RPM, Volume 19, Number 5, January 29 to February 4, 2017

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament
Explanatory and Practical
Part 91

By Albert Barnes




THE first epistle of Peter has never been doubted to be the production of the apostle of that name. While there were doubts respecting the genuineness of the second epistle, (see Intro. to that epistle, 1,) the unvarying testimony of history, and the uniform belief of the church, ascribe this epistle to him. Indeed, there is no ancient writing whatever of which there is more certainty in regard to the authorship.

The history of Peter is so fully detailed in the New Testament, that it is not necessary to go into any extended statement of his biography in order to an exposition of his epistles. No particular light would be reflected on them from the details of his life; and in order, therefore, to their exposition, it is not necessary to have any farther information of him than what is contained in the New Testament itself. Those who may wish to obtain all the knowledge of his life which can now be had, may find ample details in Lardner, vol. vi. pp. 203—254, ed. London, 1829; Koppe, Proleg.; and Bacon's Lives of the Apostles, pp. 43—286. There are some questions, however, which it is important to consider in order to an intelligent understanding of his epistles.


This epistle purports to have been addressed "to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." All these were provinces of Asia Minor; and there is no difficulty, therefore, in regard to the places where those to whom the epistle was written resided. The only question is, who they were who are thus designated as "strangers scattered abroad," or strangers of the dispersion, (parepidhmoiv diasporav.) Comp. Notes on 1 Pe 1:1. In regard to this, various opinions have been held.

(1.) That they were native-born Jews, who had been converted to the Christian faith. Of this opinion were Eusebius, Jerome, Grotius, Beza, Mill, Cave, and others. The principal argument for this opinion is the appellation given to them, (1 Pe 1:1,) "strangers scattered abroad," and what is said in 1 Pe 2:9; 3:6, which it is supposed is language which would be applied only to those of Hebrew extraction.

(2.) A second opinion has been that the persons to whom it was sent were all of Gentile origin. Of this opinion were Procopius, Cassiodorus, and more recently Wetstein. This belief is founded chiefly on such passages as the following: 1 Pe 1:18; 2:10; 4:3

—-which are supposed to show that they who were thus addressed were formerly idolaters.

(3.) A third opinion has been that they were Gentiles by birth, but had been Jewish proselytes, or" proselytes of the gate," and had then been converted to Christianity. This sentiment was defended by Michaelis, chiefly on the ground that the phrase in 1 Pe 1:1, "strangers of the dispersion," when followed by the name of a heathen country or people, in the genitive ease, denotes the Jews who were dispersed there, and yet that there is evidence in the epistle that they were not native-born Jews.

(4.) A fourth opinion has been that the persons referred to were not Jews in general, but those of the ten tribes who had wandered from Babylon and the adjacent regions into Asia Minor. This opinion is mentioned by Michaelis as having been entertained by some persons, but no reasons are assigned for it.

(5.) A fifth opinion has been that the persons referred to were Christians, converted from both Jews and Gentiles, with no particular reference to their extraction; that there were those among them who had been converted from the Jews, and those who had been Gentiles, and that the apostle addresses them as Christians, though employing language such as the Jews had been accustomed to, when speaking of those of their own nation who were scattered abroad. This is the opinion of Lardner, Estius, Whitby, Wolffus, and Doddridge.

That this last opinion is the correct one, seems to me to be clear from the epistle itself. Nothing can be plainer than that the apostle, while in the main he addresses Christians as such, whether they had been Jews or heathen, yet occasionally makes such allusions, and uses such language, as to show that he had his eye, at one time, on some who had been Jews, and again on some who had been pagans. This is clear, I think, from the following considerations:

(1.) The address of the epistle is general, not directed particularly either to the Jews or to the Gentiles. Thus in 1 Pe 5:14, he says, "Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus." From this it would seem that the epistle was addressed to all true Christians in the region designated in 1 Pe 1:1. But no one can doubt that there were Christians there who had been Jews, and also those who had been Gentiles. The same thing is apparent from the second epistle; for it is certain, from 2 Pe 3:2, that the second epistle was addressed to the same persons as the first. But the address in the second epistle is to Christians residing in Asia Minor, without particular reference to their origin. Thus in 1 Pe 1:1, "To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." The same thing is apparent also from the address of the first epistle: "To the elect strangers scattered throughout Pontus," etc.; that is, "to the strangers of the dispersion who are chosen, or who are true Christians, scattered abroad." The term "elect" is one which would apply to all who were Christians; and the phrase, "the strangers of the dispersion," is that which one who had been educated as a Hebrew would be likely to apply to those whom he regarded as the people of God dwelling out of Palestine. The Jews were accustomed to use this expression to denote their own people who were dispersed among the Gentiles; and nothing would be more natural than that one who had been educated as a Hebrew, and then converted to Christianity, as Peter had been, should apply this phrase indiscriminately to Christians living out of Palestine. See the Notes on the passage. These considerations make it clear that in writing this epistle he had reference to Christians as such, and meant that all who were Christians in the parts of Asia Minor which he mentions, (1 Pe 1:1,) should regard the epistle as addressed to them.

(2.) Yet there are some allusions in the epistle which look as if a part of them at least had been Jews before their conversion, or such as a Jew would better understand than a Gentile would. Indeed, nothing is more probable than that there were Jewish converts in that region. We know that there were many Jews in Asia Minor; and, from the Acts of the Apostles, it is morally certain that not a few of them had been converted to the Christian faith under the labours of Paul. Of the allusions of the kind referred to in the epistle, the following may be taken as specimens: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people," 1 Pe 2:9. This is such language as was commonly used by the Jews when addressing their own countrymen as the people of God; and would seem to imply that to some of those at least to whom the epistle was addressed, it was language which would be familiar. See also 1 Pe 3:6. It should be said, however, that these passages are not positive proof that any among them were Hebrews. While it is true that it is such language as would be naturally employed in addressing those who were, and while it supposes an acquaintance among them with the Old Testament, it is also true that it is such language as one who had himself been educated as an Hebrew would not unnaturally employ when addressing any whom he regarded as the people of God.

(3.) The passages in the epistle which imply that many of those to whom it was addressed had been Gentiles or idolaters, are still more clear. Such passages are the following: "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in your ignorance," 1 Pe 1:14. "This," says Dr. Lardner," might be very pertinently said to men converted from Gentilism to Christianity; but no such thing is ever said by the apostles concerning the Jewish people who had been favoured with the Divine revelation, and had the knowledge of the true God." So in 1 Pe 2:9, Peter speaks of them as "having been called out of darkness into marvellous light." The word "darkness" is one which would be naturally applied to those who had been heathens, but would not be likely to be applied to those who had had the knowledge of God as revealed in the Jewish Scriptures. So in 1 Pe 2:10, it is expressly said of them, "which in time past was not a people, but are now the people of God"—language which would not be applied to those who had been Jews. So also 1 Pe 4:3, "For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries." Though the apostle here uses the word "us," grouping himself with them, yet it cannot be supposed that he means to charge himself with these things. It is a mild and gentle way of speech, adopted not to give offence, and is such language as a minister of the gospel would now use, who felt that he was himself a sinner, in addressing a church made up of many individuals. Though it might be true that he had not been guilty of the particular offences which he specifies, yet in speaking in the name of the church, he would use the term we, and use it honestly and correctly. It would be true that the church had been formerly guilty of these things; and this would be a much more mild, proper, and effective method of address, than to say you. But the passages adduced here prove conclusively that some of those whom Peter addresses in the epistle had been formerly idolaters, and had been addicted to the sins which idolaters are accustomed to commit.

These considerations make it clear that the epistle was addressed to those Christians in general who were scattered throughout the various provinces of Asia Minor Which are specified in 1 Pe 1:1, whether they had been Jews or Gentiles. It is probable that the great body of them had been converted from the heathen, though there were doubtless Jewish converts intermingled with them; and Peter uses such language as would be natural for one who had been a Jew himself' in addressing those whom he now regarded as the chosen of God.


On this point also there has been no little diversity of opinion. The only designation of the place where it was written which occurs in the epistle is in 1 Pe 5:13: "The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you." From this it is clear that it was written at Babylon, but still there has been no little difference of opinion as to what place is meant here by Babylon. Some have supposed that it refers to the well-known place of that name on the Euphrates; others to a Babylon situated in Lower Egypt; others to Jerusalem or Rome, represented as Babylon. The claims of each of these places it is proper to examine. The order in which this is done is not material.

(1.) The opinion that the" Babylon" mentioned in the epistle refers to a place of that name in Egypt, not far from Cairo. This opinion was held by Pearson and Le Clerc, and by most of the Coptic interpreters, who have endeavoured to vindicate the honour of their own country, Egypt, as a place where one of the books of Scripture was composed. See Koppe, Proleg. 12. That there was such a place in Egypt, there can be no doubt. It was a small town to the north-east of Cairo, where there was a strong castle in the time of Strabo, (i. 17, p. 807,) in which, under Tiberius, there were quartered three Roman legions, designed to keep the Egyptians in order. But there is little reason to suppose that there were many Jews there, or that a church was early collected there. The Jews would have been little likely to resort to a place which was merely a Roman garrison, nor would the apostles have been likely to go early to such a place to preach the gospel. Comp. Basnage, Ant. 36, num. xxvii. As Lardner well remarks, if Peter had written an epistle from Egypt, it would have been likely to have been from Alexandria. Besides, there is not, for the first four centuries, any notice of a church at Babylon in Egypt; a fact which can hardly be accounted for, if it had been supposed that one of the sacred books had been composed there.—Lardner, vol. vi. 265. It may be added, also, that as there was another place of that name on the Euphrates, a place much better known, and which would be naturally supposed to be the one referred to, it is probable that if the epistle had been composed at the Babylon in Egypt, there would have been something said clearly to distinguish it. If the epistle was written at the Babylon on the Euphrates, so well known was that place that no one would be likely to understand that the Babylon in Egypt was the place referred to; on the other supposition, however, nothing would be more likely than that a mistake should occur.

(2.) Others have supposed that Jerusalem is intended, and that the name was given to it on account of its wickedness, and because it resembled Babylon. This was the opinion of Capellus, Spanheim, Hardouin, and some others. But the objections to this are obvious:

(a.) There is no evidence that the name Babylon was ever given to Jerusalem, or so given to it as to make it commonly understood that that was the place intended when the term was employed. If not so, its use would be likely to lead those to whom the epistle was addressed into a mistake.

(b.) There is every reason to suppose that an apostle in writing a letter, if he mentioned the place at all where it was written, would mention the real name. So Paul uniformly does.

(c.) The name Babylon is not one which an apostle would be likely to give to Jerusalem; certainly not as the name by which it was to be familiarly known.

(d.) If the epistle had been written there, there is no conceivable reason why the name of the place should not have been mentioned.

(3.) Others have supposed that Rome is intended by the name Babylon. This was the opinion of many of the Fathers, and also of Bede, Valesills, Grotius, Cave, Whitby, and Lardner. The principal reasons for this are, that such is the testimony of Papias, Eusebius, and Jerome; and that at that time Babylon on the Euphrates was destroyed. See Lardner. But the objections to this opinion seem to me to be insuperable.

(a.) There is no evidence that at that early period the name Babylon was given to Rome, nor were there any existing reasons why it should be. The name is generally supposed to have been applied to it by John, in the book of Revelation, (Re 16:19; 17:5; 18:10,21; ) but this was probably long after this epistle was written, and for reasons which did not exist in the time of Peter. There is no evidence that it was given familiarly to it in the time of Peter, or even at all until after his death. Certain it is, that it was not given so familiarly to it that when the name Babylon was mentioned it would be generally understood that Rome was intended. But the only reason which Peter could have had for mentioning the name Babylon at all, was to convey some definite and certain information to those to whom he wrote.

(b.) As has been already observed, the apostles, when they sent an epistle to the churches, and mentioned a place as the one where the epistle was written, were accustomed to mention the real place.

(c.) It would be hardly consistent with the dignity of an apostle, or any grave writer, to make use of what would be regarded as a nickname, when suggesting the name of a place where he then was.

(d.) If Rome had been meant, it would have been hardly respectful to the church there which sent the salutation—"The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you"—to have given it this name. Peter mentions the church with respect and kindness; and yet it would have been scarcely regarded as kind to mention it as a, "church in Babylon," if he used the term Babylon, as he must have done on such a supposition, to denote a place of eminent depravity.

(e.) The testimony of the Fathers on this subject does not demonstrate that Rome was the place intended. So far as appears from the extracts relied on by Lardner, they do not give this as historical testimony, but as their own interpretation; and, from anything that appears, we are as well qualified to interpret the word as they were.

(f.) In regard to the objection that Babylon was at that time destroyed, it may be remarked that this is true so far as the original splendour of the city was concerned, but still there may have been a sufficient population there to have constituted a church. The destruction of Babylon was gradual. It had not become an utter desert in the time of the apostles. In the first century of the Christian era a part of it was inhabited, though the greater portion of its former site was a waste. See Barnes "Isa 13:19".

Comp. Diod. Sic., ii. 27. All that time, there is no improbability in supposing that a Christian church may have existed there. It should be added here, however, that on the supposition that the word Babylon refers to Rome, rests nearly all the evidence which the Roman Catholics can adduce that the apostle Peter was ever at Rome at all. There is nothing else in the New Testament that furnishes the slightest proof that he ever was there. The only passage on which Bellarmine relies to show that Peter was at Rome, is the very passage now under consideration. "That Peter was one time at Rome," he says, "we show first from the testimony of Peter himself, who thus speaks at the end of his first epistle: 'The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you.'" He does not pretend to cite any other evidence from Scripture than this; nor does any other writer.

(4.) There remains the fourth opinion, that the well-known Babylon on the Euphrates was the place where the epistle was written. This was the opinion of Erasmus, Drusius, Lightfoot, Bengel, Wetstein, Bashage, Beausobre, and others. That this is the correct opinion seems to me to be clear from the following considerations:

(a.) It is the most natural and obvious interpretation. It is that which would occur to the great mass of the readers of the New Testament now, and is that which would have been naturally adopted by those to whom the epistle was sent. The word Babylon, without something to give it a different application, would have been understood anywhere to denote the well-known place on the Euphrates.

(b.) There is, as has been observed already, no improbability that there was a Christian church there, but there are several circumstances which render it probable that this would be the case:

1st. Babylon had been an important place; and its history was such, and its relation to the Jews such, as to make it probable that the attention of the apostles would be turned to it.

2nd. The apostles, according to all the traditions which we have respecting them, travelled extensively in the East, and nothing would be more natural than that they should visit Babylon.

3rd. There were many Jews of the captivity remaining in that region, and it would be in the highest degree probable that they would seek to carry the gospel to their own countrymen there. See Koppe, Proleg., pp. 16—18. Jos. Ant., b. xv., chap. ii., 2; chap. iii., 1. Philo. De Virtut., p. 587.

These considerations make it clear that the place where the epistle was written was Babylon on the Euphrates, the place so celebrated in ancient sacred and profane history. If this be the correct view, then this is a fact of much interest, as showing that even in apostolic times there was a true church in a place once so distinguished for splendour and wickedness, and so memorable for its acts in oppressing the ancient people of God. Our information respecting this church, however, ceases here. We know not by whom it was founded; we know not who were its pastors; nor do we know how long it survived. As Babylon, however, continued rapidly to decline, so that in the second century nothing remained but the walls, (comp. See Barnes "Isa 13:19,) there is no reason to suppose that the church long existed there. Soon the ancient city became a heap of ruins; and excepting that now and then a Christian traveller or missionary has visited it, it is not known that a prayer has been offered there from generation to generation, or that amidst the desolations there has been a single worshipper of the true God. See this subject examined at length in Bacon's Lives of the Apostles, pp. 58-263.

In regard to the time when this first epistle was written, nothing certainly can be determined. There are no marks of time in the epistle itself, and there are no certain data from which we can determine when it was composed. Lardner supposes that it was in the year 63, or 64, or at the latest 65; Michaelis, that it was about the year 60. If it was written at Babylon, it was probably some time between the year 58 and 61. The time is not material, and it is impossible now to determine it.


Remainder of Introductory Notes and Notes on 1 Peter Verses 1 and 2


(1.) THE epistles of Peter are distinguished for great tenderness of manner, and for bringing forward prominently the most consolatory parts of the gospel. He wrote to those who were in affliction; he was himself an old man, (2 Pe 1:14;) he expected soon to be with his Saviour; he had nearly done with the conflicts and toils of life; and it was natural that he should direct his eye onward, and should dwell on those things in the gospel which were adapted to support and comfort the soul. There is, therefore, scarcely any part of the New Testament where the ripe and mellow Christian will find more that is adapted to his matured feelings, or to which he will more naturally turn.

(2.) There is great compactness and terseness of thought in his epistles. They seem to be composed of a succession of texts, each one fitted to constitute the subject of a discourse. There is more that a pastor would like to preach on in a course of expository lectures, and less that he would be disposed to pass over as not so well adapted to the purposes of public instruction, than in almost any other part of the New Testament. There is almost nothing that is local or of temporary interest; there are no discussions about points pertaining to Jewish customs such as we meet with in Paul; there is little that pertains particularly to one age of the world or country. Almost all that he has written is of universal applicability to Christians, and may be read with as much interest and profit now by us as by the people to whom his epistles were addressed.

(3.) There is evidence in the epistles of Peter that the author was well acquainted with the writings of the apostle Paul. See this point illustrated at length in Eichhorn, Einleitung in das Neue Tes. viii. 606—618, 284, and Michaelis, Intro., vol. iv. p. 323, seq. Peter himself speaks of his acquaintance with the epistles of Paul, and ranks them with the inspired Writings. 2 Pe 3:15,16, "Even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction." Indeed, to any one who will attentively compare the epistles of Peter with those of Paul, it will be apparent that he was acquainted with the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles, and had become so familiar with the modes of expression which he employed, that he naturally fell into it. There is that kind of coincidence which would be expected when one was accustomed to read what another had written, and when he had great respect for him, but not that when there was a purpose to borrow or copy from him. This will be apparent by a reference to a few parallel passages:—


Eph 1:3. Blessed be the God 1 Pe 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. See also 2 Co 1:3. Christ.

Col 3:8. But now ye also put 1 Pe 2:1. Wherefore laying off all these; anger, wrath, aside all malice, and all guile malice, blasphemy, filthy and all hypocrisies, and envies, blasphemies out of your mouth. and all evil speakings.

Eph 5:22. Wives, submit your- 1 Pe 3:1. Likewise ye wives selves to your own husbands as be in subjection to your own hus- unto the Lord. bands.

Eph 5:21. Submitting your- 1 Pe 5:6. Yea, all of you be selves one to another in the fear subject one to another. of God.

1 Th 5:6. Let us watch and 1 Pe 5:8. Be sober: be vigi- be sober. lant. [in the Greek the same words, though the order is re- versed.]

1 Co 16:20. Greet ye one 1 Pe 5:14. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss. 2 Co 13:12. another with a kiss of love, Ro 16:16; 1 Th 5:26 (en filhmati agaphv).

Ro 8:18. The glory that 1 Pe 5:1. The glory that shall shall be revealed unto us. be revealed.

Ro 4:24. If we believe on 1 Pe 1:21. Who by him do him that raised up Jesus our Lord believe in God, that raised him from the dead. up from the dead. Ro 13:1,3,4.

Let every 1 Pe 2:13,14. Submit your- soul be subject unto the higher selves to every ordinance of man powers. For there is no power for the Lord's sake; whether it but of God; the powers that be be to the king, as supreme; or are ordained of God ....Do that unto governors, as unto them that which is good, and thou shalt are sent by him for the punish- have praise of the same....For ment of evil doers, and for the he is a minister of God, a praise of them that do well. revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

See also the following passages:

Ro 12:6,7. 1 Pe 4:10. 1 Ti 2:9. 1 Pe 3:3. 1 Ti 5:5. 1 Pe 3:5.

These coincidences are not such as would occur between two authors when one had no acquaintance with the writings of the other; and they thus demonstrate, what may be implied in 2 Pe 3:15, that Peter was familiar with the epistles of Paul. This also would seem to imply that the epistles of Paul were in general circulation.

(4.) "In the structure of his periods," says Michaelis, "St. Peter has this peculiarity, that he is fond of beginning a sentence in such a manner that it shall refer to a principal word in the preceding. The consequence of this structure is, that the sentences, instead of being rounded, according to the manner of the Greeks, are drawn out to a great length; and in many places where we should expect that a sentence would be closed, a new clause is attached, and another again to this, so that before the whole period comes to an end, it contains parts which, at the commencement of the period, do not appear to have been designed for it." This manner of writing is also found often in the epistles of Paul.

The canonical authority of this epistle has never been disputed. For a view of the contents of it, see the analyses prefixed to the several chapters.




This epistle was evidently addressed to those who were passing through severe trials, and probably to those who were, at that time, enduring persecution, 1 Pe 1:6,7; 3:14; 4:1,12-19.

The main object of this chapter is to comfort them in their trials; to suggest such considerations as would enable them to bear them with the right spirit, and to show the sustaining, elevating, and purifying power of the gospel. In doing this, the apostle adverts to the following considerations:—

(1.) He reminds them that they were the elect of God; that they had been chosen according to his foreknowledge, by the sanctifying agency of the Holy Ghost, and in order that they might be obedient, 1 Pe 1:1,2.

(2.) He reminds them of the lively hope to which they had been begotten, and of the inheritance that was reserved for them in heaven. That inheritance was incorruptible, and undefiled, and glorious; it would be certainly theirs, for they would be kept by the power of God unto it, though now they were subjected to severe trials, 1 Pe 1:3-6.

(3.) Even now they could rejoice in hope of that inheritance, (1 Pe 1:6;) their trial was of great importance to themselves in order to test the genuineness of their piety, (1 Pe 1:7;) and in the midst of all their sufferings they could rejoice in the love of their unseen Saviour, (1 Pe 1:8;) and they would certainly obtain the great object for which they had believed—the salvation of their souls, 1 Pe 1:9. By these considerations the apostle would reconcile them to their sufferings; for they would thus show the genuineness and value of Christian piety, and would be admitted at last to higher honour.

(4.) The apostle proceeds, in order further to reconcile them to their sufferings, to say that the nature of the salvation which they would receive had been an object of earnest inquiry by the prophets. They had searched diligently to know precisely what the Spirit by which they were inspired meant by the revelations given to them, and they had understood that they ministered to the welfare of those who should come after them, 1 Pe 1:10-12. Those who thus suffered ought, therefore, to rejoice in a salvation which had been revealed to them in this manner; and in the fact that they had knowledge which had not been vouchsafed even to the prophets; and under these circumstances they ought to be willing to bear the trials which had been brought upon them by a religion so communicated to them.

(5.) In view of these things, the apostle (1 Pe 1:13-17) exhorts them to be faithful and persevering to the end. In anticipation of what was to be revealed to them at the final day, they should be sober and obedient; and as he who had called them into his kingdom was holy, so it became them to be holy also.

(6.) This consideration is enforced (1 Pe 1:18-21) by a reference to the price that was paid for their redemption. They should remember that they had been redeemed, not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. He had been appointed from eternity to be their Redeemer; he had been manifested in those times for them; he had been raised from the dead for them, and their faith and hope were through him. For these reasons they ought to be steadfast in their attachment to him.

(7.) The apostle enjoins on them the especial duty of brotherly love, 1 Pe 1:22,23. They had purified their hearts by obeying the truth, and as they were all one family, they should love one another fervently. Thus they would show to their enemies and persecutors the transforming nature of their religions and furnish an impressive proof of its reality.

(8.) To confirm all these views, the apostle reminds them that all flesh must soon die. The glory of man would fade away. Nothing would abide but the word of the Lord. They themselves would soon die, and be released from their troubles, and they should be willing, therefore, to bear trials for a little time. The great and the rich, and those apparently more favoured in this life, would soon disappear, and all the splendour of their condition would vanish; and they should not envy them, or repine at their own more humble and painful lot, 1 Pe 1:24,25. The keenest sufferings here are brief and the highest honours and splendours of life here soon vanish away; and our main solicitude should be for the eternal inheritance. Having the prospect of that, and building on the sure word of God, which abides forever, we need not shrink from the trials appointed to us here below.

Verse 1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ. On the word apostle, See Barnes "Ro 1:1" See Barnes "1 Co 9:1, seq.

To the strangers. In the Greek, the word "elect" (1 Pe 1:2) occurs here: eklektoiv parepidhmoiv, "to the elect strangers." He here addresses them as elect; in the following verse he shows them in what way they were elected. See the Notes there. The word rendered strangers occurs only in three places in the New Testament; Heb 11:13; 1 Pe 2:11, where it is rendered pilgrims, and in the place before us. See Barnes "Heb 11:13".

The word means, literally, a by-resident, a sojourner among a people not one's own.—Robinson. There has been much diversity of opinion as to the persons here referred to: some supposing that the epistle was written to those who had been Jews, who were now converted, and who were known by the common appellation among their countrymen as "the scattered abroad," or the "dispersion;" that is, those who were strangers or sojourners away from their native land; others, that the reference is to those who were called, among the Jews, "proselytes of the gate," or those who were admitted to certain external privileges among the Jews, (See Barnes "Mt 23:15") and others, that the allusion is to Christians as such, without reference to their origin, and who are spoken of as strangers and pilgrims. That the apostle did not write merely to those who had been Jews, is clear from 1 Pe 4:3,4, (comp. Intro. & 1;) and it seems probable that he means here Christians as such, without reference to their origin, who were scattered through the various provinces of Asia Minor. Yet it seems also probable that he did not use the term as denoting that they were "strangers and pilgrims on the earth," or with reference to the fact that the earth was not their home, as the word is used in Heb 11:13; but that he used the term as a Jew would naturally use it, accustomed, as he was, to employ it as denoting his own countrymen dwelling in distant lands, he would regard them still as the people of God, though dispersed abroad; as those who were away from what was properly the home of their fathers. So Peter addresses these Christians as the people of God, now scattered abroad; as similar in their condition to the Jews who had been dispersed among the Gentiles. Comp. the Intro., & 1. It is not necessarily implied that these persons were strangers to Peter, or that he had never seen them; though this was not improbably the fact in regard to most of them.

Scattered. Greek, of the dispersion, (diasporav;) a term which a Jew would be likely to use who spoke of his countrymen dwelling among the heathen. See Barnes "Joh 7:35 Jas 1:1, where the same Greek word is found. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. Here, however, it is applied to Christians as dispersed or scattered abroad,

Throughout Pontus, etc. These were provinces of Asia Minor. Their position may be seen in the map prefixed to the Acts of the Apostles. On the situation of Pontus, See Barnes "Ac 2:9".

Galatia. On the situation of this province, and its history, see Intro. to the Notes on Galatians, & 1.

Cappadocia. See Barnes "Ac 2:9".

Asia. Meaning a province of Asia Minor, of which Ephesus was the capital. See Barnes "Ac 2:9".

And Bithynia. See Barnes "Ac 16:7".

{*} "strangers" "sojourners" {a} "Bithynia" Ac 8:4

Verse 2. Elect. That is, chosen. The meaning here is, that they were in fact chosen. The word does not refer to the purpose to choose, but to the fact that they were chosen or selected by God as his people. It is a word commonly applied to the people of God as being chosen out of the world, and called to be his. The use of the word does not determine whether God had a previous eternal purpose to choose them or not. That must be determined by something else than the mere use of the term. This word has reference to the act of selecting them, without throwing any light on the question why it was done. See Mt 24:22,24,31; Mr 13:20; Lu 18:7; Ro 8:33; Col 3:12. Comp. See Barnes "Joh 15:16".

The meaning is, that God had, on some account, a preference for them above others as his people, and had chosen them from the midst of others to be heirs of salvation. The word should be properly understood as applied to the act of choosing them, not to the purpose to choose them; the fact of his selecting them to be his, not the doctrine that he would choose them; and is a word, therefore, which should be freely and gratefully used by all Christians, for it is a word in frequent use in the Bible, and there is nothing for which men should be more grateful than the fact that God has chosen them to salvation. Elsewhere we learn that the purpose to choose them was eternal, and that the reason of it was his own good pleasure. See Barnes "Eph 1:4,5".

We are here also informed that it was in accordance with "the foreknowledge of God the Father."

According to the foreknowledge of God the Father. The Father is regarded, in the Scriptures, as the Author of the plan of salvation, and as having chosen his people to life, and given them to his Son to redeem and save, Joh 6:37,65; 17:2,6,11.

It is affirmed here that the fact that they were elect was in some sense in accordance with the "foreknowledge of God." On the meaning of the phrase, See Barnes "Ro 8:29".

The passage does not affirm that the thing which God "foreknew," and which was the reason of their being chosen, was, that they would of themselves be disposed to embrace the offer of salvation. The foreknowledge referred to might have been of many other things as constituting the reason which operated in the case; and it is not proper to assume that it could have been of this alone. It may mean that God foreknew all the events which would ever occur, and that he saw reasons why they should be selected rather than others; or that he foreknew all that could be made to bear on their salvation; or that he foreknew all that he would himself do to secure their salvation; or that he foreknew them as having been designated by his own eternal counsels; or that he foreknew all that could be accomplished by their instrumentality; or that he saw that they would believe; but it should not be assumed that the word means necessarily any one of these things. The simple fact here affirmed, which no one can deny, is, that there was foreknowledge in the case on the part of God. It was not the result of ignorance or of blind chance that they were selected. But if foreknown, must it not be certain? How could a thing which is foreknown be contingent or doubtful? The essential idea here is, that the original choice was on the part of God, and not on their part, and that this choice was founded on what he before knew to be best. He undoubtedly saw good and sufficient reasons why the choice should fall on them. I do not know that the reasons why he did it are revealed, or that they could be fully comprehended by us if they were. I am quite certain that it is not stated that it is because they would be more disposed of themselves to embrace the Saviour than others; for the Scriptures abundantly teach, what every regenerated person feels to be true, that the fact that we are disposed to embrace the Saviour is to be traced to a Divine influence on our hearts, and not to ourselves. See Joh 6:65; Ro 9:16; Tit 3:5; Ps 110:2,3.

Through sanctification of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. The Greek is, "by (en) sanctification of the Spirit;" that is, it was by this influence or agency. The election that was purposed by the Father was carried into effect by the agency of the Spirit in making them holy. The word rendered sanctification (agiasmov) is not used here in its usual and technical sense to denote the progressive holiness of believers, but in its more primitive and usual sense of holiness. See Barnes "1 Co 1:30".

It means here the being made holy; and the idea is, that we become in fact the chosen or elect of God by a work of the Spirit on our hearts making us holy; that is, renewing us in the Divine image. We are chosen by the Father, but it is necessary that the heart should be renewed and made holy by a work of grace, in order that we may actually become his chosen people. Though we are sinners, he proposes to save us; but we are not saved in our sins, nor can we regard ourselves as the children of God until we have evidence that we are born again. The purpose of God to save us found us unholy, and we become in fact his friends by being renewed in the temper of our mind. A man has reason to think that he is one of the elect of God, just so far as he has evidence that he has been renewed by the Holy Spirit, and so far as he has holiness of heart and life, AND NO FARTHER.

Unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. This expresses the design for which they had been chosen by the Father, and renewed by the Spirit. It was that they might obey God, and lead holy lives. On the phrase "unto obedience," See Barnes "Ro 1:5".

The phrase "unto sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ," means to cleansing from sin, or to holiness, since it was by the sprinkling of that blood that they were to be made holy. See it explained See Barnes "Heb 9:18, seq. See Barnes "Heb 12:24".

Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. See Barnes "Ro 1:7".

The phrase "be multiplied" means, "may it abound," or "may it be conferred abundantly on you." From this verse we may learn that they who are chosen should be holy. Just in proportion as they have evidence that God has chosen them at all, they have evidence that he has chosen them to be holy; and, in fact, all the evidence which any man can have that he is among the elect, is that he is practically a holy man, and desires to become more and more so. No man can penetrate the secret counsels of the Almighty. No one can go up to heaven, and inspect the book of life to see if his name be there. No one should presume that his name is there without evidence. No one should depend on dreams, or raptures, or visions, as proof that his name is there. No one should expect a new revelation declaring to him that he is among the elect. All the proof which any man can have that he is among the chosen of God, is to be found in the evidences of personal piety; and any man who is willing to be a true Christian may have all that evidence in his own case. If any one, then, wishes to settle the question whether he is among the elect or not, the way is plain. Let him become a true Christian, and the whole matter is determined, for that is all the proof which any one has that he is chosen to salvation. Till a man is willing to do that, he should not complain of the doctrine of election. If he is not willing to become a Christian and to be saved, assuredly he should not complain that those who are think that they have evidence that they are the chosen of God.

{a} "elect" Eph 1:4 {b} "foreknowledge" Ro 8:29 {*} "foreknowledge" "preordination" {c} "sanctification" 2 Th 2:13 {d} "unto obedience" Ro 16:26 {e} "sprinkling" Heb 12:24 {f} "multiplied" Jude 1:2


Verse 3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. See Barnes "2 Co 1:3".

Which according to his abundant mercy. Marg., as in the Greek, much. The idea is, that there was great mercy shown them in the fact that they were renewed. They had no claim to the favour, and the favour was great. Men are not begotten to the hope of heaven because they have any claim on God, or because it would not be right for him to withhold the favour. See Barnes "Eph 2:4".

Hath begotten us again. The meaning is, that as God is the Author of our life in a natural sense, so he is the Author of our second life by regeneration. The Saviour said, (Joh 3:3,) that "except a man be born again" or begotten again, hennhyh anwyen, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Peter here affirms that that change had occurred in regard to himself and those whom he was addressing. The word used here as a compound (anagennaw) does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament, though it corresponds entirely with the words used by the Saviour in Joh 3:3,5,7.

Perhaps the phrase "begotten again" would be better in each instance where the word occurs, the sense being rather that of being begotten again, than of being born again.

Unto a lively hope. The word lively we now use commonly in the sense of active, animated, quick; the word here used, however, means living, in contradistinction from that which is dead. The hope which they had, had living power. It was not cold, inoperative, dead. It was not a mere form—or a mere speculation—or a mere sentiment; it was that which was vital to their welfare, and which was active and powerful. On the nature of hope, See Barnes "Ro 8:24". Comp. Eph 2:12.

By the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the foundation of our hope. It was a confirmation of what he declared as truth when he lived; it was a proof of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul; it was a pledge that all who are united to him will be raised up. See Barnes "1 Co 15:1, seq. See Barnes "2 Ti 1:10" See Barnes "1 Th 4:14".

On this verse we may remark, that the fact that Christians are chosen to salvation should be a subject of gratitude and praise. Every man should rejoice that any of the race may be saved, and the world should be thankful for every new instance of Divine favour in granting to any one a hope of eternal life. Especially should this be a source of joy to true Christians. Well do they know that if God had not chosen them to salvation, they would have remained as thoughtless as others; if he had had no purpose of mercy towards them, they would never have been saved. Assuredly, if there is anything for which a man should be grateful, it is that God has so loved him as to give him the hope of eternal life; and if he has had an eternal purpose to do this, our gratitude should be proportionably increased.

{g} "Blessed" 2 Co 1:3 {1} "abundant" "much" {h} "abundant mercy" Eph 2:4 {i} "again" Joh 3:3,5 {k} "resurrection" 1 Co 15:20


Verse 4. To an inheritance. Through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus we now cherish the hope of that future inheritance in heaven. On the word inheritance, See Barnes "Ac 20:32" See Barnes "Eph 1:11, See Barnes "Eph 1:14, See Barnes "Eph 1:18" See Barnes "Col 1:12".

Christians are regarded as the adopted children of God, and heaven is spoken of as their inheritance—as what their Father will bestow on them as the proof of his love.

Incorruptible. It will not fade away and vanish, as that which we inherit in this world does. See the word explained See Barnes "1 Co 9:25".

The meaning here is, that the inheritance will be imperishable, or will endure for ever. Here, to whatever we may be heirs, we must soon part with the inheritance; there it will be eternal.

And undefiled. See Barnes "Heb 7:26" See Barnes "Heb 13:4" See Barnes "Jas 1:27".

The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. As applied to an inheritance, it means that it will be pure. It will not have been obtained by dishonesty, nor will it be held by fraud; it will not be such as will corrupt the soul, or tempt to extravagance, sensuality, and lust, as a rich inheritance often does here; it will be such that its eternal enjoyment will never tend in any manner to defile the heart. "How many estates," says Benson, "have been got by fraudulent and unjust methods; by poisoning, or in some other way murdering the right heir; by cheating of helpless orphans; by ruining the fatherless and widows; by oppressing their neighbours, or grinding the faces of the poor, and taking their garments or vineyards from them! But this future inheritance of the saints is stained by none of these vices; it is neither got nor detained by any of these methods; nor shall persons polluted with vice have any share in it." Here no one can be heir to an inheritance of gold or houses without danger of soon sinking into indolence, effeminacy, or vice; there the inheritance may be enjoyed for ever, and the soul continually advance in, knowledge, holiness, and the active service of God.

And that fadeth not away. Gr. amaranton. This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, though the word amarantinov (amarantine) occurs in

1 Pe 5:4, applied to a crown or garland. The word is properly applied to that which does not fade or wither, in contradistinction from a flower that fades. It may then denote anything that is enduring, and is applied to the future inheritance of the saints to describe its perpetuity in all its brilliance and splendour, in contrast with the fading nature of all that is earthly. The idea here, therefore, is not precisely the same as is expressed by the word "incorruptible." Both words indeed denote perpetuity, but that refers to perpetuity in contrast with decay; this denotes perpetuity in the sense that everything there will be kept in its original brightness and beauty. The crown of glory, though worn for millions of ages, will not be dimmed; the golden streets will lose none of their lustre; the flowers that bloom on the banks of the river of life will always be as rich in colour, and as fragrant, as when we first beheld them.

Reserved in heaven for you. Marg., us. The difference in the text margin arises from the various readings in MSS. The common reading is "for you." The sense is not materially affected. The idea is, that it is an inheritance appointed for us, and kept by one who can make it sure to us, and who will certainly bestow it upon us. See Barnes "Mt 25:34" See Barnes "Joh 14:2" See Barnes "Col 1:5".

{a} "inheritance" Heb 9:15 {b} "fadeth" 1 Pe 5:4 {c} "reserved" Col 1:5


Verse 5. Who are kept by the power of God. That is, "kept" or preserved in the faith and hope of the gospel; who are preserved from apostasy, or so kept that you will finally obtain salvation. The word which is here used and rendered kept, (frourew—phroureo,) is rendered in 2 Co 11:32, kept with a garrison; in Ga 3:23, and here, kept; in Php 4:7, shall keep. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means to keep, as in a garrison or fortress; or as with a military watch. The idea is, that there was a faithful guardianship exercised over them to save them from danger, as a castle or garrison is watched to guard it against the approach of an enemy. The meaning is, that they were weak in themselves, and were surrounded by temptations; and that the only reason why they were preserved was, that God exerted his power to keep them. The only reason which any Christians have to suppose they will ever reach heaven, is the fact that God keeps them by his own power. Comp. See Barnes "Php 1:6" See Barnes "2 Ti 1:12" See Barnes "2 Ti 4:18".

If it were left to the will of man; to the strength of his own resolutions; to his power to meet temptations, and to any probability that he would of himself continue to walk in the path of life, there would be no certainty that any one would be saved.

Through faith. That is, he does not keep us by the mere exertion of power, but he excites faith in our hearts, and makes that the means of keeping us. As long as we have faith in God, and in his promises, we are safe. When that fails, we are weak; and if it should fail altogether, we could not be saved. See Barnes "Eph 2:8".

Unto salvation. Not preserved for a little period, and then suffered to fall away, but so kept as to be saved. We may remark here that Peter, as well as Paul, believed in the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. If he did not, how could he have addressed these Christians in this manner, and said that they were "kept by the power of God unto salvation". What evidence could he have had that they would obtain salvation, unless he believed in the general truth that it was the purpose of God to keep all who were truly converted?

Ready to be revealed in the last time. That is, when the world shall close. Then it shall be made manifest to assembled worlds that such an inheritance was "reserved" for you, and that you were "kept" in order to inherit it. See Barnes "Mt 25:34".

This verse, then, teaches that the doctrine that the saints will persevere and be saved, is true. They are "kept by the power of God to salvation;" and as God has all power, and guards them with reference to this end, it cannot be but that they will be saved. It may be added,

(a.) that it is very desirable that the doctrine should be true. Man is so weak and feeble, so liable to fall, and so exposed to temptation, that it is in itself every way a thing to be wished that his salvation should be in some safer hands than his own.

(b.) If it is desirable that it should be true, it is fair to infer that it is true, for God has made all the arrangements for the salvation of his people which are really desirable and proper.

(c.) The only security for the salvation of any one is founded on that doctrine. If it were left entirely to the hands of men, even the best of men, what assurance could there be that any one could be saved Did not Adam fall? Did not holy angels fall? Have not some of the best of men fallen into sin? And who has such a strength of holiness that he could certainly confide in it to make his own salvation sure? Any man must know little of himself, and of the human heart, who supposes that he has such a strength of virtue that he would never fall away if left to himself. But if this be so, then his only hope of salvation is in the fact that God intends to "keep his people by his own power through faith unto salvation"

{d} "kept" Jude 1:24 {e} "faith" Eph 2:8


Verse 6. Wherein ye greatly rejoice. In which hope of salvation. The idea is, that the prospect which they had of the future inheritance was to them a source of the highest joy, even in the midst of their many sufferings and trials. On the general grounds for rejoicing, See Barnes "Ro 5:1, See Barnes "Ro 5:2" See Barnes "Php 3:1" See Barnes "Php 4:4" See Barnes "1 Th 5:16".

See Barnes "1 Pe 1:8".

The particular meaning here is, that the hope which they had of their future inheritance enabled them to rejoice even in the midst of persecutions and trials. It not only sustained them, but it made them happy. That must be a valuable religion which will make men happy in the midst of persecutions and heavy calamities.

Though now for a season. A short period—oligon. It would be in fact only for a brief period, even if it should continue through the whole of life. See Barnes "2 Co 4:17"

"Our light affliction which is but for a moment." It is possible, however, that Peter supposed that the trials which they then experienced would soon pass over. They may have been suffering persecutions which he hoped would not long continue.

If need be. This phrase seems to have been thrown in here to intimate that there was a necessity for their afflictions, or that there was "need" that they should pass through these trials. There was some good to be accomplished by them, which made it desirable and proper that they should be thus afflicted. The sense is, "since there is need;" though the apostle expresses it more delicately by suggesting the possibility that there might be need of it, instead of saying absolutely that there was need. It is the kind of language which we would use in respect to one who was greatly afflicted, by suggesting to him, in the most tender manner, that there might be things in his character which God designed to correct by trials, instead of saying roughly and bluntly that such was undoubtedly the fact. We would not say to such a person, "you certainly needed this affliction to lead you to amend your life:" but, it may be that there is something in your character which makes it desirable, or that God intends that some good results shall come from it which will show that it is wisely ordered."

Ye are in heaviness. Gr., "Ye are sorrowing," luphyentev; you are sad, or grieved, Mt 14:9; 17:23.

Through manifold temptations. Through many kinds of trials, for so the word rendered temptation (peirasmov) means, Jas 1:2,12. \\See Barnes "Mt 4:1; 6:13\"\\. The meaning here is, that they now endured many things which were fitted to try or test their faith. These might have consisted of poverty, persecution, sickness, or the efforts of others to lead them to renounce their religion, and to go back to their former state of unbelief. Any one or all of these would try them, and would show whether their religion was genuine. On the various ways which God has of trying his people, See Barnes "Isa 28:23, seq.

{f} "if need be" Heb 12:7-11 {*} "heaviness" "Ye are grieved" {+} "temptations" "various trials"


Verse 7. That the trial of your faith. The putting of your religion to the test, and showing what is its real nature. See Barnes "Jas 1:3,12".

Being much more precious than of gold. This does not mean that their faith was much more precious than gold, but that the testing of it, (dokimion,) the process of showing whether it was or was not genuine, was a much more important and valuable process than that of testing gold in the fire. More important results were to be arrived at by it, and it was more desirable that it should be done.

That perisheth. Not that gold perishes by the process of being tried in the fire, for this is not the fact, and the connexion does not demand this interpretation. The idea is, that gold, however valuable it is, is a perishable thing. It is not an enduring, imperishable, indestructible thing, like religion. It may not perish in the fire, but it will in some way, for it will not endure for ever.

Though it be tried with fire. This refers to the gold. See the Greek. The meaning is, that gold, though it will bear the action of fire, is yet a destructible thing, and will not endure for ever. It is more desirable to test religion than it is gold, because it is more valuable. It pertains to that which is eternal and indestructible, and it is therefore of more importance to show its true quality, and to free it from every improper mixture.

Might be found unto praise. That is, might be found to be genuine, and such as to meet the praise or commendation of the final Judge.

And honour. That honour might be done to it before assembled worlds.

And glory. That it might be rewarded with that glory which will be then conferred on all who have shown, in the various trials of life, that they had true religion.

At the appearing of Jesus Christ. To judge the world. Comp. Mt 25:31; Ac 1:11; 1 Th 4:16; 2 Th 2:8; 1 Ti 6:14; 2 Ti 4:1,8; Tit 2:13.

From these two verses (1 Pe 1:6,7) we may learn:

I. That it is desirable that the faith of Christians should be tried.

(a.) It is desirable to know whether that which appears to be religion is genuine, as it is desirable to know whether that which appears to be gold is genuine. To gold we apply the action of intense heat, that we may know whether it is what it appears to be; and as religion is of more value than gold, so it is more desirable that it should be subjected to the proper tests, that its nature may be ascertained. There is much which appears to be gold, which is of no value, as there is much which appears to be religion, which is no value. The one is worth no more than the other, unless it is genuine.

(b.) It is desirable in order to show its true value. It is of great importance to know what that which is claimed to be gold is worth for the purposes to which gold is usually applied; and so it is in regard to religion. Religion claims to be of more value to man than anything else. It asserts its power to do that for the intellect and the heart which nothing else can do; to impart consolation in the various trials of life which nothing else can impart; and to give a support which nothing else can on the bed of death. It is very desirable, therefore, that in these various situations it should show its power; that is, that its friends should be in these various conditions, in order that they may illustrate the true value of religion.

(c.) It is desirable that true religion should be separated from all alloy. There is often much alloy in gold, and it is desirable that it should be separated from it, in order that it may be pure. So it is in religion. It is often combined with much that is unholy and impure; much that dims its lustre and mars its beauty; much that prevents its producing the effect which it would otherwise produce. Gold is, indeed, often better, for some purposes, for having some alloy mixed with it; but not so with religion. It is never better for having a little pride, or vanity, or selfishness, or meanness, or worldliness, or sensuality mingled with it; and that which will remove these things from our religion will be a favour to us.

II. God takes various methods of trying his people, with a design to test the value of their piety, and to separate it from all impure mixtures.

(1.) He tries his people by prosperity—often as decisive a test of piety as can be applied to it. There is much pretended piety, which will bear adversity, but which will not bear prosperity. The piety of a man is decisively tested by popularity; by the flatteries of the world; by a sudden increase of property; and in such circumstances it is often conclusively shown that there is no true religion in the soul.

(2.) He tries his people in adversity. He lays his hand on them heavily, to show

(a.) whether they will bear up under their trials, and persevere in his service;

(b.) to show whether their religion will keep them from murmuring or complaining;

(c.) to show whether it is adapted to comfort and sustain the soul.

(3.) He tries his people by sudden transition from one to the other. We get accustomed to a uniform course of life, whether it be joy or sorrow; and the religion which is adapted to a uniform course may be little fitted to transitions from one condition of life to another. In prosperity we may have shown that we were grateful, and benevolent, and disposed to serve God; but our religion will be subjected to a new test, if we are suddenly reduced to poverty. In sickness and poverty, we learn to be patient and resigned, and perhaps even happy. But the religion which we then cultivated may be little adapted to a sudden transition to prosperity; and in such a transition, there would be a new trial of our faith. That piety which shone so much on a bed of sickness, might be little fitted to shine in circumstances of sudden prosperity. The human frame may become accustomed either to the intense cold of the polar regions, or to the burning heats of the equator; but in neither case might it bear a transition from one to the other. It is such a transition that is a more decisive test of its powers of endurance than either intense heat or cold, if steadily prolonged.

III. Religion will bear any trial which may be applied to it, as gold will bear the action of fare.

IV. Religion is imperishable in its nature. Even the most fine gold will perish. Time will corrode it, or it will be worn away by use, or it will be destroyed at the universal conflagration; but time and use will not wear out religion, and it will live on through the fires that will consume everything else.

V. Christians should be willing to pass through trials.

(a.) They will purify their religion, as the fire will remove dross from gold.

(b.) They will make it shine more brightly, as gold does when it comes out of the furnace.

(c.) They disclose more fully its value.

(d.) They will furnish an evidence that we shall be saved; for that religion which will bear the tests that God applies to it in the present life, will bear the test of the final trial.

{a} "trial" Jas 1:3,12 {*} "trial" "proof" {+} "tried" "proved" {b} "with fire" 1 Co 3:13 {c} "praise and honour" Ro 2:7,10 {d} "appearing" Re 1:7


Verse 8. Whom having not seen, ye love. This epistle was addressed to those who were "strangers scattered abroad," See Barnes "1 Pe 1:1, and it is evident that they had not personally seen the Lord Jesus. Yet they had heard of his character, his preaching, his sacrifice for sin, and his resurrection and ascension, and they had learned to love him.

(1.) It is possible to love one whom we have not seen. Thus we may love God, whom no "eye hath seen," See Barnes "1 Jo 4:20" and thus we may love a benefactor, from whom we have received important benefits, whom we have never beheld.

(2.) We may love the character of one whom we have never seen, and from whom we may never have received any particular favours. We may love his uprightness, his patriotism, his benignity, as represented to us. We might love him the more if we should become personally acquainted with him, and if we should receive important favours from him; but it is possible to feel a sense of strong admiration for such a character in itself.

(3.) That may be a very pure love which we have for one whom we have never seen. It may be based on simple excellence of character; and in such a case there is the least chance for any intermingling of selfishness, or any improper emotion of any kind.

(4.) We may love a friend as really and as strongly when he is absent, as when he is with us. The wide ocean that rolls between us and a child, does not diminish the ardour of our affection for him; and the Christian friend that has gone to heaven, we may love no less than when he sat with us at the fireside.

(5.) Millions, and hundreds of millions, have been led to love the Saviour, who have never seen him. They have seen—not with the bodily eye, but with the eye of faith—the inimitable beauty of his character, and have been brought to love him with an ardour of affection which they never had for any other one.

(6.) There is every reason why we should love him.

(a.) His character is infinitely lovely.

(b.) He has done more for us than any other one who ever lived among men. He died for us, to redeem our souls, he rose, and brought life and immortality to light. He ever lives to intercede for us in heaven. He is employed in preparing mansions of rest for us in the skies, and he will come and take us to himself, that we may be with him for ever. Such a Saviour ought to be loved, is loved, and will be loved. The strongest attachments which have ever existed on earth have been for this unseen Saviour. There has been a love for him stronger than that for father, or mother, or wife, or sister, or home, or country. It has been so strong, that thousands have been willing, on account of it, to bear the torture of the rack or the stake. It has been so strong, that thousands of youth of the finest minds, and the most flattering prospects of distinction, have been willing to leave the comforts of a civilized land, and to go among the benighted heathen, to tell them the story of a Saviour's life and death. It has been so strong, that unnumbered multitudes have longed, more than they have for all other things, that they might see him, and be with him, and abide with him for ever and ever. See Barnes "Php 1:23".

In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing. He is now in heaven, and to mortal eyes now invisible, like his Father. Faith in him is the source and fountain of our joy. It makes invisible things real, and enables us to feel and act, in view of them, with the same degree of certainty if we saw them. Indeed, the conviction to the mind of a true believer that there is a Saviour, is as certain and as strong as if he saw him; and the same may be said of his conviction of the existence of heaven, and of eternal realities. If it should be said that filth may deceive us, we may reply,

(1.) May not our bodily senses also deceive us? Does the eye never deceive? Are there no optical illusions? Does the ear never deceive? Are there no sounds which are mistaken? Do the taste and the smell never deceive? Are we never mistaken in the report which they bring to us? And does the sense of feeling never deceive? Are we never mistaken in the size, the hardness, the figure of objects which we handle? But,

(2.) for all the practical purposes of life, the senses are correct guides, and do not in general lead us astray. So,

(3.) there are objects of faith about which we are never deceived, and where we do act and must act with the same confidence as if we had personally seen them. Are we deceived about the existence of London, or Paris, or Canton, though we may never have seen either? May not a merchant embark with perfect propriety in a commercial enterprise, on the supposition that there is such a place as London or Canton, though he has never seen them? Would he not be reputed mad, if he should refuse to do it on this ground? And so, may not a man, in believing that there is a heaven, and in forming his plans for it, though he has not yet seen it, act as rationally and as wisely as he who forms his plans on the supposition that there is such a place as Canton?

Ye rejoice. Ye do rejoice; not merely ye ought to rejoice. It may be said of Christians that they do in fact rejoice; they are happy. The people of the world often suppose that religion makes its professors sad and melancholy. That there are those who have not great comfort in their religion, no one indeed can doubt; but this arises from several causes entirely independent of their religion. Some have melancholy temperaments, and are not happy in anything. Some have little evidence that they are Christians, and their sadness arises not from religion, but from the want of it. But that true religion does make its possessors happy, any one may easily satisfy himself by asking any number of sincere Christians, of any denomination, whom he may meet. With one accord they will say to him that they have a happiness which they never found before; that however much they may have possessed of the wealth, the honours, and the pleasures of the world—and they who are now Christians have not all of them been strangers to these things—they never knew solid and substantial peace till they found it in religion. And why should they not be believed? The world would believe them in other things; why will they not when they declare that religion does not make them gloomy, but happy.

With joy unspeakable. A very strong expression, and yet verified in thousands of cases among young converts, and among those in the maturer days of piety. There are thousands who can say that their happiness when they first had evidence that their sins were forgiven, that the burden of guilt was rolled away, and that they were the children of God, was unspeakable. They had no words to express it, it was so full and so new.

"Tongue can never express The sweet comfort and peace of a soul in its earliest love."

And so there have been thousands of mature Christians who can adopt the same language, and who could find no words to express the peace and joy which they have found in the love of Christ, and the hope of heaven. And why are not all Christians enabled to say constantly that they "rejoice with joy unspeakable?" Is it not a privilege which they might possess? Is there anything in the nature of religion which forbids it? Why should not one be filled with constant joy who has the hope of dwelling in a world of glory for ever? Comp. Joh 14:27; 16:22.

And full of glory.

(1.) Of anticipated glory—of the prospect of enjoying the glory of heaven.

(2.) Of present glory—with a joy even now which is of the same nature as that in heaven; a happiness the same in kind, though not in degree, as that which will be ours in a brighter world. The saints on earth partake of the same kind of joy which they will have in heaven; for the happiness of heaven will be but an expansion, a prolongation, and a purifying of that which they have here. See Barnes "Eph 1:14".

{e} "not seen" 1 Jo 4:20 {a} "joy" Joh 16:22


Verse 9. Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. The result or object of your faith; that is, what your faith is designed and adapted to secure. See Barnes "Ro 10:4".

The word rendered receiving is used here as indicating that they would surely obtain that. They even now had such peace and joy in believing, that it furnished undoubted evidence that they would be saved; and such that it might be said that even now they were saved. The condition of one who is a true Christian here is so secure that it may even now be called salvation.


Verse 10. Of which salvation. Of the certainty that this system of religion, securing the salvation of the soul, would be revealed. The object of this reference to the prophets seems to be to lead them to value the religion which they professed more highly, and to encourage them to bear their trials with patience. They were in a condition, in many respects, far superior to that of the prophets. They had the full light of the gospel. The prophets saw it only at a distance and but dimly, and were obliged to search anxiously that they might understand the nature of that system of which they were appointed to furnish the comparatively obscure prophetic intimations.

The prophets. This language would imply that this had been a common and prevalent wish of the prophets. Have enquired. This word is intensive. It means that they sought out, or scrutinized with care the revelations made to them, that they might understand exactly what was implied in that which they were appointed to record in respect to the salvation which was to be made known through the Messiah. See the following places where the same word is used which occurs here: Lu 11:50,51; Ac 15:17; Ro 3:11; Heb 11:6; 12:17.

And searched diligently. Exereunaw Comp. Da 9:2,3. The word here used means to search out, to trace out, to explore. It is not elsewhere used in the New Testament, though one of the words from which this is compounded (ereunaw) occurs. See Barnes "Joh 5:39, Joh 8:52; Ro 8:27; 1 Co 2:10; Re 2:23.

The idea is, that they perceived that in their communications there were some great and glorious truths which they did not fully comprehend, and that they diligently employed their natural faculties to understand that which they were appointed to impart to succeeding generations. They thus became students and interpreters for themselves of their own predictions. They were not only prophets, but men. They had souls to be saved in the same way as others. They had hearts to be sanctified by the truth; and it was needful, in order to this, that truth should be applied to their own hearts in the same way as to others. The mere fact that they were the channels or organs for imparting truth to others would not save them, any more than the fact that a man now preaches truth to others will save himself, or than the fact that a sutler delivers bread to an army will nourish and support his own body.

Who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you. Of the favour that should be shown to you in the gospel. Though the predictions which they uttered appeared to the men of their own times, and perhaps to themselves, obscures yet they were in fact prophecies of what was to come, and of the favours which, under another dispensation, would be bestowed upon the people of God. The apostle does not mean to say that they prophesied particularly of those persons to whom he was then writing, but that their prophecies were in fact for their benefit, for the things which they predicted had actually terminated on them, The benefit was as real as though the predictions had been solely on their account.

{b} "enquired" Da 9:3


Verse 11. Searching what. That is, examining their own predictions with care, to ascertain what they meant. They studied them as we do the predictions which others have made; and though the prophets were the medium through which the truth was made known, yet their own predictions became a subject of careful investigation to themselves. The expression here used in the original, rendered "what," (eiv tina,) literally, "unto what," may mean, so far as the Greek is concerned, either "what time," or "what people," or "what person;" that is, with reference to what person the prophecies were really uttered. The latter, it seems to me, is the correct interpretation, meaning that they inquired in regard to him, who he would be, what would be his character, and what would be the nature of the work which he would perform. There can be no doubt that they understood that their predictions related to the Messiah; but till it is not improper to suppose that it was with them an interesting inquiry what sort of a person he would be, and what would be the nature of the work which he would perform. This interpretation of the phrase eiv tina, (unto what or whom,) it should be observed, however, is not that which is commonly given of the passage. Bloomfield, Rosenmuller, Doddridge, Whitby, Benson, and Grotius suppose it to refer to time, meaning that they inquired at what time, or when these things would occur. Macknight thinks it refers to people, (laon,) meaning that they diligently inquired what people would put him to death. But the most obvious interpretation in that which I have suggested above, meaning that they made particular inquiry to whom their prophecies related—what was his rank and character, and what was to be the nature of his work. What would be a more natural inquiry for them than this? What would be more important? And how interesting is the thought that when Isaiah, for example, had given utterance to the sublime predictions which we now have of the Messiah, in his prophecies, he sat himself down with the spirit of a little child, to learn by prayer and study, what was fully implied in the amazing words which the Spirit had taught him to record! How much of mystery might seem still to hang around the subject! And how intent would such a mind be to know what was the full import of those words!

Or what manner of time. This phrase, in Greek, (poion kairon,) would properly relate, not to the exact time when these things would occur, but to the character or condition of the age when they would take place; perhaps referring to the state of the world at that period, the preparation to receive the gospel, and the probable manner in which the great message-would be received. Perhaps, however, the inquiry in their minds pertained to the time when the predictions would be fulfilled, as well as to the condition of the world when the event takes place. The meaning of the Greek phrase would not exclude this latter sense. There are not unfrequent indications of time in the prophets, (comp. Da 9:24, seq.;) and these indications were of so clear a character, that when the Saviour actually appeared there was a general expectation that the event would then occur. See Barnes "Mt 2:2".

The Spirit of Christ which was in them. This does not prove that they knew that this was the Spirit of Christ, but is only a declaration of Peter that it was actually so. It is not probable that the prophets distinctly understood that the Spirit of inspiration, by which they were led to foretell future events, was peculiarly the Spirit of Christ. They understood that they were inspired; but there is no intimation, with which I am acquainted, in their writings, that they regarded themselves as inspired by the Messiah. It was not improper, however, for Peter to say that the Spirit by which they were influenced was in fact the Spirit of Christ, so called because that Spirit which suggested these future events to them was given as the great Medium of all revealed truth to the world. Comp. Heb 1:3; Joh 1:9; 14:16,26; 16:7; Isa 49:6.

It is clear from this passage,

(1.) that Christ must have had an existence before his incarnation; and,

(2.) that he must have understood then what would occur to him when he should become incarnate; that is, it must have been arranged or determined beforehand.

Did signify. Meant to intimate or manifest to them, (edhlou;) or what was implied in the communications made to them.

When it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ. As Isaiah, Isa 53; Da 9:25-27. They saw clearly that the Messiah was to suffer; and doubtless this was the common doctrine of the prophets, and the common expectation of the pious part of the Jewish nation. Yet it is not necessary to suppose that they had clear apprehensions of his sufferings, or were able to reconcile all that was said on that subject with what was said of his glory and his triumphs. There was much about those sufferings which they wished to learn, as there is much still which we desire to know. We have no reason to suppose that there were any views of the sufferings of the Messiah communicated to the prophets except what we now have in the Old Testament; and to see the force of what Peter says, we ought to imagine what would be our views of him if all that we have known of Christ as history were obliterated, and we had only the knowledge which we could derive from the Old Testament. As has been already intimated, it is probable that they studied their own predictions, just as we would study them if we had not the advantage of applying to them the facts which have actually occurred.

And the glory that should follow. That is, they saw that there would be glory which would be the result of his sufferings, but they did not clearly see what it would be. They had some knowledge that he would be raised from the dead, Ps 16:8-11; comp. Ac 2:25-28; they knew that he would "see of the travail of his soul, and would be satisfied," (Isa 53:11;) they had some large views of the effects of the gospel on the nations of the earth, Isa 11; Isa 25:7,8; Isa 60; Isa 66. But there were many things respecting his glorification which it cannot be supposed they clearly understood; and it is reasonable to presume that they made the comparatively few and obscure intimations in their own writings in relation to this, the subject of profound and prayerful inquiry.

{a} "Spirit of Christ" 2 Pe 1:21


Verse 12. Unto whom it was revealed. They were not permitted to know fully the import of the predictions which they were made the instruments of communicating to mankind, but they understood that they were intended for the benefit of future ages. That not unto themselves. We are not to suppose that they derived no benefit from their own predictions; for, as far as they understood the truth, it was as much adapted to sanctify and comfort them as it is us now: but the meaning is, that their messages had reference mainly to future times, and that the full benefit of them would be experienced only in distant ages. See Barnes "Heb 11:39,40".

Unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you. Not unto us by name, but their ministrations had reference to the times of the Messiah; and those to whom Peter wrote, in common with all Christians, were those who were to enjoy the fruits of the communications which they made. The word reported means announced, or made known. By them that have preached the gospel unto you. The apostles, who have made known unto you, in their true sense, the things which the prophets predicted, the import of which they themselves were so desirous of understanding.

With the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Accompanied by the influences of the Holy Ghost bearing those truths to tile heart, and confirming them to the soul. It was the same Spirit which inspired the prophets which conveyed those truths to the souls of the early Christians, and which discloses them to true believers in every age. Comp. Joh 16:13,14; Ac 2:4; 10:44,45.

The object of Peter by thus referring to the prophets, and to the interest which they took in the things which those to whom he wrote now enjoyed, seems to have been, to impress on them a deep sense of the value of the gospel, and of the great privileges which they enjoyed. They were reaping the benefit of all the labours of the prophets. They were permitted to see truth clearly, which the prophets themselves saw only obscurely. They were, in many respects, more favoured than even those holy men had been. It was for them that the prophets had spoken the word of the Lord; for them and their salvation that a long line of the most holy men that the world ever saw, had lived, and toiled, and suffered; and while they themselves had not been allowed to understand the full import of their own predictions, the most humble believer was permitted to see what the most distinguished prophet never saw. See Mt 13:17.

Which things the angels desire to look into. The object of this reference to the angels is the same as that to the prophets. It is to impress on Christians a sense of the value of that gospel which they had received, and to show them the greatness of their privileges in being, made partakers of it. It had excited the deepest interest among the most holy men on earth, and even among the inhabitants of the skies. They were enjoying the full revelation of what even the angels had desired more fully to understand, and to comprehend which they had employed their great powers of investigation. The things which are here referred to, eiv a -unto which, are those which the prophets were so desirous to understand—the great truths respecting the sufferings of Christ, the glory which would follow, and the nature and effects of the gospel. In all the events pertaining to the redemption of a world they felt a deep interest. The word which is rendered "to look," (parakuqai,) is rendered stooping down, and stooped down, in Lu 24:12; Joh 20:5,11; looketh, in Jas 1:25; and look, in the place before us. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It properly means, to stoop down near by anything; to bend forward near, in order to look at anything more closely.—Robinson, Lex. It would denote that state where one, who was before at so great a distance that he could not dearly see an object, should draw nearer, stooping down in order that he might observe it more distinctly. It is possible, as Grotius supposes, that there may be an allusion here to the posture of the cherubim over the mercy-seat, represented as looking down with an intense gaze, as if to behold what was in the ark. But it is not necessary to suppose that this is the allusion, nor is it absolutely certain that that was the posture of the cherubim. See Barnes "Heb 9:5".

All that is necessarily implied in the language is, that the angels had an intense desire to look into these things; that they contemplated them with interest and fixed attention, like one who comes near to an object, and looks narrowly upon it. In illustration of this sentiment, we may make the following suggestions:

I. The angels, doubtless, desire to look into all the manifestations of the character of God, wherever those manifestations are made.

(1.) It is not unreasonable to suppose that, to a great degree, they acquire the knowledge of God as all other creatures do. They are not omniscient, and cannot be supposed to comprehend at glance all his doings.

(2.) They doubtless employ their faculties, substantially as we do, in the investigation of truth; that is, from things known they seek to learn those that are even unknown.

(3.) It is not unreasonable to suppose that there are many things in relation to the Divine character and plans, which they do not yet understand. They know, undoubtedly, much more than we do; but there are plans and purposes of God which are yet made known to none of his creatures. No one can doubt that these plans and purposes must be the object of the attentive study of all holy created minds.

(4.) They doubtless feel a great interest in the welfare of other beings—of their fellow-creatures, wherever they are. There is in the universe one great brotherhood, embracing all the creatures of God.

(5.) They cannot but feel a deep interest in man—a fallen creature, tempted, suffering, dying, and exposed to eternal death. This they have shown in every period of the world's history. See Barnes "Heb 1:14".

II. It is probable, that in each one of the worlds which God has made, there is some peculiar manifestation of his glory and character; something which is not to be found at all in any other world, or, if found, not in so great perfection; and that the angels would feel a deep interest in all these manifestations, and would desire to look into them.

1.) This is probable from the nature of the case, and from the variety which we see in the form, size, movements, and glory of the heavenly orbs. There is no reason to suppose, that on any one of those worlds all the glory of the Divine character would be manifest, which he intends to make known to the universe.

2.) This is probable from what we can now see of the worlds which he has made. We know as yet comparatively little of the heavenly bodies, and of the manifestations of the Deity; and yet, as far as we can see, there must be far more striking exhibitions of the power, and wisdom, and glory of God, in many or of those worlds that roll above us, than there are on our earth. On the body of the sun—on the planets Jupiter and Saturn, so vast in comparison with the earth—there must be far more impressive exhibitions of the glory of the Creator, than there is on our little planet. Saturn, for example, is 82,000 miles in diameter, 1100 times as large as our earth; it moves at the rate of 22,000 miles an hour; it is encircled by two magnificent rings, 5000 miles apart, the innermost of which is 21,000 miles from the body of the planet, and 22,000 miles in breadth, forming a vast illuminated arch over the above the brightness of our moon, and giving a most beautiful to the heavens there. It is also, doubtless, true of all which God has made, that in each one of them there may some peculiar manifestation of the glory of the Deity.

(3.) The universe therefore, seems fitted up to give eternal employment to mind in contemplating it; and, in the worlds which God has made, is enough to employ the study of his creatures for ever. On our own world, the most diligent and pious student of the works of God might spend many thousand years, and then leave much, very much, which he did not comprehend; and it may yet be the eternal employment of holy minds to range from world to world, and in each new world to find much to study and to admire; much that shall proclaim the wisdom, power, love, and goodness of God, which had not elsewhere been seen.

(4.) Our world, therefore, though small, a mere speck in creation, may have something to manifest the glory of the Creator which may not exist in any other. It cannot be its magnitude; for, in that respect, it is among the smallest which God has made. It may not be the height and the majesty of our mountains, or the length and beauty of our rivers, or the fragrance of our flowers, or the clearness of our sky; for, in these respects, there may be much more to admire in other worlds: it is the exhibition of the character of God in the work of redemption; the illustration of the way in which a sinner may be forgiven; the manifestation of the Deity as incarnate, assuming permanently a union with one of his own creatures. This, so far as we know, is seen in no other part of the universe; and this is honour enough for one world. To see this, the angels may be attracted down to earth. When they come, they come not to contemplate our works of art, our painting and our sculpture, or to read our books of science or poetry: they come to gather around the cross, to minister to the Saviour, to attend on his steps while living, and to watch over his body when dead; to witness his resurrection and ascension, and to bless, with their offices of kindness, those whom he died to redeem, Heb 1:4.

III. What, then, is there in our world which we may suppose would attract their attention? What is there which they would not see in other worlds? I answer, that the manifestation of the Divine character in the plan of redemption, is that which would peculiarly attract their attention here, and lead them from heaven down to earth.

(1.) The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God would be to them an object of the deepest interest. This, so far as we know, or have reason to suppose, has occurred nowhere else. There is no evidence that in any other world God has taken upon himself the form of one of his own creatures dwelling there, and stooped to live and act like one of them; to mingle with them; to share their feelings; and to submit to toil, and want, and sacrifice, for their welfare.

(2.) The fact that the guilty could be pardoned would attract their attention, for

(a.) it is elsewhere unknown, no inhabitant of heaven having the need of pardon, and no offer of pardon having been made to a rebel angel.

(b.) There are great and difficult questions about the whole subject of forgiveness, which an angel could easily see, but which he could not so easily solve. How could it be done consistently with the justice and truth of God? How could he forgive, and yet maintain the honour of his own law, and the stability of his own throne. There is no more difficult subject in a human administration than that of pardon; and there is none which so much perplexes those who are intrusted with executive power.

(3.) The way in which pardon has been shown to the guilty here would excite their deep attention. It has been in a manner entirely consistent with justice and truth; showing, through the great sacrifice made on the cross, that the attributes of justice and mercy may both be exercised: that, while God may pardon to any extent, he does it in no instance the expense of justice and truth. This blending of the attributes of the Almighty in beautiful harmony; this manifesting of mercy to the guilty and the lost; this raising up a fallen and rebellious race to the favour and friendship of God; and this opening before a dying creature the hope of immortality, was what could be seen by the angels nowhere else: and hence it is no wonder that they hasten with such interest to our world, to learn the mysteries of redeeming love. Every step in the process of recovering a sinner must be new to them, for it is unseen elsewhere; and the whole work, the atonement, the pardon and renovation of the sinner, the conflict of the child of God with his spiritual foes, the supports of religion in the time of sickness and temptation, the bed of death, the sleep in the tomb, the separate flight of the soul to its final abode, the resurrection of the body, and the solemn scenes of the judgment, all must open new fields of thought to an angelic mind, and attract the heavenly inhabitants to our world, to learn here what they cannot learn in their own abodes, however otherwise bright, where sin, and suffering, and death, and redemption are unknown. In view of these truths we may add:

(1.) The work of redemption is worthy of the study of the profoundest minds. Higher talent than any earthly talent has been employed in studying it; for, to the most exalted intellects of heaven, it has been a theme of the deepest interest. No mind on earth is too exalted to be engaged in this study; no intellect here is so profound that it would not find in this study a range of inquiry worthy of itself.

(2.) This is a study that peculiarly appropriate to man. The angels have no other interest in it than that which arises from a desire to know God, and from a benevolent regard for the welfare of others; we have a personal interest in it of the highest kind. It pertains primarily to us. The plan was formed for us. Our eternal all depends upon it. The angels would be safe and happy if they did not fully understand it; if we do not understand it, we are lost for ever. It has claims to their attention as a wonderful exhibition of the character and purposes of God, and as they are interested in the welfare of others; it claims our attention because our eternal welfare depends on our accepting the offer of mercy made through a Saviour's blood.

(3.) How amazing, then, how wonderful, is the indifference of man to this and glorious work! How wonderful, that neither as a matter of speculation, nor of personal concern, he can be induced to look into these things! "How wonderful that all other subjects engross his attention, and excite inquiry; but that for this he feels no concern, and that here he finds nothing to interest him! It is not unreasonable to suppose, that amidst all the other topics of wonder in this plan as seen by angels, this is not the least—that man by nature takes no interest in it; that in so stupendous a work, performed in his own world, he feels no concern; that he is unmoved when he is told that even God became incarnate, and appeared on the earth where he himself dwells; and that, busy and interested as he is in other things, often of a most trifling nature, he has no concern for that on which is suspended his own eternal happiness. If heaven was held in mute astonishment when the Son of God left the courts of glory to be poor, to be persecuted, to bleed, to die, not less must be the astonishment than when, from those lofty heights, the angelic hosts look down upon a race unconcerned amidst wonders such as those of the incarnation and the atonement!

{b} "not unto themselves" Heb 11:39,40 {c} "Holy Ghost" Ac 2:4; 2 Co 1:22 {*} "Ghost" "Spirit" {d} "angels" Eph 3:10


Verse 13. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind. The allusion here is to the manner in which the Orientals were accustomed to dress. They wear loose, flowing robes, so that, when they wished to run, or to fight, or to apply themselves to any business, they are obliged to bind their garments close around them. See Barnes "Mt 5:38, seq. The meaning here is, that they were to have their minds in constant preparation to discharge the duties, or to endure the trials of life—like those who were prepared for labour, for a race, or for a conflict.

Be sober. See Barnes "1 Ti 3:2" See Barnes "Tit 1:8".

And hope to the end. Marg., perfectly. The translation in the text is the most correct. It means, that they were not to become faint or weary in their trials. They were not to abandon the hopes of the gospel, but were to cherish those hopes to the end of life, whatever opposition they might meet with, and however much might be done by others to induce them to apostatize. Comp. See Barnes "Heb 10:35". See Barnes "Heb 10:36".

For the grace that is to be brought unto you. For the favour that shall then be bestowed upon you; to wit, salvation. The word brought here means, that this great favour which they hoped for would be borne to them by the Saviour on his return from heaven.

At the revelation of Jesus Christ. When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in his glory; that is, when he comes to judge the world. See Barnes "2 Th 1:7".

{a} "gird up" Lu 12:35 {b} "sober" Lu 21:34 {1} "hope" "perfectly" {*} "revelation" "manifestation"


Verse 14. As obedient children. That is, conduct yourselves as becomes the children of God, by obeying his commands; by submitting to his will; and by manifesting unwavering confidence in him as your Father, at all times.

Not fashioning yourselves. Not forming or modelling your life. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 12:2".

The idea is, that they were to have some model or example, in accordance with which they were to frame their lives, but that they were not to make their own former principles and conduct the model. The Christian is to be as different from what he was himself before conversion as he is from his fellow-men. He is to be governed by new laws, to aim at new objects, and to mould his life in accordance with new principles. Before conversion, he was

(a.) supremely selfish;

(b.) he lived for personal gratification;

(c.) he gave free indulgence to his appetites and passions, restrained only by a respect for the decencies of life, and by a reference to his own health, property, or reputation, without regard to the will of God;

(d.) he conformed himself to the customs and opinions around him, rather than to the requirements of his Maker;

(e.) he lived for worldly aggrandizements, his supreme object being wealth or fame; or

(f.) in many cases, those who are now Christians, gave indulgence to every passion which they wished to gratify, regardless of reputation, health, property, or salvation. Now they are to be governed by a different rule, and their own former standard of morals and of opinions is no longer their guide, but the will of God.

According to the former lusts in your ignorance. When you were ignorant of the requirements of the gospel, and gave yourselves up to the unrestrained indulgence of your passions.

{d} "fashioning" Ro 12:2 {+} "lusts" "desires"


Verse 15. But as he which hath called you is holy. On the word called, See Barnes "Eph 4:1".

The meaning here is, that the model or example in accordance with which they were to frame their lives, should be the character of that God who had called them into his kingdom. They were to be like him. Comp. See Barnes "Mt 5:48".

So be ye holy in all manner of conversation. In all your conduct. On the word conversation, See Barnes "Php 1:27".

The meaning is, that since God is holy, and we profess to be his followers, we ought also to be holy.


Verse 16. Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. Le 11:44. This command was addressed at first to the Israelites, but it is with equal propriety addressed to Christians, as the professed people of compared. The foundation of the command is, that they professed to be his people, and that as his people they ought to be like their God. See Barnes "Mic 4:5".

It is a great truth, that men everywhere will imitate the God whom they worship. They will form their character in accordance with his. They will regard what he does as right. They will attempt to rise no higher in virtue than the God whom they adore, and they will practise freely what he is supposed to do or approve. Hence, by knowing what are the characteristics of the gods which are worshipped by any people, we may form a correct estimate of the character of the people themselves; and hence, as the God who is the object of the Christian's worship is perfectly holy, the character of his worshippers should also be holy. And hence, also, we may see that the tendency of true religion is to make men pure. As the worship of the impure gods of the heathen moulds the character of the worshippers into their image, so the worship of Jehovah moulds the character of his professed friends into his image, and they become like him.

{e} "written" Le 11:44


Verse 17. And if ye call on the Father. That is, if you are true Christians, or truly pious—piety being represented in the Scriptures as calling on God, or as the worship of God. See Barnes "Ac 9:11" Ge 4:26; 1 Ki 18:24; Ps 116:17; 2 Ki 5:11; 1 Ch 16:8; Joe 2:32; Ro 10:13; Zep 3:9; 1 Co 1:2; Ac 2:21.

The word "Father" here is used evidently not to denote the Father in contradistinction to the Son, but as referring to God as the rather of the universe. 1 Pe 1:14 "As obedient children." God is often spoken of as the Father of the intelligent beings whom he has made. Christians worship him as a Father—as one having all the feelings of a kind and tender parent towards them. See Barnes "Ps 103:13, seq.

Who without respect of persons. Impartiality. Who is not influenced in his treatment of men by a regard to rank, wealth, beauty, or any external distinction. See Barnes "Ac 10:34, See Barnes "Ro 2:11".

Judgeth according to every man's work. He judges each one according to his character; or to what he has done, Re 22:12. See Barnes "2 Co 5:10".

The meaning is, "You worship a God who will judge every man according to his real character, and you should therefore lead such lives as he can approve."

Pass the time of your sojourning. "Of your temporary residence on earth. This is not your permanent home, but you are strangers and sojourners." See Barnes "Heb 11:13".

In fear. See Barnes "Php 2:12" See Barnes "Heb 12:28".

With true reverence or veneration for God and his law. Religion is often represented as the reverent fear of God, De 6:2,13,24; Pr 1:7; 3:13; 14:26,27, et saepe al.

{f} "fear" Php 2:12


Verse 18. Forasmuch as ye know. This is an argument for a holy life, derived from the fact that they were redeemed, and from the manner in which their redemption had been effected. There is no more effectual way to induce true Christians to consecrate themselves entirely to God, than to refer them to the fact that they are not their own, but have been purchased by the blood of Christ. That ye were not redeemed. On the word rendered redeemed, (lutrow lutroo,) See Barnes "Tit 2:14".

The word occurs in the New Testament only in Lu 24:21, See Barnes "Tit 2:14, and in this place. The noun (lutron—lutron) is found in Mt 20:28; Mr 10:45, rendered ransom. For the meaning of the similar word, apolutrwsiv — (apolutrosis,) See Barnes "Ro 3:24".

This word occurs in Lu 21:28; Ro 3:24; 8:23; 1 Co 1:30; Eph 1:7,14; 4:30; Col 1:14; Heb 9:15, in all which places it is rendered redemption; and in Heb 11:35, where it is rendered deliverance. The word here means that they were rescued from sin and death by the blood of Christ, as the valuable consideration on account of which it was done; that is, the blood, or the life of Christ offered as a sacrifice, effected the same purpose in regard to justice and to the maintenance of the principles of moral government, which the punishment of the sinner himself would have done. It was that which God was pleased to accept in the place of the punishment of the sinner, as answering the same great ends in his administration. The principles of his truth and justice could as certainly be maintained in this way as by the punishment of the guilty themselves. If so, then there was no obstacle to their salvation; and they might, on repentance, be consistently pardoned and taken to heaven.

With corruptible things, as silver and gold. On the word corruptible, as applicable to gold, See Barnes "1 Pe 1:7".

Silver and gold usually constitute the price or the valuable consideration paid for the redemption of captives. It is clear that the obligation of one who is redeemed, to love his benefactor, is in proportion to the price which is paid for his ransom. The idea here is, that a price far more valuable than any amount of silver or gold had been paid for the redemption of the people of God, and that they were under proportionate obligation to devote themselves to his service. They were redeemed by the life of the Son of God offered in their behalf; and between the value of that life and silver and gold there could be no comparison.

From your vain conversation. Your vain conduct, or manner of life. See Barnes "1 Pe 1:15".

The word vain, applied to conduct, (mataiav,) means properly empty, fruitless. It is a word often applied to the worship of idols, as being nothing, worthless, unable to help, (Ac 14:15; 1 Ki 16:13; 2 Ki 17:15; Jer 2:5,8,19); and is probably used in a similar sense in this place. The apostle refers to their former worship of idols, and to all the abominations connected with that service, as being vain and unprofitable; as the worship of nothing real, (comp. 1 Co 8:4") , "We know that an idol is nothing in the world;" and as resulting in a course of life that answered none of the proper ends of living. From that they had been redeemed by the blood of Christ.

Received by tradition from your fathers. The mode of worship which had been handed down from father to son. The worship of idols depends on no better reason than that it is that which has been practised in ancient times; and it is kept up now in all lands, in a great degree, only by the fact that it has had the sanction of the venerated men of other generations.

{*} "from your fathers" "delivered down from"


Verse 19. But with the precious blood of Christ. On the use of the word blood, and the reason why the efficacy of the atonement is said to be in the blood, See Barnes "Ro 3:25".

The word precious (timiov,) is a word which would be applied to that which is worth much; which is costly. Comp. for the use of the noun (timh) in this sense, Mt 27:6, "The price of blood;" Ac 4:34; 5:2,3; 7:16.

See also for the use of the adjective, (timiov,) Re 17:4, "gold and precious stones." Re 18:12, "vessels of most precious wood." Re 21:11, "a stone most precious." The meaning here is, that the blood of Christ had a value above silver and gold; it was worth more, to wit,

(1.) in itself—being a more valuable thing and

(2.) in effecting our redemption.

It accomplished what silver and gold could not do. The universe had nothing more valuable to offer, of which we can conceive, than the blood of the Son of God.

As of a lamb. That is, of Christ regarded as a lamb offered for sacrifice. See Barnes "Joh 1:29".

Without blemish and without spot. Such a lamb only was allowed to be offered in sacrifice, Le 22:20-24; Mal 1:8. This was required,

(1.) because it was proper that man should offer that which was regarded as perfect in its kind; and,

(2.) because only that would be a proper symbol of the great sacrifice which was to be made by the Son of God. The idea was thus kept up from age to age that he, of whom all these victims were the emblems, would be perfectly pure.

{a} "lamb" Joh 1:29,36; Re 13:8


Verse 20. Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world. That is, it was foreordained, or predetermined, that he should be the great atoning Sacrifice for sin. On the meaning of the word foreordained, (proginwskw,) see Ro 8:29. The word is rendered which knew, Ac 26:5; foreknew and foreknow, Ro 8:29; 11:2; foreordained in 1 Pe 1:20; and know before, 2 Pe 2:17. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The sense is, that the plan was formed, and the arrangements made for the atonement, before the world was created. Before the foundation of the world. That is, from eternity. It was before man was formed; before the earth was made; before any of the material universe was brought into being; before the angels were created. See Barnes "Mt 15:34; Joh 17:24; Eph 1:4.

But was manifest. Was revealed. See Barnes "1 Ti 3:16".

In these last times. In this, the last dispensation of things on the earth. See Barnes "Heb 1:2".

For you. For your benefit or advantage. See Barnes "1 Pe 1:12". It follows from what is said in this verse,

(1.) that the atonement was not an after-thought on the part of God. It entered into his plan when he made the world, and was revolved in his purposes from eternity.

(2.) It was not a device to supply a defect in the system; that is, it was not adopted because the system did not work well, or because God had been disappointed. It was arranged before man was created, and when none but God could know whether he would stand or fall.

(3.) The creation of the earth must have had some reference to this plan of redemption, and that plan must have been regarded as in itself so glorious, and so desirable, that it was deemed best to bring the world into existence that the plan might be developed, though it would involve the certainty that the race would fall, and that many would perish. It was, on the whole, more wise and benevolent that the race should be created with a certainty that they would apostatize, than it would be that the race should not be created, and the plan of salvation be unknown to distant worlds. See Barnes "1 Pe 1:12".

{+} "verily" "indeed" {b} "before" Re 13:8


Verse 21. Who by him do believe in God. Faith is sometimes represented particularly as exercised in God, and sometimes in Christ. It is always a characteristic of true religion that a man has faith in God. See Barnes "Mr 11:22".

That raised him up from the dead. See Barnes "Ac 2:24" See Barnes "Ac 3:15, See Barnes "Ac 3:26" See Barnes "Ac 4:10" See Barnes "Ac 5:30" See Barnes "Ac 13:30" See Barnes "Ro 4:24" See Barnes "1 Co 15:15".

And gave him glory. By exalting him at his own right hand in heaven, Php 2:9; 1 Ti 3:16; Eph 1:20,21.

That your faith and hope might be in God. That is, by raising up the Lord Jesus, and exalting him to heaven, he has laid the foundation of confidence in his promises, and of the hope of eternal life. See Barnes "1 Pe 1:3".

Comp. 1 Co 15; Col 1:27; 1 Th 1:3; 1 Ti 1:1.

{c} "and gave" Mt 28:18; Php 2:9


Verse 22. Seeing ye have purified your souls. Greek, "Having purified your souls." The apostles were never afraid of referring to human agency as having an important part in saving the soul. Comp. 1 Co 4:15. No one is made pure without personal intention or effort—any more than one becomes accomplished or learned without personal exertion. One of the leading effects of the agency of the Holy Spirit is to excite us to make efforts for our own salvation; and there is no true piety which is not the fair result of culture, as really as the learning of a Porson or a Parr, or the harvest of the farmer. The amount of effort which we make "in purifying our souls" is usually also the measure of our attainments in religion. No one can expect to have any true piety beyond the amount of effort which he makes to be conformed to God, any more than one can expect wealth, or fame, or learning, without exertion.

In obeying the truth. That is, your yielding to the requirements of truth, and to its fair influence on your minds, has been the means of your becoming pure. The truth here referred to is, undoubtedly, that which is revealed in the gospel—the great system of truth respecting the redemption of the world.

Through the Spirit. By the agency of the Holy Spirit. It is his office to apply truth to the mind; and however precious the truth may be, and however adapted to secure certain results on the soul, it will never produce those effects without the influences of the Holy Spirit. compare Tit 3:5,6. See Barnes "Joh 3:5".

Unto unfeigned love of the brethren. The effect of the influence of the Holy Spirit in applying the truth has been to produce sincere love to all who are true Christians. Comp. See Barnes "Joh 13:34" See Barnes "1 Th 4:9". See also 1 Jo 3:14-18.

See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. Comp. See Barnes "Heb 13:1" See Barnes "John 13:34" See Barnes "Joh 13:35" See Barnes "Eph 5:2".

The phrase "with a pure heart fervently," means

(1.) that it should be genuine love, proceeding from a heart in which there is no guile or hypocrisy; and (2.) that it should be intense affection, (ektenwv;) not cold and formal, but ardent and strong. If there is any reason why we should love true Christians at all, there is the same reason why our attachment to them should be intense. This verse establishes the following points:

(1.) That truth was at the foundation of their piety. They had none of which this was not the proper basis; and in which the foundation was not as broad as the superstructure. There is no religion in the world which is not the fair developement of truth; which the truth is not fitted to produce.

(2.) They became Christians as the result of obeying the truth; or by yielding to its fair influence on the soul. Their own minds complied with its claims; their own hearts yielded; there was the exercise of their own volitions. This expresses a doctrine of great importance.

(a.) There is always the exercise of the powers of the mind in true religion; always a yielding to truth; always a voluntary reception of it into the soul.

(b.) Religion is always of the nature of obedience. It consists in yielding to what is true and right; in laying aside the feelings of opposition, and in allowing the mind to follow where truth and duty lead.

(c.) This would always take place when the truth is presented to the mind, if there were no voluntary resistance. If all men were ready to yield to the truth, they would become Christians. The only reason why all men do not love and serve God, is that they refuse to yield to what they know to be true and right.

(3.) The agency by which this was accomplished was that of the Holy Ghost. Truth is adapted in itself to a certain end or result, as seed is adapted to produce a harvest. But it will no more of itself produce its appropriate effects on the soul, than seed will produce a harvest without rains, and dews, and suns. In all cases, therefore, the proper effect of truth on the soul is to be traced to the influence of the Holy Spirit, as the germination of the seed in the earth is to the foreign cause that acts on it. No man was ever converted by the mere effect of truth without the agency of the Holy Ghost, any more than seed germinates when laid on a hard rock.

(4.) The effect of this influence of the Holy Spirit in applying the truth is to produce love to all who are Christians. Love to Christian brethren springs up in the soul of every one who is truly converted: and this love is just as certain evidence that the seed of truth has germinated in the soul, as the green and delicate blade that peeps up through the earth is evidence that the seed sown has been quickened into life. Comp. See Barnes "1 Th 4:9" See Barnes "1 Jo 3:14".

We may learn hence,

(a.) that truth is of inestimable value. It is as valuable as religion itself, for all the religion in the world is the result of it.

(b.) Error and falsehood are mischievous and evil in the same degree. There is no true religion which is the fair result of error; and all the pretended religion that is sustained by error is worthless.

(c.) If a system of religion, or a religious measure or doctrine, cannot be defended by truth, it should be at once abandoned. Comp. See Barnes "Job 13:7".

(d.) We should avoid the places where error is taught. Pr 19:27, "Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge."

(e.) We should place ourselves under the teachings of truth, for there is truth enough in the world to occupy all our time and attention; and it is only by truth that our minds can be benefited.

{d} "truth" Joh 17:17,19 {e} "unfeigned love" 1 Jo 3:14,18


Verse 23. Being born again. See Barnes "Joh 3:3".

Not of corruptible seed. "Not by virtue of any descent from human parents." Doddridge. The result of such a birth, or of being begotten in this way—for so the word rendered born again more properly signifies is only corruption and decay. We are begotten only to die. There is no permanent, enduring life produced by that. It is in this sense that this is spoken of as "corruptible seed," because it results in decay and death. The word here rendered seed—spora—occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.

But of incorruptible. By truth, communicating a living principle to the soul which can never decay. Comp. 1 Jo 3:9: "His seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."

By the word of God. See Barnes "Jas 1:18" "Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures." Comp. See Barnes "Joh 1:13".

It is the uniform doctrine of the Scriptures that Divine truth is made the instrument of quickening the soul into spiritual life.

Which liveth and abideth for ever. This expression may either refer to God, as living for ever, or to the word of God, as being for ever true. Critics are about equally divided in the interpretation. The Greek will bear either construction. Most of the recent critics incline to the latter opinion—that it refers to the word of God, or to his doctrine. So Rosenmuller, Doddridge, Bloomfield, Wolf, Macknight, Clarke. It seems to me, however, that the more natural construction of the Greek is to refer it to God, as ever-living or enduring; and this interpretation agrees well with the connexion. The idea then is, that as God is everliving, that which is produced directly by him in the human soul, by the instrumentality of truth, may be expected also to endure for ever. It will not be like the offspring of human parents, themselves mortal, liable to early and certain decay, but may be expected to be as enduring as its ever-living Creator.

{a} "born again" Joh 1:13 {b} "word" Jas 1:18


Verse 24. For all flesh is as grass. That is, all human beings, all men. The connexion here is this: The apostle, in the previous verse, had been contrasting that which is begotten by man with that which is begotten by God, in reference to its permanency. The former was corruptible and decaying; the latter abiding. The latter was produced by God, who lives for ever; the former by the agency of man, who is himself corruptible and dying. It was not unnatural, then, to dwell upon the feeble, frail, decaying nature of man, in contrast with God; and the apostle, therefore, says that "all flesh, every human being, is like grass. There is no stability in anything that man does or produces, lie himself resembles grass that soon fades and withers; but God and his word endure for ever the same." The comparison of a human being with grass, or with flowers, is very beautiful, and is quite common in the Scriptures. The comparison turns on the fact, that the grass or the flower, however green or beautiful it may be, soon loses its freshness; is withered; is cut down, and dies. Thus in Ps 103:15,16:

"As for man, his days are as grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth,
For the wind passeth over it and it is gone,
And the place thereof shall know it no more."

So in Isa 40:6-8; a passage which is evidently referred to by Peter in this place:—

"The voice said, Cry.
And he said, What shall I cry?
All flesh is grass,
And all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.
The grass withereth,
The flower fadeth.
When the wind of Jehovah bloweth upon it:
Surely the people is grass,
The grass withereth,
The flower fadeth,
But the word of our God shall stand for ever."
See Barnes "Jas 1:10,11.

This sentiment is beautifully imitated by the great dramatist in the speech of Wolsey:—
"This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth
The tender leaves of hope, to-morrow blossoms,
And bears his blushing honours thick upon him.
The third day comes a frost, a killing frost.
And—when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
His greatness is a ripening—nips his root,
And then he falls."

Comp. See Barnes "Isa 40:6-8".

And all the glory of man. All that man prides himself on—his wealth, rank, talents, beauty, learning, splendour of equipage or apparel.

As the flower of grass. The word rendered "grass," (cortov,) properly denotes herbage; that which furnishes food for animals—pasture, hay. Probably the prophet Isaiah, from whom this passage is taken, referred rather to the appearance of a meadow or a field, with mingled grass and flowers, constituting a beautiful landscape, than to mere grass. In such a field, the grass soon withers with heat, and with the approach of winter; and the flowers soon fade and fall.

The grass withereth, and the flower thereof fadeth away. This is repeated, as is common in the Hebrew writings, for the sake of emphasis, or strong confirmation.

{1} "For" "For that" {c} "For all flesh" Isa 40:6-8


Verse 25. But the word of the Lord. In Isa 40:8, "the word of our God." The sense is not materially varied.

Endureth for ever. Is unmoved, fixed, permanent. Amidst all the revolutions on earth, the fading glories of natural objects, and the wasting strength of man, his truth remains unaffected. Its beauty never fades; its power is never enfeebled. The gospel system is as lovely now as it was when it was first revealed to man, and it has as much power to save as it had when first applied to a human heart. We see the grass wither at the coming on of autumn; we see the flower of the field decay; we see man, though confident in his strength, and rejoicing in the rigour of his frame, cut down in an instant; we see cities decline, and kingdoms lose their power: but the word of God is the same now that it was at first, and, amidst all the changes which may ever occur on the earth, that will remain the same.

And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. That a is, this gospel is the "word" which was referred to by Isaiah in the passage which has been quoted, In view, then, of the affecting truth stated in the close of this chapter, 1 Pe 1:24,25, let us learn habitually to reflect on our feebleness and frailty. "We all do fade as a leaf," Isa 64:6. Our glory is like the flower of the field. Our beauty fades, and our strength disappears, as easily as the beauty and rigour of the flower that grows up in the morning, and that in the evening is cut down, Ps 90:6. The rose that blossoms on the cheek of youth may wither as soon as any other rose; the brightness of the eye may become dim, as readily as the beauty of field covered with flowers; the darkness of death may come over the brow of manliness and intelligence, as readily as night settles down on the landscape; and our robes of adorning may be laid aside, as soon as beauty fades in a meadow full of flowers before the scythe of the mower. There is not an object of natural beauty on which we pride ourselves that will not decay; and soon all our pride and pomp will be laid low in the tomb. It is sad to look on a beautiful lily, a rose, a magnolia, and to think how soon all that beauty will disappear. It is more sad to look on a rosy cheek, a bright eye, a lovely form, an expressive brow, an open, serene, intelligent countenance, and to think how soon all that beauty and brilliancy will fade away. But amidst these changes which beauty undergoes, and the desolations which disease and death spread over the world, it is cheering to think that all is not so, There is that which does not change, which, never loses its beauty. "The word of the Lord" abides. His cheering promises, his assurances that there is brighter and better world, remain amidst all these changes the same. The traits which are drawn on the character by the religion of Christ, more lovely by far than the most delicate colouring of the lily, remain for ever. There they abide, augmenting in loveliness, when the rose fades from the cheek; when the brilliancy departs from the eye; when the body moulders away in the sepulchre. The beauty of religion is the only permanent beauty in the earth; and he that has that need not regret that that which in this mortal frame charms the eye shall fade away like the flower of the field.

{d} "this is the word" Joh 1:1,14; 2 Pe 1:19



This chapter may be divided into three parts:—

I. An exhortation to those whom the apostle addressed, to lay aside all malice, and all guile, and to receive the simple and plain instructions of the word of God with the earnestness with which babes desire their appropriate food, 1 Pe 2:1-3. Religion reproduces the traits of character of children in those whom it influences and they ought to regard themselves as new-born babes, and seek that kind of spiritual nutriment which is adapted to their condition as such.

II. The privileges which they had obtained by becoming Christians, while so many others had stumbled at the very truths by which they had been saved, 1 Pe 2:4-10.

(a.) They had come to the Saviour, as the living stone on which the whole spiritual temple was founded, though others had rejected him; they had become a holy priesthood; they had been admitted to the privilege of offering true sacrifices, acceptable to God, 1 Pe 2:4,5.

(b.) To them Christ was precious as the chief corner-stone, on which all their hopes rested, and on which the edifice that was to be reared was safe, though that foundation of the Christian hope had been rejected and disallowed by others, 1 Pe 2:6-8.

(c.) They were now a chosen people, an holy nation, appointed to show forth on earth the praises of God, though formerly they were not regarded as the people of God, and were not within the range of the methods by which he was accustomed to show mercy, 1 Pe 2:9,10.

III. Various duties growing out of these privileges, and out of the various relations which they sustained in life, 1 Pe 2:11-25.

(a.) The duty of living as strangers and pilgrims; of abstaining from all those fleshly lusts which war against the soul; and of leading lives of entire honesty in relation to the Gentiles, by whom they were surrounded, 1 Pe 2:11,12.

(b.) The duty of submitting to civil rulers, 1 Pe 2:13-17.

(c.) The duty of servants to submit to their masters, though their condition was a hard one in life, and they were called to suffer wrongfully, 1 Pe 2:18-20.

(d.) This duty was enforced on servants, and on all, from the example of Christ, who in more wronged than any others can be, and who yet bore all his sufferings with entire patience, leaving us an example that we should follow in his steps, 1 Pe 2:21-25.

Verse 1. Wherefore laying aside. On the word rendered laying aside, see Ro 13:12; Eph 4:22,25; Col 3:8.

The allusion is to putting off clothes; and the meaning is, that we are to cast off these things entirely; that is, we are no longer to practise them. The word wherefore (oun) refers to the reasonings in the first chapter. In view of the considerations stated there, we should renounce all evil.

All malice. All evil, (kakian.) The word malice we commonly apply now to a particular kind of evil, denoting extreme enmity of heart, ill-will, a disposition to injure others without cause, from mere personal gratification, or from a spirit of revenge.—-Webster. The Greek word, however, includes evil of all kinds. See Barnes "Ro 1:29".

Comp. See Barnes "Ac 8:22, where it is rendered wickedness, and 1 Co 5:8; 14:20; Eph 4:31; Col 3:8; Tit 3:3.

And all guile. Deceit of all kinds. See Barnes "Ro 1:29" See Barnes "2 Co 12:16" See Barnes "1 Th 2:3".

And hypocrisies. See Barnes "1 Ti 4:2" See Barnes "Mt 23:28" See Barnes "Ga 2:13, on the word rendered dissimulation. The word means, feigning to be what we are not; assuming a false appearance of religion; cloking a wicked purpose under the appearance of piety:

And envies. Hatred of others on account of some excellency which they have, or something which they possess which we do not. See Barnes "Ro 1:29".

And all evil speaking. Greek, Speaking against others. This word (katalalia) occurs only here and in 2 Co 12:20, where it is rendered backbitings. It would include all unkind or slanderous speaking against others. This is by no means an uncommon fault in the world, and it is one of the designs of religion to guard against it. Religion teaches us to lay aside whatever guile, insincerity, and false appearances we may have acquired, and to put on the simple honesty and openness of children. We all acquire more or less of guile and insincerity ill the course of life, We learn to conceal our sentiments and feelings, and almost unconsciously come to appear different from what we really are. It is not so with children. In the child, every emotion of the bosom: appears as it is. Nature there work, well and beautifully. Every emotion is expressed; every feeling of the heart is developed; and in the cheeks, the open eye, the joyous or sad countenance, we know all that there is in the bosom, as certainly as we know all that there is in the rose by its colour and its fragrance. Now, it is one of the purposes of religion to bring us back to this state, and to strip off all the subterfuges which we may have acquired in life; and he in whom this effect is not accomplished has never been converted. A man that is characteristically deceitful, cunning, and crafty, cannot be a Christian. "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven," Mt 18:3.

{a} "laying aside all malice" Eph 4:22,31


Verse 2. As new-born babes. The phrase here used would properly denote those which were just born, and hence Christians who had just begun the spiritual life. See the word explained See Barnes "2 Ti 3:15".

It is not uncommon, in the Scriptures, to compare Christians with little children. See Barnes "Mt 18:3"

for the reasons of this comparison. Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 3:2"

See Barnes "Heb 5:12,14".

Desire the sincere milk of the word. The pure milk of the word, On the meaning of the word sincere, See Barnes "Eph 6:24".

The Greek word here (adolon) means, properly, that which is without guile or falsehood; then unadulterated, pure, genuine. The Greek adjective rendered "of the word," (logikon,) means properly rational, pertaining to reason, or mind; and, in the connexion here with milk, means that which is adapted to sustain the soul. See Barnes "Ro 12:1".

There is no doubt that there is allusion to the gospel in its purest and most simple form, as adapted to be the nutriment of the new-born soul. Probably there are two ideas here; one, that the proper aliment of piety is simple truth; the other, that the truths which they were to desire were the more elementary truths of the gospel, such as would be adapted to those who were babes in knowledge.

That ye may grow thereby. As babes grow on their proper nutriment. Piety in the heart is susceptible of growth, and is made to grow by its proper element, as a plant or a child is, and will grow in proportion as it has the proper kind of nutriment, from this verse we may see,

(1.) the reason of the injunction of the Saviour to Peter, to "feed his lambs," Joh 21:15; 1 Pe 2:1,2.

Young Christians strongly resemble children, babes; and they need watchful care, and kind attention, and appropriate aliment, as much as new-born infants do. Piety receives its form much from its commencement; and the character of the whole Christian life will be determined in a great degree by the views entertained at first, and the kind of instruction which is given to those who are just entering on their Christian course. We may also see,

(2.) that it furnishes evidence of conversion, if we have a love for the simple and pure truths of the gospel, It is evidence that we have spiritual life, as really as the desire of appropriate nourishment is evidence that an infant has natural life. The new-born soul loves the truth. It is nourished by it. It perishes without it. The gospel is just what it wants; and without that it could not live. We may also learn from this verse,

(3.) that the truths of the gospel which are best adapted to that state, are those which are simple and plain. See Barnes "Heb 5:12, seq. It is not philosophy that is needed then; it is not the profound and difficult doctrines of the gospel; it is those elementary truths which he at the foundation of all religion, and which can be comprehended by children: Religion makes every one docile and humble as a child; and whatever may be the age at which one is converted, or whatever attainments he may have made in science, he relishes the same truths which are loved by the youngest and most unlettered child that is brought into the kingdom of God.

{b} "babes" Mt 18:3 {*} "sincere" "pure" {c} "milk" 1 Co 3:2


Verse 3. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Or rather, as Doddridge renders it, "Since you have tasted that the Lord is gracious." The apostle did not mean to express any doubt on the subject, but to state that, since they had had an experimental acquaintance with the grace of God, they should desire to increase more and more in the knowledge and love of him, On the use of the word taste, See Barnes "Heb 6:4".

{a} "tasted" Ps 34:8


Verse 4. To whom coming. To the Lord Jesus, for so the word "Lord" is to be understood in 1 Pe 2:3. See Barnes "Ac 1:24".

The idea here is, that they had come to him for salvation, while the great mass of men rejected him. Others "disallowed" him, and turned away from him, but they had seen that he was the one chosen or appointed of God, and had come to him in order to be saved. Salvation is often represented as coming to Christ. See Mt 11:28.

As unto a living stone. The allusion in this passage is to Isa 28:16, "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste." See Barnes "Isa 28:16".

There may be also possibly an allusion to Ps 118:22, "The stone which the builders disallowed, is become the head-stone of the corner." The reference is to Christ as the foundation on which the church is reared. He occupied the same place in regard to the church which a foundation-stone does to the edifice that is reared upon it. Comp. Mt 7:24,25. See Barnes "Ro 9:33, See Barnes "Eph 2:20, seq. The phrase "living stone" is however unusual, and is not found, I think, except in this place. There seems to be an incongruity in it, in attributing life to a stone, yet the meaning is not difficult to be understood. The purpose was not to speak of a temple, like that at Jerusalem, made up of gold and costly stones; but of a temple made up of living materials—of redeemed men—in which God now resides. In speaking of that, it was natural to refer to the foundation on which the whole rested, and to speak of that as corresponding to the whole edifice. It was all a living temple—a temple composed of living materials—from the foundation to the top. Compare the expression in Joh 4:10, "He would have given thee living water;" that is, water which would have imparted life to the soul. So Christ imparts life to the whole spiritual temple that is reared on him as a foundation.

Disallowed indeed of men. Rejected by them, first by the Jews, in causing him to be put to death; and then by all men when he is offered to them as their Saviour. See Barnes "Isa 53:3".
See Barnes "Ps 118:22"

"Which the builders refused." Comp. See Barnes "Mt 21:42" See Barnes "Ac 4:11".

But chosen of God. Selected by him as the suitable foundation on which to rear his church.

And precious. Valuable. The universe had nothing more valuable on which to rear the spiritual temple.

{b} "disallowed" Ps 118:22 {*} "disallowed" "rejected"


Verse 5. Ye also, as lively stones. Gr., "living stones." The word should have been so rendered. The word lively with us now has a different meaning from living, and denotes active, quick, sprightly. The Greek word is the same as that used in the previous verse, and rendered living. The meaning is, that the materials of which the temple here referred to was composed, were living materials throughout. The foundation is a living foundation, and all the superstructure is composed of living materials. The purpose of the apostle here is to compare the church to a beautiful temple—such as the temple in Jerusalem, and to show that it is complete in all its parts, as that was. It has within itself what corresponds with everything that was valuable in that. It is a beautiful structure like that; and as in that there was a priesthood, and there were real and acceptable sacrifices offered, so it is in the Christian church. The Jews prided themselves much on their temple. It was a most costly and splendid edifice. It was the place where God was worshipped, and where he was supposed to dwell. It had an imposing service, and there was acceptable worship rendered there. As a new dispensation was introduced; as the tendency of the Christian system was to draw off the worshippers from that temple, and to teach them that God could be worshipped as acceptably elsewhere as at Jerusalem, (Joh 4:21-23;) as Christianity did not inculcate the necessity of rearing splendid temples for the worship of God; and as in fact the temple at Jerusalem was about to be destroyed for ever, it was important to show that in the Christian church there might be found all that was truly beautiful and valuable in the temple at Jerusalem; that it had what corresponded to what was in fact most precious there, and that there was still a most magnificent and beautiful temple on the earth. Hence the sacred writers labour to show that all was found in the church that had made the temple at Jerusalem so glorious, and that the great design contemplated by the erection of that splendid edifices, —the maintenance of the worship of God was now accomplished in a more glorious manner than even in the services of that house. For there was a temple, made up of living materials, which was still the peculiar dwelling-place of God on the earth. In that temple there was a holy priesthood—for every Christian was a priest. In that temple there were sacrifices offered, as acceptable to God as in the former—for they were spiritual sacrifices, offered continually. These thoughts were often dwelt upon by the apostle Paul, and are here illustrated by Peter, evidently with the same design, to impart consolation to those who had never been permitted to worship at the temple in Jerusalem, and to comfort those Jews, now converted to Christianity, who saw that that splendid and glorious edifice was about to be destroyed. The peculiar abode of God on the earth was now removed from that temple to the Christian church, The first aspect in which this is illustrated here is, that the temple of God was made up of living stones;" that is, that the materials were not inanimate stones, but endued with life, and so much more valuable than those employed in the temple at Jerusalem, as the soul is more precious than any materials of stone. There were living beings which composed that temple, constituting a more beautiful structure, and a more appropriate dwelling-place for God, than any edifice could be made of stone, however costly or valuable. A spiritual house.

A spiritual temple, not made of perishable materials, like that at Jerusalem; not composed of matter, as that was, but made up of redeemed souls—a temple more appropriate to be the residence of one who is a pure spirit. See Barnes "Eph 2:19, seq. and 1 Co 6:19,20. An holy priesthood. In the temple at Jerusalem, the priesthood appointed to minister there, and to offer sacrifices, an essential part of the arrangement. It was important, to show that this was not overlooked in the spiritual that God was raising. Accordingly, the apostle says that amply provided for, by constituting the whole body of Christians to be in fact a priesthood. Every one is engaged in offering sacrifice to God. The business is not intrusted to a particular class to be known as priests; there is not a particular portion to whom the name is to be peculiarly given; but every Christian is in fact a priest, and is engaged in offering an acceptable sacrifice to God. See Ro 1:6 "And hath made us kings and priests unto God." The Great High Priest in this service is the Lord Jesus Christ, (see the Epistle to the Hebrews, passim;) but besides him there is no one who sustains this office, except as it is borne by all the Christian members. There are ministers, elders, pastors, evangelists in the church; but there is no one who is a priest, except in the general sense that all are priests—-for the great sacrifice has been offered, and there is no expiation now to be made. The name priest, therefore, should never be conferred on a minister of the gospel. It is never so given in the New Testament, and there was a reason why it should not be. The proper idea of a priest is one who offers sacrifice; but the ministers of the New Testament have no sacrifices to offer—the one great and perfect oblation for the sins of the world having been made by the Redeemer on the cross. To him, and him alone, under the New Testament dispensation, should the name priest be given, as it is uniformly in the New Testament, except in the general sense in which it is given to all Christians. In the Roman Catholic communion it is consistent to give the name priest to a minister of the gospel, but it is wrong to do it. It is consistent, because they claim that a true sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ is offered in the mass. It is wrong, because that doctrine is wholly contrary to the New Testament, and is derogatory to the one perfect oblation which has been once made for the sins of the world, and in conferring on a class of men a degree of importance and of power to which they have no claim, and which is so liable to abuse. But in a Protestant church it is neither consistent nor right to give the name to a minister of religion. The only sense in which the term can now be used in the Christian church is a sense in which it is applicable to all Christians alike—that they" offer the sacrifice of prayer mid praise,"

To offer up spiritual sacrifices. Not bloody offerings, the blood of lambs and bullocks, but those which are the offerings of the heart—the sacrifices of prayer and praise. As there is a priest, there is also involved the notion of a sacrifice; but that which is offered is such as all Christians offer to God, proceeding from the heart, and breathed forth from the lips, and in a holy life. It is called sacrifice, not because at makes an expiation for sin, but because it is of the nature of worship. See Barnes "Heb 13:15" See Barnes "Heb 10:14".

Acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. See Barnes "Ro 12:1".

Through the merits of the great sacrifice made by the Redeemer on the cross. Our prayers and praises are in themselves so imperfect, and proceed from such polluted lips and hearts, that they can be acceptable only through him as our intercessor before the throne of God. See Barnes "Heb 9:24, See Barnes "Heb 9:25" See Barnes "Heb 10:19, seq.

{a} "scripture" Isa 28:16


Verse 7. Unto you therefore which believe. Christians are often called simply believers, because faith in the Savour is one of the prominent characteristics by which they are distinguished from their fellowmen. It sufficiently describes any man, to say that he is a believer in the Lord Jesus.

He is precious. Marg., an honour. That is, according to the margin, it is an honour to believe on him, and should be so regarded. This is true, but it is very doubtful whether this is the idea of Peter. The Greek is h timh; literally, "esteem, honour, respect, reverence;" then "value or price." The noun is probably used in the place of the adjective, in the sense of honourable, valued, precious; and it is not incorrectly rendered in the text, "he is precious." The connexion demands this interpretation. The apostle was not showing that it was an honour to believe on Christ, but was stating the estimate which was put on him by those who believe, as contrasted with the view taken of him by the world. The truth which is taught is, that while the Lord Jesus is rejected by the great mass of men, he is regarded by all Christians as of inestimable value.

I. Of the fact there can be no doubt. Somehow, Christians perceive a value in him which is seen in nothing else. This is evidenced

(a.) in their avowed estimate of him as their best friend;

(b.) in their being willing so far to honour him as to commit to him the keeping of their souls, resting the whole question of their salvation on him alone;

(c.) in their readiness to keep his commands, and to serve him, while the mass of men disobey him; and

(d.) in their being willing to die for him.

II. The reasons why he is so precious to them are such as these:

(1.) They are brought into a condition where they can appreciate his worth. To see the value of food, we must be hungry; of clothing, we must be exposed to the winter's blast; of home, we must be wanderers without a dwelling-place; of medicine, we must be sick; of competence, we must be poor. So, to see the value of the Saviour, we must see that we are poor, helpless, dying sinners; that the soul is of inestimable worth; that we have no merit of our own; and that unless some one interpose, we must perish. Every one who becomes a true Christian is brought to this condition; and in this state he can appreciate the worth of the Saviour. In this respect the condition of Christians is unlike that of the rest of mankind—for they are in no better state to appreciate the worth of the Saviour, than the man in health is to appreciate the value of the healing art, or than he who has never had a want unsupplied, the kindness of one who comes to us with an abundant supply of food.

2.) The Lord Jesus is in fact of more value to them than any other benefactor. We have had benefactors who have done us good, but none who have done us such good as he has. We have had parents, teachers, kind friends, who have provided for us, taught us, relieved us; but all that they have done for us is slight, compared with what he has done. The fruit of their kindness, for the most part, pertains to the present world; and they have not laid down their lives for us. What he has done pertains to our welfare to all eternity; it is the fruit of the sacrifice of his own life. How precious should the name and memory of one be who has laid down his own life to save us!

(3.) We owe all our hopes of heaven to him; and in proportion to the value of such a hope, he is precious to us. We have no hope of salvation but in him. Take that away—blot out the name and the work of the Redeemer—and we see no way in which we could be saved; we have no prospect of being saved. As our hope of heaven, therefore, is valuable to us; as it supports us in trial; as it comforts us in the hour of death, so is the Saviour precious: and the estimate which we form of him is in proportion to the value of such a hope.

(4.) There is an intrinsic value and excellency in the character of Christ, apart from his relation to us, which makes him precious to those who can appreciate his worth. In his character, abstractedly considered, there was more to attract, to interest, to love, than in that of any other one who ever lived in our world. There was more purity, more benevolence, more that was great in trying circumstances, more that was generous and self-denying, more that resembled God, than in any other one who ever appeared on earth. In the moral firmament, the character of Christ sustains a pre-eminence above all others who have lived, as great as the glory of the sun is superior to the feeble lights, though so numerous, which glimmer at midnight. With such views of him, it is not to be wondered at, that, however he may be estimated by the world, "to them who believe he is PRECIOUS."

But unto them which be disobedient. Literally, unwilling to be persuaded, (apeiyhv;) that is, those who refused to believe; who were obstinate or contumacious, Lu 1:17; Ro 1:30. The meaning is, that to them he is made a stone against which they impinge, and ruin themselves. See Barnes "1 Pe 2:8".

The stone which the builders disallowed. Which they rejected, or refused to make a corner-stone. The allusion here, by the word "builders," is primarily to the Jews, represented as raising a temple of salvation, or building with reference to eternal life. They refused to lay this stone, which God had appointed, as the foundation of their hopes, but preferred some other foundation. See this passage explained See Barnes "Mt 21:42" See Barnes "Ac 4:11" and See Barnes "Ro 9:33".

The same is made the head of the corner. That is, though it is rejected by the mass of men, yet God has in fact made it the corner-stone on which the whole spiritual temple rests, Ac 4:11,12. However men may regard it, there is, in fact, no other hope of heaven than that which is founded on the Lord Jesus. If men are not saved by him, he becomes to them a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence.

{1} "precious" "an honour" {*} "disobedient" "believe not" {b} "stone" Mt 21:42 {+} "disallowed" "rejected"


Verse 8. And a stone of stumbling. A stone over which they stumble, or against Which they impinge. The idea seems to be that of a cornerstone which projects from the building, against which they dash themselves, and by which they are made to fall. See Barnes "Mt 21:44".

The rejection of the Saviour becomes the means of their ruin. They refuse to build on him, and it is as if one should run against a solid projecting corner-stone of a house, that would certainly be the means of their destruction. Comp. See Barnes "Lu 1:34".

An idea similar to this occurs in Mt 21:44: "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken." The meaning is, that if this foundation-stone is not the means of their salvation, it will be of their ruin. It is not a matter of indifference whether they believe on him or not—whether they accept or reject him. They cannot reject him without the most fearful consequences to their souls.

And a rock of offence. This expresses substantially the same idea as the phrase "stone of stumbling." The word rendered "offence," skandalon, means properly "a trap-stick—a crooked stick on which the bait is fastened, which the animal strikes against, and so springs the trap," (Robinson, Lex.;) then a trap, gin, snare; and then anything which one strikes or stumbles against; a stumbling block. It then denotes that which is the cause or occasion of ruin. This language would be strictly applicable to the Jews, who rejected the Saviour on account of his humble birth, and whose rejection of him was made the occasion of the destruction of their temple, city, and nation. But it is also applicable to all who reject him, from whatever cause; for their rejection of him will be followed with ruin to their souls. It is a crime for which God will judge them as certainly as he did the Jews who disowned him and crucified him, for the offence is substantially the same. What might have been, therefore, the means of their salvation, is made the cause of their deeper condemnation.

Even to them which stumble at the word. To all who do this. That is, they take the same kind of offence at the gospel which the Jews did at the Saviour himself. It is substantially the same thing, and the consequences must be the same. How does the conduct of the man who rejects the Saviour now, differ from that of him who rejected him when he was on the earth?

Being disobedient. 1 Pe 2:7. The reason why they reject him is, that they are not disposed to obey. They are solemnly commanded to believe the gospel; and a refusal to do it, therefore, is as really an act of disobedience as to break any other command of God. Whereunto they were appointed. (eiv o kai eteyhsan.) The word "whereunto" means unto which. But unto what? It cannot be supposed that it means that they were "appointed" to believe on him and be saved by him; for

(1.) this would involve all the difficulty which is ever felt in the doctrine of decrees or election; for it would then mean that he had eternally designated them to be saved, which is the doctrine of predestination; and

(2.) if this were the true interpretation, the consequence would follow that God had been foiled. In his plan—for the reference here is to those who would not be saved, that is, to those who "stumble at that stumbling-stone," and are destroyed. Calvin supposes that it means, "unto which rejection and destruction they were designated in the purpose of God." So Bloomfield renders it, "Unto which (disbelief) they were destined," (Crit. Digest;) meaning, as he supposes, that "into this stumbling and disobedience they were permitted by God to fall." Doddridge interprets it, "To which also they were appointed by the righteous sentence of God, long before, even as early as in his first purpose and decree he ordained his Son to be the great foundation of his church." Rosenmuller gives substantially the same interpretation. Clemens Romanus says it means that "they were appointed, not that they should sin, but that, sinning, they should be punished." See Wetstein. So Macknight, "To which punishment they were appointed." Whitby gives the same interpretation of it, that because they were disobedient, (referring, as he supposes, to the Jews who rejected the Messiah,) "they were appointed, for the punishment of that disobedience, to fall and perish." Dr. Clarke supposes that it means that they were prophesied of that they should, thus fall; or that, long before, it was predicted that they should thus stumble and fall. In reference to the meaning of this difficult passage, it is proper to observe that there is in the Greek verb necessarily the idea of designation, appointment, purpose. There was some agency or intention by which they were put in that condition; some act of placing or appointing, (the word tiyhmi meaning to set, put, lay, lay down, appoint, constitute,) by which this result was brought about. The fair sense, therefore, and one from which we cannot escape, is, that this did not happen by chance or accident, but that there was a Divine arrangement, appointment, or plan on the part of God in reference to this result, and that the result was in conformity with that. So it is said in Jude 1:4, of a similar class of men, "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation." The facts were these:

(1.) That God appointed his Son to be the corner-stone of his church.

(2.) That there was a portion of the world which, from some cause, would embrace him and be saved.

(3.) That there was another portion who, it was certain, would not embrace him.

(4.) That it was known that the appointment of the Lord Jesus as a Saviour would be the occasion of their rejecting him, and of their deeper and more aggravated condemnation.

(5.) That the arrangement was nevertheless made, with the understanding that all this would be so, and because it was best on the whole that it should be so, even though this consequence would follow. That is, it was better that the arrangement should be made for the salvation of men even with this result, that a part would sink into deeper condemnation, than that no arrangement should be made to save any. The primary and originating arrangement, therefore, did not contemplate them or their destruction, but was made with reference to others, and notwithstanding they would reject him, and would fall. The expression whereunto (eiv o) refers to this plan, as involving, under the circumstances, the result which actually followed. Their stumbling and falling was not a matter of chance, or a result which was not contemplated, but entered into the original arrangement; and the whole, therefore, might be said to be in accordance with a wise plan and purpose. And,

(6.) it might be said in this sense, and in this connexion, that those who would reject him were appointed to this stumbling and falling. It was what was foreseen; what entered into the general arrangement; what was involved in the purpose to save any. It was not a matter that was unforeseen, that the consequence of giving a Saviour would result in the condemnation of those who should crucify and reject him; but the whole thing, as it actually occurred, entered into the Divine arrangement. It may be added, that as, in the facts in the case, nothing wrong has been done by God, and no one has been deprived of any rights, or punished more than he deserves, it was not wrong in him to make the arrangement. It was better that the arrangement should be made as it is, even with this consequence, than that none at all should be made for human salvation. See Barnes "Ro 9:5, seq. See Barnes "Joh 12:39, See Barnes "Joh 12:40".

This is just a statement, in accordance with what everywhere occurs in the Bible, that all things enter into the eternal plans of God; that nothing happens by chance; that there is nothing that was not foreseen; and that the plan is such as, on the whole, God saw to be best and wise, and therefore adopted it. If there is nothing unjust and wrong in the actual developement of the plan, there was nothing in forming it. At the same time, no man who disbelieves and rejects the gospel should take refuge in this as an excuse. He was "appointed" to it no otherwise than as it actually occurs; and as they know that they are voluntary in rejecting him, they cannot lay the blame of this on the purposes of God. They are not forced or compelled to do it; but it was seen that this consequence would follow, and the plan was laid to send the Saviour notwithstanding.

{a} "whereunto" Jude 1:4


Verse 9. But ye are a chosen generation. In contradistinction from those who, by their disobedience, had rejected the Saviour as the foundation of hope. The people of God are often represented as his chosen or elected people. See Barnes "1 Pe 1:2".

A royal priesthood. See Barnes "1 Pe 2:2"

The meaning of this is, probably, that they "at once bore the dignity of kings, and the sanctity of priests."—Doddridge. Comp. Re 1:6: "And hath made us kings and priests unto God." See also Isa 61:6: "But ye shall be named priests of the Lord; men shall call you ministers of our God." It may be, however, that the word royal is used only to denote the dignity of the priestly office which they sustained, or that they constituted, as it were, an entire nation or kingdom of priests. They were a kingdom over which he presided, and they were all priests; so that it might be said they were a kingdom of priests—a kingdom in which all the subjects were engaged in offering sacrifice to God. The expression appears to be taken from Ex 19:6—"And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests"—and is such language as one who had been educated as a Jew would be likely to employ to set forth the dignity of those whom he regarded as the people of God.

An holy nation. This is also taken from Ex 19:6. The Hebrews were regarded as a nation consecrated to God; and now that they were east off or rejected for their disobedience, the same language was properly applied to the people whom God had chosen in their place —the Christian church.

A peculiar people. Comp. See Barnes "Tit 2:14, The margin here is purchased. The word peculiar, in its common acceptation now, would mean that they were distinguished from others, or were singular. The reading in the margin would mean that they had been bought or redeemed. Both these things are so, but neither of them expresses the exact sense of the original. The Greek (laov eiv peripoihsin) means, "a people for a possession;" that is, as pertaining to God. They are a people which he has secured as a possession, or as his own; a people, therefore, which belong to him, and to no other. In this sense they are peculiar as being his; and, being such, it may be inferred that they should be peculiar in the sense of being unlike others in their manner of life. But that idea is not necessarily in the text. There seems to be here also an allusion to Ex 19:5: "Ye shall be a peculiar treasure with me (Sept. laov periousiov) above all people."

That ye should shew forth the praises of him. Marg., virtues. The Greek word (areth) means properly good quality, excellence of any kind. It means here the excellences of God—his goodness, his wondrous deeds, or those things which make it proper to praise him. This shows one great object for which they were redeemed. It was that they might proclaim the glory of God, and keep up the remembrance of his wondrous deeds in the earth. This is to be done

(a.) by proper ascriptions of praise to him in public, family, and social worship;

(b.) by being always the avowed friends of God, ready ever to vindicate his government and ways;

(c.) by endeavouring to make known his excellences to all those who are ignorant of him; and

(d.) by such a life as shall constantly proclaim his praise—as the sun, the moon, the stars, the hills, the streams, the flowers do, showing what God does. The consistent life of a devoted Christian is a constant setting forth of the praise of God, showing to all that the God who has made him such is worthy to be loved.

Who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. On the word called, See Barnes "Eph 4:1".

Darkness is the emblem of ignorance, sin, and misery, and refers here to their condition before their conversion; light is the emblem of the opposite, and is a beautiful representation of the state of those who are brought to the knowledge of the gospel. See Barnes "Ac 26:18".

The word marvellous means wonderful; and the idea is, that the light of the gospel was such as was unusual, or not to be found elsewhere, as that excites wonder or surprise which we are not accustomed to see. The primary reference here is, undoubtedly, to those who had been heathens, and to the great change which had been produced by their having been brought to the knowledge of the truth as revealed in the gospel; and, in regard to this, no one can doubt that the one state deserved to be characterized as darkness, and the other as light. The contrast was as great as that between midnight and noonday. But what is here said is substantially correct of all who are converted, and is often as strikingly true of those who have been brought up in Christian lands, as of those who have lived among the heathen. The change in conversion is often so great and so rapid, the views and feelings are so different before and after conversion, that it seems like a sudden transition from midnight to noon. In all cases also, of true conversion, though the change may not be so striking, or apparently so sudden, there is a change of which this may be regarded as substantially an accurate description. In many cases the convert can adopt this language in all its fulness, as descriptive of his own conversion; in all cases of genuine conversion it is true that each one can say that he has been called from a state in which his mind was dark to one in which it is comparatively clear.

{1} "peculiar" "purchased" {b} "people" De 4:20 {2} "the praises" "virtues" {c} "darkness" Ac 26:18


Verse 10. Which in time past were not a people. That is, who formerly were not regarded as the people of God. There is an allusion here to the passage in Hos 2:23, "And I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God." It is, however, a mere allusion, such as one makes who uses the language of another to express his ideas, without meaning to say that both refer to the same subject. In Hosea, the passage refers evidently to the reception of one portion of the Israelites into favour after their rejection; in Peter, it refers mainly to those who had been Gentiles, and who had never been recognised as the people of God. The language of the prophet would exactly express his idea, and he therefore uses it without intending to say that this was its original application. See it explained See Barnes "Ro 9:25".

Comp. See Barnes "Eph 2:11, seq.

Which had not obtained mercy. That is, who had been living unpardoned, having no knowledge of the way by which sinners might be forgiven, and no evidence that your sins were forgiven. They were then in the condition of the whole heathen world, and they had not then been acquainted with the glorious method by which God forgives iniquity.

{a} "which in past" Ro 9:25


Verse 11. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims. On the word rendered strangers, (paroikouv,) See Barnes "Eph 2:19, where it is rendered foreigners. It means, properly, one dwelling near, neighbouring; then a by-dweller, a sojourner, one without the rights of citizenship, as distinguished from a citizen; and it means here that Christians are not properly citizens of this world, but that their citizenship is in heaven, and that they are here mere sojourners. See Barnes "Php 3:20".

For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven." On the word rendered pilgrims, (parepidhmouv,) See Barnes "1 Pe 1:1" See Barnes "Heb 11:13".

A pilgrim, properly, is one who travels to a distance from his own country to visit a holy place, or to pay his devotion to some holy object; then a traveller, a wanderer. The meaning here is, that Christians have no permanent home on earth; their citizenship is not here; they are mere sojourners, and they are passing on to their eternal home in the heavens. They should, therefore, act as become such persons; as sojourners and travellers do. They should not

(a.) regard the earth as their home.

(b.) They should not seek to acquire permanent possessions here, as if they were to remain here, but should act as travellers do, who merely seek a temporary lodging, without expecting permanently to reside in a place.

(c.) They should not allow any such attachments to be formed, or arrangements to be made, as to impede their journey to their final home, as pilgrims seek only a temporary lodging, and steadily pursue their journey.

(d.) Even while engaged here in the necessary callings of life—their studies, their farming, their merchandize—their thoughts and affections should be on other things. One in a strange land thinks much of his country and home; a pilgrim, much of the land to which he goes; and even while his time and attention may be necessarily occupied by the arrangements needful for the journey, his thoughts and affections will be far away.

(e.) We should not encumber ourselves with much of this world's goods. Many professed Christians get so many worldly things around them, that it is impossible for them to make a journey to heaven. They burden themselves as no traveller would, and they make no progress. A traveller takes along as few things as possible; and a staff is often all that a pilgrim has. We make the most rapid progress in our journey to our final home when we are least encumbered with the things of this world.

Abstain from freshly lusts. Such desires and passions as the carnal appetites prompt to. See Barnes "Ga 5:19, seq., a sojourner in a land, or a pilgrim, does not give himself up to the indulgence of sensual appetites, or to the soft pleasures of the soul. All these would hinder his progress, and turn him off from his great design. Comp. Ro 13:4, Ga 5:24; 2 Ti 2:22; Tit 2:12; 1 Pe 1:14.

Which war against the soul. See Barnes "Ro 8:12, See Barnes "Ro 8:13".

The meaning is, that indulgence in these things makes war against the nobler faculties of the soul; against the conscience, the understanding, the memory, the judgment, the exercise of a pure imagination. Comp. Ga 5:17. There is not a faculty of the mind, however brilliant in itself, which will not be ultimately ruined by indulgence in the carnal propensities of our nature. The effect of intemperance on the noble faculties of the soul is well known; and alas, there are too many instances in which the light of genius, in those endowed with splendid gifts, at the bar, in the pulpit, and in the senate, is extinguished by it, to need a particular description. But there is one vice pre-eminently, which prevails all over the heathen world, (Comp. See Barnes "Ro 1:27, seq.) and extensively in Christian lands, which more than all others, blunts the moral sense, pollutes the memory, defiles the imagination, hardens the heart, and sends a withering influence through all the faculties of the soul.

"The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Embodies, and embrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being,"
Of this passion, Burns beautifully and truly said-
"But oh ! it hardens a' within,
And petrifies the feeling."

From all these passions the Christian pilgrim is to abstain.
{b} "strangers" Ps 119:19 {c} "lusts" Ga 5:16-21 {d} "war" Ro 8:13; Jas 4:1


Verse 12. Having your conversation honest. Your conduct. See Barnes "Php 1:27".

That is, lead upright and consistent lives. Comp. See Barnes "Php 4:8".

Among the Gentiles. The heathen by whom you are surrounded, and who will certainly observe your conduct. See Barnes "1 Th 4:12, "That ye may walk honestly towards them that are without." Comp. Ro 13:13.

That, whereas they speak against you as evil doers,. Marg., wherein. Gr., en w—in what; either referring to time, and meaning that at the very time when they speak against you in this manner they may be silenced by seeing your upright lives; or meaning in respect to which—that is, that in respect to the very matters for which they reproach you they may see by your meek and upright conduct that there is really no ground for reproach. Wetstein adopts the former, but the question which is meant is not very important. Bloomfield supposes it to mean inasmuch, whereas. The sentiment is a correct one, whichever interpretation is adopted It should be true that at the very time when the enemies of religion reproach us, they should see that we are actuated by Christian principles, and that in the very matter for which we are reproached we are conscientious and honest.

They may, by your good works, which they shall behold. Gr., "which they shall closely or narrowly inspect." The meaning is, that upon a close and narrow examination, they may see that you are actuated by upright principles, and ultimately be disposed to do you justice. It is to be remembered that the heathen were very little acquainted with the nature of Christianity; and it is known that in the early ages they charged on Christians the most abominable vices, and even accused them of practices at which human nature revolts. The meaning of Peter is, that while they charged these things on Christians, whether from ignorance or malice, they ought so to live as that a more full acquaintance with them, and a closer inspection of their conduct, would disarm their prejudices, and show that their charges were entirely unfounded. The truth taught here is, that our conduct as Christians should be such as to bear the strictest scrutiny; such that the closest examination will lead our enemies to the conviction; that we are upright and honest. This may be done by every Christian; this his religion solemnly requires him to do.

Glorify God. Honour God; that is, that they may be convinced by your conduct of the pure and holy nature of that religion which he has revealed, and be led also to love and worship him. See Barnes "Mt 5:16".

In the day of visitation. Many different opinions have been entertained of the meaning of this phrase, some referring it to the day of judgment; some to times of persecution; some to the destruction of Jerusalem; and some to the time when the gospel was preached among the Gentiles, as a period when God visited them with mercy. The word visitation (episkoph,) means the act of visiting or being visited for any purpose, usually with the notion of inspecting conduct, of inflicting punishment, or of conferring favours. Comp. Mt 25:36,43; Lu 1:68,78; 7:16; 19:44.

In the sense of visiting for the purpose of punishing, the word is often used in the Septuagint for the Heb.

HEBREW, (pakad,) though there is no instance in which the word is so used in the New Testament, unless it be in the verse before us. The "visitation" here referred to is undoubtedly that of God; and the reference is to some time when he would make a "visitation" to men for some purpose, and when the fact that the Gentiles had narrowly inspected the conduct of Christians would lead them to honour him. The only question is, to what visitation of that kind the apostle referred. The prevailing use of the word in the New Testament would seem to lead us to suppose that the "visitation" referred to was designed to confer favours rather than to inflict punishment, and indeed the word seems to have somewhat of a technical character, and to have been familiarly used by Christians to denote God's coming to men to bless them; to pour out his Spirit upon them; to revive religion. This seems to me to be its meaning here; and, if so, the sense is, that when God appeared among men to accompany the preaching of the gospel with saving power, the result of the observed conduct of Christians would be to lead those around them to honour him by giving up their hearts to him; that is, their consistent lives would be the means of the revival and extension of true religion.

And is it not always so? Is not the pure and holy walk of Christians an occasion of his bending his footsteps down to earth to bless dying sinners, and to scatter spiritual blessings with a liberal hand? Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 14:24, See Barnes "1 Co 14:25".

{1} "whereas" "wherein" {e} "good works" Mt 5:16


Verse 13. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man. Gr., "to every creation of man," (anyrwpinh ktisei.) The meaning is, to every institution or appointment of man; to wit, of those who are in authority, or who are appointed to administer government. The laws, institutes, and appointments of such a government may be spoken of as the creation of man; that is, as what man makes. Of course, what is here said must be understood with the limitation everywhere implied, that what is ordained by those in authority is not contrary to the law of God. See Barnes "Ac 4:19".

On the general duty here enjoined of subjection to civil authority, See Barnes "Ro 13:1-7".

For the Lord's sake. Because he has required it, and has intrusted this power to civil rulers. See Barnes "Ro 13:6".
Comp. See Barnes "Eph 6:7".

Whether it be to the king. It has been commonly supposed that there is reference here to the Roman emperor, who might be called king, because in him the supreme power resided. The common title of the Roman sovereign was, as used by the Greek writers, autokratwr, and among the Romans themselves, imperator, (emperor;) but the title king was also given to the sovereign. Joh 19:15, "We have no king but Cesar." Ac 17:7, "And these all do contrary to the decrees of Cesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus." Peter undoubtedly had particular reference to the Roman emperors, but he uses a general term, which would be applicable to all in whom the supreme power resided, and the injunction here would require submission to such authority, by whatever name it might be called. The meaning is, that we are to be subject to that authority whether exercised by the sovereign in person, or by those who are appointed by him.

As supreme. Not supreme in the sense of being superior to God, or not being subject to him, but in the sense of being over all subordinate officers.

{a} "yourselves" Mt 22:21; Ro 13:1-7


Verse 14. Or unto governors. Subordinate officers, appointed by the chief magistrate, over provinces. Perhaps Roman proconsuls are here particularly intended.

As unto them that are sent by him. By the king, or the Roman emperor. They represent the supreme power.

For the punishment of evil doers. One of the leading ends of government. "The Roman governors had the power of life and death in such conquered provinces as those mentioned in 1 Pe 1:1. —Doddridge. Ulpian, the celebrated Roman lawyer, who flourished two hundred years after Christ, thus describes the power of the governors of the Roman provinces: "It is the duty of a good and vigilant president to see to it that his province be peaceable and quiet. And that he ought to make diligent search after sacrilegious persons, robbers, man-stealers, and thieves, and to punish every one according to their guilt." Again, "They who govern whole provinces, have the power of sending to the mines." And again, "The presidents of provinces have the highest authority, next to the emperor." Peter has described the office of the Roman governors in language nearly resembling that of Ulpian. See Lardner's Credibility, (Works, i. 77, edit. 8vo., Lond. 1829.)

And for the praise of them that do well. Praise here stands opposed to punishment, and means commendation, applause, reward. That is, it is a part of their business to reward in a suitable manner those who are upright and virtuous as citizens. This would be by protecting their persons and property; by defending their rights, and, perhaps, by admitting those to share the honours and emoluments of office who showed that they were worthy to be trusted. It is as important a part of the functions of magistracy to protect the innocent, as it is to punish the wicked.


Verse 15. For so is the will of God. That is, it is in accordance with the Divine will that in this way you should put them to silence.

That with well doing. By a life of uprightness and benevolence. Ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. See Barnes "Tit 2:8".

The reference here is to men who brought charges against Christians, by accusing them of being inimical to the government, or insubordinate, or guilty of crimes. Such charges, it is well known, were often brought against them by their enemies in the early ages of Christianity. Peter says they were brought by foolish men, perhaps using the word foolish in the sense of evil-disposed, or wicked, as it is often used in the Bible. Yet, though there might be malice at the bottom, the charges were really based on ignorance. They were not thoroughly acquainted with the principles of the Christian religion; and the way to meet those charges was to act in every way as became good citizens, and so as "to live them down." One of the best ways o meeting the accusations of our enemies is to lead a life of strict integrity. It is not easy for the wicked to reply to this argument.

{b} "that with" Tit 2:8


Verse 16. As free. That is, they were to consider themselves as freemen, as having a right to liberty. The Jews boasted much of their freedom and regarded it as a birthright privilege that they were free, Joh 8:33. They never willingly acknowledged their subjection to any other power, but claimed it as an elementary idea of their civil constitution that God only was their Sovereign. They were indeed conquered by the Romans, and paid tribute, but they did it because they were compelled to do it, and it was even a question much debated among them whether they should do it or not, Mt 22:17. Josephus has often referred to the fact that the Jews rebelled against the Romans under the plea that they were a free people, and that they were subject only to God. This idea of essential freedom the Jews had when they became Christians, and every thing in Christianity tended to inspire them with the love of liberty, They who were converted to the Christian faith, whether from among the Jews or the Gentiles, were made to feel that they were the children of God; that his law was the supreme rule of their lives; that in the ultimate resort they were subject to him alone; that they were redeemed, and that, therefore, the yoke of bondage could not be properly imposed on them; that God "had made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth," (Ac 17:26;) and that, therefore, they were on a level before him. The meaning here is, that they were not to consider themselves as slaves, or to act as slaves. In their subjection to civil authority they were not to forget that they were freemen in the highest sense, and that liberty was an invaluable blessing. They had been made free by the Son of God, Joh 8:32,36. They were free from sin and condemnation. They acknowledged Christ as their supreme Head, and the whole spirit and tendency of his religion prompted to the exercise of freedom. They were not to submit to the chains of slavery; not to allow their consciences to be bound, or their essential liberty to be interfered with; nor in their subjection to the civil magistrate were they ever to regard themselves otherwise than as freemen. As a matter of fact, Christianity has always been the friend and promoter of liberty. Its influence emancipated the slaves throughout the Roman empire; and all the civil freedom which we enjoy, and which there is in the world, can be traced to the influence of the Christian religion. To spread the gospel in its purity everywhere would be to break every yoke of oppression and bondage, and to make men everywhere free. It is the essential right of every man who is a Christian to be a freeman—to be free to worship God; to read the Bible; to enjoy the avails of his own labour; to train up his children in the way in which he shall deem best; to form his own plans of life, and to pursue his own ends, provided only that he does not interfere with the equal right of others—and every system which prevents this, whether it be that of civil government, of ecclesiastical law, or of domestic slavery, is contrary to the religion of the Saviour.

And not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness. Marg., as in Greek, having. Not making your freedom a mere pretext under which to practise all kinds of evil. The word rendered maliciousness kakia—means more than our word maliciousness does; for it denotes evil of any kind, or all kinds. The word maliciousness refers rather to enmity of heart ill-will, an intention to injure. The apostle has reference to an abuse of freedom, which has often occurred. The pretence of those who have acted in this manner has been, that the freedom of the gospel implied deliverance from all kinds of restraint; that they were under no yoke, and bound by no laws; that, being the children of God, they had a right to all kinds of enjoyment and indulgence; that even the moral law ceased to bind them, and that they had a right to make the most of liberty in all respects. Hence they have given themselves up to all sorts of sensual indulgence, claiming exemption from the restraints of morality as well as of civil law, and sinking into the deepest abyss of vice. Not a few have done this who have professed to be Christians; and, occasionally, a fanatical sect now appears who make the freedom which they say Christianity confers a pretext for indulgence in the most base and degrading vices. The apostles saw this tendency in human nature, and in nothing are they more careful than to guard against this abuse.

But as the servants of God. Not free from all restraint; not at liberty to indulge in all things, but bound to serve God in the faithful obedience of his laws. Thus bound to obey and serve him, they could not be at liberty to indulge in those things which would be in violation of his laws, and which would dishonour him. See this sentiment explained See Barnes "1 Co 7:22" See Barnes "1 Co 9:21".

{c} "As free" Ga 5:1,13 {1} "not using" "having"


Verse 17. Honour all men. That is, show them the respect which is due to them according to their personal worth, and to the rank and office which they sustain. See Barnes "Ro 13:7".

Love the brotherhood. The whole fraternity of Christians, regarded as a band of brothers. The word here used occurs only in this place and in 1 Pe 5:9, where it is rendered brethren. The idea expressed here occurs often in the New Testament. See Barnes "Joh 13:34, See Barnes "Joh 13:35".

Fear God, A duty everywhere enjoined in the Bible, as one of the first duties of religion. Comp. Le 25:17; 24:7; 25:14; Pr 1:7; 3:13; 9:10; 23:17; See Barnes "Ro 3:18" See Barnes "2 Co 7:1".

The word fear, when used to express our duty to God, means that we are to reverence and honour him. Religion, in one aspect, is described as the fear of God; in another, as the love of God; in another, as submission to his will, etc. A holy veneration or fear is always an elementary principle of religion. It is the fear, not so much of punishment as of his disapprobation; not so much the dread of suffering at the dread of doing wrong.

Honour the king. Referring here primarily to the Roman sovereign, but implying that we are always to respect those who have the rule over us. See Barnes "Ro 13:1-7".

The doctrine taught in these verses 1 Pe 2:13-17 is, that we are faithfully to perform all the relative duties of life. There are duties which we owe to ourselves, which are of importance in their place, and which we are by no means at liberty to neglect. But we also owe duties to our fellow-men, to our Christian brethren, and to those who have the rule over us; and religion, while it is honoured by our faithful performance of our duty to ourselves, is more openly honoured by our performance of our duties to those to whom we sustain important relations in life. Many of the duties which we owe to ourselves are, from the nature of the case, hidden from public observation. All that pertains to the examination of the heart; to our private devotions; to the subjugation of our evil passions; to our individual communion with God, must be concealed from public view. Not so, however, with those duties which pertain to others. In respect to them, we are open to public view. The eye of the world is upon us. The judgment of the world in regard to us is made up from their observation of the manner in which we perform them. If religion fails there, they judge that it fails altogether; and however devout we may be in private, if it is not seen by the world that our religion leads to the faithful performance of the duties which we owe in the various relations of life, it will be regarded as of little value.

{1} "Honour all men" "Esteem" {a} "men" Ro 12:10 {b} "Love" Joh 13:35 {c} "Fear" Ps 111:10 {d} "king" Pr 24:21


Verse 18. Servants, be subject to your masters. On the duty here enjoined, See Barnes "Eph 6:5, seq. The Greek word here used (oiketai) is not the same which is employed in Ephesians, (douloi). The word here means properly domestics—those employed about a house, or living in the same house—from oikov, house. These persons might have been slaves, or might not. The word would apply to them, whether they were hired, or whether they were owned as slaves. The word should not and cannot be employed to prove that slavery existed in the churches to which Peter wrote, and still less to prove that he approved of slavery, or regarded it as a good institution. The exhortation here would be, and still is, strictly applicable to any persons employed as domestics, though they had voluntarily hired themselves out to be such. It would be incumbent on them, while they remained in that condition, to perform with fidelity their duties as Christians, and to bear with Christian meekness all the wrongs which they might suffer from those in whose service they were. Those who are hired, and who are under a necessity of "going out to service" for a living, are not always free from hard usage, for there are trials incident to that condition of life which cannot be always avoided. It might be better, in many cases, to bear much than to attempt a change of situation, even though they were entirely at liberty to do so. It must be admitted, however, that the exhortation here will have more force if it is supposed that the reference is to slaves, and there can be no doubt that many of this class were early converted to the Christian faith. The word here rendered masters (despotaiv) is not the same which is used in Eph 6:5, (kurioiv.) Neither of these words necessarily implies that those who were under them were slaves. The word here used is applicable to the head of a family, whatever may be the condition of those under him. It is frequently applied to God, and to Christ; and it cannot be maintained that those to whom God sustains the relation of despothv, or master, are slaves. See Barnes "Lu 2:29" Ac 4:24; 2 Ti 2:21; 2 Pe 2:1; Jude 1:4; Re 6:10.

The word, indeed, is one that "might be applied to those who were owners of slaves. If that be the meaning here, it is not said, however, that those to whom it is applied were Christians. It is rather implied that they were pursuing such a course as was inconsistent with real piety. Those who were under them are represented as suffering grievous wrongs.

With all fear. That is, with all proper reverence and respect. See Barnes "Eph 6:6".

Not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. The word rendered froward (skolioiv) means properly crooked, bent; then perverse, wicked, unjust, peevish. Any one who is a servant or domestic is liable to be employed in the service of such a master; but while the relation continues, the servant should perform his duty with fidelity, whatever may be the character of the master. Slaves are certainly liable to this; and even those who voluntarily engage as servants to others, cannot always be sure that they will have kind employers. Though the terms used here do not necessarily imply that those to whom the apostle gave this direction were slaves, yet it may be presumed that they probably were, since slavery abounded throughout the Roman empire; but the directions will apply to all who are engaged in the service of others, and are therefore of permanent value. Slavery will, sooner or later, under the influence of the gospel, wholly cease in the world, and instructions addressed to masters and slaves will have no permanent value; but it will always be true that there will be those employed as domestics, and it is the duty of all who are thus engaged to evince true fidelity and a Christian spirit themselves, whatever may be the character of their employers.

{e} "Servants" Eph 6:5


Verse 19. For this is thank-worthy. Marg., thank. Gr., "This is grace," (cariv.) Doddridge renders the expression, "This is graceful indeed." Various interpretations of this expression have been proposed; but the meaning evidently is, that it is acceptable to God, (1 Pe 2:20, "this is acceptable to God "cariv para yew-) that is, this will be regarded by him with favour. It does not mean that it was worthy of thanks, or that God would thank them for doing it, (comp. Lu 17:9,10;) but that such conduct would meet with his approbation.

If a man for conscience toward God. If, in the conscientious discharge of his duty, or if, in the endurance of this wrong, he regards himself as serving God. That is, if he feels that God, by his providence, has placed him in the circumstances in which he is, and that it is a duty which he owes to him to bear every trial incident to that condition with a submissive spirit. If he does this, he will evince the true nature of religion, and will be graciously accepted of God.

Endure grief. That is, endure that which is fitted to produce grief, or that which is wrong.

Suffering wrongfully. Suffering injury, or where there is injustice, (pascwn adikwv.) This, though a general remark, has particular reference to servants, and to their duty in the relation which they sustain to their masters. In view of what is here said, we may remark,

(1.) that if this has reference to slaves, as has been usually supposed, it proves that they are very liable to be abused; that they have little or no security against being wronged; and that it was a special and very desirable characteristic of those who were in that condition, to be able to bear wrong with a proper spirit. It is impossible so to modify slavery that this shall not be the case; for the whole system is one of oppression, and there can be nothing that shall effectually secure the slave from being ill-treated.

(2.) It would follow from this passage, if this refers to slavery, that that is a very hard and undesirable condition of life; for that is a very undesirable condition where the principal virtue, which they who are in it are required to exercise, is patience under wrongs. Such a condition cannot be in accordance with the gospel, and cannot be designed by God to be permanent. The relation of parent and child is never thus represented. It is never said or implied in the Scriptures that the principal virtue to which children are exhorted is patience under wrongs; nor, in addressing them, is it ever supposed that the most prominent thing in their condition is, that they would need the exercise of such patience.

(3.) It is acceptable to God, if we bear wrong with a proper spirit, from whatever quarter it may come. Our proper business in life is, to do the will of God; to evince the right spirit however others may treat us; and to show, even under excessive wrong, the sustaining power and the excellence of true religion. Each one who is oppressed and wronged, therefore, has an eminent opportunity to show a spirit which will honour the gospel; and the slave and the martyr may do more to honour the gospel than if they were both permitted to enjoy liberty and life undisturbed.

{1} "this is thank-worthy" "thank" Lu 6:32 {*} "thank-worthy" "well-pleasing"


Verse 20. For what glory is it. What honour or credit would it be.

If, when ye be buffeted for your faults. That is, if you are punished when you deserve it, The word buffet (kolafizw) means, to strike with the fist; and then to strike in any way; to maltreat, Mt 26:67; Mr 14:65; 1 Co 4:11; 2 Co 12:7, Perhaps there may be a reference here to the manner in which servants were commonly treated, or the kind of punishment to which they were exposed. They would be likely to be struck in sudden anger, either by the hand, or by anything that was accessible, The word rendered "for your faults," is sinning, (amartanontev,) That is, "if being guilty of an offence, or having done wrong." The idea is, that if they were justly punished, and should take it patiently, there would be no credit or honour in it,

Ye shall take it patiently. "If, even then, you evince an uncomplaining spirit, and bear it with the utmost calmness and patience, it would be regarded as comparatively no virtue, and as entitling you to no honour. The feeling of all who saw it would be that you deserved it, and there would be nothing to excite their sympathy or compassion. The patience evinced might indeed be as great as in the other ease, but there would be the feeling that you deleted all that you received, and the spirit evinced in that ease could not be regarded as entitled to any particular praise. If your masters are inflicting on you only what you deserve, it would be in the highest degree shameful for you to rise up against them, and resist them, for it would be only adding to the wrong which you had already done:" The expression here is, doubtless, to be understood comparatively. The meaning is not that absolutely there would be no more credit due to one who should bear his punishment patiently when he had done wrong, than if he had met it with resistance and murmuring; but that there is very little credit in that compared with the patience which an innocent person evinces, who, from regard to the will of God, and by control over all the natural feelings of resentment, meekly endures wrong. This expresses the common feeling of our nature. We attribute no particular credit to one who submits to a just punishment even with a calm temper. We feel that it would be wrong in the highest degree for him to do otherwise. So it is when calamities are brought on a man on account of his sins. If it is seen to be the fruit of intemperance or crime, we do not feel that there is any great virtue exhibited if he bears it with a calm temper. But if he is overwhelmed with calamity when it seems to have no particular connexion with his sins, or to be a punishment for any particular fault; if he suffers at the hand of man, where there is manifest injustice done him, and yet evinces a calm, submissive, and meek temper, we feel that in such cases there is eminent virtue.

This is acceptable with God. Marg., as in 1 Pe 2:19, thank. It is that which is agreeable to him, or with which he is pleased.

{a} "this" Mt 5:10-12 {2} "is acceptable" or "thank" Lu 6:32


Verse 21. For even hereunto were ye called. Such a spirit is required by the very nature of your Christian vocation; you were called into the church in order that you might evince it. See Barnes "1 Th 3:3".

Because Christ also suffered for us. Marg., "Some read, for you." The latest editions of the Greek Testament adopt the reading "for you." The sense, however, is not essentially varied. The object is, to hold up the example of Christ to those who were called to suffer, and to say to them that they should bear their trials in the same spirit that he evinced in his. See Barnes "Php 3:10".

Leaving us an example. The apostle does not say that this was the only object for which Christ suffered, but that it was an object, and an important one. The word rendered example (upogrammon) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means properly a writing copy, such as is set for children; or an outline or sketch for a painter to fill up; and then, in general, an example, a pattern for imitation.

That ye should follow his steps. That we should follow him, as if we trod exactly along behind him, and should place our feet precisely where his were. The meaning is, that there should be the closest imitation or resemblance. The things in which we are to imitate him are specified in the following verses.

{b} "hereunto" Mt 16:24 {3} "suffered for us" "Some copies read for you" {c} "follow his steps" 1 Jo 3:16; Re 12:11


Verse 22. Who did no sin. Who was in all respects perfectly holy. There is an allusion here to Isa 53:9; and the sense is, that he was entirely innocent, and that he suffered without having committed any crime. In this connexion the meaning is, that we are to be careful that, if we suffer, it should be without committing any crime, We should so live, as the Saviour did, as not to deserve to be punished, and thus only shall we entirely follow his example. It is as much our duty to live so as not to deserve the reproaches of others, as it is to bear them with patience when we are called to suffer them. The first thing in regard to hard treatment from others, is to live that there shall be no just occasion for it; the next is, if reproaches come upon us when we have not deserved them, to bear them as the Saviour did. If he suffered unjustly, we should esteem it to be no strange thing that we should; if he bore the injuries done him with meekness, we should learn that it is possible for us to do it also; and should learn also that we have not the spirit of his religion unless we actually do it. On the expression here used, See Barnes "Isa 53:9" See Barnes "Heb 7:26".

Neither was guile found in his mouth. There was no deceit, hypocrisy, or insincerity, he was in all respects what he professed to be, and he imposed on no one by any false and unfounded claim. All this has reference to the time when the Saviour was put to death; and the sense is, that though he was condemned as an impostor, yet that the charge was wholly unfounded. As in his whole life before he was perfectly sincere, so he was eminently on that solemn occasion.

{1} "committed himself" "his cause" {a} "judgeth" Lu 23:46


Verse 23. Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again. He did not use harsh and opprobrious words in return for those which he received.

(1.) He was reviled, he was accused of being a seditious man; spoken of as a deceiver; charged with being in league with Beelzebub, the "prince of the devils;" and condemned as a blasphemer against God. This was done

(a.) by the great and the influential of the land;

(b.) in the most public manner;

(c.) with a design to alienate his friends from him;

(d.) with most cutting and severe sarcasm and irony; and

(e.) in reference to everything that would most affect a man of delicate and tender sensibility.

(2.) He did not revile those who had reproached him. He asked that justice might be done. He demanded that if he had spoken evil, they should bear witness of the evil; but beyond that he did not go. He used no harsh language, He showed no anger. He called for no revenge. He prayed that they might be forgiven, He calmly stood and bore it all, for he came to endure all kinds of suffering in order that he might set us an example, and make an atonement for our sins.

When he suffered, he threatened not. That is, when he suffered injustice from others, in his trial and in his death, he did not threaten punishment. He did not call down the wrath of heaven. He did not even predict that they would be punished; he expressed no wish that they should be.

But committed himself to him that judgeth righteously. Marg., his cause. The sense is much the same. The meaning is, that he committed his cause, his name, his interests, the whole case, to God. The meaning of the phrase "that judgeth righteously" here is, that God would do him exact justice. Though wronged by men, he felt assured that he would do right. He would rescue his name from these reproaches; he would give him the honour in the world which he deserved; and he would bring upon those who had wronged him all that was necessary in order to show his disapprobation of what they had done, and all that would be necessary to give the highest support to the cause of virtue. Comp Lu 23:46. This is the example which is set before us when we are wronged. The whole example embraces these points:

(1.) We should see to it that we ourselves are guiltless in the matter: for which we are reproached or accused. Before we fancy that we are suffering as Christ did, we should be sure that our lives are such. as not to deserve reproach. We cannot indeed hope to be as pure in all things as he was; but we may so live that if we are reproached and reviled we may be certain that it is not for any wrong that we have done to others, or that we do not deserve it from our fellowmen. (2.) When we are reproached and reviled, we should feel that we were called to this by our profession; that it was one of the things which we were taught to expect when we became Christians; that it is what the prophets and apostles endured, and what the Master himself suffered in an eminent degree; and that if we meet with the scorn of the great, the gay, the rich, the powerful, it is no more than the Saviour did, and no more than we have been taught to expect will be our portion. It may be well, too, to remember our unworthiness; and to reflect, that though we have done no wrong to the individual who reviles us, yet that we are sinners, and that such reproaches may not be a useless admonisher of our being guilty before God. So David felt when reproached by Shimei: "So let him curse, because the Lord hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?" 2 Sa 16:10.

(3.) When this occurs, we should calmly and confidently commit our cause to God. Our name, our character, our influence, our reputation, while living and after we are dead, we should leave entirely with him. We should not seek nor desire revenge. We should not call down the wrath of God on our persecutors and slanderers. We should calmly fed that God win give us the measure of reputation which we ought to have in the world, and that he will suffer no ultimate injustice to be done us. "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass; and he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day," Ps 37:5,6. The Latin Vulgate has here, "But he committed himself to him who judged him unjustly," judieanti se injuste; that is, to Pontius pilate, meaning that he left himself in his hands, though he knew that the sentence was unjust. But there is no authority for this in the Greek, and this is one of the instances in which that version departs from the original.

{1} "committed himself" "his cause"


Verse 24. Who his own self. See Barnes "Heb 1:3, on the phrase "when he had by himself purged our sins." The meaning is, that he did it in his own proper person; he did not make expiation by offering a bloody victim, but was himself the sacrifice.

Bare our sins. There is an allusion here undoubtedly to Isa 53:4,12. See the meaning of the phrase "to bear sins" fully considered in the Notes on those places. As this cannot mean that Christ so took upon himself the sins of men as to become himself a sinner, it must mean that he put himself in the place of sinners, and bore that which those sins deserved; that is, that he endured in his own person that which, if it had been inflicted on the sinner himself, would have been a proper expression of the Divine displeasure against sin, or would have been a proper punishment for sin. See Barnes "2 Co 5:21".

He was treated as if he had been a sinner, in order that we might be treated as if we had not sinned; that is, as if we were righteous. There is no other way in which we can conceive that one bears the sins of another. They cannot be literally transferred to another; and all that can be meant is, that he should take the consequences on himself, and suffer as if he had committed the transgressions himself.

In his own body. This alludes undoubtedly to his sufferings. The sufferings which he endured on the cross were such as if he had been guilty; that is, he was treated as he would have been if he had been a sinner. He was treated as a malefactor; crucified as those most guilty were; endured the same kind of bodily pain that the guilty do who are punished for their own sins; and passed through mental sorrows strongly resembling —as much so as the case admitted of—what the guilty themselves experience when they are left to distressing anguish of mind, and are abandoned by God. The sufferings of the Saviour were in all respects made as nearly like the sufferings of the most guilty, as the sufferings of a perfectly, innocent being could be.

On the tree. Marg., "to the tree. Gr., epi to xulon. The meaning is rather, as in the text, that while himself on the cross, he bore the sorrows which our sins deserved. It does not mean that he conveyed our sorrows there, but that while there he suffered under the intolerable burden, and was by that burden crushed in death. The phrase "on the tree," literally "on the wood," means the cross. The same Greek word is used in Ac 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Ga 3:13, as applicable to the cross, in all of which places it is rendered tree.

That we, being dead to sins. In virtue of his having thus been suspended on a cross; that is, his being put to death as an atoning sacrifice was the means by which we become dead to sin, and live to God. The phrase "being dead to sins" is, in the original, taiv amartiaiv apogenomenoi, literally, "to be absent from sins." The Greek word was probably used (by an euphemism) to denote to die, that is, to be absent from the world, This is a milder and less repulsive word than to say to die. It is not elsewhere used in the New Testament. The meaning is, that we being effectually separated from sin—that is, being so that it no longer influences us—should live unto God. We are to be, in regard to sin, as if we were dead; and it is to have no more influence over us than if we were in our graves. See Barnes "Ro 6:2-7".

The means by which this is brought about is the death of Christ, See Barnes "Ro 6:8" for as he died literally on the cross on account of our sins, the effect has been to lead us to see the evil of transgression, and to lead new and holy lives.

Should live unto righteousness. Though dead in respect to sin, yet we have real life in another, respect. We are made alive unto God, to righteousness, to true holiness. See Barnes "Ro 6:11" See Barnes "Ga 2:20".

By whose stripes. This is taken from Isa 53:5. See it explained in the Notes on that verse. The word rendered stripes (mwlwpi) means, properly, the livid and swollen mark of a blow; the mark designated by us when we use the expression "black and blue." It is not properly a bloody wound, but that made by pinching, beating, scourging. The idea seems to be that the Saviour was scourged or whipped; and that the effect on us is the same in producing spiritual healing, or in recovering us from our faults, as if we had been scourged ourselves. By faith we see the bruises inflicted on him, the black and blue spots made by beating; we remember that they were on account of our sins, and not for his; and the effect in reclaiming us is the same as if they had been inflicted on us.

Ye were healed. Sin is often spoken of as a disease, and redemption from it as a restoration from a deadly malady. See this explained in the See Barnes "Isa 53:5".

{b} "bare" Isa 53:4 {2} "on" "to" {c} "unto righteousness" Ro 6:11 {d} "stripes" Isa 53:5,6


Verse 25. For ye were as sheep going astray. Here also is an allusion to Isa 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray." See Notes on that verse. The figure is plain. We were like a flock without a shepherd. We had wandered far away from the true fold, and were following our own paths. We were without a protector, and were exposed to every kind of danger. This aptly and forcibly expresses the condition of the whole race before God recovers men by the plan of salvation. A flock thus wandering without a shepherd, conductor, or guide, is in a most pitiable condition; and so was man in his wanderings before he was sought out and brought back to the true fold by the great Shepherd.

But are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. To Christ, who thus came to seek and save those who were lost. He is often called a Shepherd. See Barnes "Joh 10:1, seq. The word rendered bishop, (episkopov) means overseer. It may be applied to one who inspects or oversees anything, as public works, or the execution of treaties; to anyone who is an inspector of wares offered for sale; or, in general, to any one who is a superintendent. It is applied in the New Testament to those who are appointed to watch over the interests of the church, and especially to the officers of the church. Here it is applied to the Lord Jesus as the great Guardian and Superintendent of his church; and the title of Universal Bishop belongs to him alone.

{a} "astray" Ps 119:176 {b} "Shepherd" Eze 34:22; Joh 10:11-16 {*} "Bishop" "Overseer"


In the conclusion of this chapter we may remark:—

(1.) That there is something very beautiful in the expression, "Bishop of souls." It implies that the soul is the peculiar care of the Saviour; that it is the object of his special interest; and that it is of great value—so great that it is that which mainly deserves regard. He is the Bishop of the soul in a sense quite distinct from any care which he manifests for the body. That too, in the proper way, is the object of his care; but that has no importance compared with the soul. Our care is principally employed in respect to the body; the care of the Redeemer has especial reference to the soul.

(2.) It follows that the welfare of the soul may be committed to him with confidence. It is the object of his special guardianship, and he will not be unfaithful to the trust reposed in him. There is nothing more safe than the human soul is when it is committed in faith to the keeping of the Son of God. Comp. 2 Ti 1:12.

(3.) As, therefore, he has shown his regard for us in seeking us when we were wandering and lost; as he came on the kind and benevolent errand to find us and bring us back to himself, let us show our gratitude to him by resolving to wander no more. As we regard our own safety and happiness, let us commit ourselves to him as our great Shepherd, to follow where he leads us, and to be ever under his pastoral inspection. We had all wandered away. We had gone where there was no happiness and no protector. We had no one to provide for us, to care for us, to pity us. We were exposed to certain ruin. In that state he pitied us, sought us out, brought us back. If we had remained where we were, or had gone farther in our wanderings, we should have gone certainly to destruction. He has sought us out; he has led us back; he has taken us under his own protection and guidance; and we shall be safe as long as we follow where he leads, and no longer. To him then, a Shepherd who never forsakes his flock, let us at all times commit ourselves, following where he leads, feeling that under him our great interests are secure.

(4.) We may learn from this chapter, indeed, as we may from every other part of the New Testament, that in doing this we may be called to suffer. We may be reproached and reviled as the great Shepherd himself was. We may become the objects of public scorn on account of our devoted attachment to him. We may suffer in name, in feeling, in property, in our business, by our honest attachment to the principles of his gospel. Many who are his followers may be in circumstances of poverty or oppression. They may be held in bondage; they may be deprived of their rights; they may feel that their lot in life is a hard one, and that the world seems to have conspired against them to do them wrong; but let us in all these circumstances look to Him "who made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," (Php 2:7,8;) and let us remember that it is "enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord," Mt 10:25. In view of the example of our Master, and of all the promises of support in the Bible, let us bear with patience all the trims of life, whether arising: from poverty, an humble condition, or the reproaches of a wicked world. Our trials will soon be ended; and soon, under the direction of the "Shepherd and Bishop of souls," we shall be brought to a world where trials and sorrows are unknown.

(5.) In our trials here, let it be our main object so to live that our sufferings shall not be on account of our own faults. 2 Pe 2:19-22. Our Saviour so lived. He was persecuted, reviled, mocked, condemned to die. But it was for no fault of his. In all his varied and prolonged sufferings, he had the ever abiding consciousness that he was innocent; he had the firm conviction that it would yet be seen and confessed by all the world that he was "holy, harmless, undefiled," 1 Pe 2:23. His were not the sufferings produced by a guilty conscience, or by the recollection that he had wronged any one. So, if we must suffer, let our trials come upon us. Be it our first aim to have a conscience void of offence, to wrong no one, to give no occasion for reproaches and revilings, to do our duty faithfully to God and to men. Then, if trials come, we shall feel that, we suffer as our Master did; and then we may, as he did, commit our cause "to him that judgeth righteously," assured that in due time "he will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and our judgment as the noon-day," Ps 37:6.

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