1 Peter 1:1
Peter. It is the Greek form of the name, which the Lord Jesus himself had given to the great apostle; first, by anticipation, in the spirit of prophecy (John 1:42); and again when the prophecy was already in a measure fulfilled, and Simon was proving himself to be indeed a stone, built upon the Rock of Ages, which is Christ (Matthew 16:18). It was his Christian name; he must have prized that name as the gift of Christ, reminding him always, of his confession and of the Savior's promise, urging him to maintain throughout life that rock-like steadfastness which was indeed characteristic of him, but in which he had more than once very sadly failed. The use of the Greek form seems to indicate that the Epistle was originally written in Greek, and gives some slight support to the view that it was addressed to Gentile converts as well as to Hebrew Christians. An apostle of Jesus Christ. He does not add any assertion of the truth of his apostleship, as St. Paul often does; his apostolic dignity had not been questioned; the false brethren, who so often disputed the authority of St. Paul, had never assailed St. Peter. He does not join other names with his own in the address, though he mentions at the close of his Epistle Marcus—probably the John Mark who accompanied St. Paul in his first missionary journey—and Silvanus—probably the Silas of the Acts of the Apostles, and the Silvanus whom St. Paul associates with himself in addressing the Church of the Thessalonians. He describes himself as "an apostle of Jesus Christ." All Christians who knew the gospel history knew that St. Peter was one of the first-called apostles, one of the three who were nearest to the Lord, one who had received the apostolic commission in a marked and special manner direct from Christ. But he calls himself simply an apostle, not the prince of the apostles; he claims no superiority over the rest of the apostolic college. The impulsive forwardness which had once been the prominent defect in his noble character had passed away; he had learned that difficult lesson which the Lord had impressed upon the apostles when he set the little child among them as their example; he was now, in his own words, "clothed with humility." To the strangers scattered; literally, to the elect sojourners of the dispersion of Pontus, etc. "The dispersion" ( διασπορά) was the recognized term (comp. James 1:1; John 7:35; 2 Macc. 1:27) for the Jews who were scattered over Gentile countries. The gospel of the circumcision was committed unto Peter (Galatians 2:7); Paul and Barnabas were to go unto the heathen; James, Cephas, and John unto the circumcision (Galatians 2:9). But St. Peter had been taught to call no man common or unclean; he did not forget that God had made choice that the Gentiles by his mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe (Acts 15:7); he can scarcely have intended to maintain in this Epistle that exclusiveness into which he once relapsed, and for which he was rebuked by St. Paul (Galatians 2:11-14). He certainly uses the word here rendered "strangers" ( παρεπιδήμοις) metaphorically in 1 Peter 2:11 (comp. Hebrews 11:13);'and we cannot but think that, by "the sojourners of the dispersion," he means, not merely the Jewish Christians of Asia Minor, but all Christian people dispersed among the heathen. We shall see, as we proceed in the study of the Epistle, that the writer contemplates Gentile as well as Jewish readers. Those readers were sojourners for a brief time on earth. "Here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come;" they were dispersed here and there among the unbelievers, but they were one body in Christ. Compare Bengel's brief comment, "Advents in terra, in coelo, electis." Throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Bengel says," He mentions the five provinces in the order in which the names naturally occurred to one writing from the East." This is not precisely accurate, for Cappadocia lies to the south-east of Galatia, and Bithynia to the north-east of Proconsular Asia; but yet the general arrangement of the names seems to furnish a slight argument 'in favor of the view that the Babylon from which St. Peter wrote was the famous city on the Euphrates. The Churches of Galatia and Asia (by "Asia" St. Peter means Proconsular Asia, that is Mysia, Lycia, and Carla; Phrygia also was commonly reckoned as belonging to it, but not always, see Acts 2:9, Acts 2:10) were founded by St. Paul and his companions; those of Pontus possibly by Aquila, who, like the other Aquila who translated the Old Testament into Greek, was a Jew of Pontus (Acts 18:2). Of Cappadocia all that we know from the New Testament is that dwellers in Cappadocia, as well as in Pontus and Asia, were in Jerusalem at the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and heard the great sermon of St. Peter, by which three thousand souls were added to the Church. The Cappadocian Churches may have owed their origin to some of these men, or to some of St. Paul's converts from Galatia or Lycaonia. St. Paul himself had once "assayed to go into Bithy-nia, but the Spirit suffered them not" (Acts 16:7); that province may have received the word of God from Troas; the famous letter of Pliny, written about the year 110, shows how widely the faith of Christ had spread throughout the district. We notice that the missions of the Church in Asia Minor had now covered a field considerably larger than that reached at the date of the Acts of the Apostles. We notice also that many of the Churches addressed by St. Peter were founded by St. Paul or his converts. There was no rivalry between the two great apostles. There had been jealousies among the twelve (Matthew 18:1; Matthew 20:24, etc.); there had been differences between St. Peter and St. Paul (Galatians 2:11); but they were children no longer—they were full-grown Christians now.
1 Peter 1:2
Elect. This word, in the Greek, is in the first verse; the Greek order is "to the elect sojourners of the dispersion." We begin already to notice coincidences with the teaching of St. Paul. St. Paul insists strongly on the doctrine of election; St. Peter holds it no less clearly. Holy Scripture constantly ascribes all that is good in us to the choice or election of God. The sacred writers do not enter into the many difficulties which lie around this central doctrine: they do not attempt to explain its relations to that other great truth, taught in Scripture and revealed in consciousness—the freedom of the human will; their statements of the two apparently conflicting doctrines balance, but do not explain, one another; they seem to recognize the fact that we are in the presence of an insoluble mystery; and they teach us by their silence that the proper attitude of the Christian, when brought face to face with mystery, is rest in the Lord, humble childlike confidence in his love and wisdom. According to the foreknowledge of God the Father. St. Peter sets in the forefront of his Epistle the mystery of the blessed Trinity and the Divine plan of human salvation. It is, however, a question whether the words just quoted should be taken, as in the Authorized Version, with "elect" or with "apostle." Many ancient authorities take the latter view. 'Thus we should have a description of St. Peter's apostleship, such as we often read at the opening of St Paul's Epistle. He was, like St. Paul, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God; he was chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame; like St. Paul, he had received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations (comp. Romans 1:1, Romans 1:5). There is much to be said in favor of this connection. But, on the whole, the balance of the sentence, and the general usage of similar language in the New Testament, lead us to prefer the common view, and to regard St. Peter's words as a description of the origin, progress, and end of God's election. The origin is the grace of God the Father. He chose his elect before the foundation of the world. He predestinated them unto the adoption of children; and that according to the good pleasure of his will (Ephesians 1:4, Ephesians 1:5). It is interesting to note that the substantive "foreknowledge" ( πρόγνωσις) occurs nowhere else in Holy Scripture except in St. Peter's Pentecostal speech (Acts 2:23). We mark the agreement of St. Peter and St. Paul (comp. Romans 8:29, "Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son;" comp. also Romans 11:2 and 2 Timothy 2:19). Election is "according to the foreknowledge of God the Father;" but not simply, as the Arminians taught, ex praevisis meritis; for we cannot separate foreknowledge and predestination; the foreknowledge of an Almighty Creator must imply the exercise of choice and will; what he knoweth, that he also willeth; eligendos facit Deus, non invenit. Thus in 1 Peter 1:20 "foreknown," the more exact rendering of the Revised Version must imply the "foreordained" of the old translation. But that foreknowledge is the foreknowledge of God the Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but our Father also. He careth for his children; we must trust in him. The potter makes one vessel for honor, another for dishonor; but he makes none for destruction. A veil of awful mystery hangs round the relations which exist between the Almighty and his creatures; but "God is Love." Through sanctification of the Spirit; rather, in, as in the Revised Version. We have the same words in 2 Thessalonians 2:13. The word ἀγισμός, which St. Peter uses here, is almost peculiar to St. Paul; it occurs eight times in his Epistles; once in the Epistle to the Hebrews; but elsewhere only here in the New Testament. Like other verbals of the same form, it may have either an active or a passive meaning. Perhaps the former is the more suitable here. God's election places the Christian in the sphere of the sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit; he lives in the Spirit, he walks in the Spirit, he prays in the Holy Ghost; and the blessed Spirit sanctifieth the elect people of God: he worketh in them that holiness ( ἁγιασμόν) without which they cannot see God (Hebrews 12:14); they have their fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, unto holiness ( ἁγιασμόν, Romans 6:22). The fundamental idea of the Hebrew שׁוֹדקָ, which is represented by the Greek word ἅγιος, seems to be, "separation, purity," though some connect it with שׁדַחָ, and regard it as meaning originally "fresh, new, young," and so "pure, shining, bright" (see Delitzsch, on Hebrews 2:11 ). By the word "spirit" we might, if we took the words apart from the context, understand the spirit of man, which is sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God; but the context shows that St. Peter is thinking of the work of the three blessed Persons of the Holy Trinity. Unto obedience. Obedience is the work of the Spirit; for the fruit of the Spirit is love, and "if a man love me, he will keep my words." Thus election has its origin in the foreknowledge of the Father; it is wrought out in the sanctifying influences of the Spirit as its sphere, and it issues in ,active obedience. Obedience is the sign and test of God's election: "By their fruits ye shall know them." The end of election is obedience first, then everlasting life. And sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. The word ῥαντισμός, sprinkling, occurs also in Hebrews 12:24 (comp. also Hebrews 9:19). In both places there is an evident reference to the events related in Exodus 24:8, where we read that "Moses took the blood, arid sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you." We observe that in this place also ceremonial sanctification (Exodus 19:10) and the promise of obedience (Exodus 24:3) preceded the sprinkling of blood. "The blood of sprinkling" is called by the Lord himself the blood of the new covenant, the blood by which the covenant of grace was ratified and inaugurated. Moses sprinkled the blood of the old covenant once upon the people; the blood of the new covenant was shed once for all upon the cross; but it is ever fresh in its efficacy and power; still we have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; still, if we abide in him, we have our "hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience;" still, "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light,… the blood of Jesus Christ his Son is cleansing us from all sin." Those who are elect unto obedience are elect unto the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; the loving obedience of faith keeps them in the presence of the cross, within the cleansing range of the one all-sufficient sacrifice. Thus we have in this verse the concurrence of the three blessed Persons in the scheme of salvation—the choice of the Father, the sanctification of the Spirit, the redeeming work of the Son. Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. St. Peter uses the familiar salutation of St. Paul; possibly he quotes it, for he was plainly familiar with St. Paul's Epistles—he refers to them expressly in 2 Peter 3:15, 2 Peter 3:16, and Sylvanus, the old companion of St. Paul, was now with him. He unites into one expression the Greek and Hebrew salutations, the χαίρειν of the Greeks under its Christian aspect of χάρις, the favor of God; and the מוֹלשָׁ of the Hebrews—the peace which is the fruit of grace, which is the blessed possession of those on whom the favor of God abideth. That grace and peace is granted to all the elect of God. St. Peter prays that it may be multiplied, that his readers may be blessed with an ever-increasing measure of that heavenly gift. He uses the same form of salutation in his Second Epistle. It is interesting to observe that the phrase, "Peace be multiplied unto you," occurs also in the proclamation of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:1), and in that of Darius (Daniel 6:25),both written in Babylon, the city from which St. Peter now sends the message of peace. The anarthrousness of these two verses is remarkable; in the original there is not one article in 2 Peter 3:1, 2 Peter 3:2.
1 Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word rendered "blessed" ( εὐλογητός) is used by the New Testament writers only of God; the participle εὐλογημένος is said of men. St. Peter adopts the doxology used by St. Paul in writing to the Churches at Corinth and Ephesus (2 Corinthians 1:3; Ephesians 1:3), the last being one of those to which this Epistle is addressed. It is a question whether the genitive, "of our Lord Jesus Christ," depends on both substantives or only on the last. The Greek will admit either view, and there are high authorities on both sides. On the whole, the first seems the most natural interpretation. The Lord himself had said, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17). He could not say, "our God," for the relations are widely different; he could say, "my God," as he had said upon the cross; for, in the well-known words of Theophylact, "he is both the God and the Father of one and the same Christ; his God, as of Christ manifest in the flesh; his Father, as of God the Word." So St. Paul, after using this same form of salutation in Ephesians 1:3, speaks of God in the seventeenth verse as "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory" (comp. also Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 11:31; Colossians 1:3). Which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; rather, begat, as in the Revised Version. St. Peter refers our regeneration back to the great fact of the resurrection of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is "the First-begotten of the dead" (Revelation 1:5); we are "buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead" (Colossians 2:12). The Church, "which is his body" (Ephesians 1:23), died with him in his death, rose with him in his resurrection. Christians individually are baptized into his death, "that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). The resurrection of Christ was in a real sense the birth of the Church. Therefore St. Peter, who in 1 Peter 3:21 speaks so strongly of the effect of holy baptism, here refers oar regeneration to that without which baptism would be an empty ceremony, the resurrection of our Lord. God's great mercy (comp. Ephesians 2:4, Ephesians 2:5, "God, who is rich in mercy.... hath quickened us together with Christ") is the first cause of our new birth, Christ's resurrection is the means through which it was accomplished. St. Peter alone of the New Testament writers uses the word here rendered "hath begotten again" ( ἀναγεννήσας); it occurs also in verse 23. But our Lord himself, and his apostles St. James and St. Paul, teach the same truth to similar words (see John 3:5; James 1:18; Titus 3:5). Some commentators, as Luther, Bengel, etc., connect the words, "by the resurrection," etc., not with "hath begotten us again," but with the word "lively" or "living"—a hope that liveth through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This connection is grammatically possible, and gives a good and true meaning; it is the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which makes the Christian's hope living and strong; but the other explanation seems more natural, and is supported by such passages as Romans 4:25, and 1 Peter 3:21 of this Epistle. The heavenly inheritance is the ultimate end of our regeneration; the hope of that inheritance is the present joy of the Christian life. St. Paul reminds the Ephesian Christians that when they were without Christ they had no hope (Ephesians 2:12); but God according to his great mercy begat us again into a new life, and one important aspect of that new life is hope, the hope of ever-deepening fellowship with God now, of everlasting life with God in heaven. That hope is living; it is "pervaded with life, carrying with it in undying power the certainty of fulfillment (Romans 5:5), and making the heart joyful and happy." (Huther); "it has life in itself, and gives life, and has life as its object" (De Wette). And it liveth, it doth not perish like the hopes of this world, but it lives on in ever fuller joy till it reaches its consummation in heaven; even there "hope abideth," forever in heaven there will be, it seems, a continual progress from glory to glory, nearer and nearer to the throne. St. Peter is the apostle of hope. "He loves," says Bengel, "the epithet living, and the mention of hope."
1 Peter 1:4
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. The Christian's hope maketh not ashamed. The inheritance is sure; it is better than the inheritance promised to Abraham; for it is
1 Peter 1:5
Who are kept by the power of God. "Hereditas servata est," says Bengel, "heredes custodiuntur?" The verb φρουρεῖν, is a military word. "The governor under Areas the king kept [guarded] the city of the Damascenes" (2 Corinthians 11:32); the peace of God shall keep ("guard." Philippians 4:7) the hearts of those who trust in him,—they are guarded by a heavenly host; "The angel of the Lord encampeth around them that fear him;" they are guarded by, or rather, according to the exact rendering, in the power of God. His power is all around them; it is the sphere in which they live and move; no harm can reach them in that all-embracing shelter. Through faith. Faith, the evidence of things not seen, realizes the presence of the heavenly guard, and gives courage and confidence to the Christian when assailed by temptations and dangers; the servant of Elisha feared no more the hosts of Syria, when he saw the mountain full of chariots and horses of fire round about his master. Faith is the instrument by means of which we grasp the Divine strength, so that it is made perfect in our weakness. Unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. By "salvation" St. Peter means not merely present deliverance from sin, bat everlasting life, the joy of our Lord, the deep, full blessedness of his elect in heaven. Eye hath not seen it yet, it hath not entered into the heart of man. But it is ready to be revealed; the veil which now hides it from us will be withdrawn in the last time, when the last page of this world's history shall have been written, when the number of the elect shall be accomplished, and the eternal purpose of God shall have been fulfilled.
1 Peter 1:6
Wherein ye greatly rejoice. Is the word "wherein" ( ἐν ῷ) to be referred to the whole sentence, and to be understood of the Christian's present privileges and hopes? or is it to be taken in a temporal sense with the words immediately preceding it, "in the last time"? Authorities are divided. Of those who take the latter view some regard "the last time"—as the object of the Christian's joyful hope—he rejoices now in the hope of the glory of God; others give the verb a quasi-future sense—" wherein ye will greatly rejoice." But the former connection seems more natural; the Christian rejoices in his present and future blessings—in the new birth, in the hope of the heavenly inheritance, in the assured protection of God. The verb ( ἀγαλλιᾶσθε) is a strong expression; it means "to exult, to leap for joy." St. Peter may have had in his thoughts the well-remembered sermon on the mount, where the same word occurs (Matthew 5:12), and, as here, in connection with sorrows and persecutions. It is used of our Lord himself in Luke 10:21, of the Philippian gaoler's joy in his newborn faith (Acts 16:34), as well as of the joy of the blessed in heaven (Revelation 19:7). There is, therefore, nothing unsuitable in taking the verb in its proper present signification; the Christian's experience is often, like St. Paul's, "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." Some commentators, following St. Augustine, regard the verb as imperative. Though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations. The word rendered "for a season" ( ὀλίγον, a little) may mean that the present suffering is but little compared with the future glory; it may cover both meanings. St. Peter, like St. Paul, enforces the lesson that that light affliction, which seems sometimes so heavy, is sent in love and wisdom; the words, "if need be," imply his belief that these trials were necessary for his readers' salvation—they would work for them "a tar more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." The words, "ye are in heaviness," represent the aorist participle λυπηθέντες, having been put to grief; it refers to definite afflictions, known to St. Peter, which had been suffered by those to whom he is writing. The words, "manifold temptations," remind us of James 1:2.
1 Peter 1:7
That the trial of your faith. The words of 1 Peter 1:6, "if need be," point to the purpose and end of the temptations. St. Peter proceeds to develop his meaning. The word rendered "trial" ( δοκίμιον or δυκιμεῖον) means rather "test or proof;" it is explained by Dionysius of Halicarnassus ('Rhet.,' I1) as that at which, when one looks, he is able to form a judgment. Cremer says it is "not only the means of proof itself, e.g. the touchstone, but also the trace of the metal left thereon. Hence here and in James 1:3 τό δοκίμιον τῆς πίστεως is the result of the contact of faith with temptations, that in virtue of which faith is recognized as genuine—the verification of faith." Dr. Heft ('Notes on Select Readings') prefers the reading τὸ δόκιμον, which is given by two of the better cursives. He says, " τὸ δοκίμιον is the instrument of trial, not even the process of trial, much less the thing fried; while it is only the thing tried that can be compared, as here, to gold refined in the fire." Compare the use of the cognate word δοκιμή in 2 Corinthians 2:9; Romans 5:4; Philippians 2:22. Being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire; rather, as in the Revised Version, more precious than gold. Gold is the most precious of metals, faith is more precious far; the proof of faith is more momentous beyond all comparison than the proof of gold. Gold perishes; "Consumitur annulus usu," says the poet; "Aurum cummundo perit," says Bengel; but "Now abideth faith, hope, charity," says the apostle. Gold is tried with fire; as by the purifying fire gold is purged of dross (Isaiah 1:25), so by the refining fire of temptations the faithful are cleansed from pride and self-reliance and the pollutions of sin. Might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ; "might be found" at the judgment, in the searching investigation of the great day. Praise; in words, "Well (lone, good and faithful servant." He, our; in the distinctions granted to the faithful—the crown of righteousness, the white robe, the palm. Glory; the glory which was Christ's before the world was, which he giveth to his chosen (John 17:22). At the appearing; rather, revelation. Now we see him only by faith; then his elect shall see him as he is—the veil will be withdrawn (see Philippians 2:5).
1 Peter 1:8
Whom having not seen, ye love. Some ancient manuscripts read οὐκ εἰδότες, "although ye know him not:" but the reading ἰδόντες is best supported, and gives the better sense. The Christians of Asia Minor had not seen the gracious face of the Lord, as St. Peter had. But though they had never known him after the flesh, they knew him by the inner knowledge of spiritual communion, and, having learned to love him, had attained the blessing promised to those who had not seen, but yet had believed. St. Peter may possibly be thinking of his well-remembered interview with the risen Lord (John 21:15-17). He has here the word ἀγαπᾶν, expressive of reverential love, which Christ had used in his first two questions; not the word of warm human affection ( φιλεῖν) which he himself had employed in his three answers. In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. The words, "in whom" ( εἰς ὅν, literally, "on whom now not looking, but believing"), are to be taken with the participles "seeing" and "believing," not with "ye rejoice." St. Peter insists on the necessity and blessedness of faith as earnestly as St. Paul does, though with him the antithesis is rather between faith and sight than between faith and works. As a tact, St. Peter's readers had never seen the Lord; now, though not seeing him with the outward eye, they realized his presence by faith, and in that presence they rejoiced. The verb is that used in 1 Peter 1:6—they rejoiced greatly, they exulted, and that though they saw him not. Human love needs the seen presence of the beloved one to complete the fullness of its joy (2 John 1:12); but their joy was even amid afflictions unspeakable—like all our deepest and holiest feelings, not to be expressed in words; and it was glorified by the unseen presence of Christ. His chosen behold even now, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, and, beholding, are changed into the same image from glory to glory. Joy in the Lord is a foretaste of the joy of heaven, and is irradiated by glimpses of the glory that shall be revealed. Others, as Huther and Alford, again give to the verb ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, "ye rejoice," a quasi-future sense. The word for "unspeakable" ( ἀνεκλαλητός) is found only here.
1 Peter 1:9
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. The present participle "receiving" ( κομιζόμενοι) implies that the believer realizes the deep blessing of salvation gradually while he is being saved as one of οἱ σωζόμενοι (Acts 2:47). Salvation is present as well as future. "By grace ye are saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8); "According to his mercy he saved us" (Titus 3:5). God's elect receive it in various measures now; in its blessed fullness it will be manifested hereafter. It is the end which faith ever holds in view, pressing towards it as the prize of the high calling. It is the salvation especially of souls; for, as Bengel says," Anima praecipue salvatur; corpus in resurreetione participat."
1 Peter 1:10
Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently; rather, prophets inquired and searched. There is no article, and the verbs are aorist. St. Peter illustrates the glory and greatness of our salvation (mark how he loves to repeat the word) by showing that it was the subject of the searching study of prophets and of the contemplation of angels. St. Peter was a diligent student of the prophetic books, and constantly quotes them, both in his Epistles and in his speeches recorded in the Acts. Here he gives us a very remarkable glimpse into the conditions of the prophetic consciousness. The scheme of our salvation was in some way revealed to the prophets; the mode of the revelation, whether by vision or otherwise, is not made known to us. Every point of contact between the infinite and the finite is enveloped in mystery; we can only know the fact—there was such a revelation. That salvation was so magnificent a prospect that it concentrated upon itself the rapt attention and deepest interest of those to whom the promise was revealed. Prophets inquired and searched diligently. The revelation was real, but it was not complete, not distinct in its details. God revealed so much of the coming salvation as was sufficient to support his servants in their trials, and to quicken their faith in the Messiah. Prophets searched diligently, as miners seeking treasure; they prayed, and thought, and meditated, and exercised all their intellectual energies in the effort to comprehend the revelation which had been vouchsafed to them. Daniel was a remarkable example of this searching (Daniel 7:16; Daniel 9:2, Daniel 9:3). The revelation came to the prophet from God; the prophet received it, but could not comprehend it in all its depth and height—he searched diligently.
"Thoughts beyond their thoughts
To those high bards were given."
(Compare the song of Zacharias, Luke 1:68-79.) Who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you? He defines the prophets, of whom he speaks as those who prophesied of the favor of God manifested in the redemption of mankind through his blessed Son. "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). St. Paul loved to dwell on the grace of God; so did St. Peter.
1 Peter 1:11
Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify; or, as the Revised Version, did point unto. The Authorized Version neglects the preposition εἰς. The apostle says that the Spirit of Christ dwelt in the prophets. The words πνεῦμα ξριστοῦ cannot mean "the Spirit which bears witness of Christ," as Bengel and others. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ (see Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6). He is not only sent from the Father by the Son, but he proceedeth from the Father and the Son. This important statement involves also the pre-existence and the Divinity of Christ (comp. John 8:56, John 8:58; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Jude 1:5, in the best-supported reading). The prophets felt within them the working of the Spirit. They knew that the mysterious voice which filled their souls was his voice. Its utterances were not always clear; they were sometimes obscure and mystical, but the heart of the prophets was stirred to the utmost; they sought with earnest prayer and devout thought into the purposes of God announced in the revelation. Especially they asked, as the apostles asked the Lord on the Mount of Olives, "When shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming?" At what time would the Messiah be revealed?
What would be the distinctive character, the marks, the signs, of that time? "Prophetae ab ipso habentes donum in ilium prophetarunt". When it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow; rather, the sufferings for Christ (destined for Christ), and the glories after these. Compare St. Peter's speech (Acts 3:18), "Those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled." So St. Paul, in his speech before King Agrippa (Acts 26:22, Acts 26:23), asserts that he had said "none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead." The doctrine of a suffering Messiah was a stumbling-block to the Jews. The apostles could not understand it till after the Savior's resurrection; Peter himself had recoiled from it with horror, and had been rebuked by the Lord (Matthew 16:22, Matthew 16:23); now, taught by the Spirit, he understands the foreshadowings of the sufferings of Christ, which the Spirit of Christ had testified to the prophets. The Lord himself had expounded, on the day of his resurrection, the things concerning himself, beginning at Moses and all the prophets: "Ought not Christ," he said, "to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:26). Some think that St. Peter is referring mainly to the prophets of the New Testament, and that the words, "the sufferings of Christ," are to be understood mystically of Christ suffering in his Church, as "the afflictions of Christ" in Colossians 1:24. But the context does not require this explanation, and the parallel passages quoted above seem to preclude it.
1 Peter 1:12
Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things. It was revealed to them, whether in answer to their search as in the case of Daniel, or as part of the original revelation made to them, that the vision was for many days (Daniel 10:14). Compare St. Peter's quotations from the prophetic Scriptures in Acts 2:17, Acts 2:31; Acts 3:24. The best manuscripts read here, "unto you." The prophets, doubtless, like Abraham, rejoiced to see the day of Christ; they saw it by faith, and were glad (John 8:56); but they saw it in the far distance; they desired to see and hear what the apostles saw and heard, but the time was not yet (see Matthew 13:16, Matthew 13:17). They did minister the things; i.e. they were made the instruments of revealing them; they presented them to the devout for their spiritual food and support. Which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost lent down from heaven; rather, which were now reported to you through them that preached the gospel unto you (literally, evangelized you) by the Holy Ghost. St. Peter claims for those who evangelized Asia Minor (St. Paul and his companions) the same authority which was possessed by the ancient prophets; they preached as fulfilled the great truths which the prophets foretold as future. The Spirit of Christ was in the prophets; the same Spirit worked and preached through the apostles; nay, he dwelt in them in fuller measure, for he had been sent down from heaven on the great Day of Pentecost, and it was by his aid that the apostles and evangelists preached. Which things the angels desire to look into. The salvation which God's elect receive is so full of glory and mysterious beauty, that not only did the prophets of old search diligently, but even an gels (there is no article) desire to look into it. The verb παρακύψαι means "to stoop sideways;" it is used of persons standing outside a place who stoop in order to look in. "The παρά of the verb," says Huther, "indicates that the angels stand outside the work of redemption, inasmuch as it is not for them, but for man (cf. Hebrews 2:16)." The same verb occurs in James 1:25; John 20:5, John 20:11; Luke 24:12, in which last place it is used of Peter himself, when he stooped to look into the empty sepulcher on the morning of the Lord's resurrection. St. Paul has a similar thought in Ephesians 3:10, "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God." The attitude of the golden cherubim, whose wings covered the mercy-seat and whose faces were toward it (Exodus 25:20), seems to imply the same rapt, reverent attention.
1 Peter 1:13
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind. St. Peter sums up in the word "wherefore" all the blessings, privileges, and hopes which he has enumerated; on these he founds his exhortations. Gird up. The word ἀναζωσάμενοι (literally, "girding up, tucking up long garments by the help of a girdle") occurs in no other place of the New Testament. But the same metaphor, expressed in similar words, is common. St. Peter alludes, doubtless, to the Lord's exhortation, "Let your loins be girded about;" perhaps also the solemn words of John 21:18, "signifying by what death he should glorify God," were present to his thoughts. The loins of your mind. St. Peter often explains a metaphor by adding a genitive or. adjective; so "milk of the Word; ... hidden man of the heart;" amaranthine wreath of glory." διάνοια, translated "mind," is the reflective faculty. The Christian must reflect, and that with intense exertion of thought, on the glory of his hopes, on the greatness of his responsibilities; he must seek to love God with all his mind ( ὅλῃ τῇ διανοίᾳ), as well as with all his heart and soul. Be sober. The Christian must be sober in his use of the gifts of God; he must be sober also in his habits of thought; he should preserve a calm, collected temper. Christian enthusiasm should be thoughtful, not excited and disorderly. And hope to the end; rather, perfectly, with a full, unwavering, constant hope. It is better to take the adverb τελείως with the verb "hope" than with νήφοντες, "be perfectly sober." For the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. The Christian's hope must be directed to, set towards ( ἐπί with accusative), the continual growth in grace ("He giveth more grace," James 4:6). That grace is being brought now, being borne in upon the soul in the present revelation of Jesus Christ. "It pleased God," says St. Paul (Galatians 1:16), "to reveal his Son in me." So now the Lord manifests himself to those who walk in the path of loving obedience. Each gift of grace kindles the hope of a nearer manifestation, a fuller revelation; grace is continually brought, till at length the full unspeakable gift of grace is realized at the glorious revelation of Jesus Christ at his second advent. This seems better than to give the present participle φερομένην a future sense, and to understand the revelation of Jesus Christ only of his final coming in glory.
1 Peter 1:14
As obedient children; rather, children of obedience (comp. Ephesians 2:2, Ephesians 2:3; Ephesians 5:8; also 2 Peter 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Luke 16:8). Winer says ('Grammar,' 3. 34.; 'Romans,' 2), "This mode of expression is to be traced to the more lively imagination of the Orientals, by which the most intimate connection (derivation from and dependence on)—even when the reference is to what is not material—is viewed under the image of the relation of son or child to parent. Hence ' children of disobedience' are those who belong to disobedience as a child to his mother—disobedience having become their nature, their predominant disposition." Not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance. The remarkable word συσχηματιζόμενοι seems to be an echo of Born. 12:2, the only other place where it occurs. It implies that men who live in sensual lusts take up the likeness of those lusts into themselves, and are made, not as man was at first, after the likeness of God, but after the likeness of those lusts of the flesh which are not of the Father, but are of the world. The word "ignorance" is to be taken closely with "lusts"—"the former lusts which were in the time of your ignorance." It seems to imply that St. Peter is addressing Gentiles as well as Jews; top, though ignorance is attributed to the Jews (Acts 3:17; Romans 10:3; 1 Timothy 1:13), it was ignorance, not of the moral law, as here, but of the Person and office of Christ. The Jews had the oracles of God; they knew his will (Romans 2:17; Romans 3:2; comp. also Ephesians 4:18 and Acts 17:30).
1 Peter 1:15
But as he which hath called you is holy; rather, after the pattern of the Holy One who called you. The calling is the fulfillment of the election:, "Whom he did predestinate, them he also called." The Christian's effort must be to fashion himself, by God's grace, after the likeness of God. not according to the former lusts (comp. Matthew 5:45, Matthew 5:48; also Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24). So be ye holy in all manner of conversation. In the whole course of your daily life, in all its details, as you move hither and thither among men, take the holiness of God for your pattern: "Be not conformed to this world." (For the word "conversation" ( ἀναστροφή), comp. Galatians 1:13; Ephesians 4:22; 1 Timothy 4:12; Hebrews 13:7.)
1 Peter 1:16
Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy; literally, according to the best manuscripts, ye shall be holy—future for imperative. The words occur five times in the Book of Leviticus. God had called the Israelites to be his peculiar people, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5, Exodus 19:6). He has called us Christians to be "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people" (1 Peter 2:9). He is holy, awful in holiness; in his sight "the heavens are not clean." We who are his must strive to be holy, separated from all that is impure, consecrated to his service.
1 Peter 1:17
And if ye call on the Father. "If" does not imply doubt; it introduces an hypothesis which, being taken for granted, involves a duty. Apparently there is here a reference to the Lord's Prayer, as in 2 Timothy 4:18. You call on God as your Father; then pass your time in fear (comp. Ma 2 Timothy 1:6, "If I be a Father, where is mine honor?"). He called you first; now ye call on him. The translation of the Revised Version is more exact than the Authorized Version, "If ye call on him as Father." Who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work. The adverb ἀπροσωπολήπτως, rendered "without respect of persons," occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; but the thought is familiar. St. Peter himself had said, when he was sent to receive Cornelius into the Church, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34). The disciples of the Pharisees had said the same of our Lord (Matthew 22:16; comp. also Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6; James 2:1-4). The Lord said (John 5:22), "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son." But the Father is "Fens judicii," as Didymus says (quoted by Alford), "judicante Filio, Pater est qu;. judicat," for the Son judges as his Delegate; as it was through the Son that the Father made the worlds. He judges according to every man's work, regarding, not distinctions of rank, or wealth, or nationality, but only the character of the work. Observe that the word "work" ( ἔργον) is in the singular number, as πρᾶξιν in Matthew 16:27. God judges according to every man's work as a whole, according to the whole scope and meaning of his life as issuing from the one governing principle, whether faith or selfishness. So Bengel, "Unius hominis unum est opus, bouum malumve." Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear. The verb here, ἀναστράφητε, corresponds with the noun ἀναστροφή ("conversation") of Matthew 16:15; both might be rendered (as Dean Plumptre suggests) by "conduct" (noun or verb)—"in all your conduct" in Matthew 16:15; and here, "conduct yourselves." The word "sojourning" reminds us of Matthew 16:1 of this chapter and of 1 Peter 2:11, in which last place we have the corresponding Greek word. We are sojourners here, life is short; but the character of that short life determines our eternal condition; therefore live in fear. St. John says, "Perfect love casteth out fear;" but there is no contradiction, as some have said, between the two holy apostles; for the fear which cannot coexist with perfect love is slavish fear, selfish fear of death and punishment. The fear which St. Peter and St. Paul (Philippians 2:12) commend is holy fear—the fear of a son for a loving father, the fear of displeasing God before whom we walk, God who gave his blessed Son to die for us, God who will judge us at the last. This fear is not cowardice. Our Lord said (Luke 12:4), "Be not afraid of them that kill the body.… Fear him," etc. They who fear God need fear nothing else but God.
1 Peter 1:18
Forasmuch as ye know; literally, knowing, considering. That ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold. The order in the original gives mere emphasis: "That not with corruptible things, silver and gold, were ye redeemed." Afford notes here that the diminutives ( ἀργυρίῳ ἤ χρυσίῳ) stand generally (not always) for the coined or wrought metal. The word ἐλυτρώθητε, "ye were ransomed," seems to point back to the great saying of our Lord, "The Son of man came… to give his life a ransom for many ( λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν)". Doubtless no human language can adequately express the mystery of the atonement. That stupendous fact transcends human reason, and cannot be exactly defined in human words. But the Lord himself describes it as a ransom" a ransom for many," given in their stead. Reverence keeps us from pressing the illustration in all its details. It may be that the correspondence between the atonement and the redemption of a slave from an earthly master is not exact in all points. But the illustration comes from the Lord himself, who is the Truth; it must be true as far as human language permits, as far as human reason can comprehend. It teaches, as plainly as words can express, the doctrine of vicarious satisfaction: he gave his life, not only in behalf of us, but also instead of us—a ransom for our sins. Compare the use of the word ἀγοράζειν (1 Corinthians 6:20), "Ye are bought with a price;" and (2 Peter 2:1), "The Lord that bought them;" also ἐξαγοράζειν (Galatians 3:13), "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law." From your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; literally, out of your vain manner of life or conduct. The word here rendered '" vain ' is used of idolatry in Acts 14:15, and also the corresponding verb in Romans