1 Peter 2

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A Living Stone and a Holy People

1 1So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
2 2Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual 3milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation--
3 if indeed you have 4tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, a living stone 5rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
5 6you yourselves like living stones are being built up as 7a spiritual house, to be 8a holy priesthood, 9to offer spiritual sacrifices 10acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
6 For it stands in Scripture: 11"Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, 12and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."
7 So the honor is for you who 13believe, but for those who 14do not believe, 15"The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,"[a]
8 and 16"A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense. "They stumble because they disobey the word, 17as they were destined to do.
9 But you are 18a chosen race, 19a royal 20priesthood, 21a holy nation, 22a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you 23out of darkness into 24his marvelous light.
10 25Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
11 Beloved, I urge you 26as sojourners and exiles 27to abstain from the passions of the flesh, 28which wage war against your soul.
12 29Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, 30they may see your good deeds and glorify God on 31the day of visitation.

Submission to Authority

13 32Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution,[b] whether it be to the emperor[c] as supreme,
14 or to governors as sent by him 33to punish those who do evil and 34to praise those who do good.
15 For this is the will of God, 35that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
16 36Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but 37living as servants[d] of God.
17 38Honor everyone. 39Love the brotherhood. 40Fear God. Honor the emperor.
18 41Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.
19 For this is a gracious thing, when, 42mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.
20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But 43if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
21 For 44to this you have been called, 45because Christ also suffered for you, 46leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
22 47He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.
23 48When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, 49but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
24 50He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we 51might die to sin and 52live to righteousness. 53By his wounds you have been healed.
25 For 54you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to 55the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

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1 Peter 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

A temper suitable to the Christian character as born again, is recommended. (1-10) Holy conversation among the Gentiles directed. (11,12) Subjects exhorted to pay all proper obedience to their civil governors. (13-17) Also servants to their masters, and all to be patient, according to the example of the suffering Saviour. (18-25)

Verses 1-10 Evil-speaking is a sign of malice and guile in the heart; and hinders our profiting by the word of God. A new life needs suitable food. Infants desire milk, and make the best endeavours for it which they are able to do; such must be a Christian's desires after the word of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ is very merciful to us miserable sinners; and he has a fulness of grace. But even the best of God's servants, in this life, have only a taste of the consolations of God. Christ is called a Stone, to teach his servants that he is their protection and security, the foundation on which they are built. He is precious in the excellence of his nature, the dignity of his office, and the glory of his services. All true believers are a holy priesthood; sacred to God, serviceable to others, endowed with heavenly gifts and graces. But the most spiritual sacrifices of the best in prayer and praise are not acceptable, except through Jesus Christ. Christ is the chief Corner-stone, that unites the whole number of believers into one everlasting temple, and bears the weight of the whole fabric. Elected, or chosen, for a foundation that is everlasting. Precious beyond compare, by all that can give worth. To be built on Christ means, to believe in him; but in this many deceive themselves, they consider not what it is, nor the necessity of it, to partake of the salvation he has wrought. Though the frame of the world were falling to pieces, that man who is built on this foundation may hear it without fear. He shall not be confounded. The believing soul makes haste to Christ, but it never finds cause to hasten from him. All true Christians are a chosen generation; they make one family, a people distinct from the world: of another spirit, principle, and practice; which they could never be, if they were not chosen in Christ to be such, and sanctified by his Spirit. Their first state is a state of gross darkness, but they are called out of darkness into a state of joy, pleasure, and prosperity; that they should show forth the praises of the Lord by their profession of his truth, and their good conduct. How vast their obligations to Him who has made them his people, and has shown mercy to them! To be without this mercy is a woful state, though a man have all worldly enjoyments. And there is nothing that so kindly works repentance, as right thoughts of the mercy and love of God. Let us not dare to abuse and affront the free grace of God, if we mean to be saved by it; but let all who would be found among those who obtain mercy, walk as his people.

Verses 11-12 Even the best of men, the chosen generation, the people of God, need to be exhorted to keep from the worst sins. And fleshly lusts are most destructive to man's soul. It is a sore judgment to be given up to them. There is a day of visitation coming, wherein God may call to repentance by his word and his grace; then many will glorify God, and the holy lives of his people will have promoted the happy change.

Verses 13-17 A Christian conversation must be honest; which it cannot be, if there is not a just and careful discharge of all relative duties: the apostle here treats of these distinctly. Regard to those duties is the will of God, consequently, the Christian's duty, and the way to silence the base slanders of ignorant and foolish men. Christians must endeavour, in all relations, to behave aright, that they do not make their liberty a cloak or covering for any wickedness, or for the neglect of duty; but they must remember that they are servants of God.

Verses 18-25 Servants in those days generally were slaves, and had heathen masters, who often used them cruelly; yet the apostle directs them to be subject to the masters placed over them by Providence, with a fear to dishonour or offend God. And not only to those pleased with reasonable service, but to the severe, and those angry without cause. The sinful misconduct of one relation, does not justify sinful behaviour in the other; the servant is bound to do his duty, though the master may be sinfully froward and perverse. But masters should be meek and gentle to their servants and inferiors. What glory or distinction could it be, for professed Christians to be patient when corrected for their faults? But if when they behaved well they were ill treated by proud and passionate heathen masters, yet bore it without peevish complaints, or purposes of revenge, and persevered in their duty, this would be acceptable to God as a distinguishing effect of his grace, and would be rewarded by him. Christ's death was designed not only for an example of patience under sufferings, but he bore our sins; he bore the punishment of them, and thereby satisfied Divine justice. Hereby he takes them away from us. The fruits of Christ's sufferings are the death of sin, and a new holy life of righteousness; for both which we have an example, and powerful motives, and ability to perform also, from the death and resurrection of Christ. And our justification; Christ was bruised and crucified as a sacrifice for our sins, and by his stripes the diseases of our souls are cured. Here is man's sin; he goes astray; it is his own act. His misery; he goes astray from the pasture, from the Shepherd, and from the flock, and so exposes himself to dangers without number. Here is the recovery by conversion; they are now returned as the effect of Divine grace. This return is, from all their errors and wanderings, to Christ. Sinners, before their conversion, are always going astray; their life is a continued error.

Cross References 55

  • 1. Eph. 4:22, 25, 31; Colossians 3:8
  • 2. See Matthew 18:3
  • 3. 1 Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12, 13
  • 4. Psalms 34:8; Hebrews 6:5
  • 5. ver. 6, 7
  • 6. Ephesians 2:20-22; [1 Corinthians 3:9]
  • 7. Hebrews 3:4, 6
  • 8. ver. 9
  • 9. Isaiah 56:7; Malachi 1:11; Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15
  • 10. Romans 15:16; Philippians 4:18
  • 11. Cited from Isaiah 28:16
  • 12. Romans 9:33; Romans 10:11
  • 13. [2 Corinthians 2:16]
  • 14. [2 Corinthians 2:16]
  • 15. Cited from Psalms 118:22
  • 16. Romans 9:33; Cited from Isaiah 8:14
  • 17. [Romans 9:22; Jude 4]
  • 18. Deuteronomy 10:15; Isaiah 43:20
  • 19. Exodus 19:6; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10
  • 20. Isaiah 61:6; Isaiah 66:21
  • 21. Deuteronomy 7:6
  • 22. Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6; Isaiah 43:21; Malachi 3:17
  • 23. [Isaiah 42:16]; See Acts 26:18
  • 24. Psalms 36:9
  • 25. Hos. 1:6, 9, 10; Hosea 2:23; Romans 9:25, 26; Romans 10:19
  • 26. See Leviticus 25:23
  • 27. Romans 13:14; Galatians 5:24
  • 28. James 4:1
  • 29. [1 Peter 3:16; 2 Corinthians 8:21; Philippians 2:15; Titus 2:8]
  • 30. Matthew 5:16; 2 Corinthians 9:13; Galatians 1:24
  • 31. Isaiah 10:3; Luke 19:44
  • 32. Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1
  • 33. Romans 13:4
  • 34. Romans 13:3
  • 35. ver. 12
  • 36. See James 1:25
  • 37. 1 Corinthians 7:22; [Romans 6:22]
  • 38. Romans 12:10; Romans 13:7
  • 39. See Hebrews 13:1
  • 40. Proverbs 24:21
  • 41. Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22; 1 Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:9
  • 42. 1 Peter 3:14, 17; [1 Peter 4:16]
  • 43. 1 Peter 3:17, 18; 1 Peter 4:13, 16
  • 44. 1 Peter 3:9; See Acts 14:22
  • 45. [See ver. 20 above]
  • 46. See Matthew 11:29
  • 47. Isaiah 53:9; [2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5]
  • 48. 1 Peter 3:9; Isaiah 53:7; Hebrews 12:3
  • 49. Luke 23:46
  • 50. Isaiah 53:4, 11; Matthew 8:17; Hebrews 9:28
  • 51. Romans 6:2, 11; Romans 7:4, 6; Colossians 2:20; Colossians 3:3
  • 52. Romans 6:13
  • 53. Isaiah 53:5
  • 54. Isaiah 53:6; [Psalms 119:176; Ezekiel 34:6; Luke 15:4]
  • 55. See John 10:11

Footnotes 4

  • [a]. Greek the head of the corner
  • [b]. Or every institution ordained for people
  • [c]. Or king; also verse 17
  • [d]. Greek bondservants

Chapter Summary


This chapter consists of exhortations, in general, to a holy life; and, in particular, to obedience to superiors. It begins with an exhortation to lay aside various vices, which were unbecoming regenerate persons, 1Pe 2:1 and, agreeably to their character, as new born babes, to express a desire after the Gospel, which is commended from its nature, being comparable to milk; and from its quality, being reasonable, sincere, and unmixed; and from the end and usefulness of it, a spiritual growth; and the argument engaging to such a desire is the experience they had of the grace of Christ in it, 1Pe 2:2,3 whose excellency is declared, under the metaphor of a stone, said to be living, to be chosen of God, and precious to him, though rejected by men; to whom the saints are encouraged to come, as lively stones built up, a spiritual house, for the exercise of the holy office of the priesthood, by offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ, 1Pe 2:4,5 and that Christ is such a precious stone, is proved from Isa 28:16 and not only to God, but to all them that believe; though to them that believe not, he is the stone of rejection, stumbling, and offence; to stumble at which, and the doctrine of it, through disobedience, they were of old appointed by God, 1Pe 2:6-8 but the character of the persons the apostle writes to was very different, quite the reverse, being chosen and called, and manifestly the people of God, and sharing in his grace and mercy, 1Pe 2:9,10 and these he exhorts, suitable to their state and condition, to abstain from sin, as an enemy to their souls, and to live an honest life and conversation among the Gentiles, that they, instead of speaking evil of them, might, by beholding their good works, glorify God, 1Pe 2:11,12. And particularly he exhorts them to obedience to civil magistrates, both superior and inferior; partly from the author of them, they being of the Lord; and partly from the usefulness of them to punish wicked men, and to encourage good men; and also from its being the will of God, by such obedience, to silence the cavils of foolish men, 1Pe 2:13-15. And whereas it might be objected, that they were made free by Christ, and therefore should not be the servants of men; it is granted, that they were free; but then it is denied, that they should use their liberty for a cloak of maliciousness: and besides, it should be observed, that they were the servants of God, and therefore ought to do what he enjoined them; and, among other things, yield obedience to civil magistrates, 1Pe 2:16. And to this purpose are various exhortations in 1Pe 2:17, and another particular one is added, which is to servants, to be subject to their masters, and fear them, whether they be good or bad, 1Pe 2:18 and then he comforts such that had bad masters, and encourages them to bear the injuries they received from them patiently; because so to do was grateful to God, and acceptable in his sight; and because they were called unto it by him; and because of the example Christ had left them in suffering for them, 1Pe 2:19-21. And this is further urged from the character of Christ, who was without sin, and yet suffered, and from his conduct, who, when reviled, made no return, but left his cause with God, 1Pe 2:22,23 which leads on the apostle take notice of the nature of Christ's sufferings in his body on the cross, and the ends of them, which were expiation of sin, healing diseases, and holiness of life, as a consequent thereof, 1Pe 2:24 previous to which conversion, which is illustrated by the former state and condition men are in, being as sheep going astray; and by their present one, being returned to Christ, the Shepherd and Bishop of souls, 1Pe 2:25.

1 Peter 2 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.