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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

1 Peter 1



Verse 1

1. Πέτρος. His old name Simon is only used in narrative passages before his call as an Apostle, but our Lord afterwards addressed him as Simon, Simon Bar Jona, or Simon son of John, and St James in his speech at the Apostolic Conference, Acts 15:14, speaks of him as Συμεών. In St John’s Gospel he is called Simon Peter 17 times and Peter 15 times, but in the other Gospels and in Acts Peter, the Greek form of the name given to him by our Lord, seems to have been his regular title. In 2 Pet. however the salutation is given in the name Συμεὼν Πέτρος. The Aramaic form Κηφᾶς, which occurs in 1 Cor. and Gal., may possibly be employed by St Paul because it was used by the Judaizing party against whom he was writing.

ἀπόστολος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ occurs in seven of St Paul’s Epistles as an assertion of his authority in writing. So here St Peter states his authority for addressing churches with which he had little, if any, personal connexion.

The full name Jesus Christ is extremely rare in the Gospels and only occurs in the opening verses of Matt. and Mk, twice in John 1:17; John 17:3, and in the best text of Matthew 16:21, just after St Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, when our Lord began a new stage in His teaching and as the Christ announced His Passion. In the Acts and Epistles Jesus Christ becomes a regular proper name, while Christ Jesus is a kind of confession of faith.

ἐκλεκτοῖς παρεπιδήμοις διασπορᾶς. The word διασπορά occurs first in the LXX. of Deuteronomy 28:25 describing the scattering of Israel if they are disobedient to God, and it is occasionally used in the later books of the O.T. In the N.T. it only occurs twice elsewhere, John 7:35, “Will he go unto the Dispersion among the Greeks?” James 1:1, “To the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion.” In both these passages the word is generally supposed to refer to the Jewish Dispersion (but see Introduction, p. liii f.). So here some commentators would interpret the phrase literally and regard St Peter as addressing Jewish Christians only. But many passages in the Epistle (see Introduction) imply that the majority of the readers had been heathen, though in many towns it is morally certain that the nucleus of the Christian congregation would be derived from the Jewish congregation, as we find in St Paul’s missionary work. St Peter however does not merely mean scattered strangers, but uses the word διασπορά deliberately. Salmon suggests that it means “members of the Roman Church whom Nero’s persecution had dispersed to seek safety in the provinces.” Ramsay, who dates the Epistle as late as 80 A.D., finds a reference to the Fall of Jerusalem which left the Church a “dispersed” body with no recognized centre. More probably the word is used metaphorically, not merely in the sense that Christians are a scattered body of sojourners in the world, but one of the titles of the old Israel is transferred to the Church, the new Israel of God. Just as the Jewish Dispersion served to spread the knowledge of Jehovah more widely, so the Christian Church scattered far and wide is the new “Dispersion” and has a similar work to do for God in the heathen world around. So elsewhere in the Epistle St Peter constantly applies to the Christian Church titles which originally belonged to the Jewish nation.

ἐκλεκτοῖς. In the O.T. divine “Election” is spoken of (a) in the choice of Israel as a nation, (b) in the choice of individual Israelites to perform special functions for Israel, e.g. Abraham, Moses, Saul, David, Solomon, Zerubbabel, the tribe of Judah, or for priestly work, Aaron and the Levites. In each case the choosing by God was not a reward. It was not an act of favouritism on God’s part. Those chosen were selected not for their own sake or to the exclusion or “reprobation” of others, but to do some special work for God, and if they were untrue to their mission they would forfeit their position. Here St Peter probably means that the Church is the new Israel of God, “a chosen people.” As a corporate body the Church is chosen “to tell forth God’s excellencies” and to complete the work of Christ her Head, but every member of that body has his own work to do and was chosen by God for that work. To have been thus chosen by God is not a guarantee of final salvation unless those chosen are faithful to their position. But to be one of “the elect people of God” is a “state of salvation,” to which we are brought by God and not by chance, and we must pray for “grace to continue in the same unto our life’s end.”

παρεπιδήμοις, cf. 1 Peter 2:11. In one sense St Peter’s readers were sojourners because they lived among heathen. In another sense all Christians are in this world merely sojourners whose home is in heaven.

Pontus, etc. It is generally admitted that the names are used in their imperial sense as denoting Roman provinces and not in the popular or geographical sense. The order in which the various provinces are mentioned affords no clue to the place of writing. On the one hand Pontus is in the E. and therefore nearly the last in geographical order from Rome, but on the other hand it is in the N. and therefore not the first in geographical order from Babylon. Again, Pontus and Bithynia formed one Roman province, therefore there must be some reason for their being named separately first and last in the list. Probably the provinces are named in the order in which Silvanus was expected to visit them, landing perhaps at Sinope in Pontus and making a circuit round to the coast of the Euxine again somewhere in Bithynia.

The provinces named include all Asia Minor north of the Taurus Mountains, which were a natural frontier shutting off the provinces of the south coast.

Pontus. The old kingdom of Pontus was conquered by Rome in 65 B.C., when Pompey defeated Mithridates and the maritime district of the Euxine W. of the Halys was joined to the recently formed province of Bithynia, a further strip of coast to the E. being added about 100 years later. The rest of the districts remained independent for a time but were afterwards incorporated in the Roman province of Galatia, and early in the 2nd century were transferred to Cappadocia. The chief towns of Provincial Pontus along the coast from W. to E. were Heraclea, Amastris, Sinope and Amisos. All of these were thriving seaports with extensive commerce, the most important being Sinope, which was a Roman colony. In such centres of trade there were certain to be numerous Jewish settlers. In Acts 2:9 we read that Jews from Pontus were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and it is conceivable that the first knowledge of Christianity may have been introduced into Pontus by them. Again Aquila, who had married a Roman wife, Prisca or Priscilla, is described in Acts 18:2 as “a Jew, a man of Pontus by race,” and it is possible that he may have helped to evangelize his native country during his visits to the East. In any case there was constant commercial intercourse between Pontus and other centres of early Christianity, and the Church may well have been established in Pontus about the middle of the first century (though Ramsay, Ch. in Rom. Emp. p. 225, regards 65 A.D. as the earliest probable date).

At any rate Pliny, the governor of Bithynia, writing apparently from Pontus to the Emperor Trajan about 112 A.D., speaks of many Christians of every age, every rank and of both sexes, not only in the towns but also in the villages and the country, through whom the temples had come to be well-nigh deserted and the sacred rites to be long suspended. This points to the fact that Christianity was of considerable standing in the district, and one suspected person who was examined declared that he had been a Christian but had abandoned the faith 25 years previously. Sinope was the birthplace of Marcion, a semi-Gnostic teacher, who came to Rome in 140. He had been a wealthy shipowner and his father is described as a bishop.

Galatia. The Roman province included all the central part of Asia Minor and extended from Pontus on the N. to the Taurus Mountains on the S. It embraced Paphlagonia, part of the old kingdom of Pontus, part of Phrygia including Antioch and Iconium, and part of Lycaonia including Lystra and Derbe, but it derived its name from the north central district, Galatia Proper, which had been occupied by Gaulish immigrants in the 3rd century B.C. They were conquered by the Romans under Manlius in 189 B.C. but retained semi-independence until 25 B.C., when Galatia Proper was made a Roman province. The chief towns in this district were Ancyra, Pessinus and Tavium. The southern part of the Roman province of Galatia was certainly evangelized by St Paul during his first missionary journey. Lightfoot and others hold that St Paul also visited Galatia Proper on his second and third journeys, and that the Epistle to the Galatians was addressed to that district, but Ramsay maintains that St Paul only wrote to the churches of the southern part of the Roman province of Galatia and never visited the northern district at all.

Cappadocia was the district east of Galatia and came into the possession of the Romans in 17 A.D., but it was treated as an unimportant frontier district, governed only by a procurator until 70 A.D. when it was considerably enlarged and made a regular province under a pro-praetor. From 76–106 it was under the same governor as Galatia, though otherwise the two provinces were distinct. The fact that it is here mentioned as if it was an important province has been urged as a slight argument in favour of dating the Epistle after 70 A.D., but if Silvanus was to visit this district it is difficult to see by what other name than Cappadocia it could be designated. Jews from Cappadocia were present on the day of Pentecost. Otherwise nothing is known of the introduction of Christianity there, but Caesareia, the chief town of Cappadocia, was on the great trade-routes from Syrian Antioch to the Black Sea and from Ephesus to the East.

Asia. The Roman province included all Asia Minor west of Galatia, the capital being Ephesus. St Paul had been forbidden by the Spirit to preach there on his second missionary journey (Acts 16:6), but stayed in Ephesus for three years during his third journey, “so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). Several of St Paul’s Epistles were addressed to this district, the Epistle to the Ephesians being almost certainly a circular letter to be passed on from Ephesus to the churches of the Lycus valley. The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon imply the existence of a considerable Christian body in Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis, though St Paul had apparently never visited those places in person (Colossians 2:1). The two Epistles to Timothy contain directions to him as head of the Church in Ephesus. Ephesus was also the home of St John in his later years; there his Gospel and Epistles were probably written and the letters to the Seven Churches in the Apocalypse are addressed to that district. In the beginning of the 2nd century the letters of Ignatius are addressed chiefly to churches of Asia and imply a developed organization with bishops, presbyters and deacons; while Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who was martyred at the age of 86 in 155–156 A.D., is another link with the Apostolic age.

Bithynia had been bequeathed to the Romans by its last king, Nicomedes III, in 74 B.C., and was joined with Pontus and formed into a united province by Pompey in 65 B.C. St Paul attempted to enter Bithynia when precluded from preaching in Asia on his second missionary journey, but “the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not” (Acts 16:7). We have no evidence to shew how Christianity was introduced there, but there were two great roads connecting its chief towns Nicaea and Nicomedia with Antioch in Pisidia in the S. and Ancyra and Syria in the E.

Verse 1-2

1 Peter 1:1-2. SALUTATION

1 I, Peter, am writing this letter as the commissioned Apostle of Jesus Christ and you, my readers in various Roman provinces of Asia Minor are God’s chosen people, the new Israel of God, although (like the Jews of the Dispersion) you seem to be strangers in a foreign land. 2 My commission as an Apostle and your position as members of the chosen people are not the result of chance. They are based upon the fact that God, our Father, from the first contemplated us as His children and His agents, and He effected His purpose for us by consecrating us to His service by the Holy Spirit, pledging us to obedience (like Israel at Sinai) as sprinkled with the blood of the covenant victim, Jesus Christ.

May God’s gifts of favour and peace be increased by all that you have to undergo.

The salutation closely resembles the salutations of St Paul’s epistles and is probably formed after their model. It designates the writer and his authority, the readers and their privileges, and indicates one of the leading thoughts of the Epistle that Christians were set apart by God’s foreknowledge to be His chosen people, consecrated for a priestly life of sacrifice as covenanted members of Christ.

Verse 2

2. This verse probably refers both to St Peter’s own position as an apostle of Jesus Christ and to that of his readers as the “chosen” people of God. Just as in Romans 1:1; Romans 1:6-7, St Paul couples himself and his readers together, he himself being “called to be an apostle” (κλητὸς ἀπόστολος) and they “called to be saints” (κλητοῖς ἁγίοις), so here St Peter regards both his own choice to be an apostle and that of his readers to be the new Israel of God as being due to a divine purpose. The verse seems certainly to describe the operation of the three Persons in the Trinity in fitting men to be God’s fellow-workers in the world. The Father in His eternal knowledge contemplates them as His chosen agents, the Holy Spirit consecrates and hallows them continuously for their work, which is to obey God’s will as covenanted members of Jesus Christ His Son, by whose blood as the true covenant victim they are sprinkled. For other passages where the threefold name is similarly introduced cf. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:13; Ephesians 4:4-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Titus 3:4-6; Romans 8:16-17.

The occurrence of such passages presupposes a recognized, although still unformulated, belief in the Holy Trinity, which can hardly have originated without some authoritative utterance of our Lord such as the great commission to baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost in Matthew 28:19, or the discourse recorded in John 14.

The three clauses κατὰ, ἐν, εἰς, may be taken either as parallel to each other as denoting three different aspects of the divine choice, ascribed to the three Persons in the Holy Trinity, or more probably as successive stages, each dependent upon the preceding: κατὰ, the standard of God’s eternal design; ἐν, the means by which it is worked out; εἰς, the aim of that design.

The “call” to a position of privilege and therefore of service is a “link in the chain of providential care which began in the eternal loving purpose of God.” This thought is elaborated in fuller detail in Romans 8:28-30.

It is however somewhat remarkable that St Paul nowhere refers to “the blood of sprinkling.”

κατὰ πρόγνωσιν. The substantive does not occur in the LXX. except in the Apocrypha. In the N.T. it only occurs again in St Peter’s speech on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:23) that Jesus was “delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” The verb is used of men “knowing beforehand” (Acts 26:5; 2 Peter 3:17), but in Romans 8:29 it is used of God “foreknowing” certain persons whom He also predestinated and called; in Romans 11:2 it is used of the “people whom God foreknew” as not being cast away by God despite appearances, and in 1 Peter 1:20 it is used of Christ as the true paschal lamb “foreknown before the foundation of the world.” So here St Peter regards God as having from the first contemplated certain individuals like himself and a society or “chosen people” like his readers to carry on the work of Israel as His agents in the world. Cf. Isaiah 49:1 and Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee … I sanctified thee. I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations.”

θεοῦ πατρός. Θεός is never a mere proper name in the N.T. but denotes the power, supremacy, authorship and superintendence of God. πατήρ is frequently used to describe God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also of God as “our Father.” Sometimes (as probably here) the two ideas are coupled together because it is only as “a member of Christ” that a man becomes “the child of God” in the highest sense. So our Lord spoke to His disciples of going to “My Father and your Father,” and in Romans 8:29 St Paul says that God’s object in choosing men “to be conformed to the image of his Son” was “that He might be the first-born among many brethren.”

ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος might mean by the hallowing of our human spirit, but the context implies that hallowing by the Holy Spirit is intended. This is the process in which God’s choice takes effect in the equipment of His agents. The root (ἁγ-), see note 1 Peter 1:15, means to set apart, so to consecrate. Apostles, prophets and every member of the chosen people need a life-long hallowing for their special office. As applied to the whole body of Christians cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God chose you from the beginning unto salvation, ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος,” from which passage St Peter may perhaps be borrowing.

εἰς ὑπακοήν κ.τ.λ. This choosing by God, this hallowing process employed upon those chosen, is intended to result in (εἰς) their obedience. Unless they fulfil that divine purpose, to have been “known by God” will only increase their guilt. Cf. Amos 3:2, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will visit upon you all your iniquities.”

ῥαντισμὸν αἵματος. The only instances where persons were sprinkled with blood in the O.T. were (a) the sprinkling of a leper with the blood of a bird, Leviticus 14:6-7; (b) the sprinkling of Aaron and his sons with the blood of a ram to consecrate them for their priestly work (Exodus 29:21; Leviticus 8:30); (c) the sprinkling of the people by Moses at Sinai when the covenant between God and Israel was ratified (Exodus 24:3-8). It is possible that St Peter may be referring to the second of these as he does elsewhere describe his readers as a body of priests to offer up spiritual sacrifices, and this idea seems to be referred to also in Hebrews 10:22, where Christians having access into the Holy of Holies in the blood of Jesus, their great High Priest, are bidden themselves to “draw near” as priests whose hearts are sprinkled and their bodies bathed with pure water, just as the High Priest was sprinkled with blood at his consecration and also bathed before the day of Atonement. According to Hort (1 Pet., p. 23), however, the reference here is to the sprinkling of the whole people at Sinai. Moses proclaimed to the people all the words of Jehovah and all the judgments, and they promise obedience. Then to make it a binding covenant an altar is built and victims are killed by representatives of each tribe. Half of the blood is poured upon the altar as representing Jehovah, while the other half is sprinkled upon the people as the other contracting party in the covenant. The people, having heard the Book of the Covenant read, promise “All that Jehovah hath spoken will we do and be obedient,” and the blood is described as the “blood of the covenant.” This ceremony is referred to in Hebrews 9:7; Hebrews 9:11-22, where it is contrasted with the new covenant of which Jesus is at once the mediator and the covenant victim. The blood once shed upon the altar of the cross as the pledge of God’s share in the covenant is also sprinkled upon the people as the pledge of their share in it. Cf. also Hebrews 12:24.

The same idea is also suggested by our Lord’s words in instituting the Sacrament of His Body and Blood, “This is My Blood of the Covenant” or “the new Covenant in My Blood.” It is not only a continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, of the blood outpoured upon the altar of the Cross and accepted by God as the pledge of His share in the Covenant as promising pardon, but it also assures us that we are the covenanted people of God, “very members incorporate in … the blessed company of all faithful people” and as such pledged to obedience.

Dr Chase (Hastings, D. of B. III. 794) on the other hand argues that the preposition εἰς, following as it does the ἐν ἁγιασμῷ, must point to the goal of God’s divine purpose and not to the initial pledge of obedience, when the Christian is first admitted into the new covenant by the initial sprinkling of blood. He therefore suggests a reference to the sprinkling with water (Numbers 19:9; Numbers 19:13; Numbers 19:20 f.) by which a faithful Israelite, defiled by contact with a dead body, was sprinkled with the water of separation. So the blood of Christ can purge the conscience of the obedient Christian from dead works (Hebrews 9:14); cf. also 1 John 1:7, “If we walk in the light … the blood of Jesus cleanseth us from all sin.” In answer to this it may be urged that initiation into the covenant points forward to a life of obedience as its goal, and to be sprinkled with the blood of Christ, the covenant victim, is not only an initial means of admission but also a source of continuous cleansing in which “our souls are washed through His most precious blood.” Again it also pledges us to share the sacrificial life of Christ by “presenting ourselves, our souls and bodies as a living sacrifice” to God. Just as in Baptism we are signed with the Cross not merely as a rite of initiation but as a token that we must share Christ’s Cross and fight manfully under His banner, so to be admitted into fellowship with Christ by the blood of sprinkling involves fellowship with His sufferings, and this idea would have special force for St Peter’s readers who were face to face with persecution (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 3:10, etc.).

χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη. This is St Paul’s regular greeting except in 1 and 2 Tim. where ἔλεος is added. Some would regard it as a combination of the Greek greeting χαίρειν and the Hebrew greeting שָׁלוֹם = peace, but more probably it represents the old priestly blessing (Numbers 6:24), “The Lord be gracious to thee … and give thee peace.”

πληθυνθείη is perhaps borrowed from “Peace be multiplied to you,” Daniel 4:1; Daniel 6:25. In the N.T. it occurs again in the salutation in 2 Pet. and Jude. St Peter asks that the trials through which his readers have to pass may only increase God’s gifts of grace and peace.

Verse 3

3. εὐλογητός, worthy to receive blessing is nearly always restricted to God in the LXX. while εὐλογημένος, one who receives blessing, is used of men. The same form of benediction occurs in Ephesians 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 1:3.

ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ τοῦ κυρίου κ.τ.λ. The words are used in the same sense in which our Lord said to Mary Magdalene, “I go to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God,” and again on the cross He cried, “My God, My God,” but this must not be exaggerated into implying that the Son was Himself a creature as the Arians taught.

κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. St Peter in his speech on the day of Pentecost shewed from prophecy as fulfilled in the resurrection and ascension that God had made Jesus both Lord and Christ, and it seems to have been the earliest and simplest form of Christian creed to say “Jesus is Lord” or “Jesus Christ is Lord.” St Peter couples himself with his readers and shews that Jewish and Gentile Christians are one as owning the same Lord.

ἔλεος is specially used of God’s mercy in admitting Gentiles to the covenant, cf. Romans 11:30-32; Romans 15:9; Ephesians 2:1-4.

ἀναγεννήσας. The word occurs nowhere else in the Greek Bible except in 1 Peter 1:23, and as a Western reading in John 3:5, where in the preceding passage our Lord had said γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν. St Paul describes those who are in Christ as καινὴ κτίσις (2 Corinthians 5:17), and in Titus 3:5 he speaks of the “laver of regeneration” (παλιγγενεσία).

St Peter regards the resurrection of Jesus as having ushered in a new life of hope for mankind, reversing the sentence of doom. As members of the Church of Christ they enter into a new order of existence as children of God.

ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν, as members of Christ we are here and now “inheritors of the kingdom of heaven” but we are not yet in full possession of our inheritance. We have only the “earnest” or first instalment of it. But we have “the hope of glory” and this hope is not like the old Messianic hope of the Jews, which had become languid and conventional. Our hope is full of growth and vitality.

Verses 3-13



3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for by raising Him from the dead He has begotten us, His other children, to a new life of hope which is directed towards an inheritance which, 4 unlike Canaan, can never be ravaged, never be defiled, never fade. It is an inheritance which in God’s eternal purpose was all through the ages designed to be extended to you Gentiles (εἰς ὑμᾶς) and has been reserved in heaven for that purpose. (The present realization of that inheritance may seem strangely to belie that hope, for you are beset by dangers and trials of all kinds), 5 but you are under the watch and ward of God’s almighty power if only you have faith to avail yourselves of the deliverance (from all evil) which (like the inheritance) was ready prepared to be revealed in the “last time,” i.e. the Messianic age which has already begun. 6 Living in that age as you do, you can exult, even though for the time being God may require you to experience sorrow in all kinds of trials, 7 in order that the genuineness of your faith (a far more precious genuineness than that of gold, which is only a perishable substance though trial by fire is employed even for its testing) may be discovered by the Divine Refiner, thereby redounding unto praise and glory and honour for you (and consequently to Himself as perfected in His creatures) in the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 True you never saw Him in the flesh (as I did) yet you love Him, and, though you cannot now see Him, yet, believing on Him as you do, you exult with a joy too deep for words and already irradiated with heavenly glory, 9 receiving the long-promised end of such faith, namely, the deliverance from evil of your true selves.

10 I said that the deliverance was ready prepared, and so it was. The deliverance now revealed to you was spoken of by the prophets, who prophesied about the extension of God’s favour to you Gentiles. 11 They sought and searched diligently to discover what or at any rate what kind of time the Spirit of the Lord’s Anointed which was in them signified when it solemnly declared beforehand in God’s name the sufferings destined for the Messiah and the glories which were to follow those sufferings; 12 and it was revealed to them that it was not for their own age but for you that they were ministering the messages (of deliverance) which were now openly announced to you by those who brought you good tidings by the Mission of the Holy Spirit from heaven; and this unfolding of God’s loving purpose for His creatures is watched with wondering eyes by angels.

The whole passage is an expansion of ἐκλεκτοῖς κατὰ πρόγνωσιν θεοῦ in the salutation, and is intended to shew that the choosing of the Gentiles was no afterthought but part of God’s eternal purpose. It has striking similarities with Ephesians 3:5-12, where the mystery of Christ, not made known to other generations but kept secret in God, is described as being now revealed by the Spirit to the apostles and prophets, namely that the Gentiles are fellow-heirs with Israel, and the Church (as the new and world-wide Israel) is the means of making known to angelic beings the manifold wisdom of God in planning the course of the ages.

The three clauses εἰς ἐλπίδα ζῶσαν, εἰς κληρονομίαν, εἰς σωτηρίαν, might (i) be all taken as dependent directly upon ἀναγεννήσας, meaning that the new life is at once a hope, an inheritance, and a state of salvation; or (ii) the second and third clauses might be taken as expansions of ἐλπίδα. It is a hope which is directed towards (εἰς) an inheritance and a deliverance which are already partially realized but not yet consummated; or (iii) as suggested in the paraphrase εἰς κληρονομίαν may be the goal of ἐλπὶς and εἰς σωτηρίαν of πίστις. So 1 Peter 1:9, σωτηρία is described as τὸ τέλος τῆς πίστεως. Again πίστις and ἐλπὶς are coordinated in 1 Peter 1:21, where St Peter repeats all the leading ideas of the earlier section, προεγνωσμένουφανερωθέντος ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων διʼ ὑμᾶς, deliverance (σωτηρία) being now expressed by ἐλυτρώθητε, while the promise of “inheritance” in Canaan once given by the prophet to the exiles in Babylon is described as good tidings now extended to the Gentiles (εἰς ὑμᾶς).

Verse 4

4. εἰς κληρονομίαν. The goal to which our hope points forward is the spiritual Canaan, “the lot of our inheritance.” Unlike the earthly Canaan it can never be ravaged by hostile marauders (ἄφθαρτον) or polluted by heathen profanation (ἀμίαντον) nor scorched and withered (ἀμάραντον).

κληρονομία in the O.T. denotes possession rather than heirship. “Originally (S. and H. Rom. p. 204) meaning (i) the simple possession of the Holy Land, it came to mean (ii) its permanent and assured possession (Psalms 25 [24]:13; 36 [37]:9, 11, etc.); hence (iii) specially the secure possession won by the Messiah (Isaiah 60:21; Isaiah 61:7); and so it became a symbol of all Messianic blessings.”

In the N.T. the subst. occurs 13 times and seems primarily to denote possession of an inheritance rather than heirship to a future inheritance. E.g. Acts 7:5, God gave Abraham no κληρονομίαν, i.e. present possession in Canaan (but cf. Galatians 3:18; Hebrews 11:8). Ephesians 1:18, Christians are partakers of the κληρονομία of the Saints in light (i.e. fellow-citizens with the Saints). But as yet we only have an instalment (ἀῤῥαβὼν) of our full inheritance, Ephesians 1:14; and in Colossians 3:24, “the reward of the inheritance” is regarded as future.

The verb κληρονομεῖν occurs 18 times, generally in the future, of inheriting (i.e. possessing) the earth, the Kingdom of God, or eternal life. In Matthew 25:24 it denotes entering into possession of the Kingdom.

κληρονόμος occurs Evv. [3], St Paul [8], Heb. [3], Jas. [1], and sometimes includes the idea of heirship; but in Galatians 4. Christians are described as heirs who have come of age.

In this passage therefore St Peter probably regards Christians as being already in partial possession of the inheritance so long reserved for them. This idea is included in the statement of the Catechism, “In my Baptism … I was made … an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

τετηρημένηνφρουρουμένους. τηρεῖν is to watch or keep safe; (φρουρεῖν to stand sentry over either to prevent escape, as in 2 Corinthians 11:32 (where the parallel passage in Acts 9:24 has παρατηρεῖν), or to guard against attack, protect. Cf. Philippians 4:7; Galatians 3:23.

Here the perfect participle, τετηρημένην, means that the inheritance destined by God to be extended to the Gentiles (εἰς ὑμᾶς) has been safely laid by in reserve in heaven all through the long years of silence when God’s mercy in including the Gentiles in the covenant was not yet made known (cf. Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:5-11; 1 Peter 1:11-12). The present participle, φρουρουμένους, describes the present position of Christians as heirs who still need God’s constant protection in order to attain to final salvation.

ἐν οὐρανοῖς suggests another mark of superiority of the Christian’s inheritance as compared with the earthly Canaan.

Verse 5

5. ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ may describe the fortress in which or the garrison by which the Christian is guarded.

διὰ πίστεως. Faith in God’s promised deliverance is the condition by which man must avail himself of the divine protection.

εἰς σωτηρίαν. It is simpler to connect the words with those which immediately precede them rather than with ἀναγεννήσας or ἐλπίδα. In this case they may be dependent on φρουρουμένους if σωτηρία is understood in the sense of final and completed deliverance. But the words which follow seem rather to regard the deliverance as something which Christians are already receiving, something predicted by prophets but now proclaimed. It seems better therefore to couple διὰ πίστεως εἰς σωτηρίαν together. (For εἰς σωτηρίαν governed by a substantive cf. Romans 1:16, δύναμις θεοῦ εἰς σωτηρίαν; Romans 10:1, δέησις εἰς σ.; 2 Corinthians 7:10, μετάνοιαν εἰς σ.; and cf. Romans 10:10, ὁμολογεῖται εἰς σ.)

σωτηρία (S. and H. Rom. p. 23), “The fundamental idea contained in the word is the removal of dangers menacing to life and the consequent placing of life in conditions favourable to free and healthy expansion.” In the earlier books of the O.T. it denotes deliverance from physical peril (Judges 15:18; 1 Samuel 11:9; 1 Samuel 11:13, etc.). But gradually it tended to be appropriated to the great deliverances of the nation, e.g. the Passage of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:13, etc.) and the Return from Exile (Isaiah 45:17, etc.). Thus by a natural transition it was associated with the Messianic deliverance in the lower forms of the Jewish Messianic expectation (Ps. Sol. 10:9, 12:7; Test. XII. Patr. Sym. 7; Judges 1:22; Benj. 9, 10) [the form used in all these passages is σωτήριον, cf. Luke 2:32]. In this sense of Messianic national deliverance it is used in Luke 1:69; Luke 1:71; Luke 1:77. It was also associated with the higher form of the Christian hope, Acts 4:12; Acts 13:26, etc.

In this latter sense σωτηρία covers the whole range of the Messianic deliverance both in its negative aspect as a rescuing from the wrath under which the whole world is lying and in its positive aspect as the imparting of “eternal life,” cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10. The σωτηρία is not yet fully complete. Christians have to grow towards it (1 Peter 2:2), to work it out (Philippians 2:12), they may neglect it (Hebrews 2:3). It is nearer than it was when they first became believers (Romans 13:11). It is to perfect our salvation that the Return of Christ is awaited (Hebrews 9:28). But “now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2); the deliverance is already at work for those who have faith to accept it. They do here and now receive that deliverance of their true selves, their true lives (σωτηρίαν ψυχῶν), which is the goal of their faith.

ἑτοίμην ἀποκαλυφθῆναι ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ. Dr Chase (Hastings, D. of B. III. 795) connects these words with κληρονομίαν, and interprets ἐν καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ in the same sense as ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων in 1 Peter 1:20 as referring to the Messianic age which is described in prophecy as “the last days” (Isaiah 2:2; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:1). The actual phrase, καιρὸς ἔσχατος, does not occur, but καιρὸς is used in eschatological passages in Daniel and in the N.T. (e.g. 1 Peter 4:17; Revelation 1:3). According to this interpretation the clause is correlative to τετηρημένην ἐν οὐρανοῖς. It is however more natural to take the clause with the immediately preceding word σωτηρίαν, in which case καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ might mean either “the last day”—or as Dr Hort would explain it—“a season of extremity,” “when things are at their worst.” The phrase is so used in Classical writers (Polyb. XXIX. 11, 12; Plut. Syl. XII. 458 F). But there is no instance in Biblical Greek of ἔσχατος in that sense, and neither of the two last interpretations make it reasonably possible to connect ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε with καιρῷ, which is grammatically the natural antecedent. It would involve taking ἀγαλλιᾶσθε either as an imperative or as a quasi future.

But, if καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ is taken in the sense of the Messianic age, the καιρός which the Prophets sought to ascertain (1 Peter 1:11), the clause may still refer to σωτηρίαν if ἑτοίμην is understood as practically equivalent to ἡτοιμασμένην. This is virtually the purport of 1 Peter 1:10-11, and the clause thus becomes correlative to κληρονομίαν τετηρημένην and would mean that the σωτηρίαν, which the readers are described as already receiving, was all along in readiness to be revealed “when the fulness of the time was come.”

In any case ἑτοίμην means more than μέλλουσαν (1 Peter 1:1). The thought that God’s plan of salvation was prepared beforehand as a new revelation to Gentiles as well as being the realization of Israel’s hopes occurs in Luke 2:30-32, to τὸ σωτήριόν σου ὃ ἡτοίμασαςφῶς εἰς ἀποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν καὶ δόξαν λαοῦ σου Ἰσραήλ.

Verse 6

6. ἐν ᾧ ἀγαλλιᾶσθε. Dr Hort, recognizing the difficulty of connecting these words with καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ in the sense of “season of extremity,” would make masculine—“In whom,” i.e. Christ. This would match the following phrase: εἰς ὂν πιστεύοντες ἀγαλλιᾶτε. But if καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ means the Messianic age in which the readers were living, ἐν ᾧ can be taken in its more obvious grammatical connexion and would mean “living in that age as you do.” Another interpretation would be to take ἐν ᾧ as neuter (cf. 1 Peter 2:12, 1 Peter 4:4) = wherein, i.e. in the thought of your new birth and its privileges.

ἀγαλλιᾶσθε must be taken as present indicative (not imperative) in view of the ἀγαλλιᾶτε in 1 Peter 1:8. The active only occurs again in Luke 1:47 and in Revelation 19:7 (v. l.). Dr Hort suggests that the middle voice may here denote a state of exultation caused by God’s dealings, while the active regards exultation more as their own act. But a more usual distinction is that the middle denotes inward feeling and the active merely states a fact (e.g. ὑστερεῖν = to lack; ὑστερεῖσθαι = to feel a sense of want).

ὀλίγον may mean either for a little time or to a small degree, cf. 1 Peter 5:10, ὀλίγον παθόντας. The relative shortness of their sufferings is perhaps only one feature of their slightness as compared with the glory which is to follow.

ἄρτι = just for the moment.

εἰ δέον may mean, seeing that such sufferings are part of the appointed order of things, “These things must come to pass” (Mark 13:7, etc.), or it may imply some uncertainty whether some of the readers at least may escape persecution; cf. 1 Peter 3:17, εἰ θέλοι τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ.

λυπηθέντες = ye have been put to grief. The word denotes not merely sufferings but the mental distress caused by them. The aorist participle does not necessarily mean that the grief is ended before the exultation can begin. Christian exultation does not preclude the presence of sorrow, cf. 2 Corinthians 6:10, “as sorrowful yet alway rejoicing.” Aorist participles coupled with an aorist frequently denote an action contemporaneous with that of the verb, e.g. προσευξάμενοι εἶπον, Acts 1:24, and there is no reason why this should not be the case when they are coupled with a present tense, although the present participle is generally employed, but the aorist may have a summarizing force describing what may be a long continued experience as a single whole which has to be completed.

ἐν ποικίλοις πειρασμοῖς = surrounded as you are by a variety of trials. The phrase, together with τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως, is borrowed from James 1:2-3. (See Introduction, p. lv.)

Verse 7

7. τὸ δοκίμιον. It is commonly stated that τὸ δοκίμιον must be a substantive and is equivalent to δοκιμεῖον = a means of testing. It certainly has that meaning in Proverbs 27:21, δοκίμιον ἀργυρίῳ καὶ χρυσῷ πύρωσις = fire is the test for silver and gold, from which passage St Peter probably borrows the word πύρωσις in 1 Peter 4:12.

In James 1:3, from which St Peter is probably borrowing, the meaning process of testing would give a good sense, but in St Peter the meaning required is the approved character which is the result of testing. Dr Hort therefore prefers the reading given in four cursive MSS. 25, 56, 69, 110, τὸ δόκιμον (neuter adjective) = the approved element or genuineness of your faith—as opposed to spurious faith which proves to be dross. For such a construction cf. 2 Corinthians 8:8, τὸ τῆς ὑμετέρας ἀγάπης γνήσιον. But Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 259–262, shews that in the Fayyûm Papyrus documents δοκίμιος or δοκιμεῖος occurs several times as an adjective applied to gold and was a recognized variant for δόκιμος (cf. ἐλευθέριος for ἐλεύθερος, καθάριος for καθαρός). He would therefore regard δοκίμιον as an adjective in Psalms 12:6, τὰ λόγια κυρίου λόγια ἅγνα ἀργύριον πεπυρωμένον δοκίμιον τῇ γῇ κεκαθαρισμένον ἑπταπλασίως = “the words of the Lord are pure words, genuine silver, purified by fire, seven times refined, for the land.” So in 1 Chronicles 29:4, Zechariah 11:13, some MSS. of the LXX. read δοκιμίου, δοκίμιον or δοκίμειον for δοκίμου and δόκιμον.

Arethas on Revelation 9:4 (Cramer Cat. p. 315) probably uses οἱ δὲ τὸ δοκίμιον ἑαυτῶν διὰ πυρὸς παρεχόμενοι to mean those who prove their genuineness. So Oecumenius interprets τὸ δοκίμιον as meaning τὸ κεκριμένον, τὸ δεδοκιμασμένον, τὸ καθαρόν. Probably therefore both in St Peter and in St James τὸ δοκίμιον is a neuter adjective and means proved genuineness. In this case the passage in St James is more closely allied to Romans 5:4, but whereas St Paul regards patient endurance as productive of approved genuineness (δοκιμή), St James reverses the process and regards faith already tested and proved genuine as a ground for future endurance.

χρυσίου τοῦ ἀπολλυμένου, i.e. gold, a property of which it is to perish. The meaning may be either: Gold, despite its perishable character, is not destroyed but only purified by the fire, so a fortiori your faith will survive and will only he purified by trials; or, If it is worth while to employ trial by fire to test a perishable substance like gold, a fortiori such a process may be employed to arrive at a far more valuable result, viz. to prove the purity of your faith. Therefore suffering is not a strange chance but part of God’s loving purpose (cf. 1 Peter 4:12).

εὑρεθῇ may be taken with εἰς ἔπαινον = result in praise, etc., or better with πολυτιμότερον. The purity of your faith discovered by this trial by fire is a far more valuable discovery than that of the purity of refined gold. The discovery is made by God as the refiner.

ἔπαινον δόξαν τιμήν might refer either to men or to God, that those who emerge from the trial will receive praise, glory and honour from God, or that the approved character of His children will redound to God’s own glory. Possibly both ideas are included, for God is always glorified when men attain His loving purpose.

ἐν ἀποκαλύψει Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (objective genitive). The phrase is certainly sometimes used of the final revelation of Christ at the Second Advent (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; and (?) Revelation 1:1).

The absence of the article does not preclude the meaning “the revelation of Jesus Christ,” because where the noun in the genitive is anarthrous the noun which governs it frequently becomes anarthrous also, e.g. θελήματι θεοῦ, 1 Peter 4:2, but to τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, 1 Peter 3:17; cf. διʼ ἀναστάσεως Ἰ. X., 1 Peter 1:3; πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, 1 Peter 1:20.

But that final revelation is only the climax of a long series of progressive revelations whenever Christ is revealed to or in any of His members (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:1; Galatians 1:12; Galatians 1:16; and (?) Revelation 1:1), and this thought is not excluded here though it culminates in the final revelation. So there are many “comings of the Son of Man” in various crises of history but all lead up to His final Coming.

Verse 8

8. οὐκ ἰδόντες states a historical fact that they had not seen Christ in the flesh as St Peter himself had done (cf. John 20:29).

μὴ ὁρῶντες describes their present condition, though (for the present) you cannot see Him. No stress can be laid on the distinction between οὐ and μὴ, though some would explain μὴ as suggesting the mental condition of the readers.

εἰς ὃν must be taken with πιστεύοντες. πιστεύειν εἰς is the commonest construction in the N.T., and almost the only one used by St Peter and St John. It means faith which enters into union with Christ.

ἀνεκλαλήτῳ occurs only here in the N.T., a joy which is too deep for utterance.

δεδοξασμένῃ. The Christian’s joy even in the midst of sorrow is irradiated by the unseen glory of heaven.

Suffering and Glory

δόξα (S. and H. Rom. p. 84). “There are two quite distinct meanings of this word. [1] = opinion (not in N.T.) and thence ‘favourable opinion,’ ‘reputation’ (John 12:43; Romans 2:7; Romans 2:10, etc.). [2] As a LXX. translation of כָּבו ̇ד it means:

“[1] Visible brightness or splendour (Acts 22:11; 1 Corinthians 15:40).

[2] The brightness which radiates from the presence of God, e.g. at Sinai (Exodus 24:16), the pillar of cloud (Exodus 16:10), or in the Tabernacle or Temple (Exodus 40:34; 1 Kings 8:11), especially on the Mercy Seat (Exodus 25:22; so Romans 9:4).

[3] This visible splendour symbolized the divine perfections, the majesty or goodness of God as manifested to men (Lightfoot on Colossians 1:11; cf. Ephesians 1:6; Ephesians 1:12; Ephesians 1:17; Ephesians 3:16).

“[4] These perfections are in a measure communicated to man through Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:6). Both morally and physically a certain transfiguration takes place in the Christian partially here, completely hereafter.”

The incarnate Christ was not only the revelation of God to man, He also revealed man to himself, shewing what God’s ideal for man is. Man was created to be the δόξα and εἰκὼν of God (1 Corinthians 11:7), but in his present condition man comes terribly far short of the glory intended for him by God (Romans 3:23).

Although man was intended to be crowned with glory and honour (Psalms 8:5) it is only in the person of Christ that this has been attained (Hebrews 2:9), “In Him little by little under the conditions of human existence the absolute ideal of manhood was revealed.” So it is only “Christ in us” which constitutes “the hope of glory,” the possibility of attaining the divine ideal for man (Colossians 1:27), Jesus Christ is our glory (James 2:1). The revelation of the sons of God (as they were meant to be) for which the created universe waits is the revelation of the glory intended for us (Romans 8:18-21).

But it was only through suffering that manhood in the person of Christ entered into glory. That was the pathway to glory indicated in O.T. prophecy. In such descriptions as that of the Suffering Servant of the Lord the prophets were pointing to (εἰς) Christ, describing sufferings destined for Him (cf. Acts 2:25, Δαυῒδ λέγει εἰς αὐτόν; cf. Ephesians 5:32; Hebrews 7:14), but those sufferings are straightway followed by corresponding stages in the attainment of glory, τὰς μετὰ ταῦτα δόξας. The plural probably denotes successive manifestations of glory, e.g. in the Betrayal (John 13:31) when the ideal of self-sacrifice was revealed, in the Cross (John 12:23) when the fruitfulness of such sacrifice was shewn, in the Resurrection as the victory over death (1 Peter 1:21), in the Ascension as the enthronement of manhood with God (John 7:39), and finally in His triumphant Return completed in all His members (Colossians 3:4).

The same pathway of suffering is employed by God in bringing His other sons to glory, i.e. to their ideal perfection. It is only by suffering with Christ that we can be glorified with Him (Romans 8:17; cf. 2 Timothy 2:10-12). The light affliction which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17). Present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed (Romans 8:18). So St Peter regards the trials of Christians as a refining process which will result in glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:7).

Fellowship in Christ’s sufferings should be a cause of joy that they may rejoice with exultation at the revelation of His glory (1 Peter 4:13). To be reproached in Christ’s name means that a mark or characteristic of the glory which is one day to be theirs (τὸ τῆς δόξης) is already resting upon them (1 Peter 4:14).

It is as a μάρτυς of Christ’s sufferings that St Peter is a partaker of the glory which is to be revealed (1 Peter 5:1). It is the God of all favour who called them to His eternal glory in Christ after a little suffering (1 Peter 5:10). So the joy which Christians should have in the midst of their trials and griefs is δεδοξασμένη, already irradiated with the glory to which such sufferings really belong (1 Peter 1:8).

Verse 9

9. κομιζόμενοι. The middle voice denotes either receiving back a possession, Matthew 25:27, or receiving a promised gift, Hebrews 10:36; Hebrews 11:39, and probably Hebrews 11:19, that Abraham received his long promised son figuratively out of death because his own body and that of Sarah were “as good as dead,” or receiving a reward earned, 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:25; 1 Peter 5:4.

So here by faith in the long prepared σωτηρία Christians do receive already some of the blessings of that σωτηρία which is the goal of that faith—namely, the deliverance, the passage from death into life of man’s true self, the divine life or soul of which his bodily life is but the image.

τῆς πίστεως. The insertion of the article does not necessarily mean “your faith” nor “the Faith” in the sense of the doctrines of the Christian Faith, although the faith which is implied certainly means Christian faith in God’s mercy through Christ.

A noun in the genitive governed by another noun bearing an article generally takes the article. But τῆς πίστεως in 1 Peter 1:7; 1 Peter 1:9 may refer back to διὰ πίστεως in 1 Peter 1:5 = the above-named faith; cf. Romans 3:29, ἐκ πίστεωςδιὰ τῆς πίστεως; James 2:14-15, πίστινἡ πίστις.

Verse 10

10. Plumptre (Camb. Bible, 1 Pet., p. 98) and others would explain the passage which follows as referring to New Testament prophets or preachers of the first days of the Church, who constantly uttered inspired warnings of a coming time of persecution for Christians which would be followed by glory. Such persecution however did not come immediately, and so the prophets gradually realized that their message was not for their own generation. Now however their warnings are being fulfilled in the Neronian persecution. In support of this view it is urged that “the Spirit of Christ” would be more appropriate to Christian prophets than to those of the O.T. and that τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήματα means sufferings of Christians as members of Christ which pass on to Him as their Head. But this interpretation is somewhat unnatural; moreover St Peter had himself been one of the earliest preachers of the Church, and he distinctly contrasts the ministry of the prophets with the proclamation which is now made by the Mission of the Holy Spirit. The reference is probably to the numerous passages in the O.T., especially in the later prophets, which predicted the admission of the Gentiles (τῆς εἰς ὑμᾶς χάριτος, the free favour of God as reaching unto you Gentiles).

χάρις (see Robinson, Eph. pp. 221 ff.) is specially used by St Paul (a) in connexion with his own mission as the apostle to the Gentiles, (b) of the Gentiles as the recipients of the Universal Gospel.

So in Acts it is used eight times in passages which deal with the extension of the Gospel to the Gentiles. “The surprising mercy of God, by which those who had been wholly outside the privileged circle were now the recipients of the divine favour, seems to have called for a new and impressive name which might be the watchword of the larger dispensation.”

It is in this sense that St Peter uses the word here. He may have in mind the numerous O.T. passages quoted by St Paul (Romans 9, 10, 15) to shew that the inclusion of Gentiles was always contemplated.

Such predictions were accompanied by solemn asseverations of sufferings destined for the (coming) Messiah, τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήματα, yet each prophecy of suffering was crowned with a prophecy of subsequent glory; cf. Luke 24:26, “Behoved it not the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory” was the lesson which our Lord expounded from the Scriptures to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

ἐκζητεῖν, to seek out; ἐξεραυνᾷν, to search by minute investigation.

προφῆται. Even prophets, despite their divine mission, were less privileged than Christians. They sought and searched for the full meaning of God’s messages which they delivered. Now that meaning is fully proclaimed, cf. Matthew 13:17.

Verse 11

11. εἰς τίνα ἢ ποῖον καιρὸν, searching (to discover) what or what manner of season was pointed to (εἰς). If God withheld from them the precise time when His promises were to be fulfilled, they desired at least to know whether it was to be in the immediate or only in the distant future.

πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ can hardly mean “the Spirit which spake of Christ,” taking Χριστοῦ as an objective genitive. Nor is it likely to mean merely the Spirit which in after days dwelt in Christ. It might mean the Spirit belonging to or proceeding from Christ Himself. Certainly the Holy Spirit is described as πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ, Romans 8:9; πνεῦμα Ἰ. Χ., Philippians 1:19; πνεῦμα Ἰησοῦ, Acts 16:7; πνεῦμα τοῦ υἱοῦ, Galatians 4:6. In John 1:9-10, the Logos is described as having been all along in the world; a light was coming into the world to lighten every man. So Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 36, describes the prophets as moved by the divine Logos and sometimes speaking in the person of Christ, ἀπὸ προσώπου τοῦ Χριστοῦ; and Clem. Al. adv. Haer. IV. 7. 2, says: Qui adventum Christi prophetaverunt revelationem acceperunt ab ipso Filio.

According to this interpretation Christ is described as inspiring the prophets by His Spirit to predict the sufferings destined for Himself.

But (see Hort, p. 52) we must remember that Χριστὸς, with or without the article, was not originally a proper name, but a title, “Messiah,” “the Lord’s Anointed,” and, although Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the nation, the kings, and the prophets were also the Lord’s anointed; cf. Psalms 105:15, “Touch not mine anointed (τῶν χριστῶν μου) and do my prophets no harm.” Similarly in language which our Lord afterwards applied to Himself the prophet in describing his own mission, Isaiah 61:1 ff., says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because He anointed me” (ἔχρισέν με). In this sense the prophets shared in the Messiahship of their Divine Master, and the Spirit which spake by them was the Spirit of the Lord’s anointed, πνεῦμα Χριστοῦ.

ἐδήλου προμαρτυρόμενον should probably be coupled together. δηλοῦν does not necessarily mean “to make plain.” The prophets were only able to discover part of what was meant. The word is used of making a communication to a person (1 Corinthians 1:11; Colossians 1:8), or of signifying or implying something indirectly (Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 12:27).

μαρτύρεσθαι means literally “to call to witness,” so “to protest” as in the presence of witnesses; cf. Galatians 5:3; Ephesians 4:17, μαρτύρομαι ἐν Κυρίῳ. So here the sense seems to be that the Spirit which spake by the prophets asseverated in God’s name, “Thus saith the Lord.”

τὰ εἰς Χριστὸν παθήματα does not merely mean “the sufferings of Christ,” cf. 1 Peter 5:1, but “sufferings destined for the Messiah,” cf. τῆς εἰς ὑμᾶς χάριτος just above; cf. εἰς ὑμᾶς, 1 Peter 1:4; or “pointing to” Christ, cf. Acts 2:25, Δαυεὶδ λέγει εἰς αὐτόν. The sufferings described by the Prophets (e.g. Psalms 22, and esp. Isaiah 53.) only received their fulfilment in Christ.

In one sense the sufferings of O.T. saints were unconsciously on Christ’s behalf, and as it were “passed on” to Him (cf. Moses bearing the reproach of Christ, Hebrews 11:26), just as Christians now “fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ,” Colossians 1:24, but it may be doubted whether St Peter intended to include that thought.

Verse 12

12. οἷς ἀπεκαλύφθη. In answer to their searching enquiry the prophets, says St Peter, though “it was not for them to know the times and seasons which the Father set within His own authority,” were nevertheless permitted to realize that the messages which they were delivering as God’s ministers (διηκόνουν) were not for their own times or their own people only, but that the manifestation of Messiah belonged to the far future and to all mankind. The teaching of the prophets had of course a primary message for their own times, but this did not exhaust its meaning.

νῦν means the Christian dispensation as contrasted with the earlier age of the prophets.

ἀνηγγέλη. The word occurs in Isaiah 52:15, οἶς οὐκ ἀνηγγέλη περὶ αὐτοῦ ὄψονται, a passage which St Paul applies to his own missionary work among the Gentiles, Romans 15:21, and so here St Peter, in thinking of the announcement to Gentiles, perhaps borrowed the word from St Paul. The verb ἀναγγέλλειν in the N.T. retains its proper classical meaning of announcing in detail. So here the several facts of the Gospel and the implicit teachings and hopes involved in them are announced by Christian teachers.

ὑμῖν. The T.R. reads ἡμῖν, which would mean “us Christians,” but all the best MSS. read ὑμῖν, which suggests the Gentiles.

διὰ τῶν εὐαγγελισαμένων ὑμᾶς, by the agency of those who gladdened you with good tidings. εὐαγγελίζεσθαι is used with an acc. of the person in Lk. and Acts, where the subject of the message is not given, otherwise the dative is used. The preachers referred to would include St Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Epaphras (see Col.), and others whose names are unknown, but St Peter does not definitely claim any personal share in the work, and we have no evidence that he had ever visited Asia Minor.

πνεύματι ἁγίῳ ἀποσταλέντι ἀπʼ οὐρανοῦ. The T.R. has ἐν, an early Alexandrian interpolation, and the simple dative is almost unique. The “dynamic” dative describes that in virtue of which a thing exists or is done. The “instrumental” sense is only one aspect of this. πνεῦμα ἅγιον without the article might mean one who is none other than a spirit of holiness (cf. Hebrews 1:2, ἐλάλησεν ἡμῖν ἐν υἱῷ = one who is a Son and no mere prophet). It was the same Holy Spirit who “spake by the prophets,” but the mode of His operation was different. The outpouring of the Spirit, His mission to the world as sent (ἀποσταλέντι) by the Son from the Father did not take place until after the Ascension, cf. John 7:39, οὔπω γὰρ ἦν πνεῦμα ὅτι Ἰησοῦς οὔπω ἐδοξάσθη.

παρακύψαι. κύπτειν and its compounds are used of bending the body up, down, or forwards, e.g. κύψας = stooping down, συγκύπτειν = to be bowed together, ἀνακύπτειν = to straighten oneself or look up. So παρακύπτειν means to stretch the head forward to look into or down upon something. It is used of St John “peeping into” the tomb (John 20:5) and again in James 1:25 of a man who “glances into the perfect law of liberty.” So in the Book of Henoch (IX. i. p. 83, ed. Dillm.), from which St Peter may be borrowing here, it is used of the four archangels “looking down” upon the earth out of the sanctuary of heaven.

The angels are described as spectators of the Christian’s conflict in 1 Corinthians 4:9, θέατρον ἐγενήθημενἀγγέλοις. They rejoice over one sinner that repents, Luke 15:10. They were watching the unfolding of the mystery of God’s loving purpose for the world in the Incarnation (ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις, 1 Timothy 3:16). So here the admission of the Gentiles is a further unfolding of that mystery pointing forward to “the final consummation of all things,” and each stage is watched with eager longing eyes by God’s angels as they “look down” upon the world. Similarly in Ephesians 3:10 St Paul says that the admission of the Gentiles into the Church is a making known of the manifold wisdom of God to principalities and powers in heavenly places.

This thought adds dignity to the position of Christians as God’s “chosen people.” Their “election” is due to the Father’s foreknowledge, it is effected by the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, and sealed by the sprinkled blood of Christ as the covenant victim. They are begotten to a new life by the resurrection. A glorious inheritance is theirs. Their salvation was no new thing—no afterthought. It was the subject of anxious search on the part of the prophets who foretold it, and its future development is watched by angels with eager anticipation.

Verse 13

13. διὸ sums up all the preceding verses = on the strength of such a position of privilege and dignity.

ἀναζωσάμενοι. Girding up the loins is a symbol of prompt readiness for active service as opposed to slackness and indolent heedlessness. So our Lord told His disciples that they must have their loins girded as servants waiting for their lord (Luke 12:35), but ἀναζ. only occurs here and in Proverbs 31:17.

As St Peter in 1 Peter 1:18 describes his readers as “ransomed” by the Blood of the true passover lamb, it is possible that he may also have in mind the direction to Israel to “have their loins girded” at the first Passover (Exodus 12:11) in readiness to avail themselves of the deliverance and start on their journey to inherit the Promised Land. So Christians need to brace up their minds, otherwise their hope will not be set towards the favour which is being brought to them, and they may forfeit the deliverance and the inheritance.

νήφοντες τελείως. τελείως generally joined with the following word ἐλπίσατε; so A.V. hope to the end, R.V. set your hope perfectly on. But St Peter’s usual custom is to join adverbs with the preceding word, and so it is better here to translate being perfectly sober.

The Christian must not only have his mind braced for action (ἀναζωσάμενοι), but all his faculties must be under perfect control, with no confusion, no unhealthy excitement.

ἐπὶ. Set your hope in the direction of. You must turn to God’s free favour to you as the ground upon which your hope of glory must rest.

φερομένην. The word is used in Acts 2:2 of the “rushing mighty wind.” Here the idea seems to be that God’s loving favour is continually being conveyed to mankind in the ever-widening, ever-deepening revelation of Jesus Christ in the expansion of the Church and the daily life and experience of the Christian. But in this life we only see Him “in a glass darkly,” but one day the veil will be entirely removed and we shall see Him “face to face.”

Verses 13-25


1 Peter 1:13 to 1 Peter 2:10

13–25. 13 The new life of hope, faith and privilege to which you have been begotten involves corresponding responsibilities on your part. You must gird up the loins of your mind in readiness for active service, have all your faculties under perfect command, and set your hope upon God’s favour which is ever being brought to you in the progressive unveiling to you of Jesus Christ. 14 Remember that as God’s children you are pledged to hearken to His voice and follow His guidance. You must not follow the fashion of your old heathen days, when you had no rule of life beyond your own erratic impulses. 15 You have been called by the Holy One, therefore you yourselves also must shew yourselves to be holy in all your dealings. 16 The ideal which God has laid down for you is nothing less than to imitate Him. 17 You must not presume upon your sonship (any more than might the Jews). In addressing God as “Our Father” you must remember that He is also your Judge. Under the New Covenant as under the Old, He will shew no favouritism to the children of the covenant if their works prove them to be unworthy of favour. Do not then be over confident or reckless. In all your sojourning as strangers in the world your dealings with those around you must be regulated by a sense of responsibility, by a reverent fear of being untrue to your high position. 18 You are God’s ransomed people rescued (like Israel from Egypt) from the slavery of your old vain heathen life, a slavery intensified by the inherited instincts and habits of past centuries of ancestors. Remember how much your deliverance cost. It was no perishable ransom of silver or gold. 19 It was nothing less than the inestimably precious Blood of Christ, who is our true Paschal Lamb, without inherent blemish or external stain of sin, 20 a victim designated by God before the foundation of the world, but only manifested in the fulness of time at the end of the long series of periods of preparation for the sake of you Gentiles who 21 through Him are faithful as resting upon God who raised Him from the dead and crowned Him with glory. God Himself then is the centre and object not only of your faith but also of your hope. 22 In your conversion and your Baptism you profess, by virtue of the obedience which springs from your possession of the truth, to have purified and consecrated your souls to enter into the spirit of your sonship by unfeigned love from the heart for your brethren in Christ. Fulfil that vow of consecration then by loving one another, not fitfully but with strenuous and steady earnestness. 23 A living and abiding love such as that is alone consistent with the new life into which you have been begotten. Your character, your love, ought to conform to the seed from which you are sprung, and that seed is no transient, perishable thing; it is incorruptible, it is the Word of God who liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For (to apply to you the prophet’s message assuring exiled Israel of the certainty of God’s promise of deliverance despite the weakness of all human hopes) the natural life of heathenism is perishable like grass, its brightness and attractiveness is as transient as that of flowers, it soon withers and wastes, 25 but the word of Jehovah abideth for ever. And that word, originally spoken to Israel, is the message of good tidings which was extended to you Gentiles.

Verse 14

14. ὡς τέκνα ὑπακοῆς. The form of the expression is a Hebraism (cf. sons of Belial), but (as in the parallel passage, Ephesians 2:2, τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας) the phrase is used by St Peter to mean more than merely “obedient children.” “Children of obedience” are those who belong to obedience as a child to its mother. The impulses and principles which mould their lives are derived from it, and they are the representatives or exponents of it to others. To have been “begotten again” by God (1 Peter 1:3) demands the character of obedience on the part of His covenant children. They must ever listen to His voice and follow His guidance, striving to be like their Father.

μὴ συνσχηματιζόμενοι. The word is a late and rare one, and only occurs again in Romans 12:2 (where it is contrasted with μεταμορφοῦσθαι). σχῆμα denotes the outward changeable fashion in contrast with μορφή, the permanent and, essential form; cf. Philippians 3:21. So here conduct which is ruled by capricious desires has no consistent inner principle or fixed pattern (μορφή), but is unstable and at the mercy of transient outward circumstances, “the fashion (σχῆμα) of this world which passeth away” (1 Corinthians 7:31).

ἐν τῇ ἀγνοίᾳ ὑμῶν. In St Peter’s speech, Acts 3:17, ἀγνοία is used to describe the condition of the Jews in rejecting and crucifying Christ, but it is much more commonly used of the heathen world, cf. Acts 17:30; Ephesians 4:18. So here St Peter is probably contrasting the present condition of his readers with their former condition as heathen when they had no knowledge of God on which to model their lives.

Verse 15

15. κατὰ τὸν καλέσαντα ὑμᾶς ἅγιον (cf. Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 5:1, etc.). After the model of Him that called you, Who is holy. Here we have the true model (εἰκών) to which men’s lives are to be conformed (σύμμορφοι, cf. Romans 8:29; Colossians 3:10). The original purpose of God in creation was that man made in His image should grow into His likeness. “By divers portions and in divers manners” culminating in the Incarnation the divine likeness has been gradually revealed, and those who are “called” into covenanted relationship with God are bidden to be “imitators of God as beloved children,” Ephesians 5:1.

ἅγιος, like the Hebrew קָדו ̇שׁ, meant originally “set apart,” distinct from ordinary things. It was at first applied to persons (e.g. Exodus 22:31), places (Exodus 3:5, etc.) or things (1 Kings 7:51) which were “set apart” for religious use, regarded as being connected with the presence or service of God. It is not easy to decide how the same word came also to be applied to God Himself. Some would suggest that it was because God was regarded as “set apart,” separated from what was common or unclean. Others think that as things set apart for God were required to be without stain or blemish, the word ἅγιος applied to them acquired the meaning of “pure,” “unblemished,” and, as applied to persons, moral purity as well as physical would gradually be understood as being necessary. In this sense (the idea of “set apart” being lost sight of) the word might be applied to God. And in proportion as the conception of God became elevated and purified so the idea of (God’s Holiness would acquire a more awful purity (e.g. Isaiah 6:3). But in either case, when once the word ἅγιος had come to be applied to God, the idea of what “holiness” must mean in God would react upon all the lower applications of the word to men. Those who claimed a special relationship to God would be understood as requiring to have a moral character conformable to that of God.

Generally in the N.T. the title ἅγιος describes the Christian’s privilege, as one whom God has “set apart” for Himself, rather than the Christian’s character. But such consecration to God demands a corresponding character, and here St Peter emphasizes that demand by quoting the standard laid down in the “Law of Holiness,” “Ye shall be holy, for I am holy,” Leviticus 11:44-45; Leviticus 19:2. In the former passage the words are connected with things which were to be regarded as clean or unclean, but in the latter they are connected with various moral laws.

γενήθητε. Shew yourselves to be, prove yourselves worthy of the title which you claim in every detail of your dealings with other men. ἀναστροφή = your converse or intercourse with those around you.

Verse 17

17. εἰ πατέρα ἐπικαλεῖσθε. If ye invoke as Father. ἐπικαλεῖσθαι in the middle does not mean merely to call a person by a certain name or title, but to invoke or appeal to for aid. It is the word used by St Paul, Acts 25:11, “I appeal unto Caesar,” and of St Stephen appealing and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” Acts 7:59. Here there is very probably an allusion to the invocation of God as “Our Father” in the Lord’s prayer. But the words may also be borrowed from Jeremiah 3:19, where some MSS. of the LXX. read εἰ πατέρα καλεῖσθέ (or ἐπικαλεῖσθέ) με, though the best text is εἶπα Πατέρα καλέσετέ με.

The sense of sonship which allows us to invoke God as “Our Father” “in the words which Christ Himself hath taught us” does not warrant any presumption on our part. We must not forget that God is also “the Judge of all the earth.”

ἀπροσωπολήμπτως. The adverb occurs nowhere else in the Greek Bible, but the adjective is used by the Fathers, and the substantive προσωπολήμπτης occurs in St Peter’s speech to Cornelius, Acts 10:34, and προσωπολημψία in Romans 2:11 with reference to God. It is not a classical word, but is based upon the Hebrew פנִי נשׂא, to receive the face of, so to favour a person, either in a good sense to receive favourably or in a bad sense of undue favour, partiality. As applied to God in the N.T., it is generally used with reference to His dealings with Jews and Gentiles, that both are treated alike by Him. But, on the other hand, equality of favour implies impartiality of judgment for all. The children of the new covenant will not be treated with undue leniency if their works prove them to be unworthy of God’s favour any more than were the children of the old covenant, as they were warned by Moses, Deuteronomy 10:17 .

κρίνοντα. The present participle may be a reminder that God’s judgment is not merely future but continually exercised, or it may be merely a descriptive participle.

κατὰ τὸ ἑκάστου ἔργον (cf. Romans 2:6 ff.). Every man, whether he be Jew, Gentile or heathen, is judged according to the sum of his personal actions in thought, word and deed.

ἐν φόβῳ. The thought of God as “Our Father” can give us hope and love, but the reminder that He is also our Judge should inspire us with reverent fear. Not the shrinking fear of the slave (Romans 8:15), for that is “cast out” by perfect love (1 John 4:18), not the fear of the coward (1 Peter 3:14), but the fear of being untrue to God, which makes a man bold in the face of all other dangers (Matthew 10:28 ||).

παροικίας. In one sense these Asiatic Christians were sojourners among a heathen population with whom they were brought into constant intercourse (ἀναστράφητε). In another sense all Christians are men whose true “citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). This world is not their home, but only the place of their temporary sojourn.

Verse 18

18. εἰδότες. The thought of what their deliverance has cost increases the responsibility of Christians to “walk worthily.”

ἐλυτρώθητε, ye were ransomed. The word is used of deliverance from slavery or from exile, e.g. of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 6:6; Exodus 15:13, etc.). So St Stephen speaks of Moses as λυτρωτής. Again Isaiah 52:3, speaking of the deliverance from Babylon, says, οὐ μετὰ ἀργυρίου λυτρωθήσεσθε. In Luke 2:38 Anna “spake of Jesus to all those that were looking for the redemption (λύτρωσιν) of Jerusalem” (R.V.), referring to the Messianic kingdom as the deliverance from foreign rule; cf. Luke 24:21, “We hoped that it was He which should redeem (λυτροῦσθαι) Israel.” Similarly Christians are to welcome the signs of the coming of the Son of Man as a token that their redemption draweth nigh, i.e. their deliverance, Luke 21:28. So sin is regarded as a state of slavery from which man needs deliverance, and in Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:14, St Paul defines ἀπολύτρωσις as ἄφεσις παραπτωμάτων or ἁμαρτιῶν, letting go free from sins, and in Titus 2:14 he says that “Christ Jesus gave Himself on our behalf that he might redeem (λυτρώσηται) from all iniquity and purify unto himself a people for his own possession,” just as Israel were made God’s “peculiar people” by being “purchased and redeemed of old.” So here St Peter regards the old heathen life of his readers as a state of slavery from which they have been ransomed. But besides the mere idea of rescue or deliverance the word λυτροῦσθαι suggests also deliverance by the payment of a ransom by another, and the ransom given for man’s deliverance from the slavery of sin was the life-blood of Christ Himself; cf. Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man came … to give His life a ransom for many” (λύτρον ἀντὶ πολλῶν); cf. 1 Timothy 2:6, ὁ δοὺς ἑαυτὸν ἀντίλυτρον ὑπὲρ πάντων. So here the blood, as representing the surrendered life, is the ransom; cf. Revelation 1:5, “to him that loosed us (λύσαντι, not λούσαντι = washed, as T.R.) from our sins (ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ) at the price of his own blood.” We must not, however, over-press the metaphor and ask to whom the ransom was paid. Most of the early Fathers regarded the ransom as paid to the devil as being the slave-owner. Such a thought is abhorrent to us, yet the other suggested alternative that the price was paid to the Father would imply that the Father’s pardon required to be bought, whereas “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,” and in one passage (Acts 20:28) the Father Himself seems to be described as the ransomer or purchaser. Cf. Revelation 14:3-4.

ἐκ τῆς ματαίας ὑμῶν ἀναστροφῆς. This is the state of slavery out of which (ἐκ) they were rescued.

ματαίας. The adjective is used in 1 Kings 16:13, 2 Kings 17:15, of idolatry; so in Acts 14:15 Paul and Barnabas speak of turning ἀπὸ τούτων τῶν ματαίων, i.e. idolatrous practices, and St Paul speaks of the heathen as walking ἐν ματαιότητι, Ephesians 4:27.

μάταιος = aimless, purposeless, and describes the futility of life without God.

πατροπαραδότου. This word has been used as an argument that the readers had been Jews, whose παράδοσις is frequently spoken of disparagingly in the N.T., but the word would be equally applicable to Gentiles. Their ancestral heathenism was intensified by the accumulated habits of centuries.

Verse 19

19. ἀμνοῦ. Cf. John 1:29. The reference is most probably to the passover lamb, which, though not actually the ransom paid for deliverance from Egypt, was closely connected with that deliverance and did redeem the firstborn of Israel from the destroying angel. So the regulation about the paschal lamb, “Not a bone of him shall be broken,” was applied to our Lord in John 19:36, and in 1 Corinthians 5:7 St Paul says Christ our Passover (i.e. paschal lamb) is sacrificed for us, and in Revelation 15:3 the Song of the Lamb is associated with the Song of Moses.

ἄμωμος, without blemish. There was an old Greek word μῶμος, meaning blame, from which a poetical word, ἄμωμος, blameless, was derived, but this is not the meaning in the Bible. The word μῶμος in the LXX. was borrowed to translate the Hebrew word מוּם (mûm) = blemish. So when an adjective was needed to translate the word תָּמִים = perfect, free from blemish, an adjective ἄμωμος was formed from μῶμος. The word is used again of Christ as an unblemished sacrifice in Hebrews 9:14; of Christians in Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 1:22, Philippians 2:15 v.l., Judges 1:24; of the Church, Ephesians 5:27; and of those that follow the Lamb, Revelation 14:5.

ἄσπιλος = without spot; cf. 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Peter 3:14; James 1:27. Christ was free alike from inherent blemish and from external defilement.

Verse 20

20. προεγνωσμένου = designated beforehand as God’s appointed agent. This was true not only of the Messiah as the long-expected King, but also of the suffering Messiah, the Lamb. This is the usual interpretation of Revelation 13:8, “whose name hath not been written in the book of life of the Lamb that hath been slain from the foundation of the world” (ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου), but see R.V. margin.

In Ephesians 1:4 God is described as having chosen us in Christ πρὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, and one factor in the execution of God’s purpose is “redemption by Christ’s blood.” Again, in Matthew 25:34, the Kingdom is said to have been prepared for God’s children ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου, and in Revelation 5:9 the Lamb slain is said to have purchased men for God of every nation to be a kingdom and priests by His blood. In St Peter’s speech on the day of Pentecost Jesus is described as being delivered up (ἔκδοτον) by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge (προγνώσει) of God, Acts 2:23.

φανερωθέντος. The eternal purpose of God was not manifested to the world until the “fulness of the times” was come; cf. 1 Timothy 2:6 and Romans 16:25-26.

ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν χρόνων, at the end of the times, cf. καιρῷ ἐσχάτῳ, 1 Peter 1:5. The Christian dispensation is regarded as the climax for which all the earlier periods of God’s dealings with the world were preparatory. Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:11, the story of Israel in the wilderness was written “for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages are come”; Hebrews 1:2, God has spoken to us by the Son, ἐπʼ ἐσχάτου τῶν ἡμερῶν τούτων; Hebrews 9:26, Christ sacrificed Himself “at the end of the ages,” ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων.

Verse 21

21. διʼ ὑμᾶς, for the sake of you Gentiles, cf. Ephesians 3:5; Romans 16:26. The revelation of Christ was made for your sake, because it is through Christ that you are enabled to be faithful as resting upon God (πιστοὺς εἰς θεόν). πιστός in the LXX. never means “believing” or trustful, but is used to translate the Hebrew word נֶאֱמָן = firm, secure. As applied to persons, a firm friend is one who is trustworthy, and so πιστός acquired the meaning trustworthy, faithful. But in the N.T. the active use of πίστις, viz. belief, is much more common than the passive trustworthiness, fidelity, and so the adjective πιστός is occasionally used in the sense of believing—e.g. six times in the Pastoral Epp., possibly also in Ephesians 1:1 and Colossians 1:1—and with a new application of Abraham’s old title in Galatians 3:9. It is also used in the sense of a believer as opposed to ἄπιστος, an unbeliever, in John 20:27; 2 Corinthians 6:15; and without ἄπιστος in Acts 16:1. But there is no instance of πιστός in the sense of believing, followed by a preposition. So here Hort would translate “faithful as resting on God” rather than believers in God (as the R.V.). If St Peter had intended this he would have written πιστεύοντας, which is the reading of the T.R. Moreover, in that case, the words which follow at the end of the verse would be a meaningless repetition. The remembrance that death led to resurrection and glory in the case of Christ enables the Christian to be “faithful unto death” as leading to the crown of life; cf. Hebrews 2:9, Jesus is crowned with glory and honour because of the suffering of death, and this perfecting of the Captain of their salvation through sufferings befits God’s purpose in bringing many sons to glory; cf. Romans 8:17.

ὥστε might be taken as a final particle = in order that, i.e. God’s purpose in raising Christ to glory was that your faith and hope should be centred upon Himself. More probably it is here a consecutive particle = so that. St Peter sums up the result of all that he has said, and shews that God is the foundation and the goal of human faith and hope.

Verse 22

22. St Peter continues his exhortation, which has been interrupted by a reminder to his readers of their high privilege (1 Peter 1:18-21).

ἡγνικότες. The adjective ἁγνός in the O.T. means (a) ceremonially pure, free from defilement; (b) morally pure, which is its only meaning in the N.T. The verb ἁγνίζειν is nearly always used in the ceremonial sense in the O.T. and four times in the N.T., but here and in James 4:8, 1 John 3:3 it denotes moral purification. In accepting baptism, St Peter implies, you symbolized your cleansing from defilement, you consecrated yourselves to God’s service. The perfect participle denotes the abiding consequences of a past action. You profess to be men who have purified and consecrated themselves.

ἐν τῇ ὑπακοῇ τῆς ἀληθείας, in virtue of your obedience which is prompted by the truth; cf. 1 Peter 1:2, ἐν ἁγιασμῷεἰς ὑπακοήν. Your old life was one of ignorance (1 Peter 1:14). Now God has revealed the truth to you, and the possession of that truth, telling you of your sonship to God, sets before you a standard of obedience, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” Your self-consecration consists in and depends on your obedience to that standard. It is meaningless unless you are τέκνα ὑπακοῆς.

εἰς φιλαδελφίαν. Self-consecration as obedient children of God necessarily pledges you to (εἰς) love of the brethren. φιλαδελφία does not mean merely “brotherly love,” but love of the Christian brotherhood; cf. 1 Peter 2:17, and 1 John 5:1. There can be no true sonship of God without true brotherhood with the other children of “Our Father.”

ἀνυπόκριτον. This love of our brethren in Christ must be no mere cant phrase, no unreal pretence. Cf. Romans 12:9, 2 Corinthians 6:6. It must spring from the heart and must be intense (ἐκτενῶς), not fitful or capricious, but steady and strenuous. For ἐκτενής, applied to love, cf. 1 Peter 4:8, and to prayer cf. Luke 22:44, Acts 12:5; cf. also Acts 26:7.

Verse 23

23. ἀναγεγεννημένοι; cf. 1 Peter 1:3, the only other place where the word occurs. The verses which follow state the obligation and the source of Christian love. They have been brought into a new state of existence, they are born into a new divine sonship, and it is their common sonship which constitutes their new brotherhood with each other. Love is the essential characteristic of life derived from God, for. “God is Love.” The proof of true sonship is to inherit the Father’s nature; cf. 1 John 4:7, πᾶς ὁ ἀγαπῶν ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ γεγέννηται. Christian love must be unfeigned (ἀνυπόκριτος) and earnest (ἐκτενής), because the seed from which it springs is nothing less than “the word of God who lives and abides for ever.” The fruit of that seed therefore must also be “living” and “abiding,” with no fading, no decay.

διὰ λόγου ζῶντος θεοῦ καὶ μένοντος. ζῶντος καὶ μένοντος are generally explained as agreeing with λόγου on the following grounds: [1] that the point of the quotation which follows is that the word (ῥῆμα) of God abideth for ever; [2] that some epithet is needed for λόγου, the seed of Christian life, as contrasted with φθαρτῆς σπορᾶς; [3] that the phrase ζῶν λόγος occurs in Hebrews 4:12; cf. λόγια ζῶντα, Acts 7:38 and John 6:63, where our Lord says that His ῥήματα are ζωή.

On the other hand, the two epithets ζῶν and μένων are together applied to God in Daniel 6:26, and the contrast with σπορὰ φθαρτή is even more marked by tracing the source of Christian life to the abiding life of God Himself.

λόγου means more than the Gospel message by which these Asiatic Christians were converted. That is described as ῥῆμα at the end of 1 Peter 1:25. It means God’s whole utterance of Himself in the Incarnation, in Scripture, in preaching, in the inward voice of conscience. In James 1:18 the original creation of man is attributed to the λόγος ἀληθείας. The divine image was implanted in man, endowing him with a capacity for knowing God and hearing His voice. Here the reference is rather to man’s new creation as a Christian (cf. Intro. p. lvi.).

Verse 24

24. διότι is used again to introduce a quotation in 1 Peter 1:16 and 1 Peter 2:6.

The quotation is taken from Isaiah 40:6-8, and agrees with the LXX. in omitting the words “because the breath of the Lord bloweth upon it.” But it differs from the LXX. [1] by inserting ὡς, [2] by substituting αὐτῆς for ἀνθρώπου, [3] by substituting Κυρίου for τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν. Possibly, however, all of these changes already existed in the LXX. text used by St Peter. In the T.R. the first two have been altered here to agree with the usual text of the LXX. The words originally referred to the message of hope to the exiles in Babylon. Human help is weak and perishable, but God’s promise of restoration can never fail. Parts of the same passage are quoted in James 1:10-11 to shew the transitoriness of riches (see Intro. p. lvii.).

ἄνθος χόρτου means bright flowers such as the scarlet anemones which were characteristic of Palestine.

ἐξηράνθηἐξέπεσεν, the aorists are the LXX. rendering of the Hebrew perfect, which describes what has constantly been observed to happen. Accidentally this agrees with the classical idiom known as the “gnomic aorist,” used in proverbial sayings, but the only instance of such a “gnomic aorist” in the N.T. is James 1:11, where the same passage of Isaiah is quoted in the context, and possibly in James 1:24.

St Peter is contrasting the transitory character of heathen life, despite its many attractions, with the new life offered by God.

τὸ ῥῆμα τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν εἰς ὑμᾶς. ῥῆμα is the spoken (or written) utterance of the λόγος or meaning which the speaker desires to convey. The Christian message, like that to the exiles in Babylon, is one of good tidings (εὐαγγελισθέν) of deliverance, εἰς ὑμᾶς, extended to, the Gentiles.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on 1 Peter 1:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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