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THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER - Chapter 1 - Verse 2

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

III.—-THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER.

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

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

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

PAUL PETER

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

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

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

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

1 Th 5:6. Let us watch and 1 Pe 5:8. Be sober: be vigi- be sober. lant. [in the Greek the same

words, though the order is re-

versed.]

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

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

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

Ro 13:1,3,4.

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

See also the following passages:

 

Ro 12:6,7. 1 Pe 4:10.

1 Ti 2:9. 1 Pe 3:3.

1 Ti 5:5. 1 Pe 3:5.

 

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

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

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

THE FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF PETER.

CHAPTER I.

ANALYSIS OF THE CHAPTER.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Cappadocia. See Barnes "Ac 2:9".

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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