The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Peter

1 2 3 4 5

1 Peter 2

1Pe 2:1

Lists of vices such as this were common in the ancient world and also in the NT (Mar 7:21-22; Rom 1:29-31; 13:13; 1Co 5:10; Gal 5:19-20; 2Pe 2:10-14).

MALICE: From "kakos", meaning simply "bad" or "evi"; sig vice of any and every kind.

DECEIT: As in Joh 1:47.

1Pe 2:2

CRAVE PURE SPIRITUAL MILK: "Above all, throw away your toys, and grow up to reality. Pray God that you may develop and mature mentally and spiritually. The vast majority never grow up; it's always toys and games, under all sorts of rationalized names. But to what end? Look at all the tired, empty-minded, worn-out old people: half-dead, waiting to die -- and they never even learned how to live, or what life is all about. It is the world's greatest tragedy. Such criminally wasted opportunity!

"What is more wonderful than the knowledge of God, and the prospects of eternity? None of us is immune from the toy complex. We can make a toy out of anything. The work of the Truth is especially susceptible to this, because it is the flesh trying to cope with and rise to the things of the Spirit. Never get so immersed in the activity itself that it obscures the purpose and motive. There's no law against enjoying the work of the Truth. In fact, it's inevitable. But be sure the joy is of the Spirit and not of the flesh. You are doing it for God and man: not for pride and amusement and the gratification of personal accomplishment. Forget yourself in the joy of service and love" (GVG).

SPIRITUAL MILK: "The time is short. The scene will suddenly be changed in a short time; and all these matters will appear in their true light to everyone. Many will discover that they have been wasting their time and hurting their brethren by bootless and embittering controversy, instead of redeeming the evil days by the consolations of the truth. They will see too late that instead of imbibing the sincere milk of the word, they have been feeding on ashes; that instead of dispensing a portion of meat to the household in due season, they have been giving them gall and vinegar; that instead of strengthening the hands of fellowlabourers, they have been casting stumbling blocks in the paths of the weak, and discouraging the hearts of the strong; that instead of rejoicing in the Lord, they have been fretting their souls with barren contentions; that instead of filling up a good account with works of humility and mercy and faith, they have been sowing a harvest of envy and strife and every evil fruit; that instead of helping to purify a peculiar people, zealous of good works, their influence has been only mischievous, and that continually -- obstructing the work of the Lord, pulling down the work already done, and throwing clouds and darkness over the beacon intended to guide the feet of the stranger to life eternal. Let us aim to be out of the ranks of this number, that the Lord at His coming, may approve our faithfulness in small things and give us work to do" (SC 215).

PURE: That is, "without guile", in ct to v 1. Unmixed with the corrupting influences of erroneous doctrines and philosophies.

MILK: Simple nourishment, esp for "newborns", in ct to the "meat" of the word (Heb 5:13--6:1).

1Pe 2:3

Citing Psalm 34:8: "Taste and see that the Lord is good." In the psa, the "LORD" is Yahweh. In his writings, Peter applies "kurios" ("Lord") to Jesus. Once a person has come to taste the graciousness or goodness of the LORD, or Lord, he should have a continuing appetite for spiritual food.

1Pe 2:4

THE LIVING STONE: Now Peter presents Christ not as food but as a rock or a stone. The "rock-stone" imagery is common in Scripture. There is, for example, the stumbling stone of Isa 8:14, the foundation-stone of Isa 28:16, the parental rock of Isa 51:1,2, the rejected but vindicated building-stone of Psa 118:22, the little stone that smites the image of Dan 2:34, and the burdensome stone of Zec 12:3.

REJECTED: The "rejection" of Christ is, first, the valuation of Jesus by the nation (Mat 26:14-15; Act 2:22-24; 3:13-15; 4:10-11) and, second, the current rejection of him by the disobedient in every land.

1Pe 2:5

YOU ALSO... ARE BEING BUILT...: Jesus' great prophecy to Peter (Mat 16:18,19) concerned Jesus' building of his church. Peter sees, in the coming of individuals to Jesus the Rock, the building of a new spiritual edifice. Solomon was amazed at the thought of God's gracious condescension in dwelling among his people and in a house (temple) that Solomon built (1Ki 8:27). Now the localized manifestation of God's presence on earth is replaced by his indwelling of all believers (1Co 3:17, 6:19). God's spiritual "temple" is no longer bound either by place nor time.

LIVING STONES: Even the least weighty and most insignificant "stones" are useful in the building up of the wall -- and if even the least of them were removed, the strength of the wall would be compromised.

ARE BEING BUILT: As Eve was "built up" from Adam (Gen 2:22), the "bride" or ecclesia is built up from the "Rock" of Christ.

A SPIRITUAL HOUSE: The material sacrifices and temples that were shadows of the reality to come are now superseded. The OT spoke of the offerings of prayer, thanksgiving, praise, and repentance (Psa 50:14; 51:19; 107:22; 141:2) in addition to the material sacrifices and offerings. The NT speaks of the offering of "faith" (Phi 2:17), gifts as "a fragrant offering" (Phi 4:18), "your bodies as living sacrifices" (Rom 12:1), "a sacrifice of praise" (Heb 13:15), the conversion of the Gentiles as "an offering acceptable to God" (Rom 15:16), and Paul's coming death as "a drink offering" (2Ti 4:6).

A HOLY PRIESTHOOD, OFFERING SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES: Every believer is a member of Christ's "priesthood" (cp v 9; Heb 5:1,2; Rev 5:9) -- having a service to perform and "sacrifices" to offer in God's temple (Heb 13:10; Rom 12:1).

Think of the priest's work: it was... dirty, sometimes disgusting, bloody, difficult work. The priest and his garments would become soiled by the sacrifices, and the lepers, and the unclean ones with whom he had to do. The priesthood was about blood, sweat, and tears. The priest was involved in the most desperate difficulties of the lives of sinners. Such was the priest in Israel (cp God's love for the small baby Israel: Eze 16:3-7). And so it should be with us today: willing to get involved with sinners and their lives, willing to be discomforted and unsettled by their troubles, seeking to change lives for the better, and always... struggling and falling short and being oneself defiled by the associations.

1Pe 2:6

A CHOSEN AND PRECIOUS CORNERSTONE: (1) The quotation of Isa 28:16 refers to God's foundation stone, carefully chosen and very costly, placed in position in Zion. The picture is from the building of a temple. At great cost and care the corner foundation stone was obtained, moved, and laid. One stone in a quarry was sixty-nine feet by twelve feet by thirteen feet (EBC). Isaiah uses this figure to encourage his people to build on the Lord himself, the one who is immovable and unchangeable, rather than on lies and falsehood. The applications of Peter's use of the figure are self-evident. God has set Jesus forth in Jerusalem as the foundation of the new temple. Whoever builds on this foundation will be established and will never be ashamed (1Co 3:10; Eph 2:20).

Or... (2) "The unbudgeable rock in the Temple area where Abraham had prepared to sacrifice Isaac, and which later became the foundation stone of the great altar of burnt offering (cp Isa 8:13-15)... To find a place of prominence and glory for the Assyrian altar which he had brought in, Ahaz had removed Solomon's altar, but had found himself baffled by the grand solidity of its rock foundation. Now, in the more wholesome days of Hezekiah, the former arrangement of the true altar founded on the Eternal Rock had been restored. So, in the impending crisis, let men put confidence in the God whose redemption of His people was symbolized there" (WIsa 288).

Peter's "precious" things: trials (1Pe 1:7), blood of Christ (1Pe 1:18,19), the cornerstone (of Christ) (1Pe 2:4,6), Christ himself (1Pe 2:7), faith (2Pe 1:1), and the great promises (2Pe 1:4).

TRUSTS IN HIM: Or builds upon him, the Rock (Mat 7:24-27)!

1Pe 2:7

Peter's "precious" things: trials (1Pe 1:7), blood of Christ (1Pe 1:18,19), the cornerstone (of Christ) (1Pe 2:4,6), Christ himself (1Pe 2:7), faith (2Pe 1:1), and the great promises (2Pe 1:4).

BUT TO THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE...: But for unbelievers two other "stone" citations from the OT (vv 7,8) are strong warnings. The first is from Psa 118:22, where the builders rejected a building block that later turned out to be the final stone in the building (Mar 12:10-12). In the same way, Jesus, who was rejected by men, has been exalted by God.

1Pe 2:8

AND A STONE THAT CAUSES MEN TO STUMBLE...: The second warning quotation is from Isa 8:14, where the disobedient are portrayed as stumbling over the stone. This is also a ref to the foundation stone under the altar in Solomon's temple: see 2Ki 16n. But the solid rock outcropping on which the great altar had originally stood remained as an "eyesore" (from Ahaz's point of view) and an obstruction. So here Peter warns that those who refuse to believe in Jesus as Messiah stumble over the great Rock which they cannot cover up or remove!

WHICH ALSO THEY WERE DESTINED FOR: What is "destined"? The unbelief of men or the stumbling that is the result of the unbelief? Prob the latter. Peter seems to say that the appointment of God embraces both the setting forth of Christ and his work and the rejection by men. Peter's preaching in Act 2:14-40 makes the same emphasis (esp v 23).

1Pe 2:9

The church, or ecclesia, is the "Israel" of God, and terms descriptive of the nation are now used of the ecclesia (Exo 19:5,6; Deu 4:20; 7:6; Isa 43:20,21).

A CHOSEN PEOPLE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION: "During the American Civil War of 1860-61, Dr Thomas rightly claimed that Christadelphians were part of 'an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession to show forth the excellencies (virtues) of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvellous light.' Believers tend to forget the nobility of this high and heavenly honour of God's call, and often overlook the fact that their primary duty in life is to manifest His name and purposes to the people around them. By teaching and example Jesus showed three ways in which it can be done: Resist not evil, love the world as God loved it, and preach the Gospel. He had little time for anything else -- and neither have we" (TNL 75,76).

Four "callings" in 1Pe: "out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1Pe 2:9); "to suffering for well-doing" (1Pe 2:20,21); "to render blessing for evil" (1Pe 3:9); "to his eternal glory" (1Pe 5:10).

HIM WHO CALLED YOU: God visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name, or praise (Act 15:14).

OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS WONDERFUL LIGHT: Light/darkness is a common dualism in the Bible to describe God/evil, good/bad, revelation/ignorance, new age/old age (eg, Isa 8:21--9:2; Joh 1:4,8-9; Eph 5:8; 1Jo 1:5--2:2). Christ is the Light of the world (Joh 8:12).

1Pe 2:10

ONCE YOU WERE NOT A PEOPLE, BUT NOW YOU ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD; ONCE YOU HAD NOT RECEIVED MERCY, BUT NOW YOU HAVE RECEIVED MERCY: Cited from Hos 1:6,9,10; 2:23. In their original context the words of Hosea describe God's rejection of disobedient Israel, followed by their future restoration to grace. Here Peter applies them to the salvation that has come to the Asian Christians. Cp Rom 9:25.

1Pe 2:11

Vv 11,12: A number of allusions to Lot and his experiences in Sodom (Gen 19): aliens, strangers, sinful desires, living among the pagans, who accuse you of wrongdoing, the day he visits us!

ALIENS AND STRANGERS: Sojourners, with no rights of citizenship. These titles are rich in content, going back to Abraham (Gen 23:4; cp also Psa 39:12; Heb 13:14; 1Pe 1:1,17). Christians may live in the world, but they do not belong to it, and they do not derive their reason for being out of it, for their true destiny is the renewed and redeemed earth in which righteousness will dwell. Therefore, they are not to derive their values from what is transitory. See Lesson, Politics and voting.

SINFUL DESIRES: // Rom 6:13.

1Pe 2:12

THOUGH THEY ACCUSE YOU OF DOING WRONG: What kind of charges did non-Christians make in Peter's time? Some of the more common were disloyalty to the state or Caesar (Joh 19:12), upsetting trade or divination (Act 16:16-21; 19:23-28), teaching that slaves are "free" (cp 1Co 12:13; Gal 3:28), not participating in festivals because of "hatred of mankind" (cp Col 2:16), holding "antisocial" values, and being "atheists" because they had no idols (cp Act 15:29).

ON THE DAY HE VISITS US: (1) The second coming of Christ(?), or (2) when any particular Gentile, as referred to here, may be "visited" by God and accept the gospel faith.

1Pe 2:13

SUBMIT: Gr "hupotasso": lit to be under military rule or order (used in 1Pe 2:13,18; 3:1,5,22; 5:5).

KING: The "king" (Gr 'basileus') is the title used in the East for the emperor who had the "supreme authority" among people.

1Pe 2:14

GOVERNORS: Gr "hegemones" = the legates, procurators, or proconsuls charged with carrying out the imperial will of punishing the disobedient and rewarding the good.

1Pe 2:16

LIVE AS FREE MEN: Christians are free because they are children of the absolute Ruler of the Universe (Mat 17:25,26), and because the service of God is freedom (Joh 8:32; Rom 6:15; Gal 5:13). It is freedom from bondage to sin and selfish desires.

BUT DO NOT USE YOUR FREEDOM AS A COVER-UP FOR EVIL Christians are not to misuse their freedom in Christ and invoke "freedom" as a covering for wickedness. Christ himself said, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin" (Joh 8:34). Plato asked, "How can a man be happy who is the servant of anything?" The Christian response is that the service of God, who is the source of joy, is indeed perfect freedom, because Christ frees us from the bondage of sin.

SERVANTS OF GOD: Purchased by God: 1Co 7:22.

1Pe 2:17

SHOW PROPER RESPECT TO EVERYONE: The respect or honor is the recognition of the value of each man in his place as the creature of God.

LOVE THE BROTHERHOOD OF BELIEVERS: Special love is due to others within the family of believers because they are brothers and sisters.

FEAR GOD, HONOR THE KING: God is to be feared, but the emperor was only to be honored. Christ taught, "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the one [ie God] who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna" (Mat 10:28). Normally duties to God and Caesar do not conflict, and Christians can obey both (Mat 22:15-21); but in special cases their higher loyalty is clear: "We must obey God rather than men!" (Act 5:29).

KING: Lest we forget or fail to give due weight to this, let us remember that the "king" Peter had in mind -- in the first place -- was... Nero, sick, demented, insane, murderous, hateful, calculating, evil, abominable Nero!

1Pe 2:18

1Pe 2:18-25: The exhortations to slaves about serving their masters well (vv 18-20) has as its foundation and rationale... the atonement (vv 21-25)!

"No subject has occasioned more tears, and more rage, than the meaning of the Lord's sacrifice. Christ died, in love and obedience, for us. Oh, some would hack with semantic knives at every nuance, every syllable of God's resonating words on this subject. Would God we would struggle, with equal determination, to learn its meaning for our daily living, for how we treat other people. And this, in the end, is the greatest source of heartache for each of us: the multiplicity of ways in which we fail to live the atonement, HIS atonement. Peter writes, with all the hollow-eyed wisdom of a man who has persevered through his own moral frailties, in his first letter, to a demoralized and disoriented brotherhood. He writes of the Lord's death, knowing he himself will die soon. And he teaches us, this man who denied Jesus as he walked through the valley of death, that the Lord's dying must be our own, every day...

"I must serve my employer as if I am working for God. And the common injustices and indignities I suffer must be filtered through, and borne in light of, the suffering and death of my Lord. It is not always so with me. What a shock the full force of these words can be for us all. We 'do the atonement' in our cubicles, transport trailers, construction sites and executive suites. How intrusive and invasive Scripture is. It leaves no area of our lives unsinged; there are no private matters its searing edge will not cut and wound. These are hard words for people raised in the obsessive privacy of Western life. God does not 'mind His own business', but walks right into every locked room in our hearts and looks steadily into our reddened faces. Surely, none of us has escaped that feeling. Your place of labour is an atonement workshop" (DevRam).

1Pe 2:18-20: // Eph 6:5-7; Col 3:22-25; 1Ti 6:1-3; Tit 2:9,10.

SUBMIT: Gr "hupotasso": lit to be under military rule or order (used in 1Pe 2:13,18; 3:1,5,22; 5:5).

HARSH: "Froward" (AV). Gr "skolion": crooked or twisted (cp Engl scholiosis); also in Luk 3:5; Act 2:40; Phi 2:15.

1Pe 2:19

See Lesson, Military and police.

COMMENDABLE: Gr "charis" = worthy of grace or favor (from God), an exceptional service. God is pleased with those who patiently suffer wrong treatment (as did Christ: Mat 26:67).

1Pe 2:20

To endure a well-deserved beating is nothing extraordinary. The word "beating" (Gr kolaphizomerloi = "strike with the fist") is used in Mat 26:67; Mar 14:65 of Christ's treatment at his trial. However, it is "commendable" (charis) in the sight of God to do good and to endure suffering. The "commendable" thing is not the suffering but being so committed to God's will (the "good") that devotion to Him overrides personal comfort.

1Pe 2:21

TO THIS YOU WERE CALLED: The "calling" (Gr 'kaleo') is God's grace that brings them to salvation (cf 1Pe 1:15) and includes the divine ordination in all aspects of their life (Rom 8:28-30).

Four "callings" in 1Pe: "out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1Pe 2:9); "to suffering for well-doing" (1Pe 2:20,21); "to render blessing for evil" (1Pe 3:9); "to his eternal glory" (1Pe 5:10).

EXAMPLE: Gr "hupogrammos", lit an "underwriting", a line of script for the student to copy out. Only here in NT. Clement of Alexandria used the wd as the copy-head at the top of a child's exercise book for the child to imitate, including all the letters of the alphabet (RWP).

THAT YOU SHOULD FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS: Servants are to follow their Master's tracks (Mat 10:38; Mar 8:34; Joh 13:15; 1Jo 2:6). Christ as the yokefellow (Mat 11:29,30).

1Pe 2:22

Cited from Isa 53:9. Throughout his ministry, Jesus was reviled (Mat 11:19; 26:67; 27:30,39-44; Mar 3:22). In all these situations, he was ever the patient sufferer who was able to control his tongue. At his last trial, Jesus remained silent before the HiPr (Mat 26:62,63) until bound by the HiPr's oath to speak (Mat 26:64).

1Pe 2:23

"He is not truly patient who will suffer only as much as he pleases or from whom he pleases. A truly patient man gives no heed from whom he suffers, whether from his superior or from his equal or from someone below him" (Thomas a' Kempis).

1Pe 2:24

HE HIMSELF BORE OUR SINS: The sin-bearer (isa 53:4-6). A ritual bearing of the sins of the community, as done by the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:7-10; cp Heb 9:28). The sins of the community were confessed over the animal, which then bore them away into the wilderness (cp Psa 103:12).

TREE: Gr "xulon", lit "wood"; Deu 21:23; Gal 3:13; Col 1:22. It was on the cross that God condemned sin in the flesh (Rom 8:3) of a sinless bearer of our nature. A sinless man, made subject to the consequences of sin: 2Co 5:21.

SO THAT WE MIGHT DIE TO SINS AND LIVE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS: The purpose of the death of Christ is to produce new life in the believer. By means of Christ's death on the cross, whoever comes to him ends his old life and begins a new one devoted to righteousness (Rom 6:1-14,18-19; 2Co 5:14-15; Gal 2:20; 6:14).

"All my life I have only heard this passage expounded to mean that Jesus bare our sin nature and nailed it to the cross, that the sins he bore in his body was but the sin-prone nature of the flesh he shared with us. Although Jesus certainly did share our sin-prone nature, and was tempted through the flesh like all of us, this is not what this verse is telling us. I want to make this clear; Peter is not talking about Jesus bearing sin nature, he is talking about Jesus bearing our SINS. Peter is saying that when Jesus was nailed to the tree, he bore in his body the marks of the sins which we committed against him, the stripes by which he later says 'we were healed'. It was we sinners who physically abused, brutally tortured and cruelly crucified Jesus.

"Paul warned the Galatians not to trouble him any further, for 'I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.' It was in the cities of Galatia that Paul had been stoned and left to die. Paul rose and went back to the city and continued to preach, but his body was now a complete mess. His appearance, says the prophet Isaiah in a passage Paul appropriates for himself, was disfigured more than any man. Paul carried his injuries as marks on his body for the rest of his life. Paul marveled that the Galatians had forgotten his suffering, which he reminded them was as though Jesus had 'before their very eyes been crucified amongst them.' Paul appeals to them through his battered body, which they, the Galatians, had brutally stoned. It was the crucified Paul that had converted them by preaching to them in his battered condition, and their sympathy with him was so strong that they would have plucked out their eyes for him if that could have helped him.

"Peter, on the day of Pentecost, cut the conscience of the Jewish hearts when he pointed out that it was they who with wicked hands had taken the Lord's Messiah and crucified him. This is the great power of Peter's argument with us; we are responsible, we have killed the Lord's Messiah, it is our sins that bruised his body, it is our sins that made him suffer. We don't need to have been there in that day to be guilty; we are guilty because even today we commit the very same sins that lead those men to reject and crucify the Son of God. Every atrocity committed against Jesus was the outworking of normal human sin; selfishness, pride, envy, hatred, wrath, bigotry, deceit, stubbornness, carelessness, arrogance, ignorance, hardness of heart and indifference; all of which are perfectly normal behaviors of the flesh common to all of us. All these sins matured into violence and abuse, which when they were finished brought about his death. Ordinary human sinners, committing the same ordinary sorts of sins that we ordinarily commit against each other inflicted every mark on Jesus' body. In this sense we can take responsibility for the sins that lead to our Lord's death because 'inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of my brethren you have done it unto me.'

"Realizing this simple truth is meant to have profound and salvational consequences. We are the guilty men, but when we face our sins and repent, God pours out His grace and appeals to us to change our ways. Thus, says Peter, quoting Isa 53, 'by his stripes we are healed.' In Zec 12:10 God says he will pour out the spirit of grace and supplication, 'and they will look upon me whom they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves bitterly for a firstborn son.' In this way we are reconciled to God; finally we understand and appreciate how God feels about us, how our attitudes and behavior humiliate God. It is as though God has reached into our heart through the suffering of His Son, and through our heart has revealed the truth about Himself. Through a heartfelt repentance we are reconciled to God because we now understand His suffering, we now share sympathy with Him, and we now care for God's feelings. This is exactly where God had always wanted us; in His bosom where we are conscious of every nuance of His every breath. It is from the bosom of the Father where God breathes into our nostrils the breath of life. This is the New Covenant, this is the Spiritual creation, this is how God writes His laws into our hearts and into our minds. This is the reconciliation of our relationship with God, the doctrine of the atonement which we have received through the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord" (JP).

1Pe 2:25

Formerly they were straying sheep (Isa 53:6; Luk 15:3-7) but now they "have returned".

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