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1 Peter 3:10-15

10. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:

10. Qui enim vult vitam diligere, et videre dies bonos, contineat linguam suam à malo, et labia sua, ne loquantur dolum;

11. Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.

11. Declinet à malo et faciat bonum, quaerat pacem et persequatur eam:

12. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open, unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

12. Quoniam oculi Domini super justos, et aures ejus in preces eorum; vultus autem Domini super facientes mala.

13. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

13. Et quis est qui vobis malè faciat, si boni aemuli sitis?

14. But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

14. Verum etiam si patiamini propter justitiam, beati; timorem vero eorum ne timeatis neque turbemini;

15. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts:

15. Sed Dominum exercituum sanctificate in cordibus vestris.

 

10 For he He confirms the last sentence by the testimony of David. The passage is taken from the thirty-fourth Psalm, [Psalm 34:12-16,] where the Spirit testifies that it will be well with all who keep themselves from all evil-doing and wrong-doing. The common feeling indeed favors what is very different; for men think that they expose themselves to the insolence of enemies, if they do not boldly defend themselves. But the Spirit of God promises a happy life to none except to the meek, and those who endure evils; and we cannot be happy except God prospers our ways; and it is the good and the benevolent, and not the cruel and inhuman, that he will favor.

Peter has followed the Greek version, though the difference is but little. David’s words are literally these, — “He who loves life and desires to see good days,” etc. It is indeed a desirable thing, since God has placed us in this world, to pass our time in peace. Then, the way of obtaining this blessing is to conduct ourselves justly and harmlessly towards all.

The first thing he points out are the vices of the tongue; which are to be avoided, so that we may not be contumelious and insolent, nor speak deceitfully and with duplicity. Then he comes to deeds, that we are to injure none, or cause loss to none, but to endeavor to be kind to all, and to exercise the duties of humanity.

11 Let him seek peace It is not enough to embrace it when offered to us, but it ought to be followed when it seems to flee from us. It also often happens, that when we seek it as much as we can, others will not grant it to us. On account of these difficulties and hindrances, he bids us to seek and pursue it.

12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, or, on the righteous. It ought to be a consolation to us, sufficient to mitigate all evils, that we are looked upon by the Lord, so that he will bring us help in due time. The meaning then is, that the prosperity which he has mentioned depends on the protection of God; for were not the Lord to care for his people, they would be like sheep exposed to wolves. And that we for little reason raise a clamor, that we suddenly kindle unto wrath, that we burn with the passion of revenge, all this, doubtless, happens, because we do not consider that God cares for us, and because we do not acquiesce in his aid. Thus in vain we shall be taught patience, except our minds are first imbued with this truth, that God exercises such care over us, that he will in due time succor us. When, on the contrary, we are fully persuaded that God defends the cause of the righteous, we shall first attend simply to innocence, and then, when molested and hated by the ungodly, we shall flee to the protection of God. And when he says, that the ears of the Lord are open to our prayers, he encourages us to pray.

But the face of the Lord By this clause he intimates that the Lord will be our avenger, because he will not always suffer the insolence of the ungodly to prevail; and at the same time he shews how it will be, if we seek to defend our life from injuries, even that God will be an adversary to us. But it may, on the other hand, be objected and said, that we experience it daily far otherwise, for the more righteous any one is, and the greater lover of peace he is, the more he is harassed by the wicked. To this I reply, that no one is so attentive to righteousness and peace, but that he sometimes sins in this respect. But it ought to be especially observed, that the promises as to this life do not extend further than as to what is expedient for us to be fulfilled. Hence, our peace with the world is often disturbed, that our flesh may be subdued, in order that we may serve God, and also for other reasons; so that nothing may be a loss to us.

13 Who is he that will harm you He further confirms the previous sentence by an argument drawn from common experience. For it happens for the most part, that the ungodly disturb us, or are provoked by us, or that we do not labor to do them good as it behoves us; for they who seek to do good, do even soften minds which are otherwise hard as iron. This very thing is mentioned by Plato in his first book on the Republic, “Injustice,” he says, “causes seditions and hatreds and fightings one with another; but justice, concord and friendship.” 4141     Στάσεις γάρ που ἥγε ἀδικία καὶ μίσεα καὶ μάχας ἐν ἀλλήλοις παρέχει, ἡδὲ δικαιοσύνη ὁμόνοιαν καὶ φιλίαν. — Rep. lib. 1. However, though this commonly happens, yet it is not always the case; for the children of God, how much soever they may strive to pacify the ungodly by kindness, and shew themselves kind towards all, are yet often assailed undeservedly by many.

14. Hence Peter adds, But if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake The meaning is, that the faithful will do more towards obtaining a quiet life by kindness, than by violence and promptitude in taking revenge; but that when they neglect nothing to secure peace, were they to suffer, they are still blessed, because they suffer for the sake of righteousness. Indeed, this latter clause differs much from the judgment of our flesh; but Christ has not without reason thus declared; nor has Peter without reason repeated the sentence from his mouth; for God will at length come as a deliverer, and then openly will appear what now seems incredible, that is, that the miseries of the godly have been blessed when endured with patience.

To suffer for righteousness, means not only to submit to some loss or disadvantage in defending a good cause, but also to suffer unjustly, when any one is innocently in fear among men on account of the fear of God.

Be not afraid of their terror He again points out the fountain and cause of impatience, that we are beyond due measure troubled, when the ungodly rise up against us. For such a dread either disheartens us, or degrades us, or kindles within us a desire for revenge. In the meantime, we do not acquiesce in the defense of God. Then the best remedy for checking the turbulent emotions of our minds will be, to conquer immoderate terrors by trusting in the aid of God.

But Peter no doubt meant to allude to a passage in the eighth chapter of Isaiah; [Isaiah 8:12-17;] for when the Jews against the prohibition of God sought to fortify themselves by the aid of the Gentile world, God warned his Prophet not to fear after their example. Peter at the same time seems to have turned “fear” into a different meaning; for it is taken passively by the Prophet, who accused the people of unbelief, because, at a time when they ought to have relied on the aid of God and to have boldly despised all dangers, they became so prostrate and broken down with fear, that they sent to all around them for unlawful help. But Peter takes fear in another sense, as meaning that terror which the ungodly are wont to fill us with by their violence and cruel threatenings. He then departs from the sense in which the word is taken by the Prophet; but in this there is nothing unreasonable; for his object was not to explain the words of the Prophet; he wished only to shew that, nothing is fitter to produce patience than what Isaiah prescribes, even to ascribe to God his honor by recumbing in full confidence on his power.

I do not, however, object, if any one prefers to render Peter’s words thus, Fear ye not their fear; as though he had said, “Be ye not afraid as the unbelieving, or the children of this world are wont to be, because they understand nothing of God’s providence.” But this, as I think, would be a forced explanation. There is, indeed, no need for us to toil much on this point, since Peter here did not intend to explain every word used by the Prophet, but only referred to this one thing, that the faithful will firmly stand, and can never be moved from a right course of duty by any dread or fear, if they will sanctify the Lord.

But this sanctification ought to be confined to the present case. For whence is it that we are overwhelmed with fear, and think ourselves lost, when danger is impending, except that we ascribe to mortal man more power to injure us than to God to save us? God promises that he will be the guardian of our salvation; the ungodly, on the other hand, attempt to subvert it. Unless God’s promise sustain us, do we not deal unjustly with him, and in a manner profane him? Then the Prophet teaches us that we ought to think honourably of the Lord of hosts; for how much soever the ungodly may contrive to destroy us, and whatever power they may possess, he alone is more than sufficiently powerful to secure our safety. 4242    ”Sanctify” here, seems to have the same meaning as in our Lord’s prayer, “Hallowed,” or sanctified “be thy name;” where it means honored or glorified. And to honor or glorify God in our hearts is what Calvin very correctly explains. — Ed. Peter then adds, in your hearts. For if this conviction takes full possession of our minds, that the help promised by the Lord is sufficient for us, we shall be well fortified to repel all the fears of unbelief.


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