The same great doctrines, as in St. Paul's epistles, are here applied to same practical purposes. And this epistle is remarkable for the sweetness, gentleness, and humble love, with which it is written. It gives a short, and yet a very clear summary, both of the consolations and the instructions needful for the encouragement and direction of a Christian in his journey to heaven, raising his thoughts and desires to that happiness, and strengthening him against all opposition in the way, both from corruption within, and temptations and afflictions without.
The apostle blesses God for his special benefits through Christ. (1-9) Salvation by Christ foretold in ancient prophecy. (10-12) All are exhorted to holy conversation. (13-16) Such as is suitable to their principles, privileges, and obligations. (17-25)
Verses 1-9 This epistle is addressed to believers in general, who are strangers in every city or country where they live, and are scattered through the nations. These are to ascribe their salvation to the electing love of the Father, the redemption of the Son, and the sanctification of the Holy Ghost; and so to give glory to one God in three Persons, into whose name they had been baptized. Hope, in the world's phrase, refers only to an uncertain good, for all worldly hopes are tottering, built upon sand, and the worldling's hopes of heaven are blind and groundless conjectures. But the hope of the sons of the living God is a living hope; not only as to its object, but as to its effect also. It enlivens and comforts in all distresses, enables to meet and get over all difficulties. Mercy is the spring of all this; yea, great mercy and manifold mercy. And this well-grounded hope of salvation, is an active and living principle of obedience in the soul of the believer. The matter of a Christian's joy, is the remembrance of the happiness laid up for him. It is incorruptible, it cannot come to nothing, it is an estate that cannot be spent. Also undefiled; this signifies its purity and perfection. And it fadeth not; is not sometimes more or less pleasant, but ever the same, still like itself. All possessions here are stained with defects and failings; still something is wanting: fair houses have sad cares flying about the gilded and ceiled roofs; soft beds and full tables, are often with sick bodies and uneasy stomachs. All possessions are stained with sin, either in getting or in using them. How ready we are to turn the things we possess into occasions and instruments of sin, and to think there is no liberty or delight in their use, without abusing them! Worldly possessions are uncertain and soon pass away, like the flowers and plants of the field. That must be of the greatest worth, which is laid up in the highest and best place, in heaven. Happy are those whose hearts the Holy Spirit sets on this inheritance. God not only gives his people grace, but preserves them unto glory. Every believer has always something wherein he may greatly rejoice; it should show itself in the countenance and conduct. The Lord does not willingly afflict, yet his wise love often appoints sharp trials, to show his people their hearts, and to do them good at the latter end. Gold does not increase by trial in the fire, it becomes less; but faith is made firm, and multiplied, by troubles and afflictions. Gold must perish at last, and can only purchase perishing things, while the trial of faith will be found to praise, and honour, and glory. Let this reconcile us to present afflictions. Seek then to believe Christ's excellence in himself, and his love to us; this will kindle such a fire in the heart as will make it rise up in a sacrifice of love to him. And the glory of God and our own happiness are so united, that if we sincerely seek the one now, we shall attain the other when the soul shall no more be subject to evil. The certainty of this hope is as if believers had already received it.
Verses 10-12 Jesus Christ was the main subject of the prophets' studies. Their inquiry into the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow, would lead to a view of the whole gospel, the sum whereof is, That Christ Jesus was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification. God is pleased to answer our necessities rather than our requests. The doctrine of the prophets, and that of the apostles, exactly agree, as coming from the same Spirit of God. The gospel is the ministration of the Spirit; its success depends upon his operation and blessing. Let us then search diligently those Scriptures which contain the doctrines of salvation.
Verses 13-16 As the traveller, the racer, the warrior, and the labourer, gathered in their long and loose garments, that they might be ready in their business, so let Christians do by their minds and affections. Be sober, be watchful against all spiritual dangers and enemies, and be temperate in all behaviour. Be sober-minded in opinion, as well as in practice, and humble in your judgment of yourselves. A strong and perfect trust in the grace of God, is agreeable with best endeavours in our duty. Holiness is the desire and duty of every Christian. It must be in all affairs, in every condition, and towards all people. We must especially watch and pray against the sins to which we are inclined. The written word of God is the surest rule of a Christian's life, and by this rule we are commanded to be holy every way. God makes those holy whom he saves.
Verses 17-25 Holy confidence in God as a Father, and awful fear of him as a Judge, agree together; and to regard God always as a Judge, makes him dear to us as a Father. If believers do evil, God will visit them with corrections. Then, let Christians not doubt God's faithfulness to his promises, nor give way to enslaving dread of his wrath, but let them reverence his holiness. The fearless professor is defenceless, and Satan takes him captive at his will; the desponding professor has no heart to avail himself of his advantages, and is easily brought to surrender. The price paid for man's redemption was the precious blood of Christ. Not only openly wicked, but unprofitable conversation is highly dangerous, though it may plead custom. It is folly to resolve, I will live and die in such a way, because my forefathers did so. God had purposes of special favour toward his people, long before he made manifest such grace unto them. But the clearness of light, the supports of faith, the power of ordinances, are all much greater since Christ came upon earth, than they were before. The comfort is, that being by faith made one with Christ, his present glory is an assurance that where he is we shall be also, ( John 14:3 ) . The soul must be purified, before it can give up its own desires and indulgences. And the word of God planted in the heart by the Holy Ghost, is a means of spiritual life, stirring up to our duty, working a total change in the dispositions and affections of the soul, till it brings to eternal life. In contrast with the excellence of the renewed spiritual man, as born again, observe the vanity of the natural man. In his life, and in his fall, he is like grass, the flower of grass, which soon withers and dies away. We should hear, and thus receive and love, the holy, living word, and rather hazard all than lose it; and we must banish all other things from the place due to it. We should lodge it in our hearts as our only treasures here, and the certain pledge of the treasure of glory laid up for believers in heaven.
1 Peter 1:1-25 . ADDRESS TO THE ELECTED OF THE GODHEAD: THANKSGIVING FOR THE LIVING HOPE TO WHICH WE ARE BEGOTTEN, PRODUCING JOY AMIDST SUFFERINGS: THIS SALVATION AN OBJECT OF DEEPEST INTEREST TO PROPHETS AND TO ANGELS: ITS COSTLY PRICE A MOTIVE TO HOLINESS AND LOVE, AS WE ARE BORN AGAIN OF THE EVER-ABIDING WORD OF GOD.
1. Peter--Greek form of Cephas, man of rock.
an apostle of Jesus Christ--"He who preaches otherwise than as a messenger of Christ, is not to be heard; if he preach as such, then it is all one as if thou didst hear Christ speaking in thy presence" [LUTHER].
to the strangers scattered--literally, "sojourners of the dispersion"; only in John 7:35 and James 1:1 , in New Testament, and the Septuagint, Psalms 147:2 , "the outcasts of Israel"; the designation peculiarly given to the Jews in their dispersed state throughout the world ever since the Babylonian captivity. These he, as the apostle of the circumcision, primarily addresses, but not in the limited temporal sense only; he regards their temporal condition as a shadow of their spiritual calling to be strangers and pilgrims on earth, looking for the heavenly Jerusalem as their home. So the Gentile Christians, as the spiritual Israel, are included secondarily, as having the same high calling. He ( 1 Peter 1:14 , 2:10 , 4:3 ) plainly refers to Christian Gentiles (compare 1 Peter 1:17 , 1 Peter 2:11 ). Christians, if they rightly consider their calling, must never settle themselves here, but feel themselves travellers. As the Jews in their dispersion diffused through the nations the knowledge of the one God, preparatory to Christ's first advent, so Christians, by their dispersion among the unconverted, diffuse the knowledge of Christ, preparatory to His second advent. "The children of God scattered abroad" constitute one whole in Christ, who "gathers them together in one," now partially and in Spirit, hereafter perfectly and visibly. "Elect," in the Greek order, comes before "strangers"; elect, in relation to heaven, strangers, in relation to the earth. The election here is that of individuals to eternal life by the sovereign grace of God, as the sequel shows. "While each is certified of his own election by the Spirit, he receives no assurance concerning others, nor are we to be too inquisitive [ John 21:21 John 21:22 ]; Peter numbers them among the elect, as they carried the appearance of having been regenerated" [CALVIN]. He calls the whole Church by the designation strictly belonging only to the better portion of them [CALVIN]. The election to hearing, and that to eternal life, are distinct. Realization of our election is a strong motive to holiness. The minister invites all, yet he does not hide the truth that in none but the elect will the preaching effect eternal blessing. As the chief fruit of exhortations, and even of threatenings, redounds to "the elect"; therefore, at the outset, Peter addresses them. STEIGER translates, to "the elect pilgrims who form the dispersion in Pontus.", &c. The order of the provinces is that in which they would be viewed by one writing from the east from Babylon ( 1 Peter 5:13 ); from northeast southwards to Galatia, southeast to Cappadocia, then Asia, and back to Bithynia, west of Pontus. Contrast the order, Acts 2:9 . He now was ministering to those same peoples as he preached to on Pentecost: "Parthians, Medes, Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotamia and Judea," that is, the Jews now subject to the Parthians, whose capital was Babylon, where he labored in person; "dwellers in Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Bithynia," the Asiatic dispersion derived from Babylon, whom he ministers to by letter.
2. foreknowledge--foreordaining love ( 1 Peter 1:20 ), inseparable from God's foreknowledge, the origin from which, and pattern according to which, election takes place. Acts 2:23 , and Romans 11:2 , prove "foreknowledge" to be foreordination. God's foreknowledge is not the perception of any ground of action out of Himself; still in it liberty is comprehended, and all absolute constraint debarred [ANSELM in STEIGER]. For so the Son of God was "foreknown" (so the Greek for "foreordained," 1 Peter 1:20 ) to be the sacrificial Lamb, not against, or without His will, but His will rested in the will of the Father; this includes self-conscious action; nay, even cheerful acquiescense. The Hebrew and Greek "know" include approval and acknowledging as one's own. The Hebrew marks the oneness of loving and choosing, by having one word for both, bachar (Greek, "hairetizo," Septuagint). Peter descends from the eternal "election" of God through the new birth, to the believer's "sanctification," that from this he might again raise them through the consideration of their new birth to a "living hope" of the heavenly "inheritance" [HEIDEGGER]. The divine three are introduced in their respective functions in redemption.
through--Greek, "in"; the element in which we are elected. The "election" of God realized and manifested itself "IN" their sanctification. Believers are "sanctified through the offering of Christ once for all" ( Hebrews 10:10 ). "Thou must believe and know that thou art holy; not, however, through thine own piety, but through the blood of Christ" [LUTHER]. This is the true sanctification of the Spirit, to obey the Gospel, to trust in Christ [BULLINGER].
sanctification--the Spirit's setting apart of the saint as consecrated to God. The execution of God's choice ( Galatians 1:4 ). God the Father gives us salvation by gratuitous election; the Son earns it by His blood-shedding; the Holy Spirit applies the merit of the Son to the soul by the Gospel word [CALVIN]. Compare Numbers 6:24-26 , the Old Testament triple blessing.
unto obedience--the result or end aimed at by God as respects us, the obedience which consists in faith, and that which flows from faith; "obeying the truth through the Spirit" ( 1 Peter 1:22 ). Romans 1:5 , "obedience to the faith," and obedience the fruit of faith.
sprinkling, &c.--not in justification through the atonement once for all, which is expressed in the previous clauses, but (as the order proves) the daily being sprinkled by Christ's blood, and so cleansed from all sin, which is the privilege of one already justified and "walking in the light."
Grace--the source of "peace."
be multiplied--still further than already. Daniel 4:1 , "Ye have now peace and grace, but still not in perfection; therefore, ye must go on increasing until the old Adam be dead" [LUTHER].
3. He begins, like Paul, in opening his Epistles with giving thanks to God for the greatness of the salvation; herein he looks forward (1) into the future ( 1 Peter 1:3-9 ); (2) backward into the past ( 1 Peter 1:10-12 ) [ALFORD].
Blessed--A distinct Greek word (eulogetos, "Blessed BE") is used of God, from that used of man (eulogemenos, "Blessed IS").
Father--This whole Epistle accords with the Lord's prayer; "Father," 1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:14 1 Peter 1:17 1 Peter 1:23 , 2:2 ; "Our," 1 Peter 1:4 , end; "In heaven," 1 Peter 1:4 ; "Hallowed be Thy name," 1 Peter 1:15 1 Peter 1:16 , 3:15 ; "Thy kingdom come," 1 Peter 2:9 ; "Thy will be done," 1 Peter 2:15 , 3:17 , 1 Peter 4:2 1 Peter 4:19 ; "daily bread," 1 Peter 5:7 ; "forgiveness of sins," 1 Peter 4:8 1 Peter 4:1 ; "temptation," 1 Peter 4:12 ; "deliverance," 1 Peter 4:18 [BENGEL]; Compare 1 Peter 3:7 , 4:7 , for allusions to prayer. "Barak," Hebrew "bless," is literally "kneel." God, as the original source of blessing, must be blessed through all His works.
abundant--Greek, "much," "full." That God's "mercy" should reach us, guilty and enemies, proves its fulness. "Mercy" met our misery; "grace," our guilt.
begotten us again--of the Spirit by the word ( 1 Peter 1:23 ); whereas we were children of wrath naturally, and dead in sins.
unto--so that we have.
lively--Greek, "living." It has life in itself, gives life, and looks for life as its object [DE WETTE]. Living is a favorite expression of Peter ( 1 Peter 1:23 , 1 Peter 2:4 1 Peter 2:5 ). He delights in contemplating life overcoming death in the believer. Faith and love follow hope ( 1 Peter 1:8 1 Peter 1:21 1 Peter 1:22 ). "(Unto) a lively hope" is further explained by "(To) an inheritance incorruptible . . . fadeth not away," and "(unto) salvation . . . ready to be revealed in the last time." I prefer with BENGEL and STEIGER to join as in Greek, "Unto a hope living (possessing life and vitality) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Faith, the subjective means of the spiritual resurrection of the soul, is wrought by the same power whereby Christ was raised from the dead. Baptism is an objective means ( 1 Peter 3:21 ). Its moral fruit is a new life. The connection of our sonship with the resurrection appears also in Luke 20:36 , Acts 13:33 . Christ's resurrection is the cause of ours, (1) as an efficient cause ( 1 Corinthians 15:22 ); (2) as an exemplary cause, all the saints being about to rise after the similitude of His resurrection. Our "hope" is, Christ rising from the dead hath ordained the power, and is become the pattern of the believer's resurrection. The soul, born again from its natural state into the life of grace, is after that born again unto the life of glory. Matthew 19:28 , "regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory"; the resurrection of our bodies is a kind of coming out of the womb of the earth and entering upon immortality, a nativity into another life [BISHOP PEARSON]. The four causes of our salvation are; (1) the primary cause, God's mercy; (2) the proximate cause, Christ's death and resurrection; (3) the formal cause, our regeneration; (4) the final cause, our eternal bliss. As John is the disciple of love, so Paul of faith, and Peter of hope. Hence, Peter, most of all the apostles, urges the resurrection of Christ; an undesigned coincidence between the history and the Epistle, and so a proof of genuineness. Christ's resurrection was the occasion of his own restoration by Christ after his fall.
4. To an inheritance--the object of our "hope" ( 1 Peter 1:3 ), which is therefore not a dead, but a "living" hope. The inheritance is the believer's already by title, being actually assigned to him; the entrance on its possession is future, and hoped for as a certainty. Being "begotten again" as a "son," he is an "heir," as earthly fathers beget children who shall inherit their goods. The inheritance is "salvation" ( 1 Peter 1:5 1 Peter 1:9 ); "the grace to be brought at the revelation of Christ" ( 1 Peter 1:13 ); "a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
incorruptible--not having within the germs of death. Negations of the imperfections which meet us on every side here are the chief means of conveying to our minds a conception of the heavenly things which "have not entered into the heart of man," and which we have not faculties now capable of fully knowing. Peter, sanguine, impulsive, and highly susceptible of outward impressions, was the more likely to feel painfully the deep-seated corruption which, lurking under the outward splendor of the loveliest of earthly things, dooms them soon to rottenness and decay.
undefiled--not stained as earthly goods by sin, either in the acquiring, or in the using of them; unsusceptible of any stain. "The rich man is either a dishonest man himself, or the heir of a dishonest man" [JEROME]. Even Israel's inheritance was defiled by the people's sins. Defilement intrudes even on our holy things now, whereas God's service ought to be undefiled.
that fadeth not away--Contrast 1 Peter 1:24 . Even the most delicate part of the heavenly inheritance, its bloom, continues unfading. "In substance incorruptible; in purity undefiled; in beauty unfading" [ALFORD].
reserved--kept up ( Colossians 1:5 , "laid up for you in heaven," 2 Timothy 4:8 ); Greek perfect, expressing a fixed and abiding state, "which has been and is reserved." The inheritance is in security, beyond risk, out of the reach of Satan, though we for whom it is reserved are still in the midst of dangers. Still, if we be believers, we too, as well as the inheritance. are "kept" (the same Greek, John 17:12 ) by Jesus safely ( 1 Peter 1:5 ).
in heaven--Greek, "in the heavens," where it can neither be destroyed nor plundered. It does not follow that, because it is now laid up in heaven, it shall not hereafter be on earth also.
for you--It is secure not only in itself from all misfortune, but also from all alienation, so that no other can receive it in your stead. He had said us ( 1 Peter 1:3 ); he now turns his address to the elect in order to encourage and exhort them.
5. kept--Greek, "who are being guarded." He answers the objection, Of what use is it that salvation is "reserved" for us in heaven, as in a calm secure haven, when we are tossed in the world as on a troubled sea in the midst of a thousand wrecks? [CALVIN]. As the inheritance is "kept" ( 1 Peter 1:4 ) safely for the far distant "heirs," so must they be "guarded" in their persons so as to be sure of reaching it. Neither shall it be wanting to them, nor they to it. "We are guarded in the world as our inheritance is kept in heaven." This defines the "you" of 1 Peter 1:4 . The inheritance, remember, belongs only to those who "endure unto the end," being "guarded" by, or IN "the power of God, through faith." Contrast Luke 8:13 . God Himself is our sole guarding power. "It is His power which saves us from our enemies. It is His long-suffering which saves us from ourselves" [BENGEL]. Jude 1:1 , "preserved in Christ Jesus"; Philippians 1:6 , 4:7 , "keep"; Greek, "guard," as here. This guarding is effected, on the part of God, by His "power," the efficient cause; on the part of man, "through faith," the effective means.
by--Greek, "in." The believer lives spiritually in God, and in virtue of His power, and God lives in him. "In" marks that the cause is inherent in the means, working organically through them with living influence, so that the means, in so far as the cause works organically through them, exist also in the cause. The power of God which guards the believer is no external force working upon him from without with mechanical necessity, but the spiritual power of God in which he lives, and with whose Spirit he is clothed. It comes down on, and then dwells in him, even as he is in it [STEIGER]. Let none flatter himself he is being guarded by the power of God unto salvation, if he be not walking by faith. Neither speculative knowledge and reason, nor works of seeming charity, will avail, severed from faith. It is through faith that salvation is both received and kept.
unto salvation--the final end of the new birth. "Salvation," not merely accomplished for us in title by Christ, and made over to us on our believing, but actually manifested, and finally completed.
ready to be revealed--When Christ shall be revealed, it shall be revealed. The preparations for it are being made now, and began when Christ came: "All things are now ready"; the salvation is already accomplished, and only waits the Lord's time to be manifested: He "is ready to judge."
last time--the last day, closing the day of grace; the day of judgment, of redemption, of the restitution of all things, and of perdition of the ungodly.
6. Wherein--in which prospect of final salvation.
greatly rejoice--"exult with joy": "are exuberantly glad." Salvation is realized by faith ( 1 Peter 1:9 ) as a thing so actually present as to cause exulting joy in spite of existing afflictions.
for a season--Greek, "for a little time."
if need be--"if it be God's will that it should be so" [ALFORD], for not all believers are afflicted. One need not invite or lay a cross on himself, but only "take up" the cross which God imposes ("his cross"); 2 Timothy 3:12 is not to be pressed too far. Not every believer, nor every sinner, is tried with afflictions [THEOPHYLACT]. Some falsely think that notwithstanding our forgiveness in Christ, a kind of atonement, or expiation by suffering, is needed.
ye are in heaviness--Greek, "ye were grieved." The "grieved" is regarded as past, the "exulting joy" present. Because the realized joy of the coming salvation makes the present grief seem as a thing of the past. At the first shock of affliction ye were grieved, but now by anticipation ye rejoice, regarding the present grief as past.
through--Greek, "IN": the element in which the grief has place.
manifold--many and of various kinds ( 1 Peter 4:12 1 Peter 4:13 ).
temptations--"trials" testing your faith.
7. Aim of the "temptations."
trial--testing, proving. That your faith so proved "may be found (aorist; once for all, as the result of its being proved on the judgment-day) unto (eventuating in) praise," &c. namely, the praise to be bestowed by the Judge.
than that of gold--rather, "than gold."
though--"which perisheth, YET is tried with fire." If gold, though perishing ( 1 Peter 1:18 ), is yet tried with fire in order to remove dross and test its genuineness, how much more does your faith, which shall never perish, need to pass through a fiery trial to remove whatever is defective, and to test its genuineness and full value?
glory--"Honor" is not so strong as "glory." As "praise" is in words, so "honor" is in deeds: honorary reward.
appearing--Translate as in 1 Peter 1:13 , "revelation." At Christ's revelation shall take place also the revelation of the sons of God ( Romans 8:19 , "manifestation," Greek, "revelation"; 1 John 3:2 , Greek, "manifested . . . manifested," for "appear . . . appear").
8. not having seen, ye love--though in other cases it is knowledge of the person that produces love to him. They are more "blessed that have not seen and yet have believed," than they who believed because they have seen. On Peter's own love to Jesus, compare John 21:15-17 . Though the apostles had seen Him, they now ceased to know Him merely after the flesh.
in whom--connected with "believing": the result of which is "ye rejoice" (Greek, "exult").
now--in the present state, as contrasted with the future state when believers "shall see His face."
unspeakable--( 1 Corinthians 2:9 ).
full of glory--Greek, "glorified." A joy now already encompassed with glory. The "glory" is partly in present possession, through the presence of Christ, "the Lord of glory," in the soul; partly in assured anticipation. "The Christian's joy is bound up with love to Jesus: its ground is faith; it is not therefore either self-seeking or self-sufficient" [STEIGER].
9. Receiving--in sure anticipation; "the end of your faith," that is, its crowning consummation, finally completed "salvation" (Peter here confirms Paul's teaching as to justification by faith): also receiving now the title to it and the first-fruits of it. In 1 Peter 1:10 the "salvation" is represented as already present, whereas "the prophets" had it not as yet present. It must, therefore, in this verse, refer to the present: Deliverance now from a state of wrath: believers even now "receive salvation," though its full "revelation" is future.
of . . . souls--The immortal soul was what was lost, so "salvation" primarily concerns the soul; the body shall share in redemption hereafter; the soul of the believer is saved already: an additional proof that "receiving . . . salvation" is here a thing present.
10. The magnitude of this "salvation" is proved by the earnestness with which "prophets" and even "angels" searched into it. Even from the beginning of the world this salvation has been testified to by the Holy Spirit.
prophets--Though there is no Greek article, yet English Version is right, "the prophets" generally (including all the Old Testament inspired authors), as "the angels" similarly refer to them in general.
inquired--perseveringly: so the Greek. Much more is manifested to us than by diligent inquiry and search the prophets attained. Still it is not said, they searched after it, but concerning (so the Greek for "of") it. They were already certain of the redemption being about to come. They did not like us fully see, but they desired to see the one and the same Christ whom we fully see in spirit. "As Simeon was anxiously desiring previously, and tranquil in peace only when he had seen Christ, so all the Old Testament saints saw Christ only hidden, and as it were absent--absent not in power and grace, but inasmuch as He was not yet manifested in the flesh" [CALVIN]. The prophets, as private individuals, had to reflect on the hidden and far-reaching sense of their own prophecies; because their words, as prophets, in their public function, were not so much their own as the Spirit's, speaking by and in them: thus Caiaphas. A striking testimony to verbal inspiration; the words which the inspired authors wrote are God's words expressing the mind of the Spirit, which the writers themselves searched into, to fathom the deep and precious meaning, even as the believing readers did. "Searched" implies that they had determinate marks to go by in their search.
the grace that should come unto you--namely, the grace of the New Testament: an earnest of "the grace" of perfected "salvation . . . to be brought at the (second) revelation of Christ." Old Testament believers also possessed the grace of God; they were children of God, but it was as children in their nonage, so as to be like servants; whereas we enjoy the full privileges of adult sons.
11. what--Greek, "In reference to what, or what manner of time." What expresses the time absolutely: what was to be the era of Messiah's coming; what manner of time; what events and features should characterize the time of His coming. The "or" implies that some of the prophets, if they could not as individuals discover the exact time, searched into its characteristic features and events. The Greek for "time" is the season, the epoch, the fit time in God's purposes.
Spirit of Christ . . . in them--( Acts 16:7 , in oldest manuscripts, "the Spirit of Jesus"; Revelation 19:10 ). So JUSTIN MARTYR says, "Jesus was He who appeared and communed with Moses, Abraham, and the other patriarchs." CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA calls Him "the Prophet of prophets, and Lord of all the prophetical spirit."
did signify--"did give intimation."
of--Greek, "the sufferers (appointed) unto Christ," or foretold in regard to Christ. "Christ," the anointed Mediator, whose sufferings are the price of our "salvation" ( 1 Peter 1:9 1 Peter 1:10 ), and who is the channel of "the grace that should come unto you."
the glory--Greek, "glories," namely, of His resurrection, of His ascension, of His judgment and coming kingdom, the necessary consequence of the sufferings.
that should follow--Greek, "after these (sufferings)," 1 Peter 3:18-22 , 5:1 . Since "the Spirit of Christ" is the Spirit of God, Christ is God. It is only because the Son of God was to become our Christ that He manifested Himself and the Father through Him in the Old Testament, and by the Holy Spirit, eternally proceeding from the Father and Himself, spake in the prophets.
12. Not only was the future revealed to them, but this also, that these revelations of the future were given them not for themselves, but for our good in Gospel times. This, so far from disheartening, only quickened them in unselfishly testifying in the Spirit for the partial good of their own generation (only of believers), and for the full benefit of posterity. Contrast in Gospel times, Revelation 22:10 . Not that their prophecies were unattended with spiritual instruction as to the Redeemer to their own generation, but the full light was not to be given till Messiah should come; it was well that they should have this "revealed" to them, lest they should be disheartened in not clearly discovering with all their inquiry and search the full particulars of the coming "salvation." To Daniel ( Daniel 9:25 Daniel 9:26 ) the "time" was revealed. Our immense privileges are thus brought forth by contrast with theirs, notwithstanding that they had the great honor of Christ's Spirit speaking in them; and this, as an incentive to still greater earnestness on our part than even they manifested ( 1 Peter 1:13 , &c.).
us--The oldest manuscripts read "you," as in 1 Peter 1:10 . This verse implies that we, Christians, may understand the prophecies by the Spirit's aid in their most important part, namely, so far as they have been already fulfilled.
with the Holy Ghost sent down--on Pentecost. The oldest manuscripts omit Greek preposition en, that is, "in"; then translate, "by." The Evangelists speaking by the Holy Spirit were infallible witnesses. "The Spirit of Christ" was in the prophets also ( 1 Peter 1:11 ), but not manifestly, as in the case of the Christian Church and its first preachers, "SENT down from heaven." How favored are we in being ministered to, as to "salvation," by prophets and apostles alike, the latter now announcing the same things as actually fulfilled which the former foretold.
which things--"the things now reported unto you" by the evangelistic preachers "Christ's sufferings and the glory that should follow" ( 1 Peter 1:11 1 Peter 1:12 ).
angels--still higher than "the prophets" ( 1 Peter 1:10 ). Angels do not any more than ourselves possess an INTUITIVE knowledge of redemption. "To look into" in Greek is literally, "to bend over so as to look deeply into and see to the bottom of a thing." on same word. As the cherubim stood bending over the mercy seat, the emblem of redemption, in the holiest place, so the angels intently gaze upon and desire to fathom the depths of "the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels" ( 1 Timothy 3:16 ). Their "ministry to the heirs of salvation" naturally disposes them to wish to penetrate this mystery as reflecting such glory on the love, justice, wisdom, and power of their and our God and Lord. They can know it only through its manifestation in the Church, as they personally have not the direct share in it that we have. "Angels have only the contrast between good and evil, without the power of conversion from sin to righteousness: witnessing such conversion in the Church, they long to penetrate the knowledge of the means whereby it is brought about" [HOFMAN in ALFORD].
13. Wherefore--Seeing that the prophets ministered unto you in these high Gospel privileges which they did not themselves fully share in, though "searching" into them, and seeing that even angels "desire to look into" them, how earnest you ought to be and watchful in respect to them!
gird up . . . loins--referring to Christ's own words, Luke 12:35 ; an image taken from the way in which the Israelites ate the passover with the loose outer robe girded up about the waist with a girdle, as ready for a journey. Workmen, pilgrims, runners, wrestlers, and warriors (all of whom are types of the Christians), so gird themselves up, both to shorten the garment so as not to impede motion, and to gird up the body itself so as to be braced for action. The believer is to have his mind (mental powers) collected and always ready for Christ's coming. "Gather in the strength of your spirit" [HENSLER]. Sobriety, that is, spiritual self-restraint, lest one be overcome by the allurements of the world and of sense, and patient hopeful waiting for Christ's revelation, are the true ways of "girding up the loins of the mind."
to the end--rather, "perfectly," so that there may be nothing deficient in your hope, no casting away of your confidence. Still, there may be an allusion to the "end" mentioned in 1 Peter 1:9 . Hope so perfectly (Greek, "teleios") as to reach unto the end (telos) of your faith and hope, namely, "the grace that is being brought unto you in (so the Greek) the revelation of Christ." As grace shall then be perfected, so you ought to hope perfectly. "Hope" is repeated from 1 Peter 1:3 . The two appearances are but different stages of the ONE great revelation of Christ, comprising the New Testament from the beginning to the end.
14. From sobriety of spirit and endurance of hope Peter passes to obedience, holiness, and reverential fear.
As--marking their present actual character as "born again" ( 1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:22 ).
obedient children--Greek, "children of obedience": children to whom obedience is their characteristic and ruling nature, as a child is of the same nature as the mother and father. Contrast Ephesians 5:6 , "the children of disobedience." Compare 1 Peter 1:17 , "obeying the Father" whose "children" ye are. Having the obedience of faith (compare 1 Peter 1:22 ) and so of practice (compare 1 Peter 1:16 1 Peter 1:18 ). "Faith is the highest obedience, because discharged to the highest command" [LUTHER].
fashioning--The outward fashion (Greek, "schema") is fleeting, and merely on the surface. The "form," or conformation in the New Testament, is something deeper and more perfect and essential.
the former lusts in--which were characteristic of your state of ignorance of God: true of both Jews and Gentiles. The sanctification is first described negatively ( 1 Peter 1:14 , "not fashioning yourselves," &c.; the putting off the old man, even in the outward fashion, as well as in the inward conformation), then positively ( 1 Peter 1:15 , putting on the new man, compare Ephesians 4:22 Ephesians 4:24 ). "Lusts" flow from the original birth-sin (inherited from our first parents, who by self-willed desire brought sin into the world), the lust which, ever since man has been alienated from God, seeks to fill up with earthly things the emptiness of his being; the manifold forms which the mother-lust assumes are called in the plural lusts. In the regenerate, as far as the new man is concerned, which constitutes his truest self, "sin" no longer exists; but in the flesh or old man it does. Hence arises the conflict, uninterruptedly maintained through life, wherein the new man in the main prevails, and at last completely. But the natural man knows only the combat of his lusts with one another, or with the law, without power to conquer them.
15. Literally, "But (rather) after the pattern of Him who hath called you (whose characteristic is that He is) holy, be (Greek, 'become') ye yourselves also holy." God is our grand model. God's calling is a frequently urged motive in Peter's Epistles. Every one that begets, begets an offspring resembling himself [EPIPHANIUS]. "Let the acts of the offspring indicate similarity to the Father" [AUGUSTINE].
conversation--deportment, course of life: one's way of going about, as distinguished from one's internal nature, to which it must outwardly correspond. Christians are already holy unto God by consecration; they must be so also in their outward walk and behavior in all respects. The outward must correspond to the inward man.
16. Scripture is the true source of all authority in questions of doctrine and practice.
Be ye . . . for I am--It is I with whom ye have to do. Ye are mine. Therefore abstain from Gentile pollutions. We are too prone to have respect unto men [CALVIN]. As I am the fountain of holiness, being holy in My essence, be ye therefore zealous to be partakers of holiness, that ye may be as I also am [DIDYMUS]. God is essentially holy: the creature is holy in so far as it is sanctified by God. God, in giving the command, is willing to give also the power to obey it, namely, through the sanctifying of the Spirit ( 1 Peter 1:2 ).
17. if ye call on--that is, "seeing that ye call on," for all the regenerate pray as children of God, "Our Father who art in heaven" ( Matthew 6:9 , Luke 11:2 ).
the Father--rather, "Call upon as Father Him who without acceptance of persons ( Acts 10:34 , Romans 2:11 , 2:1 , not accepting the Jew above the Gentile, 2 Chronicles 19:7 , Luke 20:21 ; properly said of a judge not biassed in judgment by respect of persons) judgeth," &c. The Father judgeth by His Son, His Representative, exercising His delegated authority ( John 5:22 ). This marks the harmonious and complete unity of the Trinity.
work--Each man's work is one complete whole, whether good or bad. The particular works of each are manifestations of the general character of his lifework, whether it was of faith and love whereby alone we can please God and escape condemnation.
pass--Greek, "conduct yourselves during."
sojourning--The outward state of the Jews in their dispersion is an emblem of the sojourner-like state of all believers in this world, away from our true Fatherland.
fear--reverential, not slavish. He who is your Father, is also your Judge--a thought which may well inspire reverential fear. THEOPHYLACT observes, A double fear is mentioned in Scripture: (1) elementary, causing one to become serious; (2) perfective: the latter is here the motive by which Peter urges them as sons of God to be obedient. Fear is not here opposed to assurance, but to carnal security: fear producing vigilant caution lest we offend God and backslide. "Fear and hope flow from the same fountain: fear prevents us from falling away from hope" [BENGEL]. Though love has no fear IN it, yet in our present state of imperfect love, it needs to have fear going ALONG WITH It as a subordinate principle. This fear drowns all other fears. The believer fears God, and so has none else to fear. Not to fear God is the greatest baseness and folly. The martyrs' more than mere human courage flowed from this.
18. Another motive to reverential, vigilant fear ( 1 Peter 1:17 ) of displeasing God, the consideration of the costly price of our redemption from sin. Observe, it is we who are bought by the blood of Christ, not heaven. The blood of Christ is not in Scripture said to buy heaven for us: heaven is the "inheritance" ( 1 Peter 1: 1 Peter 1:4 ) given to us as sons, by the promise of God.
corruptible--Compare 1 Peter 1:7 , "gold that perisheth," 1 Peter 1:23 .
silver and gold--Greek, "or." Compare Peter's own words, Acts 3:6 : an undesigned coincidence.
redeemed--Gold and silver being liable to corruption themselves, can free no one from spiritual and bodily death; they are therefore of too little value. Contrast 1 Peter 1:19 , Christ's "precious blood." The Israelites were ransomed with half a shekel each, which went towards purchasing the lamb for the daily sacrifice ( Exodus 30:12-16 ; compare Numbers 3:44-51 ). But the Lamb who redeems the spiritual Israelites does so "without money or price." Devoted by sin to the justice of God, the Church of the first-born is redeemed from sin and the curse with Christ's precious blood ( Matthew 20:28 , 1 Timothy 2:6 , Titus 2:14 , Revelation 5:9 ). In all these passages there is the idea of substitution, the giving of one for another by way of a ransom or equivalent. Man is "sold under sin" as a slave; shut up under condemnation and the curse. The ransom was, therefore, paid to the righteously incensed Judge, and was accepted as a vicarious satisfaction for our sin by God, inasmuch as it was His own love as well as righteousness which appointed it. An Israelite sold as a bond-servant for debt might be redeemed by one of his brethren. As, therefore, we could not redeem ourselves, Christ assumed our nature in order to become our nearest of kin and brother, and so our God or Redeemer. Holiness is the natural fruit of redemption "from our vain conversation"; for He by whom we are redeemed is also He for whom we are redeemed. "Without the righteous abolition of the curse, either there could be found no deliverance, or, what is impossible, the grace and righteousness of God must have come in collision" [STEIGER]; but now, Christ having borne the curse of our sin, frees from it those who are made God's children by His Spirit.
vain--self-deceiving, unreal, and unprofitable: promising good which it does not perform. Compare as to the Gentiles, Acts 14:15 , Romans 1:21 , Ephesians 4:17 ; as to human philosophers, 1 Corinthians 3:20 ; as to the disobedient Jews, Jeremiah 4:14 .
conversation--course of life. To know what our sin is we must know what it cost.
received by tradition from your fathers--The Jews' traditions. "Human piety is a vain blasphemy, and the greatest sin that a man can commit" [LUTHER]. There is only one Father to be imitated, 1 Peter 1:17 ; compare Matthew 23:9 , the same antithesis [BENGEL].
19. precious--of inestimable value. The Greek order is, "With precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish (in itself) and without spot (contracted by contact with others), (even the blood) of Christ." Though very man, He remained pure in Himself ("without blemish"), and uninfected by any impression of sin from without ("without spot"), which would have unfitted Him for being our atoning Redeemer: so the passover lamb, and every sacrificial victim; so too, the Church, the Bride, by her union with Him. As Israel's redemption from Egypt required the blood of the paschal lamb, so our redemption from sin and the curse required the blood of Christ; "foreordained" ( 1 Peter 1:20 ) from eternity, as the passover lamb was taken up on the tenth day of the month.
20. God's eternal foreordination of Christ's redeeming sacrifice, and completion of it in these last times for us, are an additional obligation on us to our maintaining a holy walk, considering how great things have been thus done for us. Peter's language in the history corresponds with this here: an undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness. Redemption was no afterthought, or remedy of an unforeseen evil, devised at the time of its arising. God's foreordaining of the Redeemer refutes the slander that, on the Christian theory, there is a period of four thousand years of nothing but an incensed God. God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world ( Ephesians 1:4 ).
manifest--in His incarnation in the fulness of the time. He existed from eternity before He was manifested.
in these last times-- 1 Corinthians 10:11 , "the ends of the world." This last dispensation, made up of "times" marked by great changes, but still retaining a general unity, stretches from Christ's ascension to His coming to judgment.
21. by him--Compare "the faith which is by Him," Acts 3:16 . Through Christ: His Spirit, obtained for us in His resurrection and ascension, enabling us to believe. This verse excludes all who do not "by Him believe in God," and includes all of every age and clime that do. Literally, "are believers in God." "To believe IN (Greek, 'eis') God" expresses an internal trust: "by believing to love God, going INTO Him, and cleaving to Him, incorporated into His members. By this faith the ungodly is justified, so that thenceforth faith itself begins to work by love" [P. LOMBARD]. To believe ON (Greek, "epi," or dative case) God expresses the confidence, which grounds itself on God, reposing on Him. "Faith IN (Greek, 'en') His blood" ( Romans 3:25 ) implies that His blood is the element IN which faith has its proper and abiding place. Compare with this verse, Acts 20:21 , "Repentance toward (Greek, 'eis,' 'into,' turning towards and going into) God and faith toward (Greek, 'eis,' 'into') Christ": where, as there is but one article to both repentance and faith, the two are inseparably joined as together forming one truth; where "repentance" is, there "faith" is; when one knows God the Father spiritually, then he must know the Son by whom alone we can come to the Father. In Christ we have life: if we have not the doctrine of Christ, we have not God. The only living way to God is through Christ and His sacrifice.
that raised him--The raising of Jesus by God is the special ground of our "believing": (1) because by it God declared openly His acceptance of Him as our righteous substitute; (2) because by it and His glorification He received power, namely, the Holy Spirit, to impart to His elect "faith": the same power enabling us to believe as raised Him from the dead. Our faith must not only be IN Christ, but BY and THROUGH Christ. "Since in Christ's resurrection and consequent dominion our safety is grounded, there 'faith' and 'hope' find their stay" [CALVIN].
that your faith and hope might be in God--the object and effect of God's raising Christ. He states what was the actual result and fact, not an exhortation, except indirectly. Your faith flows from His resurrection; your hope from God's having "given Him glory" (compare 1 Peter 1:11 , "glories"). Remember God's having raised and glorified Jesus as the anchor of your faith and hope in God, and so keep alive these graces. Apart from Christ we could have only feared, not believed and hoped in God. Compare 1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:7-9 1 Peter 1:13 , on hope in connection with faith; love is introduced in 1 Peter 1:22 .
22. purified . . . in obeying the truth--Greek, "in your (or 'the') obedience of (that is, 'to') the truth (the Gospel way of salvation)," that is, in the fact of your believing. Faith purifies the heart as giving it the only pure motive, love to God ( Acts 15:9 , Romans 1:5 , "obedience to the faith").
through the Spirit--omitted in the oldest manuscripts. The Holy Spirit is the purifier by bestowing the obedience of faith ( 1 Peter 1:2 , 1 Corinthians 12:3 ).
unto--with a view to: the proper result of the purifying of your hearts by faith. "For what end must we lead a chaste life? That we may thereby be saved? No: but for this, that we may serve our neighbor" [LUTHER].
unfeigned-- 1 Peter 2:1 1 Peter 2:2 , "laying aside . . . hypocrisies . . . sincere."
love of the brethren--that is, of Christians. Brotherly love is distinct from common love. "The Christian loves primarily those in Christ; secondarily, all who might be in Christ, namely, all men, as Christ as man died for all, and as he hopes that they, too, may become his Christian brethren" [STEIGER]. BENGEL remarks that as here, so in 2 Peter 1:5-7 , "brotherly love" is preceded by the purifying graces, "faith, knowledge, and godliness," &c. Love to the brethren is the evidence of our regeneration and justification by faith.
love one another--When the purifying by faith into love of the brethren has formed the habit, then the act follows, so that the "love" is at once habit and act.
with a pure heart--The oldest manuscripts read, "(love) from the heart."
fervently--Greek, "intensely": with all the powers on the stretch ( 1 Peter 4:8 ). "Instantly" ( Acts 26:7 ).
23. Christian brotherhood flows from our new birth of an imperishable seed, the abiding word of God. This is the consideration urged here to lead us to exercise brotherly love. As natural relationship gives rise to natural affection, so spiritual relationship gives rise to spiritual, and therefore abiding love, even as the seed from which it springs is abiding, not transitory as earthly things.
of . . . of . . . by--"The word of God" is not the material of the spiritual new birth, but its mean or medium. By means of the word the man receives the incorruptible seed of the Holy Spirit, and so becomes one "born again": John 3:3-5 , "born of water and the Spirit": as there is but one Greek article to the two nouns, the close connection of the sign and the grace, or new birth signified is implied. The word is the remote and anterior instrument; baptism, the proximate and sacramental instrument. The word is the instrument in relation to the individual; baptism, in relation to the Church as a society ( James 1:18 ). We are born again of the Spirit, yet not without the use of means, but by the word of God. The word is not the beggeting principle itself, but only that by which it works: the vehicle of the mysterious.germinating power [ALFORD].
which liveth and abideth for ever--It is because the Spirit of God accompanies it that the word carries in it the germ of life. They who are so born again live and abide for ever, in contrast to those who sow to the flesh. "The Gospel bears incorruptible fruits, not dead works, because it is itself incorruptible" [BENGEL]. The word is an eternal divine power. For though the voice or speech vanishes, there still remains the kernel, the truth comprehended in the voice. This sinks into the heart and is living; yea, it is God Himself. So God to Moses, Exodus 4:12 , "I will be with thy mouth" [LUTHER]. The life is in God, yet it is communicated to us through the word. "The Gospel shall never cease, though its ministry shall" [CALOVIUS]. The abiding resurrection glory is always connected with our regeneration by the Spirit. Regeneration beginning with renewing man's soul at the resurrection, passes on to the body, then to the whole world of nature.
24. Scripture proof that the word of God lives for ever, in contrast to man's natural frailty. If ye were born again of flesh, corruptible seed, ye must also perish again as the grass; but now that from which you have derived life remains eternally, and so also will render you eternal.
flesh--man in his mere earthly nature.
as--omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts.
of man--The oldest manuscripts read, "of it" (that is, of the flesh). "The glory" is the wisdom, strength, riches, learning, honor, beauty, art, virtue, and righteousness of the NATURAL man (expressed by "flesh"), which all are transitory ( John 3:6 ), not OF MAN (as English Version reads) absolutely, for the glory of man, in his true ideal realized in the believer, is eternal.
withereth--Greek, aorist: literally, "withered," that is, is withered as a thing of the past. So also the Greek for "falleth" is "fell away," that is, is fallen away: it no sooner is than it is gone.
thereof--omitted in the best manuscripts and versions. "The grass" is the flesh: "the flower" its glory.
25. ( Psalms 119:89 .)
this is the word . . . preached unto you--That is eternal which is born of incorruptible seed ( 1 Peter 1:24 ):but ye have received the incorruptible seed, the word ( 1 Peter 1:25 ); therefore ye are born for eternity, and so are bound now to live for eternity ( 1 Peter 1:22 1 Peter 1:23 ). Ye have not far to look for the word; it is among you, even the joyful Gospel message which we preach. Doubt not that the Gospel preached to you by our brother Paul, and which ye have embraced, is the eternal truth. Thus the oneness of Paul's and Peter's creed addresses some of the same churches as Paul labored among and wrote to.