Notes on

1 Peter

2024 Edition

Dr. Thomas L. Constable



This epistle claims that the Apostle Peter wrote it (1:1). Since there is only one Peter who was an apostle we may be confident of the identity of the writer. There is only one Peter that the entire New Testament mentioned. For parallels between 1 Peter and Peter's sermons in Acts, compare 1 Peter 1:20 with Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 2:7 and 8 with Acts 4:10 and 11 (cf. Matt. 21: 42); and 1 Peter 4:5 with Acts 10:42.[1] Scholars did not question Peter's authorship until the nineteenth century, when destructive biblical criticism became popular.[2] Since then the views that Silvanus wrote the epistle, or co-wrote it with Peter, or that an anonymous writer composed it in Peter's name after Peter's death, have been the more popular ones.[3]

"As to the writings of Peter, one of his epistles called the first is acknowledged as genuine. For this was anciently used by the ancient fathers in their writings, as an undoubted work of the apostle."[4]

"The epistle has been well known and consistently acknowledged as Petrine from the second century well into modern times."[5]

"Aside from the four Gospels and the letters of Paul, the external attestation for 1 Peter is as strong, or stronger, than that for any NT book. There is no evidence anywhere of controversy over its authorship or authority"[6]

In contrast, there has been much controversy over the authorship of 2 Peter.


Peter first sent this letter to believers living in the northern regions of the Roman province of Asia Minor (modern western Turkey; 1:1). This was not a region that either Peter or Paul ever evangelized as far as we know. The locations of these Christians, as well as allusions in the epistle, indicate that they were mainly Gentiles but also Jews (cf. 1:14, 18; 2:9-10, 25; 3:6; 4:3-4).


Peter died in the 60s A.D. and spent the last decade of his life in Rome according to reliable tradition. The exact date of Peter's martyrdom is a matter of debate among scholars. Some believe that the traditional date of Peter's death was A.D. 64.[7] Another scholar claimed that it was A.D. 67.[8] Many interpreters have regarded Peter's reference to Babylon (5:13) as a coded reference to Rome, which Peter described as Babylon in order to highlight its paganism.

"Since the historical city of Babylon in Mesopotamia, often mentioned in the pages of the Old Testament, had no Jewish population in Peter's day (see Josephus, Ant. 18.371-79) and was almost deserted in A.D. 115 when the Emperor Trajan visited, almost no one thinks Peter wrote his letter from there. Another, very small Roman military colony in Egypt called 'Babylon' existed in Peter's day, but this too is a very unlikely provenance [place of origin] for 1 Peter."[9]

In view of all this information it seems likely that Peter wrote this epistle from Rome about A.D. 64.[10]

Special Features

Theologically this epistle is eschatological (dealing with the end times). Along with its eschatological focus there is much emphasis on holiness (personal, social, and communal), hope, salvation, community, relationship to the world, the Trinity, and especially suffering.[11]

"The keynote is 'Suffering and Glory.' The words suffering and suffer occur fifteen times and the word glory ten times."[12]

"As some scholars have pointed out, the letter is concerned as much, if not more, with Christian action in the world as with Christian suffering."[13]

"Nowhere in the New Testament … are the priestly and the prophetic elements in Christianity so closely fused as in I Peter."[14]

"… much of the material in 1 Peter is the stuff of basic Christian teaching rather than advanced instruction that assumes the mastery (and perhaps the perversion) of the basics, as in the Pauline letters."[15]

"… despite its brevity—only 105 verses in all—it is a microcosm of Christian faith and duty, the model of a pastoral charge, composed of divers [various] materials and of many themes."[16]

"Probably no other letter in the New Testament is said to rely so much on traditional material as is 1 Peter. … Scholars estimate that no other book in the New Testament, with the exception of Hebrews and Revelation, depends so heavily on the Old Testament."[17]

"The Greek of the letter is smooth and competent, with rhetorical flourishes. Indeed, along with Hebrews and Luke-Acts, it is some of the best Greek in the New Testament."[18]

"In many … respects, 1 Peter and James form a matched pair within the NT canon. They are Christian diaspora letters roughly similar in length, one directed (probably from Jerusalem) to scattered messianic Jews (i.e., Christians) who are real Jews, and the other directed from 'Babylon' to scattered 'Jews' who are in fact Gentile Christians."[19]

As James is an exposition of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 5 through 7, 1 Peter expounds some of the same themes that Jesus taught in His discipleship discourse in Matthew 10.

"Peter's motivation for action differs from both Paul and John. All three call for a life of faith in Christ in obedience to His commands. But the basis of motivation differs among the three. Paul bases much (though not all) of his application on justification realities, or positional truths. He calls people to action based on what God has done. John calls for action on the basis of sanctification realities, and what God is doing in them. Peter bases his motivation on glorification realities, and what God has promised to do. This needs to be understood so that Peter's discussion of salvation will not be reduced to a description of justification. He speaks to believers, and only occasionally does he refer to their justification when discussing their salvation. He more often points them to glorification realities."[20]


Peter stated his reason for writing, namely, to encourage his readers, who were facing persecution for their faith, to stand firm (5:12). Evidently this persecution was widespread among his readers. Local enemies of the gospel were not the only people responsible for it. When Paul traveled around the Roman Empire preaching the gospel, some churches that he planted experienced persecution from the unsaved in their communities, but others did not. However 1 Peter reflects persecution of the Christians throughout northern Asia Minor. This condition prevailed after Nero blamed the Christians for burning Rome in July of A.D. 64. While persecution seems to have been widespread, it may not have been official yet.[21]

"… it seems that state action [against Christians] was rare (Pliny acted only when prosecutions were brought that he could not overlook) and that what Christians had to fear was more in the nature of social ostracism, unfriendly acts by neighbors, pressure on Christian wives from pagan husbands, masters taking it out on Christian slaves and other actions of that kind."[22]

"The Letter stresses life triumphant in conduct; life triumphant in character; life triumphant in conflict."[23]


I.       Introduction 1:1-2

II.       The identity of Christians 1:3—2:10

A.      Our great salvation 1:3-12

1.      The hope of our salvation 1:3-5

2.      The joy of our salvation 1:6-9

3.      The witnesses of our salvation 1:10-12

B.      Our new way of life 1:13-25

1.      A life of holiness 1:13-16

2.      A life of reverence 1:17-21

3.      A life of love 1:22-25

C.      Our priestly calling 2:1-10

1.      Listening to God 2:1-3

2.      Growing in God 2:4-5

3.      Building on Christ 2:6-8

4.      Summary affirmation of our identity 2:9-10

III.      The responsibilities of Christians individually 2:11—4:11

A.      Our mission in the world 2:11-12

B.      Respect for others 2:13—3:12

1.      Respect for everyone 2:13-17

2.      Slaves' respect for their masters 2:18-25

3.      Wives' respect for their husbands 3:1-6

4.      Husbands' respect for their wives 3:7

5.      The importance of loving enemies 3:8-12

C.      Eventual vindication 3:13—4:6

1.      Suffering for doing good 3:13-17

2.      The vindication of Christ 3:18-22

3.      Living with the promise in view 4:1-6

D.      The importance of mutual love in end-times living 4:7-11

IV.     The responsibilities of Christians collectively 4:12—5:11

A.      The fiery trial 4:12-19

1.      Suffering and glory 4:12-14

2.      Suffering as Christians 4:15-19

B.      The church under trial 5:1-11

1.      The responsibilities of the elders 5:1-4

2.      The responsibilities of the others 5:5

3.      The importance of humility and trust in God 5:6-7

4.      The importance of resisting the devil 5:8-11

V.      Conclusion 5:12-14


One writer has identified five major motifs in 1 Peter. These are: (1) the believer's behavior, (2) the believer's unfair circumstances, (3) the believer's deference, (4) the believer's motivation by Christ's example, and (5) the believer's anticipation of future glory. Putting these together, he has stated the message of 1 Peter as follows:

"The behavior of believers when they encounter unfair circumstances reflects a spirit of deference in all relationships as they follow Christ's example and anticipate future glory."[24]

This is a very fine statement of what the Holy Spirit has said to us through Peter in this epistle. However I would add one more important motif. It is the believer's resource of God's grace. This is not an incidental motif but one that underlies all of what Peter called upon his readers to do. We must understand and apply what he wrote about God's grace as our resource in order to obey his exhortations.

It seems to me that Peter stated the message of this epistle clearly: "this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it!" (5:12).[25]

The subject of the letter, therefore, is the true grace of God. "Grace" is the key word in the argument of this epistle. Wherever it occurs, the word "grace" appears in the practical rather than in the doctrinal part of each section of the letter. Throughout 1 Peter the fact of God's grace was in Peter's mind as crucial to the believer's practice. How does one explain God's grace? Grace means both undeserved favor and divine enablement. A good synonym is God's help.

The main purpose of this epistle was to strengthen the readers so that they would persevere through their trials with the right attitude. Peter did this by showing that God's grace provided all that they needed for strength. In a larger sense the purpose was to help Christians know how to live as aliens in the world.

This epistle reveals above all else that God's grace is sufficient for all our needs. We could write over this whole book 2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for you." Notice five things that Peter reminds us about God's grace as we trace his references to grace though 1 Peter:

First, grace proceeds from God. God in His grace has chosen Christians (1:2a). Now we need to appropriate God's grace in its fullest measure in our experience (1:2b).

Second, grace produces confidence. The prophets foretold God's grace (1:10). The two advents of Jesus Christ supply God's grace (1:13). Grace came into the world at His first advent through His sufferings and death. It will come into the world again at His second advent through His glorification. This pattern gives us confidence. God has united us with Christ. As He suffered once, we suffer now. As certainly as He will receive glory in the future, we too will experience glorification in the future. We need to remember our hope (cf. James 1).

Third, what proclaims God's grace is our conduct (2:19-20). The Christian's conduct in trying and difficult circumstances manifests God's grace in a human life. The submissive conduct of servants whose masters are persecuting them manifests God's grace. The submissive conduct of wives whose antagonistic husbands are persecuting them manifests grace. The submissive conduct of husbands whom unbelievers are persecuting manifests grace. The husband demonstrates his submission to God by treating his wife as a fellow heir of God's grace (3:7). Our patient endurance of trials displays our submission to God's will. Thus the Christian's conduct should manifest God's grace. Sometimes we marvel at the ability that God gives his persecuted saints to endure. We say: How can he (or she) do it? They can do it because God provides grace.

Fourth, grace perfects character. Grace is the source of service (4:10). Grace is also the source of humility (5:5). An attitude of humility manifests itself in service of others. God's grace is the secret of both the attitude and the activity. Jesus established the so-called Order of the Towel by washing the disciples' feet (John 13).

Fifth, grace promotes courage (5:10). We need courage to resist the devil (5:8-9). God's grace gives us strength to defend ourselves against his attacks.

This epistle exhorts us to stand firm in this grace (5:12). This is Peter's appeal to his Christian readers.

When God tries our faith, we need to remember that we have an adequate source of strength in God's grace (2 Cor. 12:9).

When our faith is trembling, we need to remember that we have an adequate source of confidence in God's grace. This is not simply positive thinking but real external help.

When our circumstances are difficult, we need to remember that we have an adequate source of conduct in God's grace, not just pep talks.

When we suffer for conscience's sake, we need to remember that we have an adequate source of character in God's grace, not just self-effort.

When assaulted by the adversary, we need to remember that we have an adequate source of courage in God's grace. Some need courage to evangelize, others need it to do other forms of ministry.

We stand firm in the true grace of God when we respond to suffering for Christ's sake as Peter directed. God's grace is what we need to rely on as we commit ourselves to continue to walk in the will of God. We need to trust and obey.[26]


I.      INTRODUCTION 1:1-2

Peter began this epistle in the manner that was customary in his day.[27] He introduced himself to his original readers, and he wished God's blessing on them in order to prepare them for what he had to say. He prepared them for dealing with trials by reminding them of who they were, what they had, and where they were going (vv. 1-5).

1:1             "Peter" is a Greek name (lit. Petros, meaning a stone or rock). No one else in the New Testament has the name Peter, though Peter called Christians "stones" in this epistle (2:4-5). In Aramaic, "stone" is the word cephas. Jesus gave the name Cephas (Peter) to Simon (the Greek transliteration of Simeon, Peter's original Hebrew name) as a prediction of what this apostle would become (John 1:42; Matt. 16:18).

The word "apostle" has both a technical and a general sense in the New Testament. It refers to the Twelve and Paul, the official apostles, but also to others who went out just as the Twelve and Paul did to represent Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 14:4, 14). Peter was one of the Twelve, and he wrote with full apostolic authority.

"To pretend to what we have not is hypocrisy; and to deny what we have is ingratitude."[28]

Peter called his readers "strangers" in order to introduce this self-concept into their minds. In this letter he emphasized that Christians are really citizens of heaven and that our sojourn here on earth is only temporary (2:11; cf. Gen. 32:4; Ps. 39:12). The Greek word perepidemos ("stranger") contains both the ideas of alien nationality and temporary residence (cf. 2:11; Heb. 11:13).

"Parepidemoi are persons who belong to some other land and people, who are temporarily residing with a people to whom they do not belong. … Aliens are often held in contempt by the natives among whom they dwell."[29]

"Christians, if they rightly consider their calling, must never settle themselves here, but feel themselves travellers [sic]."[30]

"This is an epistle from the homeless to the homeless."[31]

The particular group of Christians to whom this epistle first went lived in the northern Roman provinces of Asia Minor north of the Taurus Mountains.[32] Peter Davids estimated that when Peter wrote this epistle, about one million Jews lived in Israel, and two to four million lived outside it. Asia Minor held the third largest concentration of Diaspora Jews [Jews who lived outside Israel] after Babylon and Egypt.[33]

This was originally an encyclical letter: one that was written for circulation among the addressees. The sequence of listed provinces corresponds to the route that the bearer of the original epistle would have normally followed as he traveled through this region.[34] This is also true of the seven cities addressed in Revelation 2 and 3.

Peter's readers were God's elect (Eph. 1:4; cf. Deut. 14:2; Isa. 45:4). One writer believed that the word "chosen" should be connected with the word "strangers": chosen strangers.[35] However most translators regarded the word "chosen" as a noun, not an adjective.[36]

"… the letter develops a unified thematic focus: the existence of Christians in a non-Christian society and overcoming that society by being prepared to bear oppression, i.e., to 'suffer.' This thematic focus, i.e., the question of how to live in society—the fundamental problem of every social ethic—was for Jesus' disciples from the very beginning an acute problem."[37]

1:2             Divine election ("chosen," v. 1) originates in the eternal will and purpose of "God the Father." The "foreknowledge" (Gr. prognosin; cf. Acts 2:23) of God refers, of course, to what God knows beforehand. God's foreknowledge has an element of determinism in it, because whatever really happens—which God knows beforehand, namely, everything—exists or takes place because of His sovereign will.[38] Therefore when Peter wrote that God chose his readers "according to the foreknowledge of God," he did not mean that God chose the elect because He knew beforehand that they would believe the gospel (the Arminian position). God chose them because He determined beforehand that they would believe the gospel (the Calvinist position; cf. Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:3-6; 1 Thess. 1:4; 1 Peter 5:13).[39]

"When applied to God's knowledge of persons (whether of Jesus or his people), 'foreknowledge' is more than mere prescience [knowing something before it takes place], it involves choice or determination as well (cf. Acts 2:23—the only other NT use of the noun—and Jud 9:6; also the verb proginoskein, 'know,' in Rom 8:29 and 11:2, as well as 1 Pet 1:20). In this sense God 'knows' some people and not others, whereas a general prescience would be all inclusive (cf. the particularized use of 'know' in Amos 3:2; Hos 5:3; 12:1 [LXX]; 1 Cor 8:3; Gal 4:9)."[40]

The Holy Spirit accomplished election when He separated the elect from the rest of humanity and set them aside for a special calling. This is "the sanctifying work of the Spirit." God's purpose in election was that the elect might "obey Jesus Christ", and that we might "be sprinkled with His blood" (cf. Eph. 2:10).

"To 'sprinkle with Christ's blood' means to take a person into the realm of influence of Christ's dying, to align him or her with the One who died. This alignment accomplishes, as the figure expresses graphically, purification and thereby appropriation into a new connection to God."[41]

This sprinkling is probably an allusion to covenant ratification (cf. Exod. 24:5-8). Jesus' blood ratified (made valid) the New Covenant (cf. Matt. 26:27-28; Mark 14:23-24; Luke 22:20), since it was the basis for the forgiveness of sins (as promised in Jeremiah 31:31-34).[42]

"Peter's choice of images confirms the impression that he writes to communities of Gentiles as if they were a strange new kind of Jew."[43]

In this verse Peter referred to all three members of the Trinity.

"The primary import of the three clauses [that begin verse 2] is to open up clearly at the outset of the Epistle the transcendent origin, nature, and purpose of the Church and its life."[44]

Probably Peter had Old Testament sprinkling of blood in mind when he wrote this verse. There are many Old Testament allusions in this epistle, which we would expect from a Jewish writer. Sprinkling with blood in Israel resulted in cleansing (Num. 19:9), bringing the person sprinkled under the terms and blessings of a covenant (Exod. 24:3-8), and induction into the priesthood and/or kingship.

Members of the priesthood enjoyed the privilege of serving as mediators between God and people (Exod. 29:21; Lev. 8:30). Members of the royal line in Israel enjoyed the privilege of reigning under God. All of these benefits belong to the Christian as well, whom God has figuratively sprinkled with the blood of Jesus Christ: the final Sacrifice for our sins (cf. Heb. 10:1-18). Obedience is our responsibility, and sprinkling is our privilege. Christ's blood covers our sins as sinners, cleanses our defilement as unclean people, and consecrates our service as priests and kings (cf. 2:9).

"The author sees himself and his readers as a community situated in the world in much the same way the Jews are situated, and sharing with the Jews a common past."[45]

Peter prayed for God's fullest outpouring of His favor and help ("grace") on his readers: "May grace and peace be multiplied to you." They needed this in order to make it through their present sufferings and survive spiritually, which sufferings Peter proceeded to discuss. His readers also needed God's gift of "peace" since they were suffering.

"In looking back over Peter's designation of his readers, one is awed by the sweep and richness of his statement. If one has been prone to think of Peter primarily as an aggressive man of action, he here reveals himself also as a man who had a firm grasp of the great spiritual realities of the faith."[46]

II.     The Identity of Christians 1:3—2:10

The essentially chiastic structure of thought in the letter, excluding the introduction and conclusion, can be visualized in the outline above (see Introduction).[47] The recurrence of the direct address "Beloved" in 2:11 and 4:12 divides this letter into three main parts.

"The theme of the first part is the identity of the people of God established on the basis of the great salvation Christ has accomplished (and is accomplishing) on their behalf. Their identity as a 'chosen' people is affirmed programmatically in the address (1:1-2) and confirmed in the concluding pronouncements of 2:9-10 so as to form an inclusio. More broadly, there is an inclusion between the emphasis on the identity of Christians in the first section (1:1-12) and last section (2:1-10) of part one. In the first section, they are 'chosen' as heirs of divine salvation, while in the last their election is confirmed by the metaphor of priesthood."[48]

Peter began the body of this epistle by reminding his readers of their identity as Christians. He did this in order to enable them to rejoice in the midst of their present sufferings. They could glory (rejoice) in their sufferings since they would ultimately experience glorification. The tone of this entire epistle is warm, pastoral, and full of encouragement. In it Peter partially fulfilled Jesus' instructions to him to take care of the Lord's flock (John 21:15-17).

A.     Our great salvation 1:3-12

The first part of this section, on who we are as Christians, is a revelation of our great salvation. Some have called it The Great Doxology. In this doxology Peter reminded his readers of our hope, our joy, and the witnesses of our salvation. He did this so that we would appreciate how greatly God has blessed us. God the Father is central in this section.

1.     The hope of our salvation 1:3-5

1:3             Peter called on his readers to bless (praise) God for giving us "a living hope," "not merely an empty wish."[49] This vital hope has its roots in "the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Because He lives we shall live. Our new birth gave us this life. Consequently our hope is both alive within us and part of our new life in Christ.

"Just as 'faith' can be subjective (the act or state of believing), or objective (the content of belief), so 'hope' can refer either to an anticipation (even a certainty) of good things to come or to the content of that anticipation, the good things themselves. The 'living hope' of which Peter speaks here is better understood in the second, objective, sense. As such, it appropriately parallels, and is further explained by, the 'inheritance' of v 4 and the 'salvation' of v 5 (cf. Col 1:5 …)."[50]

Alford understood this living hope in the first, subjective sense:

"… it is a life of hope, a life in which hope is the energizing principle."[51]

Many popular writers have called Paul the apostle of faith, John the apostle of love, and Peter the apostle of hope. They have done so because of the dominant emphasis that each of these writers made in the New Testament. Peter had much to say about hope in this epistle.[52]

When James wrote of salvation, the particular aspect of salvation that he usually had in view was progressive (also called practical) sanctification. When Peter wrote of salvation in this epistle, the particular aspect of salvation that he usually had in view was glorification.

"While Peter's teaching on how salvation is applied gave attention to the beginning and continued process of living as a Christian, the actual words for 'salvation' have a predominantly future orientation in 1 Peter."[53]

"Born again" describes the Christian who has experienced spiritual regeneration (cf. v. 23; John 3:3). The phrase stresses the great change that takes place at conversion and our resultant participation in the life of God. God has been exceedingly merciful in giving us this blessing ("according to His great mercy"; cf. Rom. 11:30-32; 15:9; Eph. 2:1-7; Titus 3:5). In this verse the aspect of salvation that is in view is justification. One writer considered salvation the major theme of this epistle.[54]

"The Christian … is as incapable of starting himself on the new life as he was of conceiving himself for his first life."[55]

"A child of God has no right to look on the dark side of things, and to look for the worst to happen to him. As the object of God's care and love, he has the right to look for the best to come to him and to look on the bright side of things [cf. Prov. 4:18-19]."[56]

1:4             As the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness anticipated their "inheritance" in the Promised Land, so we who are Christians should anticipate ours the other side of the grave. However ours is not subject to destruction from any enemy, defilement from without, or decay from within. Peter played with words when he described three characteristics of our inheritance. Each Greek word begins with the same letter and ends with the same syllable: It is in substance "imperishable" (aphtharton), in purity "undefiled" (amianton), and in beauty unfading ("will not fade away," amaranton). No one can ravage or pollute our inheritance, and it will not wear out or waste away, because it is "reserved in heaven for" us.

"'the inheritance is untouched by death, unstained by evil, unimpaired by time'."[57]

What is the Christian's inheritance exactly? It is Jesus Christ Himself plus all the blessings that He has promised us (cf. 1 John 3:2; Col. 3:4; Eph. 1:14; Rom. 8:11, 18-23). Not all Christians will obtain the same amount of inheritance (cf. 2 Tim. 2:12; Matt. 25:14-30; et al.), but every Christian will obtain much inheritance. Heaven will be the portion of all, but rewards will vary (1 Cor. 3:14-15; 2 Cor. 5:10; 2 John 8).

The idea of serving Jesus Christ faithfully to receive a reward is distasteful to some Christians, because such service could flow from selfish motives. However selfishness is not the only possible motive. For example, two students could study hard to finish school with good records. One of them might do so to obtain a diploma with a "highest honor" stamp, so that he could hang it on his wall for all to see and admire. The other might do so simply to prepare to serve most effectively after graduation, with no thought of broadcasting his honor.

The Christian who serves Jesus Christ faithfully now, so that the Lord may entrust him with significant service opportunities in His kingdom, is not necessarily trying to earn rewards for his own glory. He might be serving now so that he can better glorify his Lord in the future. The present life is a training period designed to prepare us believers for future service in our Lord's earthly millennial and heavenly eternal kingdom (cf. Matt. 25:14-30; Luke 16:1-13; 19:11-27; Rom. 8:16-18).

But the emphasis on the believer's inheritance in this passage is on what every Christian will receive from the Lord in heaven.

1:5             Not only is God protecting our inheritance (v. 4), He is also protecting us by His "power." All Christians will undoubtedly obtain an eternal inheritance one day (cf. Phil. 1:6; 1 Cor. 1:8). Our "faith" in Christ for salvation is, on the human side, what guarantees our final realization of the fullness of our salvation that is "ready to be revealed in the last time" (our glorification). Peter was not saying that our faith keeps us saved. He said God's power keeps us saved. Our faith is the means by which we receive every aspect of our salvation.

"To interpret faith as a 'steadfast determination to cling to God in all trials' (Wand) makes their faith the cause of their preservation by God, i.e. they are saved because they cling steadfastly to God; this really makes the reference to God's power unnecessary and provides no assurance to the believer since what he doubts is his own power to cling to God in trial."[58]

Some Christians (mainly in the Reformed tradition) believe this verse teaches that true Christians will inevitably continue in the faith and that they will never abandon Christianity or stop believing that Jesus is the Christ. They view the faith referred to in this verse as ongoing faith, rather than as initial faith. One advocate of this view wrote the following:

"Those who have true faith can lose that faith neither totally nor finally."[59]

I do not believe the apostle meant that the elect will inevitably continue in faith, namely, continue to believe the truths of the gospel. Paul warned that Christians can stop believing the truth (e.g., 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 2:17-18; Heb. 2:1-4; 3:7-19; 5:11—6:12; 10:19-39; 12:14-29). Rather, Peter meant that God's power keeps believers saved in spite of their sins, because they have placed saving faith in Christ in the past. It is in this sense that we who are believers never lose our faith.

There is much misunderstanding about the Bible's teaching concerning the perseverance of the saints. Joseph Dillow has the most helpful and biblically consistent discussion of perseverance that I have found.[60] Scripture does not teach that Christians will inevitably continue to persevere in the faith, that is, continue believing the truth, walking with the Lord, or doing good works. It does teach that God will persevere in His commitment to bring every person who has trusted in Christ to heaven (eternal security).

If someone asks me if I believe in the perseverance of the saints, I ask him what he means by the perseverance of the saints. If he means that a believer is eternally secure, I say that I believe that. If he means that a believer will inevitably continue to believe the truth or follow God faithfully to the end of his or her life, even with occasional lapses, I say I do not believe that.

The "salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" is the aspect of salvation that we have yet to enjoy, namely, our glorification. When God glorifies us He will save us from the presence of sin forever. This will happen when we see our Savior and are forever, from then on, with Him (1 Thess. 4:17). This glorification will become ours at death or the Rapture, whichever event comes first.

"Every preparation for the final unveiling of this salvation is completed."[61]

Salvation is the subject of 1:3 through 2:10. Note the recurrence of the word "salvation" (Gr. soteria) in 1:5, 9, 10, and 2:2. As noted previously, Peter referred primarily to the future aspect of our salvation in this epistle, namely, our glorification.

2.     The joy of our salvation 1:6-9

"The main thread of Peter's rhetoric [in these verses] can … be expressed in one sentence: 'Then you will rejoice with inexpressible and glorious delight, when you each receive the outcome of your faith, your final salvation' …"[62]

God the Son is prominent in this section of verses.

1:6             We can "rejoice greatly" in "this." Some have taken the antecedent of "this" to be "the last time" (v. 5). Peter's idea would then be that we will greatly rejoice on that future day, whereas now we experience various distressing trials. Others take the antecedent of "this" to be "salvation" (v. 5). In this case Peter meant that God will preserve both us and our inheritance until we receive our inheritance. I prefer the second view.

"Trials" (Gr. peirasmois, the same kind of trials James wrote about in James 1:2, et al.) are all kinds of tests that challenge our fidelity to God's will.

"Peirasmos here means not the inner wrestling with evil inclination, but undeserved sufferings from outside the person who is distressed by them."[63]

Peter was not denying that we face temptations from within, but he was addressing temptations from external sources particularly.[64]

In comparison with the eternal bliss ahead, our present distresses are only for a little while: temporary and brief (cf. Matt. 5:4-5; 2 Cor. 4:17-18). Trials are necessary for the Christian. God uses them to perfect us (cf. James 1:3-4). However they tend to rob us of joy if we do not remember what Peter urged his readers to bear in mind here (cf. James 1:2): They are only temporary and our future hope is certain.

1:7             Trials do to "faith" what "fire" does to gold. They purify it and reveal its true value and genuineness—what it really is (cf. James 1:3). Peter anticipated that his readers would respond to their trials properly. God purifies our faith with trials by helping us to realize the inadequacy of anything other than trust in Him in these situations. He shows that our faith is genuine by demonstrating that our joy in trials rests solely on our confidence in Him and His promises. Both results—purity and proof of genuineness—bring "praise, glory, and honor" to God ultimately, though they also benefit us in the process.

"Glory is never said to be the possession of humans except as we share God's glory in the parousia (e.g., Rom. 8:17; Col. 3:4), although we contribute to this glory by our actions now (1 Cor. 10:31; Eph. 1:12)."[65]

The Greek word parousia means "presence" and, specifically, the "presence" of one coming, hence the coming of Christ. The "revelation [Gr. apokalypsis, uncovering, appearing] of Jesus Christ" to Christians will take place at the Rapture, and His revelation to the world will take place at the Second Coming. Both events, seen as a whole, seem to be in view here (cf. v. 13). Peter's emphasis was not on when this would happen relative to other events yet future but on the fact that it would happen in the future.

1:8             Even though we will experience "joy" when we see the Lord, we can experience "joy" even now as well, because we have hope (v. 3), faith (v. 7), and love (v. 8). These characteristics are inseparable in the believer. Our joy is "full of glory" in that the glory that people will see when God reveals Jesus Christ infuses our present joy (cf. John 20:29). Our joy will be no different on that day, only greater.

1:9             Ultimately we will obtain the complete "salvation of" our "souls" (i.e., glorification, though not necessarily exemption from physical suffering and death now). The Greek word translated "souls" (psychon) refers to our persons, namely, the whole being that God has saved (cf. Mark 3:4; 8:34-37; Rom. 13:1; 1 Thess. 2:8; James 1:21; 5:20; et al.).[66] A better translation would be "selves" or "lives." Peter probably did not intend a contrast with our bodies.[67] This is part of the reason that we experience joy in present trials as well. Since our salvation comes by faith, it is only consistent that we should continue to trust God now. Our salvation is still in process.[68]

To summarize this first major section so far (vv. 3-9), Peter called on his readers to rejoice in their present sufferings because of their hope, faith, and love. They had certain hope in the future appearing of Jesus Christ and in their final glorification. They had faith in God's dealings with them presently, namely, allowing them to undergo trials. And they had love for Jesus Christ for what He had already done for them in the past. It does not matter if we look forward, around us, or backward. We can find reasons for rejoicing wherever we look—past, present, or future—even as we suffer.

3.     The Witnesses of Our Salvation 1:10-12

Peter reminded his readers that the prophets had predicted that Jesus Christ's life, as their own lives, would include suffering followed by glory. He mentioned this in order to encourage them to realize that their experience of suffering—for their commitment to follow God faithfully—was not abnormal.

"To the elaborated and elevated declaration of his eschatological vision in vv 6-9, Peter now adds an explanatory postscript in a more didactic [teaching] style. He pauses to measure the greatness of the salvation mentioned in vv 5 and 9 with a brief but wide-ranging reflection on the past and present. The curiosity of 'prophets' (v. 10) and 'angels' (v 12) underscores the mystery of the divine plan: God in his sovereignty has long kept secret the salvation soon to be revealed to his chosen ones (cf. Eph 3:4-6)."[69]

These verses reveal a chiastic structure, centering on the idea that God clarified what had formerly been unclear to the prophets. God the Holy Spirit is in view in this section.

1:10-11      "Salvation" is the major concept that Peter discussed. He wanted his readers to remember that it included suffering as well as glory. The Old Testament "prophets" had predicted that Messiah would experience both suffering and glory (e.g., Isa. 61:1-3). However they did not understand how His suffering and glory would fit together. It is possible to understand that mystery only after Jesus' earthly ministry.

"He [Peter], who wanted to hear nothing of it [Christ's sufferings] during the lifetime of Jesus, made Jesus' suffering and death the very centre of his explanation of Jesus' earthly work."[70]

Many Christians do not realize that God intends our experience as well to include both suffering and glory.

Some interpreters have seen the phrase "the grace that would come to you" (v. 10) as a reference to the salvation of Gentiles. The Old Testament prophets predicted this too (e.g., Isa. 52:15). Peter's original audience was probably made up predominantly of groups of Gentile Christians. It seems more likely, however, that Peter was not referring exclusively to prophecy about Gentile salvation. He seems to have been referring to the grace that God promised to bestow on believers generally, including Gentile salvation, about which he had been speaking in verses 3 through 9.

These verses clearly distinguish, by the way, between the divine author and the human writers of Scripture. "The prophets" were not simply religious geniuses. They were people through whom God spoke (2 Pet. 1:21). At times they knew that they did not fully comprehend what they were communicating, so they "made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know" (vv. 10-11) these things. At other times they probably thought that they understood what they communicated, but they did not completely see the full significance of it (cf. Dan. 9; 12:5-13; Hab. 2:1-4). They did not know the time when or how many messianic prophecies would be fulfilled either.

The title "Spirit of Christ" occurs elsewhere in the New Testament only in Romans 8:9. In both places it probably signifies not only that the Spirit came from Christ, but also that the Spirit witnesses to Christ as His representative (cf. John 15:26-27). Peter was stressing the Spirit's witness to Christ in the Old Testament, rather than the preexistence of Christ.[71]

1:12           The prophets did understand, however, that God would not fulfill all of their inspired revelations in their own days but in the future. God had fulfilled the prophecies about Messiah's "sufferings" in Peter's day, but He had not yet fulfilled the prophecies of Messiah's glorification ("the glories to follow").[72] Even the "angels" are waiting to see how and exactly when God will fulfill them (cf. Heb. 1:5—2:18).

"The Church is God's university for angels."[73]

The Holy Spirit has a ministry of illumination as well as inspiration. He enables others to understand God's revelation as they read it, as preachers and teachers explain it, and, of course, as they hear it in other ways.

Peter's point in verses 10 through 12 seems to be that his readers could rejoice in their sufferings even though they could not see exactly how or when their present trials would end. The readers should find encouragement by looking at the prophets' limited understanding of their own prophecies dealing with the suffering and glorification of Messiah. God would bring their own experiences to a glorious completion just as surely as He would do the same for Messiah, though in both cases the details of fulfillment were not yet clear.

B.     Our New Way of Life 1:13-25

Peter wanted his readers to live joyfully in the midst of suffering. Consequently he outlined his readers' major responsibilities in order to enable them to see their duty clearly so that they could carry it out. These responsibilities were their duties to God, to other believers, and to the world.

The first sub-section of this epistle (vv. 3-12) stressed walking in hope. The second sub-section (vv. 13-25) emphasizes walking in holiness, reverence, and love. Peter held out several incentives to encourage his suffering readers to walk appropriately: God's glory (v. 13), God's holiness (vv. 14-15), God's Word (v. 16), God's judgment (v. 17), and God's love (vv. 18-21).[74] Peter presented the believer's duty to God as consisting of three things: a correct perspective, correct behavior, and a correct attitude.

1.     A life of holiness 1:13-16

1:13           "Therefore" ties the following verses in with everything that Peter had explained thus far (vv. 3-12). He said, in effect: Now that you have focused your thinking positively, you need to adopt some attitudes that will affect your activities ("prepare your minds for action").

"… the thought is: 'Make up your mind decisively!'"[75]

"The English phrase 'pull yourselves together' would express the meaning."[76]

"In Israel an ordinary person wore as the basic garment a long, sleeveless shirt of linen or wool that reached to the knees or ankles. Over this mantle something like a poncho might be worn, although the mantle was laid aside for work. The shirt was worn long for ceremonial occasions or when at relative rest, such as talking in the market, but for active service, such as work or war, it was tucked up into a belt at the waist to leave the legs free (1 Kings 18:46; Jer. 1:17; Luke 17:8; John 21:18; Acts 12:8). Thus Peter's allusion pictures a mind prepared for active work."[77]

"Sober in spirit" describes a Christian who is in full control of his speech and conduct in contrast to someone who allows his flesh (i.e., his sinful human nature) to govern him.

The main duty, however, is to concentrate on the culmination of our "hope" when Christ returns (cf. v. 7; 4:3; Titus 2:10-13). When we fix our hope "completely on the grace to be brought to" us then, present trials will not deflect us from obeying God faithfully now. In other words, Peter urged his readers to face their daily trials with a specific attitude clearly and constantly in mind. We should remember that what God will give us soon, as a reward for our faithful commitment to Him, is worth any sacrifice we may make now (cf. Rom. 8:18).

It has been suggested that "the grace to be brought to you" may refer to dying grace ministered divinely to martyrs.[78] However, the reference to "the revelation of Jesus Christ" seems to refer to the time when He appears.

1:14           A better translation of "obedient children" might be "children whose spirit is obedience." Negatively we should stop letting our "former lusts" (sinful passions) dominate and control us (cf. Rom. 12:2). Self-indulgence is characteristic of those who are ignorant of God. Practically this involves saying "no" to the flesh.

The fact that Peter said that his readers had lived in "ignorance" identifies them for the first time explicitly as Gentile Christians (cf. Acts 17:23, 30; Eph. 4:18). The Jews were not ignorant of the importance of abstaining from fleshly lusts, since their Scriptures informed them of this.

1:15           Positively we should imitate our "holy" God who has "called" us to be holy, and to be holy "in all" our "behavior": thoughts, words, and deeds (cf. 2:9, 21; 3:9; 5:10; Mark 1:17). "Holy" means set apart from sin to God. We are to strive after sinless living, namely, moral and ethical purity.[79] Peter was not implying that his readers had been living unholy lives; he meant that holiness should distinguish them.

"What is holiness? Is it not wholeness of character?"[80]

This verse contains the first use of a key word in 1 Peter: "behavior" (Gr. anastrophe; cf. 1:18; 2:12; 3:1, 2, 16). Other frequently recurring words include "endure" (Gr. pascho; cf. 2:19, 20, 21, 23; 3:14, 17, 18; 4:1 [twice], 15, 19; 5:10), "submit" (Gr. hypotasso; cf. 2:13, 18; 3:1, 5, 22; 5:5), and "do right" (Gr. agathopoieo; cf. 2:15, 20; 3:6, 17). Taken together, these words indicate one of this epistle's distinctive emphases, namely, the importance of bearing up submissively and practicing good deeds, while at the same time enduring persecution for one's faith.

1:16           Peter reinforced this imperative ("be holy," v. 15) with an Old Testament quotation (cf. Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7).

"When it comes to the use of the OT, 1 Peter stands out among the NT letters, especially when one compares the number of citations and allusions to the length of the letter. 1 Peter contains about the same number of OT references per unit of text as does Hebrews. Only Revelation contains more."[81]

Peter Davids listed nine citations of Old Testament passages and 20 allusions to Old Testament passages in 1 Peter.[82]

In the context of this Old Testament command, Israel was to "be holy" so that she could have intimate fellowship with God. We cannot expect to enjoy intimate fellowship with God, who is holy ("I am holy"), unless we too are holy. Intimate fellowship with God is the greatest good that human beings can experience (cf. Phil. 3:8), but without holiness it is impossible (cf. Heb. 12:14).

"The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy."[83]

This does not mean, however, that God wants us to be unhappy. He wants us to be happy and has provided salvation so that everyone can experience true happiness (cf. Titus 2:11-12). But the Christian should choose holiness when we face a choice between being holy or being happy.

"Let us remember that holiness affects not only our personal relationship to God but all of our relationships. It affects all you do (literally 'your conduct'), and Peter is greatly interested in this theme (2:12; 3:1, 2, 16 …)."[84]

"The Word reveals God's mind, so we should learn it; God's heart, so we should love it; God's will, so we should live it. Our whole being—mind, will, and heart—should be controlled by the Word of God."[85]

"We do not study the Bible just to get to know the Bible. We study the Bible that we might get to know God better. Too many earnest Bible students are content with outlines and explanations, and do not really get to know God. It is good to know the Word of God, but this should help us better know the God of the Word."[86]

2.     A life of reverence 1:17-21

Peter continued the exposition of the Leviticus command to be holy because Yahweh is holy that he began in verse 16.

"Peter's point is that if he and his readers have a special relationship to God by virtue of their calling and their new birth, then it is all the more urgent that they remember who he is in himself, and display the reverence that God deserves."[87]

1:17           "If" means "Since" here (a first class condition in Greek). We do "address" God as our "Father," because He is our spiritual, heavenly Father (Matt. 6:4, 6, 9; Luke 11:2; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). Nevertheless, He is also the Judge of all, and He "judges" "impartially," not on the basis of appearances but on the basis of reality ("according to each one's work"). Since we must all stand before God for an evaluation of our works, we should live now in view of that coming judgment (Rom. 14:10-12; 2 Cor. 5:10).

"Each of us will give an account of his works, and each will receive the appropriate reward. This is a 'family judgment,' the Father dealing with His beloved children. The Greek word translated judgeth [krinonta] carries the meaning 'to judge in order to find something good.'"[88]

It is good for us to maintain a healthy respect ("fear") for God as our Judge, since He has this power (authority) over us (cf. Heb. 12:29).

"The wise man is known by what and whom he fears (Mt 10:28)."[89]

Again Peter reminded us that our earthly life of trials and suffering is only a brief trip ("during the time of your stay on earth").

1:18-19      The Greek verb translated "redeemed" (elytrothete) means "to cause to be released to one's self by payment of a ransom" (cf. Mark 10:45; Luke 24:21; Tit. 2:14).[90]

"He [Peter] has some of the most noteworthy statements in the New Testament about the atoning value of Christ's suffering."[91]

"Any representative first-century church would have three kinds of members: slaves, freemen [those who had never been slaves], and freed men. People became slaves in various ways—through war, bankruptcy, sale by themselves, sale by parents, or by birth. Slaves normally could look forward to freedom after a certain period of service and often after the payment of a price. Money to buy his freedom could be earned by the slave in his spare time or by doing more than his owner required. Often the price could be provided by someone else. By the payment of a price (lytron, antilytron), a person could be set free from his bondage or servitude. A freed man was a person who formerly had been a slave but was now redeemed."[92]

As the death of the Passover lamb liberated the Israelites from physical bondage in Egypt, so the death of Jesus Christ frees believers in Him from the spiritual bondage of sin (cf. Exod. 12:5). In speaking of redemption Peter always emphasized our freedom from a previously sinful lifestyle for the purpose of living a changed life here and now.[93] Jesus Christ's life, represented by His "precious blood," is of infinitely greater value than any mere metal ("silver or gold"), as precious as that metal may be (cf. Acts 3:6; 8:20).

"The Greek word 'precious' has a two-fold meaning, 'costly' in the sense of value, and 'highly esteemed or held in honor.'"[94]

"Futile" means vain or powerless, and it suggests that many of Peter's readers were indeed Gentiles. We would normally expect this in view of where they lived (v. 1). This word better describes the lifestyle ("way of life") of an unsaved Gentile than that of an unsaved Jew (cf. v. 14).

1:20           The Fall did not take God by surprise. He already knew what He would do in view of it, and Who would do it ("Christ … was foreknown before the foundation of the world"). God's foreknowledge in Scripture has an element of determinism in it. Divine foreknowledge does not mean simply knowledge of something before it happens, but, because God knows that something will happen in the future, He has determined that it will happen. Thus the meaning of verse 20 is that God planned that Christ would provide redemption "before the foundation [creation] of the world," not just that He knew that this would happen.

"The pre-existence of Christ is implied here through the additional words was made manifest ["has appeared"], i.e. at the incarnation; it was not merely a plan of God but Christ himself who was hidden until the moment for revelation."[95]

"These last times" (lit. at the end of the times) refer to the periods of time that will culminate in the second advent of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 9:26). It was "for the sake of" us believers that God planned and Christ executed the plan of redemption.

1:21           We have two good reasons why we can have "faith and hope … in God": what Christ did for us (He redeemed us, v. 19), and what God did for Christ (He "raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory"). Our attitude toward God, therefore, can and should be both reverential ("in fear," v. 17) and confident (vv. 20-21) as we endure suffering for our faith.

So far "… the ethical impact of the epistle barely begins to make itself felt. The call to action and to a holy and reverent life is general rather than specific. The imperatives of hope and of godly fear have more to do with eschatological expectations than with ethics, and more to do with the readers' relationship to God than with their relationships to each other or to their pagan neighbors."[96]

"At this point ends what we may call the doctrinal section of the Epistle. St. Peter has been explaining the three Names [i.e., Jesus Christ, God, and Holy Spirit], their three attributes, and their several relations. Here he passes to the practical Christian life, catching up and expounding the words hagiasmos [sanctification], anagennan [born again]."[97]

3.     A life of love 1:22-25

Peter next turned his attention from the believer's duty to God to the believer's duty to his or her Christian brethren. He did so in order to explain further the implications of living joyfully during trials and suffering. Then he returned to what he set out to do in verse 13, namely, to spell out the implications of Christian faith and hope (cf. v. 21). However Peter continued to reflect on the theological basis of our ethical responsibilities. He would get into practical Christian ethics later. Obedience to the truth produces a sincere love for the brethren (1:22-25), repentance from sin (2:1), and a desire for spiritual growth (2:2).[98]

1:22           The purification to which Peter referred ("you have purified your souls") occurred at conversion as a result of believing the gospel (cf. John 13:10). This cleansing made it possible for us believers to love other Christians "fervently," never relaxing (Gr. ektenos). Now Peter urged his readers to do everything out of "sincere [unhypocritical] love] for our spiritual "brothers and sisters" "from the heart." We do not need to love one another as though we were brethren. We can love one another because we really are brethren.

"There is plenty of the phile fondness and affection among the saints ["since you have purified your souls … for a sincere love (phile) of the brothers and sisters"], and too little of the agape divine love ["fervently love (agape) one another from the heart"]."[99]

1:23           The "word of God" is the instrument that God uses to produce new birth ("born again"; cf. Matt. 13:20; Luke 8:11). This "seed" shares the character of its Source. It never passes out of fashion nor does it become irrelevant. It is "imperishable."

"All the way from the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, to 'Babylon the Great' in Revelation 17—18, man's great attempts at unity are destined to fail. If we try to build unity in the church on the basis of our first birth, we will fail; but if we build unity on the basis of the new birth, it will succeed."[100]

1:24-25      This quotation, from Isaiah 40:6 through 8, contrasts the transitory character of nature and the eternality of God's Word (cf. James 1:10-11). The image of flowering grass may seem strange to us, since grass does not bear flowers. But Isaiah was probably thinking of grasses that grow in the fields and brings forth flowers, like wildflowers.

Every natural thing eventually dies and disappears, which is the opposite of God's "living and enduring word" (v. 23; cf. Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33). The word that had been "preached" to the readers, and had been believed by them, was, specifically, the gospel.[101]

"My friend, we need the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God above everything else. I do not mean to minimize the place of music, the place of methods, and the place of organization, but there is absolutely no substitute for the Word of God today."[102]

The duty of Christians to one another, then, is to love one another sincerely, fervently, and heartily, since we have all been born again from the same seed. This is true even of Christians who are suffering because of their commitment to follow God faithfully, like Peter's original readers.

C.     Our Priestly Calling 2:1-10

Peter continued his explanation of Christians' duties while they joyfully endure trials and suffering. He called his readers to do certain things in the world of unbelievers, and he reminded them of certain realities in this pericope. He did so in order to motivate them to press on to finish God's plan and purpose for them in the world now.

"The great doxology (1:3-12) begins with praise to God, who is the One who begot us again. All hortations [exhortations] that follow grow out of this our relation to God: 1) since he who begot us is holy, we, too, must be holy (1:13-16); 2) since he is our Judge and has ransomed us at so great a price, we must conduct ourselves with fear (1:17-21); 3) since we are begotten of the incorruptible seed of the Word we are brethren, and thus our relation to each other must be one of love, of children of the one Father (1:22-25). So Peter now proceeds to the next hortation: 4) since we have been begotten by means of the eternal Word we should long for the milk of the Word as our true and proper nourishment."[103]

In this pericope Peter used four different images to describe the Christian life. These are: (1) taking off habits like garments, (2) growing like babies, (3) being built up like a temple, and (4) serving like priests.

1.     Listening to God 2:1-3

2:1             "Therefore" goes back to 1:3 through 12 as well as to 1:22 through 25. In order to prepare for an exposition of the Christian's calling, Peter urged his readers to take off all kinds of evil conduct like so many soiled garments (cf. Zech. 3:1-5; Rom. 1:29-30; 2 Cor. 12:20; Eph. 4:31; Col. 3:8; 1 Tim. 1:9-10; James 1:21). The sins that he mentioned are all incompatible with brotherly love (cf. 1:22). "Malice and deceit" are attitudes. The remaining three words describe specific actions: "hypocrisy," "envy," and "slander." These are not "the grosser vices of paganism, but community-destroying vices that are often tolerated by the modern church."[104]

"The early Christian practice of baptism by immersion entailed undressing completely; and we know that in the later liturgies the candidate's removal of his clothes before descending naked to the pool and his putting on a new set on coming up formed an impressive ceremony and were interpreted as symbols of his abandonment of his past unworthy life and his adoption of a new life of innocence …"[105]

Peter here called on his readers to put into practice what they had professed in their baptisms.

2:2             Next he urged them to do something positive. Since they had experienced the new birth (1:3, 23) they should now do what babies do: drink milk—not that they were new Christians necessarily. "The pure milk of the word" is probably the milk that is the Word itself, rather than the milk contained in the Word, namely, Christ Himself, though either interpretation is possible.[106]

"'Milk' is here not elementary truths in contradistinction to more advanced Christian truths, as in I Corinthians 3:2; Hebrews 5:12, 13; but in contrast to 'guile, hypocrisies …' (vs. 1); the simplicity of Christian doctrine in general to the childlike spirit."[107]

"Long for" is a strong expression that we could paraphrase: develop an appetite for. This is the only imperative in verses 1 through 3 in the Greek text. God's Word is spiritual food that most believers instinctively desire to some degree, but we must also cultivate a taste for it (cf. 2 Pet. 3:18).

"It is sad when Christians have no appetite for God's Word, but must be 'fed' religious entertainment instead. As we grow, we discover that the Word is milk for babes, but also strong meat for the mature (1 Cor. 3:1-4; Heb. 5:11-14). It is also bread (Matt. 4:4) and honey (Ps. 119:103)."[108]

Ask God to give you a greater appetite for His Word to help you "grow." God's Word is "pure" in that it is free from deceit (cf. 1:22-25). "Salvation" here, as Peter used it previously, refers to the full extent of salvation that God desires every Christian to experience.

"The point of the figurative language is this: as a babe longs for nothing but its mother's milk and will take nothing else, so every Christian should take no spiritual nourishment save the Word."[109]

2:3             Peter's readers had already "tasted" God's kindness in their new birth. Greater consumption of God's Word would bring greater satisfaction as well as increased spiritual growth (cf. Ps. 34:8).

2.     Growing in God 2:4-5

Verses 4 through 10 contain one of the largest collections of Old Testament images in the New Testament.[110]

2:4             Not only is Jesus Christ the source of the believers' spiritual sustenance, He is also their Foundation ("a living stone"). Peter not only changed his metaphor from growing to building, but he also changed it from an individual to a corporate focus. However unlike a piece of rock, Jesus Christ is alive and able to impart strength to those who suffer for His sake. "Living stone" is an oxymoron, a figure of speech in which the writer joins contradictory or incongruous terms to make a point.

The point here is that, even though Jesus Christ is the church's Foundation—that is, the first-century Founder and Foundation Stone upon whom the church's founding and building were established—He is also alive today. Builders quarried and chiseled huge blocks of stone to support large buildings in the ancient Near East. Some of the Old Testament writers compared God to such a foundation (e.g., Deut. 32:4, 15, 18, 30-31; Ps. 18:2, 31, 46; 62:2, 6; et al.; cf. Matt. 7:24-25; 16:18). Peter modified this figure and used it to describe Jesus Christ.[111]

"The word used for 'stone' both here and in verse 5 signifies a stone dressed for building rather than a piece of raw rock or a boulder."[112]

Here Peter began to give the basis on which the four preceding exhortations rest. These exhortations were: (1) be holy (1:13-16), (2) be fearing (1:17-21), (3) be loving (1:22-25), and (4) be hungry for the Word (2:1-3). These four qualities grow out of our relationship to God who has begotten us.

The apostle alluded to Psalm 118:22, which both Jesus and he had previously quoted to the Sanhedrin (Matt. 21:42; Acts 4:11). He quoted this verse later, in verse 7.

2:5             Peter saw the church as a living temple ("a spiritual house") to which God was adding with the conversion of each new believer ("living stones"). Each Christian is one of the essential "stones" that enables the whole structure to fulfill its purpose (cf. Matt. 16:15-18). Later Peter would say that his readers were also priests (v. 9). But here the emphasis is on their being a building for priestly service ("a  spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices"), namely, a temple.

"This 'spiritual house' includes believers in the five Roman provinces of 1:1 and shows clearly how Peter understood the metaphor of Christ in Matt. 16:18 to be not a local church, but the church general (the kingdom of Christ)."[113]

"I Peter never speaks of the Church as ekklesia [church], but uses metaphorical images of OT origin."[114]

This verse helps us to appreciate how much we need each other as Christians. God has a purpose for all of us to fulfill together that we cannot fulfill individually on our own. The Christian who is not working in relationship with other Christians as fellow "stones," as well as with Jesus Christ as his or her "Foundation," cannot fulfill God's complete purpose for him or her. While every Christian has an individual purpose, we also have a corporate purpose that we cannot fulfill unless we take our place in the community of Christians that is the church. Peter explained this purpose more fully in the verses that follow, but here he revealed that it involves worship and service (cf. Rom. 12:1; Heb. 13:15-16; Phil. 4:18).

3.     Building on Christ 2:6-8

Some scholars believe that what follows in these verses, and in some other portions of this epistle, contains quotations from early Christian hymns.[115] Others dispute this theory. The discussion is purely academic and has no bearing on the interpretation of the text.

2:6             Before going on, however, Peter elaborated on the "Foundation" of this "building," the church, by quoting Isaiah 28:16. "Zion" here refers to the heavenly Jerusalem, that larger eschatological entity of which the church will be only a part (cf. Rev. 21:14). The "cornerstone" refers to the main stone on which the building rests. It does not refer to a modern cornerstone (a stone located in a corner of a building well above the foundation), or to the last stone that the mason put at the top of the building (the keystone; cf. Eph. 2:20). In view of this, it seems that the "rock" (Gr. petra, a large stone) to which Jesus referred in Matthew 16:18 was not Peter (Gr. Petros, a small stone) but Himself. Jesus, not Peter, much less Judaism, is the Foundation upon which God has promised to build the church (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11).

"The Christian church is a much nobler fabric than the Jewish temple; it is a living temple. Christ, the foundation, is a living stone. Christians are lively stones, and they are a holy priesthood."[116]

Isaiah promised that those who believe on this "Stone" will never (Gr. ou me, the strongest negative) be disappointed ("put to shame").

Peter described two relationships of the believer in these verses (4-6): First, he rests on Christ like a building rests on its foundation. Secondly, he relates to every other believer like the stones of a building relate to one another. We need each other, we should support each other, and we should work together to build the church in the world.

2:7-8          "This precious value" (v. 7) refers to the fact that believers will not be disappointed or put to shame (v. 6b), not to the Cornerstone (v. 6a).[117] Believers will share in the honor that God has bestowed on Jesus, and this is something of great value to them.

In contrast to believers, unbelievers find Christ to be a Stone over which they trip and fall ("stumble"). He becomes the instrument of their destruction. The "builders" (v. 7) were Israel's religious leaders (cf. Ps. 118:22). When they disobeyed Old Testament commands to accept their Messiah they stumbled spiritually (cf. Deut. 18:15, 18), and they would suffer destruction (Isa. 8:14). This was true of Israel corporately, and it is true of every unbeliever individually.

Jesus Christ was the Stone that would have completed Israel, had Israel's leaders accepted Him as their Messiah. He would have become Israel's Keystone. Instead the Israelites cast the Stone aside by rejecting their Messiah. God then proceeded to make this Stone the Foundation of a new edifice that He would build, namely, the church. Israel's rejected Keystone has become the church's Foundation stone.

Election results in the salvation of some (1:2), but it also means destruction for others (v. 8).

"Mercy rejected becomes condemnation."[118]

"The same magnet has two poles, the one repulsive, the other attractive; so the Gospel has opposite effects on believers and unbelievers respectively."[119]

"In the immediate context it is not so much a question of how Christian believers perceive Christ as of how God (in contrast to 'people generally') perceives him, and of how God consequently vindicates both Christ and his followers."[120]

To what does God appoint those who stumbled: to unbelief, or to the stumbling that results from unbelief? In the Greek text the antecedent of "to this" (eis ho, v. 8) is the main verb "stumble" (proskoptousi), as it is in the English text. "Are disobedient" (apeithountes) is a participle that is subordinate to the main verb. Therefore we would expect "to this" to refer to the main verb "stumble" rather than to the subordinate participle "are disobedient." God has appointed those who stumble to stumble because they are disobedient (they do not believe). Their disobedience is not what God has ordained, but the penalty of their disobedience, stumbling, is (cf. Acts 2:23; Rom. 11:8, 11, 30-32).[121]

The doctrine of "double predestination" is that God foreordains some people to damnation just as He foreordains some to salvation. This has seemed to some Bible students to be the logical conclusion that we should draw because of what Scripture says about the election of believers (e.g., Rom. 9; Eph. 1). However this is not a scriptural revelation. The Bible always places the responsibility for the destiny of the lost on them, for not believing, rather than on God, for foreordaining (e.g., John 1:12; 3:36; 5:24; 6:47; Rom. 1—3).

"… the point of 1 Peter 2:6-8 is to demonstrate the honored status believers have because of their relationship with Christ."[122]

4.     Summary affirmation of our identity 2:9-10

Peter proceeded to clarify the nature of the church, and in doing so he explained the duty of Christians in the world, particularly suffering Christians.

2:9             All the figures of the church that Peter chose here ("chosen people," "royal priesthood," "holy nation," "people for God's own possession") originally referred to Israel (cf. Exod. 19:5-6; Deut. 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; Isa. 43:20). However, with Israel's rejection of Jesus Christ, God created a new body of people through whom He now seeks to accomplish the same purposes that He formerly sought to achieve through Israel—but by different means. This verse, which at first might seem to equate the church and Israel, on careful examination shows as many differences between these groups as similarities.[123]

"But this does not mean that the church is Israel or even that the church replaces Israel in the plan of God. Romans 11 should help us guard against that misinterpretation. … The functions that Israel was called into existence to perform in its day of grace the church now performs in a similar way. In the future, according to Paul, God will once again use Israel to bless the world (cf. Rom. 11:13-16, 23-24)."[124]

Israel was an ethnic race of people, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The church is a spiritual race, the members of which share the common characteristic of faith in Christ but racially comprise both Jews and Gentiles. Christians are the spiritual descendants of Abraham. They are not Abraham's physical descendants, unless they are ethnic Jews, but are his "children" in the sense that they believe God's promises as he did.

God's purpose for Israel was that she be a nation of priests (Exod. 19:6) who would stand between God and the rest of humanity representing people before God and God before people. However God withdrew this blessing from the whole nation, because of the Israelites' apostasy with the golden calf, and He gave it to the faithful tribe of Levi instead (Num. 3:12-13, 45; 8:14; cf. Exod. 13:2; 32:25-29). In contrast, every individual Christian is a priest before God.[125] Christians function as priests to the extent that we worship, intercede, and minister (v. 5; Rev. 1:6). There is no separate priestly class in the church as there was in Israel.[126]

"In the ancient world it was not unusual for the king to have his own group of priests."[127]

"Our popular idea of a priest is of a person with the right to offer sacrifice on behalf of others. The basic meaning in the Bible is a person who serves God and has the right of access to him."[128]

"Whatever its precise background, the vision of 1 Peter is that the Gentiles to whom it is written have become, by virtue of their redemption in Christ, a new priesthood in the world, analogous to the ancient priesthood that was the people of Israel. Consequently they share with the Jews the precarious status of 'aliens and strangers' in the Roman world."[129]

"When I was a pastor, I preached a message entitled, 'You Are a Catholic Priest.' The word catholic means 'general,' of course. In that sense every believer is a catholic priest, and all have access to God."[130]

God redeemed Israel in their Exodus from Egypt, and He adopted the nation at Mt. Sinai as a nation that would be different from all others throughout history (Exod. 19:6). God wanted Israel to be a beacon to the nations, holding the light of God's revelation up for all to see, similar to a lighthouse or the Statue of Liberty (Isa. 42:6). He did not tell all the Israelites to take this light to those in darkness but to live in holiness in the Promised Land. He would attract others to them and to Himself, as He did the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10) and Naaman (2 Kings 5).

However Israel failed. She preferred to be a nation like all the other nations (1 Sam. 8:5). Now God has made the church the bearer of His light. God has not told us to be a localized demonstration, as Israel was, but to be aggressive missionaries and to go to the ends of the earth. God wanted Israel to stay in her land. He wants us to go into all the world with the gospel (Matt. 28:19-20). Jonah, of course, left the land of Israel to announce judgment on the Ninevites, but his mission was unique; it was not what God wanted all the Israelites to do.

God wanted to dwell among the Israelites and to make them His own unique possession by residing among them (Exod. 19:5). He resided among them in the tabernacle and the temple until the apostasy of the Israelites made continuation of this intimacy impossible. Then the presence of God departed from His people (cf. Ezek. 10). In the church God does not only dwell among us, but He resides in every individual Christian (John 14:17; Rom. 8:9). And He has promised never to leave us (Matt. 28:20).

"It [the church] is a race, and this suggests its life principle. It is a priesthood, and so has right of access to God. It is a nation, and so is under His government. It is a possession, and so is actually indwelt by Him."[131]

The church is what it is so that it can do what God has called it to do. Essentially the church's purpose is the same as Israel's. It is to be the instrument through which the light of God reaches individuals who still sit in spiritual darkness. The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20; et al.) clarifies the methods God wants us to use. These methods differ from those He specified for Israel, but the church's vocation is really the same as Israel's was.

It is a fallacy, however, to say that the church is simply the continuation or replacement of Israel for the New Testament era, as most covenant theologians do.[132] Most theologians agree that the most basic difference between dispensational theology and covenant theology is that dispensationalists believe that the church is distinct from Israel, whereas covenant theologians believe that the church is the continuation and replacement of Israel, the so-called "new Israel."

2:10           Peter highlighted the differences involved in our high calling, by contrasting what his readers were and had before conversion with what they were and had after conversion. The church is not the only "people of God" in history. Nevertheless it is the people of God in the present era because of Israel's rejection of the Corner Stone (cf. Hos. 1:10; 2:23; Rom. 9—11).

"What Peter is not saying is that the Church has replaced Israel. What he is saying is that the Church has a special status in the administration of God's purposes on earth."[133]

"The evidence from the use of the Old Testament in 1 Peter 2:6-10 suggests that the Old Testament imagery used to describe the church in 1 Peter 2:9-10 does not present the church as a new Israel replacing ethnic Israel in God's program. Instead, Old Testament Israel was a pattern of the church's relationship with God as his chosen people. Therefore Peter uses various aspects of the salvation, spiritual life, and service of Israel in its relationship with Yahweh to teach his recipients the greater salvation, spiritual life, and service they enjoy in Christ. In his use of the three people of God citations in 1 Peter 2:9-10, the apostle is teaching that there are aspects of the nation of Israel's experience as the people of God that are also true of the New Testament church. These elements of continuity include the election, redemption, holy standards, priestly ministry, and honor of the people of God. This continuity is the basis for the application of the title people of God to the church in 1 Peter 2:1-10. The escalation or advancement of meaning in Peter's application of these passages to his recipients emphasizes the distinction between Israel and the church. Israel is a nation, and the national, political, and geographic applications to Israel in the Old Testament contexts are not applied to the church, the spiritual house, of 1 Peter. Furthermore, the initial application of these passages to the church by typological-prophetic hermeneutics [interpretation] does not negate the future fulfillment of the national, political, and geographic promises, as well as the spiritual ones, made to Israel in these Old Testament contexts."[134]

Christians, generally speaking, do not understand or appreciate God's purpose for the church, which Peter presented so clearly here. Consequently many Christians lack purpose in their lives. Evidence of this includes self-centered living, unwillingness to sacrifice, worldly goals, and preoccupation with material things. Before Christians will respond to exhortations to live holy lives they need to understand the reasons that it is important to live holy lives. This purpose is something many preachers and teachers assume, but we need to affirm and assert it much more in our day.

"Peter concludes the first major section of his epistle (1:3—2:10) by drawing the lines for a confrontation. Two groups are differentiated—'unbelievers' and 'you who believe'—on the basis of their contrasting responses to Jesus Christ, the 'choice and precious Stone' (v 6). The former are on their way to 'stumbling' and shame, the latter to 'honor' and vindication. The theological contrast between these two groups, with its consequent social tensions, will absorb Peter's interest through the remainder of his epistle."[135]

III.     The responsibilities of the christian individually 2:11—4:11

Since Christians have a particular vocation in the world, certain conduct was essential for Peter's suffering readers, and it is essential for all believers today.

"The address, 'Dear friends, I appeal to you,' in 2:11 marks a shift from the identity of God's people to their consequent responsibility in a hostile world. If 1:3—2:10 expanded on their identity as 'chosen people' (cf. 1:2), the reference to them as 'aliens and strangers' in 2:11 serves as a reminder that they are at the same time 'living as strangers' (again cf. 1:2) in contemporary society."[136]

A.     Our Mission in the World 2:11-12

Peter explained what Christian conduct should be negatively (v. 11) and positively (v. 12). Then he unpacked more specifically what it should be positively in 2:13 through 4:11.

2:11           "Beloved, I [or sometimes "we"] urge you" frequently marks off a new section of an epistle, as it does here (Rom. 12:1; 15:30; 16:17; 1 Cor. 1:10; 16:15; 2 Cor. 10:1; 1 Thess. 4:1, 10b; 5:14; Heb. 13:22; cf. 4:12; 5:1). "I urge you" typically introduces exhortations. Again Peter reminded his audience of their identity so that they would respond naturally and appropriately (cf. 1:1-2, 17).

"Foreigners" typically have no rights in the land where they live—unless, of course, they have become citizens of that land. "Strangers" are only temporary residents (cf. 1:17; Gen. 23:4; Ps. 39:12; Eph. 2:19; Heb. 13:14). Peter reminded his readers that, "This world is not my home, I'm just a-passing through."[137]

Note the dual hendiadys that form an inclusio for 2:11 through 25: "foreigners and strangers" (v. 11) and "Shepherd and Guardian" (v. 25). A hendiadys is a figure of speech in which the writer expresses one complex idea by joining two substantives with "and." Here the meanings are "strangers who are foreigners" and "the Shepherd who guards."

"Peter's purpose is not to define his readers' actual legal or social status in the Roman Empire … but simply to further his standing analogy between them and the Jewish people (cf. Heb. 11:13 …)."[138]

In view of our status we Christians should refuse the appeal of our desire to indulge in things that are contrary to God's will for us. "Fleshly lusts" are selfish natural appetites that appeal to our sinful nature (cf. 1 John 2:16). We experience temptation to satisfy bodily desires in ways contrary to God's will.

"The knowledge that they do not belong does not lead to withdrawal, but to their taking their standards of behavior, not from the culture in which they live, but from their 'home' culture of heaven, so that their life always fits the place they are headed to, rather than their temporary lodging in this world."[139]

Peter spoke of "the soul" as the whole person (cf. 1:9; 2:25; James 1:21; et al.). When we yield to the desires of the flesh that God's Word condemns, we become double-minded, like a schizophrenic.[140] This Peter aptly described as "war against the soul." The antagonists are the lusts (forbidden desires) of the flesh and the will of God (cf. Gal. 5:17).

2:12           Peace in the inner person is necessary for excellent behavior before others. Part of the suffering that Peter's original readers were experiencing was evidently due to "slander" from unbelieving pagan Gentiles. They appear to have been accusing his readers unjustly of doing evil. This has led some commentators to conclude that Peter wrote this epistle after A.D. 64, when Nero began an official persecution of Christians allegedly for burning Rome. This may be true.

"… although Peter says nothing directly about social and political change, we can surely claim that his stress on doing good in society should not be confined to personal, individual acts of kindness but should include participation in communal efforts to change and improve the structures of society. Christians should be in the vanguard of social reform."[141]

Peter urged his readers to give their critics no cause for justifiable "slander." If they obeyed him, their accusers would have to "glorify God" by giving a good testimony concerning the lives of the believers when they stood before God, if not before then. The "day of visitation" is probably a reference to the day that God will visit unbelievers and judge them (i.e., the great white throne judgment). This seems more likely than that it is the day when God will visit Christians (i.e., the Rapture). The writers of Scripture do not refer to Christians' departure from this world as an occasion when unbelievers will glorify God. However when unbelievers bow before God they will glorify Him (e.g., Phil. 2:10-11). One writer believed that for the original readers this would have applied to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.[142]

"This brief section sketches Peter's 'battle plan' for the inevitable confrontation between Christians and Roman society."[143]

"The conflict in society is won not by aggressive behavior but by 'good conduct' or 'good works' yet to be defined. Peter's vision is that the exemplary behavior of Christians will change the minds of their accusers and in effect 'overcome evil with good,' …"[144]

B.     Respect for Others 2:13—3:12

This section of the letter clarifies what it means to function obediently as God's people in a hostile world. It contains one of the tables of household duties, or social codes, in the New Testament (2:13—3:7; cf. Eph. 5:21—6:9; Col. 3:18—4:1). Luther referred to these sections as Haustafeln, and some scholars still use this German word when referring to these lists. However this one begins with instructions regarding the Christian's relationship to the state, which is similar to Romans 13:1 through 7. It is particularly our duties in view of suffering for our faith that concerned Peter, as is clear from his choice of words.

1.     Respect for everyone 2:13-17

Peter continued to give directions concerning how the Christian should conduct himself or herself when dealing with the state, since his readers faced suffering from this source.

2:13-14      The Christian's relationship to the state and to state officials is quite clear (cf. Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-2; Titus 3:1-2).

"It [Gr. pase anthropine ktisei, "every human institution"] … refers to all human institutions which man set[s] up with the object of maintaining the world which God created."[145]

We are to "submit" to the authority of government rulers by obeying them. We should do this, not because these individuals are personally worthy of our submission necessarily, but "for the Lord's sake," namely, because by submitting to them we honor God by obeying His Word (cf. Matt. 22:21).[146]

"… the wicked must be honoured, not for their wickedness, but for any other qualities."[147]

Peter reminded his readers that government ("a king … or … governors") has a valid and necessary God-appointed purpose ("the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right"). The presence of political corruption should not blind us to the legitimate role of government that God has ordained.[148]

"… the prime task of government is to establish order; organized central force is the sole alternative to incalculable and disruptive force in private hands."[149]

"… God has ordered creation in such a way that for its harmony some are always subject to others."[150]

Peter believed that there was a proper place for civil disobedience however (cf. Acts 4:19-20). It is any occasion when the laws of human government make it illegal to obey God. In such a case we should obey God rather than man. However we should also realize that in disobeying the law we will probably have to bear the consequences of disobeying. The consequences may involve a fine, imprisonment, or even death.[151]

"Ever since Christianity was first preached the Christian citizen has been a puzzle both to himself and to his rulers. By the elementary necessities of his creed he has been a man living in two worlds. In one he has been a member of a national community, in the other of a community 'taken out of the nations.' In one he has been bound to obey and enforce the laws of his State, in the other to measure his conduct by standards not recognized by those laws and often inconsistent with them. This dualism has been made tolerable only by the prospect of a reconciliation. That prospect is, again, an elementary necessity of the Christian creed. Somehow, somewhere, the conflict of loyalties will end. The kingdom of this world will pass; the Kingdom of God will be established."[152]

Some Christians have taken the position that believers are free to disobey their governments if the government permits conduct that is contrary to God's will.[153] Consequently some Christians mistakenly feel justified in bombing abortion clinics, for example. However the cases of apostolic civil disobedience recorded in Scripture involved situations in which believers had to disobey God. Christians should practice civil disobedience only when the government requires its citizens to disobey God, not when it only permits them to disobey Him. Currently the United States government permits some abortions, for example, but it does not require them.

"… the principle of the redeemed Christian life must not be self-assertion or mutual exploitation, but the voluntary subordination of oneself to others (cf. Rom. xii. 10; Eph. v. 21; Phil. ii. 3 f.)."[154]

"… Christians are summoned to submission, not so that they may have an easy time in relation to the state, but as part of their service to the Lord."[155]

"When civil law and God's law are in opposition, the illustrations in the Bible [Dan. 3:18; 6:10; Acts 5:29] sanction, if not obligate, the believer to protest or disobey. But when a believer feels he should disobey his government, he must be sure it is not because the government has denied him his rights but because it has denied him God's rights."[156]

2:15           By obeying the law we can prevent unnecessary and illegitimate criticism. Jesus did this by faithfully paying His taxes (Matt. 17:24-27; 22:21). Note that Jesus also told His disciples to pay their taxes, even though Rome used their tax money for purposes contrary to God's will. Paul also taught that Christians should pay their taxes (Rom. 13:6-7). Peter had learned that physical retaliation was not best, when he tried to defend Jesus by attacking the high priest's servant in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:50-54; Mark 14:47; Luke 22:50-51; John 18:10-11).

"Christians are to be strangers and pilgrims so far as the sinful way of life of the world is concerned; but where it is a case of doing good, they are to take an active part."[157]

2:16           Christians are "free" in the sense of being under no obligations to God in order to gain His acceptance. He has accepted us because of what Jesus Christ did for us.

"… early Christians regarded their freedom as constituting a propitiation [satisfaction] for future as for past sins."[158]

Also we are "free" from the tyranny of sin and Satan (cf. Rom. 6). We are no longer their slaves. We should not use this freedom to sin but to refrain from sinning and to serve God (Rom. 6:1-2).

"Liberty misused is like a mighty river flooding its banks and bringing terrible destruction upon all in its path. Liberty used as service is like a mighty river flowing within its banks bringing life and refreshment to all who drink of its waters."[159]

2:17           The four injunctions in this verse summarize our social obligations. The first two and the last two are pairs. We should "honor" everyone ("all people"), but we should "love" fellow believers ("the brotherhood"). "God" deserves "fear," whereas the civil ruler ("the king") is worthy of "honor." These two pairs connect with Jesus' teachings that we should love our enemies (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35) and "pay to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's" (Matt. 22:21; Mark 12:17; Luke 20:25).[160]

All people are worthy of "honor," if for no other reason, because they reflect the image of God. Our primary responsibility to other Christians is to show them "love" (cf. 1:22; John 13:35). Our primary responsibility to God is to show Him "fear" (reverence, cf. 1:17).

Peter probably added a final word about "the king" because his readers found it especially difficult to honor the Roman emperor, who was evidently Nero when Peter wrote this epistle (cf. 1 Tim. 2:1-2). The distinction between "fear" and "honor" may imply that the emperor was not on the same plane as God. Citizens in Asia Minor at this time were encouraged to view the emperor as God.[161]

"Peter called believers to a different spirit, a spirit of deference—even while experiencing undeserved persecution. The word 'deference' conveys the idea of thoughtful consideration of another individual's desires or feelings or the courteous, respectful, or ingratiating regard for another's wishes."[162]

"'Deference' refers to a proper attitude that results in behavior characterized by respect."[163]

"Respect" is not the same as "honor." We may not respect someone, but we can and should still honor him or her. For example, I have a friend whose father was an alcoholic. My friend did not respect his father—who was frequently drunk, often humiliated his wife and children, and failed to provide for his family adequately. Nevertheless my friend honored his father because he was his father. He demonstrated honor by taking him home when his father could not get home by himself. My friend, the son, sometimes had to defend his father from people who would have taken advantage of him when he was drunk.

Similarly we may not be able to respect certain government officials because of their personal character, behavior or beliefs. Still we can and should honor them because they occupy an office that places them in a position of authority over us. We honor them because they occupy the office; we do not just honor the office. Peter commanded us to honor "the king" and all who are "in authority" over us, not just the offices that they occupy. We may not respect someone, but we can and should honor them by treating them with respect.

Respecting people and treating them with respect are also two different things. Feeling respect for someone is different than showing respect for someone. Honoring others is our responsibility; earning our respect is theirs. Treating those in authority over us with respect is especially difficult when they are persecuting us because we are Christians.

2.     Slaves' respect for their masters 2:18-25

Peter proceeded to address the situation of Christians working under the authority of others.

"The unusual fact, unnoticed by most Bible readers, is that he [Peter], along with Paul (1 Cor. 7:21; Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 3:22-25; 1 Tim. 6:1-2; Tit. 2:9-10) and later Christian writers (Did[ache]. 4:11; Barn[abas]. 19:7), addresses slaves at all, for Jewish and Stoic duty codes (which in many respects this code in 1 Peter, as well as those in Ephesians and Colossians, resembles) put no such moral demands on slaves, only on masters. The reason for this difference between 1 Peter and other moral codes of his time is simple. For society at large slaves were not full persons and thus did not have moral responsibility. For the church slaves were full and equal persons, and thus quite appropriately addressed as such. The church never addressed the institution of slavery in society, for it was outside its province—society in that day did not claim to be representative, and certainly not representative of Christians, concepts that arrived with the Enlightenment—but it did address the situation in the church, where no social distinctions were to be allowed, for all were brothers and sisters (Gal. 3:28; 1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 3:11; Phile. 16), however shocking that was to society at large."[164]

"The NT accepts this situation [slavery] and never suggests its abolition (cf. I Cor. 7:21); to do otherwise would have required a social revolution wholly out of keeping with the attitude to authority taught in 2:13-17; moreover a rebellion by slaves against authority would have been crushed with terrible cruelty, as had happened more than once in the past."[165]

"The Church nowhere called the slaves to revolt, protest, demonstrate, or to claim justice and the freedom which is a human right. The apostles knew too well that violence begets its like, and that the doom of slavery and the cruelty which it involved, lay in the slow, sure pressure of the Christian way of life."[166]

Peter may have addressed servants, but not masters, because he addressed a social situation in which some of his readers were household servants but few, if any, were masters.[167] Paul did address slave owners (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1).

"Far more likely is the suggestion that the author chose to address his admonitions to slaves because they typify the all but defenseless vulnerability of all paroikoi kai parepidemoi ["foreigners and strangers"] (2:11) to the forces arrayed against them in the Roman Empire. That that is the intention here is indicated by the author's earlier assertion (2:16) that all Christians are God's slaves (theou douloi), and by the fact that many of the phrases employed in this passage are elsewhere applied to all Christians."[168]

2:18           In Peter's culture the servant was the person who faced the most difficulty in relating to the person in authority over him or her. Masters traditionally enjoyed great power over their slaves. The Greek word translated "servants" (oikelai) refers to domestic servants, but in that society those people were actually slaves in that they had some limitations on their personal freedom. In our culture Peter's directions apply to how we behave in relation to those directly over us in society (employers, bosses, administrators, teachers, et al.).[169]

Peter again commanded an attitude of respectful submission ("be subject … with all respect," cf. v. 13). The master's personal character or conduct is not the reason for this behavior. We are to respond this way even to those who are "harsh," in spite of his or her actions (cf. Eph. 6:5-8).

2:19           The reason that we should behave this way is that this behavior is God's will (cf. vv. 13, 17).

"This phrase ["endures grief"] probably means 'bearing it without retaliation.' One can take action against injustice and unjust structures in society without engaging in personal retaliation."[170]

The fact that this is how God wants us to behave is sufficient reason for compliance. Our conscious commitment to God should move us to do what is right, and this results in a clear "conscience." Probably many of Peter's readers were suffering because of the persecution of their masters (1:6-7). The translators of the word "favor" in this verse and the next (Gr. charis) usually rendered it "grace." In this context, however, it means what counts with God (gains His approval), or what pleases Him, rather than what He gives.[171]

2:20           Peter hastened to distinguish between just and unjust suffering. He did not want his readers to rest comfortably if they were suffering for their own sins. That would be just suffering. If they were suffering for their testimony, or without having provoked antagonism by improper behavior, that would be unjust suffering. If they suffered unjustly they could rest confidently, because God approved their conduct even if other people did not. What God rewards is patient endurance in His will (cf. James 1:4).

"Although v 20 has domestic servants particularly in mind, neither it nor anything that follows is limited to them. Their experience, whether actual or hypothetical, becomes a paradigm for the experience of all Christians everywhere in the empire. The position of a household slave was tenuous, subject to the character and moods of the owner. Despite the justice of the state, the position of Christians in the empire was also tenuous, subject to differing local conditions and sudden changes in the public mood."[172]

2:21           Part of the Christian's calling (1:1; 2:9) includes suffering (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12). Jesus Christ "suffered" at the hands of sinners because of His righteous conduct (cf. Matt. 26:67; Mark 14:65). We too can expect that our righteous behavior will draw the same response from the ungodly of our day (Matt. 11:29; 16:24; Luke 14:27; Acts 14:22).

Whereas Jesus' atonement set "an example" for us, it accomplished much more than that. But Peter cited only His example here in view of his purpose, which was to encourage his readers to endure suffering with the proper spirit ("follow in His steps"). They also needed to remember that their experience duplicated that of Jesus. They were like children who place foot after foot in the prints of their older brother who walks before them in the snow (cf. John 21:19; Rom. 4:12; 2 Cor. 12:18). The Greek word translated "example" (hypogrammon) refers to a writing or drawing that someone placed under another sheet of paper so he or she could trace the image on the upper sheet.[173] In the next few verses Peter expounded on Jesus' example at length.

"These verses [21-25] contain the fullest elaboration of the example of Jesus Christ for believers in the New Testament."[174]

"Nothing seems more unworthy and therefore less tolerable, than undeservedly to suffer; but when we turn our eyes to the Son of God, this bitterness is mitigated [reduced]; for who would refuse to follow him going before us?"[175]

2:22           Peter applied this prophecy to Jesus Christ (Isa. 53:9).

"The OT statement is applied to Christ to indicate that in his total conduct, especially in his words, he followed God's will."[176]

This is quite a statement: "Who committed no sin." Peter had lived with Jesus for more than three years and had observed Him closely, yet he could say that Jesus never sinned.

The absence of deceitful speech would have been "… particularly applicable to slaves in the empire, where glib, deceitful speech was one of their notorious characteristics, adroit evasions and excuses being often their sole means of self-protection."[177]

2:23           Peter referred specifically to Jesus' sufferings when He was on trial and during His crucifixion. Certainly Peter's readers could find a strong example to follow there. To "insult" means to heap abuse on someone. Often our threats are empty; we cannot follow through with them. But Jesus could have followed through. Instead He kept trusting God to deal with His persecutors justly ("righteously"), as we should.

"Peter's picture of what Jesus did not do seems clearly molded by his memory of the messianic picture in Isaiah 53:6-7. Yet rather than quoting this passage, he gives his own confirmatory witness, thereby underlining the veracity [truthfulness] of the prophetic portrayal."[178]

2:24           Jesus' sufferings reached their climax on the cross. Peter taught that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins and laid down His life as payment for those sins (i.e., penal substitution; cf. Deut. 21:23). He viewed Jesus' cross as an altar on which a sacrifice was placed.[179] "He Himself [Jesus] brought [offered] our sins in His own body up on the cross." Jesus was the offering, but in another sense our sins were the offering, since He took our sins upon Himself when He died on the cross.

"The Greek word translated 'tree' [in the AV] does not refer to a literal tree but to an object fashioned out of wood, in this case, the Cross."[180]

"The social code in I Peter is unique among those in the NT because it bases its instructions to slaves on the example of Christ who took the form of a slave (Phil. 2:7) and bore the punishments, reviling, beating, crucifixion, of a slave."[181]

We could translate the second part of this verse as follows: "… that, having broken with our sins, we might live for righteousness." Jesus Christ's death separated our sins from us. Consequently we can now live unto righteousness rather than unto sin (cf. Rom. 6:1-11).

"The idea is that, Christ having died for sins, and to sin, as our proxy or substitute, our consequent standing before God is that of those who have no more connection with our old sins, or with the life of sinning."[182]

Some writers have cited the third part of this verse ("by His wounds you were healed") to support the non-biblical doctrine that Jesus, by His death, made healing from any physical ailment something that every Christian can claim in this life. This is the belief that there is "healing in the atonement." The context of Isaiah 53, as well as the past tense "were healed" here, implies spiritual healing from the fatal effects of sin, rather than healing from present physical afflictions. Peter used healing as a metaphor for spiritual conversion, as Isaiah did (cf. Mark 2:17; Luke 4:23). The word "wounds" refers to the bruising and swelling left by a blow that a fist or whip delivered.

"The expression is highly paradoxical because stripes, which make bloody welts and lay even the flesh bare, are said to have wrought healing."[183]

"The Greek word for stripes [or "wounds," molops] is singular rather than plural. Thus our spiritual healing comes neither from Jesus' day-to-day sufferings nor from His sufferings that led to the Cross, but from the one ultimate wound—His death."[184]

Undoubtedly some of Peter's original readers had received wounds in a similar fashion—or were in danger of receiving them.

2:25           Peter concluded his citation of Jesus' example (vv. 21-24). He reminded his readers that they too, like the "sheep" that Isaiah referred to in the passage he just cited, "were continually straying" from God in the past. Nevertheless they had "now" "returned to the Shepherd," Jesus Christ, who would fulfill the function of a shepherd by acting as "Guardian of" their "souls" —guarding them from hostile adversaries. Their enemies might assail their bodies, but the Lord would preserve their "souls" (selves) safe (cf. 1:3-5).

3.     Wives' respect for their husbands 3:1-6

Having explained how Christians should conduct themselves in the world, Peter next gave directions about how Christian wives and husbands should behave. He did this in order to help his readers identify and choose to practice appropriate conduct in family life during times of suffering, as well as at other times.

"… he [Peter] discusses husbands and wives, and unlike the Pauline Haustafeln, he omits references to children. The reason for this omission is simple: He probably did not consider children who had one believing parent outside the true people of God (i.e., the nations), whereas the husbands of some Christian women certainly were. Peter's concern at this point is not life within the Christian community, but life at those points where the Christian community interfaces with the world around it."[185]

"But what was probably surprising to the original readers is that here in a seemingly traditional ethical section wives are addressed at all. In that society women were expected to follow the religion of their husbands; they might have their own cult on the side, but the family religion was that of the husband. Peter clearly focuses his address on women whose husbands are not Christians (not that he would give different advice to women whose husbands were Christians), and he addresses them as independent moral agents whose decision to turn to Christ he supports and whose goal to win their husbands he encourages. This is quite a revolutionary attitude for that culture."[186]

This section, like the preceding one addressed to slaves, has three parts: an exhortation to defer (vv. 1-2; cf. 2:18), an admonition about pleasing God (vv. 3-4; cf. 2:18-20), and a precedent for the prescribed attitude or action (vv. 5-6; cf. 2:21-25). The section on respect for everyone (2:13-17) contains the first two of these three parts (2:13-14 and 15-17), but not the third.[187]

3:1             "In the same way" refers to the spirit of deference (humble submission) that Peter had already advocated regarding Christians' dealings with government authorities (2:13-17) and people in direct authority over us (2:18-25). Primarily he meant: Be submissive in the same way Christ submitted to the Father (2:21-24).

"The opening words ["in the same way"] are not intended to equate the submissiveness due from wives with that expected from slaves. Rather, as in [verse] 7, the Greek adverb (homoios) harks back to 2:13, implying that the patriarchal principle of the subordination of the wife to her husband is not a matter of human convention but the order which the Creator has established …"[188]

Clearly Peter was speaking of the relationship of "wives" to their "husbands," not the relationship of women to men generically. Neither was he addressing only wives with unsaved husbands, as is clear from the clause "even if any of them are disobedient" (Gr. apeithousin). He said "your own husbands." A wife has a special relationship to her husband in that she belongs to him (and he belongs to her), which is not true of the relationship of all women to all men. Even more specifically, Peter was referring to wives whose husbands were "disobedient to the word" of God (i.e., unbelievers and disobedient believers, cf. 2:8).

Today many Christians believe that wives are not under the authority of their husbands (the egalitarian [equal] position). Note that other admonitions to be submissive surround this section in which Peter called on wives to submit to their husbands (2:13, 18, 23; 3:8). Wives are not the only people Peter commanded to be submissive. Submission should characterize every Christian. The Greek word hypotasso (to submit, "be subject to") has in view the maintenance of God's willed order, not personal inferiority of any kind.[189] This Greek word may denote either voluntary or forced behavior, but not any sense of inferiority.[190]

Peter did not state the more basic reason that wives should submit to their own husbands in this passage, nor did he give the more basic reason that all Christians should submit to rulers or masters, which is that this is God's will (cf. Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; 1 Tim. 2:9-15; Tit. 2:4-5). God has so ordered the human race that some people are under the authority of others (Gen. 2:18-23; 3:16; cf. 1 Tim. 2:13-14). We must all observe His structure of authority so that peace and order may prevail.

As all employees should submit to their masters, even the harsh (2:18), so all wives should submit to their husbands, even the "disobedient." The terminology "be won over" (v. 1) has been understood by most interpreters to refer to the spiritual conversion of an unsaved husband. However it seems legitimate to apply what Peter wrote to wives with disobedient Christian husbands as well.

Peter did not promise that all unbelieving husbands would inevitably become Christians as a result of the behavior that he prescribed, nor that all disobedient Christian husbands would become obedient to the word. That decision lies with the husband. Nevertheless the wife can have confidence that she has been faithful to God if she relates to her husband submissively. And this approach to a disobedient husband sometimes leads him to repentance.

For a classic example of a Christian woman leading her husband to faith in Christ through her virtuous example, see The Confessions of St. Augustine.[191] The woman was Monica, Augustine's mother, and her husband was Patricius.

"Unspoken acting is more powerful than unperformed speaking."[192]

Should a Christian wife submit to her husband even if he directs her to sin? Some evangelicals answer "yes" and appeal to Ephesians 5:24 for support.[193] Others say "no" but argue that submission should extend to everything except sin.[194] Ephesians 5:24, which calls on wives to submit to their husbands in "everything" (Gr. pas), does not mean in everything including sin (cf. Col. 3:25). Frequently pas does not mean every individual thing (cf. Matt. 8:33; Rom. 8:32; 14:2; 1 Cor. 1:5; 3:21-22; 6:12; 9:12; 10:23; 14:40; 2 Cor. 5:18; Phil. 4:13, et al.). Nevertheless, short of sinning, Peter urged Christian wives to obey their husbands. A primary responsibility of every Christian is to obey God.

The examples of suffering that Peter cited as good models for Christians in 2:13 through 25 did not involve sinning. He said that wives should submit "in the same way" (3:1). Just as there is a legitimate reason for disobeying the government, namely, when a ruler commands us to disobey God, so there is a legitimate reason for a wife to disobey her husband, namely, when he commands her to disobey God. The wife's behavior is to be morally "pure" (Gr. agnos) as well as "respectful" (v. 2).

It is specifically the wife's "behavior," in contrast to her speech ("without a word"), that Peter said may be effective in winning over a disobedient husband. "A word" includes anything that the wife might say as well as the Word of God. Peter was not forbidding speaking to unsaved husbands about the Lord, or sharing Scripture verses if the husband would be receptive to those. His point was simply that a godly wife's conduct is going to be more influential than anything that she might say.

"The problem addressed in this verse is not simply that of a wife defying the ideal of the Hellenistic elite that women in general are to be subordinated to men, but more specifically that wives in that culture were expected to assume the religion of their husbands."[195]

Submission involves at least four things: First, it begins with an attitude of entrusting oneself to God (cf. 2:23-25). The focus of our life must be on Jesus Christ. Second, submission requires respectful behavior (3:1-2). Nagging is not respectful behavior. Third, submission involves the development of a godly character (3:3-5). Fourth, submission includes doing what is right (3:6). It does not include violating other Scriptural principles. Submission is imperative for oneness in marriage.[196]

3:2             "Pure" translates a general term describing her purity, while "respectful" reflects her attitude toward her husband that rises out of her attitude toward God's will.

But what if the disobedient husband is not "won over"? What if he is abusive or even dangerous? How should the wife respond? Obviously she should continue to follow Peter's instructions, but it might be necessary for her own protection to remove herself from a potentially dangerous situation temporarily. I would not recommend divorcing him, but continuing to pray for his change of heart and behavior, and to seek the help of other believers and perhaps professional counselors.

3:3-4          Peter was not telling wives to refrain from giving attention to their physical appearances, specifically, their hair, jewelry, and clothing. His point was that this should not be their total or primary concern ("must not be merely the external"). He urged the cultivation of the inner person as well ("the hidden person of the heart"). Beauty is more than skin deep. He contrasted what human society values and what God values. "A gentle and quiet spirit" can make even a plain woman very attractive, not only to God but to her husband (cf. 1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Tim. 2:9-10). The Greek word for "adornment" (kosmos) is the one from which we get our word "cosmetics."

3:5             Peter reminded his readers that what he prescribed was what "holy women of former times" (Old Testament times) used to "adorn themselves" with, namely, "a gentle and quiet spirit … being subject to their own husbands." Their behavior reflected that they "hoped in God," which is a central theme in this epistle. It is easier for a Christian woman to give deference to her husband when she remembers her "living hope" (1:3; cf. 1:13, 21).

3:6             "Sarah" is a good example of such a woman. Peter held up Sarah as an example, not because she submitted to "Abraham" even to the point of sinning (which she did in Genesis 12 and 20), but because she submitted to him. She even called him her "lord" (Gen. 18:12). We see her attitude of respect in the way she spoke to Abraham (v. 2). To address someone as one's "lord" sounds servile to us, but an equally acceptable translation of the Greek word is "sir." The point is that Sarah verbally expressed her submission to him in a way that was appropriate in her culture.[197] Women who behave as Sarah did show that they are "her children" in spirit. Such behavior demonstrates trust in God and holiness: separation from sin to God's will.

"His [Peter's] argument is from the greater to the lesser: if Sarah 'obeyed' Abraham and called him 'Lord,' the Christian wives in Asia should at least treat their husbands with deference and respect."[198]

"Without being frightened by any fear" is not a condition for becoming a true child of Sarah—on top of doing what is right. It is rather the consequence of adopting the behavior that Peter advocated. If a Christian wife was suffering for her faith because of her conduct, she could gain great confidence by doing what Peter counseled and what Sarah modeled. She could understand that any suffering that came her way was not a result of her sinful behavior, but in spite of her godly behavior (cf. 2:20; Prov. 3:25).

"The sense is that these Christian women are to let nothing terrifying frighten them from their course. Pagan women may disdain and insult them because they have adopted a nobler wifehood, they yet remain unafraid. Pagan husbands may resent their Christianity; this, too, does not frighten them."[199]

This is a very encouraging word in view of the pressure that many godly women feel today when they seek to follow God's directions. In some places they are under great pressure to adopt the egalitarian approach that the world promotes so strongly.

"His [Peter's] concern is that the church not be known for its production of rebellious wives who have an attitude of superiority, but of women who, because they know God will reward them and set everything right, demonstrate the virtue of gentle submission where Christianly possible."[200]

4.     Husbands' respect for their wives 3:7

Why did Peter write more about the conduct of women (vv. 1-6) than of men (v. 7)? He evidently did so because his concern was for Christian wives who were married to disobedient husbands, including pagan husbands. A Christian wife married to a disobedient husband was in a more vulnerable position than a Christian husband married to a disobedient wife in that culture. Normally pagan women married to Christian husbands would adopt their husbands' faith. In Roman society a wife would normally adopt her husband's religion.[201]

"It is clear that Peter does not think about the possibility of a husband with a non-Christian wife, for if a family head in that culture changed his religion it would be normal that his wife, servants, and children also changed."[202]

"His [Peter's] emphasis throughout is on those points at which the Christian community faces outward to confront Roman society. Probably for this reason he omits children and parents altogether; the parent-child relationship (at least in regard to younger children) is not normally one in which belief and unbelief confront each other …"[203]

The Roman author Cato wrote:

"If you were to catch your wife in an act of infidelity, you can kill her with impunity without a trial; but, if she were to catch you, she would not venture to touch you with her finger, and, indeed, she has no right."[204]

The Christian wife's new freedom in Christ created new problems and challenges for her. Apparently Peter wanted to communicate more encouragement (vv. 5-6) and tenderness to the women because of their more vulnerable status, not because he believed that they were greater sinners than their husbands. What follows in verse 7 is just as challenging as what we have read in verses 1 through 6.[205]

"In 1 Peter 3:1-6 Christian wives are instructed to behave with deference as they encounter the difficulties of living with an unbelieving husband. Similarly in verse 7 Christian husbands are told to honor their wives in unfair circumstances brought about by the wife's being the weaker vessel."[206]

Another possibility is that these husbands were suffering for their faith.

As with his instructions to wives, Peter began his counsel to the husbands with a command to think right first (cf. 3:1-2). He said that men should cultivate understanding. They should dwell with their wives "in an intelligent and reasonable manner."[207] This brief charge carries profound implications. It requires active listening to the wife as well as a study of her temperament, emotions, personality, and thought patterns. It is a tall order to know one's wife, to understand her, even to be understanding with her. However the knowledge in view ("an understanding way") is probably primarily knowledge of God's Word concerning the proper treatment of one's wife.[208]

By comparing a wife to a "weaker" person, Peter was not implying that wives or women in general are inferior to husbands or males, or that they are weaker in every way or even in most ways. Obviously in many marriages the wife is the stronger person: emotionally, mentally, spiritually, morally, socially, and/or physically. Nevertheless, physically the wife is usually weaker than her husband. Most men tend to choose as their wives women who are not as strong as they are. Furthermore men are generally physically stronger than women. In view of this, husbands need to treat their wives with special consideration. Both the husband and the wife are "vessels" (AV), but husbands are more typically similar to iron skillets, whereas wives resemble china vases, being more delicate. They are equally important but different.

Peter banished any implication of essential inferiority with his reminder that the wife is a "fellow heir of the grace [gift] of life." He shows no favoritism or partiality because of their genders. A wife may not be as strong as her husband in some respect, but God deals with her the same as He deals with him. The "life" in view probably refers to both physical life and spiritual life, since husbands and wives share both equally. Also, God deals with both types of people the same when it comes to bestowing other grace on them.

The husband who does not treat his wife with honor will not get answers to his "prayers" to the degree that he could if he treated her with honor (cf. Matt. 6:14-15; 1 Tim. 2:8). In other words, disobedience to the will of God regarding how a man treats his wife hinders the husband's fellowship with God.

"Egkoptesthai ["be hindered"], to have an obstacle thrown in the way, does not restrict the thought to preventing the prayers from reaching their destination at God's throne of grace. The thought includes all manner of hindering. A husband who treats his wife in the wrong way will himself be unfit to pray, will scarcely pray at all. There will be no family altar, no life of prayer. His worship in the congregation will be affected."[209]

A man's selfishness and failure to "honor" his wife in his marriage will hurt both his relationship with God and his relationship with his wife.

"As the closest human relationship, the relationship to one's spouse must be most carefully cherished if one wishes a close relationship with God."[210]

One of a husband's primary responsibilities in a marriage is caring for his wife. Caring requires understanding. If you are married, what are your wife's greatest needs? Ask her. What are her greatest concerns? Ask her. What are her hopes and dreams? Ask her. What new vistas would she like to explore? Ask her, and keep on asking her over the years. Her answers will enable you to understand and care for her more effectively. This constitutes honoring one's wife.

"In order to be able to love deeply, we must know each other profoundly. If we are to lovingly respond to the needs of another, we must know what they are."[211]

"In my premarital counseling as a pastor, I often gave the couple pads of paper and asked them to write down the three things each one thinks the other enjoys doing the most. Usually, the prospective bride made her list immediately; the man would sit and ponder. And usually the girl was right but the man wrong! … To say, 'I never knew you felt that way!' is to confess that, at some point, one mate excommunicated the other."[212]

5.     The importance of loving enemies 3:8-12

Peter concluded this section of instructions concerning respect for others with a discussion of the importance of loving our enemies.

3:8             "To sum up" concludes the section on respect for others (2:13—3:12). This verse deals with attitudes. Again we note that Peter regarded attitudes as foundational to actions (cf. vv. 1, 7; 2:17; James 3).

To "be harmonious" (Gr. homophrones) implies being cooperative when there are individual differences. These differences can have a pleasing rather than an irritating effect. We do not all need to sing exactly the same notes, but our notes should harmonize with those of our brethren. We should be able to work together, like the different parts of an athlete's body work together, to reach our common goal victoriously.

To be "sympathetic" (Gr. sumpatheis) means to suffer with another person by entering into and sharing the feelings of that person, rather than by having compassion on him or her from a distance. Sympathizing implies bearing one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2).

To be "loving" (Gr. philadelphoi) means to be friendly, loving as brothers and sisters (cf. 1:22; 2:17).

To be "compassionate" (Gr. eusplagchnoi) means to feel deep affection for someone else.

The person who is "humble" (Gr. tapeinophrones)  in spirit is willing to put someone else's interests and needs before his or her own (cf. Phil. 2:3-4). This would apply to God's purposes as well, not just the needs of other people.

These five qualities are vital to effective interpersonal relationships. They are also indispensable for maintaining oneness in marriage.

"Christians are to be emotionally involved with each other."[213]

3:9             Like Jesus and Paul, Peter urged his readers not to take revenge ("returning evil for evil, or insult for insult"). Instead we should return positive, good things for bad things (2:23; cf. Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:9-18; 1 Cor. 4:12; 1 Thess. 5:15).

"As Christians we can live on one of three levels. We can return evil for good, which is the satanic level. We can return good for good and evil for evil, which is the human level. Or, we can return good for evil, which is the divine level. Jesus is the perfect example of this latter approach (1 Peter 2:21-23)."[214]

The basis for the Christian's good will to others, even our enemies, is the mercy that we have received and continue to receive from God. God blessed us when we were His enemies (Rom. 5:10). Our "blessing" (Gr. eulogein, lit. "to speak well") may be verbal or tangible.

"In biblical idiom 'to bless' is to invoke God's graciousness on a person."[215]

Peter's reference to inheriting a blessing reminds us of the inheritance that he spoke of earlier and urged us to keep in view (1:4). However God will give us this part of our inheritance only if we faithfully do His will (cf. Heb. 12:17).

The type of relationship in which we return "insult for insult" is one that intends to hurt the other person with remarks or actions. This approach springs from an unforgiving and hardened heart attitude. We can insult another person by hiding (the quiet method) or by hurling verbal or physical abuse (the noisy method). An insult can lead another person to either clam up or blow up. Both clamming up and blowing up produce bitterness and isolation. The "insult for insult" response often occurs when two people develop habits of reacting in certain ways in certain similar situations. Therefore it is often helpful to analyze the circumstances that seem to produce this response inevitably.

The "blessing instead" response, however, is one in which we react kindly when we suffer ill treatment. It springs from an attitude of forgiveness. It has its focus on God and the promises of His Word. Instead of reacting in anger, we respond with forgiveness. The consequences of taking this approach in interpersonal relationships are: getting a blessing, having a full life, and walking with God (vv. 9-12).

How does one give a blessing instead of an insult? We refrain from speaking evil, walk away from it, do positive good, and seek to make peace rather than trouble (vv. 10-12). Our attitude is crucial. What kind of relationship will you seek to develop and maintain with your mate? The insult for insult type results in isolation, but the blessing for insult type results in oneness in marriage.[216]

3:10-12      To strengthen his case Peter again cited an Old Testament passage that supported what he said (Ps. 34:12-16).[217] However the primary purpose for this quotation seems to be more clarification than proof. Actually verses 8 and 9 are Peter's exposition of the psalm passage that he now quoted. "Evil" (v. 10) hurts, and "deceit" misleads. God will judge ("the face of the Lord is against") those who do any kind of evil (v. 12).

This quotation (vv. 10-12) appropriately summarizes all of Peter's instructions concerning proper Christian conduct during persecution (2:11—3:12).

C.     Eventual Vindication 3:13—4:6

Peter previously explained how a Christian can rejoice in his or her sufferings, having set forth his or her responsibilities and outlined specific conduct in times of suffering. He next emphasized the inner confidence that a Christian can have when experiencing persecution for his or her faith. He did this in order to equip his readers to overcome their sufferings effectively.

"From this point onward Peter is concerned principally (but not exclusively) with the Christians' response to actual persecution."[218]

1.     Suffering for doing good 3:13-17

3:13           This statement carries on what the psalmist said in the quotation just cited. If God will punish those who do evil (v. 12), who will harm those who do good? God certainly will not, is the implication, and under normal circumstances no other person will either.

"… Christians have an incredible contribution to make to the society in which they live by breaking the cycle of people returning evil for evil. As we begin to do good, most people will return that good by doing good. What a marvelous ministry—with very immediate and measurable results. Just as people tend to return evil for evil, they usually return good for good. Indeed, when you do good, blessing comes to everyone involved."[219]

3:14           Nevertheless ("But") some people are perverse, and we do sometimes experience suffering for doing good ("for the sake of righteousness"). In such cases we need to focus our attention on the blessing that will come to us for enduring persecution when we do good (cf. Matt. 5:10; Luke 1:48). Peter quoted the LORD's exhortation to Isaiah, when the prophet learned that the people of Judah and Jerusalem would not respond to his ministry positively (Isa. 8:12-13). God promised to take care of Isaiah, and He did. Though Isaiah eventually died a martyr's death, he persevered in his calling because God sustained him. This is what God will do for the Christian, and it gives us the courage that we need to continue serving him faithfully in spite of persecution.

3:15           Rather than being fearful we should commit ourselves afresh to Christ "as Lord" (our Master) by purposing to continue to live for Him. We should also have the reason that we are living as we do on the tip of our tongues ("ready to make a defense") so that, whenever an opportunity arises, we can explain why we behave as we do (cf. Acts 22:1; 25:16). Our inquisitive questioner may not ask specifically about our "hope." But our hope is the root cause of our behavior, and our hope should be the subject of our answer. We should give this answer with a gentle spirit to those asking and in a reverent spirit toward God.

3:16           "A good conscience" is possible when we know that our suffering has happened in spite of our "good behavior," not because of bad behavior (cf. 2:19; 3:4, 6). A simple explanation of our good conduct may take the wind out of the sails of our critics and put them to "shame."

"Conscience may be compared to a window that lets in the light of God's truth. If we persist in disobeying, the window gets dirtier and dirtier, until the light cannot enter. This leads to a 'defiled conscience' (Titus 1:15). A 'seared conscience' is one that has been so sinned against that it no longer is sensitive to what is right and wrong (1 Tim. 4:2). It is even possible for the conscience to be so poisoned that it approves things that are bad and accuses when the person does good! This the Bible calls 'an evil conscience' (Heb. 10:22). … A 'good conscience' is one that accuses when we think or do wrong and approves when we do right."[220]

The phrase "in Christ" reminds the reader of his or her identity and is the basis of the exhortations to follow Christ.[221]

3:17           If it is God's will for us to suffer misunderstanding, abuse, or bullying, it is "better" that that suffering be for good conduct than for bad (cf. Rom. 8:28). Peter probably meant these words as assurance rather than as admonition. He meant that we are much better off, when we suffer, than the evildoers are who oppress us.[222]

2.     The vindication of Christ 3:18-22

Peter now reminded his readers of the consequences of Jesus' response to unjustified persecution. He did so in order to strengthen their resolve to rededicate themselves to follow God's will wholeheartedly and confidently. He also wanted to assure them of their ultimate triumph in Christ.

"The apostle gives a touching motive for this [suffering for well doing rather than for evil doing]: Christ has suffered for sins once for all; let that suffice; let us suffer only for righteousness. To suffer for sin was His task …"[223]

Verses 18 through 22 contain some very difficult interpretive problems: Who are the spirits who received a proclamation (v. 19)? When did Jesus make this proclamation? What was its content? Why did Peter mention Noah? In what sense does baptism save us? I will discuss the answers to these questions in the exposition to follow.

In 2:21 through 25 Peter mentioned Jesus' behavior during His passion (2:21-23), His death on the cross (2:24a), and His present ministry as the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (2:24b-25). In 3:18 through 22 he cited Jesus' resurrection and ascension into glory, which are the "missing links" of the previous record of Jesus' experiences. Peter proceeded to explain the significance of Jesus' resurrection and exaltation, not only for believers, but also for the whole universe. Whereas the previous example of Jesus stressed the way that He suffered while doing good, this one emphasizes the theme of Jesus' vindication, which is a major one in 1 Peter following the quotation of Psalm 34 in 3:10 through 12.

3:18           "For" connects this section of verses (18-22) with what precedes (vv. 13-17).

But the phrase "Christ also suffered" recalls and resumes the example of Jesus Christ that Peter cited in 2:21 through 25. Peter used the phrase "Christ also suffered for you" in 2:21 to introduce Jesus Christ as an example for his readers to follow in their sufferings. But here he wrote that "Christ also suffered for sins" to introduce his discussion of Jesus' death, resurrection, and ascension. Suffering for doing good rather than for doing evil is the point of comparison in both passages. Peter began his discussion of Christ's sufferings in 1:11.

"Once for all time" (Gr. hapax) emphasizes the complete sufficiency of Jesus Christ's sacrifice. It does not need repeating (as in the Roman Catholic mass) or adding to (by human effort, cf. Rom. 6:10; Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:10). The emphasis is on the finality of His sacrifice.

His was also a vicarious [done for another] sacrifice: "the just [One] died for the unjust [ones]" as their Substitute (1:19; 2:21-24; 4:1; cf. Isa. 53:11; Matt. 27:19; Luke 23:47; Rom. 5:6-10; 1 John 2:1, 29; 3:7). The purpose of Jesus Christ's death was to "bring us to [into fellowship with] God."

"… no other NT writer has this active picture of Jesus leading the Christian to God. But it fits with Peter's usual conception of the Christian life as an active close following of Jesus (2:21; 4:13)."[224]

The phrase "having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit" has received several different interpretations:

Some interpreters believe that "flesh" here refers to the material part of Jesus Christ's person, and "spirit" to the immaterial part.[225] Supporters of this view argue that we should regard flesh and spirit as two parts of the Lord's human nature (cf. Matt. 26:41; Rom. 1:3-4; 1 Tim. 3:16; 1 Cor. 5:5). The contrast then would be that Jesus' body (flesh) died, but His immaterial part (spirit) experienced resurrection.

The problem with this view is that no article precedes either "flesh" or "spirit" in the Greek text. The absence of the article usually stresses the quality of the noun. This would not be normal if Peter meant to contrast Jesus' body and His spirit. He would have included an article before each noun. The absence of the articles suggests a special meaning of flesh and spirit. Furthermore, Jesus' resurrection involved both the material and immaterial parts of His person, not just His spirit.

Another view is that we should take the Greek words (men sarki and de pneumati, translated "in the flesh" and "in the spirit") as instrumental (by the flesh and by the spirit) rather than as dative. The contrast, according to this interpretation, is between wicked men who put Jesus to death by fleshly means, and the Holy Spirit who raised Him. However the Greek dative case ("in the flesh") is probably what Peter intended here rather than the instrumental case (by the flesh). This is probably a dative of respect.[226] It is not who was responsible for Jesus' death and resurrection that is the issue, but how Jesus suffered death and experienced resurrection. Moreover, if spirit means the Holy Spirit, then its meaning as used in context is not parallel with flesh.

A third view is that "flesh" refers to Jesus' death and "spirit" refers to His resurrection. The weakness of this view is that it is redundant. According to this view, Peter meant that Jesus was put to death in death and that He was made alive in resurrection.

A fourth view sees "flesh" as describing Jesus' pre-resurrection condition (following the Incarnation) and "spirit" as referring to His post-resurrection condition. Peter used the same terminology in 4:6 where he referred to Christians who had died but were now alive. I prefer this view.

"As in Rom. i.3f.; 1 Tim. iii.16, flesh and spirit do not here designate complimentary parts of Christ, but the whole of Christ regarded from different standpoints. By flesh is meant Christ in His human sphere of existence, considered as a man among men. By spirit is meant Christ in His heavenly spiritual sphere of existence, considered as divine spirit (see on 1. 11); and this does not exclude His bodily nature, since as risen from the dead it is glorified."[227]

"'Flesh' and 'spirit' do not refer to two 'parts' of Christ, i.e., his body and his soul; nor does the 'spirit' refer to the Holy Spirit or Christ's human spirit. Rather, 'flesh' refers to Christ in his human sphere of life and 'spirit' refers to Christ in his resurrected sphere of life (cf. [William J.] Dalton, [Christ's Proclamation to the Spirits,] pp. 124-24; TDNT, 6:417, 447; 7:143)."[228]

"If 'flesh' is the sphere of human limitations, of suffering, and of death (cf. 4:1), 'Spirit' is the sphere of power, vindication, and a new life (cf. [F. W.] Beare, [The First Epistle of Peter: The Greek Text with Introduction and Notes, p.] 169). Both spheres affect Christ's (or anyone else's) whole person; one cannot be assigned to the body and the other to the soul …"[229]

"The statement that Christ was 'made alive in the Spirit,' therefore, means simply that he was raised from the dead, not as a spirit, but bodily (as resurrection always is in the NT), and in a sphere in which the Spirit and power of God are displayed without hindrance or human limitation (cf. 1:21)."[230]

Jesus Christ became the Victor over death rather than a victim of death. All who trust Him share in that victory (cf. vv. 13-17). This verse is an encouragement to Peter's readers that, even though Jesus died because He remained committed to God's will, He experienced resurrection. Therefore we also should remain faithful with the confident hope that God will also raise and vindicate us.

This verse is "one of the shortest and simplest [?!], and yet one of the richest summaries given in the New Testament of the meaning of the Cross of Jesus."[231]

3:19-20      Peter here introduced more information about Jesus' activity in His "spirit" (i.e., His post-resurrection sphere of life) in addition to what he said about His resurrection from the dead (v. 18) in order to encourage his readers. "In which" refers back to the spiritual sphere of life in which Jesus Christ now lives (v. 18).

The identity of "the spirits in prison" is another problem. The plural "spirits" describes human beings in only one other place in the New Testament (Heb. 12:23), but it describes evil spirit beings frequently (Matt. 10:1; Mark 1:27; 3:11; 5:13; 6:7: Luke 4:36; 6:18; Acts 5:16; Rev. 16:13; et al.). Thus we would expect that evil angels are in view. But does what Peter said about them confirm this identification? He said they are "in prison" (cf. 2 Pet. 2:4) and that they "were once disobedient … in the days of Noah" (v. 20).

One view is that between His death and resurrection, or after His resurrection, Jesus went to Sheol (the place of departed spirits) and preached good news (that He had defeated Satan) to "the disembodied spirits, which were kept shut up (Jude 6: 2 Pet. ii. 4) in the place of the departed awaiting the final judgment …"[232] Another view is that Jesus went to Sheol and preached bad news to the fallen angels there, namely, that He had broken the power of the evil spirit world.[233] A third view is that Jesus visited a prison in the heavens after His resurrection.[234] One group of interpreters believes that Jesus went to the realm of the dead and preached to Noah's contemporaries there between His crucifixion and His resurrection.[235] Some say that He extended an offer of salvation to them. Others believe that He announced condemnation to the unbelievers. Still others hold that He announced good news to the saved among them.

Some interpreters believe that the incident involving the sons of God and the daughters of men (Gen. 6:1-4) is what Peter had in view here.[236] But there are some problems with this theory: First, that incident evidently did not take place during the construction of the ark but before construction began. Second, it is improbable that the sons of God were angels.[237] Compare also Jesus' implication in Matthew 22:30 that angels do not procreate.

Even if the sons of God were not angels, these "spirits" that Peter referred to could still be angels. If they are fallen angels, Peter may have meant that after Jesus Christ arose He announced to them that their doom was now sure. He may have done this either by His resurrection itself or by some special announcement to them.

A more probable explanation is that these "spirits" were the unbelievers who disobeyed God in Noah's day by rejecting his preaching.[238] They are now "spirits," since they died long ago and their bodies have not yet been resurrected. Peter said the spirits of these unbelievers are "in prison" now (in Sheol) awaiting resurrection and judgment by God (cf. Rev. 20:11-15). One could say that Jesus ("He") proclaimed a message to Noah's unbelieving contemporaries in His spirit (i.e., His spiritual state of life before the Incarnation) through Noah.[239]

Noah was preaching a message that God had given him, and in this sense Jesus Christ spoke through him (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20). In the same sense Jesus Christ was speaking through Peter's readers to their unbelieving persecutors as they bore witness for Him in a hostile world. Noah faced the same type of opposition in his day that Peter's original readers did in theirs, and we do in ours.

Another view is that the people to whom Jesus preached were those alive after Pentecost who were likewise prisoners: in bondage to Satan and sin. Jesus preached to them through the apostles. The obvious problem with this view is that Peter linked these people with Noah.[240]

God would bring Peter's readers safely through their trials just as He had brought Noah safely through his trials into a whole new world. God had done this for Noah even though he and his family were a small minority in their day ("eight persons"). Furthermore, just as God judged the mockers in Noah's day, so will He judge those who persecuted Peter's readers.

"The phrase 'in the days of Noah' may well be based on the Gospel tradition and on Jesus' analogy between Noah's time and the time immediately preceding the end of the age (cf. Matt 24:37-39//Luke 17:26-27)."[241]

God is so patient that he waited for 120 years before sending the Flood in Noah's day (Gen. 6:3). Today He also waits. He is so patient that some people conclude that He will never judge them (cf. 2 Pet. 3:3-4). Relatively "few" will escape God's coming judgment just as only "eight" escaped His former judgment. The rest will die.

3:21a-b       "Corresponding to" is a translation of the Greek word antitypon ("antitype"). This is one of the places in the New Testament where the writer identified something as a type (cf. also Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 10:6, 11; Heb. 9:24). The flood in Noah's day was a type (i.e., a divinely intended foreshadowing) of baptism. God washed away from the earth its past evils and sins with the Flood, and Noah and his family could start life anew.

"The flood was for Noah a baptism, as the passage through the Red Sea was for the Israelites; by baptism in the flood he and his family were transferred from the old world to the new; from immediate destruction to lengthened probation; from the companionship of the wicked to communion with God; from the severing of all bonds between the creature and the Creator to the privileges of the covenant: so we by spiritual baptism."[242]

The antecedent of "that" seems clearly to be "water" (v. 20). Baptism "saves" Christians now like the water that floated Noah's ark saved him. Water baptism does not save us by cleansing us from defilement, either physically or spiritually, but by announcing publicly that the person baptized has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ. Baptism (really our faith in Christ that baptism symbolizes) "now saves" us from the consequences of siding with the world (cf. James 1:21; 2:24; 2 Cor. 6:17-18; Col. 3:8-9; Heb. 10:22). Baptism is the evidence that a person has made a break with his or her past life and is now taking a stand with the Savior. It is "an appeal" to God (to recognize our commitment to Christ) springing from "a good conscience" (a conscience that is now right with God; cf. v. 16).[243]

"… they have already experienced salvation in the same way Noah did, namely by passing through water to safety, the water of baptism (cf. the similar analogy in 1 Cor. 10:1-2)."[244]

Peter's point in his comments about baptism was this: Through water baptism his readers had made a public profession of faith in Christ in their community. This had led to persecution. However by that act of baptism they had also testified to their ultimate victory over their persecutors. Because they had taken a stand for Jesus Christ, they could be sure that He would stand with them (cf. 2 Tim. 2:12).

Many people who hold to infant baptism appeal to this verse in support of their belief. Most Lutherans, for example, believe that infant baptism guarantees the salvation of the child until he or she becomes old enough to make the faith of his parents, expressed in having their baby baptized, his own (cf. Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:16). In infant baptism the Lord supposedly bestows on the child "a good conscience toward God," which is the evidence of salvation.[245] At about 12 years of age Lutheran children go through instruction to confirm them in the faith.

Lutherans believe that infant baptism guarantees the salvation of children in case they die before making their parents' faith their own. They see a parallel with circumcision in the Old Testament. Roman Catholics and many Presbyterians also baptize infants for the same purpose.

The problem with this interpretation, from my viewpoint, is that Scripture nowhere else makes baptism a condition for salvation. In fact it consistently warns against adding anything to faith in Christ for salvation. Circumcision did not save children under the Old Covenant nor does baptism under the New Covenant. Circumcision expressed the faith of the parents. Abraham received the sign of circumcision to demonstrate his faith, not to safeguard his children (Gen. 17).

"The first clear reference to the baptism of infants is in a writing of Tertullian in [A.D.] 197, in which he condemns the practice beginning to be introduced of baptizing the dead and of baptizing infants. The way for this change, however, had been prepared by teaching concerning baptism, which was divergent from that in the New Testament; for early in the second century baptismal regeneration was already being taught."[246]

3:21c-22    Salvation comes, not by baptism, but by faith in Jesus Christ whose "resurrection" and ascension ("who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven") testify to God's acceptance of, and satisfaction with, His sacrifice (1 John 2:2). First Corinthians 1:17 clarifies that baptism is not required for justification, and Acts 10:47 shows that baptism is a step of obedience for Christians. God has "subjected" all things, even the "authorities and powers" behind our persecutors, to Jesus Christ because of His death and resurrection (cf. v. 18). "Through the resurrection" continues the thought that Peter began in verse 18, from which he digressed in verses 19 through 21b.

Jesus Christ's ultimate victory, in spite of temporary persecution, should be an encouragement to any suffering disciple of the Savior. Verse 18 describes the saving work of Jesus Christ. Verses 19 and 20 refer to His ministry of proclaiming good news to those destined for judgment, which ministry we in our day must continue faithfully, like Noah did in his. Verse 21 stresses the importance of confessing Christ publicly in baptism by reminding us of what baptism does and what it does not do. And verse 22 reminds us of our ultimate vindication and destiny.

In 2:21 through 24 Peter used Jesus as an example of how to respond to suffering. In 3:18 through 22 he showed that, as a result of Jesus' sufferings, we can be sure of ultimate triumph, and this gives us hope and confidence as we suffer.

3.     Living with the promise in view 4:1-6

Since Jesus Christ has gained the victory, Peter urged his readers to rededicate themselves to God's will as long as they might live. He wanted to strengthen their resolve to continue to persevere. He resumed here the exhortation that he broke off in 3:17. Generally speaking, verses 1 through 3 focus on Christian behavior, and verses 4 through 6 on pagan response.

4:1             Peter's present appeal grew out of what he had just said about Christ's victory (3:18, 21c, 22). In view of Jesus' example of committing Himself to accomplishing God's will ("Therefore"), Peter called his readers to commit themselves to "the same purpose" (cf. 3:15). Jesus "suffered" to the extent of dying, and Christians should be willing to suffer to the same extent. Selwyn regarded Peter's statement here as the keystone of his whole "doctrinal arch" in this epistle.[247]

"The beginning of all true mortification [subduing one's bodily desires] lies in the mind, not in penances and hardships upon the body."[248]

In the second part of the verse Peter probably meant that since his readers had identified themselves with Christ's suffering and death (in water baptism) they should, therefore, put sin behind them and live a clean life (cf. Rom. 6:1-11). Some interpreters have seen this verse as support for the doctrine of purgatory. They believe that Peter meant that suffering purifies the life. The aorist participle (Gr. pathon, "has suffered") normally is antecedent in time to the main verb, which here is in the perfect tense (pepantai, "has ceased"). Suffering precedes ceasing, but Peter apparently meant that suffering with Christ should lead to a more holy life (cf. v. 2). It does not inevitably do so.

4:2             Peter clarified commitment to God's will in this verse. "Time in the flesh" refers to one's mortal lifetime on earth, not to carnal living (cf. 3:18; 4:6). Peter was therefore urging his readers not to live according to the "lusts" of men during their remaining time in "the flesh" or lifetime, "but for the will of God."

"… 'the flesh' is not used here or anywhere else in 1 Peter (it is used seven times; all but one of them are in 3:18—4:6) in the Pauline sense of the sinful nature in human beings (as, e.g., in Rom. 7—8), but in the normal Jewish sense of human existence as weak, fallen, and therefore subject to pain and death."[249]

"We may not always understand what He [God] is doing, but we know that He is doing what is best for us. We do not live on explanations; we live on promises."[250]

4:3             Peter's readers had already spent too much "time" living for self in typically unsaved Gentile practices. Note the prominence of sexual and alcohol related activities here: "indecent behavior, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and wanton idolatries" (cf. Rom. 13:13-14; Gal. 5:19-21). This verse, along with others (e.g., 1:14; 2:10), suggests that Peter was writing to a predominantly Gentile audience.

4:4             Some of the persecution that Peter's readers were experiencing was due to their unwillingness to continue in their old lifestyle with their unsaved friends. This continues to be a common source of persecution for Christians today.

"Unsaved people do not understand the radical change that their friends experience when they trust Christ and become children of God. They do not think it strange when people wreck their bodies, destroy their homes, and ruin their lives by running from one sin to another! But let a drunkard become sober, or an immoral person pure, and the family thinks he has lost his mind!"[251]

4:5             Peter reminded his readers that God would condemn their unsaved friends' behavior. So they should not return to it. The Judge was already ready to "judge" the physically living and the physically dead (cf. Dan. 3:15 [LXX]; Acts 21:13; 2 Cor. 12:14). Peter viewed those who slander Christians for their lifestyles as really slandering God, who has called us out of darkness into the light (2:9).

4:6             Because everyone will give account of his life to God (v. 5), Christians proclaim "the gospel." We do so to make it possible for people to give that account joyfully rather than sorrowfully (cf. 1 John 2:28). In Peter's day, Christians had preached the gospel to other people who had become Christians and had since then died. Even though these brethren had experienced judgment for their sins by dying physically ("judged in the flesh"), they lived on in a new spiritual sphere of life since they were believers (cf. 3:18). Physical death is sin's last effect on believers during their earthly lives.

"Here, then, is the teaching that, in view of final judgment, the martyred dead are better off than the unbelieving Gentiles of verse 3."[252]

Some people have incorrectly understood this verse as teaching that, after a person dies, he or she will have a second chance to believe the gospel.[253] That interpretation clearly contradicts the revelation of Scripture elsewhere that there is no second chance after death (Heb. 9:27).[254]

"Peter does not say that the gospel is being preached even to the dead but was preached."[255]

"These are not all of the dead who shall face the Judge at the last day but those to whom the gospel was preached prior to Peter's writing (by the gospel preachers mentioned in v. 1, 12 [1:12]), who at this writing were already dead [cf. 3:19-20]."[256]

I do not think that the "dead" in view in this verse are the spirits in prison referred to in 3:19, as some believe.[257]

The verses in this pericope are a strong encouragement to endure suffering. Christ has assured our ultimate victory, and to fail to persevere is to incur God's punishment.

D.     The Importance of Mutual Love in End-Times Living 4:7-11

In order to prepare his readers to meet the Lord soon, Peter urged them to make the best use of their time in the present, now that they understood what he had written about suffering.

4:7             Like the other apostles, Peter believed the return of Jesus Christ was imminent (i.e., it could occur at any moment; cf. James 5:8; Rom. 13:11; Heb. 9:28; 1 John 2:18). "The end of all things" refers to the consequence of Christ's appearing. I take it that "all things" does not refer literally to every thing, but to life as we know it now. Christ's appearing "is near" (lit. "has come near") in that it could happen at any moment. The fact that "the end of all things has come near" should make a practical difference in the way Peter's readers lived. They were to remain clear-headed ("of sound judgment") and self-controlled (of "sober spirit"), primarily so that they could pray properly. Eschatology (the study of end times things) has ethical implications.

"To charge Paul or Peter with false prophecy for saying 1900 years ago that the end is near, is to treat them unfairly. They, as we, had to live in constant expectation of Christ's sudden return."[258]

"With the Messiah's first advent the reality of the eschatological kingdom broke on human history; but with the King's rejection, His eschatological kingdom was not established. It awaits the day of His return. But that eschatological encounter introduced a new element into the nature of history. Human history now moves under the shadow of the divinely announced eschatological kingdom."[259]

This verse illustrates the importance of "prayer." Prayer is the most noble and necessary ministry that God entrusts to His children, but it is also the most neglected ministry (cf. 1 Tim. 2:1; 1 Thess. 5:17; Heb. 4:15-16).[260] Jesus' prayers, especially in the Garden of Gethsemane, may have impressed this truth on Peter (cf. Matt. 26:40-41). Jesus prayed when the end of His life was near. The Greek word that Peter used for "prayer" (lit. prayers, proseuchas) is the general word for prayer, and it indicates that Peter had all kinds of praying in mind (praise, personal petitions, intercessions, thanksgivings, et al.).

"… proper prayer is not an 'opiate' or escape, but rather a function of clear vision and a seeking of even clearer vision from God. It is only through clear communication with headquarters that a soldier can effectively stand guard."[261]

4:8             In relation to their fellow Christians, Peter considered it most important that his readers keep their brotherly love at full strength (1:22; Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Thess. 5:8, 15; 1 John 4:7-11). The same Greek word translated "fervent" (ektene, stretched out, earnest) occurs in non-biblical Greek to describe a horse at full gallop, or a runner straining for the tape at the finish line of a race.

The person with this kind of "love" is willing to forgive, and even "cover a multitude of" the "sins" of others committed against himself or herself, rather than taking offense (Prov. 10:12; James 5:20). We cannot make amends for our own sins by loving others. Peter was not saying that. The proper way to deal with our sins is to confess them (1 John 1:9).

"Love hides them from its own sight and not from God's sight. Hate does the opposite; it pries about in order to discover some sin or some semblance of sin in a brother and then broadcasts it, even exaggerates it, gloats over it."[262]

4:9             Offering and showing hospitality is one way to demonstrate love for the brethren ("to one another"; cf. Matt. 25:35). In Peter's day a host might incur persecution by giving hospitality to a known Christian. Hospitality can be extended graciously or grudgingly. If the host (or hostess) complains about the inconveniences associated with hospitality, inwardly or outwardly, much of the goodness of the act is lost.

"In certain cultures that are strongly family-oriented, the bringing of strangers into a house may be somewhat shocking. Yet Christians overcome these conventions because God's love has made them into a single great family."[263]

4:10           God has given every Christian at least one "gift" (ability) that he or she can and should share with others and, in so doing, serve them.[264] The "special gift" in view is evidently one of the so-called spiritual gifts (cf. 1 Cor. 12—14; Rom. 12; Eph. 4).  God bestows His "grace" on different people in different ways. The gifts (Gr. charisma) are aspects of God's grace (Gr. charis). No Christian can claim that he or she has nothing to offer the church.

"The Lord of the church has distributed His bounty with masterly variety to enable His people successfully to encounter the 'manifold trials' (1:6) to which they are subjected."[265]

4:11           Peter offered two basic ways of serving, which represent two types of gifts, as examples. Those who can share a word from God should do so by presenting what they say as God's Word, not just as their opinion. Obviously God's words are more important, and the way we present them should reflect their significance.

Those who can serve, by providing some other kind of help or assistance, should do so realizing that God has made their service possible.[266] Peter here grouped the gifts under two types: speech and service.

The reason for acknowledging one's words and works as from God is that God then gets the credit ("may be glorified through Jesus Christ").[267] This is only fitting, since He deserves all the glory (praise) and dominion (power) forever (cf. Rev. 1:6). About this there can be no question. "Amen!" So be it!

"This passage [vv. 7-11] is transitional. Looking backward, it serves as a kind of postscript to 2:11—4:6 (and in particular to the promise of vindication developed in 3:13—4:6). Its closing doxology forms an inclusion with 2:12: God is 'glorified' in the ministry of Christian believers to one another, just as Peter had earlier envisioned their enemies glorifying God on 'the day of visitation.' Looking ahead, the passage also anticipates on a small scale the issues to be developed more fully in 4:12—5:11."[268]

IV.    The responsibilities of Christians collectively 4:12—5:11

Peter now broadened his perspective and reminded his suffering readers of their corporate responsibilities.

A.     The Fiery Trial 4:12-19

Peter reminded his readers of how sufferings fit into God's purposes in order to encourage them to persevere with the proper attitude (cf. James 1).

"The section which began at iii. 13 is here concluded in a passage which recapitulates much that has been said—on persecution, on Christ's sufferings, on Christian duty, on the imminence of the End and of divine Judgment—and which reflects the intensity of the author's eschatological faith."[269]

1.     Suffering and glory 4:12-14

4:12           Some Christians are "surprised" when other people misunderstand, dislike, insult, and treat them harshly as they seek to carry out God's will. Peter reminded his readers that this reaction against them is not a "strange" thing but normal Christian experience. Their persecutions were "fiery" ordeals in the sense that they were part of God's refining process and were uncomfortable (cf. 2:11). It was for their "testing" (Gr. pairasmos, proving), to manifest their faith, that God allowed their sufferings (cf. James 1:2-4).

Some expositors believed that the "fiery ordeal" in view is the Tribulation.[270] I prefer the view that it refers to some more immediate trial. If the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation, as I believe the Scriptures teach, Peter's believing readers would not go through the Tribulation, since they would be caught up to meet the Lord in the air at the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:17).

4:13           We Christians can also "rejoice and be overjoyed" in these sufferings because, when we experience them, we "share" in Christ's sufferings. That is, we experience what Jesus did during His time on earth as He continued faithful to God's will. God will glorify us just as He will glorify Jesus. Therefore we can "keep on rejoicing" now at that prospect (cf. 1:6-7; 10-11; 2:21; Acts 5:41). The "revelation" (uncovering, Gr. apokalypsis) of Jesus Christ's "glory" is most likely a general reference to Christ's appearing without distinction between the Rapture and the Second Coming (cf. 1:7, 13). At both of these events His glory will become manifest, first to the church at the Rapture, and then to the world at His Second Coming.

Our present experience as we suffer for Christ's sake is similar to a pregnant woman who feels discomfort, and even pain, as she anticipates her due date. When she gives birth, however, joy at the delivery of her child replaces the pain that she felt during her pregnancy. Similarly, we groan now, but the hope of future joy should encourage us to hang on (cf. 2 Cor. 4:17-18).

4:14           When people insult us for being followers of Jesus Christ ("for [lit. "in"] the name of Christ"), they may curse us, but their curses are really blessings from God (Matt. 5:11-12).

"To be insulted is not simply to receive a rebuke (2:12; 3:16; 4:5), but … it means to be rejected by the society (or even by humanity)."[271]

The curses of unbelievers become blessings because the Holy Spirit, who is "the Spirit of glory," already indwells us. The "and" here (Gr. kai) may be ascensive, meaning "even": "the Spirt of glory," even God's Spirit. Peter's thought was that the indwelling Holy Spirit of God is already part of our glorification, the first-fruits and down-payment of our eternal inheritance. As the Israelites enjoyed the presence of God in the fiery pillar, even during their wilderness testing, so we also enjoy His presence during our wilderness experience of testing.

"The world believes that the absence of suffering means glory, but a Christian's outlook is different."[272]

"… suffering Christians do not have to wait for heaven in order to experience His glory. Through the Holy Spirit, they can have the glory now. This explains how martyrs could sing praises to God while bound in the midst of blazing fires. It also explains how persecuted Christians (and there are many in today's world) can go to prison and to death without complaining or resisting their captors."[273]

2.     Suffering as Christians 4:15-19

4:15           However we should not take comfort in suffering that we bring upon ourselves for sinning, in contrast to suffering that we experience because we take a stand with Jesus Christ (cf. 2:20). The select group of offenders that Peter chose as examples of those who deserve to suffer for what they have done is unusual: "a murderer, or thief, or evil doer, or a troublesome meddler [lit. one who oversees others' affairs]." This list goes from the worst kind of offender to the least. Even busybodies deserve to suffer for their meddling.

"Clement of Alexandria tells of a favourite disciple of St. John who became captain of a band of robbers … There were men in the Apostolic Church who had been kleptai [thieves], and were still in danger of falling back into evil ways, see I Cor. vi. 10; Eph. iv. 28."[274]

4:16           Peter felt ashamed when he denied the Lord in the high priest's courtyard (Matt. 26:75; Luke 22:62), but he learned his lesson, stopped feeling ashamed, and urged his readers "not to be ashamed." We "glorify God" when we stand up as disciples of Christ, both visually, as others view our lives, and verbally, as we explain our commitment to them. "In this name" refers back to "Christian." The idea is that if anyone suffers as a Christian he or she should not be ashamed.

4:17           In this verse, and the next one, Peter gave two encouragements in suffering by comparing our suffering as believers ("the household of God," cf. 2:5) with the suffering that unbelievers ("those who do not obey the gospel of God") will experience. This verse focuses on the "time" of these two experiences of suffering and their relative intensity. Our suffering is now, but their suffering will be when they stand before God. If our judgment by unbelievers now is severe, how much greater will be their judgment by God in the future. It helps to see our sufferings in the context of God's end-times plan. Our sufferings are not an accident but an assurance of His sovereign control.

One writer argued that Peter was alluding to Malachi 3:2 and 3 in this verse.[275] Malachi referred to a purifying judgment that would come on Israel, whereas Peter wrote of one that Christians experience now. So there is a parallel thought in both passages.

4:18           In this verse Peter supported the point that he had just made by quoting Proverbs 11:31 (loosely). This Old Testament verse taught that, since God will repay the righteous for their good works, He will certainly repay the wicked and sinners for their bad behavior. Since God rewards the righteous, how much more can we count on His punishing wicked sinners. It is comforting to know that God will punish those who cause us suffering for the sake of Christ.

Peter changed the Proverbs verse somewhat, but his point was the same as that of the writer of the proverb. It is "with difficulty" that "righteous" people pass through this phase of our existence into the next phase, because this phase involves suffering for us. "Saved" (Gr. sozetai) here means delivered, in the sense of being delivered from this life into the next. Yet it will be even more difficult for godless people to pass from this phase of their lives into the next, because they will have to undergo God's wrath. Their future sufferings will be far more intense than our present sufferings.

4:19           "Therefore" draws these encouragements to a conclusion and introduces a command in view of them. In view of these reasons we should respond to suffering by entrusting ourselves to "a faithful Creator," the God who created us (cf. Matt. 27:50; Luke 23:46). He will bring us through our sufferings safely (cf. Phil. 1:6). God is faithful to do this. Furthermore, we should keep on doing "what is right" (e.g., submitting to government rulers, obeying masters, submitting to husbands, loving wives, etc.) rather than doing evil (v. 15). "Souls" (Gr. psychas) again refers to our total persons (cf. 1:9, 22; 2:11, 25; 3:20).

"Peter described God as the 'faithful Creator'—an unusual designation because only here in the NT is God called ktistes ["Creator"] … The combination of 'faithful' and 'Creator' reminds the believer of God's love and power in the midst of trials so that they will not doubt his interest or ability."[276]

Peter brought together four reasons for suffering in this section of his epistle: First, God allows us to suffer in order to demonstrate our character (v. 12; cf. Job 1—2). Second, those who identify with Jesus Christ can count on sharing in the sufferings of our Savior (v. 13; cf. Phil. 3:10). Third, our sufferings will be occasions when God blesses us (v. 14). Fourth, our sufferings glorify God (v. 16). Peter then redirected our perspective on suffering by reminding us of the time and intensity of our sufferings, compared with that of unbelievers (vv. 17-18). Finally, he concluded with an exhortation to trust God and do right (v. 19). Peter thus encouraged his readers by revealing God's perspective on their sufferings.

"The most striking feature of this section is its bold emphasis on the sovereignty and initiative of God, even in the suffering of his own people."[277]

B.     The Church under Trial 5:1-11

Peter concluded the body of his epistle (1:3—5:11), and this section on encouragement in suffering (4:12—5:11), with specific commands so that his readers would understand how to live while suffering for Christ.

"An intimate personal note runs through this section, the author alluding to himself and his own experience and standing more directly than heretofore, and addressing his readers, especially those in the ministry, with primary regard to their pastoral relationship to one another in the Church. Earlier themes, such as the need for humility and wakefulness, and the promise of grace to stand firm in persecution and of glory at the last, are repeated."[278]

1.     The responsibility of the elders 5:1-4

"This passage is unique because it is the only passage in a New Testament letter that singles out elders from the rest of the believers for direct exhortation. The only other example of direct exhortation to elders is found in Paul's message to the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:17 ff.)."[279]

5:1             In view of the inevitability of trials and God's judgment, Peter gave a special charge to the "elders" (overseers) of the congregations of his readers. Peter himself was an elder as well as an apostle. As a "fellow elder" he spoke from experience.

"As an apostle he could have ordered them to follow his instruction, but he did not take this approach. His appeal is based on the fact that he was one of them and thus understood their problems."[280]

He himself had participated in "sufferings" for Christ's sake. Being a "witness" (Gr. martys; cf. Acts 3:15; 10:39) does not just mean that Peter observed Jesus suffering, which he did. It means that he shared Jesus Christ's sufferings and bore testimony out of that experience (4:13). Like his readers, Peter also shared in "the glory" that God will yet reveal (4:14; 5:4). This is probably not an allusion to the Transfiguration, since Peter did not partake of the glory of that occasion, but only observed it.

5:2             Peter's exhortation to his fellow elders was for them to take care of those under their charge in the same way that a "shepherd" cares for his sheep (cf. John 21:16; Acts 20:28; Ezek. 34:1-16). In other words, elders are responsible for the pastoral work of the local church.[281] A pastor is usually an elder who functions as a shepherd. The verb "shepherd" (Gr. poimaino) literally means "to tend." Pastoring includes the duties of feeding, leading, guiding, guarding, and providing for the needs of those in the church—just like a shepherd performs these same tasks for his sheep (cf. John 21:16). Peter reminded his fellow elders that "the flock" belonged to "God," not themselves.

"If we ever view the flock as 'ours' or the ministry as 'ours,' we are in serious trouble, and so is the church."[282]

Note that Peter limited the sphere of pastoral responsibility to "the flock" among his readers. This implies local responsibility rather than general or universal responsibility (authority over any number of churches, some of which would have been geographically distant from the elder).[283] The general description of elder ministry is "exercising oversight." That means taking responsibility for the welfare of "the flock."

Three contrasts follow that clarify the proper motivation and manner of an elder's ministry:

First, he should serve voluntarily as opposed to grudgingly ("under compulsion"; cf. 2 Cor. 9:7). God wants elders to perform any service for Him willingly. They should not serve because they feel they must do so because of external or internal pressure, "but voluntarily," because they desire to serve God, and "according to the will of God."

"Elders who minister begrudgingly, under constraint, are incapable of genuine care for people."[284]

"I have counseled with many pastors who … feel that they are imprisoned by their calling to ministry. They would prefer to be somewhere else, they are not enjoying their ministry, or they are in a difficult situation from which they would like to escape. To them, ministry has become mere drudgery. It need not be so! Peter reminds us that we should serve the Lord and tend His flock willingly. … The Lord does not force us or coerce us to be involved in ministry. He calls us and invites us to ministry, but we have the freedom of saying 'yes' or 'no'!"[285]

Second, an elder should serve zealously and enthusiastically ("with eagerness") as opposed to selfishly ("with greed"). He should not serve for what he can get out of his ministry now but for the love of his Lord and His people. The personal gain that one could derive from being an elder would include honor in the church as well as possible financial gain. It seems that elders in the early church often received payment for their ministry (cf. 1 Tim. 5:17 where the "double honor" probably refers to payment; 1 Cor. 9:7-11).

"To enter the ministry simply because it offers a respectable and intellectually stimulating way of gaining a livelihood is to prostitute that sacred work. This warning also includes the temptation to use the work of the ministry to gain personal popularity or social influence."[286]

5:3             Third, an elder should lead by giving an example of godly living that others can follow rather than by lording it over people ("domineering," driving them forward with authoritarian commands; cf. 1 Tim. 4:12; 2 Thess. 3:9). He should be able to expect them to do as he does as well as to do what he says. The English word "clergy" derives from the Greek verb kleroo, meaning "to make a possession," here translated "assigned to your care."

"The shepherds are not to be little popes or petty tyrants. Matt. 20:25; II Cor. 1:24."[287]

"Peter mentions three common sins of preachers: laziness, greed, popishness, all of which are especially objectionable in days of persecution."[288]

"I made it a practice never to ask my congregation to give to any cause to which I didn't also give. I do not think we have a right to make a demand of other folk that we are not doing ourselves."[289]

"If I have any counsel for God's shepherds today, it is this: cultivate a growing relationship with Jesus Christ, and share what He gives you with your people. That way, you will grow, and they will grow with you."[290]

"The effective pastor … must be 'among' his people so that he can get to know them, their needs and problems; and he needs to be 'over' his people so he can lead them and help them solve their problems. There must be no conflict between pastoring and preaching, because they are both ministries of a faithful Shepherd. The preacher needs to be a pastor so he can apply the Word to the needs of the people. The pastor needs to be a preacher so that he can have authority when he shares in their daily needs and problems. The pastor is not a religious lecturer who weekly passes along information about the Bible. He is a shepherd who knows his people and seeks to help them through the Word."[291]

Since one of the husband's primary roles is that of shepherd of his family, it is worthwhile to read verses 2 and 3 from this perspective. A husband should shepherd his family flock by caring for their needs. He should consider this a privilege (voluntarily), he should make his family a priority (eagerness), and he should be a model of integrity (example). Certainly he should tell the members of his family that he loves them.[292]

It might be profitable to read Psalm 23, and if you are an elder and/or a husband, and substitute your name in the place of the shepherd.

The flock over which an elder exercised oversight was probably a house-church. Each church in a town usually consisted of several house-churches at this time.[293]

5:4             Elders are actually under-shepherds who serve under "the Chief Shepherd," Jesus Christ (John 21:15-17). Peter wanted the Chief Shepherd to find his fellow elders faithful when they met Him at the Rapture. Then they would have to give an account of their stewardship at His judgment seat (cf. Heb. 13:17).

"It would not be clear, from this passage alone, whether St. Peter regarded the coming of the Lord as likely to occur in the life of these his readers, or not: but as interpreted by the analogy of his other expressions on the same subject, it would appear that he did …"[294]

"To prevent the faithful servant of Christ from being cast down, there is this one and only remedy, to turn his eyes to the coming of Christ."[295]

The "crown [Gr. stephanos, garland] of glory" that does not fade ("unfading") probably refers to glory itself as a crown. This reward will come to every faithful elder when he stands before Christ. It is probably not a material but a metaphorical crown, as are the other crowns mentioned in the New Testament as rewards.[296] The reason for this conclusion is that the biblical writers described the crowns in figurative language (glory, righteousness, etc.), not in literal language (gold, silver, etc.; cf. Heb. 2:9). Elders who are faithful now will receive glory that will not fade when Jesus Christ returns.[297]


Believers' Crowns




An imperishable crown

For leading a disciplined life

1 Cor. 9:25

A crown of pride

For evangelism and discipleship

1 Thess. 2:19

A crown of righteousness

For loving the Lord's appearing

2 Tim. 4:8

A crown of life

For enduring trials

James 1:12; Rev. 2:10

A crown of glory

For shepherding God's flock faithfully

1 Pet. 5:4


2.     The responsibility of the others 5:5

"Younger men" is literally "younger ones," which could include females as well as males.[298] Nevertheless, younger men were probably in Peter's mind since the contrast is with older men in verses 1 through 4.

"In the ancient world the division of society into older people and younger … was just as much taken for granted as the division into men and women, free men and slaves, etc."[299]

Elders of the churches were normally in the older age group, as the title "elder" implies. Peter addressed the younger group of men in this verse. Did Peter mean the official elders of the churches, when he referred to "your elders" (lit. "elders," without "your") or did he mean the older men in the church? The same Greek word (prersbuterois) describes both older men (cf. Luke 15:25; 1 Tim. 5:1) and official elders (cf. vv. 1-4; Acts 11:30; 1 Tim. 5:17; et al.).[300] In view of what Peter proceeded to say ("and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility") he seems to have been referring to the older men ("elders"). Also, Peter used the comparative word neoteroi ("younger," in contrast to older) to describe his addressees.

The younger people in the church were and are to take a position under the authority of ("be subject to") the older people ("your elders"). The reason for this, though unexpressed, seems self-evident: the older have more experience in living (cf. Job 32:4). Perhaps there was some danger that the younger Christians would not show the proper deference to their elders because they were now brothers and sisters in Christ.

All Christians, regardless of our age, should put on "humility" like a garment, (i.e., let it be what others see as we serve; cf. 3:8). The Greek word translated "clothe yourselves" (egkombosasthe) is a rare one that comes from a word referring to the apron that slaves put on over their regular clothes.[301] This garment prepared them for service (cf. John 13:4-15). We should be ready and eager to humbly serve one another rather than expecting others to serve us (Mark 10:45).

"In other words, believers should not insist on having their way over others."[302]

"Humility is the great preserver of peace and order in all Christian societies, consequently pride is the great disturber of them."[303]

Peter again quoted Proverbs (Prov. 3:34) for support. This verse gives the theological reason for his ethical charge (cf. James 4:6). He then proceeded to expound the ideas expressed in this proverb in the following six verses.

3.     The importance of humility and trust in God 5:6-7

5:6             God's "mighty hand" had permitted affliction to touch Peter's readers (cf. Job 1—2). The apostle urged them to submit to God's working in their lives as though to the skillful hand of a surgeon. He assured them that God would raise them up and "exalt" them to a higher position eventually—better off for their suffering (cf. Luke 14:11; James 1:2-4). Peter had learned to submit to God's "hand" on his own life, though at times he had not been as submissive as he should have been. The Old Testament writers used God's "hand" as a symbol of discipline (Exod. 3:19; 6:1; Job 30:21; Ps. 32:4) and deliverance (Deut. 9:26; Ezek. 20:34).

5:7             This verse does not introduce a new command but explains how to humble oneself, namely, by entrusting oneself and one's troubles to God (Ps. 55:22; cf. Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:6). "Having cast" is the translation of a word (epiripsantes) that means "having deposited with."[304] We can cast all of our anxiety upon God (deposit it with Him) because we have confidence that God cares for our welfare.

"Mermina [sic, merimna] = worry or anxiety as when one does not know whether to do this or to do that, 'distraction.'"[305]

4.     The importance of resisting the devil 5:8-11

5:8             Trust in God is not all that we need however. We also need to practice self-control ("Be of sober spirit") and to keep "alert" (cf. 1:13; 4:7), because Satan is on the prowl (cf. Job 1:7; Matt. 26:41; 1 Cor. 16:13).

"Here is, as it were, a certain characteristic of the divine Word, that it never comes forth while Satan is at rest and sleeping."[306]

Peter's readers were in danger from "the devil" if they gave in to his temptation to doubt God's goodness and to regard their sufferings as an indication of God's disinterest or ill will (cf. James 1:13). Satan not only seeks to deceive us, like the serpent deceived Eve (2 Cor. 11:3), but he also seeks to devour us, like a lion. Tyler Hallstrom argued that the chief connotation of the lion metaphor, in Peter's usage, is its ferociousness.[307]

"The picture is one of a beast swallowing its prey in a gulp."[308]

"The enemy minds you, finds you, wines and dines you, blinds you, binds you, and finally grinds you."[309]

5:9             Whereas God commands us to forsake the world and to deny the lusts of the flesh, we should resist the devil (cf. Eph. 6:11-13; Jas. 4:7). Satan's desire is to get the Christian to doubt, to disbelieve, to dismiss, to deny, to disregard, and to disobey what God has said (cf. Gen. 3:1-5; Matt. 4:1-11). The Greek word translated "resist" (antistete) means to "defend oneself against," as opposed to attacking the enemy. It is easier to resist when we remember that this duty is common to all Christians. Our enemy's assaults are not unique to each of us alone. A better translation of "accomplished by" might be "laid upon." "Suffering" is the common experience of all committed believers as long as they are in the world (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12).


The Christian's Three-Fold Enemy

 The Problem

The Solution

The World

(1 John 2:15-17)

Lust of the flesh

Lust of the eyes

Pride of life


(1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22)

The flesh

(Rom. 7:18-24)


(Rom. 6:12-13; 8:13)

The devil

(1 Peter 5:8)


(1 Peter 5:9)


Peter advocated three responses to Satan in this passage: First, we should respect him ("be of sober spirit," v. 8). If Peter had respected Satan more, he might not have slept in the Garden of Gethsemane after Jesus had warned him to watch and pray so that he would not enter into temptation. Second, Peter said we should recognize Satan ("be on the alert," v. 8). If Peter had been alert, he might not have denied Jesus three times in the courtyard of the high priest. Third, we should resist Satan (v. 9). If Peter had resisted Satan, he might not have felt that he had to resist Malchus' advance in Gethsemane and cut off his ear.

"Before we can stand before Satan [vv. 8-9], we must bow before God [vv. 6-7]. Peter resisted the Lord and ended up submitting to Satan!"[310]

5:10           We have on our side One who has overcome our adversary the devil and who can enable us to overcome him. Furthermore, "the God of all grace" gives sufficient help (2 Cor. 12:9). He has "called" us to experience eternal glory ultimately (1:1) after we "have suffered for a little while." Both our calling and our glory are "in Christ." God will "perfect" us (make us complete, Gr. katartizo, to mend [nets], Matt. 4:21). He will also "confirm" us as His own, "strengthen" us for service, and "establish" us in His will.

"What Peter has done is pile up a number of closely related terms that together by their reinforcing one another give a multiple underscoring of the good that God is intending for them and even now is producing in their suffering."[311]

5:11           God has enough power and ability to help us endure whatever suffering He allows us to experience (1 Cor. 10:13). Therefore He deserves supremacy ("dominion") "forever and ever." Peter concluded this statement about God's sufficiency with another benediction (cf. 4:11).

To summarize, Peter exhorted the church elders to shepherd those under their care. He exhorted younger Christians to submit to their older brethren. And he exhorted all to stand firm against Satan's attacks armed with an attitude of submission to God and to one another.

V.     Conclusion 5:12-14

Peter concluded this epistle with a final exhortation and greetings from those with him and himself in order to encourage his readers one last time.

5:12           "Silvanus" is the Roman form of the Greek name "Silas." This Silvanus/Silas may very well have been Paul's companion on his second missionary journey.[312] And he may have written this epistle as Peter dictated it or in some other way assisted in its composition.[313] Peter may have taken the pen from Silvanus at this point in the letter's composition and written the conclusion himself, which was a common practice (cf. Gal. 6:11; 2 Thess. 3:17). It seems more probable, however, that the words "through Silvanus … I have written" mean that Silvanus carried this epistle from Peter to its first destination.[314] It would have been more customary for Peter to mention Silvanus at the beginning of the letter if he had had some role in its composition.[315]

Peter explained his purpose for writing this brief epistle: He wanted to exhort the readers to "stand firm" God's "true grace," since suffering for the Savior is part of being a recipient of God's grace (5:9). One of Peter's gifts was exhortation. God's grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9). "The true grace of God" may refer to the help that the readers would obtain from the Lord and, specifically, from this letter.[316]

5:13           "She" probably refers to the church in the town where Peter was when he wrote this letter (cf. 2 John 1, 4). The Greek word for "church" (ekklesia) is feminine, though the word ekklesia does not appear in 1 Peter. Some commentators have suggested that Peter referred to his wife as "she."[317] But this seems unlikely to me, since none of the other epistle writers in the New Testament referred to their wives. God chose the church together with the believers to whom Peter sent this epistle.

"Election is … (1) the sovereign act of God in grace whereby certain persons are chosen from among mankind for Himself (Jn. 15:19); and (2) the sovereign act of God whereby certain elect persons are chosen for distinctive service for Him (Lk. 6:13; Acts 9:15; 1 Cor. 1:27-28)."[318]

"Babylon" may refer to Babylon on the Euphrates River.[319] Another view is that it refers to a Roman colony in Egypt.[320] However this seems more likely to be a veiled metaphorical reference to Rome, where Peter spent the last years of his life.[321] The technical name for this figure of speech is atbash (i.e., a code name). We know that John "Mark" was in Rome (Col. 4:10). But why would Peter have called Rome "Babylon"? Probably he did so because Rome was the capital of the pagan world when he wrote. The Christians had come to think of Rome as another Babylon.

The Jews spoke of Rome as Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, which may support the view that Peter wrote this epistle after that date.[322] Babylon on the Euphrates was then in decline, but it was formerly the world center of godlessness. The Bible uses "Babylon" as a symbol of ungodliness as well as the name of a real town (cf. Rev. 17—18). Similarly the name Hollywood is both a literal town name and the symbol of the entertainment industry for which the town is famous.

"… Babylon [in 1 Peter] becomes a beautiful symbol for the capital of the place of exile away from the true inheritance in heaven."[323]

John "Mark" was Peter's protégé. Many scholars believe that Mark wrote his Gospel in Rome and that Peter's influence on him is apparent in what Mark included in that record of Jesus' life and ministry. There is considerable evidence for this in the second Gospel.

5:14           In Peter's culture "a kiss" was a common way to express affection publicly (cf. Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26). It still is in many parts of the world today.

"In the ancient world kisses were normally exchanged among family members (parents and children; brothers and sisters; servants and masters) and at times between rulers and their clients. The erotic kiss is secondary and not stressed in the literature. The familial kiss probably forms the background to the NT practice, for all fellow-Christians were considered brothers and sisters. This affectionate kissing was normally on the cheeks, forehead, or hands. We can assume such to be the practice here. … In calling it the 'kiss of love' Peter not only brings out the meaning of kiss ('kiss,' philema in Greek, comes from phileo, a verb indicating familial and friendly as opposed to erotic love), but also expresses the proper relationship among the members of the Christian community ('love' here is the typical Christian term for love, agape, used also in 1:22; 4:8)."[324]

In the midst of their persecution Peter prayed that his readers might experience God's surpassing "peace" (Phil. 4:6-7). "Peace" expresses the common Jewish blessing: Shalom. This epistle opens and closes with a prayer for peace (cf. 1:2).

"What a wonderful way to end a letter that announced the coming of a fiery trial!"[325]


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Wuest, Kenneth S. Word Studies in the Greek New Testament. Reprint ed. 16 vols. in 4. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1966.

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[1]See also Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, Commentary Practical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, p. 1464.

[2]See Charles Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, pp. 7-15; and Donald A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, pp. 641-46.

[3]See Ernest Best, 1 Peter, pp. 49-63; Paul J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter, pp. 38-39, 43; Kenneth G. Hanna, From Gospels to Glory, p. 17-19.

[4]Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius Pamphilus, 3:3:83.

[5]J. Ramsey Michaels, 1 Peter, pp. xxxii.

[6]Ibid., p. xxxiv. See also J. H. A. Hart, "The First Epistle General of Peter," in The Expositor's Greek Testament, 5:7-17.

[7]Peter H. Davids, The First Epistle of Peter, p. 8; Hart, 5:17.

[8]Leonhard Goppelt, A Commentary on I Peter, pp. 10-14.

[9]Carson and Moo, p. 646. See also Hanna, p. 420.

[10]See my comments on 5:13 for additional support for this conclusion.

[11]For further discussion, see Davids, pp. 14-23, 30-44; Michaels, pp. lxvii-lxxv; and James E. Allman, "Suffering in the Non-Pauline Epistles," in Why, O God? Suffering and Disability in the Bible and Church, pp 195-205.

[12]Arno C. Gaebelein, The Annotated Bible, 4:2:56.

[13]I. Howard Marshall, 1 Peter, p. 16.

[14]E. G. Selwyn, The First Epistle of Peter, p. 2.

[15]Davids, p. 11.

[16]Selwyn, p. 1.

[17]Carson and Moo, p. 640.

[18]Ibid, p. 642.

[19]Michaels, p. xlvii. See E. M. Sidebottom, James, Jude, 2 Peter, pp. 15-16, for other similarities between 1 Peter and James.

[20]Gary Derickson, "The First Epistle of Peter," in The Grace New Testament Commentary, 2:1145.

[21]Selwyn, pp. 52-56.

[22]Marshall, p. 14. See also Eusebius, 3:33:119; Achtemeier, pp. 28-36.

[23]G. Campbell Morgan, The Unfolding Message of the Bible, p. 380.

[24]James R. Slaughter, "The Importance of Literary Argument for Understanding 1 Peter," Bibliotheca Sacra 152:605 (January-March 1995):80.

[25]Quotations from the English Bible in these notes are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB), 2020 edition, unless otherwise indicated.

[26]Adapted from G. Campbell Morgan, Living Messages of the Books of the Bible, 2:2:143-58.

[27]See Philip L. Tite, "The Compositional Function of the Petrine Prescript: A Look at 1 Pet 1:1-3," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 39:1 (March 1996):47-56.

[28]Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 1939.

[29]Richard C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude, p. 21. Paragraph division omitted.

[30]Jamieson, et al., p. 1464.

[31]Michaels, p. 9.

[32]See Best, pp. 14-15.

[33]Davids, p. 46.

[34]F. J. A. Hort, The First Epistle of St. Peter 1:1—2:17, pp. 157-84; Selwyn, p. 119; Goppelt, p. 4.

[35]D. Edmond Hiebert, "Designation of the Readers in 1 Peter 1:1-2," Bibliotheca Sacra 137:545 (January-March 1980):65.

[36]E.g., Bigg, p. 90.

[37]Goppelt, p. 19. Paragraph division omitted.

[38]See Best, pp. 70-71.

[39]For further explanation of the Calvinist position, see Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, 7:158-60.

[40]Michaels, pp. 10-11. LXX refers to the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Old Testament that was made in the third century B.C. Cf. Henry, p. 1939.

[41]Goppelt, p. 75. Cf. Bigg, p. 93.

[42]Buist M. Fanning, "A Theology of Peter and Jude," in A Biblical Theology of the New Testament, pp. 441-42.

[43]Michaels, p. 13.

[44]Selwyn, p. 119.

[45]Michaels, p. l.

[46]Hiebert, pp. 73-74.

[47]A chiasmus is a rhetorical or literary figure in which words, grammatical constructions, or concepts are repeated in reverse order, in the same or a modified form.

[48]Michaels, p. xxxiv. An inclusio is a literary device based on a concentric principle, also known as bracketing, bookending, or an envelope structure, which consists of creating a frame by placing similar material at the beginning and end of a section.

[49]Achtemeier, p. 95.

[50]Michaels, p. 19. See also John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3:2:42.

[51]Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, 4:2:333.

[52]See Gerhardus Vos, "A Sermon on I Peter 1:3-5," Kerux 1:2 (September 1986):4-17.

[53]Fanning, p. 447.

[54]Paul A. Cedar, James, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, p. 120.

[55]Best, p. 75.

[56]Kenneth S. Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, 2:4:21.

[57]F. W. Beare, cited by Best, p. 76.

[58]Ibid., p. 77.

[59]Anthony A. Hoekema, Saved by Grace, p. 234. See also John MacArthur, Faith Works, pp. 175-92.

[60]Joseph C. Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings. See his Subject Index for his many references to perseverance.

[61]Davids, p. 54.

[62]Michaels, p. 26.

[63]Bigg, p. 103.

[64]See Gordon E. Kirk, "Endurance in Suffering in 1 Peter," Bibliotheca Sacra 138:549 (January-March 1981):46-56, for a good brief summary of Peter's teaching on suffering in this epistle.

[65]Davids, p. 58.

[66]See Bigg, p. 107.

[67]Edwin A. Blum, "1 Peter," in Hebrews-Revelation, vol. 12 of The Expositor's Bible Commentary, p. 221.

[68]See Dillow, pp. 119-22.

[69]Michaels, p. 38.

[70]Oscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, p. 74.

[71]Davids, p. 62.

[72]See Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope, pp. 88-90.

[73]Wuest, 2:4:32.

[74]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, 2:395.

[75]Lenski, p. 51.

[76]Selwyn, p. 139.

[77]Davids, p. 66. Cf. Exod. 12:11 LXX.

[78]Stephen W. Paine, "The First Epistle of Peter," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, p. 1445.

[79]See John N. Oswalt, "Holiness: God's Goal for Human Life," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 66:2 (June 2023):267-78.

[80]C. H. Spurgeon, An All Round Ministry, p. 53.

[81]Davids, p. 24.


[83]A. W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest, p. 100.

[84]Marshall, p. 53.

[85]Wiersbe, 2:397.


[87]Michaels, p. 60.

[88]Wiersbe, 2:397.

[89]Paine, p. 1446.

[90]A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, s.v. "lutroo," p. 384.

[91]Leon Morris, New Testament Theology, p. 319. See 1:1-3, 18-25; 2:21-25; 3:18; 4:1, and Frederic R. Howe, "The Cross of Christ in Peter's Theology," Bibliotheca Sacra 157:626 (April-June 2000):190-99.

[92]Blum, pp. 224-25.

[93]Douglas W. Kennard, "Peterine Redemption: Its Meaning and Extent," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 30:4 (December 1987):399-405.

[94]Wuest, 2:4:43.

[95]Best, p. 91.

[96]Michaels, p. 71.

[97]Bigg, p. 122.

[98]Roger M. Raymer, "1 Peter," in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, p. 844.

[99]Wuest, 2:4:48.

[100]Wiersbe, 2:399. Paragraph division omitted.

[101]Achtemeier, p. 142.

[102]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 5:687.

[103]Lenski, p. 76.

[104]Davids, p. 80.

[105]J. N. D. Kelly, A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and Jude, pp. 83-84.

[106]A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6:95; Michaels, p. 89.

[107]Jamieson, et al., pp. 1470-71. Cf. Wuest, 2:4:51.

[108]Wiersbe, 2:400.

[109]Lenski, p. 78.

[110]Achtemeier, p. 150.

[111]See C. Norman Hillyer, "'Rock-Stone' Imagery in I Peter," Tyndale Bulletin 22 (1971):58-81; and Frederic R. Howe, "Christ, the Building Stone, in Peter's Theology," Bibliotheca Sacra 157:625 (January-March 2000):35-43.

[112]Best, p. 100.

[113]Robertson, 6:96.

[114]Goppelt, p. 30.

[115]E.g., Selwyn, pp. 268-81.

[116]Henry, p. 1943.

[117]Marshall, p. 72.

[118]Paine, p. 1447.

[119]Jamieson, et al., p. 1472.

[120]Michaels, p. 104.

[121]J. N. Darby, Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, 5:436; Bigg, p. 133; Marshall, p. 73.

[122]Fanning, pp. 453-54.

[123]See John W. Pryor, "First Peter and the New Covenant," Reformed Theological Review 45:1&2 (January-April & May-August 1986):1-3, 44-50, for an example of how covenant theologians, who believe that the church replaces Israel in God's program, interpret this and other passages dealing with Peter's perception of the identity of his readers. See Renald E. Showers, There Really Is a Difference! for a comparison of covenant and dispensational theology.

[124]Blum, p. 231. See also Achtemeier, p. 70.

[125]See John E. Johnson, "The Old Testament Offices as Paradigm for Pastoral Identity," Bibliotheca Sacra 152:606 (April-June 1995):182-200.

[126]See W. H. Griffith Thomas, "Is the New Testament Minister a Priest?" Bibliotheca Sacra 136:541 (January-March 1979):65-73.

[127]Davids, p. 92.

[128]Marshall, pp. 74-75.

[129]Michaels, p. liv. See Nathan Wheeler, "'For a Holy Priesthood': A Petrine Model for Evangelical Cultural Engagement," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 59:3 (September 2016):523-39.

[130]McGee, 5:692.

[131]G. Campbell Morgan, An Exposition of the Whole Bible, p. 522.

[132]For further information on the subject of the church's distinctiveness, see Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, pp. 22-47; idem, Dispensationalism, pp. 23-43; Robert L. Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, pp. 205-12; and Showers, pp. 169-86.

[133]Derickson, 2:1153.

[134]W. Edward Glenny, "The Israelite Imagery of 1 Peter 2," in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, pp. 186-87. Paragraph division omitted.

[135]Michaels, p. 113.

[136]Ibid., p. xxxv.

[137]The song "This World Is Not My Home," by Jim Reeves.

[138]Michaels, p. 116.

[139]Davids, p. 95.

[140]Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.

[141]Marshall, p. 83.

[142]J. Dwight Pentecost, "The Apostles' Use of Jesus' Predictions of Judgment on Jerusalem in A.D. 70," in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands, p. 141.

[143]Michaels, p. 120.


[145]Hart, 5:59.

[146]Bigg, p. 139.

[147]Henry, p. 1944.

[148]See W. Robert Cook, "Biblical Light on the Christian's Civil Responsibility," Bibliotheca Sacra 127:505 (January-March 1970):44-57.

[149]Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, p. 68.

[150]Best, p. 113.

[151]See Charles C. Ryrie, "The Christian and Civil Disobedience," Bibliotheca Sacra 127:506 (April-June 1970):153-62.

[152]Lord Percy Eustace, John Knox, pp. 73-74. Cf. John A. Witmer, "The Man with Two Countries," Bibliotheca Sacra 133:532 (October-December 1976):338-49.

[153]E.g., Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, pp. 134-37.

[154]Kelly, pp. 108-9.

[155]Best, p. 114.

[156]Charles C. Ryrie, Biblical Answers to Tough Questions, p. 19.

[157]Marshall, pp. 84-85.

[158]Hart, 5:60.

[159]Cedar, p. 146.

[160]Michaels, p. 123.

[161]Best, p. 116.

[162]James R. Slaughter, "The Importance of Literary Argument for Understanding 1 Peter," Bibliotheca Sacra 152:605 (January-March 1995):77.

[163]Ibid., p. 78.

[164]Davids, pp. 105-6. Paragraph division omitted. See also Achtemeier, p. 190.

[165]Best, p. 117.

[166]E. M. Blaiklock, Today's Handbook of Bible Characters, p. 603.

[167]Michaels, p. 122.

[168]Achtemeier, p. 192.

[169]For a different view, see William J. Webb, Slaves, Women & Homosexuals, p. 36. See Wayne Grudem, "Should We Move Beyond the New Testament to a Better Ethic?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 47:2 (June 2004):299-346, for a thorough and devastating, I believe, critique of Webb's book.

[170]Marshall, p. 90.

[171]Michaels, p. 139.

[172]Ibid., p. 135.

[173]See Robertson, 6:104-5, for other extrabiblical examples.

[174]D. Edmond Hiebert, "Following Christ's Example: An Exposition of 1 Peter 2:21-25," Bibliotheca Sacra 139:553 (January-March 1982):32. See also Charles M. Sheldon, In His Steps.

[175]John Calvin, Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles, p. 89.

[176]Goppelt, p. 210.

[177]James Moffatt, "The General Epistles, James, Peter, and Judas," in The Moffatt New Testament Commentary, p. 127.

[178]Hiebert, "Following Christ's …," p. 37.

[179]Bigg, p. 147.

[180]Wuest, 2:4:68. AV refers to The Holy Bible: Authorized King James Version.

[181]Best, p. 117.

[182]Alan M. Stibbs, The First Epistle General of Peter, p. 121.

[183]Lenski, p. 124.

[184]The Nelson Study Bible, p. 2120.

[185]Davids, p. 115.

[186]Ibid., pp. 115-16.

[187]Michaels, p. 155.

[188]Kelly, p. 127. Cf. 1 Tim. 2:13.

[189]Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, s.v. "hypotasso" by Gerhard Delling, 8(1972):44.

[190]Gordon Dutile, "A Concept of Submission in the Husband-Wife Relationship in Selected New Testament Passages" (Ph.D. dissertation, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1980), pp. 81-82.

[191]Aurelius Augustinus, The Confessions of St. Augustine, book 9.

[192]Œcumenius, quoted in Jamieson, et al., p. 1475.

[193]E.g., Mrs. Glenn R. Siefker, "God's Plans for Wives," Good News Broadcaster, February 1975, p. 24.

[194]E.g., Marilyn Vaughn, "When Should a Wife Not Submit?" Moody Monthly, October 1977, p. 107; James R. Slaughter, "Submission of Wives (1 Pet. 3:1a) in the Context of 1 Peter," Bibliotheca Sacra 153:609 (January-March 1996):73-74; idem, "Winning Unbelieving Husbands to Christ (1 Pet. 3:1b-4)," Bibliotheca Sacra 153:610 (April-June 1996):203; Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter, p. 139; and Paul E. Steele and Charles C. Ryrie, Meant to Last, pp. 32-33.

[195]Achtemeier, p. 211.

[196]Family Life Conference, pp. 105-6.

[197]See James R. Slaughter, "Sarah as a Model for Christian Wives (1 Pet. 3:5-6)," Bibliotheca Sacra 153:611 (July-September 1996):357-65; Sandra L. Glahn, "Weaker Vessels and Calling Husbands 'Lord': Was Peter Insulting Wives?" Bibliotheca Sacra 174:693 (January-March 2017):60-76.

[198]Michaels, p. 165.

[199]Lenski, p. 136.

[200]Davids, p. 120.

[201]D. L. Balch, Let Wives Be Submissive: The Domestic Code in I Peter, p. 99; idem, "'Let Wives Be Submissive …': The Origin, Form, and Apolegetic Function of the Household Duty Code (Haustafel) in I Peter" (Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University, 1974), pp. 240-46.

[202]Davids, p. 122.

[203]Michaels, p. 122.

[204]Cited by William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter, p. 264.

[205]See Alexander Strauch, Biblical Eldership, pp. 58-59.

[206]James R. Slaughter, "Peter's Instructions to Husbands in 1 Peter 3:7," in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands, p. 183.

[207]Alford, 4:2:359.

[208]Slaughter, "Peter's Instructions …," pp. 178-80.

[209]Lenski, p. 141.

[210]Davids, p. 123.

[211]Cedar, p. 158.

[212]Wiersbe, 2:410. Paragraph divisions omitted. McGee, 5:696-99, made excellent and sometimes hilarious comments on verses 1 through 7 that are too numerous to quote here.

[213]Davids, p. 125.

[214]Wiersbe, 2:412.

[215]Best, p. 130.

[216]Family Life …, pp. 145-48.

[217]See Sean M. Christensen, "Solidarity in Suffering and Glory: The Unifying Role of Psalm 34 in 1 Peter 3:10-12," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 58:2 (June 2015):335-52.

[218]Marshall, p. 112.

[219]Cedar, p. 164.

[220]Wiersbe, 2:414. Paragraph division omitted. See Roy B. Zuck, "The Doctrine of Conscience," Bibliotheca Sacra 126:504 (October-December 1969):329-340.

[221]See Sean Christensen, "Reborn Participants in Christ: Recovering the Importance of Union with Christ in 1 Peter," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 61:2 (June 2018):339-54.

[222]Michaels, p. 192. See Timothy E. Miller, "The Use of 1 Peter 3:13-17 for Christian Apologetics," Bibliotheca Sacra 174:694: (April-June 2017):193-209.

[223]Darby, 5:445.

[224]Davids, p. 136.

[225]E.g., Lenski, p. 159; John Albert Bengel, New Testament Word Studies, 2:746; B. C. Caffin, "I Peter," in The Pulpit Commentary, p. 133; A. J. Mason, "The First Epistle General of Peter," in Ellicott's Commentary on the Whole Bible, 8:420; J. W. C. Wand, The General Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude, p. 100; Robertson, 6:116; Wuest, 2:4:94.

[226]F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, § 197.

[227]Kelly, p. 151. Cf. Davids, p. 137-38; Best, p. 139.

[228]Blum, p. 242. Cf. Alford, 4:2:365; Fanning, p. 444. TDNT refers to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich.

[229]Michaels, p. 205.

[230]Ibid. Cf. Selwyn, p. 197.

[231]J. M. E. Ross, The First Epistle of Peter, pp. 151-52.

[232]Alford, 4:2:365. Cf. 4:368; Wuest, 2:4:100; Morgan, An Exposition …, p. 523.

[233]George E. Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, p. 601. Cf. Robert P. Lightner, Angels, Satan, and Demons, pp. 99-102.

[234]Marshall, pp. 122-28.

[235]E.g., Bigg, p. 162.

[236]E.g., Hart, 5:68; Michaels, pp. 206-13; Best, p. 140; Wuest, 2:4:103-4.

[237]See Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing, pp. 181-83.

[238]Fanning, pp. 449-50; Raymer, pp. 851-52; Selwyn, p. 199; Paine, p. 1450; Henry, p. 1945; Gaebelein, 4:2:78-79; John S. Feinberg, "1 Peter 3:18-20, Ancient Mythology, and the Intermediate State," Westminster Theological Journal 48:2 (Fall 1986):303-36; Wayne Grudem, "Christ Preaching through Noah: 1 Peter 3:19-20 in the Light of Dominant Themes in Jewish Literature," Trinity Journal 7NS:2 (Fall 1986):3-31; Derickson, 2:1160.

[239]Darby, 5:445.

[240]For fuller discussion of these views, see D. Edmond Hiebert, "The Suffering and Triumphant Christ: An Exposition of 1 Peter 3:18-22," Bibliotheca Sacra 139:554 (April-June 1982):151-52; Achtemeier, pp. 239-74.

[241]Michaels, p. 211.

[242]Jamieson, et al., p. 1478.

[243]Hiebert, "The Suffering …," pp. 154-56.

[244]Davids, p. 143.

[245]See Lenski, pp. 172-73.

[246]E. H. Broadbent, The Pilgrim Church, pp. 8-9.

[247]Selwyn, p. 195.

[248]Henry, p. 1946.

[249]Davids, p. 150.

[250]Wiersbe, 2:420.


[252]Paine, p. 1450.

[253]E.g., Barclay, p. 295.

[254]See Millard J. Erickson, "Is There Opportunity for Salvation after Death?" Bibliotheca Sacra 152:606 (April-June 1995):131-44.

[255]Lenski, p. 186.

[256]Ibid. Cf. Fanning, p. 448.

[257]E.g., Alford, 4:2:374.

[258]Lenski, p. 193.

[259]D. Edmond Hiebert, "Living in the Light of Christ's Return: An Exposition of 1 Peter 4:7-11," Bibliotheca Sacra 139:555 (July-September 1982):245.

[260]Idem, Working With God: Scriptural Studies in Intercession, p. 7.

[261]Davids, p. 157.

[262]Lenski, p. 195. Cf. 1 Cor. 13:5.

[263]Blum, p. 246.

[264]For defense of the view that spiritual gifts are ministries rather than abilities, see Kenneth Berding, "Confusing Word and Concept in 'Spiritual Gifts': Have We Forgotten James Barr's Exhortations?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43:1 (March 2000):37-51.

[265]Hiebert, "Living in …," p. 250.

[266]See Robert A Pyne, "Antinomianism and Dispensationalism," Bibliotheca Sacra 153:610 (April-June 1996):141-54.

[267]Cf. Best, p. 161.

[268]Michaels, p. 254.

[269]Selwyn, p. 220.

[270]E.g., J. Sidlow Baxter, Explore the Book, 5:300.

[271]Davids, p. 167.

[272]Wiersbe, 2:425.


[274]Bigg, p. 177.

[275]D. E. Johnson, "Fire in God's House: Imagery from Malachi 3 in Peter's Theology of Suffering (1 Pet 4:12-19)," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 29 (1989):285-94.

[276]Blum, p. 249.

[277]Michaels, p. 274.

[278]Selwyn, p. 227.

[279]Strauch, p. 295.

[280]Louis A. Barbieri, First and Second Peter, pp. 82-83.

[281]See Strauch, pp. 33-47, 107-21.

[282]Cedar, pp. 188-89.

[283]Alford, 4:2:382.

[284]Strauch, p. 301.

[285]Cedar, p. 190. Paragraph division omitted.

[286]D. Edmond Hiebert, "Counsel for Christ's Under-Shepherds: An Exposition of 1 Peter 5:1-4," Bibliotheca Sacra 139:556 (October-December 1982):336-37.

[287]Lenski, p. 219.

[288]Ibid., p. 220.

[289]McGee, 5:712.

[290]Wiersbe, 2:428.

[291]Ibid., 2:429.

[292]Family Life …, p. 125.

[293]See Del Birkey, The House Church: A Model for Renewing the Church, pp. 40-62.

[294]Alford, 4:2:383.

[295]John Calvin, "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews and the First and Second Epistles of St Peter," in Calvin's Commentaries, p. 317.

[296]Michaels, p. 287. See Joe L. Wall, Going for the Gold, pp. 125-71, for a practical discussion of these crowns.

[297]For a further helpful study of elders, see Strauch, pp. 295-308. For discussion of whether or not women should serve as elders, see my notes on 1 Tim. 3:1-7.

[298]Davids, p. 184.

[299]Kelly, p. 205. Cf. Bigg, p. 190.

[300]Cf. A Greek-English …, s.v. "presbuteros," pp. 535-36.

[301]Ibid., s.v. "egkomboomai, p. 166.

[302]McGee, 5:713.

[303]Henry, p. 1948.

[304]Wuest, 2:4:129.

[305]Lenski, p. 224. Cf. Ps. 55:22; 37:5; Luke 10:41; 12:11-12.

[306]John Calvin, "Prefatory Address to King Francis I of France," sec. 7, in Institutes of the Christian Religion.

[307]Tyler Hallstrom, "Like a Lion: Mapping the Leonine Metaphor in 1 Peter 5:8," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 65:3 (September 2022):535-52.

[308]Davids, p. 191.

[309]David Powlison, Take Heart: Daily Devotions to Deepen Your Faith, p. 58. See also J. Dwight Pentecost, Your Adversary, the Devil.

[310]Wiersbe, 2:433.

[311]Davids, p. 196.

[312]Hart, 5:79.

[313]See Selwyn, pp. 9-17, for a helpful excursus on Silvanus (Silas).

[314]See E. Randolph Richards, "Silvanus Was Not Peter's Secretary: Theological Bias in Interpreting dia Silouanou … egrapha in 1 Peter 5:12," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43:3 (September 2000):417-32.

[315]Michaels, pp. 306-7.

[316]Ibid., pp. 309-10.

[317]E.g., Robertson, 6:135.

[318]The New Scofield Reference Bible, p. 1337.

[319]Jamieson, et al., pp. 1463, 1484-85; Gaebelein, 4:2:87; Wuest, 2:4:132; McGee, 5:714; E. Schuyler English, "Was St. Peter Ever in Rome?" Bibliotheca Sacra 124:496 (October-December 1967):317; Charles H. Dyer, The Rise of Babylon, pp. 106-7.

[320]G. T. Manley, The Return of Jesus Christ, p. 28.

[321]Eusebius, 2:15:65; Kelly, pp. 218-19; Blum, p. 212; Goppelt, pp. 373-75; Michaels, p. 311; Robertson, 6:135; Best, pp. 65, 178-79; Marshall, p. 175; Achtemeier, p. 353-54; et al.

[322]See Marshall, p. 179.

[323]Davids, p. 203. Cf. 1:1, 17; 2:11.

[324]Ibid., pp. 204-5. Cf. Goppelt, p. 354; Michaels, p. 313.

[325]Wiersbe, 2:434.