RPM, Volume 19, Number 6, February 5 to February 11, 2017

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament
Explanatory and Practical
Part 92

By Albert Barnes




THIS chapter embraces the following subjects:—

I. The duty of wives, 1 Pe 3:1-6. Particularly

(a.) that their conduct should be such as would be adapted to lead their unbelieving husbands to embrace a religion whose happy influence was seen in the pure conduct of their wives, 1 Pe 3:1,2.

(b.) In reference to dress and ornaments, that they should not seek that which was external, but rather that which was of the heart, 1 Pe 3:3,4.

(c.) For an illustration of the manner in which these duties should be performed, the apostle refers them to the holy example of the wife of Abraham, as one which Christian females should imitate, 1 Pe 3:5,6.

II. The duty of husbands, 1 Pe 3:7. It was their duty to render all proper honour to their wives, and to live with them as fellow-heirs of salvation, that their prayers might not be hindered; implying,

(1.) that in the most important respects they were on an equality;
(2.) that they would pray together, or that there would be family prayer; and,
(3.) that it was the duty of husband and wife so to live together that their prayers might ascend from united hearts and that it would be consistent for God to answer them.

III. The general duty of unity and of kindness, 1 Pe 3:8-14. They were
(a.) to be of one mind; to have compassion; to love as brethren, 1 Pe 3:8.
(b.) They were never to render evil for evil, or railing for railing, 1 Pe 3:9.
(c.) They were to remember the promises of length of days, and of honour, made to those who were pure in their conversation, and who were the friends of peace, 1 Pe 3:9,10.
(d.) They were to remember that the eyes of the Lord were always on the righteous; that they who were good were under his protection, 1 Pe 3:12; and that if, while they maintained this character, they were called to suffer, they should count it rather an honour than a hardship, 1 Pe 3:13,14.

IV. The duty of being ready always to give to every man a reason for the hope they entertained; and, if they were called to suffer persecution and trial in the service of God, of being able still to show good reasons why they professed to be Christians, and of so living that those who wronged them should see that their religion was more than a name, and was founded in such truth as to command the assent even of their persecutors, 1 Pe 3:15-17.

V. In their persecutions and trials they were to remember the example of Christ, his trials, his patience, and his triumphs, 1 Pe 3:18-22. Particularly

(a.) the apostle refers them to the fact that he had suffered, though he was innocent, and that he was put to death though he had done no wrong, 1 Pe 3:18.

(b.) He refers them to the patience and forbearance of Christ in a former age, an age of great and abounding wickedness, when in the person of his representative and ambassador Noah, he suffered much and long from the opposition of the guilty and perverse men who were finally destroyed, and who are now held in prison, showing us how patient we ought to be when offended by others in our attempts to do them good, 1 Pe 3:19,20.

(c.) He refers to the fact that notwithstanding all the opposition which Noah met with in bearing a message, as an ambassador of the Lord, to a wicked generation, he and his family were saved, 1 Pe 3:21. The design of this allusion evidently is to show us, that if we are patient and forbearing in the trials which we meet with in the world, we shall be saved also. Noah, says the apostle, was saved by water. We, too, says he, are saved in a similar manner by water. In his salvation, and in ours, water is employed as the means of salvation: in his case by bearing up the ark, in ours by becoming the emblem of the washing away of sins.

(d.) The apostle refers to the fact that Christ has ascended to heaven, and has been exalted over angels, and principalities, and powers; thus showing that having borne all his trials with patience he ultimately triumphed, and that in like manner we, if we are patient, shall triumph also, 1 Pe 3:22. He came off a conqueror, and was exalted to the highest honours of heaven; and so, if faithful, we may hope to come off conquerors also, and be exalted to the honours of heaven as he was. The whole argument here is drawn from the example of Christ, first, in his patience and forbearance with the whole world, and then when he was personally on the earth; from the fact, that in the case of that messenger whom he sent to the ungodly race before the flood, and in his own case when personally on earth, there was ultimate triumph after all that they met with from ungodly men; and thus, if we endure opposition and trials in the same way, we may hope also to triumph in heaven with our exalted Saviour.

Verse 1. Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands. On the duty here enjoined, See Barnes "1 Co 11:3, seq.; See Barnes "Eph 5:22".

That, if any obey not the word. The word of God; the gospel. That is, if any wives have husbands who are not true Christians. This would be likely to occur when the gospel was first preached, as it does now, by the fact that wives might be converted, though their husbands were not. It cannot be inferred from this, that after they themselves had become Christians they had married unbelieving husbands. The term "word" here refers particularly to the gospel as preached; and the idea is, that if the

They also may without the word be won. In some other way than by preaching. This does not mean that they would be converted independently of the influence of truth—for truth is always the instrument of conversion, (Jas 1:18; Joh 17:17;) but that it was to be by another influence than preaching.

By the conversation of the wives. By the conduct or deportment of their wives. See Barnes "Php 1:27".

The word conversation, in the Scriptures, is never confined, as it is now with us, to oral discourse, but denotes conduct in general. It includes indeed "conversation" as the word is now used, but it embraces also much more—including everything that we do. The meaning here is, that the habitual deportment of the wife was to be such as to show the reality and power of religion; to show that it had such influence on her temper, her words, her whole deportment, as to demonstrate that it was from God.

{a} "be in subjection" Eph 5:22

{*} "subjection" "Be subject"

{+} "conversation" "Behaviour"


Verse 2. While they behold your chaste conversation. Your pure conduct. The word chaste here (agnhn) refers to purity of conduct in all respects, and not merely to chastity properly so called. It includes that, but it also embraces much more. The conduct of the wife is to be in all respects pure; and this is to be the grand instrumentality in the conversion of her husband. A wife may be strictly chaste, and yet there may be many other things in her conduct and temper which would mar the beauty of her piety, and prevent any happy influence on the mind of her husband.

Coupled with fear. The word fear, in this place, may refer either to the fear of God, or to a proper respect and reverence for their husbands, Eph 5:33. The trait of character which is referred to is that of proper respect and reverence in all the relations which she sustained, as opposed to a trifling and frivolous mind. Leighton suggests that the word fear here relates particularly to the other duty enjoined—that of chaste conversation—"fearing the least stain of chastity, or the very appearance of anything not suiting with it. It is a delicate, timorous grace, afraid of the least air, or shadow of anything that hath but a resemblance of wronging it, in carriage, or speech, or apparel."

{+} "conversation" "behaviour"

{++} "fear" "reverence"


Verse 3. Whose adorning. Whose ornament. The apostle refers here to a propensity which exists in the heart of woman to seek that which would be esteemed ornamental, or that which will appear well in the sight of others, and commend us to them. The desire of this is laid deep in human nature, and therefore, when properly regulated, is not wrong. The only question is, what is the true and appropriate Ornament? What should be primarily sought as the right kind of adorning? The apostle does not condemn true ornament, nor does he condemn the desire to appear in such a way as to secure the esteem of others. God does not condemn real ornament The universe is full of it. The colours of the clouds and of the rainbow; the varied hues of flowers; the plumage of birds, and the covering of many of the animals of the forest; the green grass; the variety of hill and dale; the beauty of the human complexion, the ruddy cheek, and the sparkling eye, are all of the nature of ornament. They are something superadded to what would be merely useful, to make them appear well. Few or none of these things are absolutely necessary to the things to which they are attached; for the eye could see without the various tints of beauty that are drawn upon it, and the lips and the cheeks could perform their functions without their beautiful tints, and the vegetable world could exist without the variegated colours that are painted on it; but God meant that this should be a beautiful world; that it should appear well; that there should be something more than mere utility. The true notion of ornament or adorning, is that which will make any person or thing appear well, or beautiful, to others; and the apostle does not prohibit that which would have this effect in the wife. The grand thing which she was to seek, was not that which is merely external, but that which is internal, and which God regards as of so great value.

Let it not be that outward adorning. Let not this be the main or principal thing; let not her heart be set on this. The apostle does not say that she should wholly neglect her personal appearance, for she has no more right to be offensive to her husband by neglecting her personal appearance, than by a finical attention to it. Religion promotes neatness, and cleanliness, and a proper attention to our external appearance according to our circumstances in life, as certainly as it does to the internal virtue of the soul. On this whole passage, See Barnes "1 Ti 2:9, See Barnes "1 Ti 2:10".

Of plaiting the hair. See Barnes "1 Ti 2:9" Comp. See Barnes "Isa 3:24".

Great attention is paid to this in the East, and it is to this that the apostle here refers. "The women in the eastern countries," says Dr. Shaw, (Travels, p. 294,) "affect to have their hair hang down to the ground, which they collect into one lock, upon the hinder part of the head, binding and plaiting it about with ribbons. Above this, or on the top of their heads, persons of better fashion wear flexible plates of gold or silver, variously cut through, and engraved in imitation of lace." We are not to suppose that a mere braiding or plaiting of the hair is improper, for there may be no more simple or convenient way of disposing of it. But the allusion here is to the excessive care which then prevailed, and especially to their setting the heart on such ornaments rather than on the adorning which is internal. It may not be easy to fix the exact limit of propriety about the method of arranging the hair, or about any other ornament; but those whose hearts are right, generally have little difficulty on the subject. Every ornament of the body, however beautiful, is soon to be laid aside; the adorning of the soul will endure for ever.

And of wearing of gold. The gold here particularly referred to is probably that which was interwoven in the hair, and which was a common female ornament in ancient times. Thus Virgil says, erines nodantur in aurum. And again, erinera implieat auro. See Homer, II., B. 872; Herod. i. 82; and Thucyd. i. 6. The wearing of gold in the hair, however, was more common among women of loose morals than among virtuous females.—Pollux iv. 153. It cannot be supposed that all wearing of gold about the person is wrong, for there is nothing evil in gold itself, and there may be some articles connected with apparel made of gold that may in no manner draw off the affections from higher things, and may do nothing to endanger piety. The meaning is, that such ornaments should not be sought; that Christians should be in no way distinguished for them; that they should not engross the time and attention; that Christians should so dress as to show that their minds are occupied with nobler objects, and that in their apparel they should be models of neatness, economy, and plainness. If it should be said that this expression teaches that it is wrong to wear gold at all, it may be replied that on the same principle it would follow that the next clause teaches that it is wrong to put on apparel at all. There is really no difficulty in such expressions. We are to dress decently, and in the manner that will attract least attention, and we are to show that our hearts are interested supremely in more important things than in outward adorning.

Or of putting on of apparel. That is, this is not to be the ornament which we principally seek, or for which we are distinguished. We are to desire a richer and more permanent adorning—that of the heart.

{b} "let it not" 1 Ti 2:9,10


Verse 4. But let it be the hidden man of the heart. This expression is substantially the same as that of Paul in Ro 7:22, "the inward man." See Barnes "Ro 7:22".

The word "hidden" here means that which is concealed; that which is not made apparent by the dress, or by ornament. It lies within, pertaining to the affections of the soul.

In that which is not corruptible. Properly, "in the incorruptible ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." This is said to be incorruptible in contradistinction to gold and apparel. They will decay; but the internal ornament is ever enduring. The sense is, that whatever pertains to outward decoration, however beautiful and costly, is fading; but that which pertains to the soul is enduring. As the soul is immortal, so all that tends to adorn that will be immortal too; as the body is mortal, so all with which it can be invested is decaying, and will soon be destroyed.

The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. Of a calm temper; a contented mind; a heart free from passion, pride, envy, and irritability; a soul not subject to the agitations and vexations of those who live for fashion, and who seek to be distinguished for external adorning. The connexion here shows that the apostle refers to this, not only as that which would be of great price in the sight of God, but as that which would tend to secure the affection of their husbands, and win them to embrace the true religion, (1 Pe 3:1,2;) and, in order to this, he recommends them, instead of seeking external ornaments, to seek those of the mind and of the heart, as more agreeable to their husbands; as better adapted to win their hearts to religion; as that which would be most permanently proved. In regard to this point we may observe,

(1.) that there are, undoubtedly, some husbands who are pleased with excessive ornaments in their wives, and who take a pleasure in seeing them decorated with gold, and pearls, and costly array.

(2.) That all are pleased and gratified with a suitable attention to personal appearance on the part of their wives. It is as much the duty of a wife to be cleanly in her person, and neat in her habits, in the presence of her husband, as in the presence of strangers; and no wife can hope to secure the permanent affection of her husband who is not attentive to her personal appearance in her own family; especially if, while careless of her personal appearance in the presence of her husband, she makes it a point to appear gaily dressed before others, Yet

(3.) the decoration of the body is not all, nor is it the principal thing which a husband desires. He desires primarily in his wife the more permanent adorning which pertains to the heart. Let it be remembered,

(a.) that a large part of the ornaments on which females value themselves are lost to a great extent on the other sex. Many a man cannot tell the difference between diamonds: and cut-glass, or paste in the form of diamonds; and few are such connoisseurs in the matter of female ornaments as to appreciate at all the difference in the quality or colour of silks, and shawls, and laces, which might appear so important to a female eye. The fact is, that those personal ornaments which to females appear of so much value, are much less regarded and prized by men than they often suppose. It is a rare thing that a man is so thoroughly skilled in the knowledge of the distinctions that pertain to fashions, as to appreciate that on which the heart of a female often so much prides itself; and it is no great credit to him if he can do this. His time usually, unless he is a draper or a jeweller, might have been much better employed than in making those acquisitions which are needful to qualify him to appreciate and admire the peculiarities of gay female apparel.

(b.) But a man has a real interest in what constitutes the ornaments of the heart. His happiness, in his intercourse with his wife, depends on these. He knows what is denoted by a kind temper; by gentle words; by a placid brow; by a modest and patient spirit; by a heart that is calm in trouble, and that is affectionate and pure; by freedom from irritability, fretfulness, and impatience; and he can fully appreciate the value of these things. No professional skill is necessary to qualify him to see their worth; and no acquired tact in discrimination is requisite to enable him to estimate them according to their full value. A wife, therefore, if she would permanently please her husband, should seek the adorning of the soul rather than the body; the ornament of the heart, rather than gold and jewels. The one can never be a substitute for the other; and whatever outward decorations she may have, unless she have a gentleness of spirit, a calmness of temper, a benevolence and purity of soul, and a cultivation of mind that her husband can love, she cannot calculate on his permanent affection.

Which is in the sight of God of great price. Of great value; that being of great value for which a large price is paid. He has shown his sense of its value

(a.) by commending it so often in his word;

(b.) by making religion to consist so much in it rather than in high intellectual endowments, learning, skill in the arts, and valour; and

(c.) by the character of his Son, the Lord Jesus, in whom this was so prominent a characteristic. Sentiments not unlike what is here stated by the apostle, occur not unfrequently in heathen classic writers. There are some remarkable passages in Plutarch, strongly resembling it:—"An ornament, as Crates said, is that which adorns. The proper ornament of a woman is that which becomes her best. This is neither gold, nor pearls, nor scarlet, but those things which are an evident proof of gravity, regularity, and modesty."—Conjugalia Praecept., c. xxvi. The wife of Phocion, a celebrated Athenian general, receiving a visit from a lady who was elegantly adorned with gold and jewels, and her hair with pearls, took occasion to call the attention of her guest to the elegance and costliness of her dress. "My ornament," said the wife of Phocion, "is my husband, now for the twentieth year general of the Athenians."—Plutarch's Life of Phocion. 'The Sicilian tyrant sent to the daughters of Lysander garments and tissues of great value, but Lysander refused them, saying, "These ornaments will rather put my daughters out of countenance than adorn them.'"—Plutarch. So in the fragments of Naumachius, as quoted by Benson, there is a precept much like this "Be not too fond of gold, neither wear purple hyacinth about your neck, or the green jasper, of which foolish persons are proud. Do not covet such vain ornaments, neither view yourself too often in the glass, nor twist your hair into a multitude of curls," etc.

{a} "heart" Ps 45:13; Ro 2:29

{b} "meek and quiet" Ps 25:9; 149:4; Mt 5:5


Verse 5. For after this manner, in the old time. The allusion here is particularly to the times of the patriarchs, and the object of the apostle is to state another reason why they should seek that kind of ornament which he had been commending. The reason is, that this characterised the pious and honoured females of ancient times—those females who had been most commended of God, and who were most worthy to be remembered on earth.

Who trusted in God. Greek, "Who hoped in God;" that is, who were truly pious. They were characterised by simple trust or hope in God, rather than by a fondness for external adorning.

Adorned themselves. To wit, with a meek and quiet spirit, manifested particularly by the respect evinced for their husbands.

Being in subjection unto their own husbands. This was evidently a characteristic of the early periods of the world; and piety was understood to consist much in proper respect for others, according to the relations sustained towards them.

{*} "unto" "subject to"


Verse 6. Even as Sara obeyed Abraham. Sarah was one of the most distinguished of the wives of the patriarchs, and her case is referred to as furnishing one of the best illustrations of the duty to which the apostle refers. Nothing is said, in the brief records of her life, of any passion for outward adorning; much is said of her kindness to her husband, and her respect for him. Comp. Ge 12:5; 18:6.

Calling him lord. See Ge 18:12. It was probably inferred from this instance, by the apostle, and not without reason, that Sarah habitually used this respectful appellation, acknowledging by it that he was her superior, and that he had a right to rule in his own house. The word lord has the elementary idea of ruling, and this is the sense here—that she acknowledged that he had a right to direct the affairs of his household, and that it was her duty to be in subjection to him as the head of the family. In what respects this is a duty, may be seen by consulting See Barnes "Eph 5:22".

Among the Romans, it was quite common for wives to use the appellation lord, (dominus,) when speaking of their husbands. The same custom also prevailed among the Greeks, See Grotius, in loc. This passage does not prove that the term lord should be the particular appellation by which Christian wives should address their husbands now, but it proves that there should be the same respect and deference which was implied by its use in patriarchal times The welfare of society, and the happiness of individuals, are not diminished by showing proper respect for all classes of persons in the various relations of life.

Whose daughters ye are. That is, you will be worthy to be regarded as her daughters, if you manifest the same spirit that she did. The margin here, as the Greek, is children. The sense is, that if they demeaned themselves correctly in the relation of wives, it would be proper to look upon her as their mother, and to feel that they were not unworthy to be regarded as her daughters.

As long as ye do well. In respect to the particular matter under consideration.

And are not afraid with any amazement. This passage has been supposed variously understood. Some have that this is suggested as an argument to persuade them to do well, from the consideration that by so doing they would be preserved from those alarms and terrors which a contest with superior power might bring with it, and which would prove as injurious to their peace as to their character. Rosenmuller explains it, "If ye do well, terrified by no threats of unbelieving husbands, if they should undertake to compel you to deny the Christian faith." Doddridge supposes that it means that they were to preserve their peace and fortitude in any time of danger, so as not to act out of character, through amazement or danger. Calvin, Benson, and Bloomfield understand it of that firmness and intrepidity of character which would be necessary to support their religious independence, when united with heathen husbands; meaning that they were not to be deterred from doing their duty by any threats or terrors, either of their unbelieving husbands, or of their enemies and persecutors. Dr. Clarke supposes that it means that if they did well, they would live under no dread of being detected in improprieties of life, or being found out in their infidelities to their husbands, as those must always be who are unfaithful to their marriage vows. The word rendered amazement (ptohsiv) does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means terror, trepidation, fear; and the literal translation of the Greek is, "not fearing any fear." It seems to me that the following: may express the sense of the passage:

(1.) There is undoubtedly an allusion to the character of Sarah, and the object of the apostle is to induce them to follow her example.

(2.) The thing in Sarah which he would exhort them to imitate, was her pure and upright life, her faithful discharge of her duties as a woman fearing God. This she did constantly wherever she was, regardless of consequences. Among friends and strangers, at home and abroad, she was distinguished for doing well. Such was her character, such her fidelity to her husband and her God, such her firm integrity and benevolence, that she at all times lived to do good, and would have done it, unawed by terror, undeterred by threats. To whatever trial her piety was exposed, it bore the trial; and such was her strength of virtue, that it was certain her integrity would be firm by whatever consequences she might have been threatened for her adherence to her principles.

(3.) They were to imitate her in this, and were thus to show that they were worthy to be regarded as her daughters. They were to do well; to be faithful to their husbands; to be firm in their principles; to adhere steadfastly to what was true and good, whatever trials they might pass through, however much they might be threatened with persecution, or however any might attempt to deter them from the performance of their duty. Thus, by a life of Christian fidelity, unawed by fear from any quarter, they would show that they were imbued with the same principles of unbending virtue which characterised the wife of the father of the faithful, and that they were not unworthy to be regarded as her daughters.

{c} "whose" Ge 18:12

{1} "daughters" "children"

{*} "amazement" "terror"


Verse 7. Likewise, ye husbands. On the general duty of husbands, See Barnes "Eph 5:25, seq.

Dwell with them. That is, "Let your manner of living with them be that which is immediately specified.

According to knowledge. In accordance with an intelligent view of the nature of the relation; or, as becomes those who have been instructed in the duties of this relation according to the gospel. The meaning evidently is, that they should seek to obtain just views of what Christianity enjoins in regard to this relation, and that they should allow those intelligent views to control them in all their intercourse with their wives.

Giving honour unto the wife. It was an important advance made in society when the Christian religion gave such a direction as this, for everywhere among the heathen, and under all false systems of religion, woman has been regarded as worthy of little honour or respect. She has been considered as a slave, or as a mere instrument to gratify the passions of man. It is one of the elementary doctrines of Christianity, however, that woman is to be treated with respect; and one of the first and most marked effects of religion on society is to elevate the wife to a condition in which she will be worthy of esteem. The particular reasons for the honour which husbands are directed to show to their wives, here specified, are two: she is to be treated with special kindness as being more feeble than man, and as having a claim therefore to delicate attention; and she is to be honoured as the equal heir of the grace of life. Doddridge, Clarke, and some others, suppose that the word honour here refers to maintenance or support; and that the command is, that the husband is to provide for his wife so that she may not want. But it seems to me that the word is to be understood here in its more usual signification, and that it inculcates a higher duty than that of merely providing for the temporal wants of the wife, and strikes at a deeper evil than a mere neglect of meeting her temporal necessities. The reasons assigned for doing this seem to imply it,

As unto the weaker vessel. It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to compare the body to a vessel, (Comp. See Barnes "1 Th 4:4,) and thence the comparison is extended to the whole person. This is done either because the body is frail and feeble, like an earthen vessel easily broken; or because it is that in which the soul is lodged; or because, in accordance with a frequent use of the word, (see below,) the body is the instrument by which the soul accomplishes its purposes, or is the helper of the soul. Comp. Ac 9:15; Ro 9:22,23; 2 Co 4:7.

In the later Hebrew usage it was common to apply the term vessel (Heb.

HEBREW, Gr. skeuov) to a wife, as is done here. See Schoettgen, Hor. Heb. p. 827. Expressions similar to this, in regard to the comparative feebleness of woman, occur frequently in the classic writers. See Wetstein in loc. The reasons why the term vessel was given to a wife, are not very apparent. A not unfrequent sense of the word used here (skeuov) in the Greek Classics was that of an instrument; a helper; one who was employed by another to accomplish anything, or to aid him, (Passow) and it seems probable that this was the reason why the term was given to the wife. Comp. Ge 2:18. The reason here assigned for the honour that was to be shown to the wife is, that she is "the weaker vessel." By this it is not necessarily meant that she is of feebler capacity, or inferior mental endowments, but that she is more tender and delicate; more subject to infirmities and weaknesses; less capable of enduring fatigue and toil; less adapted to the rough and stormy scenes of life. As such, she should be regarded and treated with special kindness and attention. This is a reason, the force of which all can see and appreciate. So we feel toward a sister; so we feel toward a beloved child, if he is of feeble frame and delicate constitution; and so every man should feel in relation to his wife. She may have mental endowments equal to his own; she may have moral qualities in every way superior to his; but the God of nature has made her with a more delicate frame, a more fragile structure, and with a body subject to many infirmities to which the more hardy frame of man is a stranger.

And as being heirs together of the grace of life. The grace that is connected with eternal life; that is, as fellow-Christians. They were equal heirs of the everlasting inheritance, called in the Scripture "life;" and the same "grace" connected with that inheritance had been conferred on both. This passage contains a very important truth in regard to the female sex. Under every other system of religion but the Christian system, woman has been regarded as in every way inferior to man. Christianity teaches that, in respect to her highest interests, the interests of religion, she is every way his equal. She is entitled to all the hopes and promises which religion imparts. She is redeemed as he is, she is addressed in the same language of tender invitation. She has the same privileges and comforts which religion imparts here, and she will be elevated to the same rank and privileges in heaven. This single truth would raise the female sex everywhere from degradation, and check at once half the social evils of the race. Make her the equal of man in the hope of heaven, and at once she rises to her appropriate place. Home is made what it should be, a place of intelligence and pure friendship; and a world of suffering and sadness smiles under the benefactions of Christian woman.

That your prayers be not hindered. It is fairly implied here,

(1.) that it was supposed there would be united or family prayer. The apostle is speaking of "dwelling with the wife," and of the right manner of treating her; and it is plainly supposed that united prayer would be one thing that would characterise their living together. He does not direct that there should be prayer. He seems to take it for granted that there would be; and it may be remarked, that where there is true religion in right exercise, there is prayer as a matter of course. The head of a family does not ask whether he must establish family worship; he does it as one of the spontaneous fruits of religion-as a thing concerning which no formal command is necessary. Prayer in the family, as everywhere else, is a privilege; and the true question to be asked on the subject is not whether a man must, but whether he may pray.

(2.) It is implied that there might be such a way of living as effectually to hinder prayer; that is, to prevent its being offered aright, and to prevent any answer. This might occur in many ways. If the husband treated the wife unkindly; if he did not show her proper respect and affection; if there were bickerings, and jealousies, and contentions between them, there could be no hope that acceptable prayer would be offered. A spirit of strife; irritability and unevenness of temper; harsh looks and unkind words; a disposition easily to take offence, and an unwillingness to forgive, all these prevent a "return of prayers." Acceptable prayer never can be offered in the tempest of passion, and there can be no doubt that such prayer is often "hindered" by the inequalities of temper, and the bickerings and strifes that exist in families. Yet how desirable is it that husband and wife should so live together that their prayers may not be hindered! How desirable for their own peace and happiness in that relation; how desirable for the welfare of children! In view of the exposition in this verse we may remark,

(a.) that Christianity has done much to elevate the female sex. It has taught that woman is an heir of the grace of life as well as man; that, while she is inferior in bodily rigour, she is his equal in the most important respect; that she is a fellow-traveller with him to a higher world; and that in every way she is entitled to all the blessings which redemption confers, as much as he is. This single truth has clone more than all other things combined to elevate the female sex, and is all that is needful to raise her from her degradation all over the world.

(b.) They, therefore, who desire the elevation of the female sex, who see woman ignorant and degraded in the dark parts of the earth, should be the friends of all well-directed efforts to send the gospel to heathen lands. Every husband who has a pure and intelligent wife, and every father who has an accomplished daughter, and every brother who has a virtuous sister, should seek to spread the gospel abroad. To that gospel only he owes it that he has such a wife, daughter, sister; and that gospel, which has given to him such an intelligent female friend, would elevate woman everywhere to the same condition. The obligation which he owes to religion in this respect can be discharged in no better way than by aiding in diffusing that gospel which would make the wife, the daughter, the sister, everywhere what she is in his own dwelling.

(c.) Especially is this the duty of the Christian female. She owes her elevation in society to Christianity, and what Christianity has made her, it would make the sunken and debased of her own sex all over the earth; and how can she better show her gratitude than by aiding in any and every way in making that same gospel known in the dark parts of the world?

(d.) Christianity makes a happy home. Let the principles reign in any family which are here enjoined by the apostle, and that family will be one of intelligence, contentment, and peace. There is a simple and easy way of being happy in the family relation. It is to allow the spirit of Christ and his gospel to reign there. That done, though there be poverty, and disappointment, and sickness, and cares, and losses, yet there will be peace within, for there will be mutual love, and the cheerful hope of a brighter world. Where that is wanting, no outward splendour, no costly furniture or viands, no gilded equipage, no long train of servants, no wine, or music, or dances, can secure happiness in a dwelling. With all these things there may be the most corroding passions; in the mansion where these things are, pale disease, disappointment, and death may come, and there shall be nothing to console and support.

{a} "husbands" Col 3:19

{+} "together" "joint heirs"


Verse 8. Finally. As the last direction, or as general counsel in reference to your conduct in all the relations of life. The apostle had specified most of the important relations which Christians sustain, (1 Pe 2:13-25; 3:1-7;) and he now gives a general direction in regard to their conduct in all those relations.

Be ye all of one mind. See Barnes "Ro 12:16".

The word here used (omofrwn) does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means, of the same mind; like-minded; and the object is to secure harmony in their views and feelings. Having compassion one of another. Sympathizing, (sumpayeiv;) entering into one another's feelings, and evincing a regard for each other's welfare. See Barnes "Ro 12:15".

Comp. 1 Co 12:26; Joh 11:35. The Greek word here used does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It describes that state of mind which exists when we enter into the feelings of others as if they were our own, as the different parts of the body are affected by that which affects one. See Barnes "1 Co 12:26".

Love as brethren. Marg., loving to the; i.e., the brethren. The Greek word (filadelfov) does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means loving one's brethren; that is, loving each other as Christian brethren.—Rob. Lex. Thus it enforces the duty so often enjoined in the New Testament, that of love to Christians as brethren of the same family. See Barnes "Ro 12:10".

Comp. Heb 13:1; Joh 13:34.

Be pitiful. The word here used (eusplagcnov) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, except in Eph 4:32, where it is rendered tender-hearted. See Notes on that verse.

Be courteous. This word also (filofrwn) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means friendly-minded, kind, courteous. Later editions of the New Testament, instead of this, read (tapeinofronev) of a lowly or humble mind. See Hahn. The sense is not materially varied. In the one word, the idea of friendliness is the one that prevails; in the other, that of humility. Christianity requires both of these virtues, and either word enforces an important injunction. The authority is in favour of the latter reading; and though Christianity requires that we should be courteous and gentlemanly in our treatment of others, this text can hardly be relied on as a proof-text of that point.

{a} "one mind" Ro 12:16

{1} "of another" "loving to the"

{b} "love" 1 Jo 3:18


Verse 9. Not rendering evil for evil. See Barnes "Mt 5:39" See Barnes "Mt 5:44" See Barnes "Ro 12:17".

Or railing for railing. See Barnes "1 Ti 6:4". Comp. Mr 15:29; Lu 23:39.

But contrariwise blessing. In a spirit contrary to this. See Barnes "Mt 5:44".

Knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. "Knowing that you were called to be Christians in order that you should obtain a blessing infinite and eternal in the heavens. Expecting such a blessing yourselves, you should be ready to scatter blessings on all others. You should be ready to bear all their reproaches, and even to wish them well. The hope of eternal life should make your minds calm; and the prospect that you are to be so exalted in heaven should fill your hearts with benignity and love." There is nothing which is better fitted to cause our hearts to overflow with benignity, to make us ready to forgave all others when they forgive us, than the hope of salvation. Cherishing such a hope ourselves, we cannot but wish that all others may share it, and this will lead us to wish for them every blessing. A man who has a hope of heaven should abound in every virtue, and show that he is a sincere well-wisher of the race. Why should one who expects soon to be in heaven harbour malice in his bosom? Why should he wish to injure a fellow-worm? How can he?

{c} "rendering evil for evil" Mt 5:44; Eph 4:32.


Verse 10. For he that will love life. Or., "He willing, (yelwn,) or that wills to love life." It implies that there is some positive desire to live; some active wish that life should be prolonged. This whole passage 1 Pe 3:10-12 is taken, with some slight variations, from Ps 34:12-16. In the Psalm this expression is, "What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?" The sense is substantially the same. It is implied here that it is right to love life, and to desire many days. The desire of this is referred to by the psalmist and by the apostle, without any expression of disapprobation, and the way is shown by which length of days may be secured. Life is a blessing; a precious gift of God. We are taught so to regard it by the instinctive feelings of our nature; for we are so made as to love it, and to dread its extinction. Though we should be prepared to resign it when God commands, yet there are important reasons why we should desire to live. Among them are the following:

(1.) Because, as already intimated, life, as such, is to be regarded as a blessing. We instinctively shrink back from death, as one of the greatest evils; we shudder at the thought of annihilation. It is not wrong to love that, in proper degree, which, by our very nature, we are prompted to love; and we are but acting out one of the universal laws which our Creator has impressed on us, when, with proper submission to his will, we seek to lengthen out our days as far as possible.

(2.) That we may see the works of God, and survey the wonders of his hand on earth. The world is full of wonders, evincing the wisdom and goodness of the Deity; and the longest life, nay, many such lives as are allotted to us here, could be well employed in studying his works and ways.

(3.) That we may make preparation for eternity. Man may, indeed, make preparation in a very brief period; but the longest life is not too much to examine and settle the question whether we have a well-founded hope of heaven. If man had nothing else to do, the longest life could be well employed in inquiries that grow out of the question whether we are fitted for the world to come. In the possibility, too, of being deceived, and in view of the awful consequences that will result from deception, it is desirable that length of days should be given us that we may bring the subject to the severest test, and so determine it, that we may go sure to the changeless world.

(4.) That we may do good to others. We may, indeed, do good in another world; but there are ways of doing good which are probably confined to this. What good we may do hereafter to the inhabitants of distant worlds, or what ministrations, in company with angels, or without them, we may exercise towards the friends of God on earth after we leave it, we do not know; but there are certain things which we are morally certain we shall not be permitted to do in the future world. We shall not

(a.) personally labour for the salvation of sinners, by conversation and other direct efforts;

(b.) we shall not illustrate the influence of religion by example in sustaining us in trials, subduing and controlling our passions, and making us dead to the world;

(c.) we shall not be permitted to pray for our impenitent friends and kindred, as we may now;

(d.) we shall not have the opportunity of contributing of our substance for the spread of the gospel, or of going personally to preach the gospel to the perishing;

(e.) we shall not be employed in instructing the ignorant, in advocating the cause of the oppressed and the wronged, in seeking to remove the fetters from the slave, in dispensing mercy to the insane, or in visiting the prisoner in his lonely cell;

(f.) we shall not have it in our power to address a kind word to an impenitent child, or seek to guide him in paths of truth, purity, and salvation. What we can do personally and directly for the salvation of others is to be done in this world; and, considering how much there is to be done, and how useful life may be on the earth, it is an object which we should desire, that our days may be lengthened out, and should use all proper means that it may be done. While we should ever be ready and willing to depart when God calls us to go; while we should not wish to linger on these mortal shores beyond the time when we may be useful to others, yet, as long as he permits us to live, we should regard life as a blessing, and should pray that, if it be his will, we may not be cut down in the midst of our way.

"Love not thy life, nor hate; but what thou livest
Live well; here long, or short, permit to heaven."
Paradise Lost.

And see good days. In the Psalm (Ps 34:12) this is, "and loveth many days, that he may see good." The quotation by Peter throughout the passage is taken from the Septuagint, excepting that there is a change of the person from the second to the third: in the psalm, e.g., "refrain thy tongue from evil," etc.; in the quotation, "let him refrain his tongue from evil," etc. "Good days" are prosperous days; happy days; days of usefulness; days in which we may be respected and loved. Let him refrain his tongue from evil. The general meaning of all that is said here is, "let him lead an upright and pious life; doing evil to no one, but seeking the good of all men." To refrain the tongue from evil, is to avoid all slander, falsehood, obscenity, and profaneness, and to abstain from uttering erroneous and false opinions. Comp. Jas 1:26; 3:2.

And his lips that they speak no guile. No deceit; nothing that will lead others astray. The words should be an exact representation of the truth, Rosenmuller quotes a passage from the Hebrew book Musar, which may be not an inappropriate illustration of this: "A certain Assyrian wandering through the city, cried and said, 'Who will receive the elixir of life?' The daughter of Rabbi Jodus heard him, and went and told her father. 'Call him in,' said he. When he came in, Rabbi Jannei said to him, 'What is that elixir of life which thou art selling?' He said to him, 'Is it not written, What man is he that desireth life, and loveth days that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile. Lo, this is the elixir of life which is in the mouth of a man!'"

{d} "he that will love" Ps 34:12


Verse 11. Let him eschew evil. Let him avoid all evil. Comp. Job 1:1.

And do good. In any and every way; by endeavouring to promote the happiness of all. Comp. See Barnes "Ga 6:10".

Let him seek peace, and ensue it. Follow it; that is, practise it. See Barnes "Mt 5:9" See Barnes "Ro 12:18".

The meaning is, that a peaceful spirit will contribute to length of days.

(1.) A peaceful spirit—a calm, serene, and equal temper of mind—is favourable to health, avoiding those corroding and distracting passions which do so much to wear out the physical energies of the frame; and

(2.) such a spirit will preserve us from those contentions and strifes to which so many owe their death. Let any one reflect on the numbers that are killed in duels, in battles, and in brawls, and he will have no difficulty in seeing how a peaceful spirit will contribute to length of days.

{*} "eschew" "avoid"


Verse 12. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous. That is, he is their Protector. His eyes are indeed on all men, but the language here is that which describes continual guardianship and care.

And his ears are open unto their prayers. He hears their prayers. As he is a hearer of prayer, they are at liberty to go to him at all times, and to pour out their desires before him. This passage is taken from Ps 34:15, and it is designed to show the reason why a life of piety will contribute to length of days.

But the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. Marg., upon. The sense of the passage, however, is against. The Lord sets his face against them: an expression denoting disapprobation, and a determination to punish them. His face is not mild and benignant towards them, as-it is towards the righteous. The general sentiment in these verses (1 Pe 3:10-12) is, that while length of days is desirable, it is to be secured by virtue and religion, or that virtue and religion will contribute to it. This is not to be understood as affirming that all who are righteous will enjoy long life, for we know that the righteous are often cut down in the midst of their way; and that in, fire, and flood, and war, and the pestilence, the righteous and the wicked often perish together. But still there is a sense in which it is true that a life of virtue and religion will contribute to length of days, and that the law is so general as to be a basis of @calculation in reference to the future.

I. Religion and virtue contribute to those things which are favourable to length of days, which are conducive to health and to a vigorous constitution. Among those things are the following,

(a.) a calm, peaceful, and contented mind—avoiding the wear and tear of the raging passions of lusts, avarice, and ambition;

(b.) temperance in eating and drinking—always favourable to length of days;

(c.) industry— ne of the essential means, as a general rule, of promoting long life;

(d.) prudence and economy—avoiding the extravagances by which many shorten their days; and

(e.) a conscientious and careful regard of life itself. Religion makes men feel that life is a blessing, and that it should not be thrown away. Just in proportion as a man is under the influence of religion, does he regard life as of importance, and does he become careful in preserving it. Strange and paradoxical as it may seem, the want of religion often makes men reckless of life, and ready to throw it away for any trifling cause. Religion shows a man what great issues depend on life, and makes him, therefore, desirous of living to secure his own salvation and the salvation of all others.

II. Multitudes lose their lives who would have preserved them ff they had been under the influence of religion. To see this, we have only to reflect

(a.) on the millions who are cut off in war as the result of ambition, and the want of religion;

(b.) on the countless hosts cut down in middle life, or in youth, by intemperance, who would have been saved by religion;

(c.) on the numbers who are the victims of raging passions, and who are cut off by the diseases which gluttony and licentiousness engender;

(d.) on the multitude who fall in duels, all of whom would have been saved by religion;

(e.) on the numbers who, as the result of disappointment in business or in love, close their own lives, who would have been enabled to bear up under their troubles if they had had religion; and

(f.) on the numbers who are cut off from the earth as the punishment of their crimes, all of whom would have continued to live if they had had true religion.

III. God protects the righteous. He does it by saving them from those vices by which the lives of so many are shortened; and often, we have no reason to doubt, in answer to their prayers, when, but for those prayers, they would have fallen into crimes that would have consigned them to an early grave, or encountered dangers from which they would have had no means of escape. No one can doubt that in fact those who are truly religious are saved from the sins which consign millions to the tomb; nor is there any less reason to doubt that a protecting shield is often thrown before the children of God when in danger. Comp. Ps 91.

{1} "against" "upon"


Verse 13. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? This question is meant to imply, that as a general thing they need apprehend no evil if they lead an upright and benevolent life. The idea is, that God would in general protect them, though the next verse shows that the apostle did not mean to teach that there would be absolute security, for it is implied there that they might be called to suffer for righteousness' sake. While it is true that the Saviour was persecuted by wicked men, though his life was wholly spent in doing good; while it is true that the apostles were put to death, though following his example; and while it is true that good men have often suffered persecution, though labouring only to do good, still it is true as a general thing that a life of integrity and benevolence conduces to safety, even in a wicked world. Men who are upright and pure; who live to do good to others; who are characteristically benevolent; and who are imitators of God—are those who usually pass life in most tranquillity and security, and are often safe when nothing else would give security but confidence in their integrity. A man of a holy and pure life may, under the protection of God, rely on that character to carry him safely through the world, and to bring him at last to an honoured grave. Or should he be calumniated when living, and his sun set under a cloud, still his name will be vindicated, and justice will ultimately be done to him when he is dead. The world ultimately judges right respecting character, and renders "honour to whom honour is due." Comp. Ps 37:3-6.

{a} "who is he" Pr 16:7; Ro 8:28


Verse 14. But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake. Implying that though, in general, a holy character would constitute safety, yet that there was a possibility that they might suffer persecution. Comp. See Barnes "Mt 5:10"

See Barnes "2 Ti 3:12".

Happy are ye. Perhaps alluding to what the Saviour says in Mt 5:10: "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake." On the meaning of the word happy or blessed, See Barnes "Mt 5:3".

The meaning here is, not that they would find positive enjoyment in persecution on account of righteousness, but that they were to regard it as a blessed condition; that is, as a condition that might be favourable to salvation; and they were not therefore, on the whole, to regard it as an evil.

And be not afraid of their terror. Of anything which they can do to cause terror. There is evidently an allusion here to Isa 8:12,13: "Neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." See Barnes "Isa 8:12, seq. Comp. Isa 51:12 Mt 10:28.

Neither be troubled. With apprehension of danger. Compare See Barnes "Joh 14:1".

If we are true Christians, we have really no reason to be alarmed in view of anything that can happen to us. God is our protector, and he is abundantly able to vanquish all our foes; to uphold us in all our trials; to conduct us through the valley of death, and to bring us to heaven. "All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present or things to come," 1 Co 3:21,22.

{a} "be not afraid" Isa 8:12,13; 51:12


Verse 15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. In Isa 8:13 this is, "sanctify the Lord of hosts himself;" that is, in that connexion, regard him as your Protector, and be afraid of him, and not of what man can do. The sense in the passage before us is, "In your hearts, or in the affections of the soul, regard the Lord God as holy, and act towards him with that confidence which a proper respect for one so great and so holy demands. In the midst of dangers, be not intimidated; dread not what man can do, but evince proper reliance on a holy God, and flee to him with the confidence which is due to one so glorious." This contains, however, a more general direction, applicable to Christians at all times. It is, that in our hearts we are to esteem God as a holy being, and in all our deportment to act towards him as such. The objectof Peter in quoting the passage from Isaiah, was to lull the fears of those whom he addressed, and preserve them from any alarms in view of the persecutions to which they might be-exposed; the trials which would be brought upon them by men. Thus, in entire accordance with the sentiment as employed by Isaiah, he says, "Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts." That is, "in order to keep the mind calm in trials, sanctify the Lord in your hearts; regard him as your holy God and Saviour; make him your refuge. This will allay all your fears, and secure you from all that you dread." The sentiment of the passage then is, that the sanctifying of the Lord God in our hearts, or proper confidence in him as a holy and righteous God, will deliver us from fear. As this is a very important sentiment for Christians, it may be proper, in order to a just exposition of the passage, to dwell a moment on it.

I. What is meant by our-sanctifying the Lord God? It cannot mean to make him holy, for he is perfectly holy, whatever may be our estimate of him; and our views of him evidently can make no change in his character. The meaning therefore must be, that we should regard him as holy in our estimate of him, or in the feelings which we have towards him. This may include the following things:

(1.) To esteem or regard him as a holy being, in contradistinction from all those feelings which rise up in the heart against him—the feelings of complaining and murmuring under his dispensations, as if he were severe and harsh; the feelings of dissatisfaction with his government, as if it were partial and unequal; the feelings of rebellion, as if his claims were unfounded or unjust.

(2.) To desire that he may be regarded by others as holy, in accordance with the petition in the Lord's prayer, (Mt 6:9,) "hallowed be thy name;" that is, "let thy name be esteemed to be holy everywhere;" a feeling in opposition to that which is regardless of the honour which he may receive in the world. When we esteem a friend, we desire that all due respect should be shown him by others; we wish that all who know him should have the same views that we have; we are sensitive to his honour, just in proportion as we love him.

(3.) To act towards him as holy, that is, to obey his laws, and acquiesce in all his requirements, as if they were just and good. This implies,

(a.) that we are to speak of him as holy, in opposition to the language of disrespect and irreverence so common among mankind;

(b.) that we are to flee to him in trouble, in contradistinction from withholding our hearts from him, and flying to other sources of consolation and support.

II. What is it to do this in the heart? Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts;" that is, in contradistinction from a mere external service. This may imply the following things:

(1.) In contradistinction from a mere intellectual assent to the proposition that he is holy. Many admit the doctrine that God is holy into their creeds, who never suffer the sentiment to find its way to the heart. All is right on this subject in the articles of their faith; all in their hearts may be murmuring and complaining. In their creeds he is spoken of as just and good; in their hearts they regard him as partial and unjust, as severe and stern, as unamiable and cruel.

(2.) In contradistinction from a mere outward form of devotion, in our prayers, and in our hymns, we, of course, "ascribe holiness to our Maker." But how much of this is the mere language of form! How little does the heart accompany it! And even in the most solemn and sublime ascriptions of praise, how often are the feelings of the heart entirely at variance with what is expressed by the lips? What would more justly offend us, than for a professed friend to approach us with the language of friendship, when every feeling of his heart belied his expressions, and we knew that his honeyed words were false and hollow!

III. Such a sanctifying of the Lord in our hearts will save us from fear. We dread danger, we dread sickness, we dread death, we dread the eternal world. We are alarmed when our affairs are tending to bankruptcy; we are alarmed when a friend is sick and ready to die; we are alarmed if our country is invaded by a foe, and the enemy already approaches our dwelling. The sentiment in the passage before us is, that if we sanctify the Lord God with proper affections, we shall be delivered from these alarms, and the mind will be calm.

(1.) The fear of the Lord, as Leighton (in loc.) expresses it, "as greatest, overtops and nullifies all lesser fears: the heart possessed with this fear hath no room for the other." It is an absorbing emotion; making everything else comparatively of no importance. If we fear God, we have nothing else to fear. The highest emotion which there can be in the soul is the fear of God; and when that exists, the soul will be calm amidst all that might tend otherwise to disturb it. "What time I am afraid," says David, "I will trust in thee," Ps 56:3. "We are not careful," said Daniel and his friends, "to answer thee, O king. Our God can deliver us; but if not, we will not worship the image," Da 3:16.

(2.) If we sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, there will be a belief that he will do all things well, and the mind will be calm. However dark his dispensations may be, we shall be assured that everything is ordered aright. In a storm at sea, a child may be calm when he feels that his father is at the helm, and assures him that there is no danger. In a battle, the mind of a soldier may be calm, if he has confidence in his commander, and he assures him that all is safe. So in anything, if we have the assurance that the best thing is done that can be, that the issues will all be right, the mind will be calm. But in this respect the highest confidence that can exist, is that which is reposed in God.

(3.) There will be the assurance that all is safe. "Though I walk," says David, "through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me," Ps 23:4. "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Ps 27:1. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble: therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof," Ps 46:1-3. Let us ever then regard the Lord as holy, just, and good. Let us flee to him in all the trials of the present life, and in the hour of death repose on his arm. Every other source of trust will fail; and whatever else may be our reliance, when the hour of anguish approaches, that reliance will fail, and that which we dreaded will overwhelm us. Nor riches, nor honours, nor earthly friends, can save us from those alarms, or be a security for our souls when "the rains descend, and the floods come, and the winds blow" upon us.

And be ready always. That is,

(a.) be always able to do it; have such reasons for the hope that is in you that they can be stated; or, have good and substantial reasons; and (b.) be willing to state those reasons on all proper occasions. No man ought to entertain opinions for which a good reason cannot be given; and every man ought to be willing to state the grounds of his hope on all proper occasions. A Christian should have such intelligent views of the truth of his religion, and such constant evidence in his own heart and life that he is a child of God, as to be able at any time to satisfy a candid inquirer that the Bible is a revelation from heaven, and that it is proper for him to cherish the hope of salvation.

To give an answer. Greek, An apology, (apologian.) This word formerly did not mean, as the word apology does now, an excuse for anything that is done as if it were wrong, but a defence of anything. We apply the word now to denote something written or said in extenuation of what appears to others to be wrong, or what might be construed as wrong—as when we make an apology to others for not fulfilling an engagement, or for some conduct which might be construed as designed neglect. The word originally, however, referred rather to that which was thought not to be true, than that which might be construed as wrong; and the defence or "apology" which Christians were to make of their religion, was not on the supposition that others would regard it as wrong, but in order to show them that it was true. The word here used is rendered defence, Ac 22:1; Php 1:7,17; answer, Ac 25:16; 1 Co 9:3; 2 Ti 4:16; 1 Pe 3:15; and clearing of yourselves in 2 Co 7:11. We are not to hold ourselves ready to make an apology for our religion as if it were a wrong thing to be a Christian; but we are always to be ready to give reasons for regarding it as true.

To every man that asketh you. Any one has a right respectfully to ask another on what grounds he regards his religion as true; for every man has a common interest in religion, and in knowing what is the truth on the subject. If any man, therefore, asks us candidly and respectfully by what reasons we have been led to embrace the gospel, and on what grounds we regard it as true, we are under obligation to state those grounds in the best manner that we are able. We should regard it not as an impertinent intrusion into our private affairs, but as an opportunity of doing good to others, and to honour the Master whom we serve. Nay, we should hold ourselves in readiness to state the grounds of our faith and hope, whatever may be the motive of the inquirer, and in whatever manner the request may be made. Those who were persecuted for their religion, were under obligation to make as good a defence of it as they could, and to state to their persecutors the "reason" of the hope which they entertained. And so now, if a man attacks our religion; if he ridicules us for being Christians; if he tauntingly asks us what reason we have for believing the truth of the Bible, it is better to tell him in a kind manner, and to meet his taunt with a kind and strong argument, than to become angry, or to turn away with contempt. The best way to disarm him, is to show him that by embracing religion we are not fools in understanding; and, by a kind temper, to convince him that the influence of religion over us when we are abused and insulted, is a "reason" why we should love our religion, and why he should too.

A reason of the hope that is in you. Gr, "an account," (logon.) That is, you are to state on what ground you cherish that hope. This refers to the whole ground of our hope, and includes evidently two things:

(1.) The reason why we regard Christianity as true, or as furnishing a ground of hope for men; and,

(2.) the reason which we have ourselves for cherishing a hope of heaven, or the experimental and practical views which we have of religion, which constitute a just ground of hope. It is not improbable that the former of these was more directly in the eye of the apostle than the latter, though both seem to be implied in the direction to state the reasons which ought to satisfy others that it is proper for us to cherish the hope of heaven. The first part of this duty—that we are to state the reasons why we regard the system of religion which we have embraced as true—implies, that we should be acquainted with the evidences of the truth of Christianity, and be able to state them to others. Christianity is founded on evidence; and though it cannot be supposed that every Christian will be able to understand all that is involved in what are called the evidences of Christianity, or to meet all the objections of the enemies of the gospel; yet every man who becomes a Christian should have such intelligent views of religion, and of the evidences of the truth of the Bible, that he can show to others that the religion which he has embraced has claims to their attention, or that it is not a mere matter of education, of tradition, or of feeling. It should also be an object with every Christian to increase his acquaintance with the evidences of the truth of religion, not only for his own stability and comfort in the faith, but that he may be able to defend religion if attacked, or to guide others if they are desirous of knowing what is truth. The second part of this duty, that we state the reasons which we have for cherishing the hope of heaven as a personal matter, implies

(a.) that there should be, in fact, a well-founded hope of heaven; that is, that we have evidence that we are true Christians, since it is impossible to give a "reason" of the hope that is in us unless there are reasons for it;

(b.) that we be able to state in a clear and intelligent manner what constitutes evidence of piety, or what should be reasonably regarded as such; and

(c.) that we be ever ready to state these reasons. A Christian should always be willing to converse about his religion. He should have such a deep conviction of its truth, of its importance, and of his personal interest in it; he should have a hope so firm, so cheering, so sustaining, that he will be always prepared to converse on the prospect of heaven, and to endeavour to lead others to walk in the path to life.

With meekness. With modesty; without any spirit of ostentation; with gentleness of manner. This seems to be added on the supposition that they sometimes might be rudely assailed; that the questions might be proposed in a spirit of cavil; that it might be done in a taunting or insulting manner. Even though this should be done, they were not to fall into a passion, to manifest resentment, or to retort in an angry and revengeful manner; but, in a calm and gentle spirit, they were to state the reasons of their faith and hope, and leave the matter there.

And fear. Marg., reverence. The sense seems to be, "in the fear of God; with a serious and reverent spirit; as in the presence of Him who sees and hears all things." It evidently does not mean with the fear or dread of those who propose the question, but with that serious and reverent frame of mind which is produced by a deep impression of the importance of the subject, and a conscious sense of the presence of God. It follows, from the injunction of the apostle here,

(1.) that every professing Christian should have clear and intelligent views of his own personal interest in religion, or such evidences of piety that they can be stated to others, and that they can be made satisfactory to other minds;

(2.) that every Christian, however humble his rank, or however unlettered he may be, may become a valuable defender of the truth of Christianity;

(3.) that we should esteem it a privilege to bear our testimony to the truth and value of religion, and to stand up as the advocates of truth in the world. Though we may be rudely assailed, it is an honour to speak in defence of religion; though we are persecuted and reviled, it is a privilege to be permitted in anyway to show our fellow-men that there is such a thing as true religion, and that man may cherish the hope of heaven.

{b} "ready always" Ps 119:46

{c} "fear" "reverence"


Verse 16. Having a good conscience. That is, a conscience that does not accuse you of having done wrong. Whatever may be the accusations of your enemies, so live that you may be at all times conscious of uprightness. Whatever you suffer, see that you do not suffer the pangs inflicted by a guilty conscience, the anguish of remorse. On the meaning of the word conscience, See Barnes "Ro 2:15".

The word properly means the judgment of the mind respecting right and wrong; or the judgment which the mind passes on the immorality of its own actions, when it instantly approves or condemns them. There is always a feeling of obligation connected with operations of conscience, which precedes, attends, and follows our actions. "Conscience is first occupied in ascertaining our duty, before we proceed to action; then in judging of our actions when performed." A "good conscience" implies two things:

(1.) That it be properly enlightened to know what is right and wrong, or that it be not under the dominion of ignorance, superstition, or fanaticism, prompting us to do what would be a violation of the Divine law; and

(2) that its dictates be always obeyed. Without the first of these—clear views of that which is right and wrong—conscience becomes an unsafe guide; for it merely prompts us to do what we esteem to be right, and if our views of what is right and wrong are erroneous, we may be prompted to do what may be a direct violation of the law of God. Paul thought he "ought" to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, (Ac 26:9;) the Saviour said, respecting his disciples, that the time would come when whosoever should kill them would think that they were doing God service, (Joh 16:2;) and Solomon says, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death," (Pr 14:12; 16:25.) Under an unenlightened and misguided conscience, with the plea and pretext of religion, the most atrocious crimes have been committed; and no man should infer that he is certainly doing right, because he follows the promptings of conscience. No man, indeed, should act against the dictates of his conscience; but there may have been a previous wrong in not using proper means to ascertain what is right. Conscience is not revelation, nor does it answer the purpose of a revelation. It communicates no new truth to the soul, and is a safe guide only so far as the mind has been properly enlightened to see what is truth and duty. Its office is to prompt us to the performance of duty, not to determine what is right. The other thing requisite that we may have a good conscience is, that its decisions should be obeyed. Conscience is appointed to be the "vicegerent" of God in inflicting punishment, if his commands are not obeyed. It pronounces a sentence on our own conduct. Its penalty is remorse; and that penalty will be demanded if its promptings be not regarded. It is an admirable device, as a part of the moral government of God, urging man to the performance of duty, and, in case of disobedience, making the mind its own executioner. There is no penalty that will more certainly be inflicted, sooner or later, than that incurred by a guilty conscience. It needs no witnesses; no process for arresting the offender; no array of judges and executioners; no stripes, imprisonment, or bonds. Its inflictions will follow the offender into the most secluded retreat; overtake him in his most rapid flight; find him out in northern snows, or on the sands of the equator; go into the most splendid palaces, and seek out the victim when he is safe from all the vengeance that man can inflict; pursue him into the dark valley of the shadow of death, or arrest him as a fugitive in distant worlds. No one, therefore, can over-estimate the importance of having a good conscience. A true Christian should aim, by incessant study and prayer, to know what is right, and then always do it, no matter what may be the consequences.

That, whereas they speak evil of you. They who are your enemies and persecutors. Christians are not to hope that men will always speak well of them, Mt 5:11; Lu 6:26.

As of evil doers. See Barnes "1 Pe 2:12".

{*} "conversation" "Behaviour" They may be ashamed. They may see that they have misunder- stood your conduct, and regret that they have treated you as they have. We should expect, if we are faithful and true, that even our enemies will yet appreciate our motives, and do us justice. Comp. Psa. 37:5, 6. That falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. Your good conduct as Christians. They may accuse you of insincerity, hypocrisy, dishonesty; of being enemies of the state, or of monstrous crimes; but the time will come when they will see their error, and do you justice. See Notes one, hap, ii. 12.


Verse 17. For it is better, if the will of God be so. That is, if God sees it to be necessary for your good that you should suffer, it is better that you should suffer for doing well than for crime. God often sees it to be necessary that his people should suffer. There are effects to be accomplished by affliction which can be secured in no other way; and some of the happiest results on the soul of a Christian, some of the brightest traits of character, are the effect of trials. But it should be our care that our sufferings should not be brought upon us for our own crimes or follies. No man can promote his own highest good by doing wrong, and then enduring the penalty which his sin incurs; and no one should do wrong with any expectation that it may be overruled for his own good. If we are to suffer, let it be by the direct hand of God, and not by any fault of our own. If we suffer then, we shall have the testimony of our own conscience in our favour, and the feeling that we may go to God for support. If we suffer for our faults, in addition to the outwar& pain of body, we shall endure the severest pangs which man can suffer—those which the guilty mind inflicts on itself.


Verse 18. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins. Comp. See Barnes "1 Pe 2:21".

The design of the apostle in this reference to the sufferings of Christ, is evidently to remind them that he suffered as an innocent being, and not for any wrong-doing, and to encourage and comfort them in their sufferings by his example. The reference to his sufferings leads him (1 Pe 2:18-22) into a statement of the various ways in which Christ suffered, and of his ultimate triumph. By his example in his sufferings, and by his final triumph, the apostle would encourage those whom he addressed to bear with patience the sorrows to which their religion exposed them. He assumes that all suffering for adhering to the gospel is the result of well-doing; and for an encouragement in their trials, he refers them to the example of Christ, the highest instance that ever was, or ever will be, both of well-doing, and of suffering on account of it. The expression, "hath once suffered," in the New Testament, means once for all; once, in the sense that it is not to occur again. Comp. Heb 7:27. The particular point here, however, is not that he once suffered; it is that he had in fact suffered, and that in doing it he had left an example for them to follow.

The just for the unjust. The one who was just, (dikaiov) on account of, or in the place of, those who were unjust, (uper adikwn;) or one who was righteous, on account of those who were wicked. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 5:6" See Barnes "2 Co 5:21" See Barnes "Heb 9:28".

The idea on which the apostle would particularly fix their attention was, that he was just or innocent. Thus he was an example to those who suffered for well-doing.

That he might bring us to God. That his death might be the means of reconciling sinners to God. Comp. See Barnes "Joh 3:14" See Barnes "Joh 12:32".

It is through that death that mercy is proclaimed to the guilty; it is by that alone that God can be reconciled to men; and the fact that the Son of God loved men, and gave himself a sacrifice for them, enduring such bitter sorrows, is the most powerful appeal which can be made to mankind to induce them to return to God. There is no appeal which can be made to us more powerful than one drawn from the fact that another suffers on our account. We could resist the argument which a father, a mother, or a sister would use to reclaim us from a course of sin; but if we perceive that our conduct involves them in suffering, that fact has a power over us which no mere argument could have.

Being put to death in the flesh. As a man; in his human nature. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 1:3,4".

There is evidently a contrast here between "the flesh" in which it is said he was "put to death," and "the spirit" by which it is said he was "quickened." The words "in the flesh" are clearly designed to denote something that was peculiar in his death; for it is a departure from the usual method of speaking of death. How singular would it be to say of Isaiah, Paul, or Peter, that they were put to death in the flesh! How obvious would it be to ask, In what other way are men usually put to death? What was there peculiar in their case, which would distinguish their death from the death of others? The use of this phrase would suggest the thought at once, that though, in regard to that which was properly expressed by the phrase, "the flesh," they died, yet that there was something else in respect to which they did not die. Thus, if it were said of a man that he was deprived of his rights as a father, it would be implied that in other respects he was not deprived of his rights; and this would be especially true if it were added that he continued to enjoy his rights as a neighbour, or as holding an office under the government. The only proper inquiry, then, in this place is, What is fairly implied in the phrase, the flesh? Does it mean simply his body, as distinguished from his human soul? or does it refer to him as a man, as distinguished from some higher nature, over which death had no power? Now, that the latter is the meaning seems to me to be apparent, for these reasons:

(1.) It is the usual way of denoting the human nature of the Lord Jesus, or of saying that he became incarnate, or was a man, to speak of his being in the flesh. See Ro 1:2: "Made of the seed of David according to the flesh." Joh 1:14: "And the Word was made flesh." 1 Ti 3:16: "God was manifest in the flesh." 1 Jo 4:2: "Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God." 2 Jo 1:7: "Who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh."

(2.) So far as appears, the effect of death on the human soul of the Redeemer was the same as in the case of the soul of any other person; in other words, the effect of death in his case was not confined to the mere body or the flesh. Death, with him, was what death is in any other case—the separation of the soul and body, with all the attendant pain of such dissolution. It is not true that his "flesh," as such, died without the ordinary accompaniments of death on the soul, so that it could be said that the one died, and the other was kept alive. The purposes of the atonement required that he should meet death in the usual form; that the great laws which operate everywhere else in regard to dissolution, should exist in his case; nor is there in the Scriptures any intimation that there was, in this respect, anything peculiar in his case. If his soul had been exempt from whatever there is involved in death in relation to the spirit, it is unaccountable that there is no hint on this point in the sacred narrative. But if this be so, then the expression "in the flesh" refers to him as a man, and means, that so far as his human nature was concerned, he died. In another important respect, he did not die. On the meaning of the word flesh in the New Testament, see See Barnes "Ro 1:3".

See Biblical Repos., April, 1845, p. 269. See also Passow, and Robinson; Lex. The sense, then, cannot be that, in reference to his soul or spirit, he was preserved alive when his body died, but that there was some agency or power restoring him to life, or reanimating him after he was dead.

By the Spirit. According to the common reading in the Greek, this is tw pneumati — with the article the—"the Spirit." Hahn, Tittman, and Griesbach omit the article, and then the reading is, "quickened in spirit;" and thus the reading corresponds with the former expression, "in flesh" (sarki,) where the article also is wanting. The word spirit, so far as the mere use of the word is concerned, might refer to his own soul, to his Divine nature, or to the Holy Spirit. It is evident

(1.) that it does not refer to his own soul, for,

(a.) as we have seen, the reference in the former clause is to his human nature, including all that pertained to him as a man, body and soul;

(b.) there was no power in his own spirit, regarded as that appertaining to his human nature, to raise him up from the dead, any more than there is such a power in any other human soul. That power does not belong to a human soul in any of its relations or conditions.

(2.) It seems equally clear that this does not refer to the Holy Spirit, or the Third Person of the Trinity, for it may be doubted whether the work of raising the dead is anywhere ascribed to that Spirit. His peculiar province is to enlighten, awaken, convict, convert, and sanctify the soul; to apply the work of redemption to the hearts of men, and to lead them to God. This influence is moral, not physical; an influence accompanying the truth, not the exertion of mere physical power.

(3.) It remains, then, that the reference is to his own Divine nature—a nature by which he was restored to life after he was crucified; to the Son of God, regarded as the Second Person of the Trinity. This appears, not only from the facts above stated, but also

(a.) from the connexion. It is stated that it was in or by this spirit that he went and preached in the days of Noah. But it was not his spirit as a man that did this, for his human soul had then no existence. Yet it seems that he did this personally or directly, and not by the influences of the Holy Spirit, for it is said that "he went and preached." The reference, therefore, cannot be to the Holy Ghost, and the fair conclusion is that it refers to his Divine nature.

(b.) This accords with what the apostle Paul says, (Ro 1:3,4,) "which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh,"—that is, in respect to his human nature,—"and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness,"—that is, in respect to his Divine nature,—" by the resurrection from the dead." See Notes on that passage.

(c.) It accords with what the Saviour himself says, Joh 10:17,18: "I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." This must refer to his Divine nature, for it is impossible to conceive that a human soul should have the power of restoring its former tenement, the body, to life. See Notes on the passage. The conclusion, then, to which we have come is, that the passage means, that as a man, a human being, he was put to death; in respect to a higher nature, or by a higher nature, here denominated Spirit, (pneuma,) he was restored to life. As a man, he died; as the incarnate Son of God, the Messiah, he was made alive again by the power of his own Divine Spirit, and exalted to heaven. Comp. Robinson's Lex. on the word pneuma.

{a} "Christ also" 1 Pe 2:21

{b} "just for unjust" 2 Co 5:21

{a} "death" Ro 4:25


Verse 19. By which. Evidently by the Spirit referred to in the previous verse—en w—the Divine nature of the Son of God; that by which he was "quickened" again, after he had been put to death; the Son of God regarded as a Divine Being, or in that same nature which afterwards became incarnate, and whose agency was employed in quickening the man Christ Jesus, who had been put to death. The meaning is, that the same "Spirit" which was efficacious in restoring him to life, after he was put to death, was that by which he preached to the spirits in prison.

He went. To wit, in the days of Noah. No particular stress should be laid here on the phrase he went." The literal sense is, "he, having gone, preached," etc. —poreuyeiv. It is well known that such expressions are often redundant in Greek writers, as in others. So Herodotus, "to these things they spake, saying"—for they said. "And he, speaking, said;" that is, he said. So Eph 2:17, "And came and preached peace," etc. Mt 9:13, "But go and learn what that meaneth," etc. So God is often represented as coming, as descending, etc,, when he brings a message to mankind. Thus Ge 11:5, "The Lord came down to see the city and the tower." Ex 19:20, "The Lord came down upon Mount Sinai." Nu 11:25, "The Lord came down in a cloud." 2 Sa 22:10, "He bowed the heavens and came down." The idea, however, would be conveyed by this language that he did this personally, or by himself, and not merely by employing the agency of another. It would then be implied here, that though the instrumentality of Noah was employed, yet that it was done not by the Holy Spirit, but by him who afterwards became incarnate. On the supposition, therefore, that this whole massage refers to his preaching to the antediluvians in the time of Noah, and not to the "spirits" after they were confined in prison, this is language which the apostle would have properly and probably used. If that supposition meets the full force of the language, then no argument can be based on it in proof that he went to preach to them after their death, and while his body was lying in the grave.

And preached. The word used here (ekhruxen) is of a general character, meaning to make a proclamation of any kind, as a crier does, or to deliver a message, and does not necessarily imply that it was the gospel which was preached, nor does it determine anything in regard to the nature of the message. It is not affirmed that he preached the gospel, for if that specific idea had been expressed it would have been rather by another word—euaggelizw. The word here used would be appropriate to such a message as Noah brought to his contemporaries, or to any communication which God made to men. See Mt 3:1; 4:17; Mr 1:35; Mr 5:20; 7:36. It is implied in the expression, as already remarked, that he did this himself; that it was the Son of God who subsequently became incarnate, and not the Holy Spirit, that did this; though the language is consistent With the supposition that he did it by the instrumentality of another, to wit, Noah. Qui facit per alium, facit per se. God really proclaims a message to mankind when he does it by the instrumentality of the prophets, or apostles, or other ministers of religion; and all that is necessarily implied in this language would be met by the supposition that Christ delivered a message to the antediluvian race by the agency of Noah. No argument, therefore, can be derived from this language to prove that Christ went and personally preached to those who were confined in hades or in prison.

Unto the spirits in prison. That is, clearly, to the spirits now in prison, for this is the fair meaning of the passage. The obvious sense is, that Peter supposed there were "spirits in prison" at the time when he wrote, and that to those same spirits the Son of God had at some time "preached," or had made some proclamation respecting the will of God. As this is the only passage in the New Testament on which the Romish doctrine of purgatory is supposed to rest, it is important to ascertain the fair meaning of the language here employed. There are three obvious inquiries in ascertaining its signification. Who are referred to by spirits? What is meant by in prison? Was the message brought to them while in the prison, or at some previous period?

I. Who are referred to by spirits? The specification in the next verse determines this. They were those "who were sometime disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah." No others are specified; and if it should be maintained that this means that he went down to hell, or to sheol, and preached to those who are confined there, it could be inferred from this passage only that he preached to that portion of the lost spirits confined there which belonged to the particular generation in which Noah lived. Why he should do this; or how there should be such a separation made in hades that it could be done; or what was the nature of the message which he delivered to that portion, are questions which it is impossible for any man who holds to the opinion that Christ went down to hell after his death to preach, to answer. But if it means that he preached to those who lived in the days of Noah, while they were yet alive, the question will be asked why are they called "spirits?" Were they spirits then, or were they men like others? To this the answer is easy. Peter speaks of them as they were when he wrote; not as they had been, or were at the time when the message was preached to them. The idea is, that to those spirits who were then in prison who had formerly lived in the days of Noah, the message had been in fact delivered. It was not necessary to speak of them precisely as they were at the time when it was delivered, but only in such a way as to identify them. We should use similar language now. If we saw a company of men in prison who had seen better days—a multitude now drunken, and debased, and poor, and riotous —it would not be improper to say that "the prospect of wealth and honour was once held out to this ragged and wretched multitude. All that is needful is to identify them as the same persons who once had this prospect. In regard to the inquiry, then, who these "spirits" were, there can be no difference of opinion.

They were that wicked race which lived in the days of Noah. There is no allusion in this passage to any other; there is no intimation that to any others of those "in prison" the message here referred to had been delivered.

II. What is meant by prison here? Purgatory, or the limbus patrum, say the Romanists—a place in which departed souls are supposed to be confined, and in which their final destiny may still be effected by the purifying fires which they endure, by the prayers of the living, or by a message in some way conveyed to their gloomy abodes —in which such sins may be expiated as do not deserve eternal damnation. The Syriac here is "in sheol," referring to the abodes of the dead, or the place in which departed spirits are supposed to dwell. The word rendered prison, (fulakh) means properly watch, guard—the act of keeping watch, or the guard itself; then watchpost, or station; then a place where any one is watched or guarded, as a prison; then a watch in the sense of a division of the night, as the morning watch. It is used in the New Testament, with reference to the future world, only in the following places: 1 Pe 3:19, "Preached unto the spirits in prison;" and Re 20:7, "Satan shall be loosed out of his prison". An idea similar to the one here expressed may be found in 2 Pe 2:4, though the word prison does not there occur: "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;" and in Jude 1:6, "and the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day." The allusion, in the passage before us, is undoubtedly to confinement or imprisonment in the invisible world; and perhaps to those who are reserved there with reference to some future arrangement—for this idea enters commonly into the use of the word prison. There is, however, no specification of the place where this is; no intimation that it is purgatory—a place where the departed are supposed to undergo purification; no intimation that their condition can be affected by anything that we can do; no intimation that those particularly referred to differ in any sense from the others who are confined in that world; no hint that they can be released by any prayers or sacrifices of ours. This passage, therefore, cannot be adduced to support the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory, for

(1.) the essential ideas which enter into the doctrine of purgatory are not to be found in the word here used;

(2.) there is no evidence in the fair interpretation of the passage that any message is borne to them while in prison;

(3.) there is not the slightest hint that they can be released by any prayers or offerings of those who dwell on the earth. The simple idea is that of persons confined as in a prison; and the passage will prove only that in the time when the apostle wrote there were those who were thus confined.

III. Was the message brought to them while in prison, or at some previous period? The Romanists say that it was while in prison; that Christ, after he was put to death in the body, was still kept alive in his spirit, and went and proclaimed his gospel to those who were in prison. So Bloomfield maintains, (in loc.,) and so OEcumenius and Cyril, as quoted by Bloomfield. But against this view there are plain objections drawn from the language of Peter himself.

(1.) As we have seen, the fair interpretation of the passage "quickened by the Spirit," is not that he was kept alive as to his human soul, but that he, after being dead, was made alive by his own Divine energy.

(2.) If the meaning be that he went and preached after his death, it seems difficult to know why the reference is to those only who "had been disobedient in the days of Noah." Why were they alone selected for this message? Are they separate from others? Were they the only ones in purgatory who could be beneficially affected by his preaching? On the other method of interpretation, we can suggest a reason why they were particularly specified. But how can we on this?

(3.) The language employed does not demand this interpretation. Its full meaning is met by the interpretation that Christ once preached to the spirits then in prison, to wit, in the days of Noah; that is, that he caused a Divine message to be borne to them. Thus it would be proper to say that "Whitfield came to America, and preached to the souls in perdition;" or to go among the graves of the first settlers of New Haven, and say, "Davenport came from England to preach to the dead men around us."

(4.) This interpretation accords with the design of the apostle in inculcating the duty of patience and forbearance in trials; in encouraging those whom he addressed to be patient in their persecutions. See the analysis of the chapter. With this object in view, there was entire propriety in directing them to the long-suffering and forbearance evinced by the Saviour, through Noah. He was opposed, reviled, disbelieved, and, we may suppose, persecuted. It was to the purpose to direct them to the fact that he was saved as the result of his steadfastness to Him who had commanded him to preach to that ungodly generation. But what pertinency would there have been in saying that Christ went down to hell, and delivered some sort of a message there, we know not what, to those who are confined there?

{b} "prison" Isa 42:7


Verse 20. Which sometime were disobedient. Which were once, or formerly, (pote,) disobedient or rebellious. The language here does not imply that they had ceased to be disobedient, or that they had become obedient at the time when the apostle wrote; but the object is to direct the attention to a former race of men characterized by disobedience, and to show the patience evinced under their provocations, in endeavouring to do them good. To say that men were formerly rebellious, or rebellious in a specified age, is no evidence that they are otherwise now. The meaning here is, that they did not obey the command of God when he called them to repentance by the preaching of Noah. Comp. 2 Pe 2:5, where Noah is called "a preacher of righteousness."

When once the long suffering of God waited in the days of Noah. God waited on that guilty race a hundred and twenty years, (Ge 6:3,) a period sufficiently protracted to evince his long-suffering toward one generation. It is not improbable that during that whole period Noah was, in various ways, preaching to that wicked generation. Comp. See Barnes "Heb 11:7".

While the ark was a preparing. It is probable that preparations were made for building the ark during a considerable portion of that time. St. Peter's, at Rome, was a much longer time in building; and it is to be remembered that in the age of the world when Noah lived, and with the imperfect knowledge of the arts of naval architecture which must have prevailed, it was a much more serious undertaking to construct an ark that would hold such a variety and such a number of animals as that was designed to, and that would float safely for more than a year in an universal flood, than it was to construct such a fabric as St. Peter's, in the days when that edifice was reared.

Wherein few, that is, eight souls. Eight persons—Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives, Ge 7:7. The allusion to their being saved here seems to be to encourage those whom Peter addressed to perseverance and fidelity, in the midst of all the opposition which they might experience. Noah was not disheartened. Sustained by the Spirit of Christ—the presence of the Son of God—he continued to preach. He did not abandon his purpose, and the result was that he was saved. True, they were few in number who were saved; the great mass continued to be wicked; but this very fact should be an encouragement to us—that though the great mass of any one generation may be wicked, God can protect and save the few who are faithful.

By water. They were borne up by the waters, and were thus preserved. The thought on which the apostle makes his remarks turn, and which leads him in the next verse to the suggestions about baptism, is, that water was employed in their preservation, or that they owed their safety, in an important sense, to that element. In like manner we owe our salvation, in an important sense, to water; or, there is an important agency which it is made to perform in our salvation. The apostle does not say that it was in the same way, or that the one was a type designed to represent the other, or even that the efficacy of water was in both cases the same; but he says, that as Noah owed his salvation to water, so there is an important sense in which water is employed in ours. There is in certain respects—he does not say in all respects—a resemblance between the agency of water in the salvation of Noah, and the agency of water in our salvation. In both cases water is employed, though it may not be that it is in the same manner, or with precisely the same efficacy.

{*} "sometime" "formerly"

{a} "once" Ge 6


Verse 21. The like figure whereunto, even baptism, doth also now save us. There are some various readings here in the Greek text, but the sense is not essentially varied. Some have proposed to read (w) to which instead of (o) which, so as to make the sense "the antitype to which baptism now also saves us." The antecedent to the relative, whichever word is used, is clearly not the ark, but water; and the idea is, that as Noah was saved by water, so there is a sense in which water is made instrumental in our salvation. The mention of water in the case of Noah, in connexion with his being saved, by an obvious association suggested to the mind of the apostle the use of water in our salvation, and hence led him to make the remark about the connexion of baptism with our salvation. The Greek word here rendered figure—antitupon—antitype means properly, resisting a blow or impression, (from anti and tupov;) that is, hard, solid. In the New Testament, however, it is used in a different sense; and (anti) anti, in composition, implies resemblance, correspondence; and hence the word means, formed after a type or model; like; corresponding; that which corresponds to a type. Rob. Lex. The word occurs only in this place and Heb 9:24, rendered figures. The meaning here is, that baptism corresponded to, or had a resemblance to, the water by which Noah was saved; or that there was a use of water in the one case which corresponded in some respects to the water that was used in the other; to wit, in effecting salvation. The apostle does not say that it corresponded in all respects; in respect, e.g., to quantity, or to the manner of the application, or to the efficacy; but there is a sense in which water performs an important part in our salvation, as it did in his.

Baptism. Not the mere application of water, for that idea the apostle expressly disclaims, when he says that it involves not "putting away the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God." The sense is, that baptism, including all that is properly meant by baptism as a religious rite—that is, baptism administered in connexion with true repentance, and true faith in the Lord Jesus, and when it is properly a symbol of the putting away of sin, and of the renewing influences of the Holy Spirit, and an act of unreserved dedication to God—now saves us. On the meaning of the word baptism, See Barnes "Mt 3:6".

Doth also now save us. The water saved Noah and his family from perishing in the flood; to wit, by bearing up the ark. Baptism, in the proper sense of the term, as above explained, where the water used is a symbol, in like manner now saves us; that is, the water is an emblem of that purifying by which we are saved. It may be said to save us, not as the meritorious cause, but as the indispensable condition of salvation. No man can be saved without that regenerated and purified heart of which baptism is the appropriate symbol, and when it would be proper to administer that ordinance. The apostle cannot have meant that water saves us in the same way in which it saved Noah, for that cannot be true. It is neither the same in quantity, nor is it applied in the same way, nor is it efficacious in the same manner. It is indeed connected with our salvation in its own proper way, as an emblem of that purifying of the heart by which we are saved. Thus it corresponds with the salvation of Noah by water, and is the (antitupon) antitype of that. Nor does it mean that the salvation of Noah by water was designed to be a type of Christian baptism. There is not the least evidence of that; and it should not be affirmed without proof. The apostle saw a resemblance in some respects between the one and the other; such a resemblance that the one naturally suggested the other to his mind, and the resemblance was so important as to make it the proper ground of remark. The points of resemblance in the two cases seem to have been these:

(1.) There was salvation in both; Noah was saved from death, and we from hell.

(2.) Water is employed in both cases—in the case of Noah to uphold the ark; in ours to be a symbol of our purification.

(3.) The water in both cases is connected with salvation; in the case of Noah by sustaining the ark; in ours by being a symbol of salvation, of purity, of cleansing, of that by which we may be brought to God. The meaning of this part of the verse, therefore, may be thus expressed: "Noah and his family were saved by water, the antitype to which (to wit, that which in important respects corresponds to that) baptism (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, or the mere application of material water, but that purifying of the heart of which it is the appropriate emblem) now saves us."

Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh. Not a mere external washing, however solemnly done. No outward ablution or purifying saves us, but that which pertains to the conscience. This important clause is thrown in to guard the statement from the abuse to which it would otherwise be liable, the supposition that baptism has of itself a purifying and saving power. To guard against this, the apostle expressly declares that he means much more than a mere outward application of water.

But the answer of a good conscience toward God. The word here rendered answer (eperwthma) means properly a question, an inquiry. It is spoken of a question put to a convert at baptism, or rather of the whole process of question and answer; that is, by implication, examination, profession."—Robinson, Lex. It is designed to mark the character of the baptismal rite in contrast with a mere external purification, and evidently refers to something that occurred baptism; some question, inquiry, or examination, that took place then; and it would seem to imply,

(1.) that when baptism was performed, there was some question or inquiry in regard to the belief of the candidate;

(2.) that an answer was expected, implying that there was a good conscience; that is, that the candidate had an enlightened conscience, and was sincere in his profession; and,

(3.) that the real efficacy of baptism, or its power in saving, was not in the mere external rite, but in the state of the heart, indicated by the question and answer, of which that was the emblem. On the meaning of the phrase "a good conscience," See Barnes "1 Pe 3:16"

of this chapter. Compare on this verse Neander, Geschich der Pfianz. u. Leit. der chr. Kirche, i.p. 203. seq., in Bibl. Reposi. iv. 272, seq. It is in the highest degree probable that questions would be proposed to candidates for baptism respecting their belief, and we have an instance of this fact undoubtedly in the case before us. How extensive such examinations would be, what points would be embraced, how much reference there was to personal experience, we have, of course, no certain means of ascertaining. We may suppose, however, that the examination pertained to what constituted the essential features of the Christian religion, as distinguished from other systems, and to the cordial belief of that system by the candidate.

By the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is, we are saved in this manner through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The whole efficiency in the case is derived from that. If he had not been raised from the dead, baptism would have been vain, and there would have been no power to save us. See this illustrated at length in the See Barnes "Ro 6:4,5".

The points, therefore, which are established in regard to baptism by this important passage are these:

(1.) That baptism is not a mere external rite; a mere outward ablution; a mere application of water to the body. It is not contemplated that it shall be an empty form, and its essence does not consist in a mere "putting away of the filth of the flesh." There is a work to be doric in respect to the conscience which cannot be reached by the application of water.

(2.) That there was an examination among the early Christians when a candidate was about to be baptized, and of course such an examination is proper now. Whatever was the ground of the examination, it related to that which existed before the baptism was administered. It was not expected that it should be accomplished by the baptism. There is, therefore, implied evidence here that there was no reliance placed on that ordinance to produce that which constituted the "answer of a good conscience;" in other words, that it was not supposed to have an efficacy to produce that of itself, and was not a converting or regenerating ordinance.

(3.) The "answer" which was returned in the inquiry, was to be such as indicated a good conscience; that is, as Bloomfield expresses it, (New Test. in loc.,) "that which enables us to return such an answer as springs from a good conscience towards God, which can be no other than the inward change and renovation wrought by the Spirit." It was supposed, therefore, that there would be an internal work of grace; that there would be much more than an outward rite in the whole transaction. The application of water is, in fact, but an emblem or symbol of that grace in the heart, and is to be administered as denoting that. It does not convey grace to the soul by any physical efficacy of the water. It is a symbol of the purifying influences of religion, and is made a means of grace in the same way as obedience to any other of the commands of God.

(4.) There is no efficacy in the mere application of water in any form, or with any ceremonies of religion, to put away sin. It is the "good conscience," the renovated heart, the purified soul, of which baptism is the emblem, that furnishes evidence of the Divine acceptance and favour. Comp. Heb 9:9,10. There must be a deep internal work on the soul of man, in order that he may be acceptable to God; and when that is wanting, no external rite is of any avail. Yet,

(5.) it does not follow from this that baptism is of no importance. The argument of the apostle here is, that it is of great importance. Noah was saved by water; and so baptism has an important connexion with our salvation. As water bore up the ark, and was the means of saving Noah, so baptism by water is the emblem of our salvation; and when administered in connexion with a "good conscience," that is, with a renovated heart, it is as certainly connected with our salvation as the sustaining waters of the flood were with the salvation of Noah. No man can prove from the Bible that baptism has no important connexion with salvation; and no man can prove that by neglecting it he will be as likely to obtain the Divine favour as he would by observing it. It is a means of exhibiting great and important truths in an impressive manner to the soul; it is a means of leading the soul to an entire dedication to a God of purity; it is a means through which God manifests himself to the soul, and through which he imparts grace, as he does in all other acts of obedience to his commandments.

{b} "baptism" Eph 5:26

{a} "conscience" Ac 8:37; Ro 10:10


Verse 22. Who is gone into heaven. See Barnes "Ac 1:9".

And is on the right hand of God. See Barnes "Mr 16:19".

Angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him See Barnes "Eph 1:20,21".

The reason why the apostle here adverts to the fact that the Lord Jesus is raised up to the right hand of God, and is so honoured in heaven, seems to have been to encourage those to whom he wrote to persevere in the service of God, though they were persecuted. The Lord Jesus was in like manner persecuted. He was reviled, and rejected, and put to death. Yet he ultimately triumphed, he was raised from the dead, and was exalted to the highest place of honour in the universe. Even so they, if they did not faint, might hope to come off in the end triumphant. As Noah, who had been faithful and steadfast when surrounded by a scoffing world, was at last preserved by his faith from ruin, and as the Redeemer, though persecuted and put to death, was at last exalted to the right hand of God, so would it be with them if they bore their trials patiently, and did not faint or fail in the persecutions which they endured.

In view of the exposition in 1 Pe 3:1,2, we may remark,

(1.) that it is our duty to seek the conversion and salvation of our impenitent relatives and friends. All Christians have relatives and friends who are impenitent; it is a rare thing that some of the members of their own families are not so. In most families, even Christian families, there is a husband or a wife, a father or a mother, a or daughter, a brother or sister, who is not converted. To all they who are Christians owe important duties, and there is none more important than that of seeking their conversion. That this is a duty is clearly implied in this passage in reference to a wife, and for the same reason it is a duty in reference to all other persons. It may be further apparent from these considerations:

(a.) It is an important part of the business of all Christians to seek the salvation of others. This is clearly the duty of ministers of the gospel; but it is no less the duty of all who profess to be followers of the Saviour, and to take him as their example and guide. Comp. Jas 5:19,20.

(b.) It is a duty peculiarly devolving on those who have relatives who are unconverted, on account of the advantages which they have for doing it. They are with them constantly; they have their confidence and affection; they can feel more for them than any one else can; and if they are not concerned for their salvation, they cannot hope that any others will be.

(c.) It is not wholly an improper motive to seek their salvation from the happiness which it would confer on those who are already Christians. It is not improper that a wife should be stimulated to desire the conversion of her husband from the increased enjoyment which she would have if her partner in life were united with her in the same hope of heaven, and from the pleasure which it would give to enjoy the privilege of religious worship in the family, and the aid which would be furnished in training up her children in the Lord. A Christian wife and mother has important duties to perform towards her children; it is not improper that in performing those duties she should earnestly desire the co-operation of her partner in life.

(2.) Those who have impenitent husbands and friends should be encouraged in seeking their conversion. It is plainly implied 1 Pe 3:1,2 that it was not to be regarded as a hopeless thing, but that in all cases they were to regard it as possible that unbelieving husbands might be brought to the knowledge of the truth. If this is true of husbands, it is no less true of other friends. We should never despair of the conversion of a friend as long as life lasts, however far he may be from the path of virtue and piety. The grounds of encouragement are such as these:

(a.) You have an influence over them which no other one has; and that influence may be regarded as capital, which will give you great advantages in seeking their conversion.

(b.) You have access to them at times when their minds are most open to serious impressions. Every man has times when he may be approached on the subject of religion; when he is pensive and serious; when he is disappointed and sad; when the affairs of this world do not go well with him, and his thoughts are drawn along to a better. There are times in the life of every man when he is ready to open his mind to a friend on the subject of religion, and when he would be glad of a word of friendly counsel and encouragement. It is much to have access to a man at such times.

(c.) If all the facts were known which have occurred, there would be no lack of encouragement to labour for the conversion of impenitent relatives and friends. Many a husband owes his salvation to the persevering solicitude and prayers of a wife; many a son will enter heaven because a mother never ceased to pray for his salvation, even when to human view there seemed no hope of it.

(3.) We may learn 2 Pe 3:1,2 what are the principal means by which we are to hope to secure the conversion and salvation of impenitent friends. It is to be mainly by a pure life; by a holy walk; by a consistent example. Conversation, properly so called, is not to be regarded as excluded from those means, but the main dependence is to be on a holy life. This is to be so, because

(a.) most persons form their notions of religion from what they see in the lives of its professed friends. It is not so much what they hear in the pulpit, for they regard preaching as a mere professional business, by which a man gets a living; not so much by books in defence and explanation of religion, for they seldom or never read them; not by what religion enabled the martyrs to do, for they may have scarcely heard the names of even the most illustrious of the martyrs; but by what they see in the walk and conversation of those who profess to be Christians, especially of those who are their near relations. The husband is forming his views of religion constantly from what he sees on the brow and in the eye of his professedly Christian wife; the brother from what he sees in his sister; the child from what he sees in the parent.

(b.) Those who profess to be Christians have an opportunity of showing the power of religion in a way which is superior to any abstract argument. It controls their temper; it makes them kind and gentle; it sustains them in trial; it prompts them to deeds of benevolence; it disposes them to be contented, to be forgiving, to be patient in the reverses of life. Every one may thus be always doing something to make an impression favourable to religion on the minds of others. Yet it is also true that much may be done, and should be done for the conversion of others, by conversation properly so called, or by direct address and appeal. There is nothing, however, which requires to be managed with more prudence than conversation with those who are not Christians, or direct efforts to lead them to attend to the subject of religion. In regard to this it may be observed,

(a.) that it does no good to be always talking with them. Such a course only produces disgust.

(b.) It does no good to talk to them at unseasonable and improper times. If they are specially engaged in their business, and would not like to be interrupted—if they are in company with others, or even with their family—it does little good to attempt a conversation with them. It is "the word that is fitly spoken that is like apples of gold in pictures of silver," Pr 25:11.

(c.) It does no good to scold them on the subject Of religion, with a view to make them Christians. In such a case you show a spirit the very reverse of that religion which you are professedly endeavouring to persuade them to embrace.

(d.) All conversation with impenitent sinners should be kind, and tender, and respectful. It should be addressed to them when they will be disposed to listen; usually when they are alone; and especially when from trials or other causes they may be in such a state of mind that they will be willing to listen. It may be added, that impenitent sinners are much more frequently in such a state of mind than most Christians suppose, and that they often wonder that their Christian friends do not speak to them about the salvation of the soul.

From the exposition given of the important 1 Pe 3:18-21, we may derive the following inferences:—

(1.) The pre-existence of Christ. If he preached to the antediluvians in the time of Noah, he must have had an existence at that time.

(2.) His divinity. If he was "quickened" or restored to life by his own exalted nature, he must be Divine; for there is no more inalienable attribute of the Deity than the power of raising the dead.

(3.) If Christ preached to the heathen world in the time of Noah, for the same reason it may be regarded as true that all the messages which are brought to men, calling them to repentance, in any age or country, are through him. Thus it was Christ who spake by the prophets and by the apostles; and thus he speaks now by his ministers.

(4.) If this interpretation is well-founded, it takes away one of the strongest supports of the doctrine of purgatory. There is no stronger passage of the Bible in support of this doctrine than the one before us; and if this does not countenance it, it may be safely affirmed that it has not a shadow of proof in the sacred Scriptures.

(5.) It follows that there is no hope or prospect that the gospel will be preached to those who are lost. This is the only passage in the Bible that could be supposed to teach any such doctrine; and if the interpretation above proposed be correct, this furnishes no ground of belief that if a man dies impenitent he will ever be favoured with another offer of mercy. This interpretation also accords with all the other representations in the Bible. "As the tree falleth, so it lies." "He that is holy, let him be holy still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still." All the representations in the Bible lead us to suppose that the eternal destiny of the soul after death is fixed, and that the only change which can ever occur in the future state is that which will be produced by DEVELOPEMENT: the developement of the principles of piety in heaven; the developement of the principles of evil in hell.

(6.) It follows, that if there is not a place of purgatory in the future world, there is a place of punishment. If the word prison, in the passage before us, does not mean purgatory, and does not refer to a detention with a prospect or possibility of release, it must refer to detention of another kind, and for another purpose, and that can be only with reference "to the judgment of the great day," 2 Pe 2:14; Jude 1:6. From that gloomy prison there is no evidence that any have been, or will be, released.

(7.) Men should embrace the gospel at once. Now it is offered to them; in the future world it will not be. But even if it could be proved that the gospel would be offered to them in the future world, it would be better to embrace it now. Why should men go down to that world to suffer long before they become reconciled to God? Why choose to taste the sorrows of hell before they embrace the offers of mercy? Why go to that world of woe at all? Are men so in love with suffering and danger that they esteem it wise to go down to that dark prison-house, with the intention or the hope that the gospel may be offered to them there, and that when there they may be disposed to embrace it? Even if it could be shown, therefore, that they might again hear the voice of mercy and salvation, how much wiser would it be to hearken to the voice now, and become reconciled to God here, and never experience in any way the pangs of the second death! But of any such offer of mercy in the world of despair, the Bible contains no intimation; and he who goes to the eternal world unreconciled to God, perishes for ever. The moment when he crosses the line between time and eternity, he goes for ever beyond the boundaries of hope.

{a} "angels" Eph 1:21




THIS chapter relates principally to the manner in which those to whom the apostle wrote ought to bear their trials, and to the encouragements to a holy life, notwithstanding their persecutions. He had commenced the subject in the preceding chapter, and had referred them particularly to the example of the Saviour. His great solicitude was, that if they suffered, it should not be for crime, and that their enemies should not be able to bring any well-founded accusation against them. He would have them pure and harmless, patient and submissive; faithful in the performance of their duties, and confidently looking forward to the time when they should be delivered. He exhorts them, therefore, to the following things:

(a.) To arm themselves with the same mind that was in Christ; to consider that the past time of their lives was enough for them to have wrought the will of the flesh, and that now it was their duty to be separate from the wicked world, in whatever light the world might regard their conduct —remembering that they who calumniated them must soon give account to God, 1 Pe 4:1-6.

(b.) He reminds them that the end of all things was at hand, and that it became them to be sober, and watch unto prayer, 1 Pe 4:7.

(c.) He exhorts them to the exercise of mutual love and hospitality—virtues eminently useful in a time of persecution and affliction, 1 Pe 4:8,9.

(d.) He exhorts them to a performance of every duty with seriousness of manner, and fidelity—whether it were in preaching, or in dispensing alms to the poor and needy, 1 Pe 4:10,11.

(e.) He tells them not to think it strange that they were called to pass through fiery trials, nor to suppose that any unusual thing had happened to them; reminds them that they only partook of Christ's sufferings, and that it was to be regarded as a favour if any one suffered as a Christian; and presses upon them the thought that they ought to be careful that none of them suffered for crime, 1 Pe 4:12-16.

(f.) He reminds them that the righteous would be saved with difficulty, and that the wicked would certainly be destroyed; and exhorts them, therefore, to commit the keeping of their souls to a faithful Creator, 1 Pe 4:18,19.

Verse 1. Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh. Since he as a man has died for us. See Barnes "1 Pe 3:18".

The design was to set the suffering Redeemer before them as an example in their trials.

Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind. That is, evidently, the same mind that he evinced—a readiness to suffer in the cause of religion, a readiness to die as he had done. This readiness to suffer and die, the apostle speaks of as armour, and having this is represented as being armed. Armour is put on for offensive or defensive purposes in war; and the idea of the apostle here is, that that state of mind when we are ready to meet with persecution and trial, and when we are ready to die, will answer the purpose of armour in engaging in the conflicts and strifes which pertain to us as Christians, and especially in meeting with persecutions and trials. We are to put on the same fortitude which the Lord Jesus had, and this will be the best defence against our foes, and the best security of victory.

For he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin. Comp. Ro 6:7. To "suffer in the flesh" is to die. The expression here has a proverbial aspect, and seems to have meant something like this: "when a man is dead, he will sin no more;" referring of course to the present life. So if a Christian becomes dead in a moral sense—dead to this world, dead by being crucified with Christ (See Barnes "Ga 2:20") —he may be expected to cease from sin. The reasoning is based on the idea that there is such a union between Christ and the believer that his death on the cross secured the death of the believer to the world. Comp. 2 Ti 2:11; Col 2:20; 3:3.

{*} "then" "Since then"

{a} "same mind" Php 2:5

{b} "he that" Ro 6:2,7


Verse 2. That he no longer should live. That is, he has become, through the death of Christ, dead to the world and to the former things which influenced him, in order that he should hereafter live not to the lusts of the flesh. See Barnes "2 Co 5:15".

The rest of his time in the flesh. The remainder of the time that he is to continue in the flesh; that is, that he is to live on the earth.

To the lusts of men. Such lusts as men commonly live for and indulge in. Some of these are enumerated in the following verse.

But to the will of God. In such a manner as God commands. The object of redemption is to rescue us from being swayed by wicked lusts, and to bring us to be conformed wholly to the will of God.

{c} "he no longer" 2 Co 5:15


Verse 3. For the time past of our life may suffice us. "We have spent sufficient time in indulging ourselves, and following our wicked propensities, and we should hereafter live in a different manner." This does not mean that it was ever proper thus to live, but that, as we would say, "we have had enough of these things; we have tried them; there is no reason why we should indulge in them any more." An expression quite similar to this occurs in Horace—Lusisti satis, edisti satis, atque bibisti. Ternpus abire tibi est, etc.—Epis, ii. 213.

To have wrought the will of the Gentiles. This does not mean to be subservient to their will, but to have done what they willed to do; that is, to live as they did. That the Gentiles or heathen lived in the manner immediately specified, See Barnes "Ro 1:21, seq.

When we walked in lasciviousness. When we lived in the indulgence of corrupt passions—the word walk being often used in the Scriptures to denote the manner of life. On the word lasciviousness, See Barnes "Ro 13:13".

The apostle says we, not as meaning that he himself had been addicted to these vices, but as speaking of those who were Christians in general. It is common to say that we lived so and so, when speaking of a collection of persons, without meaning that each one was guilty of all the practices enumerated. See Barnes "1 Th 4:17, for a similar use of the word we. The use of the word we in this place would show that the apostle did not mean to set himself up as better than they were, but was willing to be identified with them.

Lusts. The indulgence of unlawful desires. See Barnes "Ro 1:24".

Excess of wine. The word here used (oinoflugia) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means overflowing of wine, (oinov), wine, and fluw, to overflow; then wine-drinking; drunkenness. That this was a common vice need not be proved. Multitudes of those who became Christians had been drunkards, for intemperance abounded in all the heathen world. Comp. 1 Co 6:9-11. It should not be inferred here from the English translation, "excess of wine," that wine is improper only when used to excess, or that the moderate use of wine is proper. Whatever may be true on that point, nothing, can be determined in regard to it from the use of this word. The apostle had his eye on one thing—on such a use of wine as led to intoxication; such as they had indulged in before their conversion. About the impropriety of that, there could be no doubt. Whether any use of wine, by Christians or other persons, was lawful, was another question. It should be added, moreover, that the phrase "excess of wine" does not precisely convey the meaning of the original. The word excess would naturally imply something more than was needful; or something beyond the proper limit or measure; but no such idea is in the original word. That refers merely to the abundancedrunkenness. So Luther, Trunkenheit.

Revellings, Rendered rioting in Ro 13:13. See Barnes "Ro 13:13".

The Greek word (kwmov) occurs only here, and in Ro 13:13, and Ga 5:21. It means feasting, revel; "a carousing or merry-making after supper, the guests often sallying into the streets, and going through the city with torches, music, and songs in honour of Bacchus," etc.—Robinson, Lex. The word would apply to all such noisy and boisterous processions now—scenes wholly inappropriate to the Christian.

Banquetings. The word here used (potov) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means properly drinking; an act of drinking; then a drinking bout; drinking together. The thing forbidden by it is an assembling together for the purpose of drinking. There is nothing in this word referring to eating, or to banqueting, as the term is now commonly employed. The idea in the passage is, that it is improper for Christians to meet together for the purpose of drinking—as wine, toasts, etc. The prohibition would apply to all those assemblages where this is understood to be the main object. It would forbid, therefore, an attendance on all those celebrations in which drinking toasts is understood to be an essential part of the festivities, and all those where hilarity and joyfulness are sought to be produced by the intoxicating bowl. Such are not proper places for Christians.

And abominable idolatries. Literally, unlawful idolatries; that is, unlawful to the Jews, or forbidden by their laws. Then the expression is used in the sense of wicked, impious, since what is unlawful is impious and wrong. That the vices here referred to were practised by the heathen world is well known. See Barnes "Ro 1:26", seq. That many who became Christians were guilty of them before their conversion, is clear from this passage. The fact that they were thus converted shows the power of the gospel, and also that we should not despair in regard to those who are indulging in these vices now. They seem indeed almost to be hopeless, but we should remember that many who became Christians when the gospel was first preached, as well as since, were of this character. If they were reclaimed; if those who had been addicted to the gross and debasing vices referred to here, were brought into the kingdom of God, we should believe that those who are living in the same manner now may also be recovered. From the statement made in this verse, that "the time past of our lives may suffice to have wrought the will of the Gentiles," we may remark that the same may be said by all Christians of themselves; the same thing is true of all who are living in sin.

(1.) It is true of all who are Christians, and they feel it, that they lived long enough in sin.

(a) They made a fair trial—many of them with ample opportunities; with abundant wealth; with all that the fashionable world can furnish; with all that can be derived from low and gross indulgences. Many who are now Christians had opportunities of living in splendour and ease; many moved in gay and brilliant circles; many occupied stations of influence, or had brilliant prospects of distinction; many gave indulgence to gross propensities; many were the companions of the vile and the abandoned. Those who are now Christians, take the church at large, have had ample opportunity of making the fullest trial of what sin and the world can furnish.

(b.) They all feel that the past is enough for this manner of living. It is "sufficient" to satisfy them that the world cannot furnish what the soul demands. They need a better portion; and they can now see that there is no reason why they should desire to continue the experiment in regard to what the world can furnish. On that unwise and wicked experiment they have expended time enough; and satisfied with that, they desire to return to it no more.

(2.) The same thing is true of the wicked—of all who are living for the world. The time past should be regarded as sufficient to make an experiment in sinful indulgences; for

(a.) the experiment has been made by millions before them, and has always failed; and they can hope to find in sin only what has always been found—disappointment, mortification, and despair.

(b.) They have made a sufficient experiment. They have never found in those indulgences what they flattered themselves they would find, and they have seen enough to satisfy them that what the immortal soul needs can never be obtained there.

(c.) They have spent sufficient time in this hopeless experiment. Life is short. Man has no time to waste. He may soon die— and at whatever period of life any one may be who is living in sin, we may say to him the he has already thrown away enough of probation in a fruitless attempt to find happiness where it can never be found. For any purpose whatever for which any one could ever suppose it to be desirable to live in sin, the past should suffice. But why should it ever be deemed desirable at all? The fruits of sin are always disappointment, tears, death, despair.

{d} "time past" 1 Co 6:11; Tit 3:3


Verse 4. Wherein they think it strange. In respect to which vices, they who were once your partners and accomplices now think it strange that you no longer unite with them. They do not understand the reasons why you have left them. They regard you as abandoning a course of life which has much to attract and to make life merry, for a severe and gloomy superstition. This is a true account of the feelings which the people of the world have when their companions and friends leave them and become Christians. It is to them a strange and unaccountable thing, that they give up the pleasures of the world for a course of life which to them seems to promise anything but happiness. Even the kindred of the Saviour regarded him as "beside himself," (Mr 3:21,) and Festus supposed that Paul was mad, Ac 26:24. There is almost nothing which the people of the world so little comprehend as the reasons which influence those with ample means of worldly enjoyment to leave the circles of gaiety and vanity, and to give themselves to the serious employments of religion. The epithets of fool, enthusiast, fanatic, are terms which frequently occur to the heart to denote this, if they are not always allowed to escape from the lips. The reasons why they esteem this so strange, are something like the following:

(1.) They do not appreciate the motives which influence those who leave them. They feel that it is proper to enjoy the world, and to make life cheerful, and they do not understand what it is to act under a deep sense of responsibility to God, and with reference to eternity. They live for themselves. They seek happiness as the end and aim of life. They have never been accustomed to direct the mind onward to another world, and to the account which they must soon render at the bar of God. Unaccustomed to act from any higher motives than those which pertain to the present world, they cannot appreciate the conduct of those who begin to live and act for eternity.

(2.) They do not, yet see the guilt and folly of sinful pleasures. They are not convinced of the deep sinfulness of the human soul, and they to think it strange that others should abandon a course of life which seems them so innocent. They do not see why those who have been so long accustomed to these indulgences should have changed their opinions, and why they now regard those things as sinful which they once considered to be harmless.

(3.) They do not see the force of the argument for religion. Not having the views of the unspeakable importance of religious truth and duty which Christians now have, they wonder that they should break off from the course of life which they formerly pursued, and separate from the mass of their fellow-men. Hence they sometimes regard the conduct of Christians as amiable weakness; sometimes as superstition; sometimes as sheer folly; sometimes as madness; and sometimes as sourness and misanthropy. In all respects they esteem it strange.

"Lions and beasts of savage name
Put on the nature of the lamb,
While the wide world esteems it strange,
Gaze, and admire, and hate the change."

That ye run not with them. There may be an allusion here to the well-known orgies of Bacchus, in which his votaries ran as if excited by the furies, and were urged on as if transported with madness. See Ovid, Metam. iii. 529, thus translated by Addison:

"For now, through prostrate Greece, young Bacchus rode,
Whilst howling matrons celebrate the god;
All ranks and sexes to his or orgies ran,
To mingle in the pomp and fill the train."

The language, however, will well describe revels of any sort, and at any period of the world.

To the same excess of riot. The word rendered excess (anacusiv) means, properly, a pouring out, an affusion; and the idea here is, that all the sources and forms of riot and disorder were poured out together. There was no withholding, no restraint. The most unlimited indulgence was given to the passions. This was the case in the disorder referred to among the ancients, as it is the case now in scenes of midnight revelry. On the meaning of the word riot, See Barnes "Eph 5:18; Tit 1:6".

Speaking evil of you. Gr., blasphemy. See Barnes "Mt 9:3".

The meaning here is, that they used harsh and reproachful epithets of those who would not unite with them in their revelry. They called them fools, fanatics, hypocrites, etc. The idea is not that they blasphemed God, or that they charged Christians with crime, but that they used language fitted to injure the feelings, the character, the reputation of those who would no longer unite with them in the ways of vice and folly.

{a} "evil" Ac 13:45


Verse 5. Who shall give account. That is, they shall not do this with impunity. They are guilty in this of a great wrong, and they must answer for it to God.

That is ready to judge. That is, "who is prepared to judge"— tw etoimwv econti. See the phrase used in Ac 21:13: "I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem." 2 Co 12:14 "The third time I am ready to come to you." Compare the word ready—etoimov in Mt 22:4,8; 24:44; 25:10; Lu 12:40; 22:33; 1 Pe 1:5.

The meaning is, not that he was about to do it, or that the day of judgment was near at hand—whatever the apostle may have supposed to be true on that point—but that he was prepared for it; all the arrangements were made with reference to it; there was nothing to hinder it.

To judge the quick and the dead. The living and the dead; that is, those who shall be alive when he comes, and those in their graves. This is a common phrase to denote all who shall be brought before the bar of God for judgment. See Barnes "Ac 10:42". See Barnes "1 Th 4:16" See Barnes "1 Th 4:17; See Barnes "2 Ti 4:1".

The meaning in this connexion seems to be, that they should bear their trials and the opposition which they would meet with patiently, not feeling that they were forgotten, nor attempting to avenge themselves; for the Lord would vindicate then when he should come to judgment, and call those who had injured them to an account for all the wrongs which they had done to the children of God.

{*} "quick" "Living"


Verse 6. For, for this cause. The expression, "For, for this cause," refers to an end to be reached, or an object to be gained, or a reason why anything referred to is done. The end or reason why the thing referred to here, to wit, that "the gospel was preached to the dead," was done, is stated in the subsequent part of the verse to have been "that they might be judged," etc. It was with reference to this, or in order that this might be, that the gospel was preached to them.

Was the gospel preached also to them that are dead. Many, as Doddridge, Whitby, and others, understand this of those who are spiritually dead, that is, the Gentile, and suppose that the object for which this was done was that "they might be brought to such a state of life as their carnal neighbours will look upon as a kind of condemnation and death." —Doddridge. Others have suppose that it refers to those who had suffered martyrdom in the cause of Christianity; others, that it refers to the sinners of the old world, (Saurin.) expressing a hope that some of them might be saved; and others, that it means that the Saviour went down and preached to those who are dead, in accordance with one of the interpretations given of 1 Pe 3:19. It seems to me that the most natural and obvious interpretation is to refer it to those who were then dead, to whom the gospel had been preached when living, and who had become true Christians. This is the interpretation proposed by Wetstein, Rosenmuller, Bloomfield, and others. In support of this, it may be said,

(1.) that this is the natural and obvious meaning of the word dead, which should be understood literally, unless there is some good reason in the connexion for departing from the common meaning of the word.

(2.) The apostle had just used the word in that sense in the previous verse.

(3.) This will suit the connexion, and accord with the design of the apostle. He was addressing those who were suffering persecution. It was natural, in such a connexion, to refer to those who had died in the faith, and to show, for their encouragement, that though they had been put to death, yet they still lived to God. He therefore says, that the design in publishing the gospel to them was, that though they might be judged by men in the usual manner, and put to death, yet that in respect to their higher and nobler nature, the spirit, they might live unto God. It was not uncommon nor unnatural for the apostles, in writing to those who were suffering persecution, to refer and example an argument for fidelity and perseverance. Compare 1 Th 4:13; Re 14:13.

That they might be judged according to men in the flesh. That is, so far as men are concerned, (kata anyrwpouv), or in respect to the treatment which they received from men in the flesh, they were judged and condemned; in respect to God, and the treatment which they received from him, kata yeon, they would live in spirit. Men judged them severely, and put them to death for their religion; God gave them life, and saved them. By the one they were condemned in the flesh—so far as pain, and sorrow, and death could be inflicted on the body; by the other they were made to live in the spirit—to be his, to live with him. The word judged her, I supposed, therefore, to refer to a sentence passed on them for their religion, consigning them to death for it. There is a particle in the original—men indeed—which has not been retained in the common translation, but which is quite important to the sense: "that they might indeed be judged in the flesh, but live," etc. The direct object or design of preaching the gospel to them was not that they might be condemned and put to death by man, but this was indeed or in fact one of the results in the way to a higher object.

But live according to God. In respect to God, or so far as he was concerned. By him they would not be condemned. By him they would be made to live—to have the true life. The gospel was preached to them in order that so far as God was concerned, so far as their relation to him was concerned, so far as he would deal with them, they might live. The word live here seems to refer to the whole life that was the consequence of their being brought under the power of the gospel;

(a.) that they might have spiritual life imparted to them;
(b.) that they might live a life of holiness in this world;
(c.) that they might live hereafter in the world to come. In one respect, and so far as men were concerned, their embracing the gospel was followed by death; in another respect, and so far as God was concerned, it was followed by life. The value and permanence of the latter, as contrasted with the former, seems to have been the thought in the mind of the apostle in encouraging those to whom he wrote to exercise patience in their trials, and to show fidelity in the service of their Master.

In the spirit. In their souls, as contrasted with their body. In respect to that—to the flesh—they were put to death; in respect to their souls—their higher natures—they were made truly to live. The argument, then, in this verse is, that in the trials which we endure on account of religion, we should remember the example of those who have suffered for it, and should remember why the gospel was preached to them. It was in a subordinate sense, indeed, that they might glorify God by a martyr's death; but in a higher sense, that in this world and the next they might truly live. The flesh might suffer in consequence of their embracing the gospel that was preached to them, but the soul would live. Animated by their example, we should be willing to suffer in the flesh, if we may for ever live with God.

{+} "cause" "end"

{a} "judged" Mt 24:9

{b} "live according" Re 14:13


Verse 7. But the end of an things is at hand. This declaration is also evidently designed to support and encourage them in their trials, and to excite them to lead a holy life, by the assurance that the end of all things was drawing nigh. The phrase, "the end of all things," would naturally refer to the end of the world; the winding up of human affairs. It is not absolutely certain, however, that the apostle used it here in this sense. It might mean that so far as they were concerned, or in respect to them, the end of all things drew near. Death is to each one the end of all things here below: the end of his plans and of his interest in all that pertains to sublunary affairs. Even if the phrase did originally and properly refer to the end of the world, it is probable that it would soon come to denote the end of life in relation to the affairs of each individual; since, if it was believed that the end of the world was near, it must consequently be believed that the termination of the earthly career of each one also drew near to a close. It is possible that the latter signification may have come ultimately to predominate, and that Peter may have used it in this sense without referring to the other. Comp. See Barnes "2 Pe 3:8, seq., for his views on this subject. See Barnes "Ro 13:11, See Barnes "Ro 13:12".

The word rendered "is at hand," (hggike,) may refer either to proximity of place or time, and it always denotes that the place or the time referred to was not far off. In the former sense, as referring to nearness of place, see Mt 21:1; Mr 11:1; Lu 7:12; 15:25; 18:35,40; 19:29,37,41; 24:46; Ac 9:3; 10:9; 21:33; in the latter sense, as referring to time as being near, see Mt 3:2; Mt 4:17; 10:7; 21:34; 26:45; Mr 1:16; Lu 21:20,28; Ac 7:17; Ro 13:12; Heb 10:25; 1 Pe 4:7. The idea as applied to time, or to an approaching event, is undoubtedly that it is close by; it is not far off; it will soon occur. If this refers to the end of the world, it would mean that it was soon to occur; if to death, that this was an event which could not be far distant—perhaps an event that was to be hastened by their trials. The fact that it is such language as we now naturally address to men, saying that in respect to them "the end of all things is at hand," shows that it cannot be demonstrated that Peter did not use it in the same sense, and consequently that it cannot be proved that he meant to teach that the end of the world was then soon to occur.

Be ye therefore sober. Serious; thoughtful; considerate. Let a fact of so much importance make a solemn impression on your mind, and preserve you from frivolity, levity, and vanity. See the word explained See Barnes "1 Ti 3:2".

And watch unto prayer. Be looking out for the end of all things in such a manner as to lead you to embrace all proper opportunities for prayer. Comp. See Barnes "Mt 26:39,41".

The word rendered watch, means to be sober, temperate, abstinent, especially in respect to wine; then watchful, circumspect. The important truth, then, taught by this passage is, that the near approach of the end of all things should make us serious and prayerful.

I. The end may be regarded as approaching. This is true

(1.) of all things; of the winding up of the affairs of this world. It is constantly drawing nearer and nearer, and no one can tell how soon it will occur. The period is wisely hidden from the knowledge of all men, See Barnes "Mt 24:36, See Barnes "Ac 1:7, among other reasons, in order that we may be always ready, No man can tell certainly at what time it will come; no man can demonstrate that it may not come at any moment. Everywhere in the Scriptures it is represented that it will come at an unexpected hour, as a thief in the night, and when the mass of men shall be slumbering in false security, Mt 24:37-39,42,43; 1 Th 5:2; Lu 21:34.

(2.) It is near in relation to each one of us. The day of our death cannot be far distant; it may be very near. The very next thing that we may have to do, may be to lie down and die.

II. It is proper that such a nearness of the end of all things should lead us to be serious, and to pray.

(1.) To be serious; for

(a.) the end of all things, regard to us, is a most important event. It closes our probation. It fixes our character. It seals up our destiny. It makes all ever onward in character and doom unchangeable.

(b.) We are so made as to be serious in view of such events. God has so constituted the mind, that when we lose property, health, or friends; when we look into a grave, or are beset with dangers; when we are in the room of the dying or the dead, we are serious and thoughtful. It is unnatural not to be so. Levity and frivolity on such occasions are as contrary to all the finer and better feelings of our nature as they are to the precepts of the Bible.

(c) There are advantages in seriousness of mind. It enables us to take better views of things, Ec 7:2,3. A calm, sober, sedate mind is the best for a contemplation of truth, and for looking at things as they are.

(2.) To be watchful unto prayer.

(a.) Men naturally pray when they suppose that the end of all things is coming. An earthquake induces them to pray. An eclipse, or any other supposed prodigy, leads men to pray if they suppose the end of the world is drawing near. A ship-wreck, or any other sudden danger, leads them to pray, Ps 107:28. So men often pray in sickness who have never prayed in days of health.

(b.) It is proper to do it. Death is an important event, and in anticipation of such an event we should pray. Who can help us then but God? Who can conduct us through the dark valley but he? Who can save us amidst the wrecks and ruins of the universe but he? Who can dissipate our fears, and make us calm amidst the convulsions of dissolving nature, but God? As that event, therefore, may come upon us at any hour, it should lead us to constant prayer; and the more so because, when it comes, we may be in no state of mind to pray. The posture in which we should feel that it would be most appropriate that the messenger of death should find us, would be that of prayer.

{c} "end" Jas 5:8,9

{d} "watch" Lu 21:36


Verse 8. And above all things. More than all things else.

Have fervent charity among yourselves. Warm, ardent love towards each other. On the nature of charity, See Barnes "1 Co 13:1".

The word rendered fervent, means properly extended; then intent, earnest, fervent.

For charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Love to another shall so cover or hide a great many imperfections in him, that you will not notice them. This passage is quoted from Pr 10:12: "Love covereth all sins." For the truth of it we have only to appeal to the experience of every one.

(a.) True love to another makes us kind to his imperfections, charitable towards his faults, and often blind even to the existence of faults. We would not see the imperfections of those whom we love; and our attachment for what we esteem their real excellencies, makes us insensible to their errors.

(b.) If we love them we are ready to cover over their faults, even those which we may see in them. Of love the Christian poet says—-

"Tis gentle, delicate, and kind.
To faults compassionate or blind."

The passage before us is not the same in signification as that in Jas 5:20, "He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins." See Barnes "Jas 5:20".

That passage means, that by the conversion of another the sins of him who is converted shall be covered over, or not brought to judgment for condemnation; that is, they shall be covered over so far as God is concerned—-this passage means that, under the influence of love, the sins of another shall be covered over so far as we are concerned; that is, they shall be unobserved or forgiven. The language here used does not mean, as the Romanists maintain, that "charity shall procure us pardon for a multitude of sins;" for, besides that such a doctrine is contrary to the uniform teachings of the Scriptures elsewhere, it is a departure from the obvious meaning of the passage. The subject on which the apostle is treating is the advantage of love in our conduct towards others, and this he enforces by saying that it will make us kind to their imperfections, and lead us to overlook their faults. It is nowhere taught in the Scriptures that our "charity" to others will be an atonement or expiation for our own offences. If it could be so, the atonement made by Christ would have been unnecessary. Love, however, is of inestimable value in the treatment of others; and imperfect as we are, and liable to go astray, we all have occasion to cast ourselves on the charity of our brethren, and to avail ourselves much and often of that "love which covers over a multitude of sins."

{*} "charity" "love"

{a} "charity" 1 Co 13:7

{1} "shall" "will"


Verse 9. Use hospitality one to another. On the duty of hospitality, See Barnes "Ro 12:13" See Barnes "Heb 13:2".

Without grudging. Greek, "without murmurs;" that is, without complaining of the hardship of doing it; of the time, and expense, and trouble required in doing it. The idea of grudging, in the common sense of that word—that is, of doing it unwillingly, or regretting the expense, and considering it as ill-bestowed, or as not producing an equivalent of any kind—is not exactly the idea here. It is that we are to do it without murmuring or complaining. It greatly enhances the value of hospitality, that it be done On our part with entire cheerfulness. One of the duties involved in it is to make a guest happy; and this can be done in no other way than by showing him that he is welcome.

{b} "hospitality" Heb 13:2,16

{+} "grudging" "murmuring"


Verse 10. As every man hath received the gift. The word rendered the gift, (carisma,) in the Greek, without the article, means endowment of any kind, but especially that conferred by the Holy Spirit. Here it seems to refer to every kind of endowment by which we can do good to others; especially every kind of qualification furnished by religion by which we can help others. It does not refer here particularly to the ministry of the word—though it is applicable to that, and includes that—but to all the gifts and graces by which we can contribute to the welfare of others. All this is regarded as a gift, or charisma, of God. It is not owing to ourselves, but is to be traced to him. See the word explained See Barnes "1 Ti 4:14".

Even so minister the same one to another, in anything by which you can benefit another. Regard what you have and they have not as a gift bestowed upon you by God for the common good, and be ready to impart it as the wants of others require. The word minister here (diakonountev) would refer to any kind of ministering, whether by counsel, by advice, by the supply of the wants of the poor, or by preaching. It has here no reference to any one of these exclusively; but means, that in whatever God has favoured us more than others, we should be ready to minister to their wants. See 2 Ti 1:18; 2 Co 3:3; 8:19,20.

As good stewards. Regarding yourselves as the mere stewards of God; that is, as appointed by him to do this work for him, and intrusted by him with what is needful to benefit others. He intends to do them good, but he means to do it through your instrumentality, and has intrusted to you as a steward what he designed to confer on them. This is the true idea, in respect to any special endowments of talent, property, or grace, which we may have received from God. Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 4:1,2; Lu 16:1,2,8.

Of the manifold grace of God. The grace or favour of God evinced in many ways, or by a variety of gifts. His favours are not confined to one single thing; as, for example, to talent for doing good by preaching; but are extended to a great many things by which we may do good to influence, property, reputation, wisdom, experience. All these are to be regarded as his gifts; all to be employed in doing good to others as we have opportunity.

{c} "received the gift" Ro 12:6-8

{d} "stewards" Lu 12:42


Verse 11. If any man speak. As a preacher, referring here particularly to the office of the ministry.

Let him speak as the oracles of God. As the oracles of God speak; to wit, in accordance with the truth which God has revealed, and with an impressive sense of the responsibility of delivering a message from him. The word rendered oracles, (logia) means, properly, something spoken or uttered; then anything uttered by God—a Divine communication—a revelation, See Barnes "Ro 3:2" See Barnes "Heb 5:12".

See the general duty here inculcated illustrated at length in See Barnes "Ro 12:6-8".

The passage here has a strong resemblance to the one in Romans.

If any man minister. diakonei. This may refer either, so far as the word is concerned, to the office of a deacon, or to any service which one renders to another. See 1 Pe 4:10. The word commonly refers to service in general; to attendance on another, or to aid rendered to another; to the distribution of alms, etc. It seems probable that the word here does not refer to the office of a deacon as such, because the peculiarity of that office was to take charge of the poor of the church, and of the funds provided for them, (Ac 6:2,3;) but the apostle here says that they to whom he referred should "minister as of the ability which God giveth," which seems to imply that it was rather to distribute what was their own, than what was committed to them by the church. The word may refer to any aid which we reader to others in the church, as distributing alms, attending on the sick, etc. See Barnes "Ro 12:7,8".

As of the ability which God giveth. In regard to property, talent, strength, influence, etc. This is the limit of all obligation, No one is bound to go beyond his ability; every one is required to come up to it. Comp. Mr 14:8; Lu 17:10.

That God in all things may be glorified. That he may be honoured; to wit, by our doing all the good we can to others, and thus showing the power of his religion. See Barnes "1 Co 10:31".

Through Jesus Christ. That is, as the medium through whom all those holy influences come by which God is honoured.

To whom. That is, to God; for he is the main subject of the sentence. The apostle says that in all things lie is to be glorified by us, and then adds in this doxology that he is worthy to be thus honoured. Comp. Re 1:6; See Barnes "2 Ti 4:18".

Many, however, suppose that the reference here is to the Son of God. That it would be true of him, and appropriate, See Barnes "Ro 9:5".

{a} "all things" 1 Co 10:31

{b} "to whom" Re 1:6


Verse 12. Beloved, think it not strange. Do not consider it as anything which you had no reason to expect; as anything which may not happen to others also.

Concerning the fiery trial which is to try you. Referring, doubtless, to some severe persecution which was then impending. We have not the means of determining precisely what this was. The word rendered fiery trial (purwsei) occurs only here and in Re 18:9,18; in both of which latter places it is rendered burning. It means, properly, a being on fire, burning, conflagration; and then any severe trial. It cannot be demonstrated from this word that they were literally to suffer by fire, but it is clear that some heavy calamity was before them.

As though some strange thing happened unto you. Something unusual; something which did not occur to others.

{c} "fiery trial" 1 Co 3:13


Verse 13. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings. That is, sufferings of the same kind that he endured, and inflicted for the same reasons. Comp. Col 1:24; Jas 1:2; See Barnes "Mt 5:12".

The meaning here is, that they were to regard it as a matter of rejoicing that they were identified with Christ, even in suffering. See this sentiment illustrated at length See Barnes "Php 3:10".

That, when his glory shall be revealed. At the day of judgment. See Barnes "Mt 26:30".

Ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. Being admitted to the rewards which he will then confer on his people. Comp. 1 Th 2:19. Every good man will have joy when, immediately at death, he is received into the presence of his Saviour; but his joy will be complete only when, in the presence of assembled worlds, he shall hear the sentence which shah confirm him in happiness for ever.

{d} "rejoice" Jas 1:2

{e} "when his glory" 2 Ti 2:12


Verse 14. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye. That is, in his cause, or on his account. See Barnes "Mt 5:11".

The sense of the word happy here is the same as blessed in Mt 5:3,4, etc. It means that they were to regard their condition or lot as a blessed one; not that they would find personal and positive enjoyment on being reproached and vilified. It would be a blessed condition, because it would be like that of their Saviour; would show that they were his friends; would be accompanied with rich spiritual influences in the present world; and would be followed by the rewards of heaven.

For the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you. The glorious and Divine Spirit. There is no doubt that there is reference here to the Holy Spirit; and the meaning is, that they might expect that that Spirit would rest upon them, or abide with them, if they were persecuted for the cause of Christ. There may be some allusion here, in the language, to the fact that the Spirit of God descended and abode on the Saviour at his baptism, (Joh 1:33;) and, in like manner, they might hope to have the same Spirit resting on them. The essential idea is, that, if they were called to suffer in the cause of the Redeemer, they would not be left or forsaken. They might hope that God would impart his Spirit to them in proportion to their sufferings in behalf of religion, and that they would have augmented joy and peace. This is doubtless the case with those who suffer persecution, and this is the secret reason why they are so sustained in their trials. Their persecutions are made the reason of a much more copious effusion of the Spirit on their souls. The same principle applies, doubtless, to all the forms of trial which the children of God pass through; and in sickness, bereavement, loss of property, disappointment in their worldly plans, and death itself, they may hope that larger measures of the Spirit's influences will rest upon them. Hence it is often gain to the believer to suffer.

On their part. So far as they are concerned; or by them.

He is evil spoken of. That is, the Holy Spirit. They only blaspheme him, (Greek;) they reproach his sacred influences by their treatment of you and your religion.

But on your part he is glorified. By your manner of speaking of him, and by the honour done to him in the patience evinced in your trials, and in your purity of life.

{f} "If ye be" Mt 5:11


Verse 15. But let none of you suffer as a murderer. If you must be called to suffer, see that it be not for crime. Comp. See Barnes "2 Pe 3:14, See Barnes "2 Pe 3:17".

They were to be careful that their sufferings were brought upon them only in consequence of their religion, and not because any crime could be laid to their charge. If even such charges were brought against them, there should be no pretext furnished for them by their lives.

As an evil doer. As a wicked man; or as guilty of injustice and wrong towards others.

Or as a busy-body in other men's matters. The Greek word here used (allotrioepiskopov) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, an inspector of strange things, or of the things of others. Professor Robinson (Lex.) supposes that the word may refer to one who is "a director of heathenism;" but the more obvious signification, and the one commonly adopted, is that which occurs in our translation —one who busies himself with what does not concern him; that is, one who pries into the affairs of another; who attempts to control or direct them as if they were his own. In respect to the vice here condemned, See Barnes "Php 2:4".

Comp. See Barnes "2 Th 3:11, and See Barnes "1 Ti 5:13".

{*} "busy-body" "busy-meddler"


Verse 16. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian. Because he is a Christian; if he is persecuted on account of his religion. This was often done, and they had reason to expect that it might occur in their own case. See Barnes "2 Pe 3:17".

On the import of the word Christian, and the reasons why the name was given to the disciples of the Lord Jesus, See Barnes "Ac 11:26".

Let him not be ashamed.

(1.) Ashamed of religion so as to refuse to suffer on account of it.

(2.) Ashamed that he is despised and maltreated. He is to regard his religion as every way honourable, and all that fairly results from it in time and eternity as in every respect desire able. He is not to be ashamed to be called a Christian; he is not to be ashamed of the doctrines taught by his religion; he is not to be ashamed of the Saviour whom he professes to love; he is not to be ashamed of the society and fellowship of those who are true Christians, poor and despised though they may be; he is not to be ashamed to perform any of the duties demanded by his religion; he is not to be ashamed to have his name cast out, and himself subjected to reproach and scorn. A man should be ashamed only of that which is wrong. He should glory in that which is right, whatever may be the consequences to himself. Christians now, though not subjected to open persecution, are frequently reproached by the world on account of their religion; and though the rack may not be employed, and the fires of martyrdom are not enkindled, yet it is often true that one who is a believer is called to "suffer as a Christian." He may be reviled and despised. His views may be regarded as bigoted, narrow, severe. Opprobrious epithets, on account of his opinions, may be applied to him. His former friends and companions may leave him because he has become a Christian. A wicked father, or a gay and worldly mother, may oppose a child, or a husband may revile a wife, on account of their religion. In all these cases, the same spirit essentially is required which was enjoined on the early Christian martyrs. We are never to be ashamed of our religion, whatever results may follow from our attachment to it. See Barnes "Ro 1:16".

But let him glorify God on this behalf. Let him praise God that he is deemed not unworthy to suffer in such a cause. It is a matter of thankfulness

(1.) that they may have this evidence that they are true Christians;

(2.) that they may desire the advantages which may result from suffering as Christ did, and in his cause. See Barnes "Ac 5:41, where the sentiment here expressed is fully illustrated. Comp. See Barnes "Php 3:10" See Barnes "Col 1:24".

{+} "behalf" "On this account"


Verse 17. For the time is come. That is, this is now to be expected. There is reason to think that this trial will now occur, and there is a propriety that it should be made. Probably the apostle referred to some indications then apparent that this was about to take place.

That judgment must begin. The word judgment here (krima) seems to mean the severe trial which would determine character. It refers such calamities as would settle the question whether there was any religion, or would test the value of that which was professed. It was to "begin" at the house of God, or be applied to the church first, in order that the nature and worth of religion might be see. The reference is, doubtless, to some fearful calamity which would primarily fall on the "house of God;" that is, to some form of persecution which was to be let loose upon the church.

At the house of God. Benson, Bloomfield, and many others, suppose that this , refers to the Jews, and to the calamities that were to come around the temple and the holy city about to be destroyed. But the more obvious reference is to Christians, spoken of as the house or family Of God. There is probably in the language here an allusion to Eze 9:6 "Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women; and begin at my sanctuary." See Barnes "Jer 25:29".

But the language used here by the apostle does not denote literally the temple, or the Jews, but those who were in his time regarded as the people of God—Christians—the church. So the phrase (HEBREW) house of Jehovah is used to denote the family or people of God, Nu 12:7, Hos 8:1. Comp. also 1 Ti 3:15, See Barnes "1 Ti 3:15.

The sense here is, therefore, that the series of calamities referred to were to commence with the church, or were to come first upon the people of God. Schoettgen here aptly quotes a passage from the writings of the Rabbins: "Punishments never come into the world unless the wicked are in it; but they do not begin, unless they commence first with the righteous."

And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel God? If God brings such trials upon us who have obeyed his gospel, what have we not reason to suppose he will bring upon those who are yet in their sins? And if we are selected first as the objects of this visitation, if there is that in us which requires such method of dealing, what are we to suppose will occur in the end with those who make no pretensions to religion, but are yet living in open transgression? The sentiment is, that if God deals thus strictly with his people; if there is that in them which makes the, visitations of his judgment proper on them, there is a certainty that they who are not his people, but who live in iniquity, will in the end be overwhelmed with the tokens of severer wrath. Their punishment hereafter will be certain; and who can tell what will be the measure of its severity? Every wicked man, when he sees the trials which God brings upon his own people, should tremble under the apprehension of the deeper calamity which will hereafter come upon himself. We may remark,

(1.) that the judgments which God brings upon his own people make it certain that the wicked will punished. If he does not spare his own people, why should he spare others?

(2.) The punishment of the wicked is merely delayed. It begins at the house, of God, Christians are tried, and are recalled from their wanderings, and are prepared by discipline for: the heavenly world. The punishment of the wicked is often delayed to a future world, and in this life they have almost uninterrupted prosperity, but in the end it will be certain. See Barnes "Ps 73:1, seq. The punishment will come in the end. It cannot be evaded. Sooner or later justice requires that the wicked should be visited with the expressions of Divine displeasure on account of sin, and in the future world there will be ample time for the infliction of all the punishment which they deserve.

{a} "begin" Isa 10:12; Jer 49:12; Eze 9:6


Verse 18. And if the righteous scarcely be saved. If they are saved with difficulty. The word here used (moliv) occurs in the following places: Ac 14:18, "scarce restrained they the people;" Ac 27:7, "and scarce were come over against Cnidus;" Ac 27:8, "and hardly passing it;" Ac 27:16, "we had much work to come by the boat"- literally, we were able with difficulty to get the boat; Ro 5:7, "scarcely for a righteous man will one die;" and in the passage before us. The word implies that there is some difficulty, or obstruction, so that the thing came very near not to happen, or so that there was much risk about it. Compare Lu 13:31. The apostle in this passage seems to have had his eye on a verse in Proverbs, (Pr 11:31,) and he has merely expanded and illustrated it: "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner." By the question which he employs, he admits that the righteous are saved with difficulty, or that there are perils which jeopard their salvation, and which are of such a kind as to make it very near not to happen. They would indeed be saved, but it would be in such a manner as to show that the circumstances were such as to render it, to human appearances, doubtful and problematical. This peril may have arisen from many circumstances:

(a.) The difficulty of forming a plan of salvation, involving a degree of wisdom wholly beyond that of man, and of such a character that beforehand it would have been problematical and doubtful whether it could be. There was but one way in which it could be done. But what human wisdom could have devised that, or thought of it? There was but one being who could save. But who would have supposed that the Son of God would have been willing to become a man, and to die on a cross to do it? If he had been unwilling to come and die, the righteous could not have been saved.

(b.) The difficulty of bringing those who are saved to a willingness to accept of salvation. All were disposed alike to reject it; and there were many obstacles in the human heart, arising from pride, and selfishness, and unbelief, and the love of sin, which must be overcome before any would accept of the offer of mercy. There was but one agent who could overcome these things, and induce any of the race to embrace the gospel—the Holy Spirit. But who could have anticipated that the Spirit of God would have undertaken to renew and sanctify the polluted human heart? Yet, if he had failed, there could have been no salvation for any.

(c.) The difficulty of keeping them from falling away amidst the temptations and allurements of the world. Often it seems to be wholly doubtful whether those who have been converted will be kept to eternal life. They have so little religion; they yield so readily to temptation; they conform so much to the world; they have so little strength to bear up under trials, that it seems as if there was no power to preserve them and bring them to heaven. They are saved when they seemed almost ready to yield everything.

(d.) The difficulty of rescuing them from the power of the great enemy of souls. The adversary has vast power, and he means, if he can, to destroy those who are the children of God. Often they are in most imminent danger, and it seems to be a question of doubtful issue whether they will not be entirely overcome, and perish. It is no small matter to rescue a soul from the dominion of Satan, and to bring it to heaven, so that it shall be eternally safe. Through the internal struggles and the outward conflicts of life, it seems often a matter of doubt whether with all their effort they will be saved; and when they are saved, they will feel that they have been rescued from thousands of dangers, and that there has been many a time when they have stood on the very verge of ruin, and when, to human appearances, it was scarcely possible that they could be saved.

Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear! What hope is there of their salvation? The meaning is, that they would certainly perish; and the doctrine in the passage is, that the fact that the righteous are saved with so much difficulty is proof that the wicked will not be saved at all. This follows, because

(a.) there is the same difficulty in their salvation which there was in the salvation of those who became righteous; the same difficulty arising from the love of sin, the hardness of the heart, and the arts and power of the adversary.

(b.) No one can be saved without effort, and in fact the righteous are saved only by constant and strenuous effort on their part. But the wicked make no effort for their own salvation. They make use of no means for it; they put forth no exertions to obtain it; they do not make it a part of their plan of life. How, then, can they be saved? But where will they appear? I answer,

(a.) they will appear somewhere. They will not cease to exist when they pass away from this world. Not one of them will be annihilated; and though they vanish from the earth, and will be seen here no more, yet they will make their appearance in some other part of the universe.
(b.) They will appear at the judgment-seat, as all others will, to receive their sentence according to the deeds done in the body. It follows from this,

(1.) that the wicked will certainly be destroyed. If the righteous are scarcely saved, how can they be?

(2.) That there will be a state of future punishment, for this refers to what is to occur in the future world.

(3.) That the punishment of the wicked will be eternal, for it is the opposite of what is meant by saved. The time will never come when it will be said that they are saved! But if so, their punishment must be eternal!

{b} "if the righteous" Jer 25:29; Lu 23:31


Verse 19. Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God. That is, who endure the kind of sufferings that he, by his Providence, shall appoint. Comp. 1 Pe 3:17; 4:15,16.

Commit the keeping of their souls to him. Since there is so much danger; since there is no one else that can keep them; and since he is a Being so faithful, let them commit all their interests to him. Comp. Ps 37:5. The word souls here (qucav) is equivalent to themselves. They were to leave everything in his hand, faithfully performing every duty, and not being anxious for the result.

In well doing. Constantly doing good, or seeking to perform every duty in a proper manner. Their business was always to do right; the result was to be left with God. A man who is engaged always in well-doing, may safely commit all his interest to God.

As unto a faithful Creator. God may be trusted, or confided in, in all his attributes, and in all the relations which he sustains as Creator, Redeemer, Moral Governor, and Judge. In these, and in all other respects, we may come before him with confidence, and put unwavering trust in him. As Creator particularly; as one who has brought us, and all creatures and things into being, we may be sure that he will be "faithful" to the design which he had in view. From that design he will never depart until it is fully accomplished. He abandons no purpose which he has formed, and we may be assured that he will faithfully pursue it to the end. As our Creator we may come to him, and look to him for his protection and care. He made us. He had a design in our creation. He so endowed us that we might live for ever, and so that we might honour and enjoy him. He did not create us that we might be miserable; nor does he wish that we should be. He formed us in such a way that, if we choose, we may be eternally happy. In that path in which he has appointed us to go, if we pursue it, we may be sure of his aid and protection. If we really aim to accomplish the purposes for which we were made, we may be certain that he will show himself to be a "faithful Creator;" one in whom we may always confide. And even though we have wandered from him, and have long forgotten why we were made, and have loved and served the creature more than the Creator, we may be sure, if we will return to him, that he will not forget the design for which he originally made us. As our Creator we may still confide in him. Redeemed by the blood of his Son, and renewed by his Spirit after the image of Him who created us, we may still go to him as our Creator, and may pray that even yet the high and noble ends for which we were made may be accomplished in us. Doing this, we shah find him as true to that purpose as though we had never sinned.

{a} "commit" Ps 37:5




THIS chapter embraces the following subjects:

I. An exhortation to the elders of the churches to be faithful to the flocks committed to their charge, 1 Pe 5:1-4.

II. An exhortation to the younger members of the church to evince all proper submission to those who were older; to occupy the station in which they were placed with a becoming spirit, casting all their care on God, 1 Pe 5:5-7.

III. An exhortation to be sober and vigilant, in view of the dangers which beset them, and the arts and power of their great adversary, the . devil, and especially to bear with patience the trials to which they were subjected, in common with their Christian brethren elsewhere, 1 Pe 5:8-11.

IV. Salutations, 1 Pe 5:12-14.

Verse 1. The elders which are among you I exhort. The word elder means, properly, one who is old; but it is frequently used in the New Testament as applicable to the officers of the church; probably because aged persons were at first commonly appointed to these offices. See Barnes "Ac 11:30" See Barnes "Ac 14:23" See Barnes "Ac 15:2".

There is evidently an allusion here to the fact that such persons were selected on account of their age, because in the following verses (1 Pe 5:4, seq.) the apostle addresses particularly the younger. It is worthy of remark, that he here refers only to one class of ministers. He does not speak of three "orders," of "bishops, priests, and deacons;" and the evidence from the passage here is quite strong that there were no such orders in the churches of Asia Minor, to which this epistle was directed. It is also worthy of remark, that the word "exhort" is here used. The language which Peter uses is not that of stern and arbitrary command; it is that of kind and mild Christian exhortation. See Barnes "Phm 1:8, See Barnes "Phm 1:9".

Who am also an elder. Gr., "a fellow-presbyter," (sumpresbuterov.) This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means that he was a co-presbyter with them; and he makes this one of the grounds of his exhortation to them. He does not put it on the ground of his apostolical authority; or urge it because he was the "vicegerent of Christ;" or because he was the head of the church; or because he had any pre-eminence over others in any way. Would he have used this language if he had been the "head of the church" on earth? Would he if he supposed that the distinction between apostles and other ministers was to be perpetuated? Would he if he believed that there were to be distinct orders of clergy? The whole drift of this passage is adverse to such a supposition.

And a witness of the sufferings of Christ. Peter was indeed a witness of the sufferings of Christ when on his trial, and doubtless also when he was scourged and mocked, and when he was crucified. After his denial of his Lord, he wept bitterly, and evidently then followed him to the place where he was crucified, and, in company with others, observed with painful solicitude the last agonies of his Saviour. It is not, so far as I know, expressly said in the Gospels that Peter was present at the crucifixion of the Saviour; but it is said (Lu 23:49) that "all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things," and nothing is more probable than that Peter was among them. His warm attachment to his Master: and his recent bitter repentance for having denied him, would lead him to follow him to the place of his death; for after the painful act of denying him he would not be likely to expose himself to the charge of neglect, or of any want of love again. His own solemn declaration here makes it certain that he was present. He alludes to it now, evidently because it qualified him to exhort those whom he addressed. It would be natural to regard with peculiar respect one who had actually seen the Saviour in his last agony, and nothing would be more impressive than an exhortation falling from the lips of such a man. A son would be likely to listen with great respect to any suggestions which should be made by one who had seen his father or mother die. The impression which Peter had of that scene he would desire to have transferred to those whom he addressed, that by a lively view of the sufferings of their Saviour they might be excited to fidelity in his cause.

And a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed. Another reason to make his exhortation impressive and solemn. He felt that he was an heir of life. He was about to partake of the glories of heaven. Looking forward, as they did also, to the blessed world before him and them, he had a right to exhort them to the faithful performance of duty. Any one, who is himself an heir of salvation, may appropriately exhort his fellow-Christians to fidelity in the service of their common Lord.

{b} "glory" Ro 8:17,18

{*} "revealed" "manifested"


Verse 2. Feed the flock of God. Discharge the duties of a shepherd towards the flock. On the word feed, See Barnes "Joh 21:15".

It is a word which Peter would be likely to remember, from the solemn manner in which the injunction to perform the duty was laid on him by the Saviour. The direction means to take such an oversight of the church as a shepherd is accustomed to take of his flock. See Barnes "Joh 10:1, seq.

Which is among you. Marg., as much as in you is. The translation in the text is the more correct. It means the churches which were among them, or over which they were called to preside.

Taking the oversight thereof—episkopountev. The fair translation of this word is, discharging the episcopal office; and the word implies all that is ever implied by the word bishop in the New Testament. This idea should have been expressed in the translation. The meaning is not merely to take the oversight—for that might be done in a subordinate sense by any one in office; but it is to take such an oversight as is implied in the episcopate, or by the word bishop. The words episcopate, episcopal, and episcopacy, are merely the Greek word used here and its correlatives transferred to our language. The sense is that of overseeing; taking the oversight of; looking after, as of a flock; and the word has originally no reference to what is now spoken of as peculiarly the episcopal office. It is a word strictly applicable to any minister of religion, or officer of a church. In the passage before us this duty was to be performed by those who, in 1 Pe 5:1, are called presbyters or elders; and this is one of the numerous passages in the New Testament which prove that all that is properly implied in the performance of the episcopal functions pertained to those who were called presbyters, or elders. If so, there was no higher grade of ministers to which the peculiar duties of the episcopate were to be intrusted; that is, there was no class of officers corresponding to those who are now called bishops. Comp. See Barnes "Ac 20:28".

Not by constraint, but willingly. Not as if you felt that a heavy yoke was imposed on you, or a burden from which you would gladly be discharged. Go cheerfully to your duty as a work which you love, and act like a freeman in it, and not as a slave. Arduous as are the labours of the ministry, yet there is no work on earth in which a man can and should labour more cheerfully.

Not for filthy lucre. Shameful or dishonourable gain. See Barnes "1 Ti 3:3".

But of a ready mind. Cheerfully, promptly. We are to labour in this work, not under the influence of the desire of gain, but from the promptings of love. There is all the difference conceivable between one who does a thing because he is paid for it and one who does it from love—between, for example, the manner in which one attends on us when we are sick who loves us, and one who is merely hired to do it. Such a difference is there in the spirit with which one who is actuated by mercenary motives, and one whose heart is in the work, will engage in the ministry.

{a} "Feed the flock" Joh 21:15-17; Ac 20:28

{b} "willingly" 1 Co 9:17

{c} "filthy lucre" 1 Ti 3:3,8

{*} "lucre" "base gain"

{1} "which is among you" "as much as in you is"


Verse 3. Neither as being lords. Marg., overruling. The word here used (katakurieuw) is rendered exercise dominion over, in Mt 20:25; exercise lordship over, in Mr 10:42; and overcame, in Ac 19:16. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It refers properly to that kind of jurisdiction which civil rulers or magistrates exercise. This is an exercise of authority, as contradistinguished from the influence of reason, persuasion, and example. The latter pertains to the ministers of religion; the former is forbidden to them. Their dominion is not to be that of temporal lordship; it is to be that of love and truth. This command would prohibit all assumption of temporal power by the ministers of religion, and all conferring of titles of nobility on those who are preachers of the gospel. It needs scarcely to be said that it has been very little regarded in the church.

Over God's heritage—twn klhrwn. Vulgate, in cleris—over the clergy. The Greek word here (klhrov—kleros) is that from which the word clergy has been derived; and some have interpreted it here as referring to the clergy, that is, to priests and deacons who are under the authority of a bishop. Such an interpretation, however, would hardly be adopted now. The word means properly,

(a.) a lot, die, anything used in determining chances;
(b.) a part or portion, such as is assigned by lot; hence
(c.) an office to which one is designated or appointed, by lot or otherwise; and
(d.) in general any possession or heritage, Ac 26:18; Col 1:12. The meaning here is, "not lording it over the possessions or the heritage of God." The reference is, undoubtedly, to the church, as that which is peculiarly his property; his own in the world. Whitby and others suppose that it refers to the possessions or property of the church; Doddridge explains it—"not assuming dominion over those who fall to your lot," supposing it to mean that they were not to domineer over the particular congregations committed by Providence to their care. But the other interpretation is most in accordance with the usual meaning of the word.

But being ensamples to the flock. Examples. See Barnes "1 Ti 4:12".

Peter has drawn here with great beauty, the appropriate character of the ministers of the gospel, and described the spirit with which they should he actuated in the discharge of the duties of their office. But how different it is from the character of many who have claimed to be ministers of religion; and especially how different from that corrupt communion which professes in a special manner to recognise Peter as the head, and the vicegerent of Christ. It is well remarked by Benson on this passage, that "the church of Rome could not well have acted more directly contrary to this injunction of St. Peter's if she had studied to disobey it, and to form herself upon a rule that should be the reverse of this."

{2} "being Lords" "overruling"

{d} "being" 1 Ti 4:12

{+} "ensamples" "examples"


Verse 4.And when the chief Shepherd shall appear. The prince of the pastors—the Lord Jesus Christ. "Peter, in the passage above, ranks himself with the elders; here he ranks Christ himself with the pastors."—Benson. See Barnes "1 Pe 2:25". Comp. Heb 13:20.

Ye shall receive a crown of glory. A glorious crown or diadem. Comp. See Barnes "2 Ti 4:8".

That fadeth not away. This is essentially the same word, though somewhat different in form, which occurs in 1 Pe 1:4. See Barnes "1 Pe 1:4".

The word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Comp. See Barnes "1 Co 9:25".

{e} "chief Shepherd" Heb 13:20

{f} "crown of glory" 2 Ti 4:8


Verse 5. Likewise, ye younger. All younger persons of either sex.

Submit yourselves unto the elder. That is, with the respect due to their age, and to the offices which they sustain. There is here, probably, a particular reference to those who sustained the office of elders or teachers, as the same word is used here which occurs in 1 Pe 5:1. As there was an allusion in that verse, by the use of the word, to age, so there is in this verse to the fact that they sustained an office in the church. The general duty, however, is here implied, as it is everywhere in the Bible, that all suitable respect is to be shown to the aged. Comp. Le 19:32; 1 Ti 5:1; Ac 23:4; 2 Pe 2:9.

Yea, all of you be subject one to another. In your proper ranks and relations. You are not to attempt to lord it over one another, but are to treat each other with deference and respect. See Barnes "Eph 5:21" See Barnes "Php 2:3".

And be clothed with humility. The word here rendered be clothed (egkomboomai) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is derived from kombov—a strip, string, or loop to fasten a garment; and then the word refers to a garment that was fastened with strings. The word egkombwma (egkomboma) refers particularly to a long white apron, or outer garment, that was commonly worn by slaves. See Rob. Lex. Passow Lex. There is, therefore, peculiar force in the use of this word here, as denoting an humble mind. They were to be willing to take any place, and to perform any office, however humble, in order to serve and benefit others. They were not to assume a style and dignity of state and authority, as if they would lord it over others, or as if they were better than others; but they were to be willing to occupy any station, however humble, by which they might honour God. It is known that not a few of the early Christians actually sold themselves as slaves, in order that they might preach the gospel to those who were in bondage. The sense here is, they were to put on humility as a garment bound fast to them, as a servant bound fast to him the apron that was significant of his station. Comp. Col 3:13. It is not unusual in the Scriptures, as well as in other writings, to compare the virtues with articles of apparel; as that with which we are clothed, or in which we are seen by others. Comp. Isa 11:5; 59:17.

For God resisteth the proud, etc. This passage is quoted from the Greek translation in Pr 3:34. See it explained in the See Barnes "Jas 4:6, where it is also quoted.

{g} "all of you" Eph 5:21

{h} "God" Jas 4:6


Verse 6. Humble yourselves therefore. Be willing to take a low place—a place such as becomes you. Do not arrogate to yourselves what does not belong to you; do not evince pride and haughtiness in your manner; do not exalt yourselves above others. See Barnes "Lu 14:7, seq. Comp. Pr 15:33; 18:12; 22:4 Mic 6:8; Php 2:8.

Under the mighty hand of God. This refers probably to the calamities which he had brought upon them, or was about to bring upon them; represented here, as often elsewhere, as the infliction of his hand—the hand being that by which we accomplish anything. When that hand was upon them they were not to be lifted up with pride and with a spirit of rebellion, but were to take a lowly place before him, and submit to him with a calm mind, believing that he would exalt them in due time. There is no situation in which one will be more likely to feel humility than in scenes of affliction.

That he may exalt you in due time. When he shall see it to be a proper time.

(1.) They might be assured that this would be done at some time. He would not always leave them in this low and depressed condition. He would take off his heavy hand, and raise them up from their state of sadness and suffering.

(2.) This would be in due time; that is, in the proper time, in the best time.

(a.) It might be in the present life.
(b.) It would certainly be in the world to come. There they would be exalted to honours which will be more than an equivalent for all the persecution, poverty, and contempt which are suffered in this world. He may well afford to be humble here who is to be exalted to a throne in heaven.

{i} "humble" Isa 57:15


Verse 7. Casting all your care upon him. Comp. Ps 55:22, from whence this passage was probably taken. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee; he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved," Compare, for a similar sentiment, Mt 6:25-30. The meaning is, that we are to commit our whole cause to him. If we suffer heavy trials; if we lose our friends, health, or property; if we have arduous and responsible duties to perform; if we feel that we have no strength, and are in danger of being crushed by what is laid upon us, we may go and cast all upon the Lord; that is, we may look to him for grace and strength, and feel assured that he will enable us to sustain all that is laid upon us. The relief in the case will be as real, and as full of consolation, as if he took the burden and bore it himself. He will enable us to bear with ease what we supposed we could never have done; and the burden which he lays upon us will be light, Mt 11:30. See Barnes "Php 4:6,7".

For he careth for you. See Barnes "Mt 10:29, seq. He is not like the gods worshipped by many of the heathen, who were supposed to be so exalted, and so distant, that they did not interest themselves in human affairs; but He condescends to regard the wants of the meanest of his creatures. It is one of the glorious attributes of the true God, that he can and will thus notice the wants of the mean as well as the mighty; and one of the richest of all consolations when we are afflicted, and are despised by the world, is the thought that we are not forgotten by our heavenly Father. He who remembers the failing sparrow, and who hears the young ravens when they cry, will not be unmindful of us. "Yet the Lord thinketh on me," was the consolation of David, when he felt that he was "poor and needy," Ps 40:17. "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up," Ps 27:10. Comp. Isa 49:15. What more can one wish than to be permitted to feel that the great and merciful Jehovah thinks on him? What are we—what have we done, that should be worthy of such condescension? Remember, poor, despised, afflicted child of God, that you will never be forgotten. Friends on earth, the. great, the gay, the noble, the rich, may forget you; God never will. Remember that you will never be entirely neglected. Father, mother, neighbour, friend, those whom you have loved, and those to whom you have done good, may neglect you, but God never will. You may become poor, and they may pass by you; you may lose your office, and flatterers may no longer throng your path; your beauty may fade, and your admirers may leave you; you may grow old, and be infirm, and appear to be useless in the world, and no one may seem to care for you; but it is not thus with the God whom you serve. When he loves, he always loves; if he regarded you with favour when you were rich, he will not forget you when you are poor; he who watched over you with a parent's care in the bloom of youth, will not cast you off when you are "old and grey-headed," Ps 71:18. If we are what we should be, we shall never be without a friend as long as there is a God.

{a} "Casting" Ps 55:22


Verse 8. Be sober. While you cast your cares upon God, and have no anxiety on that score, let your solicitude be directed to another point. Do not doubt that he is able and willing to support and befriend you, but be watchful against your foes. See the word used here fully explained in See Barnes "1 Th 5:6".

Be vigilant. This word (grhgorew) is everywhere else in the New Testament rendered watch. See Mt 24:42,43; 25:13; 26:38,40,41.

It means that we should exercise careful circumspection, as one does when he is in danger, tn reference to the matter here referred to, it means that we are to be on our guard against the wiles and the power of the evil one.

Your adversary the devil. Your enemy; he who is opposed to you. Satan opposes man in his best interests. He resists his efforts to do good; his purposes to return to God; his attempts to secure his own salvation. There is no more appropriate appellation that can be given to him than to say that he resists all our efforts to obey God and to secure the salvation of our own souls.

As a roaring lion. Comp. Re 12:12. Sometimes Satan is represented as transforming himself into an angel of light, (See Barnes "2 Co 11:14") and sometimes, as here, as a roaring lion: denoting the efforts which he makes to alarm and overpower us. The lion here is not the crouching lion-the lion stealthfully creeping towards his foe—but it is the raging monarch of the woods, who by his terrible roar would intimidate all so that they might become an easy prey. The particular thing referred to here, doubtless, is persecution, resembling in its terrors a roaring lion. When error comes in; when seductive arts abound; when the world allures and charms, the representation of the character of the foe is not of the roaring lion, but of the silent influence of an enemy that has clothed himself in the garb of an angel of light, 2 Co 11:14.

Walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. "Naturalists have observed that a lion roars when he is roused with hunger, for then he is most fierce, and most eagerly seeks his prey. See Jud 14:5; Ps 22:13; Jer 2:15; Eze 22:25; Hos 11:10; Zep 3:3; Zec 11:3."—Benson.

{*} "vigilant" "watchful"

{b} "as a roaring lion" Re 12:12


Verse 9. Whom resist. See Barnes "Jas 4:7".

You are in no instance to yield to him, but are in all forms to stand up and oppose him. Feeble in yourselves, you are to confide in the arm of God. No matter in what form of terror he approaches, you are to fight manfully the fight of faith. Comp. See Barnes "Eph 6:10, seq.

Steadfast in the faith. Confiding in God. You are to rely on him alone, and the means of successful resistance are to be found in the resources of faith. See Barnes "Eph 6:16".

Knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. Comp. for a similar sentiment, 1 Co 10:13. The meaning is, that you should be encouraged to endure your trials by the fact that your fellow-Christians suffer the same things. This consideration might furnish consolation to them in their trials in the following ways:

(1.) They would feel that they were suffering only the common lot of Christians. There was no evidence that God was peculiarly angry with them, or that he had in a peculiar manner forsaken them.

(2.) The fact that others were enabled to bear their trials should be an argument to prove to them that they would also be able. If they looked abroad, and saw that others were sustained, and were brought off triumphant, they might be assured that this would be the case with them.

(3.) There would be the support derived from the fact that they were not alone in suffering. We can bear pain more easily if we feel that we are not alone—that it is the common lot—that we are in circumstances where we may have sympathy from others. This remark may be of great practical value to us in view of persecutions, trials, and death. The consideration suggested here by Peter to sustain those whom he addressed, in the trials of persecution, may be applied now to sustain and comfort us in every form of apprehended or real calamity. We are all liable to suffering. We are exposed to sickness, bereavement, death. We often feel as if we could not bear up under the sufferings that may be before us, and especially do we dread the great trial—DEATH. It may furnish us some support and consolation to remember,

(1.) that this is the common lot of men. There is nothing peculiar in our case. It proves nothing as to the question whether we are accepted of God, and are beloved by him, that we suffer; for those whom he has loved most have been often among the greatest sufferers. We often think that our sufferings are peculiar; that there have been none like them. Yet, if we knew all, we should find that thousands—and among them the most wise, and pure, and good—have endured sufferings of the same kind as ours, and perhaps far more intense in degree.

(2.) Others have been conveyed triumphantly through their trials. We have reason to hope and to believe that we shall also, for

(a.) our trials have been no greater than theirs have been; and

(b.) their natural strength was no greater than ours. Many of them were timid, and shrinking, and trembling, and felt that they had no strength, and that they should fail under the trial.

(3.) The grace which sustained them can sustain us. The hand of God is not shortened that it cannot save; his ear is not heavy that it cannot hear. His power is as great, and his grace is as fresh, as it was when the first sufferer was supported by him; and that Divine strength which supported David and Job in their afflictions, and the apostles and martyrs in theirs, is just as powerful as it was when they applied to God to be upheld in their sorrows.

(4.) We are especially fearful of death—fearful that our faith will fail, and that we shall be left to die without support or consolation. Yet let us remember that death is the common lot of man. Let us remember who have died—tender females; children; the timid and the fearful; those, in immense multitudes, who had no more strength by nature than we have. Let us think of our own kindred who have died. A wife has died, and shall a husband be afraid to die? A child, and shall a father? A sister, and shall a brother? It does much to take away the dread of death, to remember that a mother has gone through the dark valley; that that gloomy vale has been trod by delicate, and timid, and beloved sisters. Shall I be afraid to go where they have gone? Shall I apprehend that I shall find no grace that is able to sustain me where they have found it? Must the valley of the shadow of death be dark and gloomy to me, when they found it to be illuminated with the opening light of heaven? Above all, it takes away the fear of death when I remember that my Saviour has experienced all the horrors which can ever be in death; that he has slept in the tomb, and made it a hallowed resting-place.

{c} "resist, stedfast" Jas 4:7


Verse 10. But the God of all grace. The God who imparts all needful grace. It was proper in their anticipated trials to direct them to God, and to breathe forth in their behalf an earnest and affectionate prayer that they might be supported. A prayer of this kind by an apostle would also be to them a sort of pledge or assurance that the needed grace would be granted them.

Who hath called us unto his eternal glory. And who means, therefore, that we shall be saved. As he has called us to his glory, we need not apprehend that he will leave or forsake us. On the meaning of the word called, See Barnes "Eph 4:1".

After that ye have suffered a while. After you have suffered as long as he shall appoint. The Greek is, "having suffered a little," and may refer either to time or degree. In both respects the declaration concerning afflictions is true. They are short, compared with eternity; they are light, compared with the exceeding and eternal weight of glory. See Barnes "2 Co 4:16, seq.

Make you perfect. By means of your trials. The tendency of affliction is to make us perfect.

Stablish. The Greek word means to set fast; to fix firmly; to render immovable, Lu 16:26; 9:61; 22:32; Ro 1:11; 16:25; 1 Th 3:2,13, et al.

Strengthen Give you strength to bear all this.

Settle you. Literally, found you, or establish you on a firm foundation—yemeliwsei. The allusion is to a house which is so firmly fixed on a foundation that it will not be moved by winds or floods. Comp, See Barnes "Mt 7:24, seq.

{a} "a while" 2 Co 4:16

{b} "perfect" Heb 13:21

{c} "stablish" 2 Th 3:3

{d} "strengthen" Zec 10:6,10

{e} "settle" Ps 138:7,8


Verse 11. To him be glory, etc. See Barnes "1 Pe 4:11".

{f} "glory" 1 Pe 4:11


Verse 12. By Silvanus. Or Silas. See Barnes "2 Co 1:19" See Barnes "1 Th 1:1".

He was the intimate friend and companion of Paul, and had laboured much with him in the regions where the churches were situated to which this epistle was addressed. In what manner he became acquainted with Peter, or why he was now with him in Babylon, is unknown.

A faithful brother unto you, as I suppose. The expression "as I suppose"—wv logizomai,—does not imply that there was any doubt on the mind of the apostle, but indicates rather a firm persuasion that what he said was true. Thus, Ro 8:18, "For I reckon (logizomai) that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared," etc. That is, I am fully persuaded of it; I have no doubt of it. Peter evidently had no doubt on this point, but he probably could not speak from any personal knowledge. He had not been with them when Silas was, and perhaps not at all; for they may have been "strangers" to him personally- for the word "strangers," in 1 Pe 1:1, may imply that he had no personal acquaintance with them. Silas, however, had been much with them, (comp. Ac 15:17-31,) and Peter had no doubt that he had shown himself to be "a faithful brother" to them. An epistle conveyed by his hands could not but be welcome. It should be observed, however, that the expression "I suppose" has been differently interpreted by some. Wetstein understands it as meaning, "Not that he supposed Silvanus to be a faithful brother, for who, says he, could doubt that? but that he had written as he understood matters, having carefully considered the subject, and as he regarded things to be true;" and refers for illustration to Ro 8:18; Php 4:8; Heb 11:9.

Grotius understands it as meaning, "If I remember right;" and supposes that the idea is, that he shows his affection for them by saying that this was not the first time that he had written to them, but that he had written before briefly, and sent the letter, as well as he could remember, by Silvanus. But there is no evidence that he had written to them before, and the common interpretation is undoubtedly to be preferred.

Exhorting. No small part of the epistle is taken up with exhortations.

And testifying. Bearing witness. The main design of the office of the apostles was to bear witness to the truth, (See Barnes "1 Co 9:1") and Peter in this epistle discharged that part of the functions of his office towards the scattered Christians of Asia Minor.

That this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. That the religion in which you stand, or which you now hold, is that which is identified with the grace or favour of God. Christianity, not Judaism, or Paganism, was the true religion. To show this, and bear continual witness to it, was the leading design of the apostolic office.

{g} "Silvanus" 2 Co 1:19

{*} "suppose" "judge"

{h} "ye stand" 1 Co 15:1


Verse 13. The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you. It will be seen at once that much of this is supplied by our translators; the words "church that is" not being in the original. The Greek is, h en babulwni suneklekth; and might refer to a church, or to a female. Wall, Mill, and some others, suppose that the reference is to a Christian woman, perhaps the wife of Peter himself. Comp, 2 Jo 1:1. But the Arabic, Syriac, and Vulgate, as well as the English versions, supply the word church. This interpretation seems to be confirmed by the word rendered elected together with—suneklekth. This word would be properly used in reference to one individual if writing to another individual, but would hardly be appropriate as applied to an individual addressing a church. It could not readily be supposed, moreover, that any one female in Babylon could have such a prominence, or be so well known, that nothing more would be necessary to designate her than merely to say, "the elect female." On the word Babylon here, and the place denoted by it, see the Intro., & 2.

And so doth Marcus my son. Probably John Mark. See Barnes "Ac 12:12" See Barnes "Ac 15:37".

Why he was now with Peter is unknown. If this was the Mark referred to, then the word son is a title of affection, and is used by Peter with reference to his own superior age. It is possible, however, that some other Mark may be referred to, in whose conversion Peter had been instrumental.


Verse 14. Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. A kiss of love; a common method of affectionate salutation in the times of the apostles. See Barnes "Ro 16:16".

Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. That are true Christians. See Barnes "Eph 6:23; Php 4:7".

{i} "Greet" Ro 16:16

{+} "charity" "love"

{k} "Peace" Eph 6:23

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