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I Peter 2:4-25

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Living Stone and the Holy Nation The enduring Word An Appeal for Holiness The Living Stone and the Holy Nation Regeneration by the Word
  (1:22-2:3) (1:23-2:10)   (1:22-2:3)
2:1-8 The Chosen Stone and His Chosen People   2:1-8 The New Priesthood
  2:4-10 2:4-8   2:4-8
2:9-10   2:9-10 2:9-10 2:9-10
Live as Servants of God Living Before the World The Obligation of Christians Slaves of God The Obligations of Christians: Toward Unbelievers
    (2:11-4:11)    
2:11-12 2:11-12 2:11-12 2:11-12 2:11-12
  Submission to Government     The Obligations of Christians: Toward Civil Authority
2:13-17 2:13-17 2:13-17 2:13-17 2:13-17
The Example of Christ's Suffering Submission to Masters   The Example of Christ's Suffering The Obligations of Christians: Toward Masters
2:18-25 2:18-25 2:18-25 2:18-25 2:18-20
        2:21-25

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 2:4-8
 4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For this is contained in Scripture: "Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed." 7This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone," 8and, "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

2:4 "And coming to Him" This is a present middle (deponent) participle. NKJV, NRSV and TEV translate this as an imperative. Note the continual coming and personal element, "to Him." The gospel is primarily a person to welcome, to trust, and to emulate. This term may have the connotation of approaching God, as a priest or worshiper (cf. Heb. 4:16; 7:25; 10:1,22; 11:6). Peter changes his metaphor from milk in 1 Pet. 2:2-3, to construction metaphors in 1 Pet. 2:4-8 (believers as living stones and Jesus as the cornerstone). This is possibly a continuing allusion to Ps. 34:4 from the Septuagint.

▣ "as to a living stone" In the OT God's stability, strength, and perseverance are often described by using the analogy of rock as a title (cf. Deut. 32:4,15,18,30; Ps. 18:2,31,46; 28:1; 31:3; 42:9; 71:3).

The metaphor of Jesus as a stone is found in

1. a rejected stone (Ps. 118:22)

2. a building stone (Ps. 118:22; Isa. 28:16)

3. a stone to stumble over (Isa. 8:14-15)

4. an overcoming and conquering stone (kingdom), (Dan. 2:45)

Jesus used these passages to describe Himself (cf. Matt. 21:40; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17).

▣ "which has been rejected by men" This is a perfect passive participle. This may be an allusion to 1 Pet. 2:7, which is from the Septuagint of Ps. 118:22. The stone is disapproved by "the builders," which may refer to the Jewish leadership, but in Peter it is widened to all unbelieving humans. This term, from apo and dokimazō, means the testing of someone or something to find if it is genuine. The Jews continued to reject Jesus as the Messiah and this rejection became a state of spiritual blindness (cf. Mark 8:31; Matt. 6:23).

▣ "but is choice and precious in the sight of God" This is in direct contrast to the previous phrase. The term "choice" is literally "elect" in the sense of "foreordained" (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2,20). A rejected (crucified or unreceived) Messiah has always been God's only plan of redemption (cf. Luke 22:22; Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 13:29; Eph. 1:11).

2:5 "as living stones" The NT uses several corporate metaphors to describe the church.

1. a vine (John 15:5)

2. a flock (John 10:16)

3. a bride (i.e., a family, cf. Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19:7, 21:9)

4. a body (Eph. 1:22-23, 1 Cor. 12)

5. a family (Rom. 8:15-17; 1 Tim. 3:15)

6. a city (Heb. 11:10,16; 12:22, 13:14; Rev. 2:2,10)

7. here, a temple (cf. 1 Cor. 3:9,16; 6:19)

 

▣ "are being built up as a spiritual house" This is probably a Present passive indicative, although in form it could be a present passive imperative. This is the same verb used in Matt. 16:18 to describe the church being built on the rock of personal faith (i.e., Peter as an example). The entire context is continuing to develop the metaphor of 1 Pet. 2:4. Jesus is the new Temple (cf. John 2:18-22). Believers in Christ are the true priesthood. The unbelieving Jews have stumbled over (cf. 1 Pet. 2:7-8) the very stones on which YHWH built His spiritual Temple—(1) Jesus and (2) the Church (cf. 1 Tim. 3:15). Only those who have faith in Christ can function in God's spiritual temple, offering spiritually acceptable sacrifices (i.e., holy self-giving lives, cf. 1 Pet. 1:14-16; Rom. 12:1-2).

SPECIAL TOPIC: EDIFY

▣ "for a holy priesthood" Peter is using the names of God's OT people, Israel, to describe the church (cf. Exod. 19:5; 1 Pet. 2:9-10; Rev. 1:6). In the OT YHWH promised through Eve's offspring to redeem all mankind (cf. Gen. 3:15). YHWH called Abram (cf. Gen. 12:1-3) to call a kingdom of priests (cf. Exod. 19:5-6) to reach all the world (cf. Gen. 12:3 and Exod.19:5). Israel failed in this task (cf. Ezek. 36:27-38). Therefore, God appointed a new people of faith (cf. Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:22-38) to reach the world (cf. Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 24:47Acts 1:8; 1 Pet. 2:9).

Martin Luther used the authority of the Bible and the Pauline truth of justification by grace through faith to reject the traditions of the Catholic Church. He coined the phrase "the priesthood of the believer" (singular). Western individualism has taken this slogan and turned it to a license for personal freedom in belief and lifestyle. But this concept is corporate, not individual (i.e., notice the plural pronouns in 1 Pet. 2:5,7,9). It is gospel-proclamation focused, not personal-freedom focused. Believers have been given Israel's world-wide evangelistic assignment (cf. Rom. 15:16; Heb. 13:15-16). To view the priesthood as meaning that we have direct access to God through Christ is true, but this is not the purpose of the metaphor. A priest stands between a needy people and a holy God. He advocates not his own position, but the needs of the people. The NT affirms the priesthood of believers (plural, corporate) as they bring a lost world to faith in Christ.

SPECIAL TOPIC: CHRISTIANITY IS CORPORATE

▣ "to offer up spiritual sacrifices" After the destruction of the Temple in a.d. 70, the Jews accentuated the OT passages which advocate non-animal sacrifices (cf. Ps. 50:14, 51:27, 69:30-31, 107:22, 141:2; Hos. 14:2). Hebrews 13:5 reflects this type of Christian sacrifice. In context this refers to believers living holy and self-giving lives from 1 Peter 1 (esp. 1 Pet. 2:14-16; Heb. 13:15-16).

2:6 "A choice stone, a precious corner stone" This is a quote from Isa. 28:16. This concept of the Messiah as a rock or stone is recurrent in the OT (cf. Ps. 118:22; Dan. 2:34-35; Isa. 8:14, 28:16). These OT passages are often quoted in the NT (cf. Matt. 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; 1 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 2:22; 1 Pet. 2:6-8) to refer to Jesus as God's promised One. Peter also used it in his sermon in Acts 4:11. See note at 1 Pet. 2:4b. See Special Topic: Cornerstone at Mark 12:10.

NASB"and he who believes in him will not be disappointed"
NKJV "and he who believes on him will by o means be put to shame"
NRSV"and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame"
TEV"whoever believes in Him will never be disappointed"
NJB"no one who relies on this will be brought to disgrace"

This phrase is from the LXX of Isa. 28:16. Notice the invitation is open to all (cf. John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 10:9-13; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). This is a double negative, "never, no never, be disappointed" or "ashamed." For "believes" see Special Topic at Mark 1:15.

F. F. Bruce, answers to Questions (p. 158) points out the difference between the Septuagint and the Masoretic Hebrew texts.

1. The LXX – "will not be disappointed" (NASB) or "brought to disgrace" (NJB) is the verb yēbōsh

2. The MT – "will not be disturbed" (NASB, margin), "in a hurry" is the verb yahish

On page 157 Bruce comments that NT authors probably quoted the version in common use in the early church unless they had a special theological reason to depart from it and use another one. The general thrust of a passage is the key to the concept of inspiration, not a fight over each and every individual word. Humans have been given a trustworthy revelation!

2:7 "the builders" The Jewish Targums (Aramaic translation with commentary) use this term as a title for the Scribes. This is a quote from Ps. 118:22. Jesus uses this same OT quote in His parable of the wicked tenant farmers in Matt. 21:42. This parable described the Jewish leadership of Jesus' day. It is uncertain whether Jesus' strong words of judgment related to (1) His rejecting the concept of non-Aaronic Jewish leadership (i.e., Annas and Caiaphas) who purchased their positions from Rome or (2) His rejecting all Jewish people (i.e., Israel) who refuse to believe in Him (cf. Rom. 9-11).

2:8 "A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense" This is a quote from Isa. 8:14. It is also quoted in Rom. 9:32, where it refers to Jesus. The special stone has been rejected and becomes the object of destruction!

▣ "they are disobedient" This is a present active participle. They (unbelievers of Peter's day, both Jews and Gentiles) continue to be disobedient because they reject Jesus as the Suffering Messiah. They have rejected both Jesus' preaching and that of His Apostles (cf. 1 Pet. 1:24,25). They have rejected the eternal word (i.e., the gospel, cf. 1 Pet. 1:22-2:2).

NASB"and to this doom they were also appointed"
NKJV"to which they also were appointed"
NRSV"as they were destined bo do"
TEV"such was God's will for them"

Calvinists use this verse and Rom. 9:22; 1 Thess. 5:9 to assert that God chose some to salvation and some to damnation. However, verses like John 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9 show this cannot be true. God's election is primarily for holiness (cf. Eph. 1:4; 2:10); for Christlikeness (cf. Rom. 8:29).

This verse reminds me of Isa. 6:9-13. God's covenantal people had the light they needed to respond appropriately to Him, but they would not. This continual rejection issued in hard hearts that could not respond. Only judgment was possible. The God of time and history knows what humans will do but allows them to do it and then He affirms and recognizes the consequences of their temporal/eternal choices.

It must have been very hard for these Jewish believers to deal with the Jewish rejection of Jesus. How could this happen? These early believers began to read the Scriptures for clues to this surprising unbelief.

1. Isaiah 6:9-10; 8:14-15; 43:8

2. Jeremiah 5:21; 7

3. Matt. 21:33-44; Mark 12:1-12

4. Luke 2:34; 20:9-18

5. Romans 9-11

6. 1 Corinthians 1:23

The following quote is from F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, pp. 196-197, about "election" vs. "selection."

"Are 'election to salvation' and 'election to damnation' correlative terms?

In certain theological systems they are, but it is important to test all theological systems by Scripture, and to remember that, when the teaching of Scripture is systemized, something is usually left out in the process. The term 'election' has become so involved in theological controversy that the sense of the Biblical teaching on the subject might be better grasped if we used a non-theological word like 'selection' in its place. Christ selected twelve men to be apostles (Luke 6:13); He selected Saul of Tarsus to be a 'chosen vessel' (Acts 9:15); but His selection of these men for a special purpose implies no disparagement of others who were not so selected. God selected Israel from among the nations (Acts 13:17)—to the great benefit of the other nations, not to their disadvantage. When the election of the people of God in this age is in question, it is not so much their 'election to salvation' as their election to holiness that is emphasized. This is so, for example, in Eph. 1:4 and 1 Pet. 1:1f; and similarly, in Rom. 8:29, the purpose for which God foreordained those whom He foreknew was that they should be 'conformed to the image of his Son.' In none of these places is there any suggestion of 'election to damnation' as a correlative. We should beware of generalizing from such particular references as those in Rom. 9:22 ('vessels of wrath made for destruction') and 1 Pet. 2:8 'they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do'). The general analogy of Biblical teaching on this subject indicates that some are chosen or selected by God—not in order that others, apart from them, may be left in perdition, but in order that others, through them, may be blessed."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 2:9-10
 9But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

2:9 "But you" Notice the plural "you" and the contrast. The author uses a composite allusion from Exod. 19:6 and then 19:5.

"a chosen race" This same descriptive title is found in Deut. 7:6; 10:15; Isa. 43:20-21. Chosen for ministry! This is an OT title for elect servants.

▣ "a royal priesthood" This title is found in Exod. 19:6; Isa. 61:6; 66:21. As Israel was chosen to bring the knowledge of YHWH to the world, now the church is called to inform and bring needy, sinful people to YHWH.

"a holy nation" This same title is found in Exod. 19:6; Deut. 7:6; 14:2,21; 26:19. Israel was called to be uniquely holy and thus reveal a holy God (cf. Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:15-16) to a fallen world.

"a people for God's own possession" This same descriptive title is found in Exod. 19:5; Deut. 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Mal. 3:17. This passage speaks of the church as spiritual Israel (cf. Gal. 6:16). These OT titles for the people of God are now applied to the NT Body of Christ (cf. Rom. 2:28-29: Gal. 3;29, 6:16; Eph. 2:11-3:13; Rev. 1:6). In some ways the church has replaced Israel, as in the world mission mandate (cf. Matt. 28:19-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8).

"may proclaim the excellencies of Him" The purpose of God's people is to witness to the greatness of the one true creator/redeemer God! They are chosen and equipped to live and speak the gospel.

"who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" Darkness and light are biblical metaphors of sin, rebellion, and evil versus hope, truth, healing, and goodness (cf. John 1:4-5; 3:19-21; 8:12; 12:35-36,46; Acts 26:18; 2 Cor. 4:6; 1 John 1:5; 2:8-9.11). As the previous phrase might be an allusion to Isa. 42:12, this phrase may allude to Isa. 42:16.

2:10 "for you once were not a people" This introduces a quote from Hos. 1:10 and 2:23. The key term is lo ammi (the name of one of Hosea's children), which originally referred to Israel not being God's people because of their idolatry and covenant-breaking lifestyles. They were (1) trusting in political alliances and not in God and (2) worshiping Ba'al using YHWH's name.

"but now you are the people of god" This is a further quote from Hos. 2:23. This passage in its OT context affirms that though Israel had sinned and departed from their covenant God, He was ready to reestablish them to covenant status (i.e., marriage metaphor). This same loving and forgiving God now holds out His hand to wayward Gentiles.

This use of Hosea that originally addressed the wayward northern kingdom of Israel in the eighth century b.c. is now used by Peter to relate to pagan Gentiles. This extension of OT texts from a Jew/Gentile context to a unbeliever/believer context characterizes the NT! Believing Gentiles are now included in the covenant people of God (cf. Eph. 2:11-3:13).

▣ "you had not received mercy" The prophet Hosea had three children to whom he gave prophetic names

1. a boy named Jezreel, meaning "God makes fruitful"

2. a girl named Lo-Ruhamah, meaning "no compassion"

3. a boy named Lo-Ammi, meaning "not my people"

As the first part of 1 Pet. 2:10 uses the third child's name, the last part of 1 Pet. 2:10 uses the second child's name (cf. Hos. 1:6; 2:20,23). God fully receives sinners because He has compassion for them.

The grammatical forms found in 1 Pet. 2:10 are helpful in expressing the theological point. There was a stated objection on the part of the Gentiles, brought about by the agency of Satan (i.e., perfect passive participle), but the covenant God has decisively broken into history by means of His Messiah and brought about a new day of opportunity for covenant inclusion (i.e., aorist passive participle). This truth is similar to the mystery of God's plan, once hidden, but now disclosed (cf. Eph. 2:11-3:13).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 2:11-12
 11Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

2:11 "aliens" This OT term speaks of non-residents with limited rights living in a place that is not their home, like Abraham (cf. Gen. 23:4; Ps. 39:12; Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 2:11). Here it is used metaphorically for believers living in the fallen world system.

"strangers" This term implies a short stay (cf. 1 Pet. 1:1,17). This alludes to the fact that believers are citizens of a heavenly realm, not this time-space physical reality only. We are creatures of flesh and spirit (cf. Gen. 1:26-27).

"to abstain" This is literally "continue to hold yourself back from" (i.e., present middle infinitive). Believers must continue to struggle with sin and temptation (cf. Romans 7). The battle with evil does not cease at salvation (cf. Eph. 6:10-20). In many ways it intensifies. When one believes in and receives Christ he/she is indwelt by the Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:9) and given the divine nature (cf. 2 Pet. 1:4). However, this does not mean that the old sin nature is removed. It is made inoperative by Christ's finished work on our behalf (cf. Romans 6, see Special Topic: Null and Void).

The rabbis say that in every human's heart is a black and a white dog. The one you feed the most becomes the biggest. Believers face the continuing choice of seeking the good, dwelling on righteousness, walking in light, or reactivating the old sin nature! Believers are citizens of two realms (fallen human nature and the Spirit, cf. Rom. 8:5-17); two ages (i.e., current evil age and the age of righteousness, cf. Titus 2:11-14); which one exerts the most influence?

▣ "from fleshly lusts" The body itself is not evil (Greek thought), but it is the battleground of self-centered and Satanic temptations (cf. Romans 6-8; Gal. 5:16-24).

▣ "which wage war" this is a present middle indicative. This war is described in James 4:1-4.

2:12 "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles" This is a present active participle used as an imperative. Unbelievers are watching! How believers live and react to the common struggles of life are loud witnesses to all who know them. Often our lives speak louder than our words!

▣ "slander you as evildoers" The early Christians were accused of

1. cannibalism (because of the Lord's Supper terminology)

2. incest (because they loved each other)

3. atheism (because their God was invisible)

4. treason (because they would not serve in the army or pledge allegiance to Caesar)

5. immorality (possibly the holy kiss)

This slander of The Way (cf. 1 Pet. 24:14; Acts 28:22) seems to have developed in the pro-Emperor eastern provinces or the Roman Empire (Asia Minor).

▣ "they may because of your good deeds. . .glorify God" How we live as Christians reflects the God we claim to know and serve (cf. 1 Pet. 2:15; 3:16; Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:15; Titus 2:7-8). The subjunctive mood introduces a contingency. God's glory is our highest calling and evangelistic mandate (cf. 1 Pet. 4:11,16).

▣ "in the day of visitation" This refers to any time that God draws near, either for blessing or for judgment (cf. Isa. 10:3; Jer. 8:12; 10:15; 11:23; 23:12; 46:21; 48:44; 50:27; 51:18; Hos. 9:7; Mic. 7:4). It can be temporal or eschatological (cf. Luke 19:44). Some see this as relating to believers on trial, but in context it seems to refer to any opportunity for the unsaved to hear and respond to Jesus as Savior before they face Him as Judge.

A BRIEF OUTLINE TO THE PRACTICAL SECTION OF 1 PETER

A. Submission to government and community (1 Pet. 2:13-17)

B. Submission to earthly masters (1 Pet. 2:18-25)

C. Submission in the Christian home (1 Pet. 3:1-7)

D. Submission amidst persecution (1 Pet. 3:8-22)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 2:13-17
 13Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

2:13 "submit" This is an aorist passive imperative, but NASB and NKJV translate it as a middle (cf. 1 Pet. 2:18). "Yourselves" is not in the Greek text. It implies that they are to make a decisive choice to submit (cf. 1 Pet. 2:18; 3:1). This is a military term used for the chain of command. It literally means "to arrange oneself under authority." This is a common theme of Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 2:13,18; 3:1,5,22; 5:5). Submission does not imply inequality, for Jesus is described by this term. It is an attitude of service under authority. In Eph. 5:21 it is one of the five characteristics of the Spirit-filled life (mutual submission to one another in Christ).

SPECIAL TOPIC: SUBMISSION (HUPOTASSŌ)

▣ "for the Lord's sake" This is the motive for all of our actions (cf. 1 Pet. 4:11; 1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17; Eph. 6:5).

▣ "to every human institution" For "institution" see Special Topic at Mark 10:6. From what follows, this is an admonition to submit to governmental or civil authority, much like Rom. 13:1-7 and Titus 3:1. This is all the more significant in light of the governmental persecution these believers faced. It is uncertain whether the persecution was Jewish, pagan, local government, or Empire wide. Our strongest witness to the power of the gospel is in times of persecution. Our attitude, words, and actions when unfairly treated cause unbelievers to take notice.

SPECIAL TOPIC: HUMAN GOVERNMENT

▣ "as the one in authority" This term in Classical Greek meant "the human founder of a city"; however, in the NT it is always used of God's authority (cf. Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-7; Titus 3:1-8), which is often given to human organizations. God prefers order over anarchy.

2:14 "or to governors as sent by him" This is a Present passive participle. God is in control of all things. This text does not teach "the divine right of Kings," but affirms that God supports law and order (i.e., a stable society) over anarchy.

The pronoun "him" could refer to (1) God or (2) the governor.

▣ "for the punishment of evildoers" Government has the God-given authority to maintain order and to restrain and punish disorder. Capital punishment is one form of this mandate (cf. Rom. 13:4; Acts 25:11).

2:15 "For such is the will of God" See Special Topic below.

SPECIAL TOPIC: THE WILL (thelēma) OF GOD

▣ "silence" This is literally "muzzle" (cf. Mark 1:25, 4:39).

▣ "the ignorance" This refers to someone who lacks spiritual discernment (cf. 1 Cor. 15:34).

▣ "of foolish men" This term is listed in a series of sins in Mark 7:22. It describes unbelieving Jewish teachers in Rom. 3:20, but it is used to describe believers in Eph. 5:17. Therefore, it implies a lazy mental state that affects both the saved and the unsaved. Here it refers to uninformed pagans who are accusing believers of things which are not true (cf. 1 Pet. 2:12).

2:16 "Act as free men" This is an implied imperative (cf. NASB, TEV, NIV). It is in contrast to the pagans who are slaves to sin. Believers have the choice. Jesus has freed them from the mastery of sin (cf. Romans 6), but often they use their new freedom to choose sin again.

▣ "do not use your freedom as a coverage for evil" This is literally "having" (a present active participle) negated, used as an imperative. How often our freedom becomes a license (cf. 1 Cor. 8:9; Gal. 5:13) instead of a sacrificial living witness (cf. Rom. 14:1-15:13). Freedom always brings responsibility but be careful of legalism or ritualism (cf. 1 Cor. 8-10; Col. 2:16-23). Believers are now free from sin to serve God (cf. Romans 6) and each other (cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-23).

▣ "but use it as bondslaves of God" Believers have been freed from sin and are now free to serve God (cf. Rom. 6:22).

2:17 "Honor all people" This is an aorist active imperative, the first of four stark summary commands in 1 Pet. 2:17. This means to recognize the worth of all humans in God's sight (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; John 3:16) and to live so as to attract them to faith in Christ (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8).

▣ "love the brotherhood" This is a present active imperative. Christians must continue to love each other (cf. 1 Pet. 1:22; John 13:34, 15:12,17; Rom. 12:10; 1 Thess. 4:9; Heb. 13:1; 1 John 2:7-8, 3:11, 23; 4:1,11; 2 John 5). Love is the true evidence that we know God, that we have trusted Christ, and that we are guided by the Spirit. It is the family characteristic of God. Believers are to love all humans for the sake of the gospel and love other Christians because they are part of the family of God.

▣ "fear God" This is a present middle (deponent) imperative (cf. Job 28:28; Ps. 111:10; Pro. 1:7;15:33). We get the English word "phobia" from this Greek word. It is used in the sense of awe and respect. All believers' actions must issue from their relationship with and respect for God!

▣ "honor the king" These last two present imperatives may be an allusion to Pro. 24:21. Remember in Peter's day that the Emperor was Nero (cf. 1 Pet. 2:13)!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 1 PETER 2:18-25
 18Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.20For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

2:18 "Servants, be submissive to your masters" This is a present middle participle used as an imperative (see note and Special Topic at 1 Pet. 2:13). Believing slaves respect their earthly masters because they respect God! This even refers to those unbelieving masters who are unfair and cruel or Christian slave masters who are acting inappropriately. In our day an application of this admonition would relate to Christian employers and Christian employees. This is similar to Paul's teachings in Eph. 6:5-9. Notice #3 in the Special Topic below.

This is a good place to discuss the cultural aspect of biblical interpretation. If the gospel had challenged (1) the first century Greek-Roman patriarchal culture or (2) its slave culture, it would have been rejected and destroyed by first century society. By preaching the gospel both of these barriers fell in time! The Bible must always be interpreted in its historical setting and then the inspired truths applied to our day and culture with the same power and impact. It does not mean that we try to reproduce the first century culture as God's will for every society in every age. The goal is the preaching of the eternal truth of the gospel which impacts individuals and ultimately society itself.

SPECIAL TOPIC: PAUL'S ADMONITIONS TO SLAVES

2:19

NASB"For this finds favor"
NKJV"For this is commendable"
NRSV"For it is a credit to you"
TEV"God will bless you for this"
NJB"You see, there is merit"

This refers to God's approval of submission even amidst persecution, when this suffering is related to our Christian convictions and trust in Christ (cf. 1 Pet. 3:14,17; 4:13-14,16). "Favor" is the Greek term charis (grace) used in its non-theological sense.

"if" This is a first class conditional sentence, which is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes. Christian slaves were suffering under cruel masters for Christ's sake.

▣ "conscience" See note at 1 Peter 3:16.

2:20 "for what credit is there" This is a term for honor connected to one's reputation (cf. Luke 6:32-34). It is from the Greek verb kaleō, which means to call. Therefore, it refers to calling praise, honor, or glory on someone.

▣ "if" There are two first class conditional sentences in this verse, which are assumed to be true. The first conditional sentence is used in a negative sense and the second in a positive sense. God is pleased when believers suffer unfairly, but patiently, for being believers (cf. 1 Pet. 1:29; 3:24,27; 4:12-16; Matt. 5:10-16).

2:21 "For you have been called for this purpose" This is an aorist passive indicative. In context this phrase means that believers were called to emulate Jesus' life, which brings glory to God and salvation to mankind. This is a call to submissiveness on behalf of all believers which will bring spiritual maturity and a powerful gospel witness.

That believers are called by God to suffering is a startling statement, especially to a western culture which thinks of Christianity in terms of (1) "what's in it for me" or (2) a health, wealth, and prosperity gospel. The persecution of believers is a real possibility in a fallen world (cf. Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3-4; 8:17; Phil. 1:29; 1 Thess. 3:3-4; 2 Tim. 3:12; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 3:14; 4:12-19).

▣ "Christ also suffered" The suffering of the Messiah was a surprise to the Jews who expected a conquering military Messiah. There are specific hints in the OT (cf. Gen. 3:15; Ps. 22; Isa. 53). Jesus Himself showed (1) His Apostles (cf. Matt. 16:21; 17:12,22-23; 20:18-19) and (2) the early church these prophetic passages (cf. Luke 24:25-27).

His suffering and death were an integral part of the apostolic preaching of the early church in Acts called the Kerygma (cf. Acts 2:23; 3:13-14,18; 17:3; 26:23). See Special Topic at 1 Pet. 1:11.

There are several key theological truths connected with His suffering.

1. Christ is our example (1 Pet. 2:21)

2. Christ bore our sins on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24)

3. Christ's work caused us to die to sin and live for God (1 Pet. 2:24)

4. Christ is the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Pet. 2:25)

The term "suffered" (epathen) is found in MSS P72, A, B, and C, but other ancient MSS, P81, א have "died" (apethanen). The UBS4 gives the first reading an "A" rating (certain), assuming that "died" has been transposed by copyists from 3:18.

▣ "an example" The NT gives three reasons why Christ came:

1. To be the vicarious, substitutionary atonement. He, the innocent, blameless (cf. 1 Pet. 2:22) Lamb of God (cf. John 1:29), offered Himself on our behalf (cf. 1 Pet. 2:24).

2. To be the full revelation of the Father (cf. John 1:1-14; 14:8-9).

3. To be an example for believers (cf. 1 Pet. 2:21) to emulate. He is the ideal Israelite, the perfect man, what humanity should have been, could be, and one day, will be.

 

2:22 "who committed no sin" This is a quote from Isa. 53:9. This concept is also expressed in John 8:46, 14:30; Luke 23:41; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15, 7:26-27; 1 Pet. 1:19; 2:22; 3:18, 1 John 3:5. He could die on our behalf because He did not have to die for His own sin!

"nor was any deceit found in his mouth" Jesus was the ideal Israelite (cf. Isa. 53:9 and Zeph. 3:13).

2:23 "while being reviled, He did not revile in return" There is a series of three imperfect active indicatives, which mean repeated action in past time. The first one is an allusion to Isa. 53:7. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in His trials before Caiaphas, Annas the High Priest, Pilate, and Herod.

"while suffering, He uttered no threats" He did speak, but in forgiveness to all those involved in His death (cf. Luke 23:34).

"but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously" This entrusting was the normal attitude of Jesus' life. It is seen so powerfully in Luke 22:42 and 23:46.

2:24 "He Himself bore our sins" This is obviously from Isa. 53:4,11,12. The term "bore" is used of a sacrifice in Lev. 14:20 and James 2:21. This is the essence of the vicarious, substitutionary atonement (cf. Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:6,8,10; 2 Cor. 5:21).

▣ "in His body on the cross" Although there is no specific Gnostic element connected to 1 Peter (an early Christian/Greek philosophy asserted that Jesus was not truly human, cf. Col.; 1 Tim.; 1 John). This text is another powerful affirmation of the true humanity and physical death of Jesus of Nazareth (cf. Col. 1:22).

The phrase "on the cross" may have a connection to Deut. 21:23, where anyone who was impaled on a stake (i.e., tree) instead of being properly buried was cursed by God. By Jesus' day the rabbis had interpreted this as including Roman crucifixion. Jesus was accused of blasphemy which, according to the Mosaic Law, demanded stoning. Why then did the Jewish leaders want Him crucified, which required Roman approval and ceremonial defilement for them before the Passover? Some have said they did this because the Jews did not have the authority under Roman law to put someone to death, but what about Stephen in Acts 7?

I think they wanted Jesus crucified to suggest that this messianic pretender was cursed by God! But this is exactly what happened. Jesus became the curse for us (cf. Gal. 3:13). The OT itself had become a curse (cf. Col. 2:14). It states that the soul that sins must die (cf. 2 Kgs. 14:6; Ezek. 18:4,20). But all humans have sinned (cf. Rom. 3:9-18,23; Gal. 3:22). Therefore, all deserve to die and were under its death penalty. Jesus the sinless Lamb of God (John 1:29) bore the sin of the entire fallen world (cf. Rom. 5:12-21)

▣ "that we might die to sin and live to righteousness" This is a purpose (hina) clause. This is the goal of Christianity (cf. Rom. 6:20; Gal. 2:20). It is the restoration of the image of God in humans which restores intimate fellowship with God.

▣ "by His wounds you were healed" This is an aorist passive indicative. In Isa. 53:4-6 this speaks of our spiritual healing, not that physical healing. I do not deny physical healing as an ongoing act of a gracious God, but I do deny that it is a promised aspect of the atonement of Christ. In the OT sin was characterized as physical illness (cf. Isa. 1:5-6; Ps. 103:3). This is a metaphor for the forgiveness of sin, not a promise that if believers have enough faith God will heal every physical problem of every believer.

For a good discussion of Isa. 53:4 and its use in Matt. 8:17, F. F. Bruce's Answers to Questions, pp. 44-45, is very helpful.

2:25 "for you were continually straying" This is an allusion to Isa. 53:6. It is an imperfect passive periphrastic, which refers to repeated action in past time or the beginning of an action. Does this refer to

1. OT Jews (cf. Rom. 3:9-18, which is a series of OT quotes)

2. all humanity

3. Gentile believers who were succumbing to persecution (i.e., possibly denying Jesus at trial)

4. believers, Jews and Gentiles, who were losing the daily battle to the sin nature

 

▣ "but now you have returned" This is an aorist passive indicative which implies a decisive return by the agency of God, Christ, or the Spirit (cf. TEV "you have been brought back"). Most English versions translate it as a middle (cf. NASB, NRSV, NJB, NIV). In the OT "turn" or "return" (shub) is often used for God's people repenting and coming back to Him.

▣ "Shepherd" This title is used of God (cf. Ps. 23:1, Ezek. 34) and here of Jesus as in John 10:1-18 and Heb. 13:20. It connotes tender, thoughtful, continuous care. This title may even reflect Peter's discussion with Jesus in John 21 (cf. 1 Pet. 5:1-3).

NASB, NRSV,
NJB"Guardian"
NKJV"Overseer"
TEV"Keeper"

Here the term episkopos is used of Jesus, but usually it refers to local church leaders. The term translates as "bishop" or "overseer" and has a Greek city/state background, while the synonymous term "elder" (presbuteros) has a Hebrew tribal background. These terms are usually used synonymously to refer to the NT role of pastor (cf. Acts 20:17,28; Titus 1:5,7).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Do all Christians start out as baby Christians? Why?

2. Why does Peter use so many OT titles to describe NT believers?

3. What is the significance of believers being called "stones?"

4. Why is our lifestyle so important?

5. Why should we as Christians obey governmental authority?

6. Why did Christianity not attack slavery?

7. What was Peter's advice to those in unfair circumstances?

8. What is the significance of Christ's death?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods