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2. Be Holy

Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

11Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

13Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 18Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

2. The sincere milk of the word This passage is commonly explained according to the rendering of Erasmus, “Milk not for the body but for the soul;” as though the Apostle reminded us by this expression that he spoke metaphorically. I rather think that this passage agrees with that saying of Paul,

“Be ye not children in understanding, but in malice.”
(1 Corinthians 14:20.)

That no one might think that infancy, void of understanding and full of fatuity, was commended by him, he in due time meets this objection; so he bids them to desire milk free from guile, and yet mixed with right understanding. We now see for what purpose he joins these two words, rational and guileless, (λογικὸν καὶ ἄδολος.) For simplicity and quickness of understanding are two things apparently opposite; but they ought to be mixed together, lest simplicity should become insipid, and lest malicious craftiness should creep in for want of understanding. This mingling, well regulated, is according, to what Christ says,

“Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
(Matthew 10:16.)

And thus is solved the question which might have been otherwise raised. 1919     Our version here seems to convey the most suitable meaning, by taking λογικὸν for τοῦ λόγου; see similar instances in ver. 13 and 1 Peter 3:7. It is the wordy milk, or milk made up of the word; the word is the milk. Then ἄδολον is to be taken in its secondary meaning: when applied to persons, it means undeceitful, or guileless; but when to things, genuine, pure, unadulterated, unmixed with anything deleterious. We may, therefore, render the words, “Desire the pure milk of the word.” It is a milk not adulterated by water or by anything poisonous. There is no contrast here between milk and strong food; but it includes all that is necessary as an aliment for the soul, when renewed. The Word had before been represented as the instrument of the new birth; it is now spoken of as the food and aliment of the new-born. — Ed.

Paul reproves the Corinthians because they were like children, and therefore they could not take strong food, but were fed with milk. (1 Corinthians 3:1.) Almost the same words are found in Hebrews 5:12. But in these passages those are compared to children who remain always novices and ignorant scholars in the doctrine of religion, who continued in the first elements, and never penetrated into the higher knowledge of God. Milk is called the simpler mode of teaching, and one suitable to children, when there is no progress made beyond the first rudiments. Justly, then, does Paul charge this as a fault, as well as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. But milk, here, is not elementary doctrine, which one perpetually learns; and never comes to the knowledge of the truth, but a mode of living which has the savor of the new birth, when we surrender ourselves to be brought up by God. In the same manner infancy is not set in opposition to manhood, or full age in Christ, as Paul calls it in Ephesians 4:13, but to the ancientness of the flesh and of former life. Moreover, as the infancy of the new life is perpetual, so Peter recommends milk as a perpetual aliment, for he would have those nourished by it to grow.


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