, guileless, unadulterated, and undiluted. Irenaeus says of heretics, “They mix chalk with their milk.” Milk, then, is the true doctrine of the gospel— the word which nourishes the soul.

Grow—To full maturity in knowledge and grace. The best authorities add unto salvation, that is, toward eternal blessedness.


Verse 3

3. Tasted—And thus know by experience, Psalms 34:8.

Gracious— Good, kind. Alford suggests that the simplest meaning, as applied to food, is meant: as the Vulgate, dulcis, sweet.


Verse 4

4. The same lesson is now enforced by representing Christian growth under the figure of building.

Coming—Daily and continually, by faith.

A living stone—The reference is to Isaiah 8:14-15; Isaiah 28:16; <19B822>Psalms 118:22; combined by the apostle. Christ is not here compared to a living stone: he is himself the living stone, the foundation stone of the spiritual edifice, the church; nay, he is the corner stone, binding together its walls. See note on Ephesians 2:20. He is called living, having full life in himself, and being the fountain of all life to his followers.

Disallowed—Rejected by the Sanhedrin, the official representatives of the nation and builders of the Church, and cast aside as a vile blasphemer; but chosen out of all possible stones by God, as in his sight the most perfectly fitted to be the foundation of the Church.

Precious—Better, honoured, that is, with this high dignity.


Verse 5

5. Lively stones—Rather, living stones, deriving their life from Christ. Every believer, by this reception of spiritual life, becomes like his Lord, and also enters as a stone into the spiritual house built upon Christ.

Are built up—Rather, are being built up, by the Holy Spirit cementing believers with one another and with Christ.

Holy priesthood—Rather, For a holy priesthood. They are God’s temple that they may be God’s priests, set apart and purified, for the purpose of offering up spiritual sacrifices. This is said, not of a distinct class, as of ministers, but of the whole body of believers. Offer up is the common word for presenting upon the altar; but the sacrifices are bloodless and spiritual, and offered under the influences of the Holy Spirit. First of all, is the sacrifice of ourselves and our entire existence; then follow our thoughts, words, actions, with the specific acts of thanksgiving, praise, prayer, mercy, and beneficence, for the Lord’s sake. It is significant that St. Peter omits all intimation of a sacerdotal order, with himself at its head, and all allusion to himself as of more importance in building God’s house than any of his brother apostles.


Verse 6

6. Wherefore—Better, because. Isaiah 28:16.

Zion—Jerusalem; not Rome.

Believeth—Man’s essential part in the work of building.

Confounded—Put to shame or disappointment, for Christ shall never fail him.


Verse 7-8

7, 8. Precious—Rather, the honour. The argument is, since believing is the means of building upon Christ, the living stone, who is honoured (1 Peter 2:4) with the dignity of being the chief corner-stone, and since the believer shall not come to shame, the result to you, therefore, who do believe, is the honour of not being put to shame. In sharp contrast with this is the shame which befalls the unbelieving.

Disobedient—The effect of unbelief. To this class, the stone rejected by the Jewish builders is become three things: 1. Notwithstanding their scorn, God has selected and made him the head of the corner. If, instead of building upon it, as they may, they carelessly pass it by, it becomes. 2. A stone of stumbling, to strike against to their hurt; and 3. A rock of offence, solidly fixed, dashing against which they fall and are injured. Shame, disgrace, and eternal ruin are their self-wrought calamities.

Stumble—A better reading is, stumble, being disobedient to the word.

Appointed—Surely not to the sin, but to the consequence of voluntary disobedience. God has laid down as a law that the wilful rejecter of Jesus and his doctrine shall perish.


Verse 9

II. THE HIGH CALLING, DIGNITY, AND DUTIES OF THE NEW AND SPIRITUAL ISRAEL, 1 Peter 2:9 to 1 Peter 3:12.

1. The Christian Israel described, 1 Peter 2:9-10.

9. Its character is unfolded in a series of terms originally given to the literal Israel, and entirely applicable to the new and spiritual.

A chosen generationIsaiah 43:20. A race selected out of the world.

A royal priesthood—”A kingdom of priests.” Exodus 19:6. Every believer is both king and priest.

A holy nationExodus 19:6. Because called by a holy God.

A peculiar peopleDeuteronomy 7:6. A people for a possession, as absolutely God’s own.

Show forth—Publish, by telling out.

Praises—The infinite perfections, moral excellences, and wonderful grace of God.

Darkness—The realm of ignorance, sin, and wretchedness.

Light—The realm of knowledge of God and Christ, of holiness and bliss. They who have obeyed the gracious call, and made the blessed transition, are prepared to proclaim its glories to the world; and for this purpose are they thus separated to God.


Verse 10

10. This citation of Hosea 2:23, slightly changed, is applicable alike to the recovery of apostate Jews in the prophet’s time, and the conversion to Christ of Jews and Gentiles.


Verse 11

2. The conduct becoming among the heathen, 1 Peter 2:11-12.

11. Though a royal race, they are strangers, dwelling in a foreign land, and pilgrims, sojourners, (the “strangers” of 1 Peter 1:2,) on the earth; and, as such, they should adorn the religion they profess; 1. Negatively, by abstaining from all immorality; and, 2. Positively, by correct behaviour.

Fleshly lusts—Sensual, licentious desires. Whoever keeps away from these will surely abstain from their indulgence. Other things may injure spiritual life, but these wage war against the soul, as if drawn up in battle array for its destruction.


Verse 12

12. Conversation—Conduct, behaviour, as in chap. 1 Peter 1:18.

Honest—Good, becoming their holy profession. Justin Martyr says of himself, that he was led to believe the Christians falsely accused, by the apparent impossibility of people who lived so blamelessly being guilty of the unnatural vices imputed to them. So St. Peter exhorts these suspected and closely-watched brethren, to live so purely that their very detractors should, upon the closest scrutiny of their good behaviour, be led to glorify God, giving him praise and honour.

Day of visitation—Whether in wrath or mercy, is not said; and the phrase is used in both senses. But only the latter fits the word glorify. See Luke 1:68; Luke 1:78; Luke 7:16; Luke 19:44; Acts 15:14. It points to a time of mercy and offers of grace to their convinced and awakened souls, which apostolic faith expected.


Verse 13

3. Subjection to civil authority, 1 Peter 2:13-17.

13. Every ordinance—Rather, every human institution; here limited to civil government, which, though of divine authority, is framed, set up, and carried on by men. See notes, Romans 13:1-7.

For the Lord’s sake— Not his command, which appears in 1 Peter 2:15; but out of regard to the Lord Jesus, whom you love, and should exalt in the esteem of men, giving no occasion for reproach by disobedience and insubordination.

The king— Both Jews and Greeks gave this title to the Roman emperor.


Verse 14

14. Governors—Presidents, proconsuls, and legates, appointed by the emperor, and sent out by him into the provinces.

Punishment… praise— The end and duty of good government.


Verse 15

15. The will of God—Namely, this subjection to rulers.

Put to silence— Literally, muzzle, so as to stop their mouths.

Ignorance—Habitual and general, as Wiesinger says, “having ever its mouth open rather than its eyes.”

Foolish men—With the article, the foolish men who slanderously babble about them as evil doers.


Verse 16

16. As free—Compare St. Paul in Galatians 5:13. Free, as being of the royal priesthood, the holy nation, and God’s own people, (1 Peter 2:9,) with the consciousness of superiority to a mere earthly life. But they might not therefore infer a freedom from obligation to obey earthly laws. The Jews were thus misled, claiming to owe allegiance only to God as their King, and stirring up rebellion against the authority of Rome. By a perversion of the true doctrine, this Christian freedom might become a pretext for sedition, and a cloak to cover gross wickedness. The Anabaptists in Germany, and the Fifth-monarchy men in England, in Cromwell’s time, furnish notable illustrations.

Servants of God—Free, yet servants; bound to obey God, and therefore to obey those to whom he commands us to submit ourselves.


Verse 17

17. Honour all—Rendering due regard to every man, whatever his condition; a general injunction to the blamelessness required in 1 Peter 2:12, followed by several specifications. Love is due to the whole body of Christian brethren. To God belongs fear, involving reverence and service.

Honour the king—Both for his office’ sake and because God commands it, even though he be Nero.


Verse 18

18. Servants—Domestic servants, but perhaps including all grades of service, from slaves to employees.

All fear—The highest degree of respect and submission; easy to kind and considerate masters, but distasteful and difficult to the perverse and morose. Yet the obligation is the same in both cases.


Verses 18-25

4. Patience of servants under ill-treatment, 1 Peter 2:18-25.

Servants, though free in Christ, and spiritually ennobled, might not indulge impatience and resentment toward their earthly masters, however tyrannical and brutal they might be.


Verse 19

19. Is thankworthy—Literally, grace; meaning here, the fruit of divine grace.

Conscience—A consciousness of God’s presence and precious comfort filling the soul.


Verse 20

20. What glory—Surely no credit is due him who patiently endures deserved punishment for wrong doing; but patient endurance of gross and continued injustice is a lofty virtue. Men may scorn it as craven and pusillanimous; but with God, the righteous Judge, who reads the heart and knows the motive, it is an acceptable thing.

Buffeted—Strokes with the fist and boxing of the ears were frequently given to servants and attendants.


Verse 21

21. Were… called—To this patient endurance as a result of their call to follow Christ; and him they were called to follow whithersoever he might go, whether to the mount of transfiguration, where St. Peter found it good to be, (Matthew 17:4,) or to Gethsemane and Calvary. Philippians 1:29. The innocent Christ also suffered unjustly, and he suffered for us, which, with its other and larger benefits, furnishes a pattern for us to follow. A wonderful change has come upon the spirit of the apostle since his indignant cry at the bare suggestion of his Master’s suffering, “Be it far from thee, Lord; this thing shall not be unto thee.” Matthew 16:22. In no thought does he now more exult, save in that of the glory in which He will be revealed.

For us—And so not for himself; pointing also to the vicarious character of his sufferings, more fully treated in 1 Peter 2:24.

Example—Literally, a writing copy, set by a master, which his pupils are to imitate. It is a pattern of both personal innocence and patient submission.


Verse 22

22. The constant, unvarying innocency of Christ, in both act and word, predicted in Isaiah 53:9, is testified to by his chosen apostle, who speaks of his own knowledge in almost the exact words of the prophet.


Verse 23

23. His patience next appears.

Reviled—Mocked, slandered, insulted, blasphemed. Yet for it all he had no reviling retort. Repeatedly, indeed, did he speak with severity, but never in revenge.

Suffered—Spit upon, smitten, buffeted, scourged, crowned with thorns, crucified, killed.

Threatened not—Though he had power to destroy on the spot.

Committed—Most commentators say himself, with our version; or his cause, with the margin; or his judgment, as Steiger; but a better answer, with Huther and Wiesinger, is the revilings and sufferings. These he turned over to Him that judgeth justly, and will properly reward those who inflicted them.


Verse 24

24. Who… bare our sins—The for us, of 1 Peter 2:21, is now taken up, and it is further shown that our Lord’s sufferings were endured for us who have deserved to suffer, thus exalting both his character of well-doing and the example he has left us.

Our sins—As acts of the sinner, they cannot be taken away except by preventing them before they exist; nor can they be assumed by, or transferred to, another; nor yet again will any moral effect flowing to us from Christ’s death, blot them from existence. Considered in relation to God’s law, they are transgressions, blameworthy, and drawing punishment after them. In taking upon himself the act of another, one assumes, not the act itself, nor the character of its performer, but the responsibilities and penalties which flow from it. So Christ took upon himself our sins.

Bare—Rather, bore up, that is, on the cross. He took on himself the burden of our sins, a crushing load, truly, and as our substitute bore their punishment in his own body, thus expiating our guilt. See Isaiah 53:4; Isaiah 53:12.

On the tree—One can hardly doubt that the apostle added these words from a recollection of Deuteronomy 21:23, and perhaps of St. Paul’s use of it in Galatians 3:13 : “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” God’s curse was upon sin, and Christ, our voluntary substitute, taking our sins on the tree, placed himself where the curse, with its heaviest strokes, fell upon him. The purpose of this great suffering was, that they for whom it was endured might be enabled to lead a holy life.

Being dead—Rather, having died; being through the atonement delivered from their power.

Righteousness—The new master, whom through the Holy Spirit it becomes possible to serve.

By whose stripes—See Isaiah 53:5. The word here means the wale caused by the stripe. Thus these maltreated Christian servants see in their Saviour and Lord all that was endured by any of their class; the buffetings, the cross, as a mode of punishment for slaves, and the stripes, so frequently bestowed, but with the wide difference that his stripes were for the healing of their own wounds.


Verse 25

25. Going astray—Rather, Ye were straying like sheep. See Isaiah 53:6. A stray sheep, lost in the wilderness or mountains, without pasture or protection, and exposed to wild beasts and destruction, figures forth the wretched condition of men astray from God and holiness. Such had been the condition of these servants: but now they were returned, and had found Christ a Physician to heal them, a Shepherd to lead and feed them, and the Bishop, the watchful overseer, caring for their souls as a shepherd cares for the sheep.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Peter 2:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-peter-2.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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