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17 If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. 18You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. 21Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God.

22 Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. 23You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God. 24For

“All flesh is like grass

and all its glory like the flower of grass.

The grass withers,

and the flower falls,

25

but the word of the Lord endures forever.”

That word is the good news that was announced to you.


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17. if ye call on—that is, "seeing that ye call on," for all the regenerate pray as children of God, "Our Father who art in heaven" (Mt 6:9; Lu 11:2).

the Father—rather, "Call upon as Father Him who without acceptance of persons (Ac 10:34; Ro 2:11; Jas 2:1, not accepting the Jew above the Gentile, 2Ch 19:7; Lu 20:21; properly said of a judge not biassed in judgment by respect of persons) judgeth," &c. The Father judgeth by His Son, His Representative, exercising His delegated authority (Joh 5:22). This marks the harmonious and complete unity of the Trinity.

work—Each man's work is one complete whole, whether good or bad. The particular works of each are manifestations of the general character of his lifework, whether it was of faith and love whereby alone we can please God and escape condemnation.

passGreek, "conduct yourselves during."

sojourning—The outward state of the Jews in their dispersion is an emblem of the sojourner-like state of all believers in this world, away from our true Fatherland.

fear—reverential, not slavish. He who is your Father, is also your Judge—a thought which may well inspire reverential fear. Theophylact observes, A double fear is mentioned in Scripture: (1) elementary, causing one to become serious; (2) perfective: the latter is here the motive by which Peter urges them as sons of God to be obedient. Fear is not here opposed to assurance, but to carnal security: fear producing vigilant caution lest we offend God and backslide. "Fear and hope flow from the same fountain: fear prevents us from falling away from hope" [Bengel]. Though love has no fear IN it, yet in our present state of imperfect love, it needs to have fear going ALONG WITH It as a subordinate principle. This fear drowns all other fears. The believer fears God, and so has none else to fear. Not to fear God is the greatest baseness and folly. The martyrs' more than mere human courage flowed from this.

18. Another motive to reverential, vigilant fear (1Pe 1:17) of displeasing God, the consideration of the costly price of our redemption from sin. Observe, it is we who are bought by the blood of Christ, not heaven. The blood of Christ is not in Scripture said to buy heaven for us: heaven is the "inheritance" (1Pe 1:4) given to us as sons, by the promise of God.

corruptible—Compare 1Pe 1:7, "gold that perisheth," 1Pe 1:23.

silver and goldGreek, "or." Compare Peter's own words, Ac 3:6: an undesigned coincidence.

redeemed—Gold and silver being liable to corruption themselves, can free no one from spiritual and bodily death; they are therefore of too little value. Contrast 1Pe 1:19, Christ's "precious blood." The Israelites were ransomed with half a shekel each, which went towards purchasing the lamb for the daily sacrifice (Ex 30:12-16; compare Nu 3:44-51). But the Lamb who redeems the spiritual Israelites does so "without money or price." Devoted by sin to the justice of God, the Church of the first-born is redeemed from sin and the curse with Christ's precious blood (Mt 20:28; 1Ti 2:6; Tit 2:14; Re 5:9). In all these passages there is the idea of substitution, the giving of one for another by way of a ransom or equivalent. Man is "sold under sin" as a slave; shut up under condemnation and the curse. The ransom was, therefore, paid to the righteously incensed Judge, and was accepted as a vicarious satisfaction for our sin by God, inasmuch as it was His own love as well as righteousness which appointed it. An Israelite sold as a bond-servant for debt might be redeemed by one of his brethren. As, therefore, we could not redeem ourselves, Christ assumed our nature in order to become our nearest of kin and brother, and so our God or Redeemer. Holiness is the natural fruit of redemption "from our vain conversation"; for He by whom we are redeemed is also He for whom we are redeemed. "Without the righteous abolition of the curse, either there could be found no deliverance, or, what is impossible, the grace and righteousness of God must have come in collision" [Steiger]; but now, Christ having borne the curse of our sin, frees from it those who are made God's children by His Spirit.

vain—self-deceiving, unreal, and unprofitable: promising good which it does not perform. Compare as to the Gentiles, Ac 14:15; Ro 1:21; Eph 4:17; as to human philosophers, 1Co 3:20; as to the disobedient Jews, Jer 4:14.

conversation—course of life. To know what our sin is we must know what it cost.

received by tradition from your fathers—The Jews' traditions. "Human piety is a vain blasphemy, and the greatest sin that a man can commit" [Luther]. There is only one Father to be imitated, 1Pe 1:17; compare Mt 23:9, the same antithesis [Bengel].

19. precious—of inestimable value. The Greek order is, "With precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish (in itself) and without spot (contracted by contact with others), (even the blood) of Christ." Though very man, He remained pure in Himself ("without blemish"), and uninfected by any impression of sin from without ("without spot"), which would have unfitted Him for being our atoning Redeemer: so the passover lamb, and every sacrificial victim; so too, the Church, the Bride, by her union with Him. As Israel's redemption from Egypt required the blood of the paschal lamb, so our redemption from sin and the curse required the blood of Christ; "foreordained" (1Pe 1:20) from eternity, as the passover lamb was taken up on the tenth day of the month.

20. God's eternal foreordination of Christ's redeeming sacrifice, and completion of it in these last times for us, are an additional obligation on us to our maintaining a holy walk, considering how great things have been thus done for us. Peter's language in the history corresponds with this here: an undesigned coincidence and mark of genuineness. Redemption was no afterthought, or remedy of an unforeseen evil, devised at the time of its arising. God's foreordaining of the Redeemer refutes the slander that, on the Christian theory, there is a period of four thousand years of nothing but an incensed God. God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4).

manifest—in His incarnation in the fulness of the time. He existed from eternity before He was manifested.

in these last times1Co 10:11, "the ends of the world." This last dispensation, made up of "times" marked by great changes, but still retaining a general unity, stretches from Christ's ascension to His coming to judgment.

21. by him—Compare "the faith which is by Him," Ac 3:16. Through Christ: His Spirit, obtained for us in His resurrection and ascension, enabling us to believe. This verse excludes all who do not "by Him believe in God," and includes all of every age and clime that do. Literally, "are believers in God." "To believe IN (Greek, 'eis') God" expresses an internal trust: "by believing to love God, going INTO Him, and cleaving to Him, incorporated into His members. By this faith the ungodly is justified, so that thenceforth faith itself begins to work by love" [P. Lombard]. To believe ON (Greek, "epi," or dative case) God expresses the confidence, which grounds itself on God, reposing on Him. "Faith IN (Greek, 'en') His blood" (Ro 3:25) implies that His blood is the element IN which faith has its proper and abiding place. Compare with this verse, Ac 20:21, "Repentance toward (Greek, 'eis,' 'into,' turning towards and going into) God and faith toward (Greek, 'eis,' 'into') Christ": where, as there is but one article to both repentance and faith, the two are inseparably joined as together forming one truth; where "repentance" is, there "faith" is; when one knows God the Father spiritually, then he must know the Son by whom alone we can come to the Father. In Christ we have life: if we have not the doctrine of Christ, we have not God. The only living way to God is through Christ and His sacrifice.

that raised him—The raising of Jesus by God is the special ground of our "believing": (1) because by it God declared openly His acceptance of Him as our righteous substitute; (2) because by it and His glorification He received power, namely, the Holy Spirit, to impart to His elect "faith": the same power enabling us to believe as raised Him from the dead. Our faith must not only be IN Christ, but BY and THROUGH Christ. "Since in Christ's resurrection and consequent dominion our safety is grounded, there 'faith' and 'hope' find their stay" [Calvin].

that your faith and hope might be in God—the object and effect of God's raising Christ. He states what was the actual result and fact, not an exhortation, except indirectly. Your faith flows from His resurrection; your hope from God's having "given Him glory" (compare 1Pe 1:11, "glories"). Remember God's having raised and glorified Jesus as the anchor of your faith and hope in God, and so keep alive these graces. Apart from Christ we could have only feared, not believed and hoped in God. Compare 1Pe 1:3, 7-9, 13, on hope in connection with faith; love is introduced in 1Pe 1:22.

22. purified … in obeying the truthGreek, "in your (or 'the') obedience of (that is, 'to') the truth (the Gospel way of salvation)," that is, in the fact of your believing. Faith purifies the heart as giving it the only pure motive, love to God (Ac 15:9; Ro 1:5, "obedience to the faith").

through the Spirit—omitted in the oldest manuscripts. The Holy Spirit is the purifier by bestowing the obedience of faith (1Pe 1:2; 1Co 12:3).

unto—with a view to: the proper result of the purifying of your hearts by faith. "For what end must we lead a chaste life? That we may thereby be saved? No: but for this, that we may serve our neighbor" [Luther].

unfeigned1Pe 2:1, 2, "laying aside … hypocrisies … sincere."

love of the brethren—that is, of Christians. Brotherly love is distinct from common love. "The Christian loves primarily those in Christ; secondarily, all who might be in Christ, namely, all men, as Christ as man died for all, and as he hopes that they, too, may become his Christian brethren" [Steiger]. Bengel remarks that as here, so in 2Pe 1:5-7, "brotherly love" is preceded by the purifying graces, "faith, knowledge, and godliness," &c. Love to the brethren is the evidence of our regeneration and justification by faith.

love one another—When the purifying by faith into love of the brethren has formed the habit, then the act follows, so that the "love" is at once habit and act.

with a pure heart—The oldest manuscripts read, "(love) from the heart."

ferventlyGreek, "intensely": with all the powers on the stretch (1Pe 4:8). "Instantly" (Ac 26:7).

23. Christian brotherhood flows from our new birth of an imperishable seed, the abiding word of God. This is the consideration urged here to lead us to exercise brotherly love. As natural relationship gives rise to natural affection, so spiritual relationship gives rise to spiritual, and therefore abiding love, even as the seed from which it springs is abiding, not transitory as earthly things.

of … of … by—"The word of God" is not the material of the spiritual new birth, but its mean or medium. By means of the word the man receives the incorruptible seed of the Holy Spirit, and so becomes one "born again": Joh 3:3-5, "born of water and the Spirit": as there is but one Greek article to the two nouns, the close connection of the sign and the grace, or new birth signified is implied. The word is the remote and anterior instrument; baptism, the proximate and sacramental instrument. The word is the instrument in relation to the individual; baptism, in relation to the Church as a society (Jas 1:18). We are born again of the Spirit, yet not without the use of means, but by the word of God. The word is not the beggeting principle itself, but only that by which it works: the vehicle of the mysterious germinating power [Alford].

which liveth and abideth for ever—It is because the Spirit of God accompanies it that the word carries in it the germ of life. They who are so born again live and abide for ever, in contrast to those who sow to the flesh. "The Gospel bears incorruptible fruits, not dead works, because it is itself incorruptible" [Bengel]. The word is an eternal divine power. For though the voice or speech vanishes, there still remains the kernel, the truth comprehended in the voice. This sinks into the heart and is living; yea, it is God Himself. So God to Moses, Ex 4:12, "I will be with thy mouth" [Luther]. The life is in God, yet it is communicated to us through the word. "The Gospel shall never cease, though its ministry shall" [Calovius]. The abiding resurrection glory is always connected with our regeneration by the Spirit. Regeneration beginning with renewing man's soul at the resurrection, passes on to the body, then to the whole world of nature.

24. Scripture proof that the word of God lives for ever, in contrast to man's natural frailty. If ye were born again of flesh, corruptible seed, ye must also perish again as the grass; but now that from which you have derived life remains eternally, and so also will render you eternal.

flesh—man in his mere earthly nature.

as—omitted in some of the oldest manuscripts.

of man—The oldest manuscripts read, "of it" (that is, of the flesh). "The glory" is the wisdom, strength, riches, learning, honor, beauty, art, virtue, and righteousness of the NATURAL man (expressed by "flesh"), which all are transitory (Joh 3:6), not OF MAN (as English Version reads) absolutely, for the glory of man, in his true ideal realized in the believer, is eternal.

witherethGreek, aorist: literally, "withered," that is, is withered as a thing of the past. So also the Greek for "falleth" is "fell away," that is, is fallen away: it no sooner is than it is gone.

thereof—omitted in the best manuscripts and versions. "The grass" is the flesh: "the flower" its glory.

25. (Ps 119:89.)

this is the word … preached unto you—That is eternal which is born of incorruptible seed (1Pe 1:24): but ye have received the incorruptible seed, the word (1Pe 1:25); therefore ye are born for eternity, and so are bound now to live for eternity (1Pe 1:22, 23). Ye have not far to look for the word; it is among you, even the joyful Gospel message which we preach. Doubt not that the Gospel preached to you by our brother Paul, and which ye have embraced, is the eternal truth. Thus the oneness of Paul's and Peter's creed appears. See my Introduction, showing Peter addresses some of the same churches as Paul labored among and wrote to.




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