Comments On Epistle Of 1 Peter
To Peter were committed the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt.16:19); and he writes specially to Jewish believers ("sojourners of the dispersion--v.1, New Trans.); for it was to Israel that the kingdom had been promised. And though the kingdom will not come in its great glory until the nation itself receives Christ at the end of the tribulation, yet today the kingdom is in a "Mystery" called the kingdom of heaven,--its headquarters in heaven, where Christ awaits the Day of His manifested glory. Peter's ministry then deals with the government of the Father in administering this kingdom, which is the sphere of Christian profession in the world today; and he stresses the spiritual and moral responsibilities of believers as subject to such government. Of course, we have a yet more blessed relationship than this, as members of the body of Christ, the church; but Paul writes of this, not Peter, who was specially the apostle to the Jews.
Peter writes with apostolic authority and though it is directly to the dispersed Jewish Christians (strangers both because Jews among Gentiles, and because Christians separated from Jewish relatives), yet we who are Gentile believers may well recognize, that much of this is just as applicable to ourselves. We too are pilgrims and strangers, not at home on earth.
The areas spoken of in v.1 are all in present-day Turkey, for Asia at that time was Asia minor, on the western end of Turkey.
Precious it is in their trying strangership to be told of being elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father. God, in perfect knowledge beforehand of all the facts concerning all that would ever transpire, had chosen them. Nothing had been left unconsidered in regard to this election, and therefore the child of God may be at perfect rest in regard to the whole matter. He himself may not understand it thoroughly, but God does.
Sanctification of the Spirit is next noted here. It speaks of the internal work of the Spirit of God in souls, by which they are set apart from the world. And it is this that leads to the obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. The obedience of Jesus Christ is subjection of heart to the One who Himself has exemplified perfect, willing obedience is His pathway on earth. As He delighted to do Lord's will, so we too are called to such devoted obedience. But the sprinkling of blood is a vital matter here too, for His own sacrifice alone could bring us into such a relationship with God as His willing servants: the question of our sins and disobedience must be met by this one precious provision.
And he desires grace and peace to be multiplied toward them; grace to elevate them above the trials they endured; peace to preserve them from the anxiety of their trials.
Now Peter takes great delight (as does Paul in Eph.3) in the preciousness of the revelation of the glory of God the Father in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. This blessed Name is that by which God is now revealed, as He was not in the Old Testament. And by His abundant mercy He had begotten them again unto a living hope. Israel had been begotten first as a nation; now individuals had been born again: mercy had met them where they were, and in that place awakened in their souls a living hope, for the Lord Jesus had been raised from the dead.
He Himself in resurrection is therefore the pledge of their own inheritance, Incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. This is in contrast to Israel's earthly inheritance, which had already been corrupted, defiled, now a mere shadow of what it had been. Now they had what was perfectly secure, reserved in heaven for them, a contrast to former earthly aspirations. If, as we see in verse 4, the inheritance is reserved for believers, in verse 5 they too are kept for the inheritance by nothing less than the power of God. On their part, faith was that which depended upon God's power, in view of salvation, that is, being saved totally out of this world at the coming of the Lord, a final, complete salvation now on the verge of being revealed, and of course that which will introduce them into their heavenly inheritance.
In this the children of God greatly rejoice, that is, the assured prospect of matchless blessing In view, and this in spite of the fact that for a brief time first, God sees a need of their being in heaviness through many trials. How good to see here that deep sorrow might yet be accompanied by great joy, a Joy that is known only by faith in what God has revealed. Not that the sorrow is minimized for it is said to be the grief of many trials of various kinds; but It is transcended by the certainty and blessedness of that salvation, which is near.
More than this, the very trial of faith is in God's account much more precious than the refining process of gold, that which is of so great value to men, and endurable but which God says perishes. But though the trial may be as severe as fire, yet it will pass, while the precious results of it will not only remain, but "be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." This is surely the result d, but that which gives Him praise and honor and glory will certainly fill our own hearts with exultant joy. At Christ's manifestation in glory this too will be manifested in Its splendor.
Yet even now He Himself is so, made known to us that we love Him in spite of not having seen Him; and faith in Himself so transcends the lack of present sight, that we now rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. This is of course miraculous, with joy so full that it cannot be expressed. What a compensation, indeed! And there is no reason that we may not have the same abounding joy, no matter what trials may face us.
For it is as true of us as of them, ""receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of souls," a salvation infinitely higher than any salvation Israel ever enjoyed from the bondage of enemies, for this was merely of their bodies, temporal and temporary.
As to the salvation of souls, not even prophets in the Old Testament could say they were saved: they wrote in advance about such a salvation, by the power of the Spirit of God; but enquired and searched diligently as to what was the full meaning of their own writings, and the salvation that was to be revealed the grace that was to come to believers in the present age. Though they too, by grace through faith, will be in heaven, and on the ground of the sacrifice of Christ; yet they did not then know the salvation of their souls because Christ had not yet died to accomplish salvation this is a truth that could not have been taught before His death.
They searched their own writings then, in desire to learn what this salvation was; and to what time it referred, when the Spirit of Christ in them spoke of the sufferings of Christ, and the resulting glory. For instance, Isaiah the prophet must have greatly puzzled led over his own writing Of his chapter 53. He could never have conceived this in his own mind Indeed, even the disciples who compared with the Lord Jesus during His ministry on earth, though they admired and adored Him, yet did not believe Him when He spoke plainly, on various occasions, of His approaching death Find resurrection. Peter denied it emphatically, for which the Lord administered a solemn rebuke. Matt.16:21-23. But it was revealed by God to the prophets that the things of which they wrote were futures not to be accomplished in their time For instance, Daniel 9:24-26 is explicit that from the time of the commandment given to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, there would be sixty-nine "heptads," that is, 69 weeks of years (483 years) until Messiah came, and after that time He would be "cut off." That time of course came precisely as it was prophesied, and those things once ministered by Old Testament prophets were then reported by apostles and New Testament prophets who had been eye witnesses of the death and resurrection of Christ. Moreover there was Divine power given to their preaching by the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, the same Spirit who had energized the words of the prophets, There things too are of such tremendous importance that angels desire to look into them. How much more should we, who have a vital, personal interest in this great salvation, as angels do not!
"Wherefore, gird up the loins of your mind." In view of so great and precious a revelation, let our minds be all attention, no loose ends, but with undivided concern for knowing this salvation in its fulness. ""Be sober," that is, having wise discretion, no light, flippant outlook as we serve a rejected but glorified Lord. "And hope to the end." It is not a questionable hope, for it is positively stated that grace is to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ; but it is maintaining a fresh, real anticipation of this undimmed in the heart, no allowing of it to become a mere doctrine put on the shelf for possible future use. It is not the coming of Christ for His saints that is here spoken of, but His revelation in glory later, when His grace will be displayed marvelously in His own.
"As children of obedience," those who by new birth have obtained that precious character, let them act according to such character, with an obedience of willing, devoted affection. This involves refusing to conform to their former lusts, which were the result of ignorance. And ignorance is not merely misunderstanding, but ignoring of what may be known. The child of God knows there is no happiness in this, and he himself has that which infinitely transcends its Precious then It is to walk in the sphere of his new birth.
And because the Father who has called us is holy, this same character is to be seen In all His children In every department of life. Even the Old Testament (Lev.11:44) had said, "Be ye holy, for I am holy;" not "because the law requires it." If true then, how much more so for those who know the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ! This is loving conformity to a Person, not demanded conformity to a law; and it involves the love of what is good, the abhorrence of evil.
In verse 17 the Father's government seen, not government as Judge of the whole earthy but as a Father in own house. Precious it is that believers call on Him as Father, a Father who is perfectly fair and impartial in discerning end judging of the character of every work. He does not deal with us as with the world, for it is an absolute fact that in this regard believers "shall not come into Judgment" (John 5:24); but He deals as a Father with His children and He will certainly not allow evil in His own household. Therefore we should pass the time of sojourning here in fear, not the fear of eternal judgment, but in Healthy fear of God, a sober, serious respect for His absolute authority and His supreme dignity, which is not by any means set aside because He is a Weather of abounding goodness and of grace.The government of the Father (v.17) Is based upon perfectly established relationships, of which they had definite knowledge. There is no suggestion of their trying to establish themselves in some kind of position of blessing from God; but because they knew they were redeemed, therefore they are exhorted to as such. Nor was it a temporary redemption, such as under law, where silver (Ex.30:11-16) and gold (Num.31:50) were said to make atonement. These may be considered imperishable metals, but God calls them corruptible. On the other hand, "the precious blood of Christ" has a value eternally precious in the eyes of God, and by this we are redeemed. That work of redemption too is absolute perfection because of who has accomplished it, Christ, as a Lamb without blemish and without spot,--no internal or external imperfection, the fulfilment of the Passover lamb of Ex.12.
Nor was this a matter conceived after men had fallen into sin: indeed He was foreordained before the foundation of the world as this blessed sacrifice. The contemplation of this gives the calmness of eternal rest to the soul, for the God who purposed this we know as our own God. But what God had purposed in ages past has only now been manifest to us in the Person and work of His beloved Son. Marvelous manifestation indeed!
It is only normal and right that by Him we should trust this living God, who has both given his Son, and has raised Him up from the dead, giving the supreme glory to Him who deserves it. For He is the very manifestation of' the heart of God, and by Him faith and hope in God are brought into fullest reality. Faith is present confidence of heart in His faithfulness. Hope is the precious expectation of future glory in His presence.
Verse 22 begins a new division of the book. We have already seen the Father's gracious and wise government of His children. Now we see various new relationships in which the New Testament believer is placed, in contrast to what Israel had known in the Old Testament. And first is that with other believers (the brethren). The exhortation here is based upon the fact that we have purified our souls through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren. Though it is true that by new birth God himself has wrought this work of purifying yet it is just as true that believers have willingly done this in their obeying the truth through the power of the Spirit of God works in conjunction with our obedience. This no doubt has more then one end in view, but at least one of these is "unfeigned love of the brethren." God has Himself decreed this. Therefore it is only becoming that we 'love one another with a pure heart fervently." A pure heart involves motives that are genuine and without mixture; but "fervently" is added, implying a positive warmth and sincerity that leaves nothing to be merely taken for granted.
For this is consistent with "being born again." Peter does not question this matter, but speaks of it as rightly true of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. Israel boasted in their natural lineage. but this was corruptible seed. New birth is of incorruptible seed, the word of God, that which is instinct with life, pure, vital, end eternal, abiding forever. Of course God is the source of it. yet the believer obeys it in the very fact of being born again by it: he is a child of obedience.
"All flesh" is seen in contrast to the Word of God: it is as grass, springs up and withers away: its flower is beautiful for a brief moment: so man's best characteristics shine out like a meteor, to be as quickly extinguished. Israel's glory has been set aside, and with it that of all mankind, but the word of God endures eternally.
Ch.2:1 to 6
Since the Word of God is the solid foundation of all, eternal blessing for us, it surely follows that we should gladly lay aside all that is contrary to It. Indeed, these evils listed in verse I will greatly hinder any true enjoyment of that Word. Malice may not be on the surfaces but its hard, bitter feelings against another will deaden any true desire for the Word. Guile may not be speaking a lie, yet it is so acting or speaking to give a wrong impression, so It Is an underhand lie. Hypocrisy is a pretense of being what one is not, and generally connected with spiritual matters. Envies may be silent also, yet cannot remain covered. All of these may very likely issue in the last mentioned, evil speaking. Let us learn to abhor such evil. and turn decidedly to what is positively good.
Newborn babes do not care to waste their time on negative things: they desire solely the positive nourishment of milk. Our desire should be just as fervent for the pure mental milk of the Word. R is not by any means that we should remain babes; but even when able to take the solid food of the Word, we should have no less fervent desire for the milk of the Word also, the elementary, simple things of Scripture are food by which we grow, and however much deep truth we learn, these are never to be forgotten, but desired. Such desire will be in exercise Just in the measure that we have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
He is spoken of as "a living Stone," to whom the saints of God have come. This is His enduring character, just as Ch.1:25 speaks of the Word enduring. Though he has indeed been refused by men (Israel in particular), yet in Him only is solid, enduring stability, the One chosen of God, and precious beyond man's conception, He is the living One, who became dead, and is alive forevermore, the solid Stone, and instinct with abiding life.
But the saints of God are linked with Him in the same blessed character of living stones. "'Stone" is the meaning of Peter's name, a name given him by the Lord Jesus on His first meeting him. John 1:42. Just as Christ endures, so will the believer and as he is living, so Is the believer. Christ is the corner stone (v.6), from whom all the building receives its character; and each believer is a living stone, a vital part of that spiritual house which our God is building up, spoken of by Paul as "the house of God, which Is the church of the living God." 1 Tim 3:15.
If on the one hand, the living stones are seen as forming the house itself, yet on the other hand believers are seen as being built up a holy priesthood within the house, to perform the functions of priesthood; in this case particularly to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, For the church is seen both as the house of God, and the household of God (Cf..Eph.2:19). If God builds His church collectively, gradually adding to and forming it according to His own great wisdom; yet also He is building up every saint individually, that they might each engage in priestly service to Him, and do so unitedly.
In v.6 Isaiah 28:16 is quoted as to the corner stone being laid in Zion. The proper fulfilment of this awaits the millennium for Zion is the name by which Jerusalem will be specially known at that time, when from Christ, the true Messiah, will flow all blessing to Israel; for in Him the nation will find its eternal stability. It is appropriate that Peters in writing to Jewish believers, should refer to this; though the church is blessed previously to Israel in having the same corner stone. Eventually Israel too will recognize Him as "elect, precious, when they are brought in faith to His feet.Though the nation Israel has not now believed, yet meanwhile, to those who have believed is the preciousness. Israel has sadly missed it, but saints who believe have received all the preciousness of the revelation of God in the Person of His blessed son. The disobedient, on the other hand (primarily Israel), have disallowed this Stone, but He is made the head of the corner, the one reference point of the entire building. This will be realized by the nation only when they see Him come in His glory; but to the church it is blessedly true today.
If to Israel He is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, yet the fact remains that He is both the Stone and the Rock,--not something that is easily brushed aside and forgotten. His very Name, even after His death and resurrection, was enough to incur the bitterest enmity and persecution of the Jew,. Why? Because the stone was directly in their way, Either they must submit to Him, or else, in plunging on in a headlong course, they would stumble. They stumbled too at the word concerning Him, after He was raised, because of a disobedient heart. They were appointed to this painful stumbling, not arbitrarily but because their wills were set in disobedience.
Against so dark a background how beautiful is the contrast of verse 9, "Ye are a chosen generation." Here is the true election of God, those chosen by Him whose knowledge brought Into consideration every circumstance long before creation. Precious, wonderful truth!--much higher than that of Israel's being God's chosen earthly people. "A royal priesthood" is the counterpart of "a holy priesthood." (v.5), the latter toward God, the former toward men, for it is royal character to bear God's witness toward the world (Cf.In.18:37). Precious is such dignity conferred Upon sinners saved by grace! "An holy nation" is in contrast to Israel in the flesh, In her unholy disobedience. It speaks of a vital sanctification for the glory of God, a setting apart to Himself. "A peculiar people" has the sense of being peculiar to Himself, that is, virtually bondslaves rather than hired servants, as Jews under law considered themselves.
All of this positive, eternal blessing of course has an end In view, and the present result of it is that believers "should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." It is not merely telling those praises, but showing them, the whole life character of the saint being involved in this. Having been called out of darkness into His marvelous light the evidence of this should shine forth brightly in every department of our lives
Verse 10 refers to Hosea 1:8.9, Israel reduced by their disobedience to the same level as Gentiles. As a nation they will not have this status changed until at the end of the tribulation they are brought to repentance at the feet of the Lord Jesus, their true Messiah. But believing Jews today anticipate that time, and are now the people of God, no matter how small a part Of Israel trey may be. Formerly in rebellion, strangers to God's mercy, now they have obtained mercy.
In verse 11 we pass on to another division of the book; for, it is established that these are the people of God, now we must see in practice the character of those who are His own. They are dearly beloved, and on this basis enjoined to be true to their stranger and pilgrim character. As strangers, they cannot be expected to be understood by the world: they are not part of its system. As pilgrims, they journey with a definite end in view. Fleshly lusts then are contrary to their proper nature: such things war against all soul prosperity.
Being scattered among the Gentiles, the whole manner of life of these Jewish believers was to be honest, in actual contrast to both Jews and Gentiles in the flesh. They may be spoken against as though they were evil-doers, but they could meet this by doing positive good, which will in every case bear good fruit eventually, The day of visitation may refer to God's visiting Israel in grace in a future day; but may be applied to any time at which God may be pleased to visit any soul in such a way as to break down his stubborn resistance to His Gospel of grace. When this happens, the former opposser will have cause to glorify God for the honest and good testimony of believers, which has had gradual effect in such blessed results.
A matter in this regard is that of submission to ordinances of government, rather than any resistance or complaint, a too prevalent character of man naturally. And this submission is to be "for the Lord's sake," and therefore real and wholehearted. In whatever country it may be, the same was true, though of course that submission is limited in the case of government violating one's conscience toward God. Whether it were the supreme government of a country, or lesser governments, it is the same. For God has established government with the object of punishing evildoers and encouraging those who do well.
Therefore, it is certainly the will of God that the believer, should, in subjection to Government, exhibit the well-doing becoming to his confession, so that foolish men, will have no ground for their ignorant accusations against him. For he is: free: he is not dependent on the government, though he respects it: he depends on God. And such liberty as this is not to be perverted into mere self-will, for it is actually liberty to please God as His willing servants. To honor all is to have proper respect for them as those whom God has created. To love the brotherhood is of course to love the saints of God as brethren, a far nearer relationship than that of creatures of God. " Fear God" is a firm, decided command. This involves standing in awe of His greatness, His glory, His holiness, giving Him His place of absolute supremacy and dignity. And lastly, to honor the, king is to give him the respect due to his position: it is honoring authority, not merely the person who holds it.
Paul, in Ephesians and Colossians, in dealing with special relationships, mentions husbands and wives before servants but Peter begins with servants, and in this case household servants, not necessarily slaves. For Peter's main subject is the Father's government indeed all believers partake of this same servant-character, as subject to Government. The servant is to be subject with all fear: not with unseemly familiarity, nor fleshly irritation. Of course, if the master were good and gentle, this would not be so difficult but the same applies even if the master is bad-tempered.
If the servant therefore suffers in silence because of his conscience as before God, this is acceptable with God. God takes full account of it, and how valuable is His approval! If, on the other hands one were to suffer because of his own faults, it is no particular honor to take this patiently: he fully deserves it, and it is only right that he should bow to it. But when one does well, and suffers for this, in good conscience toward God if he patiently endures this suffering, this is to the glory of God. Verse 21 goes further, to indicate that in being called of God as His own, it is in view of suffering as believers. And Christ is presented as having suffered for us as an example. There are not atoning sufferings (verse 24 deals with those): but His sufferings from the hand of evil. men. His steps we are to follow. The sufferings of the Lord Jesus were totally undeserved He did no sin. And not only His actions, but His words were entirely pure, free from the slightest motive of misrepresentation. And when subjected to the bitter scorn and ridicule of men, He did not answer in kind. However great His suffering from them, no threats or bitter words came from His lips. As the true servant of God, He committed Himself to His God and Father, leaving His case entirely in the hands of the Judge of all the earth.
But verse 24 goes much further, indeed where others could never go. His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree. Not only did He suffer from man unrighteousness; but He assumed the full responsibility for our sins as before God, and suffered on the tree the full, unalleviated penalty of God's wrath against sin. In the three hours of darkness there, the agony He endured as forsaken of God, as being Trade a curse of God, is infinitely beyond explanation or understanding. Alone, intensely alone, He accomplished that great work of atonement.
Besides other great and precious objects of this sacrifice, the object here insisted upon is "that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness." So it is not only that our sins should be forgiven, but that we should recognize ourselves. in His death, to have died to sins, having left them practically in the grave, cutting off all connection with them, so that not even the cruelest treatment of ungodly men would revive such things again In our hearts. For it is by His stripes we are healed. This is no mere bodily healing, but healing from the dread malady of sin: for the stripes are those of God's judgment poured out upon Him on Calvary.
It is in the past that we were as sheep going astray; and this was specially true of Israel. Now at least these to whom Peter writes had returned to the Shepherd and Bishop (or overseer) of their souls. This is Christ, of course: therefore It is Christ who, in the Old Testament, was the true Shepherd little as Israel discerned it: it was Him they had left. How precious for them the truth of Ps.23: "He restoreth my soul!" Observe here that all of this is said in connection with household servants, the subject beginning in v.18.
There is similar instruction for wives, for theirs is the subject place, certainly not as slaves to a master, but as joined to their "own husbands," a most-intimate and precious relationship. Because he is her "own," this is an incentive for her genuine, heartfelt subjection. Of course, if he demands that she do wrong, she must not submit to this; but otherwise a spirit of cheerful subjection is that which honors her Lord. Her husband may be an unbeliever, not obeying the Word of God. But she is to obey nevertheless, for it may be that by this very means the husband will be won to the Lord. Her godly subjection pervading her entire manner of life is itself an evidence of the power of the Word of God over her; and she may win him without preaching the Word to him. This is much more becoming on the part of a wife. It is called "chaste conversation coupled with fear," in other words, a manner of life free from adulteration, having the wholesome fear of God in view.
And let her guard against mere outward adornment. No doubt it was common then, as It is now, that women would draw attention to themselves by branding ornaments into their hair, wearing of expensive clothing and jewelry. Certainly it is no virtue to wear slovenly or careless dress; but neither Is showy attire becoming. Generally speaking, one should be desirous of wearing what will not draw undue attention. For it is pride that desires attention, whatever direction it may take.But much more precious than outward show, there is an adornment the opposite of this, connected with the inner motives of the heart, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. In this is real and eternal value, no corruptibility, and of great price in the sight of God. How infinitely more precious is this then the pretty baubles that may for the moment dazzle people's eyes!
And we are reminded of the example of holy women of old, who trusted in God. Certainly, even then, there were women whose character was totally contrary, but they are sunk In oblivion, compared to those whose record is in the word of God as having a refreshing spirit of faith in God and subjection to their own husbands. Let us not fall into the devil's prevalent snare today, of considering such godly women as being "out of date:" their example remains in its moral beauty just as applicable to present day needs as to their own day.
Sara is specially singled out, the wife of Abraham, the man of faith. She is herself symbolical of the fruitful principle of grace operative in subjection to God. She obeyed Abraham, calling him "Lord." The occasion of this is seen In Gen.18:12, when Sara spoke within herself, not audibly: which shows that this was a willing, habitual practice, not adopted because of others listening. Wives are then in practical reality daughters of Sara when living in true subjection. But subjection is not "consternation." or terror; it has in it rather the calm dignity of faith and of courage, not a slavish servility.
And husbands are certainly not to take advantage of their wives because of their subject place. They are rather to "dwell them (not above them) according to knowledge, in sober recognition of what is right and proper. And because the wife is physically the weaker vessels the husband is to give her honor for the stronger is certainly responsible to support the weaker. Let him show every true consideration for her welfare. In the world today, because! of man's abuse of his authority, women have suffered, and now have turned in resentment of this, demanding equal rights, etc. But neither of these abuses is right and Christians, whether men or women, should properly realize their place, and keep it, also faithfully discharging the responsibilities of that place.
Husband and wife then are to consider themselves "heirs together of the grace of life." This is not heirs in reference to blessing (of which Romans 8:17 speaks), but, in reference to receiving from God present grace to live in devoted obedience to Him. Let us make full use of this precious heritage of "the Grace of life." In this spirit of proper consideration for one another there is a preserving character, so that the prayers of the husband and wife together are not hindered.
Verses 8 and 9 are general exhortation, covering all relationships. To be all of one mind will require setting aside of personal preferences and desires, in genuine consideration for others. This in fact is ""the mind of Christ." Compare Phil.2:5. ""Sympathizing one with another" involves solicitous concern as to the trials of each other. And to this added the warmth of love, "as brethren.' 'Be pitiful" is better rendered "tender-hearted," in contrast to callousness. "Courteous" or "humble-minded" is a quality not common in the world, but Precious. And the warning is given, which requires no little repetition, not to return evil for evil. If I do so, I reduce myself to the same level as the offender. Indeed, I ought to return positive "blessing," that which is good, for in this God is rightly represented. And we ourselves have been called out of a state of evil and shame, that we might inherit a blessing from Him.Beginning with this verses, we see that there will be governmental results from God in reference to the conduct of believers, whether it is good or bad. If one will love life (that is, life in its true pure character) and see good days, let him first guard his own tongue and lips. The tongue is to refrain from evil that which is harmful in whatever way; and the lips are to be kept from guile, that which gives wrong impressions it may not be a direct lie, but is deceitful nevertheless.
In reference to loving life, it may be questioned as to the Lord's words in John 12:2-5. "He that loveth his live shall lose it." But this is His life, involving the motives of selfish clinging to his earthly life, which he must at any rate give up. Loving life, on the other hand, as in our verse, is delighting in what is really life, a character of purity and goodness that does not corrupt.
But as well as in words, one is told in conduct to avoid evil, that which will cause harm in God's creation. The word is used commonly, whether referring to moral. spiritual, physical, or material harm. Avoiding accidents is certainly included in this. But on the other hand, we are told positively to do good. There is certainly enough good to be done that we should not even have time to do evil. Added to this is seeking peace, the grace of concordant well-being, in whatever relationships we are; and "pursuing it" with diligent purpose
"For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous." This means, not only perfect discernment of every motives but watchful care in preservation. It is true that in principle every believer is seen as righteous in Christ, but Peter is insisting that he should be this in practice, if he is to experience God's approving eye upon him; and the same as regards God's ears being open to his prayers, which involves, not only hearings but hearing with approval, and answering. For a contrary character will reap contrary results. God's face will show no approval of evil, and our siding with it in any degree will incur His serious displeasure. These verses are quoted from Psalm 34:12-16; and God's government is no less serious today than when David first wrote this.
It is questioned also as to who will harm them if they are followers of what is good. Generally speaking such conduct will incur no opposition: such at least is the normal state of affairs.
On the other hand, if an abnormal state should exist, one might suffer for doing right. In this case, our attitude is of utmost importance if we are to rightly represent God. "Happy are ye." For God's eye of precious approval is upon such as suffer in genuine patience under these circumstances. Not merely are we to bear it in resigned patience, but to rejoice, for God takes full account of this. No matter how vindictive and cruel the enemy, the believer is told not to be afraid, nor even troubled. Certainly only faith can act upon this but what is more reasonable than faith, and what more normal for the child of God?
"But sanctify the Lord Christ in your hearts." For Christ is in reality absolutely sanctified, set apart from all that is in the world, sublime in holiness and truth. Let each believer think of Him as such, giving Him His place of solitary dignity and glory. Along with this, he should be ready to give a clear, true answer to any inquirer who is interested in the reason for which one gives evidence that he has a hope not connected with this world. But the answer is to be given with meekness and fear, a sober realization of the holy reality of God's sovereign work being involved in this marvelous matter.If our confession is to be convincing to others, we must also have a good conscience as regards our own practical conduct; for if this is so, however false and wicked the accusations of men may be, usually this will only eventually expose their own shame. Notice in this section (v.10 to 16) that the word "good" is used five times, the last, "good conversation" involving all behavior.
For if it is God's will that we suffer (and only He rightly discerns such necessity), how much better that the suffering should be on account of well-doing, rather than the opposite. Faith sees the long-range value of this.
Moreover, it is inconsistent that a believer should suffer for wrong-doing, because his Lord has already suffered for sins at Calvary, indeed as the Just One taking the place of the unjust, in order to bring us to God. Our sins have Incurred the unutterable agony of the Lord of glory, that He might take them away completely, and present us in righteousness before His God and Father. Why then should a believer return in the least degree to that which gave Christ His agony? Now that we are saved, how much rather should we suffer gladly for doing good?
In the flesh our Lord has suffered death (not only sorrow, trouble and distress); but in the Spirit He has been quickened, made alive, as we know Him today, indeed "in the power of an endless life."
Notice that, not only His death, but His resurrection is seen as an established fact before verses 19 and 20 present the historical facts of what transpired at the time of the flood. For some have sought to insert verse 19 between the time of the death and resurrection of Christ. This view is false; for we are told Christ was quickened before we are told the fact, of vs. 19. Plainly therefore, verses 19 and 20 go back to past history.
The same Spirit in which Christ was quickened was that in which He had, at the time of Noah, preached to those who are now spirits in prison. Just as the Spirit of Christ was in Old Testament prophets (1 Pet.1:10,11), so He was in Noah, who preached while the ark was preparing. (Compare 2 Pet.2:5)
Verse 20 is decisive as to the time of this preaching, that is, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing." It is totally unscriptural to say that at His death Christ went into the regions of the lost to preach to them. For when He died, His body went into the grave, while His spirit he committed to the Father; and this was "in paradise, the third heaven." Compare Luke 23:43 and 2 Cor.12:2-4.
Therefore it was at the time of the disobedience of these spirits (who are now in prison) that Christ preached to them. The effective results of that preaching had been very small, only eight souls saved by water; but however small, it was a testimony to the, faithfulness and grace of God. Believers are not in the majority, but are infinitely blessed by God.
This being "saved by water" is a figure of eternal salvation; and baptism today is a similar figure. Noah and his family were saved out of an ungodly world, a type of eternal salvation. Baptism saves in a similar way, not for eternity but from a world that rejects the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, Peter told exercised Jews, 'Save yourselves from this low untoward generation." (Acts 2:40) By being baptized they in this way publicly dissociated themselves from their own nations which had rejected the Messiah. Of course, baptism symbolizes burial (Romans 6:4) in association with Christ's death; so while baptism saves outwardly, it is only a figure of that which saves eternally that is, the precious sacrifice of Christ, the value of which is only made good to the soul by faith in Him.We have seen that baptism saves only in an outward way; and it is interesting that the true translation here is "baptism doth also now save you;" (New Trans.); not us as in the King James. There was no reason for either Peter or the other 11 apostles being baptized with Christian baptism; for they had been publicly identified with Christ from the beginning of His ministry.
But baptism is "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh." Being merely a material form, it cannot accomplish any moral result, nor is it intended to. But it is "the demand as before God, of a good conscience." (See New Translation and note.) It expressed the desire or demand of a good conscience it does not itself give a good conscience, but since baptism is "unto Christ," it points to Him who does give a good conscience. This is intimated in the last phrase, "by the resurrection of Christ." Baptism would be meaningless if Christ had not rise., (1 Cor.15:29) But baptism is only the form that symbolizes something, infinitely better.
It is intended then to direct the heart away from the mere form itself, away from self, to the Person of Christ raised from the dead, ascended to heaven, seated at the right hand of God, with the highest created beings (angels) and authorities and powers all made subject to Him.
This is in answer to having once taken the lowest place in suffering for sins (v.18). This being so, then how gladly should the believer willingly suffer for well-doing; the end in view is marvelous beyond description.
Christ's suffering in the flesh is set before us then as an example; not His sufferings for us in atonement, which were His alone, but His sufferings in a contrary world, in precious, lowly grace. We are to arm ourselves with the same mind, which at least means a studious, decisive preparedness to willingly suffer wrong. To suffer in the flesh involves the refusal of sin's enticements, and hence ceasing from sin, the decision of heart to no longer live as subject to natural lusts, but rather as subject to the will of God. This is normal Christianity.
For in retrospect what believer cannot fully agree that his past life has Involved more than sufficient self-will, self-pleasing, and vanity? No doubt some have far more than others walked in the gross excesses listed in the end of v.3; but even a little is more then enough for those who have a true view of the sufferings of Christ.
Ungodly Gentiles no doubt think it strange that believers have no heart to indulge the baser passions in the same excessive follies as they; and for such a reason will speak against them. But both we and they will give account to a higher Judge, He who is ready to judge both the living and dead. Certainly these judgments are far separated as to time, but Christ is already prepared for both judgments. God has exalted Him, and nothing can hinder the judgment that He will execute at the precise time.
In v.6, it is because Christ is ready to judge that the Gospel was preached to them that are dead. It is not said the Gospel is preached to them, nor that it was preached to those who were dead. They are dead now, but the Gospel was preached to them when they were alive. This again refers to the days of Noah (Ch.3:20,21). The object of the preaching was that, while they might be judged according to men in the flesh (as men speak evil of a believer--v.4), yet they might live according to God in the Spirit. This would be the normal, proper result of the preaching received. Noah's family re-ceived it and suffered from men, but lived, while others died. How insignificant is man's callous judgment compared to living according to God in the spirit!But it is only very briefly that present conditions will exist: the end of all things is at hands The end is not merely a termination, but that which God has in view, a conclusion of eternal character. Time is but transient, however long it may seem. Sober watchful prayer Is therefore only becoming. We have no time for laxity.
And of greatest importance is fervent love among the saints. For love is the warmth and energy of God's own nature, in which believers by grace have a share. Light may expose sin, but love covers a multitude of sins. It is certainly not that we are to count-enance or protect what is evil, but love will lead another to Judge his own sin, and thus it is covered, not emblazoned abroad, God delights is such warmth of love.
Hospitality too, with a free heart, is a precious virtue. Let us be glad to show this to others, and never think of it as being an irksome duty. Abraham's example is most refreshing (Gen.18:1-8).
As to helping others, each also has different abilities, and each is to his gift as being directly answerable to God, who has given It. "It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful," and it should be a continual exercise of each believer to rightly dispense that with which he has been entrusted "of the manifold grace of God." This is grace in its many various aspects, such as can supply every believer with more than enough to minister for his entire life.
If one's gift is that of speaking, he is to do it "as oracles of God." That is, with a due sense of speaking for God, for which of course he must have solid, clear Scripture. Ministering is service of any kind, and to be engaged in diligently, as God gives ability. The object is that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, for to Him is praise and dominion forever. Such motives will always be accompanied by diligence.
Now the apostle returns to the subject of suffering, urging saints not to think it strange that they are to be tried by a "fiery trial." In fact, rather than strange, it is to be expected by a Christian, for men's hearts are naturally opposed to God. But we are told to rejoice because this is in some measure at least partaking of Christ's sufferings. And it is in prospect of the near revelation of Christ in His glory, when present suffering will give place to exceeding joy for the child of God. The contrast of course is marvelous beyond description; but in the midst of present suffering, to set our eyes on that precious prospect is the way of overcoming with rejoicing.
Chapter 2:14 has spoken of happiness in suffering for righteousness' sake: now verse 14 insists too that suffering reproach for the name of Christ is a matter of happiness for in this God will give to the soul a precious sense of the "Spirit of glory and of God resting approvingly upon the sufferer. For if Christ is evil spoken of by persecutors, yet on the part of the persecuted believer He is glorified. God cannot fail to take full account of this, for He greatly values the faith that glorifies his Son.
How sadly inconsistent however would be the contrast of one suffering as a murderer, a thief, or even as a busybody. Such suffering would be deserved, both as to present punishment and eternal loss.
But if one suffers as a Christian, he is encouraged not to be ashamed; for this is really worthwhile, and he may wholeheartedly glorify God on this account.The time is now come that judgment must begin at the house of God. God uses every kind of distress and trial In the discipline of His own house, the Church of God; and this includes the unjust persecutions of the world. This judgment will culminate at the judgment seat of Christ, when we shall see the precious fruits of His discipline in a way never properly known before. But since we are children of God now, then certainly we expect to have our Father's governing discipline.
And if there is such discerning judgment as to the house of God, what shall it be in His dealing (not as a Father, but) strictly as a Judge in reference to those who refuse to obey the Gospel of His grace? Simply the question as to their end is enough to awaken awesome dread in the soul. For if the righteous are, with difficulty, saved (that is, with the discipline of trial, sorrow, distress); where shall appear the ungodly, who have not known such things? Though the answer is not here given, Rev.20:11-15 is plain that they shall appear before the Great White Throne, to be judged according to their works, and cast into the lake of fire. If the believer feels inclined to be envious of the unbeliever, let him stop and consider their contrasting ends.
And the subject is concluded with an encouraging exhortation to those who find themselves suffering according to the will of God: they are not told to appeal to the world, but to God, committing their souls to Him in doing well, regardless of consequences now. For He is a faithful Creator, taking full account of all that affects His creatures, always to be depended upon, no matter what present appearances may be.
Consistently with Peter's subject of governmental order, he now address elders in v.1, and those younger in v.5. Proper balance in this relationship is always deeply important, for on either side friction can too easily arise, and the elder lose the valuable help of the younger, and the young lose the wisdom and counsel of the elder. To the elder Peter speaks as being himself an elder, not only experienced, but also an actual witness of the sufferings of Christ. And he adds to this the future certainty of his being a partaker of the coming glory at the revelation of Christ. Experience, observation, and participation are the three matters Peter stresses concerning himself. His actual observation of the suffering of Christ would have permanent, deep effect upon his soul, to which other elders should pay serious attention. But suffering and glory are again put together, and the anticipation of such full participation in Christ's coming glory is another powerful influence over the soul.
"Feed the flock of God," he tells them, or more correctly, "be shepherds over the flock of God." It involves a character of consistent care and watchfulness, preserving the flock from harm and danger, as well as feeding them. But it is God's flock, not theirs: they are only under shepherds. Yet they are to take the oversight, not to allow things to drift, but to maintain godly order. Nor let them do so merely because they are virtually forced into it, but willingly, expecting nothing in return except the approval of God. Nor are they to do this as lording over their own possessions. How much better than such an authoritative attitude is the lowly grace of being examples to the flock.
In this respect Christ Is spoken of as the Chief Shepherd; for the Church of God is His flock, and He will fully reward all true shepherd work done for love to His Name and in genuine care for the sheep. The reward of the crown of glory is connected with His appearing: at his manifestation His saints too will be manifested. Now the younger are told to submit themselves to the elder. Today such instruction is not only ignored, but by many greatly resisted. But it is the word of God. Of course this is not to be a mere servile obedience without spiritual exercise, but a healthy, vital appreciation of the experience and counsel of elders, a recognition that in governmental matters their judgment should be fully respected.
But this principle is widened to include the subjection of every believer to each other, a most striking and instructive admonition. This is the spirit of honest service one to another, the willingness to forego personal preferences for the sake of unity and spiritual prosperity. The elder may well be an example to the younger in this gracious virtue. "And be clothed with humility" Is a precious complement of this, in contrast to the pride that God resists, and which cannot therefore prosper. To the humble however He gives grace, for humility is actually only facing the. truth as it is .
What are we in comparison to the mighty hand of God? Under that hand we should be thankful to utterly humble ourselves: it Is the right place for us. And eventually God Himself will exalt, us. Marvelous grace indeed!
If we feel this place of humiliation will increase our problems, this is fully provided for. We need only cast our care upon Him, instead of ourselves bearing the burden of it. "For He careth for you. "This is true whether or not we cast our care on Him, He cares anyway: therefore we might as well take advantage of His unfailing kindness.
Being sober is not being gloomy, but using wise discretion. And vigilance is watchful awareness. These things are of vital importance, for the devil, a determined adversary, As constantly on the move, ready to attack the unwary, and as a roaring lion to frighten them into a state of helpless paralysis. Let us not be caught. It is Satan's devouring character here seen, not his subtlety as a serpent. He was using persecution with the object of intimidating souls, and they needed the courage of firm faith to protect themselves from this.
Facing the enemy with the steadfast resistance of faith is here necessary. David's resistance of Goliath is a pointed example in this matter. And it is a real encouragement to know that others of God's saints are daily facing the same afflictions in a hostile world, and finding grace from God to overcome.
And God is "the God of all grace," calling us "unto His eternal glory." The sufferings then are only brief, and not unwelcome, for the Object of that glory is "Christ Jesus." And meanwhile the sufferings accomplish the precious ends of perfecting establishing, strengthening, and settling the saints, that is, bringing permanent, valuable results. Well does He deserve "glory and dominion."
In closing Peter speaks of Silvanus as his penman, a brother known to his readers, though evidently not so well known to Peter as to speak more positively of his faithfulness. He calls his epistle brief, and as emphasizing exhortation and testimony rather than teaching. But he has presented the true grace of God, grace which is able to produce suited response: in such grace believers stand.
V.13 is unusual: "She that is elected with you in Babylon salutes you, and Marcus my son." (JND Trans.) Whether this was Peter's wife, or another sister well known, we do not know. But Mark had evidently been converted through Peter. He writes evidently from the literal Babylon. And He ends with encouraging the affections of saints one for another, wishing them peace in Christ Jesus.